Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cosmic Connections: exploring how young people become radicalized, from Srebrenica to Brussels

Here we are again, mourning the victims of yet another terrorist attack–this one on March 22nd in Brussels—and wondering why

Political candidates have all chimed in with promises to “destroy ISIS,” but I can’t help thinking the discussions hardly define the problem, much less offer a plausible solution (i.e., one that won’t simply play into the terrorist agenda). Are we “at war with radical Islam,” as some would have us believe? Or, are we threatened by a parasitic strain of extremism that just happens to use Islam as its host? Is Islam the problem, a part of the problem, or none of the problem? What, many ask, is radicalizing these young Muslims? Thankfully, one media host finally asked a man with some first-hand experience in the matter for some insights!

John Hockenberry’s March 24th “Takeaway” segment (NPR) was entitled “Can We Talk About ISIS Without Talking About Islam?” Normally, Muslim guests on such news segments emphasize Islam’s peaceful credo and intentions; surprisingly, Hockenberry’s guest Maajid Nawaz—a self-professed former radical who found his way out of the grip of extremism to write a book about it and to establish an anti-extremism “think tank” in London—did not. Instead, he offered a much more nuanced, and probably more helpful view. Here’s the gist:

Hockenberry introduced the segment by citing the “baptism massacre” montage in the first Godfather film and questioning why the Catholic Church has never been accused of fomenting terrorism when so many murderous Mafia players have been members of that church. Nawaz pointed out the flaw in that analogy (basically that the Mafia doesn’t proclaim a religious reason for their actions) and offered a more plausible scenario:

“…a  better analogy would be the Crusades…I think between the position of sensationalism that Donald Trump takes and Ted Cruz takes, and denialism…some on the Left want to take a denialist position…I think it’s as unhelpful to say this has nothing to do with Islam as it is to say it is Islam per se…The truth is…it’s got something to do with Islam…it’s got something to do with foreign policy…it’s got something to do with socio-economic factors and geopolitical factors…you know, the truth is a lot more complex than that…It’s as unhelpful as saying that the Crusaders who were Christian had nothing to do with Christianity…when somebody does an action and they proclaim it’s for a religious reason, it’s not really wise for us to ignore that as one of many factors involved.”

Of course, Nawaz is an anomaly among radicalized Muslims—he lived to talk about his path out of extremist thinking and away from violence as the solution to historical grievances. Importantly for this post, Nawaz revealed a key moment in his own radicalization process that we can examine astrologically—the Srebrenica massacre. This horrendous event unfolded over three days in July, 1995 and saw the systematic execution of 8000+ Bosnian Muslim boys and men—their bodies dumped in unmarked, mass graves. It was the event that turned the 1992-1995 Bosnian War into genocide, and unless Nawaz was the exception, it probably radicalized others as well. This was a timely revelation on Nawaz’s part, of course: yesterday (March 24th ) was also the day the war crimes tribunal in The Hague sentenced former Serbian Republic president Radovan Karadžić to 40 years in prison for his role in this massacre.

Genocide is an existential threat to a whole people, and the world has seen far too much of it in the 20th century and now, in the 21st. Maybe it's not too mysterious why young Muslims coming to grips with the Srebrenica atrocity—and more recently, by the Syrian government’s slaughter of its own people—might be prompted to action. Unfortunately there’s no chart available for Nawaz himself, but we can explore the broader complexities he points to above. As we’ll see, Srebrenica and recent terrorist activity have important outer planetary cycle connections.

Common threads...
Two common astrological threads unite the tensions of the early 1990s with today’s terrorist threat (including the March 22nd attack in Brussels): the 1988 Saturn-Uranus cycle (now in final trine phase) and the 1989 Saturn-Neptune cycle (now in final square phase). I would argue that—if we really want to know why young people are being radicalized, it would help to understand the connections between these two socially unstable time periods.

Not that these two time periods tell the whole story—Middle Eastern cultures are ancient and proud of their long memories. So, as Nawaz points out, the resentment harks all the way back to the 11th-15th century Crusades, when killing Muslims was a loudly proclaimed Christian quest. Nevertheless, a shorter time frame can tell us a lot, considering the dynamics are fairly predictable: periods of social instability arise (often due to economic/resource factors); you kill us, we kill you…repeat…repeat…repeat….

So, let’s examine the event that Nawaz claims radicalized his thinking: the Srebrenica massacre, as seen against the Saturn-Uranus-Neptune cycles in question (chart below):

Biwheel: (inner wheel) Saturn-0-Uranus, February 13, 1988; (outer wheel) Srebrenica Massacre, beginning on 7/11/1995, 11:00 a.m. (based on a Wikipedia report that the timing was “before mid-day”), Srebrenica, Bosnia. Any house, angle- or Moon-related ideas below are thus somewhat speculative.  

Interchart Grand Cross: Cycle Mars-Cycle Point (Sagittarius) opposes Cycle MC-Chiron (Gemini); this all squares the Cycle Nodal axis, which is aligned with the Massacre Mars-Chiron (Virgo) opposition to Massacre Saturn (Pisces). Amazingly, the Massacre chart angles are aligned with the Cycle angles, as well—a compelling argument for the 11 a.m. time in these circumstances—but again, the exact time is unconfirmed and even without those connections, this is a dramatic interchart configuration. 

As we know from today’s cosmic climate, mutable energies can be super volatile—the heavy Mars interactions with Saturn, Uranus and Chiron we see in this instance suggest State-sanctioned and militarized (Virgo) social change with greatly wounding consequences (Chiron). As I’ve written elsewhere, regimes that resonate with the Saturn-Uranus cycle are often “heroic strong man”-centered, authoritarian affairs, and that’s strongly indicated here. As we’ll see ahead, this profile also fits Radovan Karadžić’s nativity, whose natal Pluto exactly coincides with the 29°+Sagittarius Saturn-Uranus cycle point. The 29th degrees of the fire signs are particularly powerful[1]--a key reason this Saturn-Uranus cycle has been so violent.

Cycle point (Sagittarius) trines Cycle Jupiter (Aries); Massacre Neptune-Uranus (Capricorn) squares Cycle Jupiter, trines Cycle AS-South Node (Virgo) and semi-sextiles Cycle Sun (Aquarius). The 1993 Uranus-Neptune conjunction at 19°+Capricorn closely preceded this event and set an aggressive global resource-seeking cycle in motion. This cycle has victimized many ethnic populations whose land and resources were coveted by another, more powerful group (including global corporations). As with other populations, there was an historical rivalry at stake in Bosnia: Yugloslavia’s disintegration unsettled the region during that 1980s-90s period, setting Bosnian Serbs scrambling to consolidate the territories they felt belonged to them, historically.
This scramble was fueled by long-held resentments: the Ottoman Turks (i.e., Muslims) occupied Bosnia and the whole Balkans region in the late 18th century, until the formation of Yugoslavia in 1918, and the relationship between present-day Bosnian Serbs and Muslims has been strained ever since. The aspects shown here speak to both the strained power relationship that evolved between the groups and the volatility of the situation.

More on the Interchart T-square: Massacre Chiron-opposite Saturn, all square Cycle Chiron. It’s worth emphasizing here that deep, historical wounds were suffered in the Bosnian region by all concerned; Bosnian Serbs and Muslims were only able to coexist under the post-WWII Yugoslavian Republic because of the strong leadership of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, but when a severe economic downturn hit, along with the Republic’s disintegration in 1989 (the year of this new Cycle), a leadership void opened up for xenophobic leaders like Milošević and Karadžić. Security fears (centered heavily around material resources) ran rampant, and at that point, repressed religious/cultural animosities simply busted loose. It’s taken 21 years to prosecute the war crimes committed, but hopefully the country will now begin to heal (Chiron).

Biwheel: (inner wheel) Saturn-Neptune Cycle, March 3, 1989; (outer wheel) Srebrenica Massacre.

Cycle Uranus-Moon-Saturn-Neptune (Cycle Point 11°+Capricorn) oppose Massacre Venus/Sun (midpoint in Cancer). This cycle triggers the all-important cardinal Cancer-Capricorn “power axis” with particular force. As often happens with tense Saturn-Neptune aspects, material issues morph into security fears (Venus/Sun midpoint in Cancer), heavily cloaked in ideology (Neptune). Political aggression is then easily justified by tapping into latent ethnic tensions (Moon-Uranus-Neptune).

Cycle Pluto (Scorpio) trines Massacre Sun (Cancer) and Saturn (Pisces). Under Slobodan Milošović, the new Serbian republic was born in the midst of ethnic unrest, including a 1989 Kosovo miners’ strike by local Albanians (Muslims) that may have triggered the years of forceful ethnic cleansing that followed; it seems the Srebrenica action was the culmination of this campaign and was carried out despite U.N./U.S.-led air strikes begun in 1994.

Interchart Grand Trine: Cycle Mars-Jupiter (Taurus) trines Massacre Chiron-Mars-AS (Virgo) trines Cycle Neptune-Uranus (Capricorn). Again, the Massacre chart ascendant is unconfirmed, but its convergence with this belligerent interchart configuration makes perfect sense. The genocide was a carefully planned 3-day operation carried out by the Serbian military (Virgo Mars), so the chart angles would reflect that fact. The resource-related power at stake is reflected in the strong Taurus energies; the trines reflect how widespread and pervasive the violence was by that time in Bosnia.

Turning to Brussels...
So, we’ve seen how tightly the two Cycle charts tied into the Srebrenica event; let’s now briefly consider the Cycle connections with the March 22nd Brussels event:

Biwheel: (inner wheel) Brussels Airport Bombing, March 22, 2016, Zaventem, Belgium, 7:58 a.m. ST; (outer wheel) 1988 Saturn-Uranus Cycle.

Brussels Saturn (Sagittarius) trines Brussels Uranus (Aries); Cycle MC-Moon-Mars (Sagittarius) conjoin Brussels Saturn and trine Brussels Uranus-Cycle Jupiter. This powerful blast of fiery energy certainly reflects the violence of the day, spanning the Brussels 8th-12th houses (death via hidden enemies). The Cycle Saturn-Uranus conjunction at 29°+Sagittarius (also falling in the Brussels 8th house) speaks to how this release of energies at the Saturn-120-Uranus was seeded during that late 1980s time frame.

Cycle Pluto (Scorpio) trines Brussels Neptune-Venus (Pisces); Brussels Saturn (Sagittarius) squares Brussels Neptune-Venus. Belgium has been characterized as being a “hotbed of jihadist ideology” by some media outlets, which suggests that Pluto’s position over the Brussels 7th house of open enemies makes sense. Reportedly, authorities have known about terrorist cells in Belgium for some time, and haven’t arrived at a coherent strategy for dealing with the threat. The Pisces planets in the Brussels 11th house reflects this confusion, especially square Saturn in Sag. The Pisces points probably also reflect the appeal jihadist ideology had for those carrying out this attack, who were putting the Saturn square to different use: to “manifest” their “dream.”

Interchart Grand Square: Cycle Chiron (Gemini) opposes Cycle MC-Moon-Mars & Brussels Saturn; all of this squares Brussels Chiron-South Node (Pisces) opposite Brussels Jupiter-Moon-North Node (Virgo). Martin Lass says that Saturn-square-Chiron blocks or represses avenues for healing our wounds, but he also suggests that if the square is part of a T-square or larger configuration, an outlet for healing can be found. Unfortunately, terrorism trades in the deeply-engrained delusion that vengeance = healing. Such delusions can be difficult to separate from positive religious ideologies because they are subjective and vulnerable to the “power of suggestion” (Neptune/Pisces). Blocked energy of any kind seeks an outlet, and the blockage provided by this Grand Square was particularly volatile with Cycle Mars’ involvement. This may have felt like the time to act, no matter what! The perpetrators may have felt they were “being cornered” since the arrest of Salah Abdeslam that same week—vengeance became the outlet. All of this supports the theory that the Brussels attacks were connected to the November 2015 Paris attacks.

Brussels T-square: Jupiter (Virgo) opposes Brussels Neptune-Venus (Pisces); all of this squares Brussels Saturn. It’s important to isolate this powerful t-square from the Cycle chart for further comment: first, because the Jupiter-Saturn square represents the waning square of this duo’s cycle that launched on May 28, 2000 at 22°+Taurus. That cycle point falls in the 1st house of this Brussels chart, trine the Brussels Jupiter-Node in Virgo. This suggests that the fixed, “material world” concerns of that society-building cycle are now finding an outlet in the growth of ideology-driven (Virgo-Pisces nodal axis), military-style operations. This Taurus cycle provided fuel for the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11/2001 and has been busy providing material support for the build-up of ISIS. This may explain why some current theories about how to combat that threat focus on draining their resources.  

Unfortunately, any measures taken can be twisted to the advantage of extremist recruiters. Some analysts feel that one of the reasons Belgium and France have become “hotbeds” for radicalism is that neither country has welcomed Muslim immigrants and integrated them into their social fabric very well. Most importantly, economic opportunities have been elusive. They, like many disadvantaged groups in this globalized economy, are feeling the inequities. This is a global problem, so the potential to spread the unrest is huge. If Europe is unable to address the roots of the radical threat soon, the potential for social breakdown/chaos between now and the start of the new Jupiter-Saturn cycle in late 2020 is very real.

Biwheel: (inner wheel) Brussels Airport Bombing, March 22, 2016, Zaventem, Belgium, 7:58 a.m. ST; (outer wheel) 1989 Saturn-Neptune Cycle.

Cycle Point-Moon (Capricorn) conjoin Brussels Pluto-MC; Brussels Pluto squares Brussels Uranus (Aries). This gathering happens in the Brussels 9th house—the house of religion and foreign affairs, which suits the Saturn-Neptune cycle (ideological agenda); the attack’s deadly purpose and the violent means used are clear in the Pluto-MC-Uranus configuration (Uranus in 12th = hidden weapons). The square also points to the use of suicide bombers (12th = self-undoing).

Interchart Grand Trine: Cycle Mars-Jupiter (Taurus) trine Brussels Jupiter (Virgo) and Pluto-MC (Capricorn). This echoes what we saw happening between the Srebrenica chart and this cycle chart, reinforcing how important resource-related issues are to the radicalization of young people who feel they have nothing to lose.

Final thoughts...
What do we all have at stake in the radicalization of today's youth? Pictures say a thousand words...there is no choice and again, the Cosmos provides the guidebook. The two planetary cycles highlighted here are super-active right now, so it's important that we make the best use of those energies. Perhaps rather than taking the knee-jerk reaction of unleashing the fire power, we could apply some rational thinking to the radicalization problem (both options are covered by Saturn-Uranus). Perhaps we might even manifest a different vision than perpetual war, by applying a little compassion (Saturn-Neptune) -- I hope we can do better! 

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] For a masterful analysis of the 29th degree, see Astrologer Michele Adler’s “Reconsidering the Zodiac’s 29th Degree: Three Sides of an Enigma” in the Oct./Nov. 2015 issue of The Mountain Astrologer.