Obviously, it was nothing of the kind, but as the first major international crisis following the August, 1891 Neptune-Pluto conjunction, it was certainly a war that rearranged the modern geopolitical order, for better or worse.
It was, of course, a two-stage game of global shuffleboard—many of the items on WWI’s agenda were wrapped up as “unfinished business” by its sequel, World War II.
And now, we’re told that the world order that emerged from these two wars is wobbling, needs work, is on its way out. Volumes and volumes are written about all this, but suffice to say here that NATO, the United Nations and the European Union—all post WWII institutions that in one way or another work to maintain global or regional peace, justice and stability—are all under varying degrees of threat.
Not surprisingly, the astrology of the long WWI-WWII period reflects how this world-restructuring process unfolded. Both wars enjoyed the broad collective “oversight” of the new Gemini Neptune-Pluto cycle (approx. 492 years—this 40-year period had only ticked off the first 60°), but both wars were also manifestations of the same 1915 Cancer Saturn-Pluto cycle; WWI unfolded during the cycle’s new phase and WWII did likewise during the cycle’s waning square phase.
It makes perfect sense then, that WWII was tasked with completing the first war’s unfinished business.
Many things were different about the two wars, but there was a common Cancer theme running throughout. Keeping the “home fires burning” was more than just a sentimental war song. In fact, Cancer is about a lot more than “Old Glory, Mom and apple pie,” anyway—it’s a powerful, “family & heritage/nationalism”-driven cardinal sign that has often figured into shifting geopolitical times.
Notably, the 1915 cycle launched at the powerful 0° Cancer “world point.” More on this key issue later.
Which brings us to today’s stubborn hot-spot, Syria, and the very uncomfortable entanglement we find ourselves in with Bashar Al-Assad and his ally, Vladimir Putin. It’s a cosmic drama that has unfolded into its present state in three Saturn-Pluto cycles, and we need to understand the history before we can even begin to comprehend where to go from here.
Shooting 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airfield (even if it seems perfectly justified by heinous actions) is a symbolic gesture at best—certainly one that begs more questions than it resolves.
Going back to that Cancer theme, for instance, we need to appreciate the role that family dynasty has played in Syria with the Assad family. That family is the Syrian state in many ways, and it’s probably safe to say that Bashar has more than his own fortunes at stake.
A family saga in 3 Acts
The 1915 Saturn-Pluto cycle (Cancer) saw the end of Ottoman rule in Syria at the end of WWI (1918), and the beginning of the Assad family’s influence over Syrian politics. Grand-patriarch Ali-Sulayman al-Assad led his Alawite Muslim tribe during the French rule over Syria, and it’s worth noting that once the Soviet Union was formed (1922), it was an ally of colonized Syria (the Soviets supported any Western-colonized country).
It’s no accident that Vladimir Putin decided to ally Russia with today’s Syria: Soviet/Russian influence has deep roots in this region.
Although Ali-Sulayman never held official national office, his son Hafez al-Assad (born in 1930) established a system of “one-man rule” for the family when he took over by coup in 1970-71.
Syria had gained independence from France in 1945, on the heels of WWII and near the end of the 1915 Saturn-Pluto cycle.
This brought a wave of instability to Syria, a condition that is not unusual at the end of this cycle. The Cosmos was playing “52-Card-Pick-Up” with the entire global order at that time. It’s hard to miss that we’re experiencing a similar phenomenon these days, as the 1982 cycle quickly wanes.
The post-WWII Saturn-Pluto cycle in Leo (first exact on August 10, 1947) was critical for affairs in the Middle East, and true to its fixed nature, this cycle left a long shadow in today’s affairs. In the wake of the Holocaust and the radical dislocations caused by the Nazis, the independent Jewish State of Israel was founded in 1948, and because Arab Palestinians were sidelined in the process, the new state was immediately opposed by the Arab states, with Syria playing a prominent role.
There’s a long complicated history between Syria and Israel; suffice to say here, the disputes go way back. The Soviet Union also opposed Israel; in fact, that and its persistent anti-Semitic policies spawned an exodus of Soviet Jews, looking to settle in Israel.
In terms of Saturn-Pluto cycles, it’s notable that the dispute over Israeli territory and Israel’s right to establish a Jewish state in what was then Arab Palestine harked back to the 1917 Balfour Declaration—during the first cycle we’re considering here. Clearly, these grand restructuring projects are rarely resolved in one cycle. It’s quite possible, in fact, that the same “fault lines” are reawakened with every cycle.
The Arab-Israeli War of 1948 was the first direct consequence of Israel’s founding; needless to say, the new Leo Saturn-Pluto cycle was off to a blistering start, and the Middle East has been a fixed stand-off ever since. The Assad family, on the other hand, was in the right place at the right time, their influence now spanning two cycles.
1948 was also the year the first Ba’ath Party Congress was held—the party that would bring the Assad patriarchy (Leo) to the top ranks of power in 1970-1971—in the waning trine phase of that Leo Saturn-Pluto cycle. This revolutionary/nationalist party was on the ascent elsewhere in the Middle East, as well, and it had Soviet support. Saddam Hussein rose in its ranks in Iraq via a 1968 coup.
|Hafez al-Assad (Note #1)|
Hafez al-Assad entered Syria’s air force in 1950; by 1963 a coup he participated in put him in charge of that force. Always working to leverage his military experience into political power, Assad exploited unrest in the military itself on his way up the ladder. According to Wikipedia:
“In 1966, Assad participated in a second coup, which toppled the traditional leaders of the Ba'ath Party, and brought a radical military faction headed by Salah Jadid to power. Assad was appointed defense minister by the new government. In 1970 Assad seized power by toppling Jadid, and appointed himself the undisputed leader of Syria in the period 1970–71.”Hafez al-Assad thus ruled to the end of his life, from 1971-2000, well into the third Saturn-Pluto cycle that launched in late 1982 in Libra. In June, 2000, Hafez’s ophthalmologist son Bashar took over the reins, with training, but little experience in government, and it was illegal for anyone else to run against him in the sham election.
Considering each man as the expression of a subsequent Saturn-Pluto cycle adds an interesting dimension to today’s geopolitical drama. At its heart, the Saturn-Pluto connection is about powerful fathers and the evolution of powerful heritage over time, so the entire phenomenon of family and tribal dynasties is fundamental here. We need to bear this in mind with the nascent Trump dynasty—a story for another day.
In the meantime, let’s explore the Saturn-Pluto cycle connections of the Assad father-son dynasty. We’ll consider each man’s nativity next to the Saturn-Pluto cycle chart he was born into. Please note that we’re using the noon time charts for both: no birth times are available. Birth dates and locations are taken from information published on Wikipedia, so these charts are only as credible as that information.
Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Saturn-Pluto cycle 1915, May 19, 1915, 1:08:21 p.m. ST, Qardaha, Syria; (outer wheel) Hafez Al-Assad, October 6, 1930, 12:00 noon ST (no time available), Qardaha, Syria. Tropical Equal Houses and True Node.
Assad Cardinal T-Square: Sun-Vesta (Libra) opposes Uranus (Aries); this axis squares Jupiter-Pluto-Mars (Cancer). The squares are wide in some cases here, but these configurations are formidable enough to justify some stretch. We can also see here that Hafez did not simply “inherit” his power. These cardinal connections, and others we’ll discuss between the two charts, suggest that he went after it with considerable force and vigor, both military and civilian, and never looked back.
It’s not surprising that a man with this chart would be the Minister of Defense—with Scorpio Venus disposing his Libra Sun and with close ties between both and his powerful Cancer points, he appears quite capable of defense and offense. His climb by way of a series of coups reflects his shocking Uranus energy, disposed by a volatile Cancer Mars.
It’s worth noting here that one of the reasons the Assad dynasty’s saga in Syria has re-emerged with a vengeance is that the Uranus-Pluto square (Aries-Cancer) Hafez was born under has echoed strongly in the Aries-Capricorn square of the past seven years. Hafez ascended by way of military coup and his son seems to maintain a firm hand on the military—clearly the military is key to the family’s continued rule.
Interchart Cardinal T-Square: 1915 Mars-Venus-Assad No. Node (Aries) oppose Assad So. Node (Libra); this axis squares 1915 Neptune-Moon-Assad Jupiter-Pluto-Mars (Cancer). Hafez Al-Assad had the benefit of a well-connected and respected father himself (the name “Assad” was an honorific meaning “Lion” given to Ali-Sulayman, which he adopted as the family surname). This patrimony is reflected in a Saturn t-square we’ll consider in a moment, but also here in his Jupiter-Pluto conjunction (these two are often aspected in leader charts).
Clearly, both these men were celebrated (1915 Moon-Neptune) for their powerful qualities; with his over-the-top aggressive nature, Hafez undoubtedly inspired fear, as well. The involvement of his nodal axis here suggests that his life path was driven by the ideals and security challenges (1915 Neptune-Moon) of his times.
In retrospect, we can see the dark-side of this Neptune-Moon conjunction in Cancer. WWI marked the first use of chemical weapons in battle—chlorine and mustard gas—so this horrific detail links that period firmly to the war crimes perpetrated in Syria today. The Moon’s involvement here points to how chemical weapons were the first “WMD”—a system of killing that was set loose with no specific target, simply to kill every living thing in its path. This marked a major departure from the norms of war to that time and has been controversial ever since.
Whatever the weapons used, the human losses of WWI were simply staggering—over 1 million soldiers died in the Battle of the Somme alone. Destruction on such a mass scale has a distinctly archetypal, Neptunian character—along the lines of the “Great Flood” that still roils humanity’s soul. Were the seeds of today’s obscene human toll in Syria, under Neptune in Pisces, planted there?
Interchart T-Square: Assad Sun-1915 MC (Libra) opposes Assad Uranus (Aries); this axis squares Assad Saturn (Capricorn); 1915 Saturn-Pluto (Cancer cycle point) opposes Assad Saturn (Capricorn). If the orbs weren’t a bit too wide, this would all comprise a cardinal grand square; even so, the tension and sense of destiny—being in the right place at the right time—is strong here. We can see here how Assad captured the essence of this Saturn-Pluto cycle and put it to aggressive use.
As mentioned above, Assad’s Capricorn Saturn reflects a patriarchal heritage; the opposition with the Saturn-Pluto cycle point (Cancer) would have “blessed” the tribal nature of that heritage. Conflicts during the 1915 cycle often fell along tribal, “us vs. them”-style factions, but maybe nothing much has changed in that regard. The trine between Assad’s Saturn and his Neptune in Virgo suggests that military service—preferably in leadership positions—would have been valued in his family.
Assad Jupiter-Mars-Pluto (Cancer) oppose Assad Juno (Capricorn); Juno trines Assad Mercury (Virgo) and sextiles 1915 Chiron-Jupiter (Pisces). It was clear from the beginning of his reign that governing Syria would be a family affair: Hafez’s wife Anisa Makhlouf harks from a financially power family (Capricorn) that was integral to Al-Assad’s time in power (Juno opposes his Cancer points). Several family members have reportedly held powerful positions in government.
The easy relationship between Hafez Assad and the 1915 Chiron-Jupiter conjunction would have manifested positively or negatively, signaling that Assad’s exercise of power had either a “healing” or “wounding” influence on his surroundings. After decades of upheaval, his strong hand was perhaps appreciated (by some in Syria, at least), but authoritarian rule eventually wears thin, especially when there’s a family dynasty and entrenched nepotism involved.
Interchart Water Grand Trine: 1915 Chiron-Jupiter-Eris (Pisces) trines 1915 Neptune-Moon-Assad Jupiter-Pluto-Mars (Cancer) trines Assad Venus (Scorpio). This flowing configuration suggests that acquiring power was, to some extent, an almost effortless affair for Hafez Assad. His Venus (Scorpio) also inconjoins 1915 Mars-Venus (Aries), with that same Aries duo squaring his Jupiter-Mars-Pluto (Cancer) conjunction, so he took the reins during volatile times.
It’s likely that staying in power was a constant challenge. This might tell us something about why his son Bashar seems willing to stop at nothing to stay in power himself.
1915 Uranus (Aquarius) trines Assad Sun (Libra) and sextiles Assad Uranus (Aries). Revolutionary change was afoot during this cycle—this is the same cycle that saw the Russian Revolution, after all. It’s also worth noting here that the Soviet Union allied itself with Syrian independence efforts from France during the 1950s (at least in selling them weapons), and there was a time when Communism was making inroads in Syrian politics.
There were also short-lived efforts to merge Syria with Egypt in a United Arab Republic, so the unrest and instability was palpable. This is likely why the shocking rise of the Syrian Ba’athist party and along with it, Assad (sextile to his Uranus), was welcome by so many who wanted Syria to remain independent.
|Bashar al-Assad, http://topnews.in/files/Bashar-al-Assad_3.jpg|
Like father, like son?
Son Bashar was not his father’s first choice for successor, but the chosen son died tragically before he could take over, leaving Bashar to be groomed for the position. It’s interesting, with the Capricorn Juno-to-Virgo Mercury aspect in his father’s chart (Biwheel #1, outer wheel) that Bashar’s published birth date (Biwheel #2, outer wheel, below) indicates a Virgo Sun-Pluto-Uranus conjunction, opposite Pisces Saturn-Chiron (and possibly Moon, time unknown).
This reads like a keyword description of the current situation: Bashar al-Assad has taken on his father’s “wound” (Saturn-Chiron) of shocking power and transformed it (Uranus-Pluto) into a primal abuse of power (Pluto), targeting his own people with atrocities.
As in so many Middle Eastern nations, Syrian power is divided along tribal lines, a divide that also suited the strident, “us vs. them” cardinal energies we saw in the Biwheel #1 charts. Interestingly, there’s a more fixed/mutable emphasis in the Biwheel #2 charts that we’ll discuss next.
In fact, the post-WWII world was arranged around a bi-polar framework, with two strong super-powers and their respective spheres of influence—often personality-centered governments in their own rights (leaders had to be “lions” during the 1947 Leo cycle). This world order was designed to discourage nationalist ideals; radical nationalism in the form of Nazism had decimated Europe and its effects spilled over on the Middle East, with major upheaval there as well.
At that point the poles were defined as Capitalism v. Socialism/Communism; East v. West; Wall Street v. State-managed Economy. From the U.S. perspective, an authoritarian capitalist was preferable to even the most democratic socialist/communist. A long story for another day.
So, despite the defeat of the Nazis, the Leo cycle didn’t privilege democracy over authoritarian rule; it divided the world into two, fairly balanced spheres, one for each style of government. We provided each other with an “enemy” to project all our anxieties on to—a useful foil for profiteering war industries, among others. This arrangement extended to the Middle East, where the camps mobilized around either supporting or opposing Israel (and vice-versa, from Israel’s perspective).
Looking back to the many decades of negotiations over “peace in the Middle East,” we can appreciate how playing one super-power against the other over Arab-Israeli relations has been a lucrative gig. The U.S. has always allied itself with the less nationalist Arab countries, and the Soviet Union (and now Russia) has always supported those with more nationalist leanings—especially as represented in Ba’ath party politics in Iraq and Syria. Iran’s anti-Western stance has also appealed to the Soviets/Russians.
Needless to say, this summary radically simplifies the situation, which seems to become more torturously complicated every day.
In certain more challenging places, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, this neat division of influence became murky at best; the Soviet Union tried to impose its influence by waging war in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 and supporting Iraq’s Saddam Hussein during the 1980-89 Iran-Iraq war; we had our turn to get involved in both areas after the 9/11 attacks. We have to wonder if anything constructive be resolved by 2020, the end of this 1982 Saturn-Pluto cycle?
And now, in Syria, we’ve blundered over into Russia’s sphere, spat 59 missiles at an airfield, and think we made a statement about Bashar Al-Assad’s heinous war crimes. Unfortunately, the “statement” rings hollow because it’s very unclear what the policy is behind it. Paul Waldman of WashingtonPost.com summarizes the various, seemingly dissonant statements made by Trump spokespeople this way:
“Does the administration have any coherent policy on Syria at all? Actually, it seems it does. Here’s the simplified version:
- The first priority is defeating ISIS.
- If Assad uses chemical weapons against civilians, we’ll launch some missiles at a military base; if he uses conventional weapons against civilians, we probably won’t do anything.
- Once ISIS is defeated, Assad should go, but we aren’t going to take military action to make that happen.”
The level and quality of our concern for the Syrian people will be apparent from the policy we pursue from this point on. It's unclear whether it's even possible to do the right thing for the right reasons in that region of the world, so it'll be interesting to see how this evolves.
So, what does all this do for Bashar al-Assad? This is a good time to consider how his chart reflects the 1947 Saturn-Pluto cycle he was born into.
Biwheel #2: (inner wheel) Saturn-Pluto Cycle 1947, August 10, 1947, 7:23:37 p.m. DST, Damascus, Syria; (outer wheel) Bashar al-Assad, September 11, 1965, 12:00 p.m. (noon chart, no time available), Damascus, Syria.
Assad Sun-Pluto-Uranus (Virgo) opposes 1947 MC-Assad Saturn-Chiron (Pisces). The connection with the 1947 MC here suggests that Assad’s ascent to power suited the time and place it occurred. The placement of his Saturn-Chiron is a stark reflection of the patriarchal succession involved; did Bashar take over the reins willingly, or was it a “wound” inflicted on him by “accident” of birth?
Was carrying on the family dynasty a burden he perhaps bitterly resents (and has been taking out on Syria’s people ever since)? Difficult father-son relationships are often signaled by this aspect. In Pisces, we have to wonder if the son's very soul is possessed by his patrimony.
Whatever the case, his Being (Sun) certainly reflects the disruptive, potentially destructive energy of that 1965 Uranus-Pluto conjunction—the seed moment of the volatile cycle we’re presently experiencing.
We can probably glean something about the character of Bashar al-Assad's rule in Syria (which would be characterized by this stunning Virgo stellium) by the fact that in 2010-11, masses of Syrian people rose up against him as part of the so-called Arab Spring. This happened, of course, in the early moments of the Uranus-Pluto square (Aries-Capricorn). This square has been within orb ever since, but is now quickly separating, suggesting that the uprising will be resolved one way or another in the near future.
Assad Jupiter (Gemini) conjoins 1947 Uranus-Mars (Gemini); Assad Nodal axis (Taurus N-Scorpio S) semi-sextiles/inconjoins these Gemini points. Assad’s Jupiter placement suggests that he has a facility for turning potentially volatile, unstable situations to his own advantage—we’ve certainly seen that reflected in the way the civil war in his country has unfolded.
1947 Sun-Saturn-Pluto-Venus (Leo) inconjoin Assad Saturn-Chiron (Pisces), semi-sextile Assad Sun-Pluto-Uranus (Virgo) and square Assad Mars-Neptune (Scorpio). Here we see an uneasy relationship with the fixed, Leonine world order that emerged from WWII and Assad’s more mutable, native tendencies. Interestingly, his fixed Mars-Neptune is challenged here to carry the banner for that fixed cycle’s agenda, and the results have been unfortunate, to say the least.
As we can see with his Scorpio South Node, reverting to Scorpionic tactics may be a default mode for him, and the results show in the way he’s treated his people like enemies. More on this duo’s importance below.
Assad Mars-Neptune (Scorpio) conjoins 1947 Jupiter (Scorpio); these points sextile/trine Assad’s Virgo-Pisces oppositions. With all this fluid, powerfully self-protective energy, is it any wonder that Assad’s opponents are automatically labeled terrorists and treated accordingly? It’s a classic authoritarian tactic that trades heavily in deception and subterfuge (Mars-Neptune): in the end, “national security” is conflated with Assad’s secure hold on power. The State is al-Assad. To understand this more deeply, let’s check out some brief highlights between his chart and the chart of his ascent to power. Not surprisingly, his inauguration reflects the next Saturn-Pluto "act" that debuted in November 1982 at 27+ deg. Libra.
Biwheel #3: (inner wheel) Bashar al-Assad, September 11, 1965, 12:00 p.m. (noon chart, no time available), Damascus, Syria; (outer wheel) Bashar al-Assad government, June 17, 2000, 12:00 p.m. DST (no exact time known), Damascus, Syria.
Inauguration Sun-Venus-Mars (Gemini-Cancer) conjoin Assad Jupiter (Gemini) and sextiles Assad Mercury (Virgo). This ascent to power was clearly well-timed (Syria probably has great astrologers)—Assad was blessed, for better or worse, by this Sun-Venus conjunction, which fell beautifully trine the 1982 Saturn-Pluto cycle point at 27+Libra. The sextile to his Mercury was also fortuitous; Mercury disposes Assad's Virgo points and Gemini North Node, so the positive energy
from Sun-Venus is pretty much dispersed throughout his chart.
Mars is strongly placed in cardinal Cancer—especially at the 0° “world point.” It’s interesting to see that Assad’s installation in the presidency was followed immediately by the so-called “Damascus Spring,” an intense period of:
“…political and social debate in Syria which started after the death of President Hafiz al-Asad in June 2000 and continued to some degree until autumn 2001, when most of the activities associated with it were suppressed by the government.”
With a natal Uranus-Pluto conjunction, he certainly could have been a reformer. Something seemed to happen between 2000 and 2001, however:
“In 2001, it [Syria’s government] returned to repressive methods with a number of imprisonments and the forced closure of the salons, bringing the Damascus Spring to an end.”This is particularly interesting in light of a 2001 total solar eclipse that transpired conjunct this inauguration “world point” Mars and Assad’s Jupiter. Democracy must have felt just too threatening to the new leader.
Interchart T-Square: Assad Uranus-Pluto-Sun (Virgo) opposes Assad Saturn-Chiron; this axis squares Inauguration Pluto-Chiron (Sagittarius). This tense mutable configuration could well be why the shifting sands of political pressure felt so threatening to Assad by 2001. His Pisces Saturn is naturally prone to feeling out-of-control, so the Pluto-Chiron energy probably felt like an assault when it was followed up by a powerful eclipse whacking his natal Jupiter and Inauguration Mars.
Inauguration Uranus (Aquarius) trines Assad Jupiter (Gemini)–Inauguration Sun-Venus-Mars (Gemini-Cancer) and trines Assad Venus (Libra); Inauguration Uranus also squares Assad Mars-Neptune (Scorpio). These nice trines would have felt like a new day, a fresh chapter in Syrian society, and they probably account for the short-lived “Damascus Spring” discussed above. That period of democratic ferment, by the way, inspired later “Arab Spring” demonstrations and revolutionary movements across the region.
Unfortunately for the Syrians, this same Uranus also squared his hyper-sensitive Scorpio threat-antennae, Mars and Neptune. Those who had hoped Assad would be open to democratic reforms didn’t count on these points being so closely tied in with his Saturn-Chiron (Pisces). Following his father’s heavy-handed lead appears to have been a matter of security for him—not just for himself, but for the family dynasty itself. A father’s wound can run deep.
It’s no accident that a new documentary about the “Great War”—World War I—has just debuted. With the Saturn-Pluto cycle, nothing in the geopolitical realm is ever over til’ it’s over—and then it may simply re-emerge in another, more pernicious form because there’s unfinished business.
Many elements from the World War I era have done just that—the 1915 Saturn-Pluto cycle dawned at that same 0°+Cancer “World Point” that became so critical to Bashar al-Assad’s early years as Syrian leader. Is it any wonder he seems to have inherited the banner for all that was so horrific in WWI, including the catastrophic mass destruction of a people and the use of chemical weapons?
This is not to suggest that Assad was “fated” to make the horrific choices he has made; he certainly wasn’t. Besides, the Cosmos is an impersonal “system” in the end—it’s up to us to build civilized ethical and moral standards into the structures we create for our societies and global institutions.
If there's one clear takeaway from this Saturn-Pluto 3-Act saga, it's that we would do well to cultivate strong, independent institutions, and be very wary of family dynasties!
1. Hafez al-Assad, http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/real-life-villains/images/1/1d/Hafez.png/revision/latest?cb=20130117141439 .
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved.