Monday, December 11, 2017

Pivotal Capricorn times & Saturnalia 2017

“I think we’re at a pivotal moment, but we’re also at a dangerous time…”
Mika Brzezinski,

“That’s the way these corrupt bargains always work. You think you’re only giving your tormentor a little piece of yourself, but he keeps asking and asking, and before long he owns your entire soul.”     
David Brooks,                                                             
Shortly before noon on December 21st (Eastern Standard Time), the Sun will enter Capricorn and begin what astrology generally considers the final quarter of the astronomical/astrological year (assuming that year begins every March as the Sun enters Aries at the Spring Equinox). While the Capricorn ingress is often given less predictive weight regarding the coming year than the Aries one, the winter solstice still holds considerable importance as we close out one calendar year and “conceive of” the next. I will argue this is especially true in the U.S., given our national chart. More on this to come. 

For the record, collective astrological wisdom is divided about which of these two ingresses should mark the new year’s inception because the natural cycle can be said to begin at either time: in winter, as the earth lies fallow and seeds are planted for the next season’s growth (conception), or in spring, when visible growth actually manifests.[1]  

So last year at this time, I suggested that we explore the Capricorn and Aries ingresses approaching at that time as one continuing story line in a potentially volatile 2017 narrative. A new presidential administration was gestating (winter 2016) and would launch shortly after the Capricorn ingress. Looking back now, the cosmic writing on the wall was startlingly clear: 2017 was a volatile year indeed. 

Last time the Sun was edging near Capricorn, I wrote about how the ancients used to celebrate Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, considered the Lord of Agriculture. Simply put, survival depended upon this often dour, demanding, earthy god—famine was an all-too-frequent reality. Even today, however, growing food for one’s family and community remains a powerful way to learn responsibility, diligence, perseverance and determination—the “sacrifices” we put on Saturn’s altar. Slackers need not apply. 

Societies took shape from this agricultural matrix and the needs it addressed, over time giving rise to moral and ethical standards and precepts which have always been heavily influenced by cultural/religious dogma and customs. So, because morality and ethics have deep ramifications for how societies function, Saturn has always been associated with the formation of standards of behavior and a moral “core”— social development on both personal and collective levels. 

This process of formation happens in the course of Time (also ruled by Saturn), as Saturn transits around a person’s (or a nation’s) natal chart, turning its attention to each area of life (house) in turn, and finally returning to its natal position. Each Saturn return takes approximately 28 years, but the developmental work achieved in the course of each return accrues in a pattern with identifiable stages. 

According to the wisdom of this cycle, we are fully “socialized” (ready to take our places as productive Saturnian citizens) when we have finally internalized the limits and norms that our elders and authority figures (all Saturn-ruled) used to mold our behavior and ethical worldviews over time. There may be wisdom here, but as any review of the news reveals, it doesn’t always succeed. Our society’s “rule of law” wouldn’t be needed if this acculturation process was foolproof. If humans were, say, less human. 

Today, one burning behavioral issue in the news concerns the treatment of women by men in powerful positions. What are the limits of acceptable behavior, in words and deeds? At what point does “misconduct” become a “crime?” These nuances are critical if we’re looking to deepen our society’s ethical consciousness and maintain Saturn’s rigor and fairness—Saturn is dignified in justice-minded Libra. 

IMHO, we’re at a critical moment in the so-called “Silence Breakers” movement, however (thanks to Time magazine for that term!): signs are strong that the Neptunian flood gates of social media and its “echo chambers” are overtaking the movement’s revelations, threatening to squander their potential for inspiring a deep, collective moral awakening. We’ll consider the astrology of all this in a bit. 

Neptune’s involvement allows corruptible players to co-opt the movement’s energies, serving it up as just another form of sensationalism or even worse, blanket condemnation. Under Neptune’s distorted lens, all transgressions will be considered ONE BIG THING with no degrees of severity and no thought for rehabilitation. Justice could be compromised, society’s moral compass could be skewed by intentional divisiveness (witness Alabama’s Senate race), and needless damage to families and reputations can be done.

Where Saturnian forces acknowledge human imperfection and take responsibility for disciplining and reforming, Neptunian ones level the field with one indiscriminate tsunami of guilt. All are guilty until proven innocent. MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski was speaking to this precarious possibility when she said, “I think we are at a pivotal moment, but we’re also at a dangerous time.”  

It’s clear that the “Silence Breaker” movement is just getting revved up, and it absolutely deserves support at this critical Capricorn ingress: my hope is that Capricorn empowers Saturn to take the lead as it continues to unfold. Regardless, we can expect the push-pull Saturn-Neptune dynamic (both planets powerful in their ruling signs) to carry us through the final quarter of this solar year into the March 2018 Aries ingress. 

Let’s consider how all this and more might unfold into the coming year: what follows is a chart cast for the Capricorn ingress in Washington, D.C., set against the U.S. Sibly chart.  

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) U.S. Sibly Chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (outer wheel) Capricorn Ingress 2017, December 21, 2017, 11:16:51 a.m., ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Interchart T-Square: Ingress Sun conjoins Ingress Saturn (both Capricorn) and both oppose Sibly Venus-Jupiter (Cancer); this axis squares Sibly MC (Libra). This configuration is extraordinary first because Saturn isn’t often so closely conjunct the winter Solstice Sun. Zero degrees Capricorn is considered a “World Point,” so this meeting of Sun and Saturn is significant for power relationships and structures, here and abroad. The opposition stretches across the 1st and 7th Sibly houses, suggesting that this winter-early spring season will force us to reconsider the image we project to the world and the relationships we share with allies.

Israel’s radix chart ties into this configuration through its Venus at 5°+Cancer—we haven’t heard the last of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. This decision feels like the tip of an aggressive (cardinal) new policy shift “iceberg,” in fact. Trump’s natal Mercury (8°+Cancer) conjoins Israel’s[2] Venus—it will be interesting to see if a Trump hotel emerges in the region as a consequence. 

World leaders are fairly unanimous that Trump’s actions have destroyed what was left of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Is it just coincidence that the Supreme Court recently gave the administration the go-ahead for its Muslim travel ban? More on all this as events unfold.

Our trading partners are also implicated in this cardinal t-square—with the midterm elections coming up in November, we can expect that NAFTA will be tossed around like the political football it is. If there’s insufficient opposition, Saturn may support Trump’s project of shutting down our borders and building walls where doors and open relationships used to exist.

Notice that the point opposite a t-square’s focal point (here, Sibly MC) is the point of resolution, where the tensions built into the configuration can be worked through to create something constructive. That point falls in the Sibly 4th—the “grassroots” dimension of American life, which makes perfect sense because turn-out and activism in next year’s election will be essential. 

This grassroots dimension is where the continued work of the “Silence Breakers” movement needs to happen as well: high profile women are not the only ones affected by the “Bro” culture that enables sexual misconduct and assault. When women find their voices and start receiving more respect in the restaurant industry, the tech industry, the retail industry and so on, we’ll know that the cultural shift we’re all looking for is real.

The involvement of Sibly Venus and Jupiter (Cancer) is key here: women wield real economic power in the U.S. market place, so companies will respond to any pressure applied. The corporate sector has been aggressive about removing accused offenders, and this will probably continue.

Finally, there’s Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump/Russia investigation. Factions within the GOP (including some powerful players like Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley) are working overtime trying to develop a narrative that disables and discredits the investigation. It’s getting too close to home, isn’t it? This brings in transiting Pluto’s (Capricorn) opposition to Sibly Sun, which plays into the configuration because Saturn disposes Capricorn.  

Mueller is methodically turning the Plutonian screws on Trump and his associates, family and otherwise, and he’s going about it with Saturnian finesse and rigor. Attempts to disqualify him are patently Neptunian (casting aspersions on his credibility, his impartiality), so it will be interesting to see which planetary heavy prevails. Nothing can be taken for granted here.

Pluto also opposes the Sibly Sun/Mercury midpoint (18°46’ Cancer), so the court of public opinion may shift dramatically. Trump probably senses this opening—notice that he’s back out on the campaign stump already? The Alabama race provided a pretext for getting his own messages out there, but he probably won’t retreat back into the White House after tomorrow’s race is settled. Campaign rallies are where he wields the most grassroots clout, and as we’re seeing in this configuration, the 4th house grassroots domain is the leverage point.

So, Mueller’s investigation may diligently unearth acres of facts and figures (Saturn), but to cut through Trump’s Neptunian victimization narrative (“it’s all a rigged system that’s determined to work against innocent little old me”), it must also capture hearts and minds.

A final word on Pluto’s role here: it’s an “all or nothing” energy—it takes prisoners, willing or not. In this sense, the power various players are trying to gain over the grass roots can be toxic and manipulative. David Brooks captured this danger very well in a recent article I highly recommend (see the epigraph of this article, above):

“That’s the way these corrupt bargains always work. You think you’re only giving your tormentor a little piece of yourself, but he keeps asking and asking, and before long he owns your entire soul.”

Brooks was referring to the Faustian bargain the GOP made with Trump to sell him their party's "soul.” We’ve seen how low he’s dragged the GOP in his quest for a Republican Senator’s seat in Alabama. We have to wonder what he will ask for next.

Interchart Grand Water Trine: Sibly Sun (Cancer) trines Ingress Jupiter (Scorpio) trines Ingress Neptune (Pisces). Notice that Ingress Neptune also conjoins the ASC, which indicates that Neptune rises in the Ingress chart. This may have its light moments, but it’s not particularly positive overall: as we’ve discussed, Neptune has a way of undermining a Saturnian agenda, and this coming Capricorn season should be Saturn’s chance to shine.

Many consider Saturn to be oppressive, but in my observation, Saturn helps restore confidence, stability and order if deployed judiciously. Its energies can, of course, be used oppressively—context and balance are everything here. The so-called “Net Neutrality” debate provides a case-in-point: by removing Saturnian regulations (a Jupiter-Neptune ploy), consumers will likely suffer more expense, less open Internet access and a general over-commercializing of the Net (even worse than it is now). Like so many areas of life, this too is relative: one man’s oppression is another’s liberation. A discussion for another day!

In the context of this Capricorn ingress—a season in which Saturn should have more sway—we can hope that its energies will help impose some kind of order, restore behavioral norms and hold corrupt officials to account. Given Neptune’s strength in Pisces, however, this restorative agenda may get lost in the less transparent agenda of Jupiter trine Neptune!

Jupiter trine Neptune reflects an overwhelming rush of idealism and perhaps religiosity—perhaps an “awakening” of sorts. This may sound euphoric, but the emotionalism that always accompanies such phenomena can be manipulated for any number of corrupt purposes, and 2018 is an election year that will overwhelm our public airwaves immediately after the New Year.

There’s a danger here that the floodgates of deceptive imagery will also open up (Jupiter and Neptune together are very “right-brained”): beware of Facebook and other social media ads that grab your attention with suspicious, over-hyped visuals. Hypocrisy, deception (Neptune) and greed (Jupiter, especially in Scorpio) will be unleashed (trine). It will be up to a conscious citizenry to fight for rationality, fact-based journalism and accountability.

What you see will not necessarily be what you get, and at least part of this distortion will emanate from the Top (Sibly Sun). We know Trump’s penchant for spinning rumors and “what-about-ism” into election issues, for whipping up a crowd and outright lying—these dynamics can easily go overboard under the unleashed watery energies we see here, and they can cause real harm (even more than we’ve seen already).  

This watery grand trine could also take the “Silence Breakers” movement touched upon earlier into dangerous excesses. Women who seriously want to influence our culture for the better need to proceed in a balanced way, erring on the side of Saturnian justice and due process. If revenge is the primary goal (a Scorpio Jupiter would be fine with that), things can go very wrong. What are the clear goals of the movement? How can we defend these goals from being manipulated and corrupted?

To effect lasting cultural change, the charges women bring forward need to be verifiable (Saturn). I know this point is hotly debated, but demanding anything less than a clear, measured legal standard will eventually inspire resistance and perhaps even a backlash. The feeling of empowerment is strong right now for women, but I’m hoping that the movement can avoid the pitfalls of Neptunian distortion at all costs! 

Internationally, the watery energies in this grand trine may exacerbate the unrest Trump has instigated in the Middle East over his Israel decision, and they can loosen inhibitions on high for responding to such tensions. Trump’s belligerent stance toward North Korea[3] is a major concern here—its Uranus (0°+Cancer) falls directly opposite Ingress Sun-Saturn, and the U.N. is warning that what Chinese officials have called the “black hole of confrontation” between Trump and Kim Jong-Un is now “the most dangerous security issue in the world.”

Belligerence is clearly not solving the problem here, and time and patience are wearing thin. A group of Nobel Peace Prize winners is in the news today for having warned nuclear-armed countries to disarm, saying that nuclear destruction is “one impulsive tantrum away.” The Mars/Jupiter midpoint in this chart exactly trines Neptune—an impulsive “tantrum” (Mars) borne of delusions of grandeur (Jupiter-Neptune) and a victimization narrative (Neptune) are not out of the question!

Geopolitical turmoil often, in fact, correlates with flowing Jupiter-Neptune energies, especially when Uranus gets into the act. Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune were powerfully involved in the so-called Arab Spring in 2010-11—Pisces Uranus was transiting in mutual reception with Aquarius Neptune, and with Jupiter in Neptunian Pisces as well, the flood gates of change were hard to contain.

Those were heady, euphoric times in a lot of ways (remember how the uprisings were called the “first social media revolutions?”), but they also inspired a series of repressive backlashes: the Syrian Civil War, a military crack-down in Egypt, chaos in Libya, and indirectly, perhaps even  the current calamity in Yemen.

The instability experienced across that entire region in the wake of these planetary passages (other articles on this blog look at the cycles involved in all this) probably helped produce the migrant crisis that’s been rocking Europe ever since, as well. That crisis in turn inspired the rise of right-wing and ultra-nationalist groups who—like Trump—see every issue through the lens of “Us against Them.”

Neptune’s role here is two-pronged: in these unstable, difficult times for refugees and asylum seekers, nations either follow the low road of fears and biases, or the high road of compassion. Balance between these two is possible and desirable. Trump has all but eliminated our refugee sanctuary program and now, the Supreme Court has given Trump’s Muslim travel ban the go-ahead. This is making America “great” again?

Fluid borders have been a much celebrated hallmark of the European Union[4], and with Neptune now transiting its Pisces 8th house, its future is uncertain at best. Aside from the ever-present threat of terrorism, instability in the Euro may undermine the EU’s joint finances (8th house), and if this happens, the trend towards old right-wing demons surfacing across the continent could deepen.

No foregone conclusions here, but Saturnian forces need to step up and reinforce the Union’s resolve and its defenses. It’s probably far from a perfect union, but it does constrain and deflect some of the worst right-wing impulses. Thankfully, some key European electorates have thus far rejected radical right-wingers, but it would be dangerous to let down their guard. 

Since a Neptunian passage often wields passive aggressive power, the best defense here could be to take a proactive approach. What can be done to balance out legitimate security concerns with the call to human compassion? The vast majority of those fleeing horrendous circumstances would probably rather stay home, if they could make a life for their families there. 

The entire Middle East, for instance, is walking on geopolitical “egg-shells” over the approaching end of Big Oil, and there’s a new “Cold War” developing between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional power. None of us have anything to gain from instability over there, and taking sides (as Trump seems to be doing with Saudi Arabia) will only entangle us more tightly in the region’s affairs.  

So, with Jupiter in Pluto-ruled Scorpio now, we might consider the watery grand trine in this Ingress chart to be a “Pandora’s Box” configuration. Jupiter is transiting our Sibly 12th as part of this grand trine. This Jupiter is disposed by an aggressive Capricorn Pluto, making Power and Growth at any cost the quest, so it should probably not surprise us that we’re seeing how “low we can go” with the probable election—with our president’s (Sibly Sun) full-throated support—of accused child molester Roy Moore in Alabama. The fact that all this is happening in concert with the “Silence Breakers” movement is stunning.

Needless to say, the fall-out will taint us all—not just the GOP. Perhaps we need to avoid politicizing and emotionalizing (Neptune) these deep issues of national integrity: with Saturn in our collective 1st house this quarter, we can probably expect a comeuppance if we do so.

Perhaps there’s a cosmic balance available: keep our actions real and well-focused with Saturn, keep them light with a touch of compassionate (not distorted) Neptune. Criminals deserve everything the law throws at them, but in general, we need healthy individuals and gender relationships in this society, not crushed, resentful individuals and toxic relationships.

How many more disturbing compromises will we be asked to navigate in the run-up to Election 2018? 

Final thoughts, as we contemplate a new year

It’s hard to miss that this past year has been tremendously destructive: some might say the only damage has been to our complacency about life in these United States, but others say (and I fear) that our democracy, our environment and our national reputation are all up for grabs. 

It’s tempting to point the finger of blame at that ONE MAN in the White House, but of course there’s much more to it than that. Trump wouldn’t be there, actively dismantling our democratic institutions, without the concerted efforts of many, many players, both here and abroad—and he wouldn’t be there if the Cosmos hadn’t facilitated, weirdly enough. Clearly, we have lessons to learn, and the Cosmos is being fairly heavy-handed about it. So, even if we wake up one of these mornings and Trump has mercifully submitted his resignation, we won’t be out of the cosmic woods. 

Major issues on both domestic and international levels abound, so it appears that we’re going to end the year with our collective “stomach” tied in knots. Even so, the wisdom of Saturnalia might actually lighten the load. So, here’s an idea: enjoy a blow-out holiday season, trash the diet, run up the credit cards, get crazy and be of good cheer (the more raucous, no-holds-barred, the better)…then, come back to reality and get to work on making the next year better. It can be better.

A prosperous, peaceful, hopeful and joyful Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, "Festivus" (whatever you celebrate) to all -- see you in the New Year!!

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. 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. Contact Raye by comment here, or at:

© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved. 

[1] Baigent, Campion and Harvey, Mundane Astrology, Thorsons, Inc., London, 1984, pp. 249-250.
[2] Nicholas Campion, The Book of World Horoscopes, The Wessex Astrologer, Bournemouth, UK. 4th printing revised, 2004. Chart #165, p. 166-69.
[3] Campion, Ibid., Chart #179, p. 179-80.
[4] Campion, Ibid., Chart #420a, p. 424-427.