Skewed Signals

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.]

Social Insecurity

It happens quite frequently in these Excited States of America: Dire alarms are raised in the various news media whose audience is the Boomer generation, that the system of Social Security payments is under attack or financially unsound.
No wonder! Millions of Americans depend on that money showing up every month, and millions would undoubtedly be in tough shape without it. Not all Boomers are well off, retiring in the lap of luxury as they go about all their medical appointments and load up their pills-for-each-day containers each week. A great many, for various reasons, fell through the cracks of the Great Prosperity that followed the Great Depression and (Second) Great War. A lot never got what might have seemed their allotted portion of the Great American Pie in the heyday of the American Empire.
Most of that pie went to those who survived the Depression and War: their reward for endurance. The Boomers reached adulthood — okay, okay, a lot of the younger folks apparently think the Boomers never grew up — just as America peaked and started its unavoidable slide: the late ‘60s and ‘70s.
Sure, business was going great guns (in more ways than one) in that era, but if one looks at the her/history of the times, it really was crazy, man. And not many other than M. King Hubbert (note: NOT L. Ron Hubbard) noticed that the item that underpinned it all — cheap oil — began its inevitable path of depletion in the early ‘70s. We’re all living through the early stages of the Long Emergency, or Long Descent.(1)
The point is that Social Security and every other aspect of a growth economy have reached the end stages of their viability.
Just look at the cycles of the outer planets — the ones that relate to historical developments over an extended time scale (more than the twenty years of a Jupiter-Saturn cycle).
The starting point is the signing of the Social Security Act by President Franklin Roosevelt on the summer afternoon of a Full Moon day. (Those basic facts might cause one to associate Social Security with a popular song of the era: “Summertime, and the Living Is Easy.”)

One cycle is quite obvious: the return of Uranus to the starting point in an early degree of Taurus, the zoidion (sign) most associated with financial security on a personal level. This month’s New Moon opposite Uranus is a signal that something big and new is in the works and about to break into public consciousness.
There are likely to be one or more major developments or announcements between now and the Full Moon days. While that occurs on the twelfth of November — with Luna shining brightest in the money sign Taurus, in company with Uranus the disruptor — the following five days continue the prime time.
Next in line: Neptune, transiting lately opposite Neptune in the Social Security chart (and opposite where Neptune was in 1776). The 1930s and 1960s (marked by Medicare) were the two peak periods in social welfare programs, correlating first with Neptune’s passage through Virgo, then Uranus’ and Pluto’s.
Lastly: Pluto, now attaining the halfway mark from Pluto’s place in 1935 (and returning to Pluto’s place in 1776): Pluto being associated with the most inexorable, life-and-death forces working toward evolution on a collective level.
Thus, one can begin to appreciate that the great struggle of this time over the collective soul, if you will, of the Excited States includes, prominently, the disposition or overhaul and continuation of the apparatus of social welfare. (As with pretty much everything about the ways that life has come to be organized, devolution to more regional or local realms is a safe bet.)
There are a great many other points of interest about this chart, but there is no need to invite confusion with excessive detail.
There is merely one essential fact: Nothing is forever, everything must over time change and die. Human institutions are no more immune than individual humans.

(1) It takes 60 Iraqi conventional oil wells to produce 1 million barrels of oil per day.
How many US shale wells does it take to produce the same amount?
a) 30
b) 60
c) 100
d) 2,500

Answer: d) 2,500
source: Bloomberg News, 27 Feb. 2014
Tag: The Shale Revolution aint all it’s fracked up to be.
Re-publication:
Resilience.org

Each month, on the first of the month, a more personalized article, written with Aeolea Wendy Burwell, is published. Check it out here.

Weather or Not

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.

See also the monthly personal forecast co-written with Aeolea Wendy Burwell.

Picture of Dorian Great

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.

Woodstock Revisited

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

Capability and Courage

Sometimes a little more amounts to a lot more.
A fresh look at the nearly-forgotten intervention into the civil war in Sierra Leone is a reminder that sometimes wonderful developments, or at least an end to horrors, can occur by surprise. It is possible with the application of capability and courage.
A story in the current issue of the New York Review of Books details the essential points about a rare case of successful foreign military intervention. The man who seized the initiative, way back in May 2000, was British Gen. David Richards, veteran of many prior peacekeeping actions in such places as Northern Ireland and East Timor.
At the time, the government of Sierra Leone was beset by the marauding and maiming Revolutionary United Front, and the capital, the misnamed Freetown, was on the verge of being overrun. Panic had set in:

Thousands of people, carrying children and baskets of clothes, tried to flee by road. At the airport, the last flights were fully booked, with desperate parents begging departing passengers with secured seats to take their children to safety.

Additionally, a peacekeeping mission sent by the United Nations was bogged down, demoralized, dozens of its soldiers held hostage.
Britain, the onetime colonial power there, had a vested interest in restoring stability there — particularly in the form of British citizens present and under threat.
It so happened that British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who would subsequently disgrace himself by supporting the Bush / Cheney / Powell regime-change mission to Iraq, was of a mind to promote a quiet resolution. Looking back, Blair considered Sierra Leone one of his proudest moments in office.
It’s true: He done good, though passively. Richards done even better.
What started officially as a reconnaissance mission aimed at evacuating British subjects became, under Richards, a clever campaign with modest resources to end a decade of barbarity, employing child soldiers.

The RUF was abducting children from their villages, getting them high on poyo (homemade palm wine), marijuana and heroin, and training them to kill. I later heard from a Jesuit priest who tried to rehabilitate these child-soldiers that they made excellent killers because, under the age of nine, they had not yet developed a full moral conscience. The warlords exploited their innocence.

The “cheerfully evil” leader of the RUF was in control of the diamond mines. Fifty thousand — fighters and civilians — had been killed, and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Richards’ small force of Royal Marines and paratroopers landed on 6 May, under a crescent moon: an appropriate moment for nurture and support. They began by setting up a base at the airport, then set out to patrol the city, in the process establishing an intelligence network that bore crucial fruit: the capture of the RUF leader.
There was far more in the sky than a crescent moon, as some readers might recall: May 2000 was the month not only of a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn — signaling a potent political moment — but also a brief and very rare cluster of Mercury, Venus and Mars along with the New Moon (on 4 May) in the stability-loving zoidion of Taurus. All these bodies were arrayed in a right angle to slower-moving Uranus and Neptune in outside-the-box Aquarius.
Significantly, within two days of the New Moon, Mars had separated from the cluster, entering adaptable Gemini. That quality was exactly what was required for a humanitarian outcome: that and a combination of confidence and daring in going beyond the strict definition of the mission. Key to success, however, was Richards’ battlefield diplomacy.
Take note in the chart below how the grand configuration (in the outer ring) linked with Richards’ birth chart (inner ring). (In the absence of a known birth time, the chart has been calculated for the hour of sunrise.) He was truly a man of the moment.

The Taurus cluster — especially Sun (leadership), Jupiter (expansion of scope) and Saturn (restraint, discipline) — filled the empty spot Richards’ natal configuration of Venus – Pluto – Mars: opposite natal Mars (the warrior planet) at home in Scorpio. This represents a rare opportunity to manage a dire situation.

(That’s where it was handy to have a commander born with Luna in Gemini: “jaw and jaw preferable to war and war,” as the saying goes.)

As further evidence, the previous February’s partial solar eclipse fell on Richards’ natal Venus, denoting an opening to promote peace. And, more dramatically, the famous “Grand Cross Solar Eclipse” of August 1999 had emphasized the same degree areas as Richards’ Venus – Pluto – Mars combination. That year, he was commanding a UK contingent seeking to prevent reprisals by Indonesians against citizens in East Timor.
Amazingly, yet appropriately, Gen. Richards was recognized with promotion, ultimately to Chief of Defense Staff, and honored as a Life Peer. Yet his true value was recognized in the streets of Freetown, even during his service there: “Richards for President” posters began appearing, and local women would surround him, holding their babies toward him and weeping with gratitude.

[For some sobering contrast, read “The Generals Won’t Save Us from the Next War.”]

Special: The Time Is Now

6 March 2019

How rare and precious this moment.

Light is noticeably increasing. The days are growing longer, more often sunny. Our hopes of warmer weather can sometimes be tinged by fears of summer’s heat.

By way of introduction, we are two astrologers and concerned global citizens, aware of multiple crises in play on a planetary level. We understand these through the lens of planetary cycles.

For example, the exact moment of the New Moon on March 6, 2019, coincides with several other unique configurations. Sun and Moon will be exactly in alignment with Neptune, ripe with a range of possibilities from delusional to visionary. Imagination is the common element.

Simultaneously, slow-moving Uranus shifts into the Earth sign Taurus, initiating a period of great Earth, economic and financial changes; sudden and shocking events may set the stage for long-term shifts on a very real level. Many of us remember when Uranus entered the previous sign, Aries, which manifested in a tremendous earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan and irrevocably polluted our oceans.

Do you remember? Or have you, like most people, had your attention swallowed by the diversion of tweets? Our world is constantly pelting us with high levels of dysfunction from the political and natural realms, encouraging the need for escape. A miniature screen in every other hand as we drift through the daze of our days. The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard recognized in the mid-1800s this now-typical state of mind with his phrase: “Tranquilized by the trivial.”

We have at our immediate disposal a wide range of technological escapes and may be choosing to drink or drug or binge watch or enter virtual reality to avoid the unpleasantries and uncertainties.

Neptune’s fog has never been thicker, yet never — at least in our lifetimes — has the need for clarity been greater. As with Dorothy and her companions so urgently seeking Oz, we find ourselves irresistibly succumbing to the slumber of our own poppy fields.

We humans are both blessed and cursed with shortsightedness: blessed because otherwise we would be overwhelmed by the enormity of threats to our survival — be they economic or ecological. Cursed because we have forgotten how we got here.

As Catherine Ingram has written, “I offer no hope or solutions for our continuation, only companionship and empathy to you, the reader, who either knows or suspects that there is no hope or solutions to be found. What we now need to find is courage.” (Her article, “Facing Extinction,” is on her website: http://www.catherineingram.com/facingextinction/ )

Everyone can do something that is within their means. Courage can take the form of simple commitments that are possible on an individual basis — for example, reducing packaging, reducing waste, reducing car dependency. Since we owe our existence and the continuation of civilization to six inches of soil, everyone can contribute to soil building through such efforts as backyard composting, vermiculture, community gardening, and supporting native habitat restoration. Contributions can be social, as in feeding the homeless, or supporting organizations that serve individuals and families in need.

An often overlooked, yet vital, aspect of self-care is the cultivation of compassion, along with the capacity to grieve and to laugh at our human follies. The reality is that we have all participated in the creation of our collective situation.

This New Moon with Neptune represents a beginning with the option of vision. Uranus’ shift of sign for the next seven years offers opportunity for innovation in the realms of finance and food production. The energies are quickening, the choices are ours.

Intentional action is healthier than the diversions so readily available in our culture. The question remains: What do each of us now decide to do?


Peter Doughty has nearly forty years experience studying and writing about mundane astrology, including his blog over the past seven years and recent book entitled Scenes from a Tapestry.
Aeolea Wendy Burwell has also been a student of the celestial arts for over forty years, and is currently teaching astrology in her living room or wherever possible. (aeolea@juno.com)

(See also Paul Kingsnorth’s article “Life versus the Machine” on the Orion Magazine website.)

Balmy and Barmy

26 February 2019

Have you heard the news from across The Pond?

Lovers could be seen lolling on the green grass, near expanses of flowers, in London’s St. James’s Park. Young men were spotted strolling shirtless along paths where they would not be touched by the long shadows of the season. Skies were strangely cloudless. New records were set for the warmest temperature in February or any winter month. Even in Scotland a weather station reported sixty-five degrees, with slightly lower marks attained in Denmark and Sweden.

The warmest days were 25 and, especially, 26 February 2019. See a story at the Washington Post.

Yet from an astro-meteorological perspective, it’s to be expected: The chart for the winter season, cast for the Capricorn solar ingress on 21 December 2018 at 10:23 p.m. GMT, featured both Jupiter and Mercury right on the lower meridian. That’s the most significant spot in a weather chart.

Jupiter correlates with high air pressure, fair skies and mild weather — when in a fire zoidion such as Sagittarius, which is the case for nearly all of 2019. Fittingly for the biggest planet, it amplifies and expands the character of the zoidion it occupies. Add Mercury, and moderate breezes are typical.
Note this: On 26 February, Luna crossed the zodiacal places occupied by the lower meridian, Jupiter and Mercury at the time of the Capricorn ingress (winter solstice). The last quarter moon on the same date — seen by Sol and Luna at the same degree, three signs apart — accentuated the fine-weather effect.
What a difference a year — and a whole different astrological pattern — makes. In the winter of 2018 the UK and much of Europe were beset by chronic cold blasts out of Siberia: “the beast from the east.”

Peter Doughty
-<zoidion>-

Mercury’s Shadow

The night before, the electronic signs began flashing the warnings to semi drivers along the 490 loop: No empty trailers would be allowed on that stretch of highway on Sunday the twenty-fourth, to pose the hazard of overturning in the expected high winds and blocking up the flow of traffic.
And by two in the afternoon on Sunday, the wind in the trees were keeping up a continual roaring sound. Nearly sixty-mile-per-hour winds were anticipated. Fortunately, the trees were bare. Even so, some damage to trees and structures was inevitable.
Why is this happening? There is a strong storm (“Quiana”) with its center east of the Great Lakes this afternoon, bringing blizzard conditions to the upper Mississippi valley, with a steep air pressure gradient propelling winds ahead of it.
It was all right on cosmic time: Mercury had already crossed the upper meridian of the season chart, in fact was exactly conjunct that axis at the time of the Full Moon on the nineteenth. It so happened that Mercury at that moment was passing the zodiacal spot where Mercury would “station direct” on 28 March — after the retrograde period beginning on 5 March, when Mercury would “station retrograde.”
There’s more: At the moment of the windstorm’s arrival, Mercury was exactly conjunct the place of Mars (signifying increased energy and destructive force) in the season chart.
All this greatly emphasizes the Mercury factor, which in astro-meteorology correlates with wind.

Take a look at the chart graphic: the season chart on the inner wheel, the “event” chart around the outside.

You probably recognize the Mars (male) symbol high in the inner ring. It’s near the symbol for the upper meridian: the circle with the vertical line, which represents the zone of longitude where energetic events are most likely to transpire. Mercury in the outer ring is just above it.

Can another significant wind event be expected within this broad longitudinal region in the near future? It’s likely, especially around the fifteenth of March, when Mercury (in apparent retrograde motion) crosses the place of Mars in the season chart.
As of the Full Moon moment, Mercury has entered its “shadow”: the zone of retrogradation, the zodiacal “territory” it passes over three times within a short period: before, during, and after retrogradation.
There’s a lot of reworking of infrastructure to do, as well as of information, comprehension and communication.


Peter Doughty
-<zoidion>-