“Dance in this sun...Wake up and dance in the clarity of perfect contradiction. You fool, it is life that makes you dance: have you forgotten?”--Thomas Merton
We were already an hour late for scheduled landing in Detroit’s Metro airport when things got "interesting,” so to speak. It was a late-night flight to begin with, so every small lapse and delay (there were plenty) glared forth in what felt like neon lights against a dull background of road weariness. I know nothing about the hidden logistics of getting a flight up in the air, but it seemed to my eye that our airbus and its crew functioned throughout like toxic co-dependents who simply couldn’t make things happen without frustrating waits at every turn. “We’ll make up the lost time in the end,” promised the pilot; what really happened was “Sorry, folks, the early delays cost us our place in line on the landing strip,” which we were cautioned could be slick due to the heavy downpour of rain all around us.
So we circled and circled and circled the airport (a particularly annoying form of suspended animation), waiting for the go ahead to land, when, in the midst of one of those despairing circlings, we hit a literal bump in the weather that sent everyone flying upward for one shockingly gravity-free moment. Landing back in our seats a spit-second later like roller coaster riders hitting bottom amid shrieks of expelled anxiety and “did-we-just-do-that?” laughter, the flight attendant was quick to announce that we were “perfectly fine...just a little turbulence.” There were multiple storms across the nation that day, including the vicious tropical depression Claudette, that claimed at least 14 lives in Alabama. Compared to that horror, yes, we were just fine—shocked, awake, a bit giddy, and grateful.
I bring all this up here because the astrology of that “sky bump” moment was timed almost exactly to the minute with the Sun’s ingress into Cancer (aka the summer solstice) at 11:32 p.m. EST, and by the astrological logic of such solar year milestones, that moment and the chart describing it could actually stand as a reflection for what remains of 2021. The metaphorical flight, if you will, was bumpy, shocking and even inept feeling at moments, but by virtue of our happy ending, “perfectly fine.”
Of course, this combination of factors can mean a lot of things in practice, so we’ll take a much closer look ahead at the solstice chart. Our aim here will be to tease out the dynamics we might expect to see in action from now through December. Because the U.S. context is the typical default on this site, most of the discussion that follows will concern either the solstice chart cast for Washington, D.C. (Chart #1) or that same chart set against the U.S. Sibly chart (Biwheel #1).
The anxious vortex of change
The summer solstice occurs when the Sun leaves the airy, mutable, Mercury-ruled sign of Gemini for the watery, cardinal, Moon-ruled sign of Cancer. So, exiting a fast-paced sign that can be quite taxing for those who don’t adapt well or easily to change and constant environmental stimulation, and entering a sign that activates the emotional security fears underlying that resistance to change, potentially spurring defensive aggression, or that triggers a widespread impulse to nurture and secure the People, represented in a mundane chart by Lady Luna, ruling Cancer.
We’ve seen both dynamics in action since the 21st in fact; on one hand, a serious spike in violent crime has manifested around the nation, one that doesn’t seem confined to the usual urban communities. Concern at the highest levels has been piqued by the alarming numbers, in fact, perhaps because of the tendency these days to politicize any type of social turmoil. Do these numbers indicate something more than the usual hot summer unrest? Or are we looking at a more pernicious violent trend that reflects the serious uptick we’ve seen in race-and-ethnicity-based hate crimes? There’s even talk that at least some of it has been the consequence of domestic terrorism and “white rage,” a phenomenon that seems to have blossomed in the wake of Trump’s claims about Election 2020. In fact, that very phenomenon triggered an interesting exchange in a Congressional hearing on the 23rd. According to the Washington Post:
“Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admonished lawmakers over questions about critical race theory at a Wednesday hearing, saying it is important for leaders to be well-versed in many schools of thought.
‘I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist,’ Milley told the House Armed Services Committee. ‘So what is wrong with understanding … the country which we are here to defend?'... [W]hen the committee gave Milley a chance to expand, he launched into an impassioned defense of inquiry about U.S. society and its racial dynamics. He emphasized that the U.S. Military Academy is a university.
'I want to understand White rage. And I’m White,' Milley said, focused on learning more about the mostly White, mostly male mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
'What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America. What caused that?' Milley asked. 'I want to find that out.'”
Gen. Milley seemed concerned both with the violence more broadly and the need to understand and nurture better relations within the military, whose members basically represent a cross section of the American people.
|Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.|
The June solstice unleashes the energies contained in what eclipse expert Celeste Teal calls the “world point” of 0° Cancer, a so-called cardinal “Aries point” degree that is “indicative of important world events" at hand, where one event has a domino effect that leads to ramifications in many areas around the globe.”1 Even in the absence of an eclipse, powerful transits and ingresses at these cardinal zero points often coincide with significant moments in world affairs.
Given today’s realities, it’s hard to argue with that logic—the world’s struggle to contain the COVID-19 virus feels a lot like that interminable circling, circling, circling we experienced on the plane—getting nowhere nearly fast enough, as patience frays. It’s not the government that’s keeping us in thrall, however; it’s our thirst for Life itself that requires our surrender to forces far larger than ourselves. We can act to protect ourselves and our families (there’s that Cancer energy), but ultimately, we’re “in this together,” whether we like that idea or not—there's a reason collective-oriented Neptune is exalted in Cancer. Survival has never, in all of human history, been an independent endeavor. For linear-thinking, zero-sum rational, independent-minded types, this can be crazy-making.
Beyond the Solstice
The solar milestone we find ourselves in at this time is only part of the story, of course. Societies build themselves around that sacred impulse to protect and nurture Life, but as we’re all too aware, human nature tends to complicate things, and those societies have always needed to create infrastructures and institutions that would facilitate some kind of order and to provide helpful social structures and systems for accomplishing social aims. In other words, we’ve always needed rules of law and governments of some sort, even if very loosely-organized ones. This is where the outer planets of our solar system--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, in all their cyclical combinations--chime in and complement (and/or at times, challenge) our basic, Life-affirming impulses.
Each cycle has its purview and a dynamic that can be both mentally grasped and analyzed and, importantly, sensed on both collective and individual levels. Before I’m tempted to get into a much larger discussion than this site can sustain, however, let’s focus in on a couple cycles that seem to be dogging our steps in these difficult, confusing times. As it turns out, these two cycles are highly significant in the Solstice chart and biwheel we’ll examine in more detail below.
The cycles I’m referring to are Saturn-Uranus, which could help break through this frustrating “pandemic purgatory”/domestic unrest period with helpful institutional and structural change, and Saturn-Neptune, which could help inject some compassion, as well as the ability to manifest our best imaginings and some kind of higher order out of chaos—if they weren’t both in their 3Q waning phase, with Saturn-Uranus still widely square in Aquarius-Taurus, so relatively new to that phase, and Saturn-Neptune well into the phase, about 41° apart from Aquarius to Pisces.
Cycles in 3Q phase tend to focus on eliminating what isn’t working, but there can be a tricky transition period between that and finally unleashing what does work. We’ve seen so many instances of the U.S. Congress not getting necessary things done recently that it was shocking when Biden announced that a bi-partisan infrastructure deal had been reached this past week; this represents real progress, even if neither side got everything it wanted. So perhaps there’s hope that the undertow of these 3Q phases will not stop the waxing Jupiter and Saturn cycles also in play to produce at least some forward motion. We’ll consider how that might work when we examine the Solstice chart in relation to the Sibly chart.
|Neoliberalism has been controversial and seriously impactful.|
But in 1989, this Capricorn cycle opposed the Cancer U.S. Sibly Sun, basically opposing the very national Being/Government that the Sibly Sun represents. It is in Neptune’s nature to erode whatever systems and structures it touches; here that meant the redefining of ourselves as a so-called “neoliberal” conservative/corporate enterprise. The more “corporate” our national perspective has become since then, the less truly democratic, the more plutocratic and even theocratic it has become, given that religion in the U.S. (especially the ultra-conservative brand of Christianity that seems like the perfect blend of Saturn and Neptune) has, during that same period, been gradually weaponized against the democratic (small “d”) ideals of freedom and equality.
The essential separation of Church and State and the avoidance of a “state” religion have both to a great extent fallen prey to some very determined uses of this cycle that have exploited the dual wedge issues of abortion and gay rights. Pretending to care about babies they wouldn’t begin to support after birth is a particularly cynical use of this cycle by conservative power brokers, including the Catholic church and its U.S. Council of Bishops that voted to withhold communion from Biden due to his support of Roe v. Wade’s legal access to abortion. How interesting that this political “weaponizing of the Eucharist” should happen now, while a Catholic holds the highest office and two elections loom ahead in short order.
|Denying Biden communion draws unhelpful political lines.|
This was the landscape of affairs when Black Lives Matter was founded in July that same year, with Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune forming a grand water trine. A response was seriously warranted from a grass-roots organization such as BLM because yes, systemic racism has never truly been uprooted in this nation and the Saturn-Neptune cycle has had a lot to do with perpetuating it and co-opting any efforts at real change. As I write this, a misinformation-fueled attempt to stop the nation’s schools from teaching the facts about systemic racism (Saturn) has spread like hysteria (Neptune) across the nation. Vox describes:
“Watching the news or browsing social media, it would be easy to think that critical race theory is a complicated, controversial, or new idea.
But critical race theory, created four decades ago by legal scholars, is an academic framework for examining how racism is embedded in America’s laws and institutions. It is just now receiving widespread attention because it has morphed into a catchall category, one used by Republicans who want to ban anti-racist teachings and trainings in classrooms and workplaces across the country.
Over the past six months, Republicans in more than two dozen states have proposed bills that aim to stymie educational discussions about race, racism, and systemic oppression in the US — potentially eliminating the conversations altogether.”
This, at a time when our national Sibly chart’s Pluto return is pushing us to come to grips with our history—all its racism warts, its abuse and even genocide of our Native American populations and all. Nations go through these existential crises and come out of them better equipped to move forward when there’s a transparent, honest truth and reconciliation process. Denying our history threatens to subvert that process for all of us. How can we resolve all this karmic baggage and move on as a healthier society if we can’t even discuss it? The fact is, those who like things just the way they are because they benefit from that essentially unjust arrangement don’t see any need for a reconciliation process, but they simply cannot have the final say.
|Racial disparities among COVID victims have been stark.|
Thankfully, election 2020 allowed us to move on to a saner, more compassionate COVID response under Biden, but not without ridiculous time-wasting complications and confusion—a Saturn-Neptune specialty. One Capitol insurrection and hundreds of oppressive voter suppression bills later, we have a half-vaccinated nation, a somewhat renewed sense of confidence in U.S. intentions abroad, a somewhat kinder border policy, a refreshingly open approach to racial issues on one side (outshouted by the “critical race theory” hysteria on the other, of course), and a renewed sense that there just may be solutions for some deep divisions, despite pervasive GOP intransigence and obstructionism.
The fact that Rep. Liz Cheney told the truth about January 6th instead of submitting to her party’s Trump-happy denialism says there’s hope, however; I suspect as this Saturn-Neptune cycle wanes into closure, we’ll see more peeling away of those for whom Trump’s corrupt Big Lie (this cycle served him so well until the pandemic hit) has become unpalatable.
Under this cycle, Trump World--which fits the description of an “addictive system” or cult to a tee—flourished, demanding total, unquestioning loyalty and brutally attacking anyone who dared speak the truth or depart from the Trump “narrative.” Neptune rules addictions and Saturn rules systems, so it was the perfect combination for his style of control, power-mongering and (importantly) his contradictory, confusing and often bullying communication style. According to mental health professional and author Anne Wilson Schaef:
“There are several reasons why countercommunication is the norm within the Addictive System. First, addicts do not want to communicate directly, openly, or honestly, because to do so leaves them vulnerable and exposed. It is easier—it is preferable—to keep everyone around them confused. Second, addicts cannot communicate clearly, because their thinking is so unclear. Often they really do not know what they are thinking and feeling. Third, the Addictive System teaches that it is good to confuse and intimidate others, because this is one way to gain the upper hand and maintain the illusion of control.”2
And yes, it’s a huge relief to now have a president who radiates a down-to-earth attitude and speaks plainly, honestly and sensitively to the American public. It’s also gratifying to have a leader who’s not afraid to show a soft, empathetic side to the rest of the world. That’s good news these days when so many nations around the world need help getting their populations vaccinated. It’s also helpful when we know that the only solution for excessive border crossings is to help people sustain themselves in their own homelands. It’s also helpful when we see homeless encampments springing up all over our big cities due to the lack of affordable housing—maybe build more affordable housing and support higher minimum wages? (Duh!)
|Why do encampments like these co-exist with million dollar neighborhoods?|
“...the world needs about 10 billion vaccines delivered as quickly as possible. The only way to reach that goal is for Biden to support a comprehensive World Trade Organization waiver that goes beyond vaccine patents to all technologies associated with the vaccines, and for him to persuade other countries to do the same. He also must compel pharmaceutical companies to share their vaccine technology, something well within his power for the vaccines the U.S. has funded.”
Sharing patented technologies is a big deal for U.S. pharmaceuticals, and they don’t need to suspend just the vaccine patents themselves, but patents for any vaccine production-related technologies as well. This would probably require Biden to lean on companies in controversial and politically unpalatable ways. I’m guessing his heart is in the right place, but this is a tall political order and an issue over which he may not even have the last word. Given the mess that global corporations and globalization-tolerant governments have produced in the world over the course of this ultra-conservative Saturn-Neptune cycle, however, maybe it’s time to demand a little sacrifice (Neptune) from those powers-that-be (Saturn), instead of allowing them to continue demanding it out of those least able.
As McLaughlin puts it, “the Delta variant continues to rip through the world,” and obstructing solutions for the sake of corporate profits (or any other private sector gratification) sounds simply unworkable.
All of this adds to the sense that the world is experiencing some kind of cosmic crossroads, which makes perfect sense at the Summer Solstice. The puzzle here is, what kind of crossroads are we experiencing? Unfortunately, it seems like the road ahead will demand even further patience from people and a heightened tolerance for change, and that can be stressful. Cultural historian and scholar Thomas Berry captures the impact constant change can have on humans and societies especially well:
“Such constant change produces a shattering effect on humans, who cannot adapt to new situations with the required speed. Even if we succeed, there is in the process a draining of life’s basic satisfaction, its continuity, its security. There is a loss of present meaning, because each moment of time lies under the condemnation of the next moment. An iconoclastic attitude is developed toward the entire present order. Utopian expectations are intensified. When these are denied fulfillment, an unbearable frustration sets in. The vortex of change produces an explosive tension.... This is an inescapable result of a tradition founded on the dominance of our Western time experience of reality over that of an Eastern spatial experience of reality.”3
Is it any wonder that we’re considering how Saturn (time) and Neptune (limitless space) are interacting in our stressful times?
Thank you for bearing with me as we’ve built some important context around this discussion, so let’s move on to the actual charts described earlier to see what they have to say about the remaining months of 2021. As you can see, the solstice chart cast for Washington, D.C. features fixed sign Aquarius rising, which many classical astrologers consider an indication that this chart will remain relevant for the rest of the year. We’ll proceed on that assumption; time will tell, of course. Let’s begin!
Chart #1. Sun enters Cancer (summer solstice), June 20, 2021, 11:32 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns software.
Saturn (Rx, Aquarius) rises, widely conjunct Aquarius ASC and opposite Mars (Leo). This confirms what we’ve already seen about the rest of this year—it's likely to be volatile, with the possibility of even more violence on our streets as the Saturn-Mars opposition tightens into July. Saturn and Uranus rule this Aquarius chart from a tense square position spanning the mutable 12th and 3rd houses, with Uranus conjoined Ceres in Taurus, so continued change in an atmosphere that feels harsh and controlling at times is likely. Technological change is in the works, although with Saturn hovering retrograde in the 12th and this being a 3Q square, we may not see the tangible benefits of that change for a while.
|Biden was almost gleeful, announcing the infrastructure deal.|
Jupiter (Rx, Pisces) trines Sun (Cancer), inconjoins Mars, widely squares Nodal axis (Gemini-Sagittarius) and widely trines Moon (Scorpio). The Sun-Jupiter trine can fuel some optimism here for the months ahead, but the wide aspects we see here suggest a potential for benefit and growth that's out there and ripe for the taking, but is a bit tentative and probably dependent upon certain factors falling into place. Co-ruling Pisces with Neptune, Jupiter may find its most prominent expression in the coming months in that earlier-noted movement to squash any study of “critical race theory.”
Any serious reading of our history is bound to dredge up some heavy, dreary facts, but Jupiter and Neptune are not having any of that—they prefer the “rose-colored glasses” approach of denying anything negative and fighting any movement towards transparency and national Soul-searching by stimulating hysteria among parents who fear their children will be harmed by learning the truth. Neptune’s position in the 2nd house of this chart, conjunct Pallas, reflects the distorted sense of values and Justice underlying this hysteria. More on this when we examine this chart next to the U.S. Sibly chart in Biwheel #1.
|Fed Chair Janet Yellen addressing the debt ceiling.|
On a more somber note, this Pisces-Cancer action could very well signal a long erosion process that ultimately brought the Champlain Towers South Condominium building down at about 1:30 a.m. on June 24th. The Washington Post reports that:
“Some construction was done there recently, and according to a research paper published last year, the structure, which was erected on reclaimed wetlands, has been sinking since the 1990s.”
The chart for that 1:30 a.m. event (not shown) features Aries rising, so it’s also quite possible the tightening Mars-Saturn-Uranus t-square (with Mars ruling the chart) helped trigger the collapse. Our deepest condolences go out to the grieving families.
|At least 100 people are still unaccounted for in the Miami building collapse.|
At this point it makes sense to focus in on how the Solstice chart is likely to work within the greater U.S. context, so we’ll check out Biwheel #1 below.
Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) USA-Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (outer wheel) Sun enters Cancer (summer solstice), June 20, 2021, 11:32 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C.. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns software.
Summer solstices always transpire over the Sibly 7th, conjunct Sibly Venus-Jupiter (Cancer), so the fact that the second half of the year tends to be healthy for the U.S. economy is nothing new. The fact that Solstice Sun-conjunct-Sibly Venus-Jupiter trines Solstice Jupiter (Pisces) over the Sibly 3rd does make inflated prices in local markets pretty likely, however. The continued heating up of housing prices is likely here, as well, with Solstice Neptune over the Sibly 4th (further juiced up by Jupiter in their shared sign), and trine to Solstice Venus (Cancer).
Solstice Venus also conjoins Sibly Mercury (Cancer), opposes Sibly Pluto-Solstice Pluto (Capricorn), sextiles Sibly Neptune (Virgo) and quincunxes Sibly Mars (Gemini). This is a pretty amazing confluence of energies which suggests the possibility of “win-win” situations going forward. It’s likely that the economy and perhaps even a widespread sense of improved well-being will drive public sentiment around many of the big existential issues our democracy is facing right now. We need to be aware, however, that Venus’s soft aspects with both Solstice and Sibly Neptunes and its opposition to Sibly Pluto could also facilitate passive aggressive inertia and the slip-sliding of our political system into even deeper corporate/theocratic territory. Remember, what amounts to a partisan attempt at covering up and suppressing our history is happening in the context of the fast-approaching Sibly Pluto return, which in Capricorn is calling for collective responsibility, not for denial and suppression. We’re even seeing efforts by the GOP to weaponize its veiled white supremacist leanings by “defunding the military” if that institution won’t stop teaching critical race theory (and probably diversity training in general) to cadets. All of this is reflected pretty starkly in the Neptune-Neptune opposition here that t-squares Sibly Mars (Gemini).
|It was good to hear Milley say that soldiers need well-rounded educations.|
Solstice Nodal axis (Gemini-Sagittarius) overlies Sibly horizon (DSC-ASC), with Solstice North Node conjunct Sibly Uranus (Gemini). The instability we’ve seen while the Nodes have been transiting mutable Gemini-Sagittarius this past year appears to be stimulating public unrest here—Sibly Uranus (6th) disposes Sibly Moon (in Aquarius, the People), unrest that could be expanded upon by Solstice Jupiter’s square from Pisces over the Sibly 3rd. Solstice Uranus (Taurus) also falls over the Sibly 6th--some of this unrest could be among workers, but some may originate within the military as well. As we witnessed during the January 6th insurrection, there are too many within the military that—because of Trump’s “big lie”--are prepared to take up arms against the Constitution they swore to defend, and this is one important factor in the wider domestic terrorism threat the FBI has been warning us about.
I’m convinced, in fact, that terrorism of any kind is a Neptunian phenomenon at its core, with less collective energies chiming in to trigger events, so this is another reason to be concerned about the current Pisces-Virgo-Gemini t-square. The irony is rich, of course: the GOP will stoke the bellows on stories about elevated crime rates this summer, keeping fear and loathing levels white hot (especially if communities of color or BLM protests are involved), but the very real threat of terrorism doesn’t seem to faze them at the moment. Solstice Mars (Leo) conjoins Sibly No. Node (Leo) and opposes Sibly progressed Moon-conjunct-Sibly So. Node (Aquarius, Sibly progressed Moon not shown), reflecting the violent, regressive attitudes we’re seeing to a tee.
I began this post with happy thoughts about the family gathering and wedding we just enjoyed, after so many months of pandemic-related separation and delay, but there were signs even in our bumpy return landing that we have to continue carving out happy times as we can, all the while expecting turbulence as we go.
The fact is, humanity has been through much worse—especially in WWII—although some aspects of today’s turbulence feels reminiscent of that era and there are interesting astrological “echoes:” Neptune was exactly opposite where it stands today (so in Virgo, not incidentally conjunct Sibly Neptune) when Hitler’s forces attacked Poland, and trine Uranus (also in Taurus then). Both the cycles we’ve been discussing above (Saturn-Neptune and, to a lesser extent, Saturn-Uranus) were also in 3Q mode at that time, but before we get too freaked out by the parallels, we need to consider that every other major cycle aside from Neptune-Pluto was also waning at that time, so we’re not looking at any foregone conclusions here that those horrendous times are about to repeat themselves.
I think it would be far more constructive to stop dwelling on speculative "mine fields" and joys that might elude us and to start being grateful for the blessings we are able to enjoy. A “stiff upper lip” will still be useful as we go, but as Thomas Merton so aptly put it at one time, chiding his own inertia, we should also “Wake up and dance in the clarity of perfect contradiction.” People have always danced in the Solstice...it can’t hurt and it's never too late!
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. See the Publications tab on this site for a list of Raye’s recent E-books on current topics.
For information about individual chart readings, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Raye Robertson 2021. All rights reserved.