Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It’s never too late to become a Virgin…

The US has a Federally funded programme which encourages young people to remain celibate until marriage. The programme is known as Silver Ring Thing, because the teenagers involved wear a silver ring (on their finger) as a sign of their commitment to celibacy.

According to BBC news, the US government is considering cutting the funding, following a report that one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease. And with some 750,000 teenage pregnancies a year, America has one of the highest teen birth rates in the developed world.

"This national programme which has wasted $1.5bn (£750m) of tax money is a failure and our teens are paying the price," says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood "We've been wasting money on programmes that don't work and we're seeing the consequences every single day."

“State governments receive federal money they must match to fund abstinence programmes. At least 17 states have opted out of the system and others have suspended funding while Congress investigates whether such programmes work.

Critics say there is no evidence that they delay sexual activity and teenagers who have taken a vow of virginity are less likely to use protection if they break their promise.”

Such teenagers do not get taught about contraception. As 15 year-old Mildred from Arizona says: "We get sex-ed classes in school and that should be where teens get the right information - but that isn't happening."

The argument in favour of abstinence is put by a Texan lawyer, who describes himself as a member of the religious right:

"I am convinced that abstinence is the only way for kids," he says. "You begin by teaching the consequences of bad behaviour and the benefits of proper behaviour and you do that in a way that a child can grasp. "Self control leads to a happy, joyful life. If we can learn to control the most basic of drives - the sex drive - for good, then we can control drugs, gangs, alcohol and abusive anger."

If you’ve already had sex, it’s not too late: Teenagers who do have sex before marriage are given another chance by becoming ‘secondary virgins’. "Of course, if you view virginity as number one, and you've slept with someone, of course it's going to be different and you can never go back - but that doesn't mean there's no tomorrow," explains Ashley, who also says she believes teenagers who experiment with sex are laying the foundations for troubled relationships later in life. "A lot of the young people I know who go around having experiences with lots of different people are just preparing themselves for not knowing how to be committed to somebody. Once you get into the practice of doing whatever you want, it's hard to change when you're older."

16 year-old Josh has this to say: "I have a lot of close friends and we pretty much agree on the same thing so we keep each other in line most of the time.”

There’s plenty of room for comedy in all this. Exactly how do Josh and his friends keep each other in line? Do they spray each other with hosepipes? And how exactly do you control the sex drive ‘for good’? Do you have a special box with a pink ribbon on it called ‘Sex Drive’ that you keep in the attic? And where does celibacy end and sex start? When you hold hands? Or is it more akin to Bill Clinton’s definition of sexual relations? And then there are the secondary – i.e. 2nd class – virgins. Do they have to stand in the corner? Are they infectious?

The Silver Ring Thing began in 1996, but it gained Federal funding in 2003 under one of George Bush’s faith-based initiatives. As a Brit, it’s gobsmacking that this sort of stuff could be taken seriously enough to be funded by a government. It’s understandable that a country might have small religious cults that think like this, but not mainstream society. OK, you have Catholic countries which are in theory like this, but they don’t seem to take it seriously. They just go to the confessional and everything is all right again.

Astrologically, I’d see it as Mars (sex drive) square to Neptune (loss and confusion) in the US chart. Mars in Gemini also suggests hypocrisy (like Eliot Spitzer, with his unaspected Sun in Gemini), as well as there being another side to the issue, which is the glamorization of sex that you get in advertising, the film industry and the media generally.

It is interesting that the Silver Ring Thing got Federal funding in 2003, at a time when Pluto was starting to oppose the US natal Mars at 21 Gemini, and squaring natal Neptune at 22 Virgo. It was an attempt at sexual (Mars) repression (Pluto).

So is there an answer? What would you say to a client who turned up with this aspect, who was by turns priggish and licentious? And liked to play cowboys (Mars-Neptune again) at weekends? I’m not sure what I’d say. But I might start with the Sun square Saturn that you get in the US chart, because this is the major character challenge. It makes for someone – or a country – who is very driven and achievement-oriented, but who over-identifies with this and can never get enough and is not at ease with himself, does not feel a solid confident foundation within himself.

A lot of stuff can come out in the sexual arena when we are imbalanced elsewhere. Sexual excess and compulsiveness can be a compensation for the lack of ease and pleasure in the rest of your life, which Sun square Saturn can easily lead to. Sexual repression can be an expression of guilt about bodily pleasure (and the US has no personal planets in earth) and self-loathing: the over-achievement of Sun square Saturn can be a sort of compensation for this self-loathing.

So this is what I might say: as long as you keep driving yourself like this, as long as you have to keep proving you are number one (negative Saturn is very hierarchical), sex is going to remain a tangled and compulsive issue for you. If you can stop and face yourself, and stop running from the imaginary abyss beneath your feet, then your Mars will have a chance to be a bit more normal. Or as normal as Mars in Gemini square Neptune can ever be! If you want normal, try Mars in Capricorn, which is an expert at the missionary position and doing its bedroom duty. Mars in Gemini is more interesting and experimental and – square Neptune – imaginative.

But what about George Bush Himself, who was ultimately responsible for funding the Silver Ring Thing under his ‘faith-based initiatives’ scheme? I never think of GWB as having a sexual dimension, and I sometimes wonder where it is. I can say for sure that he has had sex at least twice in his life, because he has 2 daughters. Do George and Laura pray together for forgiveness afterwards? Do women have orgasms in his world?

What I feel with GWB is that he views sex as something to be controlled, and has channelled much of his own urge into the pursuit of power. This is complete speculation on my part. His ancestor Richard Bush was a member of the Plymouth Colony 300 years ago, and GWB seems to me to be a throwback to those times.

He has unaspected Mars in Virgo. So it may be quite easy for him to shovel his sex drive off to one side, for it is not well integrated with the rest of his personality. Virgo can have integrity, but can also be moralising, prudish and hypocritical. Virgo is the virgin, but is also associated with ‘oriental moon ecstasies’ (Frances Yates, Astrea, p32). Where does George Bush get his ecstasy? Probably in that more war-like manifestation of his Mars, whether it was blowing-up frogs as a kid, sending record numbers to the execution chamber while Governor of Texas, or creating carnage in his war against Islam.

NB Since publication it has been pointed out that Bush's daughters are twins, so we can only be sure that him and Laura have had sex once. Also, he had a reputation when he was in the Texan National Gurad for his taste in coke and hookers. There's the other side of prudish Mars in Virgo. Classic!

Site Meter

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pluto and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

From the New York Times:

“The Justice Department has told Congress that American intelligence operatives attempting to thwart terrorist attacks can legally use interrogation methods that might otherwise be prohibited under international law…

Determining the legal boundaries for interrogating terrorism suspects has been a struggle for the Bush administration.”

This is Pluto in Capricorn: setting the boundaries (Capricorn) around torture (Pluto). I think it’s also a measure of how hideous the present US administration is, that you end up with this sort of debate. It’s like something from a horror spoof.

But it’s no surprise given that the 2005 Presidential Inauguration chart has a Mars-Pluto in Sag conjunction in the 8th House: secret (8th House) torture (Pluto) in a war of ideologies (Mars in Sagittarius). The 8th House suggests that while practices like waterboarding are being publicly debated, the CIA under Bush may well be getting up to much worse stuff that the legal system never gets to hear about.

But at the same time, does the US do anything that other countries do not do? At least it is more out in the open and subject to public scrutiny, which I think is a good thing. Of course, it also means that some practices become formally legitimised and therefore more widespread. It’ll be the local police force wanting to use waterboarding next.

It was the Gestapo, incidentally, who came up with the term 'Refined Interrogation Techniques' as a euphemism for torture. The Bush administration also has 'Special Methods of Questioning', 'Extraordinary Rendition' (for kidnapping), 'Sleep Management' and 'Stress Position'. The themes of political misuse of language and government control are central to George Orwell's 1984, a book whose time may have come under Pluto in Capricorn. I'm not suggesting that society will end up fully like Orwell suggests it could, rather that these themes are likely to be strongly present and strongly debated.

Site Meter

Saturday, April 19, 2008

So Who is it that is Brainwashed?

416 children have been taken by police from a Mormon sect in Texas, amid claims that under-aged girls are being forced into marriage.

The case is now in court, and ‘one expert on children in cults told the court that the girls may have believed that marrying much older men was their free choice because they had been raised in that belief. "Obedience is a very important part of their belief system," said Bruce Perry.

Although many of the adults and children at the YFZ ranch seemed emotionally healthy, the sect's belief system was "abusive", he added. "The culture is very authoritarian."

I can’t in principle see the difference between this and the way children are raised in the wider culture. Both involve brainwashing. Look at the pressure kids are under at school to perform from an increasingly young age. Their teenage years, a formative time when they often no longer know who they are, are devoted to cramming information into their heads in order to pass exams.

Their ability to do this is taken as a measure of their intelligence, and has a long-term effect on their lives. It determines whether or not they become ‘winners’ or ‘losers’: they are brainwashed into believing that when they grow up they must ‘succeed’ in certain very narrow ways, and adults who cannot play this game usually find it very hard not to have a low opinion of themselves.

So when the cult expert told the court that the girls didn’t in fact have free choice about marrying older men because they had been raised in that belief, he was opening a huge cultural can of worms, as well as a very tricky question. As usual, the wider culture is wanting to project its own problems onto a deviant minority, unaware that it suffers from exactly what it is (rightly) accusing the Mormons of.

The question is tricky, because what people consider to be their free choice as adults often involves elements of brainwashing from when they were kids; in fact this brainwashing easily comes to determine the whole course of their lives. At the same time, adults need to be free to act from their brainwashing if they so wish. Just let’s not be under any illusions that this is often all that ‘freedom’ is.

All societies have brainwashing, there is nothing unique about ours. Look at Christianity in medieval Europe, and the very rigid world-view that people had to adhere to. But when you are in it, it does not seem like brainwashing, it just seems to be how things actually are.

This is a good Pluto in Capricorn subject, because Capricorn deals with conformity, and Pluto with the power used to get that conformity. So while the next 16 years will probably produce a lot of pressure to think and act like our neighbours and like the government wants us to – and entering into uncertain times, these pressures always increase – they may also bring more awareness of this particular shadow (Pluto) that is raised by Capricorn.

Site Meter

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Papal Bull

The Pope is currently visiting the US. He is giving his Church there a hard time over the paedophile priest scandal. He has also said the following: "We will absolutely exclude paedophiles from the sacred ministry…. What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today?" Ah, now I understand: the problem of paedophile priests has nothing to do with the Church and everything to do with American culture. And if it does have anything to do with the church, it is the American church and not the Vatican at which we must point the finger.

The Vatican is well known for providing a refuge from the law for its paedophile priests, when it hasn’t been able to quietly move them on to other parishes where they can carry on as before. The Roman Catholic Church considers itself to be above the law, and so does not have a problem with protecting and covering-up for these people.

At the same time, I don’t want to demonise the paedophile priests – demonising anyone is unhelpful, however bad they are, it’s a way of making ourselves feel good. And paedophiles are the modern witches in this respect. The problem that a lot of these priests have is arrested emotional and sexual development. They are shut away in seminaries at a formative age and encouraged to feel guilty about their sexual impulses. These celibate retards in skirts are then let loose on the community in a position of spiritual guidance, and the power that comes with that.

No wonder there is a mess. Pope Benedict cannot address the real issues because to do so would involve changing some of the church’s basic attitudes. He is known for having a phenomenal intellect and subtle mind, but he has spent his life putting those abilities in the service of the church’s stupidity. As such, I do not view him as an intelligent man.

Before he became Pope he spent 24 years as “Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Holy Office, the historical Inquisition.” In common parlance, he was known as the previous Pope’s ‘Enforcer’. It was a hard cop-soft cop act, so that John Paul II could appear saintly while someone else did his dirty work for him. This is a fairly common strategy for people in positions of spiritual authority.

The role of Prefect of the Congregation is best known for matters relating to Doctrinal enforcement. And in Joseph Ratzinger’s case (as he then was, of German origin), he came down hard on some of the South American liberation theologians. Other issues also prompted condemnations or revocations of rights to teach.

Ratzinger also had authority over other matters including clerical sexual misconduct. In 2001 he issued his notorious “Crimen Sollicitationis”, which affirmed and clarified the Church’s right to keep secret its own investigations into clerical sexual misconduct. In other words, he legitimised the cover-up that was going on. Under normal circumstances, he could have been prosecuted for inciting people to withhold from the police information pertaining to serious crimes.

So for him to announce in the US that he is deeply ashamed of the paedophile priests, without acknowledging his own role in allowing, even encouraging it to continue is deeply hypocritical. But hey, we are dealing with the Catholic Church, so what do you expect? Just don’t get caught up in the popular fantasy that he is ‘spiritual’. Remember it is a ghoul that you see waving mildly to the crowds from the Popemobile.

Roman Catholicism is the largest single religious denomination in the US, accounting for 23% of the population. I can understand it as a sort of tribal affiliation, I think that’s OK. But to take its rigid and fantastical doctrines seriously is another matter, and I’ve no doubt that many Catholics have enough sense not to do so.

Ratzinger was born 16 April 1927 at 4.15am in Marktl, Germany. He has some very nice bits to his chart – Sun in Aries trine to Neptune; Jupiter Rising in Pisces. This gives him a strong connection to the mystical, the spiritual, to God. This is fundamental to his personality. On its own it’s pretty saintly. Stick in Saturn in Sagittarius in the 9th, and you have a religious leader, a Pope. (The Dalai Lama also has Saturn in the 9th House. The last Pope had Pluto in the 9th.)

But then you have Moon in Libra square to Pluto in Cancer. The Moon is less obvious than the Sun, and Pluto tends to be hidden. Here you have the murk, the appetite for power and control and the ruthlessness which Ratzinger may not be very aware of. It is his Shadow, and what he personally identifies with are probably the saintly bits.

With Pluto in Cancer in the 4th House, he is fiercely protective of his own tribe and its traditions. He also has a Mars-Node conjunction in the 4th, which adds to this quality. And it is a blind quality, for it led to the cover-up over the paedophile priests. It is a ‘My country, right or wrong’ sort of attitude. Under the saintly surface, what we see operating in this man is Pluto at its most primitive and pre-human. He has the Node there as well, so in theory this lifetime involves him coming to understand this aspect of himself. But he was 74 when he issued his Crimen Sollicitationis, so he seems to be in no hurry to learn.

By transit, Pluto is currently opposing his Mars-Node conjunction, so the issue is being activated. At present, he sees it as ‘out there’, as we can see in his criticism of the American Church. But as the transit progresses, the issue may come closer to home, he may find himself under fire as well. This is the way oppositions often work: they begin by being projected ‘out there’, and gradually we come to see (if we are open to it) that it involves us as well.

This Pope is destined to have a strong relationship with not just the US Catholics but with the US as a nation. The US Sibly chart has Sun at 13 Cancer square to Saturn at 15 Libra. Ratzinger has Moon at 14 Libra square to Pluto at 14 Cancer. This is a very powerful connection, and it has a lot to do with power (Pluto) as well as the US Presidency (Sun). So no wonder George Bush (with Sun at 14 Cancer square to Moon at 17 Libra), in an unprecedented move, greeted him. And it was perfectly timed: Ratzinger’s Progressed Sun is currently at 13 Cancer in an applying conjunction to the US Sun.

So we are going to need to watch this space over the coming years. Roman Catholicism is a huge political constituency in the US, and via that constituency the Pope looks likely to be having a huge influence on the US.

It is no doubt Tony Blair’s dearest wish that his friend George should convert to Catholicism, like he did himself last year. The Pope and George Bush are both fundamentalist Christian by nature. Maybe, with their mutual hostility to Islam, it is simply a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend; but with the Pope’s Pluto-Moon square tightly conjunct to Bush’s Sun-Moon square, I think we are likely to see a very strong relationship developing between these 2 Plutonian men.

In 2006, the Pope made the following statement during a speech: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” I am sure he has a willing adherent in George W Bush.

Site Meter

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Of Tibetans and Void Moons

In my Monday posting, I commented that the chart for the Tibetan protests has Sun conjunct Moon in Pisces (10 March 1959, 7am, Lhasa, Tibet), and that Pisces is not a very good place for starting things, as we have seen with the Iraq War, which has Sun at 29 Pisces.

What someone pointed out at our astrobabble group last night was that the Tibetan Uprising Chart also has a Void Moon. So it really was a lost cause from the word go, and there has never been any serious pressure on China to relax its hold on Tibet.

A Void Moon occurs when the Moon is not going to make any major in-sign applying aspects with any planets before it leaves the sign it is in. The Moon traditionally activates the other planets, transmits their energies to earth. So on a Void Moon nothing can happen.

In the Tibetan Chart the Moon is at 25 Pisces, and all the other planets are at less than 25 degrees, so that is clearly void.

The Titanic set sail on 10th April 1912 at 12pm from Southampton, UK. The Moon was at 29.36 Capricorn. This is a Void Moon. It is in an applying conjunction with Uranus, but Uranus is at 3 Aquarius, so it is out of sign and does not count. If they’d waited ½ an hour, the Moon would have changed sign and no longer been Void, and their journey would have stood a much better chance of completion.

Now for a qualifier: I don’t think it’s necessarily the case that a Void Moon is an unwise time to start things. In the ordinary way, if you are making plans, it certainly is an unwise time. But I think a Void Moon also works a bit like Pisces: there is a gap that we cannot fill with plans, but through which energies and events can pass if we get out of the way. It is a place of Magic rather than Will.

So the Void Moon can be seen as very potent in a particular way, while being impotent in the usual ways.

And I think this says a lot about Tibet, which has not just Sun conjunct Moon in Pisces, but a Void Moon as well. They certainly chose their moment to rise up against the Chinese! It has doomed them to failure in the ordinary sense, it just isn’t going to work.

But it is also a chart of modern Tibetan aspirations, and it is an extremely good chart for maintaining the magical traditions for which they are known. What I’d say to Tibetans inside Tibet is OK, you need to press to be treated better by the Chinese, but if you quietly keep practising your native Bon and Buddhist traditions, they will flourish, you will have an enormous power working through you that the Chinese can do nothing about, and they may hardly even notice it.

Sun conjunct Moon in Pisces in the 12th House plus a Void Moon: I can hardly think of a combination that is more potent for channelling magical power, for being collectively guided from a higher source. And it means that, however much the Chinese oppress them, the Tibetans will probably remain an inspiration to the rest of the world. As China’s economy expands, it is being forced to have stronger and more open relationships with the rest of the world, and it becomes less easy for China to operate in the old authoritarian ways. This means that, over time, the influence of Tibet as a ‘spiritual’ tradition, as the guardian of much that we in the West have lost, may increase.

Site Meter

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Tibetan Protests

The Olympic torch was carried through London yesterday (6th April) and, as has happened in other countries, it was used as an opportunity by the Tibetans and their sympathisers to protest against Chinese rule. Today the protests have continued in Paris. It is a controversial tactic, but the Tibetans have been so victimised while the world looks on, doing nothing, that I can’t say I blame them.

What China has done in stealing Tibet for itself seems to me to be no different than what the USA did in 1848 in pinching 40% of Mexico; or what the British did, as another Empire, in conquering India. The trouble is that these days you can’t get away with it so easily, even if it is Manifest Destiny.

Since its annexation by the Chinese in 1950, the plight of Tibet has gained enormous sympathy in the West. This has been helped not just by western opposition to communist expansion, but also by the spiritual hunger of the west, which has projected its ideals onto cultures like the Native Americans and India and the Tibetans, who seem to embody something completely ‘other’.

Of course, you can only ultimately satisfy this hunger within yourself, but a bit of outside assistance, even from a very foreign culture, can help us along the way. At the end of the day, though, it comes down to being able to recognise what is real, and staying true to that. It is very simple, but it can take a long time to get there – and when you do, you realise that most people don’t live like this, especially, perhaps, ‘religious’ people.

Tibetan resistance to its occupation has also been characterised by peaceful protest, and this has been a very genuine reason why there has been so much western sympathy to its plight. The western perception of Tibetan spirituality is not just projection, there is also something very real in it. And the Dalai Lama, the leader in exile, has been a wonderful example to the world. He is far from your average hierarch, whether political or spiritual. He is very human, very down to earth, he has humility and humour and compassion and sense. So it’s no wonder us westerners feel so strongly about the Tibetan cause.

The Chinese occupation has been very bad, but not all bad, even though the Tibetans are now treated as second class citizens in their own country. Recently, for example, I read about a young Tibetan woman who had been married in the traditional way: against her will and at 12 hours notice, to a young man of the local shaman’s choosing. She was bitterly upset, because it closed down so many opportunities that modern life, through the Chinese occupation, had brought about. Over the next few years she was also married to some of the brothers of her husband, in the old tradition that ensured that farmland did not get subdivided between too many heirs as it passed down the generations

Below is the Dalai Lama’s chart, which I am putting up purely because it is delightful and unusual. Sun-Asc in Cancer in a watery Grand Trine with Saturn and Jupiter, making a kite through the Moon-Neptune conjunction in Virgo. There is a huge amount of watery harmony in this chart, the man is no emotional retard, he is the King of Cups. Saturn in the 9th is a religious leader. But then Moon opposite Saturn: he was required to be grown-up from a very young age. Even as a child he was revered, and the chart is saying this would not have been easy for him. There would have been a lot of expectations (Saturn) placed on him instead of the unconditional love that a child needs. Moon conjunct Neptune points to a capacity in himself for unconditional love, but it also suggests a certain loss (Neptune) of his childhood (Moon) due to the expectations (Saturn) placed on him. Being the King of Cups, however, he seems to have come out of it OK: Moon opposite Saturn even describes this Tarot card.

The other challenge is Mars in Libra square to both Sun and Pluto. The Dalai Lama has clearly found the middle way, the higher resolution of what you would normally find with these aspects: either a difficulty in asserting yourself and in knowing what you want, or an aggressive and violent temperament. He has used the dynamism in these aspects to find the highest expression of Mars: the capacity to steadily assert yourself and take action, but with an understanding that violent opposition will not achieve any end worth having. His non-violent stance isn’t just a religious principle or an emasculated aspiration. It is real, and the square aspects suggest it is something he has had to find and develop for himself.

Tibet has such a long history that it’s not really possible to establish a chart for it. But its modern aspirations could be said to have begun at the first uprising against the Chinese on 10 March 1959, somewhere between 6.30 and 7am. (Source: Nicholas Campion’s Book of World Horoscopes). The present protests began on the anniversary, 10th March.

What is immediately apparent about this chart is Sun conjunct Moon in Pisces and, like the Dalai Lama, Sun square to Mars. Pisces is at the opposite end of the Zodiac to Aries. Aries loves to take action and to oppose, even blindly. Pisces as the 12th sign is the old soul of the Zodiac, and perfectly describes the emphasis on non-violence that the Tibetans have had in their opposition (Sun square Mars) to Chinese rule. But it is also the sign of suffering and victimisation which the Tibetans have had to undergo. Pisces is not a good sign for beginnings, as we have seen with the Iraq War, which started with the Sun at 29 Pisces.

So this chart does not make me very hopeful that the Tibetans will ever be able to do very much about their situation. It is an excellent chart for them continuing to be an inspiration to the world for their (relatively) non-violent stance. There are now more Chinese living in Tibet than Tibetans, and it has become their homeland, you can’t just kick them out. The most the indigenous Tibetans can hope for is that they will one day not be treated so much as second class citizens. It’s hard to know if the current protests will help their situation, or whether it will just make their overlords clamp down even more. Meanwhile, I for one will continue to cheer them on.

Uranus is currently passing over the Tibetan Sun-Moon conjunction, and will be doing so for another couple of years. So the present phase of protests is likely to continue for a while yet. And as it's Uranus, you don’t know what’s likely to happen. It could be about more freedom for the Tibetans, or it could be about the other face of Uranus, a reactionary backlash by the Chinese.

Site Meter

Friday, April 04, 2008


Zimbabwe is currently at a critical stage in its history, with the result of a general election still undecided, but which looks like it may bring to an end the rule of Robert Mugabe, that has brought the country to ruin. The whole world is watching.

Zimbabwe came into being at 00.00 hours on 18 April 1980 in the capital, Harare. The Sun conjunct IC in Aries reflects the war (Aries) over who ruled the country (Sun) that are at its origins (IC). The Sun is also opposite Pluto in Libra, emphasising the power struggle out of which the country arose. But it was also genuinely a struggle for fairness and justice (Libra), as a tiny minority of white people ruling the country were eventually displaced.

Unfortunately this Sun opposite Pluto is Zimbabwe's future as well as its past, and aptly describes the malevolent dictatorship that has arisen under Robert Mugabe. (cf Iran, which also has Sun in Aries opposite Pluto in Libra.) The Sun is also in a Grand Trine with Mars and Neptune, reflecting the ease with which violence and deception has become part of this regime. The economic meltdown that Zimbabwe is currently experiencing, for example, is described by Mugabe as a necessary pain that the country has to go through in order to shake off the western powers trying to control the country.

What has been disastrous for the country are the so-called ‘land reforms’ which began in 2000. The idea for a long time had been that more of the white owned farms needed to be run by skilled black people, but the way it was done was haphazard and brutal, with farms often ending up in the hands of Mugabe’s cronies. The farms had been the source of Zimbabwe’s wealth. Many of them are now inoperative, hence the economic meltdown and widespread famine.

2 years after the ‘land reforms’ started, Uranus crossed the country’s 2nd House (wealth) cusp, reflecting the economic instability that was coming in. Uranus will remain in the 2nd House for another 3 years, so whatever the outcome of the current Presidential election, it is going to take several years for the country to at least start to reach some sort of economic stability. The trouble is, Neptune will soon be entering the 2nd House, reflecting a possible economic miracle, but also the possibility of further meltdown. The only way the country can get back on its feet is through stable government, that will bring back the tourist industry, and that can address the difficult task of getting the farms run competently again, but without going back to the old unfairness of having them predominantly white-owned. Neptune will be in the 2nd House until 2024: 16 years does not seem at all unrealistic as a time-scale for getting the country back on its feet.

Progressions come into their own when considering the charts of countries, because they can be used to describe the long phases that a country will go through, particularly if you are using the planets from Jupiter outwards. The rise and fall of the (second) British Empire, for example, is described by the Direct Prog Pluto cycle in the 1801 Chart which lasted from 1755 to 1957.

At any rate, Zimbabwe’s Progressed Sun is currently at 25 Taurus. It first came within a degree of opposing natal Uranus in 2005, reflecting the political (Sun) instability (Uranus) that intensified as the economy went into freefall. Since then the Prog Sun has also opposed Prog Uranus, and will finally be a degree away from both of them in September this year. So the political instability of the last few years will finally be coming to an end.

At present the results of the election are being withheld, probably as a ruse by Mugabe to somehow try to hang on to power, and there may be a run-off between himself and Tsvangirai over the Presidency. One way or the other, the astrology seems to be saying that Mugabe will be out of power by September, if not sooner, because he is the ongoing cause of the political instability, and that instability is coming to an end.

At the same time, unless Zimbabwe goes through some sort of rebirth, it will still have Sun opposite Pluto in its chart, so it is likely to continue to have some sort of ‘strongman’ in charge, like much of Africa. Even South Africa seems to be headed that way with Jacob Zuma having become head of the ANC, and quite likely to be the next President.

Site Meter

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Barack Obama and the Collective Shadow

Despite repeated predictions to the contrary by the self-styled UK’s No 1 Astrologer , it’s now looking pretty certain that Hillary Clinton will not make it to the White House. This is because Obama’s lead in the Democratic nomination race is looking increasingly unassailable, and the calls to Hillary Clinton to stand down are growing. According to the Huffington Post on Sunday, the second stage of voting in Texas is likely to increase the gap to nearly 600 delegates, with Obama on 1858 and Hillary on 1270.

In a sense what matters is that it has been a great contest. It reminds me of the Borg-McEnroe matches at Wimbledon in the late seventies, when you had two great champions battling it out for hours and hours. In a sense, it didn’t matter who won, though of course it mattered absolutely to each of the contestants, as it has to. What mattered was that each of them had been tested to their utmost, bringing us moments of brilliance, and this is what awes us as spectators. And it’s been a bit like this with Clinton-Obama, two worthy candidates giving their all for a great prize, with the whole world watching over a period of months, under a prolonged Mars-Pluto opposition. Indeed, as the contest reached its first peak on Feb 5th (Super Tuesday), Mars in the sky could be seen to station between the tips of the horns of the Bull. What an omen!

Obama has been Borg, the cool restrained one, whereas the McEnroe vitriol has lain more with the Clinton camp. Though not everyone likes Hillary, even as the loser she will emerge with increased stature for the battle she has fought, she will receive a standing ovation that will be genuine and earned at the Democratic Convention.

In the last few days Mars has finally moved out of opposition to Pluto, and will this Friday (4th April) complete the retrograde cycle that began last November. So it is possible that Hillary will stand down sooner than we think, as the planetary configuration governing this battle comes to an end. Even if she doesn't stand down, there is likely to be a growing sense that the contest is over.

Obama’s journey so far can be seen in Jungian archetypal terms, with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright being, in my opinion, Obama’s greatest benefactor during this period.

What we find in Jungian psychology is the journey from Young Hero to Wise Old Man, and necessary encounters with the Shadow and Anima, or Feminine, along the way. These encounters deepen the Young Hero, who begins with wonderful ideals, and a desire to complete some enormous task that will save the world (this is my way of putting it, not Jung’s.) But he is naïve, he sees the world in black and white terms, good guys versus bad guys. He, of course, is aligned with the Good. (I’m putting all this in male terms for now, but it translates quite easily into female terms).

It was during this naïve Young Hero phase that we encountered Obamania, when the saintly saviour archetype was projected strongly onto him by many people, and not just by young or uneducated people either. There was rightly a reaction in the opposite direction by many other people.

And then, as Pluto stationed in March, we heard the voice of the Underworld, of America’s Shadow in the form of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s long-time pastor. He vomited out great gobbets of unwelcome truth: "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye...and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

And again: “And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent, she failed. She put them on reservations... When it came to putting the citizens of African descent fairly, America failed... The government put them on slave quarters...Put them in inferior schools... Put them in the lower paying jobs. Put them outside the equal protection of the law. Kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education, and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strike law and then wants us to sing God Bless America. Naw, naw, naw. Not God Bless America. God Damn America! That's in the Bible. For killing innocent people. God Damn America for treating us citizens as less than human. God Damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God and she is Supreme.”

Pluto was not just stationing: he was opposite Obama’s natal Venus in Cancer. Venus is to do with both personal relationships and, in a politician, popular appeal, the relationship with the electorate. And Cancer concerns home and family and tribe. So it was a potent brew for Obama personally. He was being called upon to acknowledge his origins, his roots, his tribe, and the way they see their country.

“God damn America.”

It doesn’t get much more shadow than this. Yet how can you love your country if you don’t also detest its flaws? What does it mean to say you love your country if you paint out the bits you don’t like? Obama performed a pretty nifty dance in his response to the release of the Wright video. He gave a speech, “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.” He said some good, inspiring stuff in his usual, eloquent way, and it was good politics.

And he made it clear that though he denounced in the strongest possible way Wright’s views, he did not disown the man (laughter). My laughter is sympathetic. When a man like Wright holds a view so strongly, you cannot separate the man from the view. He IS his views. So in not disowning Wright, Obama is being true to his origins and, despite himself, true to a certain way of seeing America, true to a side of himself that he had not wanted to volunteer to the public until he was forced to by Wright. Whatever Obama might have said in response to Wright, however movingly and genuinely and passionately and eloquently he wriggled, the fact is that Obama has been around this man for 20 years and has considered him his spiritual mentor. That history speaks far louder than anything Obama might now say.

To me it says that almost despite himself, Obama can be trusted, that he genuinely is a voice for unity and not for polarisation. In politics, polarisation is the norm. You win your appeal in part by standing for one section of the population against another. Like George Bush, who seemed not to care about the fate of New Orleans, in a way that would have been inconceivable had it been say Boston. Like the Tory party in the UK, who tend to favour the rich over the poor. Or Labour, who in the past were the opposite. In England, it is now the upper classes who are demonised, who are seen as fair game for ridicule. You cannot do this to the ‘working classes’. (I recently read that in the US it is easier to talk about race than about class).

I think it is remarkable for a politician to acknowledge a country’s shadow without one-sidedly identifying with it. And in Obama’s case, his Venus in Cancer is conjunct the US Venus in Cancer. So via the current Pluto transit to them both, Obama's shadow and the American Collective Shadow are connected, he can articulate it and authentically speak for it. The Shadow is what we are ashamed of. To some extent Obama is ashamed of his roots, as he was forced into speaking about them. But he has in his own way acknowledged his roots, and people are still voting for him. This means that in some way America also is acknowledging its Shadow, which is a profound and wonderful event.

So Obama has passed the test, and has gained stature. He is no longer merely the angel of light come to save America, there is now something difficult and unstraightforward about him that gives him depth.

As for the other 2 archetypes, the Anima and the Wise Old Man, it is interesting how they all seem to be appearing very clearly around Obama. We’ve seen Wright and the Shadow, but we also have Hillary Clinton as the Anima, and the ‘Wise Old Man’ John McCain. I’m not sure how these figures work for Obama, but he has certainly had a full-on encounter with the Anima through Hillary. She may not be conventionally feminine, but she is certainly female of a certain type, and love her or hate her, Obama has had to deal with her and probably learn from her. He has yet to do battle with John McCain, but McCain is his own man, and will not be a pushover.

So it is as though, looked at in Jungian terms, the process of (possibly) becoming President is also a process of psychological integration for Barack Obama, which can only be a good thing.

Site Meter