Friday, May 26, 2017

The Sibly Moon under Siege: “there’s gold in them thar hills!”

“I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was naked and you did not clothe me” (Matthew 25, 42).

“There’s gold in them thar hills!” (M.F. Stephenson)

MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren responded to the attack in which 22 individuals at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England were killed—many of them children—by saying, “How could anyone have such evil in his heart…it’s unthinkable…” 

As horrified as I was by the Manchester event (and not just because I have granddaughters who could have well been there), I couldn’t help filling in the blanks at the end of her thought, wondering out loud why Manchester should be any different…from what I can see, there’s a lot of evil in a lot of hearts these days. It’s not all expressed with heinous suicide attacks—some of the coldest, most calculating evil is happening in our GOP-led government right now. 

Even the scant information we’re getting in the media is supremely upsetting, and we can only imagine what’s going on behind closed doors. I can just see the calculations being made: "let's see...if we axe healthcare for this many, we lose this many votes...hedge our bets with voter suppression laws over here and gerrymandering over there, and we're good...23 million it is!" And, if Trump’s ruthless budget is any indication, there’s political will for even more damage to our safety net.

The Trump/GOP budget threatens to gut Medicaid, SNAP (food assistance for the poor), the Social Security Disability fund, Planned Parenthood, Meals on Wheels, Education budgets, School lunch and after school programs, Science research, EPA funding, and on and on; this doesn’t even scratch the surface of those who will be hurt. Elders who need residential nursing care won’t be able to afford it (Medicaid); people with pre-existing conditions won’t be able to afford health care; children with special needs will lose programs in their schools (a little-known Medicaid fact); the list goes on. 

All, while redistributing the $1.7 trillion dollars squeezed out of people in the next ten years to the wealthiest Americans, in the form of tax breaks. Cha-ching!

As far as I can tell, this is the reasoning that Trump and the GOP are using to justify this ruthlessness: the poor (and their children, who under this regime will likely continue the cycle of poverty) aren’t being productive, after all, and they’re stealing from the next generation if we have to pay for these programs with deficit spending. 

Meaning, life itself is just another commodity, only worth as much as it can “produce” in the marketplace. Quite a fascist abstraction being juggled there: D.C. salaries are stealing from the next generation, too!

I’m with Greta…and with Senator Bernie Sanders, who describes the Trump/GOP budget as “grotesquely immoral.” Yet, Mick Mulvaney (Director, Office of Management and Budget), is sporting a big smile these days, spinning the narrative that what matters with this budget is that taxpayers should no longer be expected to pay for the benefits about to be axed—the people who need the benefits to live are hereafter on their own.

We must, above all, shield the wealthy from this “burden.” 

As one journalist characterizes Mulvaney’s convoluted argument, “We must lower the debt for unborn children by taking food from existing children.” Those who preach about the sacred “Right to Life” should be gagging on this one. Besides, maybe if the billionaires paid their fair share in this world (or alternatively, weren’t allowed to suck up 99% of the wealth), we could help all our children thrive in the future!

So, let me get this straight: the way to make taxpayers feel good about themselves is to take life-sustaining assistance and public services away from their neighbors and their neighbors’ children? I don’t recall anyone campaigning on this platform: “elect me, and I will make sure your neighbors suffer deprivation and hardship so billionaires can feed their greed.” 

IMHO, the so-called “American Dream” has clouded our political thinking over the years: somehow we got the idea that it’s possible to make something out of nothing, that a person can be raised in the worst possible deprivation and desperation, and somehow pull himself up by the bootstraps because “anyone who wants a job can find one.” I’ve always felt this was a convenient excuse for those who don’t want to understand or feel what the other person is going through. Is being poor a crime?

So, what’s going on in the American soul—our besieged Sibly Moon—that we’re about to wage an all-out war on the least among us? A strong work ethic is important in this world, of course, but the vast majority of the poor are hard-working—they simply aren’t finding jobs that pay living wages, and that’s by corporate (and government) design.

For the record, I don’t believe that what’s going on in Washington reflects the hearts of all, or even a majority of Americans, but that doesn’t stop the empowered minority in charge from being particularly vicious in the name of protecting "taxpayers."

So, where in our national chart do we look for the quality of “conscience?” Where do we look for the nation’s attitude toward things like poverty and the social “safety net?” What transits or progressions can we look to for at least some insight into all this? 

I believe that our history reveals our national soul, and that it’s a “whole-chart” phenomenon, so here I’d like to look at one of those seminal moments in history that revealed that American soul (and our American mythology), for better or worse. We will then consider the U.S. Sibly chart in reference to that historical backdrop. 

This event—the discovery of gold flakes in the soil during a construction project—occurred on January 24, 1848 at Sutter’s Mill, on the banks of the American River, at Coloma, California. It’s known in the history books as the beginning of the California Gold Rush, even though the height of the phenomenon is often associated with 1849 (gold rushers were often called “Forty-Niners.”). According to Steven M. Gillon:

“Men quit their jobs, sold their businesses, and moved to California. They caught ‘gold fever,’ a term which seemed appropriate since many observers thought of it as a contagious disease. The Sioux holy man Black Elk called gold ‘the yellow metal that makes Wasichus [whites] crazy’…The gold rush inspired perhaps the largest mass movement of people in world history…”[1]
People flocked to America from all over the globe to mine the gold in “them thar hills.” It was a major wave of immigration—as Gillon put it:

“The principal street in Coloma was alive with crowds of moving men…blacks, Jamaicans, Hawaiians, Peruvians, Chileans, Mexicans, Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, Irishmen, Yankees, Chinese, and Native Americans…The gold rush helped colonize the country’s open land, fulfilling the dreams of those who believed that America’s manifest destiny was to create a nation that extended from coast to coast.”[2]

Clearly Americans—from all backgrounds—have been fortune seekers from the get-go, which is perhaps not surprising: this was a land of incredibly rich natural resources, and undoubtedly the reason we came to be known as the “Land of Opportunity.” Trouble is, we’ve depleted or even tapped a great deal of those resources out, especially the non-renewable ones like minerals and fossil fuels. Our myth is floundering—perhaps the reason Trump’s “Make America Great Again” resonated so deeply. 

It’s easy to see that today’s struggles over the resources lying beneath protected Federal lands hark back to this 1840s period when the land was flush with riches, there for the price of a miner’s pickaxe and a sifting pan. To believe the advertising, the poor could become fabulously wealthy overnight, if only they hitched their wagon to that fabulous glittering star.

And so was born our “Go West, Young Man” mythology, and IMHO, there’s a direct line from that myth and our current politicians’ magical thinking about poverty, natural resources and jobs programs: “if the poor wanted to prosper, they could. So, by extension, if they don’t prosper, it must be their own fault, and who can save them from that? 

Never mind that there could be serious systemic reasons why upward mobility has become so difficult in recent times. A story for another day.

To really scrutinize the gold rush analogy, however, is to realize that thousands who streamed westward in search of riches did not make it. The way was treacherous, even for the mostly adult males making the journey. Some few did “strike it rich,” but many more didn’t find anything, even if they managed to get to California. For these dreamers, it was a fantasy with no happy ending. Like drug dealing; like running any number of scams.

Like Trump selling voters a bill of goods—that the “safety net” would not be touched. As we know now, this promise was a major lie. 

Even so, I think we need to look inward on this one, because so many of us fell for Trump’s promises. Maybe we have to even wonder if taking care of people is really the American way. Or, are we cut out of rougher cloth, and it’s “every man for himself,” with little sympathy for those who can’t seem to create their own opportunities?

We had a ruthless history around these issues until FDR’s “New Deal” programs rolled out during the Depression, and today’s budget battles are all about the GOP’s efforts to dismantle that “New Deal.” Kind of ironic, with the man who wrote the Art of the Deal in the White House.  

So, let’s examine the astrological echoes from that magical time when the hills were filled with gold just waiting to be picked up by one and all, against the Sibly radix and progressed charts (progressed for May 23rd, the day Trump released his budget).

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) US Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (middle wheel) California Gold Rush, January 24, 1848, 12:00 p.m. LMT, Coloma, CA; (outer wheel) US Sibly Chart (see inner wheel), Day-for-Year progressions for May 23, 2017 at 12:00 a.m. GMT. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Rush Neptune (Aquarius) conjoins Sibly Moon (Aquarius) and trines Sibly Venus-Jupiter (Cancer). This one set of aspects speaks to the genesis of the American Dream (Neptune)—the American public (Sibly Moon) was lit up like a fireworks show about the gold “in them thar hills,” which is understandable. This fortune-seeking mania was a revolution (Aquarius) of sorts, and by the time the rush subsided, the country was hardly recognizable. 

The trines to Sibly Venus and Jupiter are “out-of-sign” (not in the same element), which may account for how spotty the results were for the “Forty-Niners,” even though the effects on the overall American economy were probably positive. 

Interestingly, Sibly progressed Mercury is applying to Sibly Moon-Rush Neptune, suggesting that our mindset is becoming more in tune with radical change and revolution. This will affect our media communications. 

Rush Jupiter Rx (Cancer) conjoins Sibly Sun and Progressed Sibly Jupiter Rx (both Cancer). Clearly, the mood in the nation was ebullient during the Rush; it was a period of rapid expansion and acquisition—the Mexican-American War was in progress, California was joining the Union and everything was coming up gold nuggets. 

It’s very interesting that the mood in 1848 echoes in today’s Sibly progressions, but the buoyancy of the Stock Market (despite serious instability in D.C.) attests to it. There is a sense in the business news these days that something “big” is on the horizon—a whole new wave of technology is about to launch all at once, producing an AI-empowered robotics revolution, for starters.

As a consequence, there’s also pressure for the public think-tanks to figure out what workers are going to do when even more jobs are eaten up by automation, while Trump ramps up for war (is that what the thousands of good “jobs” on the horizon are about?). If the budget and health care news is any indication, the D.C. gurus have decided that a major “die-off” (like a deer “cull”) is a good plan.

This line of thinking is not surprising, unfortunately: the Sibly Sun forms a stressful sesquiquadrate (±135 deg.) aspect to Sibly Moon, so if we’re feeling that the powers-that-be (Executive) have a love-hate relationship with We the People, it’s well-founded. 

Like many dysfunctional families, any “love” we receive from the Executive (or the Nation itself, by extension), needs to be “earned.” Not that we shouldn't do our best to earn our way, but things have definitely gotten out of balance, in this era of radical wealth inequality.

Our Sibly Sun is a narcissistic “parent,” it seems, and the person embodying that energy in the White House at the moment is especially so.

Rush No. Node (Libra) conjoins Sibly MC (Libra) and squares Sibly Venus-Jupiter and trines Rush Sun (Aquarius). The Gold Rush just felt “right” for the young United States, like it was a defining and destined passage; Gold Rush Sun also conjoined Sibly So. Node, so while the rush to riches might have felt right, there was a raucous, uncouth quality about it—not quite worthy of our Leo North Node and our “Old World” alliances (Rush Sun inconjoins Sibly Venus-Jupiter).

That period probably sanctified our survival of the fittest “Wild West” ethos—embodied in every cowpoke who ever swaggered out of Dodge. 

There’s no doubt that only the tough survived during that period—and it’s equally true that it was often the corrupt who prospered the most—but we celebrate those times for a reason: our national soul revels in that brand of toughness, and if corruption is part of the package, we tend to accept that as just part of the package deal. 

This same ethos explains our media celebration of the archetypal “Gangster” (the “Big Man”-Jupiter) who stops at nothing to achieve his aims and protect/avenge his “Family”—a particularly appealing idea to our national Cancer Sun and Sagittarius ASC—ruled by Jupiter in Cancer. IMHO, this Wild West heritage is coming back to haunt us today. 

The U.S. Mint began the mintage of gold coins in 1849 (not surprising) and the California state Constitution was ratified (a precursor to the early schism between slave-owning and abolition states that led to the Civil War). Trade relations were perhaps also impacted (7th house Venus-Jupiter); most of Europe had already abolished slavery by that time, and the more urban/industrial North was determined to follow suit. 

Interchart T-Square: Sibly Mercury (Cancer) opposes Sibly Pluto (Capricorn); this axis squares Rush Pluto (Aries). Aries Pluto in this tense cardinal configuration probably felt something like the hot poker prods that were used in circuses to train elephants (long before PETA)—nothing like some intense heat to get things moving! If the economy was sluggish before the Gold Rush, it probably lit up during the “Rush,” which lasted until roughly 1855. 

The amount of gold that was discovered stimulated the economy, for sure, but it may not have been the most important stimulus during that period. The boom in travel (a special steamship line was launched just to accommodate people who didn’t want to travel over land), the boom in equipment manufacture and sales, in lodgings, in horses and wagons, and in the goods successful “Forty-Niners” purchased with their wealth, all added up. 

Importantly, the migration helped settle the nation and establish local economies and populate fabulous cities like San Francisco all along the way. It was, in the nature of Pluto, a transformative passage.

Was there a dark side to it all? Absolutely—Rush Pluto conjunct Sibly Chiron reflects the pain inflicted on our Native populations during this westward expansion, and Saturn, square Sibly Uranus and trine Sibly Sun reflects the role that military power played in supporting the westward migration, for the sake of solidifying Federal power over the continent. 

Trump’s rush to exploit the nation’s remaining reserves of oil, natural gas and minerals (in the name of “jobs”) strongly echoes the exploitation of that 1840s period—and as we saw with the North Dakota pipeline controversy, the same native peoples are in the crosshairs. An extraction economy is a poor substitute for an economy that produces goods, however; by definition, the extraction industries are unsustainable. Good for a nice Jupiterian “rush” of expansion, but once it’s over, it’s over. A story for another day.

Rush Mercury (Aquarius) reflected the rapid construction of railroads (high-tech for those times) that was ongoing during that period. 

Interchart T-Square: Sibly Saturn (Libra) opposes Rush Uranus (Aries); this axis squares Sibly Sun-Progressed Jupiter Rx (Cancer). This second cardinal configuration speaks to the sudden aggressive, radical expansion involved in the Gold Rush, and the catalyst for change it represented in the young U.S. government of the time. As mentioned above, this was a critical period of pre-Civil War development, and there were deeply divisive issues being debated in Congress (Saturn). 

These debates culminated in the so-called “Compromise of 1850”—an attempt on the part of some great statesmen of that era to keep the nation from splitting in two over slavery, and whether the new territories gained in the Mexican-American war (which ended in 1848) would be slave states or free states. 

Notice that Rush Uranus is fast approaching Rush Pluto here—their new cycle began at the end of Aries in 1850, and in pretty short order unleashed the national upheaval we know as the Civil War. Perhaps it makes sense that Sibly Progressed Chiron is now within orb of Rush Uranus—we’re still experiencing the wounds opened during that tumultuous pre-Civil War period today.

Making sense of it all

This is a good place to pause and reflect on how resilient the American experiment has been overall, but the Gold Rush also revealed how central the “rush to riches” has always been to our national soul. Slave-holding was first and foremost an economic issue at the time, and the same divisions that opened up with a vengeance in this past election—between the “coastal elites” and “down home people just trying to make a buck”—are the same divisions that stoked the Civil War. It’s not hard to see why there’s been an upsurge in race-based hate crimes during these times. Too many unhealed wounds, too much residual hatred. The moment economic hardship hits, the scapegoating resumes.  

It is hard to say where ethical concerns figure into all this because from what we’re seeing in the Trump/GOP budget, the Golden Rule and “Make America Great Again” are like oil and water in GOP minds--they just don't mix. As mentioned earlier, there’s a 21st century “Gold Rush” underway in high-tech industries—hotly anticipated by the stock market, judging by its behavior—and anything that stands in the way of fully capitalizing on that is likely to fail.

Besides, the billionaire class is not going to say no to a windfall trillion dollar tax break, courtesy of the nation’s besieged healthcare (Moon) system. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan characterizes all public policies in terms of budget goals met, or not met—a cynically clinical way of saying that people don’t really matter in the end. We’ll consider his chart in a future post: rumors are swirling that he may not return to Congress in the next session. Ryan is famously quoted for his characterization of the “safety net:”

“But we don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.”
That so-called “hammock” is a gross distortion of what’s actually happening. In slashing budgets to health care, food assistance and education at the same time, the federal government is not only taking food out of children’s mouths, but is taking away their access to a better path forward. 

Meanwhile, the lies and obfuscations gather steam regarding the “compassionate” vision for America expressed by Trump’s budget.  It’s about as compassionate as the 1830-1850 Indian Removal campaign and the Trail of Tears (or the current mass round-ups of immigrants by ICE), if you ask me—in fact, Sutter’s Mill was being built on land that belonged to a local Indian tribe[3] when the first flakes of gold were discovered. For the record, the tribe didn’t benefit from the rush to riches that followed.  

There’s still gold in them thar hills! But, for whom?

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. 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.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at:

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved.

[1] Steven M. Gillon, 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America, The History Channel, Broadway Books, NY, NY, 2006, pp. 63-64.
[2] Gillon, p. 67.
[3] Gillon, p. 59.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Astrology of Religious Freedom: Caesar at the Wailing Wall

The lofty concept of Liberty is arguably America’s “State religion”—right up there with Mom and that mythical “Apple Pie,” cooling on the windowsills of yore, easy prey for mischievous young boys. 

It’s true that in its founding document, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. sprang from that idealistic kernel: 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

We have an admittedly spotty history of living by the ideals of liberty and equality, however—at least in part because those concepts are so broad that they allow for constant ideological manipulation, along our “Left-to-Right” political spectrum.  As discussed in the last post here, these ideals have become so caught up in such tinkering that they are hardly recognizable. 

One bit of tinkering is particularly troubling: does “freedom of religion” really include the right to discriminate against those who don’t see social issues the way you do, or the right to funnel public monies away from public schools into private, religion-based schools? 

Or the right to funnel millions of dollars raised in religious settings into election campaigns? Trump and V.P. Pence certainly seem to think so. 

But, didn’t our Founders conceive of freedom of religion as a right designed to shield citizens from the historical perils of “state religion?” This is a reality in which a specific religion and government are hitched at the hip, with the religious side enjoying economic privileges and a great deal of power over the people, leveraged around their exercise of religion. This system exists most notably today in the Middle East—interestingly, Trump’s first international stop as president.
State-sanctioned religion was a very familiar form of repression to the Founding Fathers: our earliest migrants supposedly fled to this continent so they could be free to exercise their faiths. It always amazed me to read about how intolerant these so-called “Puritans” were when it came to other people’s religious freedom, however. 

In fact, the Puritans formed a repressive theocracy of their own that culminated in hanging four Quakers (1659-61) for practicing their religion. Britain intervened at that point to declare this Puritan practice illegal: 

In 1661 King Charles II explicitly forbade Massachusetts from executing anyone for professing Quakerism. In 1684 England revoked the Massachusetts charter, sent over a royal governor to enforce English laws in 1686, and in 1689 passed a broad Toleration act."[2][3]
The Puritan theocracy of that era didn’t totally run aground until the horrifying mass hysteria of the Salem witch trials, however—a phenomenon Trump likes to invoke when he claims to be victimized by a media “witch hunt.” That analogy is far from accurate, however we can see a few interesting echoes from that 1692-3 period at play in the Trump administration.

The biwheel below sets the Trump inauguration chart against a chart cast for the opening day of the Salem Witch Trials in February, 1692 (noon, no time available). I’ve placed the indeterminately timed, 1692 chart on the outside, so we have an accurate chart horizon to work with. 

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Inauguration 2017, January 20, 2017, 12:00 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) Salem Witch Trials, February 11, 1692, 12:00 p.m. LMT, Salem, Massachusetts.
First, it should be noted that the final dispositor of the Inauguration (Trump administration) chart is Neptune. This means that by rulership and disposition, all the energies of the chart find their way back to Neptune, at home and strong in its ruling sign of Pisces. Venus rules the chart’s Taurus ascendant, but placed in Pisces, it is disposed by Neptune

The Sun is placed in electric Aquarius, disposed by Uranus in Aries, which is disposed by Mars in Pisces…you guessed it, we’re back to Neptune. This pervasive, even overwhelming influence speaks very eloquently to the chaotic, deceptive, subterfuge-filled beginnings of Trump’s presidency. 

It also speaks to why Trump seems to be leaning on the powerful trappings of religion to recuperate his image. The pictures of him at Israel’s “Western Wall” (aka, the “Wailing Wall”) were almost Shakespearean, evoking Richard III—an attempt to appear pious for the sake of political power. 

But then I sigh, and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends, stol'n out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.

I don’t pretend to know Trump’s heart about all things Divine, or political, but he’s proven from day one of his presidency how deeply concerned he is with appearances. He seems to have difficulty distinguishing between appearances and reality, as well—his natal Mercury square to Neptune (Cancer-Libra) chimes in on this. 

This has led to one of the most difficult developments for everyone observing his presidency: that Trump and his team play very fast and loose with the truth—that’s if they have any concept of truth at all. It appears that for Trump’s staff, the “truth” is whatever the boss says it is. Trouble is, the boss changes the story to suit whatever the situation is. Neptune definitely reigns in the White House these days.
Neptune and Pluto encompass the realm of universal archetypes, as captured in the world’s mythologies. Nature-based, as all of Humanity’s original religions were, Neptune (Poseidon) ruled the inscrutable, yet life-giving Oceans, and Pluto (Hades) ruled the mysterious Underworld, where the Earth’s hidden riches lay. In myths, these two often plotted to achieve a common goal.

In fact, their energies are forever being used to achieve powerful goals, for good or ill. This further explains why Trump’s trip was planned around the high points of religious power in the world: Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam’s holiest shrine, “Mecca,” Israel’s “Western Wall,” and the Vatican (a religious city/state).

Judging from his past comments, Trump has little sincere connection with any of these religions, but he would very much like them to “anoint” his world leadership. The Saudis managed to get him to bow to their king (to receive an award); he donned a yarmulke in Israel; it’ll be interesting to see if he kisses the Pope’s ring.

Now, on to Salem: is Trump a hapless victim of mass hysteria in the media, or is something else going on? We’ll focus attention on the most relevant points only:

Interchart T-Square: Salem Chiron-Mars (Gemini) opposes Salem Saturn (Sagittarius); this axis squares Inauguration Neptune-Venus conjoins Salem Neptune-Venus (all Pisces). This is a rather uncanny connection between the ages that denotes an ancestral “wound” (Chiron) that is perhaps coming due for healing. It’s not surprising that the “witch trials” featured a Saturn-Neptune square—the truth was certainly lost in Neptune’s fog, and in the intense fear it unleashed, leading to mass hysteria. 

Several girls fell mysteriously ill with some type of hysterical malady before the trials, and the townspeople were looking for scapegoats. They were easy prey for Church elders who saw the situation as a means for solidifying their power. 

Chiron also conjoins Venus and Mars in the Inauguration chart, and it opposes our Sibly Neptune (not shown-Virgo). The fact that the American public was played like a piano in the last election, with fake news and a deeply deceptive, perhaps even criminal campaign is certainly seen here. We also see the damage done to individual reputations (Venus) by a situation that triggers the worst defensive impulses of people (Mars). 

In Salem, those defensive impulses took a deadly turn for innocent bystanders who were “named” by others as witches. Interestingly, Salem was known to be in turmoil prior to this tragedy:

“Salem Village (present-day Danvers, Massachusetts) was known for its fractious population, who had many internal disputes, and for disputes between the village and Salem Town (present-day Salem). Arguments about property lines, grazing rights, and church privileges were rife, and neighbors considered the population as ‘quarrelsome’."
These local divisions might certainly have provided motives for vengeance and ill will, and it’s ever so easy to deceive ourselves that our motives are justified when we’re feeling threatened. So, are the tragedies that unfolded in Salem a precedent for what’s happening now in regards to Trump’s imagined “witch hunt?” 

In Salem, there were no clear, undistorted facts involved in the persecution of the so-called “witches.” There was hysteria based on fear and perhaps darker motives, there was information forcibly extracted from people through torture (the "dunking chair," the "press"), but there were no facts. The investigations into Trump's (or his campaign’s) possible collusion with Russian meddling in our election are trying to sort through a whole lot of distortion, deflection, obfuscation and confusion to get to the facts—the Saturn factor.

In Trump’s paranoid view, all these investigators are out to get him, but this simply doesn’t make sense. A lot of the same people were anything but kind to Hillary Clinton during the campaign: what’s in it for them to now go after her opponent? They have a mystery to unravel about Russia’s proven actions during our election, and wherever the facts take us, they take us. IMHO, we can’t move on to better things quickly enough!

Even so, Neptune does not succumb to Saturn (or the voice of reason) easily; we’ve seen that with Trump’s constant effort to derail the investigations. Charges that he is attempting to obstruct justice are likely yet, and Trump isn’t doing anything to help himself on that account. Saturn squares Chiron in the Inauguration chart, and both tie into Trump’s natal Gemini-Sagittarius oppositions, so it’s no surprise that he keeps “shooting himself in the foot” these days.

This is especially true because Inauguration Saturn falls squarely on top of Trump’s natal Moon (not shown-Sagittarius), which accounts for his emotional lashing out at everything related to the fact-finding efforts. Sagittarius isn’t well known for respecting rules, so Trump’s lack of respect for the limits of his power is hardly surprising. It’s hard to say what it will take for him to simply cooperate and stop making himself look guilty. 

So, no, Trump is not a hapless victim of persecution; perhaps, in fact, it’s the American public that’s been taken to the Salem “dunking pond” (Trump’s “swamp?”) this time around? The Salem Sun conjoins the Sibly Moon, in fact—as does the Inauguration Part-of-Fortune (all Aquarius).  Food for thought.

 So, what’s new?

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen an important new development in the age-old tension between Religion and Government that overwhelmed everyone so tragically in Salem: On May 4th, Trump signed an executive order that would effectively unleash religious-based discrimination and political activity even more than the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act did:
“Seeking to appeal to social conservatives who backed him in heavy numbers, President Trump will issue an executive order Thursday designed to ‘protect and vigorously promote religious liberty’ and ‘alleviate the burden’ of a law designed to prohibit religious leaders from speaking out about politics, according to senior administration officials.”
This order would free employers to claim religious freedom as the basis for denying their female workers contraception coverage, and to speak freely from the pulpit about political matters without losing their tax-exempt status. No consideration of the rights of those on the losing end of these “freedoms.” Clearly, there are financial motives masquerading behind these pieties, as well.

The right to openly finance religious-based PACs isn’t mentioned, but it can’t be far away, if Congress agrees with Trump about overturning the so-called Johnson Amendment.

We’re headed the way of state-sanctioned religion if this trend extends to its logical extreme, and in fact, returning the U.S. to its “Christian” roots is a dearly-held goal of Steve Bannon and like-minded Trump followers. Unfortunately, what masquerades as religious “freedom” would mean second-class citizenship for non-Christian (or simply secular) Americans. Or for those who cherish our long-held separation of Church and State as a safeguard against discrimination and theocracy.  

No one can be legally constrained from practicing his/her faith here: what is constrained (rightly, in my book) is the ability to rewrite the laws to enforce one religious set of beliefs. There’s been a slow erosion of that separation over many years—even in people’s capacity to think clearly. In my experience teaching university students to write research papers, I had a front-row seat for this.

Every semester my classes would discuss at some length why matters of religious belief (like abortion rights, etc.) were not appropriate topics for argumentation papers, unless they could be argued using non-religious or scientific reasoning and research. It always amazed me how these discussions would produce at least a few blank, uncomprehending stares. In these confused students, the difference between an object of belief and a fact would simply not register—subjective and objective realities were indistinguishable, in other words.

My inner astrologer would be thinking: Neptune’s overpowered Saturn in their comprehension. This can easily happen, of course, depending upon a child’s upbringing, the cultural influences they’re immersed in, and so on. Such “filters” determine how we see everything, and setting aside those filters for academic purposes can be difficult. Being able to do that is a necessary skill in this world, however, and a big way in which university education broadens a young adult’s mind.

Unless, of course, we’re hoping to close our children’s minds off against that world. Is that what this recently exaggerated focus on “religious freedom” is about? The Puritans, it turned out, were less interested in religious freedom for all than they were for their own freedom to dictate how people around them worshipped and behaved. A compulsion to control the environment and those who populate it is at the heart of this “freedom,” it would seem.

We all have the legitimate desire to control and secure our environments; however, as the poor victims of Salem (overwhelmingly women) found out in the 1690s, this desire can turn into a mob-driven mania. The fact that the hysteria in Salem mainly targeted women (and men who tried to protect their women) is key here: women were often viewed as the “spawn of the Devil.” This attitude seems to persist today, in carefully disguised form—the GOP’s proposed cuts to health care are a strong indication.  
Salem was clearly an extreme example, but in fact, history shows repeatedly that Religion and Government are simply flip-sides of the same coin because humans have accepted from ancient times that transcendent “power over” their societies (Pluto) derives from “on high” (Neptune)—however the various cultures defined that “on high.”

Monarchies have historically justified this power as “the Divine Right of Kings;” theocracies claim that this power emanates from the Divine and is manifested through elected or appointed clerics (who are always closely allied with government officials and can therefore get by with a lot), while kleptocracies and oligarchies don’t even pretend that power comes from anywhere but Big Money (Pluto).

Democracies, thankfully, claim that this transcendent authority derives from “the People,” although as we’ve seen, there are many, many ways of undermining and manipulating the People’s authority.

As with everything Neptune touches, the dividing lines that need to be clear are blurred: this becomes particularly treacherous when the lines of authority are at stake: Christ’s saying, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” is, of course, interpreted to mean whatever people want it to mean.

Unfortunately, Christ wasn’t envisioning an empowered people in a democratic society with those words: for that purpose, it’s up to us to figure out how to wield Neptune-Pluto power wisely.

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. 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.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at:

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved.