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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.

Unfolding Struggles

Widespread and often dramatic protests were precipitated by the refusal to indict Officer Darren Wilson over the killing of Michael Brown in a grand jury decision made known on November 24, following weeks of anxious expectation. With the meandering and self-justifying announcement of the non-indictment by a biased prosecutor, always intent on not prosecuting, simmering racial tensions burst past the boiling point into days of determined confrontation. An angry reaction erupted across the nation in widespread solidarity with the unavenged victim, the despairing community of Ferguson, and, perhaps most significantly, the uncounted and seemingly endless stream of other fatalities perpetrated by a large number of overzealous and unaccountable cops.

Incredibly, as the echoes of fury and despair following Ferguson had barely dimmed, it was announced on December 3 in New York City that another indictment was refused, for another murder, of another black man, by another police officer, this time with a crystal clear video documenting the entire sordid episode. Once again, widespread anger and protests erupted in response. The fetid reality of these manifold killings of young black men by out-of-control, unrestrained, and apparently unaccountable police, as well as the rationalizations, manipulations, and propaganda used to cover up these crimes and soothe the public, are a dark stain on the tattered remains of the national honor.

As mentioned in several recent posts on this site, the period from November 20 through November 29 was likely to include a particularly dramatic story of tremendous upset and grief dominating the headlines in the country. The US Moon (27Aquarius12) represents the citizenry, and, in the sign of Aquarius, includes their strong sense of justice, equality, and freedom. The Saturn square to this position during the last 10 days of November, therefore, brought a period of sorrow, frustration, and loss to a certain segment of the population (the Moon), especially with respect to these Aquarian ideals.USchart

In addition, the longer lasting Pluto semisquare to the US Moon, which continued to build in strength through December 3, overlapped this Saturn transit and infused it with an underlying feeling of deep resentment and a sense of a power struggle against overwhelming odds. It is clear that the grotesque failure of the justice system in Ferguson, and subsequently in New York, as well as the intense emotions and protests that followed these events, have been a manifestation of this Saturn/Pluto/Moon configuration.

In addition, as of November 22, the Uranus/Pluto square of 2011 to 2015 has once again gone into high gear, reaching the sixth of its seven exact aspects on December 15, and vastly intensifying a multitude of high-stakes power struggles across the globe. This build-up in pressure is likely to continue through mid-March 2015, as the square between these two behemoths remains within a one-degree orb, culminating for a final time on March 17. The war against ISIL, the building tension between Israelis and Palestinians, the growing conflict with Russia’s newly aggressive foreign policy, as well as the intensifying and brutal partisan war in Washington and the heightened racial tensions across the land, may all be seen as representative of the inherent conflicts of the Uranus/Pluto square and are likely to be exacerbated in the coming four months. It is noteworthy that the transiting Sun (11-12 Sagittarius) has been triggering the Uranus/Pluto square on December 3 and 4, and will be followed by transiting Mercury crossing the same degrees on December 5, essentially at the time of the announcement of no indictment in New York and the subsequent city-wide protests in response.

Moreover, Pluto’s action over the entire next year, well past the last of the Uranus/Pluto square in March, is noteworthy as it will likely extend the underlying and potent power struggles of today through most of 2015, due to its prolonged opposition to the US Sun (13Cancer19), semisquare Israel’s Mars (28Leo19), and square Putin’s Sun (13Libra56). Pluto’s presence suggests a feeling of dire, existential threat that must be opposed with great vigilance and at all cost. Its action can be both aggressive and covert, using not only military force but also manipulation, propaganda, and subterfuge. At its worst, it can point to paranoia, obsessiveness, and extremism.

In the near-term, December will bring a return of Pluto to its opposition to the US Sun from December 7 through January 6. It seems likely that partisan rancor will be quite strong as the Lame Duck Congress grapples with fiscal and other issues, tensions over a corrupted justice system will remain high, and Republicans will relentlessly strive to punish and control their straw-man-Obama nemesis. This Pluto transit to the US Sun is also likely to deepen the sense of threat from and struggle with ISIL.

Of particular concern, however, is Vladimir Putin, whose Sun at 13Libra56 will be beputin opposed by Uranus from December 21 through February 15, as well as squared by transiting Pluto from December 26 through January 24. The Uranus transit suggests the possibility of unilateral and unexpected action by Putin, as well as unanticipated and transformative events impacting him and his country. The Pluto transit describes an underlying sense in Putin of an existential threat that can precipitate bold, aggressive action attempting to regain control of the situation.

It seems very likely that Russian actions will again be front page news from late December through mid-February. Moreover, the US is likely to be involved in the unfolding drama. This is because the US Sun (13Cancer19) will also be impacted by both Uranus and Pluto during much of the same time frame. The Uranus station will be square to the US Sun from late December through early February, overlapped by the Pluto opposition for most of December into the first week of January. Thus, the experience of a profound threat combined with unexpected and transformative events will be impacting both Putin and the US at the same time, suggesting that these experiences will be tied together in some way.

Israel’s Angry Mood

Although the conflict between Jews and Palestinians in Israel has been mostly about territory and nationality over the years, it is rapidly being aggravated and intensified by religious extremists on both sides. The upsurge in November of violent attacks by Palestinians, fueled by fury and powerlessness over the status quo, has alarmed many. A few weeks ago, there was a series of lethal stabbings, and, more recently, an assault on a synagogue which resulted in four fatalities, including the deaths of three rabbis. Many fear a third intifada is imminent or possibly even a religious war. Tensions are mounting, with no one clear how to de-escalate the situation.

A look at Israel’s chart shows us that this is indeed a time of great turmoil and potential for violence, upset, and agitation. From late October 2014 through early February 2015, there are a series of progressions and transits that point to a high level of disruption, unexpected attacks, and aggressive response. Solar arc Uranus is currently conjunct israelIsrael’s natal Mars (28Leo19) through February 2015, triggered by the transit of Uranus (13Aries) sesquiquadrate natal Mars, stationary from mid-October 2014 through early February 2015. To further accentuate the anger and aggressiveness of Mars, the progressed Midheaven is currently semisquare natal Mars from May 2014 to May 2015, with the same Uranus station conjunct the progressed IC from late October through January.  Any transit to this configuration is likely to activate its potential for sudden, fierce, and violent events (Mars/Uranus) that deeply disturb and agitate the entire nation (IC/Uranus). Recent circumstances bear this out, with transiting Mars (12 – 13 Capricorn) crossing square transiting Uranus during the series of stabbings in early November, and the transiting Sun (27 – 28 Scorpio) moving into a square to natal Mars, with the transiting Moon nearing a square to transiting Uranus, during the synagogue attack and its aftermath.

The upcoming days and weeks are likely to provide further agitation to these sensitive degrees in Israel’s chart, possibly indicating more disturbing and dark events. Transiting Mercury will square natal Mars on November 25- 26. Likely to be even more inflammatory, transiting Saturn will square natal Mars from November 30 through December 8, further exacerbated by transiting Mars quincunx natal Mars from November 30 to December 2. In addition, transiting Pluto will move into a sesquiquadrate with natal Mars from December 6 through January 5. It is hard to see this period, from November 25 through January 6, as not containing significant upheaval, aggression, and unexpected violence, with Israel largely on the offense in response.

Of great concern is the Saturn station from February 6 through March 27 quincunx Israel’s Venus (4Cancer49) which points to some grief and upset among the population, perhaps as an aftermath to the events of December and January. The Saturn/Venus combination suggests some sadness and difficulties. The final 10 days of March should also be watched for increasing tension and volatility, when transiting Uranus crosses the IC of the 2015 Spring Equinox chart drawn for Jerusalem (16Aries09).

Tea and Moldy Crumpets

If you are really hungry and don’t have many resources, it might make sense to use a lot of strong spice in a two-week old stew and then hope it doesn’t make you sick. But it is a dangerous gamble.

Today’s mainstream conservatives stand for many of the same policies that they have for decades, such as an unfettered free-market with minimal taxes and little regulation. Some of these ideas may have made sense in a bygone era, when capitalism was young and thriving, but they seem increasingly problematic and even dangerous in an era of exceedingly wealthy mega-corporations with little national loyalty and lots of carefully camouflaged, untaxable income.

Well-crafted restrictions and regulations are clearly necessary to protect the public from the huge, uncaring footprint of global behemoths, often unwilling to carefully police themselves and take appropriate action for dealing with their environmental and financial detritus. Moreover, some amount of taxed income siphoned from the untouched trillions buried offshore would do wonders for the needs of many nations struggling after the collapse of 2008.

As an aging capitalism moves increasingly towards oligarchy, a situation when more and more wealth and power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, balance can be restored with conscientiously constructed policy. But today’s Republicans seem incapable of looking at the modern world with an unjaundiced eye. To say that the old, rancid stew the Republicans offer is dangerous to the health of the nation is a vast understatement. But they season their toxic concoction with the seductive fires of righteous wrath and the piquancy of manufactured grievance of the Tea Party, and, in so doing, are able to effectively sell their tarnished wares.

This unholy alliance of mainstream conservatives, with their old and repeatedly disproven ideas, and the firebrands of the modern Tea Party seems a partnership destined for big trouble. Already there is a feel among many that the Right has created a form of Frankenstein’s monster: an uncontrollable fringe that is incapable of flexibility in the face of reality. Facts are twisted or simply made up out of whole cloth to fit with an ideology based in fantasies of victimization and unbridled fury. When the nation’s legislature derives its purpose from this noxious brew, the country is likely to become ill.

The current battlefield in the immediate post-election season is shaping up to be immigration. The Right is practically apoplectic over President Obama’s pledge to craft an executive order on the subject following more than a year of congressional inaction and obstruction. In their twisted and misanthropic world view, letting Hispanic-American children, as well as foreign-born but legally-documented children of Hispanic descent, keep their illegal parents around to support and protect them is such an egregious abuse of power that it might even be grounds for impeachment. In reality, the steady stream of breathless vitriol frothing from the mouths of conservatives is vintage Tea Party hyperbole and has literally consumed the entire Republican narrative. Although the more practical mainstreamers would secretly love to find a way to mine that rich vein of Hispanic voters, their fear of the fringe’s political blood lust is palpable. But stress fractures are deepening within the coalition.

Two of the most prominent leaders of today’s Republican Party are Senator Mitch McConnell, the newly-elected Senate Majority Leader and establishment politician, and Senator Ted Cruz, the demagogic Tea Party firebrand. The birth charts of these two individuals point to significant difficulties in the coming months, likely indicative of a festering struggle between these two branches of Conservatopia. mcconnell

For Mitch McConnell, progressed Mercury has joined the conjunction of progressed Saturn and progressed Uranus (29Taurus20) beginning around August 2014 and intensifying through April 2015. This configuration will be crossed by an opposition from transiting Saturn (29Scorpio) from December 9 through December 18, 2014, and triggered by minor hard aspects from Pluto (14 Capricorn) and Uranus (14 Aries) from early January through early March 2015. Saturn will return to activate the waning progression during June 2015. In addition, transiting Saturn will square McConnell’s Sun (1Pisces26) three times over the coming year: in January, May and September/October 2015. These aspects all point to significant difficulties for McConnell in December 2014 and much of 2015, including obstruction, frustration, and the need to compromise or face failure.

Interestingly, Ted Cruz has natal Neptune at (1Sagittarius41) in an exact square to McConnell’s Sun (1Pisces26). Cruz will experience a series of strong Saturn transits to his Neptune at the same time that McConnell will experience a potent Saturn square to his Sun: in January, May, and September/October 2015. Saturn crossing Cruz’ Neptune will tend to squash unrealistic expectations and bring disillusionment and upset. During late 2014 and all of 2015, Cruz will additionally be under a progressed Sun square to his progressed and natal Saturn (15Taurus58, 16Taurus18). This aspect underlines the theme of frustration and points to the need for limited and incremental goals. Ultimately, it seems likely that the simultaneous Saturn transits in McConnell’s chart and those in Cruz’ chart are connected, indicating that each of these Senators will likely be a key player in the other’s struggles. cruz

As of the spring 2015, Cruz is also entering a particularly charismatic period in his life, which is likely to endear him to the base of the Republican Party and establish his influence and popularity in 2016, in a similar manner to what Sarah Palin did in 2008. Progressed Venus will be conjunct his natal Sun (00Capricorn31) through the Spring of 2016, followed by progressed Sun square natal Venus (17Scorpio53) from June 2016 through June 2017. These two back- to-back progressions point to Cruz becoming the darling of the Tea Party for the next two and a half years and a force to be reckoned with for those who would like to see politics as a means to solve problems rather than a way to inflame and agitate the masses.