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.

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