Monday, December 29, 2008

Pluto in Capricorn: it's about keeping the patient alive

Vince Cable is the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat Party in the UK, and their main economic spokesman. He made a name for himself during his recent brief tenure as acting leader. It was Vince Cable who at Prime Minister’s Question Time in 2007 referred to Gordon Brown’s “remarkable transformation in the last few weeks from Stalin to Mr Bean, creating chaos out of order rather than order out of chaos”, called by The Economist, "the single best line of Gordon Brown's premiership.”

Anyway, he has a clear and forthright and sensible way of putting things, and in an article I was reading yesterday he talked about the paradoxical situation we have, in that in the short term people need to be encouraged to spend more, while in the longer term they need to be encouraged to save. How you explain that to the man down the Dog and Duck, he continued, he didn’t know.

But I can see what he means. In the West we have been living beyond our means and have built up huge levels of debt, in the UK more than in any other country. So we need to break the habit. We need to start living within our means, and we need to start saving again. This is the message of Pluto in Capricorn: a realistic (Capricorn) approach to wealth (Pluto), the need for which we ignore at our peril (Pluto).

But you can’t necessarily do that all at once. The patient is on life support, and you have to keep the circulation going. At present, the patient is haemorrhaging, and will in all probability sink deeper into a coma over the course of the next year. But you have to keep giving him blood transfusions.

Imagine a very simple economy in which the main business is agriculture, and there is also a certain amount of trade in goods which you occasionally need like pots and pans and building materials. Imagine that all the farmers have got into a certain amount of debt, and all at once they all put off buying pots and pans and bricks and medicines etc. What will happen is that everyone will still have enough to eat. But the farmers will be selling off their food surpluses for gold which they will then stash under their floorboards before paying off the local money-lender. The pot makers and brick makers, who are also in debt, have now lost most of their market, and before you know it they are out of business and have sold off their equipment, so that they could no longer make pots and bricks even if they wanted. And quite quickly they can no longer afford even to eat. And then the farmers also lose their markets.

So a large part of the economy freezes and then collapses, and takes perhaps decades to recover. And this applies just as much in our infinitely more complex economy. You can’t have everyone just stopping spending on everything apart from immediate necessities and making do for a while. You need to keep the economy flowing enough so that large parts of it do not collapse and never, perhaps, recover.

I think this is also Pluto in Capricorn: Capricorn as proportionate, realistic response. Capricorn is about what works, rather than being about extreme ideological measures, like the Sagittarian free-market dogma which has been our undoing. Capricorn is certainly about saving money for a rainy day and not living beyond our means. But it is also about a healthy economy with firm foundations, in which all the pieces are alive and working.

So I think Vince Cable is right. For the moment, the priority is to keep the economy alive. Not inflated and reckless like it was, but at least alive. I don’t think we need worry too much about people over-spending, because the credit isn’t there any more for that, even if people still wanted to spend recklessly.

Once we are sure the patient is not dead, then we can begin again with a different kind of economy, that pays more attention to basic book-keeping. It’s a cyclical process, which we have seen before in the booms and busts of the late twenties and late eighties. We get carried away by prolonged booms, and then come rather heavily down to earth again.

So I don’t think that governments necessarily don’t understand the need to live more proportionately when they advocate pumping money into the economy, as both the British and American governments are doing. They are trying to keep the patient alive, and avoid too many amputations, and I think they have to do that.

All the same, I am hoping that Pluto in Capricorn will be more than just a periodic reminder to live within our means. Pluto in Capricorn may also, for a while, take the edge off the philosophy of unlimited economic growth, in which wealth becomes the main end of life, instead of playing an important but supporting role. But humanity has always been fascinated by wealth, and astrology teaches us that life is cyclical. So we may get a bit saner about money and the purpose of work, at least for a while. Until, perhaps, Pluto enters Pisces, another sign that doesn’t know about boundaries.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

The US Need for Royalty

Maybe I’m just a Brit looking in, but US politics seems much more dynastic than what we have over here. This is ironic, as the USA was founded on the idea of rejecting European ideas of inherited power, and the lack of true representation that goes with that.

So in the US you have your Kennedys and Bushs and Clintons, and members of these families have a much greater chance of becoming a Senator or Governor, or even running for President, than your average person. And these families are looked up to and lionised. This is why there is currently such a fuss about the possibility of Caroline Kennedy becoming a Senator, as her uncle Edward Kennedy fades from politics. She has never shown an interest in politics before now.

Of course an interest in politics, like anything, is likely to run in families. So in the UK you will get MPs whose father, say, was in Parliament. But an MP is not a big deal. You don’t get noticed unless you are a Minister or leader of the Opposition. Hilary Benn, son of Tony, is Minister for the Environment, but even then you’d hardly notice him bumbling along in his glasses. Peter Mandelson, the Business Secretary, is grandson of Herbert Morrison, a post-war Cabinet Minister, but not many people seem to know this.

I think the difference is that in the UK we have a monarchy. The Queen is the repository for people’s need for these semi-divine, regal figures to look up to. This means that the politicians, who actually run the country, can be elected on their merits rather than their name.

As I have said before, I think the US needs a King or a Queen. A decadent family with gangster origins like the Kennedys would suit. Just like our British royal family: it's French founder, William I, was effectively a gangster. It would not only help deal with the falsity of these family dynasties: it would also take a lot of pressure off the Presidents to be superhuman, and let them get on with their work. So Bill Clinton had a blow-job off an intern, and then quite naturally denied it. There would probably have been a lot less fuss if he didn’t also have to carry the semi-divine aura that comes with the President’s job.

The UK has Sun in Capricorn. We understand that humanity organises itself hierarchically, that collectively we are like a pack of dogs sniffing around after sex and status. Through our powerless monarchy, and its occasional soap-operas, we take care of a good deal of that need.

The US has Sun square to Saturn. Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn. So the US has an uneasy (square) relationship with hierarchy. In its Declaration of Independence it is in denial of this fact, it claims that everyone is created equal (Saturn in Libra). If you deny something, it goes unconscious and comes out worse than it would have been. From the word go, the hierarchy between black and white people in the USA was worse than anything we had in the UK. Nowadays, the worship of money and celebrity, the division of society into winners and losers, is much more extreme than in the UK.

You can’t fault the founding fathers for wanting a more egalitarian society, based on merit rather than inheritance. Saturn was in Libra in 1776, which was a great time for ideals of fairness. But when squared to the Sun you will also get the down-side of Libra, which is ignorance of, or disregard for the nature of ordinary, ‘base’, humanity. The way the US treats its Presidents shows what a deep longing there is in the country for a monarch. Saturn in Libra may not think very highly of this, but Sun in tribal Cancer sure wants it. Natal Pluto in hierarchical Capricorn says acknowledge this about yourself or I will be your Shadow, your undoing.

Anyway, in a few weeks time Americans have a Coronation to look forward to. Whoops, I meant Inauguration.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Some points arising out of a recent conversation with a Chippewa-Cree friend:

If we look at the natural world, it’s clear that every plant, every animal, every insect has the conditions it needs to live its life. This is the way that that mysterious greater consciousness, of which we are all a part, has arranged things, so to speak. And the same applies to us, if we act intelligently. The conditions are present for humans to live their lives. So there is a sense in which the universe is on our side, it nurtures and nourishes us, for in a sense it is simply looking after itself.

I think with humans there is an added factor that distinguishes us, for better or for worse, which is that we don’t know who or what we are. This also reveals that we haven’t been around very long. Animals and plants know what they are, they just get on with it.

But the universe looks after itself. So it would be strange if the conditions were not there for humans to take care not just of their physical needs, but also to come to know themselves. This one has a bit of a wow factor for me: our minds, our souls are so deep and complicated and rich and problematic, yet the possibility is there of becoming fully conscious of who we are during the course of our lives. It would be strange if it were not like this. The conditions are there, not through accessing some special teaching or saviour-figure, but simply by attempting to live in a conscious way.

I am the universe having an experience of itself as Dharmaruci.

So what happens when we die? What we do know is that all the physical elements that we are made of dissolve back into being part of the greater whole. The earth element goes back to the earth, the water to the water and so on. There is nothing ‘special’ about our bodies. So why wouldn’t the same apply to that other element, consciousness? Doesn’t our consciousness simply merge again with the wider consciousness, the wider intelligence that is all around us? Why would it not be like this?

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Thursday, December 11, 2008


It is noticeable, in Europe at least, that any issue involving DNA provokes a strong emotional response in many people. GM Foods are standard in America, while they are hardly grown at all in Europe. And this week the European Court of Human Rights unanimously declared Britain’s retention of DNA from 2 people who had been cleared of crimes to be an invasion of their privacy.

These 2 situations reflect the very strong feelings held by many people about DNA, that it involves the core of life itself, and that it is therefore forbidden territory. For the government to have access to our DNA is therefore an invasion of privacy at the deepest level, not equivalent to it having access to say our bank records, medical records etc. And for researchers to try to alter the DNA of plants and animals is like playing God.

It is understandable that if DNA really is the core of life that people should feel this way about it. And we have been led to believe this by scientists.

I saw a programme last week in which an organic farmer went round the world looking at GM crops trying to be objective about the subject, and to weigh up the results so far. One wonderful contradiction he found was that while in Europe you get protesters breaking into research stations and destroying the crops, in Uganda you get farmers breaking into the research stations and trying to steal the crops, because of a disease problem they are having with their bananas.

At one point he showed us a wild cabbage, which is a bit like a regular green cabbage but smaller. He then showed us the crops that have been developed out of it: not just the different cabbages, but sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. This was very graphic, because the genetic alteration brought about by selective breeding of the cabbage is leagues beyond what scientists have so far done in their more direct, laboratory methods.

People are naturally worried about possible dangers, and they are right to worry, and not to trust big companies using this technology. But people’s concern about the dangers gets very disproportionate, because I think that behind it lies this feeling that life itself is being interfered with, and that this is wrong. But it is hard to articulate this, so it gets loaded onto the possible dangers of GM instead.

In the same way, people get very concerned about privacy issues and the national DNA database, but they are not able to say why. You never read why it constitutes such an invasion, all you read is the emphasis being placed on the term privacy, and supporting adjectives around it, but little in the way of reasoning.

So in both cases what we are dealing with is a lot of unarticulated emotion, and I think the reason it remains unarticulated is because it is based on fear of the unknown rather than on knowledge. We don’t encounter this fear of the unknown to the same degree in other developing technologies, but I think that is because people have not been led to believe that scientists are tampering with the core of life itself. As Francis Crick announced in a pub on 27 November 1963, having just solved the puzzle of the structure of DNA: “We have found the secret of life.”

So that is perhaps the question behind it all. Does DNA really represent the core of life, or the secret of life? Is there such a thing?

The irony is that while we have been led to believe that DNA represents the core of life, the mechanism science gives us for its functioning is that of a computer programme! DNA is nothing other than a chemical code for various proteins, and at various times it unravels and the code is read off.

Of course, it is DNA more than anything else that is passed down the generations, and in that sense it represents the essence that is passed on. But it is still a computer programme!

I do not feel myself to be in essence a computer programme, in the sense of operating through a predetermined set of instructions. I can’t prove this. But I think it is a big and unjustifiable assumption on the part of science that reality can be reduced to that which is measurable by the 5 senses, and repeatable through experiment. It is this assumption that leads us to the idea of DNA being somehow at the core of who we are, because it is the master computer programme behind our physical bodies. I think the onus is on science to prove that reality can be reduced to its narrow terms, rather than on me to prove that I am more than that. I know, for example, that astrology works, but there's no way it can ever be made 'scientific'.

I do not know what I am at my core, or if I even have one, but I find the idea of DNA being that core hard to take seriously. So I don’t feel that the authorities would have the essence of me if they had my DNA code. Nor do I feel that GM is a step too far.

I think there can also be a residual monotheism behind anti-GM feeling: the idea that God created life as it is, and we therefore shouldn’t tamper with it, even though selective breeding is no different. And if you're an Evolutionist, there can be a feeling that nature has created a kind of perfection that we shouldn't interefre with. Evolution is actually an ongoing bodge job, often brilliant and beautiful, but it is based on what works and on making it up as you go along. Consequently it is often far from perfect. Like the human skeleton, that hasn’t fully adjusted yet to walking upright, or fully adjusted in childbirth to the large head size of babies. I’m sure that, given time, there will be ways we can improve on where Evolution has left us.

I don’t believe in separating matter and spirit. I think that matter is alive, and what we feel to be our spirit cannot be separated from our physical existence. This is why changes in physical structure, particularly in the brain, can have such a profound effect on people’s personalities. And similarly with DNA. Changing that, when the time comes, will have a profound effect on who we experience ourselves to be. It’s the same with organ transplants: sometimes the person who has received the organ acquires aspects of the personality of the donor. But you don’t get public outcries against this.

Like any science, GM can be misused, and probably will be. It will become a particularly powerful technology. But I don’t think there is any essential difference to this technology, if you look at the effects of e.g. organ transplants and selective breeding. You could even argue that to accept the view that GM, or the DNA database, tampers with or invades the core of life itself, is to simultaneously accept that we are in essence computer programmes!

For me, what really needs addressing is the idea of humans as computer programmes. You can’t deny what Crick and Watson discovered, and the mechanism for the working of DNA. It is a brilliant truth, but only an aspect of larger, less easily defined truths about life, that are not confined to the 5 senses and physical measurement.

I don’t know what time Francis Crick walked into the pub, but here is the midday chart for the event (in those days pubs weren’t open in the mornings or during the afternoon beyond lunchtime).

Click to Enlarge

We see Uranus opposite Chiron. I have found Uranus in hard aspect to Chiron around most major scientific breakthroughs. Uranus represents the brilliant, original scientific mind. And Chiron represents the wound to humanity from the one-sidedness of that mind, that has progressively reduced us from glorious creations of the Godhead in a divine universe down to a pile of chemicals dwelling in a mechanistic universe.

And there is a yod, with Mercury at the apex, and Saturn-Neptune at one base and Pluto at the other. Pluto is conjunct the Moon.

So Mercury is the way we think about the discovery of DNA, and the way it has been communicated to us. And being a yod, there is an uneasy relationship with the points at the base that can never be resolved, just accommodated. Moon-Pluto in Leo: there is the instinctive (Moon) fear (Pluto) that our divine individuality (Leo) is under threat. At the base of the yod we also find Saturn conjunct Neptune, which is usually associated with imaginative and artistic, rather than scientific developments. But that statement ”We have found the secret of life” is not scientific, it is a philosophical, mystical statement. Neptune and DNA are both associated with the source of life.

So we have this imaginative, almost religious breakthrough – Saturn-Neptune, coupled with this fear for our souls – Moon-Pluto in Leo. And it resonates with the meaning of Uranus-Chiron – the brilliant scientific breakthrough that simultaneously reduces us.

4 years ago the Progressed DNA Sun entered Taurus, which we can associate with the rise of GM Food (Taurus).

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Pluto in Capricorn Themes

Capricorn rules the knees. As Pluto has entered, exited and finally re-entered Capricorn this year, I have been through a process of sorting out my knees. I’m loathe to admit it, but I’m a bit flat-footed, and over the years my joints had compensated for this – giving me, so I’m told, a hip-swinging feminine gait from the rear! But that is now all in the past, and as Pluto approaches my Capricorn Mars, I am at last starting to walk like a man!

I’d started getting a lot of pain in my knees, and the doctor thought I should just bust my way through it. I wasn’t impressed, and I persuaded him to book me in to see the physio. She gave me a load of correctional exercises, and I said I’m not doing them for the rest of my life. She did say, however, that there is such a thing as a podiatrist, who specialises in feet, and I said yes, that’s what I need. The podiatrist cautiously gave me some raised insoles, and I said raise them as much as you can, and she went all cautious on me again, but agreed. 6 months later, just as Pluto finally entered Capricorn, I noticed that my knees don’t hurt any more. I am obviously deeply attuned to the zeitgeist!

I am not the only person so attuned. Pluto in Capricorn is also about control by the government (Capricorn) of private information (Pluto), as well as general control-freakery (Pluto) by the authorities (Capricorn). In the UK, Parliament is currently up in arms because the police raided not just the home and constituency office of an MP, but his office within Parliament. They also arrested him. This was on 27 Nov, the day Pluto re-entered Capricorn. The arrest and search was on suspicion of "aiding and abetting misconduct in public office" and "conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office", in relation to an investigation into unauthorised disclosure of confidential material from within the Home Office.

In other words, Damian Green – the shadow immigration minister - was using leaked information to hold the government to account, which is a necessary part of our democracy. Gordon Brown, the PM, made his name as a young MP through using leaked information. In the 1930s, Winston Churchill, who was then in the political wilderness, used leaked information from the Foreign Office to repeatedly warn Parliament about German re-armament. His source was eventually discovered and came to a sorry end.

So everyone is finding this arrest bizarre. MPs are enraged at having had the police on their premises, particularly as it has turned out that they did not have a search warrant and could have been turned away.

Who is Pluto and who is Capricorn is hard to say here, but it is an interesting twist on the theme. Damian Green has Sun in Capricorn opposite Uranus, so you can see the event as an externalisation of a tension in his chart between supporting the establishment (Capricorn) and freedom/rebellion (Uranus).

Even more bizarre is that 2 days before Pluto left Capricorn in June, the shadow Home Secretary David Davis resigned as an MP, and stood for immediate re-election, all in the cause of a wider debate on the single issue of erosion of civil liberties. This was also a Pluto in Capricorn issue, and like Damian Green, David Davis has Sun in Capricorn opposite Uranus! In Davis’ case, however, he made the event happen, rather than have it come to him.

Another part of the Pluto in Capricorn flurry has been the landmark ruling by the European Court of Human Rights this week that British police were wrong to retain the DNA of 2 young men who were subsequently cleared of any crimes. British police have DNA samples from 4.5 million people, and it will have huge implications for their database.

Many people are strongly against this database, seeing it as an invasion of people’s privacy. Exactly how it violates people’s privacy is never said. I have a bit of a gut reaction against my DNA being on the database (it isn’t on it), but I find my reaction hard to justify. I think it is no different to officialdom having your name, date of birth, marital status, employment, home address etc etc. I can see the database being enormously helpful in fighting crime. Like the protests against GM food, speed cameras, and fox-hunting (both sides), the issue is driven one-sidedly by emotion over reason.

I think if the authorities want to victimise someone and invade their privacy, they don’t need a DNA database to do it. They can do it anyway. The issue is how much that sort of abuse goes on, not the particular means by which they do it.

I suppose if I had a reservation it would be that the government has shown itself to be spectacularly incompetent at guarding the details they have on people. They get lost in the post, left on trains, in cars etc. As the understanding of DNA progresses, you wouldn't want this information leaking out to the highest bidder.

All the same, as I've said before, I would prefer the government having any amount of information on me than living in a traditional small village where everyone knew my business.

Finally a few points from one of my readers, Geoff King, taking a historical perspective on Pluto in Capricorn:

The last time but one was 1516 to 1532 . During that time two very Pluto in Sag things happened. One was the reformation, the other the dissolution of the monasteries. We can forget nowadays that the Monasteries were a key economic feature of life at that time, with vast wealth bequeathed to them over the preceding centuries and something like 1 in every 500 males living in them.

The message then was that the traditional Capricornian authority was being Pluto-ed.

The next Pluto in Cap was 1762 to 1778. That was the start of the industrial revolution and the way I would interpret that is that up to that point the traditional authority (Cap) based itself on land. There just weren’t many other ways to gain wealth in Britain prior to 1762 other than by owning land. Then Pluto comes along and erodes that traditional wealth.

I’m sure we will see something similar this time round, it's just working out which institutions and establishment figures will be eroded. Obviously banks are very Capricorn but I think also the shift of power from West to East is another manifestation. I’m sure the Royal family will come under attack too but I’m sure there are other things I’m missing from this.

One thing that surprised me is that I expected Pluto in Cap to mean that we realise commodities like oil and metals are finite but so far the values of these things is going down rather than up.

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