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.