Way back in the past - early summer, 1988 - I was a student on a summer break. I had discovered the great Norwegian writer, Knut Hamsun, and his writing made me want to visit Norway, to see if it really was that beautiful, romantic and lonesome. And, of course, to see what kind of place this incredible writer had come from. Off I went, on a cheap ticket via my air hostess sister, my rucksack full of supermarket food. Norway was going to be expensive. But I knew Jupiter was moving over my Ascendant, so good stuff was liable to occur.
The astrologically minded amongst you will have already noted that I went to Norway, inspired by a writer. This, of course, was highly appropriate because I arrived exactly on my Mercury line, at Oslo Airport, a few miles west of the city itself. This was to be a hitchhiking holiday inspired by a writer. I landed smack on my Mercury-Midheaven line.
At first things were problematic. It rained. There were no lifts to be had. I ended up stomping into the outskirts of Oslo, my rucksack weighing a ton, getting a bit wet. I had been impressed by the dark, moody mountains I had seen as the plane came into land, but when I got to the centre of the city I was rather nonplussed Oslo looked like Croydon*. Never mind I thought, I'll go and get a ferry to one of these exotic looking little islands (also spotted in Oslo Fjord on the way in) and camp there. I arrived at an island. Amongst the first things I noticed were big signs in many languages telling me camping was forbidden. Back I tracked.
Somehow that night I managed to get to a big park on the outskirts of the city. I set my tent up illegally and went to sleep, it was still raining. Already Mercury had shown his face; I had been back and forth on my island trip, I had sneaked into a park and camped illegally. Next day I went to the Edvard Munch Museum. Having perused his weird, wonderful, energetic but ultimately rather depressing paintings, I had a chat with a girl working there. She told me a classic Mercury story. Munch's paintings were being stolen. It worked like this; the policy of the gallery was to rotate the stock, presumably because there was not enough space to show everything. Some clever thieves had found out about this and were stealing the paintings at the rotation points. It's a long time ago, but it was along those lines, that story. Mercury playing tricks again. Munch is, of course, one of the great artists in Norway, and here were his paintings being stolen. I was rather amazed.
Soon after I headed out of Oslo. I went out west of the city, back to my Mercury line and got across to Bergen in about three or four lifts. I remember the man who gave me the longest lift was taking his car across to Bergen to sell because he would get a better price there. Another mercurial trick. I think it was also at this point that I got a lift from a couple of men who were very helpful and, I guessed from their manner, gay. They were going to Paradis (translation: Paradise). This turned out to be a suburb of Bergen. Somebody, maybe they, dropped me off at the camp site, a few miles from Bergen and a few miles from Paradise. But the Sun, at least, was out. In fact the Sun didn't go in for the rest of the trip. In the North it hardly set.
Of course, by this time I was getting close to both my Pluto/Descendant and my Node/IC lines (on this map the Pluto line cuts across the page and the Node line runs vertically). It was to be expected that I would run into stuff to do with taboo (a Pluto meaning) relationships (the Descendant). Also, by this time I was noticing that everywhere in Norway, apart from Oslo, was beautiful. I had seen incredible sights of nature's power. Nature and power are two deep themes of the planet Pluto. The couple of days I spent around the world's second largest Fjord, Sognefjord, were amazing and refreshing because of the ever present power of nature. Pluto certainly can be a very liberating planet.
Also around this time I was told a very nodal story by a woman I got chatting to on a ferry. Prior to the coming of money from Norway's wealth of natural resources (Pluto) the infrastructure of the country had been basic and poor. The roads, in particular, had been quite limited. Many of the valleys amongst the mountains of this Western area of the country, had been very isolated and developed names - I remember she mentioned Valley of the Watchmakers, and maybe also there was a Valley of the Idiots. These names were colloquial and, of course, telling. Groups of people had become rather inbred, resulting in groups of people with specific shared characteristics (Node). As the roads came - and this was still happening in 1988 - the country opened up and groups began to mix. This resulted in huge changes, yawning generation gaps and a mixing of blood throughout these interestingly named valleys. Overall a mix of Pluto and the Node - exactly the tale I should pick up in this place.
Moving North I was approaching the area where my Node and Pluto lines cross. When I was maybe 50 miles from there, planning to head up to the North of the country, I was given a lift by an ex-missionary. He was a really lovely man, and soon said that I could stay in his family home in Ålesund that night. He also explained that he was currently working with displaced Sri Lankans. Sure enough, when we got to his place I met his wife and kids, and I also met a very disconsolate looking Sri Lankan guy, displaced by the Sinhalese/Tamil violence in his own country. He was incredibly alienated and upset, living where he did not belong. In fact he was a walking demonstration of the crossing of my Node/IC line with my Pluto/Descendant line, living a mere six miles from the point where this actually was. I remember feeling very upset for him, and that most awful of feelings one can get with Pluto in its negative form, the feeling that there was nothing I could do for him.
When I left these very hospitable, interesting people, I stopped off at the local tourist office. I got chatting to a woman there who stated that she thought it was wrong that black people should live in the more remote parts of Norway. Her views were clearly racist, a more negative permutation of Pluto/Node, but it was shocking to see these views held by someone in a governmental office. The Sri Lankan chap had also explained that he was subject to racism in Ålesund, I found it all quite hard to believe.
I made my way up to Trondheim and beyond. I got stuck in the small town of Hell. I got picked up by a harpist. Think about it for a second and it becomes rather poetic.
She was the only the second woman who had given me a lift and I asked her if she thought it a bit risky picking up a single man such as myself. She said there was no problem, her dad had been chief of police in Amsterdam and had taught her some self-defence tricks. This woman had had an amazing life. She lived in Trondheim where she was regularly called into the hospital to help out with people who had eaten the wrong sort of mushrooms. People wishing to see Santa and his reindeer fly through the forest, in its tree-dappled daylight, if you see what I mean. People who liked to experiment.
As well as winning the International Harp Contest in Israel, she is one of the foremost experts on mushrooms in Norway. She was travelling north to present a lecture to a meeting of woman, a kind of Norwegian Women's Institute. She was great company, we had some lovely chats on that long drive, even diverting several miles to check an important mushroom site. Of course, all this mushroom stuff was certainly very Plutonian. Like most things that come under Pluto, mushrooms are small but powerful. They also show their Pluto nature in that they are potential killers, healers and can induce heightened states of consciousness. I remain in touch with this harpist, who I feel, is a living example of the positive power of Pluto and the positive power of a lot more besides. I certainly enjoyed our time together travelling North over my Pluto/Descendant line.
The longest lift I had was with a German couple who had been educated at a school close to where I come from. They were driving a fantastic converted Mercedes ambulance estate. I was able to lie, Pluto/Descendant style on the patient's bed space, my head poking out between theirs into the front of the vehicle. By now the views were truly amazing. Closing in on the Lofoten Islands nature becomes almost hysterically beautiful in that one can nose a camera in almost any direction and an exquisite image will show. I remember driving through the treeless mountains in the Sun, loving the mix of great conversation with Supertramp and Anne Clark music.
These two were driving around Norway selling maps. Now, looking at the area where I spent a day and a half with them, it's not surprising that I ended up with map sellers at this point. I was in the area of Mercury and Saturn Midheaven. Travelling sales are very Mercurial in nature and maps have something of Saturn about them, since they are very precise and laborious to put together. They also have to be right. Very Mercury-Saturn all this, plus the fact they were from a school that was a few miles from where I lived. Mercury tricks and Saturn's demands work. Going to school, selling maps to schools as they were, both Mercury-Saturn activities.
My final lift North was in a van with some more Germans. I probably connect quite well with Germans because my Venus/Descendant line runs through that country. These ones had come from Berlin and were driving to a remote abandoned village up in the Lofoten Islands. They were great. At some point we were somewhere and some of them were buying some food, when suddenly they rushed back in. The van was being attacked by local Norwegian youths. The Germans explained it was to do with World War II. I think this might have been the closest we got to my Saturn/Midheaven line.
Eventually we got to the abandoned village. It was full of well intentioned Germans. There were no Norwegians. The village was being used as an environmental experiment, with solar panels and other such stuff (I can't remember much detail of this). These great people were being allowed to live and work in the village because the Norwegians were forcing the indigenous population to abandon certain villages. This was because the upkeep of the infrastructure to these remote places was prohibitively expensive. The cutting and curtailing of infrastructure, especially roads, of course, is very Mercury-Saturn in nature.
Hitching out of that place was a nightmare, particularly as I had to do it on a Sunday. It was too remote and my movement (Mercury) involved about half a day's wait (Saturn) before it started. On the trip south I met other interesting types; a lad from Norwich with his Norwegian girlfriend who had dyed her hair black. They lived in caves in Spain in the winter and in Norway in the summer. At one point we pulled over while they stole some unsuspecting person's red reflective triangle (required in Norway). This must surely have been my Pluto/Descendant line. I must have still been on it when a Norwegian pensioner took me to see a huge cliff via a small diversion. We had no common language. Another in awe of nature moment.
In the evening hitching south toward Mo I was given a lift by a very interesting character. He claimed to be the third best rally driver, or maybe - I think it was - go-kart driver in Norway. And he drove in that style too. He was a great advocate of the pop group INXS and played their music LOUD. He dumped me in Mo as it was getting dark, I had to hike out and pitch camp close to the road, so tired I was. Looking at the map the guy was something of a Sun/Pluto type, on the negative side of that combination. The lift was a bit scary and he wasn't really listening to me.
My final lift was as good as due south along my Mercury/Midheaven line. In a Mercedes pulling a trailer. The driver had spotted that I had a Berghaus rucksack and was a fan of those. Mercury again - he liked the label, he liked the word. In the back he had two freezer bags full of what had been a reindeer. He had selected it because it was old, stalked it and carefully shot it. I was full of admiration. He had cut the thing up himself, it was part of a cull and he was going to eat it. On the way back to Oslo, along my Mercury in Aquarius on the Midheaven line we had a great chat about the relative merits of vegetarianism and meat eating. He, of course, worked at the airport - Mercury in Aquarius.
I hope you've enjoyed this piece. To me it seems fascinating how astro-geographic phenomena chime with what one experiences when travelling through their domain. I wonder what I would have experienced if I had completely different lines through Norway? If I had no Pluto would I have not witnessed any racism? If I had no Mercury line would I have not got the lifts I needed? Am I only remembering selectively? To this last question I think I can say no. What I experienced in Ålesund, for example, was so classically Pluto/Node no one could have scripted it.
Astro geography truly does bring the experiences I have had travelling into sharp and interesting relief. Just writing this has taught me more. Working with any map is an enriching and entertaining experience.
* Croydon is an uncharismatic area of the London spawl that has a lot of uninspiring high-rise buildings.