Friday, March 14, 2014

Practicing Astrologers Series: Donna Cunningham Talks about the Importance of Stelliums

Interview with Astrologer Donna Cunningham--Capricorn Stellium & Other Major Outer Planet Events

When I was in my 20s and first discovering natal charts and moon signs, I came across Astrologer Donna Cunningham’s book Moon Signs: The Key to Your Inner Life and I became acquainted with my Pisces Moon, not to mention the Moon signs of my friends, family members and men I thought of dating. (I thought I was an astrology expert at that point).

Then in 2013, I took on the task of combing through the transits of the 1960s with a focus on the outer planets-Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.  A German friend supported these crazy efforts (I spent hours researching and tracking those transits) and she connected me with Donna Cunningham who sent me a complimentary copy of her e-book, The Stellium Handbook.  I found the book fascinating, especially the section on children born with a Triple Conjunction of planets in Capricorn-Saturn, Uranus and Neptune (a mix of energy akin to Alice dropping down the rabbit hole and discovering a strange array of characters).  Since I grew up with Capricorn energy and have an affinity for Capricorns, I asked Donna for an interview.  The following conversation occurred via e-mail.

Whole Astrology: In The Stellium Handbook, you mention people born between 1988 and 1990 with a triple conjunction of Saturn/Uranus/Neptune in Capricorn and more planets in Capricorn if they were born in late fall or early winter. How are the current Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries transits affecting this large segment of the population who are roughly between 24 and 26 years of age? (They also experienced Saturn in Libra two to four years ago and are now experiencing the North Node in Libra).

Donna Cunningham: As you mentioned, there was a huge generation born with this extremely rare combination— 138 million that year worldwide and half again as many in 1988. The triple conjunction of Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune occurs only once in about 650 years, and the last one was in 620 5AD. With massive numbers incarnating in those years, I can only conclude that it’s a vast soul group with an important mission. Since the combination is in the Cardinal earth sign, Capricorn this time, my guess is that they’re here to help save the earth itself with their amazing gifts and potentials.

They’re at a crucial stage of young adulthood now and struggling to find their identity and life path. Being far outside the experience of most of us, they can’t live by our rules or meet our expectations. They have to find their own way. We astrologers can help them, but we must first fully understand the meaning of this and other stelliums ourselves. The Stellium Handbook can help anyone with a stellium, but it was written specifically with this audience in mind.

Seldom have a generation faced difficult transits like these in their 20s, an age when we all make life-changing decisions, including careers, relationships, and where we fit into the scheme of things. To have such a rare and difficult trio of natal planets impacted by transits from two powerful outer planets—Uranus and Pluto—at once is a challenge beyond any of our experience. The most we can offer them, as astrologers, is validation of who they really are, what they’re dealing with from the transits, and what gifts and strengths they have that are being developed through this period of worldwide political, economic, social, and environmental crisis.

WA: Referring to the same group, how can we as astrologers guide these folks through their upcoming Saturn Return? Knowing that many Capricorn types are late bloomers who suffer many setbacks early in life, including their 20s and 30s?

DC: Their Saturn Return will happen when Saturn returns to the degree of Capricorn it was in at their birth. We should note that Saturn rules Capricorn and is one of the planets in their triple conjunction, so the Saturn return is an even more significant stage of life for this group than it is for other generations.

For those born in 1988-89, that Saturn Return would be sometime in 2018 to 2019. A lot will depend on what they do with that upcoming Pluto-Uranus square to their natal conjunction of Uranus, Saturn, and Neptune in mid Capricorn. Awareness of their astrological chart and the way it interacts with current cosmic conditions can help them get through the current and coming aspects to their stelliums.

If they make use of the current Pluto-Uranus transits to bring out their unique contribution, then the Saturn Return could be a time of fruition and accomplishment. If they’ve only gone further into self-destructive patterns or retreat from the world during the current Pluto Uranus square, then the Return could be a time when they face the consequences of those patterns and have to start building from scratch. That’s why I feel an urgency about getting this book out there to the general public, written in language anyone could understand. Self-awareness is a major boost in getting through these periods.

Patricia: You mention many tools in your book for people with triple conjunctions and stelliums to deal with stressful transits, with some of the tools requiring in depth work of charting planets, reading the qualities of the planets etc...However, some of these people might feel too busy to do the astrology work, so what else would you recommend for them? EFT tapping?

WA: Yes, there are self-help tools throughout the book that wouldn’t require an extensive knowledge of astrology. There’s a self-inventory sheet produced by a cut and paste procedure that alerts them to both the constructive and self-defeating ways of using the energies of their stellium planets. If reviewed from time to time, the inventory can accelerate their progress.

A variety of other tools can be found in the final chapter, “Making the Most of Your Stellium.” They include EFT (also called tapping), goal setting, using the power of intention, and ridding yourself of the obstacles to success called thought forms. There are also stress busters for each of the planets in a stellium.

What’s needed in order for any of these tools to help, of course, is the sincere desire for self-improvement, the willingness to put in the sweat equity to use them, and the ability to be honest with oneself about ways we contribute to our problems, rather than blaming others.

WA: Many people with a strong presence of outer planets in their charts feel great tension and suffering. Some of these people don’t realize the power that they obtain from these planets and they fall into the victim role, yet, you recommend a variety of flower essences from both Bach Remedies and F.E.S. to help with this stress. How do we convince people who lean towards logic brain to try the flower essences without us receiving the woo-woo gesture from them?

DC: If you’re dealing with a hardcore skeptic, you probably wouldn’t even want to go there. (On the other hand, what hardcore skeptic would be going for a consultation anyway?)  It’s most convincing if you yourself have tried some essences and experienced valuable growth from them. Otherwise, mentioning them doesn’t carry a ring of conviction. Without going into detail about your own situation, you might mention a change or two that you’ve seen in yourself. Then mention some essences that might give fresh insight into some of their own issues and concerns. When they asked me how the essences, I say I don’t know that, anymore than I know how astrology works. It just does.

(For astrologers who might want to explore using essences in their practice, I’ve just finished an updated edition of my e-book, Flower Remedies: How Plants Can Heal Us, which includes chapters on astrology and essences, and how to use them with clients. You can download a sample chapter describing the essences, how to take them, and where to get them on my blog, Skywriter, under the FREE tab.)

WA: Now, I’m curious about my own sub-generation born in the 1960s when Uranus and Pluto formed a conjunction in Virgo, Chiron was in Pisces (like it is now) for part of that time, and Neptune was in Scorpio. When will this generation wake up and take its leadership role?

Right now, many people are complaining that the “Shadow Boomers” or “Generation X” is asleep at the wheel suffering from addictions and distractions. (Personally, I have seen many people of this age group waking up spiritually and choosing alternative healing or coaching as professions).

DC: The long Pluto-Uranus conjunction in Virgo was within an 8-10° range during parts of 1962-9, so there were millions born during that era, and so it would be wrong to generalize about them without knowing the rest of the chart. Many of them are hard-working, capable, skilled employees with high standards and a concern for doing things correctly and well.

For people with a stellium that includes Pluto and Uranus, living up to Virgo’s high standards is very stressful. The workplace has changed fundamentally in the past several decades in ways that greatly diminished job satisfaction. The bottom line became God. To save money, job descriptions for professionals were broken into ever-smaller pieces and reassigned to technicians.

With Virgo strong in their charts, they’re likely to have a strong commitment to integrity, but we’re seeing a widespread erosion of ethical standards for conducting business. That makes it extremely challenging to feel the pride in their work that Virgos aim for. Fueled by Uranus’ conflicts with authority and Virgo’s strong work ethic, they often have contempt for bosses and coworkers who are incompetent or who slack off in their jobs. Yet their motivation is to improve themselves, those around them, and the world at large and above all, they wish to be helpful and to serve.

Perhaps they don’t appear to be leaders because they’re modest at heart and focus on the task at hand rather than on being in the spotlight. This modesty may be another reason they’re not high profile in the astrology world. Many of them are out there, quietly doing good capable astrology consultations, but they don’t toot their own horn at conferences or on the web. However, as you noted, I do see many more of them working in alternative health fields and doing high-quality work—Virgo, after all, can be deeply involved in health matters.

astrology book on vocations
I first got to know the Virgo generation in their middle 20s, just as the Capricorn stellium group is just now starting to come to astrologers, because that is the age when we all make major life decisions about career, relationships, and where we fit into the world. When the Virgo group was at that age, many of them had been mired in addiction for a number of years because of their discouragement and disenchantment with society for the reasons noted above. I saw many of them begin to break free of the addictions at around age 28 to 29, under the Saturn return that you note above, as well as the transit they were all having of transiting Pluto going over their natal Neptune. That is one of the reasons I believe that the Capricorn Stellium generation will begin to come into their own at the Saturn return.

Visit to learn more about Donna Cunningham’s books, read articles on the topics discussed in this interview and more.

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