In 1850, Uranus and Pluto converged for a new cycle in the final degree of fiery Aries, a cycle that would reflect and promote the civil unrest that would soon shred the United States—then less than 100 years old—into warring halves.
This prelude to our Civil War (1861-1865) was rife with complexities, of course, but it was largely over the morality and economics of chattel slavery. At the heart of the conflict was explosive tension between the Federal government, the sovereign rights of slave-holding states, and disputes over allowing slavery in newly established states.
Sound familiar? Today the dominant moral issue tearing us apart is abortion, and the tension is again playing out between the Federal level, charged with protecting women’s full reproductive rights, and several states (many of them familiar players from the first Civil War) that are passing sweeping laws that not only criminalize abortion, but the women who pursue that avenue and anyone who helps them. In shockingly extreme cases, some states propose to prosecute anyone who helps a minor leave their home state to procure an abortion.
But these extreme states aren’t satisfied to simply force their own women to risk their lives and wellbeing on unwanted or unhealthy pregnancies: this past week, a Texas judge issued a ruling that attempted to cancel the FDA’s approval of the drug mifepristone, which has been approved and safely used for early term abortions and miscarriages for the past 20 years. This ruling was almost immediately challenged by another federal judge because rescinding FDA approval would have national implications, even in states where abortion is legal and routinely used. As I write this (4/13) an appeals court has even further complicated things, while maintaining limited access to the drug for women while these cases are litigated, most likely to the Supreme Court.
It’s difficult to ignore the parallels between these attempts to weaponize the nation’s courts against women’s rights and the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which attempted to prevent abolitionists in the North from harboring escaped slaves. This act was part of the U.S. Congress’s failed package of legislation known as the Compromise of 1850.
In a nutshell:
“the act required that slaves be returned to their owners, even if they were in a free state. The act also made the federal government responsible for finding, returning, and trying escaped slaves.”
Amazingly, this 1850 act isn’t the only 19th century legislation after which today’s GOP is modeling current bills: the Texas judge that issued the anti-Mifepristone ruling discussed above invoked the rarely enforced 1873 Comstock Act as well. From a PBS news report:
“A 19th century ‘anti-vice’ law is at the center of a new court ruling that threatens access to the leading abortion drug in the U.S.
Dormant for a half-century, the Comstock Act has been revived by anti-abortion groups and conservative states seeking to block the mailing of mifepristone, the pill used in more than half of U.S. abortions.”
Astrologically, none of this is particularly surprising under the new phase of a Pisces Jupiter-Neptune cycle: undoubtedly, the Christian conservatives who deliberately brought their case before that particular Texas judge were aware of how deeply aligned the judge is with their religious views about abortion, meaning this case’s attempts to impose one religious point of view on all Americans amounts to theocratic overreach—clearly not in keeping with our tradition of separating Church and State, or with our traditions of religious freedom, but squarely in keeping with the goals of the Christian nationalist movement that has been gaining traction in the U.S.
It all fits, somehow: Pisces energies have been dominant since Neptune ingressed that sign in 2011, and they have been exacerbated by the recent launch (4/2022) of a new Jupiter-Neptune cycle in that sign. These energies not only helped overturn the structured protections of Roe v. Wade in June of that year, but have also helped obfuscate the boundaries between federal and state laws to the point of undermining federal protections.
In best case scenarios, Saturnian counterforces—which tend to reflect the federal level in U.S. politics—would intervene to protect people’s rights; however, with Saturn now also in Pisces and the Saturn-Uranus and Saturn-Neptune cycles in deeply waning 3Q phases, those interventions could be less effective than we might like. Bottom line, civil and human rights we’ve taken for granted for many long years (at least since the Civil War) could be relitigated or worse, and nothing should be taken for granted.
A potentially critical turning point
It also makes perfect astrological sense that this latest court challenge to women’s reproductive freedom nationwide would surface this April, as we approach a rare hybrid annular solar eclipse (New Moon) on the 20th. Thankfully, this eclipse isn’t sweeping across the U.S.--that will happen next year at this time—but the chart for this year’s Aries eclipse is still worth heeding. Let’s take a look at it, cast for Washington, D.C. (Chart #1 below).
Chart 1. Solar eclipse, April 20, 2023, 12:12:19 a.m., Washington, D.C. (All charts cast with Kepler 8.0 and courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software).
This is a so-called “dragon’s head” eclipse, meaning the Sun and Moon conjoin nearest the No. Node, instead of the So. Node. The eclipse does not conjoin that No. Node, however, which weakens it a bit. The fact that the eclipse shadow will not be passing over the U.S. is another moderating factor, but even so, the particulars of this chart render it powerful and potentially volatile: we would do well to pay attention.
Cast for Washington, D.C., the echoes of this Eclipse degree in American history (i.e., that 1850 Uranus-Pluto lauch discussed above) are difficult to ignore. In fact, the main thrust of this chart seems to be about turning the screws on the same old issues that have divided us forever. More on that ahead: once we’ve explored some highlights here, we will move on to consider this chart next to the U.S. Sibly chart in Biwheel #1 below.
In Chart #1, Mars and Jupiter seem to be the key energies for applying renewed pressures on American society: Mars in Cancer as the exalted “Lord” of this Aries eclipse, and Jupiter—conjunct the Eclipse point (Sun-Moon) and both ruling and trine the Sagittarius ASC--for its force and impetus in support of Mars’ agenda. That said, it seems that every point in this chart contributes to the pressure in some way.
So what is Mars’ agenda in this chart? From the 7th and in the second decan of Cancer, it’s safe to say that waging defensive power is at the heart of it. But what in particular is the focus of this defensiveness? Mars is in mutual reception with Aries Moon, suggesting that there’s an intensely emotional focus on children, family and because we’ve taken a U.S. perspective here, on the ever-divisive politics regarding the same.
Differences abound between our bi-polar policy tensions: do we protect children by making guns less accessible to the mentally ill and to documented violent criminals? Or do we protect them by further arming our society and doing nothing to prevent the violence? The dissonance and sheer nonsense of it all is exhausting.
As for the abortion debacle, the hypocrisy of “pro-Life” laws that endanger women’s lives has reached a fever pitch recently, with more states banning abortion 6 weeks after conception, when most women don’t even know they’re pregnant. It’s as if deliberately punitive legal traps are being laid for women everywhere they look. Cancer Mars is capable of weaponizing childbirth, if we let it, and many are doing just that.
|By Toni Auth|
Needless to say, we find ourselves at a tense stand-off over both divisive issues, which only deepens every time the news flashes with more deaths due to the shooting rampages of troubled individuals. Where’s the “pro-Life” fervor there? Instead, we get a sort of passive shrug on the part of too many in Congress, conveying that the “freedom” to fetishize weapons of war (and to feed the gun industry) is paramount. By this logic, life isn't precious; it's cheap and dispensable. Again, exhausting.
A type of war against women and children is, in fact, raging within our borders as I write this, a reality that also shows up in this chart: unfortunately, with 6th house Taurus Uranus semi-sextile and 7th house Cancer Mars square Aries Chiron and almost perfectly tredecile Aquarius Pluto, I suspect that this will-to-violence (or will-to-punish Others) will continue to find all kinds of expressions.
We’re seeing it in the rash of cruel legislative efforts that has spread like wildfire across the nation lately, stripping rights from not just women, but from trans children and their parents, who can lose their children and be charged with crimes if they help their children access the specialized health care they need. We’re seeing it in book banning and in threats to shut down library systems if librarians don’t comply—all in the name of “protecting children.” Could we ask for a more perfect expression of an over-empowered Cancer Mars calling the shots?
|Justice Thomas (ctr), at the heart of Supreme Court ethics controversies.|
Of course, this undermining of the Law and its credibility has produced a stressful and contentious situation for American women at the moment, which is reflected and exacerbated by the Venus square here to Saturn (Gemini-Pisces) and semi-sextile to Mars (Cancer).
Venus isn’t terribly strong in Gemini, especially in the 6th house of servants and health, but in this chart she rules the 5th and 11th houses and the No. Node (Taurus), so the pro-choice response to draconian new developments should find support. Even so, the divide over women’s reproductive health will likely persist and deepen going forward: the Eclipse point also conjoins Vesta (Taurus) and the No. Node and opposes the So. Node. Simply put, it’s a “culture war” issue that taps into and exploits the primal human impulse to procreate and nurture, and this "war" is only likely to become uglier as we get deeper into 2024 election territory.
Unfortunately, this divide often pits women against women—perhaps the perfect expression of a duplicitious Gemini Venus? Where does her true power lie: in bodily autonomy, or in accepting the subservient (and dependent) role cast for her in today’s ultra-conservative power games?
Note that justice-minded Pallas trines Neptune, forming the outer boundaries of the concentrated planetary “fan” spanning the 4th-8th houses, at the same time it squares the Aries Eclipse point: this seems to suggest that this eclipse will extend the challenges we’ve been seeing to our Rule of Law, which is likely to continue being caught up in both passive and aggressive attacks. In fact, the constant “hall of mirrors” approach to lawsuits and counter lawsuits has become a form of systemic attack that leverages the rights afforded litigants under the law against our democratic Rule of Law at large.
Simply put, as Manhattan D.A. Bragg can attest to these days, anyone attempting to hold powerful players accountable for their alleged crimes will pay for it with constant misinformation-laced attacks at best and violent retribution at worst: time and again, these players have proved they have the resources and connections to make a passive aggressive mockery of our system of justice. More on this under Biwheel #1 below.
Notice also that the Taurus-Scorpio Nodal axis roughly bisects this planetary “fan,” meaning this configuration’s “handle” projects out into the 11th house of political associations, etc. Interestingly, in Pisces, Saturn falls sextile/trine the North and South nodes of that axis, perhaps enabling the most regressive impulses these associations may promote, but also supporting opportunities for forward momentum on critical issues, especially those involving women’s health (6th house No. Node in Venus-disposed Taurus).
As it also happens here, Pluto (Aquarius) t-squares that Nodal axis (Taurus-Scorpio) and will do so for some time to come, even after the Nodal axis backs into Aries-Libra in July and as Pluto retrogrades into Capricorn in June for a brief time. The t-square suggests the possibility of an ongoing trend towards clandestine security breaches and attempts to subvert the American government from within. These possibilities are reinforced by Saturn in early Pisces still in the new phase of its cycle with Pluto, meaning its determined will-to-power remains potent, even if it may express that power with more subversion and smoke screens than overt force.
Given all that, it’s worth noting that Venus disposes the No. Node and Pluto disposes the So. Node, so looking back at the Venus-Saturn square noted earlier, clearly the vestiges of deep, institutional Patriarchy are in play here, at least through the life of this eclipse. By this May, Venus will move into Cancer and will quickly form trines, first with Pisces Saturn from Cancer, and then with Neptune in Pisces as well. The oppressiveness of the Saturn-Venus square will hopefully give way this summer to a renewed women’s movement. Nevertheless, it’s quite likely that this aggressive drive to re-assert heavier dominance over women’s lives is a long-term agenda being pursued by a major, deep-pocketed segment of society, and Venus shifting signs probably won’t make that big a difference.
More likely, this threat will persist and simply go underground if it’s denied its day in the short term: the extremists among us who want to take our nation back to the “good old days” before women and non-whites had virtually any rights are feeling empowered these days, and they’re willing to trigger unrest to get what they want.
This is a good place to take an even closer look at how the chart above is likely to play out within American life. The energies in play will, of course, find various expressions, but let’s consider some likely highlights. Biwheel #1 illustrates.
At home in the good old U.S.A.
Biwheel 1. (inner wheel) U.S. (Sibly) chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (outer wheel) Chart 1 (above—all charts cast with Kepler 8.0 and courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software).
Jupiter rules both charts and conjoins the Eclipse point (outer wheel, Aries), which falls over Sibly 5th house and squares 2nd house Sibly Pluto (inner wheel, Capricorn). The news is full of concerning commentary regarding the federal government’s looming debt ceiling crisis, being exacerbated as we speak by GOP intransigence and political brinkmanship. The point seems to be to demand spending cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare in return for passing a debt ceiling hike (Pluto rules debt), but the results of an intractable stand-off that would shut down a lot of government agencies and impair others (as happened in 2013) would be disastrous.
Which raises the question that seems to fit this complex of aspects involving Sibly Pluto: is the very point of this political exercise to create an economic crisis that will play well for the GOP in election 2024? Although history suggests that these games do work themselves out, our economy can be manipulated to this sort of effect, and we shouldn’t take anything for granted. We also need to be mindful of the overwhelming influence that deep-pocketed players are having in our politics at this moment because frankly, we may have already crossed over from being a democratic capitalist society into plutocratic rule: rule by the super-wealthy. A quick excerpt from the economist and NY Times opinion writer, Paul Krugman paints the picture:
“First, some notes on the role of vast wealth in a democracy.
People on the right often insist that expressing any concern about highly concentrated wealth is ‘un-American.’ The truth, however, is that worrying about the dangers great wealth poses for democracy is very much part of the American tradition. And our nation basically invented progressive taxation, which was traditionally seen not just as a source of revenue but also as a way to limit excessive wealth.
In fact, if you read what prominent figures said during the Progressive Era, many expressed views that would be hysterically denounced as class warfare today. Theodore Roosevelt warned against ‘a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power.’ Woodrow Wilson declared, ‘If there are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States, they are going to own it.’
How does great wealth translate into great power? Campaign finance is dominated by a tiny number of extremely rich donors. But there are several other channels of influence.
Until recently I would have said that outright corruption — direct purchase of favors from policymakers — was rare. ProPublica’s revelation that Justice Thomas enjoyed many lavish, undisclosed vacations at Crow’s expense suggests that I may have been insufficiently cynical.”
And so it seems to go. As you’re probably aware if you’ve followed this site, the U.S. Sibly chart is in the midst of a years-long Pluto return process, which is designed to purge any such corruption and to basically force us to confront other potentially toxic excesses in our economic system. Yet, the plutocrats seem to be winning at the moment. Much more on this story to come, obviously, but in regards to this eclipse season, the willingness on the Right to gamble the full faith and credit of the U.S. economy for political leverage is excessive enough.
|A startling portrait of Saturn by NASA.|
With Pisces involved, it’s not difficult to see the ideological pretexts being used to justify such laws for the smoke screens they are. Eclipse Saturn's trine to Sibly Venus-Jupiter can't really disguise the raw economic and political power interests that are motivating these assaults on people’s rights.
This anti-democracy trend—which isn’t confined to the U.S., unfortunately—isn't likely to be reversed any time soon, although it is likely to spark a great deal of social unrest, with Eclipse Saturn square Sibly Uranus. This square will be tightening over the coming months and into 2024, with a retrograde break in between, so we can probably expect heavy protests and other displays of public resistance. Given Saturn’s involvement, attempts to criminalize protest could follow; it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine a summer of 1960s-style turmoil.
These possibilities for turmoil could be reinforced by Eclipse Mars conjunct Sibly Sun (Cancer) and sextile Eclipse Uranus (Taurus), which in turn conjoins Sibly Vesta (Taurus). This Mars also squares Sibly Saturn, which could challenge the tricky balance of power that undergirds our democratic institutions, if not worse. The Supreme Court is already caught up in corruption scandals and a credibility crisis, courtesy of Justice Clarence Thomas; perhaps this eclipse will force some fundamental changes to the way the Court is allowed to operate.
The spike we’ve seen in gun violence lately could, in fact, have a lot to do with this Cancer Mars, which also squares Eclipse Chiron (Aries). Adding insult to injury, this Chiron is working its way towards a return to Sibly Chiron in spring, 2024, which reflects the resurfacing of so many wounding dynamics in American society: the Southern Poverty Law Center tracks the activities of 1600 extremist groups across the U.S., and many of them would like to see the demise of our (small “d”) democratic institutions. I fear that the nation’s children have become the pawns for this anti-democracy sentiment: are we supposed to believe that the serious spike in mass killings we’ve seen in the past year is coming from nowhere?
This is not a new peril, unfortunately: FBI head Chris Wray declared in 2021 that domestic terrorism was a major, growing security concern in America, and I suspect that with this eclipse ruled by a potentially volatile Mars and positioned as it is over the Sibly 8th, the nation needs to pay close attention to such warnings. Consider the gruesome 1995 echo of the current strain of anti-federal government activism: as I write this on 4/19/2023, Oklahoma City is marking the 28th anniversary of the domestic terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 individuals and injured over 600 more, including children who were at play in the building's child care facility that morning.
We won't pursue a deeper look at the OKC chart at this time, but suffice to say, it features several echoes with today that we may want to note: Uranus was empowered in the first degree of Aquarius (where Pluto is today) and conjunct Capricorn Neptune, which was disposed by a Pisces Saturn. Jupiter and Mars were empowered in fiery signs Sagittarius and Leo, respectively--today's Jupiter is in late Aries and Mars is exalted in Cancer, disposing that fiery Jupiter and ruling the eclipse itself. OKC prosecuted those responsible for that tragic 1995 event, but every year since, the city has marked and mourned this unfathomable loss of life. And for what?
In the end, the passive allowing of suicidal individuals to wreak their havoc on schools and other public places isn’t all that different from the state exploitation of idealistic young people who are willing to be “martyred” for a cause as suicide bombers. The aggregate, terrorizing impact of seemingly random attacks, never knowing where the next one will take place, is what lends these supposedly separate and discrete events their vicious power.
Of course, being bombarded with death threats has become almost routine for public officials, but perhaps that’s the type of protest that needs to be criminalized.
Finally, a few words about Eclipse Neptune and Pluto. As discussed under Chart #1, this Pluto t-squares Eclipse Nodal axis (Taurus-Scorpio): here, that axis cuts across the Sibly 5th-11th, with Eclipse Pluto overlaying the Sibly 2nd house, still within orb of Sibly Pluto (Capricorn). This axis also squares the Sibly Nodal axis (Leo-Aquarius), suggesting that the nation is navigating an important crossroads as we speak. Given the prominence of the Sibly 2nd-8th axis in all of this, we can be certain that the (big “E”) Economy will be heavily implicated in whatever transpires.
Transiting Pluto will conjoin the Sibly So. Node (Aquarius) for the first time in March, 2027, but deep-pocketed pressure to transform our character as a nation will persist between now and then—a story to track going forward.
As for Eclipse Neptune (Pisces), it opposes Sibly Neptune (Virgo) and together they t-square Sibly Mars (Gemini). Eclipse Neptune also forms sextile/trine aspects with Sibly Pluto (Capricorn) and Sibly Mercury (Cancer), all of which reflects the relentless ideological tension that feeds—and, in turn, is fueled by—the pernicious misinformation that seems to have taken over so many media outlets. In the end, of course, the tension greatly benefits those deep-pocketed influencers who appear to be calling the shots in our politics. Nothing positive comes from neighbors hating neighbors, but the unaccountable billions that will be poured into the 2024 election elections will definitely feed the two-headed Neptune/Pluto “beast” our politics has become.
Needless to say, watching the news is not for the faint of heart these days, but as much as I would like to simply tune-out at this juncture, the stakes have never been higher for remaining aware and engaged. The fact is, this eclipse reminds us that the cycles of Nature tend toward extremes just before seasonal transitions. I would like to believe that a stronger, renewed democracy for this nation is germinating beneath the soil of public ferment as we speak: that’s what New Moons are about, after all.
Perhaps most frustratingly, all of the turmoil and divisiveness is distracting our attention from the truly critical needs of our times—for climate change mitigation, for the “clean/green” conversion of transportation systems, for the development of sustainable, non-fossil-fuel-based agriculture systems, for the strengthening of institutions charged with peaceful, humane purposes, and so on.
And truth be told, this empowered New Moon could make a difference in that quest if we could only focus our attention in that direction. Notice that a mere 10’ of arc separates the eclipse we’ve studied here and the earthy sign of Taurus, so the bombastic Aries energy being unleashed here is a bit spent and could be seen as a “last hurrah” for fiery divisiveness and a bridge of sorts into the more earthy concerns before us.
Such as gardening...in fact, from where I’m sitting, it looks like a great year for gardening: my seeds have sprouted and young squash and cucumber vines are climbing up my windows. Tomato seedlings are aching to be out of their small pots and nasturtium and zinnia seedlings are turning their pretty faces into the light, vying for solar warmth and attention as bees nose around on the other side of the glass, looking in. “Come out to play!” they seem to say...any day now!
So for my part, I will be focusing forward, on nurturing, to the best of my ability, the earth and growth and Life that is in my care, and to continue exploring how mundane astrology speaks to it all. Perhaps I’m trying to cultivate what Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer call “Gardenbrain” in their amazingly insightful and relevant book, The Gardens of Democracy. I will leave you with a brief excerpt:
“We posit in these pages that this country has for too long been stuck in a mode of seeing and thinking called Machinebrain. We argue that the time has come for a new mode of public imagination that we call Gardenbrain.
Machinebrain sees the world and democracy as a series of mechanisms—clocks and gears, perpetual motion machines, balances and counterbalances...Machinebrain presupposes stability and predictability, and only grudgingly admits the need for correction. Even the word commonly used for such correction--’regulation’--is mechanical in origin and regrettable in connotation.
Gardenbrain sees the world and democracy as an entwined set of ecosystems—sinks and sources of trust and social capital, webs of economic growth, networks of behavioral contagion. Gardenbrain forces you to conceive of the economy as man-made and effective only if well constructed and well cared-for. Gardenbrain presupposes instability and unpredictability, and thus expects a continuous need for seeding, feeding, and weeding ever-changing systems. To be a gardener is not to let nature take its course; it is to tend.” 
And tend we must!
 Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer, The Gardens of Democracy, Sasquatch Books, Seattle, WA, 2011, pp. 10-11.
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. 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 2023. All rights reserved.