Discussion Thread

I am on a break from blog writing through mid-September. I will be out of town next week. This thread is just for discussion. Enjoy!

Extremism Erupts

Conflicts are boiling over in multiple areas across the globe, and a thread running through many of them is the rise of extremism. By definition, extremists rigidly hold to a radical political or religious view, usually refusing any compromise or negotiation. They perceive their fanatical and grandiose agenda as divinely inspired or inspired by some kind of hyper-nationalistic dream, and those who oppose it as not merely wrong, but evil. Frequently, this attitude results in unchecked and vicious brutality, as well as a desire for overwhelming control, rationalized by a crazed, self-aggrandizing obsession.

In a blitzkrieg reminiscent of the Nazis, the vicious terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has recently been aggressively devouring large swaths of Syria and Iraq, savagely exterminating all who refuse their brand of extremist Sunni Islam. By late June, ISIL had grandiosely proclaimed itself a caliphate with religious authority over all Muslims across the world. Initially seen as a regional conflict between the Sunni and Shiite brands of Islam, this savage struggle has now morphed into a battle pitting a barbaric and brutal fringe group that is rapidly expanding its power base against all those who prefer a moderate path that fosters diversity and stability.

In the past week, the US began airstrikes on some of the ISIL positons in Iraq, ostensibly to prevent genocide of the minority Christian sect, the Yazidis, and to bolster the faltering military position of the Kurds. Viewed with a more strategic, long-term perspective, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that leaving these menacing marauders unchecked would not only destabilize and devastate the entire Middle East, but would enable these Western-hating extremists enormous power over the world economy by allowing them control over a fifth or more of the global oil reserves. The stakes in this confrontation escalate more with each passing day.

In astrology, Pluto is the planet that describes fanaticism. When its influence is strong, we see an increase of intransigent and brutal struggles for domination. Both sides of the conflict perceive the danger as overwhelming, needing to vigilantly oppose the enemy at all cost. This can lead to a drive for total control as a way to destroy any potential threat. When Pluto is a primary actor in geopolitical struggles, life becomes a zero sum game: kill or be killed; win or die. Such is the mood today in Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Syria and now Iraq.

The historical Uranus/Pluto square, spanning from June 2012 through March 2015, makes an unusual total of seven crossings, rendering it exceptionally potent. This protracted transformational aspect is fostering global transition on a massive scale. The map in many parts of the world will have been redrawn; numerous governments will have fallen and been replaced, sometimes repeatedly; and the world’s perception of its threats will have shifted. As climate change increasingly becomes a frightening reality, and ISIL strengthens and consolidates the most extreme and dangerous constituents of the world jihad movement into a global menace, humanity will have woken up and begun to prepare a response to these dangers.

The Uranus element of the Uranus/Pluto square has propelled many groups to push suddenly and forcefully for freedom from the restrictions of the status quo. The Pluto element has strengthened the depth and effort of those in power – financial, military, and political – to tighten their control and crush the opposition. It has also greatly intensified fanatical movements who increasingly threaten the world with their intransigent demands and aggression. The Jupiter and Mars transits during the first six months of 2014 further agitated the energy of the Uranus/Pluto square, bringing many of these confrontations to a full boil.

The January 20, 2013 Inaugural chart covers the time-frame of most of the impact of the Uranus/Pluto square. In this chart, we find indications of anger, confrontation, and significant stress and turmoil during the second Obama presidential term. One particularly significant planetary configuration stands out: a very tight Moon inaugural13(19Taurus38) square to Mars (20Aquarius13), with Uranus (5Aries14) at the midpoint and therefore semisquare to both Moon and Mars. This combination points to angry clashes and the potential for aggressive, possibly violent action during the four-year term. The tertiary progressed Sun has now reached a conjunction with natal Mars and semisquare natal Uranus, from July 24 to August 24, activating this aggressive and volatile configuration just as President Obama has moved to begin airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. This suggests that this first wave of strikes will continue with intensity through around August 24.

For the president, this early phase of bombing is quite stressful. He feels a tremendous weight of burden and responsibility to carry this out in a way that will not exacerbate a very unstable and troubling situation. This is reflected in the final Saturn transit square to his Ascendant (18Aquarius03) from August 11 through September 1. The simultaneous transit of Saturn sesquiquadrate US Venus (3Cancer06) suggests there may be some painful costs to the US during this initial assault, particularly during the Mars/Saturn conjunction from August 23 to August 25.

There are two charts of significance for ISIL, neither of which seems to have a confirmed birth time. One of these is for the declaration of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, dating from April 9, 2013, but also given as April 8. The other is for the declaration of the Caliphate, for which I am using 5 AM on June 29, 2014, but the evening before has also been given. Although the differing birth times make specific predictions difficult, the underlying theme of brazen and intense aggression over the next few years is clear.

In the 2013 chart, we find a Sun (19 Aries), Mars (21 Aries), Venus (22Aries) conjunction that leads to progressed Sun conjunct natal Mars, converse progressed Mars conjunct the natal Sun, and solar arc Mars conjunct natal Sun building in strength from Spring 2014 isisformedthrough October 2015. These are aspects that strongly suggest belligerence and war, and, not coincidentally, they parallel the transit of Pluto opposite the US Sun through October 2015, which points to the US engaged in a colossal and threatening power struggle during the same time-frame.

Although these progressions will wane by the end of 2015, transiting Uranus will conjunct the natal Sun and Mars, while transiting Pluto will square natal Mars, during 2016 and early 2017, suggesting a continuation of some level of hostilities after the progressed Sun/Mars aspects have dissipated.

In the June 29 Caliphate chart, we find natal Mars (17Libra36) opposite Uranus IScaliphate(16Aries18) and square Pluto (12Capricorn25). As the transiting Uranus moves into the exact opposition to natal Mars (March and April 2015, October 2015 through mid-February 2017) we can expect flare-ups of hostile action and violence. This is also likely when transiting Pluto moves into a square with natal Mars during 2016 and 2017.

Although the final phase of the Uranus/Pluto square contains many configurations that point to another big eruption in this conflict with ISIL from roughly January though at least March 2015, it seems likely that a struggle between these violent radicals and the US will continue through early November 2015. Beyond that, ISIL may manifest further hostile actions, but we can hope that by then it will have been reduced to a more contained force in the world. And we should remember, that after years of the Bush Boys repeatedly crying wolf to scare us into submission for their military schemes and leaving the country distrustful and exhausted, this time there really is a big, bad wolf at the gate.

Abusive Attacks

Since the beginning of the Obama presidency, conservative legislators in the US Congress have developed a certain pattern in their attacks on the president.  First, they sabotage, block, and decry every initiative he attempts and every legislation or appointment he puts forth. They then complain loudly and bitterly that he is ineffective. We have seen this pattern unfold in every area of policy over the past five plus years. In recent days, it has emerged, yet again, over the crisis at the border, and is more flagrant than ever.

After weeks of vitriolic ranting about Obama not containing the current influx of minors at the Southern border, Congress has refused to even consider the president’s proposed legislation to deal with the issue. When the House was unable to pass even its own, right wing-agenda-fueled legislation, Speaker John Boehner said that the president should act on his own to deal with the matter. Astonishingly, this comment came one day after Boehner’s caucus had sued the president for acting on his own on a minor tweak of an equally politicized and entangled issue – the Affordable Care Act.

Eventually, the House GOP actually gathered together to pass an extremely ill-considered bill on the border crisis that would be dead on arrival in the Senate, and sure to earn a veto if it ever made it to the president’s desk. Their actions were, once again, transparently about political posturing and not about actually dealing with a very real crisis.

Sadly, today’s GOP has devolved into a pattern reminiscent of that found in all toxically abusive relationships. In these interactions, there is an obsession in the abuser with belittling, attacking, and disempowering the designated victim, hoping to break him or her down into an impotent, easily-controlled mockery. Interestingly, after President Obama’s initial attempts at placating his rabid political opposition, the president has increasingly refused to play the game on the Republicans’ terms.

In the Drama Triangle first described by Stephen Karpman in 1968, there are three roles often morphing from one to another and then back again, that emerge in dysfunctional interactions: the Victim, the Persecutor, and the Rescuer. Republican politicians and the right-wing media are extraordinarily adept at framing everything in terms of perceived victimization, which easily transmutes into the justifiable rage of the perpetrator. In their all-consuming narrative of grievance, the Right sees itself as victimized by the government which wants to take their money (taxes), their freedom, and their guns. They feel victimized by the president, as well as his supporters, seen as mostly minorities in this rendering, who want to take away their country, discriminate against “White Christians”, and live on government handouts paid for by “real” Americans. They see themselves as seriously harmed by the “homosexual agenda” and maliciously manipulated by the “global warming conspiracy”. The list goes on and on, with each issue inevitably articulated in the same framework of victimization, and leading inexorably to the seemingly legitimized, rage-filled fury of the perpetrator.

The path away from this unhealthy pattern of the Drama Triangle is two-fold. The first part consists of the cultivation of appropriate boundaries: developing respect for those with whom we disagree; discontinuing mind-reading assumptions about the motives and character of others; fostering an ability to discuss differences without all-consuming, personal attacks or overinflated fears; and graciously tolerating that the world will not always bend to our will.

The second requirement in getting off the Drama Triangle merry-go-round is that the Victim, an essentially powerless role if embraced, must take responsibility for him or herself, no longer depending on the Perpetrator for vengeance or the Rescuer to take control.  When President Obama tells the GOP that if they won’t act, he will, he is essentially refusing the Victim role, and the powerlessness that goes with it, and taking responsibility himself for getting the job done. Given the pathological dysfunction in today’s government, this is truly an exceptionally salubrious effort.

The word coming out of the White House after Congress’ dereliction of duty with regard to the border crisis is that President Obama will handle the issue through executive order. This will no doubt give the GOP apoplexy when the details are known, but it seems at present the only way out of the current critical situation.  As has been mentioned numerous times on this site, the president is coming out of a two-month period of inordinate criticism for his policies and very low approval ratings, due to the Saturn obamastation sesquiquadrate his Venus (1Cancer47) culminating on August 3.  The separation of this aspect suggests some relief from the constant barrage, at least in the short term. Also of significance at present is the tertiary progressed Sun conjunction to Mars (20Aquarius13) and semisquare Uranus (5Aries14) in the Inaugural chart from July 24 through August 24, suggesting a more aggressive stance by the administration and willingness for more unilateral action.

Likely unrelated to the border issue, there is an indication of difficulties during the second half of August that will upset a number of people due to some kind of dramatic event, possibly a superstorm or serious accident or a random act of violence. Saturn will make its final crossing sesquiquadrate US Venus (3Cancer06) and square to inaugural13Obama’s Ascendant (18Aquairus03) from August 12 through September 1. The precipitating circumstances for this distress may well occur at some point from August 21 through August 25, during the Mars quincunx to Uranus (August 21 through 23) or the Mars conjunction with Saturn (August 23 to August 25), with all five days being a time of greatly increased tension.

If I were to suggest a time for President Obama to announce his plan regarding the border crisis, I would point to early on the morning after Labor Day. Jupiter will be moving towards its first crossing conjunct his Sun at that time, exact from September 7 through September 12. This would give the new policy a few days of positive attention before the last Saturn crossing opposite Inaugural Moon (19Taurus38) and square Inaugural Mars (20Aquarius13), with a combined impact from September 9 through September 28. These latter aspects seem likely to rekindle GOP attacks on the president.

On the whole, the president seems likely to fare better in September and October 2014 than he has over the past two months during the stress of the Saturn station. But the overwhelming turmoil in the world is not likely to abate any time soon. The extremely destabilizing volatility of the Uranus/Pluto square, directly impacting so many charts of today’s major players, will continue with us and likely intensify from October 2014 through March 2015, as these two planetary powerhouses continue to stir up all manner of transformation across the globe, much of it violent and enormously disruptive.

As for the Republicans, it is not anticipated that they will diminish their endless attacks in the coming months. They may well gain more seats in the November election, although it is hard to see how the next Congress could do more than the current one to thwart the president at every turn as he continues his struggle to navigate the dangerous waters of today’s world. It would be nice if Americans would pay careful attention.

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.