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The Decline of the American Empire

decline of america

Last week I wrote about the Sibley chart that I and most other astrologers use for the United States as a preface for this series since this is the chart I am using to track the change of fortune for the US.  The Sibley chart shows Sagittarius rising, with the Sun in Cancer in a wide conjunction to Jupiter in the seventh house of alliances and open enemies.

Since I mentioned writing this article, the US debt was downgraded for the first time in American history by the Standard & Poor rating index.  (Let’s ignore for the time being the irony of the fact that it was errors in the methodology of S&P’s and other rating agencies that got us into this mess with the subprime mortgage debacle.)

I’ll save an exhaustive analysis of the Sibley chart for another post, but it’s important to note a few things before discussing the situation today. The Sagittarius ascendant in the US chart reflects the expansive tendency of the American empire which is probably the single thing that will be its undoing.  Like other empires before it, the expansion of the national identity (Sagittarius ascendant) through ideas like “Manifest Destiny” which inspired pioneers to trek across the undeveloped terrain and do battle with the native peoples and Mexicans and Canadians who were already living on the land.

This relentless push for expansion tends to weaken the underpinnings of a nation, as we can see in the history of the Roman, the Russian and the British empires, the great empires of our age. During the period from 1995 to 2008, when Pluto transited through Sagittarius bringing globalized governments and corporations, it appeared to some that the expansion of American democracy to Iraq would help to bring  greater wealth to the US and the idealized democracy to the Middle East.

Since Pluto entered the contracting sign of Capricorn, however, the cracks in the foundation have become more evident.
Pluto deals with issues of compulsion and use and misuse of power, and in the US chart Pluto lives in the second house of money.  You can read more about that here, but the hunger for money and resources combined with the relentless urge to continually expand the national identity (Sagittarius rising) is not a good combination for a sound economic policy.

The Moon in the US chart is in the idealistic sign of Aquarius, the sign that seeks a radical Utopian vision of life, the “great experiment of liberty” that the founding fathers envisioned as they departed from a continent run by dynastic monarchies.  Aquarius is an unemotional sign and very easily convinced that the ends justify the means.  Dick Cheney has a strong Aquarian component to his chart and serves as a good example of this principle.  Americans like to keep their ideals intact, preferring to believe that good Aquarian principles of justice and fairness are the guiding forces behind the actions of their government.  But the facts on the ground suggest otherwise.

Other planetary forces are at work here as well.  In 2006 the US progressed Mars turned retrograde for the first time in the nation’s history, but before the actual retrograde turn progressed Mars was stationary for several years in preparation.  During that period (approximately 2003 t0 2006) the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan occurred following the September 11th attacks, and since then the Obama administration has conducted military exercises in Libya that continue to drive up the budget deficit.

The US Sun progressed into Aquarius in 1975 and the peace movement finally resulted in the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.  During the Aquarian period (until 2004) there was a greater focus on technology and cultural transformation.  In 2004 the US Sun progressed into Pisces, and you can read more about the travels of the US Sun here.  Suffice it to say that Pisces is an influence that can elevate consciousness, or create confusion and delusion.

Meanwhile, over the past couple of years the primary players in the Cardinal Drama have transited the Midheaven of the US chart, beginning with Pluto in 2008.  The Midheaven is the government and national reputation, and when the Great Transformer aspects the Midheaven in any personal or national chart, transformation is sure to occur.  Usually there is a breakdown phase of one kind or another, and the transit of Pluto was followed by a transit of Saturn which is currently in effect, creating challenges and economic difficulties, and by Uranus which is currently serving to foment rebellion via the Tea Party and a general disruption of the stability of the government.

At the same time Pluto and Uranus are  in challenging aspects to Venus and Jupiter, the more benefic planets in the chart.  Transiting Pluto has been in direct opposition to Jupiter for the past six months, challenging the nation’s confidence and expansive potential.

And let’s not forget the US Saturn Return, which began last December and concludes this August.  The Saturn Return occurs every 30 years, and while this is a major event in the life of a human it is not so uncommon in the life of a nation. Still – Saturn serves as a reality check and requires that we face our delusions wherever necessary.

The unsustainable idea that the United States can maintain a military presence with a  multi-trillion dollar debt and a populace that is increasingly suffering from unemployment and homelessness is one that is ripe for Saturn’s reality check and Pluto’s deconstruction and regeneration process.

As with any astrological significator, these planetary cycles do not doom the United States to a decline, but they will certainly serve to point out areas where the nation is weak.  The Uranus/Pluto square will be in an exact aspect to the Sun in the US chart in 2014, and that will be a defining moment for the nation.  Whether there is a revolution (Uranus) and breakdown of the power dynamic (Pluto) at that time depends very  much on what occurs now.

By | 2016-10-08T11:05:06+00:00 August 8th, 2011|Favorite posts, Politics|5 Comments

Sunday inspiration: Butterfly transformation in the collective

Thanks to for about the phenomenon of “imaginal cells” in the metamorphosis of the butterfly:

After a caterpillar buries itself inside its cocoon, it waits to morph into a butterfly.  The caterpillar does not simply shrink a bit and sprout wings.  Instead, it sort of disintegrates into a puddle of ooze within the cocoon.  If we were to open the cocoon halfway through the process, we would not find a half-caterpillar half-butterfly type creature, but a blob of goop.  The goop is made up of a bunch of individual cells that are all basically the same type of oozy cells.  For whatever reason, after the caterpillar has turned into ooze, a new type of cells start appearing.  The original ooze cells are NOT changing into these new cells, but rather the new cells seem to come out of nowhere.  They just appear out of thin air so to speak.

These new cells are called imaginal cells and they are so completely different from the original ooze cells that they are thought to be a virus or some other form of enemy so the ooze cells begin attacking the imaginal cells.  However, even though the imaginal cells are being killed off for not fitting in, they still keep showing up, more and more of them.  Eventually, the imaginal cells begin to find each other and cluster together.  Like attracts like, and the clusters begin to join up with other clusters.  The original ooze cells still keep attacking them but the imaginal cells continue to multiply and cluster together.

Eventually, they become a large community and they switch gears from simply being a group of like-minded cells into the programming cells of the butterfly.  Some imaginal cells start changing into wing cells, some start changing into antenna cells, some start changing into digestive tract cells, and so on.  They are no longer imaginal cells but become butterfly anatomy cells.  As we all know, if left alone to do his thing, the butterfly eventually emerges as a completely new entity from the original caterpillar.  Do they hold the same memories, life lessons, and consciousness?  Who knows?  One would think that for survival of the species, the butterfly would still retain whatever knowledge the caterpillar had learned before entering into the cocoon state.

imaginal cell transformation

This is a new concept to me, so I began to do some research.  The metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly has always fascinated me because it so closely mirrors my own experience of personal transformation in which we begin as an ordinary caterpillar, and then are forced into a chrysalis by a transit of Saturn, Pluto or Chiron.  The chrysalis is actually a protective device to protect us as we complete the transformation process.

Transformation goes  beyond the personal, and once we have made the metamorphic leap ourselves we can begin to serve as “imaginal cells”  for the transformation of the communities in which we live.

This process isn’t easy.  Like the imaginal cells in the metamorphosis of the butterfly, those of us who serve as transformative forces in our community are not always recognized as a positive influence and this will be especially true as the force of government power (Pluto in Capricorn) squares off against the force for revolutionary independence (Uranus in Aries).  But just as in the story of the butterfly, as we join forces, sharing the resonance of a new vibration and new information, we can become forces for positive transformation that will reverberate around the world.

For daily planetary news, visit my and pages.

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By | 2011-05-15T09:58:54+00:00 May 15th, 2011|Consciousness, Favorite posts, Inspiration|1 Comment

Astrology and the Forer Effect

astrology skepticHere is an interesting article about an experiment performed in 1948 by Bertram R. Forer who collected statements from sun sign columns and then presented them to his subjects as though they were personally assessed as part of a personality profile.  Note: “horoscopes” are not sun sign forecasts, the horoscope is the actual map of the sky at a given time – the astrological chart, if you will.

These statements include the following:

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself.

While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them.

You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside.

At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.

You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others.

At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved.

Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

The author of this article is correct – these do all apply to everyone to some extent or another.  The Forer Effect is designed to prove something psychologists call “Subjective Validation,” or as the author says, “you are far more vulnerable to suggestion when the subject of the conversation is you.”

The author goes on to write:

Seen straight on, horoscopes describe the sort of things we all experience, but pluck one from the bunch, turn it ever so slightly, and you will see the details, the accuracy. If you believe you live under a sign, and the movement of the planets can divine your future, a general statement becomes specific.
It is the the hope which gives subjective validation its power. If you want the psychic to be real, or the sacred stones to forecast the unknown, you will find a way to believe them even when they falter.
When you want to believe something, when you need something to be true, you will look for patterns; you connect the dots like the stars of a constellation. You will take the random and give it purpose, transmutate the chaotic into the systemic, see chance as fate.
Your brain abhors disorder. You find patterns where there are none, see faces in clouds, demons in bonfires.

Seen straight on, horoscopes describe the sort of things we all experience, but pluck one from the bunch, turn it ever so slightly, and you will see the details, the accuracy. If you believe you live under a sign, and the movement of the planets can divine your future, a general statement becomes specific.

It is the the hope which gives subjective validation its power. If you want the psychic to be real, or the sacred stones to forecast the unknown, you will find a way to believe them even when they falter.

When you want to believe something, when you need something to be true, you will look for patterns; you connect the dots like the stars of a constellation. You will take the random and give it purpose, transmutate the chaotic into the systemic, see chance as fate.

Your brain abhors disorder. You find patterns where there are none, see faces in clouds, demons in bonfires.

This reminds me of the Skeptics Challenge I ran on this blog a few years ago, where I challenged astrology skeptics to get a free mini reading from me to see if they changed their mind.   Several rather sincere skeptics did take me up on my offer and were notably impressed.  One skeptic, however (Paul), took the mini-reading I did for him and posted it on his blog, eliminating the statements that were specific to him and using only the general ones.

Paul very much wanted to continue the argument, but I have no interest in arguing the rational validity of astrology.  To me the proof is in the pudding.  I’ll be the first one to argue that Sun Sign newspaper columns, which some people call “horoscopes,” are very general.  They are meant to be!  Not all people born under the sign of Aries will have the same experience, the birthchart is too complicated for that to be the case.  Some of those people will have a heavy watery Pisces influence in their chart, others might have earthy Capricorn.

I do think it’s terribly sad that skeptics refuse to open their mind to the beauty and magic of the Universe.

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By | 2010-07-07T08:57:45+00:00 July 7th, 2010|Astrology, Favorite posts, Sun signs|2 Comments

Autism: A disorder or new breed of transhuman?

transhumanism

image from Daily Galaxy

For some time know I have suspected that the growing incidence of autism spectrum disorders is evidence that the human species is mutating in preparation for the Aquarian Age.  Aquarius is the sign of innovation and radical departure from the known and the ordinary, and it also represents the realm of reason and the transpersonal.  Mr. Spock in Star Trek was the quintessential Aquarian personality, and President Obama, with Aquarius rising, is known for his Spock-like detachment and reason.  (Something that’s getting him in trouble now, but that’s another story…)

Now certain genetic traits in autistic people that differ from genetic activity in people without autism.

The scientists compared the DNA of almost 1,000 people with autism with DNA from almost 1,300 people who do not have the disorder. The findings, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, show that the collection of developmental disabilities known as autism spectrum disorder involve dozens of genes and numerous combinations of rare mutations – so many that patients may each have a unique form [emphasis added].

I’ve written quite a bit about autism over the years and this concept of human mutation, and it appears that science is now catching up with speculative research.  Many people with autism have exceptional skills (rent the recent HBO film on Temple Grandin, it’s quite amazing), as in the case of autistic savants.

This is not universally true, of course, and the lives of autistic children or adults and their families are often filled with stress and despair.  But whether humans are mutating as the result of environmental forces or to adapt to a New Age of human experience, treating this sort of transformation as a disorder does little to help the adaptation process.

about a time in the not-too-distant future when technological intelligence will surpass human intelligence, and there will be a melding of man and machine.  If we can adopt a new way of looking at autism, and see this as a transformational development in human history rather than a disorder, perhaps the process can be made a little less painful and even a bit exciting as we head into a Brave New World.  Because really, we don’t have a choice.


The astrology of Carl Jung and his Red Book

A secret book written by Carl Jung nearly one hundred years ago will be released next month according to the .  Known as the “Red Book,” it was jealously guarded by Jung’s descendants until it was recently found in a bank vault and negotiations with the Jung family ultimately permitted its publication.

The work of Carl Jung transformed the field of modern psychology by incorporating the concept of archetypes and synchronicity into the mystery of the workings of the psyche.  The Jungian process involves delving into our dreams and the symbols that weave a web linking the conscious and the subconscious.  In doing so, we are able to venture on a path of self-discovery and facilitate the process of what Jung called “individuation” in which lost parts of ourselves are recaptured.

Jung’s awareness of the synchronicities in life incorporated the use of dreams, ancient symbols and archetypes, alchemical symbolism, and astrology.  He wrote:

“The collective unconscious appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious. We can see this most clearly if we look at the heavenly constellations, whose originally chaotic forms are organized through the projection of images. This explains the influence of the stars as asserted by astrologers. These influences are nothing but unconscious instrospective perceptions of the collective unconscious.”

from Jung’s lecture “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious,” Collected Works.

In 1913 Jung “found his psyche starting to teeter and slide, until finally he was dumped into what would become a life-altering crisis.”  He began experiencing visions and hearing voices, and in what he later called a confrontation with the unconscious he used the experience to attempt to tear down the wall between his rational self and his psyche.  “He found himself in a liminal place, as full of creative abundance as it was of potential ruin, believing it to be the same borderlands traveled by both lunatics and great artists.”  Quotations from the New York Times article.

Carl Jung’s birthchart reveals his extraordinary cpmmectopm to the archetypes of the unconscious.   His Sun was in the sign of Leo, reflecting the ultimate need for self-expression and self-understanding.  His Sun was angular, sitting right on the cusp of the seventh house of partnership (or Descendant), suggesting that he defined himself through the Other.  His Leo Sun was therefore exactly opposed to his Aquarius ascendant which requires the transcendence of the Self into an experience of the Collective.

With Aquarius on the ascendant, Jung’s chart was ruled by both Saturn (the traditional ruler)  and Uranus (the modern ruler).  This is a complex combination because those two planets are so different, and it gives the Aquarian nature a double-edged sword.  On the one hand there is a need for order and discipline with Aquarius under Saturn, but the Uranian influence gives Aquarius its love for the unconventional and the embrace of the collective.  With the Leo Sun exactly opposite the Aquarius ascendant Jung would have been torn between the individuation, as he put it, of his Selfhood (Leo), and the sublimation of individual consciousness into the mythology and symbology of the collective (Aquarius).

Angular planets are more significant in the birthchart, and Jung’s Sun was angular because it sat right on the angle called the descendant at the seventh house.  His sun formed an exact square to Neptune, the planet of dreams and the subconscious, fantasy and illusion.  Neptune was also angular, sitting right at the cusp of the fourth house of home and inner life, the point that we call the Nadir or the .  Neptune at this point brings an intimate connection with the our ancestral past that transcends the boundaries of ordinary reality.  Any planet found at the Nadir of the chart affects our inner world and our very sense of being incarnated in a body, and Neptune at this point suggests a tenuous anchor between body and spirit. Neptune, like the Sun, formed a square to Jung’s ascendant, which exacerbated the thinness of the veil between Jung’s conscious Self and the subconscious and transcendent (Neptune).

The square from Neptune to the Sun has been a topic of great debate over the past couple of years because we find this aspect in the chart of President Obama.  Because Neptune has a tendency to blur boundaries and confuse the issue, when it forms a challenging aspect like the square to the Sun, which represents the development of the Self and the Ego, there is a challenge to the formation of that sense of individuality.  We already see that with the Sun sitting on the descendant, the point of the Other, Jung has a tendency to lose himself.  The square from Neptune exacerbates this.

At the time Jung descended into his journey of darkness, transiting Uranus was crossing the ascendant of his chart and setting off this whole dynamic that challenged his Selfhood.

According to the article in the  last Sunday, the unraveling of Jung’s psyche began in 1913, a period of time that coincides with the transit of Uranus over Jung’s ascendant, the point of personal identity.

Uranus is strong in Jung’s chart, since it forms a tight square to his Taurus Moon.  The Moon in the birthchart represents our emotional security, and in the fixed signs the emotional nature can be quite rigid and resist change to the breaking point.  The challenging square from Uranus, planet of sudden change and shock, to the Moon suggests an early shock to Jung’s sense of emotional security and an unpredictable relationship with his mother.  In fact, Jung’s mother spent a great deal of time alone, disconnected (Uranus) from the family and in contact with a variety of spirits and apparitions.  He later said that his concept with women was one of “innate reliability,” something that is echoed here in the square of Uranus to the Moon.  He also likely felt abandoned by his mother with Pluto in conjunction to his Moon in the natal chart.

Jung’s study of psychology brought him into contact with Sigmund Freud, and the two had a close association for several years that ended in 1912 as Uranus made the first pass over his ascendant and opposing his Sun.  The Sun in the chart can represent one’s relationship to the father, and Freud was a father figure of sorts to Jung.  Uranus transiting in opposition to the Sun likely created a rebellious (Uranus) desire to forge his own way and express his own ideas (Sun).

Jung’s perilous descent into the dark land that straddles the conscious and subconscious between 1912 and 1917 has been called a “creative illness” by his biographers.  He retreated from public view, studying Gnostic writers and psychic phenomena.  He write, “It would be no exaggeration to all it a state of disorientation.  I felt totally suspended in mid-air.”  (Memories, Carl Jung.)  This is a very apt description of the experience of a Uranus transit, in which everything we know and hold on to may be turned upside down as our soul and psyche attempts to reveal the truth that lies within us.  At this stage Jung, having rejected the paradigms of religion and psychoanalysis, was left without a theological leg to stand on and had to make his own way through the darkness.

The transit of Uranus over Jung’s ascendant set of a rebellion within him against his own identity (ascendant/Sun) but also set off the square to Neptune in his chart.  It’s no wonder that his subconscious became filled with dreams and fantastic images as the collective subconscious (Neptune at the nadir of the chart) exploded under the Uranian influence.

Jung’s descent into creative madness culminated in December of 1913,  He had visions of falling into a hole in the earth in a shamanic experience that he later postulated was a sacrifice for the greater good (natal Sun square Neptune is the martyr or Christ figure).  At the time, transiting Jupiter was in an exact square to Jupiter in his chart which as we now know opposed Chiron exactly.  An opposition of Jupiter to Chiron in the natal chart suggests that the shamanic experience that Chiron provides facilitates the development of the construct of meaning for the individual (Jupiter).  There is a powerful inner connection to a deeper reality, and this can sometimes overcome the experience of material reality.  When Jupiter transited over this sensitive point, at the height of the Uranus cycle, Jung was liberated (Jupiter) from the boundaries of physical reality and freed to travel into the mysteries.

When we are in the middle of a transformational experience it can be so uncomfortable that we don’t recognize its value.  Later on, we often look back and say “what an amazing time that was.”  This is powerfully true for this experience of Jung’s.  Jung’s biographers have debated this period in his life for what is now nearly a century.  Some said that Jung was clairvoyant and predicted World War I.  Some say that Jung experienced temporary insanity.  Some say that Jung had a Christ complex and believed he was sacrificing himself for the good of humanity (again, Sun/Neptune).

The astrological symbolism reveals something much more magical: the opening up of a soul to the shamanic experience that revealed the depths not only of the personal subconscious, but the transpersonal subconscious as well.  Without this soul journey Jung would likely never have been able to connect so deeply with the archetypes and symbols that formed the foundation of his work that viewed psychology as an alchemical process.

On a personal level we can also imagine that this experience, which took him on such an incredible transpersonal voyage, also provided him with a healing crisis of his own that accelerated his inner work so that he could later set aside his own personal issues to explore the transpersonality of the psyche.

During this period he wrote very little of a professional nature, but instead poured his visions and thoughts into 1330 pages of notebooks.  He included paintings using pigments that he himself produced and wrote in the style of the fourteenth century (Source:  The Wounded Jung, Northwestern University Press).  He  later put together 600 pages of these writings into the Red Book which was then jealously guarded by Jung’s heirs after his death, as you can read in the Times article.

Jung brilliantly utilized his descent into madness in order to transform the field of psychology forever.  This concept of the alchemy of personal transformation provides the foundation for the work that I and other transformational astrologers do in our client work.  Rather than look at an illness as a disease, whether mental or physical, we look to see what planetary dynamics are at work here and how they can be used for transformational purposes.

We have Carl Jung, and his descent into the underworld of the subconscious and subsequent return, to thank for that.

For more on Jung’s alchemical transformation and astrology, 

By | 2009-09-21T06:41:39+00:00 September 21st, 2009|Consciousness, Favorite posts, Longreads|Comments Off on The astrology of Carl Jung and his Red Book
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