Review of the Year 2023

It’s that time again…Time for the Review of the Year!   It has been a harrowing year around the world, and for some personally, but I hope that you had some personal highlights.  Selections from the blogs, as usual, for those of you who like to review the year…



Jacinda Ardern stands down

“I know what this job takes.  And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.”

~ Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern suddenly announced she was stepping down from the role this week.  How many people keep going in a role long past the time they should have left?  Her popularity rate had plummeted recently, with issues in that country similar to worldwide problems, but there is no doubting her successes over the last few years (she led her party from 2017, and became Prime Minister later that year), and the strong feminine style of leadership admired by many.

…With her undeniable emotional intellligence, Jacinda has been an example to other politicians around the world, perhaps the model for a new kind of politician.  She has earned the right to step down.

“I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – one who knows when it’s time to go”

 ~ Jacinda Ardern



Nicola Sturgeon Resigns

“I am proud to stand here as the first female and longest serving incumbent of this office, and I’m very proud of what has been achieved in the years I’ve been in Bute House.”

~ Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, heralded a major shift in politics with her resignation this week.  Not only does it shift the tectonic plates about Scottish Independence, but also touches areas such as Brexit, issues of gender, and a possible gain for Scottish Labour.  Coming after the shock announcement a few weeks ago by Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, who had overlapping concerns, their resignations may be part of a trend.

…I personally feel that she has been a politician of integrity, in a period of years where integrity has been lacking in the government at Westminster.  But I know others who have disagreed with me on that, so I am just sayin’.  I believe in the Union between England and Scotland, but I also believe England should be fair to Scotland.

“I admire her for not clinging too desperately to her dream of personally delivering independence.  It must be tough to give up such a large part of your life…”

~Dani Garavelli, The Guardian, 17th February



Pluto in Aquarius

While some aspects are life-changing, and transits (personal transits over sensitive points in  your birth chart) are even more so, this week’s ingress of Pluto to the sign of Aquarius is world-changing.  Coming hard on the heels of last week’s ingress of Saturn into Pisces, the impact will be all the greater, especially for those who have the Sun, ascendant or a planet at 0 degrees of a sign.

…The position now is very much the end of an age, the end of institutions.  The country is still (even with the pitiful ofer given this week to the nurses) under strikes from several unions of public sector workers, and the situation is similar in France.  Pluto in Capricorn promised the tearing down of structures and institutions: the NHS for one, is on its knees, and with no sign of the government coming to its aid.  Recent banking crises (banking being ruled by Pluto), such as the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, and the threat to Credit Suisse, are potentially devastating.

…On a personal note, I can see a new era, as our neighbours of 30 years are moving this week.  They are moving close to the Spring Equinox, the first day of the astrological year, when the Sun enters Aries; and they are moving on the New Moon in Aries.  You can see what a momentous week this looks like altogether, after last week’s struggles.  So our lives will change, and those of our neighbours, and those of our new neighbours.  Perhaps you can already see changes coming up this week, in your life.  It is a time of endings and new beginnings.



Paul O’Grady (1955 – 2023)

…funny, fearless, brave, kind and wise”

~ Lorraine Kelly

The nation had many reasons to love Paul O’Grady: from those who loved to be entertained, to dog lovers, to the LGBTQI community.  He died at the age of 67 this week, unexpectedly, but peacefully.

Birth Chart

Paul O’Grady had the Sun in Gemini conjunct Mercury, which accounts for his tremendous versatility: he was a “Jack of all trades” in early working life, with a huge variety of jobs to make ends meet before he hit the big time as an entertainer.  Sun/Mercury in this sign also accounted for his quick wit.  There was also a multidimensional side to Paul: there was more depth to him than at first glance, with the Sun/Mercury conjunction being  trine his Neptune and sextile his Pluto.

…Lily Savage

The birth of his alter ego, drag act, Lily Savage, took place on the afternoon of 7th October 1978, inspired by his Aunt Chrissie, and Marylin Monroe.  Virtually the only precedent at the time for his type of act, was Danny La Rue.  His transits at the time included Mars exactly trine his natal Mars (an expression of his sexuality), Jupiter  opposite his natal Chiron in 7th House (his alter ego) and Uranus on his natal Saturn, (a daring act).

“I think I could lie there on my death bed and say, ‘Well, I’ve had a good time and filled a book. I’ve done everything I wanted to do’.”

~ Paul O’Grady, 2017



Tina Turner (1939 – 2023)

“There’s always been an emotion in my voice because it reached back to the life I was living. Where there were tears in stage, it wasn’t Hollywood, it was real”

~ Tina Turner

No prizes for guessing the subject of today’s blog (nor to guessing which stories I swerved this week).  Tina Turner, who died on Wednesday, was universally loved: for her music, and performance, for her bravery in freeing herself from domestic violence, and for her spirituality. I have never seen her live, but have watched and re-watched her concerts, marvelling at her sheer force of nature.


Tina was introduced to the Japanese Nichiren Buddhism chanting of  “nam-myoho-renge-kyo” by a friend of Ike Turner’s in 1973, and it probably saved her life, and her sanity.  She also credited one of her sons, Ronnie, as recommending the practice to her, suggesting it might help her.  It is the same strand of Buddhism followed by Boy George.  She noticed positive changes in her life, which she attributed to the practice.  She described the effect: “It is a sound and a rhythm and it touches a place inside you”. In later life, she was known to chant for up to four hours a day.  She has released a recording of this chanting.  She also met the Dalai Lama, the head of the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism, on 2nd August 2005.

 “But life has taught me that some of my most meaningful and memorable moments happen when I’m in repose, sitting, meditating, contemplating”

~ Tina Turner



Glenda Jackson (1936 – 2023)

“Any prize was a benign irrelevance for her.  People often say they don’t care about awards: Jackson really did not.  Neither gushing nor contemptuous…”

~ Susannah Clapp, Theatre critic for the Observer

Actor and Politician in equally effective measure, Glenda Jackson died this week, after a short illness, at the age of 87.  Here is a re-posting of a blog from December 2019, followed by some final thoughts:

Final Thoughts

Glenda had a strong work ethic, and worked up until the end of her life.  She had just finished working on a film with Michael Caine, “The Great Escaper”, directed by Oliver Parker.  Parker has written of their work together: “They’re both kind of working-class heroes, symbols of a kind of spirit of modernity.  They had a mutual respect and were very supportive of each other.  You felt these were titans carrying a wealth of experience on set with real ease.”

I admired her as both actor and politician.  There was a selflessness about her, a lack of ego, which is described by her natal South Node rising on a Cancerian Ascendant.

She leaves a space in our cultural and political life that can never be filled.  She played many roles with great distinction, passion and commitment…from award winning ator to campaigner and activist to Labour MP and government minister, Glenda Jackson was always fighting for human rights and social justice.”

~ Keir Starmer




“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky,
that would be like the splendour of the mighty one”.

~ Bhagavad Gita (XI,12), quoted by Robert Oppenheimer

The film “Oppenheimer” premiered on Friday (21st July), is being bizarrely pitted against the film “Barbie”, reflective of the aspect which occurred that day of Pluto (the bomb) opposite the Sun in Cancer (the female side of life).  J. Robert Oppenheimer was the scientist credited as “the father of the atomic bomb”, and the film features a glittering array of stars*, which include the lead role played by the charismatic Cillian Murphy, who is tipped for an Oscar, opposite Emily Blunt as his wife Kitty.  When I arrived at University in 1968, the big moral scientific dilemma was the creation of nuclear weapons, but since then we have had genetic engineering, man’s creation of climate change, and currently we are debating artificial intelligence and its implications.

…He died on 18th February 1987, having suffered ill health through smoking.  His Pluto was square to his Pluto.

A survey in this morning’s Observer showed more people queuing up for “Barbie” (mostly female, and pink-clad) than “Oppenheimer”, but I know which film I would rather see.

“For the most part,, the film is a towering achievement”

~ Wendy Ide, for the Observer



Michael Parkinson (1935 – 2023)

Michael Parkinson, whose chat show was a Saturday night staple across three decades, died peacefully this week aged 88, after a brief illness.  He had interviewed 2000 celebrities in his career, and is regarded as the most successful chat show host.

Birth Chart

His Sun was in Aries, with the Moon in Capricorn, giving rise to the no-nonsense, down-to-earth Yorkshireman that was his persona.  He was self-admittedly not given to introspection.  The sole aspect to his Sun was a close sextile with Chiron, so he was very individualistic, a free spirit, with some desire to heal.  Unlike some chat show hosts, he had quite a restrained mental function: Mercury in Pisces loosely conjunct Saturn and opposite Neptune.  A contemporary, David Frost, for example, had Mercury square Mars, a more interrogational style (The Critic Archetype), whereas Parky had a more cosy, conversational style for the most part.

…Being interviewed himself at one time by Irish broadcaster Gay Byrne, Parkinson described his religious stance as “an agnostic atheist”, which given his personality is not surprising.  I wonder what he would make of an afterlife.  He would certainly have an impressive and illustrious “meet and greet”!

 “The genius of Parky was that unlike most people – and most of his guests, me included, he was always 100 per cent himself. On camera and off. ‘Authentic’ is the word, I suppose.”

~ Stephen Fry



Rishi Sunak

“The UK was well-ahead of the rest of the world in decarbonising, so we would be doing other countries a favour if we slowed down a bit.”

~ John Crace

This I hope will be a short blog (his third from me), just to examine the question “What was he thinking?”, i.e. why has Rishi Sunak reneged on the standards for tackling climate change this week?  If you think it was a good policy, then avert your gaze, as I am one-sided on this.

…For Uranus transiting his natal Sun in Taurus, 24th October this year and 21st April 2024 are dates to watch, for the change in which he is doing politics.  Will it be the making of him, or the undoing of him?

…For his Uranus Opposition, 22nd May 2024 crystallizes his mid-life crisis and rebellion.  Will he throw in the towel, or call a risky general election at that time?

And for his opposition of Chiron to his natal Pluto, 11th April 2024 is crucial.  The stress of this transit may cause him to announce a general election.


I think Rishi is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public.  He has talked about honesty, while showing dishonesty; and he has talked about long-term solutions, while expounding short-term solutions.  As Caroline Lucas and Zac Goldsmith have said this week, what should be top priority has been relegated to neglect.

“Rolling back on certain policies will mean we need to find emisions reductions elsewhere if we are to meet our legally binding near-term carbon budgets and our internationally committed 2030 emissions reduction target”.

~ Alok Sharma



Matthew Perry (1969 – 2023)

“So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke
Your love life’s DOA
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month
Or even your year, but

I’ll be there for you…” 

~ The Rembrandts

Tragically, the Friends star passed away yesterday, on the Eclipse, at the tender age of 54.  Oh, the hours we spent watching the ten series of Friends.  And though we liked all six friends, Chandler Bing was a favourite character, with a sarcastic wit.

Birth Chart

Matthew Perry was a born actor, with the Sun Rising in Leo (the acting planet in the acting sign) closely trine his natal Midheaven (Careerpoint).  The poignancy of addiction being a central theme of his life is astrologically due to Neptune (addiction, especially to drink and drugs) being exactly square his natal Sun.  Added to this, he had Saturn opposite his Moon, often predisposing him to depression.  He had a depth of emotion, with Moon and Neptune in Scorpio, and Pluto on his South Node.  Mercury was exactly sextile Venus in his chart, giving him a facility with words (at least, his character did have, and he did identify with Chandler).  Jupiter conjunct Uranus gave him the Entrepreneur Archetype.



“Napoleon” – the film by Ridley Scott

also featuring my own Napoleonic journey

Last night, we went to see the new film by Ridley Scott.  The subject, Napoleon, has strangely erupted in my life from time to time, as you will see.  I needed to revisit my connection with this historical era, and was glad I did.  The film was not wholeheartedly embraced by the French, partly because of inaccuracies, but was certainly a spectacle.  Some of the destruction of buildings and battlefield explosions were horrifically reminiscent of the scenes in Ukraine and Gaza which we have seen on our small screens these last two years.

Birth Chart

It is common knowledge that Napoleon embodies the Hero Archetype in his Sun Sign of Leo.  In his element balance, he had half his planets (5) in Earth signs, which groundedness may explain his expertise on battlefield layouts and monumental organization of the roads in Paris.  He had 0 planets in Air, which suggests a high proportion of reliance on instinct.  His Sun was square Jupiter, and he was an undoubted risk-taker, with a marked tendency to exaggerate.  We do have a birth time for him, and his Sun (and Sun ruler) was exactly conjunct his Midheaven (Careerpoint) and closely trine his North Node, both of which suggest his strong sense of destiny.

The Film

Not to give away too much, the film begins with the execution by guillotine of Marie Antoinette.  The Observer reports that one inaccuracy of the film according to Dan Snow was that “Napoleon…did not watch as Marie Antoinette was guillotined.” Many of Napoleon’s prominent battles were featured throughout the film, amazing huge spectacles.  The Observer further observes: “Biddiss and Scott have both earned plaudits for the military tactics displayed in the film. Snow, in particular, praised the defensive square formations of the French troops.”



Benjamin Zephaniah (1958 – 2023)

“…We can all be refugees

Sometimes it only takes a day,

Sometimes it only takes a handshake

Or a paper that is signed.

We all came from refugees

Nobody simply just appeared,

Nobody’s here without a struggle,

And why should we live in fear

Of the weather or the troubles?

We all came here

From somewhere”

 ~ Benjamin Zephaniah

Two poets died at the age of 65 within the last fortnight, Benjamin Zephaniah and Shane MacGowan.  Benjamin was born a few months after Shane.  Both were very much poets of the people.  Zephaniah, who died this week from a brain tumour, was dubbed “The people’s Laureate”.

… Benjamin Zephaniah is one of those rare people who can carry the accolade of National Treasure.  On Question Time last Thursday, Fiona Bruce paid tribute to his numerous appearances on the programme.  I can say that whenever he appeared,  his was always a sane voice.

Next Week: Astrological Features of 2024 for your Diary/Planner


In the early hours of this morning, Jupiter was Stationary, prior to turning Direct.  You may find this to be a welcome turning point.  It’s a light at the end of the tunnel. That might bring a breath of fresh air to your day’s plans, peppering them with promise.  Something may lift you, and point the way to your next direction.  In the words of Alice Bailey (the seed thought for Sagittarius): “I see the goal.  I reach that goal and then I see another”.  You at least get to the stage of seeing the goal, or resuming an earlier goal.  Prepare your New Year’s Resolutions, if you do them, accordingly.  Mine is to try some portraiture, inspired by the Portrait Artist of the Year 2023 programme on Sky Arts.

Tomorrow’s (New Year’s Day: January 1st) aspect is more challenging: that is, Saturn square Venus.  Maybe you are wrestling with a conundrum…Maybe you have felt let down by someone or you disappointed yourself in some way.  Forgiveness could be a solution, in that case.  Perhaps the way the changes are taking shape are not quite to your liking, but it is not too late to change them.  It may be about the way something looks, or the way something makes you feel, but some warmth of heart can make a difference.  Relationships need work.

Meanwhile you will be wanting to boost the beginning of your year in a positive way.  You may employ resolutions, affirmations, creative visualizations, and the like.  You may feel that the world has lost its way, with war in Gaza and Ukraine, and an uncertain political future in the U.K.  Two related books I read this year back to back gave a full picture: “How They Broke Britain” by the brilliant broadcaster James O’Brien, and “Politics on the Edge” by the politician Rory Stewart with aspiring integrity.

But there are lots of individuals and localized projects trying to make a difference, and that’s where the focus must lie.  So if Saturn squaring Venus brings the heavy heart, focus on the onwards and upwards mindset of Jupiter directing its energies forwards.

In the early hours of Tuesday (January 2nd) Mercury is Stationary, prior to going Direct – that will be two positive turnarounds in one week, helpful for keeping up those upbeat vibes.  If you can’t envisage a new start in the New Year, when can you? (Answer: on the New Moons).  This turnaround will be helpful for re-starting communications.  You may feel that you can catch up on chores which had been put on the back burner.  If you have been struggling with computers, I.T. and broadband connections, or delays in communications you may feel a sense of relief.  I am hoping to speak to someone at Amazon…You can certainly pick up momentum on some projects which involve paperwork and documentation, and make some more essential journeys.

On to Thursday (4th), and we have an ingress, that of Mars entering Capricorn.  This represents a change of energy from gung ho to quietly determined.  The philosophical approach of Mars in Sagittarius gives way to more practicality and greater action and ambition.  There may be a greater theme of the individual (Mars) standing up to authorities (Capricorn).

Let’s round off the week with a Fixed Star, that which aligns with our Sun on Friday (5th): Pi Sagittarii.  It is actually a group of 3 stars, one of which is a yellow giant. “Starlight Elixirs” by Michael Smulkis and Fred Rubenfeld tells us:

“This group of stars will assist individuals who wish to contemplate and understand their own genetic coding, their connection to their own DNA, and the awareness of their own lifelines through the physical body.  They may be able to understand their heritage and genetics, as well as their awareness of how these things could be changed by them more consciously.”

Here’s wishing you all a very Happy and Hearty New Year!

The week in bullet points:

  • Today – A welcome turning point
  • Tomorrow – Letting go
  • Tuesday – communications improving
  • Thursday – quietly determined
  • Friday – contemplating genetics