Blackout Blackmail

by Maya del Mar

I don’t have the answer, but astrology can show us clues. (Ultimately, answers lie within each of us, and all of us.)

The United States is in the midst of a crucial Pluto transit, and this means we are whirling in a vortex of intensity, along with feelings of chaos and confusion. Apprehension and fears of death are part of Pluto’s grip.

The old is, in fact, dying, and it’s scary. Pluto brings old, false paradigms to the light of day, and then kills them off to make room for new, healthy starts. It is the pruner par excellence. But while one is in the midst of the pruning process, one feels full of pain and protest.

Pluto refers to power, as well as to catharsis. Birth and death are in Pluto’s domain. The United States is now undergoing the labor pains of a new birth. The question is, What will be born? Where does our real power as a nation lie? Does it lie in corporation as king, or does it lie in the hands, hearts and minds of the people, who have waged an unceasing struggle for the right to live with dignity?

We will emerge from this crucible just in time for election 2004.


From December 1999 through May 2003 is the most crucial time in United States history. The nation is now in a process of regeneration, with the possibility of recreating democracy, yes, from and for the people.

We have during these years a unique window of opportunity. Can we gather together and use this great impetus for change to create a grassroots movement for people empowerment? It looks now as though African-Americans in Florida, primed to vote in this election and finding themselves disenfranchised by the establishment, may lead the way.

African-Americans have twice before been instrumental in opening doors for greater people participation in government—first in the Civil War and then in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. (I suspect, in fact, that African-Americans, in their long struggle for justice, may ultimately lead this nation into its promised land—of liberty, equality, and justice for all. "I had a dream," said Martin Luther King, and he is a national hero. Also, Africans are ruled by the same sign as is the United States—Cancer.)

During this current window, three truly major influences for radical change come together—think of three powerful rivers coming together to create a torrential flow. These influences are
  1. Transiting Pluto, the great Reformer, crossing the U.S. ascendant for the first time ever, during 2000 and 2001 (Pluto has a 250 year cycle),

  2. The U.S. progressed Sun joining the U.S. natal Moon in Aquarius in January 2002, another major first (this will be the beginning of a 360-year national cycle), and

  3. The eclipse cycles during the years from 2000-2003 conjoining the most powerful polarities in the U.S. chart, Cancer-Capricorn and Sagittarius-Gemini.


The U.S. Ascendant is in Sagittarius, at 13 degrees. Sagittarius is the sign of the explorer, the traveler, the adventurer, the troubadour, the teacher, the preacher and the moralist. It includes the fields of law, the courts, politics, media, education, philosophy, religion, promotion, advertising, and sports.

Planets in Sagittarius instill a yen to roam the world, and the universe as well, imparting one’s beliefs, throwing them out like seeds, everywhere. Fraternal gatherings, like churches, clubs, and sports groups, are Sagittarian—wherever people gather to promote a common cause.

Sagittarius planets like to have a moral purpose to spread as they travel. The missionary is a Sagittarian archetype. The history of the U.S. is all about continual expansion, much of it to "spread democracy around the world."

I use the traditional U.S. chart erected by Erasmus Sibly, a well-known English astrologer who was alive at the time of the Declaration of Independence. There are several reasons why I use this chart. Perhaps most basic is that I trust an au courant chart more than a chart "rectified" by an astrologer 200 years after the fact.

Sibly sets his chart for late afternoon, and gives Sagittarius rising. Jefferson’s notes for the event say "late in the day," and the famous historical researcher Manley Hall gives a time for the signing between 4:30-6:00 p.m.

In confirmation of this time, early celebrations of the Fourth of July began at 5:00 p.m.

In addition I have read two different references by 19th century astrologers to the United States as Jupiterian, or Jupiter-ruled, as though a Sagittarius ascendant was common knowledge during the 1800s. Jupiter rules Sagittarius.

Dane Rudhyar, the astrologer whose work I most respect and who has done very extensive study with the U.S. chart, uses the 5:10 p.m. Sibly chart. So do I.

I’ve found the Sibly chart to work very well, but I’ve been waiting for the big proof: what happens when Pluto crosses the Ascendant? This is a first, for Pluto has a 250-year orbit. With Pluto, it has to be an event which begins to break down our national shadows, those false ego constructions created out of fear which obscure the power of our healthy identity.

With such a Pluto transit, our security feels threatened, and we can feel as though we’re going to die. (Thus the need, for instance, for a massive missile system.) Pluto does, in fact, destroy the outworn shell to make room for vital new life. But first we have to gag at the clear sight of that unhealthy shell.


(In fact, Florida has the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine.)

Pluto first crossed the U.S. Ascendant in December 1999, the day Elian Gonzales was plucked out of the sea near Miami. Pluto was literally conjoining the Ascendant during the whole Elian brouhaha, exposing the shadowy Cuban Mafia, which has long been a power behind the scenes in U.S. politics. This group has many secrets they could tell, and were able to hold the government hostage for weeks.

The battle lines were clear here—the human rights of a child versus the political intrigue and exploitation of power interests.

The people could see it, and they didn’t like it. Government fears could have ruled to keep Elian in Florida, but public opinion prevailed, and the power of the Cuban Mafia was ultimately diminished.

This then is the major theme of this Plutonic pruning: exposing the hidden machinations of political power in the United States, and how it harms the common good.

In the meantime Pluto turned retrograde, and when it exactly backed up again over the U.S. Ascendant, the Feds came in, rescued Elian, and reunited him with his father. (Janet Reno has Pluto exactly conjoining her Sun, and she waited for this Plutonic moment.)

This is a clue that concern for real people is motivating our Plutonic reformations, that the concern comes from the people, when they can see what’s going on, and that ultimately government, if pushed, will serve the people’s needs.

Elian is a Sagittarian, with his Sun conjoined that of the U.S. Ascendant and square Florida’s Pisces Sun. He personalizes this Pluto transit, and lends it vitality and energy. Elian’s smile on being reunited with his father was like the Sun, and the media plastered it all over the United States.

Perhaps we can smile that way one day, when we take back our people power.

Florida is a microcosm of the United States political process. It has given us a cold hard look at the inadequacies of our electoral system, the selfishness of many politicians, and how far we have yet to go in achieving democracy, which is the overriding ideal of the United States. It’s a humbling sight.


This time Pluto in Sagittarius had Jupiter in Gemini opposing it, expanding its action, adding the archetype of important establishment people, and focusing on talk, discussion, information, and propaganda, domains of Gemini-Sagittarius.

The politicians at the convention were Jupiterian. (Ted Kennedy, prominent at the Convention, is a perfect Jupiterian type.) Both Al Gore and George Bush have Jupiter conjunct their Moons. And both of them have Pluto conjunct their Ascendants!

Chiron, the healer-teacher, accompanied Pluto. The protestors at the convention were friends of maverick Chiron. Ralph Nader and the Greens are also Chiron representatives.

Chiron has now moved past the U.S. Ascendant, and is moving towards the U.S. Pluto in Capricorn. I see the protest movement growing during these years, and coming face to face with the establishment when Chiron conjoins U.S. Pluto, from late 2004-2005—the next election. Chiron always realigns what it touches—like the chiropractor.

On the day Pluto turned in August, protesters at the convention stormed the L.A Police Ramparts Station, headquarters of the L.A. Police Anti-Gang Unit. Police there had been accused of framing enormous numbers of gang members, arresting them for crimes they didn’t commit. Three Ramparts policemen have since been found guilty in court of conspiracy charges, a decision which makes history, and gives hope to the rising power of the people.

This is another indication that the 17-year transit of Pluto through the U.S. first house, for which the Ascendant is the doorway, correlates with increasing democracy.

Los Angeles has a Virgo Sun, just opposite to the Florida Pisces Sun, and it squares the U.S. Ascendant in Sagittarius, just as does the Sun of Florida. Los Angeles also has Saturn in Sagittarius, exactly conjoining the U.S. Ascendant. What comes out of Los Angeles has a strong impact on the nation.

Pluto shows where power lies, and it represents the power for deepest change.


During the third week in November, Pluto crossed the U.S Ascendant for the third time. The Supreme Court was then fumbling around with election results. The public saw the Court’s politics in action—and was disillusioned and disgusted. At the end of that week GW declared himself President-elect.

Now the Plutonic genie is out of the bottle.

As the Republicans prepare for and take office, Pluto moves quickly ahead, traversing three new degrees in the succeeding weeks. The Republican steamroller corresponds with Pluto’s rapid movement into new territory.


Around turning times, planetary action is prominent. Pluto now conjoins Pallas Athena, wise defender of her people, and Mars, who promises action.

In the news now, we see power expressed in countless ways. From the White House, thick and fast, are coming pronouncements which are obvious paybacks to the corporations which funded GW’s campaign. Without exception they hurt the common people, the environment, and antagonize other nations, thus reducing U.S. security in the world.

None of this matters. The picture is very clear that the White House is working for money, not for people.

"There is no longer any countervailing power in Washington; business is in complete control of the machinery of government," former Labor Secretary Robert Reich concluded recently.

California, where I live, is a high profile case in point. California’s mid-Virgo Sun also fits into this Pluto/U.S. Ascendant pattern in a stressful way.

Power itself is the issue here. Now as Pluto turns, the power companies are imposing stringent blackouts.

We see the whole cast of characters in this drama. Democrat California Governor Davis, who plays the Jupiter role as crony of the big power generators, is losing credibility. It is doubtful whether he will be re-elected. State Senator John Burton is the Mars warrior, initiating a legislative investigation into price-fixing. And our Pallas Athena, State Controller Kathleen Conner, has closed the purse to the Governor, with a strong warning about giving away taxpayers’ money to the power companies—money which could be used for healthcare, education, and other human needs.

We have seen the Supreme Court and the Administration in the glare of the Plutonic spotlight. Now what about the third branch of government, the U.S. Congress?

Congress is specifically directed to represent the people. Debate on campaign reform, in the form of the McCain-Feingold Bill, came to the floor just as Pluto turned. The people overwhelmingly want campaign reform. Will the Congress enact it? Or will they go with the money?

One indication is that Congress passed, almost unanimously, a bankruptcy overhaul for which the credit card companies (banks) have been panting—and donating, but which will be very hard on debtors. Congress thus cast aside, without debate, a century-old tradition of protection for small debtors.

As Molly Ivins put it, "The Democrats have an opportunity to prove that everybody that voted for Ralph Nader was right." Is there one party, the Money Party? Now that it’s down to the wire—and Pluto will do that—there are few Democrats in Congress willing to stand up in favor of campaign reform. This even though the McCain-Feingold Bill is weak and watered-down.

Pluto encourages secrecy. But it also exposes secrets. Pluto was the ruler of the underworld. Now it is exposing decades of ugly backroom secrets. On the nation’s Ascendant, Pluto now shines the glaring light of day on major faults of the U.S. political system. And it’s not a pretty sight. Pluto is also associated with sewage and garbage.

But once the garbage is cleaned up, there is treasure under it. Pluto is also associated with transforming those waste materials into usable materials—putting them back into earth’s energy systems. First we have to see and recognize them—and that is a humbling process.

It often takes crisis, or hardship, to wake us up to the need for change.

Also, during hard times in a nation, people will gather together and support one another. And organizational strength is the key to effective action. Changes in an entrenched system always come from below.

This is all Pluto’s work—descent to the depths, dismemberment, and finally, rising anew.

Pluto turns direct again on August 23, exactly on the U.S. Ascendant. This will be the final and most powerful crossing.

I suspect that the subject newly exposed this time will be U.S. shortsighted and imperialistic attitudes towards the world, both its people and its environment. Global warming has been a subject with each of Pluto’s transits, and it may be a climate-change crisis which throws a spotlight on U.S. hubris.

There is much more to say, and this subject will be continued in future issues of Daykeeper.

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