Thursday, October 29, 2015

Looking backward…looking forward…in “a galaxy far, far away”

 Star Wars hype is nothing new in my family: my Pluto-in-Libra generation sons were there for the first go-round in 1977, for every sequel and prequel since—and they’ll undoubtedly be there for this December’s release of The Force Awakens. I’ll wait for the DVD (my “Stormtrooper” costume is at the dry cleaner…forever), but I will be curious to see what the latest episode says about today’s world.

As a mundane astrologer whose “day job” included teaching Film Studies, I’ve always been fascinated by the uncanny way film themes echo the times in which they are released, even though the film production process typically takes years.  Even more interesting, when the film themes happen to be taken from history, there are often connections between the historical period portrayed and the release time of the film (i.e., Return of the King was released when G.W. Bush was claiming enhanced powers for the Executive; Gravity was released when Hillary Clinton was in a “weightless” limbo of indecision about running for president). These correlations can, and are observed and analyzed by film scholars with no reference to astrology, of course, but why ignore the most revealing analytical tool of all?

“The Force is strong with this one…”

While the latest Star Wars episode is pending (the campers are already amassing), we can at least consider the astrological “birth” of Star Wars as an “epic space opera” and as a franchise that—at 38 years old—is fast reaching middle age. Of course, films can and do endure far longer than humans do, but I would argue that being products of their times, such influential films resonate most keenly with their original viewers, who age as the series does. Future generations may still enjoy them (as we enjoy Citizen Kane and even silent films in classes), but the experience won’t be the same. So, if George Lucas, Star Wars’ writer/original director, showed up in our astrology shop, asking how his 38-year-old creation is faring, what would we tell him?  Let’s consider the biwheel below:

Both charts in the biwheel represent U.S. releases and are thus set for Washington, D.C.. The inner chart displays the chronological earliest release, 1977 Star Wars (now also known as Episode IV: A New Hope); the outer chart represents the anticipated December 18, 2015 release, Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens. While the story chronology has quite a different order, these two represent the “birth” and the imminent “significant milestone” of the series for the purpose here. Let’s consider some highlights of the inner “birth” chart first, however, before we consider (in the next post) what the two charts together say about the franchise as a living entity reaching "midlife."

Use the Force, Luke…

This is a very “light” feeling chart, with the Sun widely conjunct Jupiter in Gemini, trine to Pluto (Libra) and opposite Neptune in Sagittarius—not surprising in a story that merges Western and Eastern sensibilities with its mythic/philosophical message. As the main character in this episode, Luke Skywalker reflects, in his archetypal “hero’s journey” quest, this blend of air and fire energies, and his fellow rebels (Princess Leia, Han Solo, R2D2, C3P0, etc.) against the “dark side” forces of Darth Vader share in that heroic glow via the Moon’s probable position in Leo. (The chart is set for noon, but if the film premiered before 3 p.m. anywhere in the U.S., the Moon would have been in Leo, disposed by the Sun).

Cast for noon, this Moon also trines the powerful Venus-Mars conjunction in Aries—an action-oriented pairing that fits the yin and yang energies of the story’s earnest band of space warriors, and the underlying hint of romance that percolates between Princess Leia (the leader of the rebellion) and Skywalker and Solo. We can also see the clash of “light sabers” here, as this most “innocent” of episodes makes no attempt at ambiguity: good v. evil and light v. dark are clearly drawn, even though Han Solo (the story’s archetypal “cowboy” figure, also fitting an Aries Mars) has a reputation for not paying his bills.

This fiery Venus-Mars conjunction (especially with such a dignified Mars) has also provided strength, vigor and endurance to the Star Wars franchise, which was reportedly envisioned as a series from the get-go. The conjunction also trines Neptune in Sagittarius, which infused the story's heroic “quest” with pure cinematic magic. Depending upon the exact placement of the Moon, all this fiery energy could very well amount to a brilliant fire grand trine, which fit the momentum and reach of this space-age revisioning of an ancient archetypal tale. Or as Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi might say, “May the Force be with you.”

As Skywalker’s wise, Buddhist monk-like mentor, Obi-Wan trains the young warrior to fight from the inside out, marshaling the “Force” within him for that purpose. The fortuitous relationship they enjoy as Luke finally embraces his quest is reflected in the chart’s interesting series of exact sextiles: Jupiter (Gemini) to Saturn (Leo) to Pluto (Libra). Saturn at the midpoint of Jupiter’s trine to Pluto reflects the discipline, resolve and strategic restraint Obi-Wan counsels to help channel his student’s energies productively. “Use the Force, Luke…”

These sextiles also benefited George Lucas, who just seemed to be in the right place at the right time with this project—doors opened to him then, and they are apparently still open. Saturn’s amiable trine with Neptune suggests the “Hollywood Dream Factory” was on board from day one. With its Sun-Jupiter trine to Pluto, the film captured the Pluto in Libra generation’s “hearts and minds” with ease, but the film’s idealistic ethos (Saturn-Neptune) likely clinched their devotion to the franchise. Box office returns broke all records for that time.

This interesting Saturn-Neptune accord also speaks to the “Jedi master,” as the enlightened elder (Obi-Wan Kenobi), but Leo Saturn is not all warm and fuzzy: it also falls square the chart’s Uranus (Scorpio)-Mercury (Taurus) opposition, creating a T-square. On the story level, this reflects the primordial nature of “The Force” and to the stress of navigating both its light and dark possibilities.

Of course, Saturn also represents the film’s dark “Jedi master” Darth Vader—and the Death Star (key word perfection!), with its dark, repressive forces, which are also enabled by the Saturn-Pluto sextile. It’s not surprising, considering the mythic undertones of this story, that Vader is revealed to be Skywalker’s father in a later episode. In myth, Ouranos (Uranus) is overthrown by the Titans, including his son Chronos (Saturn)—the Sky God is brought low and held accountable in the realm of time and space.

Finally, we can see that the T-square between Saturn, Uranus-Mercury also reflected production challenges director George Lucas experienced with technology and weather. Lucas (Saturn represents the director in film production) founded Industrial Light & Magic to create the special visual effects needed for the film, which fits the Aquarius “4th leg” resolution of the T-square. Even with these challenges, however, Saturn’s trine to Neptune (as mentioned above), indicates a supportive environment for collaboration between the management of the process (Saturn) and the creative teams and individuals working under Lucas’ guidance (Neptune). 

To be continued…A Force Awakens: Star Wars at midlife

© Raye Robertson 2015. All rights reserved. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Modest Time-Travel Fantasy…

I was reminded of a freaky convergence of events recently, while watching an episode of Dr. Who on my Netflix-enabled “telly.”  The episode had a distinct “Halloween” vibe to it, with witches and monsters (and Shakespeare!) and an interesting “words are power” theme. This alone was an interesting coincidence (Halloween being just days away), but digging a bit deeper I realized there was something more astrologically significant about Dr. Who and the times we’re inhabiting.  

For starters, as Dr. Who aficionados may know, the BBC TV series was first broadcast on November 23, 1963—the day after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on our side of the pond. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the series’ first episode was delayed 80 seconds from its scheduled launch of 5:15 p.m. GMT due to the news coverage of that tragic event.

Fast forward to 2015, and many “Doctors” later, Dr. Who is still parking its “TARDIS” in new times and dimensions, and America is once again in turmoil. Mundane astrology is always seeking out the planetary echoes between time frames because those links help us envision the way forward, so a little astro-time travel seemed in order.

Hop on board…1963 to 2015 
The link between these time frames, in fact, is contained in two key outer-planetary cycles that echo loudly today: between Saturn and Neptune, and between Uranus and Pluto. As the biwheel below shows, the resonance between today’s planetary “heavies” with that troubling period of late 1963 is a little too close for comfort, and we might need more than the Doctor’s “sonic screwdriver” to set things right.

Key highlights linking the Kennedy assassination (and Dr. Who) period with today (cast for Halloween 2015) include:

Uranus-Pluto (Virgo) are nearing conjunction in 1963; Uranus-Pluto (Aries-Capricorn) are square in 2015. Radical, transformative action has been the hallmark of this duo’s cardinal square, within orb (with some variations) from 2010 till now, but the changes that have been wrought were seeded in the 1960s with the new Virgo cycle (1st exact in 9/1965). In the 1960s, Uranus and Pluto were completing the balsamic period of their very tumultuous June 1850 cycle, during which the U.S. Civil War was fought and Abraham Lincoln was slain, making the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy all the more significant—and resonant. Leaping forward, as president from day one of the current square, President Obama has inspired a similar type of rage in those who fear or distrust what others’ civil rights and racial/economic justice means to them. Amazingly, a new “secessionist” movement that echoes that 1850s-60s period is also making noise.

Saturn squares Neptune in both charts: Aquarius to Scorpio in 1963; Sagittarius to Virgo in 2015. Both are waxing phases, but in different modes, the first being in fixed signs and the second in mutable. Accordingly, the first pairing represented resistance to change in matters such as civil rights and women’s rights, seen in the 1960s. Kennedy was branded a Communist and an Anti-Christian (see “Wanted for Treason” flyer, right)
by those opposing these movements and the changes they brought with them at that time. This troubling flyer was reportedly circulated the day before Kennedy was killed. Waxing phases—especially during the stress points—are notable for stimulating action; violent action—especially of a darkly conspiratorial, explosive type—fit the Aquarius-Scorpio square in 1963.

Mutable Saturn-Neptune squares can be overwhelming for the scope and nature of change involved, especially—as  in 2015—when all hell seems to have broken loose with our stable reference points (gender, race, national borders, you name it), causing many to feel the very philosophical/religious, social, national (Saturn in Sag) ground they stand on is up for grabs.  Chaos rules (Pisces) and nothing makes sense anymore to the less adaptable among us, which is wildly disconcerting.

In fact, what we’re experiencing now also builds upon the late 1970s mutable Saturn-Neptune square in Virgo-Sagittarius, when the concept of Globalization was first openly discussed. At that time, global economic, technical and communications barriers were quickly eroding, seeding the postmodern, computer-driven “information age” we have experienced ever since. Arguably, this “flattening” of the world has had a lot to do with the turmoil we’re seeing regarding civil rights and economic justice (a story for another day).

2015 Saturn (Sagittarius) squares 1963 Uranus-Pluto (Virgo); 2015 Neptune (Pisces) opposes 1963 Uranus-Pluto, forming an inter-chart T-square. Talk about time travel—while it’s a Sci-Fi truism that travelers from the future should not meddle with the past (so say the Doctor and “Doc Brown”), there’s no stopping the past from influencing the present! In other words, Saturn and Neptune today are revisiting issues raised in the 1960s social revolution.

In Virgo, the 60s agenda was about taking a pragmatic approach to making deep, revolutionary change. Eliminate barriers to voting and other civil rights, check; pass anti-discrimination laws, check; promote women’s rights with reproductive freedom and improved roles in the work force, check; get out of Vietnam, ban the draft and stop entangling ourselves in other countries’ civil wars, check; “Turn on, tune in, drop out”…question authority, check. Trouble is, we’re still struggling with all these issues, in one way or another, and who knows what we’ve learned from past struggles:

Many states have reinstated barriers to voting rights. Broken immigration and law enforcement systems ensure that discrimination lives on. Planned Parenthood—many women’s access to reproductive health care—is threatened with defunding, and women’s wages are still 70-some percent of men’s wages for comparable work. We’ve been trying to withdraw our military from the Middle East (the new quagmire), but keep getting sucked back in. The military is increasingly controlled by private corporations with profit on their minds, and yes, we’re about to deepen our involvement in the Syrian civil war, entangling ourselves with Russia as we go.

Last, but not least, several states have found that by legalizing pot and extending government control over this lucrative cash crop, they can pay their bills. All well and good, but aside from this, “Government” is a dirty word, especially where access to guns is concerned. Everything old is new again…and again…and again.

Uranus & Pluto have the final word…
Today’s Uranus-Pluto square is not simply echoing the 1963 Kennedy chart—it’s banging the gong loudly, with 2015 Pluto tightly conjoined the 1963 South Node (Capricorn) and 2015 Uranus square the 1963 Nodal axis, creating another powerful inter-chart T-square. This configuration brings us back to the “anti-government” sentiment rocking U.S. politics—especially as 13°+Cancer (the 1963 North node) is also the U.S. Sibly chart’s Sun degree (see Triwheel below)! 

The Sun in a national chart represents both the Nation itself, as an astrological entity, and the Chief Executive, so the 1963 chart’s nodal axis being stretched across this degree when Kennedy was assassinated was certainly a moment of “destiny” for both him and the nation. If we had a real-life TARDIS, what moment of destiny in this nation’s history would we hope to change?

Perhaps that’s the question posed by today’s Pluto and Uranus conundrum—and this modest time travel fantasy. Does history have to repeat itself, if we refuse to go along for the ride? Happy Halloween!

 Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. 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 in issues of public importance 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. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at:

© Raye Robertson 2015. All rights reserved. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Astrology for Film Buffs: the Birth Chart

I began looking at Astrology and Film together because they both use a symbolic language: Astrology uses the language of nature and the cosmos to make sense of life on this planet; Film uses an equally symbolic language of images and information that helps us make sense of life through the vehicle of stories.

The Lumiere Brothers' invention, the Cinematographe

On March 19, 1895, at approximately 11:00 a.m. in Lyons, France, the art form known as Film was born, when two brothers—Auguste and Louis Lumiere—shot the first moving picture. It was a 50-second film of workers leaving the Lumiere family factory.

The brothers shot it with their invention—the Cinematographe—a combination moving picture camera and projector that took Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope and brought the image “out of the box.”

Before shooting this first moving picture, Louis Lumiere was a talented still photographer, skilled in working with light and image composition. Together the brothers raised photography to a new level that’s reflected well in Film’s “birth” chart.

Photography = “Writing in Light”

Cinematography =“Writing the Motion

To put the birth chart of Film (below) into context, you might want to have a look at the Lumieres' first film at this link:

Film’s use of symbolic language is clearly indicated in its birth chart (below): there’s Mercury in Pisces, in mutual reception with Neptune in Gemini! The keyword phrases tell the story: Information through Illusion, Imaginative Communication, Communication Medium, Informative Art.

What we have here is a marriage of the Air and Water elements--Technology and Art. A Cancer Ascendant and Uranus (technology) exalted in Scorpio elicit emotion, inspire empathy and sensuality, and encourage a receptive mental state for Film’s “message.” Film “speaks” in symbols, as dreams do, and through means such as a darkened theater, hushed silence, all eyes forward, our minds are drawn into a light hypnotic, quasi-dream state.

We’ve all had the experience of “losing ourselves” in a film-watching experience. Astrologer Liz Greene calls this immersion experience the “participation mystique” of Neptune--certainly evident in this chart (more on Neptune to come).

Through means such as frame and shot composition, choice of lenses, camera level and angles, and camera movement, cinematography records, transmits (Mercury) and reveals (Moon) a rich array of information that we viewers absorb almost unconsciously.

Recording/Transmitting = Mercury
- Slices of life (documentary)
- Movement
- Sound
- Acted scenes
- Physical setting 

Revealing = Moon
- The unseen detail (alluded to or offscreen)
- “Privileged,” voyeuristic information
- Emotional/mental states
- Significant connections/relationships

In fact, reading a film is a process of deciphering many types of informational cues or data (Mercury) appearing on the screen (and post-1929, in the audio), and from those cues, mentally piecing together or synthesizing a whole that is greater than the proverbial sum of its parts—the story (Uranus-Neptune). The astrological pantheon in charge of storytelling is as complex as storytelling itself:

Storytelling = various
-Story structure/coherence - Saturn
- The creation of story meaning – Jupiter-Uranus-Neptune
- Cultural archetypes – Saturn-Jupiter-Neptune-Pluto
- The metaphorical impulse – Jupiter-Neptune

Let’s look at more details in Film’s “birth” chart (repeated below): 

From its inception, Film has been a synthesis of Technology and Art—broadly speaking, the province of Uranus and Neptune.

In the chart, Neptune co-rules (with Jupiter, rising in this chart) the Sun, Node, MC and Mercury. Neptune is also the exalted ruler of the Cancer ASC (Moon co-rules, quite appropriate for the emotional resonance of Film). Comfortable in its 12th house home, Neptune conjoins Gemini Mars and Pluto, so there’s considerable power wielded behind the scenes (even subliminally) through film communication. Neptune and Pluto are still within orb of their new cycle (once in 492 years!) here, reflecting Film's status as the ultimate Modern Age art form. 

Uranus is very creative in the 5th house, and exalted in Scorpio, it rules the 8th house of finances. It also trines the Node and the MC, adding technical brilliance to Neptune’s artistic output.

Technology = Uranus
-The camera and lenses
-Other photographic equipment
-Lighting, electricity
-Computer-generated effects and contents-Other digital processes, such as editing (video and audio)
-Sound and recording technology
-Technical experts in all areas
-Creative/pioneering uses of technology

Art = Neptune 
-Theatrical illusion and “EFX”
-Sets/staging for “story world”
-The visual art dimension and the artists involved (cinematographers, editors, art directors, scene designers, etc.)
-Musical scores and musicians
-Sound artists and character “voices” (with Venus)
-Costumes and make up; associated artists (with Venus)
-Audience immersion in the illusion of 3D action on a flat 2D screen

Even though Uranus and Neptune work together so seamlessly in film making, a closer look at Neptune’s role is warranted. Revisiting the chart, we see that Neptune co-rules the Pisces MC—Film’s “work in the world.” From its favored 12th house, Neptune tightly squares that MC, suggesting that the Hollywood Dream Factory can take its toll on the players involved...the "Star System" demands that celebs keep up the “illusion” or else!

All the Pisces energy in the chart makes perfect sense: Film is all about Vision and Perception and the illusion (produced mechanically by projecting film reels at 24 frames/second) of 3D action on a flat 2D screen. 

Saturn and Jupiter in this chart remind us that Film is not only an art form, but an industry and a social undertaking, with its own internal dynamics and powerful international networks. 12th house Jupiter rises, ruling the 6th and tightly squaring (and co-ruling) 9th house Pisces Sun. This reflects the “larger-than-life” image of the industry, and its immense potential influence (conscious and subliminal) on the hearts and minds of audiences. Like Neptune, Jupiter is in mutual reception with Mercury in Pisces, spinning imagery and words in powerful ways.

Disposed by Scorpio Saturn, the chart's ambitious Capricorn Moon rules the Cancer ASC. Placed in the 7th house, conjunct the DSC, this Moon suggests that the security and success of the industry relies upon powerful partnerships.

These partners demand their due, and with Saturn inconjunct the 12th house Mars-Pluto conjunction from the 4th house, it’s likely that internal frustrations and power plays drive much of the action behind the scenes. Director Robert Altman’s outstanding portrait of Hollywood’s cut-throat wheeling and dealing, The Player, certainly concurs.

Pisces Mercury, the “P.R.” man for the Dream Factory, is trine both Saturn and Jupiter, but Jupiter’s trine is dissociate (out-of-sign), and its biquintile aspect with Uranus reinforces its “maverick” role here, allowing more independent, thought-provoking themes. This is not the default mode for the industry, but a welcome creative boon when it happens.

Disposed by Pluto, Scorpio Uranus inhabits the 5th and rules the 8th (Pluto’s natural domain). Technology, big money and creative expression merge fluidly, tapping into and circulating (Gemini) the contents of the Collective Unconscious.

To be continued...with examples from great films you may remember!

© Raye Robertson 2015. All rights reserved. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

More on Pluto's Return & Other Cycles to Watch

Pluto’s transiting return to its 27°+Capricorn Sibly position, first exact on February 20, 2022 (outer wheel, biwheel below) is not happening in an astrological vacuum, but within the context of interacting outer-planetary cycles that together produce the collective reality we will experience . It’s as though the “picture” capturing that return is slowly developing in a soup of outer-planetary “chemicals” and is materializing as we approach that timeframe.

I’ve offered some thoughts on the significance of this event in the two prior posts (“Pluto Returns to Roost” and “The Big Bad Wolf Comes A-Knockin’”); here, I’m hoping to fill in some blanks about the planetary cycles we will want to be aware of between now and that return point in 2022. 

Some of these cycles (detailed in Table 1 below) have already begun and are still in progress (as noted by an * after the “1st exact” date). Any new cycles beginning before Pluto returns in 2022 are listed below those still completing. Also noted with each cycle are the major aspects the cycles formed at their inception to the Sibly chart (thus pointing to important possibilities). Following the table below, I’ve offered some preliminary thoughts on these cycles—your input is welcome!

Outer Planetary Cycles completing and beginning before 2022

1st exact -0-
Major aspects to Sibly
Jupiter-Saturn         (20-year cycle)
0-Plu; 120-MC, Ura; 150-Ven

Jupiter-Uranus        (14-year cycle)
60-Plu; 90-Ven, Jup; 180-MC

Jupiter-Neptune      (12-year cycle)
0-Moon; 30-Plu; 120-Mars

60-Plu; 90-Mars; 120-Merc; 180-Nep

Jupiter-Pluto           (12-year cycle)
28°+ Sag
30-Plu; 60-Moon; 90-Nep; 180-Mars

0-Plu; 30-Moon; 90-Chi; 120-Nep; 180-Merc

(45-year cycle)
30-Plu; 60-Moon; 90-Nep; 180-Mars

(36-year cycle)
150-Ura; 180-Ven, Jup, Sun

Saturn-Pluto           (33-year cycle)
0-Plu; 90-Chi; 120-Nep; 180-Merc

Thoughts on these cycles

Associated with overblown power ambitions, the present Jupiter-Pluto cycle began at the highly sensitive Galactic Center (GC), in Jupiter’s home sign: megalomania (a pitfall of this duo) dies hard, but it is likely to hit a high point before the new cycle starts in April, 2020 that says “enough is enough.”

The current “income inequality” debate raging (a national and global issue, with the top 1% globally said to own 50% of the world’s wealth) may, indeed, be the hot topic of this cycle because it speaks to the excesses of this cycle. Though the cycle began at a point sextile to the Sibly Moon (ordinary citizens and their concerns), the cycle hasn’t offered the broad “golden opportunity” we might have liked—a return to better employment figures, yes; real prosperity, not so much. Chances are the sextile has been outweighed by heavier aspects we’ll discuss ahead.

In any case, the tone of the income inequality debate has taken a serious turn since early 2011 at the square phase (during our “jobless recovery”), and has escalated through its trine (Taurus Jupiter-Capricorn Pluto) and inconjunct phases (Leo Jupiter-Capricorn Pluto). The issue now promises to be a key issue in Election 2016. By nature, Jupiter and Pluto are more concerned with the growth and control of wealth than they are with equitable economics—i.e., spreading the wealth through decent wages and benefits—which perhaps explains why the economy’s robust growth since the “great recession” has primarily benefited the “1%.”

The 2009 Jupiter-Neptune cycle began conjunct the Sibly Moon, which probably undermined some of the opportunity promised to the Sibly Moon (people) by the Jupiter-Pluto cycle: our national ideological assumptions have certainly been changing, and while this duo has its light moments, it hasn’t all been for the better. One retired senator recently noted there’s been a real “sea change in Washington”—apt symbolism for this cycle. Jupiter unleashes and amplifies whatever forces it allies itself to, including environmental crises (several, with increasing frequency) and mass migrations—both in Neptune’s wheelhouse. The latter issue hit home with a steady stream of Central American child migrants seeking refuge in the U.S. in 2014, during this cycle’s trine (Cancer Jupiter-Pisces Neptune) and inconjunct phases (Leo Jupiter-Pisces Neptune). 

Economic and territorial insecurities (a pitfall in any Neptune cycle) raised the debate over immigration to a shrill pitch during that 2014 period, with no real resolution today. Jupiter may have helped exaggerate such insecurities to the point of paralyzing rational action. “Build a wall” has been an appealing mantra in these times because—whether perceived or actual—the Neptunian erosion of boundaries has stimulated fear and in some cases, a troubling return to xenophobia (both here and abroad). The challenge of human migration continues worldwide (a story for another day) and will hopefully force sane immigration policy reforms before this cycle closes out. Unfortunately, the insecurities raised by this cycle have amplified the keen disillusionment so many feel with Washington D.C. today, making the business of government all the more difficult.

Though not a conventional outer-planet cycle, it’s worth noting that Chiron and Neptune joined forces within 4 degrees orb of the Sibly Moon through much of 2009-11. This mirrored the period between 4/1762-1/1765, when Chiron transited the same point, opposite Neptune in Leo. In that cycle, the vision of liberty (Aquarius) transcended the vision of monarchy (Leo) and caught on—to repeat John Adams’s words, “in the minds and hearts of the people.” The 2009-11 return to this point by both bodies perhaps inspired the passage of the Affordable Care Act (a more compassionate, if not perfect approach to health care) and the outpouring of support for both the Tea Party (2009 inception) and the Occupy Wall Street (2011 inception) movements. The clash of these movements’ opposing ideologies—at the heart of our national gridlock and sure to be a focus of Election 2016—ripped open an old wound (Chiron) inherent in American consciousness and politics. Do liberty and equality work hand-in-hand in American democracy or don’t they?

The Jupiter-Uranus cycle initiated in 2010 at 0° Aries may explain the overwhelming shift to Republican control of the House in the midterm elections, and some of the early enthusiasm for rebellious candidates like Ron Paul. Uranus is thought to lean to the right politically, and this cycle has allowed newly elected super-conservatives (now known as the “Freedom Caucus”) to gain a foothold in Congress. Both the Tea Party in Congress and those idealists on the left (Occupy Wall Street’s territory) want a new social contract—they just don’t agree on what the contract should say.

The lines of battle were certainly drawn during the controversial passage of the Affordable Care Act, which could be considered a social contract revision, if not “rewrite.” It affirms that healthcare will (with some unfortunate exceptions) no longer be treated as a privilege, but as a consequence of citizenship. The magnitude of this change is starting to find its way into national health statistics at this writing. The Act was argued and debated through 2009 and signed into law on March 23, 2010, as Jupiter was closing in quickly on Uranus to begin the new cycle. Not surprisingly, it was immediately challenged in the courts (social contracts don’t get rewritten that easily), but it was upheld by the Supreme Court in a highly controversial decision on June 28, 2012. Saturn and the Moon were conjunct in late Libra, trine the Sibly Moon the day it was upheld.

This cycle could well be seen as the "quagmire" cycle: earth (Saturn) + water (Neptune) = mud! This "mud" can be considered literally (witness the treacherous mud slides in California in today's news), or figuratively, as in "clear as mud"--an apt description for the opaque, irrational nature of so many policy quandaries the nation faces today. Beginning opposite our Sibly Cancer positions (Venus, Jupiter, Sun), this cycle relates to the many passive aggressive ploys used to produce gridlock in Congress (i.e., attaching impossible conditions to bills so they will be dead in the water). As the current final square (Sagittarius-Pisces) is getting underway, with Saturn inching towards the Sibly ASC and Neptune holding court in the 4th, more attention from both parties is being directed to the dangers of such obstructionist tactics. 

Saturn and Neptune clearly evoke fear and insecurity about the erosion of boundaries, and with these emotions comes power to those who know how to use it. In this way, this cycle--which will find both Saturn and Neptune in Pisces for a stretch--will continue to figure into our public affairs and policies, especially about immigration (crossing borders) and the environment. Water, oil and natural gas issues, especially as regards regulations and territorial concerns, will likely surface. 

Incredibly, a new Saturn-Pluto cycle begins within 8° of Sibly Pluto, just 2 years before Pluto’s return. Out with the old—the old social order begun at the Libra Saturn-Pluto conjunction in 1982—in with the new Capricorn reality, that is. This cycle should act upon (cardinal inception) whatever the other cycles have wrought from 2007 to 2020. With the cycle beginning at a point roughly square to the 1982 cycle’s late Libra conjunction, renewed power structures and a new social order that challenges the social agenda of the 1980s will be on the agenda. Policies impacting natural resource conservation and management will be highlighted.

Launching in the Sibly 2nd house of big finance and national values, this cycle could see pressure to dismantle the Federal Reserve and seriously reform our current election system. It’s also possible our financial system will be seriously re-regulated by that time, to prevent meltdowns such as we saw in 2008 and to “unstack the deck” disadvantaging the middle class. The environment and stressed natural resource reserves could weigh heavily on public policies affecting immigration, and on the nation’s willingness to wage and support foreign wars. This cycle may help restore public confidence in the “American Dream” (trine to Sibly Neptune), but the usual media “spin” (opposition to Sibly Mercury) will also be a continuing factor, so the reality may fall short of the illusions.

The 2020 Jupiter-Saturn conjunction at 0°+Aquarius should be a blast of fresh air. As a “Mutation Conjunction,” (the first of a long series of Jupiter-Saturn cycles in a new element), this cycle will serve to fundamentally reorient society and implement Saturn-Pluto’s “new order.” The so-called Aquarian Age should start to feel like it’s arrived at this point, although it may not resemble the original vision. New ideas and possibilities will manifest in technology, space travel, the sciences, communications and social relations. Also launching in the Sibly 2nd house, these technical and social developments will work to regenerate the nation’s economy for the new Pluto in Aquarius generation to come, beginning in March, 2023.   

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, the astrology of generations, and in issues of public importance 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. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at:

© Raye Robertson 2015. All rights reserved. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Big Bad Wolf Comes a-Knockin’…

In a 2006 Mountain Astrologer article, astrologer Edward Gillam made a thorough case for “fundamental global changes in political structures and values” during Pluto’s transit of Capricorn. He also pointed out the importance of the security- and resource-conscious Cancer-Capricorn axis in the Sibly chart, and the role this is likely to play as Pluto returns.

Certainly, just the idea of Pluto in Capricorn is daunting—like expecting a visit from the “big bad wolf” before we’ve got our “house of bricks” in order. Yet, Capricorn and its ruler Saturn are the bedrock of “common sense”—what Aquarius Now calls a “…practical balance…a way of being in the world…not what we know, but how we know it…” Marilyn Ferguson says that common sense “…wants to learn even when the lessons are hard. It is a subtle sense of consequences and possibilities.” Houses made of sticks and straw don’t stand a chance. We may learn some hard lessons in the coming years, but there are reasons to believe the times can be productive and positive. 

For starters, at Pluto’s return, (outer wheel, biwheel below), 8 of the 10 outer-planetary cycles will be waxing. Mundane Astrology suggests this “produces a sense of optimism, buoyancy, initiative, extravagance, a willingness to take risks, to explore, to begin enterprises.” Despite (or perhaps because of) Saturn’s out-sized presence in this return, a closer look at the 2/20/2022 biwheel with Sibly (below) supports this assessment:

Saturn issues
Return Saturn is strong in Aquarius, ruling three (return chart) Capricorn planets (Venus, Mars and Pluto) and co-ruling Mercury and the MC. Saturn itself is disposed and widely squared by the return chart’s staunch Uranus in Taurus. Saturn trines both the return chart’s Moon and ASC, which suggests a good time and supportive environment for “reclaiming personal sovereignty” from entrenched institutions.

This potential may be outweighed, however, by the inter-chart grand trine that return Saturn forms with Sibly Mars and Saturn. Such pervasive, dynamic Saturn energy between charts suggests a focus on active, responsible manifestation, but Saturn (also trine return Moon) will take its cues from us about what to manifest in our legislature, making Mars’ presence in the grand trine a possible red flag. Cool heads will hopefully prevail.

Chart Ruler Mercury & the Media
Return Mercury in Aquarius (also trine Sibly Saturn) rules this 2022 chart (16° Gem rising), suggesting cool-headed negotiations of a global nature may stand a chance, but with return Neptune (Pisces) trine Sibly Mercury (Cancer), there could be a massive effort to sway public sentiment via the media, especially with messages that trigger security concerns (Pisces-Cancer). Even if we are able to maintain our rational judgment, the power of the people (return Moon is also trine Sibly Moon) will be challenged by things happening in the Sibly 2nd house, where Pluto will be returning.

A full 2nd house
Venus, Mars and Pluto will all be converging on the Sibly’s Capricorn 2nd house at that time: Venus and Mars will conjoin on the exact degree that kicked off our current Uranus-Neptune cycle in February, 1993 and within 3 degrees of where the new Saturn-Pluto cycle will be launching (22+Capricorn) in January, 2020. Pluto’s last minute “conference” with Saturn so close to the return point suggests that powerful forces will be managing the potentials of this “rebirth,” for better or worse. We can expect that global industries—especially natural resource-oriented industries—will be wielding more than their usual influence, and that national goals and action plans (Mars-Saturn) will be tightly focused on profit and resource control (Venus-Pluto).

We already see that competition between nations for natural resources is growing as environmental stress increases; the heavy Capricorn energy and cycle connections in this chart suggest that the U.S. will be focusing more seriously on sustainability, and that corporations will likely see the profit potential in those efforts. War and the weapons industry will remain obscenely profitable, of course—a serious pitfall for the higher purpose of Pluto’s return.  

Neptune & Mars
Amazingly, Neptune (at home in Pisces) exactly opposes Sibly Neptune, creating an inter-chart T-square with Sibly Mars. The Galactic Center (26+Sagittarius) fills in the 4th leg, forming a grand cross. Coinciding with our Pluto return, this configuration could help the nation release its unhealthy collective illusions (fill-in-the-blanks), and regain its true idealistic heritage (Sibly-Pisces 4th house). Best case scenario: we heal our toxic addiction to carbon-based fuels (Neptune opposite Neptune) and to our increasingly tangled, co-dependent relationships in the Middle East and elsewhere. Worst case scenario: these relationships—a seemingly endless parade of ideological (Neptune) “enemies” (square to 7th house Mars)— threaten to further destabilize the global balance of power and our own national security. The challenge will be to prevent return Neptune’s “dis-illusionment” process from being derailed by the usual power players.

Jupiter & Uranus
Also in Pisces, return chart Jupiter will expand upon co-ruler Neptune’s efforts. Trine Sibly Sun and Jupiter, it could support the “dis-illusionment” of our national leadership, but a T-square between return chart Jupiter and Sibly ASC-opposite-Sibly Uranus suggests that our defense industries and military enlistments will be stressed and expanding.  In the return chart itself, Jupiter sextiles Uranus, and both inconjunct Sibly Saturn (forming an inter-chart Yod). There will be grassroots pressure on Congress to finally breakthrough their ideological inertia and get something constructive (Uranus in Taurus) done. Best case scenario: badly needed public infrastructure projects get more attention at this time. Worst case scenario: the ideological factions in Congress unite around a deepening “no-win-situation” in the Middle East.

A cosmic "reset"
Finally, the simple fact that Pluto is “returning” says that—in terms of the nation’s outer-planetary evolution—we get to push the “cosmic reset button.” Can we put the nuclear threat genie back in his bottle? Can we return to clear, simple values that work for everyone? Can we evolve, finally, into the promise of Pluto in Capricorn—collective integrity—and send the “big bad wolf” packing?

“I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll…”

One last word about houses, pigs and a fairy tale ending. As the well-worn tale illustrates, the big bad wolf can only blow a pig’s house down if it’s flimsily made. This made me wonder about the Sibly Moon’s placement in the 3rd house—are “we the People” due for a fairy tale comeuppance with this Pluto return? The 3rd is subject to everything that happens in the 9th—the source of a lot of ideological “huffing and puffing”—but I would argue that the 3rd is also where Ferguson’s “radical common sense” potentially thrives. With an Aquarius cusp, it’s the house where rational, inventive, but determined “pigs” learn to live in the world of bricks and sticks and straw, and big bad wolves. It’s where we take responsibility for our choices and our freedom to make choices (You want to build with sticks? That’s your prerogative!). Exactly semi-sextile our bottom-line-driven 2nd house Pluto, this Sibly Moon is forever struggling to get and keep its share of the nation’s resources, but happily, the third house is also where “Necessity” mothers her inventions. Some pigs use their common sense better than others, of course; that’s why Aquarius promotes working together!

More to come on planetary cycles to watch for between now and 2022!

© Raye Robertson 2015. All rights reserved. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Pluto returns to roost

“The time hath found us.” - Thomas Paine

Pluto’s lingering cardinal square with Uranus (as of Oct. 2015) accounts for many shocking developments over the past 5 years, but another, less discussed, but equally transformative cardinal event looms in the next decade for the U.S.:  the final push towards Pluto’s return to its natal 27°+Capricorn position in the U.S. Sibly chart (biwheel below). The Sibly chart captures the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which reflects the revolutionary character and democratic idealism of this nation, and that critical aspect of our national character is—to put it mildly—due for a radical makeover.

In 2007 I began studying and writing about transiting Pluto’s impending return to the U.S. Sibly Chart’s Pluto at 27+ Capricorn on 20 February 2022, but the topic was a bit premature at the time. The Stock and housing markets were about to crash like the proverbial “house of cards” they had become, so we were brutally otherwise occupied.

The current Uranus-90-Pluto in Aries-Capricorn (from 2010), has triggered an upheaval worldwide. Among many consequences, the so-called “Arab Spring”—the world’s first “social media”-enabled revolution of its magnitude—is still shaking out, most cruelly in Syria at the time of this writing. On the U.S. front, The “Tea Party Movement” and “Occupy Wall Street” erupted in 2009 and 2011 respectively, and remain potent ideological forces going into Election 2016.

Pluto’s 2022 return will mark the Declaration of Independence’s 246th year. The Declaration was a manifesto declaring our collective intention to establish a nation based on key democratic principles, rejecting monarchy and the colonial status quo. It was not a governing document, but it signaled a unified decision to establish sovereignty and self-rule, thus cutting ties with the “motherland,” Britain. It certainly was a “birth” of the revolution that made everything else possible.

Pluto’s tactics in this return are unlikely to be subtle:” we will purge and transmute 246 years of toxic, compulsive “stuff” as a nation (karma, if you will), or else. That’s Pluto’s “stick,” and its square with Uranus—currently within orb of the nation’s 20°+Aries Chiron—is busy re-opening old wounds like racism and gun violence so they can be purged and healed in the course of this rebirth.

Pluto’s “carrot” is, of course, the prospect of this fundamental social rebirth. Judging by the controversial Supreme Court decisions in the past five years and the extreme reactions following (i.e., to unleash oceans of vested-interest money into campaign politics with Citizens United, to uphold the law establishing Obama’s “Affordable Care Act,” to legalize gay marriage, etc.) it seems the “rebirth” is proceeding as rockily as the birth—less than 7 years remaining (at this writing). 

Seven years in a “birth canal” may sound like a long time, but on Pluto’s time table, we’re heading for the delivery room. This time, however, we’re not breaking free from a “motherland”—we’re coming to grips with the internal contradictions that threaten to strangle us on our way out: i.e., producing years of gridlock in Congress, intense stress between branches of government, domestic and international tensions and entanglements.

It’s worth pondering how Plutonian social transformation even happens. Do we all go pouring into the streets like the Egyptians did and force fundamental change? It’s been tried (i.e., in Ferguson, Missouri), but it’s not likely to happen on a scale similar to Tahrir Square. It’s equally unlikely Uncle Sam will show up for a therapist’s appointment, so the question becomes, “who’s the responsible party here?” Are citizens individually responsible for their nations’ karmic sludge? Whatever the answer, we all play individual and/or collective roles in this Plutonian process.  

As mentioned, notable efforts to steer this transformation have burst into public life over the past decade. First, in February 2009, the Tea Party Movement (TPM) erupted, with six points (Mercury, Node, Jupiter, Mars, Chiron and Neptune) in Aquarius and Pluto in Capricorn widely square Venus in Aries. Not surprisingly, the mostly fiscal concerns of the TPM and its agenda (less “government,” translated as minimal taxation, radically reduced federal debt and entitlements) is reflected in this initiating Venus-Pluto square. These concerns also meshed nicely with the Saturn-Pluto square forming in late 2009 in early Libra (ruled by Venus), the final square phase of the 1982 cycle begun in late Libra.

The second attempt to steer our social rebirth has been the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS), focused most heavily on the need for a more just social/economic system for the “99%.” Its inception date is debatable, but the OWS’ first protest in New York’s Zucotti Park on September 17, 2011 established it as a movement. This seminal chart features a potent cardinal t-square centerpiece: Uranus (2+AriRx)-180-Venus (3+Lib), all square Pluto (4+Cap). Mars was at 28+Can (opposite Sibly Pluto), poised to enter fiery Leo (adding some theatrical flair to the protests—and supporting that notorious “pepper spray” incident at U.C. Berkeley), and Jupiter was trine Pluto from Taurus (good timing to highlight financial corruption, power abuses, etc.).

These movements seem to have opposing agendas, but both are fundamentally designed to promote greater sovereignty on the part of U.S. citizens. Implying both power and responsibility, sovereignty was the ideal we struggled over collectively in the 1770s, when the nation was “born,” and we’re back at it again. Writer Marilyn Ferguson (author of the groundbreaking The Aquarian Conspiracy) foresaw the 1770s-2010s connection nicely in her 2005 follow-up study, Aquarius Now, where she suggests we must return to both personal sovereignty and “radical common sense.”

Building upon American revolutionary Thomas Paine’s famous use of the term “common sense,” she says, “Radical common sense reflects the growing realization that individual good sense is not enough—that society itself must make sense or decline. Radical common sense is a spirit. It respects the past, it pays attention to the present, and therefore it can imagine a more workable future.” What that workable future would look like is, of course, a matter of strenuous debate, with the TPM and OWS positions representing the extreme poles of that debate as they’ve carried through into Election 2016.

Reclaiming our personal sovereignty is likened by Ferguson to “the radical shift of birth.” This certainly fits the agenda of Pluto’s return to the Sibly 2nd house, forcing us to revisit our core revolutionary values, especially material ones. Of the 2nd house Pluto placement, Howard Sasportas writes, “With Pluto here, it is necessary to discover the underlying motivations which propel such strong and passionate feelings about money and security. For some, money is imbued with the power of a deity, which determines if they live or die. Money and power may be accrued as a way of controlling others, or as a safety gauge for those who feel the world is out to destroy them.” Money and Power, especially within the framework of sovereignty, are the twin themes defining both the TPM and the OWS movements. It’s doubtful Pluto picks “sides” in this struggle—it’s the tortured entanglements of Money and Power that keep Pluto’s adrenalin pumping.

Nothing is ever simple with the Sibly chart, however. Since the Declaration of Independence also seeded us with humanistic ideals—“inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”—the question becomes, how do the twin poles of our Money/Power debate square with our core value, “all men are created equal…?” Did we ever really hold this value in a literal sense? If so, slavery would have been abolished and women would have had universal suffrage in 1776, with other civil rights matters settled soon thereafter. On the contrary, we have long celebrated the “rugged individual,” and as long as capitalism remains the economic framework for our form of democracy, we will see that one “rugged individual’s” pursuit of happiness often negates another’s equal treatment. This observation isn’t meant to condemn or support the capitalist ideal; it merely acknowledges how this inherently dog-eat-dog system works.

The tight -30- between the Sibly Pluto (27+Cap) and Moon (26+Aqu) begins to make sense if we look at it in this light. The latest meltdown on Wall Street vividly reminded us that relations are never easy between the “Economy” writ large (Wall Street-Pluto in Cap) and the everyday “economy” of the people (Moon represents the People). Pluto’s return—a “survival of the fittest” evolutionary process—confronts us with the disconnect between our stated values (the Declaration) and the ever-evolving Constitution. Compelling circumstances (a favorite Pluto tactic) will force us to choose a coherent path forward or devolve into a morass of our own making. Either we “own” our dog-eat-dog system for what it is, or we take responsibility for changing it.

To be continued…chart analysis to come!

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, the astrology of generations, and in issues of public importance 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. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at:

© Raye Robertson 2015. All rights reserved.