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.