Sunday, August 13, 2017

The young & the stressed: pre-eclipse drama in Charlottesville VA

Just when we thought the situation with North Korea was threatening to blow, all hell breaks loose in Charlottesville, Virginia, heightening the pre-eclipse drama in these United States and bumping NK right out of the headlines.  

Not the relief from the intercontinental, adolescent saber-rattling that we might have been looking for! The fact is, there are good astrological reasons for these tense situations happening in tandem. 

I’m taking a slight detour by covering the Charlottesville story today: how could I not, first of all? Like many of you, I lived through the civil rights struggles and anti-Vietnam unrest of the 1960s and this attempted consolidation of Neo-Nazi and alt-right forces—enabled by the president and his fringe Right advisors Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka—feels like something much more troubling than an echo of those years. 

As former White House Chief Ethics advisor Richard Painter put it, condemning the event in strongest terms, “this is the face of fascism in America.” Painter, who’s been speaking out forcefully about the many ethical concerns afloat in the Trump presidency, adds that he will call for Trump’s impeachment if he doesn’t crack down on the extremist elements in his presidency—specifically Bannon and Gorka—and specifically condemn the white supremacist groups behind the protest for promoting domestic terrorism. 

Bannon’s influence on alt-Right media platform Breitbart News is definitely an issue here: that outlet is largely thought to be the driving force in “uniting the Right” around an anti-immigration, anti-Jewish, racist Neo-Nazi style “Blood and Soil” agenda. 

Judging from protest rhetoric, Breitbart followers claim that they’re not spouting “hatred,” but protecting their “White Christian heritage.” The fact that they’re conflating Christianity with a heritage fully dependent on hatred, racism and xenophobia is jaw-droppingly twisted, but it’s nothing new with the fringe Right. 

The fact that Nazi history and ideology are being celebrated by these folks still feels shocking, but we saw this coming all through Trump’s run for president. As former KKK grand wizard David Duke and Trump supporter put it at the protest:

 “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”
Trump, of course, is pretending that he doesn’t know where all this came from: once he finally made a statement, it very carefully condemned “hatred…on many sides,” suggesting that there’s some kind of moral equivalence between the actions of the Neo-Nazis, etc. and the counter-protestors. Clearly he didn’t want to ruffle his alt-right supporters’ feathers. 

Focusing his remarks on the lack of law and order rather than on the specific brand of racist/xenophobic vitriol spewed by the protestors, Trump was met with disapproving comments from members of the GOP, who urged him to call out the protestors’ intentions for what they were: “evil”…and “domestic terrorism.”

Richard Painter was not only historically correct, but astrologically attuned when he equated yesterday’s melĂ©e in Charlottesville with the thuggery underpinning the 1930’s fascist movement in Germany. We’ll consider the astrological echoes in due course, but first, let’s consider the event chart for yesterday in Charlottesville. 

Wikipedia documents three distinct highlights and times: 11:00, the city of Charlottesville declares a state of emergency as the event showed signs of violence; 11:40, VA State Police declared the protest illegal, and 12:30, when 20 year old James Alex Fields, Jr. took a page from the ISIS playbook and deliberately plowed his car into the crowd, killing a 32-year old woman and wounding 19 others. As might be expected, all three charts are similar, so for the sake of space, we’ll use the earliest one. 

Chart #1: Unite the Right Protest, August 12, 2017, 11:00 a.m. DST, Charlottesville, VA. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Grand Fire Trine: Mars-Sun-No. Node (Leo) trine Moon/Uranus (midpoint, Aries), trine Saturn (Sagittarius). Please note that Mars trines the Moon, but not the Moon/Uranus midpoint here, but both tell the story of this explosive configuration. The will to violence took on a life of its own yesterday, and it’s possible that if it hadn’t erupted in Charlottesville, it would have somewhere else. Trines unleash whatever forces they connect, so a grand fire trine is exceptionally volatile, especially when it involves Mars, Uranus (the protestors) and Saturn (the authorities). The Moon in belligerent, Mars-ruled Aries accounted for the mass thuggery and “mob” feel of the event.

Timing is everything, of course, and that governs the 7th house position of the Moon and Uranus, conjunct the DSC, which suggests that Charlottesville was invaded by a hostile force, prepared to fight. Interestingly, Mundane Astrology authors Baigent, Campion and Harvey have long equated Uranus with right wing authoritarian (fascist) movements and Neptune with left wing collectivist  movements (communism)[1], so Uranus’s involvement in yesterday’s events (and with its long Aries transit, the rise of Brietbart News) is no surprise. 

I think events since WWII illustrate that we should qualify that stark Uranus-Neptune divide, however: although a prominent Capricorn-Aries Saturn-Uranus square (Aquarius co-rulers) featured heavily in Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s, a Capricorn-Virgo Saturn-Neptune trine also figured into the mix: fast forward to 2015-6, the Sagittarius-Pisces Saturn-Neptune square played an integral role in Trump’s campaign success, especially in helping to create his “fake news” assault on the media and his “cult of personality”-style appeal. 

The recent Saturn-Uranus trine has also been a factor, promoting his intolerant assaults on basic civil rights and “Make America great again” (i.e., white and Christian) rhetoric. Yesterday’s event was hailed as a “Unite the Right” revolution aimed at “taking back the country”—a desire to turn back the clock to pre-Civil Rights days that is clearly influenced by Saturn-Uranus. 

As these Saturn aspects gradually separate, we can feel the urgency from those intolerant forces that voted for Trump and are now insisting he “fulfill his promises.” 

Bottom line, Uranus and Neptune operate more like a tag-team than isolated and opposing forces when it comes to major geopolitical struggles. Pluto’s role is equally fundamental, of course—we’ll get to that soon. 

So it’s doubly unsurprising that the city declared a state of emergency early in the rally: apparently, the KKK-style torch march the night before across the University of Virginia campus—an institution steeped in Virginia’s Jeffersonian heritage—probably told them what they had to look forward to on Saturday.  

The bellicose Aries points in this chart are tied into an extremely tense cardinal grand square, as well, so this grand trine functions like the fuel that ignited a concerted effort to consolidate forces around one “cross”-shaped banner (interesting that the “Iron Cross” is an enduring Nazi symbol). Again, the iconic reference to Christianity is troubling to say the least. It’s hard to believe that sincere Christians would condone this cynical use of their faith.

One last point about the Moon/Uranus midpoint. Midpoints expert Michael Munkasey characterizes this blend as “help[ing] to nurture an inner rebelliousness against maternal or traditional family roles. It can denote emotional detachment and an erratic restlessness.” And, in regards to politics and business, he adds: “Leaders who rule at whim, with little sense of how their enterprise is seen by the rest of the world; an emotionally immature person placed in an important and visible leadership role.”[2]

Speaking of important midpoint connections, it’s no coincidence that Trump’s Moon/Uranus midpoint (chart not shown) falls at 19°Pis33’, conjunct this event chart’s Neptune/Chiron midpoint (20°Pis43’). Trump is clearly one of perhaps many “emotionally immature people” whose actions are deeply wounding our national psyche, but he is ultimately responsible, being their “leader who rules at whim…”  

The Sun-Mars-No. Node stellium energizes the grand trine with belligerence, anger and outrage, the will-to-power by violence (Sun-Mars) and a sense of “destiny” (Node). And, as anyone who has protested anything knows, the police (Saturn) both respond to the protest and instigate even more protest, so Saturn’s flowing relationship with the Leo and Aries points makes perfect sense. The somewhat restrained approach the police took to intervening in yesterday’s violence is reflected in Saturn’s retrograde status. Could they have done more? Media opinions differ, but Saturn turns direct on August 26th, so we may have a chance to revisit the question.

Unfortunately, the counter-protestors seem to have fallen into the bellicose trap laid for them by the “Unite the Right” people—the same trap that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. cautioned his Civil Rights era followers against.  Meeting violence with more violence literally fans the flames in such situations, and certainly in this chart, solves nothing—unless the point of the whole exercise is for both sides to vent, of course. Whatever it was, the violence certainly reflected this fiery grand trine and the tone set by the Trump administration.  

Some experts claim that eclipses are often felt in the public sphere before the fact, and I think this past week has been an example of that. 

Cardinal Grand-Square: DSC-Moon-Eris and Moon/Uranus (midpoint, Aries) oppose Jupiter-ASC (Libra); this axis squares Ceres-Venus-MC (Cancer) opposite Pluto-IC (Capricorn). This intensely strained configuration speaks volumes about yesterday’s event, including the unfortunate death of three victims—one innocent bystander run over by a car at 12:30 p.m. and two police officers killed when their helicopter crashed. Shocking/accidental death by metal objects (whether meant to be weapons or not) certainly evokes a fiery Mars-Uranus trine, not to mention the Aries-Capricorn Moon-Eris to Pluto square seen here, with Pluto conjunct the IC (end of things). 

The exact Moon-Jupiter opposition (Aries-Libra) set against the Venus-Pluto opposition suggests that the masses (alt-right, etc.) felt empowered to act out against the reigning ideology of justice and equality (Jupiter in Libra), and that their efforts were handsomely financed by some elements of the “grass roots” (Venus-Ceres-MC to Pluto-IC). Pulling the 4 directions apart, we see a powerful Jupiter-Pluto square. This indicates an ambitious political power grab—the alt-Right is at home in the White House at the moment and clearly means to leverage that reality. 

One protest sign that read “No Apology” (referring to white supremacist goals) seems to reflect the tension built into this configuration really well. Is the alt-Right basically daring the rest of the nation and the Constitution to stop them in their quest? What exactly are they counting on their man in the White House to do to our democracy?

It always intrigues me to see event charts with strong angular placements, as this one has. Was the event deliberately planned and located for maximum astrological impact, or did it just “happen” that way? Either way, the event consolidated four streams of energy into one seamless, “perfect storm” of tension and outrage. Next, we consider who the “foot soldiers” of this alt-right, Neo-Nazi blitzkrieg were. 

A Millennial event? 

I’ve written extensively about the Millennial generation—loosely speaking, the Pluto-in-Sagittarius generation—a generation that is “coming of age” in waves even as we speak. The 20-year old man who committed mayhem (or terrorism) by driving his car into a crowd in Charlottesville yesterday falls squarely in this Millennial group. The oldest among them are not too long out of high school and, for those who made it there, not yet finished with college. While overwhelmingly "enlightened" when it comes to cultural diversity and quite tolerant of all our differences, this group has a lot to be angry about—their school loan debt is ridiculously high, and while employment is getting better, finding jobs that pay decently and use their degrees is another story. 

But the college educated among them will eventually prosper from their efforts—that “piece of paper” is still worth something in the marketplace. Those who never made it to college, however, are looking at a very tough road ahead: our economy favors highly-skilled individuals with degrees, and the alternative is often a minimum wage service industry job. Anger often masks depression, so the anger we’re seeing with these young people on the streets (mostly white men) may have a lot to do with repressed potentials, a lack of opportunities, and a need to blame someone else for their lack of achievement. Why not blame immigrants and the usual “outsiders,” people of color? 

This need to blame would explain why Trump’s Justice Department has targeted university Affirmative Action programs and moved to round up and deport as many “illegals” as possible very quickly, threatening to defund so-called “sanctuary cities.” These measures won’t begin to satisfy the job needs of these disenchanted Millennials, but my guess is that they are made to feel like unjust victims by the incendiary media content they read on sites like Breitbart. 

To explore the connection between unrest on the street and the Millennial generation, then, I’ve set their generational chart against yesterday’s event chart. The highlights are very suggestive.

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Pluto ingress into Sagittarius, January 17, 1995, 1:28 a.m. ST, Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) United Right Protest, August 12, 2017, 11:00 a.m. DST, Charlottesville, VA. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Protest Mars-Sun (Leo) conjoins Pluto-Sag MC (Leo) and opposes Pluto-Sag Mercury (Aquarius). This opposition kind of says it all – Millennials aren’t likely to shy away from confrontations—even amongst themselves, as we saw yesterday, and they are generally a free-thinking, even radically-minded (Mercury in Aquarius) group. Mercury is disposed here by a hard-nosed Capricorn Uranus and a softer, perhaps more “liberal” Pisces Saturn. 

It’s very possible that this dual rulership (of Uranus) accounts for the extreme polarization we saw on the streets of Charlottesville yesterday: there was no common ground between alt-right, its goal of “taking back the country,” and everyone else. 

Interchart T-square: Protest Mercury (Virgo) opposes Pluto-Sag Saturn and Protest Neptune (Pisces); this axis squares Pluto-Sag Venus-Jupiter (Sagittarius). I don’t remember who said it, but here’s the gist of an observation that seems to fit this interchart t-square: every time the American economy becomes stressful for the working class (as it’s been since the early 2000s), race has been used insidiously by extremist opportunists to create a deep wedge between people over issues of inequity and opportunity. 

President Obama’s election clearly fed this race-baiting “beast,” and Donald Trump egged it on with his phony “birtherism” assault on Obama. 

How does this relate to the Millennials and to what we saw in Charlottesville yesterday? The protest was the alt-right’s opportunity to articulate a message (albeit deluded—Virgo Mercury opposed Pisces Neptune) that its many factions can unite around: taking the country back from those Others whom they believe (Sagittarius Venus-Jupiter) have stolen it from them. Through constant media reinforcement, this message has been deeply embedded in these young people’s minds and hearts.

With Sagittarius Jupiter as their chart’s final dispositor, this is an ambitious generation with mountains to climb and tall buildings to leap over, but their collective Saturn—which squares their Jupiter—leaves something to be desired. In Pisces, it falls in mutual reception with their Capricorn Neptune, which leaves this generation with a somewhat distorted sense of collective responsibility and heritage. 

Clearly we can’t paint every individual Millennial person with this broad brush, but those individuals whose personal planets and luminaries tie into these generational Saturn or Neptune placements may be more prone to this distortion. 

There’s no denying, also, that how the collective planets manifest in an individual’s life has a lot to do with training and environment (Saturn figures heavily here), so family background and cultural dynamics are key. 

Other pressure points

I’m less interested here in doing a complete chart reading than I am in teasing out the key pressure points that may have caused the explosion we saw in Charlottesville yesterday. Clearly, vulnerable Millennials have been subject to a distorted, hateful narrative (Saturn in Pisces square Jupiter-Venus in Sagittarius) that says their problems are the fault of Others taking what is rightfully theirs. That narrative has overwhelmed their minds and their innate sense of “law and order” of late, with Neptune transiting this Saturn. 

I am concerned that the upcoming eclipse, falling at 28°+Leo and conjunct their collective Mars (Virgo), will further unleash their rage and wounded pride. Why are “those people” succeeding when we’re not? There may be very sound answers for those questions, but those who have been sucked into the victimization narrative will hear what they want to hear. 

Uranus has also been transiting their collective Aries 6th house of labor issues and public (including military) service: with this militant Uranus here for years now, they’ve been improving themselves by becoming armed and dangerous, seeking out jobs that allow them to carry guns, pushing themselves in extreme sports, training in the martial arts¸ kickboxing, etc. Even the women are engaged in this quest to become tough as nails, and many aspire to the most challenging combat positions in the military.

Were Millennials consciously preparing for the street-brawling we saw in Charlottesville? Not likely for most of them, but there was a distinctly militaristic feel to the alt-right “forces” on the streets yesterday. Equipped with military trappings like flags, shields, helmets and hand weapons, these young adults were following someone’s orders and behaving like something between a trained militia and a chaotic mob. 

Jupiter is transiting their collective 12th, which doesn’t necessarily mean that every individual feels “stuck” when it comes to his/her futures, but there’s a generational sense of being “contained” in some way. Many are experiencing “debtor’s prison” (12th) with school loans, which has a way of delaying their launch into adulthood. 

Saturn will continue to transit their generational 2nd house of finances and resources for a couple more years, at which time it will enter their third house and pass over their Uranus-Neptune-Sun conjunction in Capricorn before meeting up with transiting Jupiter to begin their new Aquarius cycle. It is essential, I think, that the issues of job opportunity, education and rebuilding their local infrastructures (3rd h) be seriously tackled so these young people can stop feeling so disenfranchised in American society. We will benefit nothing if they continue to rage and feel left out of the “American Dream.”

Neptune and Chiron have been transiting their collective 5th house of good times, romance, children, and socialization, with transiting Chiron opposite their collective Chiron. This is a critical time for healing those feelings of victimization that seem to be dogging the steps of too many. How much of this victimization mentality is fueling the opioid epidemic wherever they are impacted? To what extent are they feeling unable to move forward with their lives (romance, family, etc.) because of external forces they have no control over? Bullies were usually bullied themselves in some way, and these wounds are difficult to heal. When that fails, it’s too easy to keep inflicting their wounds on others.

Final thoughts

If you’ve been in tune with this site, you’ll know that I’m concerned about the August 21st eclipse that’s almost upon us. Yesterday’s events in Charlottesville only reinforce my concern because clearly, we’re getting a sneak preview of things that could escalate as the Moon closes in on the Sun, and Mars inches closer to the Sun. Cautious, conscious action are the watchwords for these heady, volatile times—we can get a lot done with these powerful energies, but it will help to slow down and be very deliberate and aware.

Ultimately, the wonder we will witness on August 21st (with appropriate safety glasses) is a gift of Nature—one of her more spectacular gifts, in fact. Mass psychology being what it is, we tend to project our own fears into eclipses (it’s probably a primal survival thing), but history has proved that they can be positive forces for change, as well. Rather than fear the possibilities, I would suggest that we envision the highest possibilities we can imagine. We’re capable of better…we’re clearly capable of better things!

[1] Baigent, Campion, Harvey, Mundane Astrology: An Introduction to the Astrology of nations and Groups, Thorsons, London, 1995, pp. 176-77.
[2] Michael Munkasey, Midpoints: Unleashing the Power of the Planets, ACS Publications, San Diego, CA, 1991, p. 128.


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