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Putin Ascendant

After the July 17 catastrophic destruction of Malaysian Airlines flight 17, there was a brief moment of hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin might back down. The missile that brutally annihilated the vulnerable civilian aircraft had come from Russia. The training in the use of the launcher, and possibly even its manning, was done by Russians who had been specifically sent by Putin into Ukraine to create chaos and weaken the regime.

Many had speculated after the horrifying carnage and the world’s angry reaction that Putin might put some distance between Russia and the insurgency. Many had thought he might move to dissipate the potential threat to Russia’s economy and attempt to regain his stature among the international community after the naked aggression of the past months. Many were wrong. If anything, Putin is escalating the conflict, bringing in yet more weapons and troops. Moreover, Russian artillery has been reported to be shooting at Ukrainian positions and shelling targets from across the border.

Putin has been stirring up trouble in Ukraine since February 2014 when the corrupt Russian puppet regime of Victor Yanukovich was overthrown and a more pro-Western government took its place. Since then, Putin has been actively inciting an insurgency, infusing the ethnic Russians living in the eastern part of Ukraine with highly trained Russian military agents, as well as arming them with high-tech weapons. The first casualty of this effort was the Crimean Peninsula, which in March became part of the Russian Federation. Since then, Russian thugs have been infiltrating other parts of eastern Ukraine, using the same tactics and provoking a civil war which is rapidly morphing into a war between Ukraine and Russia.

The July missile attack on a Malaysian civilian aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and the death of the nearly 300 innocent civilians aboard has galvanized and infuriated the world.  Previously cowed by Russia’s control over a big chunk of European energy imports, the countries of the EU are taking a second, less-intimidated and more emboldened look at what is happening. More aggressive and punishing sanctions are being put into place in response to Putin’s naked aggression and expansionism.

Unfortunately, a look at the charts at both Vladimir Putin and Russia tells us that this period of aggression and expansionism is likely to continue at least through March 2015 putinand possibly beyond. Both charts are subject to the potency of the Uranus/Pluto square, which has been aspecting Putin’s Sun (13Libra56) and Russia’s Neptune (13Capricorn48) since the early months of 2014, with Uranus continuing through most of February 2015 and Pluto remaining in aspect through November 2015. This particular combination points to how Putin is exercising his will (the Sun) heedless of the opinions of the world community (Uranus), and fueled by his own paranoia and a need to exercise excessive power (Pluto) or succumb to the perceived dominance of the West. It also describes the connection between Putin’s unilateral and excessive actions and over-amped, propaganda fueled Russian nationalism (Uranus/Pluto in aspect to Russian Neptune) he is consciously unleashing.russia

Another extremely significant configuration in the Russian chart is the progressed Sun conjunct natal Jupiter (15Cancer13) which will grow in potency from August 2014 through August 2015 and then begin to dissipate. Jupiter is the planet of expansion and success, and this progression will also be intensely stimulated by the Uranus/Pluto square, suggesting a period of unilateral and unexpected (Uranus) Russian expansionism and manipulative power plays (Pluto) over the coming year. Times of particular concern, when either Uranus or Pluto will be in direct aspect with natal Jupiter are August 16 through September 21, 2014, and February 1 through May 26, 2015, with particular emphasis on late February through mid-March when both Uranus and Pluto are active.

Aggressive action is usually accompanied in some way by an increased stimulation of Mars, the war planet. In Russia’s chart, converse progressed Mars has been in a square to the natal Sun (21Gemini10), waxing through mid-July 2014. Although this aspect is now waning, the solar arc progressions in Russia’s chart reveal an almost simultaneous trine from solar arc Pluto to natal Mars (8Aries49) peaking on December 1, 2014, and solar arc Jupiter trine natal Mars, peaking on March 24, 2015. This combination pointing to heightened Mars action, running alongside the Uranus/Pluto transits to natal Neptune (self-delusion, hyper-nationalism) and natal Jupiter (reckless expansionism) is enough to signal significant trouble coming from Russia over the next year.

As for Putin, he will remain extremely popular in his country through October 2014 with solar arc Venus square to the Sun. His intensified appeal will return in late 2015 with converse Sun square natal Venus through most of 2016. For the moment, despite appearances, he is quite stressed due to the long Saturn station from June 1 through late August opposite the Sun (17Taurus10) and square the Ascendant (17Leo) of his presidential chart (5/7/2012, 12:10PM). Clearly the world’s pressure is beginning to upset him greatly and hinder some of his plans in the near term. In addition, his converse progressed Moon will be conjunct both converse (20Leo57) and natal Pluto (22Leo43) from mid-August to mid-October 2014, signifying a great deal of stress and anxiety behind whatever machinations he exhibits. But tensions for him diminish by late October, and the many aspects described above point to some significant, aggressive and expansionist actions at some point from late October 2014 through March 2015. This, of course, parallels the final phase of the epoch-making, multi-year Uranus/Pluto square as it works its transformational mojo on geographical, political, financial and social forces around the globe.

Explosive Events

It has been a difficult summer for President Obama. It seems like every hot spot in the world is erupting simultaneously, each with its own set of intractable problems. Iraq is fracturing into three parts – controlled alternatively by violent Sunni extremists, the Kurds in the North, or a dysfunctional and tyrannical Shiite government – and may be impossible to suture back into one piece. Israel and Gaza are once again at war, with Israel now invading its relentless foe. Meanwhile, Syria’s civil war continues apace, with Assad beginning his third term with taunts of “I told you so” to the world, while his ravaged nation overflows its borders in a massive refugee crisis.  The violent clash between the Ukraine and Russia is again escalating, with the horrific rocket attack on a Malaysian Air passenger jet subsuming the conflict in a global furor. And, at home in the US, the Southern border is awash in children seeking refuge from violence and poverty in their Central American homelands. There are no easy pickings here.

From late May through September 1, the president is under a combination of Saturn transits that point to the frustration and difficulty he is currently under. Most notable is the extremely stressful, protracted Saturn station sesquiquadrate his Venus (1Cancer47) from June 12 to August 3. The conflicting desire to care for these refugee children (Venus), while constrained by numerous legal, financial, and political limitations (Saturn) seems aptly described by this transit.

Also notable is the number of potent and slow-moving Mars transits occurring during this Saturn/Venus period in Obama’s chart. These describe the unusual number of global conflagrations of violence we have seen erupting in the past few months that have created the context for much of the ongoing stress impacting the president. Most recently, during the Mars/North Node conjunction from July 11 through July 13, there was a huge escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza. Then, on Monday, July 14, a brief window of hope occurred for a ceasefire. This glimmer was rapidly extinguished when Hamas continued its rocket launches into Israel. The ceasefire was attempted as the Mars/Node conjunction (23Libra59) began to separate and just before the Sun/Mars square (24 -27 Cancer/Libra) began to take hold, from July 16 through 19. Now, with the Mars/Sun square in full swing, Israel has begun an invasion.

Another manifestation of the explosive Mars/Sun square has been the catastrophic destruction of a Malaysian Air flight over Ukraine, ostensibly by a rocket launched by pro-Russian rebels. This dangerous aspect is likely to bring further violence and convulsive events before it passes, especially during the afternoon and evening of July 18 (EDT) when the Moon forms a T-square with these two fiery bodies.

By July 19 or July 20, as the Sun/Mars square begins to wane, hope for an actual ceasefire in Israel might become more realistic. Sunday, July 20, is also the day that both Uranus and Saturn change direction and begin to separate from a multi-week quincunx. This has been strengthening the Uranus transit square the MC of Israel’s Spring chart MC (16 ½ Cancer), another highly agitating and volatile configuration that will continue through July 27.

If no ceasefire between Israel and Gaza comes just after July 19, the next likely time for a cessation of hostilities may come in the last couple of days of the month or the first couple of days of August.  By August 3, the Saturn sesquiquadrate to Obama’s Venus will begin to wane, somewhat easing the various pressures on him until Saturn moves into a square with his Ascendant 10 days later for the duration of the month. Thus, some of the current intractable crises may ease during that 10 day period between August 3 and August 13.

It seems likely, however, that some kind of stressful event, perhaps a late summer super-storm, will occupy the president and the nation during the second half of August.  This period will see the final crossing of Saturn square to Obama’s Ascendant (18Aquarius03) while Saturn will also be sesquiquadrate the US Venus (3Cancer06) at the same time. The Mars/Saturn conjunction (17Scorpio40) on August 23 through August 24 is likely to exacerbate whatever circumstances are unfolding.

For the present, the current Sun/Mars square is taking a huge toll. The world is in a furor over the nearly 300 lost lives in a blown up passenger jet, while Israel prepares to widen its ground offensive in Gaza. The explosive violence of this aspect will continue to wreak havoc until it begins to wane in the early hours of July 19 in Washington and closer to mid-day in Israel and Ukraine.

Israel versus Gaza

Sometimes, it just takes the momentary blaze of one lit match to start a forest fire. The assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand in 1914 is reported to have sparked the onset of World War 1. The 1968 murder of Martin Luther King unleashed angry riots and destruction in cities across the US. The Tunisian street vendor who set himself aflame in December 2010 to protest government harassment began a conflagration that quickly ignited liberation movements across North Africa and the Middle East known as the Arab Spring. The list goes on and on.

On June 12, 2014, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped. While the country held its collective breath hoping for the boys’ safe return, its government blamed Hamas and began arresting activists. Once the bodies of the three brutally-murdered teens were found on July 1, a full-blown fury erupted in Israel. By July 2, a Palestinian teenager was abducted and burned to death in retaliation, and a long-simmering pot of distrust, hostility, and rage savagely boiled over.

In a rapidly escalating conflict, Palestinian rockets are now pouring into Israel, while Israel is raining down airstrikes into Gaza. Talk of an imminent ground invasion by the Israeli military is spreading. Meanwhile, enraged Arabs are rioting across Israel and the West Bank.

The birth of modern Israel  is given for either 4:32 or 4:37 PM on May 14, 1948, in Tel israelAviv. I prefer the latter time as it gives Scorpio as opposed to Libra rising, and therefore rulership of the chart to the intense and determined 10th house Pluto, rather than the more benign and placid 9th house Venus.  Otherwise, the difference is tiny and has little impact on most transits and progressions.

Currently, solar arc Uranus is conjunct Israel’s natal Mars (28Leo19) from February 2014 waxing through February 2015, while the progressed Midheaven (13Libra) is semisquare natal Mars from May 2014 through May 2015, and then separating. This double strengthening of Israel’s natal Mars, the planet of anger, aggression, and conflict, has been and will continue to be further activated by various transits during the time of these progressions.

The most dramatic of the recent events occurred when transiting Mars (13Libra) and then the transiting Sun (13Cancer) triggered this very inflammatory Mars/Uranus/MC progression.  Just after the initial kidnapping of three Israeli teens, transiting Mars was semisquare natal Mars (June 13 to June 16). And just after the Palestinian teen was killed, the transiting Sun was semisquare to natal Mars (July 4 to July 5). In addition, the progressed Israeli Moon is now quincunx natal Pluto (12Leo39), from July 2 through August 1 and then dissipating, signifying an increase in agitation, anxiety, and intense emotions among the population through July.

The final indicator of the current crisis may found in the 2014 Spring Equinox chart drawn for Jerusalem, where the MC of 16 1/2 Cancer is currently being squared by the station of transiting Uranus, from June 1 through July 27.     This transit points to enormous upheaval and fast-moving, transformative circumstances impacting the country through July.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the end of the matter.  There is potential for another inflammatory even around September 10 to September 11, when transiting Mars squares natal Mars, followed by some element of upset or grieving suggested by transiting Saturn sesquiquadrate natal Venus from September 10 through September 23.  Upheaval is also suggested during this period by transiting Uranus conjunct the Descendant (15Aries) of the Spring chart from late August through September 25.

Of likely even greater significance will be the period from mid-October 2014 through early February 2015, when transiting Uranus (13Aries19) will be sesquiquadrate natal Mars, joined by transiting Pluto, also sesquiquadrate natal Mars from December 6 through January 5.  These transits will occur as the solar arc progressed Uranus reaches its exact conjunction to natal Mars. In addition, the same transiting Uranus station will be conjunct the progressed IC in Israel’s chart, reaching exact in late January 2015 at 13Aries04. It is hard not to foresee significant turmoil and violence during these very inflammatory aspects.

The five-month period from October 2014 through March 2015 may well be the ultimate culmination of the fierce and escalating hostilities we are now witnessing. It will be a very stressful time for Israel, with a series of Saturn transits suggesting periods of loss and struggle amidst the anger and conflict. In particular, the Saturn station quincunx natal Venus (4Cancer49) and trine natal Moon (4Leo43) covering February and March 2015, compounded by the simultaneous transiting Uranus conjunction of the Spring Descendant (15Aries) and followed by the Uranus conjunction to the 2015 Spring IC (16Aries09) at the end of March 2015, suggest renewed upheaval and grief. This combination of aspects point to what may be the final chapter of the most recent iteration of a grueling and destructive historical quarrel.

Summer Heat

This is a difficult summer for President Obama, perhaps the worst time of his presidency. People are already speaking of him in the past tense, and of how he has been effectively shackled by the unhinged and unrepentant political forces of the Right. Even the conservatives of the Supreme Court can no longer distinguish a political manipulation from a true test of religious liberty. Witness the Hobby Lobby case, one which would never have existed if the president were White and a Republican. Never, ever.

On the domestic front, Obama has lost two important Supreme Court cases, one intended to further erode his most important legislation to date, the Affordable Care Act, and the other intended to weaken a potential countermeasure to the perfidiously filibustering Senate minority that blocks everything, no matter the urgency to the nation. In addition, immigration reform is dead, unable to even come up for a vote in the House, where the lunatics clearly run the asylum.

In the international realm, where a president has more autonomy, the world is becoming increasingly destabilized, with a growing maelstrom of war threatening a wider and wider swath of territory in the Middle East. The uber-radical ISIS is likely to hold its newly carved nation-state drawn from the festering carnage in Iraq and Syria, with a Sunni/Shiite confrontation building along the road to Baghdad to determine the ultimate border. Moreover, the decades-long battle between Israel and the Palestinians is heating up again, while the Ukrainian civil war keeps bursting through the containment of any attempted ceasefire.

There is little the President can do in these situations beyond heedlessly jumping in with guns blazing and flag waving, something he is loath to attempt due to his awareness of the dangerous trap such a policy would set in motion. But the Hawks on the Right have no such compunction against the profligate use of American military power. To them, America should always be the heroic sheriff bringing democracy to the Wild West of the World. They seem to forget how that has turned out, repeatedly, in the past several decades.

Most of the amped-up struggles for domination by political and military movements of the past few years and the more recent transformation of borders and power structures can be attributed to the Uranus/Pluto square of 2011 through 2015, which has been acutely intensified from January through June 2014 by additional transits of Jupiter and Mars. It is during this current six-month period that the Ukrainian upheaval emerged, largely provoked by Russia, and the Sunni radical group ISIS managed to take over enough territory to declare a Caliphate in the name of Islam. Despite growls from many quarters over what Obama has failed to achieve during his presidency, it might be more appropriate to appreciate how his caution and foresight have thus far safely navigated the dangerous waters of these times. History may well report that one of his greatest achievements will have been the prevention of us jumping heedlessly into another war.

Although the Mars translation during June of the Uranus/Pluto square is now behind us, July is bringing its own set of significantly agitated circumstances. Just as another violent confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians heats up, we are in the midst of a solar translation of the Uranus/Pluto square, with the Sun opposite Pluto followed by the Sun square Uranus from July 3 through July 8. The Moon will further trigger this on July 5.  It should also be noted that Hurricane Arthur is occurring during the Sun/Pluto opposition.

From July 16 through July 19, transiting Mars will be square to the transiting Sun, and from July 18 through July 20, this Sun/Mars square will be in an exact hard aspect to the US Pluto (27Capricorn33), signifying American power (economic and/or military) will be somehow challenged and incited. The Mars/Jupiter square from July 29 through August 1 will also be a time to watch for increasingly reckless or violent events.USchart

During the entire period from June 13 through August 3, President Obama is under a long, slow Saturn transit sesquiquadrate his Venus (1Cancer47), pointing to flagging poll numbers, a series of frustrations and difficulties with few good options, and a somber mood. He will be helped to some degree by the offsetting good fortune and optimism of Jupiter from July 15 through July 31, as this planet of opposes his natal Jupiter, conjuncts his Mercury, and sextiles his Moon.

From July 24 through August 24, the tertiary progressed Sun in the Inaugural chart will conjunct natal Mars (20Aquarius13) and semisquare natal Uranus (5Aries14). It seems likely this will activate some major and unexpected confrontations with the administration, which itself is likely to be quite assertive during this period.obama

The period from August 12 through September 1 may be especially difficult for the president and the country. Transiting Saturn will be making its final square to Obama’s Ascendant (18Aquairus03) while it also makes a sesquiquadrate to US Venus (3Cancer03). There will also be a transiting Mars/Saturn conjunction from August 23 through August 25, likely to exacerbate circumstances.  We may see a particularly brutal storm during this period or some other national story that describes an upsetting and stressful situation which weighs heavily upon the president.

An Interview with Nancy

This interview with me was just posted on the site Perspectives on Practice put together by yoga instructor Melinda Hunt.