Monday, February 18, 2019

When Quixotic turns toxic: the astrological Windmills of D.C. minds

“The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote  

“Thou hast seen nothing yet.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote  

We left off on a cliff-hanger in the last post here, musing over whether the government would be shutdown again for the sake of a wasteful border wall and an increasingly manufactured sounding emergency at said border. Big consequential questions have since been answered, but our system of democracy (i.e., with three co-equal branches of government) may have gotten lost in the Rio Grande in the process.  

So we know now that Trump is willing to use his power to declare a state of emergency and to go around Congress to get the wall funding he wants, essentially putting his presidency at odds with Congress’s power of the purse, and the facts on the ground (as reported by his own administration), while he’s at it. With this action he’s also saying that his priorities are more important than other projects already funded by Congress—he’s planning to take millions from Defense construction projects, drug interdiction and rehabilitation programs, and so on—projects that Congress deemed important enough to fund, and that many communities will miss, if they’re not funded. 

So this is a two-fer for Trump (appropriate for a Gemini), an end-run designed to get his wall funding and an opportunity to throw his authoritarian weight around.

The problem is, there’s no real emergency at the border. In fact, Trump tasked aides in early 2018 with finding a way to get his wall funding without Congress, so that’s no emergency. The only emergency here is that the “windmills” in Trump’s quixotic mind are threatening to disable our democracy. Above all, Trump seems to crave the power of the narrative—another Gemini perk—and he won’t rest until his story about what’s happening at the border is the story. 

Speculation has been circulating about his impending emergency declaration for some time, of course, but on Friday the 15th, Trump made the grand gesture of calling a press conference to make it official. His announcement was frankly baffling, with him at one point breaking out in a sort of “rap” about the legal challenges he expects to attract with his “emergency.” Perhaps the most baffling was his move to declare a national emergency against an “invasion” at the border, and then to say he didn’t “need to do this.” As the Washington Post put it:

 “Trump argued in the Rose Garden that declaring an emergency was necessary because narcotics were pouring across the border. ‘We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs,’ he said. But he also seemed to undercut his own case on the urgency of the problem.
“I could do the wall over a longer period of time, I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” he said.
An ACLU lawyer responded on Twitter: ‘keep talking mr president.’ ”

Trump’s Quixote-sized delusions about the border have some basis in his astrological reality. His Cancer planets (Mercury, Saturn, Venus) are being opposed (could feel threatening) by transiting Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, and since his Mercury disposes his cerebral Gemini stellium (Sun-No. Node-Uranus), the fears and insecurities raised by those oppositions loom large in his mind. If this were not the case, perhaps he’d feel less like “tilting at windmills,” but it is what it is. 

Who can tell the "windmills" of his mind?

Fear and insecurity often seem to motivate Trump’s actions, but he seems to be very conscious of the power of quixotic thinking. For instance, his foreign policy pronouncements often mirror Nixon’s use of the “madman theory” when confronting adversaries. Never mind what Trump actually says to his adversaries, the message that comes across is “Give me what I want now, because you never know what I’m capable of doing if I don’t get it.” The Dems are writing a resolution to repeal Trump’s national emergency as we speak; on the talk shows yesterday, wall enthusiast and aide Stephen Miller warned that Trump would veto any attempts to repeal. Bottom line: “Give me what I want or else.” 

Weeks of press coverage mused about whether “he would” or “he wouldn’t” declare an emergency, and that drama provided the wind below Trump’s wings when shutdown politics provided him the opportunity. Legal challenges aside, he’s thrown down a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” gauntlet in the year before an election, sharpening up his political “foils” for the joust.  

Yale professor of law Peter H. Schuck laid out the legal terrain for Trump’s move pretty succinctly in a opinion piece:

“Who decides what constitutes a national emergency?
In hundreds of laws, Congress has given the president the power to decide. (The Brennan Center for Justice has compiled an exhaustive list.) But by failing to define crucial terms, legal standards and accountability rules, Congress has handed presidents an all-too-handy tool of tyranny commonly used by autocrats to amass more power, crush dissent and eviscerate democratic institutions….
Congress should have known better. After all, it enacted the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which purported to regulate such declarations, only two years after President Richard Nixon’s abuses of power forced his resignation. The act actually made matters worse in a key respect: It defined a national emergency as “a general declaration of emergency made by the president.” This circular definition, of course, is no constraint at all…
In the nature of national emergencies, some definitional leeways are unavoidable. But Congress could readily specify certain conditions that must exist before the president can make such a declaration and thus arrogate to himself extraordinary powers — curtailing liberties, seizing property, spending funds appropriated for other purposes and suspending protective laws — that Congress would not otherwise be likely to grant him in advance, or perhaps ever. (Indeed, Congress has the power to override Mr. Trump's declaration and it should in this case — though it probably won’t.)”

Astrologically, we’re seeing a lot of issues stemming from the 1970s come back around to bite us. Nixon’s abuses and downfall reflected the then-waning 1947 Saturn-Pluto cycle (which entered its 3rd quarter in October, 1973), and today we’re dealing with the subsequent (1982) Saturn-Pluto cycle waning, this one approaching its completion in January, 2020, a mere 5°+ degrees from our Sibly radix Pluto in late Capricorn. (For more on the Saturn-Pluto cycle, see here). 

Trump’s chart is certainly being impacted by this cycle, with the new one perfecting opposite his Cancer Saturn-Venus in the coming year.  He’s more defensive than ever these days, shielding himself more closely than ever from those who oppose him on immigration and foreign policy. This week he’s avoided NATO allies at the Munich Security Conference, and his absence (he’s on golf holiday at Mar-O-Lago) is being seriously noted. A cadre from Congress attended, trying to shore up our alliances, but they’re not likely to make up the difference. This shouldn’t be happening: Congress is trying to play executive-stand-in on foreign policy matters, and Trump is usurping Congress’s power of the purse. Co-equal branches? 

Protecting ideals was Don Quixote's true quest.

For their part, our European allies are very anxious about Trump’s pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, about the Trump administration telling them to stop dealing with Iran (the U.S. was only one of several signatories on that deal), and about Trump’s unilateral decision to pull out of the INF nuclear arms treaty with Russia, which gives Putin effective free rein to develop new weapons and point them at Europe. Trump can’t have his alliances and destroy them too, as much as he enjoys being ambiguous. From the

“But in the last few days of a prestigious annual security conference in Munich, the rift between Europe and the Trump administration became open, angry and concrete, diplomats and analysts say.
A senior German official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on such matters, shrugged his shoulders and said: “No one any longer believes that Trump cares about the views or interests of the allies. It’s broken.”
The most immediate danger, diplomats and intelligence officials warned, is that the trans-Atlantic fissures now risk being exploited by Russia and China.”

The fact is, Trump finds himself in comfortable company with a worldwide “club” of right-wing leaders who rode to power in the past decade on the back of a populist, anti-immigrant, anti-alliance wave, and NATO is just another convenient foil for him. Immigrants and global “elites” are the looming windmill “ogres” in Trump’s mind, and these fears resonated with just enough people in this nation to put him (with Russian assistance, it seems) in the White House. We have to wonder how much damage he’s willing to do to our standing in the world to and our constitutional democracy to get what he wants.

Undermining the government seems to be a personal quest for Trump, in fact: if we look back, the government and the intellectuals who defend its underlying ideals have always been problematic for Trump and his family’s real estate empire. From losing serious civil rights abuse cases against them in the 1970s to being slapped with multiple law suits alleging his businesses are profiting from the presidency by violating the Emoluments Clause and other laws today, Trump has frequently been at odds with the law, and it’s always his family business that’s somehow at stake. 

Perhaps it will help to view his wall-related actions through that same lens?  Trump has often crowed about how building this wall out of steel would be a boon for the U.S. steel industry, but it’s more likely to be a logistical nightmare that will cost far more than the $8 billion he plans to grab with his emergency declaration. It will also take decades to build. So what’s in this for Trump and/or his family? Even if there’s absolutely nothing in it for them, we see how intent Trump is on having the power to channel public monies in a direction of his choosing for a very long time. That desire alone should raise questions.

The morning talk shows on Sunday were abuzz with Trump’s declaration, of course, with Republican interviewees bending themselves into pretzels to dispute the wisdom and constitutional propriety of Trump’s move, but to still somehow support it. Trump’s setting a dangerous precedent for some of them, but…there’s always a twist, and the twists basically enable Trump’s executive overreach.

The GOP (including Trump) was apoplectic when Obama—in their view—overreached by instituting the DACA program by Executive order. The same concerns never apply to Trump, however. 

From Orson Welles' unfinished film.

So we can anticipate that any time Trump doesn’t get what he wants from Congress, he’ll find a go-around. We know he has authoritarian tendencies, but he could not diminish congressional power without the collusion of key members there—and possibly from the judicial branch. If Trump’s disturbing press conference “rap” is any sign, he’s counting on a compliant Supreme Court. More on this ahead.

Importantly, all of this seems to be an exercise in framing the issue of immigration—as either an “invasion of criminals” (Trump/his base) or as an important call for comprehensive immigration reform and border security (Dems and many Republicans). Trump’s claim that there’s a humanitarian emergency at the border is easily deflated by pointing out how his administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policies helped create that crisis, especially by detaining asylum-seeking children and families. 

So, let’s examine the astrology of a couple key individuals who could seriously impact Trump’s pet project one way or the other. It’s widely held that Trump could have done none of this without being enabled by Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, so let’s start there. Once firmly opposed to an emergency declaration, McConnell stood at the podium on Valentine’s Day to announce Trump’s plan to sign the latest funding bill (thus avoiding shutdown #2), and to say that Trump would simultaneously declare an emergency to secure the funding he wants for the wall…and by the way, he (McConnell) would be supporting that declaration. 

Don Quixote's universal themes never get old, but what happens when they go toxic?

This, of course, was McConnell’s signal to other Republicans that they should fall in line behind him, despite any and all reservations.  A opinion piece points out the depth of McConnell’s capitulation: 

“This display of obedience from the leader of a supposedly coequal branch of government is shocking only if you ever believed Mr. McConnell was an institutionalist. But his defining characteristic has always been his willingness to do anything and sacrifice any principle to amass power for himself. What separates him from the garden-variety politicians — what makes him a radical — are the lengths he is willing to go. Seeing this with clarity should help us grasp the danger to which he is subjecting the Senate — and, more important, our democracy.”

So what was happening with McConnell on February 14th, as he handed Trump the Senate’s independence on a silver platter?  His birth information below is provided by, no birth time known.

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Natal, Mitch McConnell, February 20, 1942,12:00 p.m. War Time (noon, no time available), Sheffield, Alabama; (outer wheel) McConnell statement, February 15, 2019, 12:00 p.m. (no exact time known), Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Interchart T-Square: McConnell Saturn-Uranus (Taurus) opposes McConnell Juno (Scorpio); this axis squares Statement Sun (Aquarius). It’s very interesting that this Sun also conjoins Sibly Moon (chart not shown)—McConnell stood at that podium on a day in which the American people were emotionally attuned to what was going on in D.C., greatly anticipating Trump’s use (or abuse) of presidential emergency powers. McConnell appeared almost shell-shocked as he stood there—he cuts a slight figure as it is, but his body language reflected the capitulation contained in his announcement. 

In the last post here I discussed McConnell’s personal dilemma, being married to one of Trump’s Cabinet members (Elaine Chao, Dept. of Transportation)—that dilemma is illustrated clearly in this tense fixed t-square, with McConnell’s Juno playing the role of wife here. 

The bully knows his prey.

McConnell undoubtedly weighed the consequences of not supporting Trump (this Aquarius Sun exactly opposes Trump’s natal Mars-ASC in Leo as well)—chart not shown—and found the potential losses too much to risk. Would he lose powerful campaign donors and/or voters if he stood up to Trump? Perhaps, but just maybe Trump’s belligerent Leo points falling square McConnell’s Saturn-Venus feels too intimidating for McConnell, and Trump senses this (the bully knows his prey). 

McConnell would risk his job—his institutional power (Saturn-Uranus) and perhaps even his family’s material well-being (Taurus). McConnell’s Venus (Aquarius) falls in mutual reception with his Uranus (Taurus), with Venus trine his Jupiter (Gemini): it’s usually much easier for him to act “on principle” without endangering his own interests; perhaps he’s not used to making such hard choices. 

Especially with Trump’s Mars-ASC assaulting his authority and independence, McConnell finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Unfortunately, his paralysis and personal capitulation threatens to ripple out to include Congress, sacrificing its status as a co-equal branch of government.

Interchart T-Square: McConnell Venus (Aquarius) opposes McConnell Pluto (Leo); this axis squares Statement Mars conjunct Uranus (Taurus-Aries). It’s possible that McConnell’s Moon is tied into all this in early Taurus (no birth time, but the Moon traversed 28°+Aries to 10°+Taurus that day), but even without that emotional investment, McConnell is naturally equipped to pursue and handle power; he values the power he wields, which is why his present predicament is so difficult. He appears to be faced with no-win choices offered to him by unpredictable, but immoveable forces. 

When Uranus moves into Taurus shortly, this sense will be heightened further; along with Mars it already falls semi-sextile his Sun (Pisces), no doubt producing some frustration and anxiety. He’s capable of “reading” a room (intuitive Pisces), and the position or “room” he’s stuck in at this juncture feels threatening. 

Sancho & the Don ride their trusty (wooden) steed, Clavileno.

Interchart Yod: Statement Venus conjoins Saturn (Capricorn) and both quincunx McConnell Jupiter and McConnell Chiron (Leo); Statement Venus-Saturn trine McConnell No. Node (Virgo), while Statement Neptune opposes the same point. These aspects signal that McConnell is experiencing fated times: his ego is being seriously challenged, and it’s likely that old wounds (Chiron) have been reopened. The Yod puts him in yet another dilemma—one in which the rewards for his efforts may or may not be forthcoming. Statement Venus-Saturn also semi-sextile his natal Mercury (Aquarius), reinforcing the anxiety surrounding issues of power and position (his Saturn-Uranus dispose Aquarius). 

We might suspect there’s a financial dimension to his anxieties also—it would help to know which planets rule his 2nd-8th axis. 

Statement Pluto (Capricorn) figures into all this through its proximity to Statement Saturn (there’s that critical cycle discussed earlier), but especially its trine to McConnell Mars-Saturn-Uranus (Taurus). Despite the risks and uncertain rewards, McConnell isn’t likely to back down from exercising his authority and position at this time. This is reinforced by his Progressed Sun’s position at 17°+Taurus, moving to conjoin his natal Taurus planets. Statement Saturn-Pluto now trine that Progressed Sun, reflecting the critical, heavy role he is playing in this institutional drama.

Whatever we think of him, it does appear that McConnell could choose to stiffen his backbone and work to strengthen, rather than diminish Congress, despite Trump’s efforts otherwise (Statement Venus also opposes Sibly Sun and squares Sibly Saturn—chart not shown). McConnell may even have the planetary support he needs to prevail over Trump’s excesses, especially once he musters the willpower (Mars) to do so. (That’s assuming he wants to prevail). 

Whereas Trump’s Saturn-Venus conjunction is being opposed by transiting Saturn-Pluto, McConnell is enjoying a nice trine to personally-connected outer planets Saturn-Uranus. This is a truly interesting example of ways in which the personal and the collective dimensions of a person’s life can overlap and play off each other!  

Interchart T-Square: Statement Neptune-McConnell So. Node (Pisces) oppose McConnell No. Node (Virgo); this axis squares McConnell Jupiter (Gemini). Statement Jupiter (Sagittarius) squares Statement Neptune (Pisces). It’s also notable that Statement Mercury conjoins Statement Neptune in Pisces and squares McConnell Jupiter (Gemini) as well: telling the truth from fiction is a veritable impossibility, as there’s some “impossible dream” clouding not only McConnell’s gaze, but D.C. thinking in general. Neptune transits to personal points can be confusing and undermining: it’s not difficult to see how McConnell’s inability (or unwillingness) to stand up to Trump will undermine his legacy (Nodal axis). 

With Neptune square to his Jupiter, McConnell may also be acting out of false confidence that Trump has his back, a delusion that could be easily dashed. Is he so focused on the “trees” of his own ambitions that he misses the “forest” of a constitutional crisis that he is enabling? 

Round two

Clearly, we could dig further into all this, but let’s move on to a key individual in this developing constitutional crisis—Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. As we heard from Trump himself, he expects the inevitable legal challenges to his declaration to reach the Supreme Court in due course, and he expects to win in that Court. Roberts has proven to be capable of standing against the prevailing winds when the case merits such resistance (i.e., to legitimize gay marriage as a matter of civil rights, to support Roe v. Wade as settled precedent, etc.), so he’s a bit of a wild card in this new “emergency” scenario. We won’t be able to predict actual votes by Roberts, but perhaps we can get a sense of how he will stand up to the challenge. 

Roberts’ birth time is unknown—the other birth information below is provided by Wikipedia.comso we won’t be able to say anything about house placements or angles. 

Biwheel #2: (inner wheel) John Roberts (Supreme Court Chief Justice), January 27, 1955, 12:00 p.m. ST (noon, no time known), Buffalo, NY; (outer wheel) McConnell statement, February 15, 2019, 12:00 p.m. (no exact time known), Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Interchart T-Square: Statement Sun (Aquarius) conjoins Roberts Mercury (Aquarius) and opposes Roberts Pluto (Leo); this axis squares Roberts Saturn (Scorpio). The Sun is triggering Roberts’ natal Mercury-Pluto opposition, in other words, which seems about right under the circumstances. His concepts of Right Power and Authority—both personal and governmental—are now being challenged by McConnell’s capitulation to Trump over a specious “emergency.” 

Adding vigor and an ambitious edge to the mix is Roberts’ dignified Mars (Aries), co-disposing natal Saturn (Scorpio) with his Pluto (Leo). It’s likely that Roberts’ fixed core (Sun, Mercury, Saturn in fixed signs) is up to the challenge of defending the integrity of the Court, but there are other pressure points in his chart that are less reassuring. 

Interchart Grand Square: Statement Pluto-So. Node (Capricorn) opposes Roberts Jupiter-Uranus-Statement No. Node (Cancer); this axis squares Statement Uranus-Mars (Aries-Taurus) opposite Roberts Neptune (Libra). Roberts’ natural conservative leanings can be seen in this powerful Jupiter-Uranus conjunction—like most “limited government” advocates, he doesn’t welcome constraints on ambition (i.e., regulations, etc.) but his record (so far) of upholding the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade suggests that he could be counted on to carefully weigh the merits of a case rather than to react from a knee-jerk conservative impulse. 

The squares to Robert's Neptune (Libra) suggest that his ideals and inner conviction are being seriously tested—Saturn (Capricorn) will be transiting square this point as well over the course of 2019. 

In fact, Roberts demonstrated his dis-ease with purely partisan votes earlier this month by voting with the liberal justices to temporarily block a recent Louisiana law that would seriously restrict access to abortion. Adam Liptak’s comment in the NYTimes on Roberts’ move is relevant here:  

“The seeming inconsistency is the result of competing impulses. Chief Justice Roberts is a product of the conservative legal movement, and his general approach is to lean right. But he is also an institutionalist and a guardian of his court’s legitimacy, meaning he wants to make modest and deliberate moves.”

This observation begs the question of how far Roberts can be pushed at any given time in either right or left directions, but in January we got a sense of his limits. After Trump had repeatedly bashed the court system because it hasn’t given him carte blanche to essentially gut both legal and illegal immigration, Roberts finally spoke out. From The Atlantic:

“’We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,’ Roberts said. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. The independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.’
Trump replied via, of course, Twitter. ‘Sorry Chief Justice Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country.’ Trump went on to deny that the Ninth Circuit represented ‘an independent judiciary.’
Trump is right, of course, that there are ‘Obama judges.’ Roberts himself, like Alito, is a ‘Bush judge’—and the justices who elevated George W. Bush to the presidency were ‘Reagan judges’ and ‘Nixon judges.’ Roberts knows this. But what surely alarms him is that Trump’s politicization of the judiciary—like his politicization of the FBI and the CIA and the Justice Department and various other independent American institutions—threatens its legitimacy.”

Perhaps the defensive posture we see here in Roberts’ comments will bode well for any confrontation over the border wall “emergency.” If Roberts is indeed an institutionalist, perhaps he will care about Congress being undermined and delegitimized as well. 

Artist Marcel Janco captures the Sagittarian thrust of Quixote's ideals.

Even so, Trump excels at finding chinks in our constitutional armor--his Sagittarian full Moon, trine Leo Mars-ASC (chart not shown) seems to pierce others' defenses with ease. Besides, the Cosmos isn’t being entirely helpful at this time, either, so there’s reason for concern. Specifically:

Statement Neptune conjoins Statement Mercury (Pisces) and squares Roberts Venus-Pallas (Sagittarius); this Neptune also forms a water grand trine with Roberts Jupiter (Cancer) and Saturn (Scorpio), as it sextiles Statement Venus-Saturn (Capricorn). Multiple lines of influence for Neptune are potentially troubling here; has there ever been a time when the Supreme Court and the nation-at-large needed to act more rationally, on the basis of facts, setting aside fears and insecurities and maintaining integrity? Unfortunately, we’re likely to find that Neptune clouds and distorts that clear-minded purposefulness, especially linked to Mercury as it is here. 

Equally concerning is that Statement Neptune could influence Roberts’ sense of justice (Pallas) and his ability to confront an overwhelming “trend” (grand trine) towards capitulation and surrender. 

This Neptunian energy could be put to better use, of course, to heighten and support the ideals underlying Roberts’ actions (perhaps defending the Constitution in the process). Roberts Venus (Sagittarius) involvement here could also play out in different ways: Roberts may not be swayed one way or another by financial pressure, but temptations may abound. This is reinforced by Statement Jupiter (Sagittarius) closely conjunct his Venus. 

As noted earlier, we can’t know the exact position of Roberts’ Pisces Moon without a birth time, but we can tell that the Moon traversed 15°+-28°+ Pisces that day, so it’s highly likely that he has some emotional investment in Trump’s end run around Congress and McConnell’s capitulation. 

So Statement Jupiter squares Roberts Moon one way or another—within a wide orb at the extremes of the day—and it’s quite possible that Statement Neptune conjoins Roberts Moon. If so, the cardinal grand square described above takes on new, emotional intensity because his Jupiter and Uranus are disposed by that Moon. 

Bottom line, Trump has continually vilified the Courts since day one of his administration, and this kind of intimidation has a way of eroding the confidence and resolve of its targets (Neptune acts like the stream of water that wears holes in mountains over time, and that could be exacerbated by the grand trine). If Trump’s ultimate aim is to wear down or blur and co-opt the constitutional power of the co-equal branches of government, Neptune is his perfect “Sancho Panza” sidekick. Sancho’s loyalty to and hope for a reward from his Don led him to basically set aside his pragmatic realism just enough to participate in the Don’s illusionary “quest.” 


Final thoughts

Of the two individuals we’ve considered here, I’d probably hand the “Sancho Panza” award to Mitch McConnell for his consistent habit of deferring to Trump on all matters—especially for refusing to allow bills from the House on the floor of the Senate unless he knows Trump will sign them. This is a tactic he shamelessly employed during the 35-day shutdown, and that episode triggered calls for his resignation (ignored), but he hung in there anyway. 

Faced with another shutdown dilemma, McConnell surrendered Congressional powers to Trump, with no argument and no resistance. 

Was McConnell making some grand bargain to avert yet another shutdown, or simply enabling Trump’s quest to control his own funding because he couldn’t see another way forward? If Trump is given free rein financially on the issue of a wall, what will stop him when he wants to fund any other pet project? 

It’s possible that Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court won’t get drawn into the legal battle over Trump’s emergency for some time yet—the further out the better—but we would be naïve to think he won’t be pressured by Trump and company in the interim. My hope is that Roberts’ chart will be less under siege by Neptune whenever he’s forced to weigh in on this issue. Left to his demonstrated judicial impulses, he seems capable of a decision that will preserve both congressional and judicial independence from the executive. 

Clearly, we’ve been going through an extraordinary attempt to divide and conquer the essential institutions within our democracy—what Trump an Steve Bannon call the “Deep State”—and for what it’s worth, Trump’s “emergency” declaration has brought the dangers of that assault into full view so we can deal with them. Protests against the emergency declaration have broken out across the nation, legal challenges are mounting, and the more the better. We might even be grateful for the visibility of this challenge—so much of the damage that’s been done in the past two years has happened behind closed doors, with our attention deflected elsewhere. 

The cosmic timing for a descent into this kind of darkness is perfect, of course—as Pluto inches its way towards its return position in our Sibly chart. In the 1760s and 70s (Pluto's last tour in Capricorn), "Mad" King George III's tyranny became progressively more vicious and oppressive, but it had to be viscerally felt by American colonists in the Boston Massacre (March 5, 1770) before they could be inspired to drop their internal squabbles for the sake of something bigger. There are some eerie echoes between the chart for that day and what we’re living through today—no doubt, we haven’t felt the last of them! 

The big question is: how toxic and how low will we need to go this time around?

When the Quixotic goes toxic, what's next?

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. 


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Uranus & Venus square off: the March 6th Taurus ingress

 “If the sweeping ambition of the Green New Deal leads to positive incremental change, I think that’s the most likely way it happens. But then I also want to mildly praise the resolution’s anti-incrementalism — because there are virtues in trying to offer not just a technical blueprint but a comprehensive vision of the good society, and virtues as well in insisting that dramatic change is still possible in America, that grand projects and scientific breakthroughs are still within our reach.” 

In less than a month now, on March 6th, Uranus will re-enter Venus-ruled Taurus for what’s left of its 7-year stay, first begun last May 18th (see here for a lot more on that ingress). As you’re probably aware, this pale blue “ice giant” with the eccentric orbit—discovered by Sir William Herschel in March 1781—is considered by astrology to be a cosmic rabble rouser that promotes change in unique and sometimes shocking ways. 

Discovered during fiercely revolutionary times in Europe, Uranus’s reputation for stimulating disruptive mass movements was well supported by its 24°+Gemini discovery degree, as well.

The timing for Uranus’s debut was perfect: the philosophical perspective of that late 1700s period was dubbed the Enlightenment, aka the “Age of Reason”—perfect for this planet’s naturally airy (cerebral, intellectual, detached—not to mention yang) energy.  

Why shouldn't the business world be able to work with the Earth?

But these days we’re looking at Uranus stepping way out of its airy comfort zone by committing to the next six+ years (until July 2025) in the earthiest of earth signs, Taurus. If we consider how much stress and volatility marked its tour of fiery Aries—exacerbated by the intense cardinal times we’ve seen since Uranus entered Aries in 2010—perhaps we can appreciate how appealing a creative, but less bombastic sojourn in earthy Taurus might be. We might wonder how that will work, in fact—given the Venus-Uranus square in the re-entry chart (Chart #1 below), the “Sky God” may chafe at being “grounded!” Just a bit…he’ll get over it. 

And why not? In Greek Creation mythology, Gaia (Mother Earth) and Ouranos (Sky God) begat the twelve Titans, so opposites do attract and complement each other, and given the essential role that polarity plays in Life itself—yin and yang—we wouldn’t be here if they didn’t! So the hope is that Uranus’s time in Taurus between now and 2025 will generate new and renewed life in a number of important arenas. Perhaps most hopefully, it will be a time during which humanity gets serious about working with the Earth to create something constructive and life-affirming, instead of working against it. 

Let’s be clear: the Earth itself will not cease to exist due to climate change, but it could stop supporting human life without our serious intervention and commitment. 

What goes around comes around?

So, it’s not surprising that in this month prior to Uranus's Taurus re-entry that we’re seeing movement in Congress on the so-called “Green New Deal.” On Feb. 7th, Eugene Robinson with the Washington Post characterized this movement, which evokes the 1930s Depression Era economic/- infrastructure/jobs program known as FDR’s New Deal, as a key policy framework for progressive Dems, and one whose time has come:

“Let’s consider some real news, for a change: Last year was officially proclaimed the fourth-warmest on record; scientists predict that melting ice in Antarctica and Greenland could not only raise sea levels but also further destabilize weather patterns; and progressive members of Congress are proposing a “Green New Deal,” the first policy framework ambitious enough to meet the challenge of global warming.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D, MA) are the chief shepherds of this 21st century New Deal, but the resolution has the support of at least four declared presidential candidates, and dozens of other Dems. The resolution is non-binding, but provides a framework for moving beyond our present fossil fuel-dependent energy sector (and economy!) and creating thousands of middle class jobs in the process. Again, the Washington Post: 

“The nonbinding resolution calls for a ‘10-year national mobilization’ on the scale of the original New Deal to shift the economy away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal and replace them with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. It sets a goal to meet ‘100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,’ including nuclear power.”

Sen. Ed Markey (D, MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D, NY)

As for the astrology of the situation, the historical echoes are suggestive: Uranus was transiting Taurus from the end of March, 1935 to May, 1942. FDR’s New Deal spanned 1933-36, so there’s definitely some overlap with today’s energies. Besides, the conceptual framework for what’s now known as the Green New Deal has been percolating for some time already: the term was first coined by economics columnist Thomas Friedman in 2007, under the Uranus-Neptune mutual reception from Pisces to Aquarius. Looking back, Friedman wrote this week:

“Back in 2007, I wrote a column calling for a “Green New Deal,” and I later expanded on the idea in a book, “Hot, Flat and Crowded.” Barack Obama picked up the theme and made a Green New Deal part of his 2008 platform, but the idea just never took off. So I’m excited that the new Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others have put forward their own takes on a Green New Deal, and it’s now getting some real attention.”
Despite the idea falling flat during the Obama administration, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein carried the Green New Deal idea forward in 2016, and it should be noted that it’s not just an American idea, either. A British Green New Deal Group report was published in July 2008, after a year of planning—bottom line, this ambitious vision of a new economy retooled around sustainable clean energy and infrastructures may be a global phenomenon—and it’s been hovering in the conceptual “ether” for over a decade now as Uranus transited Pisces and Aries. 

Though it’s hard to envision the Green New Deal resolution being funded and implemented to its full visionary potential, I’m cautiously optimistic that this time, as Uranus moves into the fixed earthy sign of Taurus, the program will begin to take practical form. This, despite the fact that Trump didn’t even mention the environment or climate change in his recent State of the Union address. Mitigating climate change already is a priority around the world, and back home, for many state-level programs, with sustainable energy-based building codes and so on. We can expect that, like so many things that finally became federal law, state-level initiatives will catch on across the nation—especially once the financial benefits become clear. 

Taurus is all about amassing material substance, so the industries that build their business models around new, green technologies (and are most in line with Taurus priorities) will probably be the ones to thrive and persist over the long term (fixed sign). While we shouldn’t be naïve about the lengths to which non-sustainable industries on the wane will go for survival (the federal government is supporting their efforts these days), Uranus is a forward-moving energy that promotes and rewards change whose time has come.   

So it follows that certain, Taurus-friendly types of environmental action and business development will find the greatest support during this upcoming 6+-year Uranus transit: specifically, anything that involves not only technology (Uranus), but food cultivation and animal husbandry and land use (Taurus). Building technologies should also get a boost, so watch for more sustainable building codes to emerge. 

Agriculture in general is ruled by Saturn, so in its remaining time in Capricorn it will likely also support new approaches to earthy Taurean pursuits. Saturn first enters Aquarius in March, 2020, retrogrades and re-enters just before its new cycle with Jupiter begins on 12/20/2020, a cycle which—importantly—will be disposed by this Taurus Uranus. This raises the obvious concern for what’s next: the groundwork laid in the early days of this Taurus transit will have a lot to do with the priorities we carry forward into the new Aquarius Jupiter-Saturn cycle. 

Will we concentrate our energies around the priorities that really matter, or allow our focus to become scattered and undermined? 

For now, let’s consider some specific “Green” initiatives that could conceivably flourish under a Venus- and Uranus-powered Taurus transit.  

The following areas are ripe for “greening” and are explored in detail in a wonderful compilation entitled Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by veteran economist/environmentalist, Paul Hawken:

Food Cultivation & Husbandry
Land Use
Materials & Design
Plant-rich diets

Forest protection
Industrial hemp

Farmland restoration

Tropical forests
Living buildings
Reduced food waste

Enhanced weathering of minerals

Clean energy cookstoves

Perennial biomass

Multistrata agroforestry


Improved rice cultivation

Indigenous Peoples’ land management


Temperate forests

Regenerative agriculture


Nutrient management

Tree intercropping

Conservation agriculture



Tropical staple trees

Farmland irrigation

Managed grazing

Pasture cropping

A cow walks onto a beach (seaweed grazing to reduce methane levels)

Clearly, when our ancient forebears began using tools and implements (technology) to cultivate plants and raise animals for food and fabrication purposes, the global economy (such as it was) took a giant leap forward. Uranus is always a factor when these technological transitions take place: the sign it occupies influences what type of technology emerges and for what purposes. Interestingly, the U.S. Rural Electrification Act—an FDR-era New Deal program—was passed in May, 1936, with electrical Uranus “grounded” in earthy (rural) Taurus. 

Fast-forward to 2019, and the Green New Deal is calling for a massive infrastructure and jobs program, focused on the elimination of fossil fuels and the total revamping of our transportation systems, including “green” mass transit systems and the electrification of cars, using sustainable, renewable sources to generate that electricity. Many of those sources will depend upon rural communities, of course, as the sites for wind and solar farms, biomass production, geothermal heating plants, and so on. 

If cars are going to be fueled by electricity en masse, we’ll need charging stations across the nation—including in rural areas. Such a project will echo the ambitious scope of the 1936 Electrification Act, and then some. New technologies will be in demand and ones that have been waiting in the wings for some time already will be called into action. Once the new Aquarius Jupiter-Saturn cycle launches in late 2020, such pursuits ruled by Uranus should be getting the green light. That’s if more troubling uses of these energies don’t intervene, like senseless wars and manufactured border crises. Let’s not even go there.

Sustainable materials allow for a closed loop life cycle with little waste.

It’s one thing to power human activities, it’s another to build, secure and fortify human habitations (Taurus builds, conserves and secures). The arena of building materials is a huge area for change--replacing petroleum-based products with renewable/sustainable ones will take a concerted effort, but again, states and municipalities can take charge here. Land use and forest management practices must change to prevent massively destructive wild fires like we’ve seen in states like California nearly year-round—these are the true emergencies that all levels of government need to act on as boldly as possible.  

And, as coastal lands erode due to climate change-induced sea level rise, more thoughtful land conservation will be essential to make up for the lost acreage. High rise apartments are energy gluttons if they’re not designed properly, with sustainable materials and systems. Venus’s pleasing but pragmatic design sense (as ruler of Taurus) will come into play here. 

Less and less land will be available for traditional crop rotation practices, so technologies and techniques for reaping more product from less land (without pollutants) will be key—Taurus is very frugal, so this is do-able. Green roofs, vertical farming and hydroponics will be options that could become more widespread and further developed. If Uranus has anything to do with it, we’ll see robots harvesting crops on the bigger farms—making the most of labor costs will also factor into any new developments. Unique land-sharing or leasing agreements with municipalities (urban farming) and countries overseas could also develop. 

Unfortunately, as competition for landed resources heightens, exploitative geopolitical relationships may take shape, making developing, “debtor” nations particularly vulnerable. This issue takes in food and financial security (both Taurus imperatives), and with Uranus involved, the potential for more powerful nations throwing their weight around is real. The Trump administration is effectively doing this today with his protectionist, tariffs-based trade policies. 

It’s not likely that these trade policies will be entirely overturned during a Taurus transit (similar tariffs-based policies amplified the North/South divide prior to the Civil War, during that 1850s Uranus transit through late Aries and into Taurus), but to the extent that Trump’s tariffs make life on American farms untenable, there will be consequences down the road. 

Despite such obstacles, food cultivation and land management will probably experience some revolutionary developments during Uranus’s time in Taurus—hopefully with an eye to maintaining the peace and enhancing cooperation (Venus’s contribution).  

There will never be peace without food security.

Dealing constructively with food waste is another area ripe for new ideas—the more such waste in our landfills, the more methane (one of the most damaging greenhouse gases) is released into the atmosphere. One radically simple solution involves gathering food that’s likely to go to waste (from markets, restaurants and institutions) and distributing it (still fresh) to those experiencing food insecurity (homeless shelters, food banks, etc.. Repurposing waste to not only conserve energy, but reduce pollution and feed people who need it is a Taurean idea whose time has come.  

So let’s examine the chart for Uranus’s re-entry into Venus’s earthy realm on March 6th, 2019 and consider some likely highlights of its transit there over the coming 6+ years. I haven’t mentioned politics to this point, but political power plays and contests will definitely be impacted by this Uranus transit. So will it live up to its higher Taurean potential, or get bogged down in the political mire we’ve come to know so well?

Think about all the women who have already declared their presidential candidacies for 2020: could this Venus-enhanced transit help one of them prevail? Will the new crop of Congresswomen elected in November 2018 continue making waves? Will Nancy Pelosi find more support than obstacles to her House agenda, or will Mitch McConnell continue gumming the legislative works?  We’ll take a quick look at some representative charts alongside the Uranus ingress in the next post here. For now, let’s focus on the re-entry chart itself. 

The Astrology

Chart #1: Uranus re-enters Taurus, March 6, 2019, 3:26:54 a.m. ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Saturn rules the chart, conjoins Pluto and rises in Capricorn; Venus (Aquarius) forms a mutual reception with and squares Uranus (Taurus). Saturn disposes this Venus, suggesting that—whatever Taurus agenda takes hold—it will face powerful challenges. There’s also a sense here, however, that if something is worth doing, it will be pursued. A fixed square between these signs will require great persistence and ingenuity, focused towards projects that have long term social, as well as personal value. The coming elections, in fact, will probably challenge voters to consider where the personal and collective dimensions of life intersect in their lives, how their values reflect those intersections and what role they see themselves playing in that collective. 

These placements also confirm that prominent, action-oriented and tenacious women (Venus also disposes and widely squares Taurus Mars) will play important roles during this transit: the Venus-Uranus square falls spans the 1st-4th houses. Aquarius can fulfill its revolutionary potential with this Venus, but backlashes are also possible. 

Persistence and focus will win the day: Mars (Taurus) trines Saturn (Capricorn)—a nice firm foundation for building success—those who set off on long projects and ambitious agendas should have the diligence and focus they need for the long haul.

 Saturn effectively conjoins Pluto, but their cycle is waning (Saturn hasn’t yet caught up with Pluto, but it’s getting there). Social and institutional structures are all under review with these two, and those structures that survive into the new cycle (beginning in January, 2020) will be stronger and less constrained by old “baggage.” Will federal investigators (Saturn-Pluto) have totally “drained the swamp” in D.C. by then? That sounds like the impossible dream, but with this duo rising just below the ASC, why not?!  

Sun-Moon-Neptune (Pisces) sextile ASC (Capricorn); Neptune sextiles Saturn (Capricorn). Remembering that Saturn rules this chart makes Neptune’s sextile to it all the more interesting. We’ll definitely gain from these two working with each other rather than against, so this is positive. Infusing idealism into material pursuits never hurts—as long as the net result isn’t paralysis and confusion. This sextile suggests that the partisan divide in D.C. may be softening a bit—if for no other reason than “united we stand, divided we fall.” 

Climate change-induced sea level rise will become more costly every year.

As we can see here, Neptune is only half-way through its home sign of watery Pisces and it’s prominent here, conjunct the Sun and Moon. Water issues will probably figure prominently into the coming 6+ years: flooding and sea-level rise perhaps (Sun-Neptune square Jupiter in Sagittarius suggests very high tides, especially with the Moon hovering near), but we might want to pay attention to the stories coming out of Brazil about dams breaking and causing deadly mud slides—even a sextile between water and earth (Sun-Neptune and Saturn) can put pressure on such systems.

As with any food waste, addressing water waste and recycling will also be key; as the climate continues to warm, droughts will recur more often and drag out longer, with extremely expensive consequences for municipalities and states. The nice Pisces-Capricorn sextile in this chart may provide opportunities to build much needed new water systems and infrastructure.  

Jupiter (Sagittarius) squares Sun-Neptune-Vesta (Pisces). Jupiter co-rules Pisces, so these squares suggest very idealistic ventures—kind of like the Green New Deal that so many are already panning as being “unrealistic.” It’s probably fair to assume that the coming 6+ years will be dominated by what’s going on with this program because it addresses the burning needs of our times. That “unrealistic” label could be an obstacle, but if the Green New Deal captures hearts and minds and inspires grass roots participation (Vesta), it may actually get off the ground during this 6+year transit. 

The uneasy relationship between Big Finance and its insatiable appetite for short-term growth and such a complex, all-encompassing public works program—one requiring massive public investment up front—is reflected in the semi-sextile between Saturn-Pluto and Jupiter. 

Each in its respective home sign, Jupiter and Saturn are strong in this chart, so the power dynamics between their respective groupings in this chart seem somewhat balanced despite Saturn-Pluto’s sheer cosmic “weight.” Given this rough balance, it seems that the powers-that-be will coordinate in some way to benefit both Big Finance and the massive infrastructure dreams the Green New Deal calls for (Saturn-Pluto sextiles Jupiter-ruled Pisces points). The challenge will be to make sure the values-based goals remain intact and that the intense drive for economic growth (Jupiter) doesn’t derail everything to focus on short-term goals alone. 

Environment-related protests will continue to grow with Uranus in Taurus.

Uranus falls in the 4th house and rules the 2nd. This placement couldn’t be more appropriate for these times. In the 4th, Uranus reflects grass-roots disruption, the kind that could easily lead to uprisings, protests and a fundamental shift in the public’s perspective on issues. Since this house is naturally ruled by the Moon (with 0° Aries rising), we look to the Moon for clues about how this disruption could play out. The sextile between Moon-Sun-Neptune-Vesta (Pisces) and Mars (Taurus) here reinforces the potential for constructive disruption around "American Dream" issues. This is a late balsamic Moon, suggesting that anything “born” at this time (Millennial political power?) will be forward-thinking and ready to move on from the current order. 

Uranus’s rulership of the 2nd house of resources, values and finances tells us what type of concerns could fuel the disruption. Uranus squares and falls in mutual reception to Venus, the natural ruler of the 2nd . Interestingly, Venus just happens to be placed in the sign that's actually on the 2nd house cusp here, as well, so the signals are pretty clear. Change is coming, and a certain amount of disruptive financial turmoil may be involved. Our values and resources are likely to be challenged and stretched, and the scale of change is likely to be sweeping. Sometimes, change is best made incrementally; this doesn’t appear to be one of those times.   
It’s key here that Saturn co-rules the 2nd house with Uranus. This combination suggests that we could see a Wall Street-based financial crisis at some point during this period (such as happened in 2008), however a number of factors could contribute: the national debt forcing issues (waning Saturn-Pluto cycle); corruption (also Saturn-Pluto)—investigations abound; and reckless or politically-driven taxation and/or monetary policies.  

Despite many avenues for progress opening up before us, the next 6+ years could be a bit of a financial minefield if the transition to a new Saturn-Pluto cycle in 2020 and Pluto’s return to its Sibly position in 2022 are not handled carefully. We need the most rational and skillful financial minds advising top officials during this period. Those driven by conspiracy theories and zero-sum thinking (toxic Saturn-Pluto) need not apply.  

Pitchforks in the street

Thankfully, challenging times tend to draw forth people who are capable of rising to the occasion—this should become even truer as Uranus fully commits to Taurus. If we were living centuries ago in revolutionary times, we might expect to see masses of people spilling into the streets, pitchforks in hand, demanding a fair shake. This is basically what happened when Uranus transited Taurus from May, 1767 to April, 1775 (accounting for a long retrograde period after it first entered Gemini in June, 1774). This Taurus period fell solidly in the middle of the 1765-83 “colonial revolt” period we know as the American Revolution, and Uranus's Taurus energies undoubtedly fueled the financial anxieties (“no taxation without representation”) underlying that revolt. 

Flashing forward, we haven’t seen pitchforks in the street yet, but self-confessed billionaire capitalist Nick Hanauer saw them coming back in 2014 due to our economy’s systematic support for radical wealth inequality:

“If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.”
Could it be that Hanauer was just off by a few years? Trump gained support in the crucial Midwest by convincing the working classes that he was on their side, against the so-called “elites.” His supporters may not have been thinking in terms of wealth gaps, but they hoped that Trump’s policies would benefit their pocketbooks and relieve some of their financial anxieties. Instead, with a massive tax break for the wealthiest Americans, many working and middle class families that used to get a tax refund no longer will—or their refunds will be substantially lower. If anything, the working classes are subsidizing the tax break to the wealthiest. 

So Trump’s “guy next door” rhetoric and demeanor may have delayed the pitchforks—figurative or not—but the recent shutdown certainly revealed how deeply out of touch his administration is with the everyday realities of working people. This growing consciousness makes it more likely that when Uranus is firmly grounded in Taurus, our economic system—rigged to privilege the wealthy in all things—may become the hot button issue it deserves to be. 

Many would-be presidents have started tossing their hats in the ring this past month, and in the process, many ideas have surfaced for addressing wealth inequality, including universal Medicare, taxing income over a certain level at a higher rate, closing down loopholes that effectively eliminate taxes on the rich, and so on. My astrological advice to all of them would be that anyone who hopes to capture the presidency in 2020 had better have a realistic, workable plan for addressing pressing finance and resource issues. 

This imperative will be reinforced by the very real possibility of an economic downturn or recession. We could be in for a financial shock of some sort as Venus squares Uranus (Aquarius to Taurus) during the re-entry, and this shock (if not handled well) could deepen its impact during the final months of the current Saturn-Pluto cycle (between now and January 2020). Bank regulations have been loosened to some extent since the post-2008 recession reforms were put in place, which leaves the system vulnerable to reckless players. 

As was true during that period, Jupiter is transiting Sagittarius, so many such players will promote growth, no matter the ultimate cost. Thankfully, Saturn can inspire constructive restraint from Capricorn, but paired with Pluto it may lead to the destruction of some “too big to fail” players, and that’s risky for the overall economy. 

We can’t put ourselves in this precarious situation every 12 or so years and not risk serious meltdowns. 

Final thoughts

Needless to say, there's a long, but potentially exciting road ahead for those watching any of the issues raised above. In the next post, we’ll examine a couple key figures who will greatly influence how Congress navigates these tricky times. As you might imagine, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of those key players who can make a difference. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is another one, although her importance may pale in comparison to the field of Democratic presidential candidates that is mustering even as we speak. This one-by-one roll-out of each candidate's agenda feels premature, but it is providing an interesting sideshow to the cliff-hanger of the week. Will the government be shutdown again, for the sake of a wasteful border wall? Will Trump declare a state of emergency and go around Congress to get his wall funding? 

Stay tuned!

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.