Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Neptune’s desperate river: is a new "Marshall Plan" the cosmic path forward for Europe’s migrant crisis?

Perhaps this is my natal 4th quadrant stellium speaking, but I am always intrigued by the ways in which the personal and collective realms intersect in our lives. Even though the geophysical and the geopolitical realities of life on this planet are often off our personal radar screens, these realities—traditionally considered by astrology to be “collective”—do impact us in the end. Anyone who has physically moved away from wildfire- or earthquake-prone areas, or from dangerous, war-torn areas, know that climate and other so-called collective realities are deeply personal.

So what can we make of the unimaginable scale of today’s global refugee crisis? The U.N. Refugee Agency reports that more than 65 million people are now classified as refugees. These numbers reflect the dire toll that social, economic and environmental degradation and of war have on the masses of everyday people—the ones who in most cases didn’t directly create the crises. The effects of that crisis—a river fed by many desperate streams—will be felt by all, however, respective of national borders and the Atlantic “pond” separating Europe from the United States.

Calling the situation “the worst crisis of forced displacement since World War II,” activist Bono recounted his experiences in an April 12th article, after visiting migrants and refugees stranded (sometimes for decades!) in squalid, purgatorial encampments—“in the countries that have accepted their presence but not their right to move or to work.” The situation has become only more dire since April, of course. 

In 2005, Americans were devastated by news of the flooding disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans: the migrant crisis abroad makes Katrina look like a walk in the park. Can we make sense of all this astrologically? If so, how do the collective dynamics speak to us individually?

The cosmic dance goes on
As in any investigation, we need to look first for the “usual suspects,” and the cardinal Uranus-Pluto square (Aries-Capricorn) is a good place to start. Social upheaval (Uranus in Aries) caused by resource exploitation (Pluto in Capricorn—water, food and jobs are all scarce) that stimulates long-term social transformation (also Pluto in Capricorn) is fair game with this duo. Thick volumes have been written by experts about the environmental and geopolitical causes for these upheavals[1]; suffice to say here that populations are fleeing war torn and decimated Middle Eastern and African regions for good reason.

We’ve been living with the Uranus-Pluto square since 2010, and it’s become something like cosmic “ambient noise,” but we shouldn’t underestimate its long-term clout, even as the planets gradually separate over the next couple years. This square first perfected during an incredible period of volatile outer planetary activity that included a 7-year long mutual reception between Uranus in Pisces and Neptune in Aquarius. The dance between these geopolitical heavies encompassed the U.S. wars with Afghanistan and Iraq, and contributed to their discouraging aftermath.

During that period Jupiter also transited Pisces, beginning a new 14-year mutable cycle with Uranus at 26°+Pisces (January, 2011) in the process. Uranus thus finished out its mutual reception ride with Neptune on a breathtakingly unstable note, setting the tone with Jupiter for the volatile years of revolution (i.e., the Arab Spring uprisings, the Syrian Civil War) and extremism (i.e., ISIS) ahead.

The possibilities for instability and chaos only deepened in April 2011, as Neptune entered Pisces, the home sign it shares with Jupiter, feeding the delusions of extremist ideologies that prey on victimized populations. In fact, this post will argue that this powerful Pisces ingress holds an important key to why we’re seeing rivers of humanity seeking refuge, and perhaps a path to solving this massive catastrophe.

Fast-forwarding to 2016…
The unfolding of a March 18th European Union agreement with Turkey to swap economic migrants who are not eligible for asylum in Europe with those who are eligible, but detained in Turkey, coincided with retrograde transits of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars: Jupiter—ruling Sagittarius, the sign of hopeful travelers and religious pilgrims—was retrograde from January 7th, turning direct on May 10th ; Saturn, still square Neptune, has been retrograde from March 25th (direct again on August 13th); and Mars has been retrograde since April 17th (direct again soon, on June 29th) . 

Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse since Jupiter went direct in May—the casualty numbers keep rising.  No one, unfortunately, expected the Turkey-EU agreement to stem the expected onslaught of roughly 3 million people seeking asylum outside of their native lands in 2016. These 3 million are thought to be only one twentieth of the total number of “forcibly displaced people” across the globe (2014 statistic). These figures encompass internally displaced people, as well as the swelling numbers of refugees and asylum seekers.

These expansive statistics have been reflected in Jupiter (co-ruling Pisces) in Virgo, opposing Neptune in Pisces (within a 5 degree orb) since mid-March (soon to move out of orb). Migrations tend to peak during summer months, so the timing of Jupiter’s station direct in May was apt.

Bono’s 3-point plan
Based on his face-to-face conversations with stranded migrants and officials tackling the problem, Bono proposed a three-pronged solution: adequate funding for the international agencies trying to address the problem where it already exists; a comprehensive development program that educates and prepares refugees for constructive working roles in their new countries; development assistance to those countries teetering on the edge of collapse, to prevent further population displacements. Given that many refugees would prefer to return to their native lands, any support extended to those countries (where politically feasible) could help.

Which brings us to the “big idea” at the end of Bono’s article, and a point I want to explore astrologically here: “Actually, some people are thinking bigger. I keep hearing calls from a real gathering of forces—Africans and Europeans, army generals and World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials—to emulate that most genius of American ideas, the Marshall Plan.” When a critical mass of insightful people begin agreeing on a solution to a problem, there’s usually some astrological evidence for why in current outer planetary cycles. So I decided to explore the idea of a “New Marshall Plan” by looking back at the chart for the 1948, post-World War II model—officially known as the “European Recovery Plan.”

Could such a plan help rebuild and restore order to the Middle East? Does the situation call for a comparable massive undertaking? Since Neptune’s Pisces transit seems to have been a geopolitical turning point with regards to the political and refugee crises, I believe we can learn something from comparing the Neptune ingress into Pisces with the 1948 Marshall Plan chart.

Biwheel: (inner wheel) Natal, Marshall Plan (legislation signed), April 3, 1948, 12:00 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) Ingress, Neptune in Pisces, April 4, 2011, 3:01:25 a.m., Washington, D.C. 

Please note: the Marshall Plan chart is a noon chart, so we won’t be analyzing placements related to the Moon and to chart angles or houses.

Ingress Sun-Jupiter (Aries) opposition to Ingress Saturn (Libra) overlays Marshall Plan (MP) Sun (Aries) opposition to MP Neptune (Libra) and t-squares Ingress Pluto (Capricorn). First, an interesting parallel—powerful social programs and movements (the Arab Spring and migration, in the case of the ingress) often involve the middle degrees of cardinal signs, and we certainly see that here. These powerful cardinal interconnections suggest that the magnitude of the 1948 Marshall Plan (heroic for its times at $13 billion) would need to be vastly enlarged (ingress Jupiter) to meet today’s need—no surprises there.

Interestingly, the Ingress Jupiter-MP Neptune opposition mirrors our current (2016) Jupiter-Neptune opposition, marking the expansive global scope of today’s crisis. The Ingress Jupiter-Saturn opposition reflected the urgent tipping point that required action back in 2011 (many of the crises that have fed the present situation escalated from there), and as we know, many actions taken since then (such as the atrocities in Syria) have been anything but compassionate. In fact, the interchart t-square we see here foreshadowed the disabling of several national governments that followed, including hot-spots that are gushing refugees today, such as Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

There was good reason for not being able to act when the time was right in 2011, however: MP Neptune and Ingress Saturn conjoined in this biwheel reflect the tangled web of nebulous boundaries and tribal animosities that has complicated any clear plans of action in crisis areas. The current (2016) Saturn-square-Neptune transit echoes and ratchets up the tension of these difficulties—probably inspiring the many emergency meetings called by the European Union in the course of this crisis. The square also speaks to why so many voices (including the U.S. State Department in their recent memo of dissent to President Obama) feel compelled to join the call for urgent action.

Ingress Neptune conjoins Ingress Chiron (Pisces); this conjunction sextiles (out of sign) Ingress Node-conjunct-MP Jupiter (Sagittarius); Ingress Nodal axis overlays MP Jupiter-Uranus opposition (Sagittarius-Gemini). The generosity and ethical basis of the Marshall Plan (Jupiter) stimulated economic growth and technological development (Uranus) across post-WWII Europe, but its largesse was also intended to head off the ideological extremism (Jupiter-Uranus) feared at those times—Communism. Are we hearing echoes today?

 The original Marshall Plan also offered to help with the Soviet Union’s reconstruction efforts, but was refused by the Soviets, who probably sensed the underlying, anti-Communist purpose. In a bit of stunning irony, Russia has intervened this past year on the side of Syria’s leader, Bashar al Assad (whom many consider a war criminal), so would a new “Marshall Plan” also be useful to undercut Russian influence?

The convergence of the Ingress Nodal axis with the Marshall Plan’s powerful Jupiter-Uranus suggests that those promoting such a program today are tapping into something important, perhaps even “destined.” Importantly, the North Node-Jupiter points conjoin the Galactic Center—a point that evokes ideas and movements whose “time has come.” In 2011 there was probably a missed opportunity (Ingress Neptune-Chiron sextile Ingress Node) to act on behalf of victimized Syrian refugees and others, but better late than never. Neptune is still in the first quarter of its new Pisces cycle, and—Neptune being Neptune—it’s no surprise that we grope for a way forward until an overwhelming crisis galvanizes us. What more will it take?

Ingress Mars conjoins Ingress Uranus (Aries); both square Ingress Node-MP Jupiter (Sagittarius) and Ingress Pluto (Capricorn). These are separate squares (Ingress Node and Pluto are too far apart to create one combined square), but they are powerful nevertheless. They seem to reflect the fiery-aggressive potential we’ve seen played out between 2011 and today, as if to say, “solve these problems…or else!” 

Interestingly, the geopolitical unrest and violence spawned by the so-called Arab Spring fits this timeframe perfectly, from its initial spark in the Tunisian uprising in December 2010, to the waves of protest, bloodshed, war crimes and ideologically-charged (Neptune) extremist terrorism that followed and persist today. Mars, Uranus and Pluto are all about shock tactics that leverage the power of fear—constant themes in the news during this volatile period. 

Clearly there are parallels between post-WWII Europe and the crisis-ridden Middle East that may respond to a new “Marshall Plan.” One way or another, the impressive Aries gathering in this Ingress chart suggests that inaction is the worst possible approach as this Neptune cycle progresses.

Predictably, there may be more support for yet another armed conflict than for compassionate action, however strategically wise the latter might be. Mars and Uranus in Aries love a good fight and Pluto in Capricorn is poised to capitalize. In Pisces, Neptune throws down a particularly tricky gauntlet, but we must be willing to overcome a long legacy of addiction (Neptune) to violent solutions (Mars-Uranus-Pluto): should we error on the side of compassion…or chaos? We could very likely be having this conversation in 2017, if not before—see the May 3rd post here for more on that topic.

And the boats keep arriving…
With this season’s retrograde transits, the trip has continued being more treacherous and more desperate for the migrants, but desperation wins out and the flimsy boats overflowing with hundreds of migrants every day keep flowing into European waters. The waters have literally become a test of human compassion (both Neptune). Unfortunately, the news is also filled with stories about how the crisis is seriously stressing the limits of compassion, with several European countries (and potentially the U.S.!) throwing up barriers and fences instead. 

The so-called Brexit campaign in the UK is directly connected; the recent close race in Austria where a far right-wing candidate narrowly lost their national election was connected; the rise of right-wing figures in France like Marie Le Pen is connected, and so on.

Unfortunately, Mars’  has been retrograde (since April 18th), beginning at 8°+Sagittarius, conjunct Saturn (Sagittarius) and t-squaring Jupiter’s opposition to Neptune (Virgo-Pisces), which has complicated things even further. Europe should not be facing this crisis alone.

[1] Brahma Chellaney’s Water, Peace and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis (Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2013) is an outstanding example of such a study.

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.