It was a warship and it sank this past week. Those were the only clear facts that we knew at first about Russia’s storied battleship, Moskva.
For the record, U.S. Intelligence concluded with confidence that the ship was sunk by Ukrainian missiles ; analysts who follow such things suspect Russia was just trying to save face with its “official” story and continued denial that Ukrainian missiles sank the ship. In the grand scheme of things, however, it matters little: the fact is, the warship sank, and that’s a demoralizing loss for the Russian war effort. It requires a constant effort to sort through the facts and Putin’s official “spin”--from where I’m sitting, it seems like a waste of time. Better to watch what Russian forces do, rather than what they or the Kremlin say, or importantly, what they don’t say.
That became abundantly clear to me as I worked through what follows in this post and realized that the Moskva sinking was probably an important turning point in the Ukraine-Russia war. This first seemed obvious by how closely aligned that battleship event was with the launch of a new Jupiter-Neptune cycle on April 12th, two days prior.
One of the greatest fears those observing this conflict have expressed is that it will spill outside Ukraine's borders; in fact, containing it could be difficult and elusive under these Jupiter-Neptune energies. That's why it's so urgent that Ukraine not just resist Russian forces, but that it win over them. Even if Putin loses in real terms, however, is he likely to admit defeat? That's difficult to fathom with his relentless misinformation campaign: it’s almost become “normal” to expect Russia's spin machine to simply deny the heinous realities we can see with our own eyes in videos and photographs--in other words, gaslighting those trying to accurately document this war and making a face-saving lie like “an accidental fire sunk the Moskva” seem minor by comparison. But this is what living in Putin’s propaganda world has brought us to: when a fabricated narrative is one’s reality, there are always holes in the illusion that require patching. The Moskva is just one more instance in which the facts are inconvenient to Putin’s purposes, so he resorts to a constant stream of propagandistic lies and denialism.
According to Wikipedia, the definition of “propaganda” is:
“...communication that is primarily used to influence or persuade an audience to further an agenda, which may not be objective and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is being presented. Propaganda can be found in news and journalism, government, advertising, entertainment, education, and activism and is often associated with material which is prepared by governments as part of war efforts, political campaigns, health campaigns, revolutionaries, big businesses, ultra-religious organizations, the media, and certain individuals such as soapboxers.
This definition makes it clear that propaganda is an inherently Neptunian phenomenon (nice echo with that Ukrainian missile system’s name) and, no surprise, history is littered with would-be power players employing propaganda for dark, Plutonian purposes. Because such messages are defined by their manipulation of the facts, playing on people’s fears, biases and “survivalist” emotions, any actual information contained has little-to-no factual value. The little truth remaining is calculated to add credibility, when in fact even that scant info is distorted in some way to serve the communicator’s purposes.
Or—as happens so frequently in these toxic political times—the information is wholly fabricated, if not slanderous and defamatory. Lying to actively damage or destroy another person’s reputation used to matter in this world (if you were raised Catholic as I was, it was considered a grave sin). But the ethics of such things seems to be increasingly irrelevant under our current Neptune-Pluto cloud; if anything, so-called “free speech” seems to now excuse or even support slander and defamation and all manner of offensive rhetoric as fair game. Anyone watching the behavior of today’s right-wingers has likely noticed a troubling new low for GOP smear tactics—they just label anyone who disagrees with them as “pedophiles” and/or “groomers.”
It’s not surprising that ridiculous QAnon-style dog whistles like these thrive in this moment, when social media has been so thoroughly weaponized and has become so central to political fund-raising, but unfortunately, the laws that supposedly protect people from such abuse are basically toothless because “intent” is too easy to obfuscate and too difficult to prove. Also, as a recent New Yorker article reported, there are deep-pocketed activist groups behind some of the worst smear tactics, as now-confirmed Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson found out the hard way in her hearings. I hold out hope that most people see through these tactics: it’s true that they can do very real damage, but they also dishonor and reflect on those employing them more than they speak to anyone else.
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Far from being “drained,” the “Swamp” is enabled and emboldened by this cynical worldview. Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows railed on and on about widespread voter fraud after his boss lost the election and--surprise, surprise—now he himself is under investigation for fraudulently voting in North Carolina while he was living in Virginia!
And this week, not to be outdone, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner was revealed to have leveraged his political access to the Trump White House (and the relationship he formed while there with the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman), to gain a $2 billion investment in his private equity fund. Perhaps Kushner exploited legal loopholes to secure this capital (it happened 6 months after he left the White House), but we may never know the truth of the matter. Was that investment payback for favors lavished upon the controversial Saudi during the Trump administration? Or a down-payment, perhaps, on favors Kushner is promising going forward? Either option is legally suspect, and the corruption implied should concern us, especially if it’s entangled with illegal campaign funding. We may have seen nothing yet.
Yet, those engaged in this kind of corruption always talk a good game. And just try getting actual facts to stick, if anyone bothers to dig them up: lies and obfuscation repeated frequently enough start to sound more convincing than the less emotion-driven truth any day, and if people aren’t willing or able to doggedly pursue the facts, fabrications can easily take over. This is the basis for toxic Neptune-Pluto’s reputation for inciting mob violence and hysteria; fear-based lies such as “anyone who opposes you must be a pedophile” go viral quickly. Here’s where watching what toxic power players do instead of what they say is helpful. Unleashing viral lies about Item B is a great way to deflect attention from Item A.
|Hyped-up and hateful rhetoric is reliably deadly|
Such power players don’t often lose their objectivity about the hype and panic they’re trying to leverage to their own purposes. Hitler stoked an aggrieved panic in the German people about their economy and the threat of Communism and Jews when he first ran for office, and then he built on that panic to solidify his totalitarian rule. In other words, he knew what he was doing by stoking panic; he was taking one step towards a more expansive goal. Fast-forwarding, Trump stoked the January 6th insurgency in response to his aggrieved “big lie” about the 2020 election, and he hasn’t given up on that narrative yet, as he continues fund-raising and leveraging his stranglehold on the GOP.
Granted, to slap the Hitler comparison on Trump is unwarranted overall, but there are uncomfortable historical echoes because both men employed similar Neptunian tools: Neptune was transiting mutable Virgo when Hitler was named “Fuehrer;” Trump waged his campaign to break down America’s democratic institutions (still ongoing) with Neptune opposite, in mutable Pisces. And now he’s hedging his bets about Putin’s vicious behavior towards Ukraine while publicly asking Putin to release dirt on Hunter Biden. Putin could be very motivated right now to interfere in our next elections to the detriment of democracy; why wouldn’t he respond to Trump’s request? All of this as an increasingly pro-Putin right-wing media gains influence.
Unfortunately, the neuroscience of propaganda makes clear that various attributes of the human brain render us vulnerable to this kind of exploitation, whether it’s called fake news, misinformation, disinformation or plain old propaganda. During the Cold War, these tactics were often called “infiltration” and “subversion”--just more terms for the same toxic Neptune-Pluto politics.
Despite the difficulties, however, we can learn to recognize these attempts to deceive and manipulate us. IMHO, it’s critical that we do, for the future of human civilization. At the present time it seems that many nations are grappling with similar choices: first, between rule by megalomaniacs who promise “law and order” and a return to some fantastical “glory,” but have no regard for human dignity and equality, and second, being ruled by flawed, but striving and responsible democracies where facts still mean something, I’ll take the latter any day.
As you might have noticed, this past week saw the launch of a new Jupiter-Neptune cycle in late Pisces, and it stands to reason that a major cycle launch during a war is significant. For instance, the potential for the escalated use of misinformation and similar unfettered tactics in the Ukraine-Russia conflict and here at home is very real going forward. So, with Ukraine being top of mind today, this post will consider this new cycle’s inception chart next to Ukraine’s radix and progressed charts. Eight weeks into the conflict, it feels important to take a fresh look at this rapidly evolving situation and to remind ourselves what is at stake.
The Jupiter-Neptune cycle is relatively short, clocking in at right around 14 years, but it can wield insidious influence, despite its rather “light” feel. It’s capable of enabling destabilizing forces that undermine existing structures and institutions, so depending upon the circumstances, this can be both uplifting and horrifying. It’s no secret that the Ukraine-Russia conflict is experiencing a “sea change” (pun intended) at the moment; Putin’s installed a new commander, Aleksandr Dvornikov, (aka “the butcher of Syria”) who brings a famously brutal history of "executing” civilians to the role, so in keeping with Jupiter-Neptune's potential for stoking fear, the terror-level in Ukrainian civilians is now heightened.
We can only imagine how furious Putin has been with the many failures of his campaign so far, so perhaps by appointing a commander like Dvornikov, he's trying to panic the Ukrainians into capitulating. We’re living in a time when Mars and Saturn are mercilessly harsh in Aquarius and Jupiter-Neptune is quite possibly unleashing the “Furies” in Pisces: despite the Ukrainians' hard-proven courage to date, we can't really second-guess where anyone’s limits are. Since Ukraine sank the Moskva, Russian forces have been launching missiles on hundreds of sites, including civilian centers again, in what some have characterized as “revenge.”
Some have been characterizing the latest strikes as a prelude to the planned eastern offensive. Refusing to surrender, however, the besieged city of Mariupol is hanging on, against mounting odds. Bottom line, in this season of overwhelming excess, Ukraine needs a lot of help. Jupiter-Neptune rules tsunamis and flooding, which makes me wonder if it doesn’t also enable Russia’s brand of siege warfare--again, Ukraine needs a lot of help right now.
There is a lighter side to the Jupiter-Neptune cycle, of course. Thinking back, the so-called Arab Spring protests caught a Jupiter-Neptune wave that rocked the Middle East in 2010-11 around the time that cycle renewed at 0°+Aries. It didn’t take long, however, for most of the autocracies of that region to reassert their control and squash the rebellions--the Syrian civil war has been perhaps the most heinous expression of this. This facility for turning a people’s revolutionary fervor back against them for the sake of even more oppressive control seems to also be related to this cycle, which is likely emboldened by Pluto and other energies: vengeance can be powerful fuel for an autocrat’s struggle to survive, and survival at any cost is usually the aim with such power players.
All of this speaks to the relatively shorter-term, change-making impact of some Jupiter cycles, as compared to Saturn ones—but for a short time in the 2010s in the Middle East, there was hopeful chaos and dreams of fundamental change. It does seem that, in Pisces, the Jupiter-Neptune cycle could be leveraged to create chaos that serves darker purposes, but if any cycle represents that “hope springs eternal,” it would be this one.
So, what insights can we draw from the onset of this new watery cycle at this point in the Ukraine-Russia conflict? Let’s examine the charts.
Chart #1. Jupiter conjoins Neptune, April 12, 2022, 4:14:51 p.m., Kiev, Ukraine. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast with Kepler 8.0 and courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.
This cycle conjunction happened a few days ago now, of course, but its impact will be felt for years, so it’s worth considering what that cycle moment looked and felt like in Kiev. The first thing that leaps off the page is how sequestered in the western hemisphere all points but the Moon are. Visually, the planets and other points fan across the 5th-8th houses, which isn’t surprising considering how totally focused Ukraine must be on defending its very Being these days.
Interestingly, with the Nodal axis cutting across the 8th-2nd house axis, all of the other points (save the Moon, again) are arrayed along the “south bending” side of the axis, with Saturn pretty closely conjunct that bending point (midway between the North and South nodes going clockwise, so at 22°54’ Aquarius). The north bending would be directly opposite at 22°54’ Leo—remember, the “bendings” form an axis that squares the Nodal axis and they have been described as a “crisis axis,” which certainly pertinent here. Energy comes in at the north bending and is released at the south bending, which also makes sense here. Ukraine has been receiving a steady stream of assistance from the international community (11th house associates and peers) and is expending all that energy defending its existence (Leo rules the natural 5th house).
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On the other hand, it seems to me that this potent Saturn-Nodal axis t-square adds resolve to the Ukrainian effort and steels their spines for the challenge. True, it’s a gruesome challenge and it could become even worse as Russia refocuses its forces on the more vulnerable eastern region of the country, but I don’t think this Saturn is entirely negative. It exactly sextiles the Aries Eris-Sun-Pallas conjunction, points that are disposed by a steely Aquarius Mars that trines the Gemini MC. There are disruptions and injustices everywhere we look in Ukraine’s situation, but this Saturn suggests the solution is to simply keep powering through them. International assistance is vital, of course (see discussion about north bending).
This appealing trine gets complicated by the t-square formed between the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction point and that MC, however, reinforcing what we already know: that the “fog of war” and Putin’s deceptive tactics are challenges that Ukraine’s leadership will have to overcome with the help of the international community. This challenge is reinforced by the frustrating semi-sextile (or inconjunct) between Saturn and the cycle conjunction. Ukraine will hopefully turn those Pisces energies back on Russia in their own defense; Saturnian effort, discipline and focus on facts (documenting every bit of this war is essential) is the best antidote for a foggy Neptunian poison.
With all that in mind, let’s move on to Triwheel #1 so we can consider Ukraine’s charts relative to all of the above.
Ukraine’s progressed lunar cycle phase as the Jupiter-Neptune cycle kicked into gear on April 12th reflects that Ukraine has reached a crisis threshold and key turning point: PSun (middle wheel) sits at the cardinal zero-point at 0°41’ Libra, opposite PMoon at 04°16’ Aries. So, this war has been the early expression of what looks to be a tense progressed full moon phase, to be sure.
It may be a mixed blessing at the moment that this cycle launch put Jupiter-Neptune (Pisces-outer wheel) widely opposite PSun as well as Radix Mars (Virgo-inner wheel). These aspects certainly reflect the idealism with which the Ukraine army is working to defend their homeland. Logistically, it probably also helps that Ukraine’s Radix Mercury Rx has now progressed direct and is moving forward in Virgo. Unfortunately, the cycle’s current oppositions could also support Russia’s misinformation and disinformation campaigns. Yes, Ukraine has landed some serious hits against Russia, like sinking its Moskva battleship on the 14th --interesting timing considering Pisces' watery nature. That hit undoubtedly chipped away at the Russian military’s morale, but current news about intensified attacks suggests that Putin is hardly discouraged or ready to negotiate.
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Cycle Saturn-Juno-Mars (Aquarius) conjoin Radix Moon (Aquarius) and together they oppose Radix Jupiter-Mercury Rx-Venus (Leo). This gets complicated because almost all the outer planets are drawn into the fray through rulership and dispositor networks here, so please bear with me. Ukraine’s big heart (captured well by its Leo planets) is being tested beyond measure at this time by the harsh Saturn-Mars convergence we see here, which again, coincides with that critical south bending discussed earlier, where energies and situations are released. These difficult Aquarius energies are transiting the Radix 2nd house of values and resources; unfortunately, the entire world is already feeling the loss represented here of Ukraine as a major provider of grain crops for the world. Other resources are likely also vulnerable to loss. Nevertheless, it’s been amazing to see how that “heart” for their homeland has powered Ukraine’s strong resistance and resilience.
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Despite these challenges, Ukraine is also deriving indirect support from Saturn because Cycle Uranus (Taurus) disposes Aquarius (so resonating with that Saturn-Juno-Mars grouping), and Uranus sits trine Radix Uranus-Neptune (Rx, Capricorn). These Capricorn points fall in Radix 1st house, reflecting Ukraine’s revolutionary “birth” as an independent nation in 1991. This trine may facilitate a new, more mature and tested level of sovereignty, hardened in its resolve and commitment by this existential challenge.
It’s significant, I believe, that Uranus is transiting Ukraine’s Radix 5th, ruled by its Leo Venus, which is conjunct the nation’s Virgo Sun and shored up by her “entourage,” Mercury and Jupiter. These points occupy Radix 8th, so it’s not surprising that Ukraine’s resistance campaign has attracted a great deal of assistance from outside the nation. That assistance will hopefully continue to flow in a timely manner; it’s making a critical difference.
|The geopolitics of this war are intense and deeply-rooted.|
The involvement of Uranus and Neptune in these struggles reflects the global stakes we’re facing at the moment, not just in Ukraine, but even more troublingly, with the growing dangers of climate change. We seem to know how to wage war, but stopping our collective war on the environment seems to be a challenge of a different, more elusive order. Thankfully, those nations allying themselves with Ukraine seem fully aware that if that nation falls to Putin’s murderous autocracy, the world will no longer be safe for democracy. Perhaps some have become disenchanted with the world order established after WWII—not too difficult to understand, but throwing the democracy “baby” out with the proverbial “bath water” would be a tragic mistake, based on unfortunate delusions. Far too many are looking to “strong man” governments because they think controlling immigration and imposing more onerous “law and order” is the best solution for today's challenges. Here’s where the fantasies of Populism fail miserably and end up perpetuating the problems they pretend to address. A long story for another day.
Do we think the autocracies of the world are going to address the incredible challenges to come with climate change? No, they’re going to unleash even more corporate moguls to foreclose on our choices and extract what’s left of our natural resources for profit, with no regard for environmental damage or the threats to human life. So, exacerbating the problems they purport to solve. Their solution to threats to human life? Ban abortion and force women to birth large families they may or may not be able to sustain. Get women out of the workforce and back in the limited “kinder, küche, kirche” (children, kitchen, church) role both Hitler and Mussolini demanded, as they sought to populate their militaries.
This view that women are baby machines for the sake of imperialist campaigns needs to be left in the dustbin of history. Both American political parties used to agree about things like this; it’s only with the rise of extreme fundamentalist and White supremacist voices that these ideas have re-emerged from the muck.
|Some experts feel the post-WWII world order is changing before our eyes.|
Maybe that’s what this Ukraine-Russia conflict is all about, ultimately—holding a mirror up to us that speaks to the larger Earth-destruction story we’re engaged in. To destroy Ukraine could conceivably have a ripple effect that mirrors what will happen as larger and larger land masses on this planet become largely uninhabitable and useless for food cultivation and animal habitats. Nuclear weapons aren’t the only threat to our planet’s well being (on which Humanity is totally dependent); all wars are. What happens in Ukraine happens to us all in more ways than one.
It will take extraordinary skill and tenacity on the Biden administration’s part to keep our “Boots” off Ukraine soil during this war. The same is likely true of our European allies; Jupiter-Neptune has far too much expansive power for comfort here; the possibilities for escalation are real.
Clearly, Biden and all concerned national leaders will need our cooperation in this, as well, so perhaps it’s time to stop fretting so much about higher oil and commodity prices and simply accept that we are playing our role in this war by absorbing unusual costs and tightening our belts. No doubt, higher prices are a problem, but a Jupiter-Neptune cycle in Pisces is likely to be inflationary; the good news is, this too shall pass. Neptune transited Jupiter’s realm of Sagittarius from January 1970-November 1984 (accounting for retrograde ins and outs), and that pairing of Neptune and Jupiter was even more inflationary and recession prone. We got through it, as we do. It’s never easy, but it’s a cyclical challenge that dogs the steps of any consumer-driven economy that we will get through, with patience, smart use of our resources, and determination.
Bottom line, it would help to take a longer, broader view of the times we're living in because there is no magic wand that will make prices come down without compromising other key priorities. We see how conflicted some of our NATO allies are about their Russian energy dependence; perhaps in the U.S. we should celebrate the fact that we can be more self-sufficient? I certainly don’t advocate for “drill, baby, drill,” but in concert with more support for electric vehicle production and consumption (Detroit’s working hard on that as we speak), a modest, temporary uptick in our oil production might be constructive, and not only for Ukraine’s sake.
To my mind, there are three key questions that must be addressed in these times: Where does our greatest good in this global situation lie, both over the short and long terms? Where will short term ambitions and impulses have to accommodate longer-term imperatives? How can we live as if the sky’s the limit, yet do the least harm? The strong Jupiter-Neptune alliance now in force will raise these big questions and more. Peaceful, healthy existence in our times may depend upon how we respond.
I hope these and similar questions guide our leaders’ efforts on behalf of all us going forward. May all concerned seek out the “higher angels” of this cycle--loving kindness, compassion and a spirit of appreciative joy, today and always. My great hope is that Ukraine will realize the highest gifts of this cycle as well. May their efforts to defend their homeland from the horrors and “fog” of war be abundantly rewarded.
On that note, if you’ve been wondering which websites are secure these days, as we all try to do what we can for the Ukrainian people, here’s a link with some useful leads:
Love & Light to all!
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 2022. All rights reserved.