Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Of Shutdowns & Goat Yoga: Capricorn wake-up calls and reality checks

The Cosmos is displaying a distinctly wry sense of humor this week—Mercury has been transiting Capricorn—so when I caught a feature on the Sunday news about the latest “craze,” Goat Yoga, I thought, “sure, why not?!”  

It’s easy to stress out over all the Capricorn energy afloat right now, so if having a flock of Capricorn’s creatures climb on your back during “downward Dog” is uplifting (getting peed on is considered lucky, by the way), bring it on!

In an off-the-wall kind of way, it seems Goat Yoga is about getting right with Saturn: the “studio” is often a barn, a corral, or a field—what better way to reconnect with good old Capricornian “earth?”

We often underestimate the therapeutic potential of “getting right” with Saturn—and heaven knows, there aren’t enough goats to go around for everyone, but the obligation remains. Capricorn times do not take “no” for an answer. Whatever Saturn prompts us to work on, the rewards are many for stepping up and being responsible—for responding to inner imperatives that we find reflected in our outer lives.

Importantly, this Saturnian process operates in tandem on both personal and collective levels—and it doesn’t function in a vacuum. At its most fundamental, Saturn works in concert with the Moon to bridge these levels in our daily lives, for the degree to which we mature and evolve as adults on the personal level mirrors how we contribute to society, as well. Strong families make for strong societies—ultimately, the lesson carried by the Capricorn-Cancer “power axis.” 

Unfortunately, this relationship is being twisted for all its worth in today’s debate about so-called “chain migration” (aka, "family reunification" policy).

A few thoughts about Saturn in a nation’s chart are in order before we get into the weeds here. First, it doesn't function in a vacuum, and one of its most important "partners" is the nation's Moon. In fact, to understand Saturn's role in a nation's evolution, we need to consider its fundamental relationship with that nation’s lunar dynamics. Simply put, if a nation is ultimately defined, as ours is, by its form of government, then the way in which a nation’s Saturn and Moon (the People) work together has existential implications. 

Towards the end of this post, we’ll explore these key dynamics in Triwheel #1, which sets our national chart next to Trump’s nativity and a chart for the so-called “government shutdown” that took effect last Friday at midnight. 

Before we go there, however, let's establish a framework for this "personal/collective" astrological discussion.

Traditionally, mundane Saturn represents a nation’s legislative and judiciary systems, and insofar as the “rule of law” is a structural/hierarchical issue, this is exactly true. We’ve been witnessing the Capricorn stress on our Sibly Saturn all weekend, with the “shutdown” debacle (more on the particular stressors ahead). However, Saturn/Capricorn energies touch every dimension of practical reality, national and personal, so what we’re seeing in D.C. reflects a myriad of other structural challenges. 

For instance, we tend to astrologically overlook the physical infrastructure of the nation, and as we’ve so painfully learned with this past year of record-breaking weather disasters, impaired or damaged infrastructure is a great hardship on and expense to the nation’s resources. It’s also an area of great national responsibility and accountability—both deeply Saturnian concerns.

If we accept that our nation is essentially a collective in which we all participate, and in which we all have a fundamental stake, then Saturnian responsibility is an inevitable dimension of public life. This reality is illustrated very nicely by our Sibly Moon in collective-oriented Aquarius (co-ruled by Saturn and Uranus).

Our collective relationship with the natural world and science (simply the study of that world) is also a Saturn/Capricorn dimension of public life: Saturn is now transiting earthy Capricorn, so it’s no surprise that the White House recently announced a new policy of drilling offshore along both the east and west coasts. It is the natural resources offered by the earth (Saturn/Capricorn also rules agriculture) that feed us and fuel our world and our nation. 

As co-ruler of Aquarius with Uranus, Saturn energizes science, technologies and engineering—critical for processing and putting those resources to use. Indeed, these three areas are fundamental requirements for any functioning nation and used to be American claims to fame. 

Even so, Trump’s plans for exploiting every last drop of the earth’s resources is (IMHO) a Plutonian misuse of those resources (Pluto has been transiting square Sibly Saturn). Thankfully, several states have begun using our Saturnian judiciary to challenge the White House plan. 

The mandate to conserve this earth for the long-term is a Saturnian responsibility that extends to all nations, but getting with that program requires reining in the capitalist obsession with short-term economic growth (Jupiter and Saturn have been tussling over this forever). Perhaps the same “NIMBY” (“not in my back yard”) outcries that met wind-farm developers will win out against the oil derricks, as well, but this is no formula for a long-term, Capricorn-worthy plan. 

How about using Saturnian diligence and discipline, informed with Uranian ingenuity and Jupiterian vision, to engineer a sustainable, “clean energy” economy that works for all, deep into the future?

While Neptune and Pluto co-rule raw subterranean resources such as oil and gas, together, Saturn and Uranus rule any electricity-powered technologies involved in resource extraction, not to mention critical technological infrastructures like the nation’s electric grids, broadband/cable networks, and on and on. 

Federal support for research and development in these critical areas is a matter of responsibility, and a matter of national defense. As Saturn transits deeper into Capricorn in the coming two years and opposes our Sibly Sun, we’re going to wish that we had better maintained our infrastructure systems.  

Saturn, the Moon & the Social Contract

Another area in which Saturn and the Moon bridge our personal and collective levels concerns the so-called “Social Contract” that exists between a nation’s people and its government. Relationships built around just and lawful systems of government are clearly implicated here—Saturn is exalted in Venusian Libra. A quick Wikipedia summary will explain:

“In both moral and political philosophy, the social contract or political contract is a theory or model, originating during the Age of Enlightenment, that typically addresses the questions of the origin of society and the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual.[1] Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the ruler or magistrate (or to the decision of a majority), in exchange for protection of their remaining rights. The question of the relation between natural and legal rights, therefore, is often an aspect of social contract theory.”
How appropriate that our Sibly Moon falls in Aquarius, co-ruled by Saturn and Uranus—we’ve had a love/hate relationship with authority from the get-go, with our revolutionary foundation. Those revolutionary impulses seem to have come back to haunt us lately, however, when our “social contract” seems very unclear and dangerously shaky. 

In fact, the relationship between individual and state power is very imbalanced and chaotic at the moment (witness the immigration debates and other racially-biased policies), as our fair-minded Libra Saturn is under siege from a heavy Capricorn Pluto and a compromising Pisces Neptune (more ahead on this). 

Our Sibly Sun in Moon-disposed Cancer is showing similar stress, opposed by Capricorn Pluto—all this while our Aquarius Moon (tightly opposed by Trump’s overbearing Leo Mars) is caught in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” relationship to D.C. power. Do we define our civic duty as a pragmatic affair, supporting the status quo as it’s currently operating in D.C., or do we exercise our right (perhaps even duty) to overturn it all and start over? 

Of course, doing anything coherently is the challenge—witness the government “shutdown” that was (at this writing) averted for another 3 weeks. Are we under any illusions that the divisive disconnects on national priorities—or even reality—that underlie this dysfunction will be solved in 3 short weeks? 

So, it’s hard to miss that in Trump’s America, the “social contract” is seriously frayed. Of course, some important elements of this contract are foundational (Saturn) matters—like our three-branch system of government, purposely designed by our Constitution’s framers so that power is distributed fairly, and that excesses or imbalances in one branch over the others can be checked.

Beyond that ingenious (but increasingly fragile) design, however, we might wonder how much of what’s going on in D.C. today we actually consented to! For starters, there’s the Electoral College—perhaps originally a good idea, but an idea that’s been tremendously corrupted.

The College was originally designed to counter any Neptunian attempt at illiterate “mob rule,” but did the Founders foresee Neptune’s “plan B,” the contagious phenomena of gerrymandering and social media distortion campaigns? Together, those two have turned this threat of “mob rule” into a systematically-deployed tool for disenfranchising one party’s voters. 

Even though it probably originates in the White House, the state-level is where a lot of the Neptunian wizardry happens: quite recently, two state-level decisions were tipped in favor of the GOP by decidedly biased-looking court decisions. 

Fairness in government is, again, an important Saturnian issue, and when less stressed out, our Sibly Saturn has made much better use of its position in mid-Libra. As we speak, however, players on the Federal level are busily working to undo the equitable, Saturnian voting systems our American social contract relies on.

Unable to accept that he didn’t win the popular vote in 2016, but frustrated with law suits arising from his so-called “voter fraud commission,” Trump recently suspended the commission. The news then reported that he was, instead, putting the Department of Homeland Security in charge of “securing” the vote (for guess who?). 

Saturn honors just, balanced (again, think Libra) limitations on power, while the agents of Neptune and Pluto undermine such limits and unleash what Trump biographer David Cay Johnston calls “political termites” on the hard timbers of our system. Even as those difficult transits have been bearing dubious fruit, though, voter suppression efforts have also inspired broad-based resistance: many of this weekend’s impressive Women’s Marches featured an important voter registration component. 

Saturn and Pluto in combination are very demanding and potentially very destructive—we’ll be talking a lot more about this as Saturn transits into conjunction with Pluto (January, 2020) and begins their new cycle at 22°+Capricorn, but these energies also place powerful tools in the hands of committed change-makers. What they promote, however, is not simply change for the sake of change—that’s requires a more prominent Uranus

 Today’s protests (you go, ladies!!), grassroots voter support efforts and the broader, so-called Resistance are all about the grassroots exerting its will and safeguarding what is worth safeguarding from the quickly-ending 1982 Saturn-Pluto cycle. This is a good time to purge the detritus our system has produced over these past few decades, but we need to also protect our essential values and institutions. Trump’s campaign promised to “drain the swamp,” but now we have a better idea of what he meant by that catchy tagline.

Neptune is playing an important background role in this purging process, of course. For instance, voter suppression may sound like Saturn’s handiwork, but in fact, it amounts to a distortion and corruption of our system, especially as it’s evolved through civil rights struggles, etc. These attempts at suppression actually go back several years before Trump, and have aimed to grab power unlawfully by simply “washing away” healthy institutional checks and balances and by simply “overturning” Saturnian rules like the 1965 Voting Rights Act. 

Since he took office, Trump has simply deepened the threat by promoting a twisted, Neptunian narrative involving “voter fraud.” Trump’s ideas about what elements of our system should be purged are clearly troubling.

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Donald J. Trump, June 14, 1946, 10:54 a.m. DST, Jamaica, NY; (outer wheel) Barack Obama, August 4, 1961, 7:24 p.m. ST, Honolulu, Hawaii. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

So, it’s no coincidence that Trump’s major “accomplishment” during his first year in office was in rolling back Obama-era Executive Orders and dismantling Obama-era protections for consumers, health care recipients, workers and the environment. President Obama (outer wheel, Biwheel #1 above) naturally respects the power of regulations with his dignified late Capricorn Saturn (conjunct Sibly Pluto, interestingly enough); Trump is natally averse to restrictions of any sort—especially Obama’s—with his Cancer Saturn (see inner wheel, Biwheel #1 above), falling opposite Obama’s Saturn!

Trump’s aversion reflects his Saturn being disposed by a libertine (and in his case, duplicitous) Sagittarius Moon, so we can see where his habit of pushing every limit comes from. The list is long…where do we start? 
We can’t consider Trump’s role in all this destruction without looking to the impacts Neptune and Pluto have been having on our Sibly Sun (the Executive and the nation-at-large). Indeed, Pluto has been transiting square our Sibly Saturn and opposed to Sibly Sun for the better part of a year—all the while Neptune has been hitting our Saturn by inconjunct and our Sun by a delusion-inducing trine.  It’s been a cosmic siege of sorts that Trump’s presence in the White House embodies to a tee, and there’s more to come. It’s important that we navigate this “purging” period consciously, and that we don’t just “let things happen.” 

Reaping what we sow

Of course, Trump didn’t unleash the destruction we’ve seen to our system all by himself—he had some powerful help that Special Counsel Mueller is investigating as we speak. Even that won’t reveal all the puzzle pieces, however: the deep pit of dysfunction that mires D.C. today developed over decades of extreme polarization and the dismantling of government infrastructures (Congressional committees, the primary election process, etc.). Importantly, these were infrastructures and mechanisms that used to reward our politicians for compromising across party lines.

In fact, these party lines have been cynically used and abused (Neptune-Pluto) to undermine the Saturnian balance and limitation-setting function of government. Many forces converged to produce this damage, however the phenomenon of gerrymandering has been one of the most pernicious. It’s a:

“…practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander (/ˈdʒɛriˌmændər/ or /ˈɡɛriˌmændər/), however that word is also a verb for the process.[1][2] The term gerrymandering has negative connotations. Two principal tactics are used in gerrymandering: "cracking" (i.e. diluting the voting power of the opposing party's supporters across many districts) and "packing" (concentrating the opposing party's voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts).[3]
Thankfully, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court just struck down that state GOP’s gerrymandering practices and mandated that they redraw voting districts more equitably. More and more the Courts—including the U.S. Supreme Court—will be charged with settling critical issues like this. We need to hope that the Neptune-Pluto “termites” haven’t penetrated too deeply into this Saturnian pillar of our 3-branched system. Time will tell. 

On building walls 

It’s a curious irony that the more unstable and dysfunctional our internal structures feel, the more we are coached to fear the outside world. As we’ll see, the current government shutdown debates have hinged on the two sides of this inner/outer relationship: the border wall Trump promised his base to keep out what he called Mexican “rapists,” basically criminalizing all immigrants by association and playing into xenophobic fears, and the moral imperative we have as a nation to find a fair solution for immigration in general, and for the DACA “Dreamers” in particular. 

In fact, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” theme is all about rolling back the border-eroding forces of globalization, about “correcting” the increasing diversity in our population (which threatens the white majority…bring on the Norwegians!), and about stoking the fear that’s very real in many people’s minds (and certainly in Trump’s) that we’re somehow losing “control” of what it means to be American.

Interestingly, political scientist Wendy Brown has written an entire book on this topic, on what is actually a global “wall-building” phenomenon these days. Entitled Walled States, Waning Sovereignty, Brown’s work makes the case that while this drive to fortify national borders has very real world consequences for the fates of displaced people, it’s also a mostly “theatrical” reaction to unsettling globalized forces:

“Thus, while nation-state walls are far from historically novel, they carry a unique function and signification today, staging political sovereignty that globalization is draining out of state institutions, providing a visual emblem of power and protection that states increasingly cannot provide, and generating an imaginary of stable and homogenous (and sometimes white supremacist) nationhood concretely eroded by global flows of capital, power, people, finance, ideas, cultures, religions, goods, and terror. As political responses to what is psychically, economically and politically unmanageable in a globalized world, walls constitute a spectacular screen for fantasies of restored sovereign potency and national purity [emphasis mine].”[1]
In other words, Trump’s plans to “Make America Great Again” almost demand that he stage the scene in the most theatrical and tangible terms possible. The “big, beautiful wall” he wants will probably not stop any of the global forces that he and his followers fear (for different reasons however; he probably profits from them on Wall Street), but it will play well in a political ad! 

Unfortunately, no amount of wall-building is going to stuff the globalized forces unleashed by Uranus and Neptune in 1993 (as they began their new cycle in Capricorn) back in the proverbial bottle. And we can’t have it both ways, although Trump will continue talking out of both sides of his mouth, pretending that he can make it so: we can’t enjoy the perks of free-flowing capital and the world of cheap goods and Internet-driven commerce this Capricorn cycle has spawned, while remaining locked into a protective Cancerian shell. Why would we want to inhabit a world that turns entirely around "Us v. Them?" 

Again, Moon/Cancer and Saturn/Capricorn provide the poles around which our personal/social dilemmas are wound. 

Clearly, Trump’s decision to promote a border wall tapped into the pervasive anxiety he and his base share about security and “waning sovereignty,” (his “America First” platform expresses this fear to a tee), but actually draining resources from other badly-needed projects to do so is another story.
Nevertheless, with his Saturn in self-protective Cancer (see middle wheel, Triwheel #1 below), now being opposed by transiting Pluto, Trump is likely seized with anxiety over getting that wall built. 

Taking a pulse: the Shutdown

My apologies for the long introduction, but we now have a framework for considering the government shutdown chart—surely a good lens on the dysfunction we’ve been discussing, even though it’s been temporarily resolved. This chart will also illustrate the key Saturn-Moon relationship we have at stake. Namely, what can the government shutdown, which took effect at midnight this past Friday night, tell us about our frayed “social contract,” and about the true threats to our national sovereignty? 

The key players in the shutdown situation are, of course, the Sibly chart, Donald Trump, and the Shutdown event itself. 

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) USA 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) DC Shutdown, January 20, 2018, 12:00 a.m. (midnight) ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.  

Interchart T-Square: Shutdown Mercury-Pluto (Capricorn) opposes Sibly Sun/Mercury (Cancer), Trump Saturn-Venus (Cancer) and Shutdown MC (Cancer); this axis is squared by Shutdown Uranus-Sibly Chiron (Aries). MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough has just called the 3-day shutdown “a phony war,” and this tense configuration certainly illustrates that possibility. Was the shutdown simply a public relations ploy, a three-day long, carefully staged “blame game?” Or was it the opening salvo in a more serious election “war” looming ahead? 

Mercury and Pluto certainly can manipulate a message for effect, and judging from the steady media assault (from both sides) and the White House phone message seeking to blame the Dems for the White House phones going unanswered, there was a lot of staging going on. If the “shoe fits…”

Trump’s insecurities (Cancer Saturn-Venus) were also a big part of the story, however, and these are driving a far more serious situation. Clearly, some part of his inability to stay on message and agree on a fix prior to the shutdown was about those fears. He was certainly caught between conflicting priorities—should he satisfy his right-wing base’s thirst for that “Wall,” or opt for looking like the great “deal maker” he claims to be? In the end, using thug tactics (like the “chain migration” ad his campaign released in the last day of the shutdown) took the place of respectable compromise, and that’s a troubling sign of things to come. 

Mixing his toxic and distorted campaign messages into the negotiations was a sign that he’s willing to go extremely low to get what he wants. I’ve discussed in other posts how personal this immigration issue is for him, but it’s worth reiterating here because this is where his Moon (disposing his Cancer points) and Saturn impact our national well-being. 

He’s doing this by effectively cutting the legs out from under our national Saturn-Moon priorities and replacing their concerns with his own “wounded” ones. Notice that his Jupiter-Chiron squares our Sibly Sun and conjoins our Sibly Saturn (Libra), and that all the Libra points are now squared by Shutdown Pluto (Capricorn) and quincunxed by Shutdown Neptune (Pisces).  

Rolling back regulations, undermining Constitutional norms and guarantees, and planting individuals in Cabinet positions who are ideologically opposed to the missions of those positions (as he's done in the Interior Department, the EPA, the Labor Dept., and more) all fit this insidious “makeover.” 

All this, while Trump’s thin-skinned Saturn-Venus oppose our Sibly Pluto and his domineering Leo Mars opposes our Sibly Moon (Aquarius)— IMHO, we have reason to be concerned about this “phony war.” 

Interchart Water “Kite:” Shutdown Jupiter-Mars (Scorpio) trines the Cancer points discussed above and trines Shutdown Chiron (Pisces); this grand water trine is intersected by Cancer-Capricorn oppositions (also discussed above). It should also be noted that the same grand trine is also bisected by oppositions between Trump’s Taurus MC and the Scorpio Shutdown Jupiter-Mars, and these bisections happen because sextiles are woven into the mix between the Scorpio and Capricorn points, and between the Cancer and Taurus points. Clearly, this is complicated, but let’s try to simplify:

Trump won this shutdown round because his goals were supported by the Scorpio points, and because he has no qualms about tapping into our national “dark side” to get what he wants (Shutdown Scorpio points trine Shutdown Chiron—over Sibly 12th-4th houses). He may have even felt a bit restrained in this process (Shutdown Mars squares his Leo Mars), yet this square may also explain why the actions he did take over the past week or two have been even more vicious than usual (the “shithole” debacle included). 

With this incredible mix of energies, we can only imagine what Trump’s participation in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland will look like this week. Here’s one interesting perspective:

“But analysts say there’s another possible explanation for his decision to attend [Davos]: that Trump wants to confront the elites who despise him on their own turf. ‘It’s like going into the belly of the beast and laying out his alternative vision of the world,’ Michael Froman, who served as US trade representative under Obama and has attended Davos in the past, told me. ‘I wouldn’t expect him to alter his message or pull his punches when it comes to America First.’”
With Mars remaining square to his Mars all week, we can expect that his behavior will be belligerent, but again, perhaps more restrained than we’d expect. While he talks a good game about wanting to roll back globalization, he knows how profitable it is for him (Saturn-Venus) as well. Besides, CNNMoney reports that Davos “loves” his tax cut bill, and he will probably want to take some bows. 

Final thoughts

If there’s anything we’ve learned in the past year with the Trump White House, it’s that Trump wants to have things “both ways” at all times, and that the constant dilemmas posed by his duplicity and divisiveness do weaken the structures we count on to preserve a balanced distribution of power. 

Dealing with a “child” who plays both sides against the middle to get what he wants is a difficult dynamic many Saturn/Capricorn-Moon/Cancer families have to navigate, but it’s considerably more difficult when the “child” is a strongly mutable type (Trump’s Gemini-Sagittarius points) who’s mastered the art of stirring chaos for effect, and who respects no limits to his personal behavior. 

It’s easy, in fact, to imagine from his behavior and demeanor that Trump is developmentally stuck in the mindset of a willful young boy who (as youngsters often do) “figures out” the power dynamics between his parents and then determines how he might be able to play them to procure a desperately-desired prize (be it unconditional love—he can “shoot someone on 5th avenue and they’ll still vote for him”—a shiny new bicycle, etc.). 

Unfortunately, the “parents” in question in our real-world situation are the institutional pillars of our democracy, including the collective will of “We the People,” and there’s too much at stake to play such manipulative games.  

Goat Yoga, anyone?!  

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: robertsonraye@gmail.com.

© Raye Robertson 2018. All rights reserved. 

[1] Wendy Brown, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty, Zone Books, NY, 2nd paperback edition, 2017, p. 9.