We often discuss on this site how the planetary dynamics of our time seem to be enabling the crisis in American democracy that is so evident around us; we’ve also discussed how we’re seeing a frustrating impasse on all levels of American life that is likely to persist until certain key planetary cycles complete their waning 3Q phases and begin anew.
But we don’t often reach beyond those objective realities to consider more deeply what that impasse has wrought in We the People, just trying to live in community with each other. As one thought-provoking observer puts it, “we have been inattentive to the cosmology that holds our lives together.”  Which is a nice way of saying that we’ve forgotten what this nation at its best is supposed to be about.
I would have to add that, unfortunately, we have been purposely rendered inattentive and deeply divided over this unifying cosmology—I won’t catalog the tactics that have been used to accomplish this because surely by now, we’ve seen them at work. Which begs the question, do Americans even have a unifying cosmology anymore, or has our grand narrative as a nation been corroded and demeaned into oblivion? Or maybe we've needed a new one for a long time already?
Relatedly, aside from the perennial “bogeymen” of immigrants, our “enemies” seem to now reside within instead of outside our borders. They’re our neighbors. Our school boards and teachers. Our scientists and public advocates. Our leaders from across the aisle--and across the Media divide—which might as well be across the River Styx. And yes, they’re even our religious leaders, whose passions often seem more caught up in toxic politics and pleasing billionaire funders than in God these days.
Even so, on November 28th, as former president Jimmy Carter and his family laid to rest their beloved wife, mother and grandmother, Rosalynn—a former First Lady like no other—I detected a glimmer of hope that I haven’t felt in a while: that perhaps we are still capable of unifying around the virtues and greatness that were once not only possible, but expected among both our political and our faith leaders (the Carters were both).
Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter in happier times.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter inhabited the White House for a brief, but exceedingly fraught 4 years (1977-1981), but instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they went on to accomplish a world of good from their unassuming sounding Atlanta-based Carter Center. Lifelong members of the Maranatha Baptist Church in tiny Plains, Georgia, Jimmy went on to teach Sunday school there until 2020, when he finally entered home hospice care.
Looking back, it was in 2002, while George W. Bush was planning to invade Iraq, that Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace prize “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” And Rosalynn was right there by his side for every effort. And much, much more. She was also a tireless advocate for mental health initiatives and a host of other causes. Thousands of low-income Americans have stable, affordable housing today thanks to the Carters’ Habitat for Humanity organization—and often, from their physical participation in the building. The list of their direct and indirect contributions to people everywhere goes on and on.
So, when PBS spokesperson Judi Woodruff—a longtime friend of Rosalynn’s--commented at her funeral gathering in Atlanta on the 28th that the former First Lady would be so pleased to see so many ex-presidents and their wives from both sides of the aisle sitting together in attendance, it was a hopeful, convivial moment and a welcome break from the vitriol and rancor. It was a sign that we can still unite around shared values and true greatness.
Conviviality across the aisle used to be the norm, in fact—presidential transitions were always facilitated by that spirit of cooperation until Donald Trump and his enablers incited the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol, using his Big Lie to attempt the overturning of our presidential transition process (and by extension, our democracy) that day.
Importantly, the Sun was in the powerful mid-cardinal degree of 16+ Capricorn that day, which brings me to the astrological passage this post will examine more deeply: the Sun’s impending Capricorn ingress on December 21, marking the 4th and final quarter of this current solar year.
At Saturn’s threshold
In the approaching ingress, the Sun will traverse the Sagittarius/Capricorn threshold, the final fire/earth cusp of this and every solar year. It’s a threshold and transition that reminds us that the flip-side of generous, optimistic Santa (Jupiter/Sagittarius) is dour, no-nonsense Krampus (Saturn/Capricorn): naughty little girls and boys had better beware!
Historically, it was during this ingress that ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, ruler of Capricorn and their Lord of Agriculture. Norms of acceptable behavior were suspended for Saturn’s festival, social hierarchies and relations were thrown to the wind and excess reigned, as if to say this surly, at times stingy god—who's usually pictured as an old man—must be honored, but he also has a sense of humor. Sound like any Capricorns you know?
Simply put, Saturn teaches that we respect and honor the elders among us not for the sake of sentimentality, but because survival itself may depend upon their long experience. This was a very present reality in agricultural societies like ancient Rome that frequently suffered drought and other crop-destroying calamities. With age came life-sustaining wisdom.
Even today, growing food for one’s family and community remains a powerful way to learn responsibility, diligence, perseverance and commitment—Jimmy Carter certainly learned all this running his family’s peanut farm in Plains, Georgia. Maybe we should elect more presidents who have gotten their hands in the soil and cultivated food for their communities? Carter’s nativity (Chart 1, below) features Capricorn on his 4th house (perhaps contributing to his longevity), disposed by a first house Scorpio Saturn rising at his late Libra ASC.
Chart 1. James Earl (Jimmy) Carter, Jr., October 1, 1924, 7:00 a.m. ST, Plains, GA. Rated: AA. All charts are cast on Kepler 8.0 with Tropical Equal Houses, True Node and courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.
Along similar lines, Rosalynn’s nativity (Chart 2, below) features an early Sagittarius Saturn conjunct her 4th house cusp, square her Virgo ASC and in a tight trine with 4th house ruler Jupiter Rx, itself tightly conjunct Uranus Rx in Aries in the 7th. The Capricornian virtues Jimmy and Rosalynn embodied their entire lives are the “sacrifices” that people who seek to make a difference in this world put on Saturn’s “altar.” Slackers need not apply.
Chart 2. Rosalynn Carter, August 18, 1927, 6:00 a.m. ST, Plains, GA. Rated: A.
But this is not a post about the Carters per se: it’s about the Sun’s impending ingress into Saturn’s Capricorn realm and what that might mean for this important liminal 4Q (2023/2024) period we find ourselves in. Before Pluto came along, astrology associated Saturn with mortality, and if we live in the northern hemisphere, it’s easy to associate Saturn’s wintry season with Nature’s “deep sleep,” or pseudo-death. It’s an essential resting period during which the next spring’s early growth refreshes its energies and prepares to break through the soil.
A lot is happening under the soil and out of sight during this solar 4th quarter, and we can only imagine that it took a real leap of faith for the ancients to believe that Nature had not forsaken them. So, they celebrated and sacrificed and lived on what they had “put up” for the winter. Jupiter stimulates the bounty; Saturn cultivates, preserves and cautiously “spends” it. Importantly, Saturn also inspired societal norms around food-sharing and other communal responsibilities.
Along those lines, this Saturnian 4th quarter is a yearly reminder that healthy societies require people to accept certain moral and ethical responsibilities towards the greater good. And perhaps some limitations as well: where Jupiter and Saturn converge at this Sagittarius/Capricorn cusp, we agree to rein in some bits of so-called “freedom” for the sake of our greater communities.
By Saturn’s logic, social development needs to proceed on both personal and collective levels, and when the process fails—in the case of criminal behavior—the society must have ways of correcting course. Perhaps we'll see a season of accountability for corrupt public officials (they're out there!) during this final solar quarter of 2023?
The power of zero
Zero-degree Capricorn, like zero-degree Aries, Cancer and Libra, is considered a critical cardinal “world point” by mundane astrology: when eclipses happen at this, or at any of the cardinal zero points, they tend to signify that critical world issues are at stake. Two recent cases speak to this: on June 21, 2001—just months before the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center we experienced a total eclipse of the Sun at 0°+Cancer that was more than prescient. Likewise, on the same date in 2020—just months prior to another American disaster on January 6, 2021, we saw another, this time Annular eclipse at that same degree.
Bottom line, we need to pay attention to what happens at these critical cardinal degrees. Ingresses aren’t likely to be as dramatic as eclipses, but the four cardinal cusps of any solar year deserve our attention—they can be very significant thresholds, and I suspect the passage impending on December 21st will live up to that reputation.
Let’s examine the chart (Chart 3, below), cast for Washington, D.C., to glean some insights.
Chart 3. Sun enters Capricorn, December 21, 2023, 10:27:08 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C.
The Sun, shown here at its first moment in Capricorn for 2023, falls in the 4th house in this chart and is tightly conjunct Capricorn Mercury Rx. Serious, reflective communications should characterize this 4Q period, but this Mercury will be backing into Sagittarius to conjoin Mars soon enough, suggesting that war and conflict will continue to dominate our national discourse, although forward momentum might be elusive.
The volatility of the situation, however, is strongly reinforced by the North Node-Eris conjunction in the Aries 8th, falling at the apex of what we would have to consider an unconventional Yod  with Juno (Virgo) and Venus (Scorpio). Unconventional or not, however, there’s no ignoring the 8th-2nd house Aries-Libra Nodal axis that bisects this configuration with such cardinal determination—especially since it is further stoked by Mars aspects to each point (trine/sextile North and South Nodes and disposing Aries; square Juno; semi-sextile Venus. Given the house placement of the Nodal axis “arrow” piercing this configuration, clearly, Big Finance and the values that drive Life and Death decisions during wartime are firmly in the balance here.
Asteroid “goddess” Juno also rises at the Virgo ASC of this chart, which suggests to me that powerful women could play an important role in public affairs this coming quarter. Nikki Haley, for instance, has just received a powerful endorsement (and a great deal of money, presumedly) from the Koch organization for her presidential run; the “combat” driving U.S. politics on the threshold of election year 2024 may also be reflected in the Yod discussed above.
In both war and politics, the players depend on money flowing like water, which we can also see here: Juno forms one point of a grand trine with Uranus in Venus-ruled Taurus and a thicket of midpoints in Capricorn: Venus/Neptune, Sun/Pluto and Mercury/Pluto. Venus in Scorpio tightly opposes that earthy 9th house Uranus, turning this grand trine into a more powerful, purposeful Kite formation. Venus also trines Pisces Neptune, again suggesting the deep-pocketed transfer of resources flowing into international disruptions or conflicts (Venus rules the 2nd and 9th) and towards allies (Neptune in 7th)--no surprise, U.S. allies Ukraine and Israel both urgently need wartime assistance as I write this.
Always on hand for wartime scenarios, of course, Mars semi-sextiles Scorpio Venus here and inconjoins Uranus from fiery Sagittarius in the 4th; this suggests that support for the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel could continue being stalled, despite the pressure on the “dam.” The stalling could be reinforced by Mars’ square to that Pisces Neptune; the so-called “fog of war” is likely to obfuscate a lot of what is going on.
All this and we haven’t even discussed where Capricorn ruler Saturn is in this chart! It is not a bit player here, falling in Pisces in the 6th house of public service and sextile both the newly ingressed, 4th house Capricorn Sun-Mercury and the 8th house Taurus Moon-Jupiter conjunction. Importantly, this puts Saturn at the midpoint of these two earthy conjunctions, perhaps undermining both ends in some way. The People’s sense of progress and prosperity (8th house Moon-Jupiter) may slip, despite record-breaking spending already this Holiday season; our Leader’s grassroots ability to shore up that economic confidence with effective communications (Sun-Mercury) may also fall short of the mark, especially while Saturn remains in post-retrograde shadow phase through January, 2024 and into February.
As we’ve seen for months now, it’s possible for the economy to be improving without people feeling it’s improved. Inflation (Jupiter, likely with help from Neptune) remains above desired levels, but it’s nowhere near as high as the constant doom and gloom messages in the Media warrant. In fact, the rates have been coming down and the fundamentals of the economy are mostly positive.
Saturn is not particularly dignified in Neptunian Pisces; indeed, in the U.S. context, it seems to reflect the weakened state of our democratic institutions: Congress is a mess right now, with so many committees caught up in fruitless (and baseless) investigations, and nothing—not even the much-delayed promotions of essential military officials is getting done (the Mars-Neptune square isn’t helping here). On an interesting and much-anticipated note, the House—with robust GOP support-- did just vote to expel its over-the-top corrupt freshman rep, George Santos (R, NY). Perhaps yet another sign that we’re heading into a new season of accountability with the coming ingress.
Bottom line, whatever is getting done in the House at this time (including the vote noted above) comes down to bipartisan efforts: if it weren’t for Dems again being willing to vote for a GOP funding bill to keep the government open, the federal government would have almost certainly shut down in the past month. IMHO, bipartisan measures are the best kind—perhaps Saturn in dualistic Pisces is a plus in this regard?
Even so, that Pisces Saturn could be signaling weakness in the Judiciary as well: scandal is still wracking the Supreme Court as I write this, with GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee attempting to shut down any subpoenas issued to examine the ethics challenges of our current Supreme Court. On a different, truly unfortunate note, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor--the very first woman to serve on the Court—has died at the age of 93: unfortunately, as Saturn moves deeper into Pisces and its balsamic phase with Pisces Neptune, we can probably expect that more high-profile, trail-blazing individuals will be “lost at sea.” This “wave” seems to be already in progress: Justice O’Connor’s news follows news of former statesman Henry Kissinger dying at the age of 100: between them and Rosalynn Carter, an entire era of American life seems to be quietly disappearing.
Liminal times and final thoughts
Finally, as our Sun approaches the final quarter of its annual cycle for 2023, perhaps this is a good time to consider our world through the very specific lens of liminality because as a nation we truly are at a crossroads. We've emerged from vibrant Jupiterian times (characterized by Sagittarian dynamics) into what may well be the aging “winter” of our more rigid and faltering Capricorn discontent. Individuals struggle to embrace and make the most of their aging, and as we’re experiencing all around us today, so do nations.
Perhaps this is the dimension of our national Pluto return—in the powerful late degrees of Capricorn, no less—that we can no longer ignore?
Peter Turchin is described on his website as “a complexity scientist who works in the field of historical social science that he and his colleagues call Cliodynamics,” a discipline that researches and analyzes the socio-political cycles that can be discerned in history. If you’re into mundane astrology, you’re likely to see the similarities here because both disciplines rely on historical cycles as the basis for analysis. How those cycles are framed certainly differs between the disciplines, but even so, it’s difficult to ignore the parallel conclusions that often result. Clearly, a much deeper look needs to be made of all this one day.
For now, I find it interesting that in his recent work entitled End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration, Turchin has focused at length on the “radical” and potentially destructive nature of current U.S. politics. Interestingly, he suggests that to,
...understand the ideological landscape of today, it is useful to start with its opposite, the Era of Good Feelings II, during which there was remarkable consensus among the elites governing America. I’ll refer to this ideological accord as the Postwar Consensus. It lasted for roughly thirty years, from 1937, when the New Deal was cemented, through World War II and the 1950s (the peak), and into the early 1960s. 
So roughly the period between WWII and the Vietnam war, during which the massive Baby Boom generation came of age and began to challenge the ideological underpinnings (and to some extent, the corruption) of that long-held status quo. Importantly, they were directing many of these challenges at their mostly Pluto in Cancer parents’ generation, then gaining political power in D.C.
Not surprisingly, this Postwar Consensus period tracks pretty closely with key moments in the outer planetary cycles of those times, but more importantly for now are the social characteristics that Turchin associates with that historically prosperous (for some) period. Not just for the sake of knowing the history, of course—but because an effort has been made among extremists to celebrate this post-WWII period and to spin a misplaced nostalgic aura around it. An aura that could convince many to accept the huge backwards steps that would have to be made to restore those longed-for times. To paraphrase Turchin, these were the key elite expectations of that “remarkable” 30-year consensus:
-The normative family was one man, one woman and their children; marriage unions were typically consecrated in a religious establishment,
-Gender roles were clearly defined: men as breadwinners, women as homemakers.
-The so-called ‘natural body’ was, with few exceptions, not to be altered artificially,
-Institutionalized racism, including the Jim Crow laws in the Southern states, was the quietly understood way of protecting most of the nation’s prosperity for white citizens,
-A predominantly White, Protestant and heteronormative male elite ruled, and although no state religion existed in the US, religious affiliation was expected, and divorce was problematic for elected officials... 
- Democracy and patriotism went hand in hand with laissez-faire economics; as long as the Big Capitalists were in charge and gave lip service to the Constitution, all was well.
The final point above sounds an awful lot like our Sibly Pluto’s agenda in Capricorn to me—interestingly, this Postwar Consensus period featured Pluto transiting in the late degrees of Cancer and into Leo, so opposite Sibly Pluto. Now, Pluto has completed its return to its Sibly position, bringing in its wake this sense of nostalgia for those discriminatory mid-century ideals.
Under normal circumstances, we would look at the list above and recognize it as the traditionalist Conservative agenda; however, today’s right-wing extremists appear prepared to twist the above agenda into a pretext for overturning democracy. Relatedly, gender roles aren’t merely socially well-defined; they’re being legislatively imposed upon people with abortion bans, anti-LGBTQ+ policies and attempts to turn our public school system into a tool for ideological takeover. With the help of an extreme and complicit U.S. Supreme Court, the states have essentially been given the go ahead to sanction discrimination against voters of color, against LGBTQ+ consumers and against the wellbeing of the environment.
And, with its refusal to seriously hold itself to a well-defined set of ethics, the Court has basically signaled to its billionaire friends that influence peddling is A-OK.
Importantly, if we really look deeply at what’s going on, the above extreme measures (and more to come, if Trump wins in 2024) all feed an extremist version of government that's conflated with their much-desired state religion—democracy optional. This view was apparently expressed by new House Speaker Mike Johnson recently:
Johnson is in fact a believer in scriptural originalism, the view that the Bible is the truth and the sole legitimate source for public policy.
He was most candid about this in 2016, when he declared: ‘You know, we don’t live in a democracy’ but a ‘biblical’ republic. Chalk up his elevation to the speakership as the greatest victory so far within Congress for the religious right in its holy war to turn the US government into a theocracy.
So not only has the critical separation between Church and State been fatally violated in current right-wing U.S. politics: if today’s most pernicious extremists get their way, the Church will overpower the State, turning democracy in the U.S. into a sham—or at the very best, into a disempowered “handmaiden” of a white supremacist Biblical State.
In this sense, we’re looking at a drive towards the most toxic expression of our U.S. Sibly Pluto and its ongoing "return” with transiting Pluto (Capricorn). IMHO, we need to keep this in mind as we face the coming solar ingress into Capricorn. Will it enable the drive towards theocracy? Or will it steel the spines of those who stand to lose everything they love about this nation?
Isn’t this vision of government the exact same thing our forebears fled from Europe to escape in the 1600s, only to recreate similar repressive conditions under the Puritan rule in some pre-1776 colonies? Could those times be coming back to haunt us astrologically? Indeed, this impulse towards controlling female bodies (at the heart of so much conservative “morality”) was hard at work in the horrific 1692-1693 Salem witch trials, with Pluto also in late Cancer, tightly opposing the Capricorn degrees it would occupy once the U.S. was founded.
So, we might say that Salem’s brand of Puritan excess is hardwired into one ideological stream that’s never quite been exorcised from the American soul, even though the worst excesses have been legislatively remanded to our collective unconscious (Pluto speaks to this).
Where will freedom be found in this new regime being envisioned? Conveniently reserved for vicious, threatening speech by players like Trump, who counts on compliant minions to do his bidding, and for gun ownership by all, mentally capable or not, violent abusers or not. And that’s just for starters...but don’t take my word for it: from the New York Times:
Recent reporting about plans for a second Trump presidency are frightening. He would stock his administration with partisan loyalists committed to fast-tracking his agenda and sidestepping — if not circumventing altogether — existing laws and long-established legal norms. This would include appointing to high public office political appointees to rubber-stamp his plans to investigate and exact retribution against his political opponents; make federal public servants removable at will by the president himself; and invoke special powers to take unilateral action on First Amendment-protected activities, criminal justice, elections, immigration and more.
I know we’re capable of better than this...
Keep it Light, everyone!
 Bil Tierney discusses Yod configurations at length in his Dynamics of Aspect Analysis and suggests that only traditional planets can form a “true yod.” He doesn’t recognize asteroids and nodes in this context, but perhaps that idea should be further researched.
 Turchin, Peter. End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites, and the Path of Political Disintegration (p. 100). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
 Turchin, p. 101.
Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and retired 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. Her articles on these topics have appeared in several key astrology journals over the years, including most recently, the TMA blog. For information about individual chart readings, contact: email@example.com.
© Raye Robertson 2023. All rights reserved.