Monday, October 16, 2017

Where do we go from here? Looking ahead to 2018

kakistocracy - kakistocracy (English pronunciation: /kækɪsˈtɑkɹəsi/) is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens.
I was taken by the Atlantic’s use of this tongue-twisting, Greek-rooted term to describe American political life these days.  How appropriate, given the events of the past week. Always looking for historical context, I had to know more about how this damning description of “government by the worst…most unscrupulous” has been used in the past. 

According to Wikipedia, Paul Gosnold's A sermon Preached at the Publique Fast the ninth day of Aug. 1644 at St. Maries” marked its first public usage.”[3] Here’s an excerpt—hopefully  understandable:

"Therefore we need not make any scruple of praying against such: against those Sanctimonious Incendiaries, who have fetched fire from heaven to set their Country in combustion, have pretended Religion to raise and maintaine a most wicked rebellion…against those Cannibal's who feed upon the flesh and are drunke with the bloud of their own brethren: against those Catiline's who seeke their private ends in the publicke disturbance, and have set the Kingdome on fire to rost their owne egges: against those tempests of the State, those restlesse spirits who can no longer live, then be stickling and medling; who are stung with a perpetuall itch of changing and innovating, transforming our … well-temperd Monarchy into a mad kinde of Kakistocracy. Good Lord!"[9]
Even if you don’t speak Middle English (and don’t use apostrophes to express plurals), this probably sounds familiar—and well-said, given today’s situation. Clearly the behaviors so condemned in 1644 are not so far-fetched. I don’t know about cannibals drinking “bloude” and “rosting eggs,” but nothing surprises me anymore.
In one week, Trump has basically made clear that he’s prepared to light “the wick of war,” as North Korea put it; he’s hacked away at women’s access to birth control on the pretense of religious freedom; he’s pitted healthy Americans against sick Americans by skewering the Affordable care Act, and stayed absolutely mute while the funding for children’s health care (CHIP) ran out. Oh, and he directly threatened to destroy the First Amendment guarantees of a free press—all in a week’s work.
Trump has proven nearly every time he opens his mouth or fidgets off a Tweet that he thrives on controlling the situation around him by dividing, rather than uniting people. He truly suffers from that “perpetuall itch” to stir up trouble, and this need of his comes across as emotional, not rational. As General McCaffrey put it in a somber interview today about Trump’s actions toward Iran, Trump is no longer even considered a “rational actor” by international players.  
As the New Yorker characterizes it, Trump is “defying the world” with his actions on Iran.
“They’ll wait him out,” General McCaffrey stated, but he also warned that the global leadership vacuum will not be left open, waiting for the U.S. to get its act together. China and Russia are waiting in the wings, and if they step into the vacuum, it won’t be good for the cause of democracy.
It’s hard to know whether Trump is even interested in promoting democracy (unless the “cause” can be used as leverage for something else he wants), and he sure doesn’t care to play the world leadership role American presidents have played since the end of WWII.

Kakistocracy just about says it all. What's missing in its definition is the human misery that accompanies government at its worst.
So, what does a situation like this look like, astrologically? Well, as always, it’s not something we can see in one static chart, in isolation—it requires tracing the cycles and how they’ve played out in political affairs, keeping one eye on the relevant personal/collective charts (like Trump’s nativity and the U.S. radix chart) and one eye on events that might be emblematic of “the way things are” in American life at this juncture. 

We might also look to 2017 Inauguration chart: we’ve talked about it in posts here, and it certainly was a warning shot, but it doesn’t completely explain why we’ve sunk so low.
Traditional astrology argues that planetary energies are politically neutral, on their own merits (i.e., the same energies can be used by different political agendas to achieve their aims), yet there is some conventional wisdom, based on historical precedents, that associates the outer planets—especially Uranus and Neptune—with ideological tendencies.
According to Mundane Astrology, by Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion and Charles Harvey, times dominated by Uranian energies (especially when combined with Saturn) have tended toward right-wing politics, or fascism, and times dominated by Neptunian energies (also with Saturn) tend toward left-wing politics, or socialism/communism.[1] The authors cite the work of the great André Barbault in all this, who traces the development of communism from the 1821 Capricorn Uranus-Neptune cycle on.

Similarly, the 1930s and 40s serve as a key time period for the Uranian eruption of fascism, but the authors also point to the Middle East as being heavily tied into the Saturn-Uranus cycle. Tracing this particular cycle (a story for another day) tells us a lot about why the U.S. has become so enmeshed in that region, and how that has influenced our own politics.
But even though we are now in the throes of another Capricorn Uranus-Neptune cycle, this time around the neat divide between right-wing and left-wing isn’t quite as clear-cut. I would submit that Neptune has had about as much to do with our slide into right-wing extremism under Trump as Uranus has­—and of course, Pluto has been wielding a heavy hand in all of it, as well.
The trouble is, these collective outer-planetary influences don’t naturally promote democracy—they represent the “raw” energies of the astrological Cosmos, and by analogy, have more in common with electromagnetic force and gravity, than with specific ideological leanings.

It’s within societies where these raw forces and the potentials of their cycles are corralled—especially in combination with social planets Jupiter and Saturn—to political purposes. And, as we’re witnessing, the same ideals and forces that once supported democracy can be twisted to entirely opposite purposes.
Again, we can look to the physical world for analogies: the same force that fed on the warming sea waters to spawn monster hurricanes this season has also upended our political lives and our confidence in government to be there for all of us when the need is greatest.  The same natural fury that has reduced thousands of California homes to ashes and smoke has also reduced the White House from a dignified, respectable place we can all take pride in, to an “adult day care” for a raging president.
What do we need the most to thrive in this world? Clearly, this question feeds the ideological divides that develop, as do differences in basic perspective: do we see our earthly existence as a “zero-sum” experience in which everyone else’s prosperity is considered a loss to our own? Or do we want to live in a non-“zero-sum” world in which we’re all pulling for each other? It’s not hard to imagine which world would be more peaceful.

Would we rather see cutthroat competition win out over cooperation, or would we rather come to some sort of a balance that works for everyone? Clearly, the aggressive tone of the Capricorn Uranus-Neptune cycles we’ve been caught up in since 1821 weighs in here—Capricorn is an ambitious, cardinal force to be reckoned with, and those who best embody its spirit are practiced in overcoming obstacles.  
Undoubtedly these aggressive energies helped build the “American dream” we’re all supposedly enjoying (not!)—but there’s a tipping point where aggression becomes an end in itself, and with Pluto soon conjoining the 1993 Uranus-Neptune cycle point (19°+Capricorn), we may be approaching that point. The precarious situations Trump is creating for us with North Korea and Iran certainly seem to fit the scenario.
In fact, this brings us to the charts I’d like to explore here. In my estimation, the time period between now and the time Pluto exactly conjoins that 1993 cycle point is critical, and because of this, the moment of that first contact could be an important turning point. Whatever energies are stoked during that lead-in time (Pluto already being within orb) will likely start “whistling” around the time that Pluto first conjoins that cycle point.
 If we’re determined enough to build up enough resistance to Trump’s bellicose plans, this period could support that resistance, but if Trump is left unconstrained, and his designs on North Korea and Iran are enabled by Congress and other factors, things could get ugly after the first of the year.

As we’ve seen, Trump is not above using his Twitter feed to provoke North Korea, but if they take the bait, what then? We can only hope that they’re more concerned about their people than Trump is about them, the South Koreans, the Japanese and all of us!
This “first moment” of Pluto’s conjunction with the cycle point is captured in the outer wheel of the triwheel below, and it’s set against that same 1993 cycle’s chart (middle wheel).
Both charts are set in turn against Trump’s nativity, rather than the U.S. Sibly chart. Trump’s personality infuses and dominates our international affairs so thoroughly these days that this choice seemed best.  
Let me quickly explain my reasoning here: Astrologers were once (and probably still are) advisers to world monarchies, and the monarch’s nativity was thought to “embody” the nation, for better or worse. I would submit that the situation we’re in with Trump is not much different: with his powerful natal Mars-ASC (Leo) opposition to the Sibly Moon (chart not shown), he’s hijacked our collective voice (Moon) for the sake of his own ego expression, and he’s tapping into power networks such as the evangelicals and white nationalists to solidify his hold on the nation’s “values.”
No surprise here: divide and conquer is his modus operandi.

But even more to the point, Trump carries the same ego-fueled energy King Louis XIV famously expressed when he declared, “L’etat c’est Moi”… “I am the State.” Or the same delusions of grandeur Richard Nixon expressed when he tried to justify his Watergate crimes by saying “if the president does it, it’s not a crime.”
Trump comes by this ego identification naturally with his Gemini Sun exactly conjoined Sibly Mars—our national “war machine”—and we can guess that to his thinking, our military might is what makes America “great” (and what justifies his actions, however ill-conceived). Nothing moved more quickly through a subservient Congress than his insistence on dramatically higher defense budgets.
Knowing how Trump can’t let even the simplest slights go unanswered, we can only imagine how intoxicating it must be to Trump to have the American arsenal at his disposal. 
So, it stands to reason that Trump would surround himself with former Generals as his advisors, and frankly, it’s not surprising that, as Sen. Bob Corker says, these handlers are challenged every day with “containing” Trump’s reckless impulses (Gemini Sun-Uranus conjunction on top of Sibly Mars).
So, long story short, the inner wheel of the triwheel below is Trump’s nativity. Let’s take a look. Please note that I will refer to the various charts by Trump (inner); MW (middle), and OW (outer wheel).

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) Donald J. Trump,, June 14, 1946, 10:54 a.m. DST, Jamaica, NY; (middle wheel) Uranus-Neptune Capricorn Cycle, February 2, 1993, 12:46:43 p.m., Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) Pluto-con-1993 Cycle, January 24, 2018, 7:00:24 a.m. ST, Washington, D.C.. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.
Interchart Grand Fire Trine: OW Uranus-Moon (Aries) trines Trump Mars-Asc-MW Chiron (Leo), trines MW No. Node-to-Trump Moon-So. Node (Sagittarius). Such fiery configurations seem to follow us around these days—and they will continue to keep things lively and volatile.  Of particular concern here is the way Uranus and the Moon will be stimulating Trump’s volatile Mars-Asc from bellicose Aries. Notice that Aries Uranus has been transiting square to its initial Capricorn position in the 1993 cycle for some time (and squaring Pluto, to boot), so this accounts for a lot of the tension and volatility we’ve been experiencing. Trump stepped into the fray to “shake things up,”  and  with his Leo points blazing, he’s done just that.
The question posed in this configuration is, can his will-to-conquer be contained indefinitely, or is he simply an eager agent of our volatile, aggressive times who finds himself in the right place at the right time?
OW Pluto-Mercury conjoin MW cycle point (Capricorn) and oppose Trump Saturn-Venus (Cancer); OW MC-Jupiter (Scorpio) conjoins MW Pluto (Scorpio), sextiles the OW & MW Capricorn points, and trines Trump Saturn-Venus. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that, woven into all the political/geopolitical and social stress of these times is an over-70, aging president who is facing some tough personal astrological transits. Given Pluto’s opposition to his Venus and Saturn (with Venus disposing his Libra Jupiter and Saturn ruling his 7th house of “enemies”), we can see how he might be feeling besieged by forces “out there” that (in his mind) are “out to get him.” This feeling will be reinforced by the additional square Jupiter is making to his ego-driven Mars-ASC in Leo.
His default response is usually to control by tearing others down—as we’ve seen, he’s certainly getting a lot of practice with Obama’s legacy! The square from Jupiter will probably be more annoying than damaging to him, but it may enhance his need to feel “bigger” and “better” than everyone else. Finishing a round of golf with Trump, Rand Paul says, “the president always wins, you know?”
Mercury falls within minutes of Pluto as it conjoins the Capricorn cycle point—we can expect the overheated rhetoric to continue, but this and any efforts he makes to manipulate information may backfire on Trump.  Financial stress could mount, with debts coming due. Will ethical rules finally begin applying to him, too? Will we finally get a peek at his closely-held tax returns? Seems reasonable, but Trump may elude true accountability for awhile yet, due to the interesting role played here by OW Jupiter.  
OW Jupiter is enabling the Capricorn points (including OW Pluto) by sextile, at the same time it trines Trump’s Saturn-Venus, so any big financial dealings he might have going are probably supported, although not without cost. Foreign investments could be an issue—will Special Counsel Mueller come to some definitive point in his investigation regarding Trump’s international (especially Russian) involvements?
Factoring Trump’s Moon into the picture, falling as it does at the OW Pluto/Jupiter midpoint, suggests that his reach for power (political and financial) may exceed his grasp, and that his family could experience instability in this regard. In fact, Jupiter’s influence doesn’t stop there.

Interchart Yod: OW Jupiter-MC (Scorpio) inconjoin Trump Sun-No. Node (Gemini and OW Uranus-Part of Fortune (Aries); the Gemini and Aries points are sextile. A yod can be an intensely frustrating configuration with a fated quality, and it can often feel that you’re “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t,” however Jupiter’s natural beneficence makes this one a bit easier to bear.

We don’t typically see Jupiter’s highest expressions in Scorpio, however—the temptation towards greed and excess are more difficult than ever to rein in, and we shouldn’t underestimate the temptations that Trump may be exposed to as he contemplates going to war.
In fact, it’s not surprising that Trump has “found religion” lately—a Jupiter phenomenon that may appeal to him because Jupiter is now in Scorpio and within a trine of his sensitive Cancer Mercury. He’s quite masterful when it comes to spinning narratives, and wars are always declared on the basis of righteous, even sanctimonious narratives, whether the truth concurs or not. By next year I would expect that these friends he’s now courting among evangelicals and nationalists will help him spread the “Gospel” of waging war, Trump-style.

There’s more…
There’s so much more we could tease out of the chart above, but I think it’s important to pull back from Pluto’s conjunction to the 1993 cycle point for a bit to consider what else is happening in early 2018. Mundane astrologers tend to look to the Sun’s cardinal ingresses, especially its Aries ingress (also known as the astrological “New Year”) on March 20th for insight into the “tone” of the coming year. So, let’s take a brief look at the ingress chart, set for Washington, D.C.—correlations with other key charts will be mentioned if they arise.
Chart #2: Aries Ingress 2018, March 20, 2018, 12:03:35 p.m. DST, Washington, DC. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.
Sun (Aries) squares Mars-DSC-Saturn (Capricorn). Positioned as they are on either side of the 7th house cusp of “enemies,” this is a troubling sign. We might also remember that this Saturn (and widely, Mars) falls opposite Trump’s natal Mercury (chart not shown), which radiates outward through his chart via his Gemini points, so his internal stress and pressure-cooker temperament could become problematic next year (as if they aren’t already). 
The Sun is elevated in the chart, conjunct Pisces Chiron, which in turn, squares Sagittarius Vesta. Military households (6th house Vesta) look to be stressed, if not wounded (Chiron).
It concerns me that this Vesta falls at the Galactic Center (approx. 26° Sagittarius)—the connection with this point to whistle-blowing has been well-established, and we can only imagine what these brave individuals might be trying to reveal at that juncture. Controversies in the military itself? Among public servants?  Mars will have recently transited that point and stirred things up.
Mercury/Uranus and Venus/Uranus (midpoints, Aries) square Pluto (Capricorn). There’s a lot of aggressive Aries and Capricorn energy in this chart, so risky over-reaching may come naturally in next year’s astro-climate. “Act first and think later” will be a strong tendency, but Saturn’s presence in Capricorn may check some of the worst recklessness. Congress and the Courts may feel that they’re being pushed to their limits, with Saturn squaring Sibly Saturn, but the “rule of Law” should wield some clout. Some of this may be due to rebellious outbreaks of protest and social unrest—anti-war protests are likely. Other actions of the government (i.e., to decimate the ACA and the EPA, to enable anti-LGBTQ discrimination, etc.) may have legal ramifications, as well.
Opposite Trump’s Mercury (ever loose with the truth), this Saturn could demand a straight story where he’s not eager to give one. In this sense, the Law could develop into one more “enemy” in Trump’s mind.
Jupiter (Scorpio) sextiles Pluto (Capricorn), inconjoins Uranus (Aries) and trines Chiron (Pisces). Remember also that this Jupiter simultaneously squares Trump’s Mars-ASC and trines his Cancer Saturn-Venus, so there’s a sense that the Cosmos may “snatch” the metaphorical “football” out from under Trump as Lucy did to Charlie Brown—what he’s hoping to accomplish may not proceed according to plan. Will the Russia investigations (Scorpio) reach some conclusions and derail his plans?

As for what these aspects suggest about next year in general, it’s possible that the Market (and the broader economy, to some extent) will hit a wall. This is reinforced by Capricorn Saturn transiting opposite Sibly Jupiter-Venus (chart not shown). With Jupiter in Scorpio, tax reform (inconjunct to Uranus) could devolve into a rather “murky,” unconventional process. Trade deals are likely to suffer in the coming year, especially if Trump carries out his threats to undermine and/or pull out of them. The “swamp” will be overstocked with corrupt players, but Uranus (riding high in the chart), could hold their “feet” to the fire (ouch, mixed metaphor!).
I am concerned that this Jupiter-Uranus inconjunct could support what Steve Bannon is calling his “war” on the GOP. Bannon is marshaling scary forces in this nation for the purpose of reinventing the GOP in his radical nationalist image, and this effort could take Trump’s toxicity to a new level. Bannon is using loyalty to Trump as a bludgeon against sitting Congress members, and he apparently aims to replace them with those willing to serve his own extreme right-wing agenda in the process. Here’s a case where Uranus definitely seems to be supporting a right-wing, fascist-type phenomenon: what Baigent, Campion & Harvey call the “violent eruption of the repressed shadow.”[2]
My other concern is that Trump (and Bannon, acting from the wings) will use the prospects of war with North Korea as a smokescreen for their project of “dismantling” the so-called “Deep State”—aka, the Federal Government—and the constitutional guarantees it protects. It’s very difficult to fathom what exactly they’re after in the end, but I don’t think we will recognize American democracy when they’re done with it.

Final thoughts
On that note, it’s worth pointing out that General McCaffrey (referenced earlier) predicted that Trump will have us “sliding towards war by next summer,” while the Washington Post is reporting today that nearly half of those who identify as Republicans would support a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. I’d be interested to know how many of these willing GOP members are getting their news from social media and other shaky sourcesthey clearly aren’t listening to the rational experts warning us against such action.
History shows that wars are often launched in springtime, when Aries energies are spoiling for a fight, and this coming Aries ingress could definitely qualify, if we don't make better choices. Hope springs eternal, of course: a Capricorn Mars disposing the Aries ingress could be surprisingly pragmatic, rather than ideological, and perhaps the small progress made recently with better job numbers and a buoyant stock market will prompt enough people to say no, this is not the time for war. It’s time to do something constructive with the progress we've made.
Cancer rises in this chart, and a beautiful Taurus Moon disposes the ascendant. So what do we think Lady Luna would wish for us all?
To move forward and achieve much-needed things right here at home? To rebuild our hurricane-ravaged states (and Puerto Rico!), and to rebuild our national infrastructure? To build, instead of destroy?
We have better choices!

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] Baigent, Campion & Harvey, Mundane Astrology, Thorsons, London, UK, 1984, pp. 178-183.
[2] Ibid, p. 104.