AMERICA IN TRANSITION, OCTOBER 2009
by Jessica Murray
Spiritually-oriented astrologers find the idea of "evil" pretty useless. Our philosophy is that every planet has a shadow side, and whether it shows up or not depends on the consciousness of the native. This writer's belief is that "evil" is no more or less than the absence of Light, also known as consciousness.
Yet at the same time, it is never an accident when mythic imagery develops around a concept. The fact that a correlation has arisen between the idea of evil and the planet Pluto tells us something about the planet. Archetypal logic dictates that if any planet could be considered the ruler of evil, it's Pluto.
Also deeply lodged in the collective mind is the belief (1) that "money is the root of all evil."
If you translated into astrologese the phrase "money is the root of all evil," you would get "Pluto in the 2nd house." This is where it falls in the chart of the USA. It is this placement that is the key to understanding why the subject of money strikes so deeply at the core of the American experience.
Pluto is the planet of love-hate attachments. It makes archetypal sense that Americans harbor intense feelings, both negative and positive, about money (2nd house). The topic provokes a veritable tempest of social ambivalence.
On the one hand, our folklore—like that of every other culture's—is full of instructional tales that pit wealth against integrity. Invariably, the moral of these stories is that choosing riches over love and honor leads to a tragic end. Americans hear the sin of avarice decried from the pulpit, lamented in movies and pop songs, and denounced over and over again in the great works of literature assigned in school. They hear opinion-makers from all across the ideological spectrum bemoaning the fact that the profit motive has taken over politics, sports and education. They shake their heads in sad agreement when pundits excoriate the greed with which developers have filled in our woodlands with condo towers and converted our civic space into one big shopping mall.
Yet for all this hand-wringing, America's obsession (Pluto) (2) with buying and acquiring (2nd house) continues unabated. Whether we're spending within or beyond our means , we remain the world champions. Individually and as a group, we are fixated on shopping, up for buying whatever our culture deems (for the time being) to be valuable. Whether we're spending on having fun (for example, lining up to buy the latest disposable electronic gadget); on our government (for example, funding a political campaign); or on any of our various wars (to the tune of $39,000 a minute, night and day), no other country comes even close.
The fact that all this spending is now being done with money we don't have adds a new twist. But as far as Pluto is concerned, whether we're burning through our earnings or racking up debt (as with Medicare, which is $90 trillion in deficit: an astounding three times the global GDP), our madness derives from the same impulse. Americans consume as if the devil (Pluto) were making us do it, without rational planning or common sense.
But most intriguingly of all, we do so without any relationship to our professed beliefs about materialism.
What are we to make of the discrepancy between America's moralistic folklore about money and the country's actual financial behavior? What happens when a person—or a collective entity—harbors this flagrant a set of contradictions huddled together in the same mind?
When conflicts like this exist within an individual psyche, they create anxiety. The person may develop disorders ranging from cognitive dissonance to schizophrenia, conditions that are researched and endlessly debated by scholars and mental health professionals. But the wild discrepancy in America's group mind between its theoretical and actual approaches to money has elicited hardly a jot of curiosity.
Chalk it up to the peculiar blindness that surrounds any subject governed by Pluto.
Meanwhile, for 50 years the rest of the world has striven for all it's worth to emulate the USA's materialist fixations. Consumer culture has become America's biggest export. But even our most ambitious competitors, like China, have a long way to go to catch up. It has been calculated that if every human being in the world consumed the way the typical North American does, nine Earths' worth of resources would be required to sustain us. (3)
Transiting Pluto has been hammering away at the USA's Sun cluster since the meltdown on Wall Street a year ago. As October begins, the planet is moving direct again, towards another exact opposition with Venus (money) around the winter solstice. It will reach the degree of its own natal 2nd-house placement in 2022. (4)
Pluto is associated with death, because whatever it touches undergoes a metamorphosis in order to be reborn into an entirely different form. Exactly what is going to die here? In order to come up with an answer, we have to investigate the symbolic logic of both planet and house, and then put them together. We might start by asking ourselves why the 2nd house is said to govern money.
This house refers to the notion of value, and to the act of valuing. In the modern age, money has come to symbolize the act of valuing. That is, when we decide to buy something, it's because we value that thing enough to trade our gold for it (or our cowry shells, stock options, or rectangles of green paper).
And for some time now, in the collective mind—not just that of Americans, but of the whole world—the epitomical symbol of money has been the dollar.
When transiting Pluto, the planet of death, hits its natal placement in this house, is the dollar likely to survive?
Facing the Facts
Pluto transits tell us to get real. Any native, whether person or a country, with a Pluto Return approaching in the 2nd house is being invited to strip away the illusions that have shrouded their financial lives.
This transit is asking Americans hard questions. Such as, have the bailouts worked?
It is clear that they have not, if by "working" we mean reaching the goals, laid out last autumn in all those political speeches, about helping ordinary people. But the bailouts have failed even in terms of their non-rhetorical goal: that of goosing up the finance industry so that it would help ordinary people. Credit is not being extended to small businesses. Job loss, far from being stopped, has accelerated. Homeowners have received no benefit from their government's largesse to the banks, because lobbyists for the financial industry killed foreclosure relief before it had time to develop into anything more than a sound bite. (5)
Once enough time has elapsed, what significance will be drawn from this period in American history? No doubt many observers will single out a particularly dark irony: that in this war between the bankers and the people, the triumphs were financed by the losing side. That is, those banks that hired lobbyists to defeat citizen-protection bills are the very banks the public had bailed out. Wall Street's hired guns are being paid with taxpayer money.
It is hard to imagine a more classic exercise in plutocracy (Pluto in the 2nd) than this mass giveaway of the public's wealth to a tiny percentage of already-wealthy recipients. Pluto often expresses as horror, which involves our recoiling in repulsion from that which we don't understand. The full scope of the bailouts seems to have drifted off the radar for most Americans because the financial corruption they represent makes Americans want to turn away and shut down from the subject. (6)
But the energy patterns represented by astrological transits have a longer attention span than ours. From a karmic point of view, the bailouts cast a long shadow.
Naomi Klein, one of the few pundits to talk truth to power, back when this exercise in kleptocracy was still being discussed in the media, warned that the credit crisis would be used as an excuse to promote the USA's mad dash towards privatization; a trajectory which could torpedo the movement for universal health care. The anti-reform "town hall meetings" that monopolized the airwaves this summer demonstrated how right she was.
Yet if Americans were to calm down and consider the issue on a heart level, free from the cacophony of fear-fueled partisan blarney, the whole notion of for-profit health care would strike each and every one of us as a grotesquely uncivilized concept.
Obama's bill has already been eviscerated so radically it is all but meaningless as a genuine reform; (7) yet the propaganda against it has made a good number of otherwise reasonable citizens react against the idea of any change to the mess we now have. One hears, over and over, that we must avoid any threat to the free enterprise system.
But a year ago last month, the "free enterprise system" revealed itself to be its own worst enemy. The anti-Obama forces are venting their spleen in vain.
The economic establishment (2nd house) these folks would protect to the death (Pluto) is hanging onto life by a thread, like a brain-dead patient on life support kept alive only to enable the family to stay in denial.
Transiting Pluto, working in tandem with the USA's natal Pluto right now, constitutes a one-two punch. If Americans availed themselves of these powerful energies, critical truths about their country's fundamental workings could be learned very quickly. Last month's third hit of the Saturn-Uranus opposition (popular uprisings) was another signal of the extraordinary potential fomenting just under the surface of the mass mind. The time is ripe for radical social change, delivered in a series of forceful jolts.
Pluto appeals to the truths we know on a visceral level. Americans are confused and agitated right now, (8) but the energies are there for them to snap into some sharp realizations.
They might consider the fact that, last year, when Obama was behind in the polls, as soon as he started talking about the failure of trickle-down economics, and about how banks needed to be regulated, his numbers spiked to a giddy high. Clearly, the man knows that the public understands which side of their own bread is buttered. It wouldn't take much for people to remember that plutocracy benefits no one but plutocrats.
Will this awareness rise from the collective viscera into the collective mind? The US financial establishment may have pulled off the most outlandish rip-off in American history this year, but cosmically speaking, the jig is up. Wall Street's shenanigans are the last ploys of America's dying Pluto.
(1) The word "belief" isn't quite right here, however. Pluto, the planet of taboos, governs impulses that originate in a more inscrutable realm of the psyche than where beliefs reside. This helps us explain why the emotions surrounding money are so distressing to people. Plutonian urges often contradict what the intellect has decided to believe.
(2) Death and sex are governed by Pluto, too, and are surrounded in the collective unconscious by a similarly visceral set of feelings. But that 2nd house placement is our tip-off that, in the USA, material security is the über-obsession, and the one that colors our fixations with the other two.
(3) In Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100 Mile Diet (2007), Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon make use of a computer program that allows one to calculate how many acres' worth of resources you consume in a year.
(4) The US Pluto Return at 27°33' Capricorn marks the end of a series of transits associated with several prophetic traditions, primarily that of ancient Mayan astrology, which highlight the year 2012. Known as the Grand Cross years or the Cardinal Climax, this pattern of transits has been building since Pluto entered Capricorn in early 2008.
(5) When the Durbin bill went down in May 09, its sponsor called a spade a spade: "The banking industry owns Capitol Hill," said Senator D.
(6) Soul-Sick Nation (Jessica Murray, MotherSky Press 2008) addresses the psychology of this phenomenon.
(7) Obama, in removing from his bill any threats to Big Insurance and Big Pharma, seems to be counting on these cartels’ contributions to his re-election campaign; along with Wall Street, to whom he has been so generous.
(8) Consider that the Neptune cluster is triggering the US Moon at the same time that the Saturn-Uranus opposition is triggering the US Neptune-Mars square (see September’s Skywatch at Mothersky.com).
Jessica Murray trained as a fine artist before graduating in 1973 from Brown University, where she studied psychology and linguistics. After a stint in political theatre in the heady early '70s, Jessica moved to San Francisco and began studying metaphysics, where she has had a full-time private practice in astrology for more than 30 years.
Her book, Soul-Sick Nation: An Astrologer's View of America, is available through her website, mothersky.com. Jessica writes a blog, a column in Daykeeper Journal and the monthly Skywatch on her website, MotherSky.com, Jessica's essays appear in The Mountain Astrologer, Astrodispath, P.S. Magazine, and other publications.Recent video and audio interviews with Jessica that address world events can be found in her podcast library. Jessica can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You'll find a complete list of Jessica's articles for Daykeeper here.