Saturday, 22 May 2021

AoA Podcast: Gemini, Mercury Retrograde, Mercury Square Neptune and more

In case you missed the live stream, this week's Academy of Astrology Podcast is now on YouTube.

Rod, Sue, Marcos and me discuss the Sun in Gemini, Mercury Square Neptune and share our tips for the upcoming Mercury Retrograde.

You can also catch up with previous editions on our channel: Academy of Astrology (the discussion on Jupiter in Pisces is not to be missed).

And while you're here, we're now taking bookings for the Academy of Astrology's lecture series on Mundane Astrology. Top names including Sue Tompkins, Lynn Bell, Darby Costello and Dr Bernadette Brady and many more, share their knowledge and insight on how astrology is reflected in world events.

I'll be talking about the Jupiter - Saturn cycle on Saturday 31st July. I'll be examining the big elemental cycles of these two most important planets in world astrology and how they have influenced our culture, our climate and how we work and connect. 

Join us! Full details here:

And here:

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Academy of Astrology Podcast #2 - Mars in Cancer

This week's AoA Podcast, with Rod Chang and Marcos Patchett, offers fantastic insight into Mars' current journey through Cancer, a sign where Mars can feel particularly uncomfortable. 

A highly recommended watch, they also discuss the implications of  the intense Scorpio Full Moon both personally and on a world level.

Since this Podcast was recorded, now that Mars is in Cancer and currently in a short-lived mutual reception with the Moon in Scorpio, news reports are alleging that the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have unethically funded the £££££ refurbishment of his private downing street flat. 

It's notable that Johnson has Cancer on his MC (the public/status/reputation angle) in his natal chart AND Moon in Scorpio!  Also notable is that when the story broke, it was during the Scorpio Full Moon opposing the stellium of Sun, Mercury, Venus and Uranus in Taurus, the sign of money.  Full Moons of course shine a light on things, the Scorpio Full Moon in particular can show up things we'd rather stayed hidden. Johnson is also suffering a challenge to his reputation after un-named sources alleged that he said, in a fit of rage, that he'd rather the dead bodies piled up than go into a third lockdown. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out over the next few weeks.

Mars moved into Cancer on April 26, staying until June 11. 

Monday, 19 April 2021

Academy of Astrology Podcast #1

I'm excited to share the Academy of Astrology's new Podcast...

Edition #1, features Academy Tutors Rod Chang, Sue Farebrother, Marcos Patchett and myself, Mandi Lockley.

We discuss Mundane Astrology, take a peek at the chart for the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and share a few thoughts about Uranus in Taurus...

Subscribe to our channel to watch the Podcasts live and ask questions, or to watch the recording available immediately afterwards: Academy of Astrology YouTube Channel

Join us for #2 - we'll look at the upcoming Full Moon in Scorpio. Friday 23rd April, 8pm BST. 

We'll also soon be announcing the Academy of Astrology's Mundane Lecture Series - featuring fascinating ideas and topics from some of the best and most popular astrologers, as well as some exciting up and coming voices. 

With love, Mandi x

Monday, 5 April 2021

Empathy in the Birth Chart, Part 2

 In Part 1, we defined empathy and saw how, when we are in defensive mode, empathy is not always possible. Concluding that empathy itself can’t be seen in the birth chart, we discussed, with an illuminating case study, how our chart aspects suggest where our empathy-blocking defences can kick in. In Part 2, more signifiers for defence mechanisms in the birth chart…

Saturn aspects suggest defence mechanisms because Saturn tests, blocks and controls. It represents where we have fears and doubts and lack confidence. All of these are fuel for our defences.

With Venus-Saturn, for example, there might be defences against getting hurt in relationships, manifesting in a fear of letting others get too close. The Venus-Saturn person therefore might un-empathetically hurt and reject someone else before it can be done to them. (See Part 1 for a case study example of how a generational Mercury Square Saturn played out).

Lack of empathy can also come through some of the aspects we might think of as easier. Jupiter types, for example, who are confident, upbeat and optimistic, can sometimes lack tolerance and empathy for those who are struggling with low self-esteem or who, for whatever reason, lack the faith, courage and self-belief to pursue their dreams and ambitions.

Aspect patterns are also a good place to look for defences, especially T-Squares, which so often describe the nitty gritty issues in a person’s life. Grand Trines are also associated with defence mechanisms, because they represent where we hesitate to step out of our comfort zone.

If we think about the zodiac signs, Aries types might lack empathy for those who aren’t fast-paced go-getters; Taurus or Libra might disapprove of Aries' need to be numero uno and label them as aggressive or selfish, not understanding the Aries mission to go through life as a warrior. A Gemini type might be unfairly labelled as someone who can’t commit to one thing, with others not getting that Gemini is here to experience variety and needs to keep their options open. And so on, through the signs…

Back to those sensitive Water signs mentioned in Part 1 and why they might not always necessarily be empathetic. It’s because that emotional sensitivity, if it gets too much, can be defended against to protect the Water person from pain and suffering. I recently watched a Netflix show about teen fairies learning to harness their powers. One of them was an empath, who wore headphones constantly to protect herself from becoming overwhelmed by the feelings of others. Sensitive humans can also feel overwhelmed by their empathy at times and that’s when their psychological defences can kick in, which while offering protection, but can also block empathy.

The Cancerian retreating into their shell is a well known astrological symbolism. Cancerians need to feel safe and at home. They are drawn to people who help them to feel comfortable and once they find them, they seek to keep them close. Whether it’s their blood family or the ‘family’ they choose, Cancerians need to feel cushioned by their relationships. However, this can lead to clannish cliques and those who don’t make it into Cancer’s close circle might feel rejected. This is where a defence might make someone else feel the hurt that the defended person is trying to protect themselves from. The hurt doesn’t go away, it’s just passed on.

Scorpio of course has its famous defensive sting. Using that sting to point out others’ flaws, often with merciless honesty, is Scorpio’s way of protecting themselves from such searing scrutiny. Last of all, we have compassionate, empathetic Pisces; but feeling everyone’s emotions as if they are their own can make porous, sensitive Pisces retreat into victim mode. When Pisces feels that nobody’s problems are as bad as theirs, it’s hard for them to feel empathy. Conversely, Pisces, with a genuine desire to stop someone’s suffering, might go into full rescue mode, but if this is done with pity rather than real empathy, the support they offer can feel dis-empowering.

These examples show that while you can’t judge levels of natural empathy from a chart, you can see areas where empathy might potentially be blocked. Astrology can help with self-understanding and the recognition of where we fall into our defences. We all need defences of course, they are very useful, but by becoming more aware of them we can potentially see where they have become unhelpful and where we might be unwittingly hurting others or not recognising when they might need support and compassion and empathy.

Click here for Part 1 - Empathy in the Birth Chart?

Wondering about life post-pandemic?  A consultation can help you clarify what it might look like and better understand your opportunities, stumbling blocks and options.  Details here: Consultations and Other Services  

With love,



Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Empathy in the Birth Chart?

I’ve been wondering lately; can the birth chart tell us how empathetic someone is?

Collins Dictionary describes empathy as “the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings.” In other words, it’s the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes, regardless of whether or not you have experienced what they are experiencing.

There are different kinds of empathy. Emotional empathy is how we commonly think of empathy, as per the dictionary definition above. There is also cognitive empathy, which is the ability to see things from someone else’s perspective without necessarily feeling their feelings. Then there’s compassionate empathy, which is when empathy is followed through with helpful action.

Emotional empathy is most easily associated with the Water element (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces), because qualities associated with Water are emotional sensitivity and connection. However, when Water dominates a chart, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee empathetic responses to the feelings of others (I’ll explain in Part 2 why this might be). It’s also not the case that those with a lack of Water in their chart or with a dominance of Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) or Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) don’t have as much capacity for empathy, although we might surmise that an Air type is likely to have more cognitive empathy than emotional, for example. However, I’m focusing on emotional empathy here and everyone, whatever the element balance in their chart, has feelings. It’s my experience that most people with any element emphasis or deficit in their chart are capable of this kind of empathy, but are also capable of showing a lack of empathy at times.

So, the question remains, can you determine empathy from the birth chart? I think not and nor, I believe, can you tell if someone lacks empathy from their chart. Lack of empathy/callousness is defined as one of the characteristics of psychopaths and I don’t believe you can spot one just from a chart, any more than you can spot an empath. But let’s assume, for the purposes of this essay, that most people are capable of some degree of empathy and look at the question from a different angle.

I was walking down a residential street this morning (heading for my local park) and got to thinking that perhaps the birth chart can tell us something about what might get in the way of empathy.

As I strolled, in a moment of universal synchronicity, something random happened that made me feel no empathy, followed by a distinct empathetic response just moments later.

Called out of my thinking head by shouting, my automatic conscious response was curiosity. What’s happening, where is this noise coming from? Meanwhile, unconsciously, my brain would have been trying to figure out if this posed any danger to me. So, no empathy here, just my natural, selfish, survival response with a measure of inquisitiveness. I discovered where the noise was coming from when a young woman ran yelling out of an open front door, swiftly followed by two police officers. As she crossed the road and started running directly towards me, the officers still in pursuit, again I felt no empathy. I only feared for my own safety, so moved out of the way pretty sharpish.

Once they’d passed me and I was safe, I again became curious about what was happening. The woman had been caught up by the police who were trying to restrain her. She was terribly upset; crying and begging them to let go of her. Now, witnessing her obvious distress, I felt upset and had the beginnings of tears in my eyes. I didn’t know the background of her situation, whether she’d hurt someone else or herself, or if she was having some sort of breakdown. Nevertheless, I had a fleeting emotional upset in response to this stranger’s anguish. In other words, I could empathise, despite the fact that I didn’t understand what was happening and that thankfully I’ve never myself been chased and restrained by the police. However, it was possible for me to imagine feeling so scared that I would need to run away from capture.

It would have been impossible for me to empathise when I felt I might be in danger in this uncertain situation. My automatic response was to defend myself, to make myself safe, nobody else mattered at that point. So, if it’s impossible to be empathetic when our defences are up (physical or emotional), we can explore how the defence mechanisms suggested by our birth chart, get in the way of, inhibit or delay our emotional empathy.

Where do we see our defences in our chart? A safe bet is that they are suggested by our aspects and aspect patterns. First, what do we mean by defences? Ego defence mechanisms “are psychological processes people use, in order to protect themselves against extreme discomfort and tension. They are also effective in maintaining mental composure and self-esteem in a variety of what might otherwise be very painful situations. Defence mechanisms operate at an unconscious level, and all of us use them occasionally. However, prolonged and persistent use of them is counter-productive, because such defences serve to distort reality and falsify experience.” (Hough, p85).

Square aspects between planets are an obvious candidate for showing potential defence mechanisms in the birth chart. This is because squares often impel us to act, but the tension of the Square means that that action might be the activation of a defence mechanism.  Take, for example, Mercury Square Saturn. This aspect suggests a fear of not being clever enough or a fear of being wrong and usually this fear stems from early life experiences. Perhaps the child was ridiculed or punished when they made a mistake? Perhaps their defence was to give up trying and live with the ‘story’ that they are stupid. Or perhaps they arm themselves with the ‘belief’ that they are right about everything and everyone else is wrong. This might feel like a safe place to sit and in the short term it protects from the threat of further punishment or ridicule. But to be wrong, to make mistakes, to allow ourselves to fail is how we learn and ultimately how we succeed. If someone beats themselves up over failing a test (or even for failing to get top marks in a test), how are they able to show empathy to others who might be struggling on that test and could perhaps use a little support and encouragement? And the subtle message the Mercury-Saturn person gives to others is that they think anyone who gets lower marks than them really is stupid.

A lady with this aspect who, while bright, for socio-economic reasons, was unable to get the education they wanted. Their child, however (also with Mercury Square Saturn) was able to access higher education. Throughout their years at university, the mother constantly denigrated and ridiculed the child’s desire to get educated, telling them they were lazy and a failure for choosing to get a degree over going straight into a job, marriage and children. Because the mother unconsciously felt envious and threatened by their child’s education opportunities and defended themselves accordingly, there was no empathy for the path their child had taken. Unaware for many years that their mother’s response was a defensive one, born of disappointment from their own childhood, the child was also unable to empathise with their mother’s insecurities and ended up feeling like the failure their mother said they were, while at the same time, emotionally disengaging from the mother, thus confirming the mother’s fears that they would lose their child if they got educated. 

This example, shows how, if we become aware of the issues of our challenging aspects, we can also become aware of our defences and ultimately understand what is behind them. When the child (as the well-educated adult they became) understood where their mother was coming from, they were able to forgive, rebuild the relationship, feel proud of their academic achievements and finally share them with the world without fear (or rather feel the fear and do it anyway - old habits die hard).

Part 2 coming soon... more examples of how defences in the birth chart can block empathy.

In the meantime, if  you enjoyed this article... you might also enjoy Jupiter, Saturn and the Superego

Wondering about life post-pandemic?  A consultation with Mandi Lockley can help you clarify what it might look like and better understand your opportunities, stumbling blocks and options.  Details here: Consultations and Other Services  

Reference: Hough, M. (2019) Counselling Skills and Theory. 4th Edition. UK: Hodder Education.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Mercury, Ego and the Inner Journey

We know that astrological Mercury represents mind, thoughts and communication in our horoscope.  The mind is where our sensory perceptions are processed in the brain and our perceptions are reflected in our thoughts. As we think, we rationalize, assess, form judgement, make decisions, learn and solve problems. We also form beliefs, ideas and opinions which we express through our actions and communications. This can take the form of sharing ideas, the transfer of information, negotiations, compromises and arguments and we also use verbal and non-verbal communication to form bonds and friendships with others.

Mercury’s sign, house and aspects tell us a lot about our style of communication; how we think and learn and connect with others. It also represents how we mentally process our opinion of ourselves, our self-image. In this, Mercury becomes the tool for our ego and its condition in our chart shows us how our ego communicates, as well as how we can go beyond our ego. If we take the journey beyond the ego, we are channeling a deeper part of Mercury, remembering that Mercury, or Hermes to use the Greek name, is the messenger of the Gods, the intermediary between the human and divine realms. We are particularly invited to step onto these deeper paths when Mercury is touched by an outer planet by aspect or transit.

But first, let’s define the ego. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, divided the human psyche into the id, the ego and the superego1.

According to Freud, the ego is the self-conscious part of ourselves. It’s how we define ourselves, including our status compared to others and our place in society. It’s wrapped up in our self-esteem, our sense of self-importance and the ‘roles’ we play. Our ego helps us to satisfy our id (the primitive, irrational, instinctive part of the psyche) without breaking society’s rules and conventions. The ego itself is moderated by the superego, which is our conscience, our ‘ideal’ self and the moral values of our collective society.

The ego of course, is reflected in our thoughts, words, opinions and ideas, as well as in conscious decision making and problem solving and this is how Mercury becomes the messenger of the ego. But if Mercury carries the ego, where is the ego itself in the birth chart?

We most strongly associate the Sun with the ego, because it’s about our self-identity and how we reinforce it. The Ascendant is how we project our ego out into the world through our personal style and outward persona. The Moon represents the baggage our ego carries from the past, translated into our moods and habits (it’s also the id, expressed as who we are behind closed doors when nobody’s looking and what we need to feel safe). Venus is about our self-worth, which is also the stuff of the ego and even those things we take pleasure in can be egoic if we use them to boost our self-esteem and status. Mars signifies how we assert ourselves and react to conflict, which is usually ego based. Competing is of the ego because it assumes a winner and a loser. Of course, when we totally lose our temper the ego has given way to the irrational id. When we get to Jupiter and Saturn we are into superego territory, but these planets can also be egoic, in that Jupiter can be about over-confidence and an inflated ego and Saturn about how the ego seeks respect. The fears and doubts associated with Saturn are also often ego based.

Beyond Saturn we’re in the realms of the unconscious, the sphere of the Gods, but more about that as we look at the chart examples.

Pawn as kingThe relationship of the Sun (the largest and most powerful signifier of our ego) to Mercury (the messenger of the ego) is telling.  Astronomically, Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and astrologically, they can never be more than 28 degrees apart, meaning that only a Conjunction aspect is possible. This tightly entwines our ego and its emissary.  A primary interpretation of Sun Conjunct Mercury2 is that it suggests an ego driven, perhaps controlling personality, with difficulty separating the ego identity from one’s ideas and opinions, which might manifest as seeing one’s own perspective as the only correct perspective and having difficulty accepting the views of others. More positively, it’s associated with independent thought and confident expression.  But even without the Conjunction, the close proximity of the Sun and Mercury suggests that every one of us is somewhat ego driven and to a greater or lesser extent lacking objectivity and defensive of our own opinions when they clash with another’s.

In the traditional astrology of William Lilly, planets Conjunct the Sun are said to be hidden by the light of the Sun and therefore debilitated, weakened3. This applies to anything in the same sign and within 17 degrees of the Sun, but a planet is in its most serious debility - combust - when between 17 minutes and 8 degrees 30 minutes from the Sun (although a planet within 17 minutes of the Sun is considered strengthened by the Sun). If we were to apply this idea psychologically, we could say that the ego (Sun) overpowers everything that gets too close to it.

The following both have Sun Conjunct Mercury and have both defined and written extensively about the ego.... To read more, including analysis of the charts of Sigmund Freud and Eckhart Tolle, click here to read on

This article was first published in Constellation News magazine and was re-published at

AoA Podcast: Gemini, Mercury Retrograde, Mercury Square Neptune and more

In case you missed the live stream, this week's Academy of Astrology Podcast is now on YouTube. Rod, Sue, Marcos and me discuss the Sun ...