Jessica Murray's America in Transition

Dreams Only Money Can Buy

by Jessica Murray on September 1, 2011

Pluto direct in Capricorn, Grand Cross, Autumnal Equinox 2011

Intense transits make it easy for us cultural observers. They make appalling trends impossible to miss.

Pluto, which intensifies everything it touches, makes a direct station on September 16, at 4 degrees Capricorn. It has been opposing USA’s Venus–Jupiter conjunction for four years now; and this will be that transit’s last hurrah (1).

Pluto moves at a snail’s pace, but triggers changes more radical than any other planet. Aimed precisely at the midpoint between the national Venus and Jupiter, the station forces us to ask: What do Americans believe in? Occurring just before the Autumnal Equinox, Pluto will pivot when less than two degrees from an exact square with Uranus. The longest arm of the Cross is zeroing in on America’s values.

The US populace is undergoing not just a credit crisis (Venus) but a credibility crisis (Jupiter). With Pluto and Uranus hammering away at the Sibly (2) Cancer cluster (security), all the malarkey being spun from the highest echelons of power is coming up against the credulity of an increasingly hard-pressed American public.


Fox News came out with a new double-speak campaign this summer. Suddenly “rich people” were “job creators”.

It was the kind of ham-fisted propaganda that seems doomed to backfire. After all, most of Fox’s viewers are pretty clearly from the non-“job creator” classes—i.e. middle class and blue-collar Americans; groups that are having a rough time of it right now. These folks’ life savings are disappearing as their houses decline in value, and their last-resort social-services safety nets are being cut to ribbons as federal money disappears. Indeed, their hardships probably started when the “job creators” shipped their jobs overseas. I wonder what goes through the minds of, for example, former GM workers in the audience, as they listen to Megan Kelly intoning the new euphemism.

Pluto (breakdown) and Uranus (explosion) have their first of seven exact hits in June of 2012. When combined with the Sibly’s natal Sun-Saturn square (see last month’s “America in Transition”), the four planets form a full Grand Cross.

The three main expressions of the Cross in US society are the growing income gap (3); the reduction of jobs, services and savings of middleclass and working people; and the record amount of secret money flooding into elections (4) and lawmaking (5), undermining what everyone insists is a democracy.

It’s hard to imagine the con game continuing at this volatile a level for very much longer. There is a predictable arc to the putrefaction process, whether we’re talking about the decay of a corpse or the devolution of a nation state; and the symptoms become more obvious as the breakdown progresses. When the Cardinal Cross is triggered by a solar ingress, like this one at the equinox (discussed in detail in my lecture, “The Emperor Has No Clothes”), we can expect a flurry of symptoms.

The chaos we are witnessing is that of a society in decay.

Mass Neurosis

To deny is a human defense mechanism. We lapse into denial when something is so wrong and absurd we cannot assimilate it. It pains us to let it in (hence the phrase “painfully obvious.”) But when we stand back from the situation at hand, far enough back to see a whole society as just one more life form that goes through a creation and decomposition process like any other entity, we start to see that it is not the toxicity of the situation that causes pain. It is our denial of the toxicity that causes pain.

"What, me worry?"

"What, me worry?"

If a psychiatrist saw her patient exhibiting self-harming behavior, she would identify it as an illness. She would interpret wildly displaced anger similarly. So what does it mean when a whole group of people, thrown into poverty because of the decisions of corporations, allows their government to give away billions of dollars to those same corporations; who then turn around and use the money to reward their own top-tier managers with bonuses of billions of dollars?

We are in denial if we imagine that the American system can be turned around via cosmetic changes. Until the national conversation moves below the surface, we will just become a more frenzied and neurotic population, displacing our rage upon ourselves through self-harming mechanisms like addiction and obesity (6). Or upon our peers, with gun violence (7), or emotional violence, as exemplified in tabloid scapegoating (consider the over-the-top hatred that was aimed this summer at our domestic villain du jour, Casey Anthony.)

If Uranus, Saturn and Pluto have anything to tell us right now, it is this: Societies that cannot reform themselves must break apart. Without being admitted and reversed, the corruptions of American society will end up in systems collapse  along the lines of what is happening in Africa and Asia. Andrew Palmer, an English commentator based in Africa, sees Somalia, now spinning out of control with anarchy and famine, as the USA’s canary in the mine.

Somalia, society spinning out of control

Full systems collapse in Somalia—the canary in our coalmine?

As distressing as these scenarios are, astrologically speaking they are simply demonstrations of Natural Law. Denying them inhibits our ability to be useful to the collective and to ourselves.

American Dream

When Pluto is active, it doesn’t make sense to get all shocked and appalled at the sight of breakdown. We expect it. When Pluto is in the second house, as it is in the US chart, we expect breakdown to express itself financially.

Moreover, with the US Jupiter in Pluto’s crosshairs, we see that it is not just the economy that is at stake. Jupiter in a national chart represents our collective morality. Before the national soul can experience rebirth, it must subject its obsolete values to a mercilessly honest reappraisal, and start over from scratch in the ethics department.

"Would you like fries with that?"

"Would you like fries with that?"

This does not mean returning to the “American Dream,” of borrowing against imaginary equity to finance reckless consumerism. As the Cardinal Cross morphs into the Pluto Return (see my lecture, “America’s Money Karma”), the karma of materialism will be everywhere apparent.

It is no longer going to be possible to exist on dreams that only money can buy.



(1) This is the last time in our lifetimes Pluto will be in this degree range. If you have planets in the early degrees of Cardinal signs, you are finishing a long, slow self-reassembling.

(2) The Sibly chart is based on the most likely moment of the signing of the Declaration of Independence: in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 at 5:10 pm.

(3) Income inequality, as measured by the Gini Coefficient, is reaching the same extremes as in the Roaring Twenties, just before the Depression. Our grandparents, too, saw subprime debt built up as an attempt to buy off the poor. Easy credit has been used throughout history as a palliative by governments that are unable to address the deeper anxieties of the non-wealthy.

(4) The epitomical example of this trend is last year’s Supreme Court ruling, the Citizen’s United decision.

(5) The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 2/3 of the US senators drafting new financial regulations hold stock in banks of other companies affected by the legislation.

(6) What does poverty mean in a society where the poor are obese? There is a reluctance to talk about this lamentable correlation; one risks coming off as callous, or worse. But I don’t think we should allow a fear of being accused of blaming-the-victim to keep us from noticing a grotesquely obvious modern phenomenon.

(7) The rise in American militia groups—just-plain-folks packing M16 assault rifles and M60 machine guns—is a dangerous example of displaced rage. Styling themselves as guerrilla warriors defending their constitutional rights, these gun-toting citizens are mostly financially disadvantaged Americans who have been betrayed by the new global economy.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kay September 16, 2011 at 9:36 am

Gee, Michael there’s always the recent famine in The Democratic Republic of the Congo which started in 1996. What about the potato famine in Ireland when it was a part of the British Empire???? Where have you been all these years.

Susan Pomeroy September 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Editor’s Note: the theory that democracy prevents famines, propounded by the Nobel-Prize-winning economist and Harvard professor Amartya Sen, is still a subject of contention by scholars. Regarding Somalia: the country we currently call Somalia, composed of three different largely autonomous self-governing regions, was a nexus of land and water trade since ancient times. British and Italian conquest in the early and mid-20th century created a “nation” whose administrative boundaries were artificially and externally imposed on top of ancient tribal and religious divisions. Actions by these former colonial powers, along with neighboring Ethiopia, Cuba and the Soviet Union, contributed heavily to the instability and chaos in the area today.

michael September 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm

surely you joke, somalia was a mess since time immortal, no democracy in history of civilization has had a famine.

Carol September 2, 2011 at 9:39 am

What is so acutely disappointing about Obama revolves around his economic team appointments and their focus on propping up a shopworn and painfully maladaptive reinstatement of an economic model that works for the fewest and the most pain-free. How truly patriotic and magnanimous was Warren Buffet’s recent NY Times Op-Ed – “stop coddling the billionaires”.

On a more personal note, the Pluto direct station will fall squarely on the exact degree of my ascendant… It seems I’ve left the last opportunity to practice law (what I saw of the realities of the practice was enormously disappointing) and am now delivering papers and thinking of small-scale woodworking. And isn’t it interesting that newspapers represent the more earth-friendly mode of news distribution when compared with the “conflict minerals” needed by all the new electronica?

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