TMA This Week

Health Insurance Reform

By Robert P. Blaschke | October 19, 2009

In 1945, during the last triple conjunction of Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune, the United States Congress passed the McCarran-Ferguson Act, legislation that allowed state law to regulate insurance companies without interference from the federal government. This year, as Jupiter and Neptune again conjoin with Chiron for the first time in 64 years, Congress is deliberating as to whether it should repeal this law and remove the federal anti-trust exemption that health insurance companies presently enjoy.

Sibly chart & Saturn square Pluto

Insurance companies are ruled by Pluto and we are less than a month away from the Saturn ingress into Libra, its exaltation in the sign of justice, and the formation of the first square with Pluto in Capricorn, the sign of corporate monopolies. As Saturn perfects this waning square with Pluto, it is simultaneously conjoining the USA Sibly chart Midheaven in 1° Libra.

As the Midheaven symbolizes the leader of the nation, President Obama is directly affected by this Saturn-Pluto square. He and his administration are spoiling for a fight against the health insurance lobby as they try to pass health care reform legislation this year, and a fight is what he now has on his hands.

Obama natal & transits

With the upcoming Mars retrograde station in 19°41′ Leo on December 20th, its direct station in 0°17′  Leo on March 10th, and the Mars ingress into Virgo not until June 7th, 2010, one sees that we will have Mars transiting the sign of Leo for over seven and one half months.

For the president, this means three Mars transits of his natal Sun in mid-November, and again on January 22nd and April 30th of next year. In addition, a stationary transit opposition of Mars to his natal Jupiter will form between February 23rd and March 27th of 2010. Combining this with the stationary opposition of transit Uranus to his natal Mars from October 15th until January 16th, Mr. Obama is just now gearing up to defiantly take the fight to the defenders of the status quo in the health care industry who oppose efforts to reform the system during the present Saturn-Uranus oppositions.

As I wrote in my my August 17th TMA blog, The Jupiter-Neptune Conjunctions of 2009:

“During this part of the year when both Jupiter and Neptune are retrograde, one sees much misinformation being spread about proposed health insurance reforms by small-minded and self-serving politicians. After Jupiter and Neptune station direct on October 12 and November 4, respectively, the health care reform legislation will evolve into its final framework and be passed by both Houses of Congress and signed into law by the President before December 21.”

December 21st is the date of the third and final alignment of Jupiter and Neptune this year. With Jupiter in stationary conjunction with President Obama’s natal Ascendant from September 8th until November 16th, he is on the right side of this legislative fight to reform the health insurance companies. One should not be surprised if the “public option” of federal health insurance plans designed to compete with the private sector insurance plans makes its way into the final legislation signed into law in December.

The Obama presidency is also involved in a fight with the Fox News Network, with administration officials describing the cable channel as a propaganda wing of the Republican Party. The president still has a progressed Mercury-Mars conjunction within its one degree separating orb – an apt symbol of the current heated verbiage going back and forth between the White House and Fox News officials.

Mr. Obama’s progressed Mercury in 24° Libra was just conjoined by the October 18th New Moon in that degree. Some unexpected carping has been leveled against Mr. Obama by the New York Times, with a recent editorial by the African-American columnist, Charles M. Blow, going so far as to state:

“When, Mr. President? When will your deeds catch up to your words? … When will the president take the risk of standing up for his convictions on health care instead of sacrificing good policies for good politics?”

This criticism of Mr Obama being all talk and no action comes on the heels of his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor that many journalists have demeaned by stating that it has come too early in his presidency and before he has accrued any real accomplishments as a leader.

Obama natal, progressed & transits


Examining the symbol for Libra 25, the degree of the president’s progressed Mercury and the degree of the recent New Moon, we find Sepharial’s translation of La Volasfera to be:

An elevated promontory, illumined by the noonday sun and crowned with many and variously coloured flowers.

“It indicates a nature that is prone to self-conceit, amenable to flattery, proud in heart but light-headed and trifling in many relationships of life. It may confer considerable personal charm and attractiveness, and will render its subject the recipient of many of fortune’s favours. It is a degree of ELEVATION.”

This analysis by Sepharial appears to precisely capture the emerging misgivings and skepticisms about President Obama, that perhaps he is an empty suit who is all talk and no action. Astrologers saw this coming in his natal square between the Sun and Neptune, a slippery aspect capable of unconstrained expectations followed by disappointment and disillusionment.

Our new, young president who has charmed the world with his oratorical eloquence, his sophisticated elegance, and his biracial identity symbolizing the progressive promise of the United States, now arrives at the first of three Saturn transits over his progressed Sun.

His leadership will be severely tested between now and the third transit of Saturn in July 2010. His political judgment will be castigated by both Democrat and Republican alike, and a full plate of domestic and foreign affairs including troop levels in Afghanistan, health insurance reform strategies, his handling of the economy, and his engagement with Iran over its nuclear program will all weigh upon him like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain slope.

If one were to speculate about an inevitable outcome of the Obama presidency, premature as it may be, his rising degree is sobering in its assessment of a precarious fate, yet one resulting in eventual salvation.

Aquarius 19 from Sepharial’s translation of La Volasfera:

A boat upon the sea to which a submerged man is clinging for support.

“This symbol is related to one in whose life some great catastrophe will occur at a time when providentially there will be a friend at hand to rescue him from his danger. It indicates that a deficiency of tact and skill is liable to render him subject to adversity of fortune, and he will suffer financial disaster and even peril of death. But there will be raised up to him a friend capable of sustaining him in his extremity, and he will not therefore sink into the depths. This will be in response to his great faith. The nature, although daring, is lacking in tact and strength. All his troubles will arise from failing to admit his own incompetence. He will travel afar. It is a degree of INSECURITY.”

© 2009 Robert P. Blaschke

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Michael Moore’s Love Story to Capitalism

By Mary Plumb | September 28, 2009

Michael Moore’s film,Capitalism: A Love Story, opened on September 23, 2009. Moore is the director and producer of three of the top five highest-grossing documentary films of all time. In 2005, Time magazine named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people. [1]

I wrote about Moore and the Sibly chart in 2007, when Sicko, his film about the health care industry, had just come out. [2] (My hopefulness in that article seems a bit naïve after a few years of Pluto in Capricorn.)

According to his birth certificate, Michael Moore was born on April 23, 1954 at 12:45 p.m. in Flint, Michigan (AA data).

Michael Moore natal

Before looking at Moore’s progressed chart, I’d like to start with a few relevant ideas from my earlier article.

“Venus, ruler of Moore’s Taurus Midheaven, is comfortably and prominently in her own sign at 23°40′ Taurus in the 10th house, square Pluto at 22°34′ Leo in the 1st. Moore’s career is described in part by this square: He is drawn to questioning and challenging established value systems in a very public way. Venus–Pluto signifies “big” money and power issues. Moore’s personal presence and magnetism (Pluto in the 1st) can be a disruptive force. How money and power are used — or misused — is an obvious trigger for him.”

And, with transiting Pluto moving through early Capricorn, Moore’s Mars–Moon conjunction in that sign is bound to get even more pronounced.

“In the natal chart, Moore also has Mars (exalted) partile conjunct the Moon (detriment) in Capricorn. Whatever this may suggest about his inner dynamics, we can imagine someone who is uncompromising, persistent, disciplined, and quite capable of using anger for constructive purposes. The Moon–Mars conjunction in Capricorn tightly trines the Taurus Sun, so Moore’s emotional traits are directly entwined with — and find expression — in his public life.”

Moore’s natal Saturn/Pluto midpoint is 29°25’ Virgo; his progressed Ascendant is now at 29°33’ Virgo.

Moore progressed

Saturn and Pluto together suggest an intense energy that signifies both the inevitable need for deep-seated, irrevocable change and the resistance to that change. As a midpoint in an individual’s horoscope, Saturn/Pluto indicates where we are attuned to the struggle between structures that support the status quo and the pressing need to respond to the inevitable call from life itself to experience a new way of being. With the progressed Ascendant now conjunct the Saturn/Pluto midpoint, Moore is in touch with an important theme that we are all irrevocably working through. In an interview last week, he said: “I thought I’d just cut to the chase and propose that we deal with this economic system and try to restructure it in a way that benefits people and not the richest one percent.” [3]

The issues and processes described by Saturn and Pluto are coming into sharp focus as they approach their first of three squares on November 15.

In April 2010, both Moore’s progressed Ascendant and Midheaven will change signs. (The progressed Ascendant will be at 0° Libra, and the progressed Midheaven will come to 0° Cancer.) I think it’s interesting that he’s been saying in interviews, as he promotes the new film, that he doesn’t want to keep doing this any more (making films that attempt to bring about change).

Moore’s public presence might stay strong for a while, however: His progressed Moon squares natal Mercury (from 17°08’ Capricorn to 17°08’ Aries) on November 4, followed on the 27th by the progressed Moon (17°58’ Capricorn) opposing progressed Mercury at 17°58’ Cancer.

The article on the film from Wikipedia sounds (as does much commentary from outside the astrological community these days) like a succinct description of Pluto at work in the public sphere.

“The film alternates between a fierce critique of the status quo, personal portraits of the suffering caused by the recent economic crisis, and comical social satire. Some featured stories include an internal Citibank report happily declaring the United States a ‘plutonomy’ (plutocracy), with the top 1 percent of the population controlling more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent, along with an exposé of ‘dead peasant insurance’ policies that have companies cashing in on the untimely deaths of their employees.” [4]


[1] Wikipedia

[2] What’s Sicko?

[3] Democracy Now

[4] Wikipedia

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Saturn and Uranus: One More Time

By Mary Plumb | September 14, 2009

On September 9, Saturn entered a new degree (24°) of Virgo, lining up for the exact opposition to Uranus at 24°43’ on Tuesday. That, of course, was the night when President Obama addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress to outline his proposal for reforming health care.

Everyone who watched was shocked by the “You lie!” outburst from South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson. The Congressman, like the President,  is a Leo Sun, born on July 31,1947 in Charleston, S.C.  (1)

Joe Wilson natal

Wilson’s Saturn is at 11° Leo, and Pluto is at 12° Leo. The President’s Sun is at 12° Leo. Saturn and Pluto sitting on the Sun — an attempt to squelch or insult (Saturn is in his detriment, after all) the President’s authority in many ways. I thought that Obama kept his natural Leonine dignity and handled the moment well.

Wilson’s natal Mars is at 21° Gemini, conjunct Uranus at 24°, and the President’s natal Mars is at 22°35’ Virgo. With Mars square Mars, we saw a personal challenge and a display of antagonism.

Wilson, Obama bi-wheel

The U.S. Sibly Mars, however, is also at 21°23’ Gemini, the same degree as the Congressman’s. Wilson seems to have been a voice for people who may not only have a legitimate difference of opinion with the President but are actually angry at him (or feel threatened by him?).

The outburst was a breach of protocol, but Mars is never known to be polite. However, with the polarizing, divisive potential of Saturn and Uranus close at hand, the words had a chilling effect.

Wilson has transiting Saturn opposite Uranus squaring his natal Mars (and Uranus). I’d say he’s personally plugged into the grand creative stretch that we all need to make, as we are impelled to move toward resolution of the apparent conflict between the pull of the past (Saturn) and the promise of the future (Uranus).

Obama has Aquarius rising and presents abstract ideas with ease. On last night’s 60 Minutes TV interview, he seemed to describe the archetypes of his co-ruling planets when he spoke of the high level of “anxiety” felt in the country now and characterized the current disagreements as part of America’s recurring redefinition of the role and size of government.

Glenn Beck is another influential character on the U.S. stage at the moment. Not only is the talk show host popular with the public, he seems to be exhibiting a phenomenal influence on the Obama administration. (Remember Van Jones’ resignation?) Beck was born on February 10, 1964, the day before Sarah Palin. (2)

Glenn Beck

Sarah Palin natal chart

Both have the Sun, Mars, and Saturn in Aquarius, conjunct the U.S. Sibly Moon. (Saturn at 25° is the closest to the U.S. Moon in each case.)

US Sibly

The words “reactionary” and “progressive” have various meanings in the political world today, but the resonance that the particular worldview voiced by Palin and Beck has with the U.S. public is rather startling to see.

Transiting Jupiter stations direct on October 12 within one degree of the President’s Ascendant. The exact passage of Jupiter on the Ascendant was in March, and again on September 19 and November 4. I trust that this will help Obama to keep his spirits up, in spite of the relentless difficulties he faces. Aside from the obvious cyclical collective stress implied by Saturn opposite Uranus, Obama’s progressed horoscope shows many stressful aspects. Progressed Mercury squared progressed Saturn the week he was elected; progressed Mars squared progressed Saturn in March 2009, and progressed Mars was semi-square progressed Pluto during the last week of August. (Still to come: progressed Mercury square natal Saturn in August 2010 and progressed Mars square natal Saturn in April 2012.)

Taking the long view (toward Uranus) can sometimes be a good idea when the moment (Saturn) seems impossible: I think that the President will be much stronger overall — that is, more effective — next year; in September 2010, his progressed Sun (now at 29°04’ Virgo) moves to 0° Libra.

(1) Wikipedia

(2) Wikipedia

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Until Death Do Us Part

By Mary Plumb | September 7, 2009

Edward Kennedy’s natal Moon is at 6°25’ Virgo in a close applying conjunction to Neptune at 6°44’. The next Ptolemaic aspect his Moon makes is a sextile to Pluto at 20° Cancer, and finally a trine to the Ascendant ruler, Saturn, at 29°49’ Capricorn. (Edward Kennedy natal: Feb. 22, 1932; 3:58 am; Dorchester, MA; AA)

Ted Kennedy natalHis first wife, Joan, born September 5, 1935 at 6:10 am in NY, NY, has the Sun at 11°55’ Virgo applying to Neptune at 14°14’ Virgo. (Joan Kennedy natal: Sept. 5, 1935; 6:10 am; NY, NY; AA)

Joan KennedyIn 1928 the great British astrologer Charles Carter wrote that the first planet the Moon applies to in a man’s horoscope describes the (first) wife, and the first planet the Sun applies to in a woman’s chart describes the (first) husband.

As his first wife, we can see Joan as fitting the Neptune archetype. According to her biography on, she is a “shy, retiring person….often described as vulnerable.” Known as the “quiet one” in the rambunctious, powerfully ambitious Kennedy family, Joan has natal Sun conjunct Neptune opposite Saturn in Pisces. She is a musician and has had three children, one of whom had cancer as a child. She also had difficult pregnancies, including three miscarriages, as well as heart surgery, breast cancer, and serious struggles with alcoholism.

Remembering Carter’s rule — her Sun applies to Neptune and she married a man with a Pisces Sun. The Sun in her natal chart next applies to conjoin a retrograde Venus in Virgo; thus far, she has not remarried.

Joan and Ted were married on November 29, 1958. Ted’s progressed Moon (ruler of the natal 7th house) was at 26°29’ Leo, opposite his natal Mars and Mercury.

Ted Kennedy, progressed to marriageHis progressed Mars at 18°56’ Pisces was connected by trine to her natal 7th ruler, Jupiter, at 17°44’ Scorpio. When they married, Joan’s progressed retrograde Venus was at 6°37’ Virgo conjunct his natal Moon (and Neptune) at 6° Virgo.

Joan Kennedy, progressed to marriageThey stayed married for 23 years and had three children. Apparently they remained good friends until the end of his life. Her life is now devoted to charity work and her grandchildren. She remains out of the limelight and quietly attended his funeral. Ted Kennedy’s natal Sun/Moon midpoint is at 4°29’ Sagittarius; Joan’s Moon is at 3°53 Sagittarius.

Kennedy’s second wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, is also a Pisces, born on February 26, 1954 in Crowley, Louisiana. (No time known.) Using a sunrise chart, we see that the Sun, Mercury, and Venus are in Pisces, and the Moon and Mars are in Sagittarius.  (The Moon goes from 10° to 22° that day.) (Vicki Kennedy sunrise: Feb. 26, 1954, Crowley, LA) (1)

Vicki Kennedy

Although their families were long-time friends, Ted and Vicki “noticed” one another at a dinner party on June 17, 1991. “The next day Mr. Kennedy made what he — and everyone who knew him — would later view as the smartest move of his life. He called to ask Vicki out to dinner.” (2) According to this same New York Times article about their marriage: “The senator proposed to her in January 1992 at a performance of “La Bohème” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York — a love of opera was one of many passions they shared.” (3)

They married on July 3, 1992 and had, by all accounts, a very happy marriage until his death.

When they “met” in June 1991, Kennedy’s progressed Moon (ruler of his natal 7th) was at 12°45’ Scorpio, trine natal Juno at 12°13’ Cancer, which is prominently place at the Descendant.

Ted Kennedy progressed to met Vicki

When they married Kennedy’s progressed Moon was at 28° Scorpio applying to sextile natal Saturn at 29° Capricorn, his 1st-house ruler. A harmonious aspect between the rulers of the 1st and 7th houses is an omen for a fortuitous union. The Moon trine Saturn is well stated in this quote: “His political career had suffered from a long period of womanizing, drinking, and adverse publicity, and she is credited with stabilizing his personal life and helping him resume a productive career in the Senate.” (4)

In June 1991 Kennedy’s progressed Venus had come to 16°56’ Gemini, which is conjunct Vicki’s natal Jupiter at 16°51’ Gemini. Jupiter is dispositor of her natal Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, and Venus. This is a good demonstration of a progressed planet from one chart conjoining natal placements of the second person as a potent timer for significant unions. A friend is quoted as saying: “He was the love of her life — and the icon of her life.” (5)

The transiting Sun on the day of this happy marriage was at 12° Cancer, conjunct Kennedy’s 7th-house cusp and natal Juno.

Using Porphyry houses, Kennedy’s 8th cusp is 19°35’ Leo with the vertex at 19°21’ Leo. (Certainly here is a person whose life was marked by unusually “fated circumstances” regarding death.) When he was diagnosed with a brain tumor (May 17, 2008) his progressed Moon was at 19°18’ Gemini, exactly conjunct the natal 6th-house cusp.

At the diagnosis, the progressed Sun was at 17°46’ Taurus applying to natal Chiron at 18°55’ Taurus. When he died on August 25, 2009, the progressed Sun was at 19°00’ Taurus, square the 8th-house cusp.

This year’s eclipses also took their toll: the lunar eclipse on February 9 at 20°52’ Leo/Aquarius was on his 2nd/ 8th house cusps. The total solar eclipse on July 22 at 29° Cancer was opposite his natal Saturn, ruler of the Ascendant at 29° Capricorn. (Transiting Venus and the south node were at this eclipse degree the day he died.)

And the August 6 lunar eclipse at 13°35’ Leo/Aquarius was conjunct Vicki’s natal Juno at 15° Leo.

Interestingly, both Ted and Vicki had Pluto conjunct Juno in their respective natal horoscopes (his in Cancer, hers in Leo). On their wedding day, transiting Pluto was at 20° Scorpio directly opposite Juno at 20° Taurus. At his death, transiting Juno at 3°41’ Aries was square Pluto at 0°44’ Capricorn.

(1) Wikipedia

(2) New York Times

(3) New York Times

(4) Wikipedia

(5) New York Times

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Jackson Death Ruled Homicide

By Alex Miller | August 31, 2009

On  August 24, 2009 the Los Angeles County coroner’s office determined that the cause of Michael Jackson’s death on June 25 was homicide, a ruling which means that the death was caused by another, though not necessarily as a result of criminal action.  Jackson’s demise was brought on by a combination of powerful sedatives, including propofol, a drug normally used as an operating anesthetic and never administered outside of a hospital setting.  Jackson’s personal physician, Conrad Murray, who administered the fatal dose, is now under investigation for manslaughter.

Minor asteroids play a significant part in the astrological symbolism for the day.  In particular, asteroids Conrada (#941) and Murray (#1528) show prominently, with Conrada at 27° Pisces retrograde conjoined Uranus at 25° Pisces retrograde, emblematic of accidents, unexpected surprises, and revelations.  Asteroid Murray is at 17° Cancer, exactly conjoined asteroid Asclepius (#4581), which was named for a minor Greek god of healing. These two asteroids square Transneptunian Object (TNO) Ixion (#28978) at 22° Libra in Jackson’s natal chart (born August 29, 1958). Ixion is named for Greek mythology’s first murderer providing a picture of the physician (Asclepius) Murray (the eponymous asteroid) committing homicide (Ixion).  For the 2:26 p.m. PDT official death time for Jackson on June 25, Conrada appears precisely on the cusp of the sixth house of health.  At that time, asteroid Murray was at 20° Gemini, a degree now inhabited by transiting asteroid Nemesis (#128), a symbol of karmic comeuppance. Nemesis is now squaring Saturn at 22° Virgo, a signal of undoing (Nemesis) via a professional (Saturn).  Conrada at 6° Leo in Jackson’s nativity is within orb of Uranus at 13° Leo, making a cosmic “threepeat” of the Conrada/Uranus energy also active at the death and the homicide ruling, and is tightly semisextile Jackson’s natal 5° Virgo Sun while square his 2° Scorpio Neptune, ruling drugs and pharmaceuticals.  Panacea (#2878) is an asteroid named for another minor Greek healing deity, goddess of medicinal cures.  Asteroid Panacea for the coroner’s ruling lies at 5° Leo, squaring Jackson’s natal Neptune and closely conjunct asteroid Murray in his birth chart.

The Greeks’ primary healing deity was Apollo, whose asteroid namesake (#1862) for the August 24 coroner’s ruling was exactly conjoined Venus at 27° Cancer, with asteroids Icarus (#1566) and Tantalus (#2102) both conjunct from 29° Cancer.  Tantalus was another noted murderer in Greek mythology, responsible for the sacrifice of his child, a young boy entrusted to his care (much as Murray stood in medico loco parentis to his patient), while the Icarus myth conjures images of rash, foolhardy deeds.  This mini stellium, therefore, depicts the homicide (Tantalus) of an artist (Venus), killed by the reckless (Icarus) actions of his physician (Apollo).  Venus and Apollo are also exactly conjunct asteroid Murray in Jackson’s natal chart, which natally squares Jupiter at 28° Libra, bringing prominence to the name in Jackson’s life story.  

Transiting Ixion for the ruling at 13° Sagittarius retrograde is tightly opposed by TNO Chaos (#19521) at 12° Gemini, a body associated with confused or disordered activity, actions reaping detriment or disaster. Transiting Mars at 29° Gemini, associated with death via his traditional rulership of Scorpio, opposes Pluto, Scorpio’s modern ruler, at 0° Capricorn retrograde. The pair thus forms a T-Square with asteroid Karma (#3811, the effect of our actions) at 2° Libra for Jackson’s death, with Mars approaching its conjunction with the 4° Cancer Sun of that event.  The transiting Sun at 1° Virgo for the homicide ruling is trine to Pluto and sextile Mars, while conjoining Jackson’s natal Pluto (death) at 2° Virgo and approaching his natal 5° Virgo Sun.

Transit asteroids Polyhymnia (#33), named for the Greek Muse of Song, and Requiem (#2254), the funeral hymn for the dead, conjoin at 2° and 1° Aquarius retrograde, conjunct asteroid Michel (#1348) at 3° Aquarius in Jackson’s natal chart, while transit asteroid Jackson (#2193) is exactly conjunct transit Jupiter at 20° Aquarius, bringing prominence to the singer yet again.  

Conrad Murray’s birth date has been given as February 19, 1953 (date unconfirmed); if so, his nativity sports a conjunction of asteroids Nemesis (undoing) and Michel at 2° and 7° Capricorn respectively, squared Mars (death) at 8° Aries and sextile asteroid Jackson at 6° Scorpio, with asteroid Jackson itself conjunct the King of Pop’s natal Neptune (drugs) at 2° Scorpio.  Asteroid Panacea, representing the medicinal cure, is also conjoined asteroid Michel in Murray’s natal chart, from 11° Capricorn, and both Michel and Panacea were conjoined by transit asteroid Michel at 9° Capricorn for the coroner’s ruling.  His natal Ixion (homicide) at 18° Libra retrograde is squared by the exact conjunction of asteroids Murray and Asclepius at 17° Cancer for the coroner’s ruling, while a natal combination of asteroids Tantalus and Icarus at 2° and 4° Aquarius, the reckless homicide, conjoin Jackson’s natal asteroid Michel at 3° Aquarius.

Quite the tangled web, but typical of the sort of pertinent involvement evinced by significantly named minor bodies at critical junctures.

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Prelude to the Cardinal Crisis

By Gary P. Caton | August 23, 2009

As Mars arrives again in Cancer, we must ask ourselves: what is the mission of this planetary emissary? Many people who know a little something about classical astrology dread this transit, because Cancer is opposite Mars’ sign of exaltation — and so Mars is seen to be “fallen” here.

A closer inspection of the zodiac reveals that the first important meeting to which Mars is headed on Wednesday, August 26 is an opposition to Pluto in the first degree of cardinal signs. This is one day after Venus, Vesta, and the South Node congregate on the recent eclipse degree of 29°+ Cancer. The prior Mars–Pluto opposition, this close to the cardinal axis, was in the last degrees of Gemini-Sagittarius, on January 2, 2008. If we look back to this time period, we will likely see a similar process happening now.

• December 27 – Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto is assassinated, and at least 20 others are killed by a bomb blast at an election rally in Rawalpindi.
• December 31 – Over 200 people are killed in Kenya, due to riots over the results of the December 27 presidential election.
• January 2 – The price of petroleum hits $100 per barrel for the first time.

When cast for Washington D.C., the opposition of August 26 falls across the Asc/Dsc axis with Mercury and Juno–Uranus completing a grand square in the cardinal signs and angular houses (see chart below, using Whole Sign houses). Clearly this looks like an important development.

Cardinal T-Square

Mars, in the house of partners and open enemies, represents hostile forces in our relations with other countries, both friendly and hostile, at both political and commercial levels. Mars receives additional strength from the mutual reception with the Moon, though both planets are fallen. Fallen planets are not “weak” — they are, in fact, strong but unable to exercise their strength due to circumstance. The position of the Moon in a mundane chart represents the people and where the public’s attention falls. The Moon in the 11th represents Congress, town and county councils, and similar bodies and their legislation. So there are two manifestations which seem equally probable. This could represent opponents of U.S. health care reform striking back. However, the 11th can also represent friends of the nation. So this could represent some kind of terrorist attack on a nation whom we consider a friend.

When you look at the chain of dispositors in this chart, some interesting things come to light. Dispositors basically show a chain of command — who any particular planet “reports” to because of being in a particular sign. Mars and the Moon report to one another via mutual reception — again this could be a connection between public opinion and the opposition party (Republicans) or public outcry at some common enemy. Mercury is the other planet in the first degree of a Cardinal sign. Mercury in Libra reports to Venus. Venus in Leo reports in turn to The Sun. The Sun in Virgo reports back to Mercury. So, this is a sort of “committee” of rulership where the leadership (Sun), diplomats (Venus) and media (Mercury) are working together to deal with a change in circumstance (fallen Mars and Moon in mutual reception).

All the other planets in the chart report to Mercury, either directly (Saturn) or indirectly (Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto report to Saturn, and Uranus reports to Jupiter who reports to Saturn). So it seems the media (Mercury) have an inordinate amount of influence in this situation. Since Mercury reports to Venus, it appears that some sort of diplomacy is to be key to the situation. This could be something like a final call for a “bipartisan” solution to the health care crisis accompanied by a media blitz, or some type of diplomatic endeavor to negotiate with a hostile foreign party and the subsequent media storm. However, we must remember that Venus and Vesta sit at or near the recent eclipse degree, and diplomatic abilities may be hampered.

With preliminary figures for the Afghan vote (amid fraud allegations) and the official release of two government reports projecting huge budget shortfalls over the next decade both due on Tuesday, August 25, it seems that either scenario offered above — or perhaps both — are likely.

© 2009 Gary Caton – all rights reserved

Gary P. Caton is an eclectic astrologer who has published in journals and spoken at conferences on mundane astrology since 2002. In addition to practicing mundane astrology, Gary holds a degree in counseling and has developed over 17 years a unique multi-disciplinarian neo-classical system which embraces an organic process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration. Gary also hosts the FREE Goddess Astrology pod-cast which illuminates the current cycles of Venus and the Asteroid Goddesses and is the best reviewed astrology pod-cast on iTunes! Contact Gary at and view his written work, lectures, classes or readings.

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Food, Inc.

By Mary Plumb | August 3, 2009

Food activists and writers Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser appear in the film Food, Inc., which is about the politics of food. (1) It essentially describes how a few corporations “own” the food industry and are controlling how most Americans eat. I’m looking at sunrise charts for the two gentlemen, as no birth times are known.

Michael Pollan was born on February 6, 1955 in Long Island, N.Y. (2). He is a writer, food activist and professor of journalism at U.C. Berkeley. He was born on a full moon day, with the Sun at 17° Aquarius, the Moon in Leo and Saturn squaring the lights from 21° Scorpio.

Michael Pollan natal

Investigative journalist Eric Schlosser was born on August 17, 1959 in New York, N.Y. (3) He became famous for his book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (2000). Schlosser was born the day before the full moon; the Sun is at 24° Leo, the Moon in Aquarius (for the whole day) and Jupiter squaring both from 23° Scorpio.

Eric Schlosser natal

Each has the Sun and Moon in fixed signs, powered by a square from a planet in Scorpio. Having relentless focus, being drawn to whatever is hidden, and the instinct to uncover by any means possible are Scorpio’s natural gestures. When combined with the Sun, the individual creative drive to distinguish the self carries the deeply reformist agenda inherent in the sign that is impelled to bring change from the inside out.

Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation — and a film of the same name (in 2006) — exposed the dark side of the meat industry. His book brings together not only the way animals are treated, but also the workers in the industry and the impact on the environment.  Eric Schlosser has natal Ceres at 21° Scorpio  conjunct Jupiter at 23° Scorpio. Ceres is connected to the land; food production and safety, unions and worker’s rights, and preserving the environment and resources are all part of her symbolism. Jupiter conjunct Ceres brings those concerns into the larger social sphere, and Scorpio, of course, can handle complexity and is the muckraking journalist extraordinaire.

Michael Pollan also has Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and grain, conjunct a benefic in the natal chart — Venus is conjunct Ceres, conjunct the North Node, all in early Capricorn. Here’s a fellow whose love for grain and appreciation of growing food is directly tied to the life path. Venus with Ceres in an earth sign also suggests a strong physicality and sensuality. His first best seller, about human desire and the evolution of plants, was The Botany of Desire (2001).

Venus in Capricorn is not known for its romantic excesses. The essence of his newest book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008), is in its opening sentences: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (He knows that the average American diet now is so heavily processed and refined that it cannot qualify as “food.” His message is practical: eat the way our grandparents or great grandparents ate.)

He also has a long article on the politics and pleasures of cooking in the current New York Times magazine.

Since (I know I’m not the only one) I do get weary of considering transiting Pluto’s connection to the financial crisis, I am happy to find Michael Pollan with planets in this line-up — a positive Pluto transformation story. Transiting Pluto was exactly on Pollan’s natal Venus (which, at 0° Capricorn, is on the Aries Point of public recognition) throughout 2008. Throughout 2009 Pluto conjuncts natal Ceres at 2°07′ Capricorn and then makes five exact hits to the North Node between 2010 and 2011. This is a horoscope of a person who continues strongly on a path of empowerment and cultural relevance for these next few years. (That’s my hope, anyway.)

Pollan’s personal success story is also shown in his progressed chart. Progressed Jupiter is applying to trine Saturn, which is exact in March 2010. Progressed Mercury trines Uranus then as well.

Michael Pollan progressed

Saturn and Jupiter formed a progressed trine in 1966. Since Saturn turned retrograde by progression in 1977, and Jupiter went direct in 1993, they come to another trine in March.  This suggests good instincts and success in business and worldly matters, and productive and constructive outlets for social concerns.

On the local level, many gardeners and farmers have a prominent Ceres in the natal chart. I know someone who changed her life’s work to become an organic farmer when Ceres was conjunct the Moon in the progressed chart. I confess to natal Ceres in Sagittarius. I naturally love the concept of gardening, but as someone near and dear to me noticed a while ago, I don’t like to get my hands dirty. But, with Pluto’s encouragement, I’ve loved being in the garden this year.


(1) The web site has links for further activist information  The film had its official U.S. opening on June 12, 2009.
(2) Wikipedia
(3) Wikipedia

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A Beer with the President

By Mary Plumb | July 27, 2009

The layers of meaning and influence of an eclipse will unfold over time, but the days immediately surrounding the exact day can bring events that take unusual turns.

A big national story at the eclipse was the arrest on July 16 of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates in his home after being mistaken for a burglar. At his press conference on July 22 President Obama addressed the incident, which has been much discussed for the racial and class issues it has raised.

Like any good Leo Sun (not to mention being the world’s most famous political leader), the president can’t do much without creating a stir. He did create a furor at the news conference by commenting that police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates. The president’s remarks became the big news story at a time when he was seeking to build public support for his health care plan. Obama’s progressed Moon is now at 27°01′ Aquarius, exactly conjunct the US Sibly Moon — signifying the public — at 27° Aquarius. Surely the US populace is in need of support and recognition by the president and he is in the unique position, remarkably so right now, to make decisions that have a huge impact on us all. I think the urgency of the health care debate is symbolized in part by this once-in-29-year aspect.

His progressed Moon is also on his natal south node at 27°01′ Aquarius; I didn’t see the press conference, but some reports suggested that he seemed a bit disheartened or weary. Who wouldn’t be with that combination?

Maybe another display of this aspect is the excessive media attention right now to the “Birthers movement” whose adherents don’t believe that Obama was born in the USA.

Back to the eclipse, which falls in Obama’s natal 6th house of public employees. Some say the president insulted all the police in the land with his comment. Obama’s natal Mercury is at 2°20′ Leo; although out-of-sign, that’s still within 3° of the solar eclipse at 29°26′ Cancer.

After acknowledging that he could have used more “calibrated” language, the president then said he hoped to turn the incident into a “teachable moment, where all of us, instead of pumping up the volume, spend a little more time listening to each other.” (1) Sounds suspiciously Aquarian to me.

So, apparently, the police officer and the professor will join the President at the White House for a beer.

How’s that for Neptune, Chiron, and Jupiter to the rescue? (These three bodies carry a mighty healing force and are just slightly over one degree apart.) The arrest was perceived as an injustice and that is receiving attention. The president hopes for a  “teachable moment” (Chiron and Jupiter), bringing disparate parties together for a beer (Neptune). That sounds like a good idea for lots of different situations these days.



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Total Solar Eclipse

By Mary Plumb | July 20, 2009

The century’s longest total solar eclipse is almost upon us. It is exact on Tuesday, July 21 at 7:36 p.m. PDT (July 22, 2:36 a.m. GMT).

Since at least the 2nd century (as written by Ptolemy), the length of an eclipse has been associated with the duration of time the eclipse will have an impact. For example, the effects of a lunar eclipse that lasts for two minutes will be felt for two months;  for a solar eclipse, the impact will be in years. The duration of the average solar eclipse is three and a half minutes. The July 21 eclipse lasts for more than six minutes; if we follow Ptolemy’s equation we will be experiencing its impact for longer than six years. This gives extra oomph to the modern astrologer’s thinking that the solar eclipse is an auspicious time to set intentions for the future. We are planting seeds in our minds, or being impressed by events or experiences that will take a long time to unfold. In the personal horoscope, this, of course, will be specifically related to the house position of 29° Cancer and any planets connected to that degree.

Another thing that makes this eclipse stand out is the 29th degree. The first reference I’ve seen to the 29th degree (of any sign) as “the degree of expiation” is in Isabel Hickey’s Astrology: A Cosmic Science (1970). The degree of expiation suggests that all conditions and situations related to the sign have this one last degree, this one last moment to resolve themselves. It has the suggestion of atonement, propitiating a god, or the means through which atonement is made. I’ll leave it to you readers to see how that idea might fit with your own circumstances, or what you feel in these next few days surrounding the eclipse.

Eclipses are known to bring things to a head or indicate a release point. This eclipse suggests that things are moving quickly: The Moon is traveling at maximum speed (nearly 15° in 24 hours) and changes sign several hours after the eclipse; the Sun moves into Leo the next morning.

This extra-long eclipse, occurring at a degree that implies a pressure for resolution, is in the sign of Cancer the Crab, who clings with tenacity. It seems, with all water signs, that we do best by recognizing some emotional experience. Cancer, the first water sign, hints at the most primitive emotions or stages of development — the earliest in time or the most deeply buried in the unconscious. Thus, both our personal histories and our collective or ancestral memories may be the ground through which this potent eclipse moves us forward along our life path.

This is a total solar eclipse — the Sun is darkened. In ancient times, this was considered a bad omen for the king and, therefore, for the land or nation; the health and strength of the king were thought to determine the conditions of the people.

In modern thinking, of course, the Sun has a pronounced personal symbolism. The Sun is our personal star, where we connect to the greater logos. In the individual horoscope, the Sun relates to our own inner nobility — where we shine, where we both receive and give the life essence. It relates to the personal will and ego force that is hereby darkened; quickly, mysteriously, and awesomely, the light of the personal ego is overtaken by something else — perhaps a powerful impression of past or future, a compelling and temporary awareness of a life force far greater than what we have imagined for ourselves thus far.

Remember the key symbolism of a New Moon as a seed-planting time. The masculine and feminine have lined up in direct union and communion and perfect equipoise until, suddenly and inexplicably, the solar light is gone. Where are we without our usual frame of reference? We can see why eclipses are so evocative in the human imagination, as well as being associated with significant world events.

The total solar eclipse at 29° Cancer suggests that matters of home, family, and past impressions are triggered to be resolved. I suspect that we’ve all got hidden cracks in our emotional armor; this eclipse is a profound invitation to let tenderness and vulnerability lead the way. There may be tears, releasing memories of a long-lost (or absent) mother or sentiments about connecting with an ultimate nourishment that tethers and binds us, feeds us, and gives us everything we will ever need to be secure and safe in this world.

The morning after the eclipse, the Sun moves into Leo — its own sign — and the sometimes grasping, needy claws of Cancer (where the Moon has dominion) will have to let go.

A friend on our Facebook page  suggested this YouTube video for a presentation of the mundane implications of this eclipse. The video is really well done and demonstrates clearly the essential ways that eclipses are used for predicting world events. (You’ll see the eclipse path of visibility on the Earth, as well as a few countries that have 29° Cancer prominent in the national horoscope.)

I’ve posted Stephanie Austin’s fine column on the eclipse here. For a look at the bigger picture, I’ve posted the maps of the eclipse visibility here.
And, also from the June/July 2009 issue, you can see the solar eclipse world maps and midpoints here.

I also did a search on AstroDatabank for people with the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, or Midheaven from 28° to 30° Cancer or Capricorn. I filtered for AA data, so these degrees should be accurate. (I have an older version of the software, and this selection is mostly older people. I couldn’t find a search function at the free online database at, which has more current data. Does anyone know if it’s there?)

Naomi Campbell and Susan Sarandon have Ascendants in these degrees of Capricorn. (Ms. Sarandon’s natal Moon is at 26° Capricorn as well.) Emmylou Harris, Wynonna Judd, Stephen King and John Travolta have natal Ascendants in these degrees of Cancer. Melanie Griffith has the Midheaven in Capricorn, Jimmy Carter has the Midheaven in Cancer, David Lynch has the Sun in Capricorn, and Robin Williams and Alex Trebek (the host of Jeopardy!) have the Sun in Cancer; Geraldo Rivera and Tai Situ Rinpoche have the Moon in Cancer, all in these very late degrees.

These individuals are some of those under the direct influence of this potent solar eclipse. May all of us meet the situations that arise for us with an open mind and heart!

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Sarah Palin & the Eclipse

By Mary Plumb | July 6, 2009

On July 3, in case you haven’t heard, Sarah Palin made her surprise announcement that she is stepping down as the governor of Alaska.

Her announcement shocked, apparently, even her closest advisors. (1) There is a Full Moon eclipse on July 7 at 2:21 a.m. PDT, at 15°24′ Cancer/Capricorn The approach to an eclipse is always a bit of a wild time, as energy builds to be released in often surprising and unexpected ways.

In her natal horoscope, Palin has Jupiter at 16°43’ Aries, square the nodal axis at 10°40′ Cancer/Capricorn. Sarah Palin natal

This Full Moon eclipse is square the natal Jupiter. (It’s also obviously quite close to the natal nodes; there is another Full Moon eclipse on Dec 31, 2009 at 10°21’ Cancer/Capricorn, exactly on her nodal axis. More to come from Ms Palin.)

For now, I’m looking at Jupiter. As a planet square the nodal axis, it is know as a planet “at the bending” and has special prominence. Kathy Allan, in her article “Re-Visioning the Lunar Nodes” (TMA, Feb./March 2009), writes: “The bending of the nodes may be the most overlooked feature of the horoscope.”

And Kevin Burk, in The Complete Node Book (2003), says: “…. a planet that is ‘at the bending’ must be given careful consideration, because that planet, and the issues associated with it, will tend to take center stage repeatedly in the individual’s life.”

So, here we have an eclipse on the planet in Palin’s horoscope that will “tend to take center stage.” Can there be any doubt that Palin is back on center stage in a very big (Jupiter) way?

As a further refinement to “the bending,” the planet can be either at the North or South Bending. Jupiter in Aries is on Palin’s South Bending, which Allan describes as resembling “the South Node; planets here have difficulty in outer expression and are best used subjectively, spiritually, or give away to the collective.” Lee Lehman, in Classical Astrology for Modern Living (1996), calls the South Bending the “scapegoat position.”

I think these are fascinating ideas, given the tone of Palin’s announcement, and her Facebook entry the next day, in which she wrote that she is free now to pursue “a higher calling.”

Another significant marker for Sarah Palin is the progressed Full Moon that was exact on March 15, 2009.

Sarah Palin, progressed Full Moon

The Sun at 7°29′ Aries, and the Moon at 7°29′ Libra, is squaring the progressed nodes at 6°32′ Cancer. She is at a culmination point for the cycle which began at her progressed New Moon in March 1995 at 23°32′ Pisces. (Palin was also in her Saturn return then.) She began serving as mayor or Wasilla in 1996. Perhaps she is complete with state politics now, having begun as mayor at the New Moon, she’s gone as far as can and is ready to leave at the Full Moon.

On the day of the announcement, the transiting Sun was at 12° Cancer, conjunct her natal North Node.  The transiting North Node was at 0°18′ Aquarius, within a degree of her natal Mercury (1°37’ Aquarius).

Sarah Palin's resignation

Palin seemed as self-confident and feisty as ever at the news conference; transiting Mars at 24° Taurus was squaring her natal Sun-Mars-Saturn conjunction at 23° – 26° Aquarius.

Transiting Chiron-Jupiter-Neptune is within orb of her Sun-Mars-Saturn conjunction until early 2010 (when Neptune crosses Saturn for the last time), so we might expect the scandals, or rumors of scandals, to keep coming for a while. And, with Jupiter and Chiron present, the impact of her actions has yet to be revealed. (Is she a brilliant political maverick? Is she permanently and inexorably damaging her reputation?)

As a final note (for now!), Sarah Palin’s natal Sun-Uranus midpoint is at 0°31′ Sagittarius. This is semi-square (45°) to this week’s Full Moon eclipse at 15° Capricorn, which suggests a powerful triggering of the midpoint.

In Midpoints, Don Mc Broom describes the Sun-Uranus combination: “Illumination of individuality in an innovative or eccentric approach to life purpose; revolutionary spirit; possibly feeling above the rules.”

When connected to the Moon (as is the case here), Ebertin calls the combination, “Emotional excitability, impulsiveness, rashness. A nervous and agitated woman.”

Now I do sympathize with Sarah Palin’s quirky demeanor as a demonstration of Aquarius. (Mark McKinnon, who worked with her, wrote: “She crackles with energy like a live electrical wire.”) (2)

She did seem a bit agitated at her news conference. But then, what’s a person (with an Aquarius stellium) to do when a Full Moon eclipse hits her Sun-Uranus midpoint, and her most elevated and at-the-bending Jupiter, while she’s also at a progressed Full Moon, and transiting Mars squares a Sun-Mars-Saturn conjunction? In the words of one blogger: “Palin’s week culminated, of course, in a strange, twitchy, impulsive announcement from her home on the shore of Lake Lucille, that she would be stepping down from office, and resigning.” (3)


(1) “Palin explodes a nuclear device by announcing she’s stepping down as governor of Alaska.” The Daily Beast

(2) The Daily Beast

(3) Huffington Post

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