Currently Venus has entered a phase where she is invisible to the naked eye for 60 days or more, as she closes in on superior (also called exterior) conjunction with the Sun. Any planet close to the Sun is outshined by the solar glare. When the inner planets travel on the other side of the Sun from Earth, this invisible phase lasts much longer than when they pass between the Sun and the Earth. Venus is only invisible for a couple of weeks when she passes in front of the Sun while retrograde. It takes much longer when Venus is on the far side of the Sun because she has to catch and pass him in zodiacal longitude.
Currently, Venus is within ten degrees of an applying conjunction with the Sun, and therefore is invisible. This is the same basic phase she was in on July 4, 1776. Venus stands out in the Sibly chart for the U.S. as a very important planet because it is closest to the cardinal axis, conjunct the ruler of the Ascendant (i.e., Jupiter), and also in “phasis” (heliacal set). In the Sibly chart, Venus is exactly at ten degrees of separation from the Sun, and therefore near what is called “heliacal setting,” where she disappears from the morning sky and is swallowed by the Sun’s rays. Right now, we have what is called a “phase return” or a phase-angle return. Venus is near the same relationship with the Sun as when this country officially began.
Simultaneously, the U.S. is going through a Saturn return, and both of these returns are happening in financial houses — the 8th and 11th “whole signs” from the Sagittarius Ascendant. (The exact phase-angle return of a ten-degree applying conjunction between Venus and the Sun happened in early July, when both planets were in Cancer, the 8th sign from the Ascendant). So, astrologically, it is really no surprise to this astrologer that we are still going through some major financial adjustments even though it has been nearly three years since the first Saturn-Uranus opposition popped the financial bubble (in November 2008, quite close to the Sibly natal Neptune).
Our country has a long complicated history of financial crises. What’s that all about, anyway? To this astrologer, the history of banking in the U.S. reads something like a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Round and round she goes, and where she stops nobody knows. First, there was a government-run central bank. Then Andrew Jackson did away with that and instituted the “free banking era” of state banks. After the Civil War we went to a system of “national banks.” The Panic of 1907 induced the creation of the Federal Reserve, the central regulatory agency on banking. And now we have a situation where the U.S. government bought up the bad debt of the investment bankers to stave off another Great Depression. Does this mean we are right back where we started — back to having a government-run central bank? If unregulated “too big to fail” institutions are the backbone of our banking system, how are they not de facto central banks, in practice if not in name? These banks, after all, are backed by the government itself, while being poorly regulated by the government at the same time.
Unregulated de facto central banks would still be running our financial system if it weren’t for The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed by the Democratic Congress and signed into law by President Obama a year ago. This was the most sweeping change to financial regulation in the United States since the Great Depression. (1) However, the President tells us there are armies of lobbyists spending huge amounts of money to water down these important regulations, which were intended to put an end to “too big to fail.” (2)
In a country purported to be the greatest in the world, what would speak to this round robin, cartoonish style of managing our money? In the words of Dana Carvey’s old Saturday Night Live character, the Church Lady: Could it be….SATAN??? Well, in fact, the Sibly chart does speak to just such an arrangement! The Sibly chart has an opposition between two retrograde planets — the Lord of the Underworld (Pluto) and Mercury, from the 2nd to the 8th house, forming a “wedge of delusion” (by trine and sextile) to an angular Neptune in the 10th house. And it was the Saturn-Uranus oppositions crossing that Neptune (in 2008-9) that started this whole mess.
Now that transit Pluto opposes the exalted Sibly natal Jupiter in the 8th whole sign, we have an 8th-house crisis of huge national debt on our hands. The question of what to do about this debt remains unanswerable by lawmakers who refuse to compromise. Congress is symbolized by the 11th house, where we are having a transit Saturn return.
The new radical wing of the conservative party, the so-called “tea-party” Republicans, are adamantly refusing to raise the debt ceiling. Conservatives as a whole do not seem to be able to support any measures other than massive spending cuts to address the debt issue. Any kind of revenue increase seems to be highly objectionable to them. Are they correct? Do we simply have a spending problem? What can astrology say about this?
The succedent houses (the 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th) follow the angular houses and are said to be the financial houses of any horoscope. The 2nd is your money. The 5th is where you spend your money (and take other risks). When you spend your money it goes to other people, and so the 8th house is other people’s money (and collective resources such as taxes and debts). And finally, when other people spend their money, it comes back to you, so the 11th house is a place of acquisition.
Does the U.S. have a spending problem? Yes, transiting Uranus in the 5th house is here to shake up the old ways of spending to help us seek newer, more progressive ways. However, is this the sum total of the problem? Hardly. Every financial house in the Sibly chart is currently being activated by transit.
Does the phase-angle return of Venus in the 8th house suggest we need new sources of tax revenue? Since this only happens in the natal sign every eight years, and the Bush tax cuts were in 2001 and 2003, astrology’s answer would seem to be “you betcha”! Could a reform of our tax laws to eliminate loopholes also be in order? Absolutely. It’s been way more than eight years since the Tax Reform Act of 1986. That’s almost a Saturn cycle. It should be noted that even Republican presidents (like Reagan) raised revenue through raising taxes when needed. (3)
When we consider that we are moving toward the nation’s first Pluto return (2022), we might ask whether The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was an appropriate response to the “too big to fail” dilemma? (Banking is a 2nd-house matter and banking regulations fall under Capricorn.) This is possibly the single most important issue we have recently faced as a nation. The current Congress cannot respond constructively to the debt ceiling problem, while the previous Congress helped protect the economy in the long term. If the government is responsible for bailing out the banks, it should have the responsibility and the means to regulate them. It is only by punishing those who create situations whereby they can greedily prey on consumers that we can avoid yet another financial crisis. If there are no consequences other than being bailed out, why would it be any different next time?
As I mentioned above, Venus stands out in the Sibly chart because it is the planet closest to the cardinal axis; it is conjunct the ruler of the Ascendant; and is in “phasis” (helical set). When I see a planet that stands out in a chart like this, I like to use a technique I adapted from the late, great Robert Blaschke. I draw a chart for the pre-natal conjunction of that planet with the Sun, cast at the birthplace. For the inner planets, Mercury and Venus, who have two kinds of conjunctions with the Sun, I use the pre-natal retrograde conjunction.
In the case of the U.S. Sibly chart, the pre-natal retrograde conjunction of Venus with the Sun was at 1°01’ Scorpio. The sabian symbol for 2° Scorpio reads: “What has been a handsome and valuable bottle lies broken and forgotten, a trail of living perfume leads from it.” Marc Edmund Jones says the negative manifestation of this degree is “witless dissipation of every resource of self and society.” As an astrologer, this symbol confirms what our history tells me: that unless we continue to make and defend the tough choices now needed to reform our financial system and tax laws, we will very likely see the beautiful perfume bottle of our economy once again broken and spilled.
Robert Blaschke (2006), Vol V Holographic Transits, Port Townsend, WA, Earthwalk School of Astrology.
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 22 years. After exploring shamanism and the tarot, in 1993 his life was changed by a magnificent dream, in which he was shown planetary alignments and became an astrologer. Gary holds a degree in counseling and has developed a unique multi-disciplinary path to astrology over 18 years. Visit Gary at his website: DreamAstrologer.com