Pyramid Scheme

For those who thought that the Arab Spring revolts of last year would lead to greater freedom and democracy in the Middle East, this week's ratification of an Islamic constitution in Egypt seems like a profound disappointment. Rather than moving forward into a more modern, progressive system, the country has decided to slide deeper into a traditional mindset.

The Uranus-Pluto square is strongly active in the chart of Egyptian independence from Britain, which occurred in 1922. That chart has Saturn at 5 degrees Libra and Pluto at 7 degrees Cancer. The ongoing Uranus-Pluto square currently has Uranus at 4 degrees of Aries, opposite "natal" Saturn, and Pluto opposes its own natal position (Pluto is currently at 9 degrees of Capricorn). The Arab Spring revolt happened at the Saturn return of the 1953 Egyptian Republic.

Saturn represents the structure of a country, as well as aspects of its government. Pluto represents deep transformation and the roots of the country, as well as its power and its shadow side (or one aspect of its shadow). That Egyptian independence took place with Pluto in Cancer suggests a deep attachment to tradition, and potentially a tribal perspective. Transiting Pluto is bringing all of that up into awareness, and today's full moon at 7 degrees of Cancer serves as a proximal symbol for the intensity of attachment to both national pride and suspicion of change (the United States is another country with strong Cancerian placements, and it has a tradition of isolationism and is very traditional - at least by Western standards).

Whether Egypt will become another stronghold of the dark side of Islam - with the kind of strong misogyny, homophobia, and general intolerance seen in places like the Taliban's Afghanistan - remains to be seen. The intellectual history of Egypt suggests that a better outcome is possible, although some very trying times are ahead. Yet the Uranus-Pluto square continues to work on the horoscope of Egypt through 2015, suggesting that we haven't seen the end of the story.

Why Astrologers Can't Predict Elections

Liberal that I am, when astrologers at the United Astrology Conference in New Orleans this past May predicted that Obama would win re-election, I breathed a sigh of relief. After all, astrologers had overwhelmingly predicted not only President Obama's victory in 2008, but also President Kerry's in 2004, and President Gore's in 2000.

It's obvious that I'm not the only liberal among astrologers. But let's not jump to the conclusion that the astrologers who predict elections are all engaging in wish-fulfillment rather than doing quality astrology. There is another factor at work that makes prediction of a true election in a modern democracy impossible - at least to the extent that the public is truly given a chance to vote.

Predictive techniques work well when there is little conscious choice involved, as when an individual or a group is confronted with a problem in which there are limited acceptable solutions. Traditional societies tended to operate on autopilot: the number of options for action were very limited, usually to the choice between doing the right thing on the one hand, and shame, guilt, and punishment on the other. Given such restricted options, it's relatively easy to make predictions.

In the modern and postmodern worlds, not only is there a greater range of options to choose among, there is also the possibility of creating new options. New perspectives can be taken. New ideas and approaches to problems can emerge. Possibilities which literally do not exist in traditional societies begin to open up.

So, astrologers can apply whatever techniques they like, but at the end of the day concrete prediction is no more possible in a modern society than it is in a modern individual. There are too many choices to make, too many possibilities to create, and too many opportunities to shift perspective. There's room to change your mind.

That's why democracy only really emerges in modern societies in the first place - traditional societies don't recognize the choices involved. Astrologers can probably predict the rise and fall of kings and dictators. But elected officials in a true democracy have to remain a wild card - after all, if we could really predict who wins, it wouldn't be a democracy, would it?

A Kind Word About Skeptics

Like most astrologers, I get a bit frustrated with skeptics. They tend to misrepresent astrology, they make incorrect arguments based on misinformed assumptions, and, most of all, they rarely take the time to actually learn anything about our discipline. As astrologers, we sometimes get together and kvetch about skeptics, and at those times there is a palpable frustration because the skeptics arguments are so freaking poor, but they get much more credence than careful astrological responses to them.

But let's leave the frustration with skeptics aside for a minute, and try to look at the issue with a little more compassion. By the middle of the 20th century, there was a real bias towards the materialist perspective that informed the worldview of most educated people. Many of us today realize that that worldview is not only limiting, it is in many ways just plain old incorrect. The work in consciousness studies, transpersonal psychology, and even physics has pointed towards a central role of consciousness in the cosmos.

Yet there was great value in the scientific/materialist worldview. From the perspective of people who were deeply entrenched in it, they were fighting back centuries of superstition: superstition that was often enforced with horrible torture, both physical and psychological. Superstition that was far more hostile and intolerant than the scientific/materialist view has ever been. The pull away from those limiting belief systems into a world where any trained observer could "see for yourself" was an exciting and empowering change. Because the material world is easiest to measure, it became the only world for the scientific/materialists. That was their error, and that's why they don't like astrology and never will.

They taught us not to swallow truths without testing them for ourselves, and then checking the results with others. That's the scientific method, and it isn't going anywhere. We'll keep that part. But we no longer feel the need to ban anything that isn't brick-and-mortar material from existence. We can accept that mind, emotion, soul, and spirit are real, without reverting to the superstition of the past.

Scientific/materialists who are skeptical of astrology are in many ways like the soldiers who were lost on desert islands and were still fighting the Second World War into the 1950s. We can invite them out of the trenches, the war's over.

(the "Thinker" is a pre-Columbian statue from Ecuador)

The Audacity of Hope...

That phrase began to sound hopelessly ironic about 18 months into the President's first term (note the assumption of re-election).

But it may manage to ring out once again, if only for a while, as Barack Obama is nominated tonight by the Democratic Party. It actually made the news that a group of astrologers at the United Astrology Conference in New Orleans in May all agreed that Obama would win the election, so I guess that is settled (note the mildly ironic sentiment). So let's focus on the nomination itself.

First, the moon will be void-of-course when Obama is nominated. In general, that wouldn't be good news for a candidate, but we can let it go - one meaning of the moon's void is "nothing will come of it," and that would certainly be a discouraging phrase. Yet actions taken with the moon void often have a kind of fated, inevitable quality about them. It's been decades since party conventions we
Pasted Graphic
re really about dueling to see who would win the nomination - for both parties the decision was made months ago.

Then there is a sun/Jupiter square tomorrow morning, which will color all of Thursday and Friday. Sun/Jupiter can be great for inspiring us to be ourselves. Hope does spring eternal, and these two planets can really foster enthusiasm - especially for a leader, and especially for a Leo. Venus will also be gracing the President's sign as he accepts the nomination.

All in all, I would say that Obama's off to a good start. The sun/Jupiter square might get him to go a little overboard, or whip up a bit of exaggerated enthusiasm in the party, but that's not a bad thing in such a contentious election. Hyperbole is pretty much par for the course in politics, and sun/jupiter can make sound bites with the best of them. And the void moon just means the nomination was inevitable. As for the election...

The Prince's No Clothes

This week featured an opposition of the sun to the planet Neptune, which was exact on Friday morning. And this week's news has been filled with sun/Neptune stories.

Let's recall that - on one level - the sun stands for royalty, stardom, the king. Neptune is associated with illusions, deceptions, drugs, and film.

Okay, now let's add it all up... First, Lance Armstrong, certainly the king of cycling, was stripped of his medals by the United States agency in charge of "Anti-Doping." This, despite Armstrong having passed literally hundreds of drug tests during his cycling career. Armstrong described the agency as on a "witch hunt" and with Neptune opposite the sun, that's very possible. Armstrong lost the medals not because he was found guilty, but because he refused to continue to answer charges. That makes him not only a king, but a martyr, and that's very Neptunian.

On a side note, Rodney King (a king by name, at least) was found to have died in his swimming pool (Neptune rules the seas) while on drugs (again very Neptunian).

But the most obvious sun/Neptune story is about Prince Harry. Neptune signifies film... and I guess what happens in Vegas (a very Neptunian town) doesn't always stay there...

Here's a link to stories about how the press is handling the story in Britain.

(the image is of Neptune from a mural on a dilapidated building at Coney Island)

Calling Dr. Doom...

When the day’s cosmic energy is supercharged, as it is today (Aries moon square Pluto, opposite Mars, etc.), we tend to unconsciously react by identifying with the source of power. That is, Aries/Mars/Pluto energy can turn us into mini-ogres: All for a good reason, of course! We easily pick out the energy in others, less easily in ourselves.

A good strategy is to identify with a positive aspect of the energy. For example, today’s aspects work well if you’re focused and driven for a particular purpose rather than having free-floating energy.

By consciously deciding to be Mr. Fantastic or Wonder Woman, we can perhaps avoid becoming Dr. Doom.

huh. (!)

I don't mind saying I was surprised by yesterday's Supreme Court ruling upholding President Obama's health care act. The generally conservative court upheld most parts of the law, including the "individual mandate," something even staunch supporters of health care reform - like myself - find troubling (the government can force us to buy insurance from private companies without a government option?).

The astrological stew this week has included too many important factors to judge in advance. Especially the powerful Pluto-Uranus square that simultaneously demands change and opposes it. But we also have to come in one level of magnification when we look at this week's rulings on health care and Arizona's law on illegal immigrants, and that's the Neptune-Jupiter square. This aspect tends to favor progressive social changes - although with Saturn stationing within minutes of the exact aspect, it seemed progressive change could be thwarted.

The Jupiter-Neptune square was the opening square of a cycle that began in 2009, as Obama began pushing for healthcare reform. It is no surprise that the first great test of the law comes now.

The ruling was made with the moon void of course in Libra, the sign that Saturn is now visiting. Saturn is stern, and in the sign of the scales, a dour but fair judge is suggested - fair at least in the sense of following the law. The scales of Libra are after all reminiscent of the scales that justice holds.

A ruling coming with the moon void means that the decision had already been made. It was a big deal, but a fair accompl at that point. But as the moon trudged into Scorpio, the sign of power, we began to see active reactions - reactions that will be especially hot with the sun aspecting the real movers and shakers (Uranus and Pluto) today.

As almost one in three Americans are under a heat advisory, it seems even the weather is playing along.

ABC News said it very well... The Supreme Court Health Care Ruling Inspires Creative Vitriol

A true tale of Venus retrograde

On the face of it, Venus retrogrades aren’t what we would consider romantic periods in our lives. In fact, when the Goddess of Love spins into reverse, this area of life is generally considered to be on hold.

Yet one facet of Venus retrograde is just dripping romance - the possibility that past loves will return. This is the one thing about Venus retrograde that most people have heard of, and it stands out perhaps because it hold the promise that there will be romance during these 40 day (and we can’t go 40 days without romance, can we?).

Well, it happened to me this retrograde, and my story is more or less what the return of past loves is like during these times...

In middle school, I had a terrible, wonderful, crush on a girl I’ll call Beth. It began towards the end of 7th grade, and it was in full bloom as the last months of 8th grade turned the spring into summer. Alas, girls mature faster than boys, and Beth was ahead of the curve for a girl while I - well, let’s just say if you needed to know something about the Planet of the Apes movies, I was your go-to guy.

Despite the reputation cool kids have for being aloof (generated in part by uncool kids), Beth was always very nice, and that got me thinking I might investigate some of the cool stuff she was into. I got my first Bob Dylan album because she quoted one of the songs one day. My crush went nowhere, but that was the start of my real interest in and love of music.

After middle school, I didn’t see any more of Beth. Maybe she moved away or something - I had no way of knowing. I saw her once, about seven years later, I guess, for just a moment. It was a fast-moving situation, and I had no idea what to say besides, “Hi.”

But Venus retrograde stepped in a few weeks ago. Arriving at my Facebook home page, I saw that I had a friend request, and I scrolled down to find her name. I won’t say that my heart skipped a beat like the time she called my house (she just wanted the homework, but I was thrilled), although it fluttered a little. After all these years! Wow! Really!

So I went to her page and looked at some pictures (including one of her back in middle school days), and read a little about her life. It was nice. I don’t even know that we reconnected - I don’t know how connected we ever were, except for having a common middle school - but I got to reminisce about my 8th grade crush for a few minutes. And that got me thinking about my subsequent crushes on other girls, and my first real girlfriend, my enseignant de l’amore, and so on...

And that is the kind of thing that we mean when we talk about old loves returning during Venus retrogrades.

You can read more about Venus retrograde by clicking here, or watch a video by clicking here.

Personal and Connective

No typo.

I often write about how astrology works on two levels, the
personal and the collective. Basically, the personal level is about our individual lives, feelings, and adventures, while the collective level is about our shared cultural experiences, social issues, and political changes.

Yet there is another side to astrology that needs to be emphasized, and that is the
connective dimension. The connective dimension to astrology is not another level somewhere between the personal and collective. Rather, it’s about the way we see and use astrological information. It is rooted in the ability to see that our personal lives are embedded within our relationships, our families, our communities, our social groups, and our entire culture. Who we are personally is to a great extent a matter of who we are in our connections to others.

Exploring the connective dimension of astrology - and our lives - means recognizing that all astrological energies are expressed in our relationships (of all kinds). We often say things like “I have Venus in Leo” or “I have Mercury in Virgo,” as though those energies are contained within us. But it is just as valid - perhaps more valid - to say, “I relate through Venus in Leo” or “I communicate on the Mercury in Virgo dimension.” After all, we can’t really express our Venus, Mercury, or any other planet in isolation. They only become real when we connect with others.

Astrology is a great tool for learning about yourself. But it shouldn’t be just about exploring your personal toolbox to see what’s in there. We only really know how the tools work when we take them out of the box to use them - and that’s almost always done with others. Our potentials become realities when we connect our energies with those of the people in our lives.

You can
feel how astrological energies work through introspection, but you can see how they work through your relationships. Appreciating both perspectives is part of an integral approach to astrology.

Venus in Aries

Early on February 8th, Venus made her way into Aries, the first of the planetary trio of sun, Mercury, and Venus to make her way into the first sign of the zodiac this year.

In Aries, Venus casts a more outgoing, fun, light on our relationships and modes of relating. Less about tradition and decorum, Venus in Aries allows us to try new things - it certainly is a good time to begin many kinds of relationships.

Of course, Aries is all about asserting oneself, while partnership is an "us" project, rather than a "me" endeavor. That's one of the reasons that the Goddess of Love's time in Aries is often consider to be a bit problematic: if we're too focused on what we want, we won't be thinking of the other person. Selfishness can obviously sour a relationship.

But there's more to the "debility" of Venus in Aries. Venus is after all the image of the feminine, and Aries is an assertive sign. According to traditional thinking - of which there is still plenty around - little ladies ain't supposed to be outgoing, assertive, and in control. Heck no, they're supposed to sit around demurely waiting for the man to take the lead.

To tell you the truth, I think both reasons for the debility of Venus in Aries are kinda bunk. I'm not much of a fan of traditional roles based on gender, and I'm happy that we are (slowly) transcending those limitations. Yet I don't think much of the idea that we ought to give up our own wants, needs, and what we need to become all that we can be as individuals in favor of relationship.

Thinking that compromise and sacrifice of our individual needs for the glory of relationship has a long history, but it really got a shot in the arm back in the Neptune-in-Libra days (roughly the 1950s). But other people can't make us happy - they can only share whatever happiness we have.

That can be a hard pill for die-hard romantics to swallow (although Saturn, stationing in Libra, might prescribe exactly that pill). But it is what Venus in Aries is trying to teach us: I can relate to you, but only to the extent I am already myself.

Venus will be in Aries until March 5th, so you have time to think about it.

(the photo is a statue of giant woman at a traffic circle in Ecuador)