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.

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

Veil of Kashmir

The story was nowhere near the top tier of the news leads during Equinox Week at the United Nations. The leads were Greta Thunberg’s Scandinavian Capricornian scolding — “How dare you?!” — of world “leaders” for their inaction on the climate chaos, and secondarily — thank the goddess — the Madman Who Must Not Be Named.
Somewhere beyond that, faintly heard, were the warnings of Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, beseeching the world body for attention to the tension between his country and India over the situation in Kashmir.
As so often, Gaia expressed the region’s tension in another form: a significant earthquake on 24 September, just two days before Khan spoke at the United Nations.
Khan was reminding the rest of the world that both countries possess nuclear weapons and a long history of mutual animosity. Harsh rhetoric and military maneuvering have been the norm for Kashmir at least since the British withdrawal from the Indian subcontinent in 1947. That occasion was marked by a political division into India and Pakistan (then into western and eastern sections, the latter separate as Bangladesh since 1971) and social conflict costing millions of lives.
The dire situation was reflected, astrologically, in the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto, the same combination that accompanied the start of the Great War in Europe in 1914.
Thus, it is no surprise that the recurrence of that conjunction in 2019-20 has been witnessed by a major ratcheting of tensions, particularly since Valentine’s Day. The date was 14 February when a twenty-something Pakistani rammed a car laden with explosives into a bus carrying Indian paramilitary troops near the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar. The explosion was heard for miles around, and at least forty soldiers were killed: the highest death toll from a single attack in the history of the insurgency.
In subsequent military reconnaissance and bombing by India — the first time in fifty years — one of its own planes was shot down, but the return of the pilot did little to reduce tension. India moved thousands of troops to the region and arrested thousands of Pakistanis, and India’s resolve to control the bulk of Kashmir (China also claims and occupies a smaller part) was emphasized by India’s revocation of semi-autonomous status. The newly nationalistic India has been riled up under prime minister Najendra Modi’s regime.
Not a trend that would promote peace prospects.
Plenty of heavy life-and-death sentiments among the Pakistani populace at the time of the Valentine’s Day event are represented by the Saturn-Pluto combination in opposition to Luna in the independence chart. A severe challenge is even more strongly indicated by the particular timing on that day: Saturn and Pluto on the western horizon: the place associated with open enemies. (One can see this by observing the circle-with-horizontal-line symbol in the outer ring of the chart, representing the eastern horizon at the moment, close to the crescent symbol for Luna in the inner ring. Saturn and Pluto, as well as Venus, were opposite that point.)

Also at that moment, Mars, the warrior planet, was at the very end of its domicile zoidion (sign) of Aries, with Uranus the surprise disruptor very close by.
Uranus in the Pakistan chart indicates a perennially precarious state of the government: It is placed exactly on the upper meridian. And Mars . . . well, Mars at zero degrees of Cancer indicates a very insecure nation whose instability can readily draw in the involvement of nations afar.
On 4 October 2019, Mars crosses the zero degrees of Libra place: another trigger moment, likely reflected in significant military developments, and perhaps tumult among Pakistani legislators.
Of greater concern is the period beginning 16 February 2020, when Mars reaches zero degrees of Capricorn — opposite zero degrees of Cancer — joining Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn. Such a massing of planetary bodies in that zoidion surely portends political developments of far-reaching magnitude and significance.
At the most recent NCGR conference, several astrologers voiced grave concerns about political developments in reference to the month-and-a-half period beginning mid-February 2020. Bill Meridian, for one, identified the India – Pakistan flash point, along with Saudi Arabia, as a region of likely upheaval for 2020 overall.
Actually, much of the southern and eastern rim of Asia is in states of great ferment, if not open violence: from Yemen and Saudi Arabia (the latter’s oil-processing facilities recently hit by drone strikes) through India – Pakistan to Hong Kong to the border between the two Koreas. All are thrumming to the quickening vibrations of the great conglomeration of planets in Capricorn.
“Interesting times,” indeed.

Note on Pakistan independence chart: I have heeded the statement in Nick Campion’s Book of World Horoscopes: “Pakistani astrologers use a chart for 9.15 am, August 14, when Lord Mountbatten, the [British] viceroy, addressed the Constituent Assembly.”

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

Red Stars

Two weeks away from the seventieth anniversary of the triumph of the Chinese Communist Party, Hong Kong residents by the thousands continued their three-month-long campaign to preserve some measure of local democratic autonomy against the might of the central government and its local minions. They were energized by the bitter recollection of seeing none of their demands met in the aftermath of the Umbrella Revolution (2014).
Over the summer, masses of opponents had battled police in the streets on a daily basis, shut down the airport and interrupted subway service. Now (15 September), with the anniversary looming, their ferocity took a new and profoundly defiant course: tearing down and setting fire to a red banner proclaiming the glorious observance.
Many observers wonder: When will the Tiananmen-like crackdown come? Few wonder if the planets offer any clue. Alas, they do: especially (of course) Mars.
The background cycles go some way toward describing the situation.
Transiting Neptune has been opposing Saturn in the chart for the Peoples Republic (1 October 1949), reflecting widespread subversion of the bureaucratic structures of the state, as well as the stirrings of a new collective vision: a great threat to the interests of the entrenched Communist Party elite. The latter have been counting on continued economic expansion to maintain their privileges: a state of affairs undermined by China’s worsening trade dispute with the United States.
In spring-summer 2018, and since April 2019, Uranus has been at right angle to the PRC Moon and Ascendant positions, reflecting a rising mood of rebelliousness and pressures toward a break from the general trend of recent decades. That trend of rising economic and political forces, at the expense of personal freedoms, has reached a peak. The Chinese electronic system, now pervasive, of social ranking on the basis of obedience to central-government decrees seems particularly relevant to this astrological combination.Thus, there have been credible reports of a considerable level of “revolutionary tourism”: people arriving from the mainland, checking into hotels and going shopping for clothes and protective gear appropriate for joining the raging protests. Such is the hunger of the human spirit for freedom.
Transiting Saturn, now “stationary” at a point at right angle to PRC Mercury, symbolizes a protracted period of governmental deliberation about how (and when) to respond to the crisis, and redoubled efforts at information suppression.
What can Beijing do without permanently and grievously damaging the nation’s course by ruining the crucial vitality of its appendage, Hong Kong? The state has the momentum of its entire history of brutality, represented by the Mars – Pluto conjunction in regal Leo in the PRC chart. It has deployed violence in any situation deemed to involve “foreign” culture — Mars – Pluto in the seventh place — and that certainly fits the democratic “infection,” as well as Tibet.

The intransigence of the state at the time of the Umbrella Revolution, and the dejection of the people involved, are reflected in the strong links to the PRC chart: Jupiter to the PRC Mars – Pluto, and Moon – Saturn to PRC Venus.
The youth of Hong Kong have evidently adapted the ways employed in 2014 and learned the bitter lessons of the crushed Tiananmen protests — exactly one cycle of Saturn ago — by developing hit-and-run tactics and better preparing to cope with the weapons of the police.
It seems that the Party faithful want to hold back the military option until after the celebrations on 1 October. By then, Mars will be a full ten-degree arc behind Sol in zodiacal distance: the two were conjunct on 2 September, and are gradually separating. By the Full Moon on 13 October (Luna at twenty degrees of Aries / Sol at twenty of Libra), Mars will be at six degrees Libra: closing in on the place of Sol in the PRC chart, representing the premier and his political circle.

Mars will be heliacally rising: emerging before Sol in the morning sky and beginning to be visible again. This marks the start of a period in which the urge to once again unleash the People’s Liberation Army will be very great. With Mars thereafter moving into a right angle to Saturn and Pluto, brutal suppression of the upwelling cleansing forces within the mass of common people becomes more likely. (Saturn’s conjunction with Pluto in January 2020, exactly upon the PRC position of Jupiter, in any case promises great and deep changes to China’s corporate colossus: a grand reorganization.)
China is clearly at a turning point. The Party may already have lost the war, in showing Hong Kong’s entrepreneurial class that for its dynamism to survive, it must undergo an exodus. The most apt place of relocation would be Taiwan.

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.”]