Saturday, April 23, 2016

Finding Mother Earth in a map of the Heavens: signing the Paris Climate Accord on Earth Day

It’s really not that difficult to find the Earth in an astrology chart, after all...the geocentric horoscope is a map of the individual’s position in the Earth “system”—the complex physical, bio-diverse, living organism that supports our existence. Happily, it's a map that is reflected back to us from the Cosmos! 

Years ago, one of my students wanted to know why she wasn’t seeing the Earth in her chart, along with the other planets. So, I explained the whole story about the chart being a snapshot of our solar system, as seen from Earth (hence a geocentric chart), making it impossible to see the Earth at the same time (like a camera operator not being able to see herself in a shot she takes).

Then I got to thinking this student was on to something: even if we can’t “see” the Earth by looking to the Heavens, we’re standing on the planet, which is part of the same solar system, so shouldn’t it figure into our charts somehow anyway?  With a little research I found a few astrologers who factor the Earth into their readings all the time by placing it exactly opposite (180°) the Sun in the charts they cast, which made sense. I found their interpretations for the Earth in Signs (Earth in Aries, etc) very thought-provoking, but I still couldn’t quite see the sentient “Earth” in these interpretations. At the very least, I thought, Earth opposite Sun in the signs should reflect how we approach being “Earth conscious”--quite a challenge these days.

Since we’re celebrating International Mother Earth Day this week, I thought it would be a good time to find the Earth in the chart for one very important event. It’s really not that difficult, after all: because we use astronomical data to cast a chart, the geocentric horoscope is essentially a map of the individual’s position in the Earth “system”—the complex physical, bio-diverse, living organism that supports our existence. Happily, it's a map that is reflected back to us from the Cosmos! 

It is a map that says “You Are Here,” bound by space and time on this “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and by the way, “You Are Everywhere,” at the same time—made of the same stuff as the Earth, the Sun, the planets, asteroids, dwarf planets and a billion, billion stars. If we look close enough, we can see all the wonders of the material world in every chart we study, which may just be important, if we’re trying to save the Earth for the next generations.

Earth Day at the United Nations
Which brings us back to the momentous event I’d like to consider here—yesterday (April 22), the United Nations in New York marked Earth Day by hosting 175 nations, there to officially sign the historic Paris Climate Accord (COP21) they agreed to last December. Happily, the U.S. was among their numbers, Secretary of State John Kerry wielding the pen. By signing, these nations commit to a number of ambitious goals, but most notably, to implementing policies that seriously reduce greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030. The occasion was marked by the usual flourish of moving speeches, including one by American celebrity Leonardo di Caprio, in his new role as a U.N. “Messenger of Peace.” An excerpt of his remarks really captured the spirit of the day:

“Our planet cannot be saved unless we leave fossil fuels in the ground where they belong. An upheaval and massive change is required now—one that leads to new collective consciousness. …So, after 21 years of debates and conferences it is time to declare no more talk. No more excuses. No more 10-year studies. No more allowing the fossil fuel companies to manipulate and dictate the science and policies that affect our future. This is the only body that can do what is needed. You, sitting in this very hall. The world is now watching. You will either be lauded by future generations, or vilified by them.”
I strongly feel that astrologers can be important players in the new collective consciousness di Caprio calls for going forward, simply by “finding the Earth” in every chart. No doubt, there’s more than one path to this goal, but let’s consider one approach in the chart for yesterday’s Climate Accord signing at the U.N:

Chart: Natal, UN Climate Accord signing, April 22, 2016, 9:00 a.m. DST (estimated time—the news reported a “morning” opening ceremony), New York, NY.

Sun in Taurus opposed Moon in Scorpio. A fabulous Full Moon in this fixed, earth-water sign polarity certainly captures the urgency of this gathering of nations. The elements and modes are not merely figurative details in this type of interpretation—they also reflect tangible realities at stake in the Accord. The conservation (fixed) of land (earth) and water are interwoven imperatives at the heart of the Accord’s global goals for sustainable development. What better season (spring-Taurus) is there to convey an Earth-conscious message?

Moon (Scorpio) trines Neptune, dignified in Pisces. Rising sea levels, literally reflected with this generous water trine (during a Full Moon with its high tides, no less), are a major concern of climate scientists and national leaders, and containing those levels is a critical goal of the Accord. Neptune is elevated in the chart (true between 8-10 a.m., reasonable for a morning event), reinforcing the importance of the seas in today’s climate challenges.

Mercury (Taurus) trines Pluto (Rx in Capricorn). This aspect captures the cooperative (trine), Earth-focused mentality (Taurus Mercury) promoted by the Accord, to address the planet’s resource demands (Pluto in Capricorn). As we’ll see, the chart also speaks to the controversies and clashing interests that underlie these resource issues, but the stage is set here for cooperation and progress in the realms of ideas, information sharing (Mercury) and in the level of funding (Pluto) required. The fossil fuel industry (Pluto in Capricorn) has a place at the table, as well—it must reconsider (retrograde) its present role and move towards its higher potential of transforming the world’s use of energy (Pluto rules transformation and the extractive industries involved).

T-square: Mars conjoins Saturn (both Rx in Sagittarius) and opposes Neptune (Pisces); both ends square Jupiter (Rx in Virgo); Jupiter disposes Mars-Saturn (Sagittarius). Here we see a wonderful reflection of the retrograde phenomenon in astrology! The usual conflicts (Mars-Saturn) and clashing ambitions (disposed by/square Jupiter) between nations are set aside (Rx) in the Accord, in the service (Virgo) of a greater collective need (Neptune in Pisces-the only planet moving direct). A planet turns retrograde at a point in its orbit when the Earth comes between that planet and the Sun—very fitting for this situation, when the Earth’s needs are in focus and take priority. Challenges will arise, of course, when the planets go direct.  

Venus conjoins Uranus (both in Aries) and both square Pluto (Capricorn) and trine Saturn (Sagittarius); Mars disposes Aries points; Saturn disposes Pluto in Capricorn. This forceful cardinal square reflects the thorny years of negotiation and failed agreements (i.e., the Kyoto Protocol that G.W. Bush refused to sign) that preceded the COP21 agreement in Paris last year. It’s taken this long for the major fossil fuel consuming countries (including the U.S.) to see that the benefits of reducing carbon emissions will outweigh the costs in the long run, and that we have to help more vulnerable developing countries who are already suffering for a climate situation they didn’t create.

Americans are far from total agreement on this, so the Aries-Capricorn tension in this square lives on. U.S. businesses also tend to rebel and unleash their lobbying money any time government regulations (trines to Saturn) are suggested. Funding for all this (Venus square Pluto) will be particularly thorny, as Election 2016 could wipe away the promises President Obama made in December in Paris.

Mounting geopolitical tensions (Mars and Saturn will both be direct in Sagittarius by mid-August) may also drive more costly military operations abroad in 2017, which would be no surprise: the Earth is often left competing for Defense budget “crumbs.” 

A solution that fits this configuration (and the challenges) to a tee is gaining support from surprising quarters, however: a carbon tax that places a dollar value (Venus) on every metric ton of carbon (Saturn) embedded in commercial products through production processes, etc. Several plans are circulating that would offset the inevitable higher fossil fuel costs (i.e., at the gas pump) with tax credits and benefits to ordinary citizens in other areas, the point being to apply the costs of carbon consumption equitably, according to use and emissions levels.

Many analysts have pointed out that the only way to get industries to cut carbon emissions is to make those emissions cost more—cutting costs is what corporations do. Such a program would be initially shocking, but technologies (Uranus) are available to radically reduce carbon needs, a tax wouldn’t be rolled out overnight, and those most affected would adapt (mutable signs).

This meeting of highly combustible fire-sign energies (Aries-Sagittarius) also reflects the pressing issue of a warming Earth, and the alarming rise in drought emergencies it has caused across the globe. We’re seeing the deep connection between such emergencies in today’s migrant crisis in Europe—millions of people have fled countries where the land and water resources have failed them, and there’s no end in sight. 

The many conflicts produced by this now amount to a global water crisis, and the national leaders signing the Accord know this is not the path to a secure world (the missing Cancer point in the T-square discussed above). For a lot more detail on this dilemma, see my article entitled “Enough for all our needs: the astrology of our growing water crisis” in the April/May 2016 Mountain Astrologer.[1]

The Aries-Capricorn dilemma embedded in the Accord chart reflects the difficult choices national leaders will have going forward, between war and climate progress. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s call to action (cardinal signs) at the meeting was quite profound: “The era of consumption without consequences is over. We must intensify our efforts to decarbonize our economies, and we must support developing countries in making this transition. The poor and the most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create.”

So, where will the U.S. put its resources going forward? Our Sibly cardinal-sign Sun (Cancer) and Saturn (Libra) tie into this dilemma, putting pressure on our Executive and Legislative branches to get something done, but the powerful Wall Street/fossil fuel industry players represented by our Pluto (Capricorn) are far from “on board” with the program. As Uranus in the Accord chart transits ever closer to its square with Sibly Pluto in the coming year, we will probably be forced to decide which path we’re on: The path of advanced technologies and bold action towards sustainability, or the status quo path?

Physically speaking, the U.S. occupies a small percentage of the world’s land mass, but our “carbon footprint” in terms of resource consumption far exceeds that percentage, at approximately 5,752,289 x 1000 metric tons of Carbon emissions/year (based on 2009 statistics). This is second only to China, with its 1 billion+ population and thriving manufacturing industries. Not surprisingly, China’s national chart (October 1, 1949) features an ambitious, resource-driven 22°+ Capricorn Jupiter, which the Accord Venus-Uranus in Aries closely squares. We are hitched to the same wagon with this Nature/Economy challenge—can we pull together?

Chiron (Pisces) conjoins South Node (Pisces), semi-sextiles Venus-Uranus (Aries) and squares Saturn (Rx, Sagittarius). This places Chiron in an elevated position (along with Neptune) opposite the Accord chart’s North Node (Virgo), which reflects the wounds we routinely inflict on the natural world (and by extension, each other). Healing those wounds will not happen overnight, but with aggressive policies (Saturn in Sag) we can make progress. 

This is a necessary step before we can move into the very critical role of Earth stewardship (Virgo Node), but it’s also worth noting that the Accord commitments are not legally-binding (Saturn Rx?). In the short term, the political will (Mars is also Rx) to implement these commitments may be shaky, but renewed energies should be available as the present Saturn-Pluto cycle wanes and the new cycle begins in 12/2020 at 22°+Capricorn, sextile this Chiron in Pisces.

There’s no time to waste, of course, but this mutable Chiron-Saturn square suggests we should spend the years between now and 2021 building policies and institutions that support resilience and help us adapt to the unpredictable. In a best case scenario, industries will quickly adapt their operations to the new carbon tax realities during this period, and nations will hopefully tweak their economies to ride out any disruptions. Many astrologers have predicted an economic downturn in the near term—the danger here would be trading too much long term climate change progress for short term Wall Street numbers. Finding radical ways (Uranus) to maintain a balance (Venus-Saturn) will be key.

China’s economy will be one to watch, with the 2020 cycle beginning conjunct its Capricorn Jupiter. If they have adapted their industries for the carbon tax and positioned themselves to profit from sustainable technologies by that time, 2020 could signal a newly prosperous era for them. The U.S. economy could face challenges, with the cycle beginning in our Sibly second house. Building resilience into the economy as we “decarbonize” will be key.

Final thoughts…
As Chiron’s position in mutable Pisces suggests, healing the world’s volatile, feverish condition will require willingness to adapt the ways we prosper (Jupiter in Virgo squares Saturn and very widely conjoins the Node) to ways that are in line with the Earth’s (Virgo) needs, as well as our own. This is a monumental task, but “finding the Earth” in this hopeful, but daunting chart is a start.

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.