Friday, August 7, 2020

Across the personal-collective bridge: the astrology of “good trouble”

From a new documentary: John Lewis-Good Trouble

 “The world is always bigger than one’s own focus…”—M.C. Richard, Centering
"Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet."—John Lewis, Across that Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change

A woman astronaut looked back at her first voyage into space: “Up there,” she says, “looking down on our beautiful blue planet, with no borders anywhere to be seen, I felt so at one with humanity…and, I have to tell you, I was especially happy to be away from my neighbor’s annoying dog for a few days.”

To my astrologer’s ear, this anecdote evokes Neptune, which operates—as every planet does—on different dimensions of existence. The feeling of being “at one with humanity” is a profound, spiritual perk of Neptune, while avoiding the neighbor’s dog is a nice bit of personal, Neptunian escapism.

That perhaps silly example provided my opening for an article that was published in The Mountain Astrologer in Feb/Mar 2018, entitled “The Disappearing Personal/Collective Divide: Helping Clients to Navigate Insecure Times.” As I recall, it was inspired at the time by not only the lingering impact of the 2008-10 “great” recession here in the U.S., but also by a rush of news about technological developments that seemed sure to cause dislocations in the job market and more havoc of the sort from which people were still trying to recover.

My goal in writing that piece was to share some insights I’ve gained over many years of studying mundane astrology about how the collective dimension of existence on this planet figures into people’s everyday lives, whether they’re aware of it or not. And how astrologers can tease out those sometimes overlooked personal/collective connections for the purpose of helping clients deal with difficult times and plan for the future. As I put it then, it’s healthy to recognize that the personal and collective levels overlap (and often collide) in every realm of life these days. Employment, career, relationships, family and community life, not to mention our relationship with the environment and geopolitics, are all at stake in these overlaps.

Underlying these concerns, of course, is the universal human need for security, so while we might like to tune out from the collective concerns of our day as the astronaut did with that annoying “dog,” they can and do impact us very directly.

We needn’t look far for a prime example today, of course—the pandemic that basically all of humanity is working to navigate and survive. Trouble is, a pandemic hits us on all dimensions of our Being—physical, emotional, material, mental and spiritual. It hits us on all the intersecting domains of our existence: Individual, Family, Community, Nation, Church/Religion, Humanity-at-large, and last, but certainly not least, in regards to our relationship with the Environment and Nature. Neptune highlights how we certainly are “in this together,” for better or worse.

"In this together!"

In fact, this is how Neptune—considered the ruler of communicable viral diseases, especially when they become phenomenal and all-enveloping—rolls, and the sooner individuals understand this, the better they will be able to ride its waves, while not losing sight of its powerfully deep, potentially dangerous undertows. Ships are swallowed whole by determined seas; island nations and coastal communities across the world and in the U.S. are now threatened by rising sea levels; we ignore the delicate balances that sustain life on this planet at our peril because in doing so we ignore the power of Nature itself—in many ways, Neptune’s awe-inspiring power.  

Likewise, the sooner we personally surrender to the collective imperative of beating this virus and fully cooperate with what the experts deem necessary to do that, the sooner we will be able to reclaim and enjoy fulfilling our personal priorities.  Experts have said this out loud, in fact—the “virus is in charge”—so nothing is going to move forward until we address its imperatives. The restraining, logic-and-facts-based approach of Saturn is our only defense in the face of Neptune’s talent for exponential viral spread; these two primal “gods” represent natural, biological dynamics that we simply must come to terms with if we want to move beyond this crisis. Even Trump is unable to suspend the laws of Nature, as hard as he’s tried to ignore and downplay them—causes will always trigger effects, and feedback loops can, if we’re not careful, cascade totally out of control.
Author Isabel Wilkerson begins her incredible study entitled Caste: the Origins of our Discontent, with an example that curiously resonates with this Neptunian peril and points to the role our relationship with Nature-writ-large is playing in today’s intertwined crises of the pandemic and racism-related social upheaval. The story opens in Siberia, of all places, in the excessively hot summer of 2016, the first summer the Arctic registered a destructive temperature of 95°F:

“Soon, the children of the indigenous herdsmen fell sick from a mysterious illness that many people alive had never seen and did not recognize. A twelve-year-old boy developed a high fever and acute stomach pangs, and passed away. Russian authorities declared a state of emergency and began airlifting hundreds of the sickened herding people, the Nenets, to the nearest hospital in Salekhard. Scientists then identified what had afflicted the Siberian settlements. The aberrant heat had chiseled far deeper into the Russian permafrost than was normal and had exposed a toxin that had been encased since 1941, when the world was last at war. It was the pathogen anthrax, which had killed herds of reindeer all those decades ago and lain hidden in the animal carcasses long since buried in the permafrost. A thawed and tainted carcass rose to the surface that summer, the pathogen awakened, intact and as powerful as it had ever been. The pathogen spores seeped into the grazing land and infected the reindeer and spread to the herders who raised and relied upon them. The anthrax, like the reactivation of the human pathogens of hatred and tribalism in this evolving century, had never died. It lay in wait, sleeping, until extreme circumstances brought it to the surface and back to life.”[1]
The image Wilkerson brings to life here is intended to illustrate how the vicious toxin of white supremacy can lie dormant in a society for generations until, given the right stimulation (i.e., a Trump presidency), it can re-emerge with a vengeance, more vicious than ever. I suspect Wilkerson wouldn’t agree that racism has ever truly gone dormant in American society, however; she considers this phenomenon in slightly different terms, however, as the caste “infrastructure” (Saturn) upon which the rest of society has been built, a structure that signals how people in society will interact with each other. She puts it more eloquently:

“Like other old houses, America has an unseen skeleton, a caste system that is as central to its operation as are the studs and joists that we cannot see in the physical buildings we call home. Caste is the infrastructure of our divisions. It is the architecture of human hierarchy, the subconscious code of instructions for maintaining, in our case, a four-hundred-year-old social order. Looking at caste is like holding the country’s X-ray up to the light.”[2] 

At 240+, perhaps the U.S. is an "old house" that needs serious renovation?
Neptune and Pluto are the transiting energies that most aptly reflect the deterioration process our nation and its so-called democracy—what Wilkerson calls an “old house”—have undergone, and like all entropic processes do eventually, our collective descent into disorder has reached a point of existential crisis—the point at which the solution demands stripping away the surface layers and addressing the rot eating away at the “bones” of the structure before it all collapses irretrievably. Certainly without intending to, Trump and those who took to his hateful message like moths to flames have forced us to look beneath the surface at that rot, and they have challenged all of us to finally do something about replacing those old bones of a long-outmoded caste system.

It’s a stark realization, but it’s also indisputable: a foundationally deep connection exists in our history between the outlandish wealth and prosperity of our upper “caste,” and the abuse and demeaning of workers of the lower “caste,” comprised of people of all colors of course, but most egregiously through the 400-yr. old institution of slavery and Jim Crow on this continent, of black people.  In fact, Jim Crow laws in the South (and in many points outside of the South) were designed to make sure the working class would see themselves as part of a hierarchy within the greater hierarchy, too. Deliberately fashioned for this purpose, these laws turned skin color into a hideous national iconology, the pernicious divisive force that forever sorted “superior” from “inferior” in American minds and gave vulnerable white and black people who suffered many similar abuses a reason to hate each other.

This divisive strategy served an important goal for the upper caste, of course—it spared the wealthy and super-privileged (those who decided the current minimum wage should be an unlivable $7.25) from the troublesome challenge of a working class that would unite against their many abuses.

Truth is, we can’t fix any of this if we don’t look the situation square in the face and take both personal and collective responsibility for it, as recently departed civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis knew only too well—we’ll consider his life and chart more deeply ahead.

I’ve stared long and hard at the significance of Pluto and Neptune playing tag team around their respective positions in our national chart (more on that to come), and it’s clear to me that we’re being given an “offer we can’t refuse.”

Such is life these days.

Neptune’s particular role in this tag-team effort is with us every time we strap a mask over our faces to go to the grocery store, so it’s no surprise to me that Wilkerson began her book about America’s caste system with an image of melting permafrost and toxins surfacing to kill people. In doing so she has (probably inadvertently) pointed out how Neptune figures into ways in which the human abuses of Nature (i.e., the poisoning of reindeer, long-buried in the permafrost) will re-emerge in pathogenic forms we can hardly imagine. Scientists warn that the animal world harbors thousands of viruses that don’t often make the leap between animal and human hosts, but when the few, especially suited ones do make that leap, the results can be catastrophic, especially for the more marginalized and vulnerable people in society.

Aside from the stunning way this illustrates the entwined nature of our dual crises these days, Fong is basically saying that what we’re seeing right now with the COVID-19 corona virus could be duplicated over and over again if the environmental triggers are there—and with Trump busily rolling back as many environmental safeguards as he can, they will be there. Atlantic Science writer Ed Fong describes this situation in stark terms:

 “Despite its epochal effects, COVID‑19 is merely a harbinger of worse plagues to come. The U.S. cannot prepare for these inevitable crises if it returns to normal, as many of its people ache to do. Normal led to this. Normal was a world ever more prone to a pandemic but ever less ready for one. To avert another catastrophe, the U.S. needs to grapple with all the ways normal failed us. It needs a full accounting of every recent misstep and foundational sin, every unattended weakness and unheeded warning, every festering wound and reopened scar.”

Wilkerson would probably add our current social upheaval over systemic racism to the “festering wound and reopened scars” Fong refers to here. In fact, his call for a “full accounting…” makes perfect sense with the societal issues erupting all around us, as well as the astrological dynamics of our times: as we’ve discussed several times on this site, Pluto is now transiting over the final few degrees it needs to cover before its Feb. 2022 return to Sibly Pluto, while Neptune simulataneously transits opposite Sibly Neptune, on its way to forming its exact demi-return in May, 2021

Lewis brought deep Neptunian ideals to the halls of Congress..
Just for the sake of context, the last time Neptune returned to Sibly Neptune at its exact degree in Virgo was in October 1938—not long before those WWII-era deadly toxins would have been trapped inside Siberia’s permafrost and not long before America’s WWII soldiers would have returned home to an unequal system of GI benefits that gave white soldiers a serious leg up over their black counterparts.

In many regards, today’s challenges are all about processing the toxic waste of that WWII period, on multiple levels: Toxic, hateful and tribal ideologies and political systems; the toxic privileging of corporate profit over Nature and the environment; the toxic origins of what has become our perpetual war footing (what Dwight Eisenhower warned would be a “Military-Industrial complex”); and last, but certainly not least, the toxic doubling-down on systemic racism in the U.S. with the denial and undermining of post-WWII GI Bill benefits to 1.2 million black soldiers.

The message was clear: you can fight and die for the nation, but the nation owes you less thanks and benefits than it owes white soldiers. Black soldiers were denied GI Bill federally-insured mortgages due to state controls and redlining; they were effectively unable to enjoy the education benefit as they should have due to institutional segregation (worse in the south, of course); they were denied access to highly skilled jobs (white soldiers took precedence because of corporate hiring biases), and so on. This means the “boom” times of the 1950s-70s were reserved for some people and not for others; undoubtedly the damage done shows in all the ways we measure family prosperity.

It goes without saying that this stunning level of injustice is bound to create rage and yes, such deeply-rooted grievances have festered, becoming another toxin that’s been lying in wait for the right moment to surface. Thankfully, deeply-principled leaders like the recently departed Rep. John Lewis and generations of activists and thinkers he has inspired have helped channel some of that rage into constructive action—the same approach we all need to take with the remaining toxic fall-out from that WWII period.

Perhaps we should be thankful that the pandemic has forced so many of these issues to the surface once again—with two new major planetary cycles in force (Saturn-Pluto, Jupiter-Pluto) and another approaching quickly in December (Jupiter-Saturn), it’s time to focus on preparing for a new, improved version of societies everywhere, but particularly here in the U.S., where so many aspects of our society have become deeply dysfunctional.  And yes, we need to consider the Chironic dimension of the wounds that have been ripped open so violently of late: it struck me, when the news hit of John Lewis’s death, that his absolutely dogged determination to heal racial wounds in this nation must be built into his natal fabric, and so it is.

Lewis defending the free press from Trump attacks.

Let’s take a closer look, first with his chart alone and then, in Biwheel #1 below, with his chart set against the nation’s Sibly chart.  

Chart #1: John R. Lewis, February 21, 1940, 12 p.m. ST (his mother reportedly recalls a “high noon” birth), Troy, AL. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts courtesy of Kepler 8.0 Cosmic Patterns software.

Sun conjunct MC (Pisces), disposed by Neptune (Virgo) opposite Mercury (Pisces). Mercury trines Chiron-Pallas (Cancer). Note that if his Mother’s time recollection is accurate (why wouldn’t it be?) Mercury also rules the Gemini ASC, and from there, the entire chart. From all this we see the key role that both Mercury and Neptune played in the Congressman’s life. Clearly, he was motivated by his spiritual ideals and as an ordained minister and long-time public official, he spoke with the authority and perspective of a compassionate, spiritual person.

Mercury’s trine to Lewis’s 1st house Chiron-Pallas in Cancer reflects the rich depths of his personal commitment to healing the racial wounds that he not only saw all around him, but that he experienced over his lifetime in constant assaults on his body and soul. He was born into one of the worst periods in the Jim Crow south, but even though by 1940, the influence of the KKK’s 1920’s heyday was beginning to fade, it would re-emerge with a vengeance after 1950, during Lewis’s formative youth. Chiron’s placement in this significant degree of Cancer (more on that in Biwheel #1) paints a vivid picture of Lewis’s core wound and thus, a driving motivation. From Chiron expert Martin Lass:
“The core belief and feeling that love will never be found, that it was lost, that it was never there, that the world is not supportive, nurturing, caring, mothering or loving…The core belief that we are unlovable and/or abandoned….Ultimately, the search for the Love within.”[3]  
On the Chiron trine to Mercury, Lass says:
“Chiron-trine-Mercury indicates a high resonance channel for the communication and expression of our Wounds in our lives...This aspect, therefore, confers the Gift of deep introspection.” 
This “gift of deep introspection” is reinforced, of course, by Lewis’s Mercury-Neptune opposition, not to mention his Moon-Pluto conjunction in Leo, disposed by his Pisces Sun. His ego (Sun/Leo) was literally submerged in 4th house Neptune, which deepened his sensibilities (4th house) in ways we may never quite appreciate, but we can sense in the words-beneath-the-words that he spoke out loud. He spoke in a measured, soft, but deliberate tone of voice normally, yet when he was calling out his colleagues (or the president, or the country) for what he perceived as injustices and behavior beneath the dignity of their offices, he was known to roar just as well.

Speaking with passion and fire at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
In those times, we witnessed his underlying warrior nature emerge—his Aries Jupiter-Venus square Chiron and trine Leo Moon, with Aries ruler Mars square his Moon-Pluto (Leo) from Taurus. He spoke with authority from the perspective of a wounded Warrior, and if the outpouring of love and adulation that followed his death was any indication, his efforts and emotional gravity bore a great deal of fruit.   

Luckily for his Georgia constituents and the nation-at-large, Lewis expressed the higher potentials of his Neptunian (Pisces) nature with his lifelong commitment to non-violent protest and “Good Trouble.” He absorbed others’ violence and hatred—not just to make points about the crying need for racial justice, but to also make a point about the higher Love we owe each other as traveling companions in this world. He literally walked his talk and in his final message published in the Washington Post he asked all of us to pick up where he left off.  

This is a good leaping off point for a discussion about his chart, set against the U.S. Sibly chart, in Biwheel #1 below.

Lewis's compassionate nature will be missed.

The man and the nation

I opened this piece by discussing why it’s so important these days that we work to navigate effectively on both the personal and collective levels of our existence, and that we take responsibility on both levels, clearly something Rep. Lewis fully embraced. This is why his relationship with the Sibly chart is so key to our discussion: he was a man of his time and of his place—the American south, during a particularly dark period in its ongoing struggle for civil rights, and rather than just trying to get along in a tough atmosphere for black Americans, he committed his whole being to a solution.

Importantly, he did so in the context of public service as a Georgia Congressman, elected over and over again for a total of 17 terms from 1987 to his death this past month. In retrospect, it appears that he lived by and encouraged others to live by a fairly simple, but loaded personal/collective mantra: “if you see something that’s not right, say something!” Let’s see how this played out in his relationship with the nation, in Biwheel #1 below.

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) U.S. (Sibly) chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m.LMT, Philadelphia, PA ; (outer wheel) John R. Lewis, February 21, 1940, 12 p.m. ST (his mother reportedly recalls a “high noon” birth), Troy, AL. . Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts courtesy of Kepler 8.0 Cosmic Patterns software.
Lewis Moon-Pluto (Leo) conjoins Sibly Node (Leo); Lewis Pluto opposes Sibly Pluto (Capricorn), while Lewis Sun-MC (Pisces) conjoins Sibly Moon (Aquarius). Lewis clearly had a “personal” relationship with the nation he served—with its People (Sibly Moon) and its politics (Sibly Pluto). He clearly understood the way Power-writ-large flows through the structural channels and institutions of our government—a point reinforced by an interchart t-square. His Venus-Jupiter (Aries) opposes Sibly Saturn (Libra) and squares Sibly Sun, as well as his own Chiron (Cancer).

These aspects between Sibly Saturn, Sun and his Chiron reflect his long-standing quest to work for change within the structures of government, however his stature as a Congressman didn’t stop him from participating in non-violent protest—on the streets of D.C. for immigration reform (2013) and during a sit-down strike on the (literal) floor of the House in 2016 for gun control legislation. And so on—the list went on.

In his moving eulogy for the Congressman, Barack Obama credited his own presidency to the efforts of civil rights warriors, but particularly to Lewis, who paved the way for our first black president. Despite Trump making it his top priority to roll-back everything Obama has accomplished (that the prior GOP Congress wasn’t able to obstruct), Trump is powerless to roll-back John Lewis’s impact on Obama’s life, and Obama acknowledged that debt in his eulogy.

Again, a personal relationship with broad collective impact—for the generation of black children who witnessed Obama as president, nothing can erase the memory of seeing a man who looks like them in the Oval Office. Obama’s not the hero in all this, however, and to his credit, he’s at least humble and gracious enough to know it.

One pic says it all.

Lewis Neptune conjoins Sibly Neptune (both Virgo), squares Lewis ASC and Sibly Mars (Gemini) and trines Sibly Pluto (Capricorn). It’s notable that Lewis was a member of the late 1930s-early 1940s Sibly Neptune return sub-generation—the very early, early Pluto in Leo “Boomers” born before the U.S. entered WWII. I haven’t studied this sub-generation in any depth, but it stands to reason that this cohort would have been animated by spiritualized idealism of whatever type suited the rest of their influences.

They were, in other words, “seekers,” and with Neptune, that seeking can take many forms, on a spectrum from darkly deceptive and corrupt to creative, light and redemptive. Think about some of the greatest musicians and artists that came out of the Boomer era—many of them were born during this Neptune return (allowing a 5-degree orb on either side of exact), and many also participated in that era’s Neptunian drug culture.

In Lewis’s case, he and others who pounded the pavement and sat in jail cells with him raised protest to the level of a Neptunian spiritual quest that challenged the nation to take its own founding ideals seriously. We also see this uplifting effect in his Neptune’s trine to Sibly Pluto, but perhaps importantly in the way his Nodal Axis (Libra-Aries) cuts across the Sibly Juno-Chiron opposition (Libra-Aries)—all of it square the Sibly Mercury-Pluto axis (Cancer-Capricorn). This complex of aspects speaks to his relatability as a Congressional elder statesman (Sibly Juno conjoins Sibly Saturn) and the way in which his work in Congress was informed by his deep desire to heal the nation’s wounds (Sibly Chiron). This impulse was, of course, reinforced by his natal Chiron-Sibly Sun conjunction (Cancer).

Lewis Mars (Taurus) squares Sibly Nodal Axis (Leo-Aquarius) and sextiles Sibly Venus-Jupiter (Cancer). Lewis’s long tenure in his Georgia Congressional office suggests that he had a competent grasp on the economic responsibilities of his job, representing the interests of his constituents: we see that here in the nice sextiles his Mars forms with Sibly Venus-Jupiter.  Without a doubt, he brought his profound sensibilities around racial justice to that task as well, but his votes were regularly cast in favor of working class progress, and it didn’t seem to matter who was promoting the legislation.

For instance, he voted against NAFTA, and that was promoted by a Democratic president. This perhaps tells us why his Mars was at odds with the prevailing trend (Sibly Nodal axis)—he didn’t always agree with the nation’s prevailing direction and this fixed Mars, along with his Saturn (Aries) t-square to Sibly Pluto-Mercury (Capricorn-Cancer) suggests that he wasn’t one to simply “go along to get along.” His constituents must have appreciated this feature of his character—he was re-elected 16 times over the years.  

Lastly, it’s hard to miss that over the past couple years of his life, Uranus has been transiting between his natal Saturn (Aries) and over his Taurus Mars, perhaps reflecting the way in which his life’s work has found new life in the Black Lives Matter movement, which he fully supported, even making his final public appearance at D.C.’s BLM Plaza. That Saturn t-square of his with Sibly Pluto-opposite-Mercury suggests how deeply-rooted the struggle was that he took on in his work, and it reflects his unswerving commitment to the task (his Saturn is disposed by a fixed Mars).

Perhaps significantly, over the next couple years, transiting Uranus will be returning to Lewis’s own natal Uranus, later in Taurus—where it will also trine his Neptune. Perhaps by then, the BLM movement he has helped inspire will have crossed that personal/collective bridge of “Good trouble” with him and will reap new landmarks to celebrate. The nation will be better for it when they do.

The casket of John Lewis, carried across the bridge one last time.

Final thoughts

Describing John Lewis’s funeral as a “balm to the American soul,” Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker points out the “providential” timing of his death:  

“Many say the Georgia congressman’s life mission was divinely inspired; others have described him as a saint. Among things providential, I would add the timing of his death in the midst of a pandemic, urban unrest and a pivotal presidential election fraught with complexities — from a sitting president who threatens to postpone the election to worries about voter suppression and the potential for fraud through mail-in ballots. Lewis believed in the Black Lives Matter movement and continued to counsel nonviolent civil disobedience. ‘Good trouble,’ he called it.
It is good to be reminded of that message now, as well as to consider what Bush called Lewis’s lesson to us all: ‘That we must all keep ourselves open to hearing the call of love.’ We don’t often hear words like that these days.”

The Obamas, John Lewis and the Bushes led the march in 2015.

In 2015, Lewis linked arms with then-President Barack Obama and, along with thousands of hopeful Americans, marked the 50th anniversary of the bloody 1965 civil rights march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, the no-holds-barred racist Alabama Governor, George Wallace, set the police loose with his blessing to use force, so although the bloody results were shocking to the public, they were no surprise to the participants. Those who organized that original march, including a much younger John Lewis, knew George Wallace’s mind and heart, so they knew to expect violence on that bridge and they marched anyway, risking their lives and suffering the wounds and scars. We can only surmise that for the protesters, after years of effort before this march, backing down was simply not an option. 

And in fact, their non-resistance to Wallace’s baton-wielding police bore fruit, in the passage of Lyndon B. Johnson’s landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.

This critical moment in the Civil Rights movement was certainly a collective success, but it was also John Lewis’s personal labor of love, so when the Supreme Court rolled back important safeguards at the heart of that Act in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision that enabled our present issues with voter suppression, he didn’t miss a beat, introducing the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore and improve upon those safeguards by an act of Congress. Now, with his passing, the issue takes on even more urgency. Derrick Johnson with Politico is covering the story today (Aug. 6), on the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act:
“’To begin, we must preserve Lewis’ legacy—the Voting Rights Act. Seven years ago, the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder “put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act,’ as Lewis said at the time. The ruling—which eliminated preclearance of voting changes in jurisdictions with a history of discrimination—was devastating to voters who enjoyed its protection for decades and to Lewis personally. He had shepherded reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act through overwhelming support by Congress in 2006. When its constitutionality was challenged, Lewis filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court and attended oral arguments. After the court’s ruling, he immediately went to work on restoring the Voting Rights Act. The first bill was introduced in January 2014, and it was finally passed by the House of Representatives on December 6, 2019.
Renamed after Lewis, this voting rights bill has sat on the desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for 240 days. The obstruction is unforgivable, especially now. The same Republican senators who paid tribute to Lewis after his passing now even refuse to move his signature legislation. There is every reason to act. Chief Justice John Roberts infamously noted in his Shelby County opinion that ‘[o]ur country has changed.’ But the floodgates of voter suppression that opened immediately after the court’s ruling—imposing strict voter ID requirements, ending early voting, closing polling places, purging voters and redrawing election districts—provide overwhelming evidence of modern-day voting discrimination to support restoring the Voting Rights Act to full strength.”

When that destructive Shelby County decision came down on June 25, 2013, Pluto was transiting square Uranus, which was then conjunct Lewis’s Venus-Jupiter (Aries). Pluto was also triggering Lewis’s Chiron (Cancer), forming a life-rattling t-square. In other words, the Congressman and his signature achievement—the bill he was willing to die for on that bridge—was caught in the vice of that long, dragged out, society-roiling Uranus-Pluto 1Q square. Aside from the disheartening, wounding (Chiron) blow this must have been to Lewis, this decision was also an example of how the personal and collective astrological levels were colliding at that time with awful force in the lives of not just Lewis, but of all American voters.

It's long past time.
If states can be allowed to design voting regulations around the goal of only some people’s voices being heard, all our voices are imperiled. When politicians and judges are allowed to pick and choose which American people they want to listen to, we’ve effectively stopped living in a democracy. As too many people of color in this nation have long known, democracy can be made conveniently optional for those who want to maintain power without serving all the people.  

Rep. Lewis was only one of many who have reminded us of this danger, of course, and knowing McConnell, it’ll be our job to take the restored Voting Rights Act bill off his desk and pass it along to someone who cares. In any case, all Americans owe a great debt of gratitude to Congressman Lewis­, and I hope he now knows how deeply he is appreciated.

On another important note, our sympathies go out to those suffering in the tragic events this week in Lebanon – here’s a list of agencies (published by the NY Times) that are providing aid, shelter and services, if you’re looking to help:  

·         The Lebanese Red Cross is the main provider of ambulance services in Lebanon, and said it would dispatch every ambulance from North Lebanon, Bekaa and South Lebanon to Beirut to treat the wounded and help in search-and-rescue operations. You can make a one-time contribution here. The British Red Cross has also set up an emergency fund.

·         The United Nations’ World Food Program provides food to people displaced or made homeless after the blast. Lebanon imports nearly 85 percent of its food, and the port of Beirut, the epicenter of the explosion, played a central role in that supply chain. With the port now severely damaged, food prices are likely to be beyond the reach of many. You can donate here.

·         The nongovernmental organization Humanity and Inclusion has 100 workers in Lebanon, including physical therapists, psychologists and social workers. They are focusing on post-surgical therapy in Beirut following the explosion. You can make a single or monthly contribution here.

·         International Medical Corps is deploying medical units and will provide mental health care to those affected in Lebanon. The humanitarian aid organization also provides health services to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and vulnerable Lebanese. You can donate here.

·         Islamic Relief, which specializes in food aid and emergency response, is helping implementing a supply chain for emergency aid in Beirut. You can donate here.

·         In a study released in late July, Save the Children warned that over 900,000 people, including more than 550,000 children, did not have enough money to buy basic goods like food. With the situation likely to worsen after the explosion, they have launched a Lebanon’s children relief fund, to which you can donate here.

·         UNICEF, the United Nations agency specializing in aid to children, is providing medical and vaccine supplies in Beirut, and supplying drinking water to rescue workers at the Beirut port. Its on-the-ground team is also counseling children traumatized by the blast. You can donate here.

·         Impact Lebanon, a nonprofit organization, has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help organizations on the ground, and is helping to share information about people still missing after the explosion. The group had raised over $3 million as of Wednesday and donated the first $100,000 to the Lebanese Red Cross.

·         The health care organization Project HOPE is bringing medical supplies and protective gear to Beirut and assisting the authorities on the ground. A donation page is available here.
·         Over 300,000 people in Beirut were displaced from their homes by the explosion. Baytna Baytak, a charity that provided free housing to health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic, is now raising funds with Impact Lebanon to shelter those who have been displaced.

·         For those in Beirut, here is a list of urgent blood needs. Several social media accounts have also been set up to help locate victims.

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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 sidebar links 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] Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: the Origins of Our Discontent,  Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition, p. 3.
[2]Wilkerson, p. 17
[3]Martin Lass, Musings of a Rogue Comet: Chiron, Planet of Healing, Galactic Publications, Nyack, NY, 2001, p. 326.