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Jessica Murray, Mars

by Jessica Murray

Does it seem to you that Time is speeding up?

To understand this remarkable phenomenon we need to look at the Saturn-Uranus opposition, a world-altering transit that peaks on election day in the USA (1).

Saturn represents Time in its usual sense. (2) Living out our days within the steadfast boundaries of our clocks and calendars, we humans maintain a sense of order and normalcy. Uranus, by contrast, represents sudden surprises: it electrifies and accelerates everything in its path. Since the opposition between these two planets began in earnest around the autumnal Equinox, Uranus has been wrenching chronological time off its established track.

The feeling in the collective is that of a tornado derailing a train.

It was after the eclipses of August that the global economy began to express the freakish shifts that astrologers everywhere predicted. World financial markets have turned into a roller-coaster ride, with observers not knowing whether the next day will bring a dizzying swoop upwards or a record-breaking plunge.

To get a bead on the purposefulness behind these thrills and chills, let’s put ourselves in Uranus’s shoes for a moment. He has a job to do: to wake us up by shocking us silly. If you were the Great Cosmic Trickster, how would you slap a people out of their complacency? Abrupt and drastic changes are good ways to get a rise. One of the reasons you’d want to send the Dow hurtling into a vertiginous climb the day after you sent it plummeting with a stomach-lurching drop would be to give it somewhere to plunge to again, the day after that.

The Uranian roller-coaster ride

In the same way, when we go to an action movie or thriller, we go for the plot twists, not the ending. Endings, after all, are just conceits of the human mind. The flow of real life doesn’t have a beginning, a middle and an end (Saturn). People fixated on stock market points right now, worrying about “where it will end up,” are not only risking an ulcer; they’re missing the point of the transit.

In this contest, the planet with the clipboard, fretting about facts and figures, is Saturn. But Uranus orbits beyond Saturn. It knows something that Saturn doesn’t know. And it doesn’t care about numbers.

Anxiety or Excitement

There is a great deal of anxiety buzzing in the ethers right now, as people’s reality structures are thrown off their moorings. Uranus transits—when their deeper purpose is unrecognized—can manifest on the mundane level as sleeplessness, agitation or heart-racing panic. Even at its most benign, Uranian change is hard on the human animal. This is because we resist change as part of our nature. But we can spare ourselves a lot of suffering if we detach from the action enough to see what part of all this is symptomatic and what part of it is essential.

The point of all this intensification is not just to make us run faster in one place. The point is to usher precedent-shattering new energies into the slow, recalcitrant systems built by the collective mind. The wise approach to the next few years is to get in touch with the part of each of us that loves a joy ride.

In the same way that people line up at the amusement park for the chance to scream with glee while flying through the air, it is theoretically possible for us to approach the next three years (3) as if we had chosen them. But why, you may ask, would anyone choose something that disallows us our self-protections and shatters our sense of security? For the same reason that we pay good money for gravity-defying thrills and chills at the fairgrounds: to feel more alive.

Given that Uranus is always in the sky somewhere, we know that it takes up residence in the chart of every baby born. Thus the urge it represents exists within every one of us. It would help us right now to locate Uranus in our own birth chart and give it some consideration. As with all the transpersonal planets, Uranus’s function is often completely unconscious (the more so when Saturn is strong in the chart); but like every other planet it wants to be discovered and appreciated. More obvious in some people than in others but present in everyone, Uranus is our craving for the unpredictable. It is that part of us that remembers being very young and throwing ourselves with wild abandon into the unknown.

Bankers Win the Lottery

We have had many fine examples of the Saturn-Uranus transit in recent weeks. The bankers' coup-d’état that took place on the Ides of September was triggered by a Full Moon in Virgo/Pisces, exacerbating the opposition’s tension like a rubber band stretched until it snaps. In the background was Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn, the sign of monetary systems; and, last but not least, the coup-de-grâce of astrological rectification: Pluto’s house placement in the birth chart of the USA (4): the 2nd house of banks.

Bank bailout: plutocracy in action

The latter is the signature of plutocracy; that is, the governance of a country by its wealthiest members. For a while now, the plutocratic nature of the American system has been an open secret; now, it is just plain open. The hastily cobbled-together move by the Fed to give $700 billion (the essentially arbitrary figure they first came up with) to bail out what amounts to the richest one percent of Americans happened without a single day of public hearings.

Boston Tea Party

What was especially noteworthy about the breathless few weeks after the Equinox was that, despite being railroaded by their plain-speaking president (“This sucker could go down”), the American people immediately and forcefully objected. As word came out about the outrageous golden parachutes that were being awarded to the white-collar criminals at the helm of these sinking ships of finance, and of the $440,000 retirement parties AIG executives were throwing for themselves just days after their bail-out was green lighted, rank-and-file Americans got mad.

For a moment, there were signs of a major protest along the lines of the original American taxpayer revolt: the Boston Tea Party, that seminal patriotic episode sanctified in every US history textbook. The hoary old phrase “taxation without representation” started to stir within the inner-schoolchild of many citizens, as they came to the realization that their hard-earned tax dollars were headed for a destination of which they emphatically disapproved. And it looked as if Congress was about to do what the White House wanted, regardless of that disapproval. (This is of course exactly what happened in early 2003, when a wellspring of popular protest against the bombing of Iraq proved unable to stay the hands of the legislators Americans had elected to represent them.)

In a flash of mass common sense and bold self-respect (Uranus), thousands signed internet petitions protesting the unsupervised bail-out of the unimaginably incompetent bankers who had created the crisis in the first place. Voices were raised about “socialism for the rich;” Cindy Sheehan and others called for a moratorium on evictions; community activists called on Washington to spend all that money on direct help to people, not banks. This robust rebuttal from the people seemed to give their esteemed public servants somewhat of a shock. Many congressfolk, sensing the potential here for an authentic democratic uprising (Uranus), vetoed the bill on its first round in the House.

The cave-in to the Feds came a few days later. Saturn won the second round.

The Future Confronts the Past

Saturn is loosely associated with the Past, and Uranus with the Future. In broad strokes these are the two rivals in America’s current culture wars.

Saturn is the planet of the status quo. Commonly associated with tradition, more precisely it refers to the pictures in people’s minds about “the way things have always been.” (5) Saturn is that collection of timeworn—if not particularly well-scrutinized—institutions that collectively constitute The Establishment.

To Saturn’s rulership we can attribute the way things are done in Washington. This includes the American lobby system, whereby moneyed interests purchase politicians to pass bills that favor them.  This scenario, which so blatantly flies in the face of the concept of democracy that most Americans keep the whole matter safely tucked underneath the threshold of consciousness, has become part of the nation’s collective wound—the storehouse of all unadmitted corruptions.

Saturn also refers to our tendency to retrench—bodily, emotionally and ideologically—when afraid. The human animal is notorious for reacting to change (Uranus)with feckless self-protection (Saturn). As September’s lunar cycle unfolded we saw the initial impulse of citizen outrage become polluted with the imagery of loss and penury (Saturn). Images of soup lines and tin cups began to spread feverishly through the mass mind, deliberately provoked by Dubya’s fear-mongering speech on September 16.

Depression Soup Line

Demi-Gods on TV

From the Jungian point of view, the presidential campaign has been a battle of archetypes. As the endless months wore on, the candidates ceased to be mere individuals: they became mile-high collective projections, created by the intersection of their own karma with that of the group. Of the two presidential candidates, one ran on a platform of “change” that did not seem hyperbolic considering the racial symbolism he embodies, not to mention the break his winning would symbolize from the train-wreck of a reign that preceded him.

The white-haired veteran running against Obama represented the Past in more than just chronological age. From the old-school racism invoked by his campaign to his copious allusions to a previous war from which he had clearly never recovered, this old soldier is a personification of calcified Saturn. In everything from his comportment to his campaign tactics, McCain served as a case study. The barely suppressed anger of his facial and body language; his recurrent allusions to the war atrocities he had suffered; his record of support for financial policies now discredited worldwide—these made him a walking exemplar of the necessity to confront the past or be doomed to enslavement by it. (6)

Most remarkable of all, from the point of view of Saturn symbolism, was McCain’s choice of running mate Sarah Palin. (Consider the cosmic pun: the word palin means “backwards,” e.g. palindrome: a word that runs backwards {Gr. dromos: running}). Her every pronouncement pushed her audiences back from ground that had been gained during the prodigious consciousness-raising of previous decades. With Neptune transiting conjunct her Sun, she is the personification of illusion: that of the much-touted but ever-elusive “American Dream.”

The image Palin was selected to convey was that of a blue-collar Leave-It-to-Beaver mom living in a blissfully ignorant pre-sixties world. The trouble with bubbly illusions, however, is that they burst; as has been made incontrovertibly clear by the economy. (The issue will come to a head this spring when Neptune, Chiron and Jupiter will conjoin the US Moon, to be discussed upcoming.) The increasing difficulty encountered by the McCain camp in presenting their supposedly retro-wholesome candidate testifies to the essential nature of Neptunian fabulism. Not only did Palin’s campaign persona bear no relationship whatsoever to the governor’s own domestic life, but it bore no relation to reality even in 1950s America.

As is so often the case with lifestyle politics in the USA, its “heartland” champions seem to forget that Leave It to Beaver was a television show, filmed against painted backdrops on a studio lot in L.A.

Corporate Power vs. the People

Like the stock market itself, popular sentiment is swinging back and forth as the Saturn-Uranus opposition gathers strength, with most Americans too unsettled to know what to think. Though the last weeks of October saw protesters in front of banks nationwide, Americans seem to have decided against revolution for the time being.

Meanwhile Pluto finally leaves Sagittarius on November 25 (for the next two-and-a-half centuries) and moves into Capricorn for the next 13 years. This puts the planet of raw power into the sign of government, corporations and all hierarchical systems. Given the tendency of Pluto transits to bring out the darkest extremes of the sign in question—for the purpose, lest we forget, of purging their toxicity—we must expect an ever more blatant consolidation of power in the hands of the country’s ruling elite; presciently dubbed by Dwight Eisenhower the military-industrial complex, a coinage that has turned out to be more apt than he could have possibly known (7). If the new administration does not immediately begin the process of repealing the “Patriot Act,” the stage is set for legalized fascism. If it does repeal this dictatorial edict but fails to uproot the policies established by the Rove/Cheney/Wolfowitz machine, we will see an intensification of the quasi-legal fascism so clearly demonstrated by the massive finance fraud now being exposed at the highest levels of American government.

In considering the revelations that may arise over the next 13 years, fascism is a word we should not be afraid to use. Though sloppy usage over the past 60 years has made it a cliché, we may find it appropriate to reclaim the term, restored to its textbook meaning. (8) It is a form of self-empowerment to reclaim language from cultural degradation, and press it into service again where apt.

Houses and Loans

This calendar year sent a series of shocks reverberating through the American system; most notably the one about the housing bubble being, well, a bubble.

Like structures built on landfill whose foundations (Saturn) react to an earthquake (Uranus) by turning to Jell-O, the housing market bust was a prompt to get people to realize that the “American Dream”—which, in the best of times, was basically just an obsession with buying real estate, disguised as a numinous quest—has been predicated on fraud. The fraud involved was not just that of greed-driven predatory lenders but that of unqualified homebuyers undone by self-deception.

Of this fall’s revelations, the lending industry chaos takes the prize. It has been understood for some time that the products Wall Street has been inventing and trading have had an increasingly dubious connection to reality. These instruments had become creatures of Neptune: weirdly, intangibly, abstract. As Nick Paumgarten has noted, though the financiers who created these complex financial hybrids tried to pass them off as science, in truth they had more to do with experimental art. (9) Uranus does govern science, but it is now in Pisces: a sign where magical thinking and imagination substitute for more banal forms of truth, and Saturn's law of consequences finds no quarter.

The New Presidency

At this writing the federal government in America is continuing its policy of buying time for the financial industry to fix itself; a “finger-in-the-dike strategy” that has dictated business-as-usual (Saturn) in Washington since the deregulation era began, several administrations ago. To say that this policy has been a resounding failure is the understatement of the century.

Once the election is over, America will put away its balloons and confetti, and there will be a lessening of the hysterical partisanship that characterizes political campaigns in duopolistic systems. Before the new administration has gotten its breath, it will have to face the momentous question of how to handle an economy in triage mode, against the backdrop of the worldwide systems collapse that is accompanying global warming (beginning in the Third World, and advancing into the First). Whoever becomes president, he will either confront or evade the singular truth staring America in the face: that its version of capitalism is irremediably broken. There will be no honeymoon for this man. He will immediately face issues of unprecedented magnitude that require radically imaginative solutions.

Whether the government itself will be able to come up with these solutions is doubtful. Not only because it is unrealistic to imagine that any single individual could save the world (10), but because we know that the Pluto transit will be taking aim at government itself—not merely at specific governments, but at the whole concept of government. Americans in particular would do well to minimize their psychological identification with the father-state. The top-down leadership systems of the world will be directly in Pluto’s cross-hairs.

The New Era

Pluto in Capricorn is leading us into an era where putting our faith in leaders, in the old way, is going to be a tricky proposition. Many governing figures the world over will be exposed as grossly ill-suited to lead. This puts the responsibility back on the individual, whither it always finds its way in the end. Persons of vision will be compelled to action, to fill the vacuum that broken governments will leave behind.  Leaders will be of a new type, and will be found in new places.

Those of us who have left to others the job of defining what citizenship means will find ourselves plumbing the question as if for the first time. Those individuals with a cardinal emphasis in their charts, in particular, will be called upon to step up to the plate as the times demand. Whether we embody the new leadership, recognize and support it in others, or creatively envision it in imagery that inspires our community, we will need a rock-solid integrity—Capricorn at its highest—to meet the years ahead.

When we truly respond to what’s going on within our own depths, as well as in the culture around us, we are doing soul work. In so doing we become part of the future.

Pre-Post Mortem 10/25/08
Adieu, George W. Bush. Let us say that you were a phenomenon, and that you will be long remembered.




1 The opposition will peak five times over the next couple of years. The date of its first hit—November 4, 2008—uncannily expresses the feeling of many Americans and America-watchers that this particular presidential election is the most critical of our lifetimes.

2 Chronos is one of Saturn’s names: Old Father Time, the fellow with the beard and the hourglass. It is thought-provoking to remember that Saturn is the only planet in the sky that has anything to do with Time in the sense that we usually mean it. Though we tend to take for granted the measurements of linear time, conferring upon it the status of an absolute cosmic function, consider that for every other archetype in the astrological system the notion of Time is a foreign concept. All the planets except Saturn represent energies that happen in the Now: either outside of time or inside of Time, depending on how you look at it.

3 The Saturn-Uranus opposition recurs every 35 years with a duration of roughly two years. But this iteration of the transit must be seen against the backdrop of the even more compelling configurations with which it overlaps. The opposition will segue into the Cardinal Grand Cross that spans the period between 2009-2014 and peaks during the exact Uranus-Pluto square of 2010-2012.

4 I use the Sibley chart: July 4, 1776, 5:10 pm, Philadelphia.

5 “The way things were” is a wildly subjective call. This is so not only because of the fraudulent nature, in every era, of the notion of “the good old days”; but also because of the faux-objectivity of the Saturnine mindset, which lays claim to assumptions of about majority thinking, and “reality” itself, that have no more empirical basis than those of any other planet. See my December 2007 article in this publication.

6 John McCain’s woundedness is part of America’s learning curve about the pathology of abuse victims. It has been reported that in this country, child sexual abuse—not even counting the psychological and merely physical kinds of abuse—occurs in one out of four households. The syndrome needed a poster child; and America created one in John McCain. Astrologer Eric Francis has pointed out that the astounding prevalence of this abomination in the USA goes a long way in explaining the fact that the American populace, harboring a collective self-image of powerless, traumatized children, have sat passively by while being betrayed again and again by their own government, the parent figure. Moreover, McCain’s failure to heal has implications that go deeper than one generation. Sociologists have statistically corroborated what the rest of us know from common sense and personal experience: that adult victims of childhood abuse are likely to become perpetrators themselves unless healing intervenes to break the vicious circle. One can see the signs of this sickness at work in McCain’s heated eagerness to dispatch more and more young Americans into the hopeless bloodbaths in Afghanistan and Iraq; in order, he says, to finally “win”—a term he never defines. One suspects it means the opposite of what happened to him in Viet Nam.

7 Halliburton will go down in history as the first complete and unapologetic hybrid of the Pentagon with the for-profit sector. Absent a successful popular movement to bring it down, Halliburton will set the template for the Pluto-in-Capricorn years: privatized masters-of-war. See

8 Among the features that tend universally to characterize fascist regimes: disputed elections; heightened nationalism; the creation of “enemies” to unify the populace; a war always going on somewhere; controlled media; the merger of church and state; labor rights suppressed and corporate power protected; and a boom in the construction of penal institutions.

9 The New Yorker, 9/29/08

10 See America in Transition,, September 2008.