Monday, January 26, 2009

The Pope takes a pot shot: this time it’s the Jews

Pope Benedict has done it yet again. First in 2006 it was the Muslims: “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.”

Then just before Christmas he announced that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was as important as protecting the environment.

And then last week he reversed the excommunication of a bishop who is a holocaust denier.

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With his natal Mars at 29 Gemini, Pope Benedict is a crusader who sees life as a battle between light and dark, good and evil. And with Gemini communicativeness, he is not afraid to say so. A sign gathers momentum as you progress through it, so the end of Gemini is one of the most war-like places to have this planet. No doubt it is related to the idea we find in Arabic astrology, that Moon in late Gemini is a good time to start a war: this was the placement of the Moon on 11 Sept 2001.

This theme of opposites, of light versus dark, is also reflected in the Pope’s Moon in Libra, another sign that can be belligerent (e.g. Margaret Thatcher). His Moon is square to tribal Pluto in Cancer, and he also has the Sun in war-like Aries.

Naturally he or his spokesmen always deny that these attacks are such. But the astrology tells a different story.

The above quote about the Muslims was by a Christian Emperor, which the Pope then quoted, and twice pointed out it was a quote and not his own words. But he still found them useful to say. At the time (12 Sept 2006) Pluto was starting to oppose his natal Mars, and Mars had just finished squaring his natal Mars.

When he made the comment about gays and transsexuals (22 Dec 2008), Mars was opposing natal Mars, as was Pluto.

And when he reinstated the bishop last week (21 Jan 2009), Mars had just finished hard-aspecting his natal Moon square Pluto. And Pluto, of course, is still opposing his natal Mars.

So the underlying astrological theme of these attacks has been transiting Pluto opposing his natal Mars, and the trigger in each case has been transiting Mars. While transiting inner planets act mainly as triggers, transiting outer planets transform. And this transformation is not necessarily evolutionary. If the person involved is not very aware, outer planet transits can release primitive, barbaric elements in the psyche that then get acted out.

In the period from 9/11 through to the start of the Iraq War, for example, Neptune was making an opposition to George Bush’s natal Pluto Rising, which is one of a number of loose cannons in his chart. The Iraq War particularly was started for reasons that did not add up, and with little thought as to what to do afterwards. This strongly suggests unconscious, atavistic elements at work.

This also seems to be what is happening in the case of Pope Benedict XVI. Pluto is revealing a deeper level of his natal Mars which, as Pope, he has the scope to act out in an atavistic way if he so chooses. And he does so choose. The Pope is known for being a considerable intellectual, and his Sun, Moon and Mars all back this up. Mercury in Pisces might seem surprising, but Pisces has a great power to absorb information and make connections. So he is a classic case of someone who can seem civilised and advanced because of their intellectual accomplishments, but in whom the emotional depths remained untouched by all this learning. His Moon in civilised Libra but square to crab-like Pluto in Cancer expresses this perfectly.

What the Pope is doing is different to just not being politically correct, and thereby offending people. I have no objection to that. It does us good to get offended occasionally, as the late John Mortimer pointed out. Political correctness is usually about guilt-ridden liberals creating ‘rights’ for others and imagining ways that minorities might get offended. Like imagining that black people want to be called people of colour, or American Indians want to be called Native Americans (they don’t: they like being called Indians). It’s patronising, and it’s often insisted on in an intolerant way. The cardinal rule of PC is that no-one from a minority or another grouping must ever get offended.

But this isn’t what the Pope is doing. He’s not offending people in a healthy way, like making fun of the Jews’ pretensions to being the Chosen People, or of Americans for thinking they have the world’s best political system. He is using his position to demonise whole groups of people who are not Catholics, or who do not follow the Church’s teachings.

What we have at the heart of the modern Catholic Church is old-style barbaric medieval religion. And it’s not just this Pope. Ratzinger (the present Pope) was the enforcer for the sainted Pope John Paul II (Dare I say it, but as Rahm Emmanuel is enforcer for the sainted Barack Obama.) At least it’s now all out in the open.

It was under the present Pope that Tony Blair, who also has Mars Rising in Gemini, converted to Catholicism. In an interview some months after stepping down as Prime Minister, Blair was asked if he had any regrets about the Iraq War. He didn’t (though he hadn’t managed to get the previous Pope’s blessing for it!) What we have, he continued is “a visceral struggle between what is right and what is wrong.”

Ratzinger became Pope under Pluto in Sagittarius, a period which saw a rise in fundamentalism worldwide. Now with Pluto in Capricorn, we are seeing the Church establishment (Capricorn) reverting to a more primitive form (Pluto).

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Friday, January 09, 2009

The Saturn-Pluto Cycle

I’ve only just realised that Saturn makes a square to Pluto this year, on 15th November. So that makes 3 major configurations this year, along with Saturn opposition Uranus (2 more crossings) and the remarkable Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune triple conjunction at 26 Aquarius in May.

I reckon we’ll begin to feel the effect of Saturn-Pluto from May onwards, when Saturn changes direction. Oppositions usually have a more obvious effect than squares, and with Saturn opposing Uranus all year, the effects of Saturn-Pluto may not be that easily discernible.

All the same, the square will be part of an important cycle that began in 1982 with the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto. One regular feature of the hard aspects of this cycle is the empowerment (Pluto) of Conservatism (Saturn) in American politics. 1982, for example, saw the rise of Reaganism; the opening square of 1993/4 saw the Republicans under Newt Gingrich take control of Congress; and the opposition of 2001 saw George W Bush come to power. It is quite possible, therefore, that we shall see a new impulse towards conservatism in US politics over the course of the next year.

It won’t come from Congressional elections, because there aren’t any. But it may come from Barack Obama. He may turn out to be a much more conservative figure than people had hoped for. Already his spending plans to stimulate the economy are running into trouble with Democratic Senators for not being bold or liberal enough.

From the New York Times online: ‘Senate Democrats complained that major components of his plan were not bold enough and urged more focus on creating jobs and rebuilding the nation’s energy infrastructure rather than cutting taxes’. “There is only one thing we have got to do in the stimulus, and that is how can we create jobs,” said Senator Tom Harkin Democrat of Iowa. “I am a little concerned by the way that Mr. Summers and others are going at this in that, to me, it still looks like a little more of this trickle-down, if we just put it in at the top, it’s going to trickle down. A number of people in there said, ‘Look, we have got to have programs that actually create jobs and put people to work.’ ”

I think a good way to look at Barack Obama as President is through his Saturn-Jupiter conjunction. These 2 planets are not purely personal, for they also describe our interaction with the social/public sphere. In conjunction, they can describe a powerful leader. It is interesting that Obama’s Saturn is in conservative Capricorn, and his Jupiter is in futuristic Aquarius. It mirrors the exact Saturn-Uranus opposition under which he was elected, and shows how important both these impulses are in him. Perhaps what we saw in his campaigning was the liberal who would bring America into a new and united future. But equally strong in his chart is his cautious, conservative Saturn.

This has become clearer to me over time ever since his comment about wanting to see Jerusalem remain the undivided capital of Israel. I found this a shocking, hawkish thing to say. His silence over the Israeli assault on Gaza also spoke volumes.

As Jessica Murray put it last month: “Obama’s approach to the economic crisis is perhaps the most Saturnine feature of his approach. Besides arguing for the banker bail-out, he has chosen as advisors men who have been stalwarts of the Wall Street establishment, taking counsel from the very man who led the crusade for deregulation at the Clinton Treasury: Robert Rubin. Tim Geithner, one of the premier architects of the current global financial disaster, is a contender for his cabinet [and as of publication of this issue of Daykeeper, Geithner has been named Secretary of the Treasury—Ed.]. And then there is the odious Larry Summers, also at one point on the short list for Treasury Secretary. Another Clinton-era Friedmanite, Summers not only promoted the export of toxic debt to the rest of the world, he took the idea to its most literal extreme by advocating the export of actual toxic pollution to impoverished nations.”

So it will be interesting to watch these 2 impulses at play in Barack Obama. With a Saturn-Pluto square coming up this year that hard aspects both the US MC and Obama’s Venus (popular appeal), it may well be that the man increasingly defines himself to the right of the political spectrum.

On the other hand, Saturn doesn't finish squaring Pluto till August 2010, just before the mid-term Congressional elections. So it may be that Congress lurches to the right at that point instead of - or as well as - Obama doing so.

Saturn-Pluto is also associated with war, terrorism and violence. The present cycle, which began in 1982, saw “the depths of the Soviet war in Afghanistan that led to the rise of the Islamic jihadist movement, fuelled by clandestine US support” (Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, p215.) The opening square of 1992-4 “exactly coincided with the first World Trade Center bombing, Osama bin Laden’s first call for a jihad against America, and the coming to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan." (ibid, p216). The opposition of 2001 of course saw the World Trade Center attacks and the start of George Bush’s War on Terror.

So over the next year we are likely to see a new phase open up in this war between Islam and the West. If the US begins to withdraw from Iraq, it may be a winding down of this war. On the other hand, it may intensify in Afghanistan, where it all began.

Saturn-Pluto has its economic aspect, due to Pluto’s association with wealth. Under the 1982 conjunction, we saw the rise of a new economic era after the stagflation of the 1970s, associated with deregulation and monetarist policies. The square of 1993/4 marked the long boom of the Clinton years. The dotcom bubble of 2001/2001 was arguably the peak of this period, as the Saturn-Pluto cycle reached its mid-point. 2009/10 will see the closing square of this cycle, just as 1973/4 was the closing square of the last cycle: the associated world oil crisis was arguably the death knell of that Saturn-Pluto economic cycle.

It is clear to many of us that we are witnessing the slow death of the current economic model, and this year’s Saturn-Pluto is testament to this. The conjunction of Pluto to Saturn represents the planting of a new and potent seed. The opening square is its empowerment, the opposition its peak and the closing square its gradual death, the cleansing of what was impure.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Source of the US Sibly Chart; the US 2nd July Chart

There are 2 ways of generating the US Sibly Chart, which is the chart most commonly used by astrologers. The usual way is to do a chart for 5.10pm on 4 July 1776 in Philadelphia. There is some evidence for a late afternoon chart but none, it seems, for a time as specific as 5.10pm.

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The other way the chart can be generated is by using medieval techniques to create a chart that signifies the Declaration of Independence. Susan Manuel showed in 1994 that if you take the House Cusps for the preceding Cancer Ingress of 20 June, set for Philadephia, you get the House Cusps of the Sibly Chart. If you then superimpose the planetary positions for 4th July 1776, set for 12 noon GMT, you get the planetary positions of the Sibly Chart.

“Manuel showed that Sibly was working within the tradition, established by the great mundane astrologers of the Islamic world, in which it was not necessary to set a horoscope for the exact time at which an historical event took place (even the birth of an important individual), but rather to locate the horoscope which signified the event under consideration.” (Nicholas Campion, Book of World Horoscopes). Susan Manuel’s paper can be purchased here.

My solar fire produces charts using this technique which are almost there, but not quite. Like I need to set the Sun at 1 minute of Cancer for the Ingress chart. And the Noon chart has the Moon some degrees out. But no doubt there are explanations somewhere for this.

I'm not convinced that Sibly used these techniques, because the 5.10pm time also produces the chart pretty convincingly. But it still seems an eerie coincidence.

I can’t say I understand these techniques, though it’s a fascinating way of going about things. In a way, I prefer it. Astrology is essentially a divinatory system that uses symbols, so a symbolic way of generating charts would in some ways seem more logical than trying to pin down birth times. I guess the way you’d do it for your own chart would be to draw up the preceding Cardinal Ingress chart for the place you were born, and then superimpose the planetary positions for noon on the day you were born. I quite like my own chart done this way. It puts my Mercury-Uranus opposition along the MC-IC axis, which is quite a good position for a blogger!

I also think people and countries have a way of becoming their charts if used long enough, however dubious the origin of the charts. This is because astrology is divinatory, and what you are doing is making a kind of energetic link between the chart and the person/country, and that link deepens the more you use the chart.

Just for fun, here is another chart for the USA, which I wrote about 2 years ago. It’s based on the fact that, as Nicholas Campion says: “The birthday of the USA is celebrated on 4 July, but in fact the crucial vote for independence was taken on 2 July 1776, and constitutional historians…. never tire of pointing this out. Contemporary press reports were in no doubt that this was so… Even the participants in the drama regarded this vote as the vital event in both political and symbolic terms.”

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There is some evidence for 4pm. And with Moon conjunct Pluto, Scorpio Rising and Sun in the 8th, it gives a very Scorpionic chart, for which I argued in the same blog 2 years ago.

Interestingly, it has good synastry with Barrack Obama. For example, his Scorpio MC conjoins the US Scorpio Asc, and his Saturn conjoins the US Moon-Pluto.

By transit we see the US beginning a square from Neptune to its ASC: its old way of expressing itself (ASC) through the use of power (Scorpio) is dissolving. The Progressed MC (the Presidency) has just moved into steady, financially aware Taurus, and out of belligerent, headstrong Aries. Prog Saturn is approaching an opposition to the Prog MC, showing the renewed sense of responsibility and authority that has entered the Presidency. The Progressed Moon in Leo is approaching the Prog Asc: the people (Moon) have found their essential voice (Asc/Leo) in electing a new president whose Sun closely conjoins the Prog Asc.

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Progressed Mars, the planet of America’s military ambitions, is in Libra, a sign Mars finds difficult until it learns diplomacy. This year it also went retrograde and became intercepted. So it is in difficulties, as we all know, particularly over the next 18 months, after which point it will cease being intercepted.

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