X-ray photograph of a black hole in galaxy M-82
N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 3
by Alex Miller-Mignone
It is a metaphysical truth that the further we reach outward, the deeper we penetrate inward. In the past half century science has shown us both the beginning of space, via the interior of the atom, the strange quantum world of quarks, muons and leptons, and the beginning of time, via the furthest reaches of the universe; the strange galactic world of black holes, quasars and pulsars. Both the microcosm and the macrocosm have revealed their secrets to us, their hidden realms laid bare to those twin agents of scientific truth, the microscope and the telescope.
But what of metaphysical truth? Can it be that these two worlds, so separate and so disparate, may in fact be one? Astrology is a tradition rooted in the principle of correspondences, as witnessed by its guiding precept, "As Above, So Below." Can it be mere coincidence that as we have delved ever deeper into the fabric of matter, we have also ventured further into space? Might there be a direct link between what is so far outside us and what is central to our very being? Might the energies which power supermassive Black Holes and galaxy-birthing quasars be the very ones which give rise to our own physical bodies?
Just as Venus lies within you as the power to create, to desire, to attract, and Pluto lies within you as the power to regenerate, to transform, and to self-empower, so, too, do the elements of Deep Space lie within you. And just as the workings of Pluto, for example, were ascribed to other celestial influences by astrologers before Pluto's existence was known, so, too, do the anomalies in Deep Space have a daily effect upon our existences, previously thought to lie within the purview of closer celestial phenomena.
Black Holes, in particular, emerge as one of the best metaphors available both for our powers to enact change, or to envision a new reality and birth it into our physical world, as well as for our collective experience of disempowerment, energy drain, and the sense of being carried along on the winds of change by forces beyond our control.
Astronomically, Black Holes are the remnants of collapsed stars. Given a star of sufficient mass (astronomers theorize this to be at least three solar masses, or three times our sun's own size), there are several scenarios for its end. A star's life is one long study in countervailing forces, for the star's gravity compels it to collapse, while the nuclear furnace within it compels its expansion. With age and the exhaustion of its fuel supply, gravity slowly wins, the collapse begins, and, under certain conditions, it may be virtually complete, leaving us the Black Hole.
Black Holes are pinpoints of space containing all the star's original matter, where the laws of physics break down, gravity is so intense that not even light can escape, time ceases, and all physical matter is violently subsumed in a process not clearly understood, but which tears a hole in the very fabric of space-time as we know it, perhaps providing access to parallel universes or alternate dimensions.
If a Black Hole emits no light, how can it be imaged? How do we know where they are and if they are? While scientists cannot directly observe these anomalies, they can observe the Black Hole's effects on the matter in the regions of space nearby. Black Holes are not content with the mass of the original star, but seek additional matter to feed their insatiable hunger for energy. This infalling matter, which becomes superheated and glows brightly, swirls rapidly around the Black Hole before its descent, forming the "accretion disk," an easily observable celestial phenomenon. Once this matter falls beyond the "event horizon," the ring-pass-not of the Black Hole, there is no escape: all infalling matter is crushed beyond existence by the tidal gravitational forces of the "singularity," the Black Hole's pinpoint center.
What becomes of this material, ultimately? Some scientists theorize that the matter engorged by a Black Hole may then be ejected back into space/time by an associated quasar, AKA a "White Hole," into a remote sector of this universe or into an entirely different universe.
Astrologically, Black Holes function on a variety of levels. At the most basic level, they represent points of energy drain or attraction, both by house placement, and more significantly by conjunction or aspect to celestials of our own system. Any planet conjoined by a Black Hole in the second house, for instance, is likely to prove a financial drain. If it is Mercury, you may find that pets or cars require a lot of attention and financial resources; if Mars, the monetary sacrifices may revolve around exercise equipment or gym fees. We might use Mars in the second to further illustrate the bipolar nature of Black Hole energyboth attractive and draining. Mars on a Black Hole in the second house in the chart of a professional athlete could manifest as the multi-million dollar contract, attracting energy/money; that same Mars could also imply a tendency to pay for sex, or to expend a great deal of energy in sexual conquests, thus draining energy/money.
Further, Black Hole aspects to celestials from other houses could determine the types of energy drain these archetypes will be subject to. Venus aspected by a second house Black Hole might indicate that the native spends a great deal on vain or frivolous purchases, fashion or cosmetics; if the aspect comes from the tenth house, career or work concerns may constantly intrude upon romantic interludes; a Black Hole aspecting Venus from the ninth house suggests that the native is drawn to well-educated types or inter-racial liaisons.
On another level, Black Holes connect us to our power to create or to creatively revision our reality, by allowing access to the myriad of possibilities inherent in the parallel universes and alternate dimensions beyond the Black Hole, outside physical space-time as we know it. It is from these potential realms that our greatest inspirations come, birthed by us into this reality as physical manifestations in the physical universe. It is as if the native who is adept at Black Hole navigation is able to reach through the singularity, beyond the boundaries of known experience, and pluck an alternate reality from the potential realms, giving it a foothold in this one.
Black Holes describe the essence of the volte-face, the swift, sudden, unexpected change of events or circumstances, the shift from one reality to another in the twinkling of an eye. Our very ability to decide from amongst a number of alternatives and enact change in our lives may derive from the properties of the Black Hole, and certainly change which is enacted upon us willy-nilly without our consent lies within their purview.
Black Holes further represent threshold passages, irreversible life stages such as birth, maturation, and death, as well as unique once-in-a-lifetime moments such as the first steps, first word, first sexual encounter. They govern major life changes such as marriage, divorce, parenthood, bereavement, as well as more minor ones such as entering college, switching jobs or moving. Any time we experience a significant shift in our circumstances, Black Hole energy is there.
Black Holes also warp time, causing it to first slow its passage, then seemingly to cease, and might possibly even reverse its flow, perhaps someday allowing time travel. Thus they may be instrumental in metering our changing sense of the passage of time as we age, or, indeed, as they are adept at regulating energy levels, they may in fact direct the aging process itself.
It is endemic in the astrological tradition that new celestials are discovered at the time they are ready to emerge in our consciousness, and events surrounding their discovery are illustrative of their meaning and effects. The discovery of Uranus, planet of shocks and rebellions, was parenthesized by the American and French revolutions. Mystic Neptune's discovery was accompanied by a revival of spiritualism, the development of the Theosophical movement and photography, and experiments with mesmerism and electro-magnetism. Powerful Pluto's discovery foreshadowed the Nazi genocide and World War II, the splitting of the atom and nuclear energy, and depth psychology. And healer Chiron's discovery in 1977 heralded the ecological movement and our increased understanding of our own woundedness and the need for deep healing of ourselves and our planet.
With physicist John Wheeler's coining of the term "Black Hole" in 1968, these anomalies (which were predicted by Einstein's equations and considered by scientists and mathematicians as long ago as Newton's time) may be said to have entered the collective unconscious.
Surely no other celestial phenomenon has made such a deep and lasting impact on our culture, cited as a metaphor for disempowerment, strange circumstance and energy loss in everything from ABC's "World News Tonight" and an eponymous Disney film, to popular sitcoms like "Murphy Brown." No other cutting-edge physics has permeated the collective to this extent in so short a time, with even Einstein's Theory of General Relativity largely unilluminated, almost a century after its proposal. With the weight of this public embrace of the Black Hole concept before us, can we as astrologers fail to acknowledge the depth of its power and influence on our lives? It would be like denying the significance of Pluto simply because of its size and distance from the sun.
These deep space anomalies, however distant, interact with our archetypes, as seen in our planetary cycles, and thus, with us. They have an observable, verifiable and dramatic impact upon our daily lives, and to ignore them is to deny a part of ourselves.
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.
His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at firstname.lastname@example.org.