Monday, June 11, 2018

From Montreal to Singapore: history-making events and & a bombastic solar return

Perhaps every family has one: the older dad, uncle, brother-in-law who simply has to be right about everything, and if his ideas are challenged he either sulks in a corner nursing a drink all night, or he “takes his ball and goes home.” 

Well, our collective American family is no different these days, only our dysfunctional old uncle wields the powers of the U.S. presidency, and he’ll run the nation into the ground to prove it’s his way or the highway. His behavior at this past week’s G-7 conference in Montreal was the perfect illustration. 

Unfortunately, with his aggrieved approach to international economics and trade, Trump is not looking for a balanced, win-win situation for all parties in any international relationship. “We’re the piggy bank that everybody is robbing,” Trump insisted during the G-7, despite mountains of evidence that the US is profiting just fine from the international trade agreements we already have in place. 

Even so, trade is a convenient bugaboo for his political base—and admittedly there are some aspects of global trade that should be more worker-friendly and less about the mega-finance sector—but he’s clearly using his perennially aggrieved posture to crack open and gut our traditional alliances. 

Threatening to halt trade with G-7 nations because they demand that American companies follow the international regulations and procedures that we’ve agreed to over the years—a touchy subject for rules-averse Trump on several levels—is a classic case of uncooperative, sulking behavior. So Trump—so far out of his comfort zone in one incredibly telling picture from the conference that his arms were protectively wrapped around himself—plans to cut us out of the benefits of international trade to “show them.” Like they can't get the products we manufacture anywhere else!

Here’s how it went down: after some intense lobbying on the part of the other western leaders, Trump initially signed a carefully parsed official joint “communiqué” with them, and then not two hours later, he reneged en route to Singapore by tweet. By that time Canadian PM Justin Trudeau had criticized recently-imposed American tariffs in a press conference, saying Canada “would not be pushed around.” 

The ensuing tweetstorm as Trump and his trade team struck back at Trudeau has been, to put it mildly, a sulky and disproportional tantrum, accusing Trudeau of “stabbing” Trump in the back (really?!). So we’re now taking our trade “ball” and going home. I didn’t hear anything unreasonable from Trudeau—he has Canadian interests to think about above all—but Trump was apparently not open to any criticism that would make him look “weak” before the Singapore summit. Do we really want to make enemies of Canada?! 

Long story short, Trump apparently came to the G-7 (or G-6, as the case may now be) meeting in Montreal to quickly air a laundry list of grievances and to leave before they began talking about climate change and other issues he’d rather ignore. High on his list was that “Russia should be there.” Showing respect for the forum itself, and our individual allies gathered there, was low on that list.

Never mind the legitimate reasons why Russia doesn’t belong in the Group of 7 western democratic advanced economies: that it’s not a democracy, that in 2014 it invaded a sovereign nation and annexed a big piece of territory (Ukrainian Crimea), and that its overall economic net worth doesn’t qualify it for membership. Trump needed an ally at the meeting, and more and more it appears that Putin is his “wing-man.” 

Putin is happy to play along, of course, because anything that splits the western alliance is music to his ears. 

So all this happened just before Trump turned his focus to meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un tomorrow (June 12th) in Singapore (which will be tonight, here). Virtually the whole world is hoping that something more substantial than a photo op comes out of this meeting, and the hype and speculation are running very high.

Thankfully, news reports are giving this meeting a timeframe—it will take place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday (6/12), Singapore standard time. This allows us to explore the event chart first, before taking in a couple other considerations, such as some details from Trump’s solar return the day after, on June 13th. His birthday is on June 14th, but the transiting Sun returns to his natal position at 8:24:47 p.m. on the 13th. Apparently, his original travel plans home changed, and my astrologer’s hunch is that he was counseled to be back in the U.S. for his solar return. This, from the Washington Times:

“The White House says in a statement ahead of President Donald Trump’s historic summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un that the talks with North Korea are moving “more quickly than expected.” The White House says Trump now plans to depart Singapore on Tuesday evening ahead of schedule.
The White House says Trump will address the media on Tuesday following his summit with Kim and depart Singapore at approximately 8 p.m. local time for the United States. The president had been expected to leave Singapore on Wednesday morning.”

So, let’s begin with the event chart, remembering that 9 a.m. on Tuesday in North Korea is 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday night in Washington, D.C.

Chart #1: Trump-Kim summit, June 12, 2018, 9 a.m. ST, Singapore, Singapore. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Cardinal Cancer ASC opposes Pluto (Capricorn) at DSC; this axis squares Aries MC-Juno-Eris; ASC ruler is Moon in Taurus. Here we see another reason to suspect that Trump depends upon a consulting astrologer: the ruler of this chart conjoins his natal Taurus MC (24°+, chart not shown). The media has been making a big deal out of his comment that he “doesn’t need to prepare” for this meeting because he’s such a great intuitive “deal-maker:” could it be that he thinks he doesn’t need preparation because the Moon is on his side? 

In fact, the Moon works in those clichéd mysterious ways, and while a Taurus Moon may support Trump’s notion that all Kim Jong-Un needs to be malleable is a promise of economic support, how Kim sees his nation’s interests is likely to be quite different from the way Trump views them. With Pluto involved in this configuration, trine the earthy chart ruler Moon, we can be certain that the deal-making will be laced with subterfuge and power plays our president may not even fathom. 

Other Asian leaders have already figured out how susceptible Trump is to flattery, so Kim will know how to apply the lather as well to get what he wants out of the situation. So what happens if Trump comes away nursing a bruised ego because he feels blindsided by Kim in some way? Will he blow the meeting up over anything less than total capitulation by North Korea (like he did with Trudeau)? Or if the world press doesn’t pile on with more adulation? Trump is looking for a big, showy win out of this…a Nobel Peace Prize, or at least the media equivalent of one. Has the die been cast for his statue on the Washington Mall yet? 

In fact, the cardinal t-square formed here includes a potentially volatile and discordant Aries MC-Juno-Eris conjunction for the event, so the gloves are likely to be off, even though the leaders may find some room for cooperation with that Pluto-Moon trine. They’ll probably both be angling for concrete (Taurus) results, and they could be spoiling for a fight (Eris) if there’s too much resistance.

It’s interesting to me that Trump’s natal Moon falls trine these potent Aries points: he’s likely to come into the negotiation with a sense of entitlement (Sagittarius Moon), and knowing where his thinking tends to be in international discussions, with a sense that the U.S. has been used and abused by North Korea in the past (blaming that on his “weak” predecessors, of course). This posture liberates him from any responsibility for dealing fairly, which probably cuts to the heart of what “America First” means to him. 

Trump’s grievances are often based on very shaky, conspiracy-laced interpretations of the facts, but more than anything they are rooted in his innate sense of entitlement (Moon) about himself and his place in the world. And, importantly, in his natal Juno-Chiron conjunction in Libra! Here’s what Demetra George and Douglas Bloch have to say about a Libra Juno:

“Juno in Libra individuals need to feel as an equal and require a fair give-and-take in their relationship. Consultation from their parter on decision making and respect and approval for their ideas are required. When equality needs are not being met, this individual can become uncooperative, excessively competitive, or can even engage in direct combat.”[1]
Could this description fit any better in Trump’s case? If we consider his natal Chiron conjunction to this sensitive Juno, we can see where his chronic state of feeling unfairly wounded by relationships comes from. It’s quite possible that there can be no such thing as a deal that feels fair to Trump, so any cut-throat behavior on his part feels perfectly justified.

The fact that this conjunction falls in his 2nd house of values and finances suggests that he is driven for ever greater wealth because in that way he demonstrates that he’s won against the odds—the world hasn’t gotten the best of him. His financial track record (what we know of it) suggests that this grieved mindset has driven him throughout his life; it’s simply more dangerous now, with the risks he’s taking with our international relations. 

Venus (Cancer) and Moon (Taurus) are in mutual reception and sextile. Considering that this Venus is conjunct Trump’s natal Venus within 2°+, and that this exalted Moon and Trump’s MC are also conjunct, it’s probably safe to say that the Cosmos is blessing Trump’s efforts in this meeting, which may feel mostly congenial. He will probably come away feeling like a victor, one way or another (his photo op shaking hands with Kim Jong-Un is set for 8:30 a.m. tomorrow), but what makes him feel good may not translate into a substantive international agreement. 

We see this with the fact that this sensitive Cancer Venus is also widely opposite Pluto and square that volatile MC-Juno-Eris meet-up in fiery Aries. Any attempt to deny Trump his victorious moment could send the fur flying, but anger isn’t likely to overcome Kim’s advantage in these talks. He’s out seeing the tourist sites this evening; Trump is probably experiencing jet lag. Kim is on comfortable turf, culturally, if not politically; Trump is not. Kim has relationships with China and South Korea that could help him; Trump has just blown up his relationships with allies who might have stood with him. 

Bottom line, I can’t imagine the North Koreans negotiating under a cloud of anger, and this cardinal t-square suggests that falling back on grievances isn’t going to work as well for Trump as he might think. Kim already feels like a winner for maneuvering (with South Korea’s Moon Jae-In) Trump into this meeting—this is a high-level political coup for him. One commentator is calling this Kim’s “coming out party.” 

And, this just in from The Guardian…CIA director Mike Pompeo is now saying that the Trump administration is planning to offer greater security assurances to North Korea than the 2005 agreement did. If Trump doesn’t get what he thinks he needs (or is entitled to) in return, what will he do?

12th house Sun-Mercury conjoin in Gemini; Sun quincunxes Pluto (Capricorn). Mercury is strong in Gemini and even though it is out of orb for the quincunx, it disposes the Sun, which is. If we posit that the Sun in this chart represents the “leaders” (guess who has the upper hand here, with his solar return looming?), this could be a frustrating aspect to navigate. Communications are likely to be frustrated by the power dynamics at stake, which is a difficult place to be for diplomats, let alone face-to-face leader communications. 

There’s the issue of communicating through translators, of course—a lot can be lost or distorted in the process, a risk that’s reflected in the 12th house placement of Sun-Mercury. Pluto’s presence in the 7th house (conjunct the DSC) suggests this meeting of long-time adversaries is not likely to be authentically open, but carefully manipulated for effect. I wasn’t surprised when Trump claimed he didn’t need to prepare, and that he’ll know within the “first minute” if the meeting is going to be worthwhile or not, but I don’t believe him for a minute. If he truly did not prepare, he’ll probably know that within the first minute!

Vesta-Saturn (Capricorn) square Chiron (Aries); Saturn trines Uranus (Taurus). I’d like to think the Saturn-Uranus trine will ease the two leaders into practical solutions for pressing geopolitical challenges, but the square with Chiron suggests that authority and control issues may stress the proceedings. Will these leaders take responsibility for the public service (6th house Saturn-Vesta) dimension of these negotiations? Chiron falls in the 9th house of international relations and law, and these matters impact real households (Vesta). Or will the focus be on whose ego (Aries) is gratified the most and who gets to crow the loudest? 

Mars (Aquarius) squares Uranus (Taurus); Uranus and Saturn co-rule Mars (and Saturn semi-sextiles Mars). Implicit in these negotiations is the underlying threat of military action, in case other ideas don’t pan out, and these aspects suggest that there’s a level of frustration with U.S.-North Korea relations that could boil over pretty easily. We’ve seen in other situations how Trump can throw his so-called “friends” under the bus on a dime; what can we expect him to do with an adversary/would-be friend? 

Notice that Mars also opposes the Leo North Node here; traditional mundane astrologers would probably freak out if a malefic like Mars conjoined the South Node. I’m not convinced that this portends the end or “death” of the negotiations, but it isn’t terribly reassuring, either. Given that Mars rules the Aries MC here, this is an aspect to watch.  

Grand Water Trine: Jupiter (Scorpio) trines Pallas-ASC (Cancer), which trines Neptune (Pisces). If we’re lucky, this bilateral event will be conducted with empathy on the part of both leaders, for the sake of all the people who have a stake in a peaceful outcome. That would be a lofty, enlightened expression of these flowing, emotional energies, however it’s not clear that these particular leaders are equipped for that idealistic mission. “What’s in it for me?” might be a more likely focus, unfortunately, but let’s hold out hope. 

If anyone strikes me as up to the job of empathy and idealism, it’s South Korea's Moon Jae-In, so to the extent that he’s involved and that he’s an able diplomat, there could be some positive takeaways. 

One big caveat on this optimism, however: Jupiter is a mixed blessing here, in Pluto-ruled Scorpio. Trump has demonstrated that he’s willing to upset the geopolitical order we’ve built since 1945 and potentially replace it with troubling new alliances—would he dare to throw South Korea under the bus for his new friend, Kim Jong-Un? 

This sounds outrageous, I know, but who’s the military strong man between the two halves of Korea at this point? And do we really expect Kim to relinquish his nuclear weapons (Pluto)? Why hasn’t more been said about the possibility that he’s got his eyes on the real prize—control of a reunited Korean peninsula? 

We know Trump wants the U.S. out of Korea entirely (he sees our alliance with the South as a big waste of resources), and the only way to do that might be to negotiate an end to the long-stalemated war and hand over the controls to the North. This might please Putin, too, and clearly, Trump has become more cozy with China lately—he’s intent on saving ZTE for them and he likes the patents and trademarks they’ve been doling out to his daughter’s business. For that matter, who knows what goodies he’s realizing for the Trump Organization.

One way or another, China would certainly have a stake in what happens to Korea. South Korea and China are market competitors, so squashing the Korean competitive edge under a Kim regime may sound enticing. It’s far-fetched, but nothing would surprise me at this juncture. 

A few points from Trump’s solar return

Please note that I’ve followed the recommendations of solar returns expert, Ray Merriman in casting this chart using Placidus houses. His techniques are also reflected in what follows, and I highly recommend his book on this topic.[2]
Just a general note: the solar return chart is said to reflect how the coming year is likely to unfold for the individual. It stands in relationship to the natal chart (a complicated read we won’t get into here, with the exception of a few highlights). It’s important to examine the arrangement of planets in the solar return houses with an eye to whether angular, succedent, or cadent houses predominate, or if there’s a relative balance between these placements. 

These placements tell us something about the type of energy and the focus that will characterize the year. In the case of this solar return for Trump, 6 out of 10 planets/luminaries are placed in angular houses, suggesting a year that is jam-packed with activities and movement. Here’s what Merriman has to say about this predominance:

“At best, it signifies adventure and new beginnings with great excitement. At worse, it may indicate unwanted or unflattering attention, and difficulties (fights) in relationships, or disputes at work. It may also indicate an egotistic craving for attention that turns others away. Thus careful attention should be placed upon significant relationships this year. Insensitivity to the cares of others may lead to separations.” [3]
As we’ll see, this assessment turns out to be fully supported by the planetary placements themselves. 

Chart #2: Solar Return, Donald J. Trump, June 13, 2018, 8:24:47 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Placidus Houses, True Node. 

7th house Sun, conjunct DSC and Moon (Gemini). Trump will be looking for recognition for his actions vis-à-vis allies and adversaries this coming year, but the potentially stressful relationship with the chart horizon suggests some struggles. He may also be restlessly (Moon) spoiling for a fight—these points conjoin our Sibly 7th house Mars (chart not shown). The Moon typically indicates the  day-to-day emotional tone, so Gemini could lend an erratic tone to the year. 

7th house Mercury (Cancer) opposes 1st house Saturn (Capricorn). This opposition mirrors what’s happening with transits to Trump’s natal chart right now, too: Saturn is transiting opposite his natal Mercury. Given the importance of Mercury to his entire chart, we can expect that Saturn’s demands for responsibility and accountability might be depressing at worst, and frustrating at best. He will be dealing with reality checks—about himself (1st house Saturn) and about those he chooses to ally himself with (7th house Mercury). It’s worth mentioning here that his natal Mercury falls in his 11th house of associates and power brokers, so Saturn could cramp his deal-making style.  
T-Square: Venus (Leo) conjoins 8th house cusp, North Node (Leo) and opposes 2nd house Mars-South Node (Aquarius); this axis squares 4th house Uranus (Taurus). Any planet conjoined a solar return house cusp is one to watch; this placement raises the issue of financial and psychological support flowing from “others,” but clearly this won’t be a smooth ride, with Mars and Uranus involved so stressfully. 

It’s interesting that Trump’s financial axis (2nd-8th houses) is highlighted so intensely—his natal ASC falls in his solar return 8th, as well, confirming that this area of life will be a key focus for the year. Could that lawsuit mentioned earlier against his violations of the “Emoluments Clause” be indicated here? Will his tax returns finally be released (perhaps in the context of the Mueller investigation)? 

Given the 4th house placement of Uranus, it seems that Trump could experience some upset or sudden change in his living situation, or with members of his family. Eris and Juno are also placed in this 4th house, sextile his solar return Sun, but disposed by this rather unpredictable Aquarius Mars, so turmoil in the presidential household is more than possible.

1st house Pluto (Capricorn) quincunxes 7th house Sun (Gemini).As we saw in the event chart above, this aspect can be frustrating and limiting, and like so many other interesting placements, Trump’s natal Pluto falls in the solar return 8th, conjunct his solar return North Node. Again, finances (perhaps a heavy hit at his financial “empire?”) could be a particular focus. 

Solar return Pluto in the 1st can indicate a move towards transforming oneself in powerful ways; we have to wonder here whether that transformation will be made willingly, or in response to outside forces. Solar return Eris and Juno square Pluto from the 4th, suggesting that pressures from key women in his life may have something to do with whatever transpires. 

Grand Water Trine: 11th house Jupiter (Scorpio) trines 3rd house Neptune, trines 7th house Pallas. I should clarify that, even though there hasn’t been a lot of work done yet (that I’m aware of) on how asteroids function in solar return charts, to my view there’s no reason to assume they don’t play a role. So here’s the same grand water trine we considered in the event chart above, arrayed in Trump’s solar return and pulling critical houses together in one flowing circuit of energy. The power dynamics we discussed earlier also apply—Jupiter in Trump’s solar return 11th suggests success in political circles, although this point is challenged by a square from Mars (Aquarius), so nothing comes easily. 

There’s also the suggestion that personal finance (2nd house Mars) will be stressfully linked with Trump’s professional activities (there’s that Emoluments Clause again). Trump will be energized to “play the geopolitical games” that power brokers play by this grand trine, but there could be a price to pay. His natal 2nd house Neptune-Juno-Chiron-Jupiter grouping in Libra falls in his solar return 9th and 10th this year, suggesting that his emotion-laden “schtick” of blaming others for any shortcomings in his own fortunes will have international reach and will color his image abroad. 

The “victimization” narrative gets old, especially when Saturn in his solar return 1st house will be pushing him to be more transparent and accountable. 

Final thoughts

Finally, it’s interesting that Trump’s solar return Saturn/Pluto (midpoint, Capricorn) tightly opposes his solar return Pallas (Cancer). Issues of authority, justice, responsibility and empathy are all enmeshed here, across his 1st-7th solar return axis. These placements may reflect the pressure he’s feeling from the Mueller investigation, not to mention an important mid-term election that is shaping up to be an important referendum on his presidency thus far. 

The nation’s economy will also be impacted by the Saturn-Pluto energies we see here, as they are currently transiting the Sibly 2nd house, with Pluto working its way towards a climactic “return” to Sibly Pluto’s radix position. The economy has been looking pretty strong lately, but there are enough analysts wondering why it’s been defying gravity since Trump took office that we would be wise to listen. 

Now that most of the bite has been taken out of the post-Recession Dodd-Frank Act that regulated banks and investment firms, we would be wise to look out for precarious housing and stock bubbles. 

Trump’s ego is firmly linked to those numbers that always go up, up, up, so we can probably trust that he won’t be doing anything to restrain what Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan famously called “irrational exuberance,” especially in an election year! With Jupiter trine Neptune in water signs, such exuberance and the potential for burst bubbles is quite possible. That leaves Saturn, of course, to clean up the mess.

So what else is new? Let’s hope that something substantive and positive comes out of Singapore!

[1] Demetra George & Douglas Bloch, Asteroid Goddesses: The Mythology, Psychology, and Astrology of the Re-emerging Feminine, Ibis Press, updated 2003 edition, Lake Worth, FL, p. 171.
[2] Ray Merriman, The New Solar Return Book of Prediction, Seek-It Publications, West Bloomfield, MI, 9th printing, 1998.
[3] Merriman, p. 40.