Saturday, September 1, 2018

Fare thee well, Senator McCain: the astrology of one man’s influence on a nation

“I’m Joe Biden. I’m a Democrat…and I love John McCain.” – former V.P. Joe Biden, speaking at McCain’s Phoenix, AZ memorial on 8/30/2018.  

“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness. The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly..."
- Meghan McCain, eulogizing her father at Washington, D.C.'s National Cathedral, 9/1/18

This week’s outpouring of love and respect for the late Senator John McCain has been both sobering and uplifting, with people on both sides of the political aisle paying sincere tribute, lauding him as a true American hero, in every sense of that word. Raised in a prominent U.S. Navy family, McCain lived a life of distinguished—and passionate—public service, from his early days in the military until his final days in the U.S. Senate. 

McCain liked to be known as a “maverick,” and he proved as much, even in his final battle with brain cancer. Shunning Trump when it came time to plan who would speak at his memorial services, McCain instead chose the two men who defeated him in his runs for president: George W. Bush and Barack Obama. And, as indicated above, Obama wasn’t the only Democrat to eulogize McCain—former V.P. Joe Biden, a long-time friend and political sparring partner, gave a stirring, heartfelt speech. 

 McCain was proud of the many times he helped solved the nation’s problems by working across the political aisle, and he left behind the friends to prove it. That’s a tribute to his pragmatic, open-minded nature, and to his courage. 

Senator McCain last appeared in the Senate in July, 2017
As for his rejection of Trump, it wasn’t most likely about Trump’s crude comments at McCain’s expense. Based on McCain’s reactions to Trump’s foreign affairs moves in the past year and a half, it was clear that he found Trump unfit for the presidency and perhaps even treacherous, especially when it came to his relationship with Vladimir Putin. 

So, it seems that no matter our political affiliations or differences, we can all be proud that McCain was one of us. We’re told that “Nation first; Party second” was his motto, and he clearly lived by this principle. What a refreshing departure from our toxic, divisive politics today. About to depart D.C. for health reasons in July, 2017, McCain took one last opportunity at the Senate podium to warn that body (and all of us, no doubt) against this divisiveness:

"We're getting nothing done, my friends. We're getting nothing done… Our deliberations today ... are more partisan, more tribal ... (than) at any time that I can remember. They haven't been overburdened by greatness lately…"

The astrology

Any time a prominent figure passes on, it’s always tempting to focus on that person’s natal chart and transits at the time of death, and in fact, those charts for McCain tell a very interesting story. However, agree with him or not, McCain spent his life serving something larger than himself, and that feels like a critical story for today. What void does his death leave behind in our public discourse, in our politics, and our view of American power in the world? 

Unless you believe that all human passages are random cosmic events with no connection to anything else, there sure seems to be an astrological message in McCain’s passing. How does it reflect the kaleidoscope of transits, progressions and cycles that are impacting the nation? There’s a lot to ponder here, and this one article may not cover it all, but let’s brainstorm and hope that a few key revelations emerge. 

A constant theme in regards to McCain is that he may be the last in a dying breed of pre-Trump Republicans, dedicated to traditional conservatism and public service, and to a party that once valued integrity and a “small government” slant on democratic ideals. The GOP was the “Party of Lincoln,” and it was bent on abolishing slavery at its founding. When the party was founded in 1854, these aspirations were about to get a workout in the Civil War. Today, under Donald Trump’s sway, it’s unclear what the “Grand Old Party” stands for anymore, and that has many people wondering if the party will even survive Trump.

Walter Shapiro, of is one of them, and an opinion piece of his posted today (8/29) suggests that McCain’s passing was a test of Trump’s moral fiber and character—a test that he miserably failed:

“Nothing better symbolizes the cruel vulgarity of the Trump administration than the president’s refusal to offer a public comment for 48 hours on McCain’s death beyond a barebones tweet combined with the White House raising the flag to full staff after midnight on Monday…. Only when veterans groups like the American Legion objected did Trump give McCain the honor due a war hero and revered senator.”
Shapiro goes on to ask a key question that’s on many minds these days:
“What is it about Trump that has the power to cloud the minds of Republicans who should know better?... Trump defenders go to extremes of double-jointed moral flexibility to defend his contempt for democratic traditions. In a dispiriting New York Times op-ed, Charles R. Kesler, a senior fellow at the conservative Claremont Institute, argued, ‘Most of Mr. Trump’s alleged transgressions … offend against the etiquette of modern liberalism and modern liberal governance, not the Constitution.’
Forgive me, I thought that human kindness and a sense of shame were conservative values.” 

Rivals could be friends - an idea McCain embraced.

This isn’t the place to debate where the lines between liberalism and conservatism fall—and I would hope that human kindness and a capacity for shame are bipartisan values—but suffice to say here, Trump’s GOP is something far different from the party Senator McCain championed.  Come to think of it, Trump’s America is in danger of becoming something far different from the nation McCain cherished and served as well. 

So, let’s take a look at the astrology of all this, beginning with a quick look at McCain’s nativity, set against a chart for the 4:28 p.m. published time of his death on August 25th.
Then, to consider the broader significance of McCain’s passing to the GOP, we’ll set his death transit chart against the GOP’s 1854 radix chart

Finally, to appreciate how all this is impacting the nation itself, we will set that same death transit chart against the U.S. Sibly chart. Because we’re trying to consider three biwheels, we’ll focus on key highlights only.   

In better times.

The man himself

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) John Sidney McCain, III, August 29, 1936, 6:25 p.m. ST, Colon, Panama; (outer wheel) McCain passing, August 25, 2018, 4:28 p.m. ST, Cornville, AZ. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Passing PlutoRx rises at ASC (both Capricorn); Passing MarsRx/PlutoRx (midpoint, Capricorn) squares Passing ErisRx (Aries); Passing MarsRx opposes Natal Pluto (Cancer). We are seeing the passage of a true Warrior in these aspects: here’s one particularly pertinent comment Michael Munkasey offers about the Mars/Pluto midpoint:

“Courage or energy to pursue the most difficult of goals or challenges; sticking through to the end despite encountering the most dire or dreadful circumstances; impulses to correct wrongs; steady application of effort.”[1]
Those who championed McCain for his outspoken criticism of Trump’s performance as president will probably feel that their hero got the last word in, but so many are wondering if his final words and actions will really change anything. With all the retrograde energy in these aspects, however, we can probably trust that McCain’s final efforts will resurface and live on in some form. Will Trump find a way to make McCain’s passing about himself?  

Former Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, the controversial Trump pardonee that ran in the Arizona primary to fill Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat, just lost that race this past week. Maybe that’s a good sign for the McCain legacy and a sign that Trump is losing sway in that swing state. 

Passing Grand Earth Trine: SaturnRx (Capricorn) rises in Passing 12th, trine Passing Uranus (Taurus), trine Passing Sun-Natal Sun (Virgo). It always feels ironic and slightly tragic when anyone dies just short of their next birthday, but this soft, supportive configuration suggests that McCain’s passing was as “easy” as any death can be. Even so, McCain did build some “surprises” (Uranus) into his final plans. 

This Saturn Rx rules his passing chart and conjoins Natal No. Node (over the natal 10th), almost as if to say McCain’s death fulfills one last official duty.  Those who deeply respect him (Saturn-Node) are certainly getting the word out about his commitment to duty, and his Warrior soul (Leo Mercury disposes Virgo Sun and conjoins Natal Mars in Leo). In one emotional ceremony after another, McCain is receiving the highest military honors (Leo) that the nation awards at a veteran’s death—Passing No. Node falls in Leo and conjoins Natal Part-of-Fortune.  

McCain's body has received full military honors everywhere it goes.

Interchart Mutable T-Square: Passing Neptune Rx (Pisces) opposes Natal Neptune (Virgo); this axis squares Natal Jupiter (Sagittarius). Mutable energies (especially Neptune) are often associated with destabilizing and undermining a person’s physical being, and in worst case scenarios, these transits can contribute to the person’s death. Here we see also why McCain seemed to so fully embrace his inevitable passing, despite the difficulty: spirit-filled gratitude (Jupiter-Neptune) for the “best possible life” seemed to be his constant theme lately. Considering the years of torture he suffered during the Viet Nam war, his claim that he wouldn’t change a day of that life has been very moving. 

Major transiting-to-natal Neptune-to-Neptune and Pluto-to-Pluto aspects are “end of life” passages that particularly challenge those in their 80s and beyond. McCain was fast approaching his Uranus return, as well—a transit that would have marked his 84th birthday. Life in this material dimension being what it is, the force of these outer-planetary movements carries us Home in due time: not to be underestimated, Passing Uranus (Taurus) inconjoins Natal Mercury (Libra), ruling McCain’s 4th house of “the end of things.” 

Reinforcing this is Passing Moon (Aquarius) transiting Natal 12th, trine Natal Chiron (Gemini) and inconjunct Natal Pluto (Capricorn). We can see the twinkle in McCain’s eyes as he launches one final “jab” at Donald Trump on our behalf  with his funeral plans, too: this Moon conjoins the Sibly Moon (the “People”) and opposes Trump’s natal Mars-ASC (Leo). It seems the Cosmos likes a bit of comic irony!

As we’ll see in both Biwheel #2 and Biwheel #3 below, all of these transits have ramifications for the GOP and the nation, as well.  

Whither goes the GOP? 

Considering how outspoken he was about it this past year, it’s probably safe to say that McCain feared for the future of his Grand Old Party till the very end. And, being from a border state, his fears often centered around the brutal turn the GOP’s approach to immigration issues has taken under Trump. From the Washington Post
“McCain pursued compromise [on immigration policy] believing that it was good policy — consistent with both the impracticality of mass deportation and with this country’s history as a land of opportunity and haven for the oppressed. He also considered it good politics, positioning the GOP as open to the nation’s growing Latino population.
The latter view was all but conventional wisdom among Republican consultants during the first decade of this century. Not coincidentally, during the years before his 2008 White House run, McCain expected the pursuit of immigration reform to help his own presidential prospects.”
McCain was no “bleeding heart” when it came to immigration, but he was willing to compromise for the sake of long term security and political gain—a stance so few Republicans are willing to take under Trump. The extent to which the GOP is now “Trump’s party” (and not McCain’s any longer) is a favorite talking point in the media, so let’s see what the astrology suggests.

Biwheel #2: (inner wheel) U.S. Republican Party, March 20, 1854, 12:00 pm LMT (no exact time known), Ripon, WI; (outer wheel) McCain death, August 25, 2018, 4:28 pm ST, Cornville, AZ. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

The GOP chart doesn’t have the benefit of precise angles, Moon and houses, but we can learn plenty from this biwheel without that information. 

Passing SaturnRx (Capricorn) squares GOP Sun (Pisces), sextiles GOP Venus-Eris (Pisces), trines GOP Pluto-Uranus (Taurus) and trines GOP MarsRx (Virgo). This definitely looks like crunch time for the GOP, even though the trine aspects appear “soft.” Outer-planetary trines tend to unleash the energies in play, and these dynamics can get out of control unless some limits are adhered to. That’s where SaturnRx figures into the mix, and as we saw in Biwheel #1, McCain had close ties with this Saturn—perhaps he was even playing the role of Saturn, in fact, when it came to his party. 

Will the Party now succumb even more fully to the tempting pull of the sextiles and trines we see here, taking the “road of least resistance” to Trump’s corrupt influence?

Where tax cuts and ideologically charged goodies like Supreme Court appointments are concerned, the Party probably will succumb, but SaturnRx (falling in the Passing chart’s 12th) here suggests that this could backfire on them in the end. 

Passing PlutoRx (Capricorn) conjoins GOP Chiron-Jupiter-Pallas (Capricorn) and squares Passing ErisRx (Aries). There’s pretty universal agreement that the GOP is wounded and facing a precarious transformative period, and that certainly shows in these aspects. This observation by Martin Lass about the Pluto-Chiron conjunction makes perfect sense, looking at today’s divided GOP:

“Pluto most violently and forcefully shakes our Wounds, blockages and unresolved issues, bringing them to the surface in ways we cannot ignore, impelling us to attend to these things immediately or suffer major upheavals in our lives.”[2]
Unfortunately, the GOP shows signs of following that “path of least resistance” discussed above, but Pluto won’t leave them much wiggle room. If they continue following the corrupt path Trump is leading them down, it could be an “all or nothing” choice. Existential crisis time!
It’s significant here that Pluto will transit over GOP Jupiter right after it finishes with Chiron. Will this mean a rebirth of the founding spirit of this party—perhaps even a wholesale rejection of the racist demagoguery finding support in some party quarters—or  will it relate to the Party’s more nitty-gritty focus on economic issues? Another big tax cut for the wealthy could certainly fit here, and Trump would undoubtedly approve. Is that the best this party has to offer?
As Pluto moves on to GOP Pallas (Capricorn), perhaps justice will prevail—could there be convictions of prominent Republicans coming out of the Mueller investigation? We can probably trust that McCain would prefer his party to choose justice over corruption: we’ll probably get a better sense of how this is going to go during the run up to the 2020 election.
Passing Moon (Aquarius) conjoins GOP Venus (Pisces) and squares GOP Saturn (Taurus). Knowing what we know about how this electrified Moon (Uranus disposed) ties into Trump’s nativity and the U.S. Sibly chart (see Biwheel #3 below), we can see that the stakes in this tough aspect are enormous. They’re about power and the ways in which money (Venus-disposes Taurus) is thrown around for the sake of influence. Yes, the government can be bought and paid for—a corrupt potential that McCain fought hard against when he negotiated and fought for the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance law.
When the GOP was founded in pre-Civil War Wisconsin as the "Party of Lincoln," control over land and resources was a big issue, and there was a pragmatic economic argument for abolishing slavery that had nothing to do with being equality-minded or compassionate. Europe had already banned slavery and trading relationships were in jeopardy because America was lagging behind. Was there no compassion at all?
With Neptune in Pisces, (amazingly, now returning to its position in the GOP chart), there undoubtedly was compassion and a spiritual revival among some that raised questions and doubts about slavery, but the moral commitment to sweeping change was far from universal. 

Insightful cartoon by Digby

The same illusions, fear-mongering and conspiracy-spinning we’re experiencing today with Trump were experienced back then with other politicians and influencers who wanted to divide the young nation: Neptune never fails to confuse and bewitch until one day everyone wakes up and realizes how disillusioned they’ve been.
Unfortunately, before this awakening could happen in post-Civil War America (for most, certainly not all), there was massive carnage. No surprise: Neptune entered Aries 2 days after the first shots were fired in the Civil War in April 1861.
Passing Jupiter (Scorpio) trines both Neptunes (Pisces) and opposes GOP Uranus (Taurus). These aspects have been ongoing, but they probably explain why the party has been so amenable to Trump’s agenda for rolling back regulations of every kind and pushing its ethical limits. They also speak to how the GOP has chosen to look the other way as Trump violates so many of the fundamental ethical expectations it would normally have of a president.  
No tax returns; no need to divest himself of his business interests (in fact, he’s been profiting hand over fist from the presidency); No problem if there are seedy affairs that would normally bring a politician down. Getting far too cozy with dictators at the expense of our allies, and quite possibly conspiring with Russia to win the 2016 election? We won, right?...bring it on!
In all fairness, most Republicans in Congress have maintained at least some integrity, even if they’re far too quiet about Trump’s excesses: if they hadn’t, the Mueller investigation (Mueller is also known to be a Republican) would have been brought down a long time ago.
Even the beleaguered Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has drawn one ethical line he is not willing to step across. He’s happy to brutalize immigrants and separate families in the spurious name of law and order, but he’s not willing to un-recuse himself from the Mueller investigation. Sessions is a profoundly complicated case, but I suppose we have to be grateful that he has some scruples. If Sen. Lindsey Graham has it right, Sessions will be gone before long, anyway.  
One last thought about Jupiter-trine-Neptune here: especially with Pluto’s involvement, disposing Scorpio Jupiter, this aspect can point to an economic “bubble” that must eventually burst, and we knows how this goes, especially if you’re not one of the privileged “1%” at the top.  Jupiter will move on more quickly than Neptune, of course, so this is one to watch in the coming months. More on this when we consider how all this works against the Sibly chart.

How fares the nation?
Let’s very quickly examine how McCain’s passing is likely to impact the nation-at-large. Is his death the harbinger of the end for what he liked to call “regular order” in the Senate—the practice of working across the aisle to get things done that he valued so highly? Or will his death shake Congress out of its hyper-partisan stupor?
Considering that Midterm elections are around the corner, the stupor will probably prevail in the short term, but will McCain’s death be something that nags at Congress’s better angels going forward? Many factors could influence all this, but let’s see what we can learn from Biwheel #3 below.

Biwheel #3: (inner wheel) USA Sibly Chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (outer wheel) McCain death, August 25, 2018, 4:28 p.m. ST, Cornville, AZ. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Please note that here, we’ll focus mostly on outer-planetary aspects to the Sibly chart, since what we’re trying to tease out are the social, political and collective ramifications of McCain’s death. Interestingly, there are three dignified planets in the Passing chart, which creates some tension, but may also hold out some promise for change. These are Capricorn SaturnRx, Libra Venus and Pisces NeptuneRx, so we’ll be especially mindful of how these three are interacting (or not). Let’s begin.

Interchart Cardinal Grand-Square: Passing SaturnRx (Capricorn) opposes Sibly Venus-Jupiter (Cancer); this axis squares Sibly MC (Libra) opposed to Passing Chiron (Aries). The nation’s economy has been experiencing a strong period because of an ebullient, seemingly gravity-defying stock market (more on that under Neptune), but SaturnRx is here to say that the stock market isn’t all that matters for the nation’s overall economy.   

Trade agreements matter for employment levels (7th house Jupiter-Venus, Venus rules 6th ), our wounded image abroad matters (Chiron opposite MC, Saturn opposite Jupiter ruling ASC), and the overall “pressure cooker” feel of this configuration means that something has to give. 

Importantly, Sibly Venus also disposes Sibly Saturn in Libra, so the pressure is being felt in Congress and in our Judiciary—we can expect the Midterms to be quite volatile, and it will be no surprise if we experience adversarial meddling (7th house focus). In fact, we’re already seeing it! 

Interchart Cardinal Grand Square #2: Passing Venus (Libra) conjoins Sibly Saturn (Libra) and opposes Sibly Chiron-Passing ErisRx (Aries); this axis squares Passing Pluto (Capricorn) opposite Sibly Sun and Mercury (Cancer). This second “pressure-cooker” configuration reflects the tensions at work between the Media and Trump (and by extension, to his political base), and because Venus, Pluto and the Sibly 2nd-8th axis are in play, “Follow the Money” is a good strategy. 

Sibly Chiron’s opposition to Sibly Saturn here suggests a wound at the heart of U.S. politics that is being ripped open by Pluto’s relentless force. We considered Pluto’s opposition to Chiron in Biwheel #2 above; this square is no less potentially violent or disruptive, especially with Passing ErisRx figured into the mix. We are not out of the woods yet, but any steps we can take towards healing our ancestral wounds as a People will help. 

Passing Uranus (Taurus) inconjoins Sibly MC (Libra) and squares Sibly No. Node (Leo). This reminds me of the mythic Sumerian Queen of the Underworld, Ereshkigal, who brutally humiliates and destroys younger sister Inanna when she dares to venture into her realm. We know who this would-be tyrant is in our current situation, but contrary to Inanna, we do have options: Passing SaturnRx also trines Passing Uranus, so the rule of law is our chief protection. Mueller must take his investigation to its natural conclusion, and we need to guard against being distracted by the chaos (Uranus). 

Interchart Grand Water Trine: Sibly Sun (Cancer) trines Passing Jupiter (Scorpio), trines Passing Neptune (Pisces). This one configuration might explain a lot about why the stock market seems to defy gravity these days, giving Trump the leverage that comes with a strong-appearing economy. Of course, we’re in extreme debt, as well, which speaks to Passing Pluto’s opposition to Sibly Sun, still within orb.  Trump’s overblown military budget and $1.5 trillion tax giveaway had to come from somewhere! 

Maybe it’s no surprise that Passing MarsRx (Capricorn) now conjoins Sibly Pluto, and that Passing Neptune squares Sibly Mars (Gemini). There seem to be some very sketchy things going on with our military involvements and weapons industries these days (a whole new story we don’t have time for here), and this latter aspect suggests that we could have reason for concern. 

As Pluto returns over the next few years to its Sibly position, it will be very important that we bring the national debt down to a workable level. Because Sibly Sun rules the Sibly 9th from the 8th, it’s very important that we forge healthy working relationships with trading partners overseas, as well. Levying sanctions against behavior we want to discourage (as Trump is doing with North Korea and Iran, if not China) is no replacement for strong economic relationships. 

So, what influence will McCain’s passing wield on the nation going forward? Some of the aspects we’re seeing in Biwheel #3—like the grand water trine, especially—seem to have an inner momentum that’s hard to deal with. We can basically hang onto our hats and wait it out (Jupiter will move on out of orb pretty quickly), but if counter-action is unavoidable (and might actually be desirable), resisting is futile. It would be more effective to channel those quickly flowing energies in a more positive direction. This could be done by building that “wave” of voters people have been talking about for the Midterms. Forming bipartisan initiatives aimed at solving thorny national issues would blow the minds of those who would like to see us divided! 

This past week, Trump has been trying to whip his GOP voter base into a fearful frenzy by threatening Democratic “violence” if the GOP doesn’t win in the fall. In what universe does that sound feasible? Yet, many will fall into lockstep behind him—journalists at the Boston Globe already received threats from a Trumpite, claiming they’re “enemies of the people.” 

Grief that unites, rather than divides

Final thoughts

I don’t pretend to understand the cult-like sway Trump holds over his most enraptured base, but clearly, their obeisance smacks of Neptune, through and through. And if violence comes from anywhere, it’s likely to be from there. 

So, the big question is, will the U.S. pick up on Senator McCain’s example as an honorable, life-long public servant and face our national demons head on? Will we reach across the aisle to solve problems, instead of scattering into our respective bunkers and escalating our divisions? 

I think Biwheel #3 suggests that we will be sorry if we continue the escalation and don’t do something to heal whatever divisions we can. The second, related question is, “Qui bono”—who benefits from these extremely unnecessary divisions? Surely the benefits only accrue to a third party that has no real stake in the health and welfare of this nation and would, instead, like to scavenge its “remains.” The remains of its greatness, its leadership, and the remains of its integrity and character. 

Even when his party was trending in the opposite direction, McCain knew that the immigrants knocking at our door looking for refuge were not the problem. They’re convenient scapegoats, no doubt, if we see the world as a zero-sum system where every dollar given to someone else is a dollar taken from us. Is that really the perspective of a world-leading nation? Have we sunken that low?
We know from his own statements that Senator John McCain would not agree with that small-minded vision of this nation he loved, and that should give us hope.

Fare thee well,'ve enriched our nation and you will be missed!

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] Michael Munkasey, Midpoints: Unleashing the Power of the Planets, ACS Publications, San Diego, 1991, p. 244.
[2] Martin Lass, Musings of a Rogue Comet: Chiron, Planet of Healing, Book One, Galactic Publications, Nyack, NY, 2001, p. 452.