Maya del Mar's Daykeeper Journal: Astrology, Consciousness and Transformation
In Association with


by Sue Taylor

[Here is Part II of astrologer Sue Taylor's review of Jessica Murray's new book, Soul-Sick Nation: An Astrologer's View of the U.S. We are also extremely pleased to announce that Jessica will be writing bi-monthly astro-political commentary for us, starting this month.—Ed.]

Soul Sick Nation, Jessica MurraySoul-Sick Nation: An Astrologer's View of America, by Jessica Murray. Available at $15.95.

In Soul-Sick Nation, Murray moves from the basics of the chart (sun, moon, rising sign) where she began, to the most distant planet from the sun, Pluto. Pluto allows us to look personally and collectively at what is frightening and taboo. In astrology and mythology, Pluto is “Darth Vader”—scary, terrifying, and above all, powerful and able to transform whatever it touches. Not exactly the type of character one wants to get close to.

In the chart of a nation, says Murray, Pluto governs the forces that operate below the surface of the collective consciousness. Pluto makes whatever house it’s in a magnet for the “make or break” experience. It provides that house with intensity and a feeling of supernatural power. Pluto also rules beginnings and endings (birth, death and rebirth). The house Pluto resides in is often considered off-limits in polite conversation. And, whatever sign it occupies in a chart, Pluto must expose and root out the decay and corruption of that area.

Pluto in Sagittarius in the 2nd House

Currently Pluto resides in the sign of Sagittarius (1994-2009). In the USA chart, Pluto is in the second house of resources, worth, values, finance—our collective values. Murray catalogs what we’ve valued, as a nation. In the past, we prized spices and gold; currently we seek oil; and, in the not-so-distant future, she predicts, water will become our focus. Our country also has a history of slavery—one group “owned” another group of humans. This “value” was with us from the beginning of our nation.

Murray feels Pluto will give us the vocabulary to name our most horrific secrets and to “look at what is making us sick”. Murray posits that in a “karmic sense” we each have a relationship with our country of origin/choice. And, she says, greed—a spiritual sickness—is rampant in American culture.

Murray remarks:

“Shopping is seen as a form of self expression and citizens see themselves as the corporations do—as consumers first and citizens last.”

This strikes close to home with me. I remember when I was a nascent nurse and I had “patients” (i.e., one under medical treatment) not “consumers of health care” as they are known today.

Murray notes the disparities of wealth and poverty in our culture so vividly seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Even with this oh-so-graphic evidence, she notes, we still want to view ourselves as a “classless” society. But how many of us saw George W. Bush speaking to a well-heeled audience and calling them his “base, the haves and the have-mores”?

Murray says “there is a money sickness here and if we are not part of the healing, we are part of the disease” (dis—ease). As Murray observes, every aspect of our culture is being privatized, commercialized, “commodified.” Capitalism, democracy, and patriotism have become equated in our culture.

This money “neurosis”, Murray suggests, leads us to assess worth in terms of quantity rather quality. (Remember the film “Supersize Me,” and what happened to the poor man who “consumed” all those Big Macs?)

Jupiter Conjunct Sun

Pluto in the second house, however, is not the only culprit. As in most cases, there is more than one aspect to indicate a complex; it is no different in this chart. Let us not forget to look at Jupiter conjunct the Sun. I like Murray’s description of Sun/Jupiter as being the biggest and second-biggest gas balls in the solar system. Doesn’t that just remind you of politicians who can blow things out of proportion? Murray says this combo gives us our “Entitlement Complex” and accounts for our tendency to see bigger as better… but she warns that Pluto adds intensity to this form of engagement in the material world.

Murray suggests that globalization is our aim and free trade agreements, which are neither free trade, nor agreements, are our method of gaining American hegemony. One of the commodities we treasure is oil—black gold. At this time in history, we are obsessed with ownership of the world’s oil resources—to the point where we have thrown the Middle East into chaos in an attempt to control it.

Murray also looks at how we Americans spend our disproportionate wealth. She starts with the USA war machine—the Pentagon. $300 million taxpayer dollars a day are spent on the war in Iraq. That is $12 million per hour, or ten thousand dollars each second. Meanwhile, America is in major debt, with national parks being auctioned off and lunches for senior citizens being cut for lack of funds to subsidize them.

In America’s perverted pursuit of privatization, we have even come to the ownership of life itself. We are cloning animals for food and genetically modifying seeds of plants so that farmers cannot save the seeds from one season for another, but need to replenish the patented seeds each season in order to continue to produce crops. Where there is a resource to be controlled, we want to be the ultimate “controller”… or dare I say, “The Decider”?

The Management Team

Murray then moves on to discuss half of what Maya called our “Management Team” of Jupiter and Saturn. Saturn is in the 10th house at the top of the USA chart. Saturn represents the father. Murray describes him well as the planet of structure, tradition, and high office. He represents the principle of contraction, just as Jupiter represents the principle of expansion. And as Jupiter is known as the Greater Benefic, Saturn is known as the Greater Malefic in astrology. Saturn governs time and space, patience, integrity, maturity, effort and the mastery of matter. Saturnian laws include boundary-setting and gravity, which holds us in place on this planet.

With Saturn literally “on top” in the USA chart, we collectively care about our reputation and staying on top. We are the “authority.” And since Saturn is in the sign of Libra, we see ourselves as the authority for the rest of the world, in terms of “truth, justice, and the American Way”. But in fact, says Murray, although we may long to see ourselves as the tough but fair father with the authority of Saturn, it is the raw power of Pluto that determines our policy.

That Saturn is linked to the Sun/Jupiter conjunction by a square, or 90-degree angle, in the USA chart says that the relationship between the members of the management team is a stressful one. They often work at cross-purposes. In other words, we collectively are comfortable with the concept of gain and more gain (haves and have mores) but not with recession or negative growth, which is a natural rhythm in all organic structures. We thus, collectively, deny our Saturn and leave it unintegrated in our collective consciousness. We long for the Strong Father (see Dr. George Lakoff’s work on this) but we do not want the restrictions he places on us.

Media Hegemony

What about Mercury (communication)—our day-to-day processing of information and problem solving and Pluto? In the USA chart they are opposite each other, roughly 180 degrees apart. An opposition denotes tension as well as a clear view of each other. It is a powerful major aspect showing how power (Pluto) and the media (Mercury) interact. Murray points out the manipulation of the media has been a major national issue especially since 2000-2001 when Pluto crossed the ascendant (Rising Sign) of the USA.

She speaks of media hegemony—four corporations own every form of communication from TV satellites to billboards. She notes that “free speech” and “free press” are in doubt when Clear Channel is pouring megabucks into election campaigns and sons of cabinet members run the FCC.

When a spin is chosen for an ill-conceived project such as the current Iraq war, the solution is to “embed” (in bed?) reporters with the troops for a positive spin. Murray declares that our information system is “corrupted to the core.” She describes it as a life system in decay and describes the evening news as an example that looks like a chicken running around the barnyard with its head cut off. She furthermore states that truth is the first casualty of war. She worries that the language of Pluto is the vogue of current news of the war—Iraqi civilians have become “insurgents” and “enemy combatants”. Her fear is that we will all ultimately become cynics and stop objecting to polluted propaganda because we believe everything we hear is a lie. In order to maintain some sense of integrity and remain conscious citizens, Murray suggests simply turning off our TVs.

Uranus: "Military-Style Democracy"

She then moves on to the planet Uranus, the people’s planet, the ruler of independence, innovation, and originality which is in the sixth house which governs health, health care, technology and organized systems. Uranus is the planet of democracy. And so, she says, we use “military style democracy” to invade and co-opt resources of other selected nations such as Iraq (Iran, Syria???).

We are in a “collective nervous breakdown,” Murray says, as Pluto crosses our ascendant and we spew propaganda about democratization of the world, one nation at a time when, in fact, we are plundering national resources in each oil rich nation of the Middle East, and our friendship and foreign aid goes to the least democratic of nations. We are determined, she says, to undermine countries such as Venezuela, Chile, Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Palestine who do not bend to American hegemony.

She urges each citizen to look clearly at the meaning of democracy and how the term is being used to manipulate us to do the bidding of a power/money mad nation—the USA.

Neptune Squares the National Mars

Murray next analyzes the influences of Neptune, the God of the Sea—the planet of glamour, inspiration, spirituality, dreams, visions, nightmares, delusions, deceptions, and escapism in all its forms. Neptune occupies the ninth house in the USA chart. This is the house of foreign travel, immigrants, higher learning (college, as opposed to the 3rd house lower education) law, and publishing.

The U.S. Neptune squares (90 degree angle) our national Mars, the planet of aggression and assertion. Squares are difficult tension-provoking angles that come at you sideways and catch you unawares. Murray uses the example of Neptune caught by surprise by the aggression of the 9-11 attacks, as well as the aftermath of misplaced fears (delusions) in which our insecurities are exposed and institutionalized in the Homeland (In)Security Department. At that same time, we also saw the Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prison (prisons are ruled by Neptune) debacles and the “birth of a mega industry of prisons in this country.”

Neptune, Murray states, rules our misplaced nationalism and our identification with our country “right or wrong”—the sentiment aptly expressed in George Bush’s declaration that “You’re with us or you’re with the enemy.” This crude approach needs to be transformed into a more universal vision. When we can recognize our need (hunger) for a higher meaning (AA would say a Higher Power) we can bring back the balance to our Neptunian quandary and purify our spiritual needs.


From this base, Murray looks at the transits or movements of the planets from their placement at the inception of the country, and where the planet is currently in the sky. This shows the development of the nation over time. She follows the Big Guy (Pluto) through Sagittarius (1994-2009) where it currently resides.

A major issue brought to the fore during this period has been scandals in the churches. Sagittarius rules religion and Pluto digs up the dirt. In addition to religious organizations, Pluto has been busy dismantling the education system and the travel industry (all ruled by Sagittarius).

She feels the transits of Saturn and Pluto opposite each other from fall 2000 to spring 2003 ushered in the current situation in part in order to bring our consciousness to a higher level in terms of how we (the USA) function in the world in relation to others. Murray states we have “sacrificed our sacredness to the marketplace” where ethics scandals abound. Our holidays (holy days) have been co-opted by WalMart and have lost meaning for a humanity that yearns for meaning and the sacred. Murray feels that Pluto has exposed the “rot” within our structures (Saturn) of government, religion, business, and education. It is time, she opines, that we establish a more mature view of who and what we are and then to act out the changes we need to make to assume responsibility for our place as fully functioning adults on the world stage.

She points to a series of planetary patterns that peak in 2008-2011 especially a grand cross (four 90 degree angles) composed of 7 planets in 2010. She says this will be the end of the era of Pluto in Sagittarius. The Big Guy will then move into Capricorn, where he will transform the structures built up and governed by that sign such as corporations and governments

In 2010 the country has a Saturn return. This will be a time for the USA to refurbish its authority in the world and create new leaders. She states we are headed for a new economic status quo where we will no longer be the “top dog” in the world. In 2022 Pluto will make its return to the natal position and bring the USA to its knees… our “irrational fears and manipulative impulses” will be exposed and transformed. Murray predicts that at that time water will become the new coveted resource.

In the challenging new era, Murray suggests we can use our powerful Pluto in our house of resources to help us transform as a nation and move to a higher level of consciousness where we are able to name our monsters (taboos) and bring them out of the dark places in the national psyche—face them, name them, gain power and control over them, and transform them into spiritual gold.

In order to do this, Murray believes we must each accept personal responsibility for our part in what happens in this country. We must do what one of my favorite bumper stickers suggests: “I love my country but I think we should start seeing other people.” International feedback would be most helpful to us in making the self-corrective adjustments we will need to make in this new millennium.

Birthing a Transformed Nation

She suggests we all become “cultural midwives” to help birth a transformed nation. We need to heal our relationship with money and our resources and learn to work in the service of the collective. We need to internalize the national Saturn and move from the toddler-in-diapers stage to being a free agent, a fully mature, responsible adult with a “transnational perspective” ready to forge alliances with the people of the world. We, as a nation and as individuals, need to learn humility, take responsibility and stop blaming (playing the blame game) others for our problems and failures.

We will need to become our own good parent, rather than expecting the government to do it for us. And we need to heed our Constitution, which states we are a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”—otherwise, we have truly lost the spirit of this great nation. This implies that each citizen has the responsibility for our government and that responsibility is a prize (resource) of great worth—not a curse in a too-busy, overcrowded life full of superficial glitz and pap.