2015 is a very important year for Uncle Sam, astrologically unprecedented. The Grand Cross formed by the Uranus-Pluto transit to the US chart is offering the country a wonderful opportunity to get real.
Uranus and Pluto, whose zone of exactitude started in 2012, reached the degree range of America’s Sun-Saturn square in 2014. The Cross will peak again at the transit’s last exactitude, on March 16, 2015, and remain in orb for the rest of the year. The astrology of the situation allows us to get a bead on a collective state of mind so chaotic and many-layered as to otherwise elude understanding.
That square between Saturn and the Sun is America’s inherent weak spot, one of the most difficult ones any natal chart can have; and it is here that Uranus & Pluto are tightening the screws. The crises we see mounting up right now are the country’s chance to integrate these two pieces of its group psyche.
Let’s start by taking a look at this key piece of the American chart, a conflict the nation has been trying to resolve since 1776.
The life focus of any entity in Cancer, the USA included, is shelter, nourishment and protection. We know that there are many conscientious efforts afoot to take care of people and the land. We are seeing these efforts undertaken right now by a plethora of Uranian forces (such as progressive thinkers and scientists) who are advocating for clean energy, for example, and for restricting GMOs. An extraordinary potential exists, in this natal chart, to put official policy (Saturn in the Tenth House) at the service of the needs of people, flora and fauna in need (Cancer).
But we also see this impulse being blocked at every turn, by the system (Sun skewered by Pluto-Uranus-natal Saturn). Most of the life-affirming ideas being advanced have been falling victim to the greed and inequities inherent in a democracy that has turned the corner into plutocracy (natal Pluto [total control] in the Second House of money).
In astrology, both the Saturn square and the sign Cancer can be described as conservative, in that their job is to conserve those elements of the past that have been proven to work. But in American culture, the word/concept “conservatism” no longer has this meaning, nor does it mean what it meant politically, a generation ago. The old postwar Republican Party, made up of respectable, prudent business owners and responsible patriots, has gone the way of black-and-white TV.
Post-WWII American conservatism was based on the public’s faith in the political process and the fair distribution of the fruits of capitalism, neither of which exist any longer in the USA. At this point, the forces who claim the mantle of “conservatism” are the advocates of a huge and widening wealth and power gap. These forces have been quite ruthlessly consistent over the past six years (1) in their efforts to beat down reforms in every arena Cancer governs: aid to mothers and children, the sick, the poor, the evicted and the unemployed. The result is an energetic stalemate. The group vibration feels like a bottle whose contents are stuck in a bottleneck.
If any planets are capable of un-sticking them, Uranus and Pluto are. But it is a complex, staggered process. There is an inherent conflict between the slow Plutonian process of decay/ renewal and the surprisingly abrupt upsets that Uranus brings.
Thrown off our foundations
The Pluto corner of the Cross tells us that the USA’s approach to providing succor must be laid bare and broken apart, in order to be recovered. The Uranus corner tells us that complacency and certitude must be disrupted. Popular assumptions are fated to be thrown off their foundations, as if by an earthquake.
Cancer, the sign of the child-parent relationship, rests upon primal expectations of support. When Jupiter is strong, as it is in Uncle Sam’s chart, these expectations are extravagant; the word “entitled” comes to mind. But since the Cross began, Americans have had their expectations dashed where it comes to the assurance of being supported in old age—for example, social security is no longer a given—as well as when just starting out in life, a phase now burdened for many by crushing student loans.
For all but the very rich, Americans’ sense of material security has been traumatized. Despite our extravaganza of click-bait, video games and other cultural distractions, the mass mood is anxious about the present and fearful of the future.
Our sense of safety has been undermined on an existential level as well. Like a child with PTSD, Uncle Sam has been in the grip of stranger-phobia since 9/11. This was when Pluto conjoined the country’s Ascendant (Self) and Saturn hit its Descendant (Other) (2).
Consider the symbolism of this blow to the Descendant. A country’s borders (Saturn) are analogous to the outer skin that surrounds an individual, protecting our psychic integrity. From the point of view of post-traumatic insecurity, the issue of immigration is evoking an irrational reactivity in many Americans, who are seized with a fear of these boundaries being broached by invaders from Central and South America.
The most recent of whom have been unaccompanied minors. What would a psychologist make of the fact that a group of helpless children could thrust so many adults into a state of life-or-death hostility?
More threatening still are the “terrorists” who, for many in this country, seem to pose an imminent threat to life and limb, as well as a moral threat to everything they hold dear.
To the astrologer, these outsized reactions savor of the outer planets: forces from the collective unconscious. We know that Pluto’s shadow includes compulsion, and that the shadow of Neptune, at its strongest in Pisces right now (and T-square US Uranus/ horizon axis), includes mass anxiety and paranoia (3).
As for Uranus, it has been exploding complacencies since the transit series began. Libran ideals of equality and basic fairness have always been paramount in the American mind, yet held ambivalently because of Saturn’s conflict with the Sun.
But we have been seeing intensely accelerated social change, and it will continue during Uranus’ opposition to the US Saturn through 2015. Consider the recent legal successes in same-sex marriage in the reddest of states: true to Uranian form, these have surprised both sides. So has the passage of minimum wage laws even in Republican strongholds in November’s midterm elections.
Libra at the Midheaven
Readers who have observed the natal Saturn-Sun square in their own charts or those of their clients know that the only way to make the chart cohere is to resolve the tension between these two planets. Each side of the square must be recognized and accepted, then made to work together as an operational whole. This is hard work. It’s usually the main project of the native’s lifetime.
With Uranus destabilizing all things Libran since 2010 (when it entered Aries), the Cross is putting a lot of emphasis on the Sibly Tenth House (reputation). This suggests a dramatic shift away from the way Uncle Sam has historically been seen in the eyes of the world.
The country’s public persona is morphing into something completely different (4).
The chart’s crowning Saturn has always given the USA the potential for dignified international leadership: for teamwork with other countries, achieved through dogged negotiation. This potential, in all its adult-sounding (Saturn) reasonableness (Libra), can be heard shining through the phrases in John Kerry’s speeches and those of all his predecessors.
As we know, however, in practice this vision is pressed into service less often. The cooperative phrases are always there, but actual policy and resources are driven by very different motives.
The mysterious 1%
The great gift of the Occupy Movement to the American public was to make the point—in bold, simple, numeric language—about what really constitutes the great polarity of our time. It is not “right” and “left,” as the official narrative would have us believe. It’s 1% and 99%.
Uranus represents “ordinary people:” the 99%. And indeed, the ideas of ordinary Americans are firing up the cultural conversation like never before, thanks to digital media (also ruled by Uranus). Opinion-wise, at least, democracy is in its glory.
The 1%, by contrast —the real powerbrokers—remain relatively unknown to the general population. These interests make policy at the highest levels, by manipulating the US electoral system, by installing and deposing global regimes, by arming some populations and drone-striking others.
Pluto governs invisibility. Its agents tend to operate under the radar and out of the headlines. But if we do not know who they are, we do know what they are. They are the moneyed forces who will be scrambling in the coming years to control the last of the world’s fossil fuels (5).
Wars and geopolitics will revolve around this jockeying (6).
Consider the shift in meaning of the phrase “American interests.” Bland but vaguely high-toned, the words “protection of American interests” have always been a handy umbrella apologia, evoked by many a White House press secretary to sound like he’s talking about the public good. It has been used to explain-without-really-explaining why troops are being deployed somewhere that’s not at war, or why Washington is bugging some ally’s embassy.
At this writing, the “Drill, baby, drill” contingent are using phrases like this to advocate for the Keystone Pipeline, an abomination of environmental perils. But to talk about “American interests” in this case is nonsense: the pipeline cannot be of any help to domestic oil consumers, because the refined oil will be exported and brokered on the global market, as oil always is. Clearly the “interests” being protected here, though they may be American (7), are not those of you and me.
Americans are hearing on the news that the Great Recession is over. But over for whom? To believe the official narrative, economic highs and lows mean the same thing to everyone equally. We’re all supposedly middle-class in the USA. Millions of the working poor, for example, despite the fact that they’re struggling with multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet, disdainfully reject the label “working class.”
The reality is that, among the non-wealthy, there has been a profound creep towards insecurity. The economy has shifted away from full-time work with benefits to part-time work without them. Young people are less likely to enter a company that provides them with a modicum of security, despite the wild claims of prosperity attached to the tech sector.
Since the Cardinal Cross began, the conflict between people’s self-image and their actual reality has been growing, adding psychological confusion to financial strain.
Where I live, San Francisco, is an exaggerated version of what’s happening in the country as a whole. The media loves to report stories about Mark Zuckerberg’s new solarium-equipped mansion; less “sexy” are the stories about the growing pool of transitory freelance workers, and the millions of small-business owners, retail workers, house painters and middle managers who are living paycheck to paycheck (8).
The notion that there are no class distinctions in the USA is being contradicted more dramatically every year. This is dealing a stinging blow to our collective identity.
A new era
American capitalism has been restructuring itself since Pluto went into Capricorn.
Those of us born into this era are watching the industrial economy fade into the sunset, as one great era morphs into another. Like all dwellers on the cusps of ages, we must deal with the tensions inherent in a transitional time.
We can expect more reaction and retrenchment, as those who haven’t gotten the memo from Gaia keep trying to squeeze the last bits of dinosaur detritus from the exhausted ground (9). But the idea that we’ll continue this way, with a burgeoning population growth and industrial expansion, is an illusion. Mother Earth cannot sustain that picture.
Being on the side of the future means withdrawing our allegiance from that mindset. It means simplifying, not becoming more complex. It means living not bigger, but smaller: in population, in physical requirements. It means pumping our energy not into the acquisition of resources but into the development of our awareness. It means doing whatever it takes to be a responsible citizen—predisposed, each of us in our own different way, by our unique charts.
The collective may be confused, but we do not have to be. To respond to the unfolding karma of the greater whole is to take seriously our allegiance to this particular country at this particular time.
(1) We can consider the Cardinal Cross period to have begun when Pluto went into Capricorn in 2008, and to be in effect until it leaves Capricorn in 2023. This is roughly when the USA has its Pluto Return (exact three times in 2022).
(2) Discussed in detail in my book, Soul-Sick Nation.
(3) The recent hysteria around Ebola corresponded with Neptune’s slowing down for its station in November 2014. See my essay Out of Africa.
(5) And, increasingly, water. It is thought by some that Peak Oil was reached in 2005. Cannily looking ahead, petroleum industry profiteers have been stealth-purchasing half-continent–sized underground aquifers in the American plains.
(6) Since the Industrial Age began, oil has made the Middle East ground zero for conflict. As a source of blood money it has sponsored warmongering from the British Empire to the Islamic State, who are now dealing black-market petroleum to finance their war crimes. But the oil is running out. An energy researcher friend of mine who has been tracking a single field in Saudi Arabia that provides 7% of world oil production reports that after having been pumping since the 1940s, it is nearly exhausted.
(7) But increasingly they are not. Multinational corporations, legally designated now as persons, may have their headquarters in the country with the most copacetic tax laws; as their wealthiest shareholders keep their wad in the Cayman Islands. An American passport, whatever it means these days, does not mean the same thing to rich and poor. With national identity a concept easily discarded for the sake of financial considerations, it is becoming increasingly true that patriotism is (as Leona Helmsly said of taxes) “for the little people.”
(8) The tech sector is widening the disparity between rich and poor, despite “crowdsourcing:” the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing of economic concepts. For an excellent article about the role of the “sharing” economy in Uncle Sam’s crisis, see http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/crowdsourcing-scam.
(9) But such efforts are doomed. One of the most ghastly of these abominations, the fracking industry, is a case in point. Far from being a success, the big fossil fuel companies have been finding that most of the wells dry out after a single year. It is believed that between 2015 and 2020 the whole fracking industry will go bust.