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And then there are others who receive the wake-up call but choose to ignore it. Like Steve Jobs. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. It can be too easy to attribute someone’s diseases to what you criticise them for, what you don’t like about them. Sometimes cancer is just cancer. And maybe that’s all it was.
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But he was diagnosed as Uranus was starting to conjoin his Sun, and Pluto and Saturn were squaring his Ascendant. With this sort of concurrent demand for transformation, there has to be a connection. Because of our scientific culture, we tend to think in terms of simple cause and effect: Steve Jobs’ refusal to re-examine his life ‘caused’ his pancreatic cancer. But the relationship is synchronous, in the same way that astrology works on synchronicity, which Jung called an ‘acausal connecting principle.’ Two events with a symbolic relationship.
Astrology can help show these synchronous relationships, where one event is saying something about the other event. Not everything is synchronous, discernment is required. In Jobs’ case, not only do we have the transits, with their psychological, even metaphysical demands to awaken and re-examine; we also have medical astrology, in which Pluto and Virgo are associated with the pancreas, and Pluto was squaring Jobs’ Virgo Ascendant in 2003. Moreover, Jobs’ Sun was in the 6th House, affirming a general connection between his health and his realisation of his inner goals.
I suspect that Jobs was ruled by his Moon and Mars in Aries and that his Piscean Sun, which was unaspected, was used by the Moon and Mars for their own ends. Who was Steve Jobs apart from the companies he founded and built? It's hard to find out much about the man apart from his business career, suggesting an over-identification with that. It is possible to be fully and authentically identified with a project, if you are, say, an artist, but conquering the world with electronic gadgets? A Pisces Sun will eventually need quite different conditions than these to continue to move on and unfold.
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Apple itself was an expression of Jobs’ warrior cast of mind. Incorporated on 1st April 1976, it has Sun at 11 Aries in a Cardinal t-square with Mars and Pluto. Jobs’ Moon is at 7 Aries. This t-square is exceptionally dynamic. Uranus conjunct North Node makes it a mould breaker (Obama has this aspect in Leo), while the sign of Scorpio suggests issues to learn around money and power.
Jobs' Moon was also unaspected. The personal planet that was most joined up was Mars in Aries, which aspects 5 other planets. So one could say that it was Mars more than any other planet that ruled his life, subsuming both the Sun and the Moon to its desires and demands. The Moon, being in Aries, fitted well, but the poor old Sun in Pisces didn't have much chance. Jobs spoke about his life in terms of holding fast to what you want and going for it, and this is very Martian. As was his desire to conquer, to be the best, and his often unsavoury way of dealing with people.
I think America is starting to enter its mid-life crisis, which is a good thing, and Jobs may come to symbolise the end of an age – a golden age for some, depending on your perspective. Natally, the US has Sagittarius Rising and Sun conjunct Jupiter. Hence the expansiveness and optimism, but also the reluctance to grow up, to come down to earth, outside of all that futurism, and find who you are.
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When you enter the mid-life passage, things often stop working so well. This is happening to the US. It’s not just in a recession, which has happened before. China is at its door economically, threatening its pre-eminence, and that is new. It has had its credit rating lowered for the first time. It can no longer control the Middle East, the source of its energy, in the way that it has become used to. The US seems powerless in the face of Iran's nuclear ambitions. And the US progressed Saturn is, for the first time retrograde and starting to pick up speed, just as the US has experienced a Saturn Return. With Saturn, there is pressure to grow up, to move on to the next stage of life.
I have no desire to see America brought low, and America will remain wealthy and powerful for a long time yet. But its confidence is taking a knock and that is a good thing. Failure, or the perception of it, can bring out the best in people. And for America, its best may cease to mean economic and military eminence. What you’re looking for in the mid-life crisis is an ability to value things and people in themselves. With its Venus-Jupiter-Sun stellium in Cancer, America needs to learn to value itself for what it is, its own values and culture, regardless of its place in the world. You could say this is true of any country or individual, but with that stellium in Cancer, the US has a particularly rich and expansive home culture that, with the natal square to Saturn, has been undervalued.
Sun square to Saturn is a particularly difficult aspect when it comes to creating depth. With Sun square Pluto, for example, you will really suffer, or you may do something abominable, if you continue to seek power outside of yourself. But Saturn acts as a barrier that you cannot see through, a voice that tells you that reality lies 'out there' in position and prestige, and which may always seem to you a self-evident truth. You do not have the suffering of Pluto to make you question it, just the self-doubt of Saturn that keeps telling you your value lies in your achievement. It’s painful, but maybe not painful enough.
So the US will always have this niggling doubt about itself that it has been so good at covering up. This aspect is classically related to fathers and their achievement, or lack of it. The US grew out of, and rebelled against a burgeoning British Empire. It had something big to measure up to, and it succeeded many times over. But that niggle is still there. Look at the fascination with British Royalty, which says so much. When I do a chart, I focus on the major challenges. And in the US chart, Sun square Saturn stands out. The real measure of the US is not its ability to achieve, for that is a reactive pattern expressive of the Sun-Saturn aspect. The real measure will be when it can no longer be top dog – for China, with 4 times the population, will eventually beat it hands down. Will the US find another way of feeling at ease with itself? This is not easy for an individual, let alone a collective.