Thursday, January 28, 2016

History speaks in cycles and parallels – Saturn-Uranus-Neptune and today’s New Populism

One of the most amazing features of Election 2016 has been the rise of parallel populist movements on both the Left—with Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign—and on the Right, with Donald Trump’s campaign. Both candidates have created groundswells of support around their wildly divergent views of the nation’s path forward—support that routinely befuddles the pundits.

And so they should be “fuddled” (?)—the astrological ground beneath our feet is in “wildly shifting” mode, with Uranus and Pluto still squaring off between Aries and Capricorn, and Saturn simultaneously aspecting both Uranus (by trine) and Neptune (by square). Effectively, two mutable signs (Saturn’s in Sagittarius; Neptune’s in Pisces) have unmoored our usual expectations and have harnessed Uranus’ cardinal impulses in Aries to play “52 Card Pick-Up” with our politics.

 Not only do these simultaneous, overlapping transits speak to the parallel movements kicking up such a fuss in our politics today, but with Saturn transiting the 1st house of the nation’s Sibly chart (see biwheel below), they also speak to the confusing evolution of our national identity. Namely, before we can judge which individual might best represent America on the world stage at this time, it might help to understand who we are becoming as a people. Perhaps the answer is hiding within these parallel populist movements?



A “Better Deal”
First, let’s consider the basic parallels between Sanders and Trump and their respective populist plans:
·         both propose a “better deal” for the middle class
·         both were originally viewed as the “lunatic fringe” by their respective “Establishment” parties. 
·         both candidates enjoy that “outsider” status

Considering the combined support both campaigns have amassed, it’s clear that a large percentage of American voters feel disenfranchised—simply put, with the growth of globalization and corporate control, they’ve been getting the short end of the stick economically in recent times. Income inequality has been an issue swirling around in our national consciousness since at least 2009, when the Tea Party first took hold, and then in 2011 when Occupy Wall Street so vividly pointed out how our economy has been rigged to maintain the income disparity between the “1%” and the “99%.” The camps may disagree about who’s responsible for the problem, but they agree something has to be done.

What to do, what to do?
What that solution should look like is quite another story—the means trusted by the Left are unpalatable to the Right and vice-versa. The role of government in our daily lives and which government—state or federal—should be empowered to act—is one essential difference. Woven into that difference are diverging viewpoints on the role of the private sector (corporations) versus the public sector in education, control of natural resources and infrastructure, health care, international business/trade, and so on.

Cycles in history
Here’s where the planetary cycles in question come into play. Especially against a backdrop of cardinal Uranus-square-Pluto, both the Saturn-Uranus cycle and the Saturn-Neptune cycles have historically marked times of social and economic change along ideological extremes. In Mundane Astrology, Baigent, Campion and Harvey cite Barbault’s study regarding the Saturn-Uranus cycle’s “right-wing and essentially conservative/authoritarian” leanings. Barbault found it “strongly associated with ‘imperialist’ tendencies and with capitalism” (p. 181).

On the other hand, Barbault and others found that the Saturn-Neptune cycle in history was more left-leaning, promoting “democracy, political changes and reforms…a paramount cycle which governs the development of socialism/Communism” (182). In retrospect, we know that this right-left distinction is anything but clear. In fact, all but the most extreme right- and left-leaning governments in history combine elements associated with both cycles: i.e., even the most libertarian democracy requires law and order; even a flat-out corporate oligarchy requires a minimal social safety net, if people are to buy corporate products. 

Depending upon each player’s vested interests, one person’s fascism is another person’s socialism. Simply put, the possibilities are endless and the label is always projected by the eye of the beholder.
 Even though most world systems of government embrace a mix of right- and left-leaning elements these days, there is still a core principle at the heart of each extreme that is driving today’s parallel, but opposed populisms. Such extremes have occurred in recent history, of course, and they offer interesting astrological parallels with today’s politics.  



On the Right
The first is Adolph Hitler’s establishment in January, 1933 of Germany’s Third Reich (see chart below). This took shape against a Uranus-square Pluto in cardinal signs Aries-Cancer, with Saturn in Uranus-ruled Aquarius, inconjunct Neptune in Virgo. Hitler consolidated his party’s power within Germany and began reaching beyond German borders as the 1897 Saturn-Uranus cycle (beginning at 27°+Scorpio) waned and began fresh in May 1942 at 29°+Taurus.  Hitler’s intense efforts during the latter days of WWII to gather master art works they stole from European Jews, museums and churches into a Fuehrer’s Museum (as recounted in the George Clooney film, The Monuments Men) certainly reflected this new Taurus cycle.

Interestingly, Saturn had also transited opposite Virgo Neptune during 1936 and 1937, and indeed, the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party may have been thwarted without Neptune’s added influence. During this period Hitler built popular momentum for his fascist ideology with vitriolic rants about Germany's victimization (Neptune) at the hands of World War I peace agreements and the ever-present “Others,” German Jews. Needless to say, today’s vicious nationalist, anti-immigrant rhetoric (both here and in Europe) rings a loud historical bell.






On the Left
In the U.S., that same period saw the rise of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as our one and only 4-term president (1933-1945), and—taking office towards the end of the Great Depression of 1929 and seeing us through all but the end of WWII—a major transformative force in the U.S. economy and society. First elected in 1932, his initial campaign featured Saturn moving in and out of late Capricorn and Aquarius—often inconjunct Virgo Neptune, opposite Cancer Pluto and square Aries Uranus. A biwheel for Election Day 1932, set against FDRs nativity, provides many interesting Saturn-Uranus-Neptune dynamics to consider (below): 



FDR Venus-Sun and Mercury (Aquarius) are disposed by Uranus rising in Virgo and Saturn in Taurus (conjunct Neptune).  Clearly, the energies of Saturn and Uranus are woven throughout FDR’s chart via dispositor networks. His entire Taurus stellium—Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter and Chiron—square  his Aquarius Sun, blending an idealistic desire for liberating change (and a return to post-Depression social order) with the materially-grounded pragmatism of Taurus (perhaps inspiring his campaign’s motto, “happy days are here again”). Even FDR’s elevated 10th house Moon, dignified in its ruling sign Cancer, is drawn into the Saturn/Aquarius-driven dynamics of his chart by a sextile to Saturn and an inconjunct with Saturn-disposed Venus. Needless to say, his mother and his wife, Eleanor, were very influential in his political career.

FDR Mutable angles, elevated/angular Mars in Gemini trines Mercury in Aquarius; Pluto in
Taurus squares Mercury. Throughout his long years in office, FDR employed the technologies of the day (radio, most notably) for his signature “fireside chats” with the American public. His mutable angles probably lightened the overbearing “fixed” energies in his chart and gave him the ability to adapt when needed. Undoubtedly, both his fixed and mutable energies were essential as he faced not only the challenges of his personal disability (polio), but those of governing through the Depression and World War II.

Neptune-Jupiter-Chiron (Taurus) trine Uranus (Virgo). Easily seen here, Roosevelt was a larger-than-life character who radiated idealistic, but down-to-earth confidence and good cheer, but suffered greatly behind the scenes (Chiron). He was a much-beloved leader to ordinary Americans, who benefitted greatly from the pro-labor policies and social safety net (Neptune) FDR’s “New Deal” created. Predictably, the Republican pro-business class held quite the opposite opinion, but with his determined Aquarian/Taurus nature and the extreme conditions of those times, his programs prevailed and to some extent, are still with us. Significantly for today’s election, reinstating one of FDRs signature banking/Wall Street laws, “The Glass-Steagall Act,” is at the heart of the Sanders platform.

Election AS-Sun (Scorpio) oppose FDR Saturn-Neptune-Jupiter-Chiron (Taurus) and square FDR Venus-Sun (Aquarius).  U.S. presidential elections are always a Scorpio event, so we can be skeptical about the importance of candidate ties to the Election Day Sun and AS (sunrise chart), but in this case, the ties tapped into the areas of FDR’s chart that mattered most for his personality/leadership strengths and his ideological brand of politics.

Election Jupiter (Virgo) conjoins FDR Uranus; Election Moon (Pisces) opposes FDR Uranus, squares FDR Mars-MC. Jupiter effectively “anointed” FDR as the right person for the right time with this “shoulder tap” on his Uranus rising. Jupiter’s boost radiated from this one point throughout FDR’s chart via rulership and dispositorship. The Pisces Moon suggests that voters were responding to FDR’s compassionate, but pragmatic goals for social/economic change.  

Election Saturn (Capricorn) conjoins FDR Venus, sextiles FDR AS, squares FDR Saturn, trines FDR Pluto (Taurus) and inconjuncts FDR Mars. Saturn was, in fact, soon to re-enter Aquarius later that month (it first entered in February 1932, retrograding in May and proceeding direct in October); the ensuing transit through Aquarius reflected the difficulties and work laid out ahead for FDR. Dealing with the nation’s banking/business establishment to make his signature reforms required all the Saturnian backbone and fixed mettle he could muster.

Election Uranus (Aries) T-squares Election Pluto (Cancer) opposite Saturn. This amazing configuration cut across the “power” 5-11th house axis of FDR’s chart, with Uranus squaring from his 7th house of partners and enemies. A powerful mandate for reform and social change—not to mention powerful indicators of the coming global conflict—these intense cardinal energies made sure FDR found both important partners and enemies.



Election Neptune (Virgo) trines FDR Saturn-Neptune-Jupiter, sextiles FDR Moon (Cancer) and inconjuncts FDR Venus; Election Neptune inconjuncts Election Saturn. We know that, despite his own affluent background, FDR envisioned a compassionate, bottom-up (Keynesian) economic plan to be a pragmatic solution to the nation’s economic crisis, and Election day Neptune seemed to agree. Election Saturn (inconjunct) was not as enthused with this solution, but FDR possessed the qualities that were needed to carry this plan forward, despite major opposition.



Fast-forward to 2016…
Clearly, if the parallel populist movements of Trump and Sanders do happen to prevail through the primaries and become our final candidate choices this year, we will not be voting for a single candidate, but for a complex ideological package deal of social and economic change. As noted early on, we’ll also be voting for who we want to be as a nation. Clearly, both the left-leaning and the right-leaning change makers depend upon the same astrological factors as they build their support and momentum for November, but as we know, the distortions (Neptune) produced in the process by billionaires (Pluto) can’t help but influence the end result. More on the Establishment “big guns,” Neptune and Pluto, in a future post!



 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 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. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: robertsonraye@gmail.com. 


© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved. 


Friday, January 22, 2016

Saturn, Uranus & Neptune in 2016 …the Wild West revisited?

At this writing, Saturn (in Sagittarius) is applying to a waning trine aspect with Uranus (in Aries)—in other words, these planets are within the final 120 degrees of their current cycle. The trine will persist through November 2018 (with only brief periods out of orb, allowing the traditional 8 degree orb). Both are outer planets that impact social and political dynamics, so they are bound to play a key role in the unfolding 2016 election. An interesting echo, Saturn and Uranus are also within orb of a trine (waxing) in the USA Sibly chart (Saturn at 14+Lib; Uranus at 8+Gem). More about interesting historical parallels ahead.

Trine aspects can be notoriously fickle, however—not quite as “easy” or “soft” as their billing suggests. Saturn and Uranus are not “soft” energies in any case, especially in their current fiery signs. Not surprisingly, the only thing today’s political analysts seem to agree on is that these are tough times for “establishment” candidates, on either side; “outsider” candidates, by and large, are having an easier time of it. What constitutes an “outsider” is another story.

Uranus certainly cultivates renegades and revolutionaries, but Saturn’s involvement in the trine confirms that beneath the unconventional surface, politicians are politicians and at least some of the rules might still apply, despite attempts to appear otherwise. Uranus blasts through structures, limits, and (as we’ve seen), civility and respect: opposite Sibly Saturn, transiting Uranus has shredded the usual rules of debate and public discourse. Hateful speech flies freely, egged on by media coverage—the more untruthful and incendiary, the better. Whether this explains Ted Cruz’s “camouflage” video is another story!    

Saturn-Uranus on the move
The wild media buzz about the upcoming Iowa Caucuses on February 1 certainly captures our polarized politics at this time, so I’ve used a noon chart for the Caucuses to illustrate the current Saturn-Uranus dynamics, setting that chart against the Sibly chart (biwheel below). The polarization story is pretty well told in these charts:



 At 14°11’Sagittarius, Saturn is now transiting the first house of our national identity and is widely trine Sibly Chiron, opposite Sibly Uranus (Gemini) and sextile Sibly Saturn (Congress). At 17°09’Aries, transiting Uranus is now inhabiting the Sibly 5th house (occupying the 5th-11th house axis of national power dynamics), opposing Sibly Saturn, squaring Sibly Sun and within 3 degrees of conjoining Sibly Chiron. This transiting duo has stirred up a lot of fear and insecurity about the future (shorthand, “let’s make America great again!”), the role of the Federal government (Sibly Sun-Saturn) and—importantly—the system of checks and balances between our three branches of government.



As transiting Uranus explodes our sense of national self and confidence in the American system of government, it also joins Saturn to inflict a great deal of pain (Chiron) around very fundamental questions of identity: What does it mean to be an “American?” Who is the “rugged individual” (Aries) at the heart of our cultural mythology these days, and how is that working out for us? Have we returned to the “Wild West,” as in, the biggest gun (or loudest, crudest mouth) wins the biggest prize?

Saturn’s involvement always raises the issues of structures and regulations; the trine with Uranus is providing a context for change, but the direction of the change is up for grabs. We know it’s a good year for extremist voices across the partisan divide, but is the country ripe for an extremist right- or left-wing coup?  Will we be stumping with Trump or “feeling the Bern” with Sanders?  Do the other candidates out there fit Saturn-Uranus’s cosmic agenda? Maybe Saturn and Uranus aren’t calling the shots entirely?

Neptune stirs things up
Saturn and Uranus are certainly key to the political turmoil we’re seeing, but we can’t ignore Saturn simultaneously transiting square to Neptune (Pisces). Like the Republican and Democratic parties, Uranus and Neptune are at loggerheads ideologically —Uranus leaning towards the individualistic (less power to the public sector and more to the private sector), and Neptune leaning more towards the collectivist (a greater role for the public sector; more restraints upon the private sector).  So, Saturn interacting with both Uranus and Neptune these days has stirred up an ideological tornado, tossing our political house in the air—the question remains whether it will be shredded to bits or set back down intact for another day.

It’s not that the sides want drastically different things out of our democracy—it seems that most  simply disagree about the role of government (Saturn) in our economic and social goals. Unfortunately, innocent people (like the lead-poisoned people of Flint, Michigan—see my post from 1/20) get caught in the crossfire, as gridlock over which side is being more “political” rules the day.

Although this conundrum has been with the U.S. from day one, today’s billionaire-fueled manipulation of our political process is a departure that seriously distorts and exaggerates our innate tension. Clearly, the current overlap of Saturn-Uranus/Saturn-Neptune cycles is trying to tell us something.

“We the People…in order to form a more perfect union…”
Not surprisingly, our imperfect union has always benefitted when the sides have faced a common enemy. These days, even serious enemies like ISIS don’t have the same galvanizing effect they used to—right and left, we’re still gnawing on each others’ legs, as if that will solve our differences.

Quite timely, this week’s NPR interviews included a rather anguished one with former Senate leaders, Trent Lott (Rep.) and Tom Daschle (Dem.), who have released a new book (together, significantly). Entitled Crisis Point-Why We Must, and How we Can-Overcome Our Broken Politics in Washington and Across America, the title says it all. Amazingly, the efforts of two Senators to bridge a stubborn, deepening divide is nothing new, astrologically—we’ve been here before, in the pre-Civil War era.

When Johnny comes marching home again…
It might sound politically apocalyptic, but any mundane astrologer studying American history is bound to notice compelling astrological parallels between today and the 1850s-60s Civil War period. Not that we need astrology to tell us there’s a problem. For whatever reason, Barack Obama’s presidency has provided a pretext for all kinds of radical right, anti-government developments, up to and including secession movements (sound familiar?) among the most disaffected. Granted, people have had a lot to be angry about in these past 8 years, with the housing crisis, the recession and its so-called “jobless recovery,” skyrocketing income inequality, and so on.

Deflecting that anger onto Obama, however—onto every decision he’s made and every cause he’s promoted—has been a carefully manipulated strategy, one that will undoubtedly carry over into the election. That’s unless the anger on the left out-shrieks the anger on the right—only time and dollars spent will tell.

Will we reach a breaking point in which the Federal government simply disintegrates and a new civil war erupts? Let’s look at the parallels mentioned above: they begin with the Compromise of 1850 and the valiant efforts of two senators “across the aisle”—a key moment in the descent into chaos that preceded the Civil War. The Compromise was an incredibly complicated, delicately balanced agreement, spearheaded by Kentucky’s Whig Party Senator, Henry Clay, and Illinois’ Democratic Senator, Stephen Douglas—both famous orators of that period. The agreement contained several moving parts and multiple stages of implementation—a real marvel of statesmanship that would be hard to imagine today. For more on the details, please see the link provided. What follows is the biwheel between the US Sibly chart and the Compromise:



Compromise Uranus begins its new cycle with Pluto at 29°+Aries. Uranus and Pluto provided the broad, social change-oriented astrological backdrop for the Civil War, just as they continue to do for the current crisis in government. The present Uranus-Pluto cycle kicked off in 1965 at 17°+Virgo, a point that has been recently re-energized by Jupiter’s Virgo transit (was exact and direct in November, 2015; will be exact and retrograde in March 2016). Uranus’ current placement in Aries and extended, stressful square aspect to Pluto (in Capricorn) suggests that lessons not quite learned during the Civil War years are still with us, demanding attention. Where do we start?

Compromise Uranus-0-Pluto t-squares Sibly Mercury-180-Pluto (Cancer-Capricorn). This configuration cuts to the heart of the Compromise. This complicated agreement was pursued because—as western states like California were added to the Union—legislation was proposing to prevent the spread of slavery beyond the southern states. This met with staunch resistance from powerful economic interests (Sibly Pluto, 2-8 house axis) in the south, where slaves were viewed as a legitimate commodity, an economic necessity and a “lifestyle choice.” Controlling or containing slave ownership was viewed first, as government intervention into private business and second, an unjust power grab by northern states (Uranus transiting Sibly 5th). The first view certainly parallels the right-wing agenda today; the second view mirrors the “us versus them” power struggle mentality that we still can’t seem to overcome in our national politics. The “Mason-Dixon Line” may now be more ideology-based than geographic, but the divisions are no less real.

Compromise Sun conjoins Compromise Jupiter and Sibly Neptune-MC (both pairs in Virgo-Libra); Compromise Jupiter squares Sibly Venus-Jupiter (Cancer).  Legendary egos both, Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas (Sun-Jupiter) were instrumental in crafting the Compromise, which never satisfied either side completely, but did slow down the disintegration of the Union for some years. Both men were esteemed Senators and orators, so without doubt, the nation’s founding ideals and goals/destiny (Neptune-MC) were evoked as the deal was hammered out. The interchart Jupiter-Jupiter square certainly reflected the conflict between egos, growth agendas and viewpoints: the more industrialized North viewed the end to slavery as an integral part of future economic development (European nations had mostly abolished slavery already); the South preferred the status quo, seeing the abolition movement as an existential threat.

Compromise Saturn opposes Compromise Mars, conjoins Sibly Chiron, opposes Sibly Saturn and t-squares Sibly Sun. The dynamics here perfectly represent the painful bipartisan legislative drama underlying the Compromise. Aside from the rhetorical fireworks between parties, it’s been said the Compromise wouldn’t have even been possible without President Zachary Taylor’s untimely death in July, 1850—interestingly, the Compromise reflects a doubling down of Saturn-square-Sibly Sun (Executive branch) energies between the two charts. Never proven assassination (by poison) theories abounded after Taylor’s death—he was leaning towards being against allowing slavery in the new states, even though he was the last U.S. president to own slaves while in office.

At Taylor’s death on July 9, Saturn was widely conjunct Pluto in Aries (20°-29°+), which would have been a sneak preview of the same Saturn dynamics between the Compromise and Sibly charts. On July 9, Mars (2°+Virgo) was transiting opposite Neptune (6°+Pisces) and trine Uranus (0°+Taurus). The economic and “practical” considerations (Taurus-Virgo) at stake for southerners in the Compromise were supported (with explosive speed) at the expense of transparency. The very un-transparent Mars-Neptune opposition could explain the “severe gastroenteritis” diagnosis, but it could also support the theories that Taylor was poisoned.  

Compromise Neptune (Pisces) trines Sibly Venus, Jupiter and Sun (Cancer). Even though the Compromise didn’t prevent the south’s secession and the coming war, it was seen as a victory for the ideals (Neptune) it represented. Neptune was also unleashing waves of migration westward at that time, in search of “gold in them thar hills,” (a migration triggered by the 1849 Gold Rush) and powerful economic interests (Sibly Venus-Jupiter) wanted to take advantage of the free-for-all with no holds barred. The slavery issue dominated eastern seaboard politics, but was not really the main concern of those heading west.



And back to Saturn-Uranus -Neptune
Which brings me back to the original focus of this exploration—Saturn’s cycles with ideological powerhouses Uranus and Neptune—and what they promise for Election 2016. More to come on this!





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 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. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: robertsonraye@gmail.com. 


© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved. 




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Cautionary Tale…the Flint Water Crisis & a Governor’s 2nd Saturn Return

 It always amazes me how literal and tangibly physical the Cosmos can be with its astrological symbolism. For instance, what could be more literal and earth-bound than Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s current comeuppance: approaching his 2nd Saturn return, he finds himself responsible for lead poisoning (Saturn rules lead) the good people of Flint, Michigan through their water supply. Known as the “Flint Water Crisis,” this failure to put the health of people over fiscal considerations has slowly gained national notoriety—even becoming a topic of discussion in the most recent Democratic debate. This notoriety is as it should be: the city of Flint’s fiscal problems are nothing unique in urban America—simply put, this could happen anywhere state and city governments are run like bottom-line driven businesses!
As noted, lead falls under the astrological rulership of Saturn, so not only does this crisis reflect the governor’s personal Saturn return challenge (there’s a loud chorus of voices calling for his resignation and arrest), but since collective water supplies are ruled by Neptune, a lead-poisoned water supply also reflects the ongoing Saturn-Neptune square. The crisis itself has built to its current shrill pitch over roughly 18 months—from April, 2014 when Governor Snyder and his appointed  “emergency manager” for Flint’s fiscal crisis made the fateful decision to switch the city away from the safe, well-regulated Detroit water system to water from the corrosive Flint River. This was not a safe choice, especially since Flint’s aging water infrastructure (Saturn) is riddled with lead piping. It was, in fact, the toxic combination of corrosive water (Neptune) causing the outdated lead pipes (infrastructure = Saturn) to leach lead into the water that magnified the problem so tremendously.

Bean counting with Neptune
Originally planned as an interim situation, the ultimate goal of the switch away from Detroit water was to purchase water from a new local water authority (KWA) that was still under construction. This interim move was an attempt to save roughly $5 million over a two-year span.
As with so many situations involving Neptune, one hand didn’t seem to know what the other hand was doing, and those who initially raised alerts about the toxic water were ignored, dismissed or worse, deceived. Fraudulent “studies” by Flint water officials were used to deflect citizen concerns. Finally, independent research conducted by Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech water quality expert, found “extremely high levels of lead” in the water; separate research by a local pediatrician, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, confirmed that Flint children were showing toxic lead levels in their blood.
Finally, when the mounting evidence could no longer be ignored, a public health emergency was declared. Edwards reportedly said that Michigan authorities’ response “exposes a new level of arrogance and uncaring that I have never encountered.” Saturn’s dampening effect on Neptunian compassion?
Serious questions remain about what Snyder knew, and when (he’s releasing emails to that effect today). The official passive/aggressive Neptunian approach prevailed until so much evidence of toxicity and so much public concern surfaced (Saturn loves data and concrete evidence) that all hell broke loose in the media. Long story short, the Governor’s “State-of-the-State” speech last night (1/19/2016) was dominated by the crisis, his somewhat disingenuous apology, and his attempts to blame a host of others for the problem.  
Let’s examine the astrology of this situation—first, a chart for the fateful April 2014 decision to switch water suppliers, set for noon (no time available):


Cardinal grand square: Jupiter (Cancer)opposite Pluto (Capricorn) squares Mercury-Uranus (Aries) opposite Mars (Libra); Sun in late Aries widely opposes Mars. Grand squares often represent fateful moments that herald long consequences—tragically fitting here. This specific grand square speaks to the finance/power-oriented (Jupiter-Pluto), numbers-driven (Mercury-Uranus) decision made by Michigan authorities— probably considered a bold, “problem-solving” move at the time. Grand squares are known to force social awareness—certainly fitting here.
Mars (Libra) is disposed by Venus (Pisces) and inconjuncts Chiron (Pisces); Venus conjoins Neptune (Pisces) and Chiron. The wounds inflicted on the public by this “bold” watery decision are reflected here. The Neptunian edge Pisces thus lends to Mars’ role in the grand square suggests that deflecting criticism and misrepresenting the facts may have been factored into the plan from day one—or, more charitably—the actors were simply oblivious to the possible consequences of their decision.
Grand Water Trine: Jupiter (Cancer)-Saturn (Scorpio)-Chiron (Pisces). Again, beautifully literal, perfectly reflecting the momentous, but reckless decision made about a city’s access to healthy water. Grand trines provide a “path of least resistance,” which was certainly the case here. The magnitude and ongoing nature of the wound inflicted on the public is also represented. As Dr. Hanna-Attisha put it in a radio interview: “there is no safe level of lead in a child…it’s a forever problem.” Michigan decision makers proved that vigilance and a sense of responsibility are easily lost under the spell of a grand trine.

What goes around comes around…
Keeping the context of the fateful April 2014 decision discussed above in mind, we can now consider Governor Snyder’s tough Saturn return challenge more specifically (biwheel below). Snyder’s chart (inner wheel) is a noon chart (no time available).


Crisis Sun (Aries) conjoins Snyder’s South Node and opposes his Jupiter (Libra) and Neptune (Scorpio). Crisis Sun exactly trines Snyder’s Sun (Leo). The fiery Aries “Crisis” Sun may also oppose Snyder’s Moon, which would have ranged between 21°+Libra and 5°+Scorpio that day. Not known for showing emotion, the Governor did appear rattled and remorseful speaking about Flint’s situation during his State-of-the-State speech. The Sun-to-Sun trine may have played to Snyder’s ego, promoting overconfident “path of least resistance” thinking. The Aries opposition to his Jupiter, Node and Neptune suggests that he was challenged to act on the basis of illusions or misinformation—quite possibly an hubris-driven turn of fate.
Crisis Grand Square: Mercury-Uranus (Aries) opposite Crisis Mars (Libra) squares Crisis Jupiter (Cancer) opposite Pluto (Capricorn). This frustrating Cardinal stand-off ties into Snyder’s chart via his Saturn in Sagittarius (trine the Crisis Aries points), his Mars in Taurus (trine Crisis Pluto) and his Uranus in Leo (trine Crisis Uranus and inconjunct Crisis Pluto). Actions taken under such conditions could be reckless indeed, taken more to feel like “something is getting done” than anything. In 2014 the main problem Snyder would have been addressing was Flint’s fiscal crisis—switching the water supplier and saving $5 million in two years could well have appeared like a no-brainer. The unapologetic “bean-counter” thinking (Snyder prides himself on being a “nerd accountant”) reflected in this decision is seen in the Taurus-Capricorn points and in the aggressive Uranus connections.
Crisis Saturn (Saturn) opposes Snyder’s Mars and squares Snyder’s Sun. Still in Scorpio, Saturn is positioned less than 30° from Snyder’s natal Saturn, suggesting the period from 2014 until now (Saturn at 13°+Sagittarius) has been one long approach to his exact Saturn return. As Saturn returns to his exact natal placement (December 2016), he will be challenged to make the Flint situation right. His priorities (Taurus “values”) will remain under harsh scrutiny. Far from saving millions as planned, he is now scrambling to find the resources to pay for not just the short term rescue operations needed in Flint, but for the long-term infrastructure changes that are long overdue and  the long-term public health needs that will surely develop from this “forever problem.” A healthy slice of “humble pie” (Saturn square his Sun) is apparently on the menu for Snyder’s Saturn return.
Crisis Neptune-Venus-Chiron (all Pisces) square Snyder’s Saturn. Neptune falls outside of the orb for a square, but as a member of the Pisces stellium and the ruler of Pisces, its influence is certainly felt here. Thus, all the chaos and pain of a toxic Saturn-Neptune square was built into the Flint situation for Snyder from the get-go, providing a “sneak preview” of the transiting Saturn-Neptune square that has dogged his steps from 2014 till now.

Too little, too late?
Class action lawsuits against Snyder and the State have been filed by Flint victims, a Federal Justice Department investigation has ensued, and protests have mounted calling for his resignation and even arrest: not surprisingly, action has followed, but many justifiably feel the action has been too little, too late. As we see in broader national politics, there’s a great deal of anger afloat in the land, and this crisis only foregrounds that reality. Flint is a predominantly working class, African-American community, and numerous protestors have justifiably asked whether a crisis such as this would have happened in a more affluent, more white Michigan community. Good question.



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 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. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: robertsonraye@gmail.com. 


© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved. 






  



Monday, January 11, 2016

Mars in Scorpio & the Showdown at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge


On January 2nd, a group of 300+ protesters marched through the streets of Burns, Oregon in support of Dwight and Steven Hammond, local ranchers convicted in 2012 of arson on federal land near their ranch. The father and son ranchers were sentenced to highly-controversial prison terms. A core group of the most dedicated protesters--all armed--then proceeded to occupy the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, approximately 30 miles outside of Burns.

Undoubtedly a well-known fact by now, the protests sprang from a Nevada ranch family’s dispute over grazing rights and other controls on federally-held lands. Ammon Bundy—the apparent spokesman for the protest—is the son of Cliven Bundy, a rancher who contests a $1 million grazing fee levied on him by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. Between the Bundy family and other BLM-disaffected ranchers, this fee dispute has blossomed into a much broader issue—federal v. local control of public lands. Long-story-short, Ammon Bundy and supporters decided to use their concern for the Hammonds to bring national attention to this broader issue, and at last word, they intend to occupy the refuge until the Hammonds are released and the Malheur refuge lands are returned to private land owner control.  The Hammonds—who turned themselves into the authorities as ordered on January 4—have disavowed any connection with the Bundys’ cause.

The protest is now entering its second week, and while action is supposedly being taken by local and federal authorities to end the occupation, the astrology shows that no easy solution will be found in the near term. For starters, by January 3, when news of the occupation broke, Mars entered Scorpio—a fixed sign that excels at the passive aggressive tactics the protest has adopted. According to Ammon Bundy, “the group has no intention of violence unless the government acts against them.”  The group claims it will leave if they are no longer welcomed by the local population, but direct requests to that effect from the Burns Paiute tribe—who consider the wildlife refuge lands to be their sacred territory—seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Both the Feds and the protesters seem to realize that overt violence will not serve their purposes: no forcible move has been made by local law enforcement to disperse the occupation, to the chagrin of some; on the other side, a volunteer Pacific Patriot Network “security detail” armed with long rifles that materialized on Saturday the 9th to “de-escalate” the situation were asked to leave. Clearly, neither side wants to deal with the optics of bulletproof vests and military-style heavy-handedness. Subversive measures—the province of Scorpio—are more likely to be deployed. How the situation will be resolved and to whose liking is another story. Let’s examine the chart for the protest/occupation with an eye towards Mars’ Scorpio ingress as well (biwheel below):



Protest Capricorn Sun conjoins Pluto; both square Aries Uranus. Protest Uranus opposes Mars Ingress MC in Libra. Clearly, deep anger and resentment fuel this protest; the Capricorn energies suggest that resource control and financial concerns lie at the heart of the stand-off.  Indeed, the position of the Bundy family is that federal lands belong to the ranchers (even claiming they were stolen from them), and the stakes are high—in drought-prone states where cattle ranching is becoming less profitable, more land could provide valuable energy exploration leases as an alternative. The quest to acquire more land for lucrative fracking leases may ultimately be at the heart of this conflict.



Aside from the environmental protection considerations, rolling back federal management of these lands isn’t universally desired:“… an analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive shows that blowing up a century-old system of federal control over public rangelands wouldn't be a good thing for most ranchers in Harney County or elsewhere. Protest Uranus opposite the Libra Ingress MC suggests that the group’s revolutionary intent will continue to evolve and consolidate its forces during Mars’ Scorpio transit (through early August, 2016).

Protest Mars in Libra conjoins Ingress Mars and Moon (27°+Libra); Mercury in Aquarius tightly squares Ingress Mars. The final degree of a sign often packs a punch; that’s especially true here, with Protest Mars (29°+Libra) poised to move into his “comfort zone” in Scorpio. The Ingress Moon’s involvement assures that the protest will find ample public support and stir considerable controversy; not surprisingly, the media airwaves were set abuzz (Mercury in Uranus-disposed Aquarius, square Mars) with passionate debate.

(Both charts) Jupiter in Virgo conjoins the North Node and widely opposes Chiron in Pisces. This configuration undoubtedly feels like justification for the protest, which seeks to heal what the Bundy family and others view as an intolerable “wound” at the hands of the federal government. In fact, there is a deep wound that has festered between the private and the public domains in many fields (not just ranching), and if our political discourse is any indication, both sides are feeling it. Environmental activists who have a vested interest in protecting the wildlife refuge from private exploitation are feeling it; Oregon’s Native Americans (noted earlier) are also feeling the bandage ripped off old wounds here. With its tendency to blow imperfections out of proportion, Jupiter in Virgo anguishes over situations that feel out of whack or unjust.

(Both charts) Saturn in Sagittarius squares Neptune in Pisces. This ongoing, waning square in the November, 1989 Saturn-Neptune cycle undoubtedly emboldens the protestors when they insist that federal regulations and controls (Saturn) be challenged and dissolved. The broad, collective nature of this cycle reminds us that this issue is multi-faceted—again, one constituency’s hated controls are another’s welcome ones. Tying into the Jupiter-Chiron opposition via Jupiter’s rulership of Sagittarius, this aspect suggests that wounds and perceived injustices need to be addressed, but that we also need to broaden our vision to encompass all valid concerns.

Who are we as a nation?
Clearly, whatever happens with the Oregon protest, there will be ramifications for the nation as a whole. The conflict between federal and state/local authority over various aspects of American life could be considered the “primal” American conundrum. The conflict between government and private control of resources—and on the flip side, the responsibilities of each level for the nation’s wellbeing—is as old as the nation itself, and it’s only getting worse in this era of international trade agreements and their consequences (i.e., the ability of a Canadian company to sue the U.S. federal government over the aborted Keystone XL Pipeline project). It underlies the extreme polarization of our party politics; it drives our national discourse regarding energy and the environment, education, labor, human, civil and property rights, and so on. Indeed, the Oregon protest may provide a microcosmic view of the larger, macro-level power plays. With that in mind, let’s consider how the protest interacts with the nation’s Sibly chart (biwheel below):



Protest Sun-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn forms an inter-chart Grand Square, opposing Sibly Sun (Cancer) and T-squaring Sibly Saturn opposite Sibly Chiron (Libra-Aries). This intense cardinal grand square delivers clashing interests—all of which have a dynamic agenda at stake. Perhaps a most troubling prime example is the clash between the environmental concerns at stake on public lands and the energy industry’s desire to capture every last drop of oil from the earth beneath our feet. Challenging the public ownership of designated land reserves cuts to the heart of government itself (Protest Sun in hard aspect to Sibly Sun-Saturn). Who ultimately “owns” the land of this country and the resources it harbors? Who or what is responsible for protecting the environment on behalf of the nation’s citizens? What, for that matter, are the responsibilities of a nation towards its citizens and vice-versa?

Capricorn is, of course, inclined to support material achievement: in the case of this protest, the Capricorn playbook reads “more land for ranchers = more private sector fracking leases,” and if the protest successfully transfers control of protected lands to private control, the government’s hands will be tied regarding the environmental impacts of this shift. Ultimately, this case bears all the hallmarks of a Supreme Court-level issue.

Protest Mars in Libra trines Sibly Moon and squares Sibly Pluto. It’s easy to vilify the federal government these days—especially for those who stand to profit from less government regulation. Unfortunately, the “People” (writ large-represented by the Moon) are not likely to be the chief beneficiaries of the actions (cardinal signs) promoted by the Oregon protest. As we’re seeing so clearly in today’s political races, the public is easily swayed by passionate appeals to its sense of fairness and urge to freedom—represented here by the Protest Mars trine the Sibly Moon. Sitting quietly in the Sibly 2nd house of high finances, however, Capricorn Pluto is positioned (semi-sextile Sibly Moon, square Protest Mars) to co-opt that passion and leverage it for the greater benefit of Wall Street, the banks and the corporate sector. What appears to be a citizens’ revolt may quickly turn into a private sector “land grab,” to the detriment of public interests normally protected by government.

Protest Saturn in Sagittarius is poised to cross the Sibly Ascendant (12°+Sagittarius). The nation is already experiencing a major identity crisis—this transit will only deepen and highlight that crisis. As I’ve explored in other articles on this blog, the Saturn-Neptune dance is driving us to consider how serious we are about our stated national ideals (the “American Dream”) and about being a collective at all, as opposed to a massive stretch of territory filled with people who have no real obligation to anything beyond their individual self interests. Who or what do we want to be as a nation? Even more troubling, do we want to be a nation at all?

Pluto transiting opposite the nation’s Sun was bound to raise karmic questions, as well. This recent impassioned statement by tribal elders of the Burns Paiute tribe reported by NPR says it all:

With the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon in its fifth day, a local Native American tribe says the militants are "desecrating sacred property."
Oregon Public Broadcasting's Amanda Peacher tells our Newscast unit that Burns Paiute tribal leaders denounced the militants and demanded that they leave. "The 190,000-acre wildlife refuge is within Paiute ancestral lands," Amanda says.
Tribal Chairperson Charlotte Rodrique says that she is "offended by occupiers' statements about returning the land to its rightful owners," Amanda reports.
"You know, who are the rightful owners?" says Rodrique. "It just really rubs me the wrong way that we have a bunch of misinformed people in here — they're not the original owners."
According to Paiute story and legend, the tribe has lived in this area since "before the Cascade Mountains were formed."




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 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. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: robertsonraye@gmail.com. 


© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved.