by Bruce Scofield
The other night as I was driving home I was jolted into higher consciousness by an enormous cloud of steam rising from under my hood. Whoa! Check out that temperature gauge too! Let's get off the road fast! With engine shut off, I gingerly opened the hood and stood back. When the hot steam cloud dispersed into the sub-freezing air I saw that the hose connecting the engine block to the heater box had blown and I had lost at least half the water/antifreeze mix in my radiator. But this is just car talk, what I was really thinking was that Mercury (the connector hose) had reached its limits (Saturn) from the constant heat and pres_sure of Pluto (the radiator plumbing). Transiting Pluto was exactly square my Saturn that night and sesquiquadrate my Mercury a few days later. But what I really, really knew was that the structures of my mind were bending under the pressure of inevitable change. I was pushing the limits in other areas of my life. How glad I was that it was my car that suffered the blown hose and not my body. But this is a gift of the modern world -- an alternate body onto which we can project our psychological prob_lems. How lucky to be a car-owning American!
I was indeed lucky that night. A female police officer came by and shone her long phallic flashlight onto my problem and, with tools I carry in the trunk, I cut back the hose to a stronger point and replaced the hose clamp. I was on the road again in 10 or 15 minutes and didn't even bother to replace the old hose with a new one for three weeks. Finally, I ordered a new hose at a local auto parts store that is a collective (Pluto) of strange women. With the part came a computer receipt that contained a brief historical fact (every one gets some ridiculous bit of trivia when they buy something there). Of course mine was about some horrible king of England who peed (Pluto) in the bishops eye (Mercury) during the baptism ritual (Saturn). I felt good that I was able to sustain the perfect symbolism of this event ad nau_seam. This is part of the philosophy of Symbolic Substitution, that is, to do precisely what the planets are suggesting.(1) By the way, the replacing of the hose resulted in a mess of anti_freeze on my driveway (a toxic spill) that I had to clean up. Also, the mailman came by as I was working and gave me some bad advice. It seems that in this case, the Pluto types (police women and female car parts retailer) were helpful. Mercury (the mail_man) was a problem. This event drew attention to my inner condi_tions and, not wishing for a blown transmission, I intensified my meditation routine. Things calmed down for a while.
Your car is your other body. If you have a Saturn problem in your natal chart, you will probably have frequent problems with your car's brakes, with it's structural integrity or with licensing your car. I believe this is a good thing. Why suffer knee problems or root canals when your car can do it all for you! Over the years it has become increasingly clear to me that to have a car with problems is better than having a mind with problems. My natal Mercury is afflicted by Neptune and Saturn. I could easily go crazy if it weren't for the symbolic/technical nature of astrology, my profession. And I find that having a lousy car is also good insurance that any Mercury problems will have a convenient outlet.
For years I drove early 1950's Chevy's. I once lived at a farm where there were five or six of these in the back field -- I had my own junkyard! Later I moved up to Volkswagons. I had at least four bugs, a squareback and a bus during the 1970's. With that great book "How to Keep Your Volkswagon Alive for the Complete Idiot," I rebuilt my engines many times over and was constantly swapping parts to keep these babies on the road. After a brief fling with a more recent VW Rabbit (which was totaled by a 88-year old founder of the Boy Scouts just 6 months after I got it) and a Datsun 510 (which cost me more than it was worth) I'm back in the groove again with a 1978 Datsun B-210, an easy to work on car that is now 15 years old. It's parts are slowly rotting out -- but, hey, better it than me. Here's symbolic substitution at its finest.
Now back in the early 1980's I began to put some of my ideas on car-astrology in print. In my book on electional astrology (2) I brought up the topic briefly calling it "auto-astro-symbolism." Experience taught me that each part of the car, like the human body, was ruled by a planet. Any major stressful transits or progressions would find their outlet (if you have a life like mine) in the part of the car that corresponds with the symbolism. In this way a diagnosis is possible. Suppose your car doesn't start one morning and you know that you have transiting Saturn nearly square your natal Uranus. Hold the phone! It has to be your battery -- the electric is not happening, Saturn has blocked Uranus. Don't even bother to look at the carburetor -- unless of course you also have Saturn opposing your natal Neptune. Hey, just think, all of you born in the early 1950's with Uranus square that Saturn/Neptune conjunction are about to have impossi_ble electrical car problems as Neptune and Uranus, in conjunc_tion, activate that configuration. That is if you're lucky enough to own a car.
Before I go any further I should present my latest list of auto-astro correspondences.
Sun: The engine itself -- its power. Lights. The Sun roof. Vanity license plates. Bumper stickers. Gauges.
Moon: Fluids in general. The interior -- seats, cushions, etc. The garage. The gas tank. The Moon roof.
Mercury: The car itself as a transportation device. Windows. Hoses and connectors of all kinds. The wiring. The steering linkage.
Venus: The body -- paint, shine, etc. Interior decoration. The sound system. Pressure balances. Shocks. Hub caps.
Mars: Power. The drive chain. Friction on parts. Metal parts and strictly mechanical components.
Jupiter: Bumpers. Fenders. Ski and bike racks. Cruise control. Spills or excess fluids or air. Hatch back.
Saturn: The brakes. The frame. Blockages or obstructions. The "skin" (eg. waxing the exterior).
Uranus: Electrical devices. The distributor, sparkplugs, and the timing (with Saturn).
Neptune: Fluids. The trunk. Tires. The gas line and carburetor and the transforming of fluid (gasoline) into a mist.
Pluto: The transmission. The exhaust system. Pistons and cylinders in
the engine or elsewhere. Plumbing systems with the car. Rot and decay (also
ruled by Hades).
When transiting Saturn was sesquiquadrating my Mars my red brake light came on -- and stayed on. I knew right away that this meant I probably should slow down in my life. My reaction at first to ignore the warning (I was having too much fun), but then I checked the fluid level in the brake master cylinder. It was low so I topped it up and the light went off -- but this was too simple so I brought the car to the garage for a brake inspection. They found that the left front brake caliper tended to stick and the brake pad on that side was wearing out at a more rapid rate than the one on the right. My choice was to replace both calipers for about $300 or replace the pads for $30 and then do it again periodically. I chose the later and now live with an imbalance in my front end. I must be ready for the possibility that the caliper will jam and that I'll have to bite the big one, but for now its OK, I accept imbalance in my life at this time. With transiting Pluto now on my Mercury, and it will be near it for a year, this is a good possibility since Pluto rules pistons and cylin_ders -- and that is how the calipers work. For me this means I must be conscious of my movements, keep lubricated mentally and socially, and be ready for a sudden jam (which will be revealed when the caliper sticks and my car begins to pull to the side when I put on the brakes). So would money solve this problem? Certainly on the car level, but ultimately it would just shift the planetary energy somewhere else. I like it on the car level -- it's a real confirmation of where I'm at and it's tangible.
Here's another example of how I use my knowledge of astrology to do symbolic substitution with my car. Transiting Pluto is quincunx my Venus, which rules my third house of transportation -- so I've fastened an artificial flower to the head of a skull-less skeleton that my son left in the back seat. This will become my "St. Christopher" on the dashboard. Venus is decoration in the car as well as the flower. Pluto is the skeleton and the quincunx is the strange mix of the two. Mexicans know all about this kind of thing. I believe this figure will protect me as I transform my relationships because I plan to mount it on the dashboard when Jupiter is rising or culminating. (3)
There's a whole world of astrology in car-land. When you buy a car, it gets delivered to you on a specific date and time. Your certificate of ownership may also list the day that it left the factory. I've found that charts cast for both these events show very clearly the events in the life of the car. That Datsun 510 I owned left the factory when Mercury was opposite Uranus and it constantly had minor electrical wiring problems. I bought my VW Rabbit during a bad Mars transit (I had no choice but to get a car quickly) but managed to get the seller to sign over the documentation at a specific time I elected for safety. Still the chart was a tense one. Everything was fine for six months but then it was totaled around the time transiting Mars formed a square to its position in the purchase chart. My dog and I were fine, however. This stuff works and is well worth paying atten_tion to when considering selling a car or doing major work on it.
Things get even weirder sometimes. A while back my Datsun 510 suddenly died on me. I figured it wasn't getting enough gas so I cranked up the idle to get back home. My inspection of the gasline and carb led nowhere. Everything was fine for a week but then it happened again and that time I had to get towed. The mechanic at the garage told me he couldn't figure out what was happening. I took it to another mechanic and he suggested replac_ing the carb itself because he thought there was a tiny speck of gunk somewhere that was disrupting the misting process. But this would cost me about $400 for a used carb and about $600 for a new one. The other option was to drive with the idle up high while the engine oscillated between high and low rpm's. It was having a breathing problem, maybe carasthma. Knowing that transiting Neptune was squaring my Mercury, and would do so for at least six months, I came up with a brilliant solution. I went down to K-Mart and bought a dozen bottles of STP gasline cleaner. Every time I filled up I put one in and said a prayer to the great car gods of Datsun asking them to heal the gasline problem. After a month I could feel that the idling extremes were coming down. After three months, the idle was more or less tolerable. A year later everything was perfect. And I didn't go mental or develop bronchitis, my car did it for me.
I don't know what else to say about this fascinating astrologi_cal specialty, astro-car-tology. Horary charts for the time a problem occurs will work using the same symbolism. Once in a while I'm alert enough to record the first time something happens and cast a chart for it. At a time when Pluto was rising and Jupiter was at the MC, I felt a slight slippage in the clutch. It turned out that it was not the clutch at all but a piston assembly connected to the clutch, more of a Pluto thing, that didn't cost me much or caused a big problem. But more often the general transits of the time will give excellent insights into you and your car's problems. Be sure to listen to Car Talk on National Public Radio. Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers, are the host of this wonderful relief from the incessant flow of mostly boring classical music. And remember, when in doubt, have a tune up.
(1) Symbolic Substitution is the name given by Dr. Barry Orr of Matawan, NJ to the spiritual discipline practiced by the author of this article. In this path (road, highway, etc.) the practitioner becomes programmer of his or her own life, changing the subconscious reality maps that normally dictate the flow of events. The exchange of one reality for another must conform to the astrological symbolism of the time, however. This approach operates on the meta-programing circuit of the Leary/Wilson model of consciousness. In this article, the author advocates exchanging your "self" for a car.
(2) "The Timing of Events: Electional Astrology." Orleans, MA: Astrolabe. 1984. Copies can be purchased from the author -- cost is $10 for the book + $1.20 book rate or $3.00 priority mail.
(3) Shortly after I installed this figurine in my car my neighbor died suddenly of a heart attack. My natal Venus rules my third house, which covers neighbors as well as cars. The neighbor who died was a Scorpio with very strong social inclinations. It seems no matter how conscious we try to get, there's always more stuff going on than we'll ever know. This is a strange world indeed.