"I want more life."--Roy Batty, Blade Runner (1982)
Since 1989, Americans have been watching the longest-running “reality” show, COPS – riding along with police officers as they interacted with people in criminal and compromising situations that more often than not, ended in arrests. Eight days ago, on the 9th, in the midst of nationwide protests condemning abusive police practices and calling for deep reforms in the nation’s approach to law enforcement, COPS was canceled. In response, the L.A. Times ran a story describing a new podcast titled “Running from Cops” by media analyst Dan Taberski, who “grew up watching COPS” and decided because it had become as “mundane as wallpaper,” in our social discourse, it was worth researching as a pop culture phenomenon—a highly manipulated media product, in fact:
“They ultimately collected 90,000 data points, which they compared year by year to statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting in order to determine how the real world compared to “Cops.”
They found that drug crime was much more prevalent than it is in real life (35% of the crime on “Cops” versus 13% in reality), as were prostitution (5% on “Cops” versus less than 1% in reality) and violent crime (7% of the crime on “Cops” vs. 4% in real life).
’Basically, it presents a world that is much more dangerous than real life,’ Taberski said. ‘It presents the police as being much more successful than they really are. It misrepresents crime by people of color — the raw numbers are about the same but the show front-loads crime, and especially violent crime, by people of color. And anyone who’s worked in television, especially reality television, knows that you front-load your best stuff, you hook people in the first act.”
Perhaps the most disturbing development in COPS’ history was, as Taberski noted, that the program’s content has become as “mundane as wallpaper” to its viewership—in other words, its distorted, inherently biased perspective had, through repeated viewings (sometimes several episodes in one day), permeated viewers’ perception of law enforcement and the challenges it faces—so much so that precious few actually questioned the picture of American society it portrayed, in which cops were untouchable heroes who work in “good cop/bad cop” teams, and their “catches” were insignificant bit players in the scene who were almost always in the wrong.
|Artist Rob Rogers' spin on our current dilemma.|
Taberski wonders out loud how much of that perception perhaps enabled the deadly police brutality that inspired the past four weeks of continuous protests in streets across the nation—I wonder if he recalls that prescient line from Blade Runner, in which Bryant, the main character’s former boss, chides him into cooperating with a new replicant-destroying mission by saying:
“Stop right where you are! You know the score, pal. You're not cop, you're little people!”
In fact, in 1982, that comment couldn’t have been better-timed – Saturn and Pluto would be coming together later that year for a new cycle in late Libra (the one that just ended and relaunched in Capricorn this past January, square to that 1982 Libra point), and when Blade Runner was released on June 25, 1982, Saturn squared the Nodal axis (Cancer-Capricorn), suggesting that we would see a harsh societal trend towards authoritarian police practices, along with power dynamics expressed more broadly in society.
|Actor Rutger Hauer just died at age 75.|
As lush and beautiful as Blade Runner was in so many respects—with stunning, memorable performances (rest in peace, Rutger Hauer)—it was also about a dystopian state hunting down and assassinating “more human than human” beings who just wanted to live out the time they were given as free entities (they had staged a rebellion on a slave colony “off planet”) and were willing to rebel and fight for that right. Sometimes we might wonder if today’s rogue police targeting people of color conceive of themselves as being the “enforcers” in a contemporary “slave rebellion?”
I’ve always contended that media products (those with staying power)—such as we’ve seen with both COPS and Blade Runner—pick up on important astrological themes in play during the times they are released; importantly, they function like windows on our collective consciousness.
Unfortunately, the tragic extremes of the power dynamics these two media products picked up on has been playing out on our streets ever since, and as a still-new, hard-nosed Capricorn Saturn-Pluto cycle begins to have its say, these extreme manifestations—encapsulated in the shockingly cold-blooded killing of George Floyd—are exploding into demands for change. We’ve seen an existential turning point unfold before our eyes, and clearly, the struggle to navigate this moment is just getting going.
These same issues have been sensitive for decades—protests responding to police killings of unarmed black individuals are nothing new—but somehow, there seems to be a consensus that this time feels different. Aside from the fact that this time an impressive number of white individuals have joined the protests, and that they’re doing so from all types of communities, urban to rural, I would suggest that this time is different, indeed, because we are now in the new phase of a Saturn-Pluto cycle, as opposed to being in the waning 3rd quarter of the last one. And, this Capricorn cycle happens to be ruled by Saturn, so the focus on institutional state authority is highly appropriate.
Bottom line, there’s a palpable difference in the mood and ability to break through into actual change between those two phases.
|"Defund Police" has become shorthand for a much broader reform agenda.|
Along those lines, Politico.com is featuring a headline this morning that kind of says it all: ”How ‘Defund the Police’ went from Moonshot to Mainstream,” subtitling it with “A rallying cry once on the margins is now driving the debate around the country as Americans reckon with a law enforcement regime increasingly seen as unjust and unredeemable.”
Of course, the impulse between the two houses of Congresses has been to politicize even the most obvious and straightforward decisions—should there be a federal law banning the use of chokeholds by police, or should we just say “pretty please don’t choke people to death,” and count on voluntary restraint?
The fact that we have to argue over that point is evidence that substantive change will meet obstacles every step of the way, but we have to keep in mind that the change people are seeking requires more than tinkering around the edges of racial bias and police brutality, slapping a few wrists, phasing out the Aunt Jemima brand and other racist icons, and sinking back into default behaviors—the idea is to totally re-envision policing in America, and to engineer a fresh new system that clearly defines the role of police forces in society and helps to restore people’s trust in this vital public safety institution.
It’s not just about weeding out and holding the “bad apples” accountable, although there’s certainly some of that—no, we’re talking about a wholesale transformation (Pluto) in the institutional culture (Saturn) of policing, and it’s hard to imagine that these two planetary “heavies” won’t produce some progress along these lines unless we seriously blow our opportunity to get this right.
This would be a good place to revisit that Saturn-Pluto cycle launch to more closely consider what the potentials are for this type of transformation, and what might be the obstacles and pitfalls. Let’s begin:
Chart #1: Saturn-0-Pluto, January 12, 2020, 11:45:34 a.m. ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. Author cast on Kepler 8.0, with thanks to Cosmic Patterns Software.
Saturn-Pluto (cycle point) conjoins Mercury, Ceres, Sun (all Capricorn), square Eris (Aries), and sextile Part-of-Fortune (Scorpio). Intensely restrictive times, characterized by barely suppressed violence (12th house Aries Eris). Prisons—part of the law enforcement system, after all—are the locus of pain and suffering (12th house Chiron) and wounds that defy healing. This could reflect the enormous toll that COVID-19 is taking on overcrowded prisons, or simply the dual threats of incarceration and the epidemic in general (both are disproportionately impacting minority populations).
|Immigration detention camps are deeply inhumane in today's circumstances.|
Immigration detention centers (hotbeds of infection these days) are included in this threatening situation, of course: vilifying the “Other” as the basis for so-called law enforcement programs is nothing new. Thankfully, the Saturn-Pluto sextile to 7th house Part-of-Fortune (Scorpio) suggests that we may finally be able to create systems that reflect some kind of “comfort zone” with “Others” who have been too often brutalized and disempowered.
Of course, we’ve all been feeling incarcerated during the COVID lockdown, which slammed the brakes on the economy and threw many obstacles in our path (Jupiter conjoins So. Node in Capricorn). and with Uranus (Taurus) also trine this less-than-benevolent Jupiter, and Neptune (Pisces) inconjunct Moon (Leo), it seems that our collective nerves and sense of security are starting to fray, big time. Feelings of being vulnerable and disrespected are weighing down all concerned, but it would certainly help to have a wise leader (Saturn disposes Capricorn stellium) who would at least try to unite us around what we have in common, rather than dividing us by the usual means.
Conspiracy theories (Neptune sextile MC and widely trine Cancer No. Node) are flourishing and seem designed to defend the policing status quo, if not delusional white supremacist positions (i.e., wounded 70-something Mr. Gugino is an “Antifa provocateur”…George Floyd never died). Calls for change are in the air, certainly—Venus (Aquarius) sextiles Uranus , and with the two falling in mutual reception (in each other’s ruling signs), it’s not surprising that things have snowballed into near-chaos at moments. Chaos catalyzes change, however, so I wouldn’t consider this a negative, but again, some capable leadership steering our collective ship through this would help.
This Venus also conjoins Sibly Moon (the People, chart not shown), sextiles Pallas (Sagittarius) and squares that sensitive Part-of-Fortune, which should feel like a cry for a renewed commitment to justice, for a more profound set of collective values and some serious soul-searching. What kind of country do we want to leave our children? One mired in hatred and division, or one that takes responsibility for its history and flaws and does something about them?
|Eris, Goddess of Discord|
Interestingly, Eris rises in Aries , conjunct the ASC from the 12th, so yes, disruptions and discord are waiting in the wings as we scramble to get our arms around the challenges at hand. A potent Mars in Sagittarius rules this chart from the 8th, the house where Pluto’s transformative process grabs hold and doesn’t let up until we consciously work to heal and clear our ancestral karmic heritage (Mars trines Chiron). To my mind, these energies represent the ongoing protests—and the way in which they resound like a collective primal scream. It’s a therapeutic, necessary process and I suspect we will know where most people stand on the issues at hand by the time the protests finally wind down. We will never heal without this process, which requires the courage to face some uncomfortable truths and come out on the other side.
If Tulsa can face the truth of its horrendous 1921 race massacre head on after all these years, the nation can do this more broadly.
That’s one choice for expressing this Mars: the other is manifesting in some places where bands of aggressive, armed militia members are showing up to intimidate peaceful protesters—for instance, in places like tiny Bethel, Ohio and Sandpoint, Idaho. These bands are crossing the line between counter-protesting and thuggery, designed to intimidate and suppress other people’s rights, and local law enforcement departments have shown signs of stepping aside and ceding control to this vigilantism. Communities need to get a handle on this quickly; if they can’t do this, our First Amendment rights, not to mention our system of “equal treatment under the law” are in even more precarious shape than we thought.
|Even designers are contemplating social transformation in these times.|
Final thoughts and an announcement
Things tend to heat up and/or become more oppressive during the more intense moments in a Saturn-Pluto cycle, but it’s all in the service of deep, fundamental, long-term societal change, so if we can keep this perspective in the midst of all these policing-related issues in the coming months, it will probably help. Re-imagining and re-engineering a sound justice system in this nation is about the most critical task we could tackle in these times—we simply cannot thrive as a nation if we drift backwards on this issue, even if our top leadership takes a pass. Social scientist Danielle Allen describes this imperative as well as I’ve heard anywhere:
“For this time to be different, we need not only the specific reforms to policing but also a bold and comprehensive project to constitute a healthy social contract. We need a project not so much of renewal but of reinvention so that we might at last build a full, inclusive social compact that empowers all and delivers effective and responsive governance to an empowered citizenry. We need a new social contract worthy of our recommitment to U.S. constitutional democracy and one another.”
A world in which the police can indiscriminately target a person by color and find some pretext for shooting them in the back, or choking the life out of them (a truly dark Saturn-Pluto tactic that is basically lynching by another name) is a dystopian nightmare, and I choose to believe that we can do better, and that we are meant to do better! Thankfully, others in key positions of power to push this project forward also feel this way; the least we can do (IMHO) is to facilitate and cooperate as we’re able.
It’s not just about fulfilling the call of this one planetary cycle, however: we’re also in the end stages of transiting Pluto’s return to its position in our Sibly chart between now and February, 2022, and this reality only reinforces our urgent need to transmute and heal our deep karmic “baggage” as a nation, and to do so in the context of revisiting and renewing our foundational values and revolutionary spirit. Which leads me to the following announcement:
|Now available on Amazon.com!|
This has been a long time in the works, but happily I can now announce that I have just published my first E-Book on Amazon.com, entitled Pluto’s Sibly Return: Revisiting Paine’s Common Sense for Transformational Times, which is actually a re-do of a pamphlet I published in 2005, updated for today’s particular challenges. The story takes a deep history-based dive into this soul journey we are embarked on as a nation, and I invite you to learn more about it by clicking on the title and link. I also invite you to click on “Follow” on my Amazon page– this blog feed is linked into my author’s page and you might find it’s easier to follow developments there than it is on this Blogger site. Whatever works for you, I deeply appreciate any and all support, and will be glad to hear any feedback or comments!
Keep it light!
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 2020. All rights reserved.