Sunday, July 21, 2019

Stoking the Mob: the Astrology of Divide & Conquer

 “Those who charge that Trump’s bigoted vitriol is a distraction wrongly limits policy to written, concrete forms. Policy also comes in the form of practice—regularly exercised procedures that are also used to influence behaviors.”—Andre M. Perry, Foreign Policy, July 19, 2019

“I am going to tell you what my mother told me: ‘Don’t you ever let anyone tell you who you are. You tell them who you are. Period,’ ” Harris said, growing visibly angry as she spoke. “We are Americans, and we will speak with the authority of that voice.”—Washington Post, July 20, 2019
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight…

--Traditional Sunday School song


Sometimes looking back in time is the only way to make sense of painfully dark current events, and this past week provided a prime opportunity to do so. So CNN contributor Diana Butler Bass did just that, looking back to somehow digest the hateful scene at Trump’s July 17th “send her back” rally in Greenville, North Carolina. She wondered out loud “where did these people go to Sunday school?” Didn’t they learn the ‘Jesus loves everybody’ song?”

From the almost totally white crowd she surmised that most of them were probably Christian (understandable), so why didn’t they know that traditional Sunday School song? She shared her feelings by saying, “I do not feel shock. I feel grief. I do not recognize this Christianity, even if the faces in the crowd were familiar.” As Bass put it in her title, “The God of Love had a very bad week.”

In fact, people of all religions (or none at all) could have found Trump’s rally troubling—his tweets that incited those chants before the rally were equally so. So, is this sordid, utterly hateful, nativist  approach what we have to look forward to in Campaign 2020? 

An insightful political analyst this past week commented that because Trump’s support and re-election depends so heavily on the same 30-some percent of the nation’s voters, distributed across the country in an electoral college-friendly way—his precious Base—he must keep them stirred up and motivated in this effort. In fact, Trump knows just the hot button topics to use in his rallies for this purpose, he knows just the tone to set, and he knows just the “reality TV” performance style that does the job.

I tend to agree with the Foreign Policy article cited above: despite all kinds of analyses that claimed Trump’s point with his July 18th “send them back rally” was to distract from other stories, racism isn’t just a distraction for Trump; it’s policy that has deep economic ramifications, especially for so-called “Blue” states. We saw that with his really determined effort to rig the national census against Blue states by adding the citizenship question. This would have had, in turn, economic consequences for those states because accurately counted population determines not just the number of state representatives each state is allotted, but how federal resources are doled out to each state. 

Persons, rather than citizens must be counted for a fair census.

So there’s a method to his “divide and conquer” madness: more on this ahead. Finally, racist provocations are also how he keeps the spotlight on himself, playing the social “lightning rod” role he clearly relishes. If we could see his “thought bubbles,” I bet at least some of them would say, “Look what I can get away with, and my people love me for it!!” 

Yes, the same performances that leave him open to late-night comic heckling achieve their aims with his base perfectly, and he appears to be calculating that the formula he ran with last time will win again, if he can just attach a set of even more outrageous screws to the nation’s moral sensibilities. Flaunting all the norms and crushing all our moral and ethical expectations of a national leader works for him, he finds, especially when racist attacks are part of the equation. But, heavens, don’t use the “R” word on him—there’s “not a racist bone in his body!” 

So if he’s not a racist, does that mean he just uses people of color for his own purposes—like they’re just so much “roadkill”—but he really doesn’t mean any harm? Frankly, I’m not sure which motivation is more disgusting. 

The pattern is pretty predictable with him: push the limits, then deny, deny, deny and hide behind others. When he received an outpouring of bad press after this controversial rally, he tried to disavow the chant that he, himself stimulated with the infamous tweets that preceded that rally. Whether the chant was spontaneous or pre-planned and orchestrated (stranger things have happened in “Reality TV” Trumpworld), Trump basked in the outpouring for a full 13 seconds before he continued speaking. 

Even so, by claiming to disavow the latest chant, he essentially threw his followers under the proverbial bus, like some irrational mob that just somehow caught the racist wave and let it bring them ashore. Taking responsibility just isn’t his “jam,” as they say. 

Unfortunately, this is a formula that’s worked for him and he’s built a support system around his “executive privilege” to make sure it does: his former attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen can attest to that from his jail cell as we speak. But whether or not to apply the “R” word to our sitting president is not the main point here, after all: the far greater concern is, why is he so intent on dividing us as a nation? 

That concern raises many, many questions: how many times can our national unity-in-the-midst of-plurality be struck with the shattering lightning bolt that is Trump (his natal Sun-Uranus conjunction comes to mind) and still survive? Interestingly, those Gemini points of his trine our national Aquarius Moon, representing “We the People,” but his natal Mars-ASC (Leo) opposes that same point: it’s not surprising that he has been able to hit upon a narrative (Gemini) that works for those looking for the strong-man leader type (Mars-ASC), but what is surprising is the way in which he has exploited that resonance for the sake of dividing the nation. 

Divide and conquer is a cynical way of destroying democracy from within.

Let that soak in: it’s hard to miss that his apparent goal is to divide the nation because that somehow serves his purposes. What purposes, exactly?! 

Let’s keep that question in mind as we explore the following chart (Chart #1) for the Greenville, NC Trump rally (7/17) in question. It’s interesting astrologically—and very relevant—that this chart also roughly approximates the dynamics at work when the House voted to condemn Trump’s racist “send them back” tweets of July 16th.  So, as happens in all charts, there are choices for how the energies are expressed. 

Trump’s “send her back” rally, July 17, 2018

Chart #1: Trump “send her back” rally, July 17, 2019, 7:00 pm DST (approx. time, gleaned from news reports), Greenville, NC. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.  

Because this chart is not exactly timed, we’ll disregard anything to do with chart angles (ASC, MC, etc.) and house cusps. The Moon was transiting early Aquarius throughout that evening, so we can glean something about the tone of the rally from that (not to mention some important aspects), even though we don’t know its exact degree. If anyone knows the precise time this rally kicked off, please let us know!

T-Square: Moon (Aquarius) squares Uranus (Taurus) and opposes Mercury and Mars (Leo). As noted above, the Moon’s exact degree is uncertain, but it’s within a degree or two at the most of what we see here, and the t-square would still be within orb. 

It’s also worth noting here that Trump’s natal Pluto (Leo-chart shown immediately below) was conjoined by Mars in this rally chart—he was in fighting mode and eager to pump up his ego-driven power with the adoring crowd. This aspect would have been in place the day prior, as well, when he sent out those infamous “send them back” tweets. 

He may have taken this power quest a bit too far this time, however: Moon square Uranus can get out of hand, and quickly, especially when it triggers a potentially volatile Mercury-Mars combination in which words often trigger actions. Thankfully, those two weren’t in closer conjunction that night.

It would also be the case that the Moon/Uranus (midpoint, Pisces) would be at or near 21°+Pisces—very nearly conjunct Neptune (Rx, Pisces) and sextile Pluto (Capricorn). At that degree, this midpoint would also fall square Trump’s natal “full Moon” opposition (Gemini-Sagittarius), so again, he may have taken his divisive tactics just a bit too far. Those who light matches can expect to get burned.

Not that the House condemnation of the tweets that started the whole debacle will discourage him—Trump is more likely to double-down and use that to further enflame his base, consolidate his control of the GOP and divide the nation. Even so, unforeseen consequences are possible when Uranus gets into the act. According to midpoints expert Michael Munkasey, the Moon/Uranus midpoint evokes:

“…unconventional rulers with an emotional flair…Leaders who rule at whim, with little sense of how their enterprise is seen by the rest of the world; an emotionally immature person placed in an important and visible leadership role.”[1]
Could he be more accurate here?
Venus (Cancer) disposes Uranus, conjoins No. Node (Cancer), opposes Saturn-So. Node-Pluto (Capricorn) and widely squares Eris (Aries).This reflects the ease with which Trump dangled his harsh, punitive messages and insinuations regarding the “Squad”—in particular Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)—in front of his audience, who then fed those sentiments back to him (opposition) in chant form with “Send her back!” His followers have become finely attuned to his signals, to the point that he barely needs to break a sweat to get them going, and that shows in these aspects, with the Moon disposing the Cancer points and opposing Mercury and Mars

Rep. Omar received a warm welcome home to Minnesota.
Some reports said that the chant was isolated to only a section of the rallying space, yet media coverage made it look like everyone was chanting. It would be nice to know if there were “ringers” in the audience, poised to start the chant when he mentioned Omar’s name. Thankfully, when Omar returned home to Minnesota shortly after the rally, she was welcomed home by a nice crowd with open arms!

Chanting uses the power of repeated words to heighten emotion and to whip up and enflame the situation. When purposely led, it’s also designed to channel the visceral collective force it creates into some unified purpose. Because chants unify, they work to focus and entrain people’s brain waves around a purpose—reflected here by the defensive/offensive Cancer-Capricorn polarity that evokes “Us vs. Them.” 

This polarity is stressed by Eris in fiery Aries stoking their grievances, valid or not. Inciting defensive hatred of immigrants ensures that Trump’s followers look the other way (“fake news!”) on border issues; inciting the crowd to strike out at perceived “enemies” helps to bundle Dems (“socialists,” all of them) and immigrants into one neat efficient target in their minds—Rep. Omar. 

Of course, all Trump’s rallies are focused on giving him a stage on which to preen and strut, like a pro-wrestler beating his chest. Courting adulation is key—and giving that adulation is perhaps the key to being considered a “true Trumpite,” or even a “true patriot” (since patriotism has been reduced to Trump loyalty these days).  We’re seeing textbook demagoguery in action. 

Inciting fear is for those who want to control, not govern people.

We can see the broad impact the dynamics at work that night in North Carolina are having on our quality of life in this nation here as well: it’s reflected in how tightly the No. Node is tied into this t-square, and how closely the nodal axis is tracking with the Saturn-Pluto cycle.  In late Capricorn, Saturn and Pluto are also transiting opposite Trump’s natal Saturn-Venus conjunction in Cancer, which may be rattling him just a bit, but in the end just making him more doubled down in defense. He could be fearful that his “friends” (Venus)—those who submit to his authority (Saturn), basically—will abandon him, or even worse, try to hold him accountable (Saturn-Pluto). 

We know how Trump feels about the loyalty of his followers—he famously remarked during the 2016 campaign that he “could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and not lose any voters.” Every rally further cultivates this license to act with impunity, of course—with his followers he very well could be “above the law.” Self-protection will always be job #1 for his Saturn-Venus—in Cancer, disposed by his Moon in limits-averse Sagittarius. Lashing out at others to protect his “freedom” is just part of the process. 

T-Square: Saturn-So. Node-Pluto (Capricorn) opposes Sun-No. Node-Venus-Part of Fortune (Cancer); this axis squares Pallas (Libra). The Sun-Pallas square is very wide, but since there are groupings involved, we’ll include it here. The tension present in Trump’s rally, in Congress (as the House vote to condemn his tweets proceeded), not to mention the tension (oppositions) roiling the entire polarized nation that day are certainly represented here. Outrage and disgust over the bald-faced injustice (Pallas) at work was countered by apparent delight (Venus) at what Trump dared to say out loud. 

This likely is a sneak preview of Campaign 2020—the battle lines are drawn, and we have to wonder how much more polarized we can get before the fall-out literally cleaves us in two. Is that what Trump’s divisive tactics aim to accomplish—a modern day Civil War? Or simply an economic war that “starves the enemy” with a robustly funded and protected fossil fuel industry that eats up our remaining public lands, crowds out any hopes for a green economy, yanks jobs away from “Blue” states and lets their economies wither on the vine? 

Will the U.S. be divided again, based on state economies?

Most of this is already happening, and it’s being enabled by an anti-immigration police state (Saturn-Pluto) that undermines states that rely more on immigrant labor (i.e., states that might vote Democratic). Trump’s immigration policies aren’t just about securing the border, or even about racism (certainly a factor); they’re about controlling the economic bloodstream of this nation. This less obvious reality is reflected in the fact that this Saturn-Pluto activity is happening conjunct Sibly Pluto (Capricorn) in the nation’s 2nd house of “Big Money” resources and values. 

He who controls the nation’s purse strings controls everything—that’s why our Founders entrusted the power to allocate funds to the House, our most representative and least autocratic body.  We know how Trump feels about the power of the House to do anything, however, especially when it comes to exercising their responsibility to oversee the Executive!  
As Saturn and Pluto complete their 1982 cycle in the coming six months (new cycle launches on January 12th, 2020, at 22°+Capricorn), we’ll get a better sense of who is going to win out in this struggle between the Executive and Legislative branches. Ideally we’ll see our institutional checks and balances restored to better health, but it’s hard to count on that from what we’re seeing today.

One final point about Eris’s role in this cardinal t-square lends a bit more insight into the Saturn-Pluto dynamic: Henry Seltzer, the astrologer who literally “wrote the book” on Eris,[2] documenting its discovery and thoroughly exploring its astrological implications, points to an attribute associated with this volatile energy that is far less discussed. He uses American motives for the 2003 invasion of Iraq as an example, citing, 

“…the predator impulse of natural process, associated with the Eris archetype as we are coming to understand it, in a life-and-death struggle for the procurement of the resources needed for survival.”
The primary resource he’s referring to here, of course, is oil, not to mention the regional control that was gained from our dominant presence in the Middle East. Is it any wonder that this regional U.S. dominance is being challenged today by Iran, and that the Trump administration is desperate to debilitate them with economic sanctions? Now we see that his tactics may stop merchant and cargo ships from sailing through the Straits of Hormuz, and that’s not likely to end well. 
Iran is threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz to international ships..
This may seem like a digression from the conversation at hand, but it’s all of one piece with Trump in the end. Eris is now transiting square Trump’s defensive Saturn-Venus (Cancer) at the same time they are tightly woven into our nation’s economic dynamics (Saturn-Pluto on our Sibly Pluto)—his own predator instincts (always on display in his Twitter feed and in his rallies) are being triggered in a host of precarious ways, but perhaps most dangerously with Iran.
Here’s where Congress’s power of the purse and its foundational responsibility for declaring any and all wars may truly be tested for all its worth.
Jupiter (Rx, Sagittarius) squares Neptune (Rx, Pisces). This square reads like a “clash of the Titans” in the sense that both planets are at peak strength in the middle degrees of their home signs, with Jupiter actually co-ruling Pisces as well! That this square is happening in the midst of Saturn-Pluto’s balsamic phase sets up the possibility of serious ideologically-based social conflicts and corruption scandals. 

One manifestation that was clearly represented in the “send her back” rally is a tendency towards an almost theocratic (ideological) despotism. “Love it or leave it” is another way of saying that Trump’s view of America reigns supreme, and those who disagree don’t belong here. Like Napoleon Bonaparte did in France in 1804, Trump has crowned himself some kind of modern day “Holy Roman Emperor,” or even better, “demi-god.” 

This may sound exaggerated (everything with Jupiter is), but consider this: his Evangelical followers refuse to hold him to any standards of behavior as long as he appoints conservative judges, so Trump might as well be considered a “Zeus” (Jupiter) “god”-like figure—answering to no higher power for anything he does. Ask poor Hera/Juno (Melania?) what she had to put up with! 

Hera and Zeus set the standard for "difficult" marriages in mythology.
By making loyalty to himself the litmus test for patriotism—and ultimately for who should be allowed to live in the country—Trump (aka Zeus) prompts his followers to consider our long tradition of constructive dissent to be somehow suspect, “un-American,” maybe even “Communist” (yes, he bandies that word about a lot these days).

In fact, if this tortured trajectory follows its usual path, we’ll be seeing the return of a McCarthyist state. Unfortunately, the GOP can be counted on to fall in behind him like so many terrified lemmings.
So it isn’t surprising that the Jupiter-Neptune square ties into Trump’s nativity pretty tightly, with Jupiter transiting conjunct his Moon (Sagittarius) and Neptune (Pisces) transiting his 7th house, square his Sun-Node-Uranus opposition to Moon (Gemini-Sagittarius). His sudden concern for ideological purity is perhaps a bit self-serving and driven by which way the political “winds” are blowing at best. 
As for the impact of this transit on Trump's personal life, he’s likely to experience problems with legal cases, his choice of lawyers and case outcomes, and with significant relationships. We know that the women he has used and abused over the years still have stories to tell—we can probably expect more provocative chanting to distract us from all this!
Notice that Trump has worked to head-off any legal problems by installing an Attorney General (William Barr) who defends him over the rule of law, so it’s hard to know where any of this lands. Jupiter on Trump’s Moon will certainly reinforce his emotional confidence and sense of entitlement, yet that’s a shorter term transit. Neptune in his 7th house of “Others” could still haunt his steps well into 2025.

This underwater sculpture evokes our current situation to a tee!

Final thoughts

IMHO, it’s time to shake off the Neptunian fog that society in general is experiencing these days--clear minds are going to be so critical going forward! One immediate priority should be to clearly and seriously examine what Trump’s purposes are. Divide and conquer is a well-worn strategy in military circles, but it’s usually reserved for enemies. Who or what exactly counts as “the enemy” for Trump? This is uncharted territory for a U.S. president—usually there’s at least a glimmer of concern for the nation-at-large and all its people. Or at least an attempt by sitting presidents to expand their bases, to “win friends and influence people” with a bit of care and diplomacy.   

We’re plainly not seeing that here. Trump’s rallies are always dotted with a few minority-looking people (usually placed behind the podium to be more prominent), but overall they are far from representative of our richly multicultural nation. 

It would be one thing if he was trying to expand his base by promoting the type of agenda that would appeal to a broader swath of Americans, but he’s not. Instead, he punishes states that didn’t vote his way, or states with huge minority populations by withholding resources (ask California, Puerto Rico, Louisiana, and more). Through his Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, he’s tightened the screws on Blue state education systems by rolling back Obama-era student assistance programs. And where are the “tremendous” infrastructure programs that Trump promised? The people of Michigan are slated to begin paying a huge added tax on gasoline because federal dollars are far from enough to fix our torn up roads—I’m guessing we’re not alone. 

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky has been receiving money hand over fist for public projects, thanks to his Trump Cabinet member wife, Elaine Chao, who “helped coordinate grant applications by McConnell’s political allies.” As long as Trump keeps feeding a few key players in Congress with federal dollars, and as long as corruption is implicitly tolerated, the status quo will remain. 

Between all that and the heinous situation at our southern border, perhaps we need a new rallying cry…something like that treasured Sunday school song, perhaps?

[1] Michael Munkasey, Midpoints: Unleashing the Power of the Planets, ACS Publications, San Diego, CA, 1991, pp. 128-29.
[2]Henry Seltzer, The Tenth Planet: Revelations from the Astrological Eris, The Wessex Astrologer, Bournemouth, UK, 2015, p. 105.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A Neptunian crossroads: Utopia or Dystopia?

From Sir Thomas More's 1516 classic, but elusive Utopia.

“Now I am terrified at the Earth! It is that calm and patient, it grows such sweet things out of such corruptions…It gives divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.”—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

“George Orwell’s 1984 foresaw Big Brother controlling individuals through the telescreen...But the nature of imagined dystopias began to change in the later decades of the century, when environmental collapse and out-of-control viruses took center stage.”—Francis Fukuyama, Identity[1]

Ever insightful, political scientist Fukuyama continued the above thought by pointing out that more contemporary dystopian futurist writers such as William Gibson and Bruce Sterling “saw a future dominated not by centralized dictatorships, but by uncontrolled social fragmentation that was facilitated by a new emerging technology called the internet.”[2] Gibson, Sterling and others writing in that genre were definitely on to some of the darker perils of the Internet as we know it, however that same Internet offers incredible positives as well, so it’s hard to imagine contemporary life without it.  This is a very familiar conundrum in mundane astrology.

It’s striking to me, however, that this conundrum is not just about the Internet and its impact on societies; it’s also about the existential threat of climate change that we have, as a collective, allowed to accelerate, perhaps even to the point of no return. The Internet—in concert with the media--has both challenged and enabled our sluggish passivity on this issue, so it’s no wonder that the net result to date is a mixed bag. The good news is that, through the Paris Accord, most of the nations in the world are joined in the first serious global effort ever made to contain and roll back the threats posed by accelerating climate change; the bad news is that the global leader in carbon emissions—the U.S.—is no longer officially committed to the effort. 

Thankfully, this hasn’t stopped progress in the U.S. entirely, even without federal backing, but as a nation, we’re lacking coherent direction and leadership. Many are hopeful that Election 2020 will make all the difference in this, but what if it doesn’t?

As always, there’s an astrological story at the heart of all this. 

So, Walt Whitman and Francis Fukuyama (quoted above) were expressing different facets of the same essential human dilemma: will we choose to set our sites on Utopia—a state of being in harmony with Nature (for our own survival, if nothing more altruistic)—or will we continue the downward spiral into Dystopia and the social/environmental destruction it surely guarantees? The astrology, in fact, reflects the facts-driven scientific consensus: we have no more time to dither, deny and prevaricate on this issue; we have an opportunity to act, but we must act

More on this ahead.

Illustration by p.theo

The exploration ahead requires that we be “of two minds”—with one eye on the personal level and one on the collective. It will also help to remain open to the importance of both levels as we consider current challenges. For instance, this past week’s Democratic presidential candidate debate raised the issue of Democratic support for extending healthcare to new immigrants, whether they enter the country legally or not. This may seem unrelated to our discussion here, but the fact is, the increasing numbers of migrants could very well be related to climate change-and its disruptions to agriculture. When communities lose jobs, violence and crime often ensues. How you feel about all these immigration issues depends heavily upon how you navigate personal/collective dilemmas.  

Obviously, for “zero sum” mentalities like Trump’s, there’s never enough resources to go around, and therefore never a need to care for others aside from your own.  When it comes to immigration—which just happens to segue with the climate change issue—Trump’s rhetoric and action basically turn the “Golden Rule” on its head, trying to make a virtue of his own inhumane impulses. Any gains to immigrants seem to be personal losses to him, and he’s found a base of voters who identify with this grievance. To our deep national shame, we’re seeing what happens when such a culture of such grievance is allowed to dominate immigration policy.  

With his “zero tolerance” border policy, Trump has masterfully twisted our legitimate concern for border security into a pretext for viciously punishing asylum seekers just for showing up. What’s in this for him, we might wonder. 

It seems, in fact, that Trump takes this issue personally, as though the funds to care for detained children are coming out of his pocket, and his perpetual state of outrage helps him dominate nearly every news cycle. No surprise here—we’ve seen in his natal chart why attention = power for him (his 10-4 Sun-Moon Gemini/Sagittarius oppositions, with Gemini Sun ruling his Leo Mars-ASC and Pluto). But do his supporters really understand the horrors they’re cheering on? 

In fact, more than one of this past week’s Democratic debaters pointed out the collective economic and social gains that we all enjoy when immigrants are treated humanely and are able to become productive members of society. Access to healthcare is personally essential for productivity, but ultimately, we all have a stake in our neighbors’ well being. 

Yes, we can look at this as a moral/ethical issue, but it’s also just common sense: the collective simply cannot be healthy and stable if the individuals within it are in physical and existential pain and trauma. This extends to the so-called “opioid epidemic” as well—another Neptunian nightmare for the nation and another instance in which the personal and collective trauma are so tightly interwoven. 

Success and compassion can co-exist.

We can choose to ignore and/or deny that “we are all in this together” in such issues, or we can acknowledge and embrace this reality with altruism and compassion—the lighter Piscean impulses ruled by Neptune and generous-of-spirit Jupiter. At their best, these energies evoke Christ’s “loaves and fishes” lesson about trusting the abundance of the universe. They evoke the power of the collective to solve problems and fulfill needs that seem personally insurmountable. 

Significantly, Neptune and Jupiter are now transiting square from Pisces to Sagittarius: that “quality of mercy” the character Portia refers to in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice is, unfortunately, truly “strained” these days. Under these conditions, we are challenged to prove the depths of our humanity, the generosity of our collective Spirit.  

Or we can choose the path of least resistance, to essentially choke off any compassionate impulses because that suits someone’s personal/political purposes. If Trump were to support healthcare as a human right, for instance, his ability to stoke up resentment would lose its punch, so he continues to undermine the Affordable Care Act, promising a “better plan” that shows no signs of happening. Never mind that the ACA probably helps many of his own constituents.

Because both immigration and climate change are influenced by the same planetary energies (and are, indeed, related), the same choices and dynamics apply to both. So Trump’s willful refusal to acknowledge the challenge of climate change has a lot in common with his approach to border issues. If he acknowledges that the U.S. is responsible for the highest percentage of carbon emissions and therefore has a collective duty towards the Earth and to those populations suffering the ravages of a warming planet…well, you can see where this is going. He isn’t a fan of being held accountable personally, so why would he accept collective responsibility? 

In fact, with Saturn and Pluto nearly conjunct, at the waning end of their 1982 cycle, the Cosmos is forcing the issue of collective responsibility, and even Trump’s attempts to gaslight the American public on the climate change issue by denying that what we’re seeing in our local weather events is actually significant, we will have to deal squarely with the consequences of our choices. Neptunian denial will give way to reality and accountability, probably sooner than we think. 

Reinforcing and enabling this denialism (at times also gaslighting) are pernicious websites that claim some kind of climate conspiracy among scientists and attempt to discredit anything that emerges from that community; is it any wonder that our ability as a nation to unite around the massive effort needed to confront climate change has been seriously wanting?  

To put it mildly, our national consciousness has been rendered fragmented, at best. At times it seems that our public will power has gone totally impotent: this can happen under Neptune’s spell, but other planetary energies are demanding better of us. 

For instance, Saturn demands rigor and commitment to supporting the scientific community; saying “I don’t believe them” is a Neptunian response to earth-bound realities (Saturn) that really shouldn’t be negotiable. Scientific data and studies are—and should be--verified by clear-minded experts, but to continue allowing the facts and the truth itself to be eroded in favor of conveniently ideological “beliefs” is one of the lowest expressions of Neptune. It’s right down there with gaslighting and mentally abusing a spouse for the sake of control. 

We're seeing a lot of this in these Neptunian times!

It’s worth noting that irresponsible players on the Internet have greatly exacerbated the confusion regarding climate change and politics, making freedom of the mainstream, fact-checked press all the more essential. No surprise, Trump attacks the free press (trying to replace it with his media boosters) every chance he gets—most recently from his meeting with Putin at the G-20! The free press (“Fake news” to him) is the enemy and a “problem,” as he told Putin, a dictator whose government has killed journalists who dare to speak the truth.

So, while the Internet is a technical marvel that can be used for the loftiest human purposes, it also enables the lowest human impulses. It’s the “matrix,” if you will, that allows expression to what psychologist Carl Jung termed the “collective unconscious,” a phenomenon that evokes Neptune in mundane astrology. Jung’s explanation for this enigma:

The collective unconscious - so far as we can say anything about it at all  - appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious... We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual.—The Structure of the Psyche, CW 8, par. 325.

In other words, the individual’s psychology and behavior and the collective contents of the Human psyche-writ-large—the realm of Myth—are deeply enmeshed and interdependent. This primordial, transcendental plane of Humanity’s being is ruled in astrology by the collective planets, of course—Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, and it’s in times like these that we are forced to confront the “lesser angels” of our collective nature. 

That savage, competitive dimension of the natural world —what poet Tennyson famously called “red in tooth and claw”— is triggered by survival anxiety (Pluto). Yes, life feeds upon life (even vegans are guilty of this), but civilizations have sought to consciously balance out and “humanize” our life in Nature with laws and standards (Saturn), collective action (Uranus) and compassion (Neptune). 

Unfortunately, the higher impulses of civilization are a bit fragile and stressed these days, and our stewardship of the Earth suffers because of it. 

In the final analysis, however, the Earth doesn’t need Humanity—we need the Earth. Like the Tower archetype in the Tarot, our “rule” of this realm can be thrown over if we irresponsibly abuse our power over Nature. In mythology, hubris—the arrogance of “challenging the gods” (the natural order) was the ultimate transgression.  

Outer planetary cycles have greatly impacted the positive and negative possibilities of the Internet and our care for the Earth, of course. The Internet’s “birth” was clearly related to the Uranus-Neptune cycle; this globe-flattening technology took decades of development to manifest, however the final years of the 1821 Uranus-Neptune cycle and the beginning years of the 1993 cycle were critical. Helping to manifest this technology in societies across the globe and thus redirecting economic “flows” was the 1989 Saturn-Neptune cycle (11°+Capricorn). 

The working world was fundamentally transformed by globalization.

Taken together, these cycles have also been critical for the love/hate relationship that U.S. manufacturers have had with “green” technology. 

A side note here: I would argue that Saturn also rules the Internet because it’s a massively complex system with clearly engineered components. Because this cycle launched in corporate-friendly and Saturn-ruled Capricorn, however, a sudden disruption to entrenched industries like oil and gas was simply not in the cards—it would take a long development process. Looking back, however the “writing was on the wall” that change was necessary and coming fast, ready or not. 

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminded us all recently, the U.S. government has known about climate change since 1989, and the fact is, in 1990, the George H.W. Bush administration committed the Federal government to action by adding several amendments to the 1970 Clean Air Act (the same Act Trump is busy decimating). Taking pragmatic, preventive action used to be a conservative value, but apparently that’s no longer true. Trump’s EPA just rolled back the last regulations that the Obama administration imposed to rein in greenhouse gas emissions produced by coal-burning plants. 

The 2006 documentary that gave an account of GM's "crushed" EV1 project.

In fact, General Motor’s first electric vehicle, the EV1, was produced in the mid-1990s, in response to the reception enjoyed by a 1990 GM concept car known as the Impact and the subsequent “zero-emissions” mandate passed by the California legislature. Unfortunately, GM sent mixed messages with this vehicle. Its actions immortalized in a 2006 documentary entitled Who Killed the Electric Car?, GM produced its EV1 (Chart #1 below) with the ironic intention of proving to California that there was no market for it. The car had its diehard fans, but even so, it was discontinued in 1999 and the vehicles (which were available only under lease) were forcibly recalled and literally crushed so they wouldn’t remain on the road. 

Let’s consider what that looked like astrologically. 

Chart #1. EV1 (first deliveries), December 5, 1996, 12:00 pm ST (noon chart, no specific time), Detroit, MI. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Notice here that the 1993 Uranus-Neptune conjunction is just starting to separate and there are several other potent outer planetary aspects: Saturn sextiles Uranus (Aries-Aquarius) and trines Pluto (Sagittarius). Corporations were feeling empowered and forging ahead confidently with new technologies. Jupiter conjoins Neptune (Capricorn)—globalization was being sold as “inevitable” and a triumphant new world order. 

It’s worth noting that Saturn also opposed/conjoined the Nodal Axis (Libra-Aries), portending rough times ahead for many (this echoes Saturn's placement in Capricorn, conjunct the South Node today, in fact). Globalization caused massive job losses and economic disruptions to communities that relied on local manufacturing plants and small businesses. 

We’re still feeling the impact of that period of rapid globalization because along with the disruptions came the beginnings of a gross acceleration in wealth inequality across the U.S. economy. Those harsh, even predatory Saturn-Pluto times unapologetically named winners and losers. Despite persistent voices like former V.P. Al Gore’s, (his An Inconvenient Truth didn’t come out until 2006, but he began educating audiences about global warming in 1989), the environment was clearly  relegated to the “loser” column.

Since that time American car manufacturers have woken up to the profit potential in emissions-free cars and the technologies necessary for viable electric vehicles have evolved, however that’s done little to shift the deep ideological divide we face with regard to climate change. To my view, when we see a truly affordable zero-emissions car that mass populations can drive—a sort of Model T for a new, green age—the industry’s commitment to reversing climate change will be credible. Instead, the newly-dubbed “mobility industry” is working feverishly to launch autonomous green vehicles that will probably be financially out of reach to mass populations for many years.  

This could be happening sooner than we think, but will it help tackle global warming?.

Note that this chart represents a number of “beginnings”—Saturn had just ingressed Aries, explaining the extra-aggressive edge to the Capricorn and Aquarius energies at work. Uranus had just recently ingressed technology-oriented Aquarius, in fact, the sign it co-rules with Saturn. 

These were also volatile times, with the Iraq disarmament crisis intensifying (which ultimately led to the 2003 U.S. invasion) during the 1996 U.S. election year. Wall Street was booming, however—illusion-prone Jupiter-Neptune fell in Capricorn, which had the market flying high—interestingly, this duo’s new cycle launched in January, 1997, exactly conjunct Sibly Pluto. 

So the business world was definitely calling the shots, and this helped Bill Clinton’s re-election bid. He had given them NAFTA (1993, just in time for the new Uranus-Neptune cycle) and would soon deliver the repeal of the 1933 Glass Steagall Act, “removing barriers in the market among banking companies, securities companies and insurance companies that prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company.” 

This was pure Jupiter-Neptune, an erosion of barriers (whether helpful or not) for the sake of growth and profit. Many analysts have pointed to this repeal as one causal factor in the 2007-8 recession—Wall Street was grossly overreaching its bounds between 1996 and 2007. 
So that was the environment into which the first functional electric vehicle was rolled out by an American manufacturer and it’s no surprise that GM erred on the side of profits and made green technology a distant priority for some later time. There is a market reality that companies have had to navigate, of course—they’re always faced with a balancing act between manufacturing products that will sell over products that should sell, and our system requires them to prioritize their stockholders’ bottom line above all

I’m not convinced that addressing climate change has to be a negative for the economy, but even so, something about watching those numbers tick up and down seems to crowd out all other imperatives. 

It's time to be forward-looking on so many issues!

The tide is turning

It’s our choice how we use incredible technological developments such as the Internet, but yes, great power can be wielded for questionable purposes by those who dominate technologies of any kind, and the Internet has been a prime example. We saw what happened in Election 2016, when our protections for free speech, rendered dangerously exploitable because the regulations for social media sites were either vague or entirely missing, made us vulnerable to meddling Russian hackers and intelligence personnel. 

Thankfully, the tide is slowly turning among social media giants, who now see the need to regulate what people can do on their sites a bit more closely. 

It is a bit difficult to pin down a single birth moment for the Internet, but for our purposes here, we’ll examine an early major milestone, the invention of the World Wide Web by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989.  He did this while working at CERN, the Swiss nuclear research laboratory, where he submitted a proposal on March 12th of that year for what he called “an information management system.”  Berners-Lee went on to write the first web browser the following year, but we’ll consider his proposal the inception of the project. 

Chart #2. World Wide Web (proposal), March 12, 1989, 12:00 pm ST (noon, no specific time known), Geneva, Switzerland. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.  

Again, we’ll focus primarily on the outer planetary cycles and aspects here—the collective impact of the Internet will be our main priority..  

Saturn conjoins Neptune and Uranus (Capricorn); Saturn-Neptune sextiles Pluto (Scorpio); Uranus opposes Chiron (Cancer). Saturn and Neptune had just launched their new cycle nine days prior and a quick degree earlier, with Uranus trailing closely behind them—all in early Capricorn. This was an amazing convergence of Capricorn energies (again, another parallel with our times): as noted earlier, the 1821 Uranus-Neptune cycle was waning into completion (exact in 2/1993), so it was putting a great deal of pressure on the global economic order, and Saturn was busy re-engineering global systems to suit Uranus-Neptune purposes. 

There was a pervasive sense that “something big” was about to transpire that would basically change everything, and that corporations were about to “rule the world.” The ground work had already been laid for this by economists and politicians pushing a neoliberal agenda, with its “free trade,” nearly regulation-free corporate platform in the 1970s and 80s (i.e., under Reagan and Thatcher). The Internet quickly enabled that transformation. 

The company I worked for at the time totally transformed itself in the course of the 1990s—and a similar upheaval was happening across corporate America. 

Even early on, the potential for the Internet to automate away thousands of jobs was apparent, and companies leapt at the opportunity (Saturn-Neptune sextile Pluto), to consolidate and streamline operations, merging, buying each other out in arbitrage deals, outsourcing operations overseas, etc.. Needless to say, employees were sold a bill of goods—all this disruption, designed to re-engineer corporations for a global economy, was touted as inevitable.  

It was inevitable in the sense that employees had no choice in the matter (unions were also being undermined), but Saturn-Neptune and “survival of the fittest” Pluto helped engineer that inevitability by forcibly erasing national boundaries and transforming the working world as we knew it.  

The business world was eager to take the global plunge.

For a lot of companies, it was “eat or be eaten.” Besides, there was an unimaginably huge pool of money out there in the global economy and corporations were eager to dive in. First, they needed  websites—that became possible after 1990, and the rest is history. 

Venus (Pisces) trines Pluto (Scorpio) and sextiles Saturn-Neptune (Capricorn). In watery Pisces (disposed by Jupiter and Neptune here), this Venus reflected that seductive “pool” of global money and suggested that nebulous, ill-defined things were happening in the global economy, but no one was about to interrupt the economic momentum of globalization. The opportunities were simply too lucrative (at least in the short term) to ask many questions. 

Jupiter (Gemini) quincunxes Uranus (Capricorn). Jupiter actually ingressed Gemini on the day we’re looking at here, so it’s no wonder communications technology got a boost that day. Recall that Berners-Lee regarded his proposed invention as an “information management system”—what could be more appropriate than to launch that idea with Jupiter in this sign? It’s interesting that Jupiter also conjoins Mars and squares Mercury and the North Node (Pisces) here—this Information Age would have its growing pains—the Uranus quincunx (and the added stress of a Uranus-Chiron opposition) reinforced that—but it was an “idea whose time had come” (Node)—a source of growth that would be aggressively pursued (Mars-Jupiter). 

Despite the dangers of being hacked and falling prey to cybercrime (security “wounds,” as Chiron in Cancer reflects), can any of us now imagine a world without the Internet? 

The Galactic Center, found in late Sagittarius.

One final observation here: Vesta conjoins the Galactic Center (Sagittarius), reinforcing the notion that it was time to reach beyond our usual bounds for a truly “cosmic” adventure. I remember how incredible it felt to connect so effortlessly with people across the globe via the Internet—connected-ness we surely take for granted after so many years. 

In its developmental years, Internet boosters made a lot of lofty promises about its potential to forge a brand new, better world, to lift people out of poverty, promote justice and civil engagement, and to simplify people’s working lives. A lot of those promises have been fulfilled, but many have fallen short or been derailed by negative counterinfluences.

And, as we saw in Election 2016, the Internet can wield dangerous influence, enabling dark forces that are happy to destroy our American values and democracy and to take us back to the days before the Civil Rights Act, before the Clean Air Act, and before Roe v. Wade. Any nation’s social and political discourse is vulnerable when Internet parasites (Neptune) spread toxic propaganda and lies designed to undermine people’s ability to know what’s true and what isn’t. 

George Orwell’s 1984 described a chilling, dystopic society, but what we’re seeing now is, in some ways, even worse because it’s more subtly manipulative. We've seen “doublespeak” of a whole new order, masqueraded behind a veneer of “free speech” and protected as such. “Make America great again” has a catchy ring to it, but at times it seems like code for selling out the soul of our democracy.  
Political lies and obfuscation are nothing new, obviously, but with the planetary energies and cycle dynamics that we are experiencing now, they have taken on a whole new depth of dangerous corruption. Just as we must take climate change seriously, we must take the perils of Internet propaganda and a White House culture of lies more seriously. To ignore either or both will accelerate our downward spiral, much faster than we think.

The facts are out there -- our representatives need to listen!

Final thoughts

Despite all the challenges discussed above, I believe there is a lot we can do to preserve what is best about this society—and to save ourselves a lot of personal grief in the process. We might start by applauding and listening to the climate scientists who are no longer even trying to downplay the seriousness of the climate crisis. Their message has been ignored for far too long and we’re losing time. There’s a brave and mighty chorus out there, across the spectrum of scientists and scientific organizations, trying to wake us all out of our Neptunian inertia. 

Unfortunately, the overall sense is that the American public is asleep at the wheel: the Green New Deal proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is out there, but who’s talking about it these days? It was barely touched upon at the first Democratic debate on the 26th. Perhaps it’s time to take notice and to start stimulating such discussions. Neptune has a way of casting a “sleeping spell” over the collective, numbing our more Saturnian sense of limits and ethics (i.e., our consciences) and rendering us impotent. 

We’re not powerless unless we agree to be! 

We can wield that power in many ways, but one good way is education—for instance, about how connected and interdependent the climate crisis and the crises we’re seeing at our border are. Scientists estimate that climate change and its deleterious environmental impacts will produce millions of climate refugees over the next decades, and we can be assured that a good number of them will be looking for asylum here! 

In fact, a special Pentagon report from 2003 acknowledged as much—wouldn’t it be better to work on preventing the root cause(s) of such a situation instead of militarizing our border, separating families and keeping asylum seekers in concentration camps? 

Finally, if we’re not already fully alert to the problem, it would help to fine-tune our “bullshit” sensors on the Internet: if a claim is delivered in a state of exaggerated emotion, if it comes across as being purposeful libel, slander, or innuendo, if it’s more about ridiculing, denigrating or name-calling than substantive information, if it’s pandering to natural fears in an unnaturally shrill way, if it’s accompanied by outrageous visuals that are more like mean-spirited caricatures—it’s more than likely false and needs to be called out as such or simply ignored.

The fact-checkers are out there, too - evidence we can see and hear is real!

At the very least, such Internet content needs to be verified. Independent fact-checking websites are available for this purpose if you haven’t found a media outlet you trust. The Internet can be a force for good, but it won’t be if we're not vigilant. 

Which brings us back to the Trump presidency. Many presidents have been caught in lies and/or played dirty, but Trump has two basic rhetorical modes: wielding words like machetes, or passing off blatant smears and lies as his “innocent” observations (“I noticed that…I wondered why….I can’t believe that…They are saying...”). Writing for The Atlantic recently, journalist Peter Wehner perfectly captures the dangers of all this: 

“Democracy requires that we honor the culture of words. The very idea of democracy is based on the hope that fellow citizens can reason together and find a system for adjudicating differences and solving problems—all of which assumes there is a shared commitment to the integrity of our public words. If you believe words can ennoble, you must also believe they can debase. If they can elevate the human spirit, they can also pull it down. And when words are weaponized by our political leaders and used to paint all opponents as inherently evil, stupid, or weak, then democracy’s foundations are put in peril. Which brings us to the dismal, demoralizing Donald Trump era…
Many other presidents have been viewed as divisive figures, but none have taken as much delight as Trump in provoking acrimony, malice, and bitterness for their own sake; in turning Americans against one another in order to turn them against one another. He seems to find psychic satisfaction in doing so.
The banality and weaponization of Trump’s words are bad enough, but the greatest cause for concern is his nonstop, dawn-to-midnight assault on facts, truth, reality. That places Trump in a sinister category all his own.” 

To address a challenge, we have to recognize it—it’s no pleasure to focus so heavily on negatives, but there’s too much at stake to ignore. Let’s hope that today’s (July 2) total solar eclipse (New Moon)  at 10°+Cancer (conjunct our Sibly Sun) will trigger renewed awareness and deepen our instinctive wisdom as a collective. American ideals are family-centered (Cancer)—we are so much better than the corrupt shadow of ourselves that we look like from D.C.!  

Bottom line, Utopia may be an elusive ideal that we never quite achieve, but we can resist the downward spiral into Dystopia! 

We can do better!

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 2019. All rights reserved. 

[1] Fukuyama, Francis. Identity . Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition, 2537/3562.
2 Ibid.