Friday, August 26, 2016

An Astrology of Wounded Childhood & Compassion Fatigue

“It’s a hard world for little things.”

This summer, we had the good fortune to spend some quality time with two of our out-of-towner granddaughters, ages 12 and 7.  Needless to say, the girls lit up the house with excitement worth a post all on its own, but for this post, I’m more concerned about the way our stalwart little travelers were shuttled back and forth between here and their east coast home. And the way their experience was shockingly different from the travel experiences of thousands of migrant and refugee children these days.

On our end, we experienced the really helpful “unaccompanied minors” program offered by the girls’ airline carrier. The protocols were reassuringly secure: strict ID procedures were followed, and pertinent information for the traveling children, their parents, and the parties picking them up and returning them was carefully documented and loaded onto a bar-coded bracelet the girls wore from starting point to pick-up point on the other end.

Aside from the obvious analogy to checking and tagging one’s luggage, the system was very friendly and efficient—the girls’ received all kinds of attention during their flights and they were not allowed to disembark without their designated flight attendant, who stayed with them throughout the pick-up procedure. All things told, it’s a great system that fills a real need for many families spread out across the country.

Unfortunately, not every “unaccompanied minor” who hits the road can count on such a happy experience. Again this summer, Central America is gushing unaccompanied children, fleeing from vicious gangs and other deadly threats in their home countries. An August 23, 2016 report from UN News Centre says that in the first 6 months of 2016, 26,000 such children were “apprehended within U.S. borders,” trying to find safe haven. Close to another 30,000 families (mostly women and children) were also apprehended. This, despite the very real “risks of being kidnapped, trafficked, raped, or killed on the journey, a report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) found.”

Worldwide scope

Most troublingly, these numbers are but a small fraction of the greater child migration problem worldwide: Children fleeing the brutality of ISIS and the Syrian, Yemeni, Nigerian and South Sudanese conflicts (among others), in which civilians and children, schools and hospitals are routinely targeted in what amount to heinous war crimes.

Children are also fleeing other forms of chaos and hunger in the Middle East and Africa, falling afoul of human smugglers who extort their families for every dollar they can raise; children are drowning in the Mediterranean because these smugglers routinely overpack flimsy rubber boats with human cargo and take few safety precautions.

In another tragic case, on the Pacific island of Nauru, a refugee center where would-be migrants are detained by Australian officials for years at a time (and then never allowed to migrate after all), reports have surfaced not only of horrific living conditions, but of over 1,000 instances of children being assaulted (often sexually) and abused.

As one UNICEF representative put it, “It is a silent and desperate situation—out of sight and out of mind. Yet tens of thousands of children face danger every day and hundreds of thousands more are prepared to risk everything.”

Which brings us to the astrology of this tragic global situation, now in its 12th recorded year. To simplify an impossibly complex situation, this post will explore two key questions:

First, what is going on in the Cosmos that makes the world’s children so vulnerable these days? (Or, to follow the lines of responsibility, what’s going on that the world’s adults can’t or won’t take better care of the world’s children??). How have the children of Syria, for example, become such expendable materiel in their government’s vicious campaign to regain control? 

5-year old Omran Daqneesh’s stunned and bloody picture in an ambulance in Aleppo tore our hearts out last week, but the powers-that-be haven’t budged an inch away from targeting civilian centers. As always, innocent children pay the price for the savagery of adults.   

Child poverty is at record highs in the U.S. and across the globe. In the U.S., 44% of our 72 million children (under 18) live in “low income” (between 100%-199% of the Federal Poverty Threshold of $24,008 for a family of four with two children) or “poor” households (below 100% of the FPT); worldwide, 1.3 billion children live in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 per day). Children in civil-war-ravaged South Sudan are dying daily of hunger—children are recruited as suicide bombers by some terrorist groups and are employed as child soldiers in others. The list of atrocities against children is chillingly long.

In light of all that…

Second, why, isn’t there more of a concerted worldwide effort to tackle this situation? This is far easier said than done, with 60 million people (roughly half of them children) currently on the move, either displaced from their homelands by war, terrorism or other deadly conditions, or simply migrating for some small shred of opportunity. Some millions are on the move because their environments have been ravaged by the warming climate, there is little to no water, and/or food production has become impossible. They are the “canaries in our global coal mine” who did very little to cause global warming, but are quite unfairly suffering the brunt of it. 

To explore this second question, we’ll narrow the frame to one small slice of the picture that lends itself to astrological interpretation: compassion fatigue. This very real phenomenon—an insidiously damaging expression of passive aggression—probably enabled numerous genocides in history, and it appears to be a major force undermining relief efforts in today’s crises as well. 

Timing is everything

Most of the statistics and situations I’ve cited above are current to 2016, so to examine the first question about “what’s going on in the Cosmos,” we’ll look at a chart set for the Sun’s ingress into Aries on March 20, 2016, in Greenwich, England. As mentioned above, the first small traces of this crisis surfaced 12 years ago in 2004, but it’s been a slowly-unfolding disaster that reveals something new every year and this year is no different.

Traditionally, Greenwich, England is used in charts for global events and issues, since it correlates with 0° longitude. It’s certainly appropriate when we’re speaking of migrants from around the world being dispersed wherever the winds of fate and the mercy (or lack of mercy) of others blow them.  Considering this chart should give us a global perspective into how we got to the crisis point we’re seeing in the news today.

Chart 1: Aries Ingress 2016, March 20, 2016, 04:18:41 a.m., ST, Greenwich, England.

Aquarius rising. This chart has the fixed sign Aquarius on the Ascendant, so traditional astrology would view it as the horoscope for the entire solar year, from March equinox to March equinox. As such, we can see that it tells quite a story. Aquarius rising—especially disposed by a fiery aggressive Uranus in Aries in the 3rd house—suggests that daily life will be characterized by turmoil, possible violence, and that transportation and schooling will be erratic at best. Life in a war zone is another way to put it.

Mars in fiery Sagittarius disposes this volatile Uranus from a position sextile the Aquarius ascendant and conjunct the chart’s MC, so clearly the solar year took off with a bang, setting the pattern for the treacherous year ahead. These dynamics were certainly seen in the hatred and xenophobia on the rise in Europe (and the U.S.) by this time: a steady stream of migrants had poured into Europe during 2015 and many Europeans were beginning to object to their nations’ “open-door” policies, staging protests, blaming migrants for a host of unfortunate events, and so on. The list of child fatalities—mostly from drownings in the Meditteranean—was growing rapidly.

Saturn in Sagittarius trined Uranus in Aries. This aspect is key to how this entire chart has been expressed so far in 2016: Saturn and Uranus co-rule the chart ASC and 1st house, so their fiery trine essentially unleashes that energy via the ASC, establishing the character of the year in the process. As we’ve seen, it’s been a year of clashing priorities between philosophical/ethical concerns (Sagittarius) and aggressive self-interest (Aries).

Saturn is weaker in Sagittarius than Uranus is in Aries, so this even-handed looking trine has actually been more weighted towards the Aries agenda. Aries is often associated with childhood (1st month of the new solar year), so Uranus’s volatility in this sign has been problematic for child welfare. As we’ll see ahead, Pluto chimes in here, making things even more difficult.

We’ve seen how this Sagittarius-Aries dynamic has played out many times already this year: the European Union has suffered deep divisions among member states over the migrant crisis along these same lines of dispute, and a number of emergency meetings took place in early 2016 to rein in the worst of it.

This aspect also reflects the deal struck between the EU and Turkey in March 2016, just before the new solar year dawned. It was perceived by migrants as oppressive, but it was justified as a way to discourage the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean and to maintain Turkey’s cooperation with the EU for sheltering and accepting migrants. Although it probably did little to actually stem the human tide (smugglers simply find other routes), it was an attempt to impose some sort of order on the chaotic stream of people crossing those waters.

The agreement was also an important attempt to calm the growing anti-immigrant/right-wing nationalist sentiment that ignited with a vengeance in Europe during 2015. In mundane astrology, right-wing nationalism is often associated with Saturn and Uranus in combination, and with the sign Aquarius, so this 2016 chart has reinforced rather than rolled back that development. 

We saw the results of that in the so-called Brexit vote this past June in Great Britain, when concerns about immigration (among other issues) fueled a surprise vote to leave the EU. Many voiced immediate concerns for the integrity of the EU overall going forward, and that story will continue to unfold.

Saturn (Sagittarius) T-squared Jupiter-NNode (Virgo) opposition to Venus-Neptune-Chiron-SNode (Pisces). Concerned with the inhumanity of the growing nationalist sentiment, in April 2016, Pope Francis invited 12 Syrian Muslim refugees (3 families with 6 children between them) to live in Vatican City. This “gesture of welcome” accompanied the Pontiff’s visit to the refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, a destination for migrants trying to reach Greece. For more information about the astrology of this particular event and about Pope Francis’s career of compassionate outreach, please see the April 16th post here.

In that post I argued that the Saturn-Jupiter-Neptune-Chiron dynamics in play during these mutable times reflect both the wounding, extreme challenges faced by the refugees (death by drowning, homelands inundated with overwhelming forces, families torn apart, etc.) and the responsibility (Saturn) Humanity (writ-large) has for making structural adjustments (mutable Saturn-square-Jupiter) that allow for compassion and healing (Neptune-Chiron) in response.

When Zeus (Jupiter) and Poseidon (Neptune) got their heads together in mythology, things usually went badly for the people, but perhaps Venus’s role in this aspect (she is exalted in Pisces, after all) is to soften the harsh edges of these arrogant gods. It’s hard to say if that’s happened—just today NPR news acknowledged that the combatants in Yemen’s civil war are routinely “ignoring humanitarian laws,” targeting civilians with barrel bombs as in Syria. 

Besides, falling square Saturn, Venus may actually represent hardship for women and female children, who are particularly prone to rape as a weapon of war and oppression. Bottom line, there is no ease for anyone in the affected areas.

Add in the transiting Nodes and we can sense the hand of Fate tossing people on the waves (Pisces) and the urgent need for pragmatic solutions (Virgo). The shocking picture published last September of 3-year old Aylan Kurdi, his lifeless body washed upon the Turkish shore after a failed attempt to reach Greece, said it all. Since that time, Italian rescue boats have been routinely meeting refugee boats half way and guiding them into port—a pragmatic solution that has probably prevented many fatalities.

Virgo also rules military service, which is perhaps another pragmatic solution, especially if it’s used to balance out the nebulous, chaotic Piscean dynamics of crisis with precisely-targeted tactics.

Neptune in Pisces wields tremendous power to undermine Saturn’s limitations and rules (especially with a weakened Saturn in Sagittarius) and we underestimate Neptune’s force at our peril. The horrific targeting of civilians and children in the world’s conflicts these days is very likely Neptune’s doing: its Piscean force simply washes away the “rules of engagement” meant to shield those populations. In just one more heinous report from Syria today, a family in Aleppo lost all 5 children in a barrel-bomb attack by Syrian government forces.

Ironically, Neptune also rules the antidote to the horrors it unleashes—compassion. We’ll see how that dynamic fits into this story ahead.

Pluto (Capricorn) squares Uranus (Aries) and trines Jupiter-NNode (Virgo). Pluto is usually lurking in the background whenever global power plays and fundamental transformations are in the works, and this chart is no different. The 12th house is the absolute best position for “lurking” in the background, and that’s where we find Pluto, manipulating the mutable chaos roiling the world for who knows what powerful agenda. Terrorist organizations and the shadowy financiers behind their efforts are certainly a possibility—any shady threat that combines power ambitions with a deeply amoral, Machiavellian ethos are candidates here.

In Capricorn, Pluto’s insatiable quest for resources and market power has worked in concert with Uranus’s volatility in Aries to drive the violent growth in human trafficking and modern slavery we’ve witnessed lately, and exploited children have been at the heart of this growth. Millions of children, whose tiny fingers make them valuable tools, are put to work mining cell phone minerals, sorting seafood catches, picking toxic materials out of electronic devices for recycling, etc.  

Blood & Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World (Spiegel and Grau, 2016) by anti-slavery activist and writer Kevin Bales reports on a host of grim realities that have Pluto and Uranus’s fingerprints all over them. Pluto’s trine to Jupiter in Virgo only enhances the power at stake in terms of resources and finances; it also suggests that the world’s military forces are somehow engaged in protecting these Capricornian power stakes. It truly is a “hard world for little things.”

Compassion fatigue

In the Bible’s account of Noah’s Ark and the cataclysmic flood story, when the flood waters receded, Yahweh expressed regret for destroying humanity (all but Noah’s family) and promised to never do so again.

The Babylonian version of the story is very similar, but with more gods: the god of the oceans, Ea, voted to spare humanity from the flood, but was outvoted by his fellow gods, and so Ea compassionately warns one righteous man, Utnapishtim, to prepare his family for the inundation.
Whichever tradition we prefer, this archetypal moment planted the seeds for Neptune’s connection to compassion, and forever divided Humanity’s story between pre-diluvian—when the gods routinely destroyed mankind for their own selfish purposes—and ante-diluvian—when the gods offered an “olive branch” of compassion to their creations.

Unfortunately, ravaged areas like Aleppo, Syria seem to have regressed to pre-diluvian times, only the “gods” are now sitting in government offices directing aerial attacks on innocent civilians.
Today’s more helpful godly interventions—often manifesting as assistance from FEMA in the U.S., or the Red Cross and countless other aid agencies abroad—only happen after the disasters, but do little to prevent them. Prevention falls in Saturn’s wheelhouse, and with the prolonged Saturn-Neptune square (and a weakened Saturn) we’ve been experiencing, it has fallen far short of the need.  
So, what is compassion fatigue, and how does it fit into this story of wounded childhood? This term is usually applied to caregivers who begin showing signs of emotional and psychological trauma after placing the needs of others before their own for prolonged, intense periods. Such fatigue is often discouraging and disillusioning, and it can make caregivers doubt the value or point of their efforts.

We can only imagine how difficult daily life is for those trying to help children dying from malnutrition in places like South Sudan, for those working in search and rescue operations in barrel-bombed cities, for those trying to push uncaring bureaucracies to protect child workers/slaves, and so on. It’s a wonder such aid workers maintain any optimism at all.

The disillusionment and despair experienced by caregivers in these situations is patently Neptunian: the sense that no matter what they work their hearts out doing, it will never be enough because the powers-that-be will always overwhelm in the end. Swimming against a tidal wave never goes well.

Today’s Saturn square to Neptune from fiery Sagittarius only deepens the fatigue: Sagittarius is compelled to reach out for more, better, higher, and the confidence it inspires that anything is possible is easily undermined by Neptune’s passive aggression.

Importantly, the related phenomenon of donor fatigue robs these laudable efforts of their support because donors begin feeling that no matter what they give, it too is never enough. The logic of donor fatigue is similar to that of compassion fatigue: “I can’t solve the world’s problems…Why am I responsible for what’s happening over there?...I’ve got my own family to think about…” and so on.

Shifting perspectives

Neptune can unfortunately enable compassion and donor fatigue by offering an escape via desensitization and conspiracy thinking. “Look at how aid agencies exploit these kids to extract money from us…who knows where the money we give goes?...” When things are managed badly in these organizations, a public trust is broken and everyone who needs help suffers. 
Trouble is, we can also succumb to Neptunian denial about this deep Neptune-Saturn dilemma: coming to grips that we’re all in these crisis times together, whether we like it or not—and then, what to do with that knowledge. Extending the watery analogy, we can try to divide the Earth’s oceans on a map (Saturn), but in the end, all oceans are connected and work as a holistic system to keep our planet liveable. Basically, the health of one ocean affects the health of all. This collective perspective (Neptune) is essential, but our compassionate impulses can also get lost in the sheer magnitude of it all.
That’s where the ability to shift perspectives back into Saturnian mode can also be helpful: this mode helps us break large-scale problems into manageable pieces (Saturn) and to work on one priority at a time. If we can still keep the larger perspective to see how all the small pieces fit together, all the better. Simply put, to make a difference, we need to make judicious use of both Neptune and Saturn! 

The takeaway

It’s easier to talk about balancing out Saturn and Neptune than it is to actually do so, of course, but does this mean everyone should just give up caring about the world’s children until today’s difficult cosmic weather passes? Even Noah’s flood waters receded eventually. Or perhaps that’s the higher challenge of these times—Neptune demands we dig deep into our spiritual reserves for the way forward, to make a leap of faith (in whichever direction suits us), and to surrender to mysteries beyond our comprehension.

Saturn toughens us up and steels our determination, and together, this duo can instill much-needed resilience in us. I am reminded of the amazing story of Yusra Mardini, an 18-year old competitive swimmer who, with her sister, had to flee her home in Syria and cross the Mediterranean on one of those flimsy rubber boats. 

When the boat's engine failed, she, her sister and others jumped into the water and swam it to safety. Settled since September 2015 in Berlin, Germany, Yusra found her way back to competitive swimming and was awarded a place on the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team in Rio de Janeiro. That’s resilience, and given the means, such young people are going to carry on in this world, doing what needs to be done.

In the end, Neptune reminds us that we need each other; used wisely, Saturn provides productive systems and means to act on those needs. Maybe we’re not as helpless as we sometimes feel?

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: 

© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Astrology of Gold, Silver & Bronze: the Olympics of everyday life

We all know the iconic Olympic stature enjoyed by these three lovely metals, but this post explores the astro-mythology underpinning these shiny gifts of the Earth and how they apply not just to the Games, but to daily life.

Au = Aurora, goddess of the Dawn
Gold has from ancient times been revered as the embodiment of the Sun God here on Earth, and our visceral connection to this god of Light quite aptly resides in our hearts. As one of the Olympic ads on television reminds us this season, every human heart contains measurable amounts of gold; hence, astrology traditionally considers the Sun the ruler of the heart and the element Au—short for “aurum” and derived from myth surrounding Aurora, goddess of the dawn.[i]

The earthly phenomenon of Dawn (it only happens from our geocentric perspective) bears its own rich symbolism, of course, evoking the Princess Aurora character in Sleeping Beauty, among other myths. Waking up from a “sleeping curse” is a beautifully poetic take on facing a new day as the Sun dawns—optimistic and ripe with potential.

The Princess (Earth) being awoken by her “Prince Charming” (the Sun) to marry and embrace the full richness of her royal heritage also evokes Leo, the regal astrological sign traditionally ruled by the Sun and long associated with monarchy, leadership, riches and living "happily ever after." 

Long story short, the centuries-long lineage of this fairy tale (originating in some form as early as the 1300s) points to the central place the Sun (and Gold) has in our collective consciousness.

On a more tangible level, astrologer Nick Kollerstrom also reminds us just how tightly the precious metal of gold is woven into our daily lives, whether we possess the metal itself or not:

Economically gold functions as a kind of heart centre which maintains and guarantees a circulation of paper money. The pulse of the economy is taken by noting the value of gold.[ii]
Interestingly, this week is also the 45th anniversary of the so-called “Nixon Shock,” which took the U.S. dollar off the gold standard in August, 1971. This move by then-President Richard Nixon was initially applauded, but the serious stagflation that hit the economy in its wake perhaps accounts for the love-hate relationship many have had with the gold standard ever since.

One way or another, a rising spot price of gold can usually be considered a “sign” that investors are battening down their financial hatches for a volatile market anticipated ahead. Gold = security at such times. Gold is considered a good way to proactively ward off danger—evoking the yang nature of this solar metal. Its primacy as a “most valued” metal is expressed in the top Olympic prize being the coveted Gold medal.

Ag = a moonlit glow

Astrology regards the Solar-Lunar cycle—that graceful “dance” of our system’s two luminaries in the sky—as the fundamental poles around which life itself is spun on this planet. In concert with the Earth’s revolution around the Sun, these two (simplifying greatly here—other planets play roles as well) drive the seasons of the year, the tides and the hydrological cycle, making food production possible and sustaining life as we know it. The Moon is particularly associated with life-nurturing water and water-related events.

Lady Luna provides passive “yin” energy to King Sol’s active “yang” energy, and it shows in the Moon’s rulership of Silver. According to Kollerstrom, Silver and Gold both “show an intimate connection with light in their chemistry,” but Gold radiates its glow, producing different colors throughout the day, while Silver’s glow depends upon reflected light, expressed so beautifully in Silver’s use in film and in developing chemicals for photographic images.[iii]  

Associated in astrology with imagination, reflectiveness (silver has long been used to coat glass for mirrors) and impressionability, Silver is considered a “pure” energy, evoking the maiden goddesses Artemis and Diana in mythology. It is also associated with the Virgin Mary in Christianity and the astrological sign, Cancer. An expression of its purity, Silver’s anti-bacterial qualities have many medical uses.

Although never valued quite as highly as Gold, Silver has also been used as currency since ancient times, and is still prized as a precious metal for investment purposes. Quite aptly, Silver’s chemical symbol Ag was derived from “argentum” (hence the French word for “money,” “l’argent”). A weighty Olympic Silver medal hanging around one’s neck is “second best” in monetary terms, certainly, but its message that “more is yet possible” has great value. We should all be so “second best!”

Kollerstrom also reminds us that “Shakespeare called the Moon ‘Pale governess of floods,’”[iv] certainly relevant during this past week in Louisiana. We’ll consider the astrology of this connection a bit more in the next post.

Cu & Sn = a gift of lustrous Bronze from Venus and Jupiter
Good fortune is the common astrological thread linking Venus and Jupiter, rulers of Copper and Tin, respectively. These two are the main elements typically present in the alloy, Bronze: Copper provides the beautiful, warm glow of the metal, and Tin provides the protective (Jupiter) coating that the softer (Venus) Copper lacks.

Kollerstrom reminds us that Copper’s name derives from its Greek heritage on the island of Cyprus—also revered as the “birthplace” of Aphrodite (Venus), who in Hesiod’s mythology emerges from the sea on that island. Both Venus and Copper originated in water, the story goes: Venus from the blue-green sea (and her father Uranus’s “severed parts”), her metal ores sharing that same blue-green hue. Venus’s astrological connection with beauty can be seen from these Copper ores: “azurite, malachite, turquoise, chalcopyrite and peacock ore.”[v]

Tin is the one metal that doesn’t seem to express its planetary ruler very well, according to Kollerstrom—probably because Jupiter is mostly equated with abstract principles such as expansion and intellect. On a more tangible level, however, Jupiter’s protective qualities (tin cans have always been used to preserve food) and association with thunderbolts and storms (tin sheets are used to produce thunderous sound effects) are evident with Tin.[vi]

Copper—as with Venus—serves best in relationships with other metals; hence, the addition of Tin/Jupiter and their resulting alloy, Bronze. In Homer’s mythology, Athena (the alternative face of Venus) was the daughter of Zeus (Jupiter), so the pairing is worthy of Olympus. Getting “on the platform” during an Olympics award ceremony is the much-desired boon of a Bronze medal—leaving room for growth (Jupiter) for worthy competitors, of course, but offering a warm glow (Venus) of achievement in the process.

The currency connection
There’s no mistaking the parallel between the hierarchy of Olympic medals and the relative values gold, silver and copper coins have enjoyed in world currencies. The truth is, Gold and Silver are no longer used in U.S. coinage, being reserved instead for collectible and investment grade coinage and bouillon. Thanks to its facility for relating, Copper is now the mainstay of U.S. coinage, being alloyed with Nickel in U.S. nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars and the Sacagawea dollar (additional metals used here).

The relative affordability of these alloy metals could be the reason all our currency hasn’t yet gone “digital.” We can only wonder whether Olympians will ever push themselves to the extremes they do for the sake of winning “digital” medals!

In closing
My admiration for the Olympic Games has grown tremendously during these crazy astrological times. Think about it: the same tense, chaotic planetary dynamics that have landed so many in crisis lately have also driven the incredible determination and dedication it takes to compete on the Olympic stage. That’s very hopeful, because there’s more tough planetary “weather” ahead and it’s good to know we have choices.

Despite some regrettable dust-ups (i.e., controversies over Russia’s doping scandal, the escapades of Ryan Lochte, et al), Brazil’s accomplishments with these Games are solid gold. Like the athletes they are hosting, the nation of Brazil has overcome a host of internal challenges to produce this inspiring event. I would argue it's been made even more inspiring by Brazil's move to connect the Games to the challenge of climate change and the need for global cooperation to “make peace with the planet.” Here’s where daily life and the Games converge for real.

The Games’ opening statement by actress/activist Judi Dench said all that needs to be said:

”Promoting world peace is the basis of the Olympic spirit. Today there is an urgent need to also promote peace with the planet. Climate change and the depletion of natural resources need our attention and the Olympic Opening Ceremony is a wonderful opportunity to shed light on this subject. Brazil, with the largest forest and the largest reserve of biodiversity on the planet, is the right place for this message to be spread. It is not enough to stop harming the planet, it is time to begin healing it.
This will be our Olympic message: Earthlings, let's replant, let's save the planet.”

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: 

© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved. 

[i] The information in this post about the astrology of metals is mostly summarized from metals expert and astrologer Nick Kollerstrom and his unique book entitled The Metal-Planet Relationship: A Study of Celestial Influence (c. 1993, Borderland Sciences). 
[ii] Kollerstrom, p. 61.
[iii] Kollerstrom, p. 53.
[iv] Kollerstrom, p. 55.
[v] Kollerstrom, p. 57-8.
[vi] Kollerstrom, p. 63.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Already, a “shotgun divorce?”...the unlikely Cosmic match of Trump & the GOP

As the risk of piling on in the midst of what CNN is calling the “GOP’s Donald Trump freak out,” I thought this would be an apt time to explore astrologically just how compatible the GOP and Donald Trump really were from the get-go.

Many Republicans have been uneasy from the moment Trump took his famous escalator ride and announced his candidacy. They had reservations about his bombast and apparent inability to leave his reality TV persona behind as he mounted the political stage. Trump’s unconventional, politically incorrect behavior made waves from day one, but from day one he also attracted a following seeking an “Outsider”—and the Media ate it up, even allowing the candidate to “call it in” on morning shows.

Maybe other candidates just never pushed for that level of free coverage, but then Trump is never shy about grabbing attention. Why pay if you can get the attention free, by just saying something outrageous and (many times) repulsive?

Despite their reservations, the attention was enticing for a Party eager to take back the presidency. Simply distancing themselves periodically from the candidate’s more raw positions seemed to keep the country’s PC meter from exploding, so the GOP decided to embrace the ride they were on instead of fighting it. They legitimized it with the mainstream trappings of Party procedure and the mechanics of their Primary process. Troubling signs were there, but denial is easy when momentum takes over on that march to the altar.

A last ditch effort to normalize their nominee was added in the person of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as V.P. choice—a Party favorite. To Obama’s fictional “anger translator,” Pence would translate Trump’s positions into “coherent adult.” The implications in both cases are, of course, that an alter-ego needing to run free dwells deep in the heart of each public figure. This week it seems this was wishful thinking with Trump.

Could the Party have foreseen the current meltdown? If they did, they rushed to the altar anyway:  in their mid-July Convention, the GOP bound themselves for better or worse  to Trump, the man who claimed that “he alone” was the solution to all that ails the country and the world, as their lawfully wedded nominee. The GOP was about to become a battered newlywed.

The Honeymoon, in fact, was amazingly short-lived. Quite aptly, conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes (on the PBS Newshour) characterized Trump’s post-Democratic Convention erratic behavior as “a dumpster fire within a nuclear meltdown.” The details are too many to catalog here, but every news outlet is carrying a similar story: the GOP is staggering under pressure from several quarters (including the POTUS) to divorce their candidate, pronto. Think “shotgun wedding,” in reverse.

Were the GOP and Trump ever a good match?
Here’s where astrology can help unravel this gnarly situation and lend some perspective. Many couples—even those who don’t particularly follow astrology under normal conditions—want to know if their “signs” are compatible, and some go to the expense of having a full-blown compatibility reading compiled. So, let’s examine the basic natal compatibility of the Republican Party and Donald J. Trump in the biwheel below:

Biwheel 1: (inner wheel) Radix, U.S. Republican Party, March 20, 1854, 12:00 p.m. LMT (no exact time known), Ripon, Wisconsin; (outer wheel) Natal, Donald J. Trump, June 14, 1946, 10:54 a.m. DST, Jamaica, New York.

Interests & Temperament: do the “Party of Lincoln” and Donald Trump share common interests and relate to the world in similar manners? Their charts suggest a certain meeting of the minds, but only to a point, and the chance of being soul-mates is pretty low.

            GOP Venus (Pisces) opposes GOP Mars (Rx, Virgo)-Trump ASC-Mars (Leo); GOP Mercury (Aries) squares Trump Mercury (Cancer); Trump’s ASC-Mars inconjoin GOP Sun (Pisces). Trump is deeply-focused on power and dominance with his fixed Mars rising—his gold-embellished décor, trophy wives and grandiose lifestyle are a constant reminder how important being unchallenged and in-charge is to him. While the GOP would certainly appreciate being along for that ride, their early Pisces-Virgo Venus-Mars are a bit squeamish when it comes to conspicuous consumption.

And, blessed (or cursed, depending upon your view) by a 29th degree Pisces Sun—not quite Aries—the GOP probably envies the unfettered freedom the fire signs seem to enjoy. Many on the Left accuse the GOP of being the party of billionaires, catering to billionaires (which their dearest-held policies prove out), but they don’t want to look that part. Hence, the focus on “family values,” and the tendency to align themselves with religious (Pisces) types. Trump’s “Make America great again” was an accommodation that bridged the divide a bit—unfortunately, now they realize what Trump really meant with that slogan.

As for the clash of Mercury placements in these charts, the Republicans—especially their most conservative players—do not shy away from speaking their minds (Aries Mercury), but their Party Mercury is disposed by a reticent, retrograde Mars in Virgo, so they officially care about “correctness.” Trump is given to a rambling rhetorical style and fluidly changing his positions (Mercury in Cancer), which is responsible for much of this week’s incoherence. As we’ll see below, the Moon disposing Trump’s Cancer planets (Moon, Venus, Saturn) has been under stress, so his current meltdown is not surprising astrologically.

GOP Nodal Axis (Gemini-Sagittarius) trines-sextiles Trump Neptune (Libra). There has always been a fated feel to Trump’s candidacy, and this connection with the GOP’s nodal axis confirms that Trump followed his instincts in deciding to announce himself as a Republican candidate, even though many of his positions clash with the typical GOP agenda. In the end, Trump will probably catalyze a deep change within the Party—ABC News called it an “existential crisis,” which is spot on here. The “soft” aspects involved mask a favorite, “Trojan Horse”-type Neptunian seduction. It looked good at the time.

Mutual success and achievement: do the GOP and Trump facilitate or block each other’s aspirations? At the moment, the answer seems obvious, but let’s see where the disconnect originates.

            Interchart T-square: Trump Venus-Saturn (Cancer) opposes GOP Jupiter (Capricorn); this axis squares Trump Jupiter (Libra); Trump Jupiter semi-squares GOP Mars (Rx, Virgo). Clearly, this “couple” is divided over where the potential for growth (Jupiter) lies. The GOP thrives when wealth and growth concentrate at the top (Capricorn), and while Trump’s Jupiter is in a somewhat weak position in Libra, it might explain why his economic pronouncements have not always echoed traditional GOP values throughout this campaign. Rather, he’s been trying to stretch his platform around a balance (Libra) that keeps his working class constituents comfortable, yet gives tax breaks to the super-rich. 

His working class base responds to his defensive Cancerian rhetoric (the nation has many enemies and must withdraw into a shell), but GOP hardliners (especially the conservative purists in the Tea Party who supported Ted Cruz) have not been amused. Trump has often boasted about the millions of new voters he’s brought into the GOP tent, but are those voters the ones that will further the GOP’s true interests, or subvert their drive (semi-square to Mars) to succeed?

Communication, understanding and teamwork.  Long story short, do the GOP and Trump have what it takes to solve problems and challenges together? This is a particularly complicated facet of their relationship because it highlights the perceptual “filters” through which they view each other, their ability to defer judgment about each other, accommodate each others’ viewpoints, accept criticism, and solve problems together.. This dicey area is represented quite starkly in one tense T-square:

            Interchart T-Square: Trump Neptune (Libra) opposes GOP Mercury (Aries); this axis is squared by Trump Mercury (Cancer); Trump Mercury (Cancer) sextiles GOP Uranus (Taurus). Neptune connections to a partner’s Mercury can be very seductive, but they are potentially confusing, frustrating, and a troubling sign that a codependent relationship is in the making. As one commentator put it, Mike Pence might as well consider himself Trump’s “janitor,” because he spends his time cleaning up after the candidate’s uncontrollable temperament. Cardinal sign Cancer is particularly sensitive to perceived attacks and programmed to lash back verbally (Mercury), accounting for Trump’s famously “thin skin.”

This over-sensitivity makes accepting advice very difficult for Trump, so the GOP finds itself in the position of either accepting Trump at face value, taking responsibility for whatever he does without having any say in the matter, or backing out of the “marriage” the best they can. What the Party can do to stop the rest of the world (or the other Party) from criticizing (“attacking”) him is another story, however, so Trump can call Hillary Clinton a “Devil,” (mild, in his terms) but Hillary supporters like Khizr Khan have “no right to viciously attack” him with copies of the Constitution.

We’ll examine below how Mr. Khan’s eloquent speech may have triggered Trump’s current meltdown and this week’s crisis in Trump’s relationship with the GOP.

Keeping the peace. We’ve already seen that their respective Mars placements (Trump’s in Leo; GOP’s Rx in Virgo) are aligned, but not really. There’s an uneasy stalemate, actually—nobody really wins here, but both sides have a vested interest in being together.

Sagittarian Moons. Both parties in this so-called partnership have Sagittarius Moons—in fact, their Moons may be conjunct (we can’t know for sure because the timing of the GOP chart is uncertain), so it may be that a certain “tribal” affinity between them has served thus far. They both set their sights on aggressive, unfettered growth that celebrates self-interest (Sagittarius), and not surprisingly, the GOP has traditionally attracted a colorful range of “rugged individuals.” They don’t enjoy the backing of the NRA for no reason! 

Unfortunately, Trump’s spin on that mythic American wild man is like something out of Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful 8—one false move and you’re disposable. This, from a “law and order” candidate!

Interchart T-Square: Trump Uranus-Node-Sun (Gemini) opposes Trump Moon-GOP Moon (Sagittarius); this axis squares GOP Neptune (Pisces). Again, we can’t say how tight the opposition here would be because of the GOP timing issue, but since this configuration exploded in the GOP’s face this week (triggered by transits we’ll consider ahead), it’s probably tight enough. I don’t think I’m overstating the issue when I say that whatever peace they can keep between them will hinge upon the GOP adopting the role of suffering, silent partner. 

With transiting Neptune gradually returning to its natal position in the GOP chart (more to come on this), the Party may come out of Trump’s candidacy looking like a “sacrificial lamb.” Saturn may come to the rescue, however—more about the current transits ahead.

Balance of power. It’s ironic that Trump and the GOP found each other during the long-term Uranus-Pluto square we’ve been experiencing from Aries to Capricorn, because their charts also feature a tense fixed Uranus-Pluto square between them, from Taurus (the GOP’s Uranus) to Leo (Trump’s Pluto).  The GOP’s Saturn in Taurus also squares Trump’s Mars-ASC in Leo, so there’s an underlying struggle for dominance that will probably explode at some point, if it hasn’t already. 

The GOP has gotten where it is by dint of pragmatic discipline that plays well with others (Taurus Saturn, disposing Capricorn Jupiter), but Trump wants to shift the Party’s focal point of power and progress to himself as the answer to all the nation’s woes. Who’s doing who a favor is never a happy flashpoint for a relationship, but that’s the sense here.

So what was the attraction?
In retrospect, it’s clear that the GOP was seduced by the carefully staged trappings of Trump’s candidacy and the support he cultivated among angry working class voters. The seduction wears thin over time, however, and this past week saw their first big crisis. Even the late night comics have tired of mocking Trump’s inability to control himself, so we can only imagine how his partners in the GOP feel. 

But what triggered this “horrible, no good,” week-long meltdown? We can’t know for certain, but the timing suggests it was a post-Convention letdown of sorts. The balloons dropped on his big speech, and all the world could talk about was how “dreary” his party was. 

Then, to rub salt in the wound, the Dems had a great, well-received Convention, which even some Republicans envied and admired for its organization and content.

One Convention event stood out, however, as upsetting the apple cart for Trump. This was the amazing speech by Gold Star father Khizr Khan on the Convention’s final night, who, with his wife Ghazala, stood at the Democratic podium and shared their grief over  their son Humayun, lost in action in Iraq, defending his troops. Two lines stood out from this simple eloquent speech: “Mr. Trump…have you even read the Constitution?” Khan said, dramatically pulling out his copy of it and offering it to Trump. 

Shocked, the delegates came alive with that comment, and then even more intensely as Khan finally said to Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing…and no one!” Needless to say, this speech went viral, sucking the oxygen from Trump’s campaign for days and adding to Clinton’s glow of success.

One commentator suggested that if Trump had gone on vacation at that point and let things settle down, he would have come back and been able to focus on bashing Clinton, whom they still believe is solidly defeatable. Unfortunately, Trump couldn’t do the gracious thing with the Khans and simply extend his condolences; he had to lash back because his thin skin always calls the shots, even when there’s no benefit to his campaign to do so.

The trouble is, Trump cannot seem to maintain a healthy distinction between his campaign’s needs and his personal needs; his needy Cancer Mercury seems to simply dominate the rest of his chart. This has been made worse by a lot of stress from transits this past week. Let’s consider some quick flashpoints from the charts for Khizr Khan’s speech, Trump and the GOP.  

Triwheel 1: (inner wheel) Radix, U.S. Republican Party, March 20, 1854, 12:00 p.m. LMT (no exact time known), Ripon, Wisconsin; (middle wheel) Natal, Donald J. Trump, June 14, 1946, 10:54 a.m. DST, Jamaica, New York; (outer wheel) Khizr Khan’s Speech at DNC Convention, July 28, 2016, 8:00 p.m. DST (approximate time), Philadelphia, PA.

Interchart T-square: Speech Mars (Scorpio) squares Speech Mercury-Venus-Trump Mars-ASC (all Leo) and opposes Trump MC-GOP Saturn (Taurus); Speech Uranus (Aries) trines Trump ASC-Mars and squares GOP Jupiter (Capricorn). Clearly, Mr. Khan’s eloquence and message (Mercury in Leo, refined by deadly serious Mars in Scorpio) and Uranus's slow burn in Aries (it would station retrograde the following day) felt like a shocking smack-down to Trump’s pride (Mars-ASC) and sense of personal importance (MC), and felt like “mission critical” to the GOP (Speech Mars to Saturn, Uranus to their Jupiter). Transiting Venus on Trump’s Mars may have triggered his strange choice to focus on Mrs. Ghazala’s lack of a speaking part in the event and the ensuing “feud.” 

A lot of people (especially veterans) are upset that Trump didn’t simply offer the Khans a gracious, comforting response on their loss, and we’ll never know exactly what prevented Trump from doing this. The appearance, however, was that Trump could not get past the fact that the Khans are Muslim. 

Added to that, the bizarre display of Trump receiving a veteran supporter’s “Purple Heart” (usually a noble Leo tribute) was amazingly out of place. No surprise, Trump’s flippant remark that “he always wanted one of these,” was poorly received, and he’s still trying to walk back the damage done.  

Can the GOP survive Trump’s candidacy intact?

Speech Saturn (Sagittarius) quincunxes Trump Mercury (Cancer) and squares GOP Venus/Neptune (midpoint, Pisces)-Speech Neptune; Speech Neptune (Pisces) trines Trump Mercury (Cancer). Neptune often signals breakdowns in discipline—in worst case scenarios with Saturn and Venus, to the level of corrupt financial behavior—but here the implication seems to be more temperamental, psychological and structural. Trump’s Mercury disposes his powerfully erratic Gemini-Sagittarius axis (Sun-Node-Uranus opposite Moon), and his volatile Sagittarius Moon disposes his Mercury—the closed circuit created here explains a lot of his unpredictable, defensive and chaotic pronouncements.

The GOP actually has legitimate reason to be defensive here, with Neptune approaching return to its position in their radix chart.  Pressure to live up to their founding ideals is pretty intense here, and since their Moon (Sagittarius--exact degree unknown) is very likely being challenged by Saturn and Neptune at this time, their party organization could also be under great stress to simply dissolve.

The media has speculated whether Trump could be the end of the Party as we’ve known it, and these aspects suggest that their concern is not as far-fetched as it sounds.  The GOP’s Moon is disposed by Capricorn Jupiter, which will soon be met with transiting Pluto, so the potential for a transformative make-over is very real. 

Republicans themselves have wrestled with their need for more inclusiveness since Obama’s elections, but instead, they accepted an enticing detour offered by Trump that appears to be back-firing.

A “shotgun divorce?”
Reportedly, the only time in history that the GOP repudiated a nominee running for office under their banner was in the 1989 run of former Ku-Klux-Klansman/Neo-Nazi David Duke for Louisiana state legislature. Then-president George H. W. Bush spoke out forcefully against Duke at that time, and he and several other GOP leaders endorsed Duke’s rival. Never one to quit trying, Duke is running for office again (as Senator) this year and endorsing Trump, which raised a small ruckus when it was first announced, but quickly receded into the Internet abyss.

Long story short, the Party has entered into a Faustian bargain with their candidate, and they cannot undo the will of their voters unless Trump himself drops out. They can simply remove the trappings of support: State Electors can quit (as one did today), and prominent Republicans can withdraw their support (it’s happening, incrementally), but party leaders seem determined to hang on for now and try to refocus their candidate on his opponent, Clinton. Accepting guidance is not Trump’s forté, but time will tell.

The signs of trouble—Cosmic and otherwise—have been there for awhile with Trump’s candidacy. Clearly, the "honeymoon" is over. There are a number of astrological bumps in the road before November, so stay tuned!

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: 

© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved.