February 21, 2012

Mitt Romney campaign in trouble

After being on cruise control as the frontrunner in the early stages of the Republican nomination campaign, Mitt Romney is now in trouble. Although he successfully fended off challenges from Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich, the GOP establishment pick is now running six points behind conservative Rick Santorum in national polls. Romney's influential insider contacts and deep pockets have got him this far, but there is no doubt that he has failed to connect with the base of the party. His taxes, wealth and business dealings have come under increased scrutiny, as has his Mormon faith and more moderate policy choices while Governor of Massachusetts.

Romney's chart presents some familiar patterns for success but also contains a number of puzzling placements. First off, his apparently unexciting and cardboard personality. Romney has been widely seen as a dull and somewhat robotic campaigner who finds it difficult to connect with people on an emotional level. Normally, we would expect to see a strong Saturn since the ringed-planet often corresponds to a reserved and cautious approach to the outside world. Romney has Taurus rising, suggesting a steadier approach that inclines him towards a more mainstream approach. But look at the placement of 1st house lord, Venus. Venus is placed in Capricorn, a sign ruled by Saturn. Lagnesh Venus is very well placed in the trikona 9th house suggesting a generally fortunate life and a successful father. Romney is wealthy with a reported net worth of more than $250 million. His father was governor of the state of Michigan.

Romney gets another dose of Saturnian reserve through Saturn's close opposition aspect to Venus. This is arguably a stronger influence and makes him more of a rational and pragmatic thinker. It may also make him less willing to display emotions as Saturn's preference for order and structure usually wins out. The other thing to note about his Saturn is that it sits very close to both the equal 3rd house cusp and the IC, or unequal 4th house cusp. Planets that are close to angles or close to aspects to angles tend to be stronger in their effects. Saturn is the lord of the 9th and 10th houses and its placement on the 3rd house cusp creates a strong and indefatigable determination and ambition. Saturn operates in a methodical and methodical way, so Romney likely goes about his business according to a well developed plan. He is less likely to improvise as perhaps his more free-wheeling challenger Newt Gingrich is given to do.

Romney has been the front runner since the start of the race with the backing of the Republican establishment. But he has stumbled several times and has failed to capture the imagination of conservatives. Gingrich was the flavor of the month in January for a while, but now it seems that the conservative base has coalesced around Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania. Santorum has vaulted ahead of Romney in national polls and enjoys a five-point lead after his sweep of primaries on February 7. Romney is still well ahead in the delegate count but Santorum can close the gap if he does well on February 28 in Romney's home state of Michigan. A Santorum win there would be humiliating to Romney. It would likely set up a do-or-die scenario for Romney on Super Tuesday, March 6, when ten states hold their primaries.

Astrologically, we can see that much of Romney's problems are due to Mars' retrograde cycle through Leo. Mars therefore opposes his stellium of planets in Aquarius in his 10th house of status and career. Actually, Mars stationed and turned retrograde in late January at 29 degrees of sidereal Leo -- just one degree from his Sun. Mars is a difficult energy to integrate and it can create many headaches and frustrations. The additional problem with this Mars transit is that Mars rules the 12th house of losses in Romney's horoscope. Its transit therefore more problematic as it undermines his status and makes him more vulnerable to attacks from opponents as his leadership qualities (Sun in 10th) are openly questioned. We can see how its close aspects have thrown Romney back on his heels. Gingrich unexpectedly won South Carolina on January 21. Mars was just about to turn retrograde and was making a close opposition to his Sun. Gingrich won the preceding debates and handily carried the state. Transiting Sun at 7 Capricorn representing Romney's profile and leadership abilities was in mutual aspect with his Saturn. Sun-Saturn aspects are often humbling as Saturn undermines our confidence and forces us to look at our weaknesses. Transiting Jupiter also comes under the square aspect of Romney's Saturn thus making progress more difficult.

However, Romney rebounded to win Florida on January 31. He got a boost from both Venus and the Sun as both planets were favorably placed. Transiting Venus was conjunct his natal Sun and transiting Sun was conjunct his natal Venus. Transiting Mercury was also supportive of his efforts by virtue of its conjunction with the unequal 10th house cusp, or MC. While the Jupiter-Saturn and Mars-Sun afflictions were still operating, these positive aspects were sufficient to offset the negativity and produce a much-needed win.

Once those good aspects moved away, however, Romney's difficulties returned. Santorum's surprising sweep of the three primaries on February 7 in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri also occurred with transiting Mars still very close to aspecting his Sun. And by this time, the affliction to transiting Jupiter was greater as it had moved into an exact square aspect with natal Saturn. This was another problematic influence which blocked (Saturn) progress and rewards (Jupiter).

So what lies in store for Mitt Romney in Michigan on February 28? While Mars has moved away from its affliction to his Sun, it will be very close in its aspect to his Mercury, the lord of 2nd and 5th houses. This is clearly negative, although perhaps less so than the previous transit contacts to the Sun. Transiting Sun will be just past conjunction with natal Mars in the 10th house. This may be more positive as it suggests strong leadership and action. Transiting Mercury will come under the positive influence of the aspect from his natal Jupiter. So it's a somewhat mixed picture. It does not seem bad enough to indicate an outright loss, but given that its his home state, the expectations here are high. Perhaps Romney wins Michigan but not by much so that questions about his candidacy will remain. A narrow Romney win would be a moral victory for Santorum and would be helpful to boost the newcomer's profile nationally. Overall, it does not look very positive for Romney.

Super Tuesday is up next on March 6 when ten states hold their primaries on the same day. This will either re-affirm Romney's frontrunner status or push him into second place behind Santorum. In terms of transits, we can see that the Mercury-Uranus conjunction will right in the middle of Romney's 11th house of gains. At the same time, both planets will come under the unsettling influence of Romney's Ketu (SN) by 5th house aspect. This throws up the possibility that the gains will be distorted in some way or turn out unexpectedly. Natal Mercury is damaged by the Mars transit, while Ketu may be suffering due to the approaching conjunction from transiting Rahu (NN). This Rahu-Ketu aspect is still three degrees off but it definitely might create problems for Romney in the near term. I tend to think it will undermine his chances eventually, either in March or April. It's not a good transit to have when engaged in a competition. So while Romney could conceivably do well on Super Tuesday, this nodal transit will probably cause him some problems him sometime fairly soon.

More generally, Romney's dasha periods do not look favorable for him. He is running Sun-Saturn at the moment. Sun is well placed natally in the 10th, but it suffered from the afflicting Mars transit in January and February. While Mars has moved off the Sun, it's still pretty close. Dasha lords generally produce better results when they are not under pressure from transiting malefic planets. Minor dasha lord Saturn rules the 10th of profile and status and is well placed in the 3rd of ambition. This 3-10 house combination is what one would expect when engaged in an extended campaign for recognition and power. But Romney's natal Saturn is being aspected by transiting Saturn. This is not good, although the aspect is slowly moving off as Saturn continues its retrograde cycle so that offers some hope for improvement for Romney.

According to Krishnamurti ayanamsha, Romney ends his Saturn minor period and begins his Mercury period on March 10. According to Lahiri, he switches over to Mercury on April 30. Under both parameters, he will go through Super Tuesday under Sun-Saturn. The Mercury period itself is a bit mixed since it is placed in the 10th house of recognition but between malefics Sun and Mars. It is also retrograde and in a square aspect with destabilizing Uranus. This may make him more subject to sudden twists of fate and he may appear to be less reliable and responsible at that time. Even if Romney survives Saturn's minor dasha, Mercury does not look like it will be very conducive to winning the nomination either. It's possible but not and influence that is clearly positive.

We don't have Rick Santorum's birth time, but his noon horoscope for May 10, 1958 does offer the possibility at least that he could do well in this campaign. Transiting Jupiter is coming up to conjoin his Sun in April while transiting Uranus will conjoin his Venus around the same time. On Super Tuesday, the Mercury-Uranus conjunction will be very close to his Venus. This is a very favorable alignment of benefic planets that should help him continue his campaign. However, transiting Mars will be approaching its difficult opposition aspect to natal Mars so that looks less positive. A little mixed in other words, although on balance positive I should think.

We can also note a very strong grand trine pattern in his tertiary progressions involving Jupiter, Pluto and both Mercury and Venus later this summer. The faster moving planets will be just a couple of degrees from exact around the time of the Republican convention in August so that definitely helps his chances for being the nominee or perhaps the GOP ticket's vice-presidential candidate. The bottom line here is that Santorum's approximate horoscope looks quite good. Given that Romney's looks more stressed, I think that Santorum looks like he will continue to gain momentum in the short term. Whether or not Santorum has staying power may have to wait until Santorum's birth time becomes public knowledge. Some observers have noted that if Romney loses Michigan, the Republican establishment will have to draft someone else (Jeb Bush?) to run against Obama in November. So perhaps the race will go through more twists and turns before it's over. Stay tuned.

January 01, 2012

2012 Forecast

Apologies for not being able to post it in full here.

Here's the link.

March 21, 2011

Gaddafi under fire as Libya declared no-fly zone by the West

After Libyans rebels stood on the verge of defeat in Benghazi at the hands of Gaddfai's army, the West has been compelled to declare a no-fly zone over the strife-torn country. After two days of air strikes from the US-led coalition, most of Libya's air defenses have been taken out and much of Gaddafi's air force has been neutralized. For all intents and purposes, the no-fly zone is essentially a declaration of war on Libya and brings to three the number of Muslim countries that the US is currently fighting.

In a previous post from late February, I had suggested that Gaddafi might be driven out of a power fairly soon, with late February and early April as the two most probable times. To be honest, I was starting to wonder if I would be proven wrong in this expectation as Gaddafi began to beat back the rebels into the small base in the eastern part of the country. I hadn't really considered the possibility that the rebels would need outside help to overthrow the Libyan dictator, but that is the case now. It appears as if the opposition between Jupiter and Saturn is now the dominant player in the sky after having usurped the previous Rahu-Uranus square. February's Rahu-Uranus aspect emphasized change and disruption of the status quo and corresponded to the largely peaceful protests demanding democracy across the Middle East. This aspect is now on the wane and we have a more obviously confrontational setup between Jupiter (the future, expansion, gains) and Saturn (the past, contraction, losses).

What is especially interesting is how this intervention shows up in the national chart of Libya (Dec 24 1951). The UN Security Council approved the no-fly zone resolution on Thursday, March 17 at about 7.00 p.m. in New York. We can see how this was tantamount to a declaration of war on Libya: transiting Mars (24 Aquarius) is exactly conjunct the 7th house and therefore aspects the ascendant which represents the country as a whole. Of course, Mars is the planet of war. This position of Mars is doubly important perhaps because Mars casts its 8th house (210 degree) aspect to almost exactly to natal Mars (23 Virgo). Venus is the ruler of the 10th house of government (=Gaddafi) and it is transiting the equal cusp of the 6th house of conflict suggesting that he himself is subject to significant opposition. The afflictions from the slower moving planets are still in play here as transiting Saturn (21 Virgo) is still conjunct its natal position alongside Mars while Uranus (6 Pisces) squares the Sun. Uranus is a planet of sudden changes and its aspect with the Sun (government) is perhaps one of the most fundamental reasons for the undermining of Gaddafi's authority at this time. The Rahu-Sun conjunction was instrumental in the initial uprising but this energy is diminishing now as Rahu moves away.

I still think that the time around the Mars-Uranus conjunction on April 4 could be pivotal in the battle for Libya and this should be very damaging to Gaddafi. As I noted in February, this will closely square the natal Sun in this chart and suggests a time on intense pressure on government and leaders. Although this is a powerful affliction, it's unclear if it will be sufficient to correspond with the removal of Gaddafi. I think his defeat is the most probable outcome here, but I'm not as sure as I would like to be. If I'm backtracking a bit here, it's because I wonder if there is now enough time to beat Gaddafi from his stronghold in Tripoli by this April 4th date. Also, I'm looking down the road in this horoscope and the late summer period does not look good. Tr. Uranus will come back to square the Sun again while Saturn will likewise turn retrograde and conjoin the Mars-Saturn conjunction. And by September, transiting Ketu will conjoin the 10th house suggesting unstable situations involving government.

It's also worth noting that the Libya chart will begin its Sun minor dasha period in July. This may serve to underline the importance of the transits to the Sun and put extra emphasis on the situation of the government. Of course, this late summer time period may not have anything to do with Gaddafi if he is chased from power in April; it may simply reflect troubles with any new rebel government. Perhaps it's best if I put it this way: if Gaddafi is somehow not defeated in early April, then there is a significant chance that he will hang on until August. Practically speaking, however, it seems very unlikely that he and his paid mercenaries can hold out that long against the combined might of the air power of the most powerful countries in the world. The astrology of the situation would seem to support that view, so the early April time frame could be a critical turning point in this latest US war effort.

March 20, 2011

Japan struggles to contain radiation at Fukushima nuclear plant

Japan's post-earthquake misery has been compounded by a dangerous radiation leak from its Furushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In the wake of the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Japanese authorities are now having to cope with a third and potentially more devastating problem of poisonous nuclear radiation leaking from the damaged reactors. Workers have been working around the clock for over a week to pour water on the reactor rods to keep them cool, but thus far they have been unable to bring the situation under control.

I noted in my write-up on the initial quake how Japan's 1952 national horoscope was heavily afflicted by Rahu (North Node), Uranus, Saturn and Neptune. Clearly, the mind-boggling scope of these multiple disasters would suggest a very dense pattern of planetary affliction and that is indeed what we see. But I would like to briefly discuss some upcoming transit hits that might correspond with significant developments in this ongoing crisis. While there have been some small signs of progress this weekend, the situation remains somewhat uncertain.

One of the astrological keys to this situation was the square aspect between Rahu (North Lunar Node) and Uranus. Both planets are destabilizing energies and seek to change or interrupt the status quo. Currently, the square aspect between Rahu (2 Sagittarius) and Uranus (6 Pisces) is still activating the ascendant of this chart at 7 Sagittarius. While Rahu is gradually moving away from the ascendant (and that's a good thing), Uranus has yet to make its exact square aspect. That suggests that we could see some more sudden developments. Specifically, we can see that Monday's Sun-Uranus conjunction at 6 Pisces will line up almost exactly square the ascendant. The Sun is a fairly generic influence and its combination with Uranus could apply to a wide range of situations. The Sun represents government and leaders, so we might see some unexpected actions from the government in response to the crisis. We could also see some new dimension and surprising development, perhaps related to health or water since Mars will aspect the natal Neptune in this chart. Whatever this event turns out to be (and it could well be quite minor), it seems unlikely to turn the tide one way or the other.

I'm a little more concerned about the upcoming Mars aspects to Rahu and Uranus, however. On Tuesday, March 29, Mars will cast its square aspect to Ketu. Since the nodes are opposite one another, this more or less amounts to an aspect to Rahu and the natal ascendant. Unlike the Sun, Mars is a more volatile, upsetting energy with a capacity for doing harm. Mars isn't all bad of course, and in the right situation, it can signal moments of determined action and triumph. But when it gets together with Rahu/Ketu, it tends to correspond with rapid, out of control situations and frustration. Given the potential risks for further damage and contamination, I am worried that we could see some added stresses here, perhaps in the form of a new explosion at one of the plants. Mars-Rahu often means sudden violent events, so that increases its probability somewhat. In the alternative 1947 Japan horoscope (when Japan adopted its post-war constitution), we can see that this Mars-Rahu aspect aligns with the ascendant almost exactly so that provides additional support for the notion that this period could bring about significant new events that may worsen the situation.

Transiting Mars then moves forward to its conjunction with Uranus on April 4. This conjunction occurs exactly in square aspect with the ascendant of Japan This is also a volatile mixture of planetary energies that could potentially signify more trouble in this crisis. Uranus is about sudden and explosive energies, and also happens to be a planet that is associated with nuclear power along with Pluto. So we note that the first atomic explosion in Hiroshima in 1945 occurred when Mars was conjunct Uranus. It wasn't a tight conjunction, but it was still there. In any Mars-Uranus conjunction, Mars acts as the fuse and Uranus the power supply. Of course, this is not to suggest that the nuclear plant is going to suffer another explosion when Mars conjoins Uranus in early April. Instead, I look at this conjunction as an indication of a rise of potential energy in that period between, say, March 27 and April 6 that could manifest in several different ways. We might see a setback in the containment efforts from an explosion that releases more radiation into the surrounding area. Or it could be a new development such as evidence of radiation in hitherto unaffected areas, perhaps due to a change in wind. In any event, it does not look as positive in the short term as I would have liked. As US experts have suggested, these repair efforts may well take weeks and my reading of the astrology would tend to agree.

Aside from Rahu moving off the ascendant in the coming weeks and Uranus gradually edging past its square aspect, transiting Saturn may also be part of the resolution of this crisis. It's affliction to Mercury in the 4th house speaks directly to the harm and stress that the population are experiencing. Saturn is now retrograde at 20 degrees of sidereal Virgo while natal Mercury sits at 19 Pisces. Saturn will make its exact opposition aspect to Mercury on April 14. So there is some reason to expect that the stresses and strains on the country will persist until that date. We can also see that Mars will conjoin natal Mercury on April 19 so that may also correspond to events that cause suffering or hardship. This general pattern is also duplicated in the 1947 chart where transiting Saturn is conjunct the natal Moon (the people) and opposite Venus and Mars. This three-planet natal pattern will therefore also be hit when transiting Mars comes around to oppose transiting Saturn. It suggests a period of great tension and stress with more damage possible. These planets would suggest that the radiation leak may continue to be source of concern at least until that time. Alternatively, it is possible that some other area of concern may emerge at that time.

After April 19, there seems to be a better likelihood for significant improvement and relief as Saturn slips backwards through Virgo while Jupiter prepares to enter Aries where it can support the Sun (vitality). For what it's worth, I'll feel a lot more optimistic about the Japan situation once this mid-April pattern has passed.

While the immediate danger may diminish sometime in April, we can still see that Japan will have a tough road for the foreseeable future as Saturn will turn direct exactly conjunct its natal position in June. A very close Saturn return generally means hardship and difficulty, hard work and slow progress. Obviously, we would expect nothing else given the huge rebuilding task that lies ahead. Just to state the obvious: Japan will likely take quite a long time to return to normal. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Japanese people.

March 12, 2011

Earthquake and tsunami devastate Japan

Japan's strongest earthquake in recorded history has devastated the northeastern part of the country. The quake hit on Friday, March 11 2011 at 2.46 p.m local time and had a magnitude of 8.9. Its epicentre was under the ocean about 100 kilometers east of the city of Sendai. The death toll from the temblor and resulting tsunami is now likely in the thousands and has caused billions of dollars in damage across a wide area. To make matters worse, the quake also damaged several nuclear power stations and radioactive contamination is now a potential problem.

From an astrological perspective, this earthquake seems to be another reflection of the very disturbed nature of the New Year's horoscope. As I have noted previously, the horoscope for midnight January 1, 2011 featured a close aspect between Mars and Saturn, the two most malefic planets. This increases the likelihood of destruction and loss of life through natural disasters or human conflict. The 4th house of this chart contained Mars, Pluto and Rahu -- all malefic planets capable of causing harm. Since the 4th house represents the population as a whole and lands/homes, the presence of these bad planets would tend to increase the number and seriousness of any natural disasters during 2011. As I wrote back on January 1, there will be "a higher than normal number of earthquakes and volcanoes in 2011". At the time, however, I thought it might not be as bad as 2010 which featured the Haitian earthquake that claimed over 200,000 lives. We're only into March so far and already we've seen two major earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan. We shall see if my expectation for a lesser loss of life this year will be correct or not.

Some astrologers also understand such natural disasters by analyzing current transits or astronomical patterns such as recent eclipses and lunations. I generally don't follow this approach, if only because I lack the experience to draw up a compelling picture of the situation. However, I would note that the Moon is currently just a few days from an unusually close perigee to the Earth. This 'supermoon' is the closest it has been in 18 years and will be at its closest perigee on March 19. When the Moon is close to the Earth at its perigee, there is an increase in its gravitational pull upon the Earth. This makes tides higher and reportedly makes earthquakes a little more likely than chance would predict. Interestingly, a day before the quake struck some mainstream media outlets in fact ran a story speculating whether natural disasters were more likely, citing the work of astrologer Richard Nolle. Most scientists don't take astrology too seriously, but if I wonder if they will now. Probably not, since astrology does not adhere to the standards of evidence that is demanded by science.

What is particularly fascinating to me is how natural events such as this Japanese earthquake can show up in the horoscope of the nations concerned. While one might not that think the rhythms of the natural world would resonate with the man-made world of nation states and politics, I have found that large-scale events do show up fairly clearly in the chart. This earthquake is no exception.

There are a few possible horoscopes for Japan. I have previously analyzed and predicted a Japanese earthquake using the 1947 chart which represented the adoption of Japan's post-war constitution. The current quake does show up fairly well in that chart, but it looks clearer in the other common horoscope for modern Japan, the 1952 chart. On April 28, 1952 at 10.30 p.m. Japan regained its full sovereignty ending the post-war occupation by the US.

Before we plunge into the chart, here's a primer on mundane astrology for use in earthquake analysis. The 1st house represents the country as a whole and it is often afflicted at times of crisis, whether from natural or military/political events. As noted above, the 4th house is also a sort of catch-all that stands for the population as a whole and specifically for lands/homes. Earthquakes usually coincide with afflictions to the 4th house since the people suffer and the earth and land is shaken and disrupted. The malefic dussthana houses (6,8,12) are sometimes also implicated in disasters such as these, and their planetary rulers may also be a factor in the overall picture. The main planetary culprits in earthquakes are: Saturn (destruction, loss, depression), Uranus (sudden changes, large manifestations of energy), the Moon's Nodes, Rahu and Ketu (disruption of order, chaotic events) and Pluto (transformation, coercion, 'below the surface', death). Neptune is sometimes involved although it usually is more specifically aligned with either diseases or water-related damage. Mars is a fast moving planet that can sometimes act as a trigger to release the energy of the slower, more powerful planets listed above.

We can see how this chart fell victim to the same Uranus-Rahu aspect that caused all those problems in Egypt and Libya. Since the ascendant is 7 degrees of sidereal Sagittarius, transiting Rahu (aka the North Lunar Node) was just three degrees past an exact conjunction with this point. Even more telling was that Uranus (sudden and explosive energy) was almost exactly square the ascendant. Uranus was transiting the equal house cusp (7 Pisces) of the 4th house of the population and lands suggesting major, sudden changes were more likely. While those two factors were important components of the earthquake, they were not in the themselves sufficient conditions. A closer look reveals the chart has an incredibly high level of planetary affliction. Look at Saturn. It was transiting 21 degrees of Virgo almost exactly opposite natal Mercury in the 4th house. An affliction to any planet in the 4th house will tend to increase the likelihood of suffering or dislocation to the population depending on other factors. Saturn had just completed its second Saturn Return conjoining its natal position and this can often be a time of burdens and distress. Transiting Ketu (South Node) was almost exactly conjunct the natal Moon. The Moon is the planetary representation of the people and its affliction here is another indication of chaotic and harmful situations that are in keeping with the effects of an earthquake.

Ironically, it is Jupiter which may provide the key to the whole chart. As we know, Jupiter is a good planet that usually brings blessings and favours. In the Japan chart, it is doubly important because it is the ruler of both the 1st (Sagittarius) and 4th houses (Pisces)-- the key houses when analyzing natural events such as this. First, we can see that natal Jupiter (6 Aries) was aspected by transiting Rahu within just two degrees. That is a potentially difficult aspect and suggests uncertain situations that may fall outside of routines. However, it is transiting Jupiter at 16 Pisces that really appears to weaken the whole chart. That's because Jupiter is exactly opposite natal Saturn. Since transiting Jupiter carries its natal imprint with it, when it comes under the aspect of an evil planet like Saturn, it weakens the houses it rules. In this case, it weakens both the 1st and 4th houses, the very foundations of the entire horoscope and thereby opens the door to a much larger situation of disruption and suffering.

Neptune's role in this is interesting. As we know, the tsunami may have killed more people than the earthquake itself. In this sense, Neptune should be active in this chart in some obvious way. And it is, through its close trine aspect with Ketu. Since the Ketu conjunction with the Moon (people) generated chaotic and disruptive situations involving the population, the energy from Neptune (liquids, water) may have acted as the planetary agency through which that chaos was channeled. By itself, Neptune's tight trine aspect with the Moon may not have corresponded with damaging situations. The difference here was that Ketu was undermining the ability of the Moon to channel that Neptune energy in a positive and constructive way. As a result, the Ketu-Neptune trine was a key source of instability in the Japan chart and contributed to the extent of the damage from water. I would also note that Neptune may be further implicated in the event of any radioactive contamination since Neptune rules disease.

Just wrapping up the transit analysis, I can see that transiting Mars (18 Aquarius) formed a grand trine with natal trine between Mars (conflict, violence) and Uranus (sudden events, high energy). The Mars-Uranus aspect in the natal chart is a signature for sudden and dangerous events and may describe the tendency for Japan to suffer these kinds of natural disasters with a fairly high frequency. Although the grand trine is considered a good aspect in Western astrology, too much Mars is rarely a good thing and in light of all the other afflictions in this chart at the time, it likely acted as a trigger.

If anything, the tertiary progressions paint an even clearer picture of destruction. TP Mars was conjunct the ascendant within two degrees and was aspected by TP Saturn and opposite TP Sun. The TP ascendant was also in close aspect and thereby intensified the affliction. This is an extremely troubled chart.

I should also make a brief mention of the dasha periods that were running. Japan is currently in the Mercury-Venus dasha period. The Mercury major period began in 2005 and the Venus minor period began in 2009. We can see that both dasha lords suffer affliction in the natal and both were under pressure by transits. Mercury is debilitated in Pisces the 4th house and aspected by Saturn within just three degrees. This is a very heavy affliction and bodes poorly for most 4th house indications including lands/homes and general happiness and prosperity of the people. As we saw, Mercury was also coming under the aspect of Saturn at the time of the quake. The minor period lord Venus is in an even more intriguing situation. While it is exalted in Pisces here, it is in the last degree and hence becomes somewhat weak and unpredictable in its results. It's also very close to the IC, or unequal 4th house cusp, and therefore is more closely associated with the land and the people. And here's the clincher: it is in a close opposition with Neptune within just three degrees. Venus minor periods may therefore feature situations and events where liquids and water figure prominently. The damage wrought by the tsunami definitely seems to correlate well with the Neptune influence in this chart, both through its natal aspect with minor period lord Venus and through its trine aspect with the natal Moon.

So it was the combination of all these layers of affliction that detailed the extent of this massive earthquake. But if these indications were so clear, then would it be possible to actually predict it? The difficulty there of course is that one has to consult the horoscope beforehand in order to make a prediction. Since I don't make a practice of regularly consulting Japan's horoscope, there was little chance for me to make this prediction. In my previous correct prediction of a Japanese earthquake in 2003, I was fortunate in that I just happened to look at it a few weeks before the fact. I saw that it was heavily afflicted for an upcoming period and then posted the prediction. In any event, the possibility of making correct predictions from these national horoscopes is a promising avenue of analysis that warrants further study.

February 27, 2011

Revolution spreads in the Middle East: Gaddafi's Libya is next

Revolution is definitely in the air these days in the Middle East. Libya is the latest country to be hit by waves of civil unrest and violence as protesters have taken to the streets and demanded the ouster of long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi. After the protests turned violent, much of the army and police forces were chased away in the eastern part of the country as opposition groups began to take over cities of Benghazi and Tobruk. While the capital Tripoli remains in Gaddafi's hands for the moment, most commentators expect him to lose this stand-off fairly soon.

Why is the entire Middle East seemingly caught up in this revolutionary fervour at this time? Ultimately, the answer to this question lies in the individual horoscopes of the countries in question. After all, why Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and not, say, Morocco, Syria and Saudi Arabia which have thus far remained quite peaceful and orderly? Logically, there must be something specific to the national horoscopes in the first group that is missing in the second group. My post on the Egyptian uprising showed how specific planetary afflictions to that national chart reflected the overthrow of Mubarak. The same sort of problems can be found in the Libya horoscope, as we will see below. At the same time, we can also suggest some relevant background influences that may have fanned the flames of protest and revolt across the region.

First, I noted back on New Year's Day how the horoscope for 2011 looked quite tense and difficult, and made special mention of matters concerning government and leaders While this horoscope applies to the world as a whole, one can see how the placement of malefic Ketu in the 10th house would result in "increased pressure on government and leaders". Also the ruler of the 10th house (Gemini) of government is Mercury, and it is afflicted by Saturn in this chart by its full strength 3rd house aspect. This is a sort of double whammy against government and might create "significant changes" in governments and their policies around the world. The destructive square aspect between Mars and Saturn probably increased the likelihood of violence and confrontation generally, although this also applied to the suffering produced by natural disasters such as earthquakes. Of course, there was nothing in this forecast that applied to the Middle East and merely highlighted possible general trends around the world.

More specifically, the solar eclipse of January 4, 2011 occurred over Europe and the Middle East. For thousands of years, eclipses have traditionally represented times of change and portent as the light from the Sun disappeared behind the shadow of the Moon. This interruption in the normal order of things was usually received with fear and anxiety as eclipses were regarded as the harbingers of destruction and disease. In this case, the eclipse was visible from all the countries in question, so that may have increased the chances that the region would be witness to some significant changes.

The horoscope of the eclipse was actually quite afflicted, and this was another sign that the ensuing period might usher in some substantial change or at least interrupt the status quo in some way. The eclipse point (Sun conjunct Moon) at 19 degrees of sidereal Sagittarius suffered a double affliction: it was conjunct Mars, symbolizing conflict and possible violence and it was square Saturn, representing suffering and oppression from authority. But what's interesting is that this chart isn't all bad. The very tight trine aspect between Jupiter-Uranus (expansion-optimism, independence-rebellion) and Venus (happiness, sociality, wealth) is a very favourable combination of energies that may well reflect the immense hope and promise of these popular uprisings. It seems clear that the winds of change are blowing through the entire region so that the old ways of doing things are no longer acceptable as people are demanding their fair share. The populations are no longer willing to suffer in silence under the iron grip of a repressive leaders that enrich themselves at the expense of their people. The Venus factor may also reflect the role of economic suffering in this revolts. In a significant departure from the stereotype of the region, the uprisings were not at all religious but grew out of frustration over inflation and a declining standard of living. The Venus-Jupiter-Uranus influence also reflects the broadly-based social character of these popular uprisings. We can also hope that these benefic planets may indicate the eventual success of these revolutions.

Taking the Libyan case, we can see how problems in the national chart quite clearly reflect the current crisis. Libya gained its independence from Italy on December 24, 1951 at midnight in Tripoli. The resulting chart provides the basic contours of the Libyan state as we know it. The ruler of the 4th house (Scorpio) of resources and mining is Mars and it is placed in the 2nd house of assets and wealth reflecting the importance of Libya's oil wealth to its economy. Moreover, Mars is placed in the sign of Virgo which is ruled by Mercury, hence the ruler of the 2nd and 4th houses are in mutual reception, which strengthens the effect of this contact. Mars is conjunct Neptune (liquids, oil) and Saturn (earth, underground resources). Leaders are seen through the placement of the Sun. The Sun is in Sagittarius but it is closely aspected by malefic Ketu. Since Ketu is often a negative influence that is associated with unusual or unpredictable qualities, it is not too hard to see how this might represent an eccentric and dangerous ruler such as Gaddafi who has ruled the country since 1969.

The current transits tell most of the story. Like Egypt's chart, the Sun comes under double affliction from both transiting Rahu and the square aspect from Uranus. The Sun represents government and leaders, so this disruptive Rahu-Uranus square is one reason why there is so much opposition to authority. The Uranus square to the Sun demands change at the top, and the more radical the better. Rahu dislikes order and routine so it may also be behind the urge to change government structures. In addition, this affliction of the Sun may reflect Gaddafi's irrational response to the protests.

The natal Rahu in the Libya horoscope is also clearly activated as we can see that array of Sun, Neptune, Mercury and Mars also conjoining Rahu in Aquarius. This is another source of the chaos and the urge to purge the old ways and bring in a new order.

Unlike Egypt, the violence in Libya appears to be a significant feature of the uprising. We can see that transiting Saturn recently stationed and turned retrograde at 23 degrees of Virgo. This was exactly conjunct the natal Mars (23 Virgo). Saturn-Mars combinations are often found in situations of extreme stress and are frequent markers of destruction and suffering. The fact that natal Mars is conjunct Saturn in the Libya horoscope makes this transit worse than it already is. Of course, Saturn has been sitting on that Mars for weeks now due to its very slow retrograde motion, so that is another reason why the violence has been quite bad.

The transit of Mars to the natal Rahu on Sunday February 27 may reflect an upsurge in violence. Even if Gaddafi survives after that, he is unlikely to last many more weeks. Transiting Uranus will exactly square natal Sun in April and the Mars-Uranus conjunction on April 3 looks quite nasty indeed and may correspond with a major eruption of violence, possibly involving Gaddafi himself. Ahead of that date, mid-March could also be quite difficult as transiting Mars aspects natal Mars. The ongoing affliction to Libya's chart strongly indicates major changes in the near future. Most commentators contend that Gaddafi will eventually lose in the end, but it is interesting to see how well the chart reflects this probability.

January 31, 2011

Egypt in turmoil: protests push Mubarak to the edge

Egypt is currently in the throes of an almost unprecedented wave of civil unrest as protesters are calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and the end to his autocratic regime. Starting in Tunisia in November, the Middle East has been the scene of a series of popular uprisings as runaway inflation and high unemployment have exposed the rotten core of a corrupt and undemocratic system of government that prevails in most Arab countries. The situation is quite chaotic at the moment with both sides digging in -- the opposition is organizing a huge rally against the regime while the Mubarak is relying on the army to keep the lid on things.

The current astrological circumstance shows an fairly high number of potentially significant coincidences. Just from a transit perspective, it is quite telling that all this upsurge in popular opposition is occurring at the time of the conjunction of the Sun and Mars in sidereal Capricorn. This conjunction takes place about once every two years and often reflects a time of taking initiatives and being in a state of competitiveness. It's worth noting that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 occurred just a month after another Sun-Mars conjunction. The Sun and Mars are the two fiery planets of the solar system and their combination here suggests a time of courage, assertiveness, and aggressive actions. The Sun is usually seen as a planet of vitality, confidence and leadership while Mars symbolizes the more action-oriented side to the equation as it reacts quickly to stimuli, and is impatient for change. It is also the planet of aggression and violence. The fact that this conjunction occurs in sidereal Capricorn, the constellation that represents government and leadership structures, highlights how all this fiery energy is being directed towards changing the Egyptian government and removing Mubarak from office. Since Mars is exalted in Capricorn, some its more positive qualities are more likely to come to the surface: courage, stamina, and heroism. We can see that these qualities are clearly in evidence over the past week as the unarmed mass of Egyptian citizens are defying curfews and standing up for what they think is right. It's also worth noting that the Egyptian army (Mars) is similarly rising to the occasion by refusing (thus far, at least) to crack down and shoot on unarmed protesters.

What makes this Sun-Mars conjunction more unusual and problematic, is that it is occurring this week while in a close trine aspect with Saturn. While the 120 degree trine aspect is not a full strength aspect in Vedic astrology, it nonetheless exerts some influence when it is this close by degree. In the best of circumstances, Saturn represents tradition, routines, structures and prudent constraints on human freedom for a higher purpose. The Sun-Mars desire for change and action is coming in conflict with Saturn's preference for stability and order. More ominously, Saturn's darker side symbolizes loss and destruction, so we cannot be too surprised that there has some loss of life already thus far.

We can see the specifics of the uprising from the horoscope of Egypt. There are several possible candidates for this chart. Britain granted independence in 1922 but it was a conditional sovereignty that was still seen as constraining Egyptian freedom. The July 1952 revolution created an independent state and is commemorated today as a national holiday. However, the final step towards complete autonomy appears to have occurred in the early morning hours of June 19, 1952 when Egypt was declared a sovereign republic. I have to admit a certain level of ignorance of the finer historical points here -- especially on the accuracy of the exact time (1.30 a.m.) of this latter chart -- but for the moment, let's see what the this Republic chart reveals.

The protests began on January 25 just as the Sun and Mars were passing over the natal Rahu in the 10th house of government and leaders. Rahu in the 10th house suggests a tendency towards an acquisitive and headstrong approach to government. Rahu does like not constraints on its action and can be materialistic and devious when it is subject to transit affliction. The Sun-Mars conjunction was therefore activating Egypt's 10th house of government and bringing it into focus. But this is only one fairly short-lived and "triggering" transit influence and it cannot explain the occurrence of the whole uprising.

The historic importance of the current popular movement is better seen through the dasha periods and the transits of slower moving planets. Egypt entered its Saturn major dasha period in August 2009. Saturn can be a difficult influence symbolic of loss and delays and in the natal chart we can see that rules the 10th house (Capricorn) of government and leaders. Moreover, it is weakly placed in the dussthana 6th house with the withering effects of Neptune. This is quite a difficult placement and suggests weakness or deception (Neptune) and confrontation or "illness" (6th house). Saturn is likely to produce more negative results since its sign dispositor (Virgo) is Mercury and it is with Uranus in a square aspect with Saturn again.

Amazingly, Saturn stationed and turned retrograde on the day the protests began -- quite a coincidence. Of course, astrology suggests that such coincidences are not random and planetary positions have a special significance for events on Earth. Here are a few more more coincidences worth pondering: Saturn has turned retrograde while returning to its natal position within just a few degrees -- a so-called Saturn Return that occurs every 29.5 years. It's worth noting that the previous Saturn return corresponded quite closely (just a few months before) with the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Saturn Returns seem to be quite unforgiving to government and leaders since Saturn rules the 10th house (govt.) and it is weak in the natal chart. The recent Saturn retrograde station at 23 degrees of Virgo casts its square aspect to the unequal 4th house cusp (25 Gemini) of people and the population and thereby afflicted both Uranus and Mercury. This Saturn influence emphasizes the hardship of the population and underlines the stressful conditions that the country is facing at this juncture.

Another key transit influence was the conjunction of transiting Ketu (South Lunar Node) to the natal Sun and Mars in Gemini. Ketu is a natural malefic that symbolizes unpredictable or unwanted change. It erases boundaries and exerts an inimical influence on the material world. Egypt's Sun and Mars are in natal conjunction in Gemini -- an interesting echo of the current transiting conjunction of those two planets -- and is therefore afflicted by this transit of Ketu, so government (Sun) and army (Mars) are being faced with challenges to its authority by the upsetting energy of this shadowy lunar node. Ketu was likely made more malefic in this instance due to the extreme affliction to its sign dispositor, Mercury. Natal Mercury is being aspected by Saturn, while transiting Mercury is also in a square aspect with Saturn. A very bad chain of planetary energy there.

Finally, transiting Uranus (3 Pisces) is exactly square to the natal Sun (4 Gemini). Uranus has an energy of independence and rebelliousness while the Sun, of course, represents the government and Mubarak himself. Uranus' square aspect is especially difficult to handle as it creates destabilized situations and can reflect sudden or radical changes. For example, the popular protests in France in May 1968 occurred when Uranus formed a square aspect to the natal Moon in France's horoscope. The Moon represents the people, so it reflected the extremely agitated and rebellious mood of the population as the general strike almost succeeded in toppling de Gaulle's government. We can see much the same story unfolding here on the streets of Cairo.

So how will this situation resolve? Since Uranus is not near a station, the maximum intensity of this disruptive transit will not last too long, perhaps just another week or two before it loses some of its power. Transiting Ketu is already past Mars but will still closely afflict the natal Sun for another month or two at least so that suggests the uncertainty of the situation and pressure on authorities may last for a little while longer. It's quite possible that Mubarak could survive this week, but the charts do not suggest that the overall situation will return to normal anytime soon. The Mars aspect to natal Venus over the next couple of days (Feb 1-2) could see intense stresses placed on the country. Then transiting Venus opposes natal Mars on Feb 6-7 so that may be another difficult period where violence could flare up. So Mubarak may well survive in the short term, but he is unlikely to last into next year. Unfortunately, we do yet not have any timed birth data for Hosni Mubarak himself which might have shed additional light on this question.

More troubling is that Uranus will eventually station in exact square to Mars in the summer, on July 10. Since it will form a t-square pattern with Pluto, this marks a very dangerous time for Egypt. Mars symbolizes the army and conflict, so this suggests a likelihood of some kind of violence or explicitly conflictive situation will occur around that time. This may refer to more internal strife, or the army dividing into factions, or it could represent a war with an external enemy. Rahu and Ketu will be squaring the natal Moon (28 Leo) around that time so that may coincide with situations that are disorienting or disturbing to the people. More pointedly, transiting Ketu will be in aspect with dasha lord Saturn in August so that may coincide with disruptions of authority and law and order. Saturn rules the 10th house of leadership, so this does not bode well either for the government in power, whoever it may be. Early August also stands out as quite eventful as transiting Mars conjoins the natal Sun-Mars conjunction in Gemini. In so doing, it will further complete the nasty t-square pattern between Uranus and Pluto. It looks like quite a violent and destructive time for Egypt.

So even if Mubarak survives the next week, there are several more difficult patterns in the Egyptian horoscope this year that suggest further unrest and violence. And with the exact Saturn return due in October, it would appear that the clock is winding down on the Mubarak government. Regardless of who is in control, Egypt looks like it will be a very unstable and and, at times, violent place throughout much of 2011.