Saturday, September 10, 2016

Remembering A Cosmic Trial: 2001 & the U.S. Sibly Solar Return

This week, the American media has been reflecting on two major events, separated by roughly 15 years: 

1) the tragic death of 3,000+ Americans in the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon on the morning of September 11, 2001, and 

2) the prolonged national seizure we’re calling a presidential election. 

As an astrologer, I know that cosmic realities way back in 2001 are still driving events today (how could they not?), but the deep disillusionment we seem to be feeling towards government and the future suggests we've lost our way in this nation, to some degree. Maybe we've forgotten something important about the events of 2001? 

Cause...and effect

The forces of cause and effect are the first connection between these two time periods, of course—if planes hadn’t crashed into the Twin Towers that day, we might not be quibbling about walling off our borders (maybe Canada will take the initiative on the northern one), or what the letter “C” on a State Department email means today. Air travel might be a whole lot more pleasant, too.

Cause and effect are nowhere near this simplistic, however: in fact, a complex of forces at work in 2001 left the way open for the attacks of 9/11, and for what followed. Two wars later (neither entirely resolved), a deep financial crisis later (not over for many), and 8 years later with a President who has soldiered on despite monumental obstacles—is it any wonder that the fundamental task of electing a president has become such a nerve-wracking test of our national soul?

What was going on in 2001?

First a caveat. Surely, the attacks of 9/11 did not just materialize out of nowhere, as then President Bush put it, because Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda “despised our freedoms.” The U.S. has a long tortured history of relationships and power plays in the Middle East, and “our freedoms” are probably not what they despise about us. So, as cosmic conditions ripened for an event like 9/11, the event fell into place.

We can catch a glimpse of those ripe cosmic conditions in the U.S. Sibly solar return chart for 2001, while the attack event chart itself tells us why New York City was so particularly vulnerable that day. For now, however, let's examine the solar return along with the U.S. Sibly chart, since both are needed to put the return chart into context.

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel ) Solar Return, USA Sibly chart, 7/5/2001, 2:52:39 a.m. DST, Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) USA Sibly Chart, 7/4/1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA. 

A solar return is interpreted as a new version (inner wheel) of an existing entity (outer wheel), and it’s important to consider them side by side in this order. House placements of the planets in the solar return chart are key, and how the outer wheel (Sibly natal) planets fall into the solar return houses is equally important. First, let’s consider the number of points from both charts that fall in the solar return angular (houses 1, 4, 7, 10), succedent (2, 5, 8, 11) and mutable houses. Please note that we will look to the traditional chart points (a combined total of 21 including the Sibly ASC) only, here, excluding Chiron, the Nodal axis, etc.

We’ll also take note of points that fall conjunct a solar return house cusp, since these points would have made significant contributions that year.

Solar return (SR) house
SR point
Sibly point
House Cusp Conjunction
Venus, Saturn, Mercury, Jupiter
Uranus, Mars
SR Venus
Venus, Jupiter, Sun, Mercury
SR Jupiter




Pluto, Mars


Neptune, Uranus
Sib Pluto

SR Uranus, Sib Moon



Tallying these placements according to Angular, Succedent and Cadent categories, we get:

Angular: 10
Succedent: 8
Cadent: 3

Considering the close count between Angular and Succedent—which evoke the qualities of Cardinal and Fixed signs respectively—we can see that the overall tone in the 2001 U.S. solar return was a potent blend of those two. A lot happened that year, certainly—in many ways, we haven’t been the same nation since that time—but the heavy influence of Succedent planets suggests that a lot of things also did not change, but became more entrenched and immoveable.

Most notably, despite a narrow window of cooperation between the parties in the wake of the September attack, 2001 only deepened our political divide in the longer term. Looking back, it’s tragic that one of the few 21st century instances in which our representatives worked together effectively was to approve the U.S. Patriot Act (a significant blow to civil liberties), and to fund the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (this latter now widely considered a huge mistake). It’s been an increasingly rocky ride ever since.

By examining the most prominent placements in this biwheel, perhaps we can glean why the 21st century got off to such a disappointing start. The points falling within orb of house cusps help tell the story:

Venus in Taurus on 1st house cusp; Jupiter in Gemini at 2nd house cusp

Venus is in her glory in Taurus, and she doesn’t mind being the “belle of the ball” at the Ascendant, either. In fact, Venus is quite potent in the final degree of this sign, square SR Uranus and Sibly Moon, elevated in the 9th house. Normally Venus at a chart Ascendant is a boon to the subject’s personality and ability to connect. In a national chart like this, however, Venus represents monetary interests and ally relationships. 

In fact, there was economic stress that year (a recession resulting when the so-called “ bubble” burst in 2000),  temporary turmoil on Wall Street (square Uranus in Aquarius) after 9/11 and more to come when Enron went bust that December, but our ally relationships were as good as they’ve ever been that year, with an outpouring of support after the attacks.

As for Venus’s square to Sibly Moon (Aquarius), there was also a lot of money to be made going forward as the military-industrial complex geared up for war, and as all wars go, that money would be made from the American people (Moon), either through taxes paid or lives lost or damaged. The sheer business-oriented administration of this war marked a somewhat shocking (Uranus) development in itself, being the first major operation waged with a completely volunteer army (recruits were often awarded bonuses for signing up). 

This war essentially privatized many functions such as infrastructure and food services (i.e., Halliburton), and even security (i.e., Blackwater, now XE Services—a private military company). There have been numerous controversies about both these issues since then, raising questions about how to hold companies responsible for military ethics, agreements like the Geneva Conventions, etc.

Jupiter isn’t particularly well-placed in Gemini, but conjoined cosmic sidekick Mercury in its ruling sign opposite Chiron (Sagittarius), it perhaps had the effect of lifting spirits that year for the many daunting realities to come. It would be a year of captivating images and rhetoric on the airwaves and an amazing outpouring of public sentiment, and with both these Gemini points conjoined by Sibly Mars, a lot of it was geared towards preparing the country for war. Another signal that hostilities were looming can be seen in Sibly Uranus conjoining SR Saturn (both Gemini) in that same house—our national mindset (Gemini) was subject to as much “shock and awe” as Afghanistan and Iraq would be in the near future.

Jupiter knocking at the 2nd house door continued the theme of Venus as a financial factor, (only 22’ away) further reflecting the economic stakes in the events of that year as well. Trine SR Uranus and Sibly Moon, Jupiter also speaks to the increasingly Big Tech-driven economy of that time and to how the building military force boosted technological invention (as always happens).

SR Mercury-Jupiter also squared Sibly Neptune (Virgo), reflecting the military “fog of war” in which we were soon enveloped, and perhaps even the scary “Anthrax attacks” that followed close on the heels of September 11th.  A biodefense scientist working for the government was finally proven responsible, but he committed suicide before being brought to justice.

SR Pluto-Mars and Sibly ASC in the 7th  

SR Pluto-Mars (Sagittarius) in the SR 7th house certainly speaks to the possibility of an enemy attack that year, especially when we see that SR Saturn opposes those points. The Sibly ASC is equally appropriate here, given the events of 9/11 “on the horizon”—a morning attack, in fact, in which Pluto and Saturn were stretched across the Sibly horizon (chart not shown). Not surprisingly, in the 2001 SR chart, Chiron (Sagittarius) also fell in the 7th house, signifying the deep wound inflicted on the nation that year.

SR Moon in the 8th

We mourned a lot of people lost in the events of 2001, which suits the Saturn-ruled Capricorn placement here. Emotions--a blend of fear, determination and grit--have been running high in this nation ever since, perhaps a fact that is not working to our benefit during this election year. 

As Scorpio's natural house connects death and finances, the events of 2001 had undeniable financial consequences as well. These are discussed more thoroughly above in regards to SR Venus and Jupiter. The SR Moon's (Capricorn) opposition to Sibly and SR points falling in Cancer reinforce these ties. 

Sibly Pluto on the 9th house cusp

Sibly Pluto’s position at the 9th house cusp speaks amazingly well to the U.S. Patriot Act, and to the way it was rushed through Congress and signed by October 26th that year, while the nation’s nerves were still on high alert and American flags were still flying everywhere we looked. It also speaks to the death of certain civil liberties at the hands of this Act, which granted a long list of extraordinary, open-ended powers to the Federal Government as it prepared to wage a “War on Terror.” Then President George W. Bush offered the following, especially Plutonian characterization of this state of war in which we would soon be entangled:

"This crusade – this war on terrorism – is going to take a while, ... "[55]

Bush recanted the word “crusade” for its negative connotations almost immediately, but on September 20, he informed the American public how prolonged this quest was going to be:

"(o)ur 'war on terror' begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated."[57]
George W. Bush also famously laid down a philosophical trap, claiming other nations would be either “for us or against us” in this quest—clearly, in true 8th/9th house fashion, Pluto was calling the deadly strategic shots at that time. As if to seal the deal with Pluto, in fact, by the end of 2001 plans for the January 2002 opening of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp (a military court that provided a workaround for our Constitution’s guidelines for criminal suspects) were in place, and despite Obama’s enduring commitment to closing the camp, no one seems to know how to extricate ourselves from this Faustian bargain. According to Wikipedia:

“… Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the prison camp was established to detain extraordinarily dangerous people, to interrogate detainees in an optimal setting, and to prosecute detainees for war crimes.[2] In practice, the site has long been used for indefinite detention without trial.
Piling on enough karmic baggage to weigh us down for generations, the interrogation programs adopted under the powers of the Patriot Act—and put into practice at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere—have long been suspected of crossing the line into torture. With Pluto involved, we always have to wonder whether the “war on terror” hasn’t been more about revenge, hatred and bald-faced power mongering than about true national security. One way or another, the year 2001 transformed our national image in radically Plutonian ways, and the healing we can hope for will also “take a while.”

SR Uranus & Sibly Moon on the 10th house cusp

It should be said here that I’ve cast these charts using Equal Houses, so the 10th house cusp is not necessarily the MC; with that said, it’s still an important house cusp that carries substantially the same meaning.

The first thing that leaps off the page with these two Aquarius placements is that Uranus’s disruptive power is aimed here at the American people (Sibly Moon). As mentioned earlier, the square between these points and SR Venus (Taurus) reflects the financial disruptions of that year, and the trine to SR Jupiter (Gemini) speaks to the technological growth and innovation that period experienced, but our national image on the world scene (10th house), not to mention our relationships and alliances were also being reinvented that year. Bush’s “with us or against us” characterization was clumsy and oversimplistic, but a coalition of the willing did form for “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan and later in Iraq.

Enduring wounds
So, 15 years later, we dutifully commemorate the loss of life on 9/11/2001, but the fleeting national unity we displayed so patriotically after those attacks seems to be a thing of the past. Stephen Collinson makes this point very well in his article today: “Where 9/11 once united, it now divides.” As our 2016 election turmoil suggests, there’s no agreement between the left and right sides of our political “brain” about how to defeat terrorism—if that is, indeed, even possible.

The stressful mutable sign transits we’ve been experiencing this past year have featured in numerous attacks attributed to terrorism around the world, but could it be that these transits carry a bigger, more important message about our so-called “war on terror” in general? Could it be that neither candidate really has a solution, but we don’t really care as long as they sound tough? It is the elusive unpredictability of these mutable signs which throws us off balance, instills fear and irrational responses. Needless to say, would-be terrorists take advantage of these conditions. They—along with the likes of Vladimir Putin—seem to be running our election, and they are benefiting from our fractured national soul.

I would argue that terrorism is a Piscean phenomenon at its core—getting on the wrong side of Neptune is always a recipe for disaster—and we’ve got front row seats. I say this because there’s a victimization narrative underlying terrorism that enables passive aggression. Passive aggression eludes definition and blends into the scenery—until at some opportune moment, it simply explodes.

Like the watery force of erosion and disillusionment that Neptune wields, these small-scale, relentlessly repeated attacks simply wear away at our national psyche, submerging us in the no-win whirlpool of “damned if we do, damned if we don’t.” The more terrorists we kill and/or incarcerate, the more we create…and on and on ad infinitum. Pluto doesn’t enjoy a monopoly on vengeance—Neptune’s passive version is perhaps even more dreadful.

So, to return to our election dilemma and our fears for the road ahead…maybe it’s time to admit that no matter how we lash out, dominate and close ourselves off from those we deem threats--including the political party/candidate we don't happen to agree with--we will simply create more and deeper enemies, adding more fear and insecurity. We will, in the end, see everyone through the lens of fear and insecurity—much like this week’s pitiful spectacle in North Korea. Going that direction is not going to make us great; perhaps we can begin to make more friends?

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. 

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