Sunday, November 19, 2017

An astrological fork in the road: on gender & power in America

Here’s something to be thankful for this week: American society is being forced to do some long-overdue soul searching about power and gender.

We’ve seen a cathartic wave of #MeToo-style revelations, a sordid litany of sexual abuse indignities suffered by both women and men. The news has recounted the many ways abusers impose their power on a subject without consent—by sneak attack, by intimidation, by relentless harassment, by unwelcome pursuit.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of brave individuals have come forward and finally, their stories seem to be breaking through into broad public awareness. This trend gained momentum when controversial Trump supporters like Alabama Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore became a big focus of the story. Moore has been accused of multiple counts of sexual misconduct against several teenagers (including a 14-year old girl). He has since denied everything, basically calling the accusers liars and the story an evil plot against him by the media. Sound familiar?

Since that story broke, we’ve learned that numerous past and present politicians (including White House dwellers) have engaged in sexual misconduct, and that Congress itself has a serious problem with such behaviors—just ask staffers and interns! Democratic Senator Al Franken was called out this week for actions he took years ago as an entertainer—he made a credible sounding apology, which his accuser accepted, but there are calls for an ethics investigation, and SNL is having a field day.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN)

Unable to resist the temptation, Trump entered the fray by leaping all over Franken on Twitter, which reawakened allegations against Trump himself for similar misbehavior revealed before last year’s election.

So, what can astrology tell us about all this? A number of things, naturally, because sexual misconduct (of any degree) is both a collective and a personal phenomenon—in fact, it entangles these two levels in the most uncomfortable ways, as we’ll see in an example ahead. The fact is, sexual misconduct is most often about imposing one’s power over another, not about wanting to form an intimate relationship, so what may look at first to be personal, relational power abuses often become matters of law and social norms—collective matters.

First, let’s quickly consider why this, why now? The tidal wave of revelations, resulting in a public change of heart that many have referred to as a “sea change” sounds like Neptune, and we’ll see how deeply Big Blue is involved soon, but what accounts for all the brave “whistleblowers” who have made the revelations possible?

A cosmic snapshot for this past Thursday, the day radio host Leeann Tweeden came forward to claim that Sen. Al Franken (D-Mn) had kissed and touched her inappropriately (the infamous picture speaks volumes), gives us an important clue. Noon chart—no exact time known. See Chart #1, below.

Chart #1: Tweeden/Franken claims, November 16, 2017, 12:00 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

What stands out most here, in regards to whistle-blowing and revelations, are two key aspects:

1.      Saturn (Sagittarius) conjunct Galactic Center (not pictured, at 26°-27°Sagittarius), trine Uranus-Pallas (Aries). According to astrologer Mandi Lockley, outer planetary transits to this sensitive galactic point often correlate with a sudden release of earth-shaking information—aka, whistle-blowing—and prominent whistleblowers often have important connections with this late Sagittarius point in their natal charts. Similarly, Julija Simas proposes that Saturn here marks an opportunity for “birthing a new reality,” and this definitely accords with the “sea change” we’ve seen during this transit: so many victims of sexual abuse have come forward to demand a new world in the arena of gender relations. 

      The shock value of the revelations and the importance of justice being done for victims are reflected perfectly by Saturn’s trine to Uranus-Pallas. The time for action (Aries) is now, and there has been a sense that this time, the change could be real. Time will tell, but the potential for that “sea change” seems to be there. 

2.      Chiron (Pisces) squares Saturn-GC (Sagittarius). Chiron and Saturn in aspect often point to wounds suffered while growing of age, from parents, from society, schooling, etc. If we view society and our leaders as a collective “parent”—certainly an influential shaping force—we can see why the standards set and the behavior displayed by our leaders and authority figures are so critical for the well-being of society. With the square, our character development as a nation is blocked by unresolved issues. As we’ve seen lately, toxic power dynamics in this society (between genders, between classes, between races…etc.) are far from healed, and this aspect reminds us of this. Not surprisingly, this square aspect ties into the Sibly chart like a glove, forming an interchart T-Square with Sibly Neptune (Virgo).  

This chart ties into Senator Franken’s nativity in some surprising ways—a story we’ll pick up again another day. For now, though, let’s consider a more complicated example that has dominated the news this past week.

What happens in Alabama doesn’t stay in Alabama…

The sex-abuse saga has hit particularly hard in Alabama, but it’s unclear whether there’s any soul-searching going on. For now, the responses are more defensive and political—an effort to “circle the wagons” of partisan support, with little regard for the truth of allegations made. It’s been a prime example of how tightly interwoven personal and collective concerns are with this issue.

Case in point: today’s news is reporting that Alabama Governor Kay Ivey says she has “no reason to disbelieve” Judge Roy Moore’s sexual assault accusers, but she’s going to vote for his election to the U.S. Senate anyway. Coming from a female leader in response to Moore’s alleged history of sexual abuse and worse, Ivey’s stance requires a truly disturbing mix of moral abdication and partisan blindness. Blend the lesser angels of Neptune and Pluto with a dash of shocking, Uranian defiance, and there you have it.

Even so, we have to wonder why Ivey is repressing her own personal stake in this matter as a woman, in favor of the collective, partisan goal of boosting Moore into the U.S. Senate. Undoubtedly, the political calculations she’s faced with are tricky: she’s only been Alabama’s first female governor for about 7 months, and she’s up for her first real election in 2018. She has had a long career in state politics before this, but at 73, this next election may be her last, so the stakes are high. Wikipedia doesn’t say if she’s married or has children, so it’s possible that her professional life is hugely important to her. The collective, in other words, may be very personal to her.

The state GOP party (most recently represented by a bevy of middle-aged women coming forward to sing Moore’s praises) and Evangelical leaders are also standing behind Moore at this point, so doing the “right” thing for Women-writ-large could be political suicide for Madame Governor. Pluto loves a good Faustian bargain—the more hypocrisy involved, the better. 

Let’s consider a chart for Kay Ivey next to the transits on November 17th (reflecting her announcement of support for Moore). Both charts are set for noon (no exact times available for either chart). Ivey’s birth data is published on Wikipedia as October 15, 1944 in Camden, Alabama

My goal here is to consider her less as a private individual and more as a public figure, representing her State, so I’ll also raise some correlations with the U.S. Sibly chart as they make sense.  

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Kay Ivey, Octobeer 15,, 1944, 12:00 p.m. (noon chart, no birth time known), Camden, AL; (outer wheel) November 17 transits [Ivey announcement in news], 12:00 p.m. (noon chart, no exact time known), Washington, D.C.Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Interchart Cardinal Grand Cross: Ivey Mercury-Sun (Libra) opposes Transiting Uranus-Pallas (Aries); this axis squares Transiting Pluto-Juno & Ivey So. Node (Capricorn) opposed Ivey No. Node (Cancer). It’s very interesting that two of the most prominent “goddess” asteroids are involved in this tense configuration: Juno (consort to Zeus and the ultimate “power wife”) is aligned with Hades-dweller Pluto (there’s that Faustian bargain), falling on Ivey’s vulnerable So. Node—her default, fall-back position when times get “complicated;” transiting Pallas-Uranus oppose her Sun-Mercury (which are conjoined in turn by transiting Mars), suggesting that she’s trying to wield Justice like a two-edged sword at the moment.

Again, she has “no reason to disbelieve Moore’s accusers,” but Roy Moore will get her vote. She may not have intended to state her position in such blunt, cynical terms, but Mars and Uranus helped with that.

Note that Pluto has been transiting opposite Ivey’s Saturn for the past couple yearsundoubtedly having something to do with her ascent to the governor’s role in the past year. It was probably a conditional rise, however—Saturn and Pluto often demand that you “dance with them that brung you.”  

Here, things are doubly complicated, in fact: Ivey’s Cancer No. Node conjoins Trump’s demanding Saturn-Venus (chart not shown), so there’s definitely a fated feeling to her GOP “loyalty.” Ivey’s Sun and nodal axis fall naturally square, so as transiting Pluto closes in on that axis via her So. Node, the pressure could compromise her even further.

A long-term Pluto transit to her Sun has thus been in the works, and the impact of this has been enhanced by this same Pluto (Capricorn) trining her Jupiter (Virgo). Working in concert, these two transits have undoubtedly helped her achieve some ambitions, but we might wonder at what price? Such transits can inspire a basically amoral view of power that’s focused only on goals, not on the means for achieving them (Machiavelli lives!).

We can’t know what’s in her heart, but this focus on goals at all costs seems to capture the essence of Ivey’s support for Moore. In her statement, she emphasized that Alabama needs a GOP Senator, and that’s why she would be supporting Moore. 

What’s happening to Ivey in her state-level position is, in fact, an apt reflection of the corrupt influences we’re seeing today on the federal level of U.S. politics: this same Pluto is transiting opposite the Sibly Sun (Cancer), corroding the integrity of the Executive branch and the nation as a whole. Neptune simultaneously trines the Sibly Sun, so partisan “divide and conquer” is the name of the game.

Interchart Grand Water Trine: Transiting Neptune (Pisces) trines Ivey Saturn (Cancer), which trines Transiting Venus-Jupiter (Scorpio). These are heady times for the Alabama governor’s career: she has opportunities, with that nice trine from Venus-Jupiter to her Saturn. Trouble is, Neptune trine her Saturn may be eroding her responsible inclinations and promoting that Machiavellian perspective we’ve seen.

Neptune is also transiting opposite Ivey’s Jupiter (Virgo), perhaps leading her to believe and depend on people who don’t really have her best interests at heart. A Neptune-Saturn trine basically unleashes situations that demand our response. In truth, we create and perpetuate a lot of our own dilemmas and delusions with Neptune-Saturn. Bottom line, there’s a lot going on here that could result in a compromised, codependent situation for her.  

Hollywood producer/executive Harvey Weinstein, accused by several women of sexual assault.

A painful astrological fork in the road

The truth is, there’s a lot going on for the nation right now that spells compromise and corruption, and the same forces we just considered in the biwheel above are roiling our national dynamics, as well.  
An outer planet transiting its ruling, “home” sign wields clout like the force of nature it is. Today, the force we’re reckoning with on so many levels is Neptune—since 2011, transiting its mutable, watery home sign of Pisces. Anyone watching these things has had front row seats for Neptune’s “magic” show: is what we’re seeing the Truth, or is it a Plot by sinister “forces of evil?”
Specifically, should we believe the mounting number of women alleging that they were victims of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of powerful American men—of all political stripes—or should we believe that all these revelations are somehow just a politically-motivated “plot” to bring those men down?

Knowing how these things tend to go, people see what they have eyes to see, and we’re all left wondering if there’s such a thing as objective “truth” anymore! Neptune’s particular brand of “divide and conquer” is sorely trying this nation’s soul at the moment. 

In all fairness, today’s rabidly polarized politics isn’t due to Neptune’s influence alone—no planet ever operates in a vacuum—yet the divide has certainly deepened and become more vicious since Neptune entered Pisces in 2011.  That was the year the liberal-minded Occupy Wall Street protests emerged—at least partially in response to the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement that broke through after Obama’s 2009 inauguration.

These two phenomena laid down the ideological polarities that have driven American politics ever since, overwhelming and undermining the ideological middle-ground that was so productive in past political eras, melting it away like today’s Antarctic ice.

This explains why courageous and committed moderates in Congress like Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Kentucky’s Joe Manchin, Tennessee’s Bob Corker and Maine’s Susan Collins seem to be members of an endangered species. Gutting out the moderate voices in D.C. would be a serious loss, further degrading the tone of our public life.

As always, astrology speaks to the dysfunctional dilemmas we find ourselves in, and the biwheel above provides a perfect illustration. Notice the following in Biwheel #2 below:

Biwheel #2: (inner wheel) US Sibly Chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (outer wheel) November 17 transits [Ivey announcement in news], 12:00 p.m. (noon chart, no exact time known), Washington, D.C.Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Interchart Yod: Sibly Pallas-Moon (Aquarius) sextiles Transiting Uranus-Pallas; both parts of this sextile fall quincunx Sibly Neptune/MC (Virgo-Libra). Transiting Chiron (Pisces) opposes Sibly Neptune. This is what aspects expert Bil Tierney and the authority he cites would call a “true yod,” one in which the apex planet (here, Neptune) is the slowest-moving of the planets involved. A little explanation from Tierney will help:
“Here, inner and outer forces are working together to stimulate subtle but heightened pressures which may eventually release themselves during a timely crisis in self-awareness…If his preparation has enable him to operate at a more effective level of consciousness, the potential energy of the sextiling planets can allow him to make intelligent and innovative adjustments in the social environment…But if he has not adequately adjusted to the pressures of the double quincunx emphasis, his maladjustments are also prone to surface at this time and actively struggle with the environment.”[1]
This powerful configuration does just about say it all on the topic at hand, doesn’t it? As a nation we have a long history of quietly sanctioning toxic sexual behavior (“that’s just locker talk”), but we have come to a “fork in the road” where our level of consciousness drives our ability to heal and alter course.

Clearly, a serious disconnect exists between the willingness to make needed adjustments and the unwillingness to upset the status quo of power and gender relations—Yods are never simple or straightforward or easily resolved.

This Yod, which marks the crossroads we find ourselves pondering in the news these days, is extra painful—and significant—because Chiron occupies the “reaction point” opposite Sibly Neptune. Tierney also speaks to this dynamic:
“The reaction point directly opposite the apex planet is very sensitive. It pinpoints that focused area where the individual’s new orientation will center itself for better or worse. The passing of transits or natal progressions over this reaction degree should be noted carefully, and particularly so if slower-moving planets are involved…The reaction planet is initially a conditioning agent that eventually becomes a prominent catalyst for inner illumination.”[2]
So, with Chiron at this sensitive point, we can expect that deep wounds will continue being ripped open by more revelations of sexual misconduct, but that healing will be available, if we navigate these dysfunctional times with open hearts and spirits (Neptune). Considering the apex planet of this Yod is our nation’s Neptune, we can expect that some of our “Hollywood Dream Machine” myths and icons will need to be revisited.

For instance, our cultural tendency to idolize celebrities and politicians (or hybrids thereof) and give them a pass on all kinds of bad behavior is up for review. Are we telling ourselves stories that help to heal or perpetuate this deep-rooted problem? Or are we spinning delusions that cover-up how we really feel about gender and power? Who do we idolize these days?

Considering the way Trump’s natal chart ties into the mutable Chiron opposition to Sibly Neptune (square his powerful Gemini-Sagittarius grouping), we may see a national catharsis around resolving the sexual misconduct allegations against him. Millions voted for him a year ago, knowing that 10+ women had come out with stories about his sexual misbehavior with them.

In fact, we probably all know people we love and respect who voted for him, despite the damning Access Hollywood tape that came out in October, 2016. Other presidents have been far from innocent in this regard, but now the time has come to grapple with all of it as a nation. Pluto’s transiting return to its Sibly position is raising the stakes: who do we want to be as a nation, going forward?
Answering this question has everything to do with deciding what type of power relations we will accept and which ones we will not. Importantly, it’s not just about how our celebrities and politicians behave, but whether young women waiting restaurant tables should have to endure pats on the behind or worse to make a living, or whether our aspiring Olympic athletes can trust their coaches and team doctors. Can we trust teachers and coaches to protect our children, rather than exploit them? In other words, we need to resolve the dilemma posed by this fateful Yod.

One good place to start would be to grapple with why Trump’s documented history of sexual misbehavior was not a deal breaker for so many 2016 voters? If we can face the answers to this question head-on, with that open heart and spirit, we will learn a lot about ourselves and the road ahead.

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] Bil Tierney, Dynamics of Aspect Analysis: New Perceptions in Astrology, CRCS Publications, Reno, NV, 1983, pp. 146-7.
[2] Ibid, 148.