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Jessica Murray, All the Way to the Bank, America in Transition August 2009

by Jessica Murray

In the wilderness, it’s great to have a map.

mapMany of us are feeling the current state of the world as a kind of wilderness, in which we could use some help tracking our way forward. In fact, such maps are provided by Nature, and they are everywhere.

Consider the way plants grow together in the wild. Botanists have noticed that medicinal herbs with complementary use-value to the body tend to grow in clusters, near each other for easy gathering. Mother Earth is always dropping hints like this. Not only does She give us the gift of these curatives for our aches and pains, but She gives us a heads-up—through this ingenious trick of proximity—about how to use them.

All universal systems have their own holographic logic, by means of which a kind of underlying order is made available to the discerning seeker. If we credit Nature as having an intelligence, an intelligence based on health-promoting principles (and in this context, I have no problem whatsoever with the phrase “intelligent design”), it doesn’t seem such a stretch to realize that planetary transits, too, contain clues that can keep us psycho-spiritually healthy. Like a grouping of herbs with a secretly meaningful growth pattern, planetary movements need only be decoded in order to serve us in this way.

But consider the function of a map. A map lays out the terrain, but it doesn’t make things happen; it doesn’t have agency. An astrological map doesn’t tell us where to go, any more than a road map does. But it tells us where we could go, by showing us the lessons at hand. And it tells us the order in which those lessons will be taught.

astro clockBy watching the planets’ spatial arrangements and timing, we notice that key configurations are sequenced just so, one following the other, to clarify the teaching introduced by the one before and to prepare us for the one to come.

For example, the Uranus-Saturn opposition, peaking for the third time on September 15, is an entry transit into the years of the Cardinal Cross. (1)

The Transit in the Natal Chart

Where do the 18th-25th degrees of Virgo and Pisces fall in your chart? Their location by transit will show you your personal relationship to the great theme of the moment: Stasis vs. Change. The parts of your chart that are pinpointed by these degrees will reveal what arenas are serving as the settings for an age-old battle: The Urgency of Now vs. The Way it Used to be.

It can be very helpful to know how the world-altering opposition of Saturn (the urge for stasis) and Uranus (the urge for change) is affecting us as individuals. Start with their current house positions. You’ll see immediately which areas of your life are holding you back (Saturn); either by means of good, steadying guidance or by means of fear. And you’ll see which areas are urging you forward, through disruptions of your game plan (Uranus) that may be either creative or destructive—depending on how you use them.

The chart does not say whether these energies feel welcome or unwelcome. As transit trackers will have noticed, the planets don’t really care whether we like their lessons or not. (It’s not that Uranian change or Saturnine structure are inherently unpleasant; it’s just that liking has nothing to do with anything except Venus).

As Within, So Without

To take maximum advantage of the Saturn-Uranus opposition, notice the ways in which what you are going through personally parallels what the world as a whole is going through. The era is speaking through your individual chart. Its urgency is inspiring each of us in a different way.

In what way is the outer world’s tumult mirroring my own, you may ask? This is exactly what we should be asking. But it’s not as if your astrologer has the answer in a specific terms; astrology just provides the questions. We all have two years to figure out the answer to this one.

When interpreting transits, some sky-watchers put the emphasis on the global level; some put their emphasis on personal changes. I don’t think the planets have a preference about which way we take in their lessons. It is not that the collective level of the transit is the “true” one and the personal level the secondary one; or the other way around. It is not an either/or. These two levels of the energy are synchronistic and parallel.

When we understand that this parallel exists, there’s all the more learning to be gotten out of the transit. Especially right now, when the veil between our own mind and that of the world mind is very thin.

The Transit in the Collective

The reason this realization is so important, especially in critical times like these, is that the consciousness of individuals determines the consciousness of the group. This is kind of a duh statement, isn’t it? Most people would agree with it in theory, and spiritual thinkers see it as axiomatic. Yet how many of us live our lives as if it were so? If we did, the mass mind would not be mired in the muck.

Governments and entrenched interests are notorious for stonewalling the call of transits like the ones above us now. On an energy level, the only reason these groups are still in charge is because of the momentum of long tradition; i.e., through the fantasy of control that their populace imagines them to have. As the Grand Cross develops, the illusory nature of the control wielded by plutocratic elites will become more and more apparent, as will the formidable power of ordinary people.

Many astrologers have written about the current mood of populist uprisings. Uranus governs the concept of The People and Saturn represents the Powers-that-Be. Because the human animal is wired for survival, people are bucking their governments all over the world—in both conscious and unconscious ways (e.g. America’s “town hall meeting” protests)—because we know in our bones that humanity’s survival depends not upon our leaders but upon ourselves. Since the opposition began last November, it is increasingly obvious that even the best-intentioned leaders must be steered from below.

Uncle SamPoor old Uncle Sam is making himself a poster child for how not to handle this transit. In the crosshairs of the Saturn-Uranus opposition is one of the most problematic aspects of the US chart: the square between Neptune and Mars. (2)

America’s natal Neptune (universality) represents a collective tendency to inclusiveness in its social programs (ninth house); but in the absence of consciousness this tendency leads to chaos. Systems whose principles are too narrowly applied will spring leaks, undermining their stated purposes and ending up in a confused mess; unless or until true universalism is reached. It is one of the country’s steepest learning curves, agitated and exacerbated by that square to natal Mars (self-serving enterprises, combativeness) in Gemini (polarization).

Here we have the recipe for the ludicrous barroom brawl that health care reform has become.

Trusting Our Own Vision

Though Obama and other First World leaders use language that acknowledges the hugeness of the crises humanity faces, most of these guys seem to believe that what’s happening is just a more extreme version of things that have happened before. When the American and European heads of state call the economic crisis “historic,” for example, they seem to mean quantitatively greater than other similar crises; whereas the astrology tells us it’s qualitatively different.

One doesn’t have to be an astrologer to see that the world is at a crossroads, and that it cannot be served by more-of-the-same thinking. It isn’t just the numbers that make this epoch different and it isn’t merely a slew of somewhat-newer methodologies that will bring it into balance. The old paradigm of ecocidal folly and greed has become poisonous. A whole new paradigm must be pressed into service as an antidote.

Those observers who are not dedicated to the preservation of embedded cartels, nor caught up in egoic power games, know that the changes we must now make are unprecedented. Moreover we know that in order to make these changes we need an explosion of mass daring. True to form, the cosmos has provided exactly this, spelled out in the transits overhead.

Just as Nature provides clusters of healing herbs for our physical wellbeing, the cosmos has given us the bristling Saturn-Uranus opposition to use in the global healing process. How might we access this transit’s energy, in a way that most precisely matches our individual capacities? By acknowledging the perfect synchronicity between the transits, our own growth arc and world circumstances for the blessing it is.



1 Much has been written over the past year about this transit. Among my essays which discuss this transit in detail: Daykeeper Journal columns from November and December 2008, and the Skywatches at, including those for January and March 09 and November and December 08.

2 See Soul-Sick Nation: An Astrologer's View of America, Chapter Nine.