F E B R U A R Y 2 0 0 3 S P E C I A L S E C T I O N --
T H E C O L U M B I A
by Alex Miller-Mignone
Just before 8 AM CST on Saturday, February 1, 2003, NASA Mission Control in Houston noted a spike in the temperature of the left wing of the space shuttle Columbia, then just a quarter hour away from its scheduled landing in Florida, and cruising above Texas at an altitude of some 38 miles, moving at a speed of 12500 MPH. Moments later audio contact was lost, and a minute after that a deafening boom was heard in the skies above Palestine, Texas. The Columbia was gone.
The shuttle, the oldest in the USA's fleet, had been damaged during take-off by a breakaway piece of foam insulation from the rocket booster which takes it into orbit; the prevailing theory at this time is that this collision damaged or removed some of the heat deflecting tiles which cover the surface of the shuttle, allowing a breach into which the extremely hot re-entry temperatures could penetrate, dismantling the shuttle's superstructure.
The symbolism of this event is indeed stunning, and its significance as a metaphor for our future is indicated by the incredible preponderance of Deep Space influences at the time of the Columbia's destruction.
The USA has a history in recent years of trauma and tribulation erupting in the home states of our current leaders, often coinciding with peak moments of stress for those individuals. During the Clinton administration, Arkansas was rife with natural disasters, tornadoes, freak weather, severe ice storms and flooding, and massive power outages for hundreds of thousands lasting for days, even weeks. Texas, of course, is the official home state of George W. Bush, and has already seen some heavy weather during the past two years. What makes this incident so unique is the national spotlight, and the underlying symbolism.
The very name of the space shuttle, Columbia, points to its metaphoric significance; Columbia was an early alternate moniker for America, based on the name of its "discoverer," Christopher Columbus. The name is still echoed today in the name of the USA's capitol city, Washington, the District of Columbia. The fact that the tragedy occurred over Texas ties this incident firmly to Bush. If further proof were needed, it can be seen in the "birth" chart for Columbia, whose maiden voyage (and the first shuttle flight ever) on 12 April 1981 sported a Sun/Venus/Mars conjunction atop Black Hole Hades at 24 Aries, which also resides at Bush's Midheaven!
But the symbolism broadens from there. The destruction of Columbia, AKA America, occurs over Palestine, and moreover, among the shuttle's seven-member crew was Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut to fly in the shuttle. (Other crew members, four men and two women, form a microcosm of the US populationone black, and one a naturalized citizen originally from India.) Surely this is more than cosmic coincidence, and a message is being sent.
Confirmation of the cosmos' interest in this tragedy can be seen in the chart, set for 7:59 AM CST in Palestine. EVERY planet conjoins a Deep Space anomaly within two degrees, many exactly, for a total of eight Black Holes, one pulsar and a Maser activated. The overall pattern forms an unusual fan, similar to the construction of the shuttle itself (see illustration, below), with Jupiter and Saturn in the forefront and the rest of the planets in a squared arc from the South Node at 5 Sagittarius conjunct Mars, the Midheaven and Black Holes Osiris and Anubis, to Uranus and the Ascendant at 27 Aquarius conjunct Black Hole Hekate.
To enumerate: the South Node at 5 Sagittarius exactly conjunct Black Hole Osiris. The Midheaven at 8 Sagittarius and Mars at 9 Sagittarius conjunct Black Hole Anubis at 11 Sagittarius. Pluto exactly conjuncts Black Hole Ereshkigal at 19 Sagittarius. And Venus exactly conjuncts the supermassive Black Hole at the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius.
This is a large amount of Sagittarian energy, especially noteworthy for being so far out of its solar activation period. One would not normally expect Venusian Sagittarian energy with the Sun in mid-Aquarius. Mars transits only every two years, the Node every nine, and Pluto every 250 or so. Having an Angle in the same Sign, and especially the Midheaven, which deals with our place in the world, is extremely powerful and persuasive that this is a Symbol of importance in this particular Metaphor. So this stress on Sagittarian energy tells us what about the event? That it has to do with long journeys, explorations, and the adventuresome, forward-reaching spirit of humanity, and has deep ramifications on the ethnic, cultural, philosophic, spiritual and religious levels.
Mars' conjunction with the Midheaven and the South Node is significant for the tone of the event. For the ancients, and thus always for us, Mars was the planetary energy evoking death. This again reveals a very strong theme of death connected with exploration, and Ereshkigal's story connects us with the ancient Near East, as do those of Osiris and Anubis (though not specifically to Palestine).
Venus exactly on the Galactic Center indicates the strongly universal importance, not just of the event, but more specifically the message behind it. The Galactic Center is also the most futuristic-toned anomaly outside of Aquarius, and points to a future event of global significance and impact.
To continue with the chart, Mercury falls at 17 Capricorn conjunct Black Hole Hel at 19 Capricorn. Although we associate Uranus more with air or space travel, Mercury was travel to the ancients, and that still resonates, so we again have the image of the traveler sucked into an explosive vortex.
Aquarian energy is also high; Neptune at 10 Aquarius conjunct Black Hole Attis at 12 Aquarius, with the Sun exactly conjunct Attis and the freshly new Moon exactly conjunct Black Hole Kybele at 13 Aquarius, and Uranus on the Ascendant at 27 Aquarius conjunct Black Hole Hekate at 28 Aquarius. Aquarius, of course, relates to space travel, but also to the futuristic, technological aspects of the craft itself, and its destruction.
Neptune implies loss, disappointment, disillusion, and confusion, the Sun represents the vital force of the astronauts and the actual craft itself, both sucked into the inescapable parallel reality of the Black Hole, from Life to Death, Existence to Nonexistence, Past to Future. Uranus angular on the Ascendant and conjunct a Black Hole shows a sudden, unexpected or unforeseen event, violent in nature, resulting in a complete reversal of the status quo and a huge energy drain; remember that this applies not only to the actual event described, but also to what it portends.
The New Moon, however, speaks of beginnings, and offers some hope that the future event the Metaphor points to is perhaps still nascent and thus avoidable. In particular, the myths of Kybele and Attis bring us back to a theme of sacrifice, resurrection, and the cyclical nature of events.
Across the Zodiac we see the two lead planets of the pattern, Saturn at 22 Gemini retrograde, conjunct the Pulsar at 23 Gemini, and Jupiter at 13 Leo retrograde, exactly conjunct a Maser. Pulsars are informational in nature, and can often represent "the shot heard round the world," a moment of global focus or importance. Saturn here is the loss of communications before the explosion, and the loss of the shuttle in general. Jupiter, ruler of Sagittarius, connects us once more with long voyages of exploration, and Maser energy is extremely erratic and disruptive, volatile and dangerous, another image of the violence with which this voyage ended, as well as the hotbed of conflict and strife into which philosophical and religious differences can deteriorate.
This type of simultaneous Deep Space interface with every planet of our system is extremely rare and indicates a high level of fated, symbolic, or metaphoric content to the actions involved, added to the universality implied by the Galactic Center contact.
The event obviously fits the astrological facts very well; but what about the deeper implications of the symbolism? Are we headed for a more far-reaching explosion, a crash of the national ship of state, if we embroil ourselves in Middle Eastern troubles for which Palestine is such an apt metaphor? Will there be cause to repeat Bush's ominous announcement: "The Columbia is gone. There are no survivors..."?
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.
His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at firstname.lastname@example.org.