Monday, January 1, 2024

The ties that bind: thoughts on the New Year in war-torn areas



“If we had memory, we would know that war, before it reaches the front lines, must be stopped in the heart.”--Pope Francis, Against War: Building a Culture of Peace [1]  


Perhaps you feel as I do this New Year’s weekend, watching the final minutes of 2023 tick away and wondering a bit numbly what's next. Great hope and deep dread are the twin poles around which my thoughts are winding, it seems: so much could go very wrong this coming year, but then, so much could go right, as well. The Cosmos knows what it’s doing, right?  

Trouble is, the Cosmos leaves us free to choose how we will channel and apply its awesome energies, so human choices will determine where we go from here. Importantly, as Pope Francis expresses above, the course of events will also be steered by human hearts—often fallible, exhausted and depleted human hearts. Or so it seems from the dis-heartening news we wake up to these days.   

In the last post here we discussed at length how the final quarter of this astrological year (the Capricorn quarter) appears likely to unfold for the U.S., but here we will quickly consider January 1 “New Year’s” charts for the U.S. and the international “hot spots” that have been dominating our news lately—Russia and Ukraine (set for Moscow and Kiev, respectively), and Israel and Palestine (both consider Jerusalem their sacred capitol). I suspect you’ll notice interesting commonalities between them all. And a few important differences.

Before we get to that, however, let’s think about this issue of human choice through an astrological lensAs a woman in the mostly male field of mundane astrology—a patriarchal institution like the historical Roman church and any other western institution, after all—I do, at times, want to take a pause and consider whether the traditional spin on certain things serves us very well today.  

For instance, traditional Western astrology has long taught that the personal and the collective levels are somehow separate. That we shouldn’t “worry” too much about Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in our personal charts because those energies play out mostly on the collective level. When in fact, by birth or by transit, these energies are woven into everything in our personal lives in one way or another, and we most certainly “feel” their influence in a myriad of ways: in the price of gas, in our rebellious instincts, in a loved one's struggle with cancer, in our deep resonance with soul-stirring music, and so on.  

We need the better angels of these so-called “collective” planets to be our best Selves, in other words, to feel vibrantly and compassionately connected to Humanity and the world we live in. To remain isolated from the collective level—out of fear or some other toxic influence—is to denigrate our possibilities and starve our souls.   

Bottom line, though we may be living with a deeply-rooted cultural addiction to this personal/collective split, there is really no basis in astrology for maintaining this illusion. And there are powerful reasons for working to heal from it because over the long history of Western civilization, this split has enabled us to: 

  • Deny that our lifestyles and toxic emotions have anything to do with the non-stop cycles of war we humans seem to need to feel “normal.”  

  • Look the other way when our individual desires and drives contribute to havoc and indescribable suffering in faraway places.  

  • Eschew responsibility for the collective well being of our own societies, let alone the well being of the Earth itself. 

I know, cue the eyerolls, but the personal and the collective have always bled into and fed each other, have they not? Perhaps this is the point the Pope is making when he says (above), “if we had memory, we would know...”? 



The fact is, we do have the needed memory if we are prepared to follow its trail through history and its reflections in the outer-planetary cycles. Importantly, that planetary wisdom can’t help but show us how the personal and the collective levels are thoroughly entangled in that historyIn the greed and ambition that feed violence and ignite the pathways toward war; in the power ideologies that place blinders on our eyes and allow leaders to render everyday humans “expendable.” And more positively, in the personal heroism that transforms societies and moves mountains.  

And, as we’ve been discussing, the personal and the collective are entangled and manifest in the critical choices we all make or don’t make—a point expressed today with particular interest by NYTimes journalist and economist Thomas Friedman: 

“To put it another way: If I think about the three pillars that have stabilized the world since I became a journalist in 1978 — a strong America committed to protecting a liberal global order with the help of healthy multilateral institutions like NATO, a steadily growing China always there to buoy the world economy, and mostly stable borders in Europe and the developing world — all three are being shaken by big choices by big players over the last decade. This is triggering a U.S.-China cold war, mass migrations from south to north and an America that has become more unreliable than indispensable. 

But that’s not the half of it. Because now that advanced military technologies like drones are readily available, smaller players can yield much more power and project it more widely than ever before, enabling even their bad choices to shake the world. Just look at how shipping companies across the globe are having to reroute their traffic and pay higher insurance rates today because the Houthis, Yemeni tribesmen you never heard about until recently, have acquired drones and rockets and started disrupting sea traffic around the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal. 

This is why I referred to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as our first true world war, and why I feel that Hamas’s war with Israel is in some ways our second true world war....” 

It’s hard to argue with anything Friedman has to say here, and with the specter of three outer planetary cycles waning to completion and renewing with vigor and potency between now and 2032, it’s clear that making good choices today is more critical than ever. The year 2030 is often cited as a key threshold for human progress against climate change and towards enduring sustainability, but geopolitical stability is as essential to those goals as transitioning away from fossil fuels will ever be. And lest we be naïve, does anyone doubt that the forces driving global instability and those seeking to maintain the fossil fuel-dominated world economy are flip sides of the same geopolitical coin? 

Ideally, choices will be made during the waning years of the three planetary cycles in question—Jupiter-Uranus, Saturn-Uranus and Saturn-Neptune—to wean the world economy off fossil fuels and clear the way for a more sustainable path forward. Nothing could subvert these possibilities more thoroughly, however, than the global community getting sucked into two major and expanding regional wars.  

To refresh our memories, the three cycles currently waning into completion will progress as follows. Please note that the waning half of any cycle unfolds with the faster-moving of the two planets in question “closing in on” the slower-moving planet (the faster-moving planet is always named first in a cycle designation—e.g., Jupiter-Uranus). Waning planets will be transiting between 180.01° and 360.00° to each other, measured clockwise around the horoscope wheel.  


Planetary cycle 

Angular separation at New Year, 2024 (out of a total 360°) 

New cycle date and degree 




















All three cycles are currently in their waning third quarters (270°-360°), in other words, typically the cycle phase that is most fraught with frustrations and instability, with the breakdown and clearing out of outworn realities so that we can move towards fresh, new dynamics that accord with the planets involved. Notice that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are all directly involved in these processes; Pluto may seem to be less directly involved because its cycle partners are all moving away from it (so, are waxing) at this time.  Yet, the overall tension created by that pull between waning and waxing cycles is a big part of today’s story, as well, and may account for the fact that economists haven’t been able to nail down whether we’re heading for a recession or a boom; for the fact that the economy is actually doing pretty well by measurable standards, yet so many feel that we’re in dire straits; and for the grossly incompatible worldviews that seem to be strangling our public discourse at the moment and making it impossible to get anything constructive done in D.C.  


Undermining forward motion seems to be the name of the game in so many areas of life these days—not unusual with a potent Saturn-Neptune 3Q—but the intimidation and thuggishness supported by a toxic Saturn-Uranus 3Q and an impatient balsamic Jupiter-Uranus cycle has only weaponized that undermining force. Bottom line, it’s not difficult to see how this specific mixture of energies has enabled today’s tangled geopolitical mess in Ukraine and the Middle East.  

So, with all this in mind, let’s consider those New Year’s charts promised above. Notice that there’s nothing astrologically significant about that crystal ball dropping in Times Square (or in any nation, for that matter) at the stroke of midnight on December 31st, but because of its cultural significance as a threshold between two realities that resonate on both personal and collective levels, it’s worth a look. 

Notice also that the charts that follow are unique in some ways, but have a lot in common otherwise: first, they are all cast for the same moment in time, but for different places, so the features that change from chart to chart are the angles, house cusps and the Moon degree. The all-important outer planetary placements (key for our purposes here) are eerily similar in all cases—perhaps this should tell us something?  

Let's begin with the furthest East chart (so reflecting the nation that will celebrate the stroke of midnight and the dawning of 2024 first), and work our way westward to the U.S. The focus here will be on quickly identifying key factors that speak to the geopolitical challenges of our day. 


 New Year 2024 in Russia (Moscow) 



 With an early, early degree of peace-loving Libra rising, we could surmise that Putin might begin to wind down his war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine and seek a peaceful exit over this coming year. Color me hopeful, but skeptical, however—too much of Putin’s personal drive to maintain power seems to hinge on the outcome of this war, which he has reportedly framed for the Russian people as a “holy war”--kind of an ethics-free Crusade. From journalist Tim Alberta’s The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism (an amazing study about the depths to which religion has been weaponized for the sake of power in the U.S. and abroad these days):  

“With the aid of state-run media and a blockade against Western information, the Kremlin had convinced much of the Russian public that their sons were engaged in a sanctified struggle. It wasn’t just the Russian people being brainwashed: Tucker Carlson, at the time still the top-rated Fox News personality, spent the first year of the war defending Putin’s honor, downplaying his savagery, and describing America’s aid to Ukraine as a secular ‘jihad’ aimed at toppling ‘an orthodox Christian country with traditional values’...  

Carlson’s programming was played in a loop on Russian state television to reinforce the Kremlin’s talking points. That Putin was losing this holy war—death tolls can be manipulated, but not concealed entirely—only gave him cause to escalate. ‘The intensity of the theological language has really increased’ from Putin, Hovorun warned us. ‘His rhetoric has made a long journey from de-Nazification to de-Satanization.’” 

Propaganda and the twisting of forces like religion and spirituality into weapons of war are nothing new in history: unfortunately, they’ve been responsible for many of the most heinous chapters in that history. From that perspective it makes sense that Jupiter and Uranus would appear in the 8th house of psychological power, other people’s money and Death in this chart: acting in concert with Putin, the Russian Orthodox church (under the leadership of Patriarch Kirill) is fully supporting and enabling Putin’s propaganda effort, so we can only imagine that Orthodox churchgoers are also fully supporting (with their children’s lives and perhaps even monetarily) Putin’s war.  

As for the other outer planets, both Saturn and Neptune occupy the Pisces 6th house of the military, suggesting that Putin’s troops will continue to be motivated by limited choices and a steady diet of propagandaAs Tim Alberta’s source among the Orthodox clergy (Cyril Hovurun), put it: 

“The Russian leader practices ‘an eclectic theology,’ he said, that cherry-picks whatever spiritual concepts support his ideological agenda. The one constant—the one thing Putin believes in—is power. By weaponizing religion, Hovorun said, Putin had accumulated more of it than ever before.” [3] 

Notice that, of the unique features of this chart, the Moon in early Virgo falls in the Neptunian 12th house of this chart and closely opposes early Pisces Saturn in the 6th: to my eye, this placement only reinforces the power Putin has been able to derive from keeping his people deceived and emotionally (if not literally) imprisoned in a sadly distorted worldview. This Virgo-Pisces axis is further t-squared by an aggressive money-producing Sagittarius Venus in the 3rd. Propaganda—useful on the broadest scale to influence perception and on the personal scale to scam money out of people—has a way of blunting and confusing discernment (Virgo’s gift).  

This Venus also falls trine the fiery Aries DSC and inconjunct Taurus Jupiter in the 8th, so feeding Putin’s war against Ukraine and likely reflecting some personal, material benefits fueling his Church/State allianceNotice that Venus rules this Libra rising chart, after all...nothing says Big Money on the move better than war. We see hints of this here, with the Sun, Moon and Jupiter forming an earthy grand trine...for now, the situation’s materially comfortable (for some), so why rock the boat? Mercury and Mars (conjunct in Sagittarius and disposed by this earthy Jupiter) easily rationalize the benefits of maintaining of a war footing and continuing to wreak havoc (they trine the 7th house Aries No. Node as well). Can the voices calling for peace even begin to compete? Ask Putin nemesis Alexei Novalny, now imprisoned in a Siberian penal colony for speaking out against corruption in the Kremlin.  


New Year 2024 in Ukraine (K’yiv) 



 It shouldn’t surprise us that a chart set for neighboring Ukraine, fighting for its very life against Putin’s barbaric and self-serving aggression, would have a lot in common with the chart set for Moscow. As this New Year dawns, the conflict is nearly two complete years old: two years of civilians being targeted, of civilian infrastructures being destroyed, of Ukraine’s agricultural base (essential for so many countries) being ravaged and its access to essential waterways being blockaded. And yet, the Ukrainians fight on, providing Europe and Western civilization with a buffer zone against a corrupt and imperialistic Russia.  

Pluto’s placement in their 4th house of the People suggests that they are doing so at great personal and social cost; interestingly, Jupiter (Taurus) falls in the 7th house here, suggesting the potential for success against their enemies and largesse from their friends and allies. Hopefully, that puts Jupiter’s role in that earthy grand trine with Sun and Moon in a new light, feeding their defensive cause instead of someone’s deep pockets.  

The same financial dynamics and challenges follow any nation engaged in war, to be sure (Venus rules this chart as well), yet Ukraine’s cause seems to have “wings,” so to speak—consider that Moon and Jupiter form not only trines with the Sun, but sextiles with the Cancer MC, which opposes the Capricorn Sun marking this New Year, and that all together these points form a fairly tight Kite formation.  

Yes, a similar formation appears in the Moscow chart above, but some aspects are wider, and the Moscow MC actually opposes late Sagittarius Mars more closely than it does the Sun, suggesting that waging war for the sake of war and expansion (Sagittarius) is Putin’s cause. 


A New Year's 2024 sunrise in Gaza.

 New Year 2024 in Israel & Palestine (Jerusalem)



It’s almost jolting to realize that the exact same chart must be used to examine the situation between Israel and Hamas/Palestine as this New Year dawns. It seems fitting, if we think about it—the vicious divide between the Israelis and Palestinians has been purposely cultivated over time, and for what? So they can endlessly mirror each others’ pain and dysfunction? Perhaps the closest aspect in this chart tells us something: Chiron (Aries) closely conjoins the Aries DSC and squares the Cancer MC, suggesting that each people’s will and right to defend themselves against the Other has become a toxic Wound entangling them (and their allies, for that matter) in forever conflict. The never-ending cycle of aggression and retribution has only dug deeper graves on both sides, but it wields very real power in the world—notice how fast Ukraine’s allies left it hanging after October 7th! I think we forget at our peril that Putin, as a staunch ally of the thuggish governments in Iran and Syria, is not an innocent bystander in this Israel-Hamas situation. And surprise, surprise, he stands to benefit from this conflict in the Middle East. From 

“Putin, say Russian and Western policy experts, is trying to use Israel's war against Hamas to escalate what he has cast as an existential battle with the West for a new world order that would end U.S. dominance in favor of a multilateral system he believes is already taking shape. 

‘Russia understands that the U.S. and the EU have fully supported Israel, but the U.S. and the EU are now the embodiment of evil and cannot be right in any way,’ Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin adviser, wrote in his blog, explaining Putin's need to differentiate himself. 

‘Therefore, Russia will not be in the same camp with the U.S. and the EU. Israel's main ally is the United States, Russia's main enemy right now. And Hamas' ally is Iran, an ally of Russia.’” 

Bottom line, there is no reasoning with either side, yet there is great potential for the Israel-Hamas conflict to spread throughout the Middle East and, if Putin and his allies have their way, beyond. What seems like a dispute isolated to neighboring peoples is likely anything but 



United States (Washington, D.C.) 



It should be said again that there’s nothing astrologically significant about 12 midnight on December 31, 2023, but it is a convenient moment to assess a stubborn, man-made situation that involves several geopolitical hot spots all at once. By this point, you may be noticing that the nations most deeply entangled in the twin wars of our time have eerily similar New Year’s charts. All the charts feature Libra-to-Aries ASC-DSC axes and Cancer-to-Capricorn MC-IC axes. Indeed, the ASC degrees for both Washington, D.C. and K’yiv fall within a degree of each other, even though our time zones are 5 hours West and 2 hours East, respectively. Indeed, as allies, we should be united in the cause of peace, but with justice (Libra). Our close identification with each other, however, might also explain why many consider the conflict on Ukraine’s territory to be a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia. Judging by Reuters’ comments above, Putin certainly sees the conflict in that light. So, why would we pull back from fully supporting Ukraine’s efforts now? Perhaps because Donald Trump is a Putin ally who has already demonstrated deep disdain for Ukraine? Perhaps because he’s told his GOP enablers to shift gears before the election?  

“The White House and Senate continue to work frantically toward a deal to supply Ukraine before Congress recesses for Christmas. Supposedly, all leaders of Congress are united in their commitment to Ukraine—so the new speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, insists. Yet somehow this allegedly united commitment is not translating into action. Why not? 

The notional answer is that Republicans must have a border-security deal as the price for Ukraine aid. But who on earth sets a price that could stymie something they affirmatively want to do? Republicans have not conditioned their support for Social Security on getting a border deal. They would never say that tax cuts must wait until after the border is secure. Only Ukraine is treated as something to be bartered, as if at a county fair. How did that happen? 

Ukraine’s expendability to congressional Republicans originates in the sinister special relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. 

Pre-Trump, Republicans expressed much more hawkish views on Russia than Democrats did. Russia invaded eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea in spring 2014. In a Pew Research survey in March of that year, 58 percent of Republicans complained that President Barack Obama’s response was “not tough enough,” compared with just 22 percent of Democrats. After the annexation, Republicans were more than twice as likely as Democrats to describe Russia as “an adversary” of the United States: 42 percent to 19 percent... 

Trump changed all that—with a lot of help from pro-Putin voices on Fox News and right-wing social media.” 

This brings up a long story that we can’t really get into but clearly the slow-walking and undermining of our alliance with K’yiv in Congress is deliberate and purposeful. Notice also that the Jerusalem chart’s 13°+Libra ASC (above) squares the U.S. Sibly Sun (13°+Cancer) and conjoins Sibly Saturn (14°+Libra)--I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the geopolitical “checkmate” that Putin seems to be hoping for against U.S. leadership.  

This very real possibility is reinforced in the charts above by the shift we see of Saturn to the 5th house in all the charts except the one cast for Moscow. This influences how that Moon-Saturn-Venus t-square plays out—not being so much about the military as it is about the various nations’ geopolitical centers of influence. For Saturn to fall in the 5th house in the debilitating sign of Pisces suggests a possible diffusion or dissipation of influence—an undermining of authority, if you will. Sounds very much like a goal Putin would favor.  



 Final thoughts 

All of this reminds me of another point that Thomas Friedman made lately, about the great power that those with the worst intentions seem to derive from having a fearsome enemy: Hamas needs Israel to maintain its grip, he says, just as Putin needs his enemy NATO to maintain his grip on Russia. As we see in our daily news, Trump needs his nemesis in the White House to blame for all his legal woes. Friedman puts these tactics into perspective: 

“This is now a common strategy for consolidating and holding power forever by a single political faction and disguising it with an ideology of resistance. It’s no wonder they all support one another... Hamas has never wavered from being more interested in destroying the Jewish state than in building a Palestinian state — because that goal of annihilating Israel is what has enabled Hamas to justify its hold on power indefinitely, even though Gaza has known only economic misery since Hamas seized control.” 

This brings to mind a statement made by a Russian diplomat in the late 1980s when the Soviet Union was imploding in front of our eyes: (paraphrasing) he said something to the effect that “we are now going to inflict a great harm on you [the U.S.]...we’re going to strip you of your chief enemy.” And, in fact, ever since the Cold War ended, we have been scrambling to focus our efforts on the international stage, and a lot of it has been a mess.  

Suffice to say here that it’s no accident that the very skeleton of a nation’s radix chart pits its Identity against its perceived Others (1st-7th) and its Grass Roots priorities against its Geopolitical Power (4th-10th). There’s no separating out Trump’s demonstrated isolationist approach to U.S. foreign policy with his apparent willingness to relinquish U.S. dominance on the world scene to Putin.  

Actions speak louder than words here: if the GOP’s reluctance to support Ukraine looks like they’re capitulating to Putin, and Putin himself seems to be expecting as much, perhaps we should start seeing the situation for what it extraordinary attempt on the part of an unscrupulous former president who thinks he’s still in charge to subvert our sitting president’s foreign policy efforts.  

Lest we forget other key players in the entangled war-time drama playing out as we speak, Friedman also attributed several critical mistakes to Israeli leader Netanyahu: 

“The list is long: Before this war, Netanyahu actively worked to keep the Palestinians divided and weak by strengthening Hamas in Gaza with billions of dollars from Qatar, while simultaneously working to discredit and delegitimize the more moderate Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, committed to Oslo and nonviolence in the West Bank. That way Netanyahu could tell every U.S. president, in effect: I’d love to make peace with the Palestinians, but they are divided, and moreover, the best of them can’t control the West Bank and the worst of them control Gaza. So what do you want from me? 

Netanyahu’s goal has always been to destroy the Oslo option once and for all. In that, Bibi and Hamas have always needed each other: Bibi to tell the U.S. and Israelis that he had no choice, and Hamas to tell Gazans and its new and naïve supporters around the world that the Palestinians’ only choice was armed struggle led by Hamas. 

The only exit from this mutually assured destruction is to bring in some transformed version of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank — or a whole new P.L.O.-appointed government of Palestinian technocrats — in partnership with moderate Arab states like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. But when I raise that with many Israelis right now, they tell me, ‘Tom, it’s not the time. No one wants to hear it.’” 

In fact, nothing will ever be right between Israel and the Middle East until the Palestinian people are trusted to build and rule their own state, once and for all. And because there is no way to isolate one conflict from the other, I’m guessing that nothing will be healed between Ukraine and Russia until Ukraine (and whichever other nations need it) has the benefit of NATO membership. And until the U.S. proves it can be trusted to speak with one unified voice again.  Sounds to me like a theme for this year ahead!


May Peace be in our hearts and in our hands, and may we enjoy the happiest and healthiest of New Years...cheers, everyone!! 




[1] Pope Francis I, Against War: Building a Culture of Peace, Orbis Books. Kindle Edition, pp. 7-8. 

[2] Alberta, Tim. The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism, HarperCollins. Kindle Edition, p. 234-5. 

[3] Alberta, Ibid., p. 236. 


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:  

© Raye Robertson 2024. All rights reserved.