The devastation of a modern American city by state administrators tasked with resolving its dire fiscal problems is one of the saddest and most easily avoided debacles in recent memory. Facing bankruptcy, the city of Flint, Michigan was placed under control of an emergency manager, Michael Brown, in December 2011. This is a position appointed by the governor which essentially supersedes all locally elected officials and establishes an authoritarian rule.
In a cost-cutting measure in 2014, the emergency manager instructed Flint to disconnect from the treated water supply purchased from Detroit, and to connect to water from the local Flint River instead, saving the city an estimated $5 million over two years. Unfortunately, essential corrosion inhibitors were not applied (though the cost of properly treating the water would have been less than $100 per day). Although the river water was deemed safe for human consumption, its corrosive qualities caused deterioration of the city’s aged pipelines, allowing toxic amounts of lead to leach into the water supply, thus contaminating the entire population. Some lead levels have been found to exceed the EPA’s “safe” level, which is 15 ppb (parts per billion), by many factors of ten. The highest readings obtained were in excess of 13 thousand ppbs, and even the more standard levels of 100-200 ppbs represent a serious public health crisis.
Problems from the new water supply arose at once, with many residents reporting discolored, bad-tasting and smelly water, but the elevated levels of lead were not at first recognized. Initially residents were told to boil the water before consumption, which is a preventive measure for bacterial agents but has no effect on contaminants such as lead.
State officials denied any problem related to pipe corrosion, until finally a local private physician conducted blood tests on local children and found them to contain highly elevated levels of lead. The state continued to stonewall health concerns for 18 months, declaring the water safe for consumption despite EPA and other reports stating the contrary, eventually issuing some water filters for residences, which were inadequate to control the high lead levels encountered. A state of emergency was finally declared in January 2016, after extensive reporting on the situation nationally by MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” and other news outlets.
Although the city reconnected to the Detroit water supply in March 2015, the damage to the pipes had been done and is ongoing. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder refuses to fund the pipes’ replacement. Congressional hearings held in March excoriated the governor and other state officials for their inadequate performance, but without proceeding to any kind of federal funding to manage the crisis.
So, what can be determined from an astrological analysis of the situation? We’ll take a look at the charts for the founding of Flint, the appointment of the first emergency manager in 2011, and the date of the change in the water supply in 2014.
Flint, incorporated on 13 February 1855, sports a Sun at 24 Aquarius, conjunct asteroids Damocles and Icarus, at 21 and 22 Aquarius respectively. Here we see the seeds of Flint’s downfall, enacted some 160 years later. Damocles represents the doom hanging unseen overhead, much in the way those corroded pipes acted without anyone’s knowledge to doom the city’s residents. Icarus represents rash, reckless actions heedless of the consequences, such as the emergency manager’s decision to save money by switching to untreated river water.
The Sun makes no aspects to any major planetary body in the chart, though Jupiter at 13 Aquarius and Mars at 6 Pisces are both just out of orb of conjunction. It does, however, form a Grand Trine pattern with three additional asteroids all powerfully poised at their stations. Of these, the trines to Atropos at 29 Libra and Nemesis at 27 Gemini are most significant. Atropos, which turned retrograde at 0 Scorpio two weeks after the city’s founding, is named for the mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death, and as such, represents life-or-death situations, endings and challenges to the continued status quo. Nemesis represents a point of undoing, often self-wrought; it turned direct just the day before Flint was “born.” Tied to the Sun in this manner, these energies form intrinsic components of the city’s nature.
Accompanying Nemesis, and showing the future source of the city’s undoing, is asteroid Leach a 21 Gemini, a point which dramatically, emphatically and precisely points up the leaching of the lead from the water pipes. Leach turned direct on February 8, 1855, just four days before the city’s founding. Celestials at their stations are powerfully embedded in the chart’s psyche, still points upon which the rest of the chart revolves: however “minor” they may seem to be, they inevitably have their day.
This powerful and evocative Grand Trine is transformed into a Kite pattern by the opposition of the Sun to asteroid Lachesis at 23 Leo, named for one of Atropos’ sisters, who determined the span of life. The lead contamination among some of Flint’s most vulnerable citizens will inevitably impact their span of life, as well as its quality.
The Sun is also in sextile to asteroid Poisson at 22 Aries. Poisson, while named for a French mathematician and physicist, also resonates to its phonetic English cousin “poison.” Significantly, this point has been transited repeatedly by slow-moving TNO Eris during the period of Flint’s devastation. Eris represents those marginalized or dismissed by society, the faceless, nameless, hopeless. Flint’s population of disenfranchised, economically devastated people of color fits this bill perfectly. Had Flint been a predominantly white suburb of Detroit, you can be certain its water problems would have been dealt with swiftly and professionally, regardless of the cost.
A cluster of natal Mars, Venus, Mercury and Neptune at 6, 9, 11 and 14 Pisces shows the importance of the element of water in the city’s biography. In particular, the close Mercury/Neptune conjunction suggests some form of confusion, debilitation and corrosion/erosion (all Neptune) related to pipes and infrastructure (Mercury) that carry or contain water (Neptune/Pisces); it is also convenient astrological shorthand for a poisoning (Neptune ruled) via plumbing (Mercury ruled). It is significant that this crisis emerged as transit Neptune rolls over all these points, preparatory to its first return to its natal place in Flint’s chart.
When Governor Rick Snyder signed the order installing Michael Brown as the city’s first emergency manager on December 1, 2011, the transit Sun at 9 Sagittarius opposed Flint’s natal Saturn at 8 Gemini, imposing the authority (Saturn) of the state government. This created a T-Square with the natal Pisces stellium, impacting virtually all forms of Flint’s civic life – its commerce and infrastructure (Mercury), finances (Venus), and the vitality (Mars) of its citizens. The potential for government (Saturn) to negatively impact these is present natally in Saturn’s square to the stellium, but it took the activation of the Sun to set this potential into motion.
Asteroids Snyder and Brown are present as well; Brown at 11 Virgo conjoins transit Mars at 9 Virgo, which fills in the empty leg of the transit T-Square to create a Grand Cross. Asteroid Snyder at 3 Leo is just three days past its retrograde station, again a powerful still point which focuses the chart’s energies and shows Governor Snyder as pivotal to the developments which ensued. Snyder is traveling with asteroid Achilles at 29 Cancer, exactly squared the city’s natal Atropos, and is a point evocative of a weakness or vulnerability that threatens to overwhelm and destroy. In this case, having devastated Flint, Achilles may go on to devastate Snyder’s political career as well, based on his inadequate response to the crisis.
By the time of the fateful decision to switch from Detroit’s treated water to the untreated water of the Flint River on 25 April 2014, Brown had been replaced by Darnel Earley as emergency manager. This was a highly unfortunate choice in light of asteroid Darnell’s close conjunction with Mercury and Neptune in Flint’s natal chart. At 12 Pisces, natal asteroid Darnell spans the gap between them, and reinforces the potential for corrosion (Neptune) of the pipes (Mercury), resulting in poisoning (also Neptune). It is staggering to think that at the city’s founding the principal agent of its far future devastation should be found referenced in the heavens in this manner.
The transit Sun for the day of the ill-fated water supply switch lies at 5 Taurus, conjunct Flint’s natal Pluto at 1 Taurus, an indication of potential devastation. With the Sun are transit Mercury at 4 Taurus, defining the pipes which would wreak that devastation, and asteroid Richard at 0 Taurus, showing the central role of Governor Richard “Rick” Snyder to the problem.
As if to underscore this, transit asteroid Snyder at 18 Capricorn conjoins transit Pluto at 13 Capricorn, and is involved in a Yod configuration, also known as a “Finger of Destiny”, with transit Saturn at 21 Scorpio, both inconjunct to transit asteroid Poisson at 18 Gemini, on the Yod’s apex. Note that Snyder is exactly inconjunct Poisson, which also squares Flint’s natal Neptune at 14 Pisces. Snyder/Pluto are also involved in a transit T-Square with an opposition to Jupiter at 14 Cancer (exactly trine Flint’s natal Neptune) inflating the situation, and a square to Mars at 12 Libra, showing Snyder as the prime mover in the actions taken.
Transit asteroid Darnell at 1 Sagittarius is exactly inconjunct Flint’s natal Pluto, as well as inconjunct the transit solar stellium and in rough semisquare to transit Snyder. A Lunar Eclipse at 25 Libra just ten days prior highlighted the natal Kite pattern by conjunction with Atropos and trine to the Sun. Transit Leach at 25 Aries lies exactly on the Sun’s degree for the Lunar Eclipse, and has just conjoined Flint’s natal Poisson at 22 Aries (also bound up in the recent eclipse), bringing together the themes of leaching and poison. Perhaps most dramatically, transit Damocles, recently returned to its natal degree, is now at 24 Aquarius, exactly conjunct Flint’s natal Sun, and bringing to the fore that unseen doom that had been hanging over the city since its inception.
That such a tragedy could occur in modern America, based in “fiscal responsibility”, is almost inconceivable. That the problem should go unaddressed for so long is an outrage. That its principal authors should go unpunished is intolerable.