Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Zika concerns and the September 1st Solar Eclipse

In June of this year, I covered what the upcoming September 1st annular solar eclipse might mean in regards to a number of U.S. “hot button” issues, including the possible spread of the Zika virus on the U.S. mainland. With the eclipse looming and Zika in the news almost daily, it’s time to revisit this eclipse.

According to yesterday’s Washington Post, Congress is being politically “coy” about providing sufficient resources to battle the spread of the virus, and to stem the mounting numbers of infants living with its effects in the U.S. and U.S. territories. So there’s no funding—Congress is on recess until September 5th, well within the impact period of the September 1st eclipse. Let’s take another look at the relevant charts, including this time the July 29th chart for the first confirmed cases of locally-transmitted cases of Zika in Miami, Florida.  

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) USA, Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (middle wheel) Announcement of 1st U.S. Zika cases, July 29, 2016, 12:00 p.m. DST (noon chart), Miami, Florida; (outer wheel) Solar Eclipse, September 1, 2016, 5:01:57 a.m., DST, Washington, D.C.

One thing I learned from studying the progression of the Zika crisis in Brazil last April is that an epidemic is a slowly unfolding reality that moves in mysterious ways—in keeping with its Moon-Neptune nature. The Moon—in its rulership of human bodily cycles like fertility, pregnancy, and of bodily systems impacting immunity and wellbeing—provides the virus a host  for transmission and reproduction; Neptune—in its co-rulership of the immune system and in its barrier-dissolving function—provides the ability to breach disease-resistant barriers and overwhelm a population’s defenses by quickly leveraging receptive, vulnerable individuals.

Importantly, Neptune operates “below the radar:” before a population is even aware there’s a problem, the problem is widespread enough to perpetuate itself easily. As we’ll see, Neptune plays a key role in the charts we’re considering here.

First, however, let’s examine the outer wheel for information about the eclipse. The Eclipse Point (outer wheel; Sun-Moon in Virgo) is conjunct the Dragon’s Head (North Node-Virgo), which eclipse expert Celeste Teal says can mark a “rush of incoming energy [that] may come as a surprise that is first experienced as disruptive.”[1] Keeping the focus here on the spread of Zika, we might well expect this could signal a rush of new cases.

To make things even more turbo-charged, these points form one leg of a Mutable T-square: Eclipse Point-NNode opposes Neptune-Dragon’s Tail (South Node, Pisces). This opposition, in turn, is squared by Saturn-Mars (Sagittarius). Such stressful mutable configurations have dogged our steps for months, but this Eclipse appears capable of dramatic impact. With Saturn-Mars square Neptune, hostile infiltration is certainly possible; the addition of the Virgo points suggests that the strain will be felt in matters of health. We can’t appreciate the full import of this t-square without examining it next to the Sibly chart (inner wheel).

An angular assault. This Eclipse-driven T-square falls squarely across the Sibly ASC-DSC horizon. Adding to the stress, Eclipse Saturn-Mars (Sagittarius) oppose Sibly Uranus and Mars (Gemini) as well (Eclipse Saturn is out of orb with Sibly Mars, but it still wields an impact, being opposite the Sibly DSC). This resulting interchart Grand Cross suggests we could certainly see a dramatic turning point in the spread of Zika—akin to an “enemy invasion” of sorts. Of course, this restless configuration could also represent severe weather events (hurricane season is just getting started) and threats to other national priorities (see earlier article for more), so events on the ground could vary. 

Whatever else transpires, Sibly Uranus disposes the nation’s Aquarius Moon, so public health (6th house Sibly Uranus) and security appear to a key focus.

It’s important to remember that eclipse points remain potent (open channels for cosmic energies) for a period of time, and although there’s wide disagreement on how long, most agree that transits to the eclipse point (by conjunction or opposition) can retrigger its effects, so we can expect this eclipse’s impact to roll out over the next few years. Mars will restimulate the Eclipse point with its transits over that point in September, 2017, September, 2019, and in August 2021; Saturn should bring closure to the eclipse by opposing that point during 2023 and 2024.

Neptune’s impact. Neptune will hover within a 3 degree orb of opposing the Eclipse Point through early 2018, applying continual pressure to that point and to the Sibly ASC-DSC and Uranus. At the risk of sounding a bit alarming, this could further undermine the nation’s “immune system,” enabling the spread of Zika, if not other epidemics. Again, this is a configuration that could very well affect other areas of concern, but the focus here is Zika.

The good news here is that the transiting Saturn-Neptune square we’ve been experiencing since the end of 2014 will begin rapidly separating right after the November election, so there will be some relief, but whenever the Eclipse Point is restimulated in the next few years, that square’s effects will linger.

The first confirmed locally-transmitted cases of Zika in the U.S.

The Middle Wheel in the above triwheel is a noon chart cast for the CDC’s announcement that 4 cases of locally-transmitted Zika were confirmed in Miami, Florida. Being a noon chart (no time was published for the announcement), the exact placement of the Moon is uncertain, but Lady Luna varied from 5°-19°+ Gemini that day, so we can see right away that there’s a possible connection with both Sibly Mars and Uranus.

Either planet (or both, if the transiting Moon happened to hit their midpoint) suggests connections to public security and/or health. Cast for noon, this Moon forms the 4th leg of a Mutable Grand Cross that again, straddles the nation’s ASC-DSC horizon. It’s no surprise that the CDC’s warnings have become progressively more urgent.

Saturn and Neptune in this announcement chart are in roughly the same place as we saw in the Eclipse chart, so that pressure has been a constant as the Zika crisis unfolds. The key difference in the two charts is Eclipse Mars’ conjunction with Saturn on the nation’s ASC. This raises the stakes of the Zika spread to a new level of virulence. It also highlights the role sexual transmission plays in the spread of the virus, suggesting that—as with AIDS prevention—“safe sex” may be key here as well.

Neptune’s involvement reflects the hidden, indirect way in which the horrors of Zika are realized—not directly by the person bitten by the Zika mosquito, but indirectly by a child exposed to the virus in its mother’s womb. As suggested above, men can also carry the virus, infecting their sexual partners and a child they may conceive together.

Floods and standing water 
Interestingly, when the announcement was made, Jupiter conjoined 10th house Sibly Neptune (both Virgo) and opposed Announcement Chiron (Pisces). Of course, Jupiter and Neptune can be enlightening and uplifting (as in the Olympic medals soon to come at that time), but in regards to the spread of Zika, this may have unleashed a world of hurt for affected families.

In fact, Chiron’s long term transit opposite Sibly Neptune has also played a role in the serious flooding disasters the nation continues to suffer, as well. Hurricane season isn't going to help anything here: standing water (widespread in flooded areas) is the breeding ground for Zika-bearing mosquitoes, so the connection between these two issues is very real.

And, now to get the funding needed. When Congress returns on September 5th, this eclipse will be quite current; in fact, the transiting Sun will still be within orb of the Eclipse Point, and the mutable T-Square will still be in force, so public health should loom large on their agenda. Will they overcome their usual polarization to get this funding bill passed? Unfortunately, that’s not likely with this cosmic (and political) weather. Even without looking at the charts, common sense suggests that Congress isn’t going to cooperate on anything before the November election. It may be up to President Obama to fill some short term needs with an executive order or emergency declaration.

For its part, Pluto (in both the Eclipse and on Sept. 5th) is placing a great deal of pressure on Congress (Sibly Saturn) to tie this legislation to the parties’ favorite “riders” (usually involving big money interests), so they may try to “play chicken” with public health awhile longer. Someone needs to turn Pluto’s pressure on its head by showing the damage a full-blown epidemic would have on our national economy, federal deficit, tourism, and so on. In typical Neptune-Pluto “tag team” style, such an epidemic could overwhelm and crowd out all other issues, crippling a number of important national priorities.

On another note, with Pluto and Neptune involved, it's always wise to consider the vested interests involved and "follow the money." The health care industry stands to make billions with a full-blown epidemic emergency, especially if Big Pharma is allowed to hike the prices up on the Zika vaccine (Neptune) under development. The Jupiter (Virgo) trine to Pluto (Capricorn) seen in the Announcement chart speaks to this ripe opportunity, and not surprisingly, this trine ties in with the Sibly Neptune-Pluto trine, which triggers so many conspiracy theories. We can only hope that the Big Pharma lobby is not why Congress is dragging its feet! 

Maybe they just need a little encouragement

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. 

[1] Celete Teal, Eclipses: Predicting World Events and Personal Transformation, Llewellyn Publications, 2006, p. 11.

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. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

A season of Floods & Fires: A turbo-charged penumbral eclipse challenges Louisiana & California

"Therefore the moon, 

the governess of floods,

Pale in her anger, 

washes all the air…"

-A Midsummer's Night Dream
William Shakespeare

Penumbral eclipses are “very subtle,” says Deborah Byrd on, adding “The eclipse never progresses to reach the dramatic minutes of totality. At best, at mid-eclipse, very observant people will notice a dark shading on the moon’s face. Others will look and notice nothing at all.”

Despite this reassurance, the August 18th full moon, penumbral lunar eclipse—lunar eclipses only happen at full moons—packed a vicious punch in both Louisiana and California. Not surprisingly, the eclipse shadow fell over the U.S. (and a large part of South America, possibly affecting swimmer Ryan Lochte’s behavior in that regrettable Rio gas station incident). Although visibility is said to enhance the power of an eclipse, its effects can be felt whether it’s seen or not—Louisiana and California have definitely been feeling those effects.

Beginning early on August 11th, a wave of storms produced unprecedented flood levels across 20 Louisiana parishes. The rainfall reportedly dumped 7.1 trillion gallons of water, killing 13 people and destroying the homes and livelihoods of thousands. The long-term damage to people’s lives is probably incalculable. This event has been called the “worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy.” That’s saying a lot.

As for California, the Blue Cut Fire began on a hiking trail in the San Gabriel Montains in San Bernardino County. First reported on the morning of August 16th (exact time noted in chart to come), the fire’s unusually rapid spread forced 82,000+ people to evacuate. As of Sunday (8/21), the fire has burned 37,000 acres of land, destroyed 96 homes and 213 other structures. It’s still only 83% contained. No human deaths thus far, but one rancher lost 135 of her livestock.

California has dealt with wild fires over and over again during the severe drought it’s experienced since 2011—and in fact, there are 5 additional fires raging in California at this writing (some as little as 10% contained), but the Blue Cut fire captured more attention because it surprised many with its unusually rapid, aggressive spread. Even more unfortunately, California’s “fire season”—which used to be a yearly, 30-60 day affair—has become a new normal year-round.

Clearly, the magnitude and unprecedented ferocity of both Louisiana and California disasters greatly exceeds what we would expect from a “subtle” penumbral eclipse. So what else is going on here?

More than meets the eye
Here’s where astrology and climate science intersect, and I won’t pretend to understand all the nuances, but variations in ocean temperatures seem to play a key role in producing these monstrous disasters. The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) governs the cycle of warm and cool Pacific Ocean temperatures, which in turn governs cool or warm fronts in the weather systems we experience.

Both science and astrology credit the Sun and Moon with influencing weather systems that produce floods and droughts, but astrology has always looked to lunar eclipses (powerful full moons) as especially potent periods for extreme weather-related events. It’s not just as simple as that, however: if we consider the bigger picture of ocean temperatures and cyclical realities like the ENSO, we can see that outer planetary dynamics are at stake as well. Much more research needs to be done in this area, but the correlations in the charts we’ll consider here are seen over and over again in natural disaster charts.

To illustrate the impact of both the eclipse and that bigger planetary picture, let’s consider the triwheel for this latest disaster in Louisiana, using the Louisiana statehood chart (set for sunrise—no exact time known), the “birth” of the flooding event on August 11th, and the August 18th eclipse. All charts are set for Baton Rouge.

First, a note about impact periods
As we’ll see with this August 18th eclipse, it’s not unusual for eclipses to manifest in events that precede the eclipse day itself. Eclipse expert Bill Meridian cites renowned astrologer Charles Jayne as saying that the effects of lunar eclipses can be felt “for about 6 weeks before and after the lunar eclipse.”[1] In this case, this round of Louisiana flooding began a mere week prior to the eclipse, so we’re well within the allowable time orb.

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) Radix, Louisiana Statehood, April 30, 1812, 5:23 a.m. LMT (dawn chart, no exact time known), Baton Rouge, LA; (middle wheel) Radix, Louisiana Flooding 2016, August 11, 2016, 6:00 a.m. DST (approximate, based on reports), Baton Rouge, LA; (outer wheel) Lunar Eclipse 8-2016, August 18, 2016, 4:26:27 a.m. DST, Baton Rouge, LA.

Eclipse opposition points. The first thing that leaps off the page here is the powerful set of oppositions stretching across all three charts from Virgo to Pisces. Before we examine these, however, we should first consider the Eclipse opposition itself—cutting across the angular 4th and 10th houses of Louisiana’s statehood chart from 25°+Leo (Sun) to 25°+Aquarius (Moon) and forming an interchart Grand Square with Louisiana’s natal Mercury-Uranus opposition in fixed signs Taurus and Scorpio. A fixed eclipse clashing with existing fixed energies (with Uranus involved, no less) was aptly illustrated by the rising waters pouring over fixed levees as though they weren’t even there.

One victim reported that after every home he had helped sandbag in his area was lost in moments, he simply gave up and waited for the inevitable. Another woman reported that more than ten members of her family in the area lost their homes. Clearly, the impact of this event was deeply physical, local and life threatening—reflecting the assault on LA’s Taurus-Scorpio opposition. It didn’t help that Eclipse Uranus (Aries) also fell inconjunct LA’s Uranus and sextile-trine the Eclipse Moon-Sun. 

On August 11th. If we look at the storm’s inception on August 11th (middle wheel), we see that the Moon conjoined LA Uranus, triggering that point’s potential for deadly crisis (Scorpio), and the Sun was already square LA’s natal Mercury-Uranus. When Hurricane Katrina hit in August, 2005, LA’s Uranus was pulled into a fixed transiting t-square with Mars (Taurus) and Neptune (Aquarius), so this point in the LA chart has proved to be volatile in past events.

It’s easy to see how the enormity of this current event unfolded from there, as well: by Eclipse day, the Moon had moved into full opposition with the Sun (full Moon) and in the process, squaring its August 11th position and LA Uranus. This certainly intensified the pressure, especially considering Eclipse Uranus’s involvement here from aggressive Aries (discussed above).  

Full Moons generally denote rising tides and sea levels, but the devastating way in which these waters overwhelmed southern Louisiana over those days speaks to the additional stresses involved in these charts.

Uranus has a way of ripping open a situation where there is potential for trauma, but in these charts, Neptune, Jupiter and Chiron express the inexorably rising waters in almost literal terms: Neptune  (ruler of Pisces) rules oceans and the “big picture” of water-related climate conditions; Jupiter rules expansive growth, and as co-ruler of Pisces, also impacts the same climate conditions; and Chiron rules wounding/healing events.

The wounds inflicted by natural disasters are clear to see; whether healing follows down the road will probably depend on the extent to which the victims are supported with compassion (Chiron in Pisces). Even in the U.S., flood victims (especially poor ones)—depending on the mercy (and political whims) of others—are subject to the same forces that refugees trying to reach Europe encounter.

Virgo-Pisces oppositions. We can now see how this complex of aspects functioned in this story: expansive waters are certainly represented by the Jupiter-Neptune opposition, and the unprecedented, historical nature of the flooding speaks to this opposition being conjoined the transiting Nodal axis. 

The entire configuration, including Eclipse Node-Venus-Mercury-Jupiter in Virgo and Eclipse Chiron-SNode-Neptune in Virgo, forms an interchart mutable T-Square with Louisiana’s natal Neptune (Sagittarius) and Pluto (Pisces). Factor in Eclipse Saturn conjoining Louisiana’s Neptune and it’s easy to see why the chaotic onslaught of flood waters caught so many by surprise and has created such enormous, deadly damage.

Interchart Grand Square: LA Venus (Gemini) opposes LA Moon (Sagittarius); this axis squares Eclipse Jupiter (Virgo) opposite Eclipse Chiron (Pisces). The people of Louisiana are represented by their Sagittarius Moon, which is also pulled into the T-square described above through its squares to Eclipse Jupiter, Mercury and Chiron. In this Grand Square, however, we see how chaotic the fortunes of Louisiana residents (Moon-Venus) became in this disaster.

The Eclipse opposition itself trines and sextiles LA’s Moon-Venus from Leo and Aquarius, which may yet prove to be benevolent once assistance starts reaching people, but these so-called “soft” aspects often help unleash negative forces in natural disasters, as well. Flood events are particularly prone to this type of unleashing—the door of opportunity is opened (sextile) so the flow of energy (trine) can rush in.

Interchart Grand Square: Eclipse Mars-Saturn (Sagittarius) oppose LA Mars (Gemini); this axis squares LA Nodal axis-Chiron (Virgo-Pisces). A mutable stand-off like this is often mind-boggling and almost mindlessly destructive, as well, like a cosmic game of 52-Card Pickup. In fact, this grand square brings to mind two bored warrior gods (both Mars) deciding to go on a killing spree just to get their adrenalin pumping. Then leave the mess (52 cards) for someone else to clean up!

Interestingly, the day the storm began (August 11th-middle wheel), Venus in Virgo also lined up with this mutable grand square (by Eclipse day, it had moved into the band of oppositions discussed above). Venus is exalted in Pisces, but in “fall” in Virgo, so its usual beneficence was strained when the storms began. In a strange way, Venus may have actually enabled Neptune’s outpouring and Mars-Saturn’s destructiveness; as the event unfolded (middle wheel), Venus was widely opposed to Eclipse Neptune and Eclipse Node, as well.

California’s Blue Cut fire

In this event, we see that the same eclipse and transiting planetary dynamics that drove the torrential flooding in Louisiana also drove the unprecedented ferocity of this California wild fire. In fact, what may not seem logical makes perfect scientific sense, too: the same ocean-related climate factors that produce flood conditions also produce drought conditions in other areas--it's all about the vulnerabilities of the respective areas. 

Despite some improving rainfalls since 2015, California is still struggling through the severe drought that took over in 2011, meaning the Blue Cut hiking trail was an easy target for whatever sparked the blaze. Let’s consider the triwheel setting the onset of this fire against the State of California nativity and the August 18th eclipse:

Triwheel #2: (inner wheel) Radix, Statehood of California,, September 9, 1850, 9:38 a.m. LMT, San Jose, CA; (middle wheel) First Report-Blue Cut Fire-California, August 16, 2016, 10:36 a.m. DST, San Bernardino, CA (exact longitude/latitude data used); (outer wheel) Lunar Eclipse 8-2016, August 18, 2016, 2:26:27 a.m. DST, San Bernardino, CA (same as middle wheel). 

As you might imagine, the middle and outer wheels are very similar here because the fire was first reported on August 16th and the Eclipse fell on August 18th. The timing of the middle and outer wheels is exact, however, so we can glean important information about the angles of those charts. The timing of the California chart is perhaps exact as well (the chart came from a reputable data base), but I could not find a source to verify this information.

The Eclipse opposition. This tense fixed opposition (Sun in Leo opposite Moon in Aquarius) cuts across what is presumably California’s (CA’s) natal 4th-10th axis, compromising their land, structures (homes, especially), and their infrastructure. The Eclipse Sun falls trine the State’s fiery, dry Aries stellium of Saturn-Pluto-Uranus and the Eclipse Moon falls sextile CA’s Uranus-Pluto.

The Eclipse points form the same aspects with Eclipse Uranus (Aries), which conjoins CA’s entire Aries stellium! These opportunistic aspects explain why the fire was able to take off and spread with such ferocity from day one. As we’ll discuss below in regards to Eclipse Pluto, this incendiary problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Interchart T-Square, a destined passage and a chronic problem. As with Louisiana’s chart, the California chart is caught up in the tense mutable energies at play in this Eclipse chart. Here, the Eclipse Nodal axis-Venus conjoin CA’s Sun (all Virgo) and oppose Eclipse Neptune-SNode (Pisces); all of this squares Eclipse Mars-Saturn (Sagittarius), which conjoins CA’s Chiron (Sagittarius). Neptune and the Nodal axis have been transiting together for some time, gaining influence over vulnerable regions; here, Venus seems to facilitate the wounding (Chiron) being afflicted by these long term cosmic conditions.

Eclipse Mars-Saturn in fire sign Sagittarius certainly speaks to the type of wounding California families are experiencing in this particular fire, and more generally, in their increasingly fire-prone environment. This fiery Mars-Saturn also squares CA’s Neptune (Pisces), suggesting that the drying effects of the state’s long-term drought are still being felt.

The state’s natal Chiron-Neptune square reflects California’s chronic weakness when it comes to water supplies, as well. Just as a carelessly discarded cigarette butt can spark a blaze that destroys thousands of acres and disrupt thousands of lives, a cosmic “trigger” such as an eclipse can tap into a location’s vulnerabilities and set off a crisis.

Eclipse Pluto (Capricorn) squares CA Saturn (Aries). This has also been a long-term transit that tracks the course of its 4+ year drought pretty closely. The drought has forced serious infrastructure changes and a host of new laws and regulations regarding water use by California residents—all within Saturn-Pluto’s wheelhouse.

As transiting Pluto continues into an even closer square with CA’s Saturn and then to the state’s Uranus-Pluto conjunction (and as transiting Uranus in Aries continues to trigger this whole stellium), California residents may have no choice but to abandon the most fire-prone areas. Cliimatologists were hoping that the current El Niño cycle would make an appreciable difference with rainfall, but these aspects suggest that it will be at least 2020 before the worst of this is over. By 2020, there will be even more powerful forces squaring the State’s Aries stellium from Capricorn, as well, so these issues will continue to need serious attention going forward.  

Eclipse Pluto trines Eclipse Venus-Node-CA Jupiter (all Virgo) and sextiles Eclipse Neptune-SNode. We get a glimpse here of why California’s economy is surprisingly resilient, notwithstanding the constant pressure of wild fires. The precious nature (Venus) of water resources (Neptune) to California’s people (Moon) is seen with CA’s Neptune (Pisces) trine CA’s Venus-Moon (Scorpio)—this certainly reflects why figuring out how to tap into the once mighty Colorado River was the key to turning California’s deserts into habitable land.

Finally, a boon or a bust? Because of its disaster-prone geology, Californians are ever alert to the rumblings of the earth. Fires and earthquakes are connected phenomena in California history, so anything that shakes the earth only adds to their fire vulnerabilities. Eclipse Jupiter-Mercury (Virgo) are conjoined CA’s Jupiter here, opposing Eclipse MC-Chiron (Pisces), with the State’s Jupiter return becoming exact this September still opposite transiting Chiron

Jupiter's return will unfortunately create a more perfect quincunx aspect with CA’s Uranus-Pluto in Aries, opening up the opportunity for a wounding (Chiron) earth-fire event. Transiting Uranus will still be conjunct CA’s Aries stellium at that point, increasing the likelihood of a volatile fall season.

The takeaway. We have to be wondering, from our safe, dry cozy dwellings, if Louisiana and California are a microcosm for what could become a much broader swath of catastrophe across the nation in years ahead. As we've seen repeatedly over the past decade, our U.S. coastal regions seem to be increasingly vulnerable to fires as well as to floods—but can we leap to the conclusion that this vulnerability signals a troubling pattern or a larger warning about the long term?  Are these coastal states our “canary in the coal mine” for irreversible climate change? Should people be moving away from flood- and fire-prone regions because things are only going to get worse instead of better? 

Thankfully, an entire new field of science, promoted by the United Nations and others—the “science of attributing extreme events”—has sprung up to research these questions. The fact that the climate is changing is a given—we don’t have to believe it because we can see it all around us. Astrology can play a role in understanding climate dynamics and in zeroing in on local vulnerabilities, but Science will always want (as it should) to confirm any assumptions and theories with concrete data.

Hopefully Science and Astrology can work together more closely as these critical issues evolve!

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. 

[1] Bill Meridian, The Predictive Power of Eclipse Paths, Cycles Research Publication, New York, 2010, p. 11.