Monday, April 16, 2018

How many tails to wag a dog? The astrology of missiles over Syria

If you aren’t too exhausted by this past week’s news to care, it’s been a great week for mundane astrologers to strut their stuff.

It’s in weeks like these that we see just how well astrological principles apply to events on the ground. A brilliant case-in-point is the chart for Trump’s televised announcement at 9:01 Friday night (D.C./2:01 a.m. Damascus) that he had approved, in concert with the leaders of the UK and France, a “surgical strike” on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities. We’ll consider this chart in depth ahead.

Even though the announcement came late on a Friday night in D.C.—not surprisingly, after the late-night comedy shows would have been taped, and just before some of the more in-depth news programs go into weekend mode—we know that this decision was being hashed over in the White House and among the military chiefs for more than a week, ever since Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his people on April 7th

Interestingly, this date was one exact year from Trump’s first, somewhat impotent missile strike at a Syrian airfield for the very same reason. Who knows what we should make of this synchronicity, except to wonder if it was Assad’s grisly-defiant way of celebrating an anniversary and thumbing his nose at Trump, or if there’s something sketchier going on between Trump, Russia and Syria.

The situation in Syria right now is a geopolitical hornet’s nest, with Russia running interference for the Assad regime, Iran and the U.S. (very dicey relations there) on the ground, clearing out ISIS, Israel chiming in with missile strikes here and there, Turkey and Turkish Kurds playing a role, the Saudis thinking about it, and who knows what else.

Knowing what or whom to trust among all these players is impossible from the outside looking in, so for our purposes here, I’ve narrowed the field down to the three major players: The U.S./Trump, Russia/Putin and Syria/Assad.  Trust is still incredibly difficult: three authoritarians walked into a bar, and…denied ever being there!

Did I mention that Trump didn’t even consult with Congress about striking Syria (and possibly starting a new war in the middle east)? He would lose face with his authoritarian pals if he did—totally opposite to his position when Obama faced a similar dilemma. Interestingly, Trump did think to remind Congress to pass his mammoth defense budget!

A triangulated power dynamic has a way of playing both sides against the middle, but is Trump really capable of navigating this 3-D chess game with Assad and Putin to our benefit? Is that even his intention? If progress is made against the use of chemical weapons in the process, bravo! If Trump has gained a newfound respect for our British and French allies, all the better, however, a celebration (or a “mission accomplished”) would be premature. 

Unfortunately, Trump’s track record suggests that he could be playing the “useful idiot,” trading something precious for the luxury of distracting the American public from the many scandals he’s embroiled in here at home. 

If so, we might wonder just how many “tails” are wagging the dog. 

In all fairness, our allies’ (UK and France) involvement here lends some credibility to the effort, and it probably moderated Trump’s (and advisors like John Bolton’s) more bellicose impulses: on the face of it, we three share an axe to grind with Russia and Syria, and Assad’s despicable acts did provide a pretext for grinding away.  

On the other hand, Trump’s sudden turn-about into criticizing Putin and Russia’s Syrian involvement in the last couple weeks smacks of a cynicism, writ large. On March 20th, Trump called to congratulate Putin on his 4th term, and then announced in a very off-hand way that Putin would be visiting the White House any day now to discuss “the arms race.” Huh? 

Senator John McCain harshly criticized Trump’s bromance with Putin at that juncture—Putin’s election was most likely a sham and besides, it was the week after the Trump administration had slapped a new round of sanctions on Russia (mostly on its oligarchs) for meddling in our election—talk about mixed messages! 

Trump himself hardly acknowledged the sanctions, and Putin may not have believe Trump, the conversation with Putin was brimming with warm fuzzies and very short on harsh rebukes—guess who would be coming to dinner? 

Then, the week of March 26th, it became obvious that Trump couldn’t ignore Russia’s likely nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal (on March 4th), so the administration made the grand gesture of expelling dozens of Russian diplomats from the U.S. This was done in concert with 14 European Union members, including our allies UK and France, so it was an even harsher rebuke than Trump’s sanctions had been. Not surprisingly, this action seemed to get more of a rise from Putin, who quickly retaliated in kind.   

I dwell on this timeline of unfolding events and shifting attitudes because we did not arrive at this juncture along a clear, transparent path. And, we all have to now wonder what’s next. Trump has already declared “mission accomplished” in Syria for now, but he’s left the door open for more adventures—the exact type of adventures that he claimed to dislike when he was running for office.

Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin
For its part, Moscow issued a quick and vehement protest at the weekend’s attacks in Syria, but was apparently “relieved” that the attack was limited in scope, and that Russian troops and facilities were unharmed.  

To be fair, Trump did send out a tweet-alert for Russia to expect incoming missiles! The press focused on that tweet’s saber-rattling tone (Trump’s been so “tough” on Russia lately): maybe it was intended to be a friendly warning and to spare Putin the face-saving pain of having to escalate? Spank him with “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal…” and send him to the geopolitical corner. Escalation would be very bad, no doubt; discerning motives is another matter.

But all’s not quite well that ends well. The troubling reality is, if we don’t fully trust Trump’s motives, or his unclear relationships in the US-Russia-Syria power-triangle, how can we judge whether we’re doing something constructive with our nation’s military power, or if that power is being wielded for cynical purposes? What’s the plan? And who will be held accountable if this plan creates more problems than it solves? 

Most importantly, where’s the humanity in any of it? Assad isn’t going to stop brutalizing his people because Trump says so: Sunday morning’s news included CNN interviews with chemical weapons survivors in a Syrian refugee camp, and we can all learn something from the resilience of these people. They deserve everything the U.S. and its allies can do for them, so following up on the ground in the aftermath of the attack will be essential. 

Thankfully, the U.N. is getting involved, rejecting Russia’s complaints about the allies’ strike on Syria and considering the allies’ call for a verifiable end to the Syrian chemical weapons program. Many probably feel that it’s too little, too late.

Hopefully our U.N. ambassador will be the stalwart here: follow-up is not Trump’s strong suit. Once a campaign stops producing flashy media content, his attention tends to wander, but the charts below do suggest that Trump still has “skin in this game,” so this is far from over.  

These are all matters we might ponder in regards to the charts below. First, we’ll quickly consider the event chart on its own, and then we will add context to it by examining a triwheel with the U.S. Sibly chart and Trump’s natal chart. We’ll consider some very interesting connections with the radix chart of Assad’s regime in Syria, as well—the astrological plot thickens very quickly!

Please note that the event chart below is cast for Damascus, timed for Trump’s initial announcement of the attack at 02:01 a.m. in Damascus. Trump wasn’t in Damascus at the time, but the announcement can be considered the onset of hostilities, so it makes sense to cast the chart for where the attack was actually felt. 

Chart #1: Trump announces Allies attack on Syria, April 13, 2018, 02:01 a.m., Damascus, Syria. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Sun-Eris-Uranus (Aries) squares Mars-Pluto-ASC (Capricorn); Mars conjoins Saturn (Capricorn). I’ve stretched my usual orbs a bit to encompass all points in this powerful cardinal square, but the circumstances seem to warrant the stretch. The Aries grouping straddles the 4th house cusp, reflecting violent retribution impacting the homeland; Eris can be an honorable warrior at best, but also vindictive at worst, and her snug association with the other Aries points here suggests that the time felt right to pull the trigger (Sun), with Uranian force. There’s a reason many wars have launched in Mars’ favorite springtime sign. 

Here, the geopolitical “heavies” Saturn, Mars and Pluto share the 12th house, reflecting the “backroom dealings” that resulted in this attack. Trump shared none of his deliberations with Congress, preferring to huddle around a table with top Pentagon brass and skip over Congress entirely. This was the scene earlier in the week when Trump melted down about the FBI and the Mueller investigation, so could what they decided to do in Syria be related to his gripes with those two entities? 

We may never know for sure, but even the way the boundary between these two matters was blurred in his televised “meltdown” says that he was feeling the connection that day. Whatever the connection, we can see in this chart how the “powers-that-be” (Saturn, Mars, Pluto) felt seriously pushed to act (by conjunction and by cardinal square). Trump’s natal chart, placed next to this one, only adds more depth to these connections (more, ahead). 

Mercury (Aries) squares Saturn (Capricorn); Saturn trines Venus-IC (Taurus). This nice Saturn-Venus trine in earth signs is more about building material structures than destroying them, so this placement suggests that the Assad regime is realizing (or will realize) some material benefit from the attacks. How this would be true is unclear—the Pentagon has released a list of targets that were destroyed, so time will tell more on this point. 

For now, Damascus claims that the attack was “averted,” Assad is clearly far from impressed, nor does he seem to feel threatened by Trump’s Twitter saber-rattling (Aries Mercury). So, we’re left to wonder whether anything of substance happened in these early a.m. attacks, or whether it was all just a rhetorical slap on the wrist (Mercury-Saturn) in the end and another few areas that need rebuilding. The aftermath in the U.N. and on the ground in Syria will tell the story.

Fixed Grand Cross: Venus (Taurus) opposes MC (Scorpio); this axis squares Nodal axis (Leo-Aquarius). This tense, determined configuration suggests (as it appears) that the situation in Syria has come to a crossroads, and that a beneficial direction is “fixed” for Syria under Assad, even if it’s only a potential at this point. It's hard to see Assad being held truly accountable for his brutality towards his people, especially with Russia shielding him.

Besides, if that was the purpose of this last weekend's attack, it would have looked a lot different. Assad's "teflon" status is supported by Jupiter’s (Scorpio) conjunction 6 degrees past the regime chart's MC: it’s simply time for something better to happen in this horribly beleaguered country, but it won’t come easy, and if Trump has any thought of taking credit for Assad's "victory," he better not say so out loud.

An interesting “disconnect” will probably open up between what we (including our allies) might consider “success” in Syria and what may actually transpire. Russia has veto power on the U.N. Security Council and a stake in what happens, reflected by its December, 1991 radix chart and its staunch Pluto-Venus conjunction at 21°-22°Scorpio[1]. There are ties here with the Syrian regime’s chart, as well—more on that ahead.

Moon conjoins Neptune (Pisces), sextiles Venus (Taurus) and Mars (Capricorn) and trines Jupiter (Rx, Scorpio). Hopes appear to be high that this is a turning point for Syria, and it’s likely that the powers-that-be (financial and otherwise) operating behind the scenes (12th h. Pluto sextiles Jupiter) will concur. Most analysts concur that Assad has “won” his nation’s civil war, despite his use of banned weapons and his brutality towards civilians, so it’ll be interesting to see what sort of accommodations he makes with Russia moving forward. 

Do Russian companies soon begin to rebuild Syria (Taurus-Capricorn) as a return on their “investment” over the past few years? If so, this could be “boom-time” for them. U.S. corporations are familiar with the perks of “nation-building”…why would we expect anything different from Russia? 

The Moon-Neptune conjunction here lightened the mood in the media from its around-the-clock Trump scandal coverage and cast a fleeting “glow” of heroism over the weekend’s attack. In that sense, the distractions could be seductive, lulling us into complacency about a host of problems in the White House. As the coming week progresses, we’ll probably get a more clear-eyed view of what was really accomplished in Syria. 

This is a good opportunity to consider the broader U.S. context of Trump’s announcement, in the triwheel below. 

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) US Sibly Chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (middle wheel) Donald J. Trump, June 14, 1946, 10:54 a.m. DST, Jamaica, NY; (outer wheel) Trump announces joint Syria attack, April 13, 2018, 2:01 a.m., DST, Damascus, Syria. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

First, because this triwheel reflects the “hornet’s nest” energy that’s roiling that volatile middle east region of the world, let’s make a few general observations. Considering each aspect in turn will only complicate things here—we need to glean a “big picture” first and then hope for a few concrete, actionable details we can hang our interpretive hats on. Remember the focus here: to explore where Trump may have been coming from when he approved and announced the missile strike in the wee hours of Saturday morning in Syria, and to get a sense for what’s next. One major theme seems to dominate this triwheel, so let’s start there.

Shifting power dynamics 

One way to accomplish such a shift is by force. The Interchart Fire Grand Trine between the Attack Sun-Eris-Uranus (Aries), Trump Mars-ASC (Leo) and Trump Moon (Sagittarius) reflects Trump’s preferred method of asserting American power. His Mars opposes Sibly Moon (Aquarius), creating a “kite” formation from this flowing grand trine. This suggests that “We the People” are paying the bills for the Trump administration’s violent adventures, which may actually inflict more damage on us in the long run than on our “enemies.” We bear the burden of a weakened democracy when the “King” (Leo) makes decisions to strike other nations in our name without our informed consent through Congress…We will bear the burden if our forces do more harm than good over there!

The other way to shift power dynamics is more passive, but equally relentless. It involves the gradual, yet purposeful erosion of any safeguards against such shifts—the breaking down of structural norms, the “normalizing” of behaviors (like viciously attacking the media and the FBI) that dilute and dissolve our domestic power relations into a chaotic pool. 

This dynamic is reflected in the triwheel’s Interchart Water Grand Trine between Attack Moon-Neptune (Pisces), Trump Mercury/Saturn (midpoint, Cancer) and Attack Jupiter (Rx, Scorpio). This flowing configuration also reflects the power of public sentiment, which has been easily turned against Assad’s use of chemical weapons and in favor of “doing something about it.” However, caution is warranted: public approval of one “easy” course of action opens the door and creates momentum for other actions that may or may not be so popular.

Trump’s Mercury/Saturn midpoint is an interesting player in this grand trine, especially being transited by Moon-Neptune (Pisces). Michael Munkasey attributes this passage to “breakdowns in logical processes” and “misleading items deliberately presented as facts.”[2] This goes back to the question of Trump’s motives and how many tails are wagging the dog. Fact-check twice, swallow what you see in the news once… shifting narratives reflect shifting power dynamics!

Munkasey also points out that negotiations and treaties become bogged down under these energies: this tendency could impact any U.N. discussions or actions regarding Syria’s chemical weapons that result from the weekend attack. 

Another way to shift power dynamics is by the full court press: action, lots of it, NOW!! This method is reflected in the aggressive cardinal configurations in this triwheel: Attack Mercury-Sun-Eris (and Merc/Sun midpoint, Aries) oppose Trump Juno-Chiron-JupiterRx (Libra); this axis squares Attack Saturn-Mars-Pluto (and midpoints between, Capricorn) opposite Sibly Venus-Jupiter-Sun-Mercury (and midpoints, Cancer). We could tease these energies apart into more than one Grand Cardinal Square—as I said earlier, a real “hornet’s nest” of powerful entanglements and aggressive attempts to control the narrative and the resources. 

The mid-degrees of Cancer-Capricorn are known as the astronomical “invariable plane,” and are thought by astrology to be major power axes. A quick comment by Bill Meridian will help clarify:

“Many of the great powers are so because they tap into the energy that streams from these [mid-Cancer-Capricorn] axes…people who were born with planets at the invariable plane tend to become or feel caught between opposing forces. That is, they must maintain a balance to hold a situation together….One can easily see why nations with significant concentrations of planets at the invariable plane could upset the world balance of power.”[3]
This might be a good place to remember that the Russian Federation chart ties into all this via its powerful Capricorn Uranus-Neptune conjunction, exactly conjoined here by Attack Mars. It’s true that Russia showed restraint over the weekend—i.e., it didn’t shoot off any weapons in retaliation—but they may have “bigger fish to fry,” so to speak. 

Recall that their powerful Venus-Pluto conjunction (Scorpio) is now “blessed” with Jupiter’s transit and that their Scorpio points also fall sextile Attack Pluto (Capricorn). It does appear that Russia is more focused on financial opportunities and on solidifying its opportunities for nation-building in Syria, if not the entire region. We know how Putin hates what happened to the Soviet Union in 1989-91, so his decision to ally Russia with Assad in Syria may serve some larger, expansionist “comeback” plan.

Besides, the Assad regime’s Venus is conjoined by the Russian Federation’s Venus-Pluto conjunction (both Scorpio) and squared by Syria’s imperious Leo Jupiter[4]. Bottom line, it’ll be interesting to see how Putin and Assad navigate the end of Syria’s civil war. 

Coming and going

So where is Trump coming from, and where is he going with this latest attack on Syrian chemical weapons facilities? Trump seems to be motivated in the moment by an impulsive, Gemini-style idea stream, always inflected by the Sagittarian desire to thrust himself into every situation with the most bluster and bombast he can muster.  Observing him, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that he does perhaps the least harm when he’s flailing his arms and blustering in front of a crowd. That’s for show, and for effect, and to keep his base cranked up. 

It’s when Trump is sitting with his arms wrapped around himself in a self-protective posture and speaking in that dusky, slow-burning tone of voice he assumes when he’s feeling very defensive that we need to be concerned. 

This latter was his demeanor at the “top brass meeting” regarding plans in Syria that was televised earlier last week. This was the meeting where he wasted the Pentagon’s precious time by fuming and lashing out repeatedly about the FBI “breaking in” to his lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room. Where he took advantage of the cameras to basically blur the distinction between his personal security concerns and the nation’s security. King Louis XIV had nothing on Trump, with his famous motto, “L’etât c’est moi” (I am the State). 

Given this disturbing display, is it possible to separate the action plan that emerged from that meeting from Trump’s personal security concerns? His Saturn-Venus conjunction (Cancer) is being opposed by transiting Pluto (Capricorn) these days, and with transiting Saturn and Mars (Capricorn) coming up behind Pluto, opposing (if not now, soon) Trump’s Mercury and Saturn-Venus, the challenges Trump fears could very well materialize. He may be feeling cornered, which is a dangerous position, since his native tendency is to lash out and “punch back” when attacked.  

He’s also willing to distract us all by overwhelming the media airwaves with controversial or shocking moves—examples abound from his campaign and since. This makes his willingness to launch impromptu military adventures (especially with no input from Congress and no over-arching strategy) especially troubling.  Unfortunately, there are multiple indicators that we may be in for more volatile times between now and 2020, and those are only exacerbated by Trump’s chart being part of the mix. 

Specifically, Trump’s natal Full Moon (Gemini Sun-Node-Uranus opposite Sagittarius Moon-So. Node) has a tight astrological “lock” on our Sibly Mars (Gemini), which makes military solutions a convenient “default” mode for self expression that he can hide behind (Sibly Neptune squares Sibly Mars and his Full Moon axis). To their credit, investigative journalists don’t stop fact-checking and probing for motives when he does these things, but he can make that very difficult by classifying any information he doesn't want us to know. Our Sibly Neptune-Mars square has taught us to watch for these less-than-transparent (or honorable) uses of the military.

We’ve already discussed Trump’s thin-skinned Saturn-Venus conjunction—it’s difficult enough that it opposes radix Sibly Pluto, but it is now being challenged on several fronts by transiting Pluto, as it returns to its radix Sibly position.  Astrologers have been expecting some level of crisis and chaos as this return transit perfects, so it’s probably not surprising that a president would come along to catalyze that chaotic process. This conjunction may well account for his protectionist tendencies and zero-sum mentality, as well—tendencies that divide (Saturn) people over resources (Venus) rather than unite them. 

Finally, there’s the “bully” factor in Trump’s natal chart—reflected to a tee by his Mars-ASC conjunction in fixed, dominant Leo. These points have an opposition lock on our Sibly Moon (Aquarius), so “We the People” get caught up in the drama, whether we like to or not.
This Leo power center of his could be entangled in the geopolitical scramble for rebuilding dollars that we’ll probably see in Syria, as the civil war winds down and they enter the rebuilding phase. 

I say this because Trump’s Leo points fit snugly into the Leo-Scorpio squares we discussed much earlier between Syria and Russia. This cozy meeting of fixed egos and hidden ambitions and agendas makes me wonder if the Trump Organization will be angling for lucrative contracts in Syria, as well. Built by Russian oligarch connections? The “Trump Damascus” hotel has a ring to it…pure speculation at this point, of course!

Bottom line, Trump’s Leo points seem to make it very difficult for him to think beyond his own self-interests, so events on the ground must always be considered from more than one perspective—what the official narrative says is going on, and--relying on credible investigative journalism--what is actually going on. Is it any wonder that Trump World does everything it can to undermine journalistic credibility? Is it any wonder Trump is fighting like crazy to keep materials seized from lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen's office secret?

None of this is surprising or new, but our new level of involvement in Syria raises the stakes for knowing the truth. 

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 2018. All rights reserved.

[1] Nicholas Campion, The Book of World Horoscopes, The Wessex Astrologer, 2004 ed., Chart #280, “Russian Federation, the lowering and raising of the flags,” pp. 273-274.
[2] Michael Munkasey, Midpoints: Unleashing the Power of the Planets, ACS Publications, San Diego, CA, 1991, pp. 164-165.
[3] Bill Meridian, “Power Points in the Zodiac,” Astrological Journal, Vol. 48, No. 2, March/April 2006, pp. 7-9.
[4] Campion, ibid., “Syria” Assad regime/Syrian independence, Jan. 1, 1944, 12 midnight (no time available), Damascus, Syria. Chart #322, pp. 310-311.

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