Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pluto’s southward transit: Wealth, Power & Race in the crosshairs

Yes, the Cosmos is being a bit heavy-handed with "We the People" these days, and the constant state of crisis is becoming quite exhausting. 

Are we going to war with North Korea? Will Puerto Rico get the federal assistance and political commitment it needs to rebuild? Will we ever see sanity in our gun regulations, or keep kowtowing to the NRA’s over-sized lobby? 

Will the new Trump tax plan put the screws to the working and middle classes, causing further toxic anger? Will Trump continue reigning chaotically in what Senator Bob Corker calls the White House “adult daycare center?” 

Will the country continue its Trump-sanctioned descent into a bloody culture war? Are we seeing “creeping authoritarianism” taking shape around us in a thousand small ways? Making sure that people are angry and spitting fire at each other over who-gets-what-at-whose-expense is Job #1 on that agenda. The signs are there. 

If you made it through this dreary list and are prepared to read on, I give you credit: it’s because you care. This should be far from unusual, however—we are instinct-driven souls, and our instinct is for biological survival. We also care that future generations survive and thrive—they will carry our genetic heritage onward, which registers on the level of instinct as a type of immortality, after all. So, as dreary as it is, we need to know what’s going on. 

Touring the Underworld

Because they operate on the unconscious level—Pluto’s “Underworld” realm—our survival drives may not be top of mind, but these instincts are certainly lurking beneath the surface, and they do get our blood moving. I think we can safely say that astrologically, Pluto is now, more than ever, determined to grab us by our survival instincts and shake any remaining complacency out of us. 

Of course, Pluto only works through its agents in this world—every Machiavellian “Prince” has his minions, if you will. We can certainly imagine the cosmic power meeting involved: a real “my people will get with your people” confab. Unfortunately, Trump is right there, holding court with his increasingly pitiful loyalists (really, Pence, you had to pull that ridiculous P.R. stunt at the Indiana Colts’ game?). 

The tone of Trump’s administration certainly reflects what Pluto is up to these days—applying within 5 degrees orb to its own south node at 21°+ Capricorn, and more. As I reported in the 9/29/2017 post here, the path between Pluto’s position now, over that south node and on into its 2022 return to Sibly Pluto (at 27°+Capricorn), could be dicey. 
Again, if you haven’t read Michael Lutin’s[1] admirable work on Pluto and its south node, I highly recommend it.

This is a high stakes transit because it could definitely enable Trump’s stated plan to dismantle the government as we know it. Trump excels at Plutonian “divide-and-conquer” tactics: we’re seeing this in the way he’s challenging our national institutions (the Courts, the separation of powers, etc.) and in his purposely pitting Americans against each other, looking to incite a new, racially-tinged culture war, one NFL game at a time. 

One commentator finally said what must be on many minds: why did this man want to be president? 

Historical context

It’s worth recalling that the last time Pluto transited over its Capricorn south node, a great deal of resentment was building between the American colonies and Britain, and we know how that ended. British monarchs had waged a series of expensive wars, and the colonists were being pinched by more and more oppressive taxation to pay for them—it was a pressure-cooker situation, not too different in tone from today’s drama.  

As for other volatile Pluto activity, the U.S. Civil War broke out in 1861, under the first quarter of the 1850 Uranus-Pluto cycle that launched at 29°+ Aries. That point is echoed by Uranus’s current position at 26°+Aries, and of course, we’re in the 3rd quarter “resolution” phase of another pretty lively Uranus-Pluto cycle (1965), so it could be good timing for a karmic comeuppance from earlier times. 

It also bears noting that the current situation is evolving within the Capricorn Uranus-Neptune cycle that launched at 19°+ in February, 1993—conjunct Pluto’s south node! This adds even more importance to Pluto’s remaining time in Capricorn. So, let’s consider a chart that might give us some insight into the near-term road ahead, but also keeps these broader contexts in view. 

Because the health of the nation is at stake, Triwheel 1 below begins with the U.S. Sibly chart, setting that against the 1993 Uranus-Neptune cycle chart (which reflects so many of our issues today) and finally, against tomorrow’s Jupiter ingress into Scorpio. 

I’ve chosen this latter event to represent the current situation because in Scorpio, Jupiter is disposed by Capricorn Pluto and will amplify and support whatever Plutonian agenda is afloat. At the very least, this ingress will give us a sneak-peek into the power dynamics at work in the coming year. 

For instance, Jupiter’s “Achilles heel” in Scorpio is toxic excess; how could this weakness manifest in the near-term? Let’s consider the triwheel. 

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) U.S. Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (middle wheel) Uranus-Neptune Capricorn Cycle, February 2, 1993, 12:46:43 p.m. ST, Washington, DC; (outer wheel) Jupiter enters Scorpio, October 10, 2017, 8:25:23 a.m. DST, Washington, DC.Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Let me just mention that I’ve written at length about Jupiter’s Scorpio ingress in another post here, dated 8/21/2017, so if a lot of what follows sounds familiar, that’s why. Even so, repetition is called for, I think: Trump recently teased us with his veiled, but potentially ominous warning that we’re seeing the “calm before the storm,” and any outer planet ingress would be relevant under those conditions. In Scorpio, all the more.

The last time Jupiter entered Scorpio—in October 2005—Hurricane Katrina had only recently swallowed New Orleans whole, Hurricane Rita roiled the Texas Gulf coast, and Hurricane Wilma tore up southwestern Florida. North Korea first announced it possessed nuclear weapons, and what came to be known as the “Housing bubble” burst, precipitating the later foreclosure crisis. 

Wall Street’s “irrational exuberance” (definitely a Jupiter phenomenon) would soon catch Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s eye, but too late to spare the nation a major financial meltdown. 

That year also saw a riot inspired by a Neo-Nazi rally in Toledo, Ohio, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were in full swing. Vice President Cheney’s adviser Lewis “Scooter” Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice, lying under oath, and “outing” CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. 

Surprise, surprise, then-President Bush pardoned Libby after he was sentenced to 30 years in prison! The GOP had its internal turmoil: House Majority leader Tom DeLay (R, Texas) stepped down in the midst of a criminal conspiracy conviction.  

Needless to say, there are strong parallels with today…except the issues and themes common to both periods are even more unhinged and volatile today. Race relations are at a new low, with a resurgent, “liberated” KKK and Neo-Nazi/white supremacist fringe; ethical violations and conflicts of interest are rampant within the Trump administration; North Korea’s nuclear capability is an even greater concern, and again, the GOP has its inner turmoil to deal with, amidst some fear that the stock market is overheating.   

A Scorpio Jupiter can definitely exacerbate that, since “growth at any cost” is its modus operandi.
On that note, let’s consider the chart. Just to head off any confusion, I’ll refer to the outer wheel as the Ingress, the middle wheel as the Cycle, and the inner wheel as Sibly.

Interchart Cardinal Grand-Square: Ingress Sun-Mercury (Libra) conjoins Cycle Jupiter-Sibly Saturn (Libra) and all oppose Sibly Chiron (Aries); this axis is squared by Ingress Pluto-Cycle Uranus-Neptune (Capricorn) opposed to Sibly Sun-Mercury (Cancer). This grand square takes in a lot of territory, and I should point out that it’s a bit imperfect: Sibly Chiron out of orb for squaring the Sibly Sun, but it does square the Sibly Sun/Mercury midpoint. 

Even so, the stress contained in this configuration is palpable, and we haven’t even figured Ingress Uranus (Aries) into it. It’s significant that Ingress Pluto is applying to the 1993 Cycle point (Uranus-Neptune); the message here is that the globalized economic and geopolitical agenda Uranus and Neptune ushered in will form the basis for an even deeper transformation of human societies.

The accelerating impacts of climate change come to mind—and our current administration’s efforts to shut down even legal immigration (refugees, be gone!) fits right into that scenario. 

These collective planets are essentially “non-partisan” energies, however: they can be used to manifest sweeping policies and transformations on both ends of the political spectrum. So, one response to climate change is to work together with the international community to save the environment for the next generations, to help mitigate circumstances already in progress, like elevated sea levels that threaten island nations, and to promote preventive measures, so the next generations aren’t faced with this same threat. An ounce of prevention can prevent a torrent of climate change refugees in the future, but this option clearly depends upon taking the long view. 

The other response is more short-term: to simply circle the wagons and take the isolationist, protectionist option. Beef up border security and turn the country into a police state, if necessary, to protect “our own.” Then, create enough discomfort for those Others who happen to be citizens so they want to leave. 

Regulating immigration has always been necessary, and doesn’t have to be racially motivated, but Trump has aligned himself with those who want to “save” American culture from non-whites, so if his policies look racist, they probably are. The stress of this cardinal configuration translates into a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of atmosphere, and this policy area provides a great example: the KKK and their ilk thrive on turmoil, and non-white Americans are not likely to take their threats lying down, so we can expect this issue to become more and more explosive. 

It’s no mystery where Trump stands on these issues: if addressing climate change means working with the international community, that’s a non-starter for him. It might mean that we contribute to supporting other countries’ needs instead of building walls, physical or otherwise! 

The Capricorn points in this configuration are disposed by today’s Sagittarius Saturn, which also happens to oppose transiting Lilith and conjoin Trump’s natal Sun-No. Node (both in Gemini-chart not shown). If we’re sensing a rising tide of darkness in politics and world affairs, these points may explain why. The only way to counter that rising tide is to refuse the dark impulses and the twisted logic that has marked so much of the 1993 cycle thus far. If you haven’t thanked our free press warriors for speaking truth to power recently, this would be a good time to do so!

Pluto’s added energy here will raise the stakes in that 1993 cycle’s agenda: we could see more resource-driven, and corporate-backed wars and skirmishes, more “turf wars” over ancestral land claims, more austerity and “disaster capitalism” imposed upon Others. A quick excerpt from Anthony Lowenstein’s book by this title puts this into context:

“No longer able to sustain itself by selling dreams, capitalism now thrives on the management of nightmares. Even the provision of disaster relief is transformed into profit.”   
Ingress Jupiter-ASC (Scorpio) oppose Ingress Uranus (Aries). It’s notable that this opposition is fairly insular, not a part of any larger configuration: this is due to Jupiter finally moving out of orb for the “kite” formation we discussed in the last post, about the Las Vegas shooting. Does that mean we’ll see less drama going forward? More than likely, the drama will take on a different tone: it’ll be a good time to watch business and technology news, in fact. 

Expansion seems to be the watchword, and Trump’s promise of a major corporate tax cut (Scorpio) is the wind beneath those expansionist wings. There are potential risks, however—Uranus isn’t sitting there knitting booties!  Here’s what one economist on CNNMoney has to say about those risks:

"The U.S. economy does not need any fiscal stimulus here. It could be too much of a good thing," said Ed Yardeni, president of investment advisory Yardeni Research. 

Already, the relentless pace of gains on Wall Street has raised concern that the market could be on the cusp of a "melt up" -- an unsustainable rally that isn't supported by fundamentals. CNNMoney's Fear & Greed gauge of market sentiment is sitting in "extreme greed" mode.

Fiscal stimulus like a big corporate tax cut could fuel a bubble in the stock market, David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds, warned in a recent research report.
This help from the federal government would also leave Washington with less ammo to boost the economy should it falter again soon.” 

Needless to say, the “Fear & Greed” index captures the spirit of Jupiter’s ingress, especially against such a heavy backdrop of Capricorn energy. 

Interchart Fire Grand Trine: Ingress Uranus-Sibly Chiron (Aries) trines Ingress No. Node-Cycle Chiron (Leo) trines Ingress Saturn-Cycle No. Node (Sagittarius). Please note that Ingress Uranus is a bit out of orb for aspects with the Chiron and No. Node points in this configuration, but we can see the volatile fiery activity manifesting all around these days, so it’s hard to deny Uranus’s role here. Maybe the orbs don’t need to be as tight as we think under some circumstances? 

In my last post here, we saw how a very similar deadly triangular configuration played out in that horrendous Las Vegas massacre; today, the news is literally about fire—the ones raging uncontrollably in California’s drought-prone northern wine country.  It always concerns me when I see Sibly Chiron involved in such a volatile mix—our original “wounds” are far from healed, and the more survival pressure Americans are put under, the harder it becomes to deal sanely and calmly with priorities like speaking truth to power in our federal government, social justice, international relations, etc.

Natural disasters and shocking public tragedies provide a great distraction for all kinds of mischief. While we were all distracted this past week, Trump decided to roll back women’s access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act—a bit of red meat for his evangelical base.   

So devastating events are tragic on all levels—for the people directly involved, their communities, and the broader nation. The GOP under Trump is determined to roll back sensible EPA regulations regarding the environment (Obama’s Climate program), meaning a bigger slice of the national budget will be needed for disaster relief every year, and if Congress is true to form, we know that those hikes will be offset by cuts to social programs, infrastructure, support for the arts, and so on. The Leo and Sagittarius Nodes in this fiery triangle raise the question, “where does this downward spiral end?”  

One answer to that might be found in the way Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto play off each other in the Ingress chart: in Sagittarius, Saturn is disposed by Jupiter; in turn, Saturn disposes the chart’s Capricorn points, with Capricorn Pluto disposing Scorpio Jupiter! There are national priorities to sort out here: People or Profits? If we’re wise, we’ll come to a balanced accommodation that serves both.  

Interchart Mutable Grand Square: Ingress Mars-Venus (Virgo) conjoins Sibly Neptune (Virgo) and opposes Ingress Chiron (Pisces); this axis squares Ingress Saturn (Sagittarius) opposed Sibly Mars-Ingress Lilith (Gemini). This configuration reflects how instability and volatility feed off each other, and how deep wounds (Chiron) provide leverage if volatility is your aim. This configuration also draws the military into the fray, especially with Mars transiting in Virgo, almost precisely square the Sibly radix Mars

It’s worth noting that the Ingress Mars-Venus conjunction here reflects the dramatic Defense budget increases Congress is authorizing—conjoined Sibly Neptune, this move is framed in the most idealistic, flag-waving, “Mom & Apple Pie” terms, but there’s a lot happening behind the scenes (Neptune), too. Sibly Neptune trines Ingress Pluto/Sibly Pluto: War is the biggest business deal there is: the question is, will Trump pass up this business opportunity, or exploit it for all it’s worth?
Lilith is unfortunately unseen here, but she’s there, next to Sibly Mars (software issues) and could be inspiring this opportunistic view of military preparedness. 

More generally, Lilith over the Sibly 7th could potentially inspire hostility, ill-will and a vengeful attitude towards allies and our so-called “enemies.” Trump has often expressed that other countries have been “taking advantage” of the U.S. over many years, so it concerns me that this Lilith is also conjunct his Gemini Sun-Node (chart not shown). Will he be able to inspire cooperation with our allies when we need them? This has to be keeping his military advisers up at night.

Final thoughts

Clearly, the ambitions of a divisive cardinal Pluto can’t be overestimated, and it’s reasonable to see our current divisions as an echo of Civil War times. The same issues that roiled us then are doing so again (the slave trade takes many forms, including military ones), and almost every time we look at the news these days we’re reminded that our roots with racism, xenophobia and religiously-sanctioned hatred run deep. 

In retrospect, it was really na├»ve of us to think that one black president would heal all ills. If anything, Obama’s presidency seems to have annoyed the Beast lurking in our national Plutonian “cave,” guarding the nation’s treasures for the “Elect,” and Trump is now determined to erase any trace of Obama. Wealth, Power and Race have been inextricably linked in American capitalism, and Trump’s all about restoring what his base feels is their due. 

Forcing us to confront our karmic hang ups over Wealth, Power and Race once and for all may be Pluto’s quest in these final degrees of Capricorn. Of course, Trump is the perfect agent for this quest. We can see this in the way his natal Venus-Saturn conjunction (Cancer) opposes transiting Pluto and its south node, meaning they are conjunct Pluto’s north node. The fear and insecurity represented by that conjunction—disposed by his fiery Sagittarius Moon—is infused with Plutonian conspiracy mongering and isolationism. Pluto is our Cosmic Billionaire, after all—the “fear and greed” index is a real hot potato in Trump’s White House!  

Trump’s Moon is subject to some heavy transits at this time, as well, which is concerning for all of us: Saturn conjoins his Moon-So. Node, and “Dark Moon” Lilith opposes. Trump’s judgment is not exactly rational at the moment: when Senator Bob Corker (Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee) warns us that “Trump’s recklessness threatens World War III,” we need to pay attention. Considering his position in the GOP, Corker should be handed a Medal of Honor for saying out loud what so many are thinking.

For every Plutonian passage, there’s a destructive, “tearing down” phase, in which Pluto lays waste to outworn realities. Again, Trump is the perfect agent for that phase, and as Corker also pointed out, those around him need to contain the damage. It’s anyone’s guess how low we will go—if white supremacist Trump loyalists like Steve Bannon have their way, it will be very low. If the climate keeps warming the seas to drastic effect, (thanks for nothing, Scott Pruitt), we could be seeing physical devastation in large areas of the country. I wish Pluto offered an easier path, but there will be an upside, eventually. 

We’ll see that upside during the regenerative phase, which could very well coincide with Pluto’s return to its position in the Sibly chart. In this phase, a newly formed reality will finally emerge from Pluto’s primordial muck. Will that new reality be one nation, or two? From here, the odds look to be even, but during the regeneration we will hopefully rediscover what made this nation a desirable destination as a whole

I don’t have a lot of faith that we’ll experience a collective “kum-ba-ya” reconciliation, but I do think there are measures we can take to bridge our differences and make better use of them. We can forge what E.J. Dionne, et al, call a "new patriotism" in their powerful new study, One Nation After Trump.

Pluto in Capricorn reminds us that human relations ultimately survive or run aground over material realities, so what can we do to engineer a form of capitalism that works for everyone?  Everything else would follow from there, and we might just have something worth fighting for!

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: robertsonraye@gmail.com.

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved. 

[1] Michael Lutin, “When Pluto goes south…does the whole world have to follow?” The Astrological Journal, Vol. 59, No. 5, September/October 2017, London, UK, pp. 20-23.