Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Nature of Reality

According to Buddhist Teaching, the Universe is Mind-created. The universe is in a deep sense a projection of collective consciousness. So when we learn about how the world and other people work, we are also learning about ourselves. You can’t separate inner and outer, self and other. We are incredibly connected to everything and everyone around us. But I would say that, wouldn’t I, with Neptune fast approaching a conjunction with my natal Sun?

Because of this connection between inner and outer, it means that when we think of reality in a particular way, reality has a way of becoming that. And then we think reality was that way all along and we just discovered it. Like if you decide that the Universe works rationally according to certain physical laws that can be discovered by a detached observer, and particularly if loads of you decide to think like this, then Reality actually obliges, and you have a scientific universe which sort of holds together, up to a point.

And I think it’s the same with astrology, and it’s why all the different forms of astrology work, even though they can be contradictory, like western astrology being 23 degrees ahead of Vedic astrology.

All these ways of looking at the Universe are real, they do actually describe what is ‘out there’ (and ‘in here’); but they are also ephemeral products of consciousness, they are like consciousness putting on a new dress and looking at itself in the mirror. So they are not absolute.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the fact that all these different astrologies work makes me suspect that we’re making it all up, that I could get any set of symbols to describe any situation if I tried hard enough. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and most weekends it makes me realise just how strange and subtle Reality is.

And perhaps the biggest reason Reality is so hard to grasp is that we can’t help but divide our experience into inner and outer, self and other. So the whole basis of a ‘me’ trying to describe ‘other’ is false in the first place. So any philosophy, any science, any astrology is going to run into limitations which, if you are honest about them, will point you to this more subtle unitary reality.

This is where religion often goes wrong, because it’s practitioners can’t handle the uncertainty involved, they need solid ‘Truth’ to base their lives on. I say ‘goes wrong’, but actually people often need this level of truth to cope psychologically. I think there can be a natural process whereby eventually, perhaps after decades, they start to feel limited by it.

At times, like under a Neptune transit, the divide between inner and outer, the illusion of yourself as a centre of experience, fades a bit. And then you don’t have to bother any more about trying to work out the nature of Reality, because you are experiencing it.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Astrology of China

In her posting of 6 Jan, Lynn Hayes quotes from an article that graphically shows what a major world player China already is, and how that can only escalate. She concludes that Chinese mega-expansion is going to be THE big Pluto in Capricorn issue. I think she’s completely right, and it’s one of those issues that is so obvious that you don’t think of it!

Which means that there is a need to understand China through its astrological chart. I haven’t been able to find much on this, so I thought I’d give it a go myself.

I think the starting point is to come up with some possible charts. There aren’t many countries that have just one chart. At what point is a country born? It is arguable. And were the events recorded, or do we need to attempt some rectification? And was it just an aspect of the country that was born, like the government, with popular recognition coming later?

In the case of the USA, for example, 2nd July 1776 was when the government came into legal existence, and the 4th July 1776 was when the people were involved through the Declaration of Independence. Even then, the actual times remain open to debate and guesswork.

The same applies to China. China became a Republic in 1911/12, and there are various possible charts for this. But I want to look at China as the Communist Peoples’ Republic. There seem to be 2 main charts for this, neither of which have a birthtime. Firstly, there is 21 Sept 1949, when Mao proclaimed at a political conference: “We announce the establishment of the Peoples’ Republic of China.” Then there is 1 Oct 1949, when at a mass rally the proclamation of the central government of the new republic took place. (See Nicholas Campion’s Book of World Horoscopes).

So we could provisionally say that the Sept Chart is for the country as a whole, and the Oct Chart is for the government and its international relations.

What I like about the Sept chart is the Sun and Moon in Virgo, which describes the predominantly agricultural nature of China at the time that it went Communist and for decades afterwards. Even now, with the big shift to industrialisation occurring, they are quickly becoming technologically (Virgo) advanced, while the up-and-coming leadership (Sun) of the country has been selected not from e.g. lawyers, like you often get in the west, but remarkably from engineers, a Virgo profession. The Moon in a chart is the people, and its conjunction to Saturn emphasises the hard work for which the Chinese are known, which is also a Virgo characteristic. It also describes the restrictions (Saturn) placed on the people (Moon) by the government (Saturn).

As for a birthtime for this chart, the proclamation took place in the opening session of the conference, so I’m going to make a stab at 10.24am in Peking. The 2 main events that I am rectifying for are the ‘Great Leap Forward’ and the death of Mao and the economic changes that followed.

The Great Leap Forward of 1958-60 was an attempt to rapidly transform China from an agrarian society into an industrialised society. But it was a disaster and set the country back years. By transit, Pluto was crossing the 29.57 Leo Midheaven at the time. The Midheaven is also to do with the leadership of the country, and the Great Leap Forward was very much one man’s doing, Mao’s. (After this he lost much of his power to make economic decisions). Though it is the ‘People’s Republic’, it has never been any such thing, and the Leo MC points to Mao’s kingly role for 30 years.
The Sun is also to do with the leader (I’d say the actual leader, rather than the institution behind it, which I’d say is the MC), and here the (wide) natal square to Uranus describes Mao’s eccentric, even mad at times, leadership. (The first emperor of China, who had the vast terracotta army built, also went mad). The ‘Great Leap Forward’ also took place as Neptune began to conjoin natal Venus, dissolving (Neptune) the country’s wealth (Venus) through economic (Venus) delusion (Neptune).

In this rectified chart I also like Mars and Pluto in Leo in the 9th: the aggressive (Mars) control and repression (Pluto) through ideology (9th) by an autocrat (Leo). Mao’s natal Moon was somewhere near the middle of Leo, connecting him to this ideological repression. Jupiter is in Capricorn in the 2nd (just), and trine to the Sun, showing the potential for great wealth (Jupiter in the 2nd) arising out of hard work and professionalism (Capricorn).

Pluto has been squaring the natal 11th House Sun at 27.45 Virgo over the last few years, a period in which China has become much more powerful (Pluto) in the world community (11th).

The Cultural Revolution of 1966 onwards was an attempt by Mao to rid the country of its ‘liberal bourgeoisie’ elements and to continue revolutionary class struggle. His real motivation is said to have been an attempt to regain full control of the Party after the disaster of the Great Leap Forward. The Cultural Revolution created chaos on many levels, brought the country to the brink of civil war, and only ended with Mao’s death in 1976.

It was launched officially on May 16th 1966, with Uranus and Pluto both stationing and within 20 minutes of a degree of each other in mid Virgo. This is a very powerful astrological signature, and shows how the revolutionary idealism and power struggles that we saw in the west in those times were every bit as strong in China. Uranus and Pluto at the time were on their way from transiting the Chinese Moon-Saturn in Virgo and moving towards the Sun at 28 Virgo. This does not help rectify the chart, as House placements and Angles are not involved, but it strengthens the case for a 21st Sept Chart.

Mao was born on 26 Dec 1893 in Xiangtan. He died at 10 past midnight on 9 Sept 1976 in Peking. This event impacts the Oct 1st Chart strongly (see later), but not so the 21 Sept Chart, suggesting that while his death may have been very significant for the government and its foreign relations, it might not have been quite so significant for the country as a whole – they still had the same type of government. But what we do see is Saturn 2 years off conjoining MC, suggesting a coming of age for the government after the madness of the Mao years; we also see Neptune 2 years off the 2nd House Cusp, suggestive of the big economic changes that began a couple of years later, which have allowed China to develop into what it is now.

There is some evidence that 3.15pm as a time for the Oct 1st chart may be based on a recorded time, so I’m going to provisionally run with that. As I said, I’m using it as a chart for the government and its foreign relations. By transit, we can immediately see the chart functioning effectively in the case of Mao’s death. Pluto was at 10 Libra, conjoining the Oct 1st Sun at 7 Libra. You don’t get much more powerful transits than this, and it also suggests the power struggle which followed Mao’s death.

Sun in Libra also suggests a government that likes to be diplomatic, that does not, for example, denounce other countries as ‘The Great Satan’ or as belonging to an ‘axis of evil’. It puts the Chinese Sun in square to the US Sun at 13 Cancer. This was set off on April 1 2001 when a US spy plane crashed in China. The Sun was at 11 Aries, Venus at 8 Aries, and the Moon was in Cancer. Courtney Roberts Conrad writes about this incident and the need by the US for the Libran qualities of diplomacy and apology at StarIQ.

I think the Libran Sun also describes the Chinese government’s double-speak and not saying what it means. The Sun is square to Uranus and trine to the Moon/ASC in Aquarius, so here we have an ideologically driven government whose ideas in the case of Mao could be disconnected from reality (the Sun also conjoins Neptune). It also gives us the slogans. (In the Sept Chart, we see this in Mercury conjunct Neptune in the 11th) “Smash the Gang of Four.” “Raise fewer babies but more piggies.” With modern changes happening, they have the slogan; “Shout fewer slogans and do more practical things.”

Mind you, we can’t afford to laugh, we have our own slogans that have corporate rather than government origins. And they don’t always translate well. Kentucky Fried Chicken’s “Finger Lickin’ Good” came out in Chinese as “Eat your fingers off.” When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they translated their slogan, "Pepsi Brings You Back to Life" pretty literally. The slogan in Chinese really meant, "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave." Then when Coca-Cola first shipped to China, they named the product something that when pronounced sounded like "Coca-Cola." The only problem was that the characters used meant "Bite The Wax Tadpole." They later changed to a set of characters that mean "Happiness In The Mouth."

In the Progressed Chart for China (Oct), Jupiter will conjoin the MC in 5 years time, describing its long-term expansion on the world stage; in the same year, the Prog Moon will Rise in Taurus, describing the economic success behind its growth as a world power.

At the same time as these events in the Prog Chart, Pluto will be squaring the Libran Sun by transit. The last time Pluto made a hard transit was around 1976, when Mao died, and the gradual transition to a western style economy started. This time, the Pluto transit may mark the beginning of a transition to a western style political system.

Mind you, I don’t necessarily view that as entirely a good thing. What I think is very strange about democracy is that the candidates for what ought to be highly skilled jobs are selected by people with no experience in that job, i.e. by you and me. You don’t get that in any other profession. You couldn’t run a hospital that way, or a legal practice. So why do so in what is arguably the most responsible job of all, i.e. running the country? Why’s that job so different?

So both charts seem to work in their own way. In a nutshell, I’d say the 21st Sept Chart, with its Sun and Moon in Virgo, describe well the Chinese people’s attitude to work, and the agricultural and now increasingly technological nature of that work. The very airy Oct 1st Chart doesn’t describe the Chinese people well, but I think it is pretty good for their ideologically driven government.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Return of the Earth Element

On Dec 16 Lynn made the following point: “There has been a serious dearth of the earth element over the past six or seven years, resulting in an environment that lacks stability and structure. With Saturn now in Virgo and Jupiter and Pluto moving into Capricorn that situation is being remedied to the extreme. We will see a more conservative approach to all things, not necessarily political conservatism, but a conservatism that demands restraint and patience rather than the reckless and impulsive actions which have dominated the Jupiter and Pluto in Sagittarius era.”

All the inner planets from the Sun through to Mars have, of course, been making their regular passages through the earth signs. But the planets from Jupiter outwards are increasingly less personal and more concerned with collective trends. And none of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto have been in earth signs since Neptune finally left Capricorn in late 1998. These are the truly collective planets, and we have been without earth in this respect for a long time now. Pluto is not yet in Capricorn, and won’t be established there till later this year.

So it is no surprise, for example, that it has been impossible to establish an international agreement on the environment and climate change. The earth element is concerned with the facts on the ground (to borrow an unfortunate Israeli expression). If earth is lacking, then these facts don’t count for very much, they don’t impact. The Kyoto protocol was agreed in 1997 – the last gasp of Neptune in Capricorn – but has since proved impossible to implement.

Incredibly, in 2003 the US went to war in Iraq without a proper plan as to what to do afterwards, and without reasons that could be backed up by facts. During the 90s, with Neptune and Uranus in Capricorn, the US had been able to restrain itself.

Since 1998, we have had 2 financial bubbles: the dotcom bubble of 2000, when stocks prices in the newly established dotcom sector went way over the top, causing a hangover for the US economy, that Bill Clinton urged Americans to spend their way out of (not exactly a down-to-earth solution); and now there has been a credit bubble, in which banks have lent huge amounts of money in irresponsible ways and passed the buck all over the world, so no-one knows who is liable; and in which consumers have also built up large amounts of debt.

The downside of earth is that the imagination can get stifled, everything becomes defined by what seem to be fixed practical limitations and traditions. This time of no earth has also been the period in which the internet has taken off in all sorts of ways that couldn’t have been predicted, unhampered by too much legislation or financial limitations (it can still be pretty much free to get your stuff out there). So this has been a positive outcome, the imagination has had free rein. It can be seen as the result of the mutual reception between Uranus in Pisces and Neptune in Aquarius, which still has a few years to run.

But I think we urgently need the earth element back, even though it may mean, for example, that we get charged to set up a blog, or to continue running a successful one.

The reason we need the earth element back is because of the huge crises around the corner – energy needs, environmental degradation, nuclear proliferation – any one of which could threaten our survival. These issues need addressing, and we need the earth element to do so. We need to be able to address facts. Politically they are now on the agenda, but not much has been done practically, and nor have any of these issues yet seriously interfered with our everyday lives. Life is still carrying on as normal, but it’s only a matter of time before it won’t be able to carry on as normal – because the price of energy has soared, because of flooded cities and crop destruction and hurricanes, or because a nuclear armed Islamist Pakistan is holding the Middle East to ransom.

OK, that’s all a bit alarmist, but there are these huge issues that we can all see, whose time is almost upon us. If anything can force us to see sense collectively, it is Pluto in Capricorn: the empowerment (Pluto) of practical sense (Capricorn). As Uranus comes up to square this Pluto in a few years time, we will find some surprising solutions to our collective problems.

I am quite optimistic about Pluto’s passage through Capricorn, because it is so timely, and because the Ingress Chart looks so good: Pluto conjunct the 2 Benefics, Venus and Jupiter, and trine to earthy Saturn in earthy Virgo. OK, we will probably get over-conservative and cautious, but at least we will be doing more of what is necessary to ensure our survival.

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