Monday, April 16, 2018

How many tails to wag a dog? The astrology of missiles over Syria




If you aren’t too exhausted by this past week’s news to care, it’s been a great week for mundane astrologers to strut their stuff.

It’s in weeks like these that we see just how well astrological principles apply to events on the ground. A brilliant case-in-point is the chart for Trump’s televised announcement at 9:01 Friday night (D.C./2:01 a.m. Damascus) that he had approved, in concert with the leaders of the UK and France, a “surgical strike” on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities. We’ll consider this chart in depth ahead.

Even though the announcement came late on a Friday night in D.C.—not surprisingly, after the late-night comedy shows would have been taped, and just before some of the more in-depth news programs go into weekend mode—we know that this decision was being hashed over in the White House and among the military chiefs for more than a week, ever since Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his people on April 7th

Interestingly, this date was one exact year from Trump’s first, somewhat impotent missile strike at a Syrian airfield for the very same reason. Who knows what we should make of this synchronicity, except to wonder if it was Assad’s grisly-defiant way of celebrating an anniversary and thumbing his nose at Trump, or if there’s something sketchier going on between Trump, Russia and Syria.


The situation in Syria right now is a geopolitical hornet’s nest, with Russia running interference for the Assad regime, Iran and the U.S. (very dicey relations there) on the ground, clearing out ISIS, Israel chiming in with missile strikes here and there, Turkey and Turkish Kurds playing a role, the Saudis thinking about it, and who knows what else.

Knowing what or whom to trust among all these players is impossible from the outside looking in, so for our purposes here, I’ve narrowed the field down to the three major players: The U.S./Trump, Russia/Putin and Syria/Assad.  Trust is still incredibly difficult: three authoritarians walked into a bar, and…denied ever being there!

Did I mention that Trump didn’t even consult with Congress about striking Syria (and possibly starting a new war in the middle east)? He would lose face with his authoritarian pals if he did—totally opposite to his position when Obama faced a similar dilemma. Interestingly, Trump did think to remind Congress to pass his mammoth defense budget!



A triangulated power dynamic has a way of playing both sides against the middle, but is Trump really capable of navigating this 3-D chess game with Assad and Putin to our benefit? Is that even his intention? If progress is made against the use of chemical weapons in the process, bravo! If Trump has gained a newfound respect for our British and French allies, all the better, however, a celebration (or a “mission accomplished”) would be premature. 

Unfortunately, Trump’s track record suggests that he could be playing the “useful idiot,” trading something precious for the luxury of distracting the American public from the many scandals he’s embroiled in here at home. 

If so, we might wonder just how many “tails” are wagging the dog. 

In all fairness, our allies’ (UK and France) involvement here lends some credibility to the effort, and it probably moderated Trump’s (and advisors like John Bolton’s) more bellicose impulses: on the face of it, we three share an axe to grind with Russia and Syria, and Assad’s despicable acts did provide a pretext for grinding away.  

On the other hand, Trump’s sudden turn-about into criticizing Putin and Russia’s Syrian involvement in the last couple weeks smacks of a cynicism, writ large. On March 20th, Trump called to congratulate Putin on his 4th term, and then announced in a very off-hand way that Putin would be visiting the White House any day now to discuss “the arms race.” Huh? 

 
Senator John McCain harshly criticized Trump’s bromance with Putin at that juncture—Putin’s election was most likely a sham and besides, it was the week after the Trump administration had slapped a new round of sanctions on Russia (mostly on its oligarchs) for meddling in our election—talk about mixed messages! 

Trump himself hardly acknowledged the sanctions, and Putin may not have either...to believe Trump, the conversation with Putin was brimming with warm fuzzies and very short on harsh rebukes—guess who would be coming to dinner? 

Then, the week of March 26th, it became obvious that Trump couldn’t ignore Russia’s likely nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal (on March 4th), so the administration made the grand gesture of expelling dozens of Russian diplomats from the U.S. This was done in concert with 14 European Union members, including our allies UK and France, so it was an even harsher rebuke than Trump’s sanctions had been. Not surprisingly, this action seemed to get more of a rise from Putin, who quickly retaliated in kind.   

I dwell on this timeline of unfolding events and shifting attitudes because we did not arrive at this juncture along a clear, transparent path. And, we all have to now wonder what’s next. Trump has already declared “mission accomplished” in Syria for now, but he’s left the door open for more adventures—the exact type of adventures that he claimed to dislike when he was running for office.

Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin
For its part, Moscow issued a quick and vehement protest at the weekend’s attacks in Syria, but was apparently “relieved” that the attack was limited in scope, and that Russian troops and facilities were unharmed.  

To be fair, Trump did send out a tweet-alert for Russia to expect incoming missiles! The press focused on that tweet’s saber-rattling tone (Trump’s been so “tough” on Russia lately): maybe it was intended to be a friendly warning and to spare Putin the face-saving pain of having to escalate? Spank him with “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal…” and send him to the geopolitical corner. Escalation would be very bad, no doubt; discerning motives is another matter.

But all’s not quite well that ends well. The troubling reality is, if we don’t fully trust Trump’s motives, or his unclear relationships in the US-Russia-Syria power-triangle, how can we judge whether we’re doing something constructive with our nation’s military power, or if that power is being wielded for cynical purposes? What’s the plan? And who will be held accountable if this plan creates more problems than it solves? 

Most importantly, where’s the humanity in any of it? Assad isn’t going to stop brutalizing his people because Trump says so: Sunday morning’s news included CNN interviews with chemical weapons survivors in a Syrian refugee camp, and we can all learn something from the resilience of these people. They deserve everything the U.S. and its allies can do for them, so following up on the ground in the aftermath of the attack will be essential. 

Thankfully, the U.N. is getting involved, rejecting Russia’s complaints about the allies’ strike on Syria and considering the allies’ call for a verifiable end to the Syrian chemical weapons program. Many probably feel that it’s too little, too late.

Hopefully our U.N. ambassador will be the stalwart here: follow-up is not Trump’s strong suit. Once a campaign stops producing flashy media content, his attention tends to wander, but the charts below do suggest that Trump still has “skin in this game,” so this is far from over.  

These are all matters we might ponder in regards to the charts below. First, we’ll quickly consider the event chart on its own, and then we will add context to it by examining a triwheel with the U.S. Sibly chart and Trump’s natal chart. We’ll consider some very interesting connections with the radix chart of Assad’s regime in Syria, as well—the astrological plot thickens very quickly!

Please note that the event chart below is cast for Damascus, timed for Trump’s initial announcement of the attack at 02:01 a.m. in Damascus. Trump wasn’t in Damascus at the time, but the announcement can be considered the onset of hostilities, so it makes sense to cast the chart for where the attack was actually felt. 





Chart #1: Trump announces Allies attack on Syria, April 13, 2018, 02:01 a.m., Damascus, Syria. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Sun-Eris-Uranus (Aries) squares Mars-Pluto-ASC (Capricorn); Mars conjoins Saturn (Capricorn). I’ve stretched my usual orbs a bit to encompass all points in this powerful cardinal square, but the circumstances seem to warrant the stretch. The Aries grouping straddles the 4th house cusp, reflecting violent retribution impacting the homeland; Eris can be an honorable warrior at best, but also vindictive at worst, and her snug association with the other Aries points here suggests that the time felt right to pull the trigger (Sun), with Uranian force. There’s a reason many wars have launched in Mars’ favorite springtime sign. 

Here, the geopolitical “heavies” Saturn, Mars and Pluto share the 12th house, reflecting the “backroom dealings” that resulted in this attack. Trump shared none of his deliberations with Congress, preferring to huddle around a table with top Pentagon brass and skip over Congress entirely. This was the scene earlier in the week when Trump melted down about the FBI and the Mueller investigation, so could what they decided to do in Syria be related to his gripes with those two entities? 

We may never know for sure, but even the way the boundary between these two matters was blurred in his televised “meltdown” says that he was feeling the connection that day. Whatever the connection, we can see in this chart how the “powers-that-be” (Saturn, Mars, Pluto) felt seriously pushed to act (by conjunction and by cardinal square). Trump’s natal chart, placed next to this one, only adds more depth to these connections (more, ahead). 

Mercury (Aries) squares Saturn (Capricorn); Saturn trines Venus-IC (Taurus). This nice Saturn-Venus trine in earth signs is more about building material structures than destroying them, so this placement suggests that the Assad regime is realizing (or will realize) some material benefit from the attacks. How this would be true is unclear—the Pentagon has released a list of targets that were destroyed, so time will tell more on this point. 

For now, Damascus claims that the attack was “averted,” Assad is clearly far from impressed, nor does he seem to feel threatened by Trump’s Twitter saber-rattling (Aries Mercury). So, we’re left to wonder whether anything of substance happened in these early a.m. attacks, or whether it was all just a rhetorical slap on the wrist (Mercury-Saturn) in the end and another few areas that need rebuilding. The aftermath in the U.N. and on the ground in Syria will tell the story.



Fixed Grand Cross: Venus (Taurus) opposes MC (Scorpio); this axis squares Nodal axis (Leo-Aquarius). This tense, determined configuration suggests (as it appears) that the situation in Syria has come to a crossroads, and that a beneficial direction is “fixed” for Syria under Assad, even if it’s only a potential at this point. It's hard to see Assad being held truly accountable for his brutality towards his people, especially with Russia shielding him.

Besides, if that was the purpose of this last weekend's attack, it would have looked a lot different. Assad's "teflon" status is supported by Jupiter’s (Scorpio) conjunction 6 degrees past the regime chart's MC: it’s simply time for something better to happen in this horribly beleaguered country, but it won’t come easy, and if Trump has any thought of taking credit for Assad's "victory," he better not say so out loud.

An interesting “disconnect” will probably open up between what we (including our allies) might consider “success” in Syria and what may actually transpire. Russia has veto power on the U.N. Security Council and a stake in what happens, reflected by its December, 1991 radix chart and its staunch Pluto-Venus conjunction at 21°-22°Scorpio[1]. There are ties here with the Syrian regime’s chart, as well—more on that ahead.

Moon conjoins Neptune (Pisces), sextiles Venus (Taurus) and Mars (Capricorn) and trines Jupiter (Rx, Scorpio). Hopes appear to be high that this is a turning point for Syria, and it’s likely that the powers-that-be (financial and otherwise) operating behind the scenes (12th h. Pluto sextiles Jupiter) will concur. Most analysts concur that Assad has “won” his nation’s civil war, despite his use of banned weapons and his brutality towards civilians, so it’ll be interesting to see what sort of accommodations he makes with Russia moving forward. 

Do Russian companies soon begin to rebuild Syria (Taurus-Capricorn) as a return on their “investment” over the past few years? If so, this could be “boom-time” for them. U.S. corporations are familiar with the perks of “nation-building”…why would we expect anything different from Russia? 

The Moon-Neptune conjunction here lightened the mood in the media from its around-the-clock Trump scandal coverage and cast a fleeting “glow” of heroism over the weekend’s attack. In that sense, the distractions could be seductive, lulling us into complacency about a host of problems in the White House. As the coming week progresses, we’ll probably get a more clear-eyed view of what was really accomplished in Syria. 

This is a good opportunity to consider the broader U.S. context of Trump’s announcement, in the triwheel below. 




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 announces joint Syria attack, April 13, 2018, 2:01 a.m., DST, Damascus, Syria. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

First, because this triwheel reflects the “hornet’s nest” energy that’s roiling that volatile middle east region of the world, let’s make a few general observations. Considering each aspect in turn will only complicate things here—we need to glean a “big picture” first and then hope for a few concrete, actionable details we can hang our interpretive hats on. Remember the focus here: to explore where Trump may have been coming from when he approved and announced the missile strike in the wee hours of Saturday morning in Syria, and to get a sense for what’s next. One major theme seems to dominate this triwheel, so let’s start there.




Shifting power dynamics 

One way to accomplish such a shift is by force. The Interchart Fire Grand Trine between the Attack Sun-Eris-Uranus (Aries), Trump Mars-ASC (Leo) and Trump Moon (Sagittarius) reflects Trump’s preferred method of asserting American power. His Mars opposes Sibly Moon (Aquarius), creating a “kite” formation from this flowing grand trine. This suggests that “We the People” are paying the bills for the Trump administration’s violent adventures, which may actually inflict more damage on us in the long run than on our “enemies.” We bear the burden of a weakened democracy when the “King” (Leo) makes decisions to strike other nations in our name without our informed consent through Congress…We will bear the burden if our forces do more harm than good over there!

The other way to shift power dynamics is more passive, but equally relentless. It involves the gradual, yet purposeful erosion of any safeguards against such shifts—the breaking down of structural norms, the “normalizing” of behaviors (like viciously attacking the media and the FBI) that dilute and dissolve our domestic power relations into a chaotic pool. 

This dynamic is reflected in the triwheel’s Interchart Water Grand Trine between Attack Moon-Neptune (Pisces), Trump Mercury/Saturn (midpoint, Cancer) and Attack Jupiter (Rx, Scorpio). This flowing configuration also reflects the power of public sentiment, which has been easily turned against Assad’s use of chemical weapons and in favor of “doing something about it.” However, caution is warranted: public approval of one “easy” course of action opens the door and creates momentum for other actions that may or may not be so popular.


Trump’s Mercury/Saturn midpoint is an interesting player in this grand trine, especially being transited by Moon-Neptune (Pisces). Michael Munkasey attributes this passage to “breakdowns in logical processes” and “misleading items deliberately presented as facts.”[2] This goes back to the question of Trump’s motives and how many tails are wagging the dog. Fact-check twice, swallow what you see in the news once… shifting narratives reflect shifting power dynamics!

Munkasey also points out that negotiations and treaties become bogged down under these energies: this tendency could impact any U.N. discussions or actions regarding Syria’s chemical weapons that result from the weekend attack. 

Another way to shift power dynamics is by the full court press: action, lots of it, NOW!! This method is reflected in the aggressive cardinal configurations in this triwheel: Attack Mercury-Sun-Eris (and Merc/Sun midpoint, Aries) oppose Trump Juno-Chiron-JupiterRx (Libra); this axis squares Attack Saturn-Mars-Pluto (and midpoints between, Capricorn) opposite Sibly Venus-Jupiter-Sun-Mercury (and midpoints, Cancer). We could tease these energies apart into more than one Grand Cardinal Square—as I said earlier, a real “hornet’s nest” of powerful entanglements and aggressive attempts to control the narrative and the resources. 

The mid-degrees of Cancer-Capricorn are known as the astronomical “invariable plane,” and are thought by astrology to be major power axes. A quick comment by Bill Meridian will help clarify:

“Many of the great powers are so because they tap into the energy that streams from these [mid-Cancer-Capricorn] axes…people who were born with planets at the invariable plane tend to become or feel caught between opposing forces. That is, they must maintain a balance to hold a situation together….One can easily see why nations with significant concentrations of planets at the invariable plane could upset the world balance of power.”[3]
This might be a good place to remember that the Russian Federation chart ties into all this via its powerful Capricorn Uranus-Neptune conjunction, exactly conjoined here by Attack Mars. It’s true that Russia showed restraint over the weekend—i.e., it didn’t shoot off any weapons in retaliation—but they may have “bigger fish to fry,” so to speak. 

Recall that their powerful Venus-Pluto conjunction (Scorpio) is now “blessed” with Jupiter’s transit and that their Scorpio points also fall sextile Attack Pluto (Capricorn). It does appear that Russia is more focused on financial opportunities and on solidifying its opportunities for nation-building in Syria, if not the entire region. We know how Putin hates what happened to the Soviet Union in 1989-91, so his decision to ally Russia with Assad in Syria may serve some larger, expansionist “comeback” plan.

Besides, the Assad regime’s Venus is conjoined by the Russian Federation’s Venus-Pluto conjunction (both Scorpio) and squared by Syria’s imperious Leo Jupiter[4]. Bottom line, it’ll be interesting to see how Putin and Assad navigate the end of Syria’s civil war. 

Coming and going

So where is Trump coming from, and where is he going with this latest attack on Syrian chemical weapons facilities? Trump seems to be motivated in the moment by an impulsive, Gemini-style idea stream, always inflected by the Sagittarian desire to thrust himself into every situation with the most bluster and bombast he can muster.  Observing him, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that he does perhaps the least harm when he’s flailing his arms and blustering in front of a crowd. That’s for show, and for effect, and to keep his base cranked up. 

It’s when Trump is sitting with his arms wrapped around himself in a self-protective posture and speaking in that dusky, slow-burning tone of voice he assumes when he’s feeling very defensive that we need to be concerned. 

This latter was his demeanor at the “top brass meeting” regarding plans in Syria that was televised earlier last week. This was the meeting where he wasted the Pentagon’s precious time by fuming and lashing out repeatedly about the FBI “breaking in” to his lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room. Where he took advantage of the cameras to basically blur the distinction between his personal security concerns and the nation’s security. King Louis XIV had nothing on Trump, with his famous motto, “L’et√Ęt c’est moi” (I am the State). 

Given this disturbing display, is it possible to separate the action plan that emerged from that meeting from Trump’s personal security concerns? His Saturn-Venus conjunction (Cancer) is being opposed by transiting Pluto (Capricorn) these days, and with transiting Saturn and Mars (Capricorn) coming up behind Pluto, opposing (if not now, soon) Trump’s Mercury and Saturn-Venus, the challenges Trump fears could very well materialize. He may be feeling cornered, which is a dangerous position, since his native tendency is to lash out and “punch back” when attacked.  



He’s also willing to distract us all by overwhelming the media airwaves with controversial or shocking moves—examples abound from his campaign and since. This makes his willingness to launch impromptu military adventures (especially with no input from Congress and no over-arching strategy) especially troubling.  Unfortunately, there are multiple indicators that we may be in for more volatile times between now and 2020, and those are only exacerbated by Trump’s chart being part of the mix. 

Specifically, Trump’s natal Full Moon (Gemini Sun-Node-Uranus opposite Sagittarius Moon-So. Node) has a tight astrological “lock” on our Sibly Mars (Gemini), which makes military solutions a convenient “default” mode for self expression that he can hide behind (Sibly Neptune squares Sibly Mars and his Full Moon axis). To their credit, investigative journalists don’t stop fact-checking and probing for motives when he does these things, but he can make that very difficult by classifying any information he doesn't want us to know. Our Sibly Neptune-Mars square has taught us to watch for these less-than-transparent (or honorable) uses of the military.

We’ve already discussed Trump’s thin-skinned Saturn-Venus conjunction—it’s difficult enough that it opposes radix Sibly Pluto, but it is now being challenged on several fronts by transiting Pluto, as it returns to its radix Sibly position.  Astrologers have been expecting some level of crisis and chaos as this return transit perfects, so it’s probably not surprising that a president would come along to catalyze that chaotic process. This conjunction may well account for his protectionist tendencies and zero-sum mentality, as well—tendencies that divide (Saturn) people over resources (Venus) rather than unite them. 

Finally, there’s the “bully” factor in Trump’s natal chart—reflected to a tee by his Mars-ASC conjunction in fixed, dominant Leo. These points have an opposition lock on our Sibly Moon (Aquarius), so “We the People” get caught up in the drama, whether we like to or not.
This Leo power center of his could be entangled in the geopolitical scramble for rebuilding dollars that we’ll probably see in Syria, as the civil war winds down and they enter the rebuilding phase. 

I say this because Trump’s Leo points fit snugly into the Leo-Scorpio squares we discussed much earlier between Syria and Russia. This cozy meeting of fixed egos and hidden ambitions and agendas makes me wonder if the Trump Organization will be angling for lucrative contracts in Syria, as well. Built by Russian oligarch connections? The “Trump Damascus” hotel has a ring to it…pure speculation at this point, of course!

Bottom line, Trump’s Leo points seem to make it very difficult for him to think beyond his own self-interests, so events on the ground must always be considered from more than one perspective—what the official narrative says is going on, and--relying on credible investigative journalism--what is actually going on. Is it any wonder that Trump World does everything it can to undermine journalistic credibility? Is it any wonder Trump is fighting like crazy to keep materials seized from lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen's office secret?

None of this is surprising or new, but our new level of involvement in Syria raises the stakes for knowing the truth. 






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: robertsonraye@gmail.com.

© Raye Robertson 2018. All rights reserved.



[1] Nicholas Campion, The Book of World Horoscopes, The Wessex Astrologer, 2004 ed., Chart #280, “Russian Federation, the lowering and raising of the flags,” pp. 273-274.
[2] Michael Munkasey, Midpoints: Unleashing the Power of the Planets, ACS Publications, San Diego, CA, 1991, pp. 164-165.
[3] Bill Meridian, “Power Points in the Zodiac,” Astrological Journal, Vol. 48, No. 2, March/April 2006, pp. 7-9.
[4] Campion, ibid., “Syria” Assad regime/Syrian independence, Jan. 1, 1944, 12 midnight (no time available), Damascus, Syria. Chart #322, pp. 310-311.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Two companies in the D.C. crosshairs: the Astrology of Amazon & the Washington Post





Actually, the White House has stirred up trouble for three American corporate institutions:

Facebook—the social networking giant; Amazon—the consumer goods and media giant; and the Washington Post, the venerable “elder” in the group and a champion of investigative journalism. 

So why not lump Facebook in with today’s look at the other two companies here? For starters, Trump clearly saves his juiciest venom for Amazon and the Washington Post (both not coincidentally owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos), but he’s expressed no such animosity towards the social media network.

Why would he? 

Even so, Facebook has been caught up in the Trump undertow by virtue of the role it played in spreading Russian-planted disinformation designed to help elect him during Election 2016. The Atlantic is reporting this week that:

“Facebook said that data from as many as 87 million users may have been shared with the research firm Cambridge Analytica, exceeding earlier estimates. The company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11.” 

Cambridge Analytica was the data-broker and communications arm of Trump’s 2016 campaign, and is reportedly being scrutinized by the Mueller investigation for some of its actions and sketchy connections during that campaign. A story for another day. 

The point I would make about Facebook here is that it seems that those who ally themselves with Trump—even inadvertently, or passively—have a curious way of suffering as a consequence. Maybe it’s something about that Venus-Saturn conjunction in Trump’s nativity (below)?




Of course, the news has been full of storm and fury over all three of these beleaguered corporate players, and the challenges that they are experiencing are reverberating throughout our economy and our democratic system. That, on top of his rash policies regarding trade and tariffs, has a lot of people wondering if the U.S. is still a “free-market” democracy under Trump, or will he (and/or his promoters) get by with picking “winners and losers” among American companies? The trade issue is a story for another day, but it figures indirectly into the drama over Amazon and the Washington Post, as we’ll see. 

In an article entitled “Amazon has lots of company as Trump slams ‘stupid’ businesses,” the NYTimes reports:
“This is an unprecedented situation for companies. The president’s tweets can cause significant reputational harm,” said Dean C. Garfield, the president of the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents big technology companies like Amazon, Dell, Facebook, Google and IBM. “We are now at a place where about 90 percent of the companies we represent now have a presidential Twitter strategy in place.”
“It’s no laughing matter,” he said.

As for media companies like the Washington Post, we know from other stories in the news that Trump would far prefer Sinclair Broadcasting’s propagandistic approach to news-reporting: provide a Trump-friendly script to anchors and fire them if they don’t read it on air! After the charade we witnessed this past week with hundreds of Sinclair news anchors reading the same, pro-Trump script (one commentator called them “hostage videos”), it’s no surprise to learn that Sinclair has been trying to merge with Tribune, a merger that would give them 42% of the broadcast news market. 

Mergers are subject to approval by the Department of Justice…Attorney General Jeff Sessions might want to offer Trump an olive branch these days…pro-Trump election ads would be a huge source of revenue…it’s not difficult to see where this is headed. 

So, not only are Amazon and Washington Post company reputations and stock prices at stake in all this, but our First Amendment rights to free speech and that essential “5th estate” of our democracy—the Free Press—are also in the crosshairs. 

To consider all this astrologically, I’ve cast charts for the IPOs (initial public offerings) of these corporate entities—we’ll consider Facebook’s IPO chart in a future post. We could look at the earlier origins of these companies, but the IPOs essentially created new corporate entities out of all of them, and these are the entities that are under fire at this time. 

To examine the dynamics stimulated against Amazon and the Post by Trump’s attacks, I’ve set each of the company charts in turn against the Trump administration chart (represented by his inauguration on January 20, 2017).  I made this choice—as opposed to setting them against his Trump’s natal chart—because Trump isn’t acting in a vacuum when he launches these attacks. He’s acting in the context of an entire bureaucracy that enables and cleans up after him.

He’s also acting with a complicit, majority-Republican Congress in charge, which allows him to get by with a lot. So, in so far as Trump is using his official “bully pulpit” to attack these companies, his attacks represent an administration-wide assault. His personal chart still figures into the mix, as background, however: the inauguration chart would be the same no matter who was elected in 2016, so we can’t ignore the personal energies that Trump brings to D.C. with him as part of the package. As such personal factors come into play, we’ll consider them. Trump’s nativity is available for reference above.

So, let’s consider these biwheels in chronological, IPO order: first, the Washington Post, then Amazon.  In the interest of space, we’ll consider quick highlights in each instance and then leave some room for a final consideration of the “big picture” that these biwheels paint for us.
“Democracy dies in darkness”

This, of course, is the pro-First Amendment corporate mantra that appears at the top of every Washington Post front page, in both print and online versions. If you happened to have caught the film (The Post, 2017) that depicted Katherine Graham’s storied career as the first woman newspaper publisher/CEO during the tumultuous times of the Post’s IPO, you’ll know that the paper has been no stranger to controversy and politically-motivated attacks. 

Graham supported her reporters in publishing the so-called Pentagon Papers that same year, which helped turn the tide against shady goings on in D.C. with the Viet Nam War, and not long after, Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate scandal story, for good measure. 

The Post has more than lived up to its motto, in other words, so even before Amazon chief Jeff Bezos acquired it in October, 2013[1], it’s wasn't hard to see why Trump keeps it on his Twitter “hit list.” In fact, Trump’s behavior towards the press in general suggests that he views its function in propagandistic terms, with little thought for its role in democracy: serve his communication purposes, or feel his wrath. 

Let’s consider the biwheel.





Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Washington Post IPO, June 15, 1971, 9:30 a.m. DST, Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) Inauguration 2017, January 20, 2017, 12:00 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C.. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Interchart Mutable Grand Square: Inauguration Venus-Chiron-Mars (Pisces) conjoin Post Moon (Pisces) and oppose Post Pluto (Virgo); this axis squares Inauguration Saturn-Juno (Sagittarius) opposite Post Mercury-Ceres-Sun (Gemini). Considering that a journalistic enterprise like the Post is “Mercurial” by nature (Mercury is aptly dignified in ruling sign Gemini here), the stress of this 4-way configuration could be fairly destabilizing. With an idealistic Pisces Moon, the stress could be intense; today’s journalism is no place for the faint-of-heart. Indeed, life in that newsroom must be chaotic and distracting, trying to cover a White House that’s in constant crisis mode and can never be counted on to tell the truth. 

Of course, print newspapers have had to navigate a long learning curve with the growing reliance on digital communications, but that switch has perhaps helped the Post to be as agile and flexible as it’s needed to be under Trump’s constant quest for headlines. It would be interesting to know if they’ve had high turnover in their writers and other staffers—the conditions they’ve worked under could certainly create some churn.


This possibility is especially reflected in Inauguration Venus-Chiron conjoined Post Moon—working for the Post has probably been a wounding experience since Trump took over D.C.. Considering that Inauguration Pluto is currently applying to a trine with Post Pluto here (Capricorn to Virgo), however, it’s likely that the trials the Post is enduring now will reap benefits for them down the road. In fact, I remember reading that their readership has soared in the past year, so maybe the chaos has been good for their bottom line?

Here’s where we see to what extent Trump’s administration is an extension of his personal nature. His personality—with all its bluster and bullying, whining and casting blame—dominates his presidency, so it’s no surprise that his natal chart resonates with this biwheel. In fact, his Gemini Sun-Uranus-Node and Sagittarius Moon (see his chart, near the top of this page) tightly align with the placements along that axis in this biwheel (with Inauguration Saturn tied into his Sagittarius Moon), so this may explain how aggrieved (Saturn) he’s been feeling in regards to the Post and other companies these past 15 months. 

Saturn-to-Moon transits are best handled by taking responsibility and making personal changes, but as far as I’ve been able to see, Trump is more inclined to project such responsibilities out onto others, even friends and allies (natal Venus-Saturn conjunction). All kinds of blame to go around!




Interchart Kite: Post Sun-Mercury-Ceres (Gemini) trines Inauguration Jupiter (Libra), which trines Post Mars-No. Node (Aquarius), which opposes Inauguration Uranus (Aries). This somewhat rare configuration creates a spectacular visual: a “fighter” kite, aggressively soaring and putting on quite a show, high in its natural element, air! This suggests that the Post and the Trump administration are quite agile opponents, and that the “contest” could go on for awhile. We’ll see if some turmoil ensues when Uranus enters Taurus and transits over the Post’s MC next month. 

More future passages to watch: Transiting Jupiter –now retrograde, but turning direct in July—is another interesting point to watch in regards to the Post. The Post’s radix Jupiter (Rx) is also in Scorpio, so this media giant will be experiencing a Jupiter return this coming November. Will they break another history-making story around that time? 

This passage will overlap with transiting Saturn—since the Inauguration, in the early degrees of Capricorn—forming an interchart T-Square with the Post’s Eris-Chiron to Uranus opposition (Aries-Libra). This configuration should awaken the Post’s “wounded warrior” sensibilities and challenge them to do something productive with them. It’s very interesting that this Eris-Chiron conjunction exactly squares Sibly Sun—i.e., the president! 

So it’s no surprise that Trump feels threatened by the Post and its insistence on reporting facts and digging up important stories. This probably explains why he has already started calling them Amazon’s “lobbyist”—clearly an attempt to undermine and taint their reputation for fairness. Lobbying for what, we might ask? Is Trump afraid that Bezos might consider a presidential bid? Trump clearly wants a media network dedicated to supporting his narratives, so why would he expect any better of Bezos? 

This transiting Saturn (Capricorn) will be simultaneously opposing Trump’s protective natal Mercury (Cancer), which disposes his entire Gemini stellium (see chart near top of page), so he could be looking for ways to frame media narratives to his own liking. This transit will be ongoing through midterm elections and into 2019, so the gloves will be off (as though they are ever not off, with Trump).

A package on every porch…Amazon

If I had a nickel for every dollar I’ve spent on the Amazon site…(fill in the blank!). And this is why Jeff Bezos’ brainchild is the mega-player that it is—love the company, hate it or fear it, it fills a need that people want to fill. So why does Donald Trump get into such a vicious stew over the success of this company?   

Here’s where his administration-at-large may not be the best barometer for understanding this fraught relationship: Trump clearly has a personal gripe with this company, and yes, this shows up in a biwheel between Amazon’s chart and his nativity. 

Most prominently, Amazon’s Sun conjoins Trump’s MC (both Taurus, see his chart at top of page), and inconjoins Trump’s Moon (Sagittarius). Could there be a history of bruised feelings between Amazon and the Trump Organization over business practices or goals? Trump’s family has sold everything from shirts to steaks, and their products have probably always been listed on Amazon. Daughter Ivanka certainly has a presence on the site, despite the conflicts of interest posed by her position in the White House (a problem that applies to Dad, as well). 

Listing products on Amazon takes a bite out of any vendor’s profits, so there could be a love/hate relationship between the site and Trump that has nothing to do with their “too low” postal rates, their habits in collecting sales taxes, or their taking over Main Street (as Trump has been accusing them of via tweet). Being able to count on a volume discount on postage is a competitive advantage for Amazon, no doubt, but it’s a win-win situation: Amazon Prime members clearly approve, and the Postal Service says it makes a profit by servicing Amazon packages. 

By undermining Amazon’s advantage with the Post Office, Trump probably would be hitting Amazon where it hurts. He has a keen sense of his rivals’ vulnerabilities, even if his motives are less clear: he might just be out to get Bezos because he’s wealthier, for all we know. One way or another, Trump seems determined to harm both Amazon and the Post. Yesterday’s (4/5) tweet storm included the 5th attack in one week, this time on both corporations and repeating Trump’s claim that the Post is Amazon’s “lobbyist.”  

In fact, the Post responded by saying that Amazon is kept distinctly separate from its business, as two independent corporate entities, with no dollars changing hands between them. 

The editor further claims that Bezos is a very “hands-off” owner and hasn’t involved himself in any of the stories they publish. Bezos’ decision to not engage in the trap Trump is laying for him is probably wise. Nothing he says is going to change Trump’s mind, and the followers Trump has convinced to believe his “fake news” mantra about the mainstream media are not likely to change their minds, so why waste the energy? The conservative Wall Street Journal notes how Trump’s criticism of Amazon is reliably triggered by what happens in the Post:

“The president’s most recent flurry of tweets targeting Amazon has coincided with publication of Washington Post stories he dislikes.
Over the past week, Mr. Trump has privately complained about two particular Post stories, White House aides and others said: a March 30 article that documented problems at a White House office that vets political appointees and another the following day that depicted Mr. Trump acting more independently of chief of staff John Kelly and other “moderating forces.”

Politico.com points out, insightfully, that there’s a limit to how much Trump can attack a media organization because of 1st Amendment protections, but nothing stops him from attacking the non-media aspects of an American business (aside from the usual presidential norms of behavior that he chooses to ignore). So by conflating Amazon-Washington Post in his tirades, Trump gets by with deep-sixing Amazon’s stock value and sinking his teeth into the Post in the process.  
Perhaps most confusingly, there’s an added technological dimension to Trump’s self-interested feud with Amazon, also a tech giant. From Marketwatch.com:
 
“Trump could also be choosing to pick a fight with one of the country’s tech leaders at a time when the U.S. is in a heated tech leadership battle with China. Trump is being encouraged to cancel a multibillion-dollar contract between Amazon and the Pentagon to provide cloud computing services, sources told Vanity Fair.
‘[I]t does not make sense to us why the U.S. would want to place crosshairs on a main source of its domestic technology leadership and innovation at a juncture when the U.S. and China are squaring off against one another across so many areas of economic of economic activity,’ Wells Fargo said.
More specifically, the competitive ability to harness data and compute resources, where AWS offers important strategic value to the U.S. and many of its industry leaders/customers of the AWS Cloud, will become more important (not less) to broader economic and industry leadership in the years to come, as we strongly believe,’ the note said.”

Maybe I’m going out on a speculative limb, here, but this makes me wonder if there’s some connection between Trump’s so-called “trade war” with China (which he keeps escalating) and his desire to tear tech companies like Amazon down. It’s worth noting that his natal (see first chart above) Jupiter-Chiron (Libra) conjunction falls opposite Amazon’s Eris (Aries), and that his natal Neptune falls opposite his own Eris (Libra-Aries), so there’s a deep-seated, delusionary grudge that grieves him no end, and Amazon just happens to be the latest target for his projections.


Unfortunately, the facts don’t matter here—the Wall Street Journal reports that former economic advisor Gary Cohn and others went to great lengths to brief Trump about how much sales tax Amazon really pays, how their business actually helps the Post Office, and so on:

“It made little difference. Mr. Trump persisted in attacks that ran counter to the material they had showed him.
‘It’s not the narrative he wants,’ one person familiar with the matter said of the White House briefings.  ‘He clearly didn’t find it persuasive because he keeps saying it’s untrue.’”

This indifference to the facts—or insistence on “alternative facts,” as Kelly Ann Conway famously put it—is a sure sign that Neptune (and Trump's natal Mercury-Neptune square) is calling the shots. 

When Trump first took office he apparently invited Bezos to participate on a “Defense Innovation Board” that would consider new uses for technology in defense, but Bezos turned him down. That snub has had time to sink in by now: in Trump’s world, you’re either “with him or agin’ him,” so it’s not surprising that his relations with Bezos have been even more fraught ever since. 

It’s quite possible that he sees Bezos as a political rival, or one who has the means to fund a viable rival for 2020.  In fact, the Post is featuring a piece this morning that points to a deep cultural divide between Trump and Amazon:

“Trump’s decision in recent days to zero in on Bezos and Amazon.com as his latest Twitter targets has highlighted a severe fracture in American society, a divide between concrete and steel and zeros and ones, a split that is as much philosophical as it is economic, as much about the fraying of communities as it is about the shape of commerce.”

They wouldn’t be the first ones to point out that Trump’s policies threaten to take us back in time rather than forward.


Of course, the animosity Trump lavishes on Bezos could be more related to the media side of Bezos’ power: we know that Trump is trying to promote a merger between his preferred media company, Sinclair, and Tribune, which would give him a way of assaulting the Free Press from multiple angles.

We might also wonder if Trump has a buyer in mind for the Post, once he's succeeded in disabling it (Sinclair? Cambridge Analytica? Steve Bannon?). Trump’s been using the “M” word against Amazon—calling it a monopoly—which makes twisted sense when he’s hoping to build himself a media monopoly in time for 2020. 

Whatever angle Trump pursues, it does appear from transits to Amazon’s chart (more below) that Bezos could find himself in court on his company’s behalf over the coming year; who sues who first will be the question.  Either way, it’s likely Trump will keep using Amazon and the Post as electioneering fodder—his  political “schtick” doesn’t work without an enemy.   

Amazon is about to enter the final quarter of its first Saturn cycle (with transiting Capricorn Saturn now nearly square Amazon’s radix Aries Saturn), so a number of challenges, including legal ones, could arise that help them restructure and regroup for their new Saturn cycle, beginning roughly 7 years from now. Will Trump succeed in sidelining Amazon and Bezos before the 2020 election? If he doesn’t, it won’t be for lack of trying. 

So, let’s consider the biwheel for Amazon and the Trump administration. Despite Trump’s definite personal ties to the Amazon chart, his administration’s chart is equally relevant because he is using his public office to wield a ruthless, big stick.  





Biwheel #2: (inner wheel) Amazon.com Inc. IPO, May 15, 1997, 9:30 a.m. DST, New York, New York; (outer wheel) Inauguration 2017, January 20, 2017, 12:00 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C.. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Inauguration Moon (Scorpio) squares Amazon Pallas-Uranus (Aquarius), trines Amazon Ceres (Pisces), and inconjoins Amazon Venus (Gemini). This inauguration Moon suited the dark tone that Trump’s speech set for the nation that day, as he talked about stopping so-called “American carnage” and promoted the protectionist, anti-immigration, anti-free trade policies we’ve seen unfold since then. Another campaign speech, for all intents and purposes. So it’s not surprising that Trump’s tone would clash with forward-thinking, innovative companies like Amazon (Uranus-Pallas in Aquarius). 

The trine between Inauguration Moon and Amazon Ceres (Pisces) evokes an image of a scorpion seeking out the soft underbelly of a target in case it needs to attack. Inauguration Pallas is also conjunct 8th house Amazon Ceres, perhaps reflecting legal challenges Trump has intended to pose for the company from day one. The inconjunct between this intense Scorpio Moon and Amazon Venus (and the implied Venus-Ceres square from Gemini to Pisces) suggests that Amazon profits and stock values could remain under threat. 

Interchart Cardinal Grand-Square: Inauguration Uranus-Eris (Aries) conjoin Amazon Saturn-Eris (Aries) and oppose Inauguration Jupiter (Libra); this axis squares Amazon ASC-DSC (Cancer-Capricorn) conjoined Inauguration Pluto (Capricorn). This intense configuration wants “action, now,” but there’s a sense of the players being “damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.” The drive is fueled by a “wronged warrior’s” (Eris) desire to destroy and reshape its enemies more to its liking (Inaug Pluto on Amazon ASC-DSC). Trump seems to seek out this "wronged warrior" role, so this is no surprise, nor is the conjunction with Uranus (Aries)—Trump’s political success is directly related to the disruptions he causes to others. 

We’ve seen the pattern. Eris is a key player in the Trump administration’s drama—in his West Virginia speech yesterday, he launched what sounded like a literal call to arms (using our National Guards forces) against Mexican “rapists.” He launched his entire campaign with this narrative in 2015, so we’re seeing a potentially deadly return to campaign mode, designed to whip up his base.



As for how this impacts Amazon, its Eris is conjoined Saturn, so it’s a formidable fighter, and since this Saturn disposes Amazon’s Aquarius Jupiter and Uranus, which is dignified in its home sign, we can see that Amazon is focused on a technologically-empowered, future-oriented growth agenda.

Working well with others is an important part of the plan, undoubtedly (Jupiter and Uranus fall in the 7th and 8th), however they tend to do this from a position of strength. Their Trump-promoted Saturn cycle challenge will force some adjustments—and to the extent that Amazon operates like a 500-lb. gorilla retailer that dominates all the “little guys,” maybe adjustments are warranted—but over the longer term, their future-oriented culture and perspective will probably win out because that’s where the world is going. 

I suspect that we’ll come to a fork-in-the-road moment in the near future, where as a society we have to make a choice: to be held back in toxic, unproductive, zero-sum thinking about our place in the world (if they gain, that must mean I lost), or to move forward in a much more open, balanced and cooperative way. The new Aquarius Jupiter-Saturn cycle beginning at the end of 2020 will likely be an important passage in regards to this choice. 

Interchart Mutable Grand Square: Inauguration Pallas-Neptune-So. Node (Pisces) conjoin Amazon Ceres (Pisces) and oppose Amazon Moon (Virgo)-Inauguration No. Node (Virgo); this axis squares Amazon Venus (Gemini) opposite Amazon Pluto (Sagittarius).  One of Amazon’s most valuable intangible resources (Pisces Ceres) is its reputation for pioneering a whole new way of selling retail goods, and in being very good at what it does. The online giant didn’t grow that big by displeasing customers, but it definitely has its naysayers—competitors have a rough time, no doubt. But that’s been true with all the “big box” ventures that engulf communities with their volume buying and size advantage.

This restless configuration, with all its variables, speaks to Trump’s rather erratic determination to bring this company down. The Inaug Nodal axis (Virgo-Pisces) squaring Amazon’s finance-related Venus-Pluto (Gemini-Sagittarius) axis reflects that the administration sees Amazon as a target for change. In the end it’s a power play, and when the government is involved, the tactics and weapons range from tax policies to mud-slinging to investigations on charges (monopoly?) that may or may not be valid. Trump claims Amazon doesn’t collect enough state taxes, and we’ve seen plenty of mud-slinging, so it’ll be interesting to see if an investigation is looming.

The fact that Trump conflates Amazon with the Post is represented by the potentially deceptive role Inaug Pallas-Neptune plays here. Trump seems to see himself as a fierce “knight in shining armor,” come to save American retailers from Amazon, the “fire-breathing dragon” out to hoard their treasure. Yes, he knows how to tap into people’s fears and thirst for drama—overhyped conspiracy theories are a Neptunian specialty of this administration. 

The interesting twist he’s given this campaign, however, is to drag the media (via the Post) into the fray, so that anyone criticizing his actions can be labeled an Amazon “lobbyist.” I can just hear the “lock him (Bezos) up” chants now.



Stepford Wives only tell their "husbands" what they want to hear!

Some final thoughts

Transiting Pluto (now at 21°+Capricorn) is now trine Amazon’s Sun (Taurus), but quincunx the Post’s Sun (Gemini), so of the two, the Post seems to be under the most damaging pressure at the moment. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bezos considers selling the Post, but he may also decide against this for fear it would look like he’s caving into pressure. Either way, the Post may be experiencing some rocky internal dynamics at this juncture. We need to hope that they manage to weather this storm, because their demise would bode very badly for our 1st Amendment rights.

It would be so much easier for any media outlet to simply toe the line and become another of Trump’s Sinclair “Stepford wives,” programmed to tell him only what he wants to hear. Deadspin reports that even Sinclair staffers object vehemently to the Trumpist rhetoric they’re forced to spout on the airwaves. They also claim that their “corporate overlords” are calling the shots, so the forces threatening our democratic institution of free speech are financial, as well as ideological and downright delusionary.  

Neptune will be transiting its home sign of Pisces for nearly 7 more years, so we have to come to grips with its illusionary hall-of-mirrors. If there's no one we can count on to tell the truth, we will  suffer long-term damage to our democratic institutions. At the risk of hyperbole, I would suggest that we could be an entirely different nation in 7 years if we don't get our arms around this.

Over the next year, in fact, transiting  Neptune will gradually float in and out of orb for its opposition (a “half” return) to Sibly Neptune (22°+Virgo), at the same time transiting Pluto is navigating its return to its Sibly position at 27+Capricorn. This stunning synchronistic "dance" suggests that we really need to come to grips with the national illusions that divide us so deeply and wield such power over us, being especially alert to outside efforts being made to divide and conquer us. Which brings us to Facebook.
 
Was Facebook  just a “useful idiot” for the Russian misinformation campaign that roiled our 2016 election, or a willing participant?  We’ll look at what we know about this situation much more closely in the next post. The stakes are clearly very high going forward: if anything good comes out of last year’s debacle, it will be in the heightened awareness of our own internal divides. A little sincere introspection could go a long way for our collective well-being.

In retrospect, it seems that we were laboring under several illusions before the Trump campaign: that America’s problems with racism were“solved” because we elected a black president, twice; that we were somehow immune to the corruption we see in other, weaker democracies; and that certain norms of integrity and behavior can always be counted on in a presidential candidate—obviously, we know the reality in each case is no, no and clearly, no. 

With Neptune, our choices are stark: either go along passively with the dissolution of everything Saturnian, structured and solid—i.e., our societal rules and ethical standards, our constitutional checks and balances, our institutions, etc.—or somehow muster the unity and spirit to take charge (put our Saturnian “oars” in Neptune’s waters) and harness the idealism and compassion of this overwhelming planetary energy for positive purposes. I prefer to believe that we can steer this ship of state in a better direction!






  
Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. Having studied at 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: robertsonraye@gmail.com.

© Raye Robertson 2018. All rights reserved. 








[1] I’ve considered using a chart for this 2013 transaction here, but decided that the journalistic and free press issues at stake are better represented by the 1971 chart. It appears that Bezos’ acquisition was less about journalism and more about business.