I don’t pretend to understand all the nuances of British parliamentary procedure, but anyone watching the news lately knows that UK officials have been in a tizzy, trying to agree on a deal that would facilitate their “Brexit” from the European Union. Deep disruptions to the flow of goods across UK borders, to the British pound and economy, and perhaps to Parliament itself are expected to break loose on April 12th.
These expectations have colored “Brexit day” with impending doom, but just in the past week, the embattled Conservative Party leader, Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour Party opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn launched 2-party talks to hammer out the most difficult obstacles to a deal. Many of their respective colleagues were not amused.
Even so, Theresa May has expressed “guarded optimism” that these discussions will be productive. The fact that both sides are sitting down and talking, instead of blaming the other side for the “shambling effort” at departing the EU has to be seen as an improvement, at least. Anything that mitigates the worst impacts of a so-called “no deal Brexit” is worth the effort, apparently.
Meanwhile, Parliament voted to require May to request another extension—this one to June 30th—from EU officials when they meet on April 10th, just in case. Trouble is, the EU isn’t required to say yes, so what happens on April 12th is anyone’s guess at this point.
In fact, early signs are that the EU doesn’t favor the June 30th date, however EU Council President Donald Tusk may actually be trying to help by suggesting an alternative, according to the Washington Post:
“Tusk has proposed a year-long reprieve that could be ended early if British leaders settle on a divorce approach in the meantime, according to diplomats familiar with the discussions. The approach, deemed a ‘flextension’ among policymakers with a penchant for acronyms and jargon, would significantly reduce the risk of a Brexit without a safety net. Economists say that a no-deal Brexit could unleash turmoil across Europe, particularly in Britain.
Some E.U. diplomats, sick of their bandwidth being consumed by Brexit, say they are unlikely to agree to a short extension of the type requested by May. More likely is a tough fare-thee-well and a departure on April 12, or Tusk’s longer-term proposal.
Tusk’s approach was endorsed Friday by one influential voice in Germany.
‘E.U. has already ruled out 30 June,’ Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, wrote on Twitter. ‘Tusk’s offer of flextension would be a wise decision of [E.U. leaders], both insuring integrity of E.U. elections & leaving all options on table.’”
One last point of context will help the discussion ahead: it seems that historically, the UK has never been terribly enthused about joining the EC—or the EU (as the EC became known in 1992). Robert Skidelsky of the Financial Times pointed out in 2018 that “Britain’s motive was mainly economic—to escape the EEC’s external tariff against British goods, by joining a more dynamic free-trade area.” And Britain was emphatically never keen on a political alliance with Europe, according to Skidelsky: “In their 42 years in the EU, the British have always been an awkward, Eurosceptical partner.”
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland (Republic of Ireland) and Scotland beg to differ: they value what the EU has had to offer them and want to stay. Scotland even considered a second referendum for independence from the UK, but has apparently put that off until a final Brexit deal is clear. Could these internal UK divisions have something to do with why the whole Brexit process has been so harrowing?
|Once a global empire, the UK is now focusing more inward.|
First, a word about the UK charts I’ve chosen to consider. In the June 25, 2016 post here I used the 1801 “Union of Great Britain and Ireland” chart that Nicholas Campion expresses a preference for in his Book of World Horoscopes, and it did prove to be an interesting and revealing reading. However, given the potential for the Irish “troubles” to resurface if the UK doesn’t get its “Brexit” right, it seems to me that the 1922 UK Reorganization in which the UK became the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” might be a more relevant choice of radix charts (inner wheel, Triwheel #1 below).
This point is debatable, of course, but it should give us a fresh perspective on what’s at stake in avoiding a “no-deal Brexit,” one that acknowledges the primacy of Ireland’s concerns.
From The Atlantic:
“It was an Irishman, James Joyce, who wrote the phrase ‘History … is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake.’ Those words could have come as easily to a Pole or a Catalan. From 1968 to 1998, 3,500 British and Irish people died violently, and perhaps 50,000 were wounded. As in Alsace-Lorraine and West Prussia, as in Iberia and Italy, in Ireland, the Anglo-Irish Good Friday Agreement (and the successor agreements built upon it) seemed to show that ‘Europe’ could bring peace by building new identities to encompass and reconcile murderous, ancient quarrels.
After the Brexit vote, British politicians insisted that nothing need change on the island of Ireland. That promise will be extremely difficult to honor.”
After the Brexit vote, British politicians insisted that nothing need change on the island of Ireland. That promise will be extremely difficult to honor.”
Finally, the middle wheel in Triwheel #1 below is for the date the UK officially “signed on the dotted line” to join the EC (Accession treaty, January 22, 1972). This membership took effect the following January 1st, but the 1972 chart signaled the UK’s commitment and seems to have a lot to say about today’s situation.
Note: to avoid as much confusion as possible in this super-complex chart, I’ll refer to the inner wheel as UK, the middle wheel as Treaty, and the outer wheel as Brexit.
Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) UK Reorganisation, December 7, 1922, 3:28 pm ST, Westminster, England (see Note #2 for source); (middle wheel) UK Accession Treaty-EC, January 22, 1972, 12:00 pm ST (noon chart, no exact time), Brussels, Belgium; (outer wheel) April 12 Brexit, April 12, 2019, 11:00 pm DST, Westminster, England. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.
Interchart Cardinal Grand Square: Brexit Sun-Eris-Treaty Mars (all Aries) oppose Brexit Pallas-Treaty Uranus-Juno-UK Saturn (all Libra); this axis squares Brexit Moon-No. Node-UK Moon/Pluto midpoint (all Cancer) opposite Brexit Saturn-So. Node-Pluto-Treaty Mercury-UK Part of Fortune (all Capricorn).
We could be overwhelmed by the complexities of all this, but think of it as an historical “portrait” of the UK’s approach to geopolitics since 1922, brought forward into the present, fairly precarious crossroads. It’s particularly interesting that the two timed charts (inner and outer) share late Cancer Moons—especially with Saturn and Pluto transiting opposite in Capricorn, clearly UK citizens are going through a great deal of tension and anxiety. The timely quality of all this is carried by the Nodal axis cutting straight through this opposition, suggesting that the Brexit process reflects the contentious tone of our times.
It also suggests that Britons are taking this process quite personally, perhaps even as essential for preserving Britain’s cultural identity (Moon/Pluto midpoint squares Saturn). This concerns tips over into nationalism pretty easily, so for some it seems that Brexit is the British spin on Trump’s “Wall,” intended to stop the flow of people coming into the country, in this case from Europe. This heavy Cancer-Capricorn opposition also suggests that those who consciously voted to leave the EU are willing to take on the structural transformation (Saturn-Pluto) that leaving will require. What makes a Brit a Brit? Did participating in the EU really change any of that? Of the Moon/Pluto midpoint, expert Michael Munkasey says:
“Encourages violence or crime; people become doubtful about how to exert the proper controls on criminal or terrorist elements; obsessions which bring a misuse of the resources available for country or business.”
In other words, the UK isn’t simply looking to exit a trade agreement—a fairly ordinary challenge for a nation with its long, imperial history and proven wartime grit. No, it’s navigating dicey issues regarding national identity and the wisdom of succumbing to nationalist impulses, while simultaneously reconfiguring its global trade relations to satisfy all stakeholders—i.e., the nation members of the UK itself. Brexit Saturn, So. Node and Pluto have been making heavy demands on the UK’s 8th house—squared and ruled by UK Saturn (Libra) in the 5th, so it’s likely that the UK’s internal economic institutions are challenged here to craft a fair, equitable deal.
|A fair, equitable Brexit deal is elusive, but essential.|
This imperative is reinforced by Brexit Pallas and Treaty Uranus-Juno conjoining UK Saturn, opposing Brexit Sun-Eris and thus tying into the grand square. This entire process has been a pitched battle because clearly, there’s a lot at stake.
Among other sticking points, it won’t wash for the Brexit plan to satisfy wealthy Conservatives while disregarding the needs and concerns of middle and working class Labour party members. These parties don’t like to talk to each other, much less compromise, but with these heavy energies dogging their steps, they will be obliged to do so. Brexit Pallas lends an ethical imperative to the challenge.
The presence of Treaty Uranus-Juno opposite Treaty Eris-Mars-Moon (Libra to Aries) in this configuration suggests that joining the EU sounded like a great, bold move at the time (1972-3), but the citizenry probably expected much more out of the move than was delivered in the end (UK Moon/Pluto opposite Capricorn UK Part of Fortune-Treaty Mercury squares that Libra-Aries axis).
Timing has been everything with this effort, of course—when the Brexit vote was first cast in June, 2016, Pluto was at 16°+Capricorn, but Saturn was still a distance away and somewhat undermined in Sagittarius. Voters were looking to recapture their national pride, sovereignty and identity in 2016—something a strong Capricorn Saturn could offer—but they probably weren’t thinking about the many difficulties that would also arise as Saturn and Pluto inched into the picture, putting pressure on their institutions (squaring their UK Saturn), their economy and more. The transformation many voters were looking for may not be the transformation they get in the end.
Brexit Part of Fortune (Aquarius) conjoins UK Mars (Aquarius) and both square UK Venus (Rx Scorpio); Brexit Jupiter (Sagittarius) conjoins Treaty Jupiter (Sagittarius), semi-sextiles UK Venus Rx, trines Brexit Sun-Eris (Aries), quincunxes UK Moon-Brexit Moon (Cancer), sextiles UK Mars and squares UK North Node (Virgo). The UK as a body politic seems to have a love/hate relationship with change these days, especially change that might be construed as “radical.” There are economists, however, who believe breaking with the EU will be a step towards renewed prosperity down the road (perhaps after a bumpy transition period), and Brexit Jupiter appears to agree. It points to that opportunity in several ways here, through it’s near “return” to Treaty Jupiter and through its other “soft” aspects noted above.
Even so, the semi-sextile to UK Venus (Rx, Scorpio), quincunx to UK Moon-Brexit Moon and square to North Node (Virgo) are less convincing—economic uncertainty has Britons thinking twice, at least.
This uncertainty is compounded, undoubtedly, by Britons themselves being divided over what Brexit is actually intended to accomplish: is it more about satisfying a nascent nationalist sentiment, about legitimate sovereignty issues, or about better positioning the family of nations for future economic opportunity? UK Jupiter falls in security-seeking Scorpio, which is now being quincunxed by Brexit Mars (Gemini)—action feels dangerous, and with Pisces Mercury disposing this Mars, the goals for this action feel nebulous and perhaps even distorted by misinformation.
18th century Britain's chart featured a potent, fiery
Jupiter-Pluto trine to Neptune, reflected in the symbolism here..
Brexit Jupiter squares Brexit Mercury-Venus-Neptune (Pisces); these Pisces points form one leg of a water Grand Trine with UK Moon-Brexit Moon (Cancer) and UK Venus (Rx, Scorpio). The impetus for growth (Jupiter) could find it is blocked by the powerfully self-perpetuating force of UK media (Brexit Mercury), where the message is likely awash with fears and anxieties (water grand trine), which are perpetuated by prominent public figures (Brexit Venus-Neptune).
This watery force could also spawn conspiracy theories or reflect the fact that the 2016 Brexit vote itself came under investigation for possible outside interference (by Russia and Cambridge Analytica, etc.), and some questions have probably never been resolved.
One way or another, it’s easy to see why many Britons have never felt at ease with the whole process. This dis-ease has plagued the UK the entire time Neptune has been transiting square the UK Sun-Mercury-Ceres (Sagittarius), and this transit—also quincunxing UK Saturn (Libra)—is far from over. The quincunx could signify some ongoing erosion to UK institutions and rule of law—similar to what we’ve experienced here in the U.S. with our radix Libra Saturn. Brexit Neptune has also been trining the UK Venus/Jupiter midpoint (Scorpio), which Munkasey characterizes as follows:
“The inflation or expansion of any current process; weakening of limitations which are imposed; expanded illusions about your welfare or health in general; confusion as a factor to delaying your progress.”
This characterization sounds on target for the UK’s situation: apparent confusion and misgivings abound, and progress is painfully slow. Can Britons feel good about the leadership, competence and motives of those guiding this process? The jury’s out, but even if objectively speaking they can, feeling that security is another story.
|Many in Northern Ireland would prefer to leave the UK, not the EU.|
In an article this past week, the New York Times offered a fairly bleak scenario for what may happen if the UK is forced into a “no-deal Brexit.” The article mapped out several key vulnerabilities, including:
- --Jammed ports of entry for goods leaving and goods coming in
- --Shortages in food and other necessities (medicine), not to mention the onset of higher prices
- --Disrupted manufacturing, closed plants, lost jobs
- --Unclear status for British citizens living in the EU and for EU citizens living in the UK, with complications to health care and other citizenship-related benefits
- --A return to tension concerning the Irish border
I mentioned earlier that the Irish are particularly concerned with any Brexit deal going awry; apparently they believe the above list of problems could trigger renewed tension between Northern Ireland and the Republic because it would create a "hard border" between the two (Northern Ireland--the Republic of Ireland--will remain in the EU). You may recall that a formal peace agreement was crafted in 1998 between these two Irish entities, known as the Belfast “Good Friday” Agreement; it's a fragile peace in many ways, and the Irish don't want to endanger it.
As the name suggests, the agreement was signed on Good Friday (April 10th) of that year. Because of its vulnerabilities, it’s worth a quick look to see how the April 12th Brexit chart meshes with the chart for this 1998 agreement. I’ve used a noon chart for the 1998 event—no exact time known. This will be a very cursory glance at highlights only.
Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Belfast Good Friday Agreement, April 10, 1998, 12:00 pm DST (noon-no time known), Belfast, No. Ireland; (outer wheel) April 12 Brexit, April 12, 2019, 11:00 pm DST, Westminster, England. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.
Interchart Cardinal T-Square: again, we see tense cardinal energies arrayed against each other between the two charts. Brexit Sun-Eris tightly conjoin Belfast Ceres-Sun-Saturn in Aries, with all this under intense pressure from Brexit Saturn-So-Node-Pluto in Capricorn. The somewhat wide square orb between these Capricorn points and Belfast Mars (Aries) will tighten over the coming year, the time during which Ireland will be experiencing whatever fallout there may be from an April 12 Brexit. Discord and perhaps even violence are certainly not off the table, especially if we consider that Brexit Moon-No. Node opposes the Capricorn points and t-squares the Aries ones.
|A hard Brexit border between the two Irelands is considered disastrous.|
As noted earlier, a fair, equitable outcome to the Brexit process is essential to satisfy Irish concerns—that’s highlighted here by Brexit Pallas (Libra) turning this t-square into a cardinal grand square.
Brexit Uranus (Taurus) squares Belfast Neptune (Aquarius) and inconjoins Belfast Moon (Libra). These aspects reflect the difficult collective change Irish UK citizens are being asked to make with Brexit, and the inconjunct suggests that the demands are generally “rubbing them the wrong way.”
Add in Brexit Neptune-Venus (Pisces) conjoining Belfast Jupiter (Pisces), and it’s likely that the Irish have been promised great growth and prosperity—and Venus is generally protective, so perhaps there’s some truth to that—but Neptune tends to muddy the waters, and that can lead to hard wake-up calls down the road.
In other words, whoever protects Irish interests in the UK parliament needs to “measure twice and cut once” before agreeing to anything. This is especially true since Brexit Jupiter falls square the Pisces points in both charts. This Jupiter also trines Belfast Mars-Saturn-Sun, however, so with diligence—being careful to avoid delusionary pitfalls (Neptune)—a thoughtful Brexit deal could support some key Irish priorities.
The UK is far from the only entity struggling to strike a balance between a healthy focus inward and a constructive, prosperous outward focus on alliances and trade. The same challenge allowed an opening for MAGA, didn’t it? It doesn’t take much to see that the roots of all this trace back to the ham-handed way in which national economies were yanked open and deregulated for frictionless free trade in the “go-go” 90s: the new Uranus-Neptune cycle that launched in mid-Capricorn in 1993 had a lot to do with that, and with picking the “winners” and “losers” of the newly globalized economy.
Fast forward a couple difficult decades for the “99%,” during which the years-long Uranus-Pluto square in cardinal Aries to Capricorn that started in 2010 easily triggered an intensely angry backlash. Naming winners and losers—so clearly reflected in today’s shocking wealth inequality statistics—rarely goes well in the long run.
IMHO, the leaders of this world need to stop pulling the proverbial rug out from under the middle and working classes, and they need to make whatever structural adjustments are necessary to prioritize human dignity and well-being over all. How we get to that desirable state is another story—it will require the kind of courage and skill we haven’t seen in leaders for a very long time.
We’re faced with three major planetary cycles completing and beginning anew over the next 20 months, and these cycles (in order of completion)—Saturn-Pluto, Jupiter-Pluto and Jupiter-Saturn—will challenge us in at least three very complex areas: first, to either seriously put up or shut up about our aspirations for (small “d”) democracy and human rights; second, to grapple with how we’re going to protect human economic interests and dignity in a working world driven by AI and robots; and third, to get serious about tackling the very real dangers of climate change with all the human ingenuity and grit that we can muster.
These imperatives are global, of course, so some of the solutions will also have to be global in nature—humans are capable of cooperation for the sake of a greater good, after all. Even so, each nation will be faced with choices: to be part of the solution, or part of the problem, and that sorting will cause complications and distractions from the challenges at hand.
I’m hopeful that as the new cycles launch, a number of the difficult hang-ups being experienced by the UK (and the US and many others, for that matter!) will be resolved. As an American onlooker, it’s very easy to empathize with the frustrations. Considering these cycles might help when it comes to “cosmic” timing, so EU Council President Donald Tusk may be onto something: extending the UK’s exit for another year may leave an opening for the fresh start that seems so elusive right now.
Whatever happens, whether Brexit materializes on April 12th or in a year from now, let’s hope the main focus is on the well-being and dignity of all UK citizens. If their leadership gets this right, perhaps the Brexit experience will provide a much-needed model for rising above the partisan fray to serve the people, and that would be admirable.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Raye Robertson 2019. All rights reserved.
Nicholas Campion, The Book of World Horoscopes, updated 2004 edition, The Wessex Astrologer, Bournemouth, UK, Chart #357, pp. 342-343.
Campion, Chart #358, pp. 345-346.
Michael Munkasey, Midpoints: Unleashing the Power of the Planets, ACS Publications, San Diego, CA, 1991, pp. 136-137.
Munkasey, pp. 196-197.