AMERICA IN TRANSITION, DECEMBER 2008
by Jessica Murray
"A crisis is a time of incredible freedom in which the past has minimal hold over the present and the present has maximal hold over the future."
Things have been pretty crazy lately. The Saturn-Uranus opposition has been wrenching us out of our comfort zones, and now Neptune is going to start messing with our sense of reality. With every day that passes, it will become more important to open up to the Now. This means not just embracing new ideas, but readying ourselves for a bona fide paradigm shift.
We are living at a critical historical moment; one where it is very important to watch the way we judge our experience. Most of us are habituated to thinking of our lives in terms of things either "going well" or "not going well." But spending time evaluating our roller-coaster world as to whether we like it, or it or don’t like it, is not the best use of our energy. A more appropriate approach is to forget about what we think we want, and instead to sharpen our intelligence for what is actually here, now, all around us.
It is clear that what these transits disallow in terms of contentment they more than compensate for in terms of excitement. All things considered, it could be argued that contentment is overrated. This idea may make us recoil, but to at least consider it as a hypothesis could come in handy right now; because the transits afoot are about something other than contentment. They are about transformation.
There is a powerful series of configurations coming up this Spring, for America and for the world. Neptune, governor of fantasy, deception and illusion, will reach the degree of the US Moon in a triple conjunction in May of 2009. At the same time, Pluto will be stationary opposed to the US Venus and Jupiter—in Cancer, the sign of housing, security and comfort.
The seeds for this confab of transits have already been sown by the still-rollicking Saturn-Uranus opposition, the star of the show for the last several mind-boggling months. Since this transit peaked on November 4 (doesn’t that day seem like it was a hundred years ago?), we may now have enough temporal distance to get a bead on what it was trying to teach.
First of all, let us remember why the Goddess invented oppositions. As major aspects go, 180-degree angles are dreaded by many, denigrated as "hard" and "stressful." And they do create stress. But so does a tightened violin string: when sufficiently taut, it makes a beautiful sound. And more so than any other aspect, oppositions make distinctions clear. Conjunctions, by contrast, often make it difficult to sort out the merged energies they represent. But oppositions isolate and clarify differences, and give us the chance to do something we don't normally do: meet our challenges head-on.
Opposition implies polarity. On a societal level, this tension is showing up as the culture wars that peaked on election day.
The last time these two planets opposed each other was in the 1960s; indeed, it may be that the modern concept of polarization, as a sociological phenomenon, was coined back then. In the late sixties the idea of young people polarizing against their parents was a centerpiece of societal discussion: suddenly there was this thing called the Generation Gap. Opposition was the catchword of the era, whether between the hippies and the "pigs"—that inelegant slur that was used for police—or between the Viet Nam war supporters and the peaceniks. These terms seem almost quaint now, but they meet our modern consciousness with ambivalence. They are both anachronistic and strikingly relevant again.
On the face of it, the presidential contest presented us with a clear case of opposing cultural myths. Obama’s espousal of "change" went beyond a mere campaign slogan; he was the perfect contender for a mass heroic projection: a champion who could redeem the country from long years of cynicism and degradation. It was not just his political party, nor his supporters, but the historical moment itself that insisted upon his victory. He was cosmically typecast to personify Uranus, the planet that governs newness, difference, and most powerfully of all, freedom. Millions of people—not just in the USA but, remarkably, all over the world—responded to his triumph as would citizens of an occupied country whose liberators had just stormed the beaches.
And it was equally easy to see Obama’s opponent as a walking embodiment of Saturn, planet of everything antiquated and change-resistant. The most telling feature of McCain’s role as spokesman for the obsolete came towards the end of his campaign, when the old soldier resorted to the nasty old American tradition of red-baiting. The fact that Communism has been defunct for 20 years should have tipped off his strategists that this tactic had fundamental problems. (1)
But it was the Wall Street meltdown that rendered McCain’s ploy so out-of-touch with the times. His talk of "socialism" highlighted an issue his party wanted to keep hidden: the reality of the US government’s support of big business at the expense of everybody else. McCain helped usher the issue out of the closet just when it was dawning on America that its economic system was fundamentally broken. (2)
In the current economic climate, the irony of red-baiting is becoming too tortured to be sustained. It was John Kenneth Galbraith who said, a few decades ago, that "The only type of socialism that America finds acceptable is socialism for the rich," a statement that has become apt beyond his wildest imaginings. Since the lending industry bail-out was proposed by the Establishment party around the autumnal Equinox of 2008, all attempts to call the non-Establishment party a bunch of pinkos were fated to ring hollow.
But old political gambits die hard. At this writing, even as the line of poor-mouthing plutocrats forms around the block, with banks, brokerage houses, insurance companies and automakers (3) flying in private jets to Washington to seek hand-outs on the public dime, their bought-and-paid-for congressmen are condemning as "socialistic" a bill that would give foreclosure aid to working-class families facing eviction.
Two years ago astrologer Ted Denmark put it this way: "2007 will be the last normal year." Though it will take a while for the Washington old guard to update their rhetoric, the hoary old truisms that have held sway on Wall Street have received nothing less than a death blow. American capitalism cannot go back to the way it was. Pluto occupies the second house—the house of finances—in the US (Sibly) chart. This placement indicates that changes in the nation’s economy have the potential to cut down to the bone.
You can’t tell the players without a scorecard
"A real socialist does not pal around
with Warren Buffet."
—Gloria LaRiva, of the Party for
Socialism and Liberation
As cautious observers suspected, even when the partisan frenzy was at its height, things were and are less cut-and-dried than Right vs. Left and Blue vs. Red. All such ways of framing cultural dynamics are too simplistic to serve us any longer. In these topsy-turvy times, it is too easy to appoint one opponent in a contest as Uranus and the other as Saturn.
The media loves polarization, of course, and would have us believe that each new battle that arises on each new news day is a prompt to immediately choose sides and buy bumper stickers pro or con. This is how the TV news boosts ratings, to get people all excited (low-level Uranus); for the same reasons that Madison Avenue plasters the word "New!!" on boxes of laundry detergent. But we need to see through this media trope, particularly where oppositions are concerned. The talking heads on TV amp up the "feud" factor, like spectators at a prizefight, cheering on the poor suckers who’re pummeling each other in the ring. This is not merely a silly way of seeing complex situations; it is a pandering to the basest instincts in the viewing public. And it seduces us into missing the complexities of a situation to which we need very much to be paying close attention.
Now that the election is over, Neptune and Chiron are beginning to muddy the waters that seemed so clear before. The Saturn-Uranus opposition is appointing new messengers to convey its lessons. Its second peak is just a few weeks away (4), and when it is over it will segue into the Grand Cross through 2014. Students of planetary archetypes will want to stay alert to the changing guises these forces will assume as their cycles unfold.
Uranus is a mischievous god, and I think he must be sporting a twinkle in his eye as he tempts us to guess which political faction is going to carry his standard. Rather than sticking to the playbill we settled on during November’s moment of euphoria, honesty must force us to concede that it is becoming more difficult by the week to pin Uranian symbolism on the president-elect.
Pluto has moved into a new sign now, and the mood in the air has shifted. Now that he is choosing his cabinet and making his alliances, the impeccable Obama is revealing himself to less a messiah figure (Sagittarius) than a canny manager (Capricorn). There is no doubt that he has been plucked by destiny to be the man of the hour. But enshrining him as a paragon of leadership misses the point of the Saturn-Uranus opposition: that no one man can take us where we need to go. Only a movement can do this.
The key lesson of the opposition above is that there is genius (Uranus) in groups of individuals who take responsibility (Saturn) for the times they were born into. The Cardinal T-square forming in the sky drives this point home. The new leadership is not a singular person but a collective: The People. The white knight in this scenario, galloping forth to save the world, is not Obama but ordinary people awake to the future. Moreover, this is the over-arching theme of the 2,000-year-long Age of Aquarius upon which threshold humanity finds itself.
No sovereigns, no saviors
There’s no room for starry-eyed idolatry here. The times are too urgent. Despite our unqualified relief at his ascendancy, if we-the-people give carte blanche to this new president, a politician with an essentially conservative temperament (5) and some flat-out reactionary friends, he will veer to the right. Progressives will feel betrayed, and the change we all agree is necessary will not take place within the political system.
Americans who value peace and justice must face the fact that not only did Obama not run as a peace candidate, he has put forth a policy of war escalation. (6) He has said he wants to increase the military by 92,000 soldiers, and spend as much as he needs to on military recruitment to make this possible. His first cabinet choice is the Zionist Rahm Emmanuel, who backed the war in Iraq even after the claim of weapons of mass destruction had been invalidated; and whose status as the president’s right-hand man sends a distressing signal to all who hoped the new administration would end the humanitarian disaster in Palestine.
Obama’s approach to the economic crisis is perhaps the most Saturnine feature of his approach. Besides arguing for the banker bail-out, he has chosen as advisors men who have been stalwarts of the Wall Street establishment, taking counsel from the very man who led the crusade for deregulation at the Clinton Treasury: Robert Rubin. Tim Geithner, one of the premier architects of the current global financial disaster, is a contender for his cabinet [and as of publication of this issue of Daykeeper, Geithner has been named Secretary of the Treasury—Ed.]. And then there is the odious Larry Summers, also at one point on the short list for Treasury Secretary. Another Clinton-era Friedmanite, Summers not only promoted the export of toxic debt to the rest of the world, he took the idea to its most literal extreme by advocating the export of actual toxic pollution to impoverished nations [more details here—Ed.].
On a personal level, most Americans are thrilled to have this exquisite new chief executive. But as citizens of the world under the auspices of transpersonal planets, we need to consider the event in transpersonal terms. The single most significant feature of this election was not the man who won, but the outpouring of voters who elected him; the millions of hearts and intelligences opened in the process.
As the citizens who put Obama in office, we must regard him with transpersonal clarity. We must consider what we want him to do, and what we want him to be, on our behalf.
A Leader in The People’s Image
"Electing a good president is necessary, but not sufficient."
—Tim Redmond, San Francisco
Bay Guardian, 11/19/08
Do we want our new president to forget about prosecuting Bush and Cheney et al. for war crimes? Do we want him to shut down not just Guantanamo, as he has promised, but the whole abominable network of US-run secret prisons around the world? Do we agree with his advocacy of nuclear power, of large-scale bio-fuel, and of the oxymoronic "clean coal" technology? If not, it is up to us to let him know. Do we want an economy that is designed to aid and abet the banks and the police/prison/military industries while working people get the shaft? If not, what are we going to do about it?
And do we not think it would be a beautiful example of change if Barack and Michelle put their daughters in public school, instead of in the tony private schools that every other White House offspring before them has attended? Dream on, you say? Yes, I think we should dream right now. We must be extremists in extreme times. Do we want the change we were promised to become a radical reality, or do we want a good-looking, very smart president who becomes more and more polished at Washington deal-making while it wears down his soul?
The time has come for us Earth-dwellers to grow up (Saturn) to the critical nature of our times. It is we who must channel Uranus, taking our cue from the future and not from the past. We must lead Mr. Obama, not the other way around. Every great leader has had a movement behind him. Lincoln had the abolitionists, Roosevelt the labor unions, Johnson the civil-rights leaders.
It is said that Bill Clinton didn’t have one, which is why, after his election, "everyone went home."
1 The McCain camp was counting on the fact that impugning someone as a socialist had always worked like a charm to invoke a knee-jerk reaction from the party base. But with the Cold War over and no Red Russia to kick around any more, McCain had to stretch a bit to find somewhere to focus his scorn. "At least in Europe," he said towards the end, "the socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives." His attempt to paint Europe as a place where the Red Menace looms over the oppressed multitudes comes off as particularly strained these days, given that Americans are becoming uncomfortably aware of the fact that, over there, one’s taxes buy great public education, anxiety-free health care and decent public transportation; whereas in the USA, they buy bail-outs for corrupt, staggeringly incompetent mega-corporations.
2 I found it remarkable that not a peep was heard during the campaign about Bush’s strenuous efforts a few years ago to privatize Social Security by linking it to Wall Street. In the climate of mass anxiety created by the current economic crisis—an anxiety thought by many to have been the deciding factor in Obama’s win—it would surely have struck quite a chord with America’s millions of aging boomers had the Democrats asked voters to contemplate where we’d be now, if Bush had gotten his way.
3 Never mind that the reason they’re going bankrupt is not because of the credit crunch so much as the fact that nobody’s buying their cars. In this battle between the future (Uranus) and the past (Saturn), the automakers are the epitomical dinosaurs. Even if the Big Three weren’t vision-challenged, managerially inept and economically inefficient, what is the purpose of propping up an industry that will be extinct within a decade? The point is not merely that Japan (and soon, no doubt, China and India) will beat them at their own game. The point is that humanity is only a few years away from a post-petroleum world, and the Detroit automakers have not only refused to innovate accordingly, but have put all their political capitol into denying and stonewalling evidence of the role of emissions in climate change.
4 The opposition of Saturn and Uranus next comes to exactitude on February 5, 2009. After that, on 9/15/09; then on 4/26/10; and finally on 7/26/10.
5 In his Harvard Law days, according to his professor Charles Ogiltree, Obama preferred the company of Republicans to campus radicals.
6 It may be argued that Obama could not have won on a peace platform. If this is so, it begs a more trenchant question: given the public’s all-but-universal antipathy to the failed war in Iraq, which has murdered a million innocent civilians and was conclusively proven to have been based on lies, why could a candidate not have won on a peace platform?