Real Fake News

Is Truth Stranger Than Fiction?

In an apparent attempt to perform a public service,
U.S. News and World Reports has warned its readers to stay away from The Onion “at all costs” if they are looking for real news.


I doubt
U.S. News readers actually so cognitively limited as to fail to understand that The Onion is satire. But apparently it’s a real concern in an era of fake news - a term that become quite popular lately. There is also a great deal of concern that people are getting their news from social media, which tends to mirror back our interests and opinions to us, creating an external world that looks very much like our internal belief systems.

With Saturn in Sagittarius, we’re all concerned with truth - what’s real, and what’s belief. Saturn hardens us into our beliefs, and simultaneously brings us to question their foundations. We hold tightly to what we believe - what we
know - to be true, only to feel our beliefs calcifying and crumbling in our ever-tightening grip.

Practically speaking, this means that we become more polarized in our beliefs - more entrenched in our assumptions and less likely to be able to even hear, let alone evaluate, another perspective. At least that’s part of the process - because the equal-and-opposite reaction is that we find that our beliefs have limited foundations.

Facts? They hardly matter. Saturn in Sagittarius is willing (for a while) to let us select data that fits with our prior beliefs, and if that fails we can make up data that exemplifies what we believe. We all know that a really good piece of fiction can sometimes get the point across better than mere historical fact - and that’s what Saturn in Sagittarius tempts us to do. The only problem is, we fail to recognize the difference between fact a good fiction. The
as if becomes is.

There are several different varieties of fake news, as outlined by
U.S. News. In their incisive piece on the subject, they differentiate satire, hoax, and propaganda. Satire seems to me to be exempt from consideration as fake news, but it’s worth noting that there is indeed a difference between news stories that are sent out into the world as a hoax - Hillary Clinton is running a pedophile ring - and those that are devoted to propaganda (selecting facts that fit a particular view of a story, using dubious sources, and reading into stories). Check out this New York Times article for an example of fake news stories going viral.

Those on the fringe - both left and right - make a case against the mainstream media. In their version of things, the mainstream media itself is biased. Conservatives famously grouse about the ‘liberal media’, yet liberals rarely feel that stories are biased in their favor - when a story doesn’t go your way it’s easy to claim bias, whether or not that bias is real.

Some folks take things a bit further than this, though, and claim that the mainstream media is strongly biased and is itself a source of fake news. They point out - not without some justification - that there are really very few corporations in charge of the majority of news, despite an apparent plethora of news outlets.

They also point out that the majority of news sources feeding into these corporations come directly from the government - follow the same story through multiple media outlets and look for the same wording and phrases, then trace it back to original government statements, and you’ll see that there really is very little variation in the news as it’s presented in the mainstream media.

None of this means that there is no investigative journalism in the mainstream media - there is - but rather that a majority of news is delivered by a few corporations and originates from a few sources. Throw in some corporate interest and a need to sell product, and it’s not too far out to question the validity of mainstream news (at the end of the day, I think most news is treated as product, and popular stories are the ones that are presented, but that’s just my opinion, not a fact).

With Saturn square Neptune for virtually all of 2016, our sense of reality was challenged. Conspiracy theories multiplied - even
The X-Files returned for a hot minute (see below). The result was both a multiplication of real fake news and the questioning of real news as fake. And if that sounds confusing, you’re right on track.

Of course, Saturn - and even Saturn/Neptune - isn't just messing with our sense of truth for the fun of it. Or maybe he is (or they are), but there's still a message for us as we navigate this hall of mirrors. We're learning about the relativity of truth, that what we see and what it means are reflections of the perspective from which we are viewing 'facts.' We construct our realities, they aren't given - our beliefs mold our perceptions of the data, and the data will eventually overwhelm our beliefs, theories, and even our very realities.

That doesn't mean, though, that 'anything goes', that we can take a purely solipsistic approach, or even worse - that what we say is true because we believe it. Nor does it mean that all perspectives are ultimately valid. At one level, we're learning about the relativity of truth, but at another level we're learning that there are limits to this relativity. Some things are a matter of perspective... some things are just nonsense.

An (Electoral) College Education

It's not about being fair...

Tomorrow, December 19th, in a somewhat mysterious process, a group of 'electors' will officially determine the next president of the United States. Much has been said about the Electoral College recently, and it has been hailed by some as a cleverly designed institution that guarantees a balance of power.

Nothing could be more erroneous.

It's true that the framers of the U.S. Constitution were very concerned with maintaining a balance of power. They were especially concerned with populist minorities, which they liked to call 'factions', and they tried to find ways to subvert the power of these factions. But the Electoral College was never one of the strategies to do so.

I'll leave it to you to find the arguments circulating in favor of the Electoral College, but I will make a few points about the most common arguments:

- There is no provision that says the electors from a state must vote all-or-none for one candidate, and in fact two states split their electors in proportion to the state's
popular vote. The Electoral College doesn't save poor little Delaware from big bad New York.

- At the time that the Constitution was being written, it was not possible to imagine a two party system. In fact, despite all appearances, we do
not have a two party system (we do de facto, but not de jure). That each state elects a slate of Republican or Democratic electors is a tradition, not a legality. In fact, electors are only honor and tradition bound to vote for their party's candidate.

- Neither was the U.S. anywhere near as large as it is now and population distribution, while not even, was not as lopsided as it has become. The framers of the Constitution were decidedly unconcerned about the outsized effect that California might have on the election, because California was not a part of the United States at the time. Anyway, do a little math and you'll see that the Electoral College doesn't really ameliorate any such problems.

- The idea of a popular vote for president was
very popular among many of the framers. A popular vote would actually make 'every vote count'.

So why do we have the Electoral College?

Because it preserved the 3/5ths Compromise. This sullen bit of American history granted slave states the ability to claim each (nonvoting) slave as 3/5ths of a person in determining the number of representatives to congress. That gave Southern - slave - states additional voting power in the legislature, and they wanted to preserve that when it came to choosing the president.

The number of electors from each state is composed of the number of representatives plus the two senators. That gave slave states an advantage in choosing the president, since it inflated their populations to include slaves (at least 3/5ths of them). They wouldn't ratify the Constitution without the Electoral College.

Astrology, you say?

The Electoral College will vote at a very precarious moment, when Mercury has stationed to retrograde, Mars has entered the sign of Pisces, and Pluto climbs through the middle of Capricorn.

There has been much talk about the possibility of some Republican electors defecting and voting for Clinton, who widely won the popular vote. But in reality, it's a no-win situation.

If Republican electors defected and voted for Clinton, Trump's supporters would cry foul, having had their greatest fears of elitist government apparently confirmed. The consequences could be extreme, and very long-lasting.

If the Electoral College votes as it traditionally has, more than two million voting Americans will feel like they have lost power thanks to an antiquated and unfair system. Cries of 'not my president' could be extreme, and very long-lasting.

We've set up the perfect no-win situation - us and Mercury and Pluto (Mars is helping out). There's no need to predict the outcome because no matter what happens, something has to change. That's going to be very scary, because what has to change runs to the very heart of the system we've relied on to keep the country afloat. It will be like changing rudders in the midst of a storm - as dangerous as it is necessary.

Warrior Princesses

Mars and Pallas Athene Meet in Aquarius...

On December 14th, as Mars conjuncted Pallas Athene in Aquarius, it made sense to pay attention to the news for prominent stories about women standing up for themselves, speaking the truth, and breaking down borders.

Mars is of course the Cosmic Warrior, and in the sign of Aquarius he tends to fight for a cause, and often one tending towards the progressive. Not to say that Mars can’t participate in the rigid side of Aquarius - Mars in the sign of the water bearer can be coldly judgmental, with a
zero tolerance policy.

Pallas Athene is the sword-wielding Goddess of Wisdom. Like the Bodhisattva Manjushri, who is flanked by both book and sword, Pallas Athene is ready to enforce the truth. In Aquarius, we might expect to find Pallas Athene helping women to tell the world what’s what.

I was waiting for a story to emerge that exemplified the energy of Mars and Pallas Athene meeting in Aquarius at midweek. The first story to emerge was Janet Yellen’s announcement and press conference about U.S. Federal Reserve rate hikes - certainly Yellen is a strong woman (with an Aquarius moon in the vicinity of the Mars/Pallas conjunction) with a message to share.

Yet my favorite story came from BBC News, and featured
Star Wars star Daisy Ridley. The actress became the producer of a film about a 13 year old Mongolian girl, Aisholpan, who became the first eagle hunter in her family. As described by BBC News, Aisholpan is breaking the tradition of the skill being handed down from father to son. The film is called The Eagle Huntress, an appropriate title to be publicized with Mars and Pallas Athene meeting in Aquarius!

Trumped Up?

Donald Trump’s birth chart is illuminated by the December Full Moon

Astrologers have probably had enough of Donald Trump, considering that so many election predictions went awry. Yet it seems that
The Donald is here to stay for some time, and we may have to work with his chart for a while. Many astrologers have examined the chart from many angles, and there are some natal factors that are well known. It is a powerful and complex chart, to be sure...

His ascendant is 29 Leo, rallying the regal (and sometimes arrogant) nature of the sign, especially since the Royal Star, Regulus, is on his ascendant. Mars, just behind the ascendant both energizes him and sometimes gets him to act without full awareness of the consequences.

Significantly for Trump, it is said that Regulus can lead to a fall if one seeks vengeance - he is perhaps best off not pursuing charges against Hillary Clinton, for example, and he should be careful about being too punitive with the press.

All in all, the area around his ascendant is very much in concert with his disposition - the mix of a desire to be popular with the masses yet also above them, and an assertiveness that can be pompous yet strangely appealing to many people. The combination of regality and Martial assertiveness resonates very well with his name, Trump - literally, to ‘succeed over’, a cognate of
triumph. For example, trump cards beat other in a hand.

The star Algol - the Medusa’s Head - is only two degrees off his midheaven, in the tenth house. This is often thought of as the house of career, yet the meaning of the midheaven is the point of destiny, and indicates what we’re known for doing in the world, reputation, and legacy. As with all astrological symbols, the fixed stars can and do operate in many ways. Sometimes, Trump may play the role of the Medusa, freezing opponents in speechless horror - as on
The Apprentice.

Yet sometimes he may also play the role of Perseus (the constellation in which Algol is situated), cutting off the head of the Medusa - I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that. It’s worth noting though, that Perseus managed the task by looking at the Medusa obliquely in reflection - a very tricky, Gemini sort of strategy.

It is his Sun that is being illuminated at the December full moon, at 22 degrees of Gemini. This moon is a reversal of his own full moon chart, which has the Sun in Gemini and the moon in Sagittarius. The hall of mirrors represented by this reversal is hard to sort out in advance - but it is worthwhile to keep an eye on him this week.

In many ways, this full moon is a harbinger of the series of Saturn transits that Trump will be having to his Sun and moon. Those transits, lasting deep into 2017, were what suggested to many astrologers that he wouldn’t win the election.

They are certainly likely to put some pressure on him - yet we should remember that Saturn makes a hard aspect to his Sun/moon every seven years - he’s used to it by now, although circumstances are different, to be sure.

Perhaps most significantly, Regulus precessed into Virgo a few years ago. With the Royal Star now in the feminine sign of service, royalty ain’t exactly what it used to be. The north node is about to conjoin Regulus a few months after the election. It may be that no matter how regal and powerful he is, Donald Trump may find that the game has changed. His progressed Sun entered Virgo a few months ago - a curious shift after thirty years in Leo.

That leads to a final thought - less astrology and more
about consciousness development. Trump is Modern in his thinking - achievement oriented, materialistic, ready to manipulate truth to suit his needs but also skeptical of unquestioned authority. His base is primarily Traditional - prone to seeing things in the black and white terms of true believers, who already know what is good and true and beautiful.

There’s an inherent conflict between Trump and his supporters. These are two waves of consciousness that are in many senses having their last hurrah, but are gathering together in an attempt to maintain a foothold against the rising waves of
Humanitarian and Integral (and beyond).

We’re at a tipping point, a clash of cultural values that goes far deeper than the political and social issues that represent the underlying structures. Historically, new waves succeed because their time has come. But the transition points are fraught with very real danger.

A Hazy Shade of Winter

Will Ceres Trump Trump's EPA Pick?

Astrologers are used to being annoyed by skeptics, but they’re not the only ones. Environmental scientists are (almost) unanimously agreed that the climate is changing, and human beings are contributing to that change. Yet in popular culture and politics, there remain a large number of ‘climate skeptics’ who either doubt that the earth is getting warmer and weather patterns are changing, or that humans are contributing to the change.

It is probably not surprising that Donald Trump has picked Scott Pruitt as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt, Oklahoma’s Attorney General, is perceived as a champion of the fossil fuel industry and an outspoken climate change skeptic,
and has been involved in challenging EPA regulations.

Trump’s timing is astrologically significant: it comes between two important aspects to Ceres, the celestial body most closely associated with the Earth Mother archetype. Ceres is often involved when environmental, health care, and food supply issues are in the forefront of our collective consciousness.

On Wednesday, December 7th, Cosmic Warrior Mars - in idealistic Aquarius - made a constructive sextile to Ceres. Friday, Ceres ends several months of retrograde and stations to go direct in forceful Aries. On the face of it, we would expect Ceres to be very strong, joining forces with Mars to help the environment.

Yet there’s more to the story. Ceres’ station is at 21 degrees of Aries, nestled between Uranus at 20 degrees and Eris at 22 degrees. Eris is known to wreak havoc - more Pandora’s Box than Pandora. Uranus often brings about about reversals, and indeed it seems that we will be seeing a reversal of environmental priorities - Trump has already promised to scrap the Paris environmental agreement.

Trump’s strongest speech on the environment was made on May 28, 2016, as Uranus and Eris were meeting in Aries, and the dubious Saturn/Neptune square was in full effect. Ceres was rushing through Aries towards a meeting with the two in June, just after the Cancer solstice.

The skies are setting up a powerful contest. Ceres is in effect held prisoner (or does she have ‘Stockholm Syndrome?) between Uranus and Eris. The United States, still a powerful actor on the world stage, is reversing course on what is likely to be the defining issue for decades to come... apparently...

Yet Ceres is strong, stationing in independent Aries, and given a boost by Mars in Aquarius. The sign of the water bearer isn’t necessarily progressive - in fact it can be rather totalitarian - but it is rational. As Ceres goes direct and pulls away from Uranus and past Eris, it may be that we see substantial backlash to Trump’s environmental policy.

A possible hint - Pallas Athene, the sword-wielding goddess of wisdom and truth-speaker, will meet with Mars in Aquarius on December 14th. If there’s going to be a strong response to Trumps policy, look to it to come from women who are speaking in very direct, no-nonsense terms.

a-Voidance therapy

Long and Frequent Moon Voids Haunt Early December 2016

Today, the moon went void at 6:23a EST, and won't enter Pisces until 11:41p. That's more than 17 hours of void time, and here on the East Coast of the U.S., it pretty much swallows up the entire waking day (it gets all of our precious daylight, at any rate!).

So, what do you do and not do with a void moon?

It's better not to start new projects or make major purchases. Decisions reached with the moon void often fail to be carried out, and great ideas can fizzle. In both cases, the planned actions turn out to be 'yesterday's news' very fast, as we move on to new things when the moon enters the next sign.

It is a fine time to continue with projects and plans already underway. The moon void is great for sleeping and daydreaming, but if it comes during an active part of the lunar cycle (like today), we may not be inclined to take the time off.

Can you use a moon void to 'a-void' some consequences?

To an extent. It's said of actions taken on a moon void that 'nothing will come of it'. But that's a bit of a gamble, because another facet of the moon's void is that when major actions do occur, it is because they already have been decided.

So, for example, if you show up to court on a moon void, it could be that the judge is out sick and the case isn't heard, or it could be that she has already made her decision and there's nothing you can do about it.

It isn't a particularly bad time to deliver bad news, however. So, if you have a bomb to drop with someone - like quitting your job, being unable to finish a report on time, or expressing your feelings to your significant other - the moon void may be the time to do so.

Astrology consultations? Depends. It's actually a very good time to step back and get some perspective on life, and consider the recent past and future possibilities. What you can't do is to pick a date for an event or answer a horary question.

Just some random thoughts on the moon's void... I'm not really going anywhere with it... after all, the moon's void...


Apple is working on a self-driving car...

The technology news this week is that Apple is working on a self-driving car. The computer-phone-watch maker has been expanding its product line a great deal in recent years, but the move into the automotive industry is somewhat striking.

Apple joins Google and Ford - to say nothing of Tesla - in automobile innovation that may change driving in a way that matches the introduction of automatic transmission - or even motorized engines.

That technology is in the news is hardly surprising right now. We're heading into March, 2017's Jupiter-Uranus opposition, always big for technology.

This weekend finds the moon in Aquarius, making it's last aspect to innovative Uranus in Aries. This month's full moon is in Gemini, and is preceded a day earlier by the Sun's trine to Uranus. Even Saturn offers a supportive trine to Uranus on the 24th. And Uranus himself stations to go direct on the 29th - it's a very Uranian month!

"But Mercury is going to go retrograde!" you say?

No worries. That Apple has sent a memo to the federal government about self-driving cars is not exactly introducing a new product, but then again, Apple has a long history of successful product launches with Mercury retrograde, including the Power Mac 6200, the iMac, iBook, iPod (one day after Mercury went direct), iPod Mini, and iMac G5.

So what could go wrong?

We Called It - Wrong!

Astrologers and the Election 2016

Prior to Election Day, the overwhelming majority of astrologers agreed that Hillary Clinton would be elected president of the United States. They got their predictions very, very wrong.

Astrologers are not alone in failing to predict that Donald Trump would win the presidency. The press, pundits, and pollsters all expected a Clinton win. But aren’t astrologers supposed to have some infallible insight into the Cosmos that others don’t?

If only! In reality, astrology is ultimately like any other tool that people use to make sense of the world. For one thing, it is vulnerable to subtle biases on the part of its practitioners, and any assessment of astrologers would show that a great many were rooting for Clinton. Astrology is also enormously complex, and an incredible number of factors need to be taken into account in assessing anything that affects an entire society - even the most competent astrologer might have bitten off more than they could chew in trying to predict the results.

The bias of the astrologer seems rather damning, given there overall performance with the election (a few got it right, including Smiljana Gavranic of Serbia, who called it for Trump
before he got the nomination). I wouldn’t say that bias was the determining factor in all or even most of the predictions, but it’s hard to look at a unanimous conclusion and not think that bias had some effect.

Remember that astrologers generally work independently, without any formal peer review process to check that techniques are being applied appropriately and consistently. Astrologers have to be their own authors and editors. Subtle bias slips into even the most carefully controlled scientific research, something that has been demonstrated time and again. It’s no consolation at a time like this, but astrologers and scientists are human, just like everyone else.

Complexity limits any kind of prediction. A dozen meteorologists can expect a hurricane to track northwest, then it suddenly turns due west. It’s not that meteorologists are incompetent, but that weather patterns are subject to an enormous number of greater and lesser influences, and a relatively small shift in any of these can produce dramatic differences from predicted outcomes. Predicting elections is on a similar scale of complexity to that of hurricanes, perhaps even more so because they involve assessing human motivations.

And here we come to a critical point. I believe that astrologers shouldn’t try to predict elections, because, ultimately, if elections have any validity
they must be unpredictable. If a democratically held election were truly predictable through astrology, then the outcome would already be determined before the first ballot was cast. If that were the case, there is no free will in the electorate, and democracy itself is a (rather elaborate) sham that we are perpetrating on ourselves.

Many astrologers applied traditional techniques in their election forecasts. For example, they assessed charts to see if the ruling party would stay in power. Those techniques might work for traditional societies - cultures that operate with relatively static ethics and belief systems. But they can’t work in societies that have moved into the modern era, or beyond it towards a postmodern, pluralistic viewpoint. These societies are -
need to be - composed of individuals who have transcended the traditional viewpoint. It is an evolutionary step, and with each step in the evolution of consciousness comes a greater degree of free will.

Traditional societies can’t sustain democracy (the Middle East provides some glaring recent examples), and modern societies cannot be judged by traditional means. Over the past year, many astrologers insightfully assessed the condition of the candidates in terms of strengths and weaknesses that they were taking into Election Day. Within reason, this could give an indication of a relative advantage or disadvantage for the candidate. Yet like any strength or liability, it is up to the candidate to capitalize or compensate for the situation that is handed to them [him/her?]. That’s exactly what most astrologers offer to individual clients: a set of prevailing conditions within which they can make their own choices.

Astrologers did notice that during this year’s election cycle there were two prominent aspects that would affect the world in many ways. The planets Saturn and Neptune formed a square for the entire year, creating a great deal of uncertainty and challenges to our belief systems. Uranus, an erratic, revolutionary energy, pulled away from Pluto to go off on his own in the very independent sign of Aries. In the midst of the Saturn/Neptune uncertainty, Uranus signaled a
Year of the Outsider. Even the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, and if that isn’t “outsider” success, what is?

The three most prominent candidates were all outsiders. Hillary Clinton perhaps only because she is a woman. Bernie Sanders was long an independent and was ideologically far from the middle in U.S. politics (although his ideas would not be so radical in Europe and parts of South America). And of course, Donald Trump always seemed like a long shot, for so many reasons.

To step back and see that no matter who won the election, it would be someone who represented an outside influence and a break from the status quo may not be as satisfying as calling the winner (or as deflating as being wrong about it), but it is rich in symbolic meaning - and that is what astrology is truly great at doing at the level of the collective consciousness.

Astrologers work with symbols, and symbols always have a range of interwoven meanings. I often think of the story of King Croesus, who asked the oracle at Delphi if he should attack Persia. “If you do,” the priestess replied, speaking for the god Apollo, “a great kingdom will fall.” Enthused, Croesus attacked, and indeed a great kingdom fell – his own. I take that story as a reminder that there is always something mysterious and unknowable, a trickster’s play, running through the Cosmos, an interpretation of symbols that is beyond even the most insightful astrologer’s horizon.

X-File: Saturn and Neptune

The major astrological event of 2016 may well be the square between Saturn and Neptune, an aspect that can create an air of nebulousness around our reality. Just what is real comes into question, and answers are hard to find. Thus it’s synchronistically fitting that The X-Files have returned to the Fox network for a mini-season this year.

The X-Files ran from 1993 to 2002, with FBI agents Mulder and Scully working on cases that appeared to have a paranormal dimension. Fox Mulder is Neptunian: his two mottos are “the truth is out there” and “I want to believe.” Dana Scully is his devoutly skeptical (to use Gary Schwartz’s term) Saturnian counterpart who hewed to a materialistic perspective despite nine seasons of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The ongoing theme of the show was that a government conspiracy was covering up the existence of UFOs, and The X-Files drew heavily on actual UFO information, from sightings by government officials to alien abduction cases.

With the return of the series, a new twist is apparent, although we aren’t far enough in to know where the show is headed. Early in this mini-season, Mulder becomes convinced that the entire conspiracy to cover up the existence of UFOs is in fact a falsehood generated to distract from a larger conspiracy: to use alien technology recovered at Roswell in 1951 as part of a military-industrial takeover of the United States and then the world. The show has ventured into some surprising territory, talking about government spying on citizens, the maintenance of (currently empty) prison camps by FEMA, the militarization of local police forces, and other issues usually too sensitive for mainstream media, including of course the ongoing dismissal of any reports of UFOs.

Yet the conspiracy behind the conspiracy does not stop at the television show. The troubling evidence of how the government is manipulating our information, and speculation as to what end they are doing so, hits a chord with many people. It does indeed seem surprising that a very popular television show would present these issues so boldly, even if the ultimate purpose were entertainment.

But is it?

Not everyone believes that the new season of The X-Files is for our viewing pleasure. Some folks have suggested that the show is in fact telling us what will happen, and how it will go down, in advance. But rather than a heroic hollering of the truth, the show is actually part of the conspiracy. In this version of things, those who are in control always say what will happen beforehand – it’s part of their strategy for one reason or another. Indeed, if there is any reality at all behind The X-Files, and factually there is, it seems strange that it is being broadcast on one of the most powerful media networks in the world. If the conspiracy-to-take-over-the-world hypothesis is correct (and I, personally, doubt it), then it seems almost certain that Fox, and The X-Files, are in on it – otherwise, it would never be broadcast. A recent special edition of Time devoted to conspiracy theories can be taken in the same vein. Even the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency got in on the game last week by releasing some declassified documents on UFOs from the 1940s and 1950s, either displaying rare candor, or...

To most people, however, the idea of such a massive conspiracy will seem outrageous, and the conspiracy theorists, as they are dismissively known, appear kind of kooky. But perhaps that is also part of the conspiracy – make the people who tell the truth appear to be crazy, and place what they say outside of the realm of possibility. Maybe even create a few conspiracy theorists, armed with insightful truth, but make them seem unstable or otherwise untrustworthy. Maybe that’s what The X-Files is... maybe that’s what the people who think that’s what The X-Files is are.


If so, you’re getting the idea. Saturn helps us to see concrete reality, Neptune incites us to go beyond it. When we can see through concrete, we gain insight but lose certainty, we answer one question with a dozen more. The more we want to know what’s real, the more we discover that nothing is. Conspiracies recede in endless regression through a hall of mirrors. As soon as you think you’ve found the truth, another layer of reality is seen behind it. The media answers to the government, the government to the Illuminati, they to the Pope, the Pope to aliens, aliens to...? God? (And who is He working for?).

It’s not that conspiracy theories are necessarily groundless, but that the ground itself keeps shifting. The more power attributed to the conspirators, the higher up we must go to find the real source. And that, ultimately, is the problem. For who can really be in control? Who really knows enough, or has enough power, to pull all the strings? The ego finds a hopeful message hiding within even the darkest conspiracy theory – that someone or something is in control. That’s just what your ego wants to hear.

Saturn leads us on a quest to find that ultimate source of power, Neptune reminds us that it doesn’t really exist. Saturn wants an ego to be in charge – modern conspiracies come from the same impulse that led us to anthropomorphize the divine into a god that looked like us. Neptune reminds us that the ego is a little wavelet existing for a moment on a vast ocean of being. With Saturn square Neptune, we can tilt towards Saturn and generate conspiracies (true or not), or we can tilt towards Neptune and stare into an egoless void. The latter alternative may be spiritually liberating, if you’re ready for it, but it’s terrifying in any event. Or we can watch The X-Files, and convince ourselves that “the truth is out there.”

Is it?

And the winner isn't... Black

Spike Lee announced on Martin Luther King’s birthday anniversary last week that he wouldn’t be attending this year’s Academy Awards ceremonies on February 28th, in protest of the sad fact that none of the nominees for a major award were black. An outpouring of encouragement for Lee’s position, including Jada Pinkett Smith also not attending and George Clooney offering support, has put the spirit of the event in jeopardy.

This isn’t the first year that the monochromatic hue of the Oscars has been called into question - it was also an issue last year - but things seem to be getting more serious as criticism mounts about the lack of African-American presence in Hollywood generally, not only at its most overtly dramatic event.

Saturn is in Sagittarius, where he is likely to bring up issues of ethnicity (or, to be more astrologically precise and semantically nebulous, foreigners). He has been doing so on a global scale, with immigration a hot topic in both the United States and Europe. With Neptune in Pisces sending refugees to the Western world, the response has been polarized between compassion and anxieties.

While Saturn in Sagittarius brings up the topic of ethnicity everywhere, it is especially salient in the U.S., and particularly at this time, as Saturn sails over the ascendant of the country (Sibley chart). Polarization is becoming more extreme, and on matters far more important than the Oscars - the ongoing cascade of police shootings of black people and the lack of prosecution for them, and the question of accepting Syrian refugees into the country are just two prominent themes. And of course, Donald Trump wants to build a wall to keep Mexicans south of the border.

Yet we shouldn’t dismiss the significance of the Academy Awards. Besides media being one of our most highly developed economic products and chief exports to the world (Neptune is the most elevated planet, in the 9th house), it is an American cultural institution, a centerpiece on the table of our diverse society. The Oscars are a celebration of that institution, and they have become a tradition, a rite - almost a holiday. They stand back-to-back with the Superbowl, another annual celebration of American culture. Yes, they are commercial and over-hyped, always trying to go beyond themselves, but we shouldn’t hesitate to consider them American cultural ceremonies on that account - on the contrary, with a Sagittarius ascendant we would expect the U.S. to have spectacular sacraments.

This year’s Academy Awards ceremony is scheduled for February 28th at 5:30 p.m., in Hollywood, California. The sun is setting in partile conjunction with Neptune, just three degrees off of the descendant, in Pisces. Chiron conjuncts the south node, opposed by Jupiter in Virgo. With Jupiter as co-ruler of the 7th house, this Oscar ceremony seems to be very much about the other, and with a Pisces/Neptune theme, the other may not be visible.

It is significant that transiting Jupiter and the north node of the moon are less than one degree away from the Pluto’s position at the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King - there is a strong resonance with this point in the American psyche. The ascendant is also in Virgo, the sign that Pluto transited throughout the bulk of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The moon is in Scorpio, a placement that can dig for truth and act from raw emotions, not necessarily the easiest placement for a celebration.

The chart of this year’s Oscars has the north node/Jupiter combination less than a degree from the U.S. Neptune, in Virgo. However, it may be that Saturn has crossed the U.S. ascendant that is most significant. The Oscars aren’t the only thing in America squeezed by Saturn (with Pluto entering the 2nd house at the same time, the economy is certainly at risk), but we can learn a lot by watching how the Academy Awards react to Saturnian pressures. The themes of inclusion and exclusion, who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’, has always been contentious in a nation of immigrants. They will certainly be at the Oscars - in part because Spike Lee won’t be there.