Friday, December 1, 2017

Of toothaches, retweets & grudge-matches: the Saturn-Chiron cycle & its challenges

Ever had a toothache? One of those dull, throbbing pains that says healthy tissue and bony structure are deteriorating, and nerves are raw and exposed? 

Some might say that American society has an excruciating metaphorical toothache these days, accompanied by painful waves of near-panic. Unfortunately, the pain and panic are reasonable. Our democratic institutions—the healthy tissue and bony structure of our society—are under assault, and some are in a dangerous state of decay. Judging by the past week, we might even say that the rot at the top is beginning to abscess.

The State Department is a prime example: under Rex Tillerson, our foreign service and diplomatic corp are being starved for resources and personnel, the Department’s mandate to project American “soft power” hijacked by an executive who doesn’t seem to believe in that mission.  When Trump was questioned by a Fox journalist about why he hasn’t filled key upper-level positions in the State Department, he answered, “I’m the only one that matters.”  Bam! Another nauseating wave of pain.

It’s tempting to look at our present situation and think it came on all of a sudden, that it’s an anomaly, or—as one journalist put it—a “psychotic episode” in American history. Astrologically, I would beg to differ:  this is more like the latest chapter in a long story, and it has more than a little bit to do with those metaphorical rotting teeth. Or at least with the planetary cycle most in tune with such things. Bear with me—a little context will clarify.

Since January 2016, we’ve been experiencing (on and off, accounting for retrograde motion and orbs, etc.) a waning (final quarter) square aspect between Saturn and Chiron—notably, from mutable Sagittarius to Pisces. History reflects that the stressful points of this cycle are often marked by wounding, repressive developments, but ultimately the message is about the healing that comes from accepting responsibility and being accountable.

This wounding/healing process unfolds over the entire Saturn-Chiron cycle, of course, which in our current instance began in January 1966 (when Chiron first exactly conjoined Saturn at 21°+Pisces) and will end in May 2028, when the new cycle between this duo begins at 4°+Taurus.

Interesting side note: those born in that mid-1960s period are now experiencing their Chiron return (Chiron takes roughly 51-years to orbit the Sun), and natives of the Pluto in Libra (1971-83) generation will be experiencing their Chiron returns under that future 2028 cycle.

So, to work the dental metaphor just a bit further, the growing pains and evolution that we’re presently undergoing have the potential for healing if we acknowledge the pain and its cause, and then put our collective derriere in Saturn’s cosmic “dental” chair for the work that needs to be done.  It’s not about one administration—albeit a very troubling one—like tooth decay, it’s about a long process of deterioration that has reached a critically painful threshold and an important turning point. 

If you’ve been watching this space, you’ll know that in terms of planetary transits to our national Sibly chart, there’s no sugar-coating the near-term road ahead, but this Saturn-Chiron cycle gives me hope that American society will eventually emerge refreshed and healed of some deeply painful wounds. If we get with the program.

For now, let’s map out some of the highlights of this 1966 Saturn-Chiron cycle we’ve been experiencing—importantly, this information could help us envision a happy conclusion as the cycle wraps up over the next decade. First, let’s consider a time line. Please note that because Chiron has a relatively long orbital period and Saturn is so important as a social planet, I’ve allowed a 5 degree orb for the major quarterly aspects (conjunction, 1st (waxing) square, opposition, 2nd (waning) square).

In some instances, expanding the orb to 7-8 made sense because the aspect was going to be back within 5-degrees in days. These aspects don’t turn “on” and “off” like electric lights as the orbs are exceeded—the dynamics simply become more muted or become "background noise."

As we’ll see, because Chiron also traces a very unusual ellipse as it orbits the Sun, this cycle is far from “conventional:” the phases last a varying amount of time, and that irregularity adds to the cycle’s mystique as a wounding/healing force. Also catalogued below are some key historical highlights from each cycle phase and a few observations about how those events and developments resonate with current events.

Table 1. Phase timeline for 1966 Saturn-Chiron cycle

Cycle Phase
Effective period
Historical highlights
Resonance with current events

Conjunction - 21°+Pis
Cold War; Civil Rights struggle; Vietnam War and civil unrest
Clashing views of Russia (officially they are considered hostile to the U.S., but Trump seems closely enmeshed); white supremacist/-nationalist backlash brings Trump to power; No. Korean conflict looms (as in the Vietnam war, China plays important role)
1st Quarter Square – Cancer-Aries
10/1974-1/1975; 7/1975-7/1976
Vietnam war aftermath; Watergate conspiracy; recession
Iraq and Afghanistan war aftermaths; a compromised Election 2016, followed by Mueller investigations into Russian role in Trump victory
Opposition – Sagittarius-Gemini, Capricorn-Cancer, Aquarius-Leo, Pisces-Virgo, Aries-Libra, Cancer-Capricorn
The Reagan and G.H.W. Bush Eras; the Iran-Contra affair (1985-87); 2nd of two Reagan tax cut bills (1986); Iran-Iraq conflicts, including the Gulf War (8/1990-2/1991) and later months of 2003 “Operation Desert Storm.” Beginnings of housing crisis and Wall Street banks being overleveraged.
Unresolved tensions in Middle East at critical threshold (Syria, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc.); Trump tax cut bill favors the wealthy; Trump seeks to roll back the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established after Wall Street crisis. 
Final Quarter Square – Sagittarius-Pisces
1/2016-12/2017; 6/2018-11/2018
Trump elected president; Wikileaks hacks DNC and with Russia undermines Hillary Clinton campaign. Ultra-right/white nationalist agenda promoted; authoritarian threats to democratic checks and balances.
Issues noted under the “Opposition” phase (above) are ongoing here

Clearly, the events noted in the Table above were and are driven by the total mix of astrological dynamics—they are not the sole doing of Saturn and Chiron, however potent this duo’s influence. Even so, the archetypes carried by combinations of Saturn and Chiron are powerful, familiar themes in societies: the wounded, abandoned or abandoning (Chiron) father (Saturn), and father as mentor, are some more obvious variations. 

If we expand this to take in authority figures, or structuring forces, in general, we can see how this cycle might impact today’s political realities. An authoritarian leader is, by definition, a “wounding” leader, and Trump is continually demonstrating that he intends to consolidate American power in the Oval office.

Of course, Trump’s well-documented authoritarian impulses may have their roots in his own hard-edged, authoritarian father, Fred Trump, and—adding insult to injury—both Trumps have troubling histories when it comes to racial matters. This week’s news has reported on more troubling behavior in this regard: first, Donald Trump’s crude “Pocahontas” comment during a ceremony that should have been honoring heroic Navajo “code talkers” from WWII, and on Thursday (11/30) his retweet of blatantly anti-Muslim, ultra-nationalist “Britain First” videos. 

It’s pretty bad when the American president is slammed by the British Parliament for inappropriate, hate-mongering behavior designed to incite violence. 

Democracy doesn’t thrive in an atmosphere of hatred, and yesterday’s retweet controversy was only one moment in Trump’s apparent campaign against American democratic institutions: he has attacked the free press, the independent judiciary and the separation of powers from day one. Let’s consider how this pattern fits the Saturn-Chiron phase we’re going through.  

Trump seems to be targeting the entire Saturnian “Establishment”—the social institutions that structure and limit our lives according to a consensus-driven and values-based social “standard.” This standard is embodied in a host of behavioral norms and the “rule of law,” and he doesn't display much respect for either. There are always those who resist the standard, and if it’s an unfair or discriminatory standard, this may fuel evolution over time, but a standard that feels fair and just usually wins support.

It should be noted that all the social/outer planets (and even some inner planets) are involved somehow in ruling institutions within the so-called “Establishment,” but Saturn plays a structuring, co-rulership role throughout. For instance, the organized side of Religion is ruled by Saturn, but belief systems, ideals and metaphysics implicate Jupiter and Neptune as well. If Religion manifests as a revolutionary mass movement (as Martin Luther’s rebellion against the Roman Church did), this reflects Uranus, but developing a new Church from those revolutionary roots (as Luther’s followers did) brings us back to Saturn

So, huddled under the umbrella of the Establishment are:

-          the State, with its layers of local, state and federal laws, law enforcement and power dynamics;
-          Public Education (a sub-set of the State and more recently, the corporate world, since education is framed as a way of preparing tomorrow’s work force)
-          Religion (the organized brand; spirituality is another issue)
-          the Employment Sector
-          the Economy (banking, finance, investment)
-          the Consumer Marketplace
-          Natural Resources (Nature is not an institution, but the privatized industries that control and limit access to her resources are)
-          the Media.

Class is both a limiting and structuring force: in America we prefer to shove this one under the carpet, but today’s proposed GOP tax cut bill is certainly awakening dormant class issues. We may need to admit that we’ve always had deeply-rooted class issues before this dust settles.

Corporations figure into every sector in some way, of course—even religion and corporate life are interwoven these days. Chiron’s wounding, healing or mentoring qualities may be experienced in our interactions with any of these institutions. 

Again, please note how irregular this Saturn-Chiron cycle is: the new phase (the entire quarter phase, not just the conjunction) lasted approximately 8-1/2 years; the second phase lasted about 12 years, 2 months; the third (opposition) phase lasted the longest at approximately 30 years, and the final phase will last approximately 12 years, 4 months.

It’s easy to see on the timeline above that the opposition phase was the most consequential part of this cycle because it encompassed the long period it took for Saturn and Chiron to transit several signs, dancing in and out of opposition orb. Even before the opposition phase initiated in 1986 under Ronald Reagan, however, we were engaged in what social critic Gore Vidal calls “perpetual war for perpetual peace.”

Over the life of this Saturn-Chiron cycle--but especially during the opposition phase--one terrorist threat piled up on another (the 9/11/2001 attacks happened during this phase, too, just not during the opposition aspect), and by the time we reached the cycle's final quarter in 2016, that "perpetual war" footing had become unsustainable. With his recklessness towards North Korea, Trump is demonstrating his willingness to drag the nation back into a full-blown war footing, and IMHO, that would be disastrous during this phase of the cycle.

Now is the time to resolve open, festering issues, not to begin new misadventures. In one sense, the North Korean stand-off is both: the Cold War era conflict that split the Korean peninsula and trapped the U.S. in a perpetual dilemma with the Kim dynasty in No. Korea has never been satisfactorily resolved, but does a potential nuclear war sound like a sane resolution? It certainly wouldn't heal any wounds! A story for another day, but a call for extreme caution is reinforced by other planetary cycles, as well.

Some call where we find ourselves today the “demise of the Western liberal order:” in other words, the international institutions put in place after WWII, led largely by the United States and established to prevent another all-consuming war in our lifetimes—have become deeply compromised. China has taken up the super-power mantle that Trump seems intent on relinquishing; Russia is strategically involved in the Middle East these days and focused on also re-assembling its Eastern bloc sphere of influence (i.e., its actions in Ukraine)—no objections from Trump.

Notice that despite its strong, quasi-capitalist economy, China remains a dictatorship (Xi-Jing Ping has just consolidated his control for the foreseeable future), and Russia is basically a kleptocratic state, run by strong-man Vladimir Putin and his band of loyal oligarchs. Trump's attitude towards both men suggests that he envies their dominant power. Unfortunately, a surge of support for strong-man, authoritarian governments and a troubling shift towards radical right-wing agendas makes sense with the Saturn-Chiron phase we’re in right now, and this trend is prevalent in other areas of the world as well. 

Those who value our democratic institutions beg to differ, but it’s an uphill battle at the moment. Perhaps the task of this final square phase is to prove how committed we are to those institutions?

One reason this final phase might support authoritarianism is that both Saturn and Chiron are transiting in mutable signs (Sagittarius-Pisces), which often inspires a desire for greater “law and order,” for obsessing over borders that feel too permeable, and over social change that feels too chaotic or disruptive. The sands shift beneath people’s feet during mutable times, and we’ve seen a wave of insecurity overtake a lot of people in the past decade.

One remedy for this insecurity was instituted by the Obama administration in the form of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on 7/21/2011, with institutional Saturn dignified in Libra, trine the Pallas/Vesta midpoint in Aquarius. It was founded to level the institutional playing field (Saturn) between consumers and Wall Street banks, and in its 6 years it has delivered long overdue justice (Pallas) to many American households (Vesta).

As we’ve seen in the past week’s news, however, the Bureau is now being taken over by Trump appointee Mick Mulvaney, who’s on record as saying he wants the Bureau gone. Trump found a judge to support his executive over-reach, so it looks like pre-2007 Crash insecurity is back. It's notable that this development turned on who ultimately was in charge of the CFPB. It was purposely set up by the Obama administration to be independent of lobbyist-driven political pressures (i.e., the president and Congress) and now those safeguards have been overturned. Score one more point for the authoritarians.

Of course, Neptune’s presence in border-dissolving Pisces only exacerbates our fears and insecurities, adding more bricks and barbed wire to the boundaries societies are trying to erect against each other. Bottom line, somehow the global narrative has shifted under the prominent mutable forces of the last decade to support radical right-wing governance, and in many circles, democracy is now equated with weakness. 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Anyone who listens carefully to Trump hears that idea floating around in his rhetoric. He promotes the recurring theme that he’s the answer to our problems, and he never talks about safeguarding or protecting democracy. He talks about fighting against or protecting us against Others, and he frames his narrative accordingly: he’s the hero who’s come to save the day and remedy all the weaknesses of past presidents. We’ve seen megalomania take over before in history, and it doesn’t ends well.

All of these dynamics are reflected in Trump’s latest hideous act, retweeting hateful ultra-nationalist, anti-Muslim videos. Unfortunately, Saturn and Chiron are both tied in tightly with his natal chart at the moment—and the nation’s fortunes are tied into his chart, as well, so let’s take a look at the triwheel for Trump’s “retweeting” event yesterday. We don’t know what exact time he launched his retweet, so we won’t focus on chart angles or Moon placement for yesterday. 

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) US Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (middle wheel) Donald J. Trump, June 14, 1946, 10:54 a.m. DST, Jamaica, NY; (outer wheel) Trump Anti-Muslim Retweets, November 29, 2017, 6:00 a.m. ST, Washington, D.C..

First, a couple general observations about the situation reflected in this triwheel: first, it’s like a study in incompatible, yet strangely-entangled forces and priorities, so it’s no surprise that we see such no-win situations playing out in the news. On the one hand, women are mustering great courage and coming out with their long-held stories of sexual harassment and worse (see 11/19/17 post for more); on the other hand, we see political players who are trouncing their constituencies to pass a tax reform bill that mostly serves their wealthy donors.

Trump has a major stake in both these issues, of course, and as we’ll see in the way these three charts interact, his personal interests probably are what connects these seemingly unconnected public developments. It’s all about the uncomfortable confluence of cardinal and mutable dynamics that we see here. 

Let’s take a closer look, keeping an especially sharp eye on the Saturn-Chiron dynamics.
Mutable Grand Square: Retweets Saturn-Mercury (Sagittarius) conjoin Trump Moon (Sagittarius) and oppose Sibly Mars-Trump-No. Node-Uranus (Gemini); this axis squares Retweets Chiron (Pisces) opposite Sibly Neptune (Virgo). Let’s break down this very complex configuration into its component pieces, for better understanding:

  • Sagittarius-Gemini oppositions. Great tension produced by destabilizing forces—like a cosmic “52-Pick-Up game.” Those who worry that the situation could get out of hand with North Korea are feeling these energies, and it’s no consolation that Trump’s aggressively erratic Moon is involved. It also doesn’t help that his Uranus ties in so tightly to all this. Or that his Sun-Moon opposition ties into our militaristic Sibly Mars so closely. Is Trump trying to pick a fight with his retweets? The State Department even seemed rattled by his actions because they know how volatile such perceived insults can become for our diplomats in the Middle East.

If we consider that Trump’s Sun also disposes his “tough guy” Leo Mars-Asc, we can see how wielding the biggest, most powerful arsenal is a matter of ego gratification to him. In this context, the Retweets Saturn-Mercury conjunction to his Moon seems to reflect how Trump chose to express his need to dominate—through words (Mercury).

  • Virgo-Pisces opposition. It’s very interesting that this opposition features two potentially transcendent cosmic players, Sibly Neptune and Retweets Chiron, and that these are the forces challenging the Sagittarius-Gemini points that are opposed across the Sibly 1st-7th houses. It seems that we are being challenged to re-imagine both who we are as a nation (1st) and our alliances (7th), and while that could also lead us towards constructive healing, it could also fit Trump’s “dismantle the government” agenda. His retweets offended many in Britain, with some in Parliament suggesting that Trump shouldn’t be allowed to darken their doorstep any time soon. Theresa May responded with a limp verbal slap on the wrist, but wouldn’t rescind her invitation to Trump for a state visit. As for reimagining who we are as a nation, isn’t that what “MAGA” is really all about?

  • Square aspects. It’s equally significant that Retweets Chiron is transiting our Sibly chart’s 4th house of heritage as it squares the Sagittarius-Gemini axis. This is the house that reflects what makes us tick as a People, writ-large. Grass-roots power has its roots in this house, and Pisces here reflects our fundamentally compassionate, welcoming attitude towards the rest of the world. The only force that can compete with compassion is fear, of course (a weakness for Pisces), so those who use fear-mongering as a tool for political power and control know what they’re doing.
Earlier we considered the critical point in the Saturn-Chiron cycle that we find ourselves in these days; here, we can appreciate what role this square is playing in our national well-being these days. For instance, in the 11/19 post, I talked at length about Saturn also being at the late Sagittarius point known as the Galactic Center (GC), and how that is being expressed in the outpouring of sexual assault whistleblowing. Chiron’s simultaneous presence in the Sibly 4th, opposite that house’s ruler, Neptune (Virgo), suggests that we seriously need to heal some delusions lacing the “American Dream,” but the delusions go way beyond gender relations.

This reminds me, in fact, of a controversial, but impactful book published two Saturn cycles ago in 1958, when Saturn was also transiting the GC. It was titled The Ugly American, and it revealed the arrogant, incompetent behavior of the U.S. diplomatic corps at the time (we were definitely feeling our oats after WWII), and how that behavior was undermining our ability to function in Southeast Asia. A side note: the Vietnam War transpired during the 1960s conjunction of Saturn and Chiron (among other tense dynamics).

To his everlasting credit, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps under his State Department, in response to the book’s ugly exposé, and our diplomatic skills have definitely improved over the years.

Unfortunately, all that progress is being undermined now, under Trump’s “hollowing out” of the State Department and our diplomatic corps, and we’re seeing—especially in Trump himself—the resurgence of that Ugly American archetype. Enmeshed in this configuration with his personal planets, Trump seems to be suffering under the delusion that he’s somehow untouchable, that American power in the world is unassailable, and that he can act with offensive impunity. Saturn and Chiron may think differently, but with Neptune flying high in the Sibly 10th, square Trump’s Sagittarius-Gemini axis, the delusions of grandeur are compelling. This is both a personal trap for Trump and a collective challenge for all of us.

Cardinal Grand Square: Retweets Uranus (Aries) conjoins Sibly Chiron (Aries) and opposes Trump Jupiter-Retweets Mars (Libra); this axis squares Trump Saturn-Venus (Cancer)-Sibly Mercury-Part-of-Fortune opposite Retweets Pluto/Sibly Pluto (midpoint, Capricorn). Again, super complex, so let’s break it down:

  • Aries-Libra oppositions. It’s interesting that Trump’s Jupiter (Libra) also conjoins Sibly Saturn, which explains how the tensions within this configuration pull Congress and the Judiciary into the fray. Trump sees Congress as the spoils of victory, and he clearly doesn’t want to accept their independent status. Retweet Mars and Uranus (Libra-Aries) are aggressive and likely to upset the balance (i.e., our checks and balances) in pursuit of a goal. 
  • Cancer-Capricorn oppositions. Trump’s super-defensive (and possibly Scroogey) Saturn-Venus seem to be enabling him to leverage that Aries-Libra aggression for his own purposes. We aren’t seeing what’s happening behind closed doors, but we know that the Tweets will fly if Trump doesn’t get the tax reform (Pluto-Sibly Pluto) he wants here, so it’s reasonable to assume that he’s twisting some arms. His Saturn-Venus conjunction falls over the Sibly 8th house of the “Big-E” Economy, opposite Sibly Pluto (Capricorn), confirming suspicions that his own finances (Venus) stand to gain from the tax package he’s pushing. Despite his claims to the opposite, how can cutting taxes in several different ways on the wealthy not benefit him personally?
  • The squares, etc. With Retweets Mars square his Saturn-Venus and square Retweets Pluto/Sibly Pluto, Trump may feel that his financial fortunes are under assault these days. There have been stories in the news about various Trump-named properties (Trump Soho, etc.) cutting ties with the family for business reasons, so this could be steeling his determination to compensate in other ways.
Saturn rules his 5th house of children (hence, the family biz), but it also says something about his trademark “deal-making” skills. The 5th-11th axis reflects the influence networks that make deal-making possible (at least in part), and with Pluto transiting opposite his 11th house Saturn in his 5th house, he may find that he is losing his sway. Mueller’s Russia investigation is uncovering a number of “interesting” financial dealings in Trump’s history, including where Trump has acquired financing for a lot of ventures.

Pluto loves billionaires, but the taxes, debts and any corrupt dealings (also under Pluto’s purview) do have a way of coming due. Stressful transits of Pluto to Saturn often teach us how to endure loss.  


Final thoughts
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote an intriguing piece this past week, entitled “We will all pay a price for Trump’s nihilism,” which of course triggered my astrological curiosity. What would account for such an observation in Trump’s chart?

First, let’s define the term, without too much psycho-babble: to a true nihilist, nothing mattersmorality is optional, and probably pointless, because everything can be manipulated to effect. It’s the philosophy people express when they split hairs and parse words to cynical effects. It’s the mental state that hooks people on conspiracy theory videos: things are never what they seem, innocence is an illusion, and truth is relative, if it even exists.

So we start to see how Robinson’s claims are valid. He points out that to Trump, climate change is a "Chinese hoax"—never mind that the fate of millions may depend upon acknowledging and acting upon it. The list of ways he toys with the lives of others for his own aims is long--the retweets of hateful videos is just the latest.

Machiavelli was a nihilist of sorts when he proclaimed “the ends justify the means,” and it’s hard to see where Trump would disagree. Robinson captures Trump’s clearly nihilistic intent to dismantle the U.S. government very neatly:

“The Trump administration’s approach to governance is that of a bratty toddler confronting a neat stack of blocks: Knock it down and scatter the pieces. It may take years to rebuild what President Trump and his minions are destroying.”

So, what does this have to do with the Saturn-Chiron cycle we’ve been considering? Well, the toddler may outgrow his need to knock over a playmate’s blocks, but leveling a structure that 300 million+ people depend upon for their wellbeing and life—just because he can—is another story.  Some existential wounds (Chiron) cut so deep that the person loses the ability to give, rather than to take. We don’t know (and probably can’t know) what forces have wounded Trump’s character so badly, but his observable behavior reflects something between amoral rage and despair.

To this point, Trump’s natal Chiron exactly conjoins Sibly Saturn in Libra and squares the Sibly Sun in Cancer (signifying the nation at large and the Executive): is he somehow settling a grudge with the U.S. government from inside the Oval Office? Is he settling a score for his father? There may be reason to believe this. According to Wikipedia:

"[Fred] Trump was investigated by a U.S. Senate committee for wartime profiteering (1954), and by the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for civil rights violations (1973). According to The New York Times and The Washington Post, Trump's reputation as a landlord inspired a critical song by tenant and folk singer Woody Guthrie.[2][3 "

It’s tempting to wonder if life is simply one big, cosmic grudge match for Trump—one big festering Saturn-Chiron abscess that defies healing.

As a nation, we have a stake in Donald Trump's mental health, of course—those endangered by his reckless retweets this week are certainly aware—but we also need to move forward, whatever the fallout from the Trump presidency. For now, the daunting Saturn-Chiron challenge is to figure out who we want to be as a nation, and how we want to function as global players.

It's December, y' wide!!


Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at:

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved. 

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