Power is one of the most difficult dynamics to define, but as the saying goes, “we know it when we see it.” Or, in the case of disempowered people, they know it when they feel it in their bones.
That’s no exaggeration—power over a target rival (as in competitive sports) is experienced as a physical rush of hormonal satisfaction. “To the victor go the spoils,” the saying goes. We certainly saw this a few nights ago with the Chicago Cubs’ long-overdue, hard-fought World Series victory. I grew up in Chicago, so Go Cubbies!
On the other, disempowered side, the target rival experiences a cellular-level, deadening sense of loss. They did themselves very proud, but we have to imagine that the Cleveland Indians still experienced this deadening feeling at the end of the last series game. It just goes with the territory, but they’ll bounce back—they’re a world class team.
One reason Cleveland can be so resilient is that the World Series is a healthy rivalry, played according to the agreed-upon rules of major league baseball—what astrology would call the Saturnian dimension of competition. If the rules didn’t matter and some type of force was used to influence the game, this would threaten the integrity of the game.
Integrity depends upon internal cohesion—unity between what we believe, say and do, between what the rules say and how the game is played and adjudicated. Obviously, it’s a complex phenomenon subject to many corrupting influences. One potentially corrupting influence is what we might call thug power, a type of power that recognizes no rules, operating on the premise that “might makes right.”
This type of power is closely-related to megalomania—a grossly overblown sense of one’s own importance and absolute entitlement. This extreme, arrogant or “puffed up” type of power-over evokes Jupiter in combination with Pluto. The bigger (Jupiter) the bullies, the more fear (Pluto) they inspire, the more they push around and dominate (Pluto) their target rivals, at least temporarily. This “bigness” (the province of Jupiter) manifests in many ways:
· Physical. Size, weight or fitness and training discrepancies between rivals (pitting a flyweight boxer against a heavyweight, or a white belt in Karate against a black belt).
· Financial. Wealth creates power discrepancies between rivals that can be allowed to determine outcomes. Our “too-big-to-fail” Wall Street finance sector certainly fits this profile.
· Information and Media. Abuse or misuse of facts and information (with enough money and disregard for libel and defamation laws, you can create your own reality, it seems). Neptunian deception/disinformation is often involved here—i.e, enabling the epidemic of “fake news” propagated on the Internet to tear rivals down. This attempt to make up the facts as we go along extends to the election process itself this year; voter suppression attempts seek to challenge the facts of another’s life (i.e., eligibility to vote).
· Emotion. Sentiment is a powerful force, and whether it’s reality-based or not, it can be used to hijack any situation and prejudice a competitive outcome. Volumes could be written about this topic!
· Authority imbalances. The many manifestations of “I’m in charge here, so I am empowered to abuse you.” With Jupiter and Pluto, the imbalances are often more perceived (or culturally and ideologically-rooted) than real because real laws are ruled by Saturn. Such laws are often needed to rein in problems caused by the more perceived ones (domestic abuse, etc.).
True authority imbalances do exist, of course, but they are also more about Saturn—and Pluto, when tyranny, dictatorship and/or corruption are involved. For instance, when the FBI throws its heavy authoritative voice behind one candidate or the other, we’re in Saturn-Pluto territory. The Trump campaign’s suspected use of corrupt FBI agents from the New York field office, however, is a matter of Jupiter-Pluto thug power.
When Vladimir Putin works to undermine our national election to destabilize NATO for his own purposes, that’s also thug power. His chart is heavily-driven by Jupiter-Pluto, with a staunch Taurus Jupiter ruling his Sagittarius ASC from his 6th, square equally fixed 9th house Leo Pluto. His reported mastery of KGB-type disinformation techniques is reflected in that same Jupiter’s opposition to 12th house Scorpio Venus, disposing his amazing Libra MC-Sun-Saturn-Neptune-Mercury stellium. Putin’s Pluto sextiles his Mercury-Neptune conjunction, so we shouldn’t be surprised at reports of information distortion for the sake of power. His chart is featured below.
The “arrogance of power”—arrogant meaning "assuming, overbearing, insolent"—is commonly associated with the Jupiter-Pluto combination because thugs truly assume the rules don’t apply to them.
With this type of power the rules and the limits of fair play (which Jupiter is not particularly worried about) are even further undermined by the 500-lb. astrological gorilla in the room, Pluto; instead, Pluto’s Machiavellian (the “ends justify the means”) power is expanded and projected outward with Jupiter’s influence.
Many summarize Pluto’s power with “sex, death and taxes”—primal aspects of the human condition open to both light and dark uses. Unfortunately, this catchy-sounding list trivializes Pluto’s very real collective, existential threat—nuclear power.
Pluto provides a primal, collective reserve of power—akin to the life force—a force that instills all living beings with the gut-level reassurance that our lives are part of Nature and its eternal cycle of birth, death and rebirth/regeneration.
Depending upon our natal, transiting and/or progressed relationship with this energy, Pluto also endows us with varying degrees of survival anxiety. For this reason, Pluto (with the Moon) is said to rule the human brain’s so-called “reptilian” amygdala (located near the brain’s most primitive stem area).
This primitive area governs the “fight or flight” instinct that allowed the earliest humans to flee from prowling predators on the savannah. This adaptive instinct sends adrenalin coursing through homo-sapien systems, enabling them to flee or fight much more effectively.
In the process, however, this adrenalin rush temporarily shuts down more rational brain centers—simply put, when we’re experiencing survival anxiety, we don’t think clearly. This is super-relevant today, with conspiracy theory-fueled anxieties roiling so many: the threats don’t even need to be real, they only need to be perceived. Jupiter in aspect to Pluto greatly inflates such real or perceived threats, which may be manipulated to enhance whatever unconscious anxieties (Pluto) we are experiencing. If these anxieties are triggered by deceptive fear-mongering (Pluto), Jupiter will enhance the dread and make it more conscious.
The media industry itself seems to be conscious of this problem these days. MoneyCNN.com even published a guide for dealing with “fake news”—there are lots of forces out there hoping to profit from investor panic in the wake of this election, and they’re flooding the Internet with disinformation. Clearly, Neptune plays a role in all this—a story for another day—but the raw power at stake in these manipulative dynamics is music to Pluto’s ears.
While Jupiter makes us more conscious of our fears, it also prompts us to search for their meaning so we can formulate a logical response. This election has shown that many people are ill-at-ease with society’s changing demographics, but the vast majority deals with that reality without existential panic. Those who feel their very survival (Pluto) is at stake in racial identity, however—and that someone “out there” has thus stolen what belongs to them—are caught up in the dark side of Jupiter-Pluto.
The overblown sense of entitlement this duo promotes is difficult to square with anything but total success (a highly subjective measure that says life is meeting/exceeding our expectations) and control of one’s environment. This is difficult for those with race-based survival issues: an Other’s success feels like a big loss to Self, and there’s just so much loss a person can handle before imploding into anger and hatred. We can only imagine what the ultimate cost of this “zero-sum” mentality is to affected individuals and to society itself.
The Jupiter-Pluto cycle in history
History holds horrific examples of this combination’s roughly 12.5 year cycle at work: renowned mundane astrologer Andre Barbault discusses highlights from the cycles between 1906 and 1994 in his recently translated Planetary Cycles: Mundane Astrology, including the following partial list:
· WWI and what Barbault calls the “passing of the great families” (Jupiter-Pluto in Cancer) in its aftermath (1918 cycle);
· Hitler’s rise and reign in Germany (1918 and 1931, both Cancer cycles;
· the building of atomic bombs and the bombing of Hiroshima (1943 Leo cycle);
· the expansion of the Soviet Union (1955 Leo cycle), and
· a Libyan crisis (Gaddafi assumes power), environmental disasters, and early terrorism (1968 Virgo cycle). We can look to the 1955 and 1968 cycles for insight into the Vietnam War, as well.
As with all planetary cycles, however, this Jupiter-Pluto duo can be channeled into both dark and light purposes—Barbault also cites the rise and work of Mahatma Gandhi (born under the 1869 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction) and the election of Nelson Mandela (1994 cycle). These energies provide the ideological clout, expansive self-confidence (Jupiter) and the overbearing will-to-power (Pluto) for either good or evil.
Choosing between these alternative expressions is more complicated than it looks, however. When Jupiter and Pluto are in stressful aspect, compulsions and unresolved karmic issues can crowd everything else out (literally, be “overblown”) unless they are constructively resolved. Income inequality and poverty—fueled by Jupiter-Pluto greed (a stubborn compulsion of our system)—gives rise to black markets, drug trafficking and gangster-style crime. Race-based hatred and xenophobia spikes during these same times—the cycle is as predictable as rain.
Even so, it’s good to know that we can influence how these energies play out—we are not helpless in the face of this power. We need to understand its logic, however, to consciously direct how it is channeled.
Some better uses of Jupiter-Pluto
It’s a good time to explore the more positive uses of these energies now, since we’re already experiencing a Jupiter-Pluto square (give or take an 8° orb) that will last for most of the coming year. The year ahead is definitely looking like a volatile time, so any positive moves will be welcome.
Let’s consider the same list offered above from this more positive perspective. The various categories of power use overlap in important ways, of course, as we’ll see:
· Physical. The relative size of a contender can also imply strength in numbers—democracy is built upon this kind of strength—the masses who feel deeply enough about the issues to vote, and upon the important tradition of majority rule. Jupiter’s heft and optimism, paired with Pluto’s will to succeed are a real blessing here. Nothing scares a tyrant like an educated (Jupiter), united public (Pluto).
· Financial. Our financial system impacts everything from how we put food on the table to how livable this planet will be for our children and grandchildren. Again, the rules driving this sector are driven by our politics, and are subject to democratic change. Jupiter’s ideological weight is a factor here, but ideologies, not to mention Pluto’s survival anxieties, morph and modulate over time.
This year it seems that these energies (along with other forces) have enabled the growth of populist anxiety; historically, such movements have brought change to both Washington and Wall Street, and they can be positive, when directed in a balanced, thoughtful way. In fact, we’ve seen changing attitudes in not just our politics, but in the unexpected comeback of Hamiltonian economics, brought to prominence by a chorus of economists’ voices, and by one powerful, even “too big to fail” play on Broadway.
· Information and Media. Here’s where Saturnian discipline and laws could be used to keep our public discourse more grounded in reality. Exaggerated conspiracy theories and large-scale manipulations of the truth (Jupiter-Pluto) should not be allowed to overwhelm our press. Fact-checking is helpful; taking responsibility for examining all the facts and the credibility of sources is helpful; legal penalties that punish the most egregious abuses of First Amendment rights (slander, defamation, etc.) would be helpful.
Bill Maher asked President Obama in a recent interview if it wasn’t time to re-consider the media industry’s profit motive (Jupiter-Pluto), which he sees as a big part of the problem. Obama acknowledged there’s room for change.
The Supreme Court (Saturn-Jupiter-Pluto) plays an important role here; so many of these issues are affected by technological development and our legal system’s inability to keep up with it, and all of this is a matter of democratic priorities.
· Emotion. It’s hard to legislate or restrain emotion, but our emotional natures can be educated to accept some realities with equanimity and to distinguish between levels of threat. Cynicism is an especially destructive emotion that has been nurtured and played like a piano this election year. We can learn to pick up on this emotional manipulation (Pluto) when we see and hear it—a bit of critical thinking (Mercury-Saturn-Jupiter) works wonders. Not every liberal is bound to do the bidding of the “anti-Christ,” Nancy Pelosi…not every conservative is a Neo-Nazi racist who wants to deport millions of people…the absurdities never end.
· Authority imbalances. IMHO, we Americans need to examine our true inner feelings about authority to make more positive use of Jupiter-Pluto here. One British commentator suggested that we may have a case of “monarch-envy,” and he may have been on to something. Jupiter and Pluto often figure prominently in the natal charts of monarchs: King George III of England (the King we revolted against) had a wide Jupiter-Pluto opposition; George VI had Jupiter sextile Pluto, square Venus and trine Mars; Edward VIII had a wide Jupiter-Pluto conjunction. Monarchs were traditionally viewed as emissaries of God—the seat of godly authority over the people, so having a “larger than life” Jupiter-Pluto disposition helps.
So, do we have a case of “monarch-envy?” That might explain our flirtation with a “strong man” type such as Donald Trump. Do we—with our love of celebrities and TV/Hollywood “royalty”—actually have a repressed desire for an uber-patriarchal, tough-talking leader to tell us what to do and what to think? It certainly shows in the way we glorify thugs on the big screen in the Gangster genre (an American invention).
For that matter, our CSI-type dramas seem deeply nostalgic for Wild West-style law, when lawmen (the mythologized “Sheriff”) were empowered to use whatever intrusive means they needed to catch the bad guys and “string ‘em up,” trial or no trial. Is that the mythical period Trump is evoking with “make America great again?”
Democracy is a big responsibility, and maybe a lot of us would rather capitulate and try something different. This election has lured a whole conga line of skeletons out of our national closet, so perhaps one more is no surprise. Coming to grips with what healthy authority really means within a democracy would be a great use of Jupiter-Pluto.
Jupiter-Pluto & Rosie the Riveter: We Can Do It!
One memorable, positive use of the Jupiter-Pluto cycle was in 1943, in the midst of the Nazi menace and the world at war. Possibly to lighten up his list of horrors from that period, Barbault mentions the iconic “We Can Do It!” poster, published on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943. It is described as an “American wartime propaganda poster,” but it aimed to boost morale in the women keeping the war-time factories humming as “Rosie the Riveters.” This confident, powerful image—a beautiful expression of Jupiter-Pluto at its best—is known worldwide and has come to represent the feminist movement in general.
|J. Howard Miller's "We Can Do It!" poster from 1943|
With all this as our context, let’s consider a few highlights from “Rosie’s” birthchart against the Jupiter-Pluto cycle’s chart that year. The poster was released 64 days before the cycle’s first conjunction on August 1, 1943. We could simply look at the poster through the lens of the cycle chart alone—Barbault seems to have done that—but some details emerge when we look at both together that will add to the conversation.
Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) "We Can Do It!" Poster, May 29, 1943, 12:00 p.m. WT (no exact time known), Indianapolis, IN; (outer wheel) Jupiter-Pluto Cycle 1943, August 1, 1943, 3:16:43 a.m. WT, Washington, DC. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.
“We Can” (WC) Venus conjoins Jupiter (both Cancer); WC Venus sextiles Cycle Venus (Virgo) and Cycle Mars (Taurus). Clearly, these charts together are about the strength of women (Venus) working together (Jupiter’s strength in numbers) to support their soldiers (Cycle Mars and WC Mars in Aries) overseas and protect their families (Cancer Jupiter). This cooperative effort is also displayed by the Cycle Venus-Cycle Mars (Aries) trine. Patriotism is clearly on display in the WC chart with its spirited Cancer emphasis.
The poster pictures a strong, but clearly well-groomed, feminine woman, dressed in a typical factory uniform and a sassy polka-dotted red bandana, flexing her biceps. The image depicts a lively sense of possibility, designed to convince women that they could take on the tough, war-time jobs that required muscle—again, evoking that tough Aries Mars.
The unusual nature of this image for that time is reflected in the WC Sun-Uranus conjunction (Gemini), sextile WC Pluto (Leo), with Uranus also sextile WC Mars (Aries).
WC Jupiter and WC Pluto fall within 12 degrees of completing their 1931 Cancer cycle here—well within the final “balsamic” phase of the cycle. In keeping with that phase, these energies are shedding the outworn baggage they picked up during those horrendous years of Depression and building war, and they are anticipating new expressions of power—in this case, empowered women as a force for moving the country forward. It’s certainly no surprise that this poster has endured as the iconic symbol of American feminism.
Today’s final square
Let’s now fast-forward to November, 2016. The December 2007 Jupiter-Pluto cycle is in its final square phase and abuses of power abound. As mentioned earlier, FBI Director James Comey inserted himself into the election in an unprecedented and damaging way, and whether he intended it or not, his actions were twisted for political purposes. That’s the dark side of this cycle in a nutshell; interestingly, Comey’s Sun (Sagittarius) widely conjoins 2007 Jupiter-Pluto (Sagittarius), so he appears fully engaged with the “Wild West” power dynamics of our times.
The 2016 election primary season unfolded during the final trine of this cycle; it’s ending on the rockier, square note, with pitched battles filling the final moments and probably beyond. Both candidates, of course, have deployed the power of Jupiter-Pluto throughout the campaign—Trump with his “I alone can fix America” message; Clinton with her “Stronger Together” theme. It’s now up to the voters to choose which version of power they want to see in the White House.
Let’s all exercise our Jupiter-Pluto power and vote!!