Thursday, April 1, 2010

Good Idea Not Forgotten: Social Vampires and Black Holes

Artist's rendition of a black hole.

Every once in a while, I come across an astrological theory or concept that is worthwhile, but is in danger of being forgotten. It could be because the author is obscure, or because the idea wasn’t packaged properly, so the astrology community never became aware of it. When I find an astrological technique that I know is worth a second look, I am going to include it in a series called “Good Idea Not Forgotten”. “Social Vampires and Black Holes” is the second article in this series.


I love the wild “trickiness” of this theory – even though I know there are folks out there who will not find this an application of astrology worth embracing. Take it too literally, and the vampire phenomenon looks like a bunch of human leeches that are looking for attention. Look beneath the obvious, however, and a connection between black holes and a particular type of personality begins to seem possible. The possibility of this teases and “fools” you. Publishing on April Fool’s Day seemed appropriate.


The idea, and the book that it was published in, is about the farthest thing you can get from “mainstream astrology”. The book is The Ethical Psychic Vampire, by Raven Kaldera, and the section of particular interest is, “Chapter 12: The Astrological Vampire” You won’t find this author, or his book, reviewed by The Mountain Astrologer magazine.

Yet the premise is fascinating. Kaldera theorized that those who are adept at “sucking” energy from others and then “recycling” it into their own endeavors, or possibly for the benefit of others, may have personal and generational planets that are tightly conjunct black holes.

The idea goes beyond the psychological concept of co-dependency, a common phenomenon. Vampires are co-dependents, but a more potent variety. They are, in fact, a pretty rare breed, according to the author and his peers. After comparing the data against every chart that I follow, I only came up with one individual who had four natal planets tightly conjunct black holes. Because the data set is so specific (see the table below), and the applicable orbs are so narrow, most of us don’t fall into these categories. Also, the effect appears to be cumulative – the subject with four planets tightly conjunct black holes is far more likely to manifest this vampire power than someone who merely has a Sun or Ascendant tightly conjunct a black hole.


Raven Kaldera is a female-to-male (FTM) trans-gendered activist, shaman, and author who is also considered a spiritual founder of the Northern Tradition, an unorthodox offshoot of Norse paganism, or Asatru, which is itself considered a highly alternative religious practice in the United States.

Raven Kaldera is in a consensual master-slave relationship with FTM Joshua Tenpenny, a Buddhist who does a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work at Cauldron Farm, the homestead and spiritual center of the Northern Tradition.I mention this fact up front because it always seems to become an object of trepidation, disgust, or dissension among those who have a hard time distinguishing an author’s personal practices from his ideas.

I met Joshua at a workshop that I attended with Raven at Free Spirit Alliance in Maryland, and I can tell you that he is a caring, dedicated, very hardworking individual. People are immediately drawn to him. Without his prodigious effort, I am certain that Cauldron Farm and the Northern Tradition would not be as productive or influential as it is in the pagan community.

Kaldera is also married to male-to-female (MTF) Bella, whom I have not met, because she is less likely to travel to workshops or large pagan events.

Kaldera hasn’t written much on astrological theory. He has written an application book for pagans who want to incorporate astrology in their devotional practice, but the main focus of his output is on the gods and goddesses of the Northern Tradition. He made a tremendous wealth of material available to anyone in the Archives of his website

Scroll down to the bottom of the main page on the website to find the link for the Archives.

It was here that I first became acquainted with Raven and his work. His website served as the inspiration for this blog. After seeing how much material Kaldera made free to anyone who was interested, I decided that I needed to attempt something like this for the astrological community.

While this article is devoted to Kaldera’s theory on vampires and black holes, he is particularly proud of his theory that tight aspects between personal planets and the asteroid Pallas Athene are a signature of the trans-gendered. You may want to poke around on his website to see if you can locate it there. I didn't have any luck last time I perused the Archives, but I know its in there somewhere.


Much of The Ethical Psychic Vampire has nothing to do with astrology. The vampire phenomenon was very much in vogue five years ago with the publication of Michelle Bellanger’s Vampire Codex series, but self-identification as a vampire did not catch on heavily in the pagan community (which may be for the best). Raven Kaldera published a more intimate “insider view” of this phenomenon in Ethical Psychic Vampire, introducing some readers to an exotic, unfamiliar, and frightening world. Parts of it are very graphic, and leave the reader with the feeling of needing to come up for air. Here’s a sample passage:

Don’t drink a lot of blood. First of all, you shouldn’t be taking that much anyway. Second, blood is very rich and tends to curdle in the stomach. If you drink more than, say, an ounce, you may well get sick and throw up, which isn’t going to make your donor very happy, or you for that matter. Human blood passes through the body undigested. No, you won’t get nutrients from it like you would [from] animal blood. Your body is designed like that, so that you won’t digest yourself in the case of a peritoneal leak. The blood may show up in your fecal matter later as a dark color, so be warned.
-“Chapter Seven: The Blood is the Life”, Ethical Psychic Vampire, p 91.

Clearly, the author knows how to cultivate shock value, and seems to enjoy it. The motto which serves as a tagline on the back jacket of many of his books is, ‘Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.


The majority of this book has to do with blood-drinking and non blood-drinking vampire practice, the difference between primary and secondary vampires (primary vampires are born that way, and secondary ones are “made”), and the link between vampires and shamanic practitioners. There are some fascinating ideas here, even if one is not inclined to take them all literally.

From my perspective, it is possible to engage this book on both a literal and a metaphorical level. You could pursue the literal route, if drinking other people’s blood is your thing. It isn’t mine. Or you could examine people who feed off the energy of others in less dramatic ways - what I would call “social vampires”. Are storm-chasers a form of vampires? What makes a vampire different from anyone else who is skilled at psychic perception and energy work? What makes a vampire more of a nuisance than a mere co-dependent? What does one do with the vampire child, otherwise known as the “psi-vamp” kid? (Parents will find a cleverly titled chapter, “The Family Vampire: Bringing Up the Next Generation”.) Kaldera attempts to answer most of these questions.

You could engage with this world-view as the author’s delusion, which it might well be, and still come away with some thought-provoking ideas. In particular, I was looking for something that would validate the vampire experience unrelated to the self-reported perceptions of the participants engaged in the vampire sub-culture.

What I came up with was the astrological data, and the perspective it afforded me. While it isn’t appropriate data for a scientist who is solely limited to an empirical framework (and who doesn’t take much stock in vampires), it was a highly original viewpoint from an author who believes an empirical mindset can be applied to astrology, and creatively used it to come up with an explanation for the “born” vampire, or possibly as an explanation for the talent of a secondary vampire. I liked the idea enough to want to give it a second viewing, since I have a feeling that The Ethical Psychic Vampire did not make it on to the bookshelves of a lot of practicing astrologers.


Black hole energy does seem to be present in certain people. Frequently, they are people that others are drawn to without understanding why. They are very likely to be leaders of their social circles. People with the power of black holes do seem to get energy from those around them. Often they have a small “orbit” of dedicated friends who seem to hover on their edges – the same way that some objects will orbit a black hole for a long time before finally being overcome by the awesome gravitational force.

Substitute the word “vampire” for the expression “black hole energy”. Friends of such an individual don’t report feeling drained by the vampire; most seem to benefit from his or her company. Friends of the vampire may only feel the black hole energy when they fall out of friendship (or love) with the vampire, and start to resist his or her orbit. Black holes are said to be very hard to detect in the visible universe. People with black hole energy can be subtle customers, too.

When it manifests negatively, people with “black hole energy” are very likely to be at the center of cults. Since many people have difficulty perceiving the nature of this energy in a group leader, there tends to be a very “fine line” between an insular spiritual community and a true cult. Those who feel victimized by a tightly-knit spiritual group are often the first to defend its leader by saying that it is not a cult. Most of the time, they are right. Yet it may still “look and feel” a little bit like a cult to the victim, particularly if leaving is traumatic.


It is almost as if the chapter was a bit of an afterthought. Kaldera sketches his impressions, and it only takes him four slim pages to do it.

Born vampires have a strongly aspected Pluto. He doesn’t elaborate, so I will. If Pluto is the most heavily aspected planet in your horoscope, you may not be a “born” vampire, but perhaps some milder vampire tendencies are a part of your personality.

A well-aspected Saturn is a boon to vampires – it gives them the discipline to stay ethical. Kaldera has a way of expressing wisdom unrelated to the topic at hand, and he does it here when he writes, “It is not uncommon for Saturn to deliver someone into Pluto’s hands.” Any observer of the current Pluto-in-Capricorn era will be aware of the pithy wisdom behind this observation.

By contrast, Neptune is the nemesis of an ethical vampire because it doesn’t like to respect boundaries. A vampire with a Saturn that has not caught up with his or her Neptune needs to be warded off with garlic, to say the least!

He then takes a look at black holes, and mentions that Philip Sedgwick is one of the few mainstream astrologers who emphasize their meaning in chart interpretation, although he does it “with such variable concepts as time travel, karmic flashbacks, and higher wisdom”.

Finally, he explains his theory that planetary conjunction with black holes in a natal chart infuse the subject with a large dose of black hole energy. This allows the native to personify the magnetic or terrible energy of a black hole, usually with regard to people he or she knows intimately, but sometimes on a wider scale. Those conscious of the power may develop it ethically by using healing modalities that encourage them to recycle it to the “donor” for his or her benefit.

He includes personal data, his own and his daughter’s. “I have three of the sixteen possible black holes in a cluster within a couple of degrees of my Sun, and one directly on my ascendant; my daughter has black holes conjunct her Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and Uranus”, he writes.

Among all of the folks whose charts I follow, there was one person with his Mercury, Venus, Neptune, and Pluto tightly conjunct black holes. Like Raven Kaldera, he is the leader of a small spiritual community.


1950 1980 2000
Cygnus X-1 12 Aquarius 56 13 Aquarius 21 13 Aquarius 38
Cas A 26 Aries 42 27 Aries 07 27 Aries 24
Virga A 1 Libra 05 1 Libra 30 1 Libra 47
M-82 28 Can 17 28 Can 42 28 Can 59
Vela XR-1 2 Leo 43 3 Leo 08 3 Leo 25
3UO900-40 6 Virgo 22 6 Virgo 47 7 Virgo 09
Cen 3-X 28 Libra 31 28 Libra 56 29 Libra 13
Cen-A 6 Sco 56 7 Sco 21 7 Sco 38
Circinius X-1 3 Sag 25 3 Sag 50 4 Sag 12
Hercules X-1 4 Sag 11 4 Sag 36 4 Sag 53
Sco X-1 5 Sag 09 5 Sag 34 5 Sag 51
3U1700-37 17 Sag 52 18 Sag 17 18 Sag 34
GX339-4 18 Sag 53 19 Sag 18 19 Sag 35
SGR X-4 4 Cap 26 4 Cap 51 5 Cap 08
SMC X-1 11 Aqu 39 12 Aqu 04 12 Aqu 31
Cygnus X-3 27 Aqu 53 28 Aqu 18 28 Aqu 35

MY NOTES: Note the “Black Hole Belt” in Sagittarius. People with focal planets in Sagittarius should check to see if those planets are conjunct a black hole. This “Black Hole Heaven” is associated with very specific range of degrees – Sagittarius 3 through Sagittarius 6, and Sagittarius 17 through Sagittarius 19. By contrast, no black holes of note in Taurus, Gemini, or Pisces, apparently.

Black holes are like fixed stars. I usually use an orb of one degree with fixed stars. At first, the skeptic in me only wanted to allow a one-half to three-quarter degree orb. Then I flip-flopped, and decided to use a one degree orb. Despite this, my sample size remains miniscule, because almost everyone gets excluded. Others who have come to their own conclusions after comparing this data against the horoscopes of those they know well should feel free to comment on my method.

Note the red pointer on the constellation of Scorpio, where a series of malefic fixed stars known as the Via Dolorosa is located. If Kaldera and Philip Sedgwick are correct, there is a cluster of power-suckers right next door in Sagittarius. Of course, black holes are located throughout the constellations - those in the table above are probably a fraction of what is actually out there. But it does seem to imply some sinister powers for some of the Sagittarian people we know - they may have more personality traits in common with Scorpios than we once realized.

Kaldera, Raven. The Ethical Psychic Vampire, Xlibris Corporation, 2005.