Tuesday, February 26, 2019

“Ravenous wolves:” the astrology of a Vatican crisis & the hope for Cosmic justice

“I make a heartfelt appeal for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors both sexually and in other areas, on the part of all authorities and individuals, for we are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth: this is demanded by all the many victims hidden in families and in the various settings of our societies." 

– Pope Francis I, from his concluding address at the Feb. 21-24th Meeting for the Protection of Minors in the Church.

Optimism is so easily twisted into cynicism these days, but despite the reservations of many, I welcomed the Vatican’s recent special “Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church” (February 21-24) as a sign that the Catholic church is finally starting to take serious responsibility for the sexual abuse of minors by its clergy members. Some encouraging signs also exist that this time, the church is committed to rooting out this problem and working with civil legal authorities to banish the predators from its ranks. Hope springs eternal--maybe

Many are rightly impatient or frustrated that Pope Francis didn’t immediately defrock the individual priests and bishops accused of this behavior and turn them over to civil authorities, but again, signs exist that things are moving in that direction. Between July and now, the Pope first accepted Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s resignation, banned him into seclusion, examined the evidence against him, and then—just before this week’s historical meeting—did defrock him (expel him from the clergy). Those who want to see McCarrick prosecuted may have a better chance at it now.

On the other hand, maybe McCarrick was just a “token”—he was on the verge of retirement, anyway…so goes the cynical response, but then word is out today (Feb. 25) that the Pope’s former top financial advisor, Cardinal George Pell, was just convicted by Australian authorities of molesting two choir boys some 20 years ago, when he was Archbishop of Melbourne. Inch by inch…one case at a time.  

The fact is, Pope Francis is presiding over an existential crisis in the Roman church, and as with all institutions, the outcome is far from certain. I’m an outsider in this discussion, but as an astrologer, I’ve been following the evolution of this papacy. I was happy to see Pope Francis support the effort to combat climate change and to address its causes in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, and I’ve been impressed with his advocacy for the world’s poor—including those who have been landing on Europe’s shores as migrants and refugees. 

Pope Francis welcoming Al-Azhar imam of Egypt to the Vatican.

I give him credit for reaching out to other churches and faiths, most notably Muslims: he’s the first pope to visit a Arab Muslim country. He’s apologized on behalf of the church for a host of historical oppressions—noble gestures, all—but now he’s faced with an issue that defies these kinds of solutions. 

As so many victims of gun violence have lost patience with receiving “prayers and condolences” in the wake of mass shootings instead of real solutions, victims of sexual abuse have grown impatient with great talking points that go nowhere, and are demanding substantive change, now. Can we blame them?

A grim-faced pontiff presides over his church's existential crisis.

So at this juncture it appears that the long insidious history of sexual abuse in the church threatens to upend and overshadow anything else this Pope might want to accomplish. When he speaks about sexual abuse in the church, the Pope’s demeanor turns understandably weary, like he’s stuck in some toxic spiritual quicksand. My astrologer’s eye sees Neptune and Pluto in that muck, and it’s quite possible that Francis’s papacy, if not the church itself, will be sucked under if satisfactory, credible change isn’t forthcoming.  

We’ll consider ahead how these two planetary forces, among others, are in play, and we’ll also examine some astrological “echoes” from another critical moment in the Roman church’s history.  

Before we do that, however, let’s quickly frame what’s at stake here: sexual abuse is a primal, soul-destroying assault on the very dignity of humanity. It invalidates the victim’s Being and autonomy, and casts them in the role of less-than-human plaything.  This is especially pernicious in a religious setting, where the faithful are told to think of themselves as beloved “children of God.” And how are these children supposed to respond when the so-called representatives of God on this earth steal their innocence and destroy any sense of self-worth in them? 

The Pope convenes the Feb. 21-24th Vatican meeting with a prayer.

In his final speech to the Vatican special meeting this past week, the Pope minced no words about the evil he sees in the sexual abuse of minors—again, as a growing global phenomenon that takes numerous forms, but most painfully, within the church:

“The brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the more grave and scandalous in the Church, for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility. Consecrated persons, chosen by God to guide souls to salvation, let themselves be dominated by their human frailty or sickness and thus become tools of Satan…We need to recognize with humility and courage that we stand face to face with the mystery of evil, which strikes most violently against the most vulnerable…”
To victims, sexual abuse is a devastating personal assault, and a consulting astrologer would no doubt be able to see evidence of a victim’s trauma in his or her astrological profile, in transits, progressions and so on. Here, however, we’re examining the collective dimension of this issue, especially in relationship to the Roman Catholic church as an institution that’s allowed this corruption to fester for so long that it now threatens its “moral authority and ethical credibility.” In other words, its very raison d’être.

To represent the precarious moment the church finds itself in now, I’ve cast a 9 a.m. chart for the February 21st, the first day of the “Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church.” This is speculative—a reasonable, but unconfirmed time to launch a big conference of this type—so we won’t be considering angles, houses, or precise Moon placement. 

Thankfully, we have a timed chart for Pope Francis, rated AA for birth record in hand, so we’ll be considering that chart against some interesting charts from critical moments in church history. The most ancient one harks back to the Catholic church’s own “origin story,” to the beginning of the “Christian Era,” or January 1, 0001, 12:00:01 am in Jerusalem, Israel (source shown below). 

Whether this chart is historically accurate or not is beyond my scope here, but it certainly represents the beginnings of Christianity as a cultural force, and from what Pope Francis has said above, it sounds as though the church’s responsibility for being a positive cultural force weighs heavily on him today.

Let’s begin our exploration by setting these two charts against each other in Biwheel #1 below. 

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Christian Era, January 1, 0001 AD, 12:00:01 a.m. LMT, Jerusalem, Israel (Source: Chart 464, p. 483, Book of World Horoscopes[1]; (outer wheel) Pope Francis I (nee Jorge Mario Bergoglio) December 17, 1936, 9:00 p.m. DST, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

The Christian Era (Era) chart is significant here because it establishes a beginning point for the Roman church’s 2000+ year lineage of leadership and moral authority, as church historians and the faithful see it. As Pope, Francis supposedly embodies and carries on that authority—and the responsibility that goes along with it, so these charts together will hopefully give us some idea of how the “Fisherman’s shoe” fits.

Interchart Grand Mutable Square: Pope Sun conjoins No. Node (Sagittarius) and opposes So. Node-Chiron (Gemini); Pope nodal axis conjoins Era nodal axis (Sagittarius-Gemini); this axis squares Era Uranus (Pisces) opposite Era Pluto (Virgo). This amazing configuration suggests a deep-rooted resonance between the Pope and the original philosophy and ideas (Sagittarius-Gemini) of the Christian church, especially when it comes to manifesting those ideas and carrying on the original mission of culture-building (Era Uranus-Pluto). 

But this is a difficult task, fraught with potential chaos, making the constructive management of change a major part of the job. There’s a particular degree of difficulty in it for this Pope (Pope Chiron also t-squares Pope Saturn in Pisces opposite his Neptune in Virgo), who could be challenged to heal some personal wounds inflicted by authority figures (Chiron-Saturn) in the process. Whether from experience or from his empathetic nature (Neptune), Pope Francis may be uniquely qualified to shepherd the healing of his church. 

Those who believe in a Christian form of Creation spirituality (the “Cosmic Christ”) may like the fact that the Pope’s Sun and both Nodal axes also conjoin the Galactic Center (26°-27° Sagittarius) and very widely square the Pope’s natal Neptune. The ancient spiritual ideals represented in the Era chart appear to resonate deeply with this Pope, but his Chiron probably reflects his naysayers—not everyone has been happy with the non-materialistic, anti-consumerist culture shift he brought into the Vatican. 
All of this signals that the destinies and public mandates contained in both these charts are linked across the millennia as well: time will tell, but it seems that he could be the one to drive a true renewal of church culture—including on the sexual abuse issue. 

It’s interesting that the Pope’s natal angles (not shown here) span Cancer-Capricorn (ASC-DSC) and 0°+Taurus-Scorpio (MC-IC), with natal Uranus conjunct his MC in Taurus. It seems that he is natally equipped to handle the “descent into the underworld” (Scorpio IC) that his present challenges demand. Will he shepherd the revolutionary change (Uranus-MC conjunction) that so many are hoping for? 

His nurturing ASC-DSC axis suggests that he possesses the nurturing impulse and the ability to hold others accountable (Cancer-Capricorn), but Uranus seems to play a key role here, as well. In fact there is a tight dispositor relationship between his natal Uranus (Taurus), Moon and Venus (conjunct in Aquarius): it’s no wonder that he is naturally inclined to think scientifically (his Laudato Si encyclical made that clear, as does his educational background), and to see protecting the Earth as an important personal, social and spiritual quest.

When we consider the transits for February 21st (the meeting) against the Pope’s chart, we’ll see that Uranus is also playing a key role in his current challenges. 

"Icthys" - an ancient symbol denoting the Christian mission to be "fishers of men."

Interchart Grand Square: Pope Jupiter-Ceres-Mercury (Capricorn) widely conjoins Christian Era Sun (Capricorn and squares ) and opposes Era MC-Pope Vesta (Cancer); this axis squares Pope Mars-Era Jupiter-Juno (Libra) opposite Era Mars (Aries). Christianity is often associated with Pisces because Neptune evokes Christ’s sacrifice and compassion—yet here we see its more institutional Saturnian roots (Capricorn), and its public mission of shepherding (Cancer MC) souls. 

As mentioned earlier, the Pope’s ASC-DSC axis falls across this cardinal axis as well—in fact, his ASC exactly conjoins Era MC, putting his DSC conjunct Era IC. Taken all together, this grand square is another signal that Pope Francis is closely aligned with Christianity’s original mission.  

It’s interesting to see how the asteroids Ceres, Vesta and Juno are woven into this complex configuration. Asteroids experts Demetra George and Douglas Bloch note that these three “goddesses” are the sisters of Jupiter, and that along with Pallas, they represent “aspects of the feminine principle that are now emerging into mass consciousness….now demanding power, recognition, justice, and equality in our society.”[2] 

Clearly, the Pope is called upon to listen to these compelling yin voices (abuse victims, nuns and the “faithful”) in his present challenge—note that his Moon (Aquarius) exactly conjoins Era Pallas (Aquarius), as well. It appears that he is emotionally equipped to see that cosmic justice wins out. 

At the February 21-24 Vatican "Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church"

The Meeting

The fact that the February 21-24 “Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church” happened under intense media scrutiny was hopeful, yet cynics might also wonder if it was all for “show,” a public relations stunt designed for effect. Will anything real come of it? Okay, two high profile cardinals have been ignominiously deposed in one short week: are we seeing the start of something big, or were those two simply sacrificial lambs turned over for media slaughter? This question would depend upon the seriousness of Pope Francis’s intent, his long-term commitment to change, and perhaps even the way in which he frames the issue. 

In this sense, the meeting was significant because he apparently framed the issue of rooting out sexual abuse from church culture as a project that the entire church hierarchy must tackle collaboratively—not just a top-down sort of imperative. This is probably wise; to succeed, such a monumental effort requires a rallying of the “troops”—without cooperation, very little will happen. 

It’s also interesting to me that the Pope is framing his (and therefore the church’s) approach to all this in very broad terms—as a global problem, as opposed to one that’s limited to clergy behavior. To this point, the church seems to have amassed an impressive body of research that should help going forward. The Pope referenced this in yesterday’s speech

 “Our work has made us realize once again that the gravity of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors is, and historically has been, a widespread phenomenon in all cultures and societies. Only in relatively recent times has it become the subject of systematic research, thanks to changes in public opinion regarding a problem that was previously considered taboo; everyone knew of its presence yet no one spoke of it. I am reminded too of the cruel religious practice, once widespread in certain cultures, of sacrificing human beings – frequently children – in pagan rites. Yet even today, the statistics available on the sexual abuse of minors drawn up by various national and international organizations and agencies (the WHO, UNICEF, INTERPOL, EUROPOL and others) do not represent the real extent of the phenomenon, which is often underestimated, mainly because many cases of the sexual abuse of minors go unreported, particularly the great number committed within families.

Rarely, in fact, do victims speak out and seek help. Behind this reluctance there can be shame, confusion, fear of reprisal, various forms of guilt, distrust of institutions, forms of cultural and social conditioning, but also lack of information about services and facilities that can help. Anguish tragically leads to bitterness, even suicide, or at times to seek revenge by doing the same thing. The one thing certain is that millions of children in the world are victims of exploitation and of sexual abuse.”

By addressing the worldwide nature of the phenomenon and pointing out several persistent obstacles victims confront (inability to speak, lack of helpful service and facilities, etc.), the Pope broadened his focus beyond the wrongdoers in the church’s ranks. This focus upset many observers, who just want to see those clergy members behind bars. Again, who can blame them? 

Even so, it appears that the Pope is offering a big-picture action plan for working with international agencies (UNICEF, INTERPOL, EUROPOL, etc…) to tackle the root causes of the “scourge” of child sexual abuse, and this may be the only way that sustainable change can finally take hold. For instance, cultural and social taboos surrounding this issue run deep, but perhaps no deeper than the same taboos were regarding the AIDS epidemic years ago, and through a concerted public health campaign, those have been addressed in many areas. Over time this has helped to prevent further spread of the disease. 

Perhaps Pope Francis has something similar in mind for the challenge of child sexual abuse? 

Protestors in Australia.

Not everyone cares about the international scope of this challenge, however: they want a list of specific accused clerics to be put behind bars, full stop, and any other approach simply looks like the church is evading responsibility. The NYTimes.com editorial board captured this legitimate frustration very well:

“It doesn’t wash.
And not only because activists in the West are fed up with pledges of change in the 17 years since The Boston Globe revealed systematic abuse in the Boston diocese. The revelations have accelerated in recent years — the grand jury report from Pennsylvania of abuse by hundreds of priests over many years; a similar report from Illinois; nuns finally speaking out about what they’ve been subjected to.
As the revelations have escalated, so has the rhetoric. “Prepare for divine justice,” Pope Francis warned abusive priests at Christmas. “Ravenous wolves,” he called them in his speech to the Vatican gathering. But when it came to action, the talk was once again of changing hearts and minds, of changing a centuries-old culture.”

So we can appreciate why this probably feels like a “do or die” moment for the church and for Pope Francis, trying to strike a balance that keeps people coming to Mass in local churches, but addresses the church’s global mandate and perspective as well. As we’ll see, the astrology reflected in Biwheel #2 below reflects this tension and the importance of this milestone moment. 

Let’s begin.

Biwheel #2: (inner wheel) Pope Francis I (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio) December 17, 1936, 9:00 p.m. DST, Buenos Aires, Argentina.; (outer wheel) Vatican “Meeting,” February 21, 2019, 9:00 a.m. ST, Vatican City, Italy. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Meeting Neptune (Pisces) disposes Meeting Sun (Pisces), conjoins Meeting Mercury (Pisces) and Pope Saturn and opposes Pope Neptune (Virgo). In other words, the Pope is experiencing a transit that only a person in advanced years does—Neptune is transiting opposite his natal Neptune, but in this case the transit is made more difficult by the presence of his Pisces Saturn. Transits expert Robert Hand characterizes a Neptune transit conjunct Saturn as a “dark night of the Soul” event, 

“the period of confusion that precedes the understanding that you can live with a reality that is different from what you had thought. At the highest level this transit can be a prelude to enlightenment, understanding the true nature of the ‘illusion’ we call reality.”[3]
Making clear decisions is not easy under this transit because one’s vision and thinking are often prone to distortion. Perhaps this explains why the Pope wants the church as a whole to tackle this crisis—solving it has to be more than a top-down exercise of his authority. He’s 82+ years old at this juncture: what happens when he is gone? Note that this is all happening while Neptune also transits opposite his natal Neptune and Uranus (Aries) transits opposite his natal Uranus (Taurus).  

This latter aspect will become tighter as Uranus returns to Taurus in March, but the major point here is that the Pope’s entire worldview is being challenged by the crisis he’s in charge of solving, and he may have to let go of some dearly-held beliefs and ideas before the dust settles. Only he can know what those beliefs and ideas are, but we might speculate that his defense of celibacy among priests and an all-male priesthood may be among them. 

Will the church take on the tough issues, like the all-male priesthood?

It’s interesting that Meeting Uranus (Aries) also trines the Pope’s Sun-No.Node (Sagittarius). As we discussed under Biwheel #1, Pope Francis has an Aquarian sensibility about him that qualifies him as a change-maker, and this Uranus transit is supporting and highlighting that side of his nature at the same time it is challenging his preconceived views on things and heightening his sense of purpose. Uranus challenges us to take on unfinished business, and to change anything that stands in our way. 

Meeting Jupiter (Sagittarius) conjoins Pope Sun-No.Node-Pallas (Sagittarius) and opposes Pope Chiron-So. Node (Gemini). This axis turns the Pisces-Virgo aspects we just discussed into a Grand Mutable Square between the two charts, but it’s worth noting that the Pope’s chart already includes such a grand square. The meeting transits do a great job of manifesting dynamics that have been in play for some time (Neptune has been transiting within orb of his Saturn and opposing his Neptune for years already), but the challenge has probably felt like a confidence-busting, dull toothache for even longer. Meeting Jupiter is giving him a boost here, but it’s also stimulating old wounds (Pope Chiron) as it goes. 

The Meeting Jupiter-Neptune square challenges not just preconceived ideas, but deeply held beliefs—it’s probably not just nice words to say that the Pope feels abuse victims’ pain, and that he “gets” the crisis of faith that many Catholics are experiencing these days, whether he’s communicating that well or not (his Chiron). 

From the Second Vatican Council (1960s)--major reform is possible.
Even so, conjunct the Pope’s Pallas, this Jupiter feels hopeful, a sign that justice for victims is in the Pope’s hands and its gaining support. Support is often elusive, of course—the media and social media add to and possibly even create a lot of confusion, at a time when clear messaging would be helpful (Mercury conjunct Neptune).
Meeting Chiron (Aries) conjoins Pope Eris (Aries) and squares Pope Jupiter-Ceres (Capricorn). Chiron expert Martin Lass characterizes the “wound” of Chiron in Aries as:

“A profound sense of loss of self-worth, a core feeling of worthlessness, unworthiness and even undeservingness of life itself. Self denial. A feeling of not being wanted, needed or useful. A feeling of being uncentered, unfocused, lacking solidity.”[4]
 How appropriate this placement is for the issue at hand! It perfectly reflects the wounding experienced by the victims of sexual abuse—especially as children. Every time the Sun ingresses Aries in March, we celebrate a new astrological year: here, zero-point Aries encompasses not just the wounding, but the collective, even archetypal nature of the challenge. Deep wounds to Humanity itself are captured in this one point, and it’s notable that this is happening within a couple degrees of the Pope’s Eris—his inner warrior—and square his Saturn-fortified Jupiter-Ceres (Capricorn). 

He’s faced with a great deal of responsibility in his 80s, but it may actually be that his advanced age  gives him the cosmic perspective to take it all on. Ceres’ involvement here evokes the wise truism, that “A man reaps what he sows.” Of course, it takes time to grow a crop.

Interchart T-Square: Meeting Eris (Aries) opposes Pope Mars (Libra); this axis squares Meeting Saturn-Venus-Pluto, all conjunct in Capricorn. This strident cardinal configuration demands action, and the consequences for inaction could be serious. Financial responsibility is key here—apologies won’t suffice. The Pope may be called upon to make some difficult decisions about church assets, to “manage” its potential liabilities and to satisfy claims. 

Amazingly, he will be experiencing Pluto transiting opposite his Pluto in the coming year (at the same time Uranus and Neptune continue pressing upon him, discussed above). His legacy will be written in these critical times—the consequences of “reaping and sowing” are very real here. 

Martin Luther's "95 Theses" sparked the Protestant Reformation in 1517.
Historical upheaval

It’s possible that the challenges addressed by this past week’s church “Meeting” actually end up transforming the Catholic church as we know it, and if we consider historical precedents like the Protestant Reformation, we know that a mass exodus of the faithful is more than possible when the church is caught up in what seems to be intractable corruption. The Roman church has been through cataclysmic times of corruption and renewal before and it’s evolved, as most institutions that touch billions of people do. It’s been through several cycles of hard Pluto transits, in other words, and it’s had to reinvent itself over and over.  

One such challenge was the Protestant Reformation, usually thought to have been triggered by German professor of theology Martin Luther nailing a list of 95 Theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany to protest what he viewed as corrupt Catholic practices of the day. Reportedly, Luther did this on October 31, 1517 (old calendar), however the modern calendar would move this date to November 10th

I bring this up because the planetary echoes between that dramatic Reformation period and today’s challenges in the Roman church are substantial. It should be noted that Luther didn’t set out to break away from the church—he was part of it—but he did object to certain corrupt practices he was seeing and decided to act. He was declared a “heretic” by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1521, which triggered an even deeper split, so the actual Protestant schism took years, as developments on this scale often do. Could a similar fissure happen in today’s Roman church? 

Let’s take a very brief look at how the chart for that day looks next to the Christian Era chart in Biwheel #3 below. I will note some compelling correspondences with this week’s Meeting chart as we go—please see Biwheel #2 above to follow those.  

Biwheel #3: (inner wheel); Christian Era, January 1, 0001 AD, 12:00:01 a.m. LMT, Jerusalem, Israel (Source: Chart 464, p. 483, Book of World Horoscopes[5]; (outer wheel) Protestant Reformation (Luther nails 95 Theses), November 10, 1517, 12:00 p.m. LMT, Wittenberg, Germany. Source: Wikipedia.com. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Interchart Grand Mutable Square: Nodal Reversal (PR So. Node conjoins Era No. Node); this axis squares Era Uranus-opposite Pluto (Pisces-Virgo). Era Saturn (Sagittarius) also ties into this, conjoined Era No. Node, suggesting that the church had come to a crossroads where it was either change or pay the consequences, and things have never been the same with the Vatican since. The spiritual imperative here is reinforced by PR Sun conjunct Era Neptune (both Scorpio) and PR Neptune (Aquarius) square Era Neptune (Scorpio).

The English Reformation broke England away from the Catholic church in 1534.

The clash between spirituality and profit is clear here: Luther had basically accused the church of betraying people’s trust by selling church “indulgences”—assurances that their sins were forgiven—and the impact on church finances was about to be felt with PR Neptune beginning a long transit to Era Venus (Aquarius). 

PR Pluto-Vesta (Capricorn) widely conjoins Era Sun (Capricorn). This is a pretty reliable sign that the church was forced to reinvent itself over a period of years, as Pluto transited slowly over this Era Sun. This echoes very clearly with today’s situation. Note that Pluto has been in Capricorn since 2009, and if we trace some of the major revelations about clergy sex abuse in the past decade, they’ve coincided with Pluto transiting conjunct Era Sun. In September, 2015, the film Spotlight was released with its story about the Boston Catholic diocese’s cover up of rampant sexual abuse by its clergy—Pluto fell at 13°+Capricorn. 

Public awareness may have been seriously raised by this film, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year—perhaps Spotlight was our modern day “95 Theses” nailed on a door? The investigations and revelations have continued to mount from there. 

Pope Francis also referred to predator priests as "ravenous wolves."

Final thoughts

It’s quite possible that the Catholic church’s long, dragged-out crisis has already inspired an exodus, but those who hang in there to hold the institution accountable instead of simply leaving are doing a great service. Many victims and others seeking justice are understandably upset by the “Meeting” this past week, despite the Pope’s strongly worded condemnations of abusive behavior. From NYTimes.com

“Francis had barely finished speaking before some abuse victims and other frustrated faithful began expressing outrage and disappointment at his failure to outline immediate and concrete steps to address the problem.
‘Pope Francis’ talk today was a stunning letdown, a catastrophic misreading of the grief and outrage of the faithful,’ said Anne Barrett Doyle, a leader of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks incidents of abuse in the church. ‘As the world’s Catholics cry out for concrete change, the pope instead provides tepid promises, all of which we’ve heard before.’”

Those cries should not be ignored, of course, and the pressure on the church to get this right needs to continue, but in fact, the Pope’s concluding speech at the Meeting did enumerate 8-points of major concern that he feels the church must act upon. Perhaps it’s not quite articulated as a business-style action plan, but the intent and the direction are clear. The points (without explanation—see this link for more) are:

1.      The protection of children
2.      Impeccable seriousness
3.      Genuine purification
4.      Formation
5.      Strengthening and reviewing guidelines by Episcopal conferences
6.      Accompaniment of those who have been abused
7.      The digital world
8.      Sexual tourism

So it will be interesting to see what reforms finally come out the February 21-24 meeting and to see if they begin to address the eight points laid out above. Perhaps we’ll see an encyclical that encompasses and addresses those eight points and calls for concrete changes to church law, among other things. Perhaps something approximating cosmic justice will begin to crystallize:  from the astrology, I sense that Pope Francis seriously wants to see this crisis through. 

One highlight that stands out to me from the charts we’ve reviewed, in fact, is the pontiff’s advanced age. He’s experiencing major late-in-life transits, and he may need all the support and cooperation he can get to carry the responsibilities heaped on him by this crisis. Astrologically, he appears to be the right person to lead this daunting renewal—he’s reform-minded and not afraid to shake things up, but the weight of the crisis (not to mention Neptune) is probably eroding his self-confidence and making it difficult to please anyone, much less everyone

Bottom line, I hope that those who really want the church to do the right thing will support the efforts begun this week in the Vatican. Cosmic justice, please!

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 2019. All rights reserved. 

[1] Nicholas Campion,  Book of World Horoscopes, The Wessex Astrologer, Ltd., Bournemouth, UK. Revised/updated ed. 2004, p. 283.
[2] Demetra George and Douglas Bloch, Asteroid Goddesses: The Astrology, Mythology, Psychology and Astrology of the Re-emerging Feminine, Ibis Press, Lake Worth, FL, updated/revised 2003 edition, p. 2.
[3] Robert Hand, Planets in Transit: Life Cycles for Living, Whitford Press, Atglen, PA, 1976, p. 456.
[4] Martin Lass, Musings of a Rogue Comet: Chiron, Planet of Healing, Galactic Publications, Nyack, NY, 2001, p. 319.
[5] See Note 1 above.

Monday, February 18, 2019

When Quixotic turns toxic: the astrological Windmills of D.C. minds

“The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote  

“Thou hast seen nothing yet.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote  

We left off on a cliff-hanger in the last post here, musing over whether the government would be shutdown again for the sake of a wasteful border wall and an increasingly manufactured sounding emergency at said border. Big consequential questions have since been answered, but our system of democracy (i.e., with three co-equal branches of government) may have gotten lost in the Rio Grande in the process.  

So we know now that Trump is willing to use his power to declare a state of emergency and to go around Congress to get the wall funding he wants, essentially putting his presidency at odds with Congress’s power of the purse, and the facts on the ground (as reported by his own administration), while he’s at it. With this action he’s also saying that his priorities are more important than other projects already funded by Congress—he’s planning to take millions from Defense construction projects, drug interdiction and rehabilitation programs, and so on—projects that Congress deemed important enough to fund, and that many communities will miss, if they’re not funded. 

So this is a two-fer for Trump (appropriate for a Gemini), an end-run designed to get his wall funding and an opportunity to throw his authoritarian weight around.

The problem is, there’s no real emergency at the border. In fact, Trump tasked aides in early 2018 with finding a way to get his wall funding without Congress, so that’s no emergency. The only emergency here is that the “windmills” in Trump’s quixotic mind are threatening to disable our democracy. Above all, Trump seems to crave the power of the narrative—another Gemini perk—and he won’t rest until his story about what’s happening at the border is the story. 

Speculation has been circulating about his impending emergency declaration for some time, of course, but on Friday the 15th, Trump made the grand gesture of calling a press conference to make it official. His announcement was frankly baffling, with him at one point breaking out in a sort of “rap” about the legal challenges he expects to attract with his “emergency.” Perhaps the most baffling was his move to declare a national emergency against an “invasion” at the border, and then to say he didn’t “need to do this.” As the Washington Post put it:

 “Trump argued in the Rose Garden that declaring an emergency was necessary because narcotics were pouring across the border. ‘We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs,’ he said. But he also seemed to undercut his own case on the urgency of the problem.
“I could do the wall over a longer period of time, I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” he said.
An ACLU lawyer responded on Twitter: ‘keep talking mr president.’ ”

Trump’s Quixote-sized delusions about the border have some basis in his astrological reality. His Cancer planets (Mercury, Saturn, Venus) are being opposed (could feel threatening) by transiting Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, and since his Mercury disposes his cerebral Gemini stellium (Sun-No. Node-Uranus), the fears and insecurities raised by those oppositions loom large in his mind. If this were not the case, perhaps he’d feel less like “tilting at windmills,” but it is what it is. 

Who can tell the "windmills" of his mind?

Fear and insecurity often seem to motivate Trump’s actions, but he seems to be very conscious of the power of quixotic thinking. For instance, his foreign policy pronouncements often mirror Nixon’s use of the “madman theory” when confronting adversaries. Never mind what Trump actually says to his adversaries, the message that comes across is “Give me what I want now, because you never know what I’m capable of doing if I don’t get it.” The Dems are writing a resolution to repeal Trump’s national emergency as we speak; on the talk shows yesterday, wall enthusiast and aide Stephen Miller warned that Trump would veto any attempts to repeal. Bottom line: “Give me what I want or else.” 

Weeks of press coverage mused about whether “he would” or “he wouldn’t” declare an emergency, and that drama provided the wind below Trump’s wings when shutdown politics provided him the opportunity. Legal challenges aside, he’s thrown down a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” gauntlet in the year before an election, sharpening up his political “foils” for the joust.  

Yale professor of law Peter H. Schuck laid out the legal terrain for Trump’s move pretty succinctly in a NYTimes.com opinion piece:

“Who decides what constitutes a national emergency?
In hundreds of laws, Congress has given the president the power to decide. (The Brennan Center for Justice has compiled an exhaustive list.) But by failing to define crucial terms, legal standards and accountability rules, Congress has handed presidents an all-too-handy tool of tyranny commonly used by autocrats to amass more power, crush dissent and eviscerate democratic institutions….
Congress should have known better. After all, it enacted the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which purported to regulate such declarations, only two years after President Richard Nixon’s abuses of power forced his resignation. The act actually made matters worse in a key respect: It defined a national emergency as “a general declaration of emergency made by the president.” This circular definition, of course, is no constraint at all…
In the nature of national emergencies, some definitional leeways are unavoidable. But Congress could readily specify certain conditions that must exist before the president can make such a declaration and thus arrogate to himself extraordinary powers — curtailing liberties, seizing property, spending funds appropriated for other purposes and suspending protective laws — that Congress would not otherwise be likely to grant him in advance, or perhaps ever. (Indeed, Congress has the power to override Mr. Trump's declaration and it should in this case — though it probably won’t.)”

Astrologically, we’re seeing a lot of issues stemming from the 1970s come back around to bite us. Nixon’s abuses and downfall reflected the then-waning 1947 Saturn-Pluto cycle (which entered its 3rd quarter in October, 1973), and today we’re dealing with the subsequent (1982) Saturn-Pluto cycle waning, this one approaching its completion in January, 2020, a mere 5°+ degrees from our Sibly radix Pluto in late Capricorn. (For more on the Saturn-Pluto cycle, see here). 

Trump’s chart is certainly being impacted by this cycle, with the new one perfecting opposite his Cancer Saturn-Venus in the coming year.  He’s more defensive than ever these days, shielding himself more closely than ever from those who oppose him on immigration and foreign policy. This week he’s avoided NATO allies at the Munich Security Conference, and his absence (he’s on golf holiday at Mar-O-Lago) is being seriously noted. A cadre from Congress attended, trying to shore up our alliances, but they’re not likely to make up the difference. This shouldn’t be happening: Congress is trying to play executive-stand-in on foreign policy matters, and Trump is usurping Congress’s power of the purse. Co-equal branches? 

Protecting ideals was Don Quixote's true quest.

For their part, our European allies are very anxious about Trump’s pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, about the Trump administration telling them to stop dealing with Iran (the U.S. was only one of several signatories on that deal), and about Trump’s unilateral decision to pull out of the INF nuclear arms treaty with Russia, which gives Putin effective free rein to develop new weapons and point them at Europe. Trump can’t have his alliances and destroy them too, as much as he enjoys being ambiguous. From the NYTimes.com

“But in the last few days of a prestigious annual security conference in Munich, the rift between Europe and the Trump administration became open, angry and concrete, diplomats and analysts say.
A senior German official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on such matters, shrugged his shoulders and said: “No one any longer believes that Trump cares about the views or interests of the allies. It’s broken.”
The most immediate danger, diplomats and intelligence officials warned, is that the trans-Atlantic fissures now risk being exploited by Russia and China.”

The fact is, Trump finds himself in comfortable company with a worldwide “club” of right-wing leaders who rode to power in the past decade on the back of a populist, anti-immigrant, anti-alliance wave, and NATO is just another convenient foil for him. Immigrants and global “elites” are the looming windmill “ogres” in Trump’s mind, and these fears resonated with just enough people in this nation to put him (with Russian assistance, it seems) in the White House. We have to wonder how much damage he’s willing to do to our standing in the world to and our constitutional democracy to get what he wants.

Undermining the government seems to be a personal quest for Trump, in fact: if we look back, the government and the intellectuals who defend its underlying ideals have always been problematic for Trump and his family’s real estate empire. From losing serious civil rights abuse cases against them in the 1970s to being slapped with multiple law suits alleging his businesses are profiting from the presidency by violating the Emoluments Clause and other laws today, Trump has frequently been at odds with the law, and it’s always his family business that’s somehow at stake. 

Perhaps it will help to view his wall-related actions through that same lens?  Trump has often crowed about how building this wall out of steel would be a boon for the U.S. steel industry, but it’s more likely to be a logistical nightmare that will cost far more than the $8 billion he plans to grab with his emergency declaration. It will also take decades to build. So what’s in this for Trump and/or his family? Even if there’s absolutely nothing in it for them, we see how intent Trump is on having the power to channel public monies in a direction of his choosing for a very long time. That desire alone should raise questions.

The morning talk shows on Sunday were abuzz with Trump’s declaration, of course, with Republican interviewees bending themselves into pretzels to dispute the wisdom and constitutional propriety of Trump’s move, but to still somehow support it. Trump’s setting a dangerous precedent for some of them, but…there’s always a twist, and the twists basically enable Trump’s executive overreach.

The GOP (including Trump) was apoplectic when Obama—in their view—overreached by instituting the DACA program by Executive order. The same concerns never apply to Trump, however. 

From Orson Welles' unfinished film.

So we can anticipate that any time Trump doesn’t get what he wants from Congress, he’ll find a go-around. We know he has authoritarian tendencies, but he could not diminish congressional power without the collusion of key members there—and possibly from the judicial branch. If Trump’s disturbing press conference “rap” is any sign, he’s counting on a compliant Supreme Court. More on this ahead.

Importantly, all of this seems to be an exercise in framing the issue of immigration—as either an “invasion of criminals” (Trump/his base) or as an important call for comprehensive immigration reform and border security (Dems and many Republicans). Trump’s claim that there’s a humanitarian emergency at the border is easily deflated by pointing out how his administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policies helped create that crisis, especially by detaining asylum-seeking children and families. 

So, let’s examine the astrology of a couple key individuals who could seriously impact Trump’s pet project one way or the other. It’s widely held that Trump could have done none of this without being enabled by Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, so let’s start there. Once firmly opposed to an emergency declaration, McConnell stood at the podium on Valentine’s Day to announce Trump’s plan to sign the latest funding bill (thus avoiding shutdown #2), and to say that Trump would simultaneously declare an emergency to secure the funding he wants for the wall…and by the way, he (McConnell) would be supporting that declaration. 

Don Quixote's universal themes never get old, but what happens when they go toxic?

This, of course, was McConnell’s signal to other Republicans that they should fall in line behind him, despite any and all reservations.  A NYTimes.com opinion piece points out the depth of McConnell’s capitulation: 

“This display of obedience from the leader of a supposedly coequal branch of government is shocking only if you ever believed Mr. McConnell was an institutionalist. But his defining characteristic has always been his willingness to do anything and sacrifice any principle to amass power for himself. What separates him from the garden-variety politicians — what makes him a radical — are the lengths he is willing to go. Seeing this with clarity should help us grasp the danger to which he is subjecting the Senate — and, more important, our democracy.”

So what was happening with McConnell on February 14th, as he handed Trump the Senate’s independence on a silver platter?  His birth information below is provided by Wikipedia.com, no birth time known.

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Natal, Mitch McConnell, February 20, 1942,12:00 p.m. War Time (noon, no time available), Sheffield, Alabama; (outer wheel) McConnell statement, February 15, 2019, 12:00 p.m. (no exact time known), Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Interchart T-Square: McConnell Saturn-Uranus (Taurus) opposes McConnell Juno (Scorpio); this axis squares Statement Sun (Aquarius). It’s very interesting that this Sun also conjoins Sibly Moon (chart not shown)—McConnell stood at that podium on a day in which the American people were emotionally attuned to what was going on in D.C., greatly anticipating Trump’s use (or abuse) of presidential emergency powers. McConnell appeared almost shell-shocked as he stood there—he cuts a slight figure as it is, but his body language reflected the capitulation contained in his announcement. 

In the last post here I discussed McConnell’s personal dilemma, being married to one of Trump’s Cabinet members (Elaine Chao, Dept. of Transportation)—that dilemma is illustrated clearly in this tense fixed t-square, with McConnell’s Juno playing the role of wife here. 

The bully knows his prey.

McConnell undoubtedly weighed the consequences of not supporting Trump (this Aquarius Sun exactly opposes Trump’s natal Mars-ASC in Leo as well)—chart not shown—and found the potential losses too much to risk. Would he lose powerful campaign donors and/or voters if he stood up to Trump? Perhaps, but just maybe Trump’s belligerent Leo points falling square McConnell’s Saturn-Venus feels too intimidating for McConnell, and Trump senses this (the bully knows his prey). 

McConnell would risk his job—his institutional power (Saturn-Uranus) and perhaps even his family’s material well-being (Taurus). McConnell’s Venus (Aquarius) falls in mutual reception with his Uranus (Taurus), with Venus trine his Jupiter (Gemini): it’s usually much easier for him to act “on principle” without endangering his own interests; perhaps he’s not used to making such hard choices. 

Especially with Trump’s Mars-ASC assaulting his authority and independence, McConnell finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Unfortunately, his paralysis and personal capitulation threatens to ripple out to include Congress, sacrificing its status as a co-equal branch of government.

Interchart T-Square: McConnell Venus (Aquarius) opposes McConnell Pluto (Leo); this axis squares Statement Mars conjunct Uranus (Taurus-Aries). It’s possible that McConnell’s Moon is tied into all this in early Taurus (no birth time, but the Moon traversed 28°+Aries to 10°+Taurus that day), but even without that emotional investment, McConnell is naturally equipped to pursue and handle power; he values the power he wields, which is why his present predicament is so difficult. He appears to be faced with no-win choices offered to him by unpredictable, but immoveable forces. 

When Uranus moves into Taurus shortly, this sense will be heightened further; along with Mars it already falls semi-sextile his Sun (Pisces), no doubt producing some frustration and anxiety. He’s capable of “reading” a room (intuitive Pisces), and the position or “room” he’s stuck in at this juncture feels threatening. 

Sancho & the Don ride their trusty (wooden) steed, Clavileno.

Interchart Yod: Statement Venus conjoins Saturn (Capricorn) and both quincunx McConnell Jupiter and McConnell Chiron (Leo); Statement Venus-Saturn trine McConnell No. Node (Virgo), while Statement Neptune opposes the same point. These aspects signal that McConnell is experiencing fated times: his ego is being seriously challenged, and it’s likely that old wounds (Chiron) have been reopened. The Yod puts him in yet another dilemma—one in which the rewards for his efforts may or may not be forthcoming. Statement Venus-Saturn also semi-sextile his natal Mercury (Aquarius), reinforcing the anxiety surrounding issues of power and position (his Saturn-Uranus dispose Aquarius). 

We might suspect there’s a financial dimension to his anxieties also—it would help to know which planets rule his 2nd-8th axis. 

Statement Pluto (Capricorn) figures into all this through its proximity to Statement Saturn (there’s that critical cycle discussed earlier), but especially its trine to McConnell Mars-Saturn-Uranus (Taurus). Despite the risks and uncertain rewards, McConnell isn’t likely to back down from exercising his authority and position at this time. This is reinforced by his Progressed Sun’s position at 17°+Taurus, moving to conjoin his natal Taurus planets. Statement Saturn-Pluto now trine that Progressed Sun, reflecting the critical, heavy role he is playing in this institutional drama.

Whatever we think of him, it does appear that McConnell could choose to stiffen his backbone and work to strengthen, rather than diminish Congress, despite Trump’s efforts otherwise (Statement Venus also opposes Sibly Sun and squares Sibly Saturn—chart not shown). McConnell may even have the planetary support he needs to prevail over Trump’s excesses, especially once he musters the willpower (Mars) to do so. (That’s assuming he wants to prevail). 

Whereas Trump’s Saturn-Venus conjunction is being opposed by transiting Saturn-Pluto, McConnell is enjoying a nice trine to personally-connected outer planets Saturn-Uranus. This is a truly interesting example of ways in which the personal and the collective dimensions of a person’s life can overlap and play off each other!  

Interchart T-Square: Statement Neptune-McConnell So. Node (Pisces) oppose McConnell No. Node (Virgo); this axis squares McConnell Jupiter (Gemini). Statement Jupiter (Sagittarius) squares Statement Neptune (Pisces). It’s also notable that Statement Mercury conjoins Statement Neptune in Pisces and squares McConnell Jupiter (Gemini) as well: telling the truth from fiction is a veritable impossibility, as there’s some “impossible dream” clouding not only McConnell’s gaze, but D.C. thinking in general. Neptune transits to personal points can be confusing and undermining: it’s not difficult to see how McConnell’s inability (or unwillingness) to stand up to Trump will undermine his legacy (Nodal axis). 

With Neptune square to his Jupiter, McConnell may also be acting out of false confidence that Trump has his back, a delusion that could be easily dashed. Is he so focused on the “trees” of his own ambitions that he misses the “forest” of a constitutional crisis that he is enabling? 

Round two

Clearly, we could dig further into all this, but let’s move on to a key individual in this developing constitutional crisis—Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. As we heard from Trump himself, he expects the inevitable legal challenges to his declaration to reach the Supreme Court in due course, and he expects to win in that Court. Roberts has proven to be capable of standing against the prevailing winds when the case merits such resistance (i.e., to legitimize gay marriage as a matter of civil rights, to support Roe v. Wade as settled precedent, etc.), so he’s a bit of a wild card in this new “emergency” scenario. We won’t be able to predict actual votes by Roberts, but perhaps we can get a sense of how he will stand up to the challenge. 

Roberts’ birth time is unknown—the other birth information below is provided by Wikipedia.comso we won’t be able to say anything about house placements or angles. 

Biwheel #2: (inner wheel) John Roberts (Supreme Court Chief Justice), January 27, 1955, 12:00 p.m. ST (noon, no time known), Buffalo, NY; (outer wheel) McConnell statement, February 15, 2019, 12:00 p.m. (no exact time known), Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Interchart T-Square: Statement Sun (Aquarius) conjoins Roberts Mercury (Aquarius) and opposes Roberts Pluto (Leo); this axis squares Roberts Saturn (Scorpio). The Sun is triggering Roberts’ natal Mercury-Pluto opposition, in other words, which seems about right under the circumstances. His concepts of Right Power and Authority—both personal and governmental—are now being challenged by McConnell’s capitulation to Trump over a specious “emergency.” 

Adding vigor and an ambitious edge to the mix is Roberts’ dignified Mars (Aries), co-disposing natal Saturn (Scorpio) with his Pluto (Leo). It’s likely that Roberts’ fixed core (Sun, Mercury, Saturn in fixed signs) is up to the challenge of defending the integrity of the Court, but there are other pressure points in his chart that are less reassuring. 

Interchart Grand Square: Statement Pluto-So. Node (Capricorn) opposes Roberts Jupiter-Uranus-Statement No. Node (Cancer); this axis squares Statement Uranus-Mars (Aries-Taurus) opposite Roberts Neptune (Libra). Roberts’ natural conservative leanings can be seen in this powerful Jupiter-Uranus conjunction—like most “limited government” advocates, he doesn’t welcome constraints on ambition (i.e., regulations, etc.) but his record (so far) of upholding the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade suggests that he could be counted on to carefully weigh the merits of a case rather than to react from a knee-jerk conservative impulse. 

The squares to Robert's Neptune (Libra) suggest that his ideals and inner conviction are being seriously tested—Saturn (Capricorn) will be transiting square this point as well over the course of 2019. 

In fact, Roberts demonstrated his dis-ease with purely partisan votes earlier this month by voting with the liberal justices to temporarily block a recent Louisiana law that would seriously restrict access to abortion. Adam Liptak’s comment in the NYTimes on Roberts’ move is relevant here:  

“The seeming inconsistency is the result of competing impulses. Chief Justice Roberts is a product of the conservative legal movement, and his general approach is to lean right. But he is also an institutionalist and a guardian of his court’s legitimacy, meaning he wants to make modest and deliberate moves.”

This observation begs the question of how far Roberts can be pushed at any given time in either right or left directions, but in January we got a sense of his limits. After Trump had repeatedly bashed the court system because it hasn’t given him carte blanche to essentially gut both legal and illegal immigration, Roberts finally spoke out. From The Atlantic:

“’We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,’ Roberts said. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. The independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.’
Trump replied via, of course, Twitter. ‘Sorry Chief Justice Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country.’ Trump went on to deny that the Ninth Circuit represented ‘an independent judiciary.’
Trump is right, of course, that there are ‘Obama judges.’ Roberts himself, like Alito, is a ‘Bush judge’—and the justices who elevated George W. Bush to the presidency were ‘Reagan judges’ and ‘Nixon judges.’ Roberts knows this. But what surely alarms him is that Trump’s politicization of the judiciary—like his politicization of the FBI and the CIA and the Justice Department and various other independent American institutions—threatens its legitimacy.”

Perhaps the defensive posture we see here in Roberts’ comments will bode well for any confrontation over the border wall “emergency.” If Roberts is indeed an institutionalist, perhaps he will care about Congress being undermined and delegitimized as well. 

Artist Marcel Janco captures the Sagittarian thrust of Quixote's ideals.

Even so, Trump excels at finding chinks in our constitutional armor--his Sagittarian full Moon, trine Leo Mars-ASC (chart not shown) seems to pierce others' defenses with ease. Besides, the Cosmos isn’t being entirely helpful at this time, either, so there’s reason for concern. Specifically:

Statement Neptune conjoins Statement Mercury (Pisces) and squares Roberts Venus-Pallas (Sagittarius); this Neptune also forms a water grand trine with Roberts Jupiter (Cancer) and Saturn (Scorpio), as it sextiles Statement Venus-Saturn (Capricorn). Multiple lines of influence for Neptune are potentially troubling here; has there ever been a time when the Supreme Court and the nation-at-large needed to act more rationally, on the basis of facts, setting aside fears and insecurities and maintaining integrity? Unfortunately, we’re likely to find that Neptune clouds and distorts that clear-minded purposefulness, especially linked to Mercury as it is here. 

Equally concerning is that Statement Neptune could influence Roberts’ sense of justice (Pallas) and his ability to confront an overwhelming “trend” (grand trine) towards capitulation and surrender. 

This Neptunian energy could be put to better use, of course, to heighten and support the ideals underlying Roberts’ actions (perhaps defending the Constitution in the process). Roberts Venus (Sagittarius) involvement here could also play out in different ways: Roberts may not be swayed one way or another by financial pressure, but temptations may abound. This is reinforced by Statement Jupiter (Sagittarius) closely conjunct his Venus. 

As noted earlier, we can’t know the exact position of Roberts’ Pisces Moon without a birth time, but we can tell that the Moon traversed 15°+-28°+ Pisces that day, so it’s highly likely that he has some emotional investment in Trump’s end run around Congress and McConnell’s capitulation. 

So Statement Jupiter squares Roberts Moon one way or another—within a wide orb at the extremes of the day—and it’s quite possible that Statement Neptune conjoins Roberts Moon. If so, the cardinal grand square described above takes on new, emotional intensity because his Jupiter and Uranus are disposed by that Moon. 

Bottom line, Trump has continually vilified the Courts since day one of his administration, and this kind of intimidation has a way of eroding the confidence and resolve of its targets (Neptune acts like the stream of water that wears holes in mountains over time, and that could be exacerbated by the grand trine). If Trump’s ultimate aim is to wear down or blur and co-opt the constitutional power of the co-equal branches of government, Neptune is his perfect “Sancho Panza” sidekick. Sancho’s loyalty to and hope for a reward from his Don led him to basically set aside his pragmatic realism just enough to participate in the Don’s illusionary “quest.” 


Final thoughts

Of the two individuals we’ve considered here, I’d probably hand the “Sancho Panza” award to Mitch McConnell for his consistent habit of deferring to Trump on all matters—especially for refusing to allow bills from the House on the floor of the Senate unless he knows Trump will sign them. This is a tactic he shamelessly employed during the 35-day shutdown, and that episode triggered calls for his resignation (ignored), but he hung in there anyway. 

Faced with another shutdown dilemma, McConnell surrendered Congressional powers to Trump, with no argument and no resistance. 

Was McConnell making some grand bargain to avert yet another shutdown, or simply enabling Trump’s quest to control his own funding because he couldn’t see another way forward? If Trump is given free rein financially on the issue of a wall, what will stop him when he wants to fund any other pet project? 

It’s possible that Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court won’t get drawn into the legal battle over Trump’s emergency for some time yet—the further out the better—but we would be naïve to think he won’t be pressured by Trump and company in the interim. My hope is that Roberts’ chart will be less under siege by Neptune whenever he’s forced to weigh in on this issue. Left to his demonstrated judicial impulses, he seems capable of a decision that will preserve both congressional and judicial independence from the executive. 

Clearly, we’ve been going through an extraordinary attempt to divide and conquer the essential institutions within our democracy—what Trump an Steve Bannon call the “Deep State”—and for what it’s worth, Trump’s “emergency” declaration has brought the dangers of that assault into full view so we can deal with them. Protests against the emergency declaration have broken out across the nation, legal challenges are mounting, and the more the better. We might even be grateful for the visibility of this challenge—so much of the damage that’s been done in the past two years has happened behind closed doors, with our attention deflected elsewhere. 

The cosmic timing for a descent into this kind of darkness is perfect, of course—as Pluto inches its way towards its return position in our Sibly chart. In the 1760s and 70s (Pluto's last tour in Capricorn), "Mad" King George III's tyranny became progressively more vicious and oppressive, but it had to be viscerally felt by American colonists in the Boston Massacre (March 5, 1770) before they could be inspired to drop their internal squabbles for the sake of something bigger. There are some eerie echoes between the chart for that day and what we’re living through today—no doubt, we haven’t felt the last of them! 

The big question is: how toxic and how low will we need to go this time around?

When the Quixotic goes toxic, what's next?

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 2019. All rights reserved.