Thursday, March 26, 2020


It seems to me that the Coronavirus strategy is primarily focused around protecting old people. With Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto in Capricorn, this makes sense. In an age that idolises youth - where the older vote in the referendum was dismissed as a denial of the future for young people, and where older women become 'invisible' - maybe old people are now seen as having more value? The US Presidential election is being fought between men in their 70s.


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I reckon there are 2 things going on around the Coronavirus: there are the governmental responses, as described by Mars' Capricornian (government) passage across Jupiter, Pluto and, in a week's time, Saturn. This will complete the lockdown, and may well include a military element (Mars-Saturn): soldiers on the streets. And that may be because of the rebellious element of Aquarius, the sign that Mars and Saturn are moving into.

And then there is the spread of the virus, which is described by Mercury in its journey through Pisces to meet Neptune, also in about a week's time. So that is the time to watch out for. These 2 planets in Pisces are hard to control, and indeed they do not aspect the Mars-Jupiter-Pluto-Saturn stellium, suggesting that the lockdown may not ultimately have much effect. The virus will do what it does, and the conjunction in a week will empower it to spread.
In early May, Saturn (the lockdown) will start to go retrograde. So it will be around then that governments will start to reconsider the measures. However, to some degree or other the lockdown seems likely to last until Saturn goes Direct in late September.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


My personal opinon is that we need to get this Coronavirus done ASAP. There is a Mars-Jupiter conjunction in Capricorn at present, applying for the next 2 days, so the government (Capricorn) is putting up a big (Jupiter) fight (Mars). With any luck, events will overtake their strategy over the next 2 weeks as Mercury (transmission) approaches a conjunction with Neptune in Pisces (pandemic). Life is for the living, life and death between them are a part of a much bigger dream. Remember the suffering caused by austerity, we can now learn from that (as Saturn starts to leave Capricorn) and not enact something far worse. 

Image result for life and death scales 
Some people think I am being callous when I say these things, but I am not. Choices have to be made, and more deaths than there might have been - mostly on the part of people in poor health - needs to be weighed against a disastrous breakdown at a basic level, which is what we are facing. Pluto in Capricorn stuff. I've already been called things for saying this, and have blocked one friend as a result. People think you are being uncaring when you say these things, and that is not true.

This complex civilisation we have created, that makes us feel so powerful: it is fragile, it is a bubble on the surface of mother earth. We are being shown this.


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Friday, March 13, 2020


If we are any sort of healer, then one of our functions in the community is to stand apart from the collective compulsions, as real as they can appear, and be a still point that, energetically, can feed back to the collective in a good way. This is the North of the Medicine Wheel, the place of the Mind and the Elder, that is cool like Air and has objectivity.

This principle applied to the referendum division we experienced in the UK over the last few years, and it was unfortunately rare to find healers who were prepared to do their job and appreciate both sides. In the US, there was the now infamous 2016 panel of 12 astrologers, 11 of whom predicted Hillary Clinton would win the election. That is just the collective liberal bias that astrologers are prone to: the 'nice guys', the 'conscious people' vote Democrat. Or Labour. Nonsense. The problem with the right wing is that they often don't care enough; the problem with the left wing is that they are often intolerant hypocrites who think they own the moral high ground. It is beneath us to be identified with any political party, though we may have preferences.

Now we have the mass fear that is being generated over what seems to be the equivalent of a fairly potent flu. So let us see if we can do better this time and not join in with the collective compulsion. That is what we are here to do.

The sign of Capricorn has earned the experience to lead in the community, in the sense of upholding traditions. Aquarius, which comes next, is the leader who has earned the right to break the traditions and to stand apart. That is what we need now, people who can stand apart from the collective fear and, if need be, be deemed 'irresponsible' for doing so.

The epidemic is about to escalate significantly as Mercury the transmitter re-enters Pisces on 16th March - after his thoughtful, incubatory retrograde period - and conjoins viral Neptune in his own sign on the 4th of April. So the next 3 weeks are likely to be the decisive ones.

Everything major needs to be seen right now as ultimately coming under the signifier of Saturn-Pluto in Capricorn, the planetary conjunction that we had in January, and which will define the coming years. So Mercury-Neptune-Pisces is triggering this epidemic, but it is likely to have a lasting impact, coming so soon after the Saturn-Pluto conjunction. It tells us something about the meaning of that conjunction. Something maybe to do with the rapid breaking of national boundaries - Pluto hitting Saturn in Capricorn - as this epidemic has spread. 

A real globalisation, that isn't just about moving your corporation to where the labour is cheap. And that maybe reflects the growing importance of the environmental issue, which is also global. So something to do with us being one world, but one that needs to respect national sovereignties, as Brexit  - also part of this conjunction - has warned us.

Monday, March 09, 2020


So what do you reckon, the Coronavirus will go epidemic around Mercury going Direct in Pisces on 16th March? And pandemic around Mercury conjoining Neptune in Pisces on 4th April? Whatever those terms mean... you probably get my drift.
The thought I was having this morning on Coronavirus was that it shows us just how much we are one world these days. The whole world - apart from 3rd world countries who have more important things to think about like the next meal - is plugged into this flu in a panicky kind of way, which is unfortunate, and it's easy to try and blame someone, like 'the media', but like most things, it is just collective consciousness at work, which is why I am not a conspiracist. 


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But like I say, it is showing us just how connected we all are nowadays, and it is good to feel that, because it is too easy to view our trade competitors like China as somewhat hostile and 'other'. We are all in this together, exaggerated as it may be, and this is something we can experience, and I think that is a good thing. And this is maybe a real globalisation, unlike the fake one we have had, which has just meant cheap labour in China for Apple and Dyson etc until the Philippines gets cheaper.

Saturday, March 07, 2020


The idea of Fate can seem like an affront to our self-respect as human beings, to the idea that we have Free Will, that we make our own choices in life. It can seem like a throw-back to primitive superstition.

And this polarity is understandable when you look at our religious background with its all-powerful, all-determining God. We want none of that, and rightly so.

Our destiny is no longer controlled by God but by ourselves, we have Free Will, and we are guided by reason.

It’s said that we become that which we oppose, and in our flight away from God and towards reason and science, we have created a determinism just as rigid: a universe governed by immutable physical laws, with human beings as just one more expression of those laws. And without even the divine element that God, for all his faults, brought.

But that determinism tends to be hidden because, at least in the West,  in our day-to-day lives we do have the freedom to choose (up to a point) and to have opinions. We don’t have to be on our guard, whatever people say about government snooping. Of course, we CAN be brainwashed by all sorts of factors, and many of us are in different ways, it seems to be part of how large societies work. But the point is we don’t have to be, we have the option of thinking and acting independently without being sent to prison or burnt or beheaded.

These sorts of contradictions fascinate me. And I think they often arise because we think in rigid, literal, black-and-white terms. Life, hopefully, teaches us not to think like that. Education should also teach us not to, but I don’t think it does, generally speaking, because it has its own agenda.

And so Fate and Free Will can appear as irreconcilable opposites. I don’t think I need to argue for Free Will, because it is self-evident. Or is it? In one sense it is self-evident, in that from moment to moment we choose our actions. The devil is in the word 'choose', and how much of ‘us’ is involved in that choice. We can truly and genuinely and sincerely think we are acting out of Free Will, and then one day we realise we’ve been living out a programme we were brought up to live, or reacting against it, which is sort of the same thing. And the programming may have been making the choices to a greater extent than the little bit of consciousness we called our own.

And that is Fate, a certain kind of Fate, masquerading as Free Will.

So it’s complicated.


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And often we wake up to Free Will through crises, which are Fate in a rather different sense. As an astrologer, one sees this kind of Fate all the time through the transits of the outer planets to the natal chart. A god enters the scene. He is wild and bad-mannered and can’t be locked in his room, and a few years down the line you find you are a different person, maybe aware of the real reasons you’ve been like you are all these years.

And these crises are, to a certain extent, predictable. They are writ, they are Fate. It’s part of the astrologer’s box of magic tricks: so what happened to you around 1992, what major life change did you go through? And out it all comes, usually. Not always, because astrology isn’t mechanical and people aren’t mechanical.

Or take the financial crisis, the mother of all meltdowns, that began in 2008. Any half-way literate astrologer could see that with Uranus coming up to square Pluto at a degree that significantly impacted the charts of all the major powers, some sort of big crisis was on the way. And astrologers were in fact talking about it years in advance.

We’d have probably all had different ideas as to the nature of this crisis, although Uranus-Pluto has a way of being economics, so that would have been a reasonable guess.

So you can see that the future was both writ and not writ on a collective scale.

It’s mysterious. What is the chart if not our Fate? But it is not set in stone. It is more like a set of stories that have their own flavours and lessons and turning points, and that can even to a great degree be predicted in advance. And these pre-writ stories are not a denial of our Free Will, but rather contain points at which events seem to have guided us to the possibility of an accession of Free Will.

The chart is not literal, it is a divinatory lens. It is objective, in that many astrologers would accurately see the same sort of meaning in a chart. It is not just a lens for the astrologer’s personal dialogue with the gods, though it is that as well, making every reading unique and particular.

Through feeling and reading the relationship between the earth and the sky, astrology has over the millennia built a divinatory sea that anyone can tap into, a sea that points to our origins, in fact to the origins of everything, as lying behind the apparent material universe. For how else could we possibly know these things about people and world events from the chart? Certainly not from any physical cause.

As Wordsworth says in Intimations of Immortality:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell'd in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream...

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar

So I think this is the sort of context in which the Fate element in astrology needs to be seen. Astrology gives us glimpses of the deeper stories behind our life, the intentions of the gods, if you like, the bigger cosmic picture behind who we think we are, that Aries has forgotten and that Pisces is privilege to, and that all the other signs are a progression towards.

Fate in this sense is not something that can easily be put in rational, logical terms. Even Free Will cannot very easily be expressed in those terms, not when you view it as the urge to enlarge consciousness.

We may not be able to explain Fate, but we ignore it at our peril. The ancient Greeks understood this well, though human rationality was given more power as time went on.

The ancient Greeks acknowledged the role of Fate as a reality outside the individual that shaped and determined human life. In modern times, the concept of Fate has developed the misty halo of romantic destiny, but for the ancient Greeks, Fate represented a terrifying, unstoppable force.

And they were right. Cataclysmic natural events apart (which nowadays we are largely shielded from, we forget the raw power of nature), you see the suffering people go through because they don’t know how to listen to themselves, the self being much larger than everyday consciousness and often how we have been taught to be. Life exacts its revenge, or tries to pressure us into submission. You get cancer, your wife leaves you, your kids disown you, you get fired, you lose your home, anything you try goes wrong, maybe you even die.

Sometimes a crow is just a crow, and sometimes it means something. Sometimes these things just happen. It is a basic mistake to think that outer events always mirror inner events. No, the whole point is that reading signs is an art, and knowing when a sign is a sign and when it isn’t, is part of that art, and part of astrology’s subtlety.

That larger self is just one way of putting it. It is the gods knocking at the door. It is life itself and its need to move on. It is the Unconscious trying to further the process of individuation.

Whatever it is, it is not necessarily ‘nice’. Astrology in this auguristic sense disrupts our domestic sanitisations, the habitual and the safe, by revealing the intentions of the gods.

So the ancient Greeks understood Fate to be a dark god when resisted. Even, at times, when not resisted. The concept of Fate brings us closer not to that which is ‘nice’ but to that which is real.

As science and its ordered universe has progressed and tightened over the last 200 years, so have the outer planets, reality as uncontrollable Fate, emerged.

Bernadette Brady, in her book Cosmos, Chaosmos and Astrology advances the notions of Cosmos and Chaosmos. Cosmos is the ordered universe. Chaosmos is that aspect of the universe – eg weather systems – that do not obey the laws of predictable cause and effect and that science has had to find other ways of describing. Hence Chaos theory, and the Chaosmos, to which she proposes that astrology essentially belongs.

You could say that Free Will belongs to Cosmos and Fate to Chaosmos. Not that it is a rigid distinction. And Chaos theory seems to me to contain an inherent contradiction, in that is attempting to describe in rational terms that which defeats rationality. But at least it constitutes some kind of acknowledgement by science that there are aspects to reality that will forever be beyond its grasp. Quantum reality has similar implications. Chaosmos, however, is not merely the special case that science can't reduce to an equation: it is the larger reality within which the very specialised methods of modern science take their place.

But people aren’t always interested in philosophy, and why should they be, so these kinds of implications don’t always filter through. All the same, Fate as that larger reality beyond human control that needs respecting seems to be implied by both Chaos Theory and Quantum Theory. And Chaosmos seems a very evocative term for it, that also has a measure of scientific respectability.

Free Will can to some extent be explained in rational terms. Scientists can do brain studies on how we make decisions, for example. Free Will is an idea. But Fate in its deeper sense of the gods barging through our front door cannot be explained, merely described and evoked.

In 1996 I encountered the Norns in a book called ‘The Wisdom of the Wyrd’. They are 3 women who live in a hall by a well at the foot of Yggdrassil, the World Tree of Norse Myth. They take care of Yggdrassil with water from the well and sand from around it. They and other Norns determine the destiny of new-born children.

The author, Professor Brian Bates, called the Norns ‘Daughters of the Night’. I knew nothing about these figures, yet the imagery stunned me. For weeks afterwards it was like I was left reeling whenever I thought of these Norns. Even now I sort of go weak at the knees :)

I responded so strongly partly because Germanic/Norse myth is in me and probably in all northern Europeans. That is the strange thing about myths: we may not have heard them, but we recognise them all the same. The Lord of the Rings has that sort of quality, and it would, for Tolkien was deeply versed in European mythology.

And my response was to an image of Fate. But also more than an image. These ‘images’ (which is what nowadays we reduce them to, like one more defined thing to have ideas about) are also beings, they are presences that we can experience. I have that with Pluto. I often feel his presence when I am writing.


And I don’t think that is just a ‘subjective’ thing. These beings are real, they can be met and talked to. Yet they are also elusive, they do not just come at our bidding. And that is how I feel about the Norns. They belong to what Patrick Harpur calls Daimonic Reality.

And if I were southern European I might well feel the same way about the Moirai, the Fates, the 3 women who in ancient Greece allotted the Fate of everyone at birth. They each have a different function: one spins the thread of life onto her spindle, the other measures it, and the other cuts it: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos.

The Norns and the Moirai suggest to me that in ancient times Fate was understood and even feared as utterly real, yet it was not taken in the literal way that we think nowadays. For us, something is only real if it is literal, if it is ‘out there’ in a solid way and can be measured. From that point of view, Fate can seem like a product of primitive ignorance. The modern perspective can seem to be above and beyond all that has come before, but I think it is an anomaly, a peculiarity that will right itself - maybe not for a while yet - because human nature will inevitably also right itself.

 So I think the Norns and the Moirai, understood in a non-literal way, bring us a long way from Fate as a sort of primitive determinism, that we moderns with our understanding of the way the universe ‘really’ works can afford to look down on.

I don’t think the relationship between Fate and Free Will can ever be pinned down. It is a dichotomy that is there for us to reflect on, to muse on, and in so doing to reach down below the surface of life and observe consciousness in its mystery and elusiveness.
(First published here in 2014)

Monday, February 24, 2020


By the time we arrive at the MC, the 10th House Cusp, in the journey through the Houses, we are looking at the Elder, someone who assumes responsibility for the community. This is Saturn's realm. But how can a lone individual assume this onerous responsibility? It is by looking at Saturn in a different way.

Sitting Bull
During the 1st Saturn Return, we assume responsibility for ourselves, we begin to incarnate. And that is how Saturn is generally seen, as the worldly taskmaster, for better or for worse. He is a very mixed blessing in our extraverted culture.

In the 2nd Saturn Return we have, schematically speaking, done 30 years of incarnating. We no longer have to pretend to be an adult 😂 Seriously, Saturn is the bridge to the outer planets. At this time Saturn learns to be the servant to the outer planets, instead of trying (unsuccessfully) to boss them around. In other words, the responsibility is no longer 'ours', it belongs to something bigger than our narrow selves.


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So this is how the lone individual assumes this impossible responsibility: by recognising that it is 'not my will but thine'. This is Saturn, at his 2nd Return aged 58 or so, giving us the broad shoulders that the community needs of us. We quietly know that they are not our shoulders, but something bigger than that, beyond that, to which we surrender. The outer planets. Spirit.

And we can surrender in part because we no longer care so much about our reputation, a concern of the 1st adult Saturn cycle. If everything f*&^s up, so be it, we can live with that and what people may say. (This also describes the way in which Saturn-ruled Capricorn, with its mastery of the tribal tried-and-tested norms, earns the right to move into rule-breaking, transpersonal Aquarius.) There is undoubtedly some broader purpose at work that we do not know about and may never know about.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Depth Psychology of Chiron

I occasionally try to do away with Chiron. He is, after all, only the size of the Isle of Wight. But he keeps coming back, one way or the other. So although I’m not going to give him planetary status, I will generally pay attention if he is aspecting something important in the chart. Like in my own case, conjunct the Sun and square the MC and sextile the Moon.

But that still often leaves me stuck for something to say. Which ‘bit’ of us is he? It’s not enough to say ‘the wound’ because lots of bits of us are problematic and painful. Besides which, Chiron was a wise teacher for the main part of his life, it was only later on that he got wounded by the poisoned arrow, and was in pain to such an extent that he tired of living. Catch: he was immortal. But he sorted that, giving up his immortality in exchange for Prometheus being released from his torment.

Both Saturn and Chiron have been described as bridges to the outer planets, and that seems a fairly sensible thing to say, given their positions in the solar system, on the boundary between the visible and invisible planets. It is the invisibility (to the naked eye) of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto that gives them a different character to the inner planets.

The way I’m thinking about Chiron at present is that he is the principle of the wound in the sense of that kind of difficulty and pain that can only be addressed by listening to the outer planets: he is precisely that principle you get in depth psychology that says that it is through our intractable, painful bits that we find our souls.

Imagine the outer planets as the molten core of the earth – uncontrollable, transformative and nuking everything in its path when it breaks through the surface crust. Chiron is that fissure deep underground, that fault line, through which the molten lava can erupt. And Saturn is the crust itself, the form of the earth, over which the lava flows. The outer planets are not always out of control and disruptive, particularly if we know how to listen to them. In this case Saturn is more like machinery erected at the surface to direct the raw power coming from below. An oil rig, something like that.

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So Chiron is this fissure deep underground. It cannot be sorted on its own terms, and it cannot be understood in terms of surface mechanics, earth movers and such like, ordinary psychology. No, for there is always this threat from below, or what appears as a threat. The threat that is actually our souls if we are willing to go there.

So this is why Chiron often represents a part of life - depending on where he is in the chart – that doesn’t work very well. You cannot patch him up, because there is always that roiling underneath. I think Chiron conjunct the Ascendant can be particularly difficult. The Asc is our basic ability to express who we are and make our lives work. With this placement you can bumble along in life with nothing quite working, nothing ever going anywhere, and that can go on for decades. And the problem is that you’re trying to do ‘normal’, you’re trying to live your life like everyone else does, but somehow your heart is not in it, and you feel inadequate because of that. But once you go bugger that, there’s this thing I’ve always wanted to do, it’s not going to earn me much probably and I don’t know if I’ll be any good at it but I’m going to do it, then your life can start to work properly – not in ‘normal’ terms, but in terms of you feeling there is something essential that is falling into place.

So Chiron is a ‘wound’, but not an ordinary one. He only appears as a wound, and that’s why it’s said to be incurable, because you can’t cure a wound that isn’t a wound. What ‘cures’ it lies in making what is immortal in you mortal, just like Chiron himself did, giving earthly expression to that other drumbeat you’ve always heard.

The Chiron wound can make you feel like you don’t want to go on living, just like Chiron the centaur felt. But I think it’s a case of not wanting to live on particular terms, not if life has to be like this.

In 1999 I took ayahuasca a couple of times in the Amazon jungle, and it made me aware of what I think was Chiron. It was a sense of deep pain, which I would experience from time to time anyway, but it became clear that that pain was what grounded me, connected me to the earth, it had a sort of weight to it. And then I became aware that I learnt from it, it was an ongoing source of learning. And it wasn’t something that could be put into words and certainly not to be psychoanalysed. It was uncomfortable, but very creative, and not to be ignored.

Previous to that, in the early 90s, I had driven myself into a corner by pressurising myself to ‘achieve’. And I ended up realising, like Chiron, that I didn’t want to live on those terms, I didn’t have a will to live if it meant living like that. I didn’t feel depressed or suicidal or anything, I just knew that I had to find a different way of being. This was as transiting Pluto was squaring my natal Sun-Chiron. And it was, appropriately, to do with work, my Sun-Chiron being in the 6th House. So I’ve had to spend years undoing the notion of ‘achievement’ in the way I work (note I also have natal Chiron square MC) or pushing and pressurising myself. That may work for some people, it’s quite ‘normal’ in a way, but it ain’t going to work if Chiron is involved in the 6th and 10th Houses. So it means I ‘do’ less, but what I end up doing has a quality that it never had previously.

So Chiron I think has this unconventional, outsider, even scapehorse quality to him. If Chiron doesn’t aspect anything major in your chart, you may be able to ignore him. But if he say conjoins your MC then you probably have something important to do in the world, and the ‘career’ aspect of your life will never feel right as long as you judge yourself in conventional terms. You need to do what the outer planets want you to do, and that can take a long time to come to fruition – it’s not like deciding to become a plumber and getting on with it. What you do may not have a name.

Gordon Brown, the last UK Prime Minister, has Chiron conjunct MC. Everyone knew he wasn’t Prime Minister material, but he was determined to get the top job, and he made a hash of it. But he also has another side to him, he is a feelingful bloke, he wants to be of help. He doesn’t preen himself, he has more humility than say Blair (another Chiron MC man). But because he wouldn’t, couldn’t listen to his Chiron, he ended up in a conventional job, making a hash of it. And the same with Blair, look how hated he is. You could say his faith foundation is a blundering attempt to get it right with Chiron. And George W Bush - Moon conjunct Chiron, Sun square Chiron: the debate about him has not been whether or not he was a bad President, but whether he was the worst or only second worst!

So I think Chiron can be a sort of curse if you haven’t got the wherewithal to step outside of conventional life and its expectations and judgements – and that can be a really difficult call for many people – and let the outer planets decide how you’re going to live.
(First published here in 2012)

Monday, February 03, 2020


In his speech today about the post B economy (he wouldn't say the word because, he says, it is history!) Boris Johnson flew the flag for free trade, claiming it has benefitted the world economy enormously. For some, it undoubtedly has. For others, not so. 

In his very readable book '23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism' by Cambridge Economics Professor Ha-Joon Chang, the author favours evidence over ideology, and shows how harmful free trade often is to developing economies. How do you start your own industries if your country is flooded with cheap goods from abroad? This is often the price countries have to pay for help from the IMF. Which of course is run by America.


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America was protectionist in its early days, it had to be. And now it is being protectionist in its attempts to sort the huge trade imbalance with China. This is Trump putting common sense before ideology. So Johnson is only presenting half the picture, and maybe as a politician that is necessary, up to a point.

But as we enter a new era of Saturn-Pluto in Capricorn, more protectionism seems almost inevitable. Saturn and Capricorn both like to set boundaries and curb excess. Pluto in Sag was globalisation and free trade (which of course is only ever partly free). Now we are having a corrective to its excesses. 

Words sometimes become value judgements, so globalisation, which often merely means shutting down your factories at home and using cheap labour abroad, is 'good'. And protectionism, which can mean fostering your home-grown industries and resisting a flood of cheaply made imports, is 'bad'. This is just ideology, it is not thinking. 

Cheap Labour in China (it will be the Philippines next) means that our goods become throwaway. I read that the average garment is now worn just 4 times. So with protectionism will come more expensive goods that we do not throw away so easily. This will be another manifestation of Saturn in Capricorn.

So I say bring on a bit more protectionism, and let us be more connected to what we buy by having more of those goods made at home. This, of course, is not astrology, just my opinion, but I think the astrology is on my side.

And here is maybe my biggest wish for Saturn-Pluto in Capricorn: that an age dawns where limits to economic growth are set, that quality and efficiency and sufficiency become the unthinking value judgements (given that we seem to have no other way of functioning collectively.) The transformative power (Pluto) of common sense (Saturn in Capricorn). The current era of endless economic growth is not sane in a very basic way. Collectives, of whatever political persuasion, are rarely sane. But maybe we will have a bit of sanity, at least for a bit.