By Gary P. Caton | September 2, 2013
“The essential task of astrologers should be to
interpret human life in terms of the needs of the epoch.”
-Alexander Ruperti (1)
In my lecture tours criss-crossing the country over the last few years, one of the mainstays has been a series on the often overlooked, under-valued, and misunderstood planet, Mercury. (2) One of the best received lectures in this series has been “The Importance of Mercury to our Epoch.” I think people like it because I outline Mercury’s contribution within a framework they are more familiar with: the cycles of the outer planets. In this way, the lecture makes for an excellent introduction to the deeper mysteries of the Trickster planet.
One of the primary ways we define an epoch in astrology is via the outer planets. They are also called “generational planets” because their long, slow movements tie together collective themes. There are three fundamental outer-planet cycles we can follow: Neptune-Pluto, Uranus-Neptune, and Uranus-Pluto. Interestingly, two of these three cycles are currently anchored in signs ruled by Mercury. The most recent Neptune-Pluto conjunction was in 1891-92 at 8° – 9° Gemini, and the most recent Uranus-Pluto conjunction was in 1965-66 at 17° – 18° degrees of Virgo.
When interpreting the needs of our epoch, we should be talking about the sign Virgo and its ruler, Mercury, as much as (if not more than) Aries and Capricorn, the signs of the current Uranus-Pluto squares. Since this Uranus-Pluto cycle began with conjunctions in Virgo, if we want to understand the deeper energies and issues of our times, we should look back to where the squares have come from.
(Editor’s note: This chart shows the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo, their current positions in Aries and Capricorn and their midpoint in Aquarius)
A perfect case study of this principle is President Barack Obama, with his natal Mars conjunct the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunction degrees. He was elected in 2008, in part because he promised to end the wars in which we were engaged. And yet with his natal Mars conjunct the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions, during the current Uranus-Pluto squares he has been faced twice (previously in Libya) with the need to initiate military actions of his own. On August 21, as the transiting Sun and Mercury (25° – 27° Leo) moved through the midpoint of the transiting Uranus-Pluto square (26° Aquarius), there was a horrible chemical weapons attack in Syria, killing more than a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The transit Sun-Mercury of the attack was also on President Obama’s natal Uranus/North Node conjunction (26° Leo). Since then, the Obama administration has responded boldly with frank accusations. Secretary of State Kerry called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “a thug and murderer,” unequivocally blaming him for the attack and adding that “history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction.” (3) It seems clear from his statements that President Obama feels strongly that we, as a nation, must respond with force to the use of chemical weapons, whether or not there is international support for such an action.
As I write this (August 31), transit Mercury is rapidly moving in on the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunction degrees in mid-Virgo, and President Obama has announced he will seek Congressional approval for military force. As synchronicity displays itself, Congress is scheduled to return to session on September 9, just as the Sun crosses the degrees of the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions. Yesterday, news arrived that Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending warships into the Mediterranean where U.S. ships have already been staged. (4) This is not terribly surprising, given that Russia is Syria’s most powerful ally, but it seems to this astrologer that perhaps Putin did not get enough satisfaction from foiling Obama’s pursuit of Snowden and is still happy to be the fly in Obama’s ointment. This may be mainly symbolic and say more about the ongoing relationship with our Cold War enemy “heating up” rather than being an iminent danger. But there are fears that a U.S. attack on Syria will be answered with attacks on Israel. (5) In such a volatile region, it certainly seems possible that even a limited U.S. attack could have unintended consequences, probably far-reaching ones.
So, what does the astrology say about how this very touchy situation will play out? A look at President Obama’s chart is not reassuring. Transit Mars is conjunct Obama’s Mercury and in a few days transit Mercury will be conjunct Obama’s Mars (exact on September 4). Even though these transits reflect the fact that he has clearly stated his intention and readiness to strike, it seems hopeful, under such rapidly moving triggers, that the President has taken the considered measure of seeking approval from Congress. What is more troubling is that the midpoint of the transiting Uranus-Pluto squares is precisely on Obama’s natal Uranus (25°16 Leo). This is exact on September 8 and is reflected by the sesquisquares of collective planets, Uranus and Pluto, to Obama’s natal Uranus/North Node. The additional aspects from transiting North Node/Saturn (now conjunct) and Pluto (sextile) to Obama’s natal Neptune do not inspire confidence against the possibility of unintended consequences from President Obama’s well-intentioned military plans.
Chart: Barak Obama natal and transits for August 31, 2013.
(The Uranus-Pluto conjunction at 16° Virgo on June 30, 1966 is also noted.)
Cause for further unease can be found when consulting any national chart for the U.S. cast for July 4, 1776. We see that the U.S. natal Neptune was transited by the 1960’s Uranus-Pluto conjunctions. Since this is also activating the U.S. natal Mars-Neptune square, perhaps this sheds light on our continuous propensity to get involved in military quagmires during and since that time period. At the time of the chemical weapons attack in Syria on August 21, transit Mars was conjunct the natal Mercury of the July 4, 1776 chart. Since our President has previously stated publicly that there is a “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons, this foreign attack is personal. Now transit Mars in Leo is applying to the U.S. natal North Node.
Chart: U.S. Sibly and transits for August 31, 2013.
The avid reader of this blog may remember my previous post pointing out that Mercury and Mars are very active during the next year in the solar return for any July 4, 1776 charts, and the historical propensity for enemies to surface under these alignments. (6) From this, one naturally suspects two things. First, the triggers for the Syrian crisis could very likely be transiting Sun, Mercury, and/or Mars to the charts of Obama and/or the July 4, 1776 charts. One time to watch out for is around September 12, as Mercury moves ahead of the Sun by 15 degrees. Hellenistic astrologers called this “phasis,” or an appearance, as Mercury returns to visibility around this time. Shortly thereafter, on September 16, transit Mars makes a conjunction to President Obama’s Sun. Second, even if the U.S. does not attack and manages to steer clear of a quagmire in Syria, the presence of figures like Assad and Putin on the horizon are still very troubling in the long-term. After all, it was during the previous occurrence of the 79-year Mercury/Mars synodic return cycle to the 1776 charts (the same cycle occurring again this year) that Hitler first came to power, and we eventually had to deal with him personally during our national Uranus return to its 1776 natal placement in Gemini.
(1) Bell, Lynn. “A Conversation with Alexander Ruperti,”
TMA Dec/Jan 1997/98, pg. 34.
(2) Recording of these talks can be purchased here
(3) Huffington Post
(6) The 79-Year Cycles of Mercury and Mars in the USA Horoscope by Gary P. Caton
A video of the author’s presentation on themes similar to this article (i.e., the 79-year Mercury/Mars cycle and the Uranus-Pluto squares) can be purchased here
Ruperti, Alexander. Cycles of Becoming: The Planetary Pattern of Growth. Previously published in 1978 by CRCS Vancouver, WA. Re-published 2005 by EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA
Jenkins, Palden, Astrological Cycles in History
Bio: Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration via the Living Sky. Gary has studied Spirituality for over 24 years. After exploring Shamanism and the Tarot, in 1993 his life was changed by a magnificent Dream where he was shown planetary alignments and became an Astrologer. Gary earned a degree in Counseling with highest honors and has developed a unique multi-discipline path to practicing Astrology over 20 years. Visit Gary at his website: Dream Astrologer