John McCormick: Another Astrologer we will Miss
The astrological community in the U.S.A. has lost several of its leaders in recent years, including Marc Edmund Jones, Isabel Hickey, Carl Payne Tobey, Bob Jansky, and John McCormick. John was involved in an accident on his moped, and died during the resultant surgery, on May 7, l981. He was well known for his technical mind (Mercury in Virgo in the 9th house) and for his sharp sense of humor (Ascendant, Moon, and Mars in Sagittarius). Some of the targets of his humor may have felt that it was a little too sharp at times, but those of us who were close enough to be allowed through some of the defenses saw the sensitivity of the Moon so closely conjunct the Ascendant but in the 12th house.
With his interest in the technical side of astrology, I think he would have been willing to have his chart used to illustrate some of the varied methods in use, especially some of the new methods. I am including a variety of current patterns which I think illustrate the basic premises so often emphasized in our pages. All the techniques seem to “work” for the big turning points in the life, so it seems absurd to talk about one aspect or one technique as a “cause” of anything. I think that character creates destiny; we create character in a series of lives, and with insight we can change character and destiny; we come to rebirth when the character we have created fits the universe; the sky is part of the universe and a convenient way to see the cosmic order; we can use many systems but as long as our treatment is systematic, it will work—we will see the same order in a slightly new but potentially useful way.
I am including some of the possible techniques for current patterns for the date of John’s death, along with his natal chart. Transits and solar arc directions are simple enough so I am leaving it to readers to look up their own if they want the whole picture. I will mention that in solar arc directions, the four main aspects involved the Moon. John’s directed Moon was opposite Vesta in the 8th house; and octile natal Mars; his directed Uranus was quincunx the natal Moon (natally they were square) and his directed Pluto was square the natal Moon. Water is involved in all of these aspects. Pluto is a water planet, natally in a water sign. Moon is a water planet, natally in a water house. Uranus is natally in a water sign. I associate water with closure, finishing a chapter, whether we end a relationship, a job, residency in a house, or occupancy of the body. With natal Moon in Sagittarius in the 12th house and natal Uranus in Pisces, and directed Pluto in the 9th house, we have a theme of a search for ideals which reiterates a basic theme in the natal chart. A common form of the mutable dilemma is a chronic dissatisfaction that life, others, or especially ourselves, are not as ideal as they ought to be. No matter what we do, it is never quite good enough. Especially when letters 9 and 12 are emphasized, there is a gnawing, often unconscious, urge to escape, and there are a good many uncomfortable forms in which the escape may occur. For it to come with an accident, we expect to see aspects involving some combination of Mars, Uranus, Moon, and Mercury. For it to include surgery, we expect Mars and/or Pluto aspects. The aspects are present in the solar arc directions. Mercury is semi-sextile Mars, but natally the two were square. As has been said often, unless we have changed our basic character, the natal chart shows the nature of the events while the current patterns show the timing.
Shifting to secondary progressions, my favorite technique, we find a large number of appropriate aspects, including aspects from progressed angles which are missing in the solar arc direction. Progressed MC is octile (semi-square) progressed Saturn as well as sextile progressed Mars. Remember that directed planets can only aspect natal positions. Progressed planets and angles can aspect either natal or progressed positions. Another basic principle is that in all situations, there will be some harmony and some conflict aspects. Often, the most important fact is the sheer number of aspects; the more aspects, the more intense the period and the more the likelihood of changes involving many areas of the life.
Other secondary aspects include progressed Ascendant opposite Vesta, a life-time quincunx of Pluto to the Ascendant, a long-term square of Uranus to Moon which was “set off” by Venus conjuncting the Moon. The progressed Ascendant was also octile natal Mars, trine Saturn, and had just ended a quincunx to the Sun. The Moon was just minutes short of a square to progressed Sun, perhaps a reminder that the aspects are not “doing” anything except collectively symbolizing a state of mind. To repeat again, the important fact is the number of aspects tied in to each other in a network. Some will be nearly exact; some just coming into orb; some just leaving orb. It is the repeated message for which we are looking in our effort to understand the person and to help her or him toward self-understanding so constructive choices can be made in the life.
Additional secondary progressed aspects included a yod formed by progressed Jupiter and progressed Vesta to natal IC and south node of the Moon. As most of our readers know by now, I call the quincunx (a yod is two planets sextile to each other and quincunx to a third planet or angle) the “closet cleaning” aspect. With a quincunx we should be analyzing our life for efficiency, preparing to change our methods or goals, or deciding what is outgrown and should be discarded. A common consequence of a period of time marked by one or more quincunxes is a major shift in a new direction, leaving some of the past behind. Death is one of the more drastic ways that we can do this. Some of the new asteroids were also interesting in the chart. Neptune had been in a lifetime square to John’s natal Juno, symbolizing the problem in marriage which was shown in so many ways in the chart. Natal Icarus in Scorpio in the 11th house had made a T-square with Juno and Neptune. Progressed Pallas (which I also associate with Libra) was opposite Juno and square Neptune, while progressed Urania (another possible Uranus to be considered in another issue) had reached the square to Neptune. Progressed Icarus was conjunct natal Mars—a striking statement in view of the observed rashness of Icarus aspecting fire planets, in this case in a fire sign and house. Icarus was also trioctile Vesta and octile the progressed Ascendant. Lilith (discussed in this issue) had moved from its natal conjunction with Neptune to square natal Moon and oppose progressed Uranus. Ending with the other progressed angles, progressed Antivertex was opposite the Sun as well as conjunct progressed Pandora (to be discussed in a later issue) and progressed East Point was just short of the quincunx to natal Mercury but was closely trine an exact natal conjunction of Pallas, Urania, and Eros.
If new asteroids turn out to be meaningful; if new techniques prove dependable and useful; we expect them to repeat the basic theme of the chart, but to perhaps spell it out more clearly or just hammer it in more emphatically. Anything important has to be said repeatedly! If Eros is (as it appears to be) associated with romantic love, and Urania is similar to another Uranus, their close conjunction with Pallas and Venus only two degrees away in Libra in the 10th house, is another statement of the lesson in partnership; the freedom-closeness dilemma with the 10th house emphasizing a possible fear of domination or a critical attitude (which can be projected to attract others who are critical of us) or conflict between commitment to work and taking time and energy for relationships. Such choices in astrology are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes, all will be true and part of the problem.
Turning now to one old and one very new technique of current patterns, we are including a normal solar return; a precession-corrected solar return; a kinetic solar return; and a precession corrected kinetic solar return. They offer a dramatic picture! In the kinetic return, Mars is conjunct the descendant within one degree, at the same time, being exactly conjunct the natal Moon. The precessed kinetic return has Mars conjunct the MC just over a degree from exact, and at the midpoint of natal Moon-Ascendant. Remember that these positions put Mars square natal and progressed Uranus. In the precessed solar return (using return to natal Sun rather than to progressed Sun) Mars is more widely conjunct the Ascendant (just under a three degree orb) and square the return Vesta as well as opposite the return Pallas which is on the descendant. In the normal solar return, the chart Ascendant is conjunct natal Mars within a degree and a half while return Moon is exactly on the IC in Aries and return Neptune is just over a degree from the Ascendant in the 12th house. I don’t know when I have seen a more dramatic set of charts for a year that included an accident, surgery, and death. Can anyone say that a planet or several planets caused the event? Clearly, all of these different ways to look at the unfolding character were able to pin point the danger in different ways. The cosmic order is so totally there, any way we look at the sky, we will see the same order in a slightly different way.
What can astrologers do with this kind of information if they have it before the event rather than after it as in this case? They can discuss the principles and offer constructive ways to express the parts of the character that are obviously involved in inner conflict. A high focus on Mars calls for self-awareness of the potential for anger that we cannot do what we want when we want to. We have to look for ways to express the aggressive potential in healthy competition, in games, sports, business, or fighting for a cause. John was fighting for the cause of astrology but it wasn’t enough and it was too intense—not enough of the light, real “game- playing” attitude. He needed to develop more air, more ability to take things lightly. His humor was an obvious attempt to move in that direction, but it was more fire humor than air humor; sharp. His Libra, his main air, was unfortunately blocked by the need to stay in control of his life (the strong 10th house) and by the need for freedom (Sagittarius and 9th house) and by his search for the ideal mate (Neptune in the 8th and Moon ruling it and in Sagittarius in the 12th house, Sun and Mercury also ruling the 7th and 8th houses and in the 9th house, Jupiter in Libra and conjunct Venus, Pallas, Eros). I think the major problem was the perfectionism; too high expectations of himself, life, love, etc., and increasing but largely repressed anger that he couldn’t achieve the ideals. If he could have found a more effective way to manifest the anger than the barbed wit which undoubtedly caused him qualms of conscience and loss of positive regard from others; if he could have learned to enjoy what is: the journey toward the ideal even when it is clearly a long journey, we might still have his Virgo mind and Sagittarius humor to keep us company a little longer on the road. So long John. We’ll miss you.
[Web edit note: the AstroDatabank has EDT rather than the EST used when this article was written. Charts in EDT follow.]