This looks like being a very significant year for the US, which has just celebrated its birthday: with Pluto having recently begun its time in Capricorn, the world economy is reaching a moment of reckoning, while politically we can all sense change in the air. Both the economy and government are Capricornian themes, and Pluto is going to change them both in fundamental ways over the next 16 years.
So I thought it might be worth taking a look at the US Solar Return for this year, using the Sibly Chart. This chart is based on a symbolic time for the Declaration of Independence, but it seems to work well. I have this theory that if you use a particular chart long enough for a person or a country, then it becomes the actual chart, even if the birth time is open to question. Somehow the two merge, gradually we learn to read the person’s character accurately through that particular set of tea-leaves, even though it may be the ‘wrong’ set of leaves. This is because astrology is one of the divinatory arts, where everything can be read in anything, if you know how to do it: the microcosm always contains the macrocosm, you can see the world in a grain of sand.
Anyway, let’s first see if the Sibly Solar Return works as a method. Here is the chart for 1974, the year which revolved around Nixon’s resignation.
Click to Enlarge
The Sun (leader) conjunct Saturn (he is constrained and accountable) square Pluto (loses power) in the 12th House (he is in disgrace, outside of the usual bounds of society). Moon in Capricorn (the people) opposite MC (they oppose the leadership.) The Moon also refers to Nixon because his Sun in Cap conjoins that Moon. Moon and MC square to Uranus Rising – sudden change in the leadership, and a lot of instability generally for the country.
I read the Sun as the leader, and the MC as the institution of leadership/the government. So Uranus square the MC suggests it was an upset for the whole institution of leadership in the US, which indeed it was.
Now we’ll look at 2001. This year revolved around the 9/11 attacks.
Click to Enlarge
We see a conjunction of Pluto (terrorist)-Mars (attack) in Sagittarius (foreigners) in the 7th House (Open Enemies). Spot on. The fact that Mars-Pluto is in the House of Open Enemies and in the sign of foreigners is a strong astrological indicator that it was, after all, a bunch of Arabs who proudly and openly admitted to it, rather than a secret government plot, which would be an 8th House event, the House of Secret Enemies.
The government was caught asleep (Neptune conjunct Midheaven), but used the event to create its own illusions (Neptune conjunct Midheaven again) and a surge in popularity (Venus conjunct Asc). The leader (Bush, who’s natal Sun conjoins the US Sun) was in strong relationship with the people (Sun opposite Moon). But this hard aspect also suggests the relationship was not entirely healthy, that in fact he was going against their real interests. The Sun is in the 2nd (Bush asserting his own values, which one expects of a leader) opposite the Moon in Capricorn (fear, control) in the 8th (control, manipulation). Of course these are my value judgements colouring my interpretation of the Moon’s placement, but you can read Bush playing on people’s fears into this placement.
The Sun-Moon opposition conjoins the nodal axis, so there is something very significant here in the relationship between leader and people. You could say it was a defining moment: the American people will be able to look back and see that democracy alone is not enough to protect you from the manipulations, the playing on fears, of a demagogue. (For a good novel on this theme, see Philip Roth’s ‘The Plot against America’.)
So the Sibly Solar Return (SR) seems to work as a method. And the 2008 Return looks like another strong one, because Pluto in Sagittarius is conjoining the Ascendant. Astrology apart, it looks to me like the year will revolve around the election of Barack Obama as President.
Click to Enlarge
Taking the 3 main parts of the chart – the Sun, the Moon and the Angles – the Sun is by definition in its natal position by sign and degree. The Angles are all in their natal signs, which is interesting, and the Moon is unaspected in Leo in the 8th. You could read this as the people (Moon) engaging in soul-searching and acknowledging past mistakes (8th) to create a new sense of identity (Leo), and in some ways reconnecting to what they used to be (Angles same sign as natally). With Pluto on the ASC there is a deep transformational journey for the USA to go through, after losing its way in the Bush years, but also due to the economic moment of truth that is arriving on the West’s doorstep. This journey involves beliefs (Sagittarius) as well as aspirations and ideals (Pluto rules the 11th in the SR chart). The Plutonic, transformational tone of this chart is also emphasised by the Mars-Saturn conjunction in the 8th, trine to Pluto.
The chart ruler, Jupiter, is in opposition to the Sun. Natally Jupiter conjoins the Sun, and expresses American buoyancy and optimism and sense of expansion, as well as the sense of purpose the country acquires through continuous expansion (Sag Rising gives a similar theme). But in the SR chart we have Jupiter in Capricorn opposite the Sun, which to me indicates a reality check on that continuous expansion, particularly American beliefs about it. This theme is repeated more strongly by Pluto conjunct Sag Asc.
So I think that there is going to be a serious questioning of the dogma of endless expansion. This is such a fundamental belief in America, that it becomes clearer why we saw that search for identity earlier in the reading through the Moon in Leo in the 8th. That Moon was unaspected, so it may not be an easy journey: America may feel at sea for a while about who she is, what she believes. With natal Sun conjunct Jupiter and Sag Rising, beliefs are at the core of the US sense of identity, and it is precisely these that are being called into question over the next year.
In the SR chart, we also see Uranus square to the Pluto/ASC. The next big outer planet transit is the cardinal square from Uranus to Pluto, which will be exact in 4 years time. So this wider, mutable Uranus-Pluto square in the SR chart is a sign of things to come, it will give a foretaste, for those with eyes to see, of the bigger changes coming in a few years time. It also means that the transformational journey around beliefs of 2008-9 will be taking America reluctantly (square) into the future (Uranus), and in ways we cannot predict (Uranus).
The Sun is in the 7th House of partnerships conjunct Venus. So I think we will see America starting to become more popular again (Venus) with other countries. The Sun and Venus are opposite Jupiter in Cap, so this improved popularity will occur particularly if she is more practical and realistic (Cap) in her self-appointed mission (1st House Jupiter).
Mars is conjunct Saturn in Virgo, so we are likely to see more military restraint, consideration and responsibility, and a renewed sense of service to the world (Virgo), the US more genuinely as a peacekeeper.
The single element of the chart that jumps out most to me is Pluto conjunct Asc. Here are a couple of extracts from Lynda Hill’s book on the Sabian symbols as applying to these 2 points.
Asc at 26th degree of Sag. Image: A Flag Bearer in Battle
"Nowadays the Flag Bearer can be anybody with an issue to stand up for, to represent or promote. The issue can be anything from a worthy cause to political issues… All these may attract flack from outside pressure. You may feel that achievements have been made that should be acknowledged in some way. It could be that duties and responsibilities have been piling up on you lately, and the struggle has not been easy. Don’t worry, although people around you are probably busy, they are most likely noticing your leadership abilities. You could be the linchpin of the whole situation. It takes guts to get out front, putting yourself directly in the firing line, but it may be time for you, or somebody near you, to go for it and stand up for what you believe."
Pluto at 30th degree of Sag Image: The Pope Blessing the Faithful
"There is often a need to create or assign someone as the physical representation of what is believed on the spiritual plane. This person of authority performs actions that give our beliefs a feeling of reality and draws the community together. When you do things that are true to your inner self there is a feeling of connection to a higher power. This feeling is like a Blessing and is a reminder of the spiritual purpose of life. In a group situation, it may be that someone in the group needs to take on the role of spiritual representative, and reward the group with his/her words of wisdom and experience. This will help maintain their focus, motivation and faith in what they are trying to achieve."