goodnight, Irene

So what happened on the East Coast, particularly New York City, over the past weekend?

On the surface, we were threatened by a massive hurricane and took precautions. Some areas were hit rather hard (
check out this video from Spencertown, in upstate New York), but the city escaped the worst of it. All's well that ends well.

If you were in the city over the weekend, you know that a strange and eery vibration informed everything that happened. Cases of water and canned goods hoarded into homes, bathtubs filled with water (is that to drink?!?), and boarded homes and businesses were part precaution, part panic. Mayor Bloomberg's decision to shut the city down as early as Saturday morning seemed extreme, especially the risky move of hundreds of hospital patients.

But even extreme actions don't fully capture the mood. On Facebook, the general feeling seemed to be that this wasn't going to be any kind of storm of the century, and that everyone was over-reacting. But why?

As a table-setter, Neptune's retrograde into Aquarius earlier in November has revived something of the mass panic feel that characterized the watery planet's time in that sign. The impending release of Contagion will revive the bird flu issue, for example.

What better fear than a mass epidemic or natural disaster to play on us with Neptune in the sign of the Water Bearer? During those years, we did have the Asia Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the swine flu issue (or nonissue), and of course the poisoned mail after 9/11. Just as Neptune was leaving Aquarius, the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, and radiation poisoned air and water. As one Facebook follower pointed out, our fear of the wrath of Mother Nature is a reflection of our unwillingness to seriously address global warming.

A little closer to this past weekend, Mercury stationed to go direct on Friday. Misinformation - and perhaps some disinformation - informed our decisions.

The tough Mars aspects to Uranus and Pluto of two weeks earlier were also being revisited. Those aspects coincided with the London riots. On Thursday and Friday of this past week, the moon was in Cancer, going over those same points, and Mars was squaring Saturn. The strong overprotectiveness that we felt, along with the authoritarian response, resonated with these aspects.

Add together Neptune/Aquarius and Mars/Cancer/Saturn, multiply by Mercury stationing, and you have a recipe for paranoia. Over-reaction to the storm is one manifestation. Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg had London on his mind and felt the need to exert control in advance.

Yet there is something deeper about what happened this weekend, and it is more specific to New York. As you know, we are approaching the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01. For all New Yorkers, this grim milestone is a reminder of the many losses, personal and collective, that that day brought.

The next few weeks will be a collective "visit to the cemetery" for us all. There will be a number of events, and strong media coverage. For example, National Geographic channel premiered its interview with President Bush last night.

Astrologically, the resonance of this past weekend with 9/11 was very strong. If you look at the chart for the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center, you will see that this past weekend Saturn was one degree past the ascendant and tightly conjunct the 9/11 Mercury, while Mars was in partile conjunction with the 9/11 midheaven.

My assessment is that in a sense we "relived" 9/11. Transportation was shut down. No baseball or Broadway. Lower Manhattan was evacuated, and there was talk of cutting off the power there. Airports were closed and the skies were silent.

It wasn't all over-reaction and panic, of course. Some prudent decisions were made. But what we felt was amplified by the strong resonance of this past weekend with 9/11.