Friday, December 16, 2016

Saturn-Neptune and the post-fact era

The underlying transit that the world is experiencing is the Uranus-Pluto square. A new world is being born, whose form is not yet clear, but Trump and Brexit are indicators of where things are going. Away from globalisation, towards protectionism and border controls. And maybe an economic crisis along the way.

At present there are overlays of Uranus conjunct Eris, and Saturn square to Neptune. Uranus-Eris describes the game-changing shocks to the system, the earthquakes, of which there are more to come.

And Saturn-Neptune describes the ‘post-truth’ world which we are, for now, entering. A world in which politicians win elections by telling bigger whoppers than usual, which then get whirled around social media. That is what it amounts to. 

But it's not that simple. It is right-wing politicians who are telling the whoppers (in the cases of Trump and Brexit), and the liberals are fighting back using their own cultural weapons, promoting the concept of ‘post-truth’ to describe their political enemies.

I don’t like the cold-heartedness of many right-wing politicians. But if the liberals had won by telling bigger lies, I don’t think the Republicans/Tories would be promoting a word like ‘post-truth’ and getting it put in dictionaries, as if it were a description rather than a weapon. When Tony Blair lied about WMD, we weren't told we were entering a new era in which politicians told big lies. And what he (and GWB) did was lie in a much more serious way than anything that has happened this year.

While there will always be a few who believe the lies that politicians tell, I don’t think most people do. People vote for the more charismatic candidate, the one who connects best with people, for better or for worse. In the case of Brexit, we had the appeal of Boris and Nigel Farage on one side, and the relatively bland David Cameron on the other. And it was the same with Trump and Hillary. (To say that doesn't make me right-wing: I'm not.)

This way of looking at things is, of course, insulting to the intelligence of the voters, but it is the way things go in elections time and again. You don’t even need astrology to predict the outcome. As Churchill said, Democracy is the worst form of government, apart from all the others. It is the ongoing Saturn (substance) vs Neptune (appearance) nature of democracy, and Neptune generally wins. It is how GW Bush and Obama each won the presidency, and how Tony Blair became the UK leader.

Saturn-Neptune describes the fact that the debate has come to centre on the lies of politicians. But it’s not the real issue, because politicians have always lied. Neptune is a hall of mirrors, it reflects back on itself.

And the same people who are crying foul because of the lies of the Brexit and Trump campaigns, have also been denying loudly that the Brexiteers and Trump actually won. The political lies are (correctly) being called unusually egregious, yet the simple facts of who won and who lost are being denied.

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The lies, particularly in the case of Trump, have admittedly been exceptional. The man will say anything that suits, and exaggerate and castigate to his heart’s content. (Though I also think it is important to admit when he has a point, like when he said that Castro was a dictator; otherwise our opposition is blind, and this kind of blindness is surprisingly common amongst ‘educated’ people.)

But the pretence that Trump and the Brexiteers lost - or that the elections were stolen and invalid, or that Brexit won't happen, or that the electoral college won't elect Trump - has to me seemed to be what is truly unusual about these events. Yes, Saturn-Neptune and bigger lies from politicians, that is part of the picture, if anyone is actually listening. 'Twas ever thus. But this new element of outright denial of a basic fact by an educated part of the population: that is what is truly different. Maybe we should be talking about the post-fact era?

I think it shows just how polarised things have become politically, which is what one expects from the larger picture of Uranus-Pluto. But I think it reminds us yet again that being educated and being self-aware are not the same thing. I think that the sense of moral superiority that many liberals have also confuses the picture, like Trump/the Brexiteers can't have won because they're the bad guys, so how did they cheat us?

Being an astrologer and being self-aware, at least in these polarised times, do not seem to be the same thing either. At a major astrological conference in the USA in October 2016, a panel of 12 experienced astrologers unanimously predicted that Hillary would win (though some said that it was 11 out of 12.)

Either way, this just doesn’t happen when you ask a bunch of astrologers to predict something. And if they’re good, I’d expect most to be right. But I certainly wouldn’t expect them all to have the same answer - in any other situation, it would be called groupthink. But these were 'gifted' astrologers, we are told, so that can't possibly be what was happening!

And I don’t think it comes down to method either, though I’m wandering now into the nature of prediction. I think if you rely on method alone for predicting, it will break down in time. Mercury the trickster comes in, this was something that Jung found. No, there is also intuition involved, even in how you decide which charts to use. It is the skilled intuition that is essential, that is the real gift of the astrologer. But because it is personal, it is also subject to personal wishes and the wishes of the collective.

This, I think, is what happened. It can happen to all of us, and we can all get predictions wrong. I do. But astrologers are well known for being politically liberal. It was a fiasco, and soul-searching is needed. 

It makes astrology look ridiculous, and heaven knows we don’t need that. But the reason I’m writing about it is that the issue was then surrounded by the same sort of defensive denial that you find in the population at large, namely that Trump hadn’t won the election because Hillary got more votes, even though everyone knows that it doesn’t work like that.

This denial compounded the fiasco. Astrologers, and diviners of all sorts, need to be able to stand apart from their political preferences and collective currents. This is really basic. And we will sometimes fail. But please at least let's be honest when we get it wrong.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Uranus-Eris and the Zeitgeist

Last year I predicted that in 2016-17 we would be likely to see sudden and unexpected game-changing events. This was due to the conjunction of Uranus and Eris (aka Discordia), which happens every 85 years or so. 

So far we have had Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US President. Both these events were unexpected and game-changers, though their implications have yet to be seen.

There is still another conjunction to go (next March), so I expect there to be more shocks to come. In particular, I expect governments to swing to the right across Europe, more than is expected. There are several elections coming up. Marine Le Pen, for example, the far-right leader in France, could be elected President in the spring. One way or the other, I expect these shocks to lead to the  beginning of a wider unravelling of the EU in its present form, to the extent that Brexit will no longer seem such an anomaly.

But Uranus-Eris game-changers do not come out of nowhere: they are the expression of deeper, underlying trends that reach tipping points. Like earthquakes. And they come as a shock because it can be hard for us limited humans to see beneath the status quo, to something we may not want to see. Change and uncertainty are difficult for us.

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And the deeper, underlying trend is described by the major transit the world has been experiencing for about 7 years now, the square from Uranus to Pluto. The last square was in the late 20s/early 30s, and look what that led to.

Trump and the 3rd Reich: Click to Enlarge
As Ed Tamplin has pointed out, Uranus was in EXACTLY the same position when Donald Trump launched his campaign to be President in June 2015, as when Hitler was sworn in as German Chancellor. This tells us that they are the expression of similar revolutionary (Uranus) trends.

The US is not in the desperate economic situation that Germany was in in 1933, and they have a very different political system. So I don’t think we need worry that the US will end up like the 3rd Reich. But there are muted parallels: a demagogue who promises a return to past glories, the loss of pre-eminence in the world as China pulls up alongside; and swathes of the population jobless and ignored. 

So the insight that this Uranus comparison gives us is that we need to look out for these parallels: that Trump has been elected on the back of a sense of loss and privation, and the blind prejudice and grandiose fantasies that can lead to. This is Trump’s constituency, this is the mentality he feeds off and embodies. But the US political system is so riddled with checks and balances that it is amazing any President ever gets anything done. We may not like what he does, but I think it will be limited.

Saturn is prominent in Trump’s chart by transit and progression over the next year: he will find it difficult to get stuff done. And he hasn’t got the outer planet influence that could bypass that through appeals to the collective, the mania that can create, like Bush did with 9/11. Trump will want wars – he has Mars Rising and Sun conjunct the US Mars, but I think he will struggle to achieve that.

And the state of the US is something that is also reflected in Europe, which is also experiencing a swing to the right. Asia is becoming richer, Europe and the US are becoming poorer. At times of uncertainty, people elect right wing governments.

I think that Uranus-Pluto is bringing an end to the free-market capitalism of the last 35 years, characterised by financial deregulation and relatively free trade between countries. I think that an era of protectionism is coming in, perfectly described by the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn in a few years’ time. And borders of all kinds, restrictions on ‘the free movement of people’ in Europe, the wall between the US and Mexico.

Trump and Brexit are just the first fissures in the break-up of the old familiar world. We may bemoan them, but if it hadn’t been Trump and Brexit, it would have been something else. (Trump seems determined to have another financial crisis, by tearing up the financial regulations that were brought in in the wake of the 2008/9 financial crisis, to try and avoid a repeat.)

Uranus and Pluto finished their exact crossings to each other some time ago, but the stuff they stirred up has yet to properly surface and change the world we live in. I think the next few years will bring major change. I think we will be poorer and more conservative. The EU will change in a big way. Fuck knows what will happen in the US. But I don’t think it will be World War III, and I think there’ll be enough food on the table. And as I've said before, it'll be very interesting for the US not to be No1 anymore, it's been so much part of the fabric of who they are. That, maybe, will be one of the meanings of the US Pluto Return.

Friday, November 11, 2016


I still remember a dream from 35 years ago, when I was just starting out on this thing: I was on a very high, very white mountain crag, and in front of me was the vast, deep blue sky. I was an eagle, and I took off, and then I got scared by the height. I was afraid to soar, unlike my companion eagle. I don't think I'm soaring yet, I'm still being led to mend the bits that need mending. But it's where I'm headed. 
The house position of Pluto is where you need to look to find your power. My Pluto is in the 12th House, the place of dreams and inner work. If I don't make that place the foundation, I feel out of sorts.
Dreams are not an add-on, a supplement to our waking experience. As my friend June O'Brien said recently, "I have begun to wonder if it isn't this daytime stuff that is the dream."
Dreams are where the Spirit speaks to us. They therefore tell us what is real. I have had some dreams lately that confront, contradict my waking experience. They are forcing the issue of what is real.
But dreams also unfold over time, they are multi-layered. What they mean changes. As with all inner experience, I think it is best to be circumspect about talking about them. It can be like taking the lid off the crucible: the intensity diminishes, the development slows. For dreams are not one-off things, they are gifts that stay with us and enrich. If we cherish them.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Why the US Election isn't so important

I'm not sure that the outcome of the US election matters too much. There are 2 candidates: Hillary Clinton, who is temperamentally unsuited to the post, being a private person who just needs a job to get on with; and Donald Trump, who is morally unsuited. As his biographer said recently, he's the sort of guy who could push the nuclear button just to show how tough he is.

Astrologically, we are at a closing phase of the Jupiter-Saturn cycle. This cycle governs wordly events, and its phase suggests that nothing really new can happen until the conjunction in late 2020, just before the next inauguration. President Carter was elected under the closing square, and Bill Clinton's second term, engulfed as it was by the comedy of the Monica Lewinsky affair, also began under the closing square.

Inauguration Charts 2017 and 2021: Click to Enlarge
Furthermore, the Presidential Inauguration chart for 20 Jan 2017 has an unaspected Sun, again suggesting a leader who cannot get much done. The chart for 20 Jan 2021 is quite different, very dynamic, but that will be another story, and it is unlikely to be Hillary or Trump.

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So there it is. Astrologically, it seems to me to be more likely to be Trump who will win. And that seems like an awful prospect. It may not be. It will probably be the case that he can't get much done, because he has shown an inability to work with members of his own party, let alone the opposition. But he will be a loose cannon who doesn't follow the rules, he will continue to do things that make jaws drop. With the US Progressed Mercury stationary direct, he may occasion America thinking about itself in a way that the same-old of Hillary would not.

It will be awful that such a man is leading the US. But the astrology says to me that the reality of it won't be as bad as we might fear.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The US, Pluto and Donald Trump

The last time we had a Uranus-Pluto square - the late20s/early 30s - much of the real shit happened afterwards in the form of the continuing Great Depression and the Second World War. The current square finished (in terms of exact crossings) 18 months ago. It's hard to second-guess these transits, but it could well be that the real outcome, the major events, will be in the coming years.

So far we have avoided a Great Depression. The loose monetary policy that led to our Great Recession was eerily similar to the last square, but this time we bailed out the banks. It was unfair the way the bankers got away with it, but only some of them: most bankers were ordinary people doing their jobs. It's also worth remembering that the banking system performs a vital function. Ultimately, it was the western governments, blinded by free market ideology, and in the pockets of the financial system, that was to blame.

But there is still a huge economic shift going on, called 'globalisation', in which wealth and the means of production are shifting to hitherto poor but populous countries like China and India. And in the West we are feeling it. Hence Trump and Brexit.

Pluto reveals that which is hidden, and things get hidden because we don't want to look at them, and that means they often come out in a painful, disruptive way. But better out than in. One factor in the Brexit vote was the protest by areas in the north of England, whose 'inefficient' industries had been shut down under Thatcher, and which have never recovered. The reasoning behind the vote was that the EU represents the same sort of capitalism as is found in the UK, and what has it ever done for them? In fact, with the free movement of workers, things could only get worse from their point of view. I think it's hard to argue against this point, rooted as it is in hard experience. This doesn't make Brexit itself right or wrong. But it does mean that something that wasn't previously addressed has made its voice heard.

And it's the same sort of thing with the Trump vote in the US. There is a whole section of the population that has become poorer due to de-industrialisation and globalisation, and only Mr Trump is addressing that. Pluto is at the end of opposing the US Sun, and Trump is Pluto personified: unreasonable, unignorable, a powerful force, who even resonates with the Pluto myth of female abduction.

But he is there for a reason, which is a section of the population that has been ignored by politicians. And why have these people been ignored? It seems to me that to address their real grievances, the nature of the capitalist system under which we live would have to be addressed. And that ain't going to happen easily, US politicians being famously in the pockets of the big corporations. And with a heavy disguise of right-wing ideology to go with it.

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So what Trump stands for is a protest against the globalised capitalism under which we live, in which corporations can outsource to the cheapest country, regardless of consequences at home or working conditions abroad, and in which the gap between rich and poor is growing.

And I think this can be missed about Trump, because the man is so awful and so unfit to govern: there is something real going on, a move away from the free market capitalism of the last 35 years, towards protectionism. That, I think, will be one of the meanings of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn a few years down the line.

Protectionism, in which countries protect their own industries and products from cheaper products from abroad, has a bad name. It has a bad name because it stops the powerful countries from extending their reach. But 'developing' countries need to be protectionist. America itself was in the early days.

Brexit and the rise of Trump may be seen in 10 years time as the first fractures in the current globalising economy.

The US is at the end of Pluto opposite Sun, and in the middle of Neptune square Ascendant. So it's big stuff. The Neptune transit describes, for one thing, the susceptibility to an ideologue like Trump. But with Sag Rising, it also suggests some kind of search for meaning. The US will soon give way to China as the world's wealthiest nation. Being number one has been an important part of who America is for the last 100 years. So who will she be now? This is why Trump talks in terms of 'making America great again': it is a crude way of addressing that gradual loss of identity.

And in about 5 years the US will have her first Pluto return, in the 2nd House: a review of that incredible resourcefulness that quickly made her the world's wealthiest and most powerful country. America is still a young nation, she has only ever known success. And she still has that pioneering, survival-mode mentality that Pluto in the 2nd also describes. It will be very good for her to be knocked off the top spot, it may bring thoughtfulness and reflection and loss of naivety.

Back in January, before the American primaries began, I predicted that Trump would be the Republican candidate, and the next President. It looks like I was right on the first prediction, and wrong on the second. But assuming he loses, America will still be left with a lot of soul-searching, as is only right for a major Pluto transit. The rise of Trump has for many been a trauma, a shock. It shows how crude, how prejudiced, how gullible many Americans are, and how that constituency and all it stands for came so close to running the country. It also, maybe, shows how desperate many Americans are, that they would support such a man. Pluto opposite Sun has revealed a wound in the country that, once the dust has settled, will need to be addressed.