Posted on May 8, 2004
A Grand Cross of Illusions:
Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, and Rice
by Bill Herbst
On occasion (but much more often than any other discipline I know), astrology steps up to the plate like a slugger pumped up on steroids and smacks one out of the park - a spectacular 520-foot homer. In these moments, no special analysis or arcane research is required, just the right charts and an observant eye. This is astrology at its boldest and most revelatory. In this particular home run, what is revealed is brilliantly and almost insanely paradoxical.
A rudimentary examination of the birth charts of five major players in the Bush administration - President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice - reveals a pattern that is truly extraordinary in its implications.
Consider the alignments of the following natal positions:
• Bush's conspicuous 1st-house stellium, with his Ascendant at 7°06' Leo, Mercury at 9°49' Leo, and Pluto at 10°34' Leo;
• Cheney's Sun at 10°48' Aquarius, in his 6th house, square to Jupiter at 7°17' Taurus and Saturn at 8°19' Taurus, both in his 9th house;
• Powell's natal Uranus at 8°10' Taurus, house unknown;
• Rumsfeld's natal Mercury at 11°46' Leo, in his 9th house;
• Rice's natal Saturn at 13°14' Scorpio, in her 9th house.
That we should find synastric correlations in the planetary positions of Bush and his inner cadre of cohorts is in itself no surprise. Astrologers expect to find such patterns in any "family," whether biological or extended. These specific inter-chart connections, however, are impressive because of what they reveal about the motivations and causes behind recent world events - specifically, the so-called "War on Terror" and the ill-fated invasion of Iraq.
The result is a grand cross, involving nine points in the charts of these five individuals, which aligns their attitudes (fixed signs), ideas and motivations (two Mercuries, two Saturns, one Uranus, one Sun), and philosophies (four of the nine points are 9th-house planets) - tying together their consultations and decisions in a way that is classically resolute, unyielding, and downright dogmatic. To this provocative pattern astrology then adds one more crucial factor: transiting Neptune moving over all the points of that fixed grand cross, indicating not so much a heavenly collision as a subtle subversion, almost an invisible shroud.
The span of the nine significant points in the cross has a 6° orb, from 7° to 13° of the fixed signs. Between February 2001 and December 2004, all nine points in the birth charts of these highest government officials are successively activated by Neptune.
Here are the time spans for the nine transits, from Neptune's first to last partile passes:
•February - December 2001: Neptune conjuncts Bush's Descendant and simultaneously squares Cheney's Jupiter.
•March 2002 - January 2003: Neptune opposes Bush's Mercury and simultaneously squares Cheney's Saturn and Powell's Uranus.
•April 2002 - November 2003: Neptune opposes Bush's Pluto and simultaneously conjuncts Cheney's Sun.
•March 2003 - January 2004: Neptune opposes Rumsfeld's Mercury.
•February - December 2004: Neptune squares Rice's Saturn.
If we use twelve points as a benchmark for natal positions (ten major planets plus the Ascendant and Midheaven), and if we consider that Neptune will traverse half the zodiac in a typical life span of 80 years, then we can expect an average of 24 hard-aspect transits of Neptune in a full life, or one major Neptune transit every 3.33 years
Choose any five people at random, and over a period of slightly less than three years, we would expect an average total of four major Neptune transits in their collective charts. With these particular five people, however - individuals who have been charged with the awesome responsibility for ensuring the security of America - that number is nine. And not just any nine Neptune transits, but life-changing transits, including one Neptune-Sun conjunction, two Neptune-Mercury oppositions, and two Neptune-Saturn squares.
We could certainly interpret the implications of each specific transit for the respective individuals (many astrologers have already done so for President Bush, both in the pages of The Mountain Astrologer and on the Internet, and Vice President Cheney's three transits have been particularly vulnerable to Neptune's deceptions). However, we need only consider the entire group of transits together to gain a better understanding of what transpired. In this case, the big picture is striking. Since early 2001, a major set of personal astrological events affected the entire White House chain of command. Neptune provided a siren song that led our leaders away from reason and common sense and into dangerous waters.
Significantly, the only member of this group not profoundly affected was Colin Powell. Transiting Neptune's opposition to his natal Uranus was a generational event that occurred for all people his age. And, just as significantly, the involvement of Powell's Uranus in the grand cross indicates his status as "odd-man-out" in policymaking, a contrarian who stood opposed to the rest of the group. Unfortunately, Powell's willful independence was obscured by the Neptune transit to Uranus. The Secretary of State chose to play the dutiful "good soldier" throughout, and his warnings about invading Iraq without the support of multilateral diplomacy went unheeded.
This grand cross and its telling Neptunian timeline have something for everyone, regardless of political leanings. The implications revealed here are dizzyingly kaleidoscopic as they morph from one interpretation into another and back again. Rife with irony and contradiction, the symbolic truths are both stunningly plain and frustratingly elusive.
All the meanings of Neptune come into play; some of these are:
•universal love, compassion, and the wish for healing
•the yearning for a return to spiritual oneness
• idealism and/or cynicism
•exaggeration and distortion
•self-delusion, confusion, and obfuscation
•lies and deceptions (either intentional or not)
•illusion intertwining with reality, with reliance on imagery and belief rather than substance and fact
• overlooking complex details in the quest for a simple, unified vision
Numerous published reports attest that President Bush underwent an epiphany on September 11, 2001. Bush was galvanized by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and subsequently felt imbued with a deep sense of spiritual mission. Never able to embrace or even tolerate ambiguity (especially the possibility of "evil" in himself) and trusting completely in his small cadre of loyal advisors, Bush now sees himself as a "War President." His born-again, fundamentalist faith is well documented, and evidence suggests that Bush literally feels "chosen" by God to restore America and reform the entire world in that Christian imagery. Viewed in this light, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq begin to look suspiciously like religious crusades, with all the bloody historical baggage that accompanies coercive evangelism.
Is it likely that such a scenario - no matter how naïve, innocent, or contrived it may seem - might actually be true? Neptune says yes.
Another possibility is that the Bush administration was pragmatically sincere but badly misinformed, let down by the bureaucratic mistakes of multiple, competing intelligence agencies that either could not coordinate their efforts or simply botched the job of collecting accurate information (despite the investment of hundreds of billions of dollars into security intelligence over the past two decades). The administration - especially Vice President Cheney, who underwent a transformation from cautious pragmatist to rabid hawk - seems to have been hoodwinked by Iraqi expatriates, such as the scoundrel Chalabi, and thus fooled into believing that the civilian population of Iraq would welcome American occupation with open arms. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld may have been so carried away with his shock-and-awe vision of a small, potent, mobile striking force that he and the Pentagon neglected to adequately prepare for the stabilization of Iraq after the fall of Baghdad. Could all five of these top players in the administration have been so deluded by their simplistic dreams of "democracy" in Iraq that they failed to provide sufficient planning and resources for the postwar occupation and reconstruction? Though Bush could hardly be considered a sharp-witted student of history, his four advisors apparently forgot or ignored the dire teachings of 20th-century European invasions and occupations in the Middle East region.
Could these scenarios - no matter how tragic and irresponsible they seem - actually be true? Neptune says yes.
What, then, about the more extreme and damning accusations that have been made? For instance, we know now for certain that the long-held neoconservative plan to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein had already been set in motion months before 9/11. During that period, and particularly in the summer of 2001, the Bush administration failed to act on numerous advance warnings about a massive al Qaeda attack on U.S. soil. Throughout the fall of 2002, the insistent but specious arguments about Saddam's imaginary weapons of mass destruction and nonexistent terrorist connections now appear to have been, in essence, a marketing strategy foisted on a fearful public at home. Some vehement critics have portrayed the White House as having publicized one bald-faced lie after another in its single-minded effort to gain popular support for what has been an immoral and imperial war for American hegemony in the Middle East. In this view, the purpose of the invasion is seen as the establishment of a new bridgehead in the continuing quest for Pax Americana global domination.
Is it possible that even these distasteful scenarios no matter how cynical, deceitful, and arrogant they may seem - might actually be true? Neptune says yes.
Unlike other astrological symbols that differentiate between various choices, Neptune is inclusive. Like the spiritual teaching of the blind men and the elephant, Neptune tells us that each quite different perception is partially true, but that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and much more mysterious. Every view reveals some truth, but the entire puzzle remains both unseen and perhaps unknowable, except in its aftermath.
At every stage of this three-year fiasco, voices were raised in protest. At every turn - from the various bogus arguments for regime change in Iraq, through the invasion itself, to the current situation of meltdown and Iraqi uprising against a failed occupation gone woefully wrong - reasonable people in the public and at every level of government policymaking sounded the alarm and predicted a bad end to this misadventure. And yet, not once did the Bush administration listen. The fixed grand cross in synastry indicates that Bush and his cohorts were in a closed loop, a soundproof box where they heard and saw nothing but their own illusions. The Neptune transits reveal all too plainly the fantasy world of their mistaken beliefs, as well as the tragic consequences that occur when those who wield great power are cut off from reality.
Despite polarized political differences among Americans, one thing is clear: The invasion and occupation have not gone as hoped by those who believe that democracy can be bought at the point of a gun. The cost of this folly in blood and treasure is astounding. At least 10,000 Iraqi soldiers and civilians have been killed (some estimates go as high as 20,000). We are now approaching 750 deaths among American soldiers, and, shockingly, 16,000 more have been sent home for medical reasons - wounds, illness, or unbearable psychological stress. Whether one is for or against President Bush and his re-election, Iraq is now a 200-billion-dollar albatross around America's neck, a devilish problem with no viable solution in sight (except getting out now - bringing home the troops and leaving Iraq to the Iraqis - which I personally support, but which few politicians inside the D.C. Beltway will even consider, given their predictable belief that "staying the course" is a sign of strength rather than stupidity).
Eight of the nine Neptune transits have ended, meaning that this dream - whether idealistic inspiration or cruel delusion - is fading, and Saturn is now presenting both America and President Bush with the grisly butcher's bill of death and destruction. The rose-colored glasses are coming off to reveal a world made more dangerous in general and pointedly so for Americans. The grand cross remains, however - and, with it, the Bush administration's implacable refusal to face reality.
There are obvious lessons in all this, both spiritual and mundane, but I seriously doubt that many of those in power will learn them.
Chart Data and Sources
George W. Bush, July 6, 1946; 7:26 a.m. EDT; New Haven, CT (41°N18', 72°W55'); AA: from the hospital records.
Richard Cheney, January 30, 1941; 7:30 p.m. CST; Lincoln, NE (40°N48', 96°W40'); AA: birth certificate.
Colin Powell, April 5, 1937; time unknown; New York, NY (40°N42', 74°W00'); X: date without a birth time (Lois Rodden quotes his office for the date and place).
Condoleezza Rice, November 14, 1954; 11:30 a.m. CST; Birmingham, AL (33°N31', 86°W48'); B: approximate time deduced from a biography by Antonia Felix, Condi: The Condoleezza Rice Story (Newmarket Press, 2002, p. 36).
Donald Rumsfeld, July 9, 1932; 5:40 p.m. CDT; Chicago, IL (41°N51', 87°W39'); AA: birth certificate.
© 2004 Bill Herbst - all rights reserved
Bill Herbst lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is an astrologer in full-time private practice, a radical critic of American culture and politics, and an associate editor of The Mountain Astrologer. Contact Bill via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his Web site at www.billherbst.com to read other essays, subscribe to his monthly e-mail newsletter, or download his free Moon Void Graphic Calendars for 2004 (which, by the way, Bill thinks that no astrologer should be without).