Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pluto, the No-Self Doctrine, and an Offer You Can't Refuse

You could say there are 2 approaches to the self: building it up or abandoning it. The first approach is 'normal', even to an extent necessary. The second approach is radical and revolutionary and is also what makes us fully human.

It is quite normal to base your sense of who you are around a list of 'achievements'. 

These achievements can be quite good things in themselves. And it's quite natural to then think that that is who you are.

You get a lot of people who are half-way radical. They quite rightly don't like a lot of things about the world and want, like a lot of politicians do, to 'make a difference'. But then that becomes who they are. Not in all cases, by any means. Remember Swampy the road protester, who didn't want to know when the media made a hero out of him, and hasn't been heard of since?

But when what you do, or have done, becomes who you are, then it becomes a compensation for all the mess underneath that all of us seem to carry in one way or another.

So that's why I say you're only half-way radical if you stop at changing the world, and make that your CV. 

The world is subject to the law of unintended consequences, and it can be hard to know if you're doing any good in the long term. But the self is not subject to this law. We can change ourselves, and we are part of the world, so changing ourselves changes the world. Our first duty, in this sense, is to ourselves rather than to the world.

The point is not to think in terms of I'm good at this and bad at that, I've done this with my life (success) but I haven't done that (failure). The point is to let go of that whole way of thinking.
(That's why I think on a psychological level that self-affirmations can be missing the point.) It's not a truly honest way of thinking, even though it's 'normal'. The only thing we have that is honest is our experience right now - anything else is an abstraction, a judgement, a bad habit.

It can be just as much a habit to feel 'bad' about ourselves as it is to feel 'good'. And the two are often 2 sides of the same coin.

Behind anyone who wears their achievements like a suit of armour hides someone who feels very small and not very good about themselves.

It can be a great relief to step out of this way of thinking - good/bad, success/failure. It is natural to think in this way, and we can even spend years exploring why we think like this, and I'm not saying that's not a useful thing to do. But eventually we just have to step out of it. It can never be sorted on its own terms, on its own level.

There is a level of being behind this that has always been there. It is timeless and it is a source of wisdom and it is not a big deal. Enlightenment is, to some extent, just round the corner.

The world won't applaud you for abandoning success and failure, and some will look down on you. 

But it's  a way of being that we have to find for ourselves and value for itself - it's the only place we will ever find psychological security, and it's outside of psychology in the usual sense.
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There are times in life when the pressure to become human in this sense intensifies. This can be the real meaning of times of crisis. In astrology, these times are usually associated with the hard transits of Neptune or Pluto to the Sun, Moon or Angles. Add Uranus or Saturn to the mix, and you can have a full blown crisis, where an important part of your life, or even your whole life, doesn't seem to work any more.

And you can do your best to keep things functioning as before, and many people seem to 'succeed' at this.  

You can see events conspiring against them, as it were, and the holes are there for all to see, and they sort it with some ghastly compromise.

But the solution that is being demanded, by 'reality' if you like, is to let go of part of your life, or all of your life, or at least a way of being in your life. And to step back into that way of consciousness where nothing is certain and tied down and secure. Then the changes can happen. And the outer planets may spend years hammering at us, we may get ill, we may nearly die, we may even actually die.

Insight often needs this sort of sustained pressure to arise, like diamonds being forged.

I talk about it in terms of the planets, whose cycles have a mysterious synchronicity with the psyche. But really it comes down to pressure for change from within, and recognising that and staying with that. A major part of my job as an astrologer is to name these processes and give advice on how to be within them, because they can be very threatening and confusing. But finally it is something new within ourselves that we are needing to get to know and to trust and to base our lives around. Or something old that we've ignored and hope might go away but which has finally rounded on us and tipped over the whole cart.

And that letting go takes us outside of the usual securities and tags of success and failure that we may be used to judging our lives by. It takes us into that radical, human consciousness out of which the deeper gifts are born.

It's the transition from the 8th House to the 9th House. In the 8th House, Scorpio's House, we are in the underworld (the houses are places), the crucible, where the ordinary self is taken apart, at gunpoint if necessary. Where Pluto makes us an offer we can't refuse. 

And that then leaves room for a different kind of self, a 'transpersonal' self, to emerge. And that is why the 9th House is the House of the teacher.

I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech...
O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
Alone on a wide wide sea
So lonely 'twas, that God himself
Scarce seem├Ęd there to be.

The teacher has the 8th House experience of being taken apart and is able to impart the knowledge of the transpersonal self, shows people how to get there and speaks spontaneously from its wisdom. In Buddhist terms, this is the Anatta, or No-Self, Doctrine.

Sometimes, on a good day, definitely after I've had my morning coffee, and fed up with the sheer effort of hanging on to my fragile self-regard while keeping the gremlins at bay, I stop giving a s"&*: it's like getting out of jail, and everything makes more sense. I recommend it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Saturn-Neptune: 'The Renewal of the Living Spirit'

Saturn dominates Neptune
Saturn and Neptune will be squaring each other over the next year. These 2 planets are opposites: Saturn promotes form, Neptune formlessness. And in a contest (which hard aspects can seem to be like), if Saturn wins, imposing his will on floppy Neptune, you get a dictatorship. And if Neptune wins (in his indirect way), you get a swamp. 

Of course, we don't really want a contest between the two, we want them to work together to create a heavenly symphony. And to do that you need to be able to both listen to the angelic voices (Neptune) while putting in the years it takes to learn your craft (Saturn).

When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, it not only did so with the Sun

and Asc in Pisces (ruled by Neptune) but with the prospect of a Saturn-Neptune opposition 3 years down the line: and it indeed
Neptune dominates Saturn
became a swamp that continued for years. The US eventually largely withdrew with no clear victory. And it has withdrawn with the prospect of a Saturn-Neptune square that begins in a couple of weeks, as Saturn changes direction, and moves forward to make the first of 3 exact squares over the next year or so. And that tells us the flavour of the new war they have out there, against IS: it is already a swamp, with no clear way forward, and is set to continue that way for a while.

The above concerns the mundane Saturn-Neptune, the 2 planets operating in the world. The world, acting in the collective way it does, tends not to very conscious, the choices are very limited: that was why Germany pulverised Greece last week, forcing it into an impossible situation.

Mundane astrology and the events associated with it can be therefore quite illustrative of what happens to us on a personal level if we don't think we have choices under these transits: we become a mess with a Plutonian, Neptunian or Uranian flavour. (Greece is a Uranus-Pluto mess).

This Saturn-Neptune square particularly concerns you if you have Sun, Moon or an Angle between about 5 and 15 degrees of a mutable sign - Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.

If you are at the earlier end of that range, then Neptune will have been hard-aspecting you for maybe a few years by now.

Neptune and Pluto are the 2 big transformers: I'm not sure how much difference there is between them. They each tend to drag you through an underworld - one earthy, the other watery - and pull you apart then put you back together again, renewed: if that is what you want, of course.
Neptune Transit

You could say that with Pluto the emphasis is on becoming more real, more authentic. While with Neptune the emphasis is on ensoulment and redemption from suffering. There is a different feel to them, but maybe they still amount to the same thing. All astrology is doing, in a way, is providing appropriate myths at different points in our lives. And myths need not to be taken literally: they are stories that we intertwine with our lives to make sense of them.

So if you have been under Neptune's influence for the last few years, then the theme of your own suffering, and the need for redemption from it, may be writ large. Neptune dissolves. He dissolves the thick skin we often create just to survive: this is an unconscious process that occurs early in life. Unless you are lucky enough to have a functional upbringing!

And that thick skin turns into a habit, long after it has served its purpose. It is like a dog that guards us, he means well, but we no longer need to him to chase away visitors.

So Neptune slowly dissolves the skin that has, to a greater or lesser extent, become who we are, leaving us adrift, not knowing who we are any more, but open and porous to other influences - open, if you like, to the soul, in both a personal and transpersonal way. A Neptune transit is a time of messiness and hopelessness but also emotion and ecstasy.

Into this crucible steps Saturn. It is still a time to dream and wallow, but it is also a time to give form to those wallowings. If it was Saturn on his own, it would probably be time to find those forms, to sit down and work it all out and take action. But because Neptune is involved, there is also a strong element of opportunities presenting themselves, of the work you have always been 'meant' to do appearing.

The living spirit grows and even outgrows its earlier forms of expression; it freely chooses the men and women in whom it lives and who proclaim it. The living spirit is eternally renewed and pursues its goal in manfold and inconceivable ways throughout the history of mankind. Measured against it, the names and forms which men have given it mean little enough; they are only the changing leaves and blossoms on the stem of the eternal tree.
Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul.

So this is the wider meaning, the wider context of Saturn-Neptune. Your problems have become problems - which they need not do, you see many people carrying on happily in the same old misery for their whole lives. And those problems can heal under Neptune, but also be the gateway to the transpersonal dimension that Jung describes.

Which makes me wonder, is there such a thing as healing without the 'transpersonal' dimension being involved? Neptune and the other outer planets would say no, you don't get healed without us, and that's because you are us, humans are transpersonal beings. And that dimension beyond the personal is the matrix that we become from, which is Neptune again. I meant to say 'come from', but the accidental 'become from' hits the nail on the head.

Problems, symptoms are more than just bits to be fixed so we can normalise. They are also calls from the depths of the psyche. A course of 6 sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on the NHS may well produce some temporary results (though the evidence is that it is becoming less effective), but the deeper turning about that is the real meaning of misery is a much longer process. 

And this is reflected in the length of time that outer planet transits take. Yes, they may be most obvious when they are within a few degrees. But they begin a long time before that, maybe 15 degrees before the exact aspect. Deep transformations are slow and take many years, and you may not know you have been in one until you look back afterwards.

As human beings we have this capacity for deep change, if we are interested in it - or if it calls us, and leaves us with no choice. And it often begins with the wonky bits that may have tormented us all our lives. And for them to sort, we need to leave the duckpond in which we have grown comfortable and let ourselves be carried downstream to the sea. This is the soul journey of Neptune. 

And as Saturn approaches a square to Neptune, that journey starts to take shape in the world, it unites inner and outer in a synchronistic manner. The separation into subject and object, self and world, is basic to everyday, coping consciousness. But under Saturn-Neptune we get glimpses of an underlying unity, "the vison of a living, intelligent, conscious Cosmos in which all aspects of life are related to each other." (The Dream of the Cosmos by Anne Baring).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The EU's Feet of Clay and the Greek PM's Impossible Promise

Mercury is coming up to exactly oppose Pluto as Alex Tsipras tries to sell the EU deal to the Greeks by Wednesday. Mars is close by as well, and the opposition runs along the Greek Asc/Desc. What the Greeks are being asked to accept, in other words, is surrender and destruction. If they left the Euro, it would be destruction but not surrender. It is not yet clear which way it is going to go.
Wolfgang Schauble - the bad guy

Ironically Wolfgang Schauble, the German Finance Minister  and bad guy of the whole affair, was the one who wanted the Greeks out of the Euro, perhaps the only sane solution short of debt forgiveness.

Greece - 1974 Chart

Whatever emerges out of this will not be stable, as Thursday's New Moon, in the Greek 1st House, is square to Uranus (and mischief-making Eris).

The way the EU is treating Greece is shameful. They need to either forgive some of the debt, or let them go and help them along the way. Instead, a desperate country is being crushed further. And not, I think, because anyone is being wilfully cruel. 

Individual leaders have their ideals about Europe, but the collective reality seems to be that the EU is about the accumulation of wealth, and the pitiless treatment of those who aren't very good at it. And the leaders are trapped in wider political situations that ultimately come back to individual voters: how, for example, the average German feels about Greek debts - not very forgiving.

In my last piece I said that Greece would leave the Euro this week, and I may be wrong. My prediction was based on the astrology that indicated that while the Greek referendum was a creative act, there was nothing new and creative about the following weekend's discussions - ie no debt forgiveness, ergo Greece leaves. I hadn't considered the gob-stopping, desperate U turn that Tsipras is engaged in. I think Greece will leave the Euro, but it may still take the 2 crossings of Pluto over the Greek Desc in the next few months for that to happen.

The chart for the EEC has Sun in Capricorn, Moon in Taurus and Virgo Rising. It is an earth-bound chart. Moon in Taurus in the 8th: for the 'people' of this union, their motivation is shared self-interest. As Prog Pluto conjoins the prog MC over the next few years, the bullshit will be cut and the EU will be exposed for what it is, just another self-interested empire - which is to be expected.

The Greeks were desperate enough at the beginning of this year to elect a leader who made an impossible promise: to relax the austerity terms and keep Greece in the Euro. And that is what people do who are desperate: they elect someone who promises something that in their heart-of-hearts they know is not true.

Alex Tsipras

Alex Tsipras has natal Neptune opposite a Gemini Ascendant (probably). Perfect for spinning dreams that he himself probably believes. If you are going to sell the electorate a dream, you have to believe it yourself. But transiting Neptune is squaring Tsipras' Ascendant, and I think soon the bubble will burst. Leaders of this sort are turned into gods then torn down and reviled. Greece is in a worse state than when he took office, having taken the worst course of action. And there is no consistency left in the man: he had a general referendum to oppose the EU terms, got the public behind him, and now a week later is trying to sell those same terms to the country, while claiming at the same time not to believe in them. Yes, it can be hard to follow!

No wonder there is an issue of 'trust' on the part of other EU leaders, and that is apart from the general mistrust of Greek governance. With Tsipras, there seems to be nobody there to trust, but I suppose what should one expect when he was elected on the basis of an impossible promise?

Thursday, July 09, 2015


I think that Greece will leave the Eurozone after the big EU meeting this Sunday 12th July. The chart I use for Greece is the 1974 version (from Nick Campion's Book of World Horoscopes) because it works well - it is 'radical'. I don't think there is 'a' chart for a country, and we'll all have our own ideas as to which ones to use - even which is the 'correct' one. And if you are a native of a country, then you by rights have a much better idea of the proper chart for your country than a foreign astrologer such as myself!  

There are 2 main events I am considering - last Sunday's referendum and next Sunday's big meeting. And I will endeavour to keep the astrology simple, because not only is it then more comprehensible, I also think it works better.

Last Sunday there was a tight applying opposition from the Sun to Pluto that ran across the Greek Asc/Desc axis. The Sun actually crossed the Greek Asc during the day. The closeness of it all says pay attention to this, this is very significant. And the meaning of it was the Greek people wanting their identity back - claiming their heart (Sun in Cancer) in the face of institutional power (Pluto in Capricorn).

The Greek natal Saturn is close by at 11 Cancer, and this is opposite the German Saturn at 19 Capricorn: these 2 countries see the nature of responsibility (Saturn) very differently. Greece's allegiances lie more with the emotional well-being of its people (Cancer), Germany's with the protestant work ethic (Capricorn). The opposition is wide enough for the 2 countries to be able to talk to each other, but there is still a very basic clash of values. I am singling out Germany, because ultimately I think the EU's approach to Greece lies with them. 

I think that the Saturn in both countries is one-sided, and goes a long way to explain the current crisis and inability to agree. Pluto is currently approaching the German Saturn, which says that the crisis with Greece is providing a call to be less rigid and more compassionate: Germany is being changed, though probably not enough at this juncture to avoid Greece leaving the Eurozone. It's probably more like there will be heart-searching in retrospect (Germany has Moon in Pisces) as a humanitarian crisis follows the Greek bankruptcy.

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But it is by no means just Germany being cold-hearted: they also have a point, and Pluto's actions on the Greek chart may burn the country into being more responsible with money: Greece did after all employ Goldman Sachs to cook the books so that it could join the Euro in the first place, and then borrowed lots of cheap money that was suddenly available through its new association with much stronger economies. And the EU, in its rush to make the union ever closer, did not exercise due diligence over who joined the Euro. It was one big fuck-up, it was a blunder.

So the Sun was opposite Pluto along the Greek Asc/Desc last Sunday. The North Node was also very close to the Greek Moon-Pluto in Libra. So this is, if you a like, a moment of destiny (North Node) for the Greek people (the Moon). (The Sun describes the goals of the country and its leadership).

EU Meeting 12th July
So fast forward a week to this Sunday's meeting that will decide the fate of Greece. The Sun will still be opposite Pluto, but it will be separating, getting weaker. So it will not be a day for dynamic decisions that change the paradigm, such as occurred in the Greek referendum while the opposition was applying. We are therefore unlikely to see the forgiveness of debt, the 'haircut' that the Greeks need to stay in the Euro.

There will certainly be talk of it. The Moon will be in Gemini (lots of talk) and in an applying square to Neptune for most of the day - saving (Neptune) one of the 'people' (Moon) will be on the agenda. It is a powerful and dynamic square, so a major restructuring of Greek debt will be proposed and argued for at length - probably by sympathetic France, whose Moon in Cancer is opposite the German Saturn and conjunct the Greek Asc/Saturn.

But as the evening wears on in Brussels, the square from the Moon to Neptune will start to wane, and retrograde Saturn in Scorpio will approach the midheaven, in an applying square to Venus (money). This is not good news at all for Greece. It suggests that late in the evening the mood will tighten and there will be a resounding no.


The EU began in 1993 (that was when it changed its name as a result of the Maastricht Treaty). The astrology this week does not suggest anything earth-shattering in a 'personal' way - ie it will continue to function as before but without Greece sharing its currency. But it IS significant for its vision of itself: the EU was born under the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of the time - the planets were within 4 minutes of each other at 18-19 Capricorn. The Sun is opposing this point right now (as Pluto comes up to conjoin it), so we are seeing a significant moment. By Progression, the EU's Sun and Asc have recently entered new signs - moving from fixed to mutable signs - so an EU is being born that is less rigid about itself, less insistent perhaps that all countries follow the same rules; and more sure of itself, having survived the current crisis, and so more able to be flexible.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturn in Scorpio: Sex, Power and Old-Age

This piece was prompted by a news item in which a 55 year old headmistress, who has won awards for turning schools around, was sent to jail for 8 years for having had sex with 2 teenage boys, both under 16, while she was in her twenties. 30 years ago. One of the complainants said he enjoyed it at the time, but now he sees that it was wrong. So clearly the woman needs to be publicly shamed, have her career destroyed and - probably the least of it - be sent to jail.

We are in the last days of Saturn in Scorpio; he will soon turn direct and leave the sign for another 25 years. So I expect him to be quite visible over the next 2-3 months.

The accountability (Saturn) of older people (Saturn) for their past (Saturn) sexual behaviour (Scorpio): this has been a major theme in the UK over the last few years, as celebrity after celebrity has been dragged into the courtroom to answer for who they’d had sex with many decades ago.

And quite rightly so, in many cases. It began with the appalling legacy of the late Jimmy Savile: people who had been afraid to speak out in his lifetime began coming forward, and the floodgates opened to a widespread and hidden culture of sexual abuse (Scorpio) by powerful people (Scorpio). It has been mainly in show-business.  

There are long-standing allegations of paedophile rings amongst that other form of show-business – the one for ugly people – and these have had something of an airing: but it is proving far harder to bring accountability. Which shows, I guess, that politics is the more powerful form of show business.

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The collective being what it is, issues become black-and-white and the bad guys get turned into monsters. Like the above headmistress. There she was, this woman we admired, while underneath, all the time, she was a monster and we didn’t know it. (This, incidentally, is a perennial theme in the US, from the Salem witch trials of the 1690s to the current TV series Homeland.) The reality is she’s not a monster, she did things many of us could have done if we weren’t afraid of getting caught, and the fact that we turn these people into monsters so readily, proves the point: we demonise others to shield us from ourselves.

It’s classic shadow stuff, and again this is Scorpio territory. Saturn brings accountability and order to different parts of collective life and society, depending on what sign he is in. And in Scorpio, the collective shadow is likely to be revealed through the issues he highlights.

Sex and power is a perennial issue. It has always gone on and always will go on and it is good that it is being addressed. But is a power imbalance always unequivocally a bad thing? The inevitable black-and-white way that the collective mind works says yes. But what about bosses having relationships with their secretaries, doctors with nurses, rich old women with young men: should they too be brought before the courts, or allowed to marry, as they often do? My point is that though lines need to be drawn, they are not always going to be clear cut, and that power imbalances - perceived or real - can be the grist of relationships.

The background to Saturn in Scorpio has been the new puritanism, which began some decades ago and which has resulted, for example, in grandparents being afraid to have their grandchildren on their laps because of how it may be seen.

This will probably cost me a few readers, but what I call the dinosaur feminism of the 80s and 90s demonised men and their sexuality (remember 'all men are rapists'?) It happened while Pluto was in Scorpio – (3 cheers to Camille Paglia for speaking out against it) – and for a while it was hard to feel good about being a man. That has changed, and I feel there is more respect now between men and women. And it was probably the only way it was going to happen, after so many centuries of imbalance between the sexes. But I think we are left with the new puritanism – which could also be seen as a backlash against the permissiveness of the 60s.

So we are messed up about sex. We have been for centuries in one way or another. 500 years ago children in their early teens got married. Henry III's wife Eleanor was 13 when they married in 1236. Nowadays you are a pervert and a paedophile if you have sex with someone under 16, and if you get caught your whole life will be destroyed and you will be publically shamed. I’m not advocating any answers here, because as they say, it’s complicated.

The reason I have been able to say anything at all is because a woman got caught having had sex 30 years ago with 2 boys under 16. If it had been the other way round, I would have had to keep quiet. I’m not defending these things. What I’m arguing for is the cultural space not to be mindlessly damning.

I think the man who said he enjoyed sex with his teacher at the time, but now sees it as wrong, has been brainwashed by our culture of damnation. I agree with him, it was wrong – but to have someone destroyed 30 years later for something you admit to having enjoyed at the time? Would I regret it if it had happened to me? How many people are being persuaded by the new puritanism that what happened to them was far worse than it actually was, and how damaging is that? And that is not to take away from the awful things that have actually happened: but can they be properly understood if all we do is damn and destroy the perpetrators? Is it any different in essence to saying that the perpetrators are possessed by the devil and leaving it at that?

Saturn in Scorpio has brought a measure of accountability to the issue of sex and power. But I don’t think it has brought understanding. It will bring improvement for a while, but in a climate of fear.

And while we’re on the subject of Saturn in Scorpio, a news item today is entitled The taboo of sex in care homes for older people. It says “There may be a kind of all-pervading silence surrounding sex in later life, but that is not because it isn't happening.” The idea of older people having sex being OK - now that would be a good outcome of Saturn in Scorpio.

Personally, I have always found the idea of people who are more than about 15 years older than myself having sex a bit distasteful. I still do a bit of a double-take at the idea of gay marriage. And I recoil when I see people with disfigurements. This is all visceral, Scorpio stuff which Saturn asks us to think about. The one thing not to do is to pretend it’s not there.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Government Surveillance, Saturn-Pluto and Uranus-Eris

Back in 2007, as Pluto was about to enter Capricorn, one fellow astro-blogger (who I can no longer locate) predicted that a theme of this long transit would be government (Capricorn) secrets (Pluto). This guy has proved startlingly right, and it has come about through the growth of electronic communications, and governments’ need to bring law and order into this new domain.

Uranus covers electronics and the internet (amongst other things), and he operates through sudden, disruptive action. As Uranus came into square with Pluto in Capricorn, so came Wikileaks and Edward Snowden – the massive, unauthorised release of government secrets.

The motivation of Wikileaks, under Julian Assange, was to undermine the authority of government, which he saw as inherently tyrannical, and replace it with…. well who knows? Snowden’s motivations were more mixed: he wanted people to know the extent to which they were under government surveillance, but he also released many classified documents that revealed details of US security operations. Any country has the right to protect itself, and this action of his suggests to me that he wanted to harm his country as well as to help it. He has Sun in Gemini opposite Neptune, and Moon in Scorpio, so there is plenty of room here for self-deception (Neptune) and revenge seen as just cause (Scorpio). As well as the self-sacrifice of Neptune and the desire for truth of Scorpio.

But the big issue that has been raised, both in the US as well as in the UK, is the extent to which governments should be allowed to surveil (yes, the word exists!) via electronic media.

Some people seem to view any surveillance as an unwarranted intrusion by government. I take the view that if the words ‘bomb’ and ‘semtex’ were to start appearing in my private emails – or even in my phone calls -  I would expect a government computer to pick up on that and pass it on to a real human being. I would regard it as a dereliction of the government’s basic duty to provide safety and order if this were not to happen.

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That is my starting point, and I have little patience with the basic position of simply opposing government surveillance, and the paranoia about any form of authority that often comes with that. It has been dressed up to sound spooky, when in fact it is a fundamental duty of government, and always has been: knowing what is going on and who is up to no good.

Imagine you were living in a village 200 years ago, as most people did, where everyone knew everyone else’s business. Think of the freedom we have from that now – but also its price, which is lack of belonging, the loneliness and anonymity of big cities. And all we are being asked to do is to sacrifice some of that modern privacy to a computer, so that if we’re intent on harm, real people can then get involved.

The English are a very private people, so that is probably the issue here. Whereas Americans tend to be more open about themselves, but also more suspicious of government, so that is probably the issue there. (The US its roots in the rejection of authority, expressed by its Sun square to Saturn; whereas has UK has Sun in Capricorn on the IC, which is very private - yet in square to Uranus, one effect of which, I think, is to make us feel our privacy is not secure - hence an Englishman's home being his castle.)

One way or the other, there is genuine debate to be had, because the government will inevitably overstep its powers. There will be abuses, however tightly we regulate and surveil the surveilleurs (not sure if that is a word – well it is now!). The debate is not whether to have surveillance (it’s been happening and will continue whatever we might want) but the degree to which it should be allowed and how to oversee it.

So Uranus-Pluto has raised the issue in a very in-your-face manner. In 5 years’ time, Saturn will conjoin Pluto in Capricorn. That is probably the time it will take to get this area properly regulated, and in a way that people are relatively happy with. And this is partly because all the issues are not yet clear. Saturn (appropriate regulation) of government (Capricorn) surveillance (Pluto).

In the news today is a story about Chinese hackers gaining access to sensitive personal data on millions of US intelligence and military personnel. This seems to me a worry several orders higher than the necessary evil of the government  potentially knowing details of my personal life through my phone calls or google searches.

There are probably more shocks, like the above news story, to come, shocks that change the issues involved.

Next year, Uranus will conjoin Eris, which he does every 85 years or so. Eris is a dwarf planet beyond Pluto whose astrological meaning is not well understood yet. She moves so slowly that I think it makes it hard to discover or ascribe meaning to her. Eris is brother of Ares, the god of war, and she is a goddess of chaos, strife and discord. She causes trouble. Snubbed at a wedding, she created discord between some goddesses, using an apple, that led to the Trojan War.

Conjunctions and oppositions are the most powerful dynamic aspects, and in the case of slow moving planets like Uranus and Eris, the aspects last for a year or two either side of the exact aspect. The last exact conjunction was in 1928, the year before the Wall St Crash. The Watergate break-in, which came to consume American political life, occurred with Uranus within a degree of opposing Eris.

Both these planets have disruptive, game-changing effects on the collective, so when you put them together…. I think the Wall St  Crash and Watergate speak for themselves. I’d say 2016-17 are the years to watch out for. It could easily involve sudden events that show the frailty of the internet – superhacks, or a worldwide crash of the internet. And all leading to the more solid foundations and regulations of the 2020 Saturn-Pluto conjunction.

Of course, Uranus-Eris could be events other than internet – like Islamic State setting off a bomb filled with nuclear material, contaminating a wide area. But this is pure speculation, I am NOT predicting, just trying to give a flavour of the sort of game-changing events we are likely to see in 2016-17.