Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The SS El Faro, South Carolina and the “Forces-that-Be”

In a September 9th Op-Ed article in the New York Times, economist Thomas Friedman contended that three large forces will determine the quality of life on this planet for the foreseeable future: Mother Nature—a term he uses to encompass environmental destruction and population pressures; Technology (especially its increasing power); and the Global Market. Noting that these forces are now operating in “simultaneous, rapid acceleration,” he predicts that they will force continued, massive dislocations and produce the “meltdown of an increasing number of states all at the same time in a globalized world.” We’ve certainly been seeing these meltdowns with Europe’s migration crisis and the bombings in Syria and elsewhere, but we tend to be surprised when more local happenings show how vulnerable we are to these “Big Three” forces.  

In fact, one recent event—the tragic loss of the cargo ship SS El Faro while at sea near the Bahamas, shows how astrologically, time and place are sometimes everything, and we’re just along for the ride. Reportedly, the ship was carrying 391 shipping containers and over 290 vehicles, along with its crew of 33 individuals. This ill-fated ship can be seen as a shocking embodiment of the “Big Three” forces, in fact—it was a commercial shipping venture (global market); dependent upon information technology (it took a calculated risk embarking just 6 hours before Joaquin was upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane) and mechanics (its propulsion technology reportedly failed); and it was at the mercy of natural forces that had no mercy to give.

The chart for the final communication documented between the SS El Faro and Marine Traffic at 4:01 a.m. on October 1, under Category 4 hurricane conditions follows. The energies of the “Blood” Lunar Eclipse of the prior weekend are still active here, of course, but keeping that in mind, let’s consider the chart on its own terms. Please note that the chart is cast for the exact coordinates cited in the report, even though my software insisted I fill the location field with a nearby town):

Amazingly, Venus, Mars, the Moon, Saturn and Neptune are all angular in this chart—Venus and Mars straddle the late Leo Ascendant; the Moon conjoins the Taurus MC, squaring Venus and widely opposing Saturn at the IC. Neptune, square Saturn, forms a wide (9+ deg.) conjunction with the Aquarius Descendant and thus opposes the Ascendant. This was truly a tragic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Neptune is of particular interest, of course, for ships that disappear at sea. Not surprisingly, it forms a tight inconjunct with the Sun (representing the “native,” or in this case, the ship and its captain) and retrograde Mercury, which may have added to the stress by causing technology problems on the ship. Uranus (disposing the Aquarius Descendent) semi-sextiles Chiron (Pisces) and trines Venus, which in turn, disposes the chart’s Sun and Mercury. These aspects, along with Uranus’ long-standing square with Pluto, surely added to the pain and turmoil of the event.  

Neptune’s assault on the angles of this chart from the 7th house of “enemies” (the hurricane and the sea) is magnified by its snug oppositions to 1st house Mars and Jupiter (conjunct in their own right in Virgo). Mars, Saturn and Neptune thus form a powerful (malefic, even) mutable T-square, and Saturn’s pull from the 4th house of “endings” reflects the dreadful loss of 33 crew members that resulted.

Planetary dynamics similar to what we’ve seen in the SS El Faro tragedy were active in the South Carolina flooding, of course, as that event unfolded between October 1-4. Thankfully, there were fewer lives lost, but the scale of the disaster proved to be massive, nonetheless.  

We don’t have to search too hard to find Nature in an astrological chart: Nature is embedded in a chart via the elements, the Zodiac signs and seasons, and in the physical forces represented by each planet (i.e., expansion, contraction, balance, disruption, etc.). With the South Carolina chart below, we can see that four key points fall in earth signs:  the Moon (timed for 10/1, noon) in Taurus; Mars-Jupiter (conjunct) in Virgo; Pluto in Capricorn. Mars and Jupiter trine Pluto and oppose watery Neptune in Pisces, facilitating a massive-scale disaster involving water. In fact, rain accumulation has broken all records—according to Wikipedia, “Some areas of the state have seen rainfall equivalent to a 1-in-1000 year event.”

Also reflecting the potent earth and water energies represented, eight or more dams (earthen constructions) were reportedly breached by the mounting flood waters (Jupiter-Neptune). Pisces (the sign of Neptune’s greatest strength) has no respect for boundaries and borders—an important point when we’re trying to contain (Saturn) environmental impacts and the resulting human desperation. We forget at our peril that Neptune—often characterized as spiritual, dreamy, creative, artistic or other-worldly—is also a strictly impersonal energy that could not care less what happens to individual humans. Neptune—along with Pluto—function on that detached level that transcends such worldly cares; in fact, the ancients understood perfectly that these two were not merciful gods, and that humans serve them, not the other way around! (a more humble perspective we might want to adopt with the environment, going forward).

Mars’ and Saturn’s “malefic” reputations also hold true in this chart, as their square here (Virgo to Sagittarius) reflects (as it did with the SS El Faro) the death toll, loss, destruction and dislocation inflicted upon South Carolinians. Unfortunately, with a noon chart cast for the emergency declaration, we can’t say much about chart angles, but it’s a good bet that one or both of the malefics were angular during the course of the storm.

A key takeaway here is the role nature and the environment is playing in the growing unrest and disorder we’re seeing around the globe and in our own back yards. Saturn and Neptune are entering their last-quarter, waning square phase (Sagittarius to Pisces), perhaps suggesting that we have the duration of this final quarter (the new cycle launches in 2/2026 at 0°Aries) to get our environmental “ducks in a row.” More thoughts on this powerful Saturn-Neptune cycle to come!

 © Raye Robertson 2015. All rights reserved.

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