Mercury has a special significance with the zoidia (signs) Taurus and Scorpio, and particularly in this retrograde period of Mercury.
Highly eccentric, supposedly. From the Greek ekkentros, from ek ‘out of’ + kentron “center.’ Off-center, in other words: out of proper or at least usual, expected alignment. That’s the word on Mercury’s (Hermes’) path around Sol, which necessarily affects Earth’s reception of Mercury’s emanations. Distance from Sol at aphelion (farthest from Sol) is half again as much as at perihelion (closest to Sol). And Mercury’s orbit is tipped seven degrees to Earth’s orbit. Even more unusual: These occasional transits of Mercury — as does Venus — across the face of Sol. This latest one on 11.11 is the first in a series of three, ending in 2039, all in the second week of November. Going back to the start of the seventeenth century or forward to the year 2295, all are within that time frame, or at the very opposite time of the year. (Similarly for Venus, the transits fall in the first third of either June or December.) Curious, eh? So astrologically speaking, Mercury has a special significance with the zoidia (signs) Taurus and Scorpio, and particularly in this retrograde period of Mercury. That effectively extends from 12 October to 7 December. Earth’s gaseous atmosphere, especially wind patterns (Mercury’s domain), responds. Just take note of the very unusual early-season cold weather that has descended once again on eastern North America, with literally hundreds of low-temperature records expected to be surpassed. And note that storms of historic impact have followed the pattern of eccentricity. One of them was long implanted in the common memory of most folks of the western Great Lakes and northern Plains regions, though it has largely passed out of living memory. The reference is to the notorious Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) blizzard of 1940, when high winds and bitter temperatures that accompanied a surprise cold front brought panic and/or death to hundreds. To paint one picture: Many hunters were out in the fields and marshes when they were suddenly enveloped by and isolated within whipping clouds of snow; escape was all but impossible. Exhaustion and hypothermia ruled the day. George J. McCormack’s report in his Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting (1947) stated: “On November 11, when the actual transit across the Sun took place, tornadoes, blizzards and gales wrought havoc in twenty western and southern States. Storms carried the first major cold wave of the season, with a temperature of 21 degrees below zero reported in Montana. Winds velocity at Detroit’s airport was measured at 78 miles per hour. The worst storm on Lake Michigan in twenty years and the hardest blow in Chicago since 1898 were reported. Property damage amounting to millions of dollars was reported in Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis.” What are the reports on 2019’s version? Especially beyond weather, though that is quite apt to be noteworthy. What weirdness, what snafus, what shifts of consciousness and awareness have flashed into personal and collective beings? On political center stage in Big Swamp City on the Potomac River, North America, the latest extravaganza of the Caesar Brothers and Sisters Circus is opening another near-climactic act. (On other continents, one may peruse the fare of other bunglers. Take a peek at the situation in Brazil, for starters. The article by Chet Zdrowski in the Mountain Astrologer — “Uranus, Gaia and the Amazon: Shell Shock and Climate Change” — is well worth the time.) They’re pretty much all drawn from the tattered, disreputable and generally clownish Patriarchs Playbook. And appropriately, the representative from Hollywood, a most Schiff-ty character, Adam (mythic first man), strides now into the ring, upon Mercury’s very winged heels. How will it go for him and his narrative? Not very conclusively, I dare say — just going by the Mercury-ness of it all. Call it a battle of the memes. And there are some curious aspects of the astrology.
For one thing, according to the planetary pattern for his published birth date, he was born on the day of a somewhat similar Sol – Venus conjunction, except that Venus was on the opposite side of Sol from Earth. And just the day after the summer solstice, calling on him in some way to emphasize the core values of his home and country: Cancerian issues. They are part of a partial energetic lattice from Taurus (moveable goods, money, assets) to Scorpio (other people’s claims on same), from Mars (action, aggression) to Neptune (vision, fantasy). Also included: Pluto’s element of revelatory power and manipulation. An actual birth time is not available, however I suspect noonish is about right. Virgo rising seems right, with Pluto and the lunar north node therein. There is such a strong sense of destiny about his arrival on the scene as fog-master Neptune arrives at his south node: the importance of the cloud of unknowing about where he came from and who are his actual constituents. He comes off, via the media, as cool and thorough. And yet there’s a hidden game — of course, it’s politics, right? No, there is more, much more, than “usual” or “typical.” The position of Mercury in the natal chart is enough to make any astrologically savvy person howl: the next degree over from Mercury’s place on 4 July 1776 (when Mercury was retrograde). For Schiff, it’s the twenty-sixth degree. And check out the Sabian Symbol (I’m referring to the Cafe Astrology page): “ A violent storm in a canyon filled with expensive homes.” Gosh, doesn’t that sound just like what’s been going on of late around Mr. Schiff’s district and from one end of California to the other? And resonating to the very time of his arrival on Earth, Jupiter and Saturn are back at the very same areas as in the natal chart. The fancy phrase for this is phase recurrence. What it means is that the passion play of morality and rectitude has its perfect emcee. Plus, Uranian electricity has been jangling the course of battle as that planet, in the past couple of years, has passed back and forth across the natal place of Mars. The past New Moon was directly opposite, signaling the crucial phase of investigations and plans. And lookee there — an early Gemini Moon: in Mercury’s zoidion of diurnal duality. It’s perfect, coming home to a jangled home. Let the show resume! It’s the Greatest Show on Earth!?
[See also the excellent and extensive article by Brian Clark, “Mercury: Pi in the Sky,” in The Mountain Astrologer, Dec. 2018 – Jan. 2019.]
First, as a major story, came the record-breaking heavy snow and cold air outbreak, concentrated on Montana. And simultaneously, the southeastern states of the USA were encountering record breaking heat and severe drought. Around the same time, the eastern central region of the Atlantic Ocean — over there, off the coast of northwestern Africa — was buffeted by a very rare major hurricane: Those massive storms hardly ever make U-turns, as this one essentially did. Then the weather news was abuzz with another unusually heavy early blizzard, concentrating this time a bit to the east of the first one: North Dakota. An unusual chill moved largely southward: bundled-up baseball players in St. Louis could be seen. Temperatures in the southeast were restored to more typical conditions. Would the trend continue through the rest of the fall and winter? Would 2019-20 shape up as a bitter, brutal winter? Well, the dramatic weather so far, in only three weeks since the equinox (Libra solar ingress), reflects several factors in the astrological chart for the ingress. One is the close T-square (an opposition of two or more bodies, with one or more bodies at right-angle to that axis) consisting of Luna in Cancer opposite Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, with Mercury and Venus at right-angle from Libra. This is a strong indication of rapidly developing air masses and storm systems with considerable energy intensity.
Secondly, the chart includes a looser T-square including Mars opposite Neptune, with Jupiter square to both. With Mars, the fastest-moving of the three, at a higher degree than both the others, a dissipating set of atmospheric circumstances is indicated: the highly charged conditions, including storm surge, that accompanied Hurricane Dorian, especially. What’s left? Sol (Sun) and Uranus. The astro-meteorological characteristics of the latter are relevant to North America: The north-south line on Earth of places where Uranus was exactly on the upper meridian (the “noon” position, more or less) passed through Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and along the Alabama-Georgia border. Generally speaking, it means that a broad band of the central region of the country is particularly subject, this season, to “surprising” weather events, and especially to unusual outbreaks of cold weather. For those places closer to the line, that has not happened yet, but look for that to occur around the time of the next New Moon on 27 October, when Sun and Moon line up closely opposite to Uranus.
The Mercury and Venus lines also run north-south, through the High Plains and the southern Rockies: Unusually high winds (Mercury) and precipitation (Venus) have been reported. The southern West Coast shows a complex and challenging situation: Moon rising and Saturn setting along the coast, with Sun-on-lower-meridian running north-south. This emphasizes factors of overall changeability and tidal movements (Moon) and cold (Saturn), as well as excess dryness (Sun) enabling another round of wildfires disrupting life for tens of thousands of people. Note that reports of large fires forcing evacuations and accompanied by wide-area power outages began cropping up as Sun crossed the position of Mercury on 8 October. This was just days after Mars crossed the Sun’s position, denoting an acceleration and intensification of dry (not even officially drought) conditions. The only other lunation (New, First Quarter, Full or Last Quarter Moon) that strongly “lights up” the fall season configuration is the Full Moon on 11 December, when Sun and Moon will oppose one another at twenty degrees of Sagittarius and Gemini, respectively: close to Jupiter at seventeen Sagittarius. That is an indication of especially fine, dry and warm weather: similar to the situation that occurred through western Europe last February. This time, however, the Jupiter line runs through Greenland and eastern Brazil: enjoyable late-spring days for the latter but concerning regarding the already-melting icecap. Jupiter is often associated with something that is too much of a good thing.
And so what about winter? Well, it will be a lot darker and colder than summer, and there will be snow, mostly in northerly places. More seriously: For the East Coast, the overall prospects are for considerable changeability: mutable Sagittarius will be the sign on the lower meridian, the biggest astrological factor. Sagittarius is of the fire element, so overall relative warmth and dryness are indicated. In addition, the longitude of Washington DC will be where Mercury will be on the lower meridian, foretelling exceptional windiness (and in the political sphere, moralizing and pontificating). Foggy conditions are also likely to be more problematic than usual: noting Neptune’s placement close to the western horizon of the chart.
The western half, or a bit more, of the country will have Scorpio on the lower meridian, indicating generally wetter conditions (with considerable variation: pronounced wetness closer to the Pacific coast) and more extreme temperatures than usual. The presence of both Luna and Mars in Scorpio should produce some dramatic contrasts between wet and dry regions. As with the autumn chart, there is a right-angle between Luna and Venus, Luna again in water (Scorpio) and Venus in air (Aquarius), but this time both are in a T-square configuration with Uranus (the planet that correlates with the unprecedented or highly unusual). Another round of heavy precipitation is expected, where the T-square hooks up with meridian or horizon of the locally-referenced chart. The pronounced wetness, alluded to above, is related to Luna and Uranus being at lower and upper meridian, respectively, through the West Coast states. It will be an off-and-on, abruptly shifting phenomenon, however: the nature of the Uranian factor.
The band of severe cold, as indicated by Saturn on the lower meridian, sets up over Greenland (not shown): good for the crucial icecap. Thus, a not particularly severe winter for all but eastern North America should gladden millions of hearts. As for the timing of significant events, lunations are the primary factor: whether or not any of them link to the pattern for the season in a given region. The closest connection is the New Moon on 24 January 2020 at five degrees of Aquarius, conjunct Venus’ position in the season chart. Venus, however, is not prominently placed near either axis of the chart for locations in the USA, therefore the expected freezing rain conditions should be relatively minor. (The Venus-on-lower-meridian sets up through the North Atlantic Ocean, passing between Iceland and Greenland.) Full Moons, when they fall across either axis, can manifest in the winter as impressive snowstorms. Such is the case for the one on 9 February at twenty degrees of Leo, which exactly strikes the season chart for Boise, Idaho. The interior mountain regions in general would do well to be on the alert. As winter shifts toward spring, the Full Moon on 9 March is closely aligned with Neptune, warning of unusually heavy precipitation and likely newsworthy flooding along the East Coast, particularly the Northeast. Noting that this is the early part of the “Capricorn Crunch” — Mars joining Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in that sign from mid-February to the end of March — one can readily anticipate considerable re-organization of day-to-day functioning — even widespread austerity conditions — accompanying watershed political events. Climate chaos comes home on a decisively serious new level.
Comparisons aplenty are being bandied about just now, concerning the confounding Hurricane Dorian and the Great Labor Day Storm of 1935.
The ferocity of the storms is comparable: Dorian flinging sustained winds of 180 miles per hour — just try to imagine literally weathering such a blow — with gusts over 220, when it made landfall the first of three times at Elbow Cay of the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas group. That occurred at 12:40 p.m. on 1 September.
Reports barely convey the experience: Homes — perhaps thirteen thousand — and businesses completely destroyed in the northern Bahama Islands and inundated with an extraordinary amount of flooding. Residents described “buzz-saw-like winds that splintered homes, flooded streets and left them terrified for their lives.” The storm surge has been reported as reaching twenty-three feet above normal sea level, the storm itself called “the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record,” according to ABC News.
Perhaps the words of the Prime Minister somewhat better conjures the feeling: the destruction “unprecedented and extensive,” battering a nation of small islands that has had to deal frequently with severe tropical storms: Floyd in 1999, Wilma in 2005, Matthew in 2016, Irma in 2017.
Where will it go next? Millions of people are wondering and worrying, their lives and livelihoods on hold. Officially, the word has been that “it’s going to be extremely close” at to whether Dorian would clobber Florida’s eastern coast, where more than a little interest has concerned the fate of the Trumpster’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where El Presidente expects to host and profit from 2020’s G-7 meeting of heads of state.
But at this writing (2-3 September), the storm has stalled, its hurricane-force winds barely reaching said coast.
Understanding the event from an astro-meteorological point of view must include the season chart and the configuration for the event itself (see chart below). A prominent feature is the tight Sun-Mars conjunction along with Mercury and Venus in mercurial Virgo in the landfall pattern upon the ascendant of the season chart. The message: a very forceful event with much wind and moisture hereabouts and now. The bodies in Virgo were at their highest elevation for the day at the time of landfall as they were blowing down the door to the end-of-summer season at the tropical vacation spot — where most of the local population struggles to survive.
The preceding New Moon on 30 August (a super-moon: at lunar perigee, resulting in greater-than-usual tides) with Mercury, Venus and Mars all in Virgo, close to the ascendant of the season chart, was the primary warning of a major weather event. A closer look shows Mercury in a most powerful position: exactly on the ascendant (i.e., eastern horizon). In mythic terms, Hermes was stepping onto the scene to usher the Bahamas — politically, economically and ecologically — into another phase of its existence, along with some individuals into the next world.
Also worthy of study is the Mercury-into-Leo ingress chart (relevant to Dorian’s emergence), Mercury being the wind factor. Notably, Mercury passed over the zero degrees Leo point three times between late June and early August, due to Mercury’s retrograde phase; the chart here is for the final passage. (This point is within three degrees of Mercury’s place in the Bahamas independence chart (not shown) on 10 July 1973 — a retrograde Mercury at that.) This ingress chart shows Jupiter close to the ascendant, strongly suggesting an event of great magnitude, and Jupiter’s square to Neptune near the lower meridian: a strong indication of flooding as the primary and pervasive problem. The same date also saw the conjunction of Venus (at the midpoint of the “underworld” phase of her cycle) with Sol: describing the combination of heat and moisture that fed the monster storm.
The chart for Mercury’s ingress into Virgo (not shown), cast for the same location in the Bahamas (close to the landfall place), offers less conclusive indications: Pluto near the western horizon, and the lunar nodal axis at right angle to the meridian. The meaning of the nodes, which mark the solar and lunar eclipse zones, is basically concerned with events that might have a significant impact on the continuity of the affected ecology, culture and infrastructure. However, linkage with the nodes does not carry through the other relevant charts.
All in all, this hurricane at this location was foreseeable far in advance: a great potential benefit of astro-meteorology. There must be at least a few astrologers in Florida and/or the Caribbean region who are anticipating such storms, and taking appropriate action.
(To emphasize that such a statement is far more than mere analysis after the fact, my partner and I published a statement — submitted for publication on 28 August and published 1 September — comparing the 2019 Virgo New Moon configuration to a very similar pattern that coincided with catastrophic Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico in 2017. I posited the likelihood of a significant hurricane around the date of the New Moon on 30 August.)
What comparisons might there be with the big blow of 1935, the storm that inspired the Bogey-and-Bacall movie “Key Largo”? That one, decades before hurricanes were assigned names, made landfall at Islamorada, Florida, on 2 September at 10:00 p.m. EST — four days after a New Moon in Virgo with Mercury, Venus and Neptune also in that sign. Aside from the factors already mentioned, Dorian has tied or exceeded Labor Day 1935 in a rare planetary coincidence: Uranus’ return, after eighty-four years, to the same zodiacal place within one degree. Uranus the exceptional, the record-breaker.
How about you: Have you caught a bit of Woodstock fever?
Amidst a seemingly expanding plethora of dark developments, it’s been refreshing to look back at what happened at that violence-free event — look at the attitudes that shaped it — look at the people involved in organizing it. Yes, there was a great deal of chaos — and that’s what some people, mostly observers from afar, I suspect, have focused on — yet a great many people both on-site and off-site responded helpfully. It’s a remarkable story, its details new to me.
The story of the lead organizer, Michael Lang, is a fascinating one of a quick starter in life: someone who early on became acquainted with both musicians and music business people, and who enjoyed the support and instruction of people who could pass on crucial skills. (It was his father who passed on the observation: If you’re talking, you’re not learning.) Yet it was his innate characteristics that provided the catalyzing spark.
How is that reflected in the relevant astrology?
Mr. Lang’s basic birth data is easy to come by: 11 December 1944 in Brooklyn, Kings, New York. Given that, and his testimony and that of others, what approximate birth time makes sense?
A crucial distinction is Luna’s sign: Libra or Scorpio. It so happened that Luna moved from one to the other in the pre-dawn hours, at 8:42 a.m. Universal (Greenwich Mean) Time, or 4:42 a.m. Eastern War Time, then in effect.
(By the way, this is one of those occasions when it’s really handy to have an old-fashioned printed-and-bound ephemeris available. Looking up a lunar sign transition is quick and easy. In fact, I’m not sure how else I’d go about it, other than by using an ephemeris generator built into an astrology calculation program, or utilizing that as one of the many wonderful no-cost options at astro.com. And of course, neither of those options was available back in the day.)
So, by four o’clock that morning, Luna was done with Libra, and if Libra is more fitting than Scorpio, then a nocturnal birth is certain. That increases the influence of Luna over the personality, and limits the places (houses) where Sol in Sagittarius can appear: either the third or second.
Even going primarily by Mr. Lang’s testimony, the choice seems fairly easy: Luna in Libra. The ever-ready, easy-going social skills are abundantly evident. In particular, he possessed the facility for forming working partnerships along with the ability to smooth over rough interpersonal situations. A Scorpio Luna man, intensely feeling, would not be capable of managing the myriad and frenetic negotiations and adaptations that were his lot in organizing such a major outdoor event — even before it ballooned in magnitude. (The originally anticipated crowd was fifty thousand, and a minimum four hundred thousand is commonly accepted; and Lang is far from alone in stating: “An estimated one million people tried to get there on Friday and had to turn back.”)
Given how central his sociability was to the organization of the endeavor, Luna’s position in the birth chart must be prominent: probably in an angular place (house). And the only one available within the established time frame is the first place, with a Libra ascendant. With Neptune also there, adding chameleon qualities. (“An enormous halo of dark curls frames a face that is, by turns, evil, wanton, fey, impish, and innocent. . . . Lang is . . . all-accepting, attuned to unknowable vibrations.”*)
The basic fuel for an individual’s endeavors comes, of course, from Sol, and in Lang’s case the solar fire comes through the visionary, venturesome zoidion Sagittarius. Astro Poet Alex puts the significance of this smartly: “The possibility of a creative life and making space for such a life is one thing that keeps fire signs going (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius). These are signs that not only need to be seen, in terms of getting everyone’s attention at a party or in any room, but they also feel a strong impulse to add to the world through the imagination—to bring into being what is not there. Fire signs are often artists, scholars, and visionaries.”
It was Lang who, having already attended a number of festivals, organized one in Miami and returned to New York, came up with the idea of an event with a broader scope. It would combine music and visual / sculptural / theatre / dance art at a rural site where attendees could camp for several days: an experimental and flexible confluence of emerging perspectives on life. In the midst of a deeply divided nation mired in unending war.
At least the nation possessed the cultural and political armature to allow for such an experiment. (Can one imagine something of this sort happening in China or Russia? Not likely.)
It would be an “Aquarian Exposition.”
Lang himself was only slightly older than most attendees: twenty-four, in the expansive year of the second return of Jupiter to its natal place, in the lead-up to the structurally decisive Saturn return (twenty-eight to thirty), when one must sort out one’s calling: what one must do.
He has some rare and potent natally-bestowed characteristics, signified most dramatically by a planetary lattice consisting of the placements (in zodiacal order) of Uranus, Pluto, Neptune and Mars. Together, they represent the potential personal desires and drive converging with a collective need for transformative experience. Plus, the combination of Neptune and Chiron (the latter not yet discovered until 1977) suggests the capacity for fostering the conditions conducive to cooperative and collaborative interaction: One is merely a channel.
Venus, far ahead of Sol in zodiacal placement as an evening star, appears appropriately in the first degree of Aquarius. As mythopoetic lady guiding the Libran ship, she is in the place of her “joy” in the fifth place, beckoning all moved by the vision to make the pilgrimage to connect with one another in sisterhood and brotherhood, to have fun and enjoy music as one great gathering of tribes.
For such a vision to have a chance at actualization, a great deal of effective organization was essential. And that is perfectly indicated by an exact opposition of Mercury in Capricorn and Saturn in Cancer, the latter considered “weakened” in traditional astrological interpretation. Saturn is both out-of-sect in a nocturnal chart and “in exile” in Cancer. What Saturn signifies here is a sacrifice of whatever element of raw ambition may have initially motivated this production, and instead embrace the caring and nurturing characteristics whose development — likely hindered somehow by Lang’s relationship with his mother — is called for by the Cancer placement. People came first, especially when the problematic facets of the gathering became obvious. (Some politicians wanted to deploy the National Guard; that might not have gone over very well among the crowd singing along with the anti-Vietnam War “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag.”)
Moving communicative and organizational skills (Mercury – Saturn) into a context of collective significance is Neptune’s placement at the midpoint of that opposition. Neptune symbolically calls for it all to transcend strictly personal satisfactions.
What about the timing for Lang? As mentioned above, Jupiter was back for the second time since his birth in the detail-oriented zoidion of Virgo, the opportunity to refine such skills within the milieu of a collective enterprise (the domain of Jupiter’s twelfth place in the chart). In the spring of 1969, Saturn moved into Taurus and his eighth place, and during that time Lang moved deeply and appropriately into the realm of shared finances.
Also that spring, Mars, symbolizing energy in action, entered into a retrograde phase in the same zoidion, Sagittarius, as Mars occupied when Lang was born. Mars appeared to move backward, from seventeen degrees to two degrees of Sagittarius, crossing Mars’ natal placement at eleven degrees: three crossings, actually. (The last crossing was during the festival weekend.) During such a time, one would likely be faced with challenges to continued movement of projects already underway.
Accordingly, initial plans foundered in part on the hostility of townspeople to use of an industrial site at Wallkill — a most unwelcoming name, yes? The festival group had no home until just after the Mars retrograde period ended, when they made a deal with Max Yasgur for use of one of his dairy farm’s pastures on 20 July: only a month away from opening day, and coincidentally the same day that American astronauts first walked on Luna. (The doubly momentous occasion was marked by Luna’s joining in the sky with Jupiter and Uranus on the “world axis” point of the first degree of Libra.)
The Aquarian Exposition was scheduled to officially begin with music at the main stage at 4:00 p.m. on Friday (Venus’ day), 15 August, at which time the Jovian zoidion Sagittarius was ascendant. Jupiter, still close to Uranus, was in the eleventh place: appropriate for an especially large gathering. But such was not to be. The get-together may not have played out so peacefully with Mars rising.
Instead, at 5:07 p.m., Richie Havens reluctantly took the stage upon Lang’s pleading, began by playing through his whole repertoire, and killed time tuning and re-tuning his guitar before improvising on the yearning he detected coming from the crowd: “Free-dom, free-dom . . . “ And so the festivities began with Capricorn on the ascendant, with Saturn (“lord” of Capricorn) in pleasure-oriented and pacific Taurus in the playful fifth place. Thus, restraint was the order of the whole rain-soaked weekend, and the needs of group survival under extraordinary conditions took precedence.
Morning-star Venus in Cancer was sinking invisibly toward the western horizon over the forested hills, invoking a nurturing atmosphere in which women, a minority of those attending, could be safe: By all accounts, not a single sexual assault occurred. (What city of comparable size could claim as much?) Instead, helpful communication was the norm, as represented by the exactly sixty degrees between Venus and Mercury.
Mercury’s separation from the square angle with Mars is another indication that any argumentative energies were on the wane: yet another bit of excellent cosmic timing.
The larger potency of the occasion is represented by Luna very close by Pluto and the south lunar node — with Neptune sixty degrees away. As astrological historian Rick Tarnas has pointed out, Woodstock 1969 was a dionysian event of ecstatic participation, and perhaps a reunion of some kind. Surely it was an unprecedented gathering and dispersal, a densely populated field of love comparable in magnitude only to a great battle in another time and place.
What about the weather indications? (You didn’t really think I’d pass up a look in that department, did you?) For anyone even slightly interested in the event at Bethel, the challenging weather of those days is a well-known part of the whole mythos.
And it shows in the season chart: water zoidion Scorpio on the crucial lower meridian, with Neptune nearby. That would be enough to indicate a chronically wet season. Venus with Saturn at the upper meridian adds further evidence of moist and cloudy conditions. That is well documented in the literature on the preparation stages of the festival.
An astro-meteorologist of the time might have hoped for or even expected a drying out period beginning with the New Moon that occurred around actual (rather than “daylight saving” time) midnight on the 13th August, two days before the official start of the festival. Sol swallows Luna in its brilliance at the New Moon: the solar energy predominates. And so a New Moon on the ascendant of the season chart would indicate a likely dry and warm(er) period starting during that quarter (week) of the lunar cycle.
It did not kick in right away, that’s for sure. The hasty construction of concert facilities on the Yasgur site was much hampered by rain and soggy grounds. And it continued through the weekend, most famously on Sunday afternoon the 17th. Dramatically, a thunderstorm with gusty winds threatened not merely the hundreds of thousands on the ground but also light towers that hovered over them. After that downpour, some folks took to sliding through the mud along one long slope among the great crowd. Through the whole weekend, as the rains continued off and on, Sol was moving — a degree per day, approximately — toward the right angle with Neptune.
The last performer, Jimi Hendrix, with his new band took the stage around 8:30 on Monday morning the 18th: about twelve hours later than scheduled. The crowd had shrunk considerably: Thousands of minors had to make their way home to face a different kind of music, and a lot of people had jobs to get to. About halfway into his two-hour set (the longest of his career), a fresh inspiration came to him:
The massive stage was sparsely populated compared to how packed it had been all weekend with musicians, crew, and friends. Jimi, a red scarf around his head and wearing a white fringed and beaded leather shirt, looked almost like a mystical holy man in meditation. His eyes closed, his head back, he’d merged with his music; his Strat — played upside down since he’s a lefty — his magic wand.
As he almost reverently started the national anthem, the bedraggled audience, worn out and muddy, moved closer together. Those of us who’d barely slept in three days were awakened, exhilirated by Jimi’s song. One minute he was chording the well-worn melody, the next he was reenacting ‘bombs bursting in air’ with feedback and distortion.It was brilliant. A message of joy and love of country, while at the same time an understanding of all the conflict and turmoil that’s torn America apart.
— The Road to Woodstock, p. 238
How utterly appropriate that Uranus and Jupiter were at the moment rising over the eastern horizon (representing a tremendously electrifying moment). Venus, in the family / tribe oriented zoidion of Cancer, was nearing the upper meridian. That day, as the crowd dispersed across the country, across the globe, Sol reached the exact right angle — last-quarter phase — with Neptune. That combination at that angle represented, more than any other part of the horoscope, an opportunity for an evanescent experience.
The moment was the culmination of one of the great dreams that manifested for a time on planet Earth — shortly before Earth became Gaia. The largest peaceful social event became history (not much herstory yet) and myth, the memories and recorded media among the fragments of that dream — those who attended and participated being seed-keepers and seed-bearers.
It is well to remember that seeds well-tended can survive for a very long time, awaiting the return of conditions necessary for germination. Perhaps even, as improbable as it now seems, after an Aquarian Shift.
(For many more astro-meteorological investigations, studies of notable persons, and broad historical and futuristic perspective, check out the book I authored and published in 2018: Scenes from a Tapestry.)
Primary source: The Road to Woodstock, Michael Lang with Holly George-Warren, 2009
Young Men with Unlimited Capital, Joel Rosenman and John Roberts, 1979, quoted in The Road to Woodstock
The confluence of phenomena was merely a brief blip on the radar of weather-related news — except, I suspect, in Hawaii. Last week, tropical storm Barbara suddenly intensified simultaneously with — and directly north of — the total solar eclipse on 2 July. A satellite caught the two events on camera. (Hawaii News Now posted the story.) And although the storm subsequently weakened well before nearing the islands, peak winds reached 155 miles per hour. It was a close call. That island chain was the recipient of a rare tropical cyclone (named Lane) just last year: late August to be more exact. That storm did some significant damage, mostly from torrential rains: Rainfall totals ranked among the heaviest ever recorded within a territory of the USA. And that surely taxed the local resources. (Bear in mind that that remote island chain is utterly dependent for its collective lifestyle on products and fuel from afar.) The storm and the volcanic eruption on the Big Island (which started in May 2018), which wiped out stretches of roads and many homes, have been a severe one-two punch — though little or nothing reflecting that is apt to make the news. Maybe a bit sneaks between the lines of the local news, when the subject is the public works budget or tourism (the economic mainstay).
Weird meteorology keeps happening, however. Just a couple of days before the eclipse, on 30 June, Honolulu recorded over four inches of rain: the most on any day outside the usual October-to-April wet season. Could it be related somehow to the array of perturbations associated with an impending solar eclipse? Any experienced or aspiring astro-meteorologist would do well to add this to the ol’ notebook. After all, it’s been not quite two years since Hurricane Harvey suddenly intensified and hammered on Houston. And that was associated with the Great American Eclipse that crossed the country from coast to coast. Let’s have a look at the astrological factors. Calculating the chart for the solar eclipse on 2 July 2019, 9:16:20 a.m. AHST, at Honolulu — where the eclipse was actually not visible — shows the ascendant (the eastern end of the horizon) at 24 degrees of the sign Leo, and the midheaven (upper end of the meridian) at 24 degrees of Taurus. Find the midpoint of those two at nine degrees of Cancer: bingo: two degrees from the zodiacal location of the eclipse. (No planets are particularly close to ascendant, descendant, midheaven or lower meridian.) Thus, the longitude of Honolulu is marked for probably more than one out-of-the-ordinary event. Keep that in mind over the months to come. The Cancer solar ingress (Northern Hemisphere summer solstice) chart at Honolulu (below) has a couple of potent features: Sun exactly on the ascendant, and Neptune less than one degree from the midheaven. Sun is primarily, of course, an indicator of dry and hot conditions. Not quite so much, though, at the gate of the watery sign Cancer. Neptune, however, is a reliable indicator of any of several wet phenomena: from torrents of rain with resultant flooding to fog. (Neptune / Poseidon is god of the oceans.)
Luna on 30 June crossing the place of Venus in the ingress chart does indicate release of moisture, although by itself it would not signify such a notable event.
As for horrendous Harvey, well, he hit Houston four days after the eclipse, which was at its maximum as Sun and Moon were crossing the midheaven at Houston. (The path of totality passed several hundred miles to the north.) Harvey gathered strength from the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, while Luna (representing tides of air and water) approached and crossed the place of Jupiter (think “bigger” and “more”: always) as both were in opposition phase with Uranus (think “disruption” and “unprecedented”). In fact, all three were aligned with the horizon at the time of Harvey’s landfall: picture these forces sweeping unhindered across the surface of Earth and ocean.
In addition, Pluto (representing devastation and the process of beginning rebuilding on a new base) was close to the midheaven of the landfall chart. Less than a month later, Hurricane Maria leveled Puerto Rico, killing (one way or another) at least a thousand people and sending thousands more to the mainland. That landfall moment, at sunrise (20 September 2017, 6:15 a.m. AST, Yabucoa, PR) was marked astrologically by Sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars in the sign of Virgo, just hours after a new moon in Virgo. A very similar cluster of planets in Virgo recurs in late August and early September 2019, and it includes the new moon in Virgo on 30 August: the peak of the hurricane season. It’s time once again for people in historic storm zones to get better prepared — even consider (again) whether to pack up and move. At some point, the option of recovery and rebuilding runs out. It’s part of the cyclical process known as catabolic collapse.*
In chapter seven of Scenes from a Tapestry: Reports and Musings on Weather, Climate and the Long Emergency, I proposed a possible method of forecasting an El Nino season.
The midsection of the USA has been pummeled for months now with rain that won’t quit, an unusually active though not spectacular tornado season, hail galore, persistent flooding, inundated farm fields. For a great many commodity farmers—especially those accustomed to producing corn or soybeans—the 2019 season is effectively over. And there are the effects of the trade war against China. What a tide of woe. As reported by United Press International: “American farmers are usually finished planting corn by early June. But, as of [17 June – date of Full Moon conj Jupiter], 92 percent of the nation’s fields were planted, making this the slowest planting season recorded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “
It started with what I termed “Nebraska’s Katrina”: “When the bomb cyclone hit Nebraska in March, that was really the beginning of the whole thing,” said Gale Lush, a Nebraska farmer who serves as chairman of the American Corn Growers Association. “Then the rain started and it hasn’t stopped.”
That was a month after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued an advisory on 14 February 2019, reporting evidence characterizing a weak El Nino phenomenon; and indicated that it would likely persist through the Northern Hemisphere spring. In the advisory notice published on weather.com, the following summary was included:
“In a typical El Niño winter and early spring the jet stream pattern over the U.S. shifts and can result in wetter-than-average and colder-than-average conditions across much of the southern tier of the country. Drier conditions are often found in parts of the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys.” (Not so this time.)
It seems to me that one possible (major) indicator would be the signs occupied by Jupiter and Saturn, since they alone among the (visible) planets generally remain in a given sign through the setup and release phases (Northern Hemisphere autumn and winter, respectively). Mars can remain for as much as almost eight months in a single sign, when its retrograde phase is involved, or as little as one-and-a-half months centering on its conjunction with Sol; thus, I am inclined to discount Mars. Not so much the sign, but the element, also seems crucial: fire, air, earth or water. The element — as in “principle” or “rudiment” — reflects the temperament of Earth, as Earth bathes in the energies of the cosmic environment. My theory is that El Nino seasons correlate most strongly with those when Jupiter and/or Saturn is/are in the warmer elements fire and/or air. (El Nino correlates most strongly with above-average warming of waters in the tropical Pacific.) If Jupiter and/or Saturn shift(s) sign / element during the period of late September through December, that indicates a change in the established meteorological pattern. When the change occurs affects the degree of change.
Jupiter shifted from water-sign Scorpio to fire-sign Sagittarius on 7 November 2018, and Saturn has been in earth-sign Capricorn since 20 December 2017: factors pointing toward a weak-to-moderate El Nino. Add that to the overall climate-chaos situation, mix in Uranus-in-Taurus (since 6 March 2019) significations that include large-scale disruptions to agricultural industries, and all the ingredients are present to generate the kind of stories that are being reported daily.
And what about comparisons of 2019 with 1927?
The winter of 1926-27 was a record-breaker in the rain-and-flood department for much of the lower Mississippi River valley. Among the factoids: seven hundred thousand people were left homeless in Louisiana and Mississippi. The misery inspired famous songs such as Memphis Minnie’s “When the Levee Breaks” (famously covered by Led Zeppelin) and Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927”: “It rained real hard and it rained for a real long time / Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline . . . ”
There is little oceanographic data available from 1927, so that season is not included in the list of El Nino seasons. However, I think a strong El Nino event can be reliably inferred. It would definitely support the Jupiter – Saturn element theory: Jupiter was in air-sign Aquarius and Saturn in fire-sign Sagittarius.
During the very strong El Nino of 1997-98, Jupiter was in airy Aquarius until early February, and Saturn was in fiery Aries throughout.
The next strong one is likely in the winter-spring of 2020-21, when both Jupiter and Saturn will inhabit air-sign Aquarius.
“Don’t it always seem to go / that you don’t know what you got / til it’s gone” — sang Joni Mitchell so many decades ago. The thought, the sentiment, seems to capture the perverse human tendency to require shocking loss to awaken people sufficiently to provoke movement.
Irish journalist Lyra McKee was killed senselessly on 18 April 2019 at about 11:00 p.m. in a riot zone in Derry, Northern Ireland.(1) She was twenty-nine years old, and so at the watershed life stage known as the Saturn return, with Saturn in political Capricorn.(2) Her life story includes hard beginnings and determined application to a purposeful life of reporting the doings of her troubled community.
Her last published story, on 14 April, was an analysis of the increasing rate of youth suicides since the ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement (signed 10 April 1998). (3)
Tough stuff, reflecting the symbolism of Sun and Mercury in Aries vs. Uranus, Neptune and Saturn in Capricorn in McKee’s birth pattern.
The Uranus-Neptune in Capricorn generation was born into a milieu of epochal political chaos — the transition from the Cold War to the New World Disorder — with the collective task of developing ways of negotiating new patterns of social organization free from the rigid distinctions of the past. So many of them have embraced and cultivated deep connections across former boundaries of race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, norms of sexuality.
McKee had written for many publications, including Buzzfeed, Private Eye, The Atlantic, and others; she had signed a two-book deal, and her book The Lost Boys has been slated for publication in 2020. The timing is in the wake of the much-discussed Saturn-Pluto conjunction, exact in January 2020, but close together and “stationary” against the zodiac in late April 2019. The book, collecting the stories of eight boys who went missing in Belfast amid the political turbulence between 1969 and 1975, is sure to have even greater impact because of her own sacrifice.
On the personal side, McKee’s birth pattern included both Venus and Mars in Aquarius in a right-angle to Pluto in Scorpio. She lived these out in her queer relationships and embrace of high-danger situations.
A born mold-breaker, she nevertheless followed in the footsteps of the late war-zone journalist Marie Colvin, famed in later life for her eye patch covering one of her wounds. Colvin shared the Mars-Pluto combination. (4)
Not much has been widely reported on recent doings in that part of the world since the Troubles that peaked in the late 1970s have quieted — somewhat. The status of that remaining part of the United Kingdom on the island of Eire remains unresolved. Prime evidence of that: Northern Ireland has had no government since January 2017, at which time the enhanced-level-of-breakdown combination of Jupiter – Uranus – Pluto dominated the zodiac.
But the funeral for McKee, attended by top-level politicians from Northern Ireland, the Republic and Westminster, has stimulated a new round of talks on the region’s political future. They are scheduled to begin on 7 May, as Mercury (discussions) closes in on Uranus for the first time since Uranus’ entry into Taurus. This seems an appropriate lineup for an intended breakthrough in the stalemate, though any agreement is likely to be quite slow in coming: Taurus is the zoidion least amenable to change.
As so often, notable shifts in the political landscape are accompanied by a dramatic weather event: Storm Hannah has prompted red-alert warnings for 26-27 April for southwesternmost Ireland, and lesser alerts for the rest of the island and parts of England and Wales. This is the first such alert since October 2017, and is reflected in two recent astrological emphases. The line for Mercury at the upper meridian at the Aries solar ingress on 20 March 2019 fell along the westernmost tip of Ireland — Mercury denoting the wind factor. And in the chart for Mercury’s ingress into Aries (where Mercury passes from 17 April until 6 May) shows Uranus (disruption of the existing pattern) on the ascendant.
Yes, change is coming, and how tragic the cost. Once again.
(1) “The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said that a gunman fired shots towards police officers in Derry’s Creggan area at about 23:00 BST on Thursday [18 April].” (BBC News)
(2) Birth date: 31 March 1990 in Belfast.
(3) On that date, Sun was joined by Saturn, Mars and Mercury (retrograde) in Aries, with nearly-full Moon in Libra.
(4) Birth date: 12 January 1956 in Oyster Bay, New York, with Mars additionally conjunct Saturn in Scorpio for a large further measure of harshness of experience. McKee had been booked to speak at a screening of the recent film about Colvin’s life and work, titled “A Private War.”
Mercury in Pisces for nine full weeks: 10 February to 17 April 2019. The astrological community has been replete with discussion of the relative rarity for the swiftest of planets to linger so long in one sign. The period of apparent retrogradation in the middle of that time frame increased the tenancy, and caused the planet to apparently cross the position of Neptune three times: 19 February, 24 March and 2 April.
Many astrological writers and commentators anticipated the likely problematic character of the period, represented by Pisces being opposite one of Mercury’s places of domicile, the sign of Virgo (the other being Gemini). Detriment or exile is the technical term, meaning that its significance is apt to include distinctly harmful and unwelcome effects — when unleashed through inclusion in close configurations with Sol, Luna and other planets, or when changing apparent motion.
The Neptune factor added another layer of complexity, offering options of inspiration, fantasy, confusion and obfuscation.
One particularly horrifying event occurred soon after the start of the retrograde period, on 10 March: the crash, shortly after takeoff, of an Ethiopian Airlines plane, one of a new breed of Boeing airplane, the 737 Max 8. It was the second such plane to go down in recent months, and with over 300 in operation and 5000 ordered, this was big trouble.
Soon thereafter, reports appeared to the effect that the plane had been rushed through the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency approval process, and that there were major problems involving the flight control system. Apparently, the pilots of the Ethiopian plane performed all the procedures recommended by Boeing to save the aircraft, but could not pull it out of a flight-system-induced dive.
Very Mercurial, with a strong dose of Saturn. (Saturn, representing controls and the force of gravity, and powerful from its position in domicile in Capricorn, appeared at the top of the event chart.)
Weather events have been especially severe and unusual through the Mercury-in-Pisces period: notably Cyclone Idai that struck the southern African nation of Mozambique, and the concurrent “bomb cyclone” Ulmer that struck the Central Plains of the United States — both covered here in earlier posts (“Africa’s Katrina” and “Nebraska’s Katrina”). This week, another bomb cyclone — also described as an “inland winter hurricane” (nearly a month into spring!) — has struck much the same area of the Plains as the one in March. Storm Wesley wound up over Colorado, dropping temperatures impressively, whipping up extreme winds and posing danger from wildfires on its warm and dry side, and from deep drifting snows on the cold and wet side. Many reports noted that Wesley came through four weeks after Ulmer. Well, it’s no surprise from an astro-meteorological standpoint: The planetary configuration is a near-repetition of the one that accompanied the two storms a month earlier. For one thing, Mercury has made the last pass in this series through the zodiacal area marked by Mercury in mid-March. In addition, Luna has also returned to the same place as then, forming the same configuration as before, minus Sol.
Even though a fresh season chart forms the basis, the recurrence of the former pattern provides a potent lesson: Understanding and forecasting require detailed examination of the ephemeris. And this calls into question the tempting reliance on computers.
Three weeks have passed since the inundation of the Central Plains of the United States, and further implications beyond the destruction of physical assets are coming to light. For instance, spoilage of stores of 2018’s crops. As one report from Reuters says: “The USDA [Department of Agriculture] has no mechanism to compensate farmers for damaged crops in storage, . . . a problem never before seen on this scale. That’s in part because U.S. farmers have never stored so much of their harvests, after years of oversupplied markets, low prices and the latest blow of lost sales from the U.S. trade war with China – previously their biggest buyer of soybean exports.” This represents much more than potential profits lost: This impacts the world’s industrialized food system. And, echoing ages thought past, exposed piles of moldering grain make for a breeding ground for disease-carrying rats. (See “Biblical Anxieties” on James Howard Kunstler’s blog.) Meanwhile, politicians and media mouthpieces aplenty blather on in their desperate attempts to bolster business as usual. Some elements of the astrologically savvy portion of the populace may have noticed the catastrophe that struck a very poor region of southeastern Africa (see earlier post “Africa’s Katrina”), and wondered about the indications for the American flood disaster at the same time. Well, the same tight configuration — Luna at first-quarter exactly opposite Jupiter, plus Mercury retrograde with Sol at right angle, forming a “T-square” — was triggering the center of the flood region, as represented in the chart of the season. Same as with Idai, Sol and Mercury were upon the season position of Mars: representing the factor of extra heat energy and force of wind and atmospheric masses. Now look at the winter 2018 season chart located to Omaha, Nebraska.
See that circle with the horizontal line at the left side of the inner chart, next to the symbol for Luna? That’s the degree of the zodiac that was rising at Omaha at the time of the winter solstice (Capricorn ingress). Luna at first-quarter for March 2019 was exactly on that degree, with Luna’s place in the ingress chart just a few degrees away. Luna is a reliable indicator of water, and evidently not limited to when Luna occupies a water sign. That was the indicator that water issues were due to arrive. Add the Jupiter factor, and the magnitude of events gets bigger, amid conditions that on the surface are more favorable, as in milder temperatures breaking a stretch of severe weather. Add up all the factors, and the sum is apt to come to a “perfect storm.” That’s one of the things about astro-meteorology: Whenever there is a tight configuration involving a lunation (Sol and Luna at New, first-quarter, Full or third-quarter phase), zones on Earth where they align with horizon or meridian are zones of likely significant weather impact. An inevitable question arises: Financial and supply issues aside, can the affected regions dry sufficiently quickly to permit planting? The spring season (Aries solar ingress) chart shows Mars on the upper meridian through eastern Nebraska and the Red River valley, so the answer is that generally dry weather conditions will prevail. From awash to dry, hard and cracked earth: That is the prognosis. Meanwhile, much further east, New England and the Atlantic provinces of Canada are set to receive the symbolic impact of Mars’ approach to the opposition to Jupiter. Accordingly, dangerously dry conditions and record warmth appear set to take effect there by early May. That region may well undergo trials by fire of the sort that beset Scandinavia in the summer of 2018.
The storm came on a meandering course, seemingly indecisive about whether to remain at sea or visit the continent. It almost seems intentional, the way it came back to the Mozambique Strait — the passage between southern Africa’s eastern coast and the island of Madagascar — to pick up more water before its slow-motion landfall. Tropical Cyclone Idai was a prodigious rainmaker, dropping amounts in excess of two feet on a region suffering from years of severe drought: a now-common recipe for disaster in this era of climate crisis. Drought hardens the soil and enhances runoff. An “inland ocean” up to thirty miles wide resulted, forcing thousands of people from their homes. Winds over one hundred miles per hour also delivered much destruction. In addition to a terrible death toll, initial tallies indicated damage amounting to a large portion of the meager economy of Mozambique, with at least five years necessary for recovery. And as usual, waves of water-borne disease followed. Astrological indications of potential major events were present, lacking only the triggers of subsequent configurations for manifestation. The base chart is the Capricorn solar ingress, 22 December 2018, 12:23 a.m. EET, at Beira, Mozambique. The moment marked the start of the summer season for the southern hemisphere location. Applying principles of Hellenistic astrology: Out-of-sect Saturn in domicile on the lower meridian in the season chart is a convincing indication of the likelihood of major problems, if not major woe, in some regions along that zone of longitude. One saturnine translation is: events and situations of extreme physical and emotional gravity. (That line also passed near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, scene of the tragic crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane on 10 March; many of the ill-fated passengers were United Nations personnel involved in projects in eastern Africa.) Saturn’s movement since the Capricorn ingress to the place of Pluto in the ingress chart confirms the manifestation of large-scale death and destruction: the region utterly and lastingly transformed.
At the time, around midnight, fourteen degrees Libra was on the ascendant, with Libra’s ruler (or “lady) in the same degree but of the next zoidion, Scorpio: Venus’ zoidion of detriment: another indication of likely problematic developments. The power of Venus, being one of the symbols for moisture (along with Luna and Neptune), is amplified for ill effects in the watery zoidion of Scorpio; one of the triggers is evident in Venus’ arrival at fifteen degrees of Aquarius — “in square” to Venus’ base place — by the date of the first lunar quarter on 14 March 2019. Idai came ashore on that date, and as often happens with major storms, this one did so at high tide. This can be seen from the symbols near the top of the chart’s outer ring: Luna at first-quarter phase rising on the eastern horizon AND in alignment with Luna in the season chart. This is merely one part of a tight configuration: Luna opposite Jupiter, that axis right-angled by Sol and Mercury (retrograde) less than a day away from conjunction. All these transiting bodies were connecting to Mars (twenty-three degrees Pisces) in the season chart — representing an event tapping into an ocean (Pisces) of warm (Mars) water. (See “Mercury’s Shadow” for another story linked to the symbolism of Mars in this season chart.) If anyone were looking for signature events associated with the entry of Uranus into Taurus, this would be one.