Wednesday, March 20, 2019

“Never speak their names” - the Astrology of the New Zealand shootings

The world's youth deserve a better world.
“We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages. And amongst that diversity we share common values. And the one that we place the currency on right now -- and tonight -- is our compassion and support for the community of those directly affected by this tragedy.

And secondly, the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this.

You may have chosen us -- but we utterly reject and condemn you.”

--New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, March 15, 2019

The April issue of The Atlantic features a troubling, but essential bit of reading for anyone who wonders why so much white supremacist-inspired terrorism is rearing its ugly head these days—most notably this past week, the March 15th rampage that killed 50 and wounded dozens in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. We’ll examine a chart for that attack below, but the article, entitled “White nationalism’s deep American roots,” by Adam Serwer, is worth consideration first because it provides some important (if unpleasant) context.  

As it turns out, Trump’s cagey refusal to unequivocally condemn the white supremacist movement that spawned the New Zealand massacre has a long pedigree in American political rhetoric, especially among wealthy power players. An excerpt from Serwer’s article is warranted here:

 “[Rep. Steve]King’s recent question, posed in a New York Times interview, may be appalling: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” But it is apt. ‘That language’ has an American past in need of excavation…. The seed of Nazism’s ultimate objective—the preservation of a pure white race, uncontaminated by foreign blood—was in fact sown with striking success in the United States. What is judged extremist today was once the consensus of a powerful cadre of the American elite, well-connected men who eagerly seized on a false doctrine of ‘race suicide’ during the immigration scare of the early 20th century. They included wealthy patricians, intellectuals, lawmakers, even several presidents.
Perhaps the most important among them was a blue blood with a very impressive mustache, Madison Grant. He was the author of a 1916 book called The Passing of the Great Race, which spread the doctrine of race purity all over the globe….
His book went on to become Adolf Hitler’s ‘bible,’ as the führer wrote to tell him. Grant’s doctrine has since been rejuvenated and rebranded by his ideological descendants as “white genocide” (the term genocide hadn’t yet been coined in Grant’s day). In an introduction to the 2013 edition of another of Grant’s works, the white nationalist Richard Spencer warns that ‘one possible outcome of the ongoing demographic transformation is a thoroughly miscegenated, and thus homogeneous and assimilated nation, which would have little resemblance to the White America that came before it.’ This language is vintage Grant.”
If anything good came out of WWII, it was that fighting the Nazis woke Americans up to the evils of this deep-rooted racist perspective, but here we are 60 years later, and Nazi-style white supremacy is absolutely “trendy” in certain quarters. Right on schedule for that trend, which he didn’t really create but certainly knows how to exploit, Trump has enabled the return of Grant’s hateful sentiments, and whether Trump is personally a racist, anti-Muslim or not is immaterial. 

We’re all aware of the litany of transgressions Trump has committed against moral leadership when it comes to racial and religious issues—he came down the escalator in June 2015, ready to race-bait the country over Mexican immigrants, and early on in his campaign he promised a “complete Muslim ban” for immigration. Actions speak louder than words, of course—witness his many attempts to solidify that ban on Muslim immigrants, his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the southern border, and so on.

Most notably this week, he continued referring to immigrants at the border as an “invasion”—a clear racist trope—in the same statement in which he sent condolences to New Zealand and called the attack a “terrible thing.” 

He will have his wall across that border and it will stand as a monument to hatred and xenophobia, perhaps even more than the Berlin Wall did.

The white supremacy movement is no problem for Trump. 

So, does it make sense that the New Zealand killer cited Trump as inspiration in his social media “manifesto?” Trump (or any leader, for that matter) doesn’t have to give explicit orders for his message to get across to those with ears to hear. As his former lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen said when appearing in front of the House Oversight Committee recently, Trump “speaks in code.” 

Those who say it’s “ridiculous” to thus blame Trump for any of these attacks have a point: he’s not pulling the trigger. But great power implies great responsibility, and toxic influence bears evil fruit. This goes for our leaders and it goes for us as a nation and people, too. 

IMHO, we’re talking about deep karmic responsibility here: with Pluto nearing its return Sibly position, we are being forced to deal with such chthonic responsibilities, and the more forthcoming we are, the better. There’s a reason that issues concerning systemic racism and toxic capitalism are bubbling to the surface now—the latter has always favored the wealthiest at the expense of everyone else, and has always required a “slave-labor class” of some sort, whether overtly as in pre-Civil War U.S., or in our long dependence upon migrant workers who worked for pennies an hour and were often treated deplorably. 

Today’s minimum wage workers don’t have it much better, scraping by from paycheck to paycheck. The global marketplace depends way too heavily on sweat shops, child labor and even worse. 

Since globalization took hold of the world economy in the 1990s, in fact, we’ve heard a lot more about human trafficking as another form of enslavement—the U.S. officially fights this disturbing trend, but it may be a losing battle because it’s so profitable and it’s being controlled by the darkest, most toxic players. According to Wikipedia:

“Human trafficking is thought to be one of the fastest-growing activities of trans-national criminal organizations.[14]
The fact is, there’s a known connection between the so-called “emergency” at our border, and this trans-national criminality, and it has to do with the gangs in the Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that so many families, women and children at our border are fleeing. It’s very likely these frightened people are indeed, fleeing for their lives, but more specifically, to avoid trafficking and enslavement.

From author Kevin Bales' "World of Children" website.
So when Trump said early on that there are “bad hombres” in Central America, he was correct from this perspective, but to react by attempting to wall off the victims of those bad actors—and whoever’s paying them to do what they do—is to become complicit in this 21st century slave trade. In fact, in a breathtaking reversal from humane policies supported by both the Bush and Obama administrations, the Trump administration has radically reduced the number of "T-visas" approved for victims of trafficking seeking asylum. He uses stories about human trafficking to sell his wall, but clearly has little compassion for the actual victims.  

IMHO, the Pluto transit we’re experiencing as a nation could go either way: towards purging and healing centuries of toxic karma over slavery and racism, or towards selling out our national Soul for a whole new, even darker cycle of vicious hatred and slavery. Who stands to profit from all this? As we’ve learned in these corrupt times, so many answers are gained by following the money. Are we that addicted to this poisonous legacy? When will we stop exploiting human beings for profit above all? 

This brings us back to the white supremacist agenda—people of color are fine if they’re exploitable, but when they demand equal rights and an equal place in society, that’s another story. The trouble is, those who are on the “front lines” of white supremacy are probably not the ones actually profiting from race-based exploitation. I would guess that most of these impressionable “soldiers” are probably being exploited themselves by those who ultimately profit from the hate and division.  

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
 If Trump would ever convincingly speak out against the white supremacist agenda, his personal defense would sound more credible. But again, he stopped short of doing this. When questioned after the New Zealand attack about whether a rising tide of white supremacy is a problem, he responded “not really,” adding that it’s just a “small number of people with very, very serious problems.”  He never explicitly condemned the shooter’s stated agenda, and never offered his support to the Muslim community. Instead, he pivoted to a weekend explosion of Twitter rage about everything else imaginable. True to form, when he can’t address an issue head-on, he deflects.

The New Zealand mass shooter didn’t just kill 50 people from ages 3-to-70-something and wound dozens more in two mosques on March 15th, he posted his manifesto on social media beforehand, which made his actions in Christchurch, New Zealand part of an international burgeoning white supremacy-motivated terrorist trend that bursts into view sporadically here in the States and in Europe. The Anti-Defamation League reports that propaganda supporting a white supremacist agenda in the U.S. (the greatest percentage against people of color or non-Christians) is up 182% in the past year. How is this happening? 

From the Washington Post:  

“The manifesto is a result of a life lived in the worst parts of the Internet, where the most vile thoughts can be expressed through, and alongside, moronic inside jokes. But experts have warned that this juxtaposition is not one of the harmful and the harmless. Extremist beliefs and edgy meme culture work together online to reach larger audiences. The manifesto isn’t a valuable look inside the mind of a mass murderer, and the memes he referenced are not a separate curiosity. Instead, the gunman created a press release for racism….
A man accused of killing 10 people in a van attack in Toronto last year had posted meme-laden in-jokes before the attack that were meant for the insular, misogynist incel community. In 2015, the gunman who killed WDBJ TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward in Roanoke filmed the shooting, posted it to Facebook and advertised it on social media accounts. By 2019, we know that mass murderers want to go viral and that social media is making it easier for that to happen.

The New Zealand gunman advertised his massacre on social media, laced his manifesto with jokes that would be recognized by specific segments of online culture, and ensured that the first things the rest of the world would see and hear about the shooting were exactly the things he wanted them to know.”

The almost Crusader-like targeting of non-Christians in more and more of these attacks—last year’s in the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue and this one in two New Zealand mosques—is also intriguing, as though the way to defend Christianity is to drag its name through the worst kind of mud. Those who compare these attacks to ISIS-for-Whites are probably on to something, but again, who’s feeding this phenomenon? 

Social media has become its powerful platform, even though the companies are scrambling to protect themselves from the dark forces they’ve enabled. Virality breeds epidemics! Astrologically, this brings Neptune into the picture, with Uranus implicated in the technology and violent shock value. We’ll see how these forces, among others, colluded on March 15th ahead.

Ardern is being praised for her leadership, grace and empathy in the wake of this crisis.
Social media looms large in all these terrorism cases: it’s pretty clear the New Zealand shooter doesn’t care what anyone besides his social media audience thinks about his actions—he was throwing them a fresh thrill to savor, and they undoubtedly got what he was trying to accomplish. As if the carnage the shooter produced wasn’t enough, he had to mug for the camera on top of it. I wonder how his audience felt about little 3-year old Mouad running towards the shooter before dying?

After the shooter was apprehended by New Zealand police and identified (he shall remain nameless here), he flashed a known white supremacist hand signal for “OK” to the camera for his mugshot. We forget the chilling lows to which those consumed by absolute hatred—and/or absolute greed—can go.

Needless to say, all of these horrors register as a sadistic and visceral cosmic wake-up call—offering prayers and condolences simply rings hollow. Thankfully, the statement issued immediately by Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, was at least hopeful. She didn’t shrink from calling the attack what it was—terrorism—and she unequivocally condemned the extremist ideology of the attacker and his accomplices. “You may have chosen us,” she said, addressing these perpetrators, “but we utterly rebuke and condemn you.”

In crisis times, leadership requires heart.
Ardern has personally comforted victims’ families and been fully involved in making sure victims’ families are assisted financially and in any way possible. Since that first statement, she has also indicated that the New Zealand parliament will be discussing ways to alter gun regulations, and given that Australia already has tighter gun regulations, perhaps her efforts will bear fruit. She’s showing true leadership and heart—a rare combination these days. 

So, astrologically, what can we make of these increasingly common violent attacks? Analyzing an event clearly doesn’t change the facts on the ground or alter the violent trend, but as we’ll see ahead, that feeling of helplessness in the face of our complicated world is all part of the story. Was it just an “evil,” destructive kind of day, astrologically? No—the energies at work were available to all that day, and thankfully, lots of good things happened as well. 

Notably, students all over the globe poured out of their classrooms to protest how little attention the global powers are giving to the perils of climate change. They were affirming their youthful commitment to Life, channeling the same planetary energies the New Zealand shooter had at his disposal, and they made a definite impression, despite the heavy distractions in the news.  

That redeeming fact will at least make the following chart analysis for the New Zealand attack a little less grim. Chart #1 below is cast using data provided by Wikipedia.

Chart #1: Christchurch attacks-NZ, March 15, 2019, 1:40 p.m. DST, Christchurch, New Zealand. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Mutable angles: Mercury-ruled Gemini rises, with Mars in the 12th (Taurus), sextile Neptune (Pisces) and square Venus (Aquarius). Whenever senseless acts of mass violence burst onto the scene, the “usual” astrological suspects are Neptune and Pluto, with a strong possibility that Uranus and/or Mars are on board for shock value, but the inner planet aspects noted here  remind us that the “senseless” nature of such events depends upon very personal dynamics—i.e., the mental and spiritual state of the perpetrator. Mass violence events often seem to carry a common theme of anxiety- and fear-laced hatred and resentment, and I can’t think of a better description of the white supremacist agenda. 

An intense dread over the loss of clear boundaries and borders and over what feels like a “leveling out” of all people across racial lines (dissolving ancient privileges) is a very Neptunian phenomenon. The opportunity and will to lash out against these perceived losses is represented by the Mars-Neptune sextile. In the end, however this perception of loss is in the zero-sum mindset of the attacker: if someone else gains something, I must be losing.
It’s not hard to see the Neptunian dynamics in this chart: it’s ruled by Mercury Rx, with Mercury Rx conjunct MC and Sun in Neptune-ruled Pisces and violence-prone Mars in the naturally Neptunian 12th house. This suggests that frustrated machismo was an unconscious driving force for the violent outburst. Venus’s rule over that Taurus 12th and square to Mars adds a cold Aquarius/Uranian will-to-shock dimension to the violence—again, it appears the shooter was acting to impress and “troll” those who recoil at the senseless hatred. 
A potentially delusional, ideological Mercury (also widely conjunct Neptune) clearly dominated this event, but the shooter was seeking some kind of “outlaw” satisfaction: Uranus (Taurus) also forms a mutual reception with Venus (Aquarius). With all the Pisces energy involved here—and the Mars/Jupiter midpoint square ASC from Pisces, his “satisfaction” could take the form of twisted heroism or martyrdom.
Mercury Rx-MC-Sun (Pisces) sextiles Pluto-So. Node (Capricorn) and trines No. Node (Cancer). These aspects tap into the somewhat troubled role of the Cancer-Capricorn Nodal axis in history; this axis was almost exactly flipped with Capricorn on the north end in 1935, the year Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin consolidated so much of their power, and a big “coming out” year for Hitler’s Nazi philosophy. Hitler began blatantly violating the post-WWI Versailles Treaty, reinstating the German Luftwaffe, rearming Germany and passing the Nuremberg Laws, stripping Jews of German citizenship. He was preparing Germany for a retaliatory war, in other words, casting the Jews as scapegoats for everything Germany had suffered to that point.
By the time WWII was winding down in 1944, the North Node had circled back to Cancer, but the horrors were far from over: the Holocaust was ongoing, even though the German war machine was weakening. Does the New Zealand shooter imagine himself to be part of that dark history? I won’t be tuning into the current propaganda to find out, but what was once considered heinous and evil has apparently been regenerated and recast into a glorious saga in some minds. The Neptune-Pluto-Nodal axis “worm” turns in unfathomable ways.  

The real idea whose time has come.

Jupiter (Sagittarius) squares Sun-MC-Mercury Rx (Pisces) and inconjoins Nodal Axis (Cancer-Capricorn). Jupiter applies pressure to manifest some Neptunian (Pisces) ideal here, as though it’s pushing an “idea whose time has come.” Thankfully, the shooter’s “idea” wasn’t the only way this aspect could have expressed. Think about those students protesting the slow progress of climate change mitigation—they were saying that the time has come for the idea of climate change mitigation to be taken seriously.  The shooter, of course, had a much darker spin on those same energies.
This aspect is important for the way it highlights the late stage positions of three important waning cycles—Jupiter-Saturn; Jupiter-Pluto; Saturn-Pluto. Saturn’s not directly involved in the squares, but it is forming its waning sextile to Neptune, which is very much involved. I’ve discussed in several other posts that this preponderance of waning cycles we’re experiencing right now has a lot to do with the crisis-driven tone of our times. So much old, outworn energy is cleared out while waning cycles complete and begin anew, and this clearing out agenda segues nicely with the karmic imperatives of our times.
Notice that Jupiter rules the 7th and co-rules the 10th in this chart with Neptune, a planet it widely squares. We can see the tension between these two in Prime Minister Ardern’s determination to deny the shooter the notoriety he was after. Admirably, she says “you’ll never hear me mention his name,” but she’ll speak his victims’ names loud and clear.
This is doubly admirable in a time when wielding power with integrity demands more courage and determination than usual—Jupiter semi-sextiles (inconjoins) Pluto-So. Node. Corrupt practices and the abuse of power can be the convenient default mode in times like this, and we don’t have to look far to see the results: corrupt players enable and exploit violence for their own dubious purposes.

Social media platforms play an unfortunate role in domestic terrorism.

Jupiter’s square to Mercury Rx-MC applies pressure to the media in this chart as well, and as we witnessed in the news, social media platforms were forced to scramble to stop the shooter’s video in its tracks. Apparently, a small number of people viewed the shooter’s live stream, but the video still managed to go viral across the entire Internet within minutes. It was posted and reposted in different forms to evade the algorithms that are supposed to police the content—sounds like tactics that the white supremacist audience have cultivated. 
To their credit, New Zealand telcom executives sent an urgent letter to Facebook, Google and Twitter and called upon them to immediately fix whatever stopped them from responding quickly enough to the shooter’s video. Perhaps if Mercury hadn’t been retrograde, these media platforms wouldn’t have responded so slowly? It sounds like perhaps they need to rely less on algorithms and bots and more on people who follow breaking news.
The urgency to regulate and/or install better controls over what amounts to terrorist propaganda is seen here in Saturn sextile Neptune, and this urgency will probably only heighten as Saturn closes in on Pluto in the coming months. How much control is desirable? It may depend upon who’s trying to control what. Balancing free speech with heinous propaganda is an imperative for our times, but there’s nothing easy about it because it’s a slippery slope if there ever was one. Wouldn’t the Trump administration love to shut down sectors of the media he doesn’t approve of? Undoubtedly, we’ll be hearing more about all this.

Ardern is working with the NZ parliament to change gun laws.

Moon (Cancer) squares Chiron (Aries). This aspect speaks—tragically—for itself: families, mothers and children were all shattered and wounded by the shooter’s actions, and to add insult to injury, the victims’ families are having a hard time getting their loved ones’ bodies back in time for a proper Muslim burial. It’s cold comfort, but the Moon’s out-of-sign trine to Pallas  (Libra) may suggest that justice will be forthcoming, but the process will be fraught and painful. It will likely also feel like a case of global karmic justice, however: Pallas also squares Nodal axis (Cancer-Capricorn).
There’s a reason the Cancer/Capricorn (and vice-versa) nodal axis is prevalent during tumultuous periods (WWII, the Kennedy assassination, leading into the Vietnam war; Watergate/end of Vietnam; the dissolution of the USSR in 1991; the 9/11/2001 attacks, leading into the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and now, an emergent white supremacist challenge, climate change, etc.). 

During these nodal times, people feel the cosmic “push” to build lives, families and careers, and when things are not going according to plan—when their needs (Moon rules Cancer) are not met and when they feel like failures (Saturn rules Capricorn) because decent jobs are inaccessible to them, they look for something or someone to blame. They withdraw into fearful shells, seek common cause with others who “get” what they’re going through, no matter how deluded or misguided those others might be, and it doesn’t take much to turn these circumstances into a toxic brew. 

Many take their chances in the military during these periods—for instance, many born in the 1970s with Saturn in Cancer enlisted after the 9/11 attacks. In fact, for some youth who resonate with the Cancer-Capricorn axis, a new policy of mandatory public service could help (military or not); ideally, it would help them find their place in the world more positively—social media as a guiding force leaves a lot to be desired. 
Significantly, today’s nodal axis is cutting directly through our Sibly chart’s Mercury-Pluto opposition (chart not shown): heavy political/corporate control over our national discourse is taking its toll on our democracy, and we need to come to grips with that because it is not helping with the problems that explode into view every time there’s a mass killing like we saw this past week. 

Where is the line between national security and privacy? Where do our First Amendment rights end and the need for some sane level of control over social media content begin? How can we provide more constructive outlets for youthful energy? The answers are out there!

A nation mourns.

Final thoughts

I began this post by pointing out that America is far from innocent when it comes to white nationalism/supremacy and its history, but I don’t believe that makes us a racist nation at heart. I believe we’ve come a long way since the 1950s because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. We have regressed in the last decade, however, especially under the present administration. 

IMHO, young people caught up in today’s recycled delusional, hateful ideology are acting (at least in part) out of fear and anxiety for their own futures, and nothing our politicians and leaders have been doing lately is really addressing the roots of that anxiety. People who feel hopeful about their futures are far less likely to hate those around them and wish them harm. History is filled with examples, so it’s no surprise that those who never really recovered from the 2008-10 recession have become really frustrated. They, too, have potentials, dreams and legitimate needs, and in a just economic system that works better for everyone, they could experience some progress.

Case in point: Nazism took hold in Germany during the crippling post-WWI depression it experienced. The hardship and humiliation of those times (due largely to post-WWI reparations and other restrictions demanded by the Versailles Treaty) made German youth exceedingly angry and easily manipulated by toxic actors like Hitler. Hitler wrote about how important such anger was to launching his plans:

“A violently active, dominating, intrepid, brutal youth—that is what I am after. I want to see in its eyes the gleam of pride and independence, of prey. I will have no intellectual training. Knowledge is ruin to my young men.”[1]
So now we seem to have a new generation of angry, “brutal” youth for a new generation of power players to exploit, and I suspect we could learn something by comparing the dynamics in play in each generation’s Pluto ingress chart—a story for another day. What we call the “Greatest Generation” here in the U.S. (i.e., the Pluto in Cancer generation) was the same generation in Germany that fought for Hitler and enabled the Holocaust—Pluto is only as positive or negative as we make it. 

Today’s young warriors (and white supremacist terrorists) are most likely from the Pluto in Scorpio and Sagittarius generations, and both signs are capable of great dedication, but also great violence, when pushed too far. Again, seeing a bright path forward could change so many lives. 

Of course, none of this excuses violence and brutality, let alone actual terrorism, but the rest of us aren’t off the hook either. We’ve all contributed to the world our young generations are trying to navigate, and IMHO, we owe them whatever support we can muster. We might start by getting behind those courageous kids who stopped everything to protest climate change inaction! 

Our deepest condolences to the New Zealand Muslim community and our thanks to Prime Minister Ardern, for her strong, compassionate leadership. We’re all in this together!

We can learn a lot from New Zealand's example.

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 2019. All rights reserved. 

[1]Cited in Mario Kamenetzky, The Invisible Player: Consciousness as the Soul of Economic, Social, and Political Life, Park Street Press, Rochester NY, 1999, p. 63.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

At a Neptunian Crossroads: the Astrology of Election 2020

"Neptune's Horses" by Walter Crane

We are awash in Pisces/Neptune energy these days, and as loving, compassionate and magical as Neptune can be at its best, this overwhelmingly watery influence can also manifest in troubling ways, both personal and collective.

For instance, for every individual that achieves a Neptunian state of compassionate service, or the ever-satisfying “high” of creative fulfillment, thousands succumb to and struggle with addictions. 

Unfortunately, our very human, Neptunian spiritual need for transcendence is easily distorted and channeled in toxic directions:  into a precarious dance with pain and the quest to relieve it; into a quest for Belonging that turns cult-like, demanding the total surrender of personal will and integrity; into a quest for healing that ends up replacing one set of delusions with another; into toxic relationships that become “gaslit” prisons.
The list goes on. 

Hard Neptune transits can be tough on a person’s physical and mental health: like the relentless lapping of the ocean at the shore that eventually transforms the landscape and its ecology, this energy breaks down barriers and systems—including the immune system and other bodily defenses—over long periods of time. So long that we hardly know there’s a problem until there just is.  

All of this holds true on the collective level in one form or another—societies deal with their addictions and delusions, right along with their citizens. They also deal with erosion, decay and even dissolution—a process that again, breaks down systems, beginning with the structures and institutions that form their basis in law, that guarantee certain norms of behavior, basic rights and ethical transactions. Government and “Politics,” in other words. 

Social scientist Francis Fukuyama claims that people are naturally “political”—that is, inclined to establish and maintain institutions for the sake of achieving and administering collaborative projects, but he also says that these institutions are naturally vulnerable to deterioration and corruption. To his thinking, this “political decay,” as he calls it, takes two different forms:

“Institutions are created in the first place to meet the competitive challenges of a particular environment. That environment can be a physical one, involving land, resources, climate, and geography, or it can be a social one, involving rivals, enemies, competitors, allies, and the like….[but] when the original conditions leading to the creation or adoption of an institution change, the institution fails to adjust quickly to meet the new circumstances…The disjunction…then accounts for political decay or deinstitutionalization…
The second form of political decay is repatrimonialization. The favoring of family or friends with whom one has exchanged reciprocal favors is a natural form of sociability and is a default manner of human interaction…in certain stages of political development, this constituted the only form of political organization. But as institutions evolved, new rules were put in place to recruit on the basis of function or talent…But there is constant pressure to repatrimonialize the system.”[1]
In short, societies decay and falter because first, essential institutions that protect all of us from corrupt power players can be caught off-guard and fatally undermined by demands for rapid adaptation. These institutions don’t turn on a dime (not for the better, anyway) and are often not prepared to respond to such demands.

"Neptune" by Leonardo da Vinci
And second, because the “repatrimonialization” process takes over when a society is under stress and its systems have regressed (for whatever reason) into more primitive “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” ways of working. “Let’s not be naïve” or “when in Rome…” are mantras that enable a creeping sort of ethics-free approach to doing business. “Everyone’s doing it…” is a Neptunian argument if there ever was one.  

Unfortunately, under our present regime, American society seems to be caught up in both these forms of political decay at the same time—and it’s no surprise that transiting Neptune is now edging closer to opposing its Sibly equivalent. The fact that this “half-return” is inching into place at the same time Pluto transits into its return position in the Sibly chart reminds us that these heavies often work in tandem as they transform the institutions and entities in their paths. This is especially true now, in these troublingly corrupt times. Consider Trump’s role in all this, for example.

Trump came in like a tornado and began shredding every institution he got his hands on, sending public servants pledged to protect them scrambling. The oaths they have taken to serve and protect the Constitution—the same basic oath that Trump took, hand on Bible—have been sorely tested because Trump has made it clear that loyalty to him takes precedence over all. Ask former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former FBI Directors James Comey and Andrew McCabe, former…former…former…former… You get the idea.

Former Trump advisor, Steve Bannon (l) and son-in-law Jared Kushner (r).
Which is not to say that the decay is entirely new since Trump: like all Neptune-Pluto collusions, the rot that’s infected our national institutions has marinated for a long period of time. Trump seems to have stepped into the process at a critical, vulnerable moment with his whirlwind, Mercurial nature, and he promptly set out to –as Steve Bannon put it—“dismantle the Deep State.” 

In other words, to destroy the institutions that are designed to check any excesses or abuses in Executive power. And, we’ve found out that when those excesses involve catering to Trump’s odd allegiances—Putin comes to mind—we could find ourselves in treacherous territory. Unfortunately, we have to wonder what their new arms race is really about. More on that ahead. 

In an unfortunate “twofer,” in the process of undermining and battling the Free Press, the Justice department, the State Department, our Intelligence services, Congressional oversight, the EPA, our alliances, the Supreme Court, and the character of the presidency itself, he’s also pushed the “repatrimonialization” process. Every week in the news we learn new ways in which Trump and his family members/aides have used his brand of “deal-making” to profit from the presidency.

Nepotism was the first step in this process—Trump’s refusing to divest himself from his family business empire was another. Why would he? Both of these self-dealing ploys have allowed him (and others, on his behalf) to basically sell “favors” and access. Among many other avenues for profit and fund-raising, it’s been a great time for them to own a hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue and to rename Trump’s Florida country club the “winter White House.” It’s been a great time to build business contacts and gain patent rights in China; it’s been a great time to seek foreign funding for Kushner real estate projects, and so on. 

How many foreign dignitaries and their entourages have paid Trump hotel fees with one hand while shaking his “presidential” hand in a photo op with the other? Playing business and politics against the middle (We the People) is a sure recipe for breathtaking corruption, and it won’t stop until the rule of Law is strengthened and upheld—Saturn is the best antidote to toxic Neptune. 

Trump's latest budget calls for massive, complicated cuts to Medicare.
Double-dealing is engrained in Trump’s full Moon Gemini-Sagittarius character, but this facility for talking out of both sides of his mouth (his Gemini super-power) and for not letting the right hand know what the left hand is doing (Sagittarian duplicity) has served some dark purposes. He gained political advantage over his GOP opponents in 2016 by pledging to preserve Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, staking out a more “populist” position for himself and daring to be different, while still claiming social conservative credentials. 

Between that pledge and another to drastically reduce the national debt in short order, he probably siphoned off many voters who might have otherwise voted for Clinton. 

Needless to say, neither of these promises has panned out; in fact, aside from appointing conservative Supreme Court justices and signing Bibles, he’s done quite the opposite. 

It’s certainly not populist to take a hatchet to our national health care system (such as it is) and to apply heavy pressure to the bottom lines of all non-defense domestic programs and more. The national debt has soared to $22 trillion and his new budget will only add to that. The Washington Post calls this new budget plan a “horror show” and “positively savage,” and warns that it will trigger a whole new round of government shutdown drama. 

Here are the budget highlights they list:
  •  “The Trump budget would cut about $845 billion from Medicare over 10 years
  • It cuts $241 billion from Medicaid
  • It would push Medicaid toward block grants which cap the amount each state would receive, which when the money runs out would result in pared-back benefits, recipients being tossed off the program or both
  • It would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, which would mean millions would lose their health coverage
  • It would cut $25 billion from Social Security
  • It would impose work requirements on recipients of food stamps, Medicaid and housing assistance, forcing them to navigate a bureaucratic maze or lose their benefits
  • It would cut $220 billion from food stamps
  • It would cut $1.1 trillion from domestic discretionary programs, which do not include Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security
  • It would cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 16 percent and the Education Department by 12 percent
  • It would cut the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent.”
And all of these cuts are being done in the context of a monumental build up of the Defense budget and $8.6 billion more for the “Wall.” This list is a real statement of what Trump and company value, but more importantly, what they don’t:  a well-educated, healthy populace and a clean, healthy environment. 

My point in providing this long example isn’t to argue the policies and priorities, however—it’s to discuss the blatantly double-dealing tactics in play here—a toxic blend of Mercury and Neptune that Trump seems to have mastered, with his natal Mercury-Neptune square (Cancer-Libra)—with Mercury disposing his whirlwind Gemini Sun-No. Node-Uranus gathering. A “populist” whose priorities serve those at the top at the expense of those on the middle and bottom is no populist.   

This extends to his massive 2018 tax cut for the wealthy, his continued attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion, and now his intention to make retirees and working and middle class families bear the brunt of his new plans for Defense. He may be adept at talking the populist talk, but he’s not about to walk the walk. 

Unfortunately, similar duplicitous tactics have been used to corrupt and neuter our essential governmental institutions: most egregiously, by his non-stop slandering of the FBI and Justice Department, people who might really need their services—i.e., to protect us against terrorists—no longer trust them. Heaven knows, the individuals running these agencies have their flaws, like everyone, but the work they are doing is essential, and they need to operate independently, free from White House influence (or any other influence) to do it properly. 

Our Founders foresaw a time when the rule of law would clash with a power-hungry Executive, but they may not have foreseen how vulnerable our institutions could be to an Executive who will stop at nothing to get his way, including declaring a bogus emergency so he can go around Congress’s authority to allocate funds. 

The list of dangers to our institutions is getting longer by the day: IMHO, if the 2020 election ignores this gnarly constitutional crisis entirely (because it’s too wonky or technical) to focus on “normal” issues like health care and taxes, We the People will stand to lose some cherished constitutional ground.

Despite the chills this idea sends up my spine, I must admit that astrologically, Trump can be re-elected, and here’s why: Neptune continues its Pisces transit into 2025—enabling those who have no scruples about lying and obfuscating—while Pluto continues on in corporate-friendly Capricorn (ever on the hunt for lower taxes and bigger boondoggles), returning to its Sibly position late in that sign in February, 2022. Pluto first enters Aquarius in March, 2023, but doesn’t fully commit to the sign until January, 2024. 

This certainly doesn’t mean that Trump will be re-elected—a lot could happen between now and November 2020—but these transits are concerning because we have seen how Trump manipulates these heavy energies so adeptly for his own purposes. Those who don’t want to see him re-elected had better not be naïve, again. 

On this note, let’s examine the chart for Election Day 2020. This falls on November 3rd of that year.  This chart will give us a feel for the dynamics and likely tone of that day—we know that the media will be crackling with stress that day, as will the public’s mood, but let’s remember that the same “good” or “bad” placements can play out in multiple ways. As far as I know, the Cosmos could care less who wins! Trying to read an election chart dispassionately can be difficult. 

Over the coming weeks, we’ll move on to consider more closely how Trump’s nativity figures into all this, and what impact he is likely to have on the nation as the election unfolds. This gets to be a long story very quickly!

Chart #1: Election Day 2020, November 3, 2020, 6:39 a.m. ST (dawn), Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Moon (Gemini) inconjoins Sun (Scorpio), sextiles Mars (Aries) and widely squares Neptune (Rx, Pisces). Notice that several planets fall in their home signs in this chart: Mars (Aries), Neptune (Pisces), Saturn (Capricorn) and Venus (Libra). This suggests a serious, earnest tone to the day, as if everyone involved will be bringing their “A-game.” It’s very likely that the public will feel scattered, uncertain and possibly frustrated, nevertheless (Moon inconjunct Sun)—there could be many voters that try to hedge their bets in some way.

This impulse can take many forms, such as voting for the candidate that feels “electable” instead of following their true preferences, working to maintain the status quo instead of “rocking the boat,” etc. Some may be so frustrated by the challenge of sorting the lies from the facts that they simply stay home.  

With Moon in Gemini, the media (including social media) could play an outsized role in determining where the vote falls, yet the media could be somewhat marginalized or compromised (Gemini ruler Mercury is retrograde in the 12th). We should be aware that all may not be what it seems on Election Day: this is reinforced by Nodal axis (Gemini-Sagittarius) squaring Neptune, which points to possible subterfuge and worse. If high-level Intelligence reports are saying then what they’re saying now, that Russia is actively meddling in European and Baltic democracies and will try to influence our election again, we should pay attention! 

It probably isn’t surprising that this t-square is firmly tied into Trump’s chart – more on that in a future post.  

Mars (Aries) sextiles Moon (Gemini) and inconjoins Sun (Scorpio), forming a Yod; Mars conjoins Eris (Aries) and opposes Mercury (Rx, Libra). The feeling of uncertainty and frustration that permeated the Moon aspects above gains an aggressive edge with these aspects. It’s not hard to imagine voters feeling that they’re “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” on election day, but this is why it will be so important to educate ourselves on the facts and avoid making decisions on the basis of bluster, emotionalism, sentimentality, or delusions (that goes for all sides).

A certain amount of fortitude is called for here: Mars is warrior energy, and with Eris there’s a reinforced sense that the stakes are high in this fight—tough choices will have to be made. Mercury Rx raises the possibility that challenges to the election will force a recount. 

Election day aside, with an Aries 6th house and two powerful “warriors” placed in that house (Mars and Eris), it’s possible that an actual shooting war may be either on the horizon or already in progress in November 2020. This isn’t that difficult to call, actually—in a December, 2018 report, ForeignPolicy .com listed “10 Conflicts to Watch in 2019,” and the U.S. could play a role in several of them, despite the fact that the report’s author red-flags the waning status of U.S. leadership in the world, saying that “authoritarian leaders are competing to see how much they can get by with.”

Competent foreign policy leadership is more essential today than ever, yet such imperatives rarely decide U.S. elections. We’ve lost major ground and reputation under the present administration—will voters care? 

One way or another, it won’t be too surprising if Trump has involved us in a “hot” war between now and the election, but the justifications could be spurious. If he’s feeling particularly vulnerable leading into this election, involving us in a war is one way to shift the advantage his way: among other priorities, a war allows the Commander-in-Chief to wield extraordinary powers, and it allows him and his supporters to claim that it would be a horrible time to switch leadership. Incumbent presidents are rarely voted out during wartime. 

Of course, if these machinations are detected in Congress, this could force the issue of impeachment, whether Democratic leadership wants to go there or not (it wouldn’t look great, close to an election). One way or another, ongoing volatility and conflict could be in the works at that time, and someone could benefit. This is reinforced by Aries Chiron widely conjoining the Part-of-Fortune opposite Venus (Libra). Yes, some people are merely pawns in these power struggles. 

Of course, there’s a more benign interpretation of all this as well: we know that Trump’s budget calls for massive increases to the Defense budget at the expense of almost everything else, and it could all be for the sake of enriching Defense contractors (how many will vote for Trump?) and looking “tough” in the world—no need to wage an actual war. More on this later in this post.

The U.S. Pentagon
In fact, Foreign Policy points to a growing problem of unoccupied positions in the Pentagon—two highly-placed women, officials with the Air Force and Navy respectively, resigned this past week, adding to a growing list of empty offices. Trump wants to throw a lot of money at the Pentagon, but doesn’t seem concerned with the Defense Department being fully-staffed. Could it be that the money (and the influence it buys) is the goal?

The financial possibilities represented by Defense contracts might explain the Jupiter-Pluto-Saturn (Capricorn) square to Mars-Eris (Aries). But the new Saturn-Pluto cycle will be in its first months at this juncture, and will be planting seeds for a new world order—how will that mesh with the Trump agenda, and the agendas of those who are attempting to influence him at that time? The willingness Trump has shown to blend personal profit and official business is troubling enough, but doing so with our Defense budget would be monumental. Will “pay-for-play” be the new order (everyone’s doing it, so why not?), or will we see more emphasis on accountability and responsibility? 

Unfortunately, we have evidence that under Trump, a new cynical view of how one “gets things done” has taken over. Trump himself makes no secret of the fact that he takes a purely transactional approach to negotiating, which means that he goes where the money and/or influence are to seek out his latest deals, and whoever ingratiates him- or herself with him will get his attention, ethics be damned. Trump’s loyalties seem as malleable as his narratives. 

This approach has real-world impact, unfortunately, and it certainly tied in directly with Boeing’s weeks-long crisis with its 737 Max 8 aircrafts: nearly every other country grounded or suspended the aircraft from their airspace and airports because of flaws that have caused two major crashes (and over 350 deaths) in the past couple months before Trump finally ordered Boeing to ground this line of planes today (3/13).

This Southwest Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft is now grounded for repairs.

The fact that Boeing’s CEO has been known to frequent Mar-o-Lago and to chat on the phone with Trump raises the issue of undue influence, and may explain why this grounding order was so long in coming and required such a preponderance of evidence and public pressure. It shouldn’t take that much for essential, regulated public systems to err on the side of safety. 

Notice that the Pallas-Jupiter-Pluto-Saturn (Capricorn) square to Eris (and very widely, Mars in Aries) becomes a t-square when we factor in Mercury (Rx, Libra). Again, this all speaks to the biggest corporate boondoggle of all, waging war, but Mercury’s position and Rx status here suggests that such topics will be very hush-hush at the election. Mercury’s also placed in the 12th here—another indication that speech will hardly be “free.” 

Military warfare isn’t the only possibility, of course: elections themselves are a type of war, so it’s possible that this tense configuration simply reflects the conduct of the election itself. Pallas’s involvement here reminds us that elections are a matter of justice and equity.

Mercury here also brings in the issue of technology, and between this and issues raised by Uranus (more ahead), it looks like tech issues could be important for this election. Indeed, candidates like Elizabeth Warren (D, Massachusetts) are running on the issue of breaking up the tech giants (Amazon, Google, Facebook) that basically squelch competition by their sheer enormity and reach. This will be far from easy, of course: Jupiter-Pluto (this new cycle will have begun in April, 2020) is all about amassing big power and big money, and the bigger the corporation, the better.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposes breaking up the tech giants.
In Capricorn. this dynamic is predictable, although Saturn’s involvement may signal there’s room for sane regulation. The difficulty of breaking up such corporate giants in this astrological environment doesn’t mean Warren won’t try, however, and she may be joined by others, since Amazon in particular has become a favorite target of venom with progressive Dems.

The other glaring possibility for this tense configuration is the role that campaign dollars will play in the election—especially from those same tech giants and any corporations that want to wield influence in Washington. It’s interesting that these heavy Capricorn energies are so snugly situated in the 3rd house of communications, transportation (roads, bridges, etc.), education and local affairs—in other words, a sector with grass-roots implications. Large swaths of our population can agree on the need to rebuild infrastructures—there’s just so much that the states can do alone on this issue.

It’s also possible that building Trump’s “Wall” across our southern border (to separate us from the 9th house “world out there”) is represented by these 3rd house placements, however, and we can guess that under Trump, this will take precedence over infrastructure projects that actually help the nation. Clearly, with all the wall money he’s demanding in his current budget (we’ve seen that he’s willing to hold the government itself hostage to get what he wants), this issue isn’t going to go away before the election. He’s already claiming the wall is being built—these being Neptunian times, maybe it is, in his imagination. 
In so far as the Wall represents Trump’s “zero-tolerance” approach to immigration, we can see that Pallas’s involvement here, again, points to the need for just solutions. Trump’s policies have exacerbated, if not created the humanitarian crisis at the border. And just for the sake of argument, do we know who stands to profit from building that wall? Mercury Rx periods are good times to investigate such lines of inquiry, with the hope that once Mercury goes direct, more transparency will be possible. 

All of these issues are more than fair game for this powerful Capricorn-led t-square.

A final thought on this t-square has to do with the institutional nature of our two-party electoral system, and the complex organizations that support their respective campaigns. We were smacked with a real wake-up call last time around when DNC email systems (Democratic National Committee) were hacked by Wikileaks on the eve of the Democratic Convention: can we expect the coming election to be equally dirty? Are we okay with that? These are questions that will confront us; it will help to remember that Saturn-Pluto will take cues from us about the “new order” we want to inhabit.

Uranus (Taurus) inconjoins and forms a mutual reception with Venus (Libra); Uranus opposes Sun (Scorpio). In fact, this “new order” is going to be heavily influenced by and geared towards accommodating Uranus—ruling technology. We’ve been hearing stories for years now about the rapidly developing potentials for AI-driven businesses, about the coming “jobless” times, and so on, and dealing with these realities is going to require our economy and society to consciously evolve going forward. 

Here, we’re focused on Election Day 2020, however—technology may not be the main issue that brings voters to the polls, but my guess is it will be an issue that helps sort voters into futurist v. reactionary camps—those who look forward to the “brave new world” offered by autonomous vehicles and AI nannies, and those who don’t. Even if the election doesn’t feel like a referendum on these tech issues and all their implications, however, there’s a new Jupiter-Saturn cycle launching at 0°+Aquarius within weeks of the election in December, 2020, and that will undoubtedly shift our focus into futurist mode.

Trump isn’t a particularly future-minded person—long-term thinking doesn’t work very well with a transactional mindset, but he’s pushing hard for a Uranian sounding “Space Force” branch for our military, and his new budget reflects those plans. Given that Russia and China are reportedly busy producing new “hypersonic” weapons for which we apparently have no effective response, this all reads like a new, budget-busting arms race. 

It’s interesting to me that Heather Wilson has just announced her departure as Air Force Secretary this week, shortly after issuing a statement saying that the new Space Force branch would cost an estimated $13 billion to establish. We’ll never know her motives for leaving (aside from a new position elsewhere), but we can see from the Uranus-Venus mutual reception (and inconjunct) in this chart, that issues regarding finances and technology and the tight ways in which they converge and feed each other, will be a nagging issue come election time. 

A key underlying factor in all this is the inability to trust Trump’s motives in anything—keeping others off balance, yet still in thrall to him in some way is a common tactic with him. That same approach is reflected here, in the frustrating, codependent feel of this Venus-Uranus aspect: Venus rules the 12th and 7th, suggesting back-room relationships (12th) fueling technology-related programs (in the 7th, perhaps defense technology related).

Has "America First" triggered a new, three-way arms race?

So, perhaps we need to wonder what sort of favors defense contractors typically pony up for the lucrative contracts they seek. The election is conveniently timed to coincide with Trump’s new push for a multi-billion dollar “Space Force”—could a new round of contracts (enabled by Trump’s new budget) be in the works to dangle in front of defense contractors with deep pockets for campaign contributions? It’s not hard to imagine Trump claiming that his Space Force will be sidelined if a Dem is elected—this power to hand out multi-billion dollar contracts is toxic when it comes to fair elections.

Not that influence peddling doesn’t happen on all sides in some form, but the sheer scale of it in today’s political climate is daunting. Looked at from this perspective, Trump’s Defense and Wall budget plans might as well be one massive re-election campaign fund—a way of “laundering” federal tax dollars into his campaign coffers. Needless to say, the strong cardinal t-square with Jupiter-Pluto-Saturn square Mars discussed earlier will only reinforce these Venus-Uranus possibilities, and the connection to Trump is fairly explicit: all those Capricorn points will be transiting opposite his natal Saturn-Venus from now into the election (chart not shown).  

A critical bifurcation point

This election chart is far more than a look at that one day—it represents a fork in the transformation path we’ve been on for some time. Clearing out the old for the sake of renewal and transformation is a necessary Saturn-Pluto process--it's all good, and we're right on schedule. Even so, there are precarious junctures in that process where tough choices will need to be made, and tough people will have to stand by them. 

So, unless something very unforeseen happens (like Trump resigns or is impeached), the cardinal energy at the bottom of the chart for that day will transform the election into a serious referendum on Trump’s presidency. The Mueller investigation and others led by Congressional committees will still be fresh in people’s minds (or still in progress), and the American public will have to decide what kind of political system it wants to support. 

Remember that mutable Neptune-Nodal axis t-square mentioned much earlier? With Neptune, we tend to see what we want to see, but this t-square indicates to my eyes that on Election Day 2020, the nation will be at an idealistic crossroads, where we either put up or shut up about democracy. 

One of the most chilling messages that came out of Michael Moore’s latest film, Fahrenheit 11/9, was that America has never lived up to its democratic potential—that it’s never been a true democracy because despite considerable progress, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" have not been equally available to all Americans. It's good to remind ourselves of that goal: we tend to measure the so-called American Dream by the quality of our material lives, when there is so much more at stake. Unfortunately, Neptune's ability to dis-enchant and dis-illusion is very real.

The fact is, we’ve always been a work in progress, but this election will represent a major bifurcation point (Gemini-Sagittarius Nodes), square Neptune. Will we push in the Neptunian direction of Abraham Lincoln’s “more perfect union,” or passively allow what is left of this union to run aground?

I think we're up to this challenge!


[1] Francis Fukuyama, The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, NY, NY, 2011, pp. 452-53.