Historians would mostly concur that the archetypes of power, prosperity and empire-building that have driven Western civilization this many centuries have been largely rooted in the imperial Roman tradition,
and as a mundane astrologer, I find it hard to argue with this perspective. Themselves derived from the Hellenic tradition, Roman mythologies inform our Western collective consciousness to this day, their "gods" and "goddesses" still regarded as ideals and archetypal models for "how the world works."
But there's the inevitable dark side of that worldview to acknowledge as well: Rome celebrated the "gods" and their cohorts and minions, and then there were the faceless, expendable masses who were thought to exist merely to keep that upper crust well-fed and pampered. To peel the Emperor's grapes and ingest any poisons before he could suffer them, if you will.
In the end, for all its splendor, Rome handed down the ultimate archetypal model for a radically unequal, exploitative, slave-based economy, run by a "strong-man" dictator/emperor. Interestingly, there are serious astrological dynamics that link that archetype to other empires that followed; we'll consider a couple key charts here that illustrate this point.
|Louis XIV, the "Sun King"
Then there's the U.S., of course, founded on a tortured blend of Enlightenment (small "d") democratic and Roman (small "r") republican ideals, a system that has worked well in the best of times, but is now coming back to haunt us big time, with our national chart's Pluto return.
Rome knew that to sustain an empire, the exploitation and control of resources (Pluto) and the ability to spin a good story and maintain an awe-inspiring "godly" image (Neptune) were key. In fact, that empire's ups and downs were clearly associated with the nearly 500-year Neptune-Pluto cycle--the empire was "born" under a nice Neptune-Pluto sextile in 27 BC, but by the time of the next June, 411 AD conjunction at 23+ Taurus, the empire was on the decline, with Rome having been "sacked" by the invading forces of Alaric and the Visigoths on August 24th the year before.
|Visigoths under Alaric's lead sacked Rome in August, 410 AD.
To briefly explore the archetype of power that was imprinted on Western consciousness so very long ago and has been echoed in a number of forms ever since, let's consider the empire's "birth" (which began with the reign of Augustus Caesar) alone, and then to see how that influence carried forward, we'll set Chart 1 against the U.S. Sibly chart in Biwheel #1 below.
|Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) was not an emperor, but paved the way for the Empire.
When in Rome...
The Roman Empire gave the Western world not just the ultimate model for a slave economy, but also of a "strong-man" autocracy; as noted, it was founded after the reign of Julius Caesar, with the reign of Augustus Caesar , which began on January 16, 27 BC (amazingly, these exact records exist). Of particular note in the chart for this beginning (Chart 1 below) are: the exact Sun-Pluto opposition, stretched across 26+Capricorn-Cancer and t-square the Libra MC (chart set for approximate dawn); Saturn's wide conjunction to Cancer Pluto and quincunx with Sagittarius Uranus; the t-square to Virgo Neptune Rx formed by the Uranus-So. Node conjunction opposite the No. Node Rx/Jupiter Rx midpoint (Gemini).
This volatile mutable t-square in combination with the Saturn-Uranus quincunx perhaps portended the conflicts and invasions that gradually overtook and fatally undermined the empire. The t-square may also reflect the relative weakness of Rome's naval power, as compared to its legendary land-based legions, that is. Many of the so-called "barbarian" invasions that weakened the empire over time arrived by sea. Could it be that the Western world's deeply-rooted dread of immigration, which tends to spike during hard times, harks back to this time as well?
Despite naval weaknesses, however, Mars (Capricorn) trined Neptune (Virgo) and opposed Saturn (Cancer), reflecting the key role the Roman military played in Rome's empire-building.
Chart 1. Roman Empire (Augustus Caesar named emperor), January 16, 27 BC, 7:00 a.m. (approx. dawn) LMT, Rome, Italy. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.
As for the "model" Rome provided for future Western empires, consider Biwheel 1 below, between Chart 1 (Roman Empire) and the U.S. Sibly chart.
Biwheel #1. (inner wheel) Roman Empire (Augustus Caesar reign), January 16, 27 BC, 7:00 a.m. (approx. dawn) LMT, Rome, Italy; (outer wheel) U.S. (Sibly) chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.
I find it stunning (although not quite SURPRISING) that the Sibly Pluto-to-Part-of-Fortune-Mercury opposition ties in so tightly with the Roman Sun-Pluto opposition, all between Capricorn and Cancer. Mid-to-late cardinal axes have been regarded as prime geopolitical power centers in national charts by generations of mundane astrologers, and having Pluto along one of these axes adds a sense of deep pockets and considerable "clout." Notice that both Roman and U.S. Plutos share this axis (on opposite ends); clearly, both were built around complementary views about wielding power. Develop systems and infrastructures to amass and control the resources (Capricorn) and the People (Moon-disposed Cancer) and the world is your oyster.
Notice also that the Virgo Neptunes in these foundational charts are closely conjunct; both also form soft aspects with their respective Plutos--Rome, the sextile; U.S., the trine. In both cases, Neptune supported and enabled a mythos of power, glory and importance; for the would-be autocrats dotting both histories, it's enabled delusions of grandeur, heroism and larger-than-life celebrity. After a 2018 state visit to France, Trump was adamant that he had to have a military parade like the one he witnessed there on Bastille Day.
|Sport and spectacle kept Romans in thrall to their emperors.
I think it's interesting that both charts here feature a balanced distribution of points in cardinal, fixed and mutable signs. Key power/governing energies Pluto and Saturn fall in cardinal signs in both: Rome's Mars in Capricorn exactly opposes Rome Saturn and Sibly Sun in Cancer; this axis squares Sibly Saturn opposite Sibly Chiron (Libra-Aries). Where democratic principles failed to fulfill early U.S. ambitions, military force was often the wounding default (Chiron is disposed by Sibly Mars in Gemini, conjunct Rome's Jupiter). My guess is, the imperial Romans would agree that a nation's desire for expansion and conquest is its own logical justification.
Indeed, Roman emperors likened themselves to gods on a quest to fulfill their dynastic destinies, the U.S. has certainly had its dynastic families as well (outside of politics, the Caesar archetype is still alive and well and living in Las Vegas). The inevitable brutality of such power "quests" has been mirrored here too, not only abroad, but with our 19th century westward expansion campaigns, fueled by "manifest destiny." Pluto would have been transiting over U.S. Chiron during the 1840s height of those campaigns, in fact, and Neptune was transiting over the Aquarius Sibly Moon; the P.R. promoting those campaigns framed them in almost religious terms.
|The image used to promote "manifest destiny" as wagons rolled westward.
The truth is, the Roman model of power, governance and society has never quite disappeared, despite the imperial "ideal" falling into disrepute; like a buried remnant of an ancient shipwreck, the Roman model keeps washing up on shore at certain high tides (and yes, Neptune's fingerprints are all over this). Strong-man dictatorships are gaining ground in several nations as we speak, even in former Soviet republics like Poland and Hungary that fought so hard for their democracies and independence in the 1989-90 rebellions.
Turns out, strong-man rule is a convenient fall-back when the work of democracy falls short, especially in response to protracted economic stress and rising corruption: "law-and-order" is far easier than tackling the complex work of equal justice and opportunity for all. Not surprisingly, many of those former Soviet nations have been experiencing their first Saturn returns as democracies.
Nationalism and autocracy seem to be especially appealing when people in stressed nations fall prey to Neptunian fear, misinformation and the pressures of demographic change. Unfortunately, such fears and misinformation are usually promoted by the would-be autocrats, looking for a foot in the door. Often to their ultimate regret, people in these situations give away their power in exchange for the delusion that a law-and-order "savior" is going to put their interests first.
Which brings us to one more reason why taking a firm hand with climate change mitigation is so urgent right now: the dysfunction and distress produced in largely agricultural nations or vulnerable island nations by climate warming is causing massive migrations (Neptune) that many fragile democracies on the receiving end simply cannot absorb without producing chaos. This is one of the most difficult dilemmas of our times, in fact, a dilemma the world's wealthier, less climate-challenged nations are constantly pressed to take on by the COP conferences.
|Bangladesh is already being devastated by climate change.
This seemingly logical demand, however, is receiving a far more tepid response than it deserves. Way back at the UN Climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, wealthier countries pledged to collectively contribute $100 billion per year to help less-wealthy nations adapt to climate change realities within their borders, yet those contributions have been very slow in coming. Some of the recent sluggishness may be due to the pandemic; however, climate change also exacerbates and enables pandemics, so that justification seems very hollow and short-sighted.
|Indigenous nations protesting for climate justice.
The fact is, if more action doesn't ensue quickly, the passivity we're witnessing today will likely kill and displace millions of people, yet bystanders will feel justified in clucking their tongues and saying "what could we do?" In truth, where there's a will, there's a way, and scores of brilliant scientists, engineers, technology experts and activists are just waiting for the funding and cooperation they need to find that way. In Christ's parable of the good Samaritan, how many people (some quite religious) passed by and ignored the fallen traveler before the compassionate Samaritan came along and cared actively for him, even leaving money with the inn-keeper to meet the traveler's future needs? Perhaps those self-righteous but inert passers-by were also thinking "let Nature take its course?" Nature's not the culprit here, I fear.
And Nature does take its courseSpeaking of natural processes, the Sun and Moon formed a lunar eclipse (full moon) on June 4, 410 AD that could have portended Rome's fall to Alaric that same August. The eclipse chart cast for Rome (not shown) placed the Sun-Moon stretched across the 1-7 axis of Self-Enemy, and a Neptune-Pluto-Ceres-Saturn conjunction in Taurus in the 12th of self-undoing and hidden enemies, with Uranus (Aquarius) squaring it all from the 9th of foreign travelers. Jupiter fell sextile that Uranus Rx and square Cancer Venus from 21+ Aries; opportunities for outside forces to pounce were certainly there.
The presence of Ceres in the beleaguered Taurus stellium perhaps signals one of the least-studied aspects of Rome's fall--the relentless Nature-based issues (including climate extremes and pandemics) that drove desperate waves of migration from the East going westward towards Rome. The New Statesman documents a lot of this in a 2020 article entitled "How pandemics extinguished the Roman Empire: What the fall of Rome teaches us about the twin threats of lethal disease and ecological disaster." . It's a matter of record that between the 2nd and 4th centuries, Rome's empire suffered a mixture of climate shifts (including disastrous cold spells and droughts), pandemic and plague-type disease ; as in today's "globalized" world, rapid contagion was one of the least positive attributes of their expansive domain. Little was known about containing public health crises at that time, contrary to our times.
In fact, history shows that the balsamic periods (i.e., the last 45 degrees) of Neptune-Pluto cycles can be quite perilous, tumultuous and chaotic--a story we'll explore more deeply another day because mass death and destruction tend to follow these two around. The Huns apparently suffered a major drought at some time before Rome fell in 410; many migrated desperately in the direction of Rome, putting pressure on the Goths as they did. One thing led to another and Rome itself collapsed at the hands of the Visigoths. The empire's unifying center was simply washed away by the relentless debilitating pressures.
Bottom line, natural causes can overwhelm even the best human intentions and take down even the mightiest of empires--another part of the Roman "model" we might want to pay attention to in today's climate change-challenged world. So what is our human role in all this? Maybe one more look back at the Roman empire is in order: if humans could have intervened to minimize the death and destruction that plagued the world and helped to bring Rome down in 410 AD, shouldn't they have done so? Thankfully, today there are things we and our governments can do to secure the future of humans on this planet; shame on all of us if we don't finally get moving.
|Practical needs in focus.
On this note, let's rack our focus back into the 21st century and consider one last chart--the November 19th lunar eclipse, cast for Washington, D.C. I suspect this eclipse will help stabilize our public discourse in the coming several months and will focus it around addressing the nation's basic needs. Time will tell, of course, but let's briefly consider Chart 2 below.
Chart 2. Lunar Eclipse, November 19, 2021, 3:57:18 a.m., Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.
Eclipse Sun and Moon stretch across the 2nd-8th houses and fall between 27+Scorpio and Taurus, t-square Aquarius Jupiter. It appears that there's a serious need for an expansive technological approach to concrete, pragmatic problems; perhaps the Biden infrastructure plan which just passed on the strength of a bipartisan vote in Congress will help, but the threats posed by Mars (Scorpio) opposite Uranus Rx (Taurus) require a strong restraining hand (the opposition t-squares Saturn in Aquarius). Rage and vengefulness could threaten to stymie tangible progress, but perhaps the nice Saturn-Ceres trine (Aquarius-Gemini) will help re-focus attention on family and everyday priorities.
It's possible that this fixed t-square also has something to do with our current supply chain bottleneck; Mercury's Scorpio square to Aquarius Jupiter could be contributing to that as well, but perhaps its trine to Pisces Neptune will loosen things up a bit, especially in regards to sea traffic.
The Eclipse axis is conjoined by Ceres opposite Vesta (Sagittarius), suggesting that the trend will be for families to slowly re-emerge into community life, especially now that the COVID vaccine has been approved for younger children. With Jupiter squaring these axes, the mood should be mostly positive and optimistic, although with Mercury trine Neptune (Scorpio-Pisces), the potential for harmful or confusing misinformation is still real.
Venus rules this eclipse from the 3rd house of education, transportation and everday life; she falls sextile Pallas (Pisces), square Chiron Rx (Aries) and trine Uranus Rx (Taurus). Again, the challenges of moving goods right now seem to be paramount, but these aspects suggest that there are deeper dimensions to this bottleneck that elude our attention. Are some of the tie-ups being deliberately created? (Mars sextiles Venus; Venus trines Uranus). We know there are labor shortages involved; are there also geopolitical and/or environmental issues behind some of it?
Finally, Pluto (Capricorn) sits at the bottom of the chart, conjunct the IC (opposite MC); it trines the Moon (Taurus) and sextiles the Sun (Scorpio), so there's no denying that the grass-roots power brokers will be working overtime during the active life of this eclipse. Will this bode well for Biden's larger "human infrastructure" bill's passage? The Moon-Pluto trine is promising; interestingly, Pluto sextiles and disposes Mercury (Scorpio) as well, and with Pluto ruling Mercury's 2nd house position, the money should be forthcoming. Time will tell, of course, but the heavy lower hemisphere focus of this chart says that the People's needs should be primary. We may not be able to agree on a lot of things, but making progress in basic areas like job education, child care and climate change mitigation might just have a unifying impact.
We can dream! According to NASA (as cited), this upcoming eclipse is fairly special:
"The partial lunar eclipse, when Earth’s shadow covers 97% of the full moon, will be the longest of the century by far, dwarfing the duration of the longest total lunar eclipse this century, which took place in 2018 and stretched to 1 hour and 43 minutes. The forthcoming eclipse will also be the longest partial lunar eclipse in 580 years, according to the Holcomb Observatory at Butler University, Indiana."
|The Nov. 19th eclipse will be gorgeous and visible in all 50 U.S. states.
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, U.S. history, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. She’s published articles on these topics in several key astrology journals over the years, including most recently, the TMA blog. For information about individual chart readings, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Raye Robertson 2021. All rights reserved.