On November 5, Chiron stations direct, at the same degree of the zodiac where Neptune stations the very next day. This is the final iteration of the pairing that presided over the skies last year, with Jupiter, as the Super Conjunction. All this month, the planet of illusion (Neptune) and the planet of wounds (Chiron) are joining forces to teach us about self-delusion. The two of them promise that when denial is shaken off, we stand to gain a new kind of freedom.
The surreal perceptions of Neptune can lead us to the furthest reaches of wisdom when they are used optimally. Even when only partially accessed, Neptune inspires artists, sweetens love affairs, and supports seekers of personal growth (for delineations of the transit through the houses of the individual natal chart, see the November Skywatch on MotherSky.com).
For more than a year, this column has been looking at the impact of Neptune and Chiron on the US (Sibley) Moon. November marks the swan song of this transit, and the best chance we will have, in our lifetimes, to understand its meaning. In secular societies like ours, where there are few healthy outlets for the planet’s sublime yearnings, the self-deceptive side of Neptune is particularly dangerous. Chiron’s involvement suggests that behind the deception there is pain. For those who look for meaning in the cultural currents during these years of cosmic crossroads, the Neptune-Chiron transit provides a rare window into the group psychology of the USA.
Illusion is a cosmic constant, not something that we can evaluate as good or bad. Self-delusion, on the other hand, causes major problems. Neptune is an emotional planet, resistant to reason. Its placement in the US natal chart exacerbates this tendency, making us prone to fantastical extremes. The Tea Party movement—if “movement” is the right word—is a testament to what misapplied Neptune (mobs, enthrallment) can do when fueled by Chironic wounds.
The tea-baggers began to take on steam just as Neptune came into orb of the US Moon in March 2009. In addition, as Scott Wolfram has pointed out, the transiting Moon will be on top of the country’s natal Neptune during the elections this month: a remarkable double whammy that will make the lessons of this pairing hard to miss.
The Left has been trying to get the word out for a while now about the real power behind the teabag juggernaut. But it was only a couple of months ago that Jane Meyer’s article in The New Yorker (8/30 issue) expanded in detail the role played by the Koch Brothers, a quiet pair of ex-John Birchers who have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into tea bag actions. It was these guys who brought in the requisite marketing and strategic savvy to slickly professionalize the tea-baggers, all the while packaging them as a homespun grassroots phenomenon. Then Fox News was brought on board to sell it.
You have to wonder what future historians will make of Fox. With a few centuries’ worth of hindsight, what will be made of the way this enormously popular network exhorts its millions of viewers to vent their ire at appointed targets rather than to use their intellects ; the way it promotes the baser emotions at the expense of the more generous emotions of which we humans are capable; the way it manipulates fear as a crowd-control device? Although one rarely hears the word propaganda applied to what Fox does, this is a textbook case.
Neptune rules seduction and bewitchment, and the US Moon represents the nation’s vulnerable inner child. This helps us understand why the public mood has been so impressionable, over the past several years, to grand-scale charlatanism. The presence of Chiron tips us to the sense of helplessness that ordinary Americans are feeling as their old sureties crumble under the Jupiter/Uranus-Pluto square. As we know from considering the successful propaganda campaigns throughout history, where there is collective pain (Chiron) there is a desire to target scapegoats (Neptune). In the Teabag scenario, government is the scapegoat. Thus the anti-incumbent rage sweeping the country this election season.
But there was a tense moment there, just after the bail-outs, when the potential existed for Main Street’s anger to settle upon corporations instead. This potential was glimpsed and averted by the Koch Brothers and their cohorts. The tea-baggers were persuaded to focus their ire on the federal government because the power of Big Money was behind the persuasion. They had Fox to get the word out for them. By contrast, as Ralph Nader has said, governments don’t advertise.
“The American Dream,” as a phrase, is an apt summation of this transit to the USA. It hints at the potential to shake off the fantasies (Neptune) from which ordinary people (Moon) have been suffering (Chiron). These fantasies include the idea that safeguarding the interests of corporate behemoths somehow helps rank-and-file workers; and the related idea —and this is where irrationality loops out into full-blown magical thinking—that the existence in US society of an obscenely rich one per cent holds out the hope to the other 99% that they, too, will someday catch a ride on the gravy train.
The disaffected Americans now protesting the wrongs to which they believe Obama and Nancy Pelosi have subjected them identify deeply with the whole panoply of American Dream imagery. Neptunian confusion and its close cousin, ignorance, enshroud the tea-baggers like fog. From all appearances, not only are these folks unaware that their movement is funded by billionaire oil interests, but in their passion they seem not to have realized that many of the policies opposed by those same interests—such as the bill to extend unemployment benefits—could someday prove a lifesaver to the tea-baggers themselves. Neither pragmatism nor self-interest is likely with Neptune-Moon combinations.
Thanks to the highly organized cheerleaders who give them their soundbites, the tea crowd worldview has morphed from an embrace of the probable, to an entertainment of the possible, to a fear of the patently absurd; such as the notion that healthcare reform would open the door to a Marxist takeover. Through nonstop repetition, guys like Hannity and Beck have done much to enable even the most counter-intuitive notions to gel into fevered conviction. Any issue that could endanger the profits of the movement’s benefactors is pitched by their allied pundits and politicos (who are jumping on the bandwagon so fast it’s surprising its wheels don’t fall off) as a threat to democracy—even an obviously democratic issue like the retention of net neutrality. To sweeten the pitch, the whipped-up crowds are told that they, the true patriots, are bold grassroots activists. They get to have their cake and eat it too: they get to keep their self-image as just-plain-folks while being flattered that they’re courageous, radical thinkers.
There’s no madness like group madness. The planet Neptune, traditionally associated with poisonous vapors, can indicate plagues. The USA is currently experiencing a psycho-political epidemic embittered by the wound of disempowerment (Chiron). How do we inoculate ourselves against it? By divesting ourselves of delusion, and by responding to the reality underneath collective lies.
To get on Neptune’s good side—its liberating side—we need to observe the situations from afar, a vantage point astrology is very good at helping us assume. This means living through our charts, from which position it is impossible to give our power away.