JULY 2008 Black hole case studyY
by Alex Miller-Mignone
The early stages of the 2008 presidential campaign have been marked by a bewildering plethora of pastor pariahs, a succession of fire-breathing, extremist exemplars of hatred and intolerance. In part, this is the last gasp of Pluto in Sagittarius, which has acted to expose the hypocrisy and divisiveness inherent in organized religion, of which the child sex abuse scandals of the Catholic Church in the ‘90s were the most obvious and publicized examples. But during this time, the toxin of religion has inserted itself most emphatically into our political discourse, with cynical GOP leaders harnessing the voting power of the evangelical right to install George W. Bush and Republican majorities in Washington, an unholy alliance from which the agents of God have reaped the profits of Mammon, as indicated by such fiscal rewards as those proffered by the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
The pronouncements of both left- and right-wing religious leaders have provided fodder for the political opponents of the contestants in this campaign, an indication of just how pervasive and malign religion’s influence can be, and an endorsement of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in designing a governmental system where Church and State were considered to be separate, and sundered, entities. On the left, Barack Obama has suffered from his personal and congregational associations with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger. On the right, John McCain has had his own problems, in first seeking, and then having to reject, political endorsements from evangelical firebrands John Hagee and Rod Parsley, whose spiritual flocks the GOP nominee desperately needs in order to succeed in November.
The astrological back story of this campaign season has been the permutation of Pluto from fiery, idealistic, religion-ruling Sagittarius into phlegmatic, practical, government-ruling Capricorn, a transition which is in full swing throughout this election year, with Pluto straddling the line preparatory to its final entry into Capricorn in late November. As Pluto mops up old business in Sagittarius and begins to prepare the ground for its assault on Capricorn, it has given us this glimpse of the waiting abyss which threatens to swallow the body politic if these two antithetical entities continue to be combined.
Obama’s and McCain’s problems are diametrically opposed, as are their governing philosophies. For Obama, a relatively unknown quantity, the issue is defining himself, a gap which is rapidly being negatively filled by the Black Liberation Theology views of his chosen church of 20 years. For McCain, already clearly defined as anti-evangelical, the issue constellates about somehow convincing evangelicals that he actually is one of them, and garnering their support. For the man who in 2000 termed evangelical superstars Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson “agents of intolerance,” this is no easy task.
Obama’s pastor problems began in early March 2008, with the YouTube revelations of several excerpts from the sermons of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor and spiritual mentor, a father figure who brought the young Obama into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ 20 years before, performed the marriage ceremony for Barack and Michelle, and baptized their two daughters. It was a phrase from one of Wright’s sermons, "the audacity of hope,” which provided the title for Obama’s 2006 autobiography. Named for the Old Testament prophet whose name has become synonymous with angry, hectoring screeds, Wright’s own video-captured jeremiads included excoriations of American foreign policy just days after the 9/11 attacks, when he inveighed that the nation’s “chickens are coming home to roost.” Other greatest hit clips followed—Wright accusing the US government of creating and spreading AIDS in the black community, and leading a rousing chorus of “God Damn America!”
Obama with Wright
Neptune at 22 Aquarius in early March was exactly inconjunct Obama’s Mars at 22 Virgo, indicating both a spiritually-based conflict and confusion in forward momentum, and surely the campaign stumbled at this time, never to completely recover with white working class voters, who began to wonder about the blank spaces in Obama’s biography. Uranus at the time was at 18 Pisces, exactly square a Black Hole at 18 Sagittarius and approaching opposition to Obama’s Mars, which itself exactly squares a media-evoking Pulsar at 22 Gemini. And the media was not slow to capitalize on the controversy, running continuous loops of the inflammatory statements at every opportunity. The shocking revelations (Uranus) opened a window into what for most Americans was the bizarre parallel reality (Black Hole) of Black Liberation Theology; many wondered if Obama shared Wright’s extremist views, and if not, how he could have remained in that congregation for 20 years.
On March 18, Obama took on the controversy, and in a speech on race in America he denounced the views of his former pastor without denouncing the man himself, or leaving the church Wright had founded. Mercury at 4 Pisces was conjoining Obama’s 5 Pisces Chiron for the speech, his words evoking a healing, but also indicating the rather maverick approach to the issue, so contrary to the usual political tactic of cut-and-run when controversial figures arise. Mars at 4 Cancer was exactly on a Black Hole and in trine to that Chiron, itself atop a Quasar, enabling Obama to perform a jiu-jitsu parallel reality reversal of the anger evoked by Wright’s comments, and enact the tremendous healing capacity of the Quasar-conjoined Chiron. Venus at 6 Pisces was also on Chiron, conjunct transit Mercury and in trine to Obama’s natal Neptune at 8 Scorpio, pouring oil upon the waters, eliciting honeyed rhetoric and allowing Obama to communicate (Mercury) his own spiritual (Neptune) values (Venus), as distinct from Wright’s. The speech was praised as one of the most important on race in the past 40 years; Obama had stanched the bleeding, and an uneasy peace settled on the political landscape during the six week interregnum between March 4’s Mini Super Tuesday and April 22's Pennsylvania primary.
By late April, Wright was back, on a fire-breathing media tour where he elaborated upon his unorthodox opinions and intimated that whatever Obama had said contrary to Wright’s views was said out of political expediency. This second eruption by the man whom he had held in such esteem allowed of no compromise with Obama’s political conscience: on April 29, the Illinois senator formally denounced his former pastor: “I cannot prevent him from making these remarks," but "when I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it. It contradicts what I'm about and who I am. ... It is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country.”
Transit Uranus had now moved to 21 Pisces, in closer opposition to Obama’s Mars, which was then exactly trined by transit Jupiter, awaiting its retrograde station at 22 Capricorn, and invoking the inflated response to Wright’s hate-filled remarks. The Sun at 9 Taurus had just crossed the controversial Maser at 8 Taurus, in opposition to Obama’s natal Neptune, affording a second chance to make clear the differences in his own and Wright’s spiritual values.
That 8 Scorpio Neptune is exactly conjunct Wright’s natal Venus, calling into question how deeply Wright’s values impacted Obama’s spiritual outlook and development. Born 22 September 1941, Wright’s natal Neptune at 27 Virgo is exactly semisquare Obama’s Sun at 12 Leo, and his natal Jupiter at 20 Gemini is tightly squared Obama’s Mars, closely tying both celestial modifiers of spiritual/philosophic views to Obama’s chart. Wright’s Neptune opposes one Black Hole and his Jupiter opposes another, providing alternate reality, out-of-the-mainstream manifestations for both. Additionally, Wright’s 23 Libra Mercury squares Obama’s 25 Capricorn Saturn, indicating that his opinions and pronouncements can adversely affect Obama’s career.
On this second round, Obama had formally broken with his pastor, but he remained a member of his Trinity United Church of God, still a potential Achilles heel in the campaign.
Round Three of the controversy was not long in coming. On May 25, Father Michael Pfleger was the guest speaker at Obama’s church, and once again, YouTube was the venue for exposing and spreading yet more inflammatory remarks. In commenting on Hillary Clinton’s tearful pre-New Hampshire primary appearance, Pfleger objected to commentators’ depictions of this emotion as less than genuine. “[W]hen Hillary was crying, and people said that was put on, I really don't believe it was put on. I really believe that she just always thought, 'This is mine. I'm Bill's wife. I'm white. And this is mine. I just got to get up and step into the plate. And then out of nowhere came, hey, I'm Barack Obama. And she said, 'Oh damn, where did you come from? I'm white! I'm entitled! There's a black man stealing my show!'" Pfleger then mocked Hillary’s tears, to a standing ovation by the congregation.
By week’s end on May 31, Barack and Michelle Obama had withdrawn their membership in the church. Uranus had now come to its station degree of 22 Pisces, in exact opposition to Obama’s Mars and forming a T-Square with the 22 Gemini Pulsar, itself conjoined by retrograde Mercury at 20 Gemini. Transit Venus at 7 Gemini was exactly conjunct another Maser, exposing yet more of the controversial values of Obama’s church; square Obama’s natal Pluto at 6 Virgo, indicating a crisis in consciousness requiring a transformational response; and inconjunct natal Neptune at 8 Scorpio, evoking adjustments in spiritual matters. The spiritual values of not just one pastor, but the entire congregation, were now in question, precipitating the dramatic and complete break. Transit Mars at 11 Leo was conjoined his natal Sun, impelling decisive action.
A Catholic priest and social activist, Pfleger was a frequent guest speaker at Trinity UCC, well known to Obama, and was quoted in a 2004 Chicago Sun-Times foundational piece on Obama’s religious faith, during his first Senate campaign: "Faith is key to his life, no question about it. It is central to who he is, and not just in his work in the political field, but as a man, as a black man, as a husband, as a father. ... I don't think he could easily divorce his faith from who he is." Born 22 May 1949, Pfleger’s 2 Aquarius Jupiter conjoins Obama’s own and opposes his 2 Leo Mercury and the 2 Leo Black Hole; his 12 Libra Neptune conjoins a Black Hole and is exactly sextile Obama’s 12 Leo Sun, which is conjunct Pfleger’s 14 Leo Pluto. In this complex mix we can see how Pfleger’s political (Jupiter) diatribe (Mercury) in Obama’s church (Jupiter) forced the dissolution (Neptune) of Obama’s ties to that church, for his own self (Sun)-preservation (Pluto).
The astrological underpinning of this period for Obama has been the opposition of Pluto to his 1 Cancer Venus, exact from Pluto’s 1 Capricorn station in April. Pluto remained at that degree from 10 March, just as the story first broke, until 26 April, the weekend Wright re-emerged on his media tour. Pluto opposed Venus has called Obama’s core values into question—after months of highfalutin' rhetoric which inspired millions and brought hundreds of thousands into the political process for the first time, suddenly the nation was confronted with the rather awkward reality that we really know next to nothing about him, about what drives him as a person, what he wants, what he believes, who he is. We have only his word for anything. Pluto opposed Venus has opened a window into the spiritual environment which has shaped his character, and the values preached there.
How lasting the damage will be is unclear. Without doubt these associations will be raised again in the general election campaign, and questions over Obama’s true spiritual values and religious/philosophical views will provide welcome cover for racially biased voters who feel uncomfortable with their own bigotry, allowing them to use these grounds to reject America’s first African American candidate with a clearer conscience.
John McCain’s pastor problems are the opposite of Obama’s. Far from filling in the gaps in a thin biography, McCain’s courting of the fundamentalist right is an attempt to rewrite his history and shore up weak support from an important GOP constituency.
In early 2008 the McCain campaign actively sought, and was pleased to receive, the endorsement of John Hagee, pastor and founder of the 19,000-member nondenominational evangelical Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. Hagee is also the president and CEO of John Hagee Ministries, which provides programming carried on more than 160 TV stations and 50 radio stations across the country, reaching 99 million homes weekly. The endorsement was an important beachhead on the fundamentalist shore, but almost immediately McCain found himself parsing the distance between Hagee’s endorsement and his extreme views, stating on the very next day, at a town hall meeting in Houston, “Yesterday, Pastor John Hagee endorsed my candidacy for president in San Antonio, Texas. However, in no way did I intend for his endorsement to suggest that I in turn agree with all of Pastor Hagee’s views, which I obviously do not.”
Pastor John Hagee
And who could? Among Hagee’s assertions are that Hurricane Katrina was divine retribution for “a level of sin that was offensive to God” and proof “of the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans,” citing a “homosexual parade” that had been scheduled for the day the Big Easy flooded, a parade no one else seems to have been aware of (perhaps Hagee is on their mailing list). He has termed Catholicism “the Great Whore,” a biblical reference to the book of Revelation, where this unidentified, allegorical character figures prominently in the rise of the Antichrist and Armageddon. Of Islam, he has stated that devout Muslims have a clear “scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews,” and on a more pragmatic note has estimated that even if just 15% of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims adhere to this agenda, that represents 200 million people “that want to come to America or invade Israel to crush it,” comparing that number favorably with the threats posed by Hitler and the Axis powers in World War II.
Despite these outrageous statements, McCain sought to maintain Hagee’s endorsement, even rather confusedly claiming in an April 20, 2008 interview with George Stephanopoulis on ABC’s “This Week” that seeking Hagee’s support was “probably a mistake,” but concluding that he was nevertheless “happy to have it.” But as with Obama and Reverend Wright, there comes a breaking point in all such relationships, and McCain’s was reached when in mid-May the audio of a Hagee sermon was released, wherein the Texas firebrand identified Hitler as the “hunter” in a passage by Jeremiah (!), affirming that the Holocaust was part of the divine plan to return the Jews to Israel. Now, slurring homosexuals, Catholics and Muslims is apparently fair game, but when it comes to the key Jewish constituencies in swing states like Florida, that’s another matter. On May 22 McCain formally denounced Hagee and rejected his endorsement, stating, “Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible. [...] I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee’s endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well.”
On the same day McCain also found it expedient to cut loose a second fundamentalist albatross about his neck, Reverend Rod Parsley, managing to work in a not-so-subtle jibe at Obama as well: “I've never been in Pastor Hagee's church or Pastor Parsley's church. I didn't attend their church for 20 years, and I'm not a member of their church. I received their endorsement, which did not mean that I endorsed their views.” Both ministers promptly withdrew the endorsements that had been spurned.
Rod Parsley is a televangelist and pastor of the 12,000 member World Harvest Pentecostal Church in Columbus, Ohio. His umbrella organization, Breakthrough Ministries, provides programming available on over 1400 stations worldwide. He is a leading strategist in the Dominionist movement, which seeks to impose a theocratic form of government enforcing biblical law on America. In 2004 he founded the Center for Moral Clarity, a lobbyist group advocating anti- abortion and same sex marriage legislation, repealing hate crimes and hate speech legislation, and seeking to restrict pornography and sexually oriented businesses. McCain actively sought Parsely’s endorsement during the early stages of the GOP primary, when splitting evangelical votes with former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee.
Pastor Rod Parsley
It was inflammatory rhetoric which also caused the rift with Parsley, but it was not his statement that, in funding planned parenthood, the US government was complicit in “genocide” against African Americans, which caused the split. Rather it was his statement that he does “not believe that our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion [of Islam] destroyed,” further opining that Muhammad is "the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil." In breaking with Parsley, McCain said, "I believe there is no place for that kind of dialogue in America, and I believe that even though he endorsed me, and I didn't endorse him, the fact is that I repudiate such talk, and I reject his endorsement.”
Born 12 April 1940, and 13 January 1957 respectively, both John Hagee and Rod Parsley evince the same pattern of galactic interference with Jupiter, Neptune and Mercury as do Obama’s pastoral nemesis. Hagee’s Mercury at 25 Pisces opposes Neptune at 23 Virgo retrograde, both forming a T-Square with the supermassive Black Hole at the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, while his Jupiter at 22 Aries conjoins the 24 Aries Black Hole. Rhetorical overreach on spiritual and religious matters is perhaps inevitable given this combination, and Hagee’s illustrious career in offensive speech-making is well documented.
Parsley’s nativity shows Jupiter at 1 Libra exactly conjunct the supermassive Black Hole center of Galaxy M-87, with Neptune at 2 Scorpio in exact square to a Black Hole at 2 Leo, and Mercury at 16 Capricorn conjunct the Black Hole at 19.
Both pastors make significant contacts with McCain’s chart. Parsley’s 1 Libra Jupiter conjoins McCain’s 2 Libra Mercury, and his 16 Capricorn Mercury exactly trines McCain’s 16 Virgo Neptune, activating two of this same deadly triumvirate of energies that describes aberrant religious speech. Hagee’s Mercury/Neptune opposition ties to McCain’s Saturn/Venus opposition at 20 Pisces and 22 Virgo, intimating questions regarding McCain’s values and suggesting an impact on his career.
As with Obama, an underlying Pluto transit informs the period. From its 1 Capricorn retrograde station in April, Pluto sits exactly atop McCain’s North Node, opposite the South Node. The karmic message is clear—you can’t build your future by running away from your past. McCain is not an intolerant fundamentalist, and to court them for political advantage erodes the authenticity which is such a key factor in his appeal to independents vital for his election. Worse—the forced repudiations of the endorsements of two evangelical giants is far more damaging with their adherents than never to have received these endorsements at all, creating an adversarial atmosphere which counteracts McCain’s efforts to reach these voters, and further undercutting his conservative bona fides. And the utter lack of vetting prior to accepting these endorsements also suggests weakness in the McCain campaign’s internal structure, calling into question his overall competence.
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 Alixilamirorim@aol.com.