Sunday, November 5, 2017

Pluto generations collide along D.C.’s high & low roads

To understand the astrology of D.C. politics these days, we need to consider how Pluto is functioning through generational forces. These forces have a karmic flavor, weaving our history into our present-day exercise of power.

If you watch this space, you’ll know that we’ve been analyzing Pluto’s current travels very closely lately. This is because—long story short—so much of the road ahead will depend upon how we navigate Pluto’s return to its radix position in the U.S. Sibly chart. If you’re new to this topic and concern, you can find more detail in the following posts: 10/13/15, 10/16/15, and 7/2/16.  

As we speak, Pluto is mid-way through its tour of Capricorn, not slated to enter Aquarius until 2023, so Capricorn will dictate the “rules” for D.C. power playing for years to come. Not surprisingly, those whose charts resonate positively with Capricorn will enjoy an advantage. We don’t often think of Obama’s 8-year presidency (2008-2016) as a Capricorn story, yet it was, in many ways. For those who supported Barack Obama in 2008, remember how “right” it felt when he won?—like he was the right candidate at the right time?

Well, Pluto had just entered Capricorn earlier that year, retrograding back out during the Election, but poised to re-enter the sign at the end of November. On Election Day 2008, Jupiter was in mid-Capricorn, trine Saturn in Virgo. In perfect resonance, Obama’s natal Saturn and Jupiter both conjoined Sibly Pluto, his Saturn from Capricorn, and his Jupiter from early Aquarius. The Cosmos was simply with him, and it didn’t hurt that he was born into the Pluto in Virgo generation—his 6°+ Pluto was, in fact, trine Election Day Pluto!

This resonance helped him get some important things done early in his presidency, too, like healthcare, the perfect Pluto in Virgo issue. And, as Pluto returned to Capricorn and kept moving direct, it tightened the orb on that nice trine. 

Then, Election 2016 came around and we took an astrological about-face when it comes to Pluto generations: both major candidates ended up being from the quickly aging Pluto in Leo generation (born between 1937-1956—my generation, so I’m allowed to be “realistic”). Even during the campaign, it felt regressive to me, astrologically. I certainly value long experience and wisdom, if the older candidate possesses those qualities, but I was concerned that we were “retrograding” generationally for the wrong reasons. 

Pluto is the ultimate cosmic Power Player, and each Pluto generation expresses power in keeping with its Zodiac sign, but here’s the kicker: even the youngest hereditary monarchs rarely exercise power during the same Pluto signs they were born under. In fact, our current, most elder statesmen were born during Pluto’s transit of Cancer (1912-1937)—in terms of Pluto signs, that’s six generations ago!

Is it any wonder that Senator John McCain—born in August, 1936 with Pluto in Cancer, opposite Sibly Pluto in Capricorn (chart not shown)—is saying whatever’s on his mind these days? He’s witnessed and experienced a lifetime of D.C. power-playing, and he understands the critical turning point we find ourselves in right now. 

Part of his understanding, I believe, stems from his historical perspective, which allows him to see the seriousness of the historical echoes we're seeing today. One such echo raised by Senator Jeff Flake in his recent "I will not run again" speech before Congress draws parallels between Trump's tactic of "Tweet-intimidating" non-complicit GOP members of Congress and Senator Joe McCarthy's "Red Scare" thuggery in the 1950s.

This week's New Yorker (Nov. 6, 2017) points out that attorney Joseph Welch's 1954 rebuke of McCarthy, saying "Have you no decency, sir?" was Welch's courageous move away from Congressional complicity with the Commie "witch hunts," and that it "broke the spell" of McCarthyism at long last. Unfortunately, they go on to point out, Flake was not able to shake today's GOP out of its capitulation.

The period known as McCarthyism in D.C. spanned 1947-1956, so what may have helped “break the spell” is the fact that Pluto finished up its tour of Leo and moved on into Virgo in 1956! Authoritarian thuggery--especially the type fueled by toxic narcissism--is, unfortunately, one of Pluto’s darker expressions in fixed signs, especially Leo, and we’re seeing that tendency play out today with our Pluto in Leo president.

This “dark side” is exacerbated by Trump's arrogant Leo Mars sitting squarely on his ASC (chart not shown) and opposite Sibly Moon (the People)—McCarthy used loyalty to America (i.e., capitalism) as a bludgeon to keep himself in power, and in doing so he expressed his Capricorn Uranus's opposition to the Cancer Sibly Sun (charts not shown). Today, Trump uses loyalty to himself for that same purpose, while Capricorn Pluto hammers our Sibly Sun by transiting opposition! Yes, what goes around comes around, in even more pernicious form!

The generational break down
As we can see from Trump’s Cabinet and other high-level appointments, natives of Pluto in Leo and Virgo are running the nation’s political show these days, with a smattering of Pluto in Libra generation types to clean up their messes (U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley comes to mind). If anyone’s counting, out of 22 Trump appointees currently holding positions (including daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared), 10 were born with Pluto in Leo, 9 with Pluto in Virgo, and 3 with Pluto in Libra (the 2 family members and Nikki Haley). Trump’s good buddies Steve Bannon and Paul Manafort are both from the Leo generation, as well.  

Don’t get me wrong—this breakdown has nothing to do with ideology, competence or integrity on its surface. One Pluto generation is not more intrinsically prone to corruption, or off on the political right or left extremes, than another—corruption and extremism require both collective, environmental and personal influences, not to mention personal vulnerabilities. So, although there’s a collective trend towards tolerating extreme rhetoric, etc., it’s unfair to pin the blame on one generation or another.

Even so, a Zodiac sign can influence a person’s value system and priorities, and political leanings often follow. And, between the collective and personal factors in play, a certain segment in each generation is vulnerable to extremism. Every Pluto generation has its corrupt players; every generation has its heroes.  

Despite all those disclaimers, however, I would argue that generational factors do play into the toxic politics we’re seeing in D.C. today, and I think the charts involved will speak louder than words.
Let’s begin with Chart #1, Pluto’s ingress into Leo in October, 1937, cast for Washington, D.C.

Chart 1: Pluto ingress into Leo, October 6, 1937, 12:05:08 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Pluto (Leo) trines Saturn-Eris (Aries) and inconjoins Mars (Capricorn); Sagittarius ASC is disposed by Jupiter in Capricorn; Venus (Virgo) trines Jupiter. Those of us who grew up in the Leo generation remember our coming of age as being a great rebellion against the suffocating Establishment (Eris-Saturn conjoin) of the time, yet these aspects show how deeply the seeds were planted for our eventual demographic surrender to die-hard capitalism.  They also show why—as a generation—we resonate better than might be expected with the present Capricorn establishment. Being inconjunct, Leo and Capricorn aren’t naturally in synch, but this chart builds interesting bridges between their typical concerns.

For instance, being able to retire with dignity (important to the Leo generation) depends heavily on financial stability, and stability is a rare commodity for all but the top income tiers with Pluto in Capricorn. Investing (Jupiter in Capricorn) takes on greater importance than perhaps it should, which puts a lot of power in a few hands, and fills investors with a fear of “rocking the boat.” 

How we handle potential instability is what matters, of course, and what reveals our worldviews—is it the fear-driven “Us against the World,” or a lighter, more cooperative “We’re all in this Together?”

T-Square: Mars (Capricorn) opposes Chiron (Cancer); this axis squares Saturn-Eris (Aries). Note that Mars and Saturn fall in mutual reception here, occupying each other’s home signs. This t-square certainly reflects the Leo generation’s traumatic experiences with the Vietnam War, and for many in our generation, it reflects the pain of sending their sons and daughters off to more recent wars (Mars rules the Aries 5th and co-rules the Scorpio 12th with Pluto).

This t-square suggests that we “Boomers” came into being with lessons to learn about war and peace, and the Saturn-Pluto trine mentioned earlier reinforces this notion (especially if we factor volatile Eris into the mix). Saturn in Aries disposes Capricorn Jupiter and falls in mutual reception with Capricorn Mars, suggesting a deeply troubling link between prosperity and war-making (Saturn rules the 2nd) that undermines our “better angels.” Clearly, the violent world we are gradually leaving behind bears witness to that. 

The Leo generation—particularly the sub-cohort born after 1948 with Uranus in Cancer—is also often blamed for accelerating a breakdown of the traditional American family (as seen in Ozzie & Harriet, Father Knows Best, etc.), and with the 7th house generational Chiron and 4th house Saturn-Eris seen here, there’s some truth in that. However, many might agree that the family was an institution that needed reinventing, too. A story for another day!

Scorpio Moon rules the Cancer 8th house and widely squares Pluto—this aspect only reinforces that as young adults, many Leo “Boomers” had a love/hate relationship with their birth families. Many left comfortable, affluent situations at home to take off on their own, in fact. Looking back at this chart, we can see that finances have always provided the family ties that bind, however, and that what goes around eventually comes around. The obsession our Depression-era parents had with influence (11th house Moon), heritage (4th house Saturn) and financial security (8th house Pluto) has gradually become their legacy to us.

The question looms: will we be able to pass along the same to the next generation, or will our substance be absorbed into a new generation of war-making and corporate tax cuts? “Make love, not war” was more than a generational slogan—it’s always been a choice, and it’s also coming round to haunt us.

Earth Grand Trine: Uranus (Taurus) trines Venus-Neptune (Virgo), which trines Pallas-Jupiter (Capricorn). Despite Leo’s fiery nature, there’s always been an earthy, inner “Hippie” lurking in the Boomer generation’s heart, seen here with Uranus trine Venus-Neptune. These placements might also explain the pursuit of mind-altering experiences (via some drug of choice) and the so-called “sexual revolution” credited to this generation.

Of course, this same earthiness produced a need for comfortable material lives, too—whether that meant wearing Birkenstocks, or aspiring to pompous heights of luxury. Trump’s gilt furnishings and luxury golf-club existence express the extreme tendencies of a Leo Pluto to a tee—this is especially true of the gilt “throne” where he held court in Trump Tower. Not surprisingly, his most passionate focus as president is reserved for enhancing and sheltering the 1%’s wealth, in what the New York Times editorial board is calling a “tax plan for a new Gilded Age.” If left unchecked, both Leo (Trump’s generation) and today’s corporate world (Capricorn) are prone to greed, and this tax plan allows that greed free rein, long into the future.

The inconjunct aspect between these two signs accounts for the maddening disconnects between sane and insane fiscal policies fueling this plan, not to mention the frustrating hypocrisy. If the optics weren’t so bad, the GOP may have well succeeded in kicking the 401K and IRA benefits realized by middle class families to the curb.  

It’s not hard to see how Trump’s “gilt-edged” priorities are reflected in his administration: signing Executive Orders with authoritative pomp and going around the conference table, extracting praise from his minions is all part of the package. We won’t try to psychoanalyze the chilling scenes that must play out around that table—suffice to say here that this smacks of the low road for a Pluto-in-Leo generation president. 

To his credit, Senator Bob Corker (R, TN) is using his Leo Pluto more constructively (chart not shown)—to decry Trump’s debasing of the American presidency with his constant lies. Dignity and integrity are two of the highest Pluto in Leo values.

Virgo carries on

Amazingly, Pluto’s Virgo ingress in October, 1956 coincided almost exactly with Neptune’s Scorpio ingress and fell within a few days of Saturn’s ingress into Sagittarius, so the Cosmos was really buzzing at that time. We can see the dawn of a chaotic, mutable period here—7 out of 12 points (including Asc and MC) are in mutable signs, with 2 in fixed, 3 in cardinal. Disposed as it is by two mutable signed rulers (Mars and Pluto), Neptune defies structure and regimen, even in fixed Scorpio, so there’s a powerful sense that this chart marks a turbulent transition period, and it wasn’t all sweetness and light.

And so it happened. Virgo was also host to the monumental 1965 Uranus-Pluto conjunction, launching the volatile cycle that has rocked our world ever since. All of this together suggests that the Virgo generation has a key role to play in our world, and its representatives are worth our attention.

In fact, President Obama was born into this generation in 1960, and Jeff Flake—the Republican senator who has so eloquently rebuked Trump for his low brand of politics—followed soon after, in 1962. He’s only one of many conservative Republicans who have announced that they are pulling out of election races in 2018, but he’s probably been the most pilloried for doing so.

So let’s examine the generational ingress chart for what it can tell us about today’s Virgo generation priorities, especially as we’re seeing them unfold in D.C.. Michelle Obama (a Pluto-in-Virgo) has a saying that comes to mind here: “when they go low, we go high.” Will those who choose to “go high” prevail in the end?


Chart #2: Pluto ingress into Virgo, October 19, 1956, 4:24:02 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Pluto (Virgo) sextiles Neptune (Scorpio) and squares Saturn (Sagittarius); Saturn trines Uranus (Leo); Uranus squares Neptune (Scorpio). The outer planets are certainly “talking” to each other here, enabling, supporting and challenging each other’s agendas. A creative flurry was clearly taking shape, and push-pull power dynamics were the order of the day. Intrigue and introspection reigned with Neptune’s presence in Scorpio—perhaps it’s not surprising that Alan Watts published his most famous work, entitled The Way of Zen, in 1957, shortly after this ingress. 

Watts was instrumental in bringing Eastern spirituality to the West, a highly-influential development in the Boomer generation’s coming of age and a staple of the Virgo generation’s later focus on “self-help” and “New Age” spirituality.

All of this was taking shape against a backdrop of political and economic ferment. Neptune conjoined (out of sign) Sun (Libra) and opposed the Moon (Aries), so the American people were energized to act, but their actions were heavily influenced by the dogmatism emanating from Washington, D.C., especially about Communism (the Cold War was going strong at this point). In fact, 1956 marked the last of Joseph McCarthy’s “Red Scares,” so the nation was ready for a break from the post-WWII brooding and fear-mongering.

All of this undoubtedly contributed to the rise of a wildly popular, hopeful young President John F. Kennedy. Could it be that the Obama euphoria felt in 2008 (Obama has natal Pluto in Virgo) echoed the Kennedy euphoria Pluto’s tour of that same sign? Kennedy’s “Camelot” was, of course, not long-lived, and until the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, his November, 1963 assassination was probably the most deeply felt tragedy of post-WWII America.

The chart for that event featured the powerful Uranus-Pluto conjunction opposite Chiron (Virgo-Pisces) that characterized that early 1960s period. A complete consideration of that event chart is beyond our scope here, but a quick look is worth a brief detour—see Chart #3 below.

Uranus (Leo) opposes Chiron (Aquarius). In Leo, Uranus disrupts egocentric pursuits—Virgo rules collective, team-work ventures like military service, and there’s “No ‘I’ in Team,” as they say. Notice that because of its rulership of Aquarius, Uranus also disposes this Chiron, so we’re dealing with wounded egos at least, and a revolution in consciousness at best. In fact, given the whole “symphony” of outer planetary energies in this chart, it’s not surprising that Pluto’s transit through mutable Virgo was marked by social upheaval, the “official” end to racially repressive Jim Crow laws, and a new view of American power in the world. 

President John F. Kennedy & V.P. Lyndon B. Johnson

The disruptive quality of this 1956-1971 period was enhanced by this chart’s Eris-Ceres (Aries) quincunx to Venus/Pluto (midpoint, Virgo)—considering that Ceres rules agriculture, we can even see the disruption caused by the defoliation campaigns our military waged on Vietnam during that war. It makes sense that both of Vietnam’s pre-1975 radix charts (independence in 1945; a shift to the Hanoi regime in 1954)[1] feature important links to this generational chart and to the nativity of Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, whose leadership through most of the conflict was highly controversial.

As veterans from that era know only too well, the integrity of our military was sorely challenged during that conflict, and at times like the My Lai massacre (March, 1968), fatefully compromised. These compromises embodied the lowest expressions of Pluto in Virgo, made especially toxic once Chiron opposed the Pluto-Uranus conjunction discussed earlier. This configuration was still within orb in March, 1968, and it’s taken a long time for the wounds created during that period to heal.  

All of this is a long story in itself, but historians emphasize how the Vietnam conflict was just one of the many moving parts within the so-called U.S.-Soviet Cold War, and that post-WWII geopolitical stand-off was far from cured by what happened in Vietnam. If anything, China became an additional player.  

In fact, the Cold War persisted into the Pluto-in-Scorpio generation. Then—with the help of a new Saturn-Pluto cycle (Nov. 1982) and an impending Uranus-Neptune cycle (exact in Feb. 1993), things began falling apart. By the time the Russian Federation was created out of the rubble of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day, 1991 (chart not shown), Aquarius and Chiron were still prominent, only this time it was Aquarius Saturn opposed to Leo Chiron. This suggests social structures, wounded by toxic authority relations, or perhaps the installation of a toxic “father” figure. We can certainly see how this aspect has played out in Russia’s evolution under Vladimir Putin—a story for another day.

So true...

Generations collide

If we consider that the 9/11/2001 tragedy left an indelible mark on the Pluto-in-Libra generation that was coming of age at that time, it’s not hard to imagine how deeply the Leo generation was marked by Kennedy’s assassination. So, let’s take a brief look at the highlights of this chart.

Chart #3: John F. Kennedy assassination, November 22, 1963, 12:30 p.m. ST, Dallas, TX. Source: news reports. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

-Uranus-Pluto conjunction (applying within 5 degrees here), opposite Pisces Chiron—befitting the pain and trauma of that day. This is reinforced by the opposition being part of a larger t-square configuration with the chart’s snug Sagittarius Vesta-Mercury conjunction. Similar to the impact of September 11th years later, every household (Vesta) was mesmerized and stricken by the news (Mercury) of that horrible day.

-Jupiter and Mars occupy each others’ fiery ruling signs, and their mutual reception reverberates throughout the chart and in the assassination itself: Jupiter’s quincunx with Uranus suggests that frustrations were being worked out with violence (Mars’ influence). In fact, this characterized a lot of volatile situations affecting the nation at that time.

-Two interlocking Yods cut across the chart horizon, the first between Moon sextile Jupiter, both quincunx the Uranus-Pluto conjunction, and the second between the No. Node sextile Uranus-Pluto, both quincunx the Moon. The fated quality of that day is on stark display here, but there’s also the sense of powerful forces leveraging their positions with the help of behind-the-scenes “revolutionary” players (12th house Moon) and financial entanglements. These undoubtedly shady entanglements are reinforced by 2nd house ruler Neptune squaring Saturn at the ASC, and Jupiter inhabiting and co-ruling the 2nd, while ruling the 11th house of power-players. It’s no wonder that this event has spawned generations of conspiracy theories: perhaps it’s simply coincidental, but time will tell if there’s some significance to the sealed documents associated with the Kennedy assassination investigation now being released under Donald Trump! As we’ve seen this past week, he’s really working hard to dig up dirt on Democrats, our intelligence services and the Justice Department—no matter how old the dirt!

Obviously, we could go on and on about this chart, but the point here is the impact major events like this can have on a Pluto generation’s development. Whether we Pluto-in-Leo Boomers were consciously aware of this or not, our views of government and the powers-that-be were formed by those traumatic, eye-opening times. Our post-WWII “heroism” as a nation somehow felt seedy and illusory. In retrospect, it’s not surprising that some of us turned out to be cynical and jaded. 

Social change

Back in the good old 1960s U.S.A., the Kennedy euphoria wasn’t long-lived, and it wasn’t universally felt, either: the remnants of Jim Crow-era repression were stifling progress towards full-fledged citizenship for African-Americans, and patience was fast running out. Two basic approaches toward change evolved during Pluto’s time in Virgo: the non-violent protest approach favored by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the decade-long Civil Rights protest movement that began in 1955 with the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott, and on the opposite extreme, the potentially violent alternative embraced by the Black Panther Party, founded in 1966.

Bottom line, the “Establishment” was being challenged from all sides, and the U.S. was being challenged to “walk its talk” when it came to liberty, equality and human rights. To his everlasting credit, President Lyndon B. Johnson—deemed a total failure when it came to the Vietnam conflict—turned out to be a courageous change-maker when it came to civil rights and economic justice. In doing so, he expressed the higher purpose of Pluto’s transit in Virgo during his administration—to deal justly with those who labor, to make health care more accessible, to act compassionately towards the poor and “do the right thing.” We’ll see in a bit why he was astrologically the right man for the job, too. His accomplishments improved upon American life in many ways:

“In domestic policy, Johnson designed the "Great Society" legislation by expanding civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education, the arts, urban and rural development, public services, and his "War on Poverty". Assisted in part by a growing economy, the War on Poverty helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during his administration.[1] Civil rights bills that he signed into law banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing; the Voting Rights Act prohibited certain requirements in southern states used to disenfranchise African Americans. With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the country's immigration system was reformed, encouraging greater immigration from regions other than Europe. Johnson's presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism after the New Deal era.”

Granted, Johnson’s domestic policies were controversial, and his largesse with the “War on Poverty” has been beaten back by horrified conservative Republicans ever since.  Even so, Johnson knew how to get bipartisan cooperation for his programs, and it’s been decades since we can say that! So, it’s not surprising that his life has featured prominently in popular media lately—on Broadway, with Brian Cranston, and now, a film starring Woody Harrelson as LBJ

LBJ signing ceremony, Dec. 1967.

Final thoughts

IMHO, our rehashing of the LBJ story has everything to do with our current toxic presidency—is it just me, or are we all longing for stories about presidents who, “warts and all,” accomplished important things for the nation during tumultuous times? Astrologically, LBJ is interesting for being born with Pluto in Gemini, and for leading the nation while Pluto was transiting Virgo, conjunct Uranus (Gemini’s “higher octave” ruler). LBJ’s nativity also featured Mars-Sun-Moon and Mercury in Virgo, probably in his 1st house (his birth time is unconfirmed), suggesting that, although he was deeply challenged by it, he was able to fully embrace Pluto in Virgo’s agenda.

Another nice note: LBJ’s Virgo Moon (assuming his time is valid) disposed his deeply compassionate Venus-Neptune conjunction in Cancer, a conjunction that conjoined the Sibly Sun in turn, and lent LBJ considerable charisma on the political stage. In Vietnam he was caught in a Plutonian dilemma if there ever was one, but in retrospect, it appears that he wanted to do the right thing. Can we say that about our current president--and Congress, for that matter?

Deep, deep change was afoot during LBJ's times, but despite serious missteps in Vietnam, he at least steered the national ship with a strong hand and moved us forward overall. Sometimes that’s all we can ask from the flawed human beings we choose to lead this nation, yet we suffer the karmic fallout, in the end.

Can we even imagine what the fallout will be from POTUS “Tweeticus?” 

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] Nicholas Campion, The Book of World Horoscopes, The Wessex Astrologer, Bournemouth, UK, 2004 ed., pp. 382-3.

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