Monday, August 22, 2016

A season of Floods & Fires: A turbo-charged penumbral eclipse challenges Louisiana & California

"Therefore the moon, 

the governess of floods,

Pale in her anger, 

washes all the air…"

-A Midsummer's Night Dream
William Shakespeare

Penumbral eclipses are “very subtle,” says Deborah Byrd on, adding “The eclipse never progresses to reach the dramatic minutes of totality. At best, at mid-eclipse, very observant people will notice a dark shading on the moon’s face. Others will look and notice nothing at all.”

Despite this reassurance, the August 18th full moon, penumbral lunar eclipse—lunar eclipses only happen at full moons—packed a vicious punch in both Louisiana and California. Not surprisingly, the eclipse shadow fell over the U.S. (and a large part of South America, possibly affecting swimmer Ryan Lochte’s behavior in that regrettable Rio gas station incident). Although visibility is said to enhance the power of an eclipse, its effects can be felt whether it’s seen or not—Louisiana and California have definitely been feeling those effects.

Beginning early on August 11th, a wave of storms produced unprecedented flood levels across 20 Louisiana parishes. The rainfall reportedly dumped 7.1 trillion gallons of water, killing 13 people and destroying the homes and livelihoods of thousands. The long-term damage to people’s lives is probably incalculable. This event has been called the “worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy.” That’s saying a lot.

As for California, the Blue Cut Fire began on a hiking trail in the San Gabriel Montains in San Bernardino County. First reported on the morning of August 16th (exact time noted in chart to come), the fire’s unusually rapid spread forced 82,000+ people to evacuate. As of Sunday (8/21), the fire has burned 37,000 acres of land, destroyed 96 homes and 213 other structures. It’s still only 83% contained. No human deaths thus far, but one rancher lost 135 of her livestock.

California has dealt with wild fires over and over again during the severe drought it’s experienced since 2011—and in fact, there are 5 additional fires raging in California at this writing (some as little as 10% contained), but the Blue Cut fire captured more attention because it surprised many with its unusually rapid, aggressive spread. Even more unfortunately, California’s “fire season”—which used to be a yearly, 30-60 day affair—has become a new normal year-round.

Clearly, the magnitude and unprecedented ferocity of both Louisiana and California disasters greatly exceeds what we would expect from a “subtle” penumbral eclipse. So what else is going on here?

More than meets the eye
Here’s where astrology and climate science intersect, and I won’t pretend to understand all the nuances, but variations in ocean temperatures seem to play a key role in producing these monstrous disasters. The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) governs the cycle of warm and cool Pacific Ocean temperatures, which in turn governs cool or warm fronts in the weather systems we experience.

Both science and astrology credit the Sun and Moon with influencing weather systems that produce floods and droughts, but astrology has always looked to lunar eclipses (powerful full moons) as especially potent periods for extreme weather-related events. It’s not just as simple as that, however: if we consider the bigger picture of ocean temperatures and cyclical realities like the ENSO, we can see that outer planetary dynamics are at stake as well. Much more research needs to be done in this area, but the correlations in the charts we’ll consider here are seen over and over again in natural disaster charts.

To illustrate the impact of both the eclipse and that bigger planetary picture, let’s consider the triwheel for this latest disaster in Louisiana, using the Louisiana statehood chart (set for sunrise—no exact time known), the “birth” of the flooding event on August 11th, and the August 18th eclipse. All charts are set for Baton Rouge.

First, a note about impact periods
As we’ll see with this August 18th eclipse, it’s not unusual for eclipses to manifest in events that precede the eclipse day itself. Eclipse expert Bill Meridian cites renowned astrologer Charles Jayne as saying that the effects of lunar eclipses can be felt “for about 6 weeks before and after the lunar eclipse.”[1] In this case, this round of Louisiana flooding began a mere week prior to the eclipse, so we’re well within the allowable time orb.

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) Radix, Louisiana Statehood, April 30, 1812, 5:23 a.m. LMT (dawn chart, no exact time known), Baton Rouge, LA; (middle wheel) Radix, Louisiana Flooding 2016, August 11, 2016, 6:00 a.m. DST (approximate, based on reports), Baton Rouge, LA; (outer wheel) Lunar Eclipse 8-2016, August 18, 2016, 4:26:27 a.m. DST, Baton Rouge, LA.

Eclipse opposition points. The first thing that leaps off the page here is the powerful set of oppositions stretching across all three charts from Virgo to Pisces. Before we examine these, however, we should first consider the Eclipse opposition itself—cutting across the angular 4th and 10th houses of Louisiana’s statehood chart from 25°+Leo (Sun) to 25°+Aquarius (Moon) and forming an interchart Grand Square with Louisiana’s natal Mercury-Uranus opposition in fixed signs Taurus and Scorpio. A fixed eclipse clashing with existing fixed energies (with Uranus involved, no less) was aptly illustrated by the rising waters pouring over fixed levees as though they weren’t even there.

One victim reported that after every home he had helped sandbag in his area was lost in moments, he simply gave up and waited for the inevitable. Another woman reported that more than ten members of her family in the area lost their homes. Clearly, the impact of this event was deeply physical, local and life threatening—reflecting the assault on LA’s Taurus-Scorpio opposition. It didn’t help that Eclipse Uranus (Aries) also fell inconjunct LA’s Uranus and sextile-trine the Eclipse Moon-Sun. 

On August 11th. If we look at the storm’s inception on August 11th (middle wheel), we see that the Moon conjoined LA Uranus, triggering that point’s potential for deadly crisis (Scorpio), and the Sun was already square LA’s natal Mercury-Uranus. When Hurricane Katrina hit in August, 2005, LA’s Uranus was pulled into a fixed transiting t-square with Mars (Taurus) and Neptune (Aquarius), so this point in the LA chart has proved to be volatile in past events.

It’s easy to see how the enormity of this current event unfolded from there, as well: by Eclipse day, the Moon had moved into full opposition with the Sun (full Moon) and in the process, squaring its August 11th position and LA Uranus. This certainly intensified the pressure, especially considering Eclipse Uranus’s involvement here from aggressive Aries (discussed above).  

Full Moons generally denote rising tides and sea levels, but the devastating way in which these waters overwhelmed southern Louisiana over those days speaks to the additional stresses involved in these charts.

Uranus has a way of ripping open a situation where there is potential for trauma, but in these charts, Neptune, Jupiter and Chiron express the inexorably rising waters in almost literal terms: Neptune  (ruler of Pisces) rules oceans and the “big picture” of water-related climate conditions; Jupiter rules expansive growth, and as co-ruler of Pisces, also impacts the same climate conditions; and Chiron rules wounding/healing events.

The wounds inflicted by natural disasters are clear to see; whether healing follows down the road will probably depend on the extent to which the victims are supported with compassion (Chiron in Pisces). Even in the U.S., flood victims (especially poor ones)—depending on the mercy (and political whims) of others—are subject to the same forces that refugees trying to reach Europe encounter.

Virgo-Pisces oppositions. We can now see how this complex of aspects functioned in this story: expansive waters are certainly represented by the Jupiter-Neptune opposition, and the unprecedented, historical nature of the flooding speaks to this opposition being conjoined the transiting Nodal axis. 

The entire configuration, including Eclipse Node-Venus-Mercury-Jupiter in Virgo and Eclipse Chiron-SNode-Neptune in Virgo, forms an interchart mutable T-Square with Louisiana’s natal Neptune (Sagittarius) and Pluto (Pisces). Factor in Eclipse Saturn conjoining Louisiana’s Neptune and it’s easy to see why the chaotic onslaught of flood waters caught so many by surprise and has created such enormous, deadly damage.

Interchart Grand Square: LA Venus (Gemini) opposes LA Moon (Sagittarius); this axis squares Eclipse Jupiter (Virgo) opposite Eclipse Chiron (Pisces). The people of Louisiana are represented by their Sagittarius Moon, which is also pulled into the T-square described above through its squares to Eclipse Jupiter, Mercury and Chiron. In this Grand Square, however, we see how chaotic the fortunes of Louisiana residents (Moon-Venus) became in this disaster.

The Eclipse opposition itself trines and sextiles LA’s Moon-Venus from Leo and Aquarius, which may yet prove to be benevolent once assistance starts reaching people, but these so-called “soft” aspects often help unleash negative forces in natural disasters, as well. Flood events are particularly prone to this type of unleashing—the door of opportunity is opened (sextile) so the flow of energy (trine) can rush in.

Interchart Grand Square: Eclipse Mars-Saturn (Sagittarius) oppose LA Mars (Gemini); this axis squares LA Nodal axis-Chiron (Virgo-Pisces). A mutable stand-off like this is often mind-boggling and almost mindlessly destructive, as well, like a cosmic game of 52-Card Pickup. In fact, this grand square brings to mind two bored warrior gods (both Mars) deciding to go on a killing spree just to get their adrenalin pumping. Then leave the mess (52 cards) for someone else to clean up!

Interestingly, the day the storm began (August 11th-middle wheel), Venus in Virgo also lined up with this mutable grand square (by Eclipse day, it had moved into the band of oppositions discussed above). Venus is exalted in Pisces, but in “fall” in Virgo, so its usual beneficence was strained when the storms began. In a strange way, Venus may have actually enabled Neptune’s outpouring and Mars-Saturn’s destructiveness; as the event unfolded (middle wheel), Venus was widely opposed to Eclipse Neptune and Eclipse Node, as well.

California’s Blue Cut fire

In this event, we see that the same eclipse and transiting planetary dynamics that drove the torrential flooding in Louisiana also drove the unprecedented ferocity of this California wild fire. In fact, what may not seem logical makes perfect scientific sense, too: the same ocean-related climate factors that produce flood conditions also produce drought conditions in other areas--it's all about the vulnerabilities of the respective areas. 

Despite some improving rainfalls since 2015, California is still struggling through the severe drought that took over in 2011, meaning the Blue Cut hiking trail was an easy target for whatever sparked the blaze. Let’s consider the triwheel setting the onset of this fire against the State of California nativity and the August 18th eclipse:

Triwheel #2: (inner wheel) Radix, Statehood of California,, September 9, 1850, 9:38 a.m. LMT, San Jose, CA; (middle wheel) First Report-Blue Cut Fire-California, August 16, 2016, 10:36 a.m. DST, San Bernardino, CA (exact longitude/latitude data used); (outer wheel) Lunar Eclipse 8-2016, August 18, 2016, 2:26:27 a.m. DST, San Bernardino, CA (same as middle wheel). 

As you might imagine, the middle and outer wheels are very similar here because the fire was first reported on August 16th and the Eclipse fell on August 18th. The timing of the middle and outer wheels is exact, however, so we can glean important information about the angles of those charts. The timing of the California chart is perhaps exact as well (the chart came from a reputable data base), but I could not find a source to verify this information.

The Eclipse opposition. This tense fixed opposition (Sun in Leo opposite Moon in Aquarius) cuts across what is presumably California’s (CA’s) natal 4th-10th axis, compromising their land, structures (homes, especially), and their infrastructure. The Eclipse Sun falls trine the State’s fiery, dry Aries stellium of Saturn-Pluto-Uranus and the Eclipse Moon falls sextile CA’s Uranus-Pluto.

The Eclipse points form the same aspects with Eclipse Uranus (Aries), which conjoins CA’s entire Aries stellium! These opportunistic aspects explain why the fire was able to take off and spread with such ferocity from day one. As we’ll discuss below in regards to Eclipse Pluto, this incendiary problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Interchart T-Square, a destined passage and a chronic problem. As with Louisiana’s chart, the California chart is caught up in the tense mutable energies at play in this Eclipse chart. Here, the Eclipse Nodal axis-Venus conjoin CA’s Sun (all Virgo) and oppose Eclipse Neptune-SNode (Pisces); all of this squares Eclipse Mars-Saturn (Sagittarius), which conjoins CA’s Chiron (Sagittarius). Neptune and the Nodal axis have been transiting together for some time, gaining influence over vulnerable regions; here, Venus seems to facilitate the wounding (Chiron) being afflicted by these long term cosmic conditions.

Eclipse Mars-Saturn in fire sign Sagittarius certainly speaks to the type of wounding California families are experiencing in this particular fire, and more generally, in their increasingly fire-prone environment. This fiery Mars-Saturn also squares CA’s Neptune (Pisces), suggesting that the drying effects of the state’s long-term drought are still being felt.

The state’s natal Chiron-Neptune square reflects California’s chronic weakness when it comes to water supplies, as well. Just as a carelessly discarded cigarette butt can spark a blaze that destroys thousands of acres and disrupt thousands of lives, a cosmic “trigger” such as an eclipse can tap into a location’s vulnerabilities and set off a crisis.

Eclipse Pluto (Capricorn) squares CA Saturn (Aries). This has also been a long-term transit that tracks the course of its 4+ year drought pretty closely. The drought has forced serious infrastructure changes and a host of new laws and regulations regarding water use by California residents—all within Saturn-Pluto’s wheelhouse.

As transiting Pluto continues into an even closer square with CA’s Saturn and then to the state’s Uranus-Pluto conjunction (and as transiting Uranus in Aries continues to trigger this whole stellium), California residents may have no choice but to abandon the most fire-prone areas. Cliimatologists were hoping that the current El Niño cycle would make an appreciable difference with rainfall, but these aspects suggest that it will be at least 2020 before the worst of this is over. By 2020, there will be even more powerful forces squaring the State’s Aries stellium from Capricorn, as well, so these issues will continue to need serious attention going forward.  

Eclipse Pluto trines Eclipse Venus-Node-CA Jupiter (all Virgo) and sextiles Eclipse Neptune-SNode. We get a glimpse here of why California’s economy is surprisingly resilient, notwithstanding the constant pressure of wild fires. The precious nature (Venus) of water resources (Neptune) to California’s people (Moon) is seen with CA’s Neptune (Pisces) trine CA’s Venus-Moon (Scorpio)—this certainly reflects why figuring out how to tap into the once mighty Colorado River was the key to turning California’s deserts into habitable land.

Finally, a boon or a bust? Because of its disaster-prone geology, Californians are ever alert to the rumblings of the earth. Fires and earthquakes are connected phenomena in California history, so anything that shakes the earth only adds to their fire vulnerabilities. Eclipse Jupiter-Mercury (Virgo) are conjoined CA’s Jupiter here, opposing Eclipse MC-Chiron (Pisces), with the State’s Jupiter return becoming exact this September still opposite transiting Chiron

Jupiter's return will unfortunately create a more perfect quincunx aspect with CA’s Uranus-Pluto in Aries, opening up the opportunity for a wounding (Chiron) earth-fire event. Transiting Uranus will still be conjunct CA’s Aries stellium at that point, increasing the likelihood of a volatile fall season.

The takeaway. We have to be wondering, from our safe, dry cozy dwellings, if Louisiana and California are a microcosm for what could become a much broader swath of catastrophe across the nation in years ahead. As we've seen repeatedly over the past decade, our U.S. coastal regions seem to be increasingly vulnerable to fires as well as to floods—but can we leap to the conclusion that this vulnerability signals a troubling pattern or a larger warning about the long term?  Are these coastal states our “canary in the coal mine” for irreversible climate change? Should people be moving away from flood- and fire-prone regions because things are only going to get worse instead of better? 

Thankfully, an entire new field of science, promoted by the United Nations and others—the “science of attributing extreme events”—has sprung up to research these questions. The fact that the climate is changing is a given—we don’t have to believe it because we can see it all around us. Astrology can play a role in understanding climate dynamics and in zeroing in on local vulnerabilities, but Science will always want (as it should) to confirm any assumptions and theories with concrete data.

Hopefully Science and Astrology can work together more closely as these critical issues evolve!

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] Bill Meridian, The Predictive Power of Eclipse Paths, Cycles Research Publication, New York, 2010, p. 11.