Confronting Terrorism

The explosive events that transpired in Paris earlier this month have brought us to the next iteration of the global confrontation with violent extremism. It is no longer about fearing what will happen when seasoned jihadi fighters come home to Western Europe and the US. They have already arrived and are wreaking havoc.

We are now in the final, protracted phase of the Uranus/Pluto square, which has been impacting the world since 2011 and will strengthen through mid-March 2015, while continuing to be felt through much of the year. During this multi-year period, historical power struggles are shaping and transforming world history. In the US, various civil rights issues have intensified into sharp confrontations, including immigration, police overreach against minorities, voting rights, and gay rights. The dangerously accelerating reality of Climate Change is another manifestation of this momentous transit and portends a massive, multi-tiered effort that will have to be faced if we wish to save our civilization. And, perhaps above all, the war against violent extremism has taken a new and ominous turn: in Iraq, in Syria, among our allies in Europe, and at home.

Some of the most noteworthy expressions of this highly consequential Uranus/Pluto configuration may be seen in the unfolding events in the Arab world. Initially, the hope and optimism of the revolutionary wave of protest from late 2010 through 2012, known as the Arab Spring, toppled multiple governments across Northern Africa and the Middle East. Unfortunately, this created a great deal of instability and some festering power struggles in several countries, as the hated tyrannies collapsed but more progressive institutions were not yet formed to take their places.

One thread that grew out of this massive wave of rebellion led to the protracted and devastating Syrian civil war. This, in turn, evolved from an anti-Assad rebellion to the drive for a Muslim Caliphate and a frightening invigoration of violent extremism, setting in motion the conquering of large swaths of Syria and Iraq by the savage and barbaric ISIS. Now, we are witnessing the further metastases of this virulent strain of soulless brutality turning up in pockets throughout Europe and America. The call to arms has gone out to any disaffected and angry loner, as well as to the seasoned soldiers returning from a cruel and merciless war of conquest. It is a call for sociopaths of the world to unite, thinly cloaked in a perverted and grossly distorted version of Islam. And Western nations, after Paris, can no longer avoid facing it full on, both at home and in Syria, Iraq, and probably Yemen.

January has brought an extended amplification of the Uranus/Pluto square due to the transiting Node (12-13 Libra) opposite Uranus (12 Aries) and square to Pluto (13Capricorn) from January 6 through January 20. This configuration was set off by transiting Mars (28 Aquarius), from January 7 to January 10, in semisquare to both Uranus and Pluto, and largely coincidental with much of the violence in Paris. Since then and likely continuing through January 20, this transit of the Node to the Uranus/Pluto square is bringing a fast-paced and agitated focus on the threat of terrorism emanating out of the ISIS/Al Qaida nexus in the Middle East. Subsequent to the dramatic events in Paris, multiple terrorist cells have been broken up and numerous arrests have been made by stepped-up raids in Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, Greece, and France. Further action may come early on the 19th when the Moon activates a nearly exact Uranus/South Node conjunction.

As of February 1, the Uranus/Pluto square will build in intensity through March 17. Even minor activations, such as from the transiting Moon, may be enough to incite minor but noteworthy events. The next strong activation will come in late February when Jupiter (14 Leo) quincunxes Pluto (14 Capricorn) and trines Uranus (14 Aries) from February 21 through March 3. This will be followed by the exceptionally dangerous and violent crossing of Mars (15Aries) to Uranus (15Aries) and square Pluto (15Capricorn) felt from March 8 to March 12, while the Uranus/Pluto square nears its last exact crossing on March 17. Thus, the last week of February and the first half of March will again see rapidly unfolding and transformative events, many which will include significant violence, especially when Mars is involved during the second week of March. Any of the various struggles that have developed during the Uranus/Pluto square of the last few years may be highlighted during this time, including Climate Change, civil rights, and the waxing conflict in Iraq and Syria, as well as the parallel battle against terrorism at home among the Western alliance.

It should be noted that the US chart indicates some stressful situations during the second half of January through February 22. In particular, the second half of January includes the Saturn transit quincunx the US Venus (3Cancer06) and opposite President Obama’s Moon (3Gemini21), pointing to some kind of financial contraction or other sense of loss or USchartupset during this time. The first crossing of Pluto square US Saturn (14Libra48), from January 20 to February 22, will also come during this period. This aspect points to an intensification of the US sense of responsibility in the world, as well as an anxiety-provoking feeling of power struggle against a potent and dangerous foe. Under these combined configurations, the confrontation with violent extremism is likely to be slippery, difficult, and dangerous.

A Closer Look

At the time of this writing, the world is watching in horror at the unfolding events in and around Paris. The grim reality of a metastasizing and vicious jihadist movement surreptitiously seeping into Western Europe and beyond, as well as the uncontainable danger it represents, is painfully evident.

The news this morning was about terrorists associated with al Qaida in Yemen holding people hostage in two separate locations. One situation was perpetrated by the same brothers who were responsible for the multiple murders at Charlie Hebdo a mere two days ago. The other standoff, at a kosher market, was instigated by the man and his female accomplice responsible for the murder of a Paris policewoman yesterday. By a little after 11 AM this morning, EST, (5 PM in Paris) the three male terrorists had been killed by police.

As predicted in Explosive January , the two-week period from January 6 through January 20, during which the Moon’s Node is triggering the enormous tension in the Uranus/Pluto square, is a dangerous one. This is particularly true while transiting Mars (27-28 Aquarius) makes a semisquare to Uranus (12Aries) and then Pluto (13Capricorn), largely from early January 8 through around 7 AM (EST) on January 10 (around 1 PM January 10 in Paris). The events at Charlie Hebdo on January 7 were triggered by the Moon from 12 Leo, with Mars moving very close to a one-degree orb of the semisquare with Uranus. As the Mars transit built in strength in its semisquare with Uranus, the manhunt for the terrorists, the shooting of the French policewoman, the two hostage situations, and the bloody conclusion of these devastating and horrific days unfolded. With the transiting Node conjunct transiting Uranus and square transiting Pluto, combined with the brutality and aggression of the Mars transit semisquare to transiting Uranus, we had a rapidly evolving, violent, and explosive situation that has also radically transformed our awareness and intent going forward.

The transit of Mars semisquare to Pluto began during the final hours of the hostage siege on January 9 and will culminate early on January 10 (around 7 AM EST; 1 PM in Paris). This shift from Mars/Uranus to Mars/Pluto has slightly altered the tone of events from sudden and unpredictable violence (Mars/Uranus) to a more pervasive sense of anxiety, a need for vigilance, and determined power struggle with a vicious and cunning foe (Pluto/Mars). It may well be that the escaped fourth terrorist, the girlfriend of one of those killed today, will be apprehended during these final hours of this complex configuration.

Unfortunately, the agitating transit of the Node opposite Uranus and square to Pluto will continue after this immediate situation in France is resolved, lasting until January 20. The next significant activation is likely to be between 4 and 9 AM, on the morning of January 12, EST, when the Moon (12-13 Libra) crosses the North Node, opposes Uranus, and squares Pluto. On January 13, transiting Venus will be sextile Uranus until mid-day on the 14th, followed by the Moon again acting as a trigger in the evening of the 14th. Thus, the period from January 12 through January 14 may again bring rapidly unfolding and dangerous events. Of additional concern is the transit of Mars square to Saturn from January 13 through January 15 which suggests violence or dramatic and difficult events.

It should also be pointed out that any treacherous situation sparked in mid-January is likely to have a more direct impact on the US than the recent Parisian events. As of January 13 and continuing through January 26, transiting Saturn will be quincunx US Venus (3Cancer06), almost simultaneous with Saturn transiting opposite President Obama’s Moon (3Gemini21). These parallel Saturn transits imply a time of grief, upset, and anxiety in the US. The strong triggering of the Node/Uranus/Pluto configuration on January 12 to 14, as well as the Saturn/Mars square of January 13 through January 15, may precipitate the difficult situation indicated for the second half of January in the US. A treacherous weather event is always a possibility, as is a random, but newsworthy and disturbing act of violence somewhere. But given recent history, some kind of terrorist strike(s) should not be ruled out.

Explosive January

As has often been discussed on this page and on other astrology sites across the internet, the Uranus/Pluto square is the defining planetary aspect of this period of history, covering roughly from 2011 through 2015. It denotes huge power struggles between those who oppress and control with deeply entrenched resources – military, economic, and/or political – and those who want to throw off the suffocating restrictions of such tyranny. This theme has pervaded the eruptions of the Arab Spring, the battle against Russian manipulation and dominance in Ukraine, and the building struggle against the increase of wealth inequality and the unscrupulousness of global corporatism, as well as the burgeoning populist movement demanding accountability for unwarranted police aggression.

In a somewhat related narrative, the Uranus/Pluto square also intensifies ideological extremism – often rationalized as a need for freedom from oppression – to such an extent that the situation induces a paradigm shift. Examples of this are the right-wing extremism that has culminated in fractures within the Republican Party, as well as the rise of the Islamic State whose breathtaking radicalism and barbarity are inducing a split between moderate and extremist elements inside of Islam, as well as creating an unprecedented unity of much of the world against the savage fanaticism of IS itself.

During periods when the Uranus/Pluto square is strongly activated by other planetary transits, we find major flare-ups in the current power struggles that exist across the globe. We may see an upsurge of fanaticism and a resulting intensified battle to control it. We may see an increase in violent insurgency against perceived oppression and the consequent repression to stifle it. Or we may see the unleashing of earth changes and weather patterns that demand enormous effort in order to thwart their full destruction. During the final months of the Uranus/Pluto square, from late November 2014 through mid-March 2015, any activation is likely to elicit dramatic, transformative, and significant events that all radiate the same themes: a clash with what is perceived as an onerous and unjust force or the struggle to contain a vicious and dangerous zealotry.

The recent assassination of two police officers in New York City on December 20 provides a clear example of what can happen when this potent Uranus/Pluto square is triggered by the faster moving planets. At the time of the 2:47 PM shooting, Uranus (12Aries34 R) was beginning to separate from Pluto (12Capricorn46), with which it will remain within a one-degree orb, though separating, until it turns direct on February 1, reaching the final exact square on March 16. On the fateful afternoon of December 20, transiting Venus (12Capricorn42) was almost exactly conjunct Pluto and square Uranus; the Moon (12Sagittarius32) was exactly trine Uranus and semisextile Pluto; and Mars (12Aquarius18) was sextile Uranus and semisextile Pluto. As an unexpected and dramatic manifestation of the Uranus/Pluto square, this tragic event was so extreme that it exponentially ratcheted up the existing tensions between police and the community and radically transformed the situation and the national narrative.

As we move into January 2015, we should be aware of other significant activations of the Uranus/Pluto square, as well as the planetary aspects that will accompany and further define these rather volatile and dangerous configurations. Among the latter, the period from December 21 through February 2 includes the transit of Uranus square to the US Sun (13Cancer19) which suggests many sudden, unexpected, potentially perilous, andUSchart transformative events. It will be triggered on January 2 and 3 by the Sun (13Capricorn), which will also be a strong trigger for the Uranus/Pluto square. Thus, we can expect unanticipated, possibly upsetting, and powerful circumstances that will impact the US on those days. With the new Congress coming into session on January 3rd and Saturn beginning its transit quincunx president Obama’s Venus from January 1 through January 10, some of the shock to the country and upset to the president may be the reality of the new Republican congressional juggernaut. It is also likely there will be some kind of random and dramatic situation on those days that will become a brief but emotional national story that will alter the national conversation and the national mood.

Of far greater significance, however, is likely to be the period from January 6 through January 20, with the greatest focus on January 8 through January 16. It is during this time frame that the transiting Node (13Libra) will oppose transiting Uranus and square transiting Pluto, creating a two week period of heightened tension and fast-paced and, at times, dangerous events. This configuration will be further activated by transiting Mars (28Aquarius) on January 8 through January 10, and by the Moon on January 12 (13 Libra) and January 19 (13 Capricorn).

In addition, the most volatile and dangerous aspect in the Inaugural chart will be inaugural13activated from January 7 through January 17 when transiting Jupiter (20 Leo) opposes Inaugural Mars (20Aquarius13), squares Inaugural Moon (19Taurus36) and sesquiquadrates Inaugural Uranus (5Aries14). This Jupiter transit will be further highlighted by the tertiary progressed Inaugural Moon from January 11 through January 14 conjunct Inaugural Uranus. The natal Inaugural Moon/Mars/Uranus/Node configuration is the signature of the anger and aggression aimed at the second Obama administration and also points to the current war with the brutal and vicious IS. There is no question that this period in January will increase both the domestic Republican political war against the president, as well as intensify the conflict with Islamic extremism in some way.

Of very troubling significance in light of the above is the transit of Saturn quincunx the US Venus (3Cancer06) from January 14 through January 27 and the parallel Saturn transit opposite President Obama’s Moon (3Gemini21) from January 17 to January 29, pointing to a time of upset, grief, and loss in the US and for the president on the tail end of a very agitated, treacherous, and volatile period. These Saturn transits reiterate the potential hazard of the January 6 to January 20 time frame, especially the days from January 11 through 14.

Also of significance is the first crossing of transiting Pluto square the US 10th house Saturn (14Libra48) from January 20 through February 22, which suggests the intensification of the US global footprint likely motivated by a deepening anxiety and sense of power struggle, as well as a striking awareness of the limitations of US power. These patterns will continue through much of 2015.

It seems clear that mid-January 2014 will be bringing to the US some kind of highly-charged drama, with any disruptive events bearing the compelling imprint of the reigning Uranus/Pluto square. We are likely to see an explosive eruption of an existing confrontation for dominance that exponentially agitates the issue at hand, shifts the narrative into a new direction, and intensely focuses the national conversation. Whether the issue is gun violence, terrorism, an attempted political massacre by the new Congress, or another treacherous confrontation with climate change, the corresponding events will be upsetting and stressful as they move us toward the next iteration of an already highly-charged situation.

The Ruble Tumbles

Since Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014 and its subsequent thinly-veiled military incursion into Eastern Ukraine, a new mini-Cold War has been brewing between the Kremlin and the West. In punishment for this brazen expansionism, the US, Canada, and Western Europe have slapped increasingly onerous sanctions on Russian economic interests. Moreover, with Russia’s heavy reliance on oil revenues, the recent collapse in the price of oil has caused severe economic damage and a swift and devastating devaluation of the ruble. President Vladimir Putin is scrambling to deal with this multi-pronged crisis, refusing to be intimidated over his actions in Ukraine, and blaming the US and Europe for his troubles.

The story of Russia in 2014, as told through astrology, is one of increased aggression and expansionism coupled with self-delusion and unexpected and transformative losses. This is due to the combination of intensified Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune aspects in Russia’s chart during the year, as well as the transit of Uranus opposite the Ascendant of the Moscow 2014 Spring Equinox chart (13Libra28).

In Russia’s chart, converse progressed Mars has been square to the natal Sun russia(21Gemini10), exact in July 2014, while both solar arc Pluto and solar arc Jupiter have been trine to natal Mars (8Aries49) throughout the year, with the Jupiter trine to natal Mars continuing through March 2015. In addition, progressed Mars is quincunx the natal Ascendant (26Virgo12) through early February 2015. This combination is indicative of the increase in belligerence and aggression, both in attitude and military activity, that has been apparent in Russia’s dealings with Ukraine during 2014.

In addition, the progressed Russian Sun is now conjunct natal Jupiter (15Cancer09), the planet of expansion and success, from August 2014 through September 2015. This configuration has enabled the successful takeover of Crimea and likely a portion of Eastern Ukraine, and points to the possibility of further successful and potentially reckless expansionism in the future when Pluto and Uranus trigger and intensify this progression from February through May 2015.

The transit of Uranus opposite the Ascendant of Russia’s Spring Equinox chart began in springequinox14moscowApril and returned in October 2014 for a long station through early February 2015. This aspect brings unexpected and powerful changes in its wake, further described by the other aspects present at the time. In April 2014, this Uranus transit was accompanied by Pluto square the Spring Ascendant and the very potent converse Mars waxing in its square to Russia’s Sun. During this period, we saw the unilateral, domineering, and my-way-or-the-highway side of Uranus in full form.

More recently, however, and continuing into 2015, Russia’s Neptune has been intensified, and the sudden, shifting, and transformative reality of Uranus has been defined by loss and confusion, the hallmarks of Neptune.

Not only has the first part of the Uranus station opposing the Spring Ascendant (13Libra28) also been square to natal Neptune (13Capricorn48), from October through February 1, 2015, but transiting Saturn made its first semisquare to natal Neptune, exact on December 12, just as the ruble’s value plunged to unexpected depths. Here we see the suddenness and transformation of the Uranus transit combined with the Neptunian feel of a once-certain reality dissipating into confusing loss.putin

The coming year in Russia will be greatly colored by the combination of Uranus, Pluto, and, at times, Saturn that will impact Russia’s Neptune (13Capricorn48), Putin’s Sun (13Libra56) and, for the first three months of the year, the Ascendant in the Spring Equinox chart (13Libra28). In addition, the progressed Sun conjunction to natal Jupiter, highlighted by Uranus and Pluto from February through May, will also be significant.

From late December 2014 through mid-February 2015, the Uranus/Pluto square will be in direct aspect with Vladimir Putin’s Sun, suggesting he is in the power struggle of his life against overwhelmingly powerful forces (Pluto). In addition, events will be sudden and unexpected, with circumstances shifting quickly (Uranus). With this period overlapping with Uranus and Pluto aspecting Russia’s Neptune throughout January, there may be unrealistic expectations, deception and self-delusion, significant losses, and a difficulty getting a clear hold on reality.

As the Neptune activation diminishes for a few months, and Pluto stations opposite Russia’s Jupiter (15Cancer13) from February through May 2015, a more reckless and overoptimistic attitude may well take hold. Perhaps oil prices will rise along with the ruble around that time.

The danger period for Russia will come with the protracted station of transiting Pluto semisquare transiting Saturn, both in aspect to Russia’s Neptune and Putin’s Sun from mid-June through August 2015. This will be a very difficult period, as unrealistic expectations get cut off at the knees by the painful, anxiety provoking real-world lessons of Saturn combined with Pluto in aspect to Neptune. Moreover, the Russian progressed Sun will move into a conjunction with natal 10th house Chiron (15Cancer45) as of March 2015 for a year. It seems likely that economic factors will be very problematic during this time, while the earlier military expansionism will be but a vague memory.

The Barking Dog

Last week, in the wake of a failure to indict the police officer who murdered Eric Garner, the nation responded with widespread protest and anger. Even the expected apologists, who usually manage to obtusely rationalize the worst of police behavior, were shocked at this blatantly egregious miscarriage of justice. In an unusual twist, the abuse of the system was so apparent and so extreme that it mobilized the potential for real transformation. We may actually see police cameras become more common and independent prosecutions of police misconduct more prevalent as a result of this situation.

This week, the Senate released its study of the CIA’s Bush-era torture practices. Again, there is widespread upset and shock over the extremity of the revelations, depicting abuses more widespread, pervasive, and brutal than anyone had anticipated. The apologists claim that the perceived threat justified any and all deplorable behavior, sounding much like the self-serving grand jury testimony of Darren Wilson, the infamous policeman who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It is the hollow rationalization of bullies everywhere.

Once again, there are calls for accountability in what is largely recognized as out-of-control behavior by those legally authorized to protect us. Once again, we are called to compare our ideal of what America stands for with what it is actually doing. Once again, we are shamed and found wanting.

In the US chart, the Sun (13Cancer19) is conjunct the fixed star Sirius, the brightest star in the Northern hemisphere, located in “the Neck of the Great Dog”. In the sky, the Great Dog, or Canis Major, depicts a large dog jumping energetically at the feet of the mighty Hunter, Orion. This dazzling star is said to be indicative of fame, honor, and riches, as well as the potential for violence and aggression.USchart

Also in the US chart, natal Saturn (14Libra48) is in a tight square to the Sun, acting as a leash, as it were, to the more exuberant or ferocious proclivities of the Sirius/Sun combination. Saturn tends to bring discipline, structure, and caution to situations that might otherwise become unmanageable. Its position in the 10th house points to lessons in humility and the limitations of power, as well as a drive to serve the greater good. It moreover forces an awareness of when appropriate boundaries have been breached, often eliciting sorrow, difficulties, and frustration in order to restore balance. This recalibrating process is most obvious when transiting Saturn impacts the US Sun.

Recently, from November 29 through December 9, Saturn made a sesquiquadrate to the US Sun. Due to the natal square between these two bodies, even a minor hard aspect such as a sesquiquadrate is noteworthy. And indeed, we find that both the Eric Garner decision and the torture report happened during this recent transit, both resulting in a drive to bring discipline and accountability to what are largely perceived as out-of-control situations. This Saturn transit followed the Saturn/Pluto combination impacting the US Moon from November 20 to November 29, discussed in previous articles, which heralded the national upset over the lack of indictment in Ferguson, Missouri, for the police killing of Michael Brown.

Of more long-range significance, transiting Pluto is presently in an opposition to the US Sun, spanning from January 2014 through October 2015. As of December 6 through January 8, it has returned to within the potent one-degree orb, actually joining Saturn’s impact on the US Sun for a few crucial days during the release of the torture report on December 9. Pluto tends to bring situations to such an extreme that transformation is inevitable. We saw this recently in both the deplorable video of Eric Garner’s murder and the severity of abuse documented in the Senate report. Both situations were so egregious they could not be ignored.

Indeed, this inherent struggle in the US chart between aggression and restraint, between how far to push goals and when to hold back, will be an unrelenting theme over the coming year. The US Sun/Saturn square will be visited by hard aspects from both transiting Uranus and Pluto, and minor hard aspects from transiting Saturn. This suggests the nation will feel itself embroiled in significant power struggles that include enormous tension and anxiety (Pluto) and sudden shifts of direction likely sparked by unexpected dramatic events (Uranus), as well as periods of serious setback and forced containment when goals are hindered and limitations of the use of power must be accepted (Saturn). These conflicting energies are likely to be experienced in the burgeoning war being waged with ISIL, in the building tensions with Russia, as well as in bitter partisan political clashes and the latest iteration of the civil rights movement at home.

In particular, the transit of Pluto square to US Saturn when it overlaps Saturn’s transit quincunx the US Venus (3Cancer06) and opposite President Obama’s Moon (3Gemini21) during the second half of January and again during the second half of April 2015, portends some tragic and painful national stories that point to the limits and price of our national power in a dangerous world. Additionally, the protracted station of Saturn sesquiquadrate the US Sun from June 27 through August 10, 2015, which is almost completely overlapped by the Pluto station opposite the US Sun (July 7 through November 2, 2015) promises to be an exceptionally stressful period. The summer of 2015 may prove the most treacherous stretch in the entire war against ISIL, and may also bring other very difficult national challenges, including the possibility of some economic stress. Pluto and Saturn combined suggest intense anxiety and a strong push toward increased effort and vigilance in some area. Once Pluto moves past the opposition to the US Sun and past its square to US Saturn by late 2015, we can probably breathe a collective sigh of relief.