Thursday, May 22, 2008

Human-Animal Hybrids, Chiron in Aquarius and the Madness of Worldlings

3 days ago the UK Parliament voted to allow the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for research purposes. In the US, a Federal law is being proposed to ban such practices.

I last wrote about this subject just over a year ago, when the Bill was first proposed. I remain divided on it. I have a visceral response, running alongside a mistrust of the scientific establishment, that says no. But I can also see that a lot of good can come out of it. These embryos will have to be destroyed after 14 days, early enough in my opinion for nothing significant in the way of consciousness to be present. But I can’t prove that, and I may be wrong. So I am cautiously in favour of this research.

At the same time Parliament has passed a number of other related matters: allowing the creation of so-called ‘saviour siblings’, removing the need for a father with IVF treatment, and voting down a proposal to reduce the time limit for abortions from 24 weeks.

What needs paying attention to in all this is the astrology. Chiron is currently stationing in Aquarius, and it is conjunct the North Node and stationing Neptune, also both in Aquarius. This is powerful stuff. Aquarius is associated with Science. Science tends to treat nature one-sidedly as an object of investigation, and ignores nature as subject with which we imaginatively identify. To this extent Science is inhuman. Chiron’s presence in Aquarius is pointing this out, he is saying be careful what you do while I am in this sign, for I am a centaur, I am nature, and I was wounded by the unthinking and heroic Hercules; likewise, you too can do irreparable damage in your heroic but unconsidered quest to manipulate and conquer nature.

With Chiron's conjunction to Neptune, there is the suggestion of the mad (Neptune) scientist, and the crossing of natural boundaries.

With Chiron’s conjunction to the Node, we are talking about long-term karmic lessons for humanity, and often the only way lessons can be learnt is for mistakes to be made. There was a Chiron-Node conjunction in Aquarius at the time of the first oil strike in 1859, and the parallels are obvious. There was also a Chiron-Node conjunction at the time of the first controlled nuclear reaction in 1942. With these precedents we can be pretty sure that Science is going to make some ghastly mistakes around the creation of human life. And probably do some wonderful things as well, like reducing the number of people born with crippling diseases.

As a bio-ethicist pointed out on TV the other night, what you are often dealing with in these situations is competing ‘Goods’. It is good, for example, that a baby has a father, and it is also good that lesbian couples can have children through IVF. People get very passionate about just one side or the other, and understandably so. But I don’t think that is reasonable or helpful, because there ARE 2 sides, and there are usually no easy answers.

There is one issue which for me does have an easy answer, and that is the need to reduce the time limit on abortion from 24 weeks. The pro- and anti-abortion arguments often seem to me to be riddled with wrong-headedness, because they easily ignore the central issue, which is that an unborn baby after a certain (hard to determine) point is a sentient human.

The scientific argument, which carries the day politically, is that abortion is OK if the baby could not survive outside the womb, and as medical treatment improves, so does the time limit go down. This argument is inhuman, it is Science at its worst. It is saying that if Science would not be able to save you once you are born, then you are not human, so we can kill you.

The pro-lifers have a certain amount going for them, but we are often dealing with ideology rather than experience. Does a newly fertilised egg, or even a few week old embryo, have consciousness in any substantial sense? It is hard to know, and we certainly can’t be dogmatic about it. Once you get dogmatic/ideological, you may still be right, but you’re right for the wrong reasons.

I think the ‘pro-choice’ camp also gets wrong-headed, because though choice is an important issue, it is a secondary one. The primary issue is that we are dealing with a sentient human consciousness and the responsibility towards that, in my opinion, needs to come first.

So abortion is complex, and can’t be boiled down to the slogans of pro-life versus pro-choice. It seems to me to be obvious that there is a sentient human being way before, even months before the 24 week time limit that we have in the UK. That said, determining a time limit remains a very difficult problem.

While I am on my soap box, I have had on my mind the Buddha’s saying from 2500 years ago that ‘All Worldlings are Mad’. The saying certainly makes its point. But Indian Buddhism was a monkish religion, and so there are overtones of the superiority of the renunciative lifestyle compared to us mere, ‘mad’ mortals.

All the same, the scientific argument for abortion concerning the viability of the baby outside the womb reminded me of this saying. How could any sane person think like this? Not just one person, but a large collective of people? Similarly, how could a large collective of people take as a moral good the idea of endless economic growth for its own sake, when resources are limited? And when economic activity has the purpose of meeting material needs, why are you promoting it for its own sake? Why does one race of people consider itself superior to another? And so on.

You can see that the Buddha was right, that what he said 2500 years ago applied then and now. Wisdom is about not having these insane attitudes. Wisdom is not about complicated theories, it’s about seeing what’s in front of your nose (which is something the education system can paradoxically knock out of you, it makes you both clever and stupid.) But it can be remarkably difficult to see what is in front of your nose when everyone around you can’t. What society has told you since you were young seems like self-evident truth, and we get a lot of psychological security from thinking like everyone else.

So I think this is the main reason that ‘all worldlings are mad’: that we take our opinions from those around us, and this incidentally means that crazy ideas can take root and become authoritative and respectable. Of course, no-one would ever admit to taking their ideas from those around them. And in my experience this applies just as much to educated people as it does to uneducated people, and to liberal thinkers as much as it does to conservative thinkers. The alleged connection between CO2 and global warming is a perfect example of this. It is a provisional and arguable truth that has been turned by collective thinking into an absolute truth that no 'reasonable' person would reject.

You start to get some wisdom when you have the inclination, and the psychological security, to look independently at what’s in front of you. ‘Ignorance’ comes from the word ‘ignore’, it is a wilful, albeit unconscious, act. Ignorance is thinking that you know when you don’t. Wisdom begins with realising that you don’t know, as Socrates said. OK, I’ll get off my soap box now.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

UFOs and Conspiracies

The British Government has just started releasing batches of previously classified UFO files after a number of requests under the Freedom of Information Act. The files document reported sightings of UFOs by members of the public and the RAF. With Pluto about to make its final visit to Sagittarius, the timing is appropriate. Eight files have been released, part of almost 200 to be released over the next 4 years.

Here are some drawings made by members of the public. (From the BBC news website.)
They include this diagram, whose author believed alien craft used decoy methods to avoid detection, carrying not humans but "fallen angels".

This drawing of a UFO was made from a description given by a 78-year-old man, who claims he was taken on board an alien craft at Basingstoke Canal in Aldershot during 1983.

This reproduction of a UFO was made by a Metropolitan Police officer after three officers saw an object at Stanmore in Harrow in 1984.

A 1979 government briefing for the House of Lords dismissed the idea of political collusion with aliens:

d. There has been no approach to Governments, and no direct knowledge of UFOs by Governments. Lord Clancarty has an answer: there is a great inter-governmental conspiracy of silence, initiated by the CIA.

15. The idea of the inter-Governmental conspiracy of silence is at once the most astonishing and the most flattering claim of all. On so few things can the Governments of the world agree unanimously, but they have all supposedly agreed to conceal the evidence of UFOs from their peoples. Let me assure this House that her Majesty’s Government has never been approached by people from outer space.

Personally, I have no reason to doubt that these experiences were real. And I'm sure they weren't all just mistaking aircraft for UFOs. Beyond that, I don't know.

It's an excellent subject for conspiracy theorists. I like the point about how hard it is to get governments to agree on anything, so what chance a world-wide conspiracy of silence? Of course there are things we don't get told. But I'm continually disappointed by conspiracy theories, because I'd love it if some of them were true. What I keep finding is that the people who promote these theories make very shoddy use of any available evidence or theories that don't agree with their own theory, and 'facts' are presented which turn out to be anything but. These people clearly have a strong psychological need to believe their theories, quite possibly rooted in a sense of powerlessness.

If anyone knows of a conspiracy theory where the case is well-argued, and both sides presented, please let me know! With Pluto entering Capricorn, a time in which we can expect more government control and secrets, we may be about to enter a Golden Age of conspiracy theories!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pluto and the End of History

In 1992 Professor Francis Fukayama published his book ‘The End of History and the Last Man’. In it he made the claim that:

"What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such... That is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

It always seemed to me a bit of a daft and complacent claim to make, but no different in essence to claims such as Jesus being the only son of god: it is religion rather than thought. But it fitted in well with American neo-conservative thinking. 11 years later Iraq was invaded on the grounds of bringing democracy to the Middle East (as well as on the grounds of WMD, Oil, the war on fundamentalist Islam etc).

It could be said that the invasion of Iraq will come to be seen as a high point in Democracy as an ideology, as an absolute truth to which other countries need to be converted. The attempt to convert Iraq to Democracy has failed, and all the US can hope for is an eventual and not-too-dishonourable withdrawal.

Democracy remains a potent idea, but like all such ideas it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It is also a form of government, and with Pluto entering the sign of government – Capricorn – it is timely that the idea of democracy has been coming under question.

Kuwait, for example, is a democracy with no shortage of oil reserves. Yet the country has been overshadowed economically by its dynamic neighbours — Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar — whose economies are booming under absolute monarchies.

According to the New York Times : ‘All this has left many Kuwaitis deeply disenchanted with their 50-member elected legislature. The collapse of the Bush administration’s efforts to promote democracy in the region and the continuing chaos in Iraq, just to the north — once heralded as the birthplace of a new democratic model — have also contributed to a popular suspicion that democracy itself is one Western import that has not lived up to its advertising.’

The neo-conservative Robert Kagan, in his new book "The Return of History and the End of Dreams", admits that history has not turned out like Fukayama said it would. His attitude seems to be exhortatory, a call to further battle against non-democracies. When I read some of his points, which I think in many ways are sound, I drew a different overall conclusion: that the idea of democracy as a universal good, to which the whole world needs eventually to be converted, is now on the wane, a turning point has been reached. Modern democracy is, of course, a western idea. In the Middle East for example, democracy as a universal good never was and probably never will be a potent idea.

According to BBC news, Kagan dismisses Fukayama’s satisfied pronouncement: "History has returned and the peoples of the liberal world need to choose to shape it or let others shape it for them. The world was not witnessing a transformation [as the Cold War ended], however, merely a pause in the endless competition of nations and peoples. Nationalism, far from being weakened by globalisation has now returned with a vengeance."

In particular he identifies autocracy as the new menace and singles out Russia and China. "The autocracies of Russia and China have figured out how to permit open economic activity while suppressing political activity. They have seen that people making money will keep their noses out of politics, especially if they know their noses will be cut off." He portrays the modern world as one of "global competition".

"It may not come to war," he remarks alarmingly, "but the global competition between liberal and autocratic governments will likely intensify in coming years."

What I found very interesting was this idea that “The autocracies of Russia and China have figured out how to permit open economic activity while suppressing political activity.”

The US has the idea that a thriving economy and democracy go hand in hand. In fact, much of the western world has this idea, because since the end of WWII all the richest countries have been democracies. The fact that the USSR went bust and collapsed just seemed to prove the point. (Via Marx, the USSR also had its own erroneous ideology around communism being the end of history).

Now, however, China is booming despite being a dictatorship. Kagan thinks ideologically, so he thinks his truth must be fought for all the harder. If you are not religious about it, however, you can see one of the main props underlying the idea of democracy collapsing. It is no longer the only route to a thriving modern economy.

This is a very significant shift. China’s rise, whether we know it or not, is changing the way the West thinks about its own system. With the demise of Christianity, Democracy has become one of our central, albeit secular, truths. It is not yet time to proclaim ‘Democracy is Dead’, but it is certainly undergoing a tectonic shift.

The US was the world’s first full democracy, in the sense that it did not, unlike the UK, have a monarch. (Though it was still some time before all adults had the vote.) I think that US history, and its idea of democracy, can be looked at in terms of the Pluto/Galactic Centre Cycle.

The Galactic Centre is the point at which our Galaxy revolves around itself, and there is thought to be a black hole there, or perhaps a double one. The GC moves slowly, taking approx 25,000 years to do a full cycle of the Zodiac. It is therefore associated with the biggest shifts in human consciousness. As is Pluto, with its mere 250 year cycle. As Pluto makes one of its rare passes over the GC – which it did in 2006/7 – it picks up new themes for humanity, and lets go of old ones.

Pluto last passed over the GC in 1760, just as revolutionary activity was beginning in the American colonies, activity that would eventually lead to American Independence and its new system of government (which the founders did not call democracy, but whose commitment to the principle of natural freedom and equality is seen as amounting to the same thing.)

Now, 250 years later, Democracy has had an astoundingly successful run, but seems to be reaching certain natural limits which did not seem to be there previously. The sign of Sagittarius under which this cycle has taken place indicates that it is religious truth, rather then e.g. scientific truth with which we are dealing.

This cycle also corresponds to the relentless expansion (Sagittarius) of American wealth and power (Pluto) that we have seen over the last 250 years. (See my post The Galactic Centre and American Power.) And again, limitations are now being encountered both economically and militarily. The US has lost ground relative to the rest of the world in recent years, for the first time ever, and there is no reason to suppose they will regain it. These reversals also correspond to the US Progressed Saturn and Mars both going Retrograde for the first time ever in recent years. Prog Mars went Retrograde during the Iraq War, which suggests this war will come to be seen as the point at which America went into slow reverse as a military power.

With Pluto having passed over the GC and brought the beginning of the end of Democracy conceived as a universal ideology, it is very timely that it is now entering Capricorn, which is a very practical sign. The next 16 years will see an emphasis on government that works and that, in foreign relations, advances the interests of the country. By the same token, Capricorn is about strong boundaries, and so we are likely to see a resurgence of nationalism, as Kagan also said.

To conclude, here are a few quotes about democracy:

Winston Churchill: Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried.

George Orwell: In the case of a word like DEMOCRACY, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.

Alex Carey: The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Tibet 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.

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.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Tragic Mr Brown

In the local elections in the UK this week, the Labour Party took a hammering. It was their worst result in local elections for 40 years. And it reflects very badly on Gordon Brown as Prime Minister.

About 4 years ago I predicted that Tony Blair would leave office at the end of 2007/early 2008, and that Gordon Brown would take over and be a ‘tail-end Charlie’. I was 6 months out with Blair, but the prediction with Brown seems to be coming true. Brown spent years desperate to be PM, and this desire of his was a major difficulty for the 10 years of the Blair administration. Unfortunately for Brown, his desire has been fulfilled at the end of a political cycle, with Labour having been in power for over 10 years, and a natural swing towards the Tories occurring.

So it’s all turning to poo for him, and he hasn’t even been in the job for a year. But it’s not just about the end of a political cycle. Gordon Brown was never suitable for the job in the first place, most people could see that, and yet he had such a position of power in the Labour Party that he couldn’t be stopped. No-one even stood against him in the election to become leader, it was a coronation. Labour was walking to its electoral doom, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Astrologically, Gordon Brown is the Invisible Man (half his chart in 12th House Pisces) yet who nevertheless has a deep need to be number one (Moon conjunct Pluto in Leo, below the horizon).

Click to Enlarge

The pity of it is that he does have a genuine Piscean passion for helping those in need, whether at home or abroad. During his time as Chancellor, he was able to direct loads of cash towards the public services while keeping the economy healthy. Historically, this was a considerable achievement. Previously, we either had Labour trashing the economy or the Tories trashing the public services.

From the word go as Chancellor, he created a reputation for super-competence. I think this was a Piscean trick, an ability to project an image, as much as it was genuine competence. After all, the whole western world was enjoying a long period of economic growth right up until the end of 2008, and all he had to do was not to get in the way of that, which again is a Pisces quality.

So while I’m appreciative of the fact that he kept the economy healthy while promoting the public services, I think his reputation was considerably overblown. He was in the right place at the right time, Tony Blair had created the political context for him, and all he needed was a reasonable amount of competence.

It’s obviously a strong need in him to be seen as brilliant (Moon conjunct Pluto in Leo), and while he was operating behind the scenes at the Treasury, he was allowed to indulge this need.

When he became PM in June 2007, he immediately pulled the same trick, as if by magic. Here was Mr Super Competent, the ultimate safe pair of hands. Remarkably, he managed to sustain this image for 3 or 4 months. But what worked at the Treasury was never going to work as PM. You need to be able to project yourself, people need to get a sense of you, and Brown is all hidden. Worse than that, his reputation for competence, which he had done so much to cultivate, began to disintegrate.

It wasn’t just the PR blunders, which you would expect and even to some degree forgive in such a man. It was actual policy. It was the ill-thought through cutting of Capital Gains Tax last autumn to match a Tory election pledge, but which penalised small businesses. It was the recent abolition of the 10p tax rate, which was going to leave some of the poorest people less well-off. Even the PR blunders leave you gawping. Like his recent visit to the USA, where he wanted his presence felt, yet he allowed it to clash with a visit by the Pope, which almost completely overshadowed Brown’s own visit. Tony Blair, or any reasonably competent politician, would never have allowed that to happen. “Why should I re-arrange my schedule for the Pope of all people?” you can hear the obstinate voice of the Manse saying. When it wasn’t the Pope, it was the controversy over the 10p tax rate that took the headlines during his USA visit.

The local election results make it clear that the current Labour administration is done for, and that Brown is walking wounded. This is a pity, for it affects the mood of the whole country. It is like what we had in the last years of the Major government in the mid-nineties. We don’t feel we have an effective government anymore, and yet you can be sure they will hang on to power for as long as they can, which in this case will be 2010. Labour needs a new leader, but they’re not going to have one. In the Major years, there was a cartoon of the PM as a sort of Superman-manque, with a pair of grimy underpants worn outside his trousers. If anything, this cartoon has more relevance now, for at least John Major never pretended he was Superman.

Brown has a Chiron-MC conjunction in Capricorn (as does Tony Blair), and in both cases you see this combination of ambition and achievement (Capricorn) with lasting damage/wounding (Chiron). In Blair’s case it was Iraq, from which his reputation will never recover: the war began during his Chiron Return.

In Brown’s case, the defining transit is Pluto conjoining his Chiron-MC. Brown’s Chiron is at 0.53 Capricorn. On the day of this week’s elections, Pluto was applying retrograde at 0.56 Capricorn. These elections have been a defining moment for Brown, and the astrology is also telling us this. Of course there is still his MC at 4.43 Capricorn, which Pluto will not reach until 2010, the probable year of the next election, and which will make his humiliation complete.

It is a political tragedy that will be unfolding over the next couple of years. It is a great story: the man who lusted after being king, who undermined a government for 10 years until he got his way, and then fell flat on his face because he’d never been suited to the job in the first place. Everyone could see it coming, and yet nothing could be done about it: a party and a country were held to ransom by this one man’s lust. What a story!

Whether there will be a concluding chapter to the Brown story in which he resurrects himself, I do not know. The tragedy for him is that he has real talents and passions which he ignores in his pursuit of power. He would, for example, make a great UN ambassador to Africa, or fund raiser for the third world. He has North Node in 12th House Pisces, and this is where he needs to go. Whether he can learn from his experience, learn about his own need for power, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile we have David Cameron and his band of old Etonians to look forward to as our rulers in a couple of years. But that's another story.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Barack Obama and Rev Wright: an Old, Old Story

In my post of 1st April, I looked at Barack Obama’s political journey in Jungian terms, as the idealistic young hero successively encountering the Shadow, Anima and Wise Old Man. This worked out very neatly as Rev Wright, Hillary Clinton (yes, she is female!) and John McCain respectively. Of course it is never quite as neat as that. Rev Wright has certainly been playing the Shadow archetype, the uncomfortable figure in the corner uttering all sorts of raw truths that are unacceptable to much of America, for they reveal its mistreatment of others, whether at home or abroad. Obama and Wright in happier days Obama has had to deal with this, and though he rejected Wright’s views, he did not reject the man himself. I don’t think you can in reality separate Wright from his views, so I think Obama’s political dance constituted a degree of acceptance of those views and the political constituency they come from. But Rev Wright is also the Wise Old Man archetype for Obama. He is a lot older than Obama and was his spiritual mentor for many years. Obama is a Leo, and like many Leos, there was a problem with absence/wounding in his biological father. Leo as a sign is ruled by the Sun, the source of all life, and it is their path to find this source for themselves and then radiate it to others, to encourage others just by their presence to become who they are. You can see this quality strongly in Obama. But as so often happens, we find our strengths precisely through where we have difficulties, where we have been weakened. And it’s almost like it’s necessary for many Leos that they should find themselves separated from the father-principle and the continuity of life that comes with that. In this way they are forced to find it for themselves, they know it can’t be taken for granted (and lazy Leos love to take things for granted). In finding their wellspring of life for themselves, it becomes uniquely their own: such individuality is a basic part of the Leo character. An absent father often leads in my experience to young men who are unmotivated, because they do not know who they are, they do not have confidence in their own talents. In Obama’s case, this absence has acted like a forcing house, he has been exceptionally motivated to find his own path through life. And it has had the quality of uniqueness to it, precisely because he has been forced to find it for himself. This was a quality the Chicago political insiders noticed in his rise to Senator, that he thought differently, that he had something new to offer. Rev Wright has recently taken the game one step further. He hasn’t just been uttering uncomfortable truths like 9/11 being the result of America’s foreign wrongdoings. He has descended into conspiratorial gibbering, for instance suggesting that AIDS was a racist plot by the US government. In a way this makes it easier for Obama to distance himself, but it is also more painful for him. This time he has had to go further and declare that Rev Wright is not the man he knew, and that his relationship with him has changed. Saturn castrates his father Uranus This issue has put Obama in the forcing house again. He went a considerable distance in becoming his own man in the face of rejection by his biological father. But he still, understandably, felt the need for a father-figure in the form of Rev Wright. He is being forced to grow out of this reliance as well, he is being forced to grow up and become fully independent through pitting himself against the adopted father-figure. This process is psychologically very important for Obama. And it is rarely a process that is neat and tidy. Rev Wright is also no doubt feeling equally hurt. There has been a father-son relationship, but the 2 men have grown apart. As Obama has grown up, his values have been shown to be different to Wright’s. Neither of them are ‘wrong’. Wright is the dispenser of home truths, tinged with paranoia yes, but let’s not expect perfection, which of us would not be like this in his position? Obama is a politician, he wants to be inclusive, he cannot afford to deal in truths that damn half the population. If you want people to change, you don’t damn them for their faults, and Obama wants change. Rev Wright was born 22 Sept 1941. He has Sun at 29 Virgo conjunct Neptune at 27.29 Virgo. Pluto is currently squaring his Sun by transit, and has 2 more crossings to make. The Sun is the father-principle. He is feeling torn apart, hurt, betrayed. As I write, Obama’s Progressed Sun is at 27.29 Virgo, conjunct Wright’s Neptune to the minute. If the chart we have for Obama is correct, Neptune is concluding its transit to his MC/IC axis at 19.29 Leo/Aquarius, which is a parental place. For Obama, the process of leaving Wright has been taking place for a few years, and is almost over. For Wright, the process is still new, he has been who he always was, and Obama’s ‘betrayal’ has been huge for him. This is an old, old story. Father has big hopes for son, the son needs the approval of the father. Son proves to have incompatible values to the father. They clash, each feels betrayed, for neither can see outside their own value system, neither understands that there are other ways of seeing the world. These other ways may be very limited, but you can’t expect people to be other than who they are. For both father and son, there is a big opportunity for growth. I think that Obama is actually doing this. He understands the truths that Wright has to offer, or he wouldn’t have been in his church for so long. But he also sees the narrowness and divisiveness of the way Wright holds those views, and he has said as much. The first stage is separation, and reconciliation, if it is possible, comes later. What we are seeing now is separation, with Obama rejecting not just Wright’s views, but this time the man himself. It is a cruel process, but a necessary one. Site Meter

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pluto, Ceres and the Fritzls

In the UK we like our monsters. For years child-killer Myra Hindley was our favourite. Every bit of tittle-tattle about her life behind bars, whether true or invented, would make the headlines of the tabloid newspapers. She died in 2002, and for a year we had to make do with Rose West, wife of serial killer Fred West. In 2003 Ian Huntley was convicted of murdering 2 schoolchildren, and since then we have again had a proper monster to gloat over. His ex-girlfriend Maxine Carr has also been dragged in as a subsidiary monster. She served a couple of years for covering-up for him, as many women would probably have done. She now has a new identity, but the press clearly know where she is. The headlines a few months ago were that she is pregnant, and what right does she have to bear children when the parents of the children Huntley killed no longer have theirs? Why should she get state benefits? Etc.

We may as well put these people in cages for all to see, for that is the effect of locking them up for life. But perversely, it seems to be a psychological necessity for the mob (and I won’t pretend not to read the headlines myself.) Many of us could not survive psychologically if we did not have somewhere ‘out there’ to put our shadows. That way we can continue to feel good about ourselves, because evil is safely somewhere over there. Our quantum of violence is the same. Just as the Romans needed their deadly games, and not so long ago we had public hangings, so too we now need our violent films and computer games.

I think these things may well be necessary for the stability of society, but they are also a reminder of how thin the veneer is, how quickly such forces escalate in times of insecurity and perceived threat.

The process of personal transformation often begins with projection, then recognition that this is happening, and finally acknowledgement and integration of the contents of our own psyche. So these monsters can serve a transformational purpose for the individual. We first need to get away from the gloating, from the enjoyment of how awful and ‘other’ these people are. This gloating can actually take us away from what they actually did, which is usually pretty awful, as well as the awareness that they are also ordinary people, that they are in many ways like ourselves, with certain very common tendencies taken to an extreme. In this way the projection gets withdrawn, and we are left facing ourselves. And it’s not a matter of finally owning up to how ‘bad’ we are – that’s just Christian – but of a broadening and enrichment of the personality. It’s better than you think!

In the last few days a new monster has appeared, Joseph Fritzl of Amstetten in Austria. People are genuinely horrified at what this man has done, you don’t even want to think about it. He abducted his 18 year old daughter 24 years ago and since then has kept her confined in underground rooms. He has had 7 children by her, none of whom got to see outside of the cellar for their first few years of life, until he took them away from their mother and fostered them upstairs. And the process of monstrification has also begun: ‘The beast in his lair’, ‘House of Horror Dad’ scream the tabloids. In the process what he has done becomes easier to bear, as it no longer has anything to do with us.

The President of Austria has gone on a PR offensive to restore the reputation of the country. Fair enough, but there is something about Austria and the abduction of young women. A couple of years ago there was the case of Natascha Kampusch, who was held captive for 8 years, from the ages of 10 to 18. And since 1996 there have been 2 other very public cases of girls being abducted. One was found in a coffin, the other in a closet. Natascha Kampusch was on the news last night saying these abductions had to do with the nature of Austrian society, and the way women were suppressed under National Socialism during World War II. The astrology of Austria (see later) confirms that it is indeed in the national character, but takes it back further than the War.

The classic abduction myth is that of Pluto and Persephone. Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, abducted the young virgin to his lair, and married/raped her. Her mother Ceres, a nature goddess, was distraught and hunted for her. Eventually the gods intervened and returned Persephone to her mother, but unfortunately she had eaten that fateful fruit of love, the pomegranate, whilst in the arms of Pluto, and was condemned to periodically return. This is the origin of the seasons: the winter is when she is in the Underworld, and her mother Ceres grieves, and the summer is when she is back on the earth, and her mother rejoices. Unpleasant as it has been, the abduction was also a rite of passage for Persephone, for she is now a woman, and it is this also for which her mother grieves.

Since Ceres promotion to the status of dwarf planet in Aug 2006 (and Pluto’s demotion to that status), this myth has had increased astrological relevance. Synchronistically, the case of Natasha Kampusch arose at the time, and you can read a good analysis involving Pluto and Ceres at World-of-Wisdom.

I’ll come to this myth in the case of Joseph Fritzl and his daughter in a moment. But first of all, Austria herself. There is some confusion about her exact ‘birth’, but we do know it was on 12th or 13th November 1918. And on those 2 days there was a wide opposition between Pluto and Ceres. So this myth is in the country’s chart, which is another way of putting what Natascha Kampusch said.

Why it should be there, I do not know. It is one of those strange things, one of those fates that you find in the charts of people or countries for no apparent reason. It doesn’t have to manifest literally, and often these things don’t, but sometimes they do.

The Moirae, or Fates

The theme of abduction has also applied to the country as a whole. On 12 March 1938, during a Ceres-Pluto trine, Austria was annexed by Germany. The trine expresses the ease, even the willingness, with which the abduction occurred. In April 1945, during the more dynamic square from Pluto to Ceres, Austria seceded from the Third Reich. She regained her full independence (from the occupying powers) in May 1955, during an inconjunction from Pluto to Ceres.

So, with the country as a whole being so sensitive to its Pluto-Ceres aspect, it is no surprise that it keeps finding ways of manifesting. Which doesn’t make the whole thing any less strange.

Joseph Fritzl was born on 9th April 1935. He has a tight Pluto-Ceres conjunction, square to his Sun in Aries, and making a wide t-square with Mars in Libra. Perfect astrology for an abductor. On the day of the abduction, 24/8/84, the Moon conjoined his Pluto-Ceres, activating it. On the day of his daughter’s escape, 26/4/8, Mars conjoined his Pluto-Ceres, attacking and destroying Fritzl the abductor.

Elisabeth Fritzl, his daughter, was born on 8 April 1966. When she was abducted, she had recently finished a Ceres Return, as well as Ceres trining her natal Pluto. When she escaped, Ceres was about to square her natal Pluto.

So it’s all there, both in the country and in these citizens, this myth of abduction that they are strangely fated to live out. These sort of events take you out of modern astrology as psychological explanation, at which we are so adept these days, and back to astrology as descriptive of our fate, over which we have no control. There are ways in which the course of our life, for better or for worse, is already written in the heavens.

A bit more on Elisabeth Fritzl’s chart. She has Sun conjunct Mars in Aries: a violent father. And Moon conjunct Neptune: loss of womanhood. So the psychological description is there as well, running alongside her fate.

And I’d see the fate in her chart as the unaspected, and very tight, Uranus-Pluto conjunction. This reminds me of the classic case of Hitler’s chart, who had an unaspected Neptune-Pluto conjunction. An unaspected planet can describe a side of our personality that has a life of its own. When it is an outer planet, and particularly something as powerful as a conjunction of outer planets, we are not talking about a side of the personality: we are talking about a vulnerability to the forces of the collective unconscious in their primitive form. In the case of Hitler, this mild-mannered man would turn into someone completely different when faced with a collective situation, he would become a medium for its desires and frustrations, but expressed in a very primitive way, because of its lack of connection with the personal planets.

And the same applies to Elisabeth Fritzl. Her unaspected Uranus-Pluto makes her very vulnerable to the human mind at its most atavistic and primitive. She was only 18 when she was abducted (and 11 when her father began abusing her), and there’s no way she can be said to be at all responsible for what happened. And yet her astrology is also saying that at a deeply unconscious level something else was going on. She was the person to whom this happened, and not one of her siblings. It was her Uranus-Pluto, which is HERS. What happened on one level looks like fate, but there is also a sense in which a side of her is involved, which as an astrologer you would expect, but which does not mean she was responsible for it in the usual sense of the word. This is a difficult and sensitive area, which Liz Greene goes into in ‘The Astrological Pluto’ in her book ‘The Astrology of Fate’.

But if she ever recovers from what she has been through, Elisabeth Fritzl will need to find a way of approaching her Uranus-Pluto, or it will continue to find ways of destroying her. She has Sun conjunct Mars in Aries, so she is a fighter.

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