Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Birth of America, Inc & the astrology of conflicting interests

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Despite Donald Trump’s latest tweet promising he will distance himself from his businesses before taking office, Americans have been flirting with the idea that we need to run the country like a business for a long time. Rarely do we stop to consider what an absurd, conflicted mess that could actually look like in practice. Well, tweets or no tweets, we may be about to find out—if our new top official can’t bring himself to decide between running a government and running a business, why not just push the limits and do both?! 

So, let’s imagine for a bit what “Make America Great Again, Incorporated” (hereafter, America, Inc.) would look like. For astrological purposes, this new hybrid entity will take its first breath on January 20, 2017, at high noon. It’s bound to be a gala, gilded affair. We’ll consider that chart first, next to Donald Trump’s natal chart; then, to assess the effect of all this on the nation itself, we’ll add the U.S. Sibly chart into the mix.

 Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Donald J. Trump, June 14, 1946, 10:54 a.m. DST, Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) Inauguration 2017, January 20, 2017, 12:00 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C.

Inauguration Moon (Scorpio) squares Trump Pluto (Leo) and trines Trump Mercury (Cancer). Any contact to Trump’s Mercury reverberates through his 10th house Mercury-ruled Gemini points (Sun-Node-Uranus), so the emotions of the day will definitely feed his sense of wellbeing and achievement (how could they not?). The Scorpio square to his 12th house Pluto could feel threatening, however; it’s always lonely at the top, even when the man at the top is surrounded by loyalists.

Oh, but who isn’t loyal? Trump’s moody Mercury-Saturn conjunction may let fly a defensive Tweet-storm after the day’s festivities. Mercury loves a wordy tirade, and square Neptune, it’s all about spinning his own reality; Saturn loves to make his points by scolding and deriding any would-be challengers. Bosses have to let off steam, and there’s nothing more important in the corporate world than controlling the narrative. This Cancer conjunction figures into Trump’s style of wielding power overall—more on that ahead.

Interchart Grand Fire Trine: Inauguration Uranus-Eris (Aries) trine Trump Mars-ASC (Leo) trine Inauguration Saturn (Sagittarius). Transiting Uranus-Eris overlays Trump’s 8th house of Other People’s Money here, an influence that’s reinforced by his 8th house ruler Neptune, posited in his personal resources-related 2nd house, square his Mercury and trine Inauguration Sun (Aquarius. 

With his belligerent fixed Mars-ASC (Leo) pulled into the mix here, we see the connection between his financial affairs and his views of leadership—it’s no accident his businesses are referred to as the Trump “Empire”—this Mars radiates the personality of a true Emperor/CEO.

In fact, Uranus-Eris have been transiting through Trump’s 8th throughout the campaign, which can be read as either a breathtaking, shocking opening for linking personal and business aggrandizement, or simply a long, unfolding shock to his financial realities and reputation. One early shocker--Trump Towers could be charging Trump's Secret Service details rent for the space they need in that facility to protect him and his family. Really?!

Any review of Trump's past business practices shows that putting OPM (other people's money) to work for his purposes is a favorite tactic--he certainly didn't invent the idea, but has perhaps honed it to perfection. This tactic is likely to get a work-out in his administration, under this fast-and-loose grand trine energy, Today, we find out that Trump promised Indiana state tax dollars (Mike Pence is still governor) to the Carrier company to keep 1,000 jobs there--photo op to come tomorrow. 

We’ve seen how his belligerent Leo Mars-ASC reacts to challenges—financial or otherwise—and it falls square his equally fixed Taurus MC. Being forced to divest from his businesses (again, tweet or no tweet) will not go down easy. Whose name will go on all those buildings?

Eris likes to be unpredictably shocking (as Trump does), so we’ll have to stay tuned on this one. In a November 22 meeting with the press, Trump was apparently okay with mixing business with the presidency—bragging that his brand is “hotter” than ever.

On Inauguration Day, Trump is not receiving an entirely free pass on meeting the traditional standards for avoiding conflicting interests, however; Inauguration Saturn also conjoins his Sagittarius Moon and opposes the Gemini Sun-Node-Uranus gathering in his 10th house of profession. Saturn has been hovering in this area for awhile—reflecting the push-back he is already getting from inside and outside the government.

The reality is, there are legal hurdles here for this corporate nation’s new CEO, and he will undoubtedly feel emotionally repressed (Saturn conjunct his freedom-oriented Moon) by them. Even so, with his Leo Mars-ASC enabled by this ambitious grand trine, Trump’s “Emperor” persona will likely take over, confronting any obstacles with his signature anger and determination to leverage the situation. This grand trine gives him a “foot in the door” that may be difficult to reverse.

Interchart T-Square: Trump Sun-Node-Uranus (Gemini) opposite Trump Moon-Inauguration Saturn (Sagittarius); this axis squares Inauguration Venus-Chiron-Mars (Pisces). Trump overcame obstacles during the election by being unpredictable and by deflecting any challenges with his default, crude defensiveness (especially on Gemini Twitter). We shouldn’t expect that to change—the Apprentice-style suspense over Cabinet appointments and the Twitter rants behind “Door #1” are clearly tools for distracting us from what goes on behind “Door #2”—there’s a reason Gemini and Pisces are considered “dual” signs—what you see isn’t always what you get.

This duality speaks directly to elusive conflicts of interest—what we think we’re seeing with Trump’s operations may be a small fraction of the entire story, and nailing down what’s actually happening will be difficult because we have few concrete reference points to work with.

Pisces Venus and Mars may simply speak to the stylistics and glamorous attendees sure to grace Inauguration festivities, but with this mutable T-square and Pisces Chiron also over Trump’s 7th house of rivals, this gathering also reflects the likely unpredictability of Trump’s presidency. Unpredictability—transmitted so effectively on Trump’s media of choice (square his Gemini Uranus)—is a useful Machiavellian ploy that throws opposing forces (especially mainstream media) off balance and creates the illusion of “transparency.” Trump goes to great lengths on Twitter to cultivate perception that he “says it like it is,” but the fact-checkers know better.

Chiron’s presence here suggests that Trump will continue feeling victimized and wounded by his “enemies”—especially in the media—it’ll be interesting to see if he starts making noise about Constitutional ideals (Pisces Mars-Chiron-Venus—these points also conjoin Sibly Neptune) being “highly overrated,” and somehow “against” him.

A victim mentality at the top can be toxic on many levels, and a good reason we should not ignore the comments once made by Trump campaign “African American outreach” director, Omarosa Manigault—a person who knows Trump well from her time in the Apprentice:

“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump,” she said. "It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

This wanting to “have it all,” come what may, is reinforced by Trump’s Libra Jupiter disposing his Sagittarius Moon and exactly trining his Gemini Uranus. It’s easy to imagine that the biggest obstacle to avoiding conflicts of interest will be the need to replace his name emblazoned on towers all around the world with something else. Indeed, this could register in his mind like a personal attack.

In fact, with transiting Neptune also in Pisces, disposing Inauguration Venus-Chiron-Mars, we can expect more confusion about where the lines should be drawn between private and public, between corporate and political—and not just when it comes to Trump’s personal/business finances. We’re dealing with blurred distinctions between private/public and corporate/political in numerous areas of public concern—healthcare, education and defense, to name a few.

In all cases we’ve seen so far, the new administration seems to favor an approach that employs public dollars while feeding corporate coffers—certainly a coup for the corporate world, which thrives by offloading expenses on others while raking in the proceeds, generous tax credits in hand. We’ve seen almost a decade of stagnant growth since the 2007-8 recession—could this be the new “growth” plan? Republicans will likely be quite eager to see these corporate-friendly policies enacted—will they be willing to overlook Trump’s personal blurring of financial distinctions to get there?

Interchart Cardinal Grand Cross: Trump Saturn-Venus (Cancer) oppose Inauguration Pluto (Capricorn); this axis squares Trump Jupiter-Inauguration Jupiter (Libra) opposed Inauguration Uranus-Eris (Aries). This is a pressure cooker configuration that is likely to keep things very lively from day one of the Trump administration. We’ve experienced how thin-skinned Trump can be—challenges to his personal power (Pluto overlays his 5th house, opposing his authoritative 11th house) will not go unanswered, especially if he suffers financial consequences (Inauguration Jupiter-180-Uranus-Eris overlays his 2nd-8th house axis and squares Trump’s impatient Venus-Saturn).

We’ll see how this volatile configuration is likely to play out nationally when we add the Sibly chart into the discussion: suffice to say here that we’ll have to figure out what to do when our new president confuses personal and national interests. Yesterday’s Tweet-rant veered between doubling down on his baseless claims that millions of people voted illegally against him, and threatening jail time or loss of citizenship to anyone burning the U.S. flag. He’s been making similar noise about restricting the Internet, as well—linking it in his followers’ minds with terrorism and suggesting that the First Amendment is no excuse. As we’ve seen, controlling the narrative is a constant with him. Are we on a slippery-slope?

The First Amendment (as interpreted by the Supreme Court in several cases) says he cannot carry out any of the above threats, but Trump is clearly signaling that he will challenge that Amendment. Ironically, it seems that homegrown white supremacists can stage “Heil Trump” rallies in the nation’s capital, but protestors objecting to this behavior could be treated like criminals.

We forget at our peril that the corporate mindset is not democratic—capitalist corporations are by definition not democratic institutions. Employees can be fired at a moment’s notice and with barely an excuse; aside from a few paltry federal laws that rarely see enforcement, and without a union representing their needs, they have no rights, in the end. Citizens, on the other hand, do have rights, and the President ultimately answers to us, not the other way around.

This is where the slippery issue of a voter mandate comes in—if words get out that half or more of the American people didn’t vote for him, Trump can’t claim that he has electoral “carte blanche” to do whatever he wants. We see evidence in the news all the time about how important the adulation of others is to him, but this interchart Grand Square seems to say that his current panic over the popular vote and the recounts going on in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania is about something more fundamental—having the freedom, once inaugurated, to act (cardinal signs) with impunity, virtually unopposed.

CEOs and corporations chafe at regulation—a “jobs-killing-impediment” that Republicans never fail to rail against in their economic plans. Trump is very ill-suited temperamentally for any situation that demands restraint and moderation—his freedom-loving Sagittarius Moon disposes his security-oriented Cancer Mercury, and we’ve seen how woven into his personality this Mercury is.  Long story short, the cardinal stresses in Trump’s natal chart will soon be intensified by Inauguration day transits, and we can expect fireworks. 

Should we toss out the Sibly chart and start over with America, Inc.?

On January 20, 2017, sometime around noon, Donald J. Trump will place one hand on a Bible provided, and he will repeat the following oath:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."[1]
We can be assured that well before he says these words, Trump will have rationalized a few loopholes into this job contract. Can he count on the Supreme Court to  rubber-stamp his Executive whims, as Boards of Directors tend to do, or to provide the healthy checks and balances intended? From Trump's ever-streaming Tweets, we can glean an imaginary internal dialogue—yes, a bicameral-brained conversation between the two halves of our president/CEO—that might fill his mind as he takes that oath:

“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours…you aren’t loyal, you wait in line. Why shouldn’t I have it all?…problem is, who needs a complicated mess like the Constitution? What this country needs is an action plan, and I intend to deliver. Besides, the Constitution is just there for show…appearances matter, I guess…I would be the first one to say how important appearances are, so it looks good and it gives us lots of leverage, but I’ll decide which parts will make America great again and which won’t. I’m the only one who can fix this disaster. Anybody makes trouble (don’t those greedy students know they got a bargain?), I’ll hit them back twice as hard. No more having to settle. I could do anything, and who’s going to tell me no? Hey, that’s nothing illegal…if the president does it, it must be legal.”

So, perhaps there’s a new national/corporate charter in the works, and it starts something like: “We the president/CEO cannot have a conflict of interest, and here are the new rules of the game.”

On a more serious note, let’s examine the triwheel below—I’m only interested here in national issues that Trump’s election will raise; we’ll try to avoid rehashing issues we’ve already discussed above.

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) U.S. Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Washington, D.C.; (middle wheel) Donald J. Trump, June 14, 1946, 10:54 a.m. DST, Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) Inauguration 2017, January 20, 2017, 12:00 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C.

Interchart Mutable Grand Square: Trump Sun-Node-Uranus (Gemini) conjoin Sibly Mars (Gemini) and oppose Trump Moon (Sagittarius); this axis squares Sibly Neptune (Virgo) opposite Inauguration Venus-Chiron-Mars (Pisces). I’ve written extensively about the Sibly Mars-Neptune square and the “fog of war” it has enabled repeatedly through history. Any time the nation has been caught between military ambitions and founding ideals, this “fog” has come in handy—recasting the adventure as somehow glorious, in defense of democracy, and so on. Not to say that wars can’t ever be justifiable, but it’s often difficult to tell which is which.

Trump’s powerfully erratic, Uranus-charged full Moon configuration now takes hold of the nation’s armed forces, a position he might consider “destined” (North Node). Many military leaders expressed concern about his temperament during the election campaign, but “Make America Great Again” has been a military quest from day one (Trump Moon over Sibly 1st, opposite Sibly Mars).

Despite the misgivings of these leaders, however, Trump won and has now made retired Lt. General Mike Flynn—a known military “hothead”—his chief national security advisor. The new “fog of war” (this PR technique distorts reality to justify a predetermined military plan) appears to be taking shape as we speak.

The fog is further thickened by distorting our national ideals and leveraging the longing people have for the American Dream in the process (Inauguration Venus-Chiron-Mars (Pisces) opposite Sibly Neptune (Virgo). From the today:

“What if someone were to tell you that China and North Korea are allied with militant Islamists bent on imposing their religious ideology worldwide?
You might not agree. After all, China and North Korea are officially secular Communist states, and China has blamed religious extremists for violence in Muslim areas of its Xinjiang region.
But such an alliance is the framework through which retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the pick of President-elect Donald J. Trump for national security adviser, views the two East Asian countries. To the list of pro-jihadist anti-Western conspirators, General Flynn adds Russia, Cuba and Venezuela, among others.”
Flynn has reportedly tweeted that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL…” and he’s known to favor a worldwide war on terror. Unfortunately, for certain people, any challenge to their power is a terrorist act. 
Trump Mars (Leo) opposes Sibly Moon (Aquarius) and inconjoins the Sibly Mercury (Cancer)-Sibly Pluto (Capricorn) opposition. Trump will want obedience (Leo’s the king) and cooperation from the American people (Sibly Moon), and he will see the opportunity to leverage their energies through the press and through the finance industry (inconjuncts to Sibly Mercury and Pluto). That leverage will likely be to “divide and conquer”—hence, Breitbart News owner Steve Bannon’s appointment—but the flip side of that leverage could be to “unite” the country around the military quest discussed above.
Will we see an attack on our soil that is used to justify a military campaign, as happened in 2001? Saturn was conjunct the Sibly DSC on 9/11; this year it’s been transiting opposite that point and is now opposite Sibly Mars, suggesting that we may mount the initial attack this time. 
Suffice to say, if the American people begin feeling bullied into going along with questionable military adventures (or attempts to divide us internally against each other), this will be the configuration in play.

Interchart Cardinal Grand Cross: Inauguration Uranus-Eris (Aries)-Sibly Chiron (Aries) oppose Sibly Saturn (Libra)-Trump Chiron-Jupiter (Libra)-Inauguration Jupiter (Libra); this axis squares Trump Saturn-Venus (Cancer)-Sibly Mercury/Sun opposition to Inauguration Pluto (Capricorn). There’s a whole lot going on here, obviously, and as we’ve already seen in the first chart analysis above, the cardinal energies in Trump’s chart are on a collision course with Inauguration day cardinal transits, so we won’t rehash all that.
Here, the legislative/judicial apparatus and the nation’s system of checks and balances (Sibly Saturn-Sun) are added into the stress. Trump has promised to stretch the boundaries of democracy, with little care for how that looks on the world stage. Corporations can always hire “spin-doctors” to smooth out those wrinkles, and America, Inc.—decidedly enabled by Pluto’s Capricorn transit—will be no different.
About that Capricorn transit: applying a corporate mandate to foreign and domestic “growth” policies (square Inauguration-Trump Jupiters, and Sibly Saturn) means redefining sovereign nations as exploitable profit centers, an approach that will most certainly trigger resistance. Truth be told, we have probably already flirted with this type of foreign policy in historical misadventures, but let's focus on today. The pushback we will get from countries on the other end of these global "deals" can always be construed to look like terrorism from here, but don’t other nations have a right to preserve their own resources and freedom? Is this the pitiful “greatness” we’re looking for ahead?
We shouldn’t ignore the potential for deep internal harm, here, as well. With Inauguration Uranus-Eris on Sibly Chiron—a long-standing transit—old wounds (racial divisions, for instance) and new (a possible loss of global stature and democratic institutions) stand to be ripped wide open. Many would argue that our global stature and democratic institutions are what made us “great” to begin with—so, what’s the plan, America, Inc.?

 Final thoughts
We are still far from having a complete picture of Trump’s finances and potential conflicts of interest, but even legally-required (Inauguration Saturn) disclosures could be undermined under the stressful cardinal configurations we’ve seen above. He may never release one tax return, unless forced to do so by a subpoena--will the IRS also answer to him? 

At the same time his team (Reince Priebus, especially) has been promising that Trump will abide by all laws, etc., Trump himself has long been signaling that he believes “The president cannot have a conflict of interest.” 

Today’s Tweet inserts the usual double whammy into that stand and says that yes, Trump knows that he can have such conflicts and that he intends to work them out. Importantly, his Tweet acknowledges it’s “visually important” to avoid such conflicts. Let’s hope that his work-around isn’t just about the appearance of impropriety. It’s not just appearances that matter here.

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, November 21, 2016

The Uranus-Neptune cycle & a “Post-Truth” world

Collective energies such as
Uranus and Neptune remind us of Humanity’s primal
connection to, and need for the Cosmos. 

Indeed, to “get” Uranus and Neptune—called by Dane Rudhyar the “twin poles between which all existential wholes oscillate, each alternatively waxing and waning in strength.”[1]—is to begin building our lives around the Cosmos, to consciously play with the dynamics of the Collective (Neptune) and the Individual (Uranus), of Yin and Yang, of Spirit and Matter.

Not surprisingly, the natural cycle of this pair is related to life on a grand level—the “unfoldment of civilizations,” according to Baigent, Campion and Harvey. The current transiting cycle between these two began in February 1993 at 19+Capricorn (see outer wheel, Biwheel #1) and is said by these authors to portend “the foundations for the emergence of a major new model for world socio-economic development.”[2] An in-depth interpretation is beyond the scope of this article, but a brief glance at a biwheel of this chart and the U.S. Sibly chart (Biwheel #1 below) reinforces what we’ve been living these past 23+ years—that conservative-leaning economic globalization has been the new “model” unfolding:

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) U.S. Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT., Philadelphia, PA; (outer wheel) Uranus-Neptune cycle, February 2, 1993, 12:46:43 p.m. ST, Washington, DC.

1993 Jupiter conjuncts (within 8’) the USA Saturn, exalted in the 10th, expanding the reach of US influence and power by downplaying regulation and sound economic structures (Saturn) for the sake of growth (Jupiter).

1993 Sun (Aquarius) inconjoins Sibly Sun (Cancer), linking the 3rd house of the media—importantly social media—with the Sibly 8th house (our propensity to go outside of our own boundaries for resources).

Interchart T-Square: 1993 North Node (Sagittarius) opposes Sibly Mars; this axis squares Sibly Neptune at the Sibly MC. This stressful mutable configuration indicates a “date with destiny” that continues to challenge the illusions (Neptune) we have about ourselves. If Election 2016 taught us anything, it’s that there’s deep nostalgia afloat for the so-called “American Dream” (Neptune).

Instead of a return to the “Dream,” however, since 1993 we’ve seen a series of military adventures (Mars) that have done little to support the American gut feeling that we are somehow “exceptional”—that we’re the ideological “shining City upon a Hill,” for better or worse—(1993 Jupiter was also square 1993 Neptune).

This void evokes an emotional longing that can easily be leveraged by political agendas—we saw it in 2008, with Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” theme (Election Jupiter conjunct 1993 Uranus-Neptune), and in Election 2016, with Pluto conjunct 1993 Uranus-Neptune. Obama’s “audacity of hope” (Jupiter) has morphed into a darker focus on power-over (Pluto). If we can’t “Make America Great Again” by being diplomatic, generous and conciliatory, we’ll try “winning by any means.” 

Clearly, the 1993 Node-Sibly Mars-Neptune t-square also foreshadowed the rise of the “Post-Truth” world we’ve been hearing so much about since at least 2005, the year Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness”—“The quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts.” The will to alter or distort the facts on the ground to achieve an aim makes perfect sense with this mutable Mars-Neptune aspect.

Importantly, this t-square merely previewed the distortions to come as Uranus and Neptune moved into mutual reception (inhabiting each others’ signs of rulership) in 2003. This happened with Uranus’s ingress into Pisces in March, 2003—just in time for the deceptions that led us into the Iraq War.

This Pisces ingress chart is very interesting: among other historical issues, it helps us put the current election into a broader context as well.

Chart #1: Uranus MR Neptune 2003 (Uranus Pisces ingress), March 10, 2003, 4:15:52 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Neptune rules: Leo ASC disposed by Sun in Pisces and the T-square it forms with Moon-Saturn (Gemini) opposite Pluto (Sagittarius). Neptune is certainly the “King-maker” here—it accounts for the world’s infatuation with Britain’s growing royal family, but also (more troublingly), the rise and fall of strong-man dictators and terrorism since this time (see this link for a sobering list that fits this time period). Time will tell, but it’s perhaps a chilling note that this ASC is closely conjoined by Trump’s powerful Mars (chart not shown).

Jupiter (Leo) opposes Neptune-Venus (Aquarius); Uranus in Pisces disposes Neptune; Jupiter disposes Pluto in Sagittarius. Unfortunately, this aspect does nothing to dial back the “strong-man” agenda pushed by this chart, which is even further empowered by disposing planet Uranus in the 7th house of enemies. The period from 2003 to the present has been marked by repeated military involvement in the Middle East. This period coincided with the radical (Aquarius) privatizing of the U.S. military, as well, meaning billions upon billions of dollars (Venus) have found their way into corporate hands in the process, making war an even more blatant “bottom line” affair. Jupiter promotes territorial expansion, and opposite Neptune, ideological purposes enable that quest.

Curiously, Obama put the brakes on military interventions with his controversial refusal to put “boots on the ground” in Syria, but Trump how shown signs of reversing that position, along with the Iran nuclear pact. Already, Putin is putting out signals that he will be asking the Trump administration for “help bombing Syria.” Suffice to say here, some prominent foreign policy experts see any Trump moves to use ISIS as an excuse for cooperating with Russia in Syria as being very dangerous. We’ll certainly be seeing more about this after January, if not before.

Throughout this post-2003 period, Russia, led by strongman Vladimir Putin (natal Libra Saturn-Neptune conjunction, sextile Leo Pluto and square Cancer Uranus—see my October 2, 2015 post here) has been patiently reinstating itself as a military superpower by acquiring territories (i.e., Crimea) and threatening to do the same in the Baltic nations. In fact, Putin’s rise to power closely correlates with the entire 1993 Uranus-Neptune cycle to this point—see the above-referenced article for more detail.

As for Putin’s tactics, disinformation and Internet hacking (both highly Neptunian—well-suited to a former head of the KGB) often open the doors, but heavy-handed military intervention seems to follow close behind. It’s hard to say what Russia’s relationship is with Wikileaks, but both entities specialize in Neptunian techniques, and they often appear to work in tandem. “Truthiness” has been an international affair.

It’s official: this is a Post-Truth era

So Colbert’s “truthiness” has now taken hold as “Post-Truth”, the Oxford Dictionaries 2016 Word of the Year and an apt description of our entire post-1993 era.  Oxford based its decision on the almost viral use of this term during the UK Brexit referendum and the U.S. Election 2016, but as we’ve seen, a “post-truth” reality been sneaking up on us for years already. Post-Truth is defined by Oxford as:

“relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

The Washington Post clarifies, with a bit of sarcasm (which seems pretty fitting):

“In this case, the ‘post-‘ prefix doesn't mean ‘after’ so much as it implies an atmosphere in which a notion is irrelevant — but then again, who says you have to take our word for it anymore?

Throughout a grueling presidential campaign in which accusations of lies and alternate realities flowed freely, in every direction, hundreds of fact checks were published about statements from both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Dozens of media outlets found that Trump's relationship with the truth was, well, complicated.
“We concede all politicians lie,” conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote in September. “Nevertheless, Donald Trump is in a class by himself.”

If Election 2016 was a “Post-Truth” phenomenon, it is in large part due to the rise of social media since the Uranus-Neptune mutual reception took hold. Facebook was an early manifestation (founded in 2004); fast-forward to 2016 and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had to admit that his creation influenced the election with an epidemic of unrestrained “fake news.” Trump benefited greatly from the fakery, and he ran the first campaign to use social media outlet Twitter (founded in 2006) to similar disturbing effect. According to NPR, he’s not about to give it up:

An unprecedented feature of Donald Trump's successful campaign for president was his personal use of Twitter and it has continued as Trump meets with advisers and potential members of his cabinet. If this continues into Trump's presidency, the method will be new, but the approach will be in line with a long tradition of presidents going around the so-called filter of the press.

Of course, the “filter” the mainstream press applies to news events involves fact checking—the Saturnian mandate of this First Amendment-based institution, an important player in any democracy’s “checks and balances” on government power. When used honestly, social media can play an important role in that balance of power, without distorting the facts—it certainly enables citizens to organize around a cause, wherever they are.

However, when social media is allowed to become a vehicle for lies, fear-mongering and hateful divisiveness, the purveyors cross lines that produce real damage. The job of fact-checkers was exceedingly difficult—and important—throughout the election, and remains so. No, Trump, you can’t take credit for saving Ford Motor Co. jobs in Kentucky when they were never actually threatened. Hopefully, when CEO Bill Ford Jr. called the president-elect again to say as much, he mentioned the reality that Barack Obama’s 2009 intervention actually did save jobs (thousands of them).

There’s been no statement acknowledging the mistake from Trump, but now, in his latest Tweetstorm, he wants the cast of Hamilton to apologize for exercising their First Amendment rights with VP-elect Mike Pence. How many far-more-destructive pronouncements on Twitter has Trump apologized for?

Conflicts of interest

In another “Post-Truth” manifestation, Trump quickly reversed campaign promises that there would be no conflicts of interest between his businesses and the presidency; no need to rehash the story here, but let’s just say that Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe might as well have been meeting with Trump, Inc. when he met with Trump, daughter Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Saturn has been square a powerful Pisces Neptune pretty much throughout the election; with Saturn a bit debilitated in Sagittarius, it’s no wonder that the erosion of borders (including the border between truth and fiction) has been a constant concern. Neptune washes away structured, rules- and data-based logic (Saturn) with emotion, ideological (often religion-based) sentiment and sensory perception. If a conflict of interest “feels right,” it must “be right?”

Colbert captured this distinction beautifully in 2005 when he framed “truthiness” as a battle between brain-based “facts” and gut-based “truth,” saying ”…anyone can read the news to you; I promise to feel the news at you.”

When contradictions arise between fact-based reporting and those who make it up as they go along, Neptune has a long list of tactics for batting them away: denial, dismissal, doublespeak, euphemisms, distortion, ambiguity, conspiracy thinking, and the very twisted phenomenon of gaslighting. Needless to say, Pluto contributes to the last two tactics, which can be psychologically very abusive, unhinging their victims from a confident sense of self and their connection to the world.

Saying one thing and doing another—hypocrisy—fits here as well, as do many other passive aggressive techniques (Mars-Neptune).

Sorry, Potter…

While the hope of “dreaming” our desires into reality has an important place in human psychology (the positive side of Neptune), unless accompanied by the required effort (Saturn), imagining something does not make it physically so. Harry Potter may be a whiz with his magic wand, but we Muggles are more earthbound. It’s true that the Saturn-Neptune cycle gives us opportunities to “manifest the dream,” but the manifestation part of it takes Saturnian effort on someone’s part.

Children celebrating Christmas wake up to find gifts have “magically appeared” under the holiday tree, but parents (Saturn) know that there was nothing magical about it.

Another Neptunian pitfall takes over when we consider lies and illusions simply the flip-side of truths in some alternate reality (or website), or we begin accepting that objective and subjective realities are somehow reversible. Lying about another person out of self-interested mean-spiritedness is slander; that and defaming a person’s reputation for one’s own personal gain fall under our libel laws: it sure seems that Neptune has undermined our Saturnian laws in this regard.

Trump, in fact, claimed during the campaign that he would like to see stronger libel laws applied to the press. Only, he’s gone to the “flip-side:” his ire is always raised when the press questions his version of reality and insists upon fact-checking! Access to the facts, fact-checking and challenging the Trump administration to answer questions completely and factually will be serious ongoing issues. Neptune will erode our First Amendment if we don't stay focused and attentive. Expect distractions!

The so-called epidemic of “Fake News” this past election—which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally seems to be taking seriously, now that the election is over—violated all this and more by twisting our perceptions and undermining our ability to sort fact from fiction. This violates the intent of the First Amendment, as well, which doesn’t (and shouldn’t) protect slander and libel.

These deliberate distortions are the pathological tools that eventually destroy organisms of all types, even societies: just as the inability to differentiate between helpful and threatening bacteria disables biological immune systems, a similar threat to incoming information weakens a society; in both cases, defensive systems breakdown. These are all Neptunian processes, empowered greatly by the ongoing Uranus-Neptune cycle.

Since the current Saturn-Neptune square first formed in November 2015, the Neptunian Internet has steadily undermined mainstream media’s efforts at journalistic integrity (Saturn), with millions of people now claiming they get their news from social media. As a highly useful technology, the Internet is ruled by Uranus, but it’s proven to be quite susceptible to Neptune’s viral momentum and at times, almost “lynch mob” mentality.

What passes for news is another story, however, but all is not lost: despite Neptune’s tendency to blur and erode the boundaries between them, there are bright lines between truth and fiction that social planet Saturn goes to great pains to protect.

This protection is a matter of survival for societies—especially democratic ones in which the people hold their leaders to a constitutional standard. Earthy Saturn is far more focused on the wellbeing of societies than other-worldly Neptune is. Neptune is the deluge/epidemic/invasive species that swallows and dissolves everything in its path, if there are no Saturnian structures and limits to contain it.

As co-ruler of Aquarius, Saturn sees eye-to-eye with Uranus in many areas, so Saturn’s role in navigating the current Uranus-Neptune cycle—especially in reining in the most damaging manifestations of that duo’s mutual reception—is key.

The threat of dissolution could be real

We’re seeing very troubling instances of an out-of-balance Neptune today: a political administration that denies the reality of climate change (despite copious evidence) and dismisses it as a “Chinese conspiracy” can mean literal death and destruction. Dissolving our connection to scientific fact is like succumbing to a collective dementia, the invasive undermining of a society’s “neural networks.” At stake are the society’s ability to reason and to distinguish between internal (wishful, escapist or simply self-interested thinking), and external reality (measured by scientists from hundreds of fields).

Once this undermining process takes hold, it feeds upon itself (the same dynamic that also gives Neptune rulership over epidemics) and results could be devastating.

Cosmic dance partners

We’ve seen how the 2003-10 Uranus-Neptune mutual reception complicated and intensified Neptune’s tendency toward mind-bending irrationality, but what do we make of Pisces and Aquarius (naturally semi-sextile, a tense aspect, akin to the inconjunct) providing the “twin poles” of that Individual/Collective duality represented in all this?  As we’ve seen above, such frustrating energies are at the heart of this cycle of history for the U.S. (if not the globe), and they will undoubtedly continue to fuel “interesting” times ahead.

When the sparks fly between the Great Awakener (Uranus) and the Great Unifier, (Neptune), what Rudhyar calls “We consciousness” is born. If Aquarius co-ruler Saturn and Pisces co-ruler Jupiter (the social planets) are channeled productively in a given situation, the interplay between the Individual and Collective levels can ultimately benefit societies. Making sure that happens is another, challenging story.  

In their dynamic “dance,” Uranus and Neptune showcase both their glowing, hopeful qualities, and their darker potentials as well; through history, they have inspired periods of soaring artistic expression such as the Renaissance in Europe, and the most pernicious wars and authoritarian regimes (many examples). Together, they traffic in sudden, broad civilization-level change that seems to come out of nowhere until, with the benefit of hindsight, we see that the signs of that change were there for decades.

That quiet, elusive change in societies and civilizations is similar to a fetus developing in the Neptunian waters of the womb, where it gestates unseen (before the onset of ultrasound) for months on end. Collective entities experience repeated periods of development that go largely unnoticed until Uranus shakes things up with some major change.

Neptune’s role in such change is always to quietly prepare the ground over a long period of time, level the structures that might successfully resist that change, render key differences that separate us (or that we feel identify us) irrelevant, and relieve us of our illusions—of grandeur, entitlement, “exceptionalism,” and of immortality. Entities such as civilizations and societies evolve along the same natural life cycles we individuals do, and yes, they have the same “feet of clay.”

When civilizations erode beyond recognition, there is inevitably a death/transformation crisis and a rebirth around a new set of collective values and ideas that new inhabitants choose to embody. People drive these rebirths by channeling the energies of social planets Jupiter and Saturn into rebuilding social institutions and guiding principles. The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) provide the developmental matrix, but the social planets drive what kind of society will evolve within that matrix. Decisions of this magnitude are being made in our name as we speak--as they say, we need to "stay woke" and be prepared to respond. 

Final thoughts

So, we’ve seen that dramatic change can sneak up on us: Neptune has a way of smothering Uranus’s drive for radical change, but when the ground is ready, bam! The nature of the radical change we’ve seen this year, however, also reflects how we've deployed the energies of Jupiter and Saturn since 1993. We're still the very early days of Uranus-Neptune’s 172-year cycle, so it's a good time to remember that what we put into this cosmic system is what we get out!

Jupiter and Saturn enter Capricorn in the next couple years, joining transiting Pluto (Capricorn) on its final return into its Sibly position in 2022. Transiting Neptune (Pisces) will oppose Sibly Neptune (Virgo) at that same time and will be within orb for about a year after. These will be consequential times for American society on many levels (see Oct. 10th, 13th and 16th posts here for more), and the choices we make between now and then will tell the story. 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. 

[1] Rudhyar, Dane, The Galactic Dimension of Astrology, Aurora Press, NY, NY, 1975, page 46.

[2] Charles Baigent, Nicolas Campion, Charles Harvey, Mundane Astrology: An Introduction to the Astrology of Nations and Groups, Thorsons, London, 1984, page 178.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Venus Wars: Gender, Election 2016 and the looming Roe v. Wade battle ahead

These wars didn’t really sneak up on us, of course—the signs have been there all through the election, but perhaps women who value their rights will want to pay close attention going forward. 

I’m still trying to process this one. Breaking that highest, most difficult glass ceiling could have happened this past week, but even though Clinton won the lion’s share of women’s votes (many normally Republican women, as well), those votes just weren’t enough to overcome an abnormally high Republican male turnout, accompanied by disaffected Bernie Sanders’ voters, and so on.

To be fair, women who rejected Clinton to vote for Trump were not her only problem—and the Atlantic cautions us therefore that it’s unfair to blame women for Clinton’s loss. Still, in pondering a number of factors and astrological charts in play on November 8th, I have to say that the gender dynamics of this election deserve a deeper look.

For starters, there’s been more hatred and vitriol spewed about women this past year than I care to catalog, and it hasn’t all been from Trump-jazzed men. Some of the hateful rhetoric against women unleashed by Trump’s campaign is being meted out by other women. Witness today the bizarre case of a female mayor in Clay, West Virginia resigning over remarks she made on Facebook  (yes, women can be more venomous against their own than men):

“The mayor of a tiny town in West Virginia has resigned amid a firestorm over racist comments about Michelle Obama, according to the town recorder.
Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling, who had commented approvingly on a Facebook post comparing the first lady to an ape, turned in her letter of resignation Tuesday. Joe Coleman, the town recorder, said Whaling’s resignation was effective immediately, according to the Associated Press.”
The wellbeing of a nation is often considered an extension of that nation’s chief executive—astrologically, the national Sun—so it’s logical to see the wellbeing of its women in the executive’s wife—here, the First Lady, or FLOTUS.

So, if Venus represents the nation’s First Lady (the Moon would be reserved for the executive’s mother) and the nation’s female population in general, this race-laced “mean girls” comment raises questions about Venus’s role in our schizophrenic national psyche (see Nov. 12th post). Especially this week, in the wake of an aggressive takeover of all branches of the government by the very alpha male Trump camp, what can we expect for women’s issues and wellbeing going forward? 

To be fair, 112 women candidates who ran campaigns this past election for Congress and other State elected offices won—including the first ever Somali-American Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, elected in Minnesota despite Trump’s 11th hour attempt to divide Minnesotans against their black, Muslim Somali community. So that’s one statistical bone to chew on. Without a lot deeper dive into each candidate’s background and history, however, it’s hard to say whether typical women’s issues like reproductive freedom benefitted from these numbers or not.

As we can see with former Mayor Whaling, there’s no guarantee that women in power will support (or even respect) the so-called feminist agenda, much less individual women in power. It all seems to depend upon the filters through which we see the world, especially our view of a woman’s “place” in the scheme of things. Clinton and her supporters felt strongly that that place was in the White House, blazing new trails for women; female Trump supporters passed over that opportunity for a confusing mix of reasons—from the alpha male perspective, the election was a real exercise in gender-based “divide and conquer.”

Maybe the charts we’ll examine ahead will help explain why the lack of solidarity between women should be no surprise—we are individuals, after all, and gender loyalty is just one of the many challenges we have to navigate. A little historical background is in order.

The ill-fated ERA and the infamous Roe v. Wade

Case in point, the 1970s Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) that sought to enshrine women’s equality in the Constitution (guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, equal protections under the law, etc.), was  both supported and fatally undermined by women, the most damaging blows dealt by the women who followed the conservative Eagle Forum’s founder, Phyllis Schlafly.

The ERA would “disadvantage housewives,” Schlafly argued—an argument that unfolded in several directions, but Schlafly seems to have viewed women as handmaidens who stand to benefit in a man’s world if they simply don’t rock the boat. That the ERA would serve “career women” was a loaded adjunct to that argument—conservatives were very suspicious of this growing minority of women who wanted to forge more self-empowered pathways and disrupt the status quo.

Another big issue at the time was military conscription—few at that time could envision women being drafted, or even serving in anything but support roles. It’s hard to reconcile the serious gains that “liberated” women were making in those days with these conservative reservations, but this resistance swayed several state legislatures that decided not to ratify the amendment. It should also be remembered that by the time the ERA was pronounced dead for lack of state ratification (1980), Roe v. Wade (1/22/1973) had been passed by the Supreme Court.

Even though that 7-2 decision was based on a successfully-argued privacy argument—that the choice to terminate a pregnancy is a private matter between a women and her physician—Roe v. Wade has seriously deepened the divide between women over the years. Not only couldn’t we agree that women should be paid equally to men in the same positions, but we still can’t agree about who should control what goes on in our uteruses.

We’re familiar with the 80/100 wage gap between women and men (in equal jobs), but the complexities of the wage gap far exceed that simple ratio, and the percentage is much worse for women of color. Incredibly, any time the issue surfaces—as it did during Obama’s tenure—a certain number of women line up to make sure that wage parity doesn’t happen.

The best Obama could manage was to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a federal statute that sought to reverse loopholes in the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ability to protect minority workers from wage discrimination. Though Ms. Ledbetter was a woman, this 2009 action didn’t help women in general to any extent: in fact, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) estimates that we’re not likely to see full wage parity before the year 2152! That’s assuming we haven’t bickered ourselves out of existence by that point.

On the issue of reproductive rights, the divide between female factions is very much in play right now: Trump supporters are expecting their candidate to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat with an anti-Roe v. Wade super-hero, and those who want to block Trump nominations will fight hard. It’s already on. So, how do we make sense of this astrologically?

Ladies, choose your sides…

In looking at the chart for the Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, 1973 (inner wheel, biwheel below), one of the key factors that leaps off the page is that Venus conjoins the North Node in Capricorn, even as it exactly opposes the Sibly Sun (Cancer, chart not shown). No matter one’s view of the decision, American women (Venus) had a date with destiny (Node) that day. Because Venus has played such a key role in this issue, the point of that planet’s return to the Roe v. Wade chart may tell us something important.

Significantly, this return is about to happen this November 23rd, so let’s consider the biwheel between the radix (natal) Roe v. Wade chart and this Venus event. No one is likely to decide anything about Roe v. Wade that very day, but November 23rd appears likely to set the tone for the battle everyone expects to happen in the coming year.

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Roe v. Wade Decision, January 22, 1973, 12:00 p.m. ST (no exact time known), Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) Venus Return, Roe v. Wade decision, November 23, 2016, 11:10:32 ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Interchart T-Square: Return Venus-Pluto conjoin RW Venus-Node (all Capricorn) and oppose RW South Node (Cancer); this axis squares Return Jupiter (Libra)-RW Uranus/Pluto (midpoint, Libra). Tremendous power over women (Jupiter square Venus-Pluto) looks to be at stake here, which could certainly mean an attempt to overturn or undermine Roe v. Wade. Significantly, this power-over would essentially impose a religiously-held belief (Jupiter) about the issue of abortion on millions who do not share that belief. Of course, Roe v. Wade doesn’t force anyone to have an abortion; those who have religious misgivings are simply not allowed to impose their views on others who do not. This has been the stubborn sticking point for this issue from day one.

Big money (Pluto-Venus-Jupiter) is also at stake for politicos driven by campaign contributions. The Supreme Court has fully enabled such entanglements with its Citizens United decision (2010), so it will be interesting to see how many billions are poured into this issue going forward. There are billions on both sides of it, so something to watch.

Neptune (Pisces) square radix Neptune (Sagittarius). This “midlife crisis” transit certainly speaks to the urgency so many millions—on both sides of the issue—seem to feel about Roe v. Wade’s future. There’s a true clash of ideologies (Neptune) at work, and there’s a fair amount of Neptunian distortion and disinformation at work in the public discourse. It probably is a good time to revisit the decision and re-evaluate the decision’s original intent for coming generations, but cutting through the rhetoric to reach the facts will be a challenge. Any changes that result will likely reflect the mutable energies below.

Return Mercury-Saturn (Sagittarius) conjoin RW Mars (and widely, Neptune-both in Sagittarius) and oppose RW Saturn (Gemini). It’s worth noting that these mutable aspects tie in pretty tightly with Trump’s natal Gemini-Sagittarius oppositions (not shown), which likely reflects his freedom (Sagittarius) to make Supreme Court nominations impacting this issue (Jupiter disposes Sagittarius). 

These energies remind us also that it’s dangerous to view the Court’s likely actions through a gender prism alone—the original court was entirely male, and the vote supporting Roe v. Wade was a generous 7 to 2. There was a decided liberal bias to the Court in the 1970s, and this bias is clearly endangered, despite the fact that three of the eight Justices on the Court at this time are women (2 of them appointed by President Obama).

The legal mind-set (Mercury-Saturn) that the Court is likely to bring to its re-evaluation of Roe v. Wade should be relatively open and philosophical (Sagittarius), but the standing of the decision’s legal precedent may be challenged (Return Saturn opposed RW Saturn), and we know challengers will probably base their argument on language (Mercury) that redefines the status of a fetus as a full person, with full human rights. This also speaks to the broad ideological arguments (Neptune) in play here.

Interchart Grand Trine: Return Mars (Aquarius) trines RW Saturn (Gemini) and Return Jupiter (Libra). This powerful air-sign configuration appears poised to unleash revolutionary action (Aquarius Mars) into the judicial discourse (Gemini Saturn-Libra Jupiter) surrounding the reproductive rights issue. The outcome could feel decidedly authoritarian—Aries Uranus disposes Return Mars and trines Return Mercury-Saturn, at the same time it opposes Libra Jupiter.

It’s also worth noting that Return Uranus opposes RW Uranus, yet another “midlife crisis” transit. Unfortunately, this transit often inspires rash action that is deeply regretted later—the challenge being to make needed adjustments without destroying everything positive about the original situation. Importantly, Return Mars and Uranus are in mutual reception (inhabiting each other’s ruling signs), increasing the probability of rash action.

A few additional points

When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, Saturn (Gemini) formed a tight trine with the Uranus/Pluto (midpoint, Libra). We were roughly 2 years into Pluto’s tour of Libra at that time, so the issues of power, justice—and reproductive control—(Pluto) for women (Venus disposes Libra) loomed very large. Judging by the Return Venus-Pluto conjunction, this desire for control is no less important today, but the square to these points from Aries Uranus and the semi-sextile from Aquarius Mars may present a daunting challenge.

Given the “yang” nature of Uranus and Mars—especially in mutual reception between the very masculine feeling signs of Aries and Aquarius—we may need to brace ourselves for a revolutionary-end run, designed to put women back in that “place” the patriarchy and its handmaidens reserve for us. Is this what it means to "make America great again?" 

Face it—if this election's misogynistic tone and the hundreds of reported hate crimes against women that followed are any indication, there are angry men out there (and some women) who blame women's progress for usurping their power. If this dynamic is allowed to fester unanswered, we could see some unfortunate gender wars on the horizon. It would be disingenuous, for that matter, to say we didn't see the signs of gender conflict looming—these signs have been there all through the election, for those who were listening and watching. 

Perhaps women who value their rights will want to pay close attention going forward. There are better ways to use the energies in this dramatic Venus return, so let's pay attention to the warning shots!

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.