Monday, October 12, 2020

The Astro-Politics of Rocks on Fire: the March 13th Mars opposition

"Rocks are the most ancient peoples on earth. They are our elders. The Lakota people know this well; when they pray, they pray with heated rocks in sweat lodges. The rocks are the old people; they are the elders that bring toxins out of us and holy prayers as well. One of the most revered names for the Great Spirit among the Lakota people is Tagashala, which means “Grandfather of the Rock People.”—Matthew Fox, Creativity


It’s easy to despair these days, when the news keeps repeating that the Senate has basically pre-voted Amy Coney Barrett onto the Supreme Court before she even sits for the first hearing at 9 a.m. this Monday morning, October 12th.

Meanwhile, the State of Michigan (my home state) is reeling from FBI and State law enforcement revelations this past Thursday (8th) about an alleged plot on the part of radical right-wing militia members to attack our State capitol, take hostages and wreak violence there, while also kidnapping our Governor Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home and potentially killing her. Thirteen individuals (12 from Michigan, 1 from Delaware) have been arrested, charged under Michigan’s Domestic Terrorism law and could, if prosecuted, be given maximum life sentences. These perpetrators are mostly members of a Michigan militia known as Wolverine Watchmen, but they are also, apparently, known to be connected to the radical, anti-government “Boogaloo” movement. And, they are known Trump supporters.  

Unfortunately, that’s not surprising: when asked whether he would condemn such militia plots, Trump responded by attacking Governor Whitmer—one of his favorite targets for venomous criticism from day one (she’s a Dem and a woman—two strikes against her, of course). Whitmer responded by accusing Trump of inciting domestic terrorism, which is more than a reasonable assertion, given his rhetoric and repeated refusals to condemn such groups. We can only guess that in Trump’s mind, Whitmer (and other Democratic governors) have simply been too diligent and too science-based about getting their states’ virus cases under control—so essentially, making Trump’s feeble response by comparison look bad


Governor Whitmer's under constant attack by Trump..

The fact is, the actions and policies of Whitmer’s COVID task force have been vindicated repeatedly:  early on, Michigan cities like Detroit suffered a major outbreak of the virus, but the early high numbers of cases and deaths thankfully responded to strong executive orders locking various sectors of business and activities down. She and the task force were on television at least twice a week for months, keeping us informed about case numbers, resources for testing, encouraging best practices, and simply being a pro-active leader. In return for this dedication, members of the GOP-led House supported a petition drive seeking to cut off Whitmer’s emergency powers, especially her ability to extend a state-wide state of emergency without the legislature’s approval. The petition found its way to our conservative-led State Supreme Court, where it was supported on October 3rd, stripping some key powers from her going forward.  

So, those who want to pretend the pandemic is no big thing—the approach Trump prefers—won that battle, but we now have to wonder who will contract the disease and die as a result. Obviously, the domestic terrorists in our midst would have liked Whitmer to be one of them, and to his shame, they’re being empowered by Trump’s complicity and by a very selectively-quiet William Barr in the Justice Department, who has claimed to “abhor” the actions of such groups, but rarely speaks out against right-wing violence. From CNN:

“The Michigan plot would be the latest in a string of serious right-wing violent threats or events that Barr has been noticeably more circumspect about, a suspect in the shooting deaths of two officers in California and the arrest of three Las Vegas residents who are alleged members of the "Boogaloo" movement, while he uses highly torqued rhetoric about antifa and alleged left wing violence.


Last month, Barr demanded that federal and state prosecutors vigorously charge riot-related defendants with the rarely-used sedition law that would make it a crime to conspire to overthrow the government. None of the defendants in Thursday's operation were charged with sedition.”


Barr’s heavily-right wing-skewed view of American democracy is a story for another day, but it is related to the precipice we find ourselves on with Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate hearings, which threaten to pack the Court worse than anything Trump is accusing Biden of contemplating these days. The Washington Post captures very well the attempts to deflect from the GOP’s jamming of Barrett’s nomination:

“The 2020 election isn’t about whether to expand the size of the Supreme Court. It isn’t about whether Democratic nominee Joe Biden states his position on court-packing. The election is about one thing: a referendum on the dangerous presidency of Donald Trump.

No wonder Republicans are so desperate to change the subject.

The future of the court, now that Republicans are poised to cement a six-justice conservative majority, is a hugely important topic. Republicans stole one seat when they refused to let President Barack Obama fill a vacancy created nine months before the 2016 election. Now they are poised to steal another, rushing through President Trump’s nominee with Election Day less than a month away.

If Democrats, in response, are entertaining the radical idea of expanding the size of the court, it’s hard to blame them; Republicans have stocked the court with one and soon two justices whose seats they were not entitled to fill. This is slow-motion court-packing in plain sight.”



Art by Jason Sabon

Rocks on fire 

If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll know that we’ve been experiencing a heavy set of transits, with Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto doing a retrograde minuet back and forth over some key degrees in late Capricorn, including the U.S.’s radix (Sibly) Pluto and Pluto’s own helio So. Node at 21°+ of that sign. I’ve written at length about the importance of this passage—especially the Sibly Pluto return in progress in other places (here and here)—but we are now in a situation where Mars is also squaring these Capricorn points from its incendiary position in Aries, conjoined Eris. Translation: we’re seeing a heavy load of Capricorn “rocks” (Saturn-ruled earth sign) being lit on fire by Mars, and it’s anyone’s guess how the inherent volatility of the situation will manifest.

This dicey sounding situation is being exacerbated this week, in fact, by Mars exact opposition to Sun (and less exactly, Eris-opposite-Sun). As Matthew Fox’s brilliant analogy in the opening quote, we do have choices about how we use these “hot rocks:” consciously and reverently in the political “sweat lodge” of a transformative election, recognizing the wisdom of our “Elders” and then working to purge and release an entire Pluto cycle’s worth of collective toxins, or we can double down on the negative side and stew in our own karmic “juices.” but unfortunately, that conscious response would require a leader who possesses at least some humility and moral core, not to mention respect for anyone, much less our collective Elders.

On the contrary, Trump seems laser-focused on conning the world into believing that he’s the greatest president ever…except Lincoln…but then, Lincoln lost his life for standing up for a noble cause, so wouldn’t he be a “loser” in Trump’s mind? How “great” does that make Trump? His legacy is likely to be far less than the flattering reflection he sees in the mirror: he’s more likely to be remembered as one who corrupted not just our politics, but our very culture. Mary Oliver captures the feel of all this quite nicely here:

Of The Empire

We will be known as a culture that feared death
and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity
for the few and cared little for the penury of the

We will be known as a culture that taught
and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke
little if at all about the quality of life for
people (other people), for dogs, for rivers.

All the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a

And they will say that this structure
was held together politically, which it was, and
they will say also that our politics was no more
than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of
the heart, and that the heart, in those days,
was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

© 2008 by Mary Oliver
From her 2008 collection, Red Bird, p. 46
Published by Beacon Press 2008


When a culture submits to the purification process Pluto-Jupiter-Saturn are calling for by squaring a very hot Mars-Eris conjunction, it becomes more aware, more loving, kinder, more just and more focused on human well-being for all. Purification enlarges the heart instead of contracting it into something small, hard and mean. Purification would liberate energies we didn’t know we have at our disposal—energies that we could use to solve the real crisis facing us—climate change and all the hardship it is already causing people everywhere (including this pandemic). But no, we’re hung up on dealing with Trump’s engineered chaos and narcissistic power obsessions—one gigantic deflection from all that matters in this world right now.  

To my eye, these astrological “hot rocks” are being given to us at exactly the right “sink or swim” time for our democracy, so let’s take a brief look at a chart for that significant Mars opposition that will undoubtedly color this week’s news, not to mention Judge Barrett’s Judiciary Committee hearings.  


Sweat lodges are intended to heal and purify.

The astrology



Chart #1. Mars-opposite-Sun, October 13, 2020, 7:28:27 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C. Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast, courtesy of Kepler 8.0 Cosmic Patterns software.

Uranus Rx conjoins ASC (both Taurus) and opposes Juno-Mercury-DSC (conjunct in Scorpio). Not surprisingly, we can probably expect this Mars event to unfold in surprising and potentially volatile ways—ways that implicate high-profile material and financial matters (Uranus rules 10th). Information, especially financial relationships (Juno) is likely to be revealed/manipulated to some surprising effect (at the Barrett hearings?). We can expect the usual distortion and obfuscation, with Mercury widely trine Neptune Rx. Not surprising, for a week that will be dominated by Judge Barrett’s nomination, Venus rules this chart and trines this Taurus ASC.  

A wobbly Kite configuration: Moon-Venus (Virgo) trines Uranus Rx-ASC (Taurus), which trines Pallas-Jupiter (Capricorn); Moon-Venus also opposes Neptune Rx (Pisces, creating the “kite” string). A perfect kite would mean Neptune sextiles Pallas-Jupiter and Uranus, so we have a wobbly sort of kite, but it’s still a pretty powerful configuration. This Moon-Venus seems to represent where Barrett is coming from pretty well, as a mother (her introductory statement touts “family” as her primary value, surprise, surprise) and a woman who seems focused on serving a “higher power” (Neptune) or “higher idealism” (Jupiter-Neptune) through her work. There are, of course, material stakes in her addition to the Court (Venus-Moon trine Uranus-ASC in earth signs)a 6th conservative Justice will undoubtedly benefit corporate interests over workers (more than the Court already does this) and this will probably create serious obstacles to addressing climate change, among other important public crises.

Whether adding Barrett’s religious perspective to the Court is appropriate when all their decisions should be objective and not filtered through religious beliefs (there are currently five conservative Catholics on the Court, go figure) is another story (see last post here). No matter their academic records as jurists or scholars, no justice should be free to impose their religious ideals on everyone in this pluralistic society of ours. 

The best kind of cardinal t-square!

Cardinal T-Square: Mars-Eris (Rx, Aries) opposes Sun (Libra); this axis squares Jupiter-Pluto-Saturn (Capricorn). Notice that the Capricorn threesome have recently all turned direct (Jupiter and Saturn in September; Pluto earlier this October), so they are now likely to express some of the pent-up energies they were holding back during their long retrograde passages. There’s a tendency for planets in the final degrees of a sign to express more potently as well—another reason to make the right choices about those “hot rocks.” Mars’ (Rx) square to all of them is the perfect trigger for whatever manifests, of course—aggressive power plays, undoubtedly, if not outright violence intended to dominate and bring judgment.

Could Trump finally force his complicit Attorney General to fabricate indictments of his political rivals under all this? We shouldn’t take anything for granted in this climate—Trump is forever trying to hold others accountable for his own corruption, and all this Capricorn activity is pressuring his natal Saturn-Venus (Cancer, chart not shown), so there’s an itch there that he’s really eager to scratch.

On another note, I’m no financial astrology expert, but volatile configurations like this could be nerve-wracking enough to spook Wall Street investors, if not worse (all this is happening between the Sibly 2nd and the 5th, with Mars here falling conjunct Sibly Chiron (Aries). Whatever Mars triggers could certainly rip open old national Wounds—the vulnerabilities of our market-based system could figure into this (Sibly Chiron squares Sibly Pluto from Aries), along with a serious setback in Civil Rights.

Remember, all this Capricorn energy is playing out conjunct Sibly Pluto (27°33’ Capricorn); in fact, if we can mentally picture Pluto’s So. Node at 21°+Capricorn in this chart, we see that it falls exactly on the Sun/Mars Rx (midpoint, Capricorn). Just the convergence of transiting Pluto with its own helio south node can be a destructively transformational alignment—here, there seems to be a call to action involved, as well. Should we expect Trump to issue even less veiled calls to arms to the “Proud Boys,” and who knows what other groups? Astologer Michael Lutin captured the general challenge of this transit of Pluto’s helio So. Node well in a 2017 article in UK’s Astrological Journal:

“A complete re-organisation and re-examination of government on the world, global, corporate and personal level in your own job is being stirred. A revolutionary spirit is occurring as well as the effort to suppress it…This position and motion oddly happens to coincide with the abnormal shift in political and military alliances.”[1]

And that’s how it looked to Lutin way back in 2017—how much more dicey might that convergence be, mixed into a cardinal t-square with a bombastic Aries Mars-Eris conjunction? The trouble these days seems to be that the destructive forces working to tear down our national institutions are also trying to reinvent the very basis for U.S. government out from under our feet.

Relevant to this week, the reinvention effort is focused on packing the Court with conservative justices who are likely to suppress the civil and human rights of millions, not to mention affordable health care, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security under the suffocating primacy of “freedom of religion.”  Under that Court, the hard-won rights and security needs of the Many are likely to be judged not for their usefulness or helpfulness to those masses of Americans, but for how they bend to those Few with so-called “religious objections.”  

Or, equally perniciously, how they bend to the Few who claim to have “corporate bottom line” objections. 


All of this reflects the volatile potential of those “hot rocks” we’re asked to juggle in our already blistered hands these days. Mars Rx also exactly sextiles the No. Node and trines the So. Node (Sagittarius) in this chart, suggesting that the heat, rage and will-to-disruption (Eris gets into the act, too) will find opportunities for expression. This could benefit Trump, naturally—our disruptor-in-chief—but it could also open the door for a resistance movement that is trending and is filled with purposeful rage and determination at the moment.

Perhaps that purposeful rage can also be a purgative force?

Jupiter­-Pluto (Capricorn) sextiles Neptune (Rx, Pisces). This aspect plays off of the Jupiter-Pluto squares to Mars-Eris and highlights the power to be had from manipulating ideological divides (Jupiter also squares important points). This same Neptune Rx is transiting square Trump’s natal Gemini Sun-No. Node-Uranus opposition to Sagittarius Moon-So. Node (chart now shown); his bout with the virus and the general instability of his recent behavior have a lot to do with this. 


Confirmation hearings start today!

Final thoughts

It’s likely that Judge Barrett’s first confirmation hearing today will likewise be an unstable affair, laced with Neptunian obfuscations (Venus still opposes Neptune) and more than enough rage, cloaked in civility, to go around. She will say all the right things--the test, to my mind, will be whether Committee members have the courage to ask her the right questions (see last post here). I will leave you with the chart for that first hearing—see what you think!


 Chart #2. Barrett 1st hearing (Judiciary), October 12, 2020, 9 a.m. DST, Washington, D.C.
Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast, courtesy of Kepler 8.0 Cosmic Patterns software.

Check out that hot Moon-Mars trine -- sparks are likely to fly! 



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; see the “Publications” tab on the home page for her two most recent publications, now available as e-books on Amazon.


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© Raye Robertson 2020. All rights reserved. 










[1] Michael Lutin, “When Pluto goes south…does the whole world have to follow?” The Astrological Journal, Vol. 59, No. 5, September/October 2017, London, UK, pp. 20-23.


  1. I think it would be more fair to say that we have four conservative Catholics on the court and one liberal: Justice Sotomayor. See . Still that does not diminish your main point about a vastly unbalanced court.

    Consider a recent editorial from America magazine entitled "The Supreme Court can't resolve all our moral disputes. It shouldn't try." The writers conclude, "Repeatedly referring these moral dilemmas to the court, often framed very poorly as legal disputes, is a slow-motion disaster for democracy. The court is functioning in these instances less as a judicial body than as a relief valve for legislative dysfunction and executive overreach, and the pressure is rising faster than it can be vented through the necessarily slow process of judicial opinions."

  2. I think it would be more fair to say that we have four conservative Catholics on the court and one liberal: Justice Sotomayor. See . Still that does not diminish your main point about a vastly unbalanced court.

    The bigger problem may be the issues repeatedly referred to the Supreme Court. Consider a recent editorial from America magazine entitled "The Supreme Court can't resolve all our moral disputes. It shouldn't try." The writers conclude, "Repeatedly referring these moral dilemmas to the court, often framed very poorly as legal disputes, is a slow-motion disaster for democracy. The court is functioning in these instances less as a judicial body than as a relief valve for legislative dysfunction and executive overreach, and the pressure is rising faster than it can be vented through the necessarily slow process of judicial opinions."

    Thanks for another thoughtful analysis of current events.

  3. Thanks for the feedback, Alice -- great passage about the mis-use of the Court to mediate on morals. As for Sotomayor, you're absolutely correct (my apologies) - I think I was considering Barrett part of the list of conservative Catholics on the Court--not much doubt she will be confirmed.

  4. Hi
    This is not relevant to your piece but I'd like to say I have the sun at 24 capricorn, Pluto rising at 24 Leo and saturn Mars at zero sag. I'm having the life crushed out of me by said rocks. Greetings from UK.