2011 begins, for the astrologically minded, not on January first but on the New Moon of January 4. New Moons are always times of new beginning, and the collective mindset at the start of a calendar year strengthens even further our sense that something big is getting started. But this New Year New Moon is a bellwether in several other ways as well, especially for Americans.
- The January 4 New Moon is an Eclipse;
- It is the day that Jupiter and Uranus re-conjoin to the degree of arc; and
- It forms an exact opposition to the USA’s Sun.
Wow, wow, and wow.
Astrologers who track transits to the USA chart have been waiting for this one. The Sun in the chart of the entity born July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia is at 13 Cancer; and at January’s Eclipse the Sun and Moon are both at 13 Capricorn—an exact 180-degree angle. Moreover, transiting Saturn is conjunct its US natal position: this means Uncle Sam is in the middle of his Saturn Return, which will intensify on January 25 when Saturn makes a retrograde station.
As if all this weren’t enough, Pluto is exactly opposite the US Jupiter at the moment, getting ready to square Uranus in what I’ve been calling “the longest arm of the Cross.”
Heads We Win; Tails You Lose
This gaggle of transits is meant to drive home the lessons of the epochal Uranus-Pluto square, which has been building since 2008. The fact that they are hitting the US chart so pointedly just as the year begins, tells us that the decay (Pluto) inherent in our social institutions (Saturn) will be shaken up (Uranus) and rendered egregiously visible in 2011. The events we’ll be seeing have this essential purpose: that of bringing to the fore aspects of our system that have become so skewed and toxic that they threaten the country’s overall health.
It is a point that will not be left to our imaginations. We have here an emphasis on the US Saturn in the tenth house (government) and on the country’s natal Pluto (absolute control) in the second house (money) (1). This leaves little doubt about which aspect of the American system is ready for rehab. It’s about the distorted distribution of valuables in this, the richest country in the world.
The national Saturn Return will continue through 2011, peaking a second and third time in March and August. To get a sense of what to expect we can look at its first hit, on December 3, 2010. That was also the week Mercury conjoined Pluto in the sky, provoking the long, ongoing opposition between transiting Pluto and the USA’s Jupiter (expansion)/Venus (money) conjunction. It was then that the American Congress went through that perverse debate about who deserved the country’s resources more: the gentry or the rabble.
With welfare rolls burgeoning and soup kitchens feeding record numbers, the nation watched Washington wrangle over whether three million jobless folks would be cut off from their unemployment benefits vs. whether those making over $250,000 a year would be able to keep their tax cuts. A grotesque political power game was played out, pitting the funds that laid-off, outsourced Americans need to survive against the windfall (2) given to that tiny section of the population who already reap almost a quarter of the total national income.
The scenario flies in the face of ordinary logic. But we might posit an astrological logic afoot here: it’s a testament to how distorted things have to get in order to require transits this extreme. (3) The intensity of the Uranus-Pluto square, symbolic of radical dismantling, is precisely matched by the insanity of this debate.
Saturn, the planet of pragmatism, governs empirical indications. Morality aside, even from the purely practical point of view, everything about the sordid money dust-up in Washington last month spelled disaster for the debt-addled nation; and forgoing dollars-and-cents realism is not a good idea for an entity in the throes of its Saturn Return. The voodoo-economics of trickle-down, the favored argument still clung to by Republicans advocating millionaire tax cuts, have produced not a shred of evidence that they work.
Money is a staple of American discourse. So are the links between money and power—no surprise, given the USA has Pluto in the second house. But just because the populace talks and thinks a lot about financial issues doesn’t mean we see them in perspective. Americans are obsessed with money, but the consciousness about it seems to be in arrested development.
The good news (or the bad, depending on one’s perspective) is that the transits to the country’s chart are intense enough to break through this stagnation. When humanity can’t see the forest for the trees about something, the cosmos has the Rx. Right now it’s hauling in Uranus (shocks) and Pluto (excavation) to give us a reality check. With a Saturn Return for good measure, to force us to take responsibility.
It is hardly a secret that the rich are getting richer in the USA, the poor are getting poorer, and the former are in firm control of the country’s agencies of authority (Saturn) and power (Pluto). What does seem remarkable is that the plutocratic nature of this state of affairs is not universally described as such.
The cold, hard facts are everywhere available. Every night on the news, non-wealthy Americans hear evidence of the insane differences between their own situation and that of their moneyed brethren. Those who do still have a house, a job and insurance are reminded at every turn of how close they are to losing them. The contrast between the lifestyles of the haves and have-nots is the explicit or implicit subject of a plethora of media discussion and spectacle, from celebrity-crib reality shows to welfare mothers on Oprah. Yet somehow the egregious irony of the situation is never seriously analyzed in the media. And the technical term for it—plutocracy: (4) a nation ruled by its wealthy minority (5)—is never used. You can listen to pundits talk about the economy all day long and never hear it.
There seems to be an unspoken agreement to avoid, at all costs, stating the obvious. This is consistent with the nature of Pluto, the planet of secrets hidden in plain sight.
Wall Street Blues
Pluto doesn’t create problems; it exposes them. The current transit system began when Pluto first went into Capricorn (monetary systems) in 2008 while opposing the USA’s Venus (money). It was then that the workings of Wall Street suddenly became front-page news. Over the months that followed, Americans watched as the global economy was brought to the brink of collapse. A public conversation started about such policies as outsourcing. It became common knowledge that by moving almost half of American manufacturing offshore, Wall Street and the multinational corporations had struck it rich, while the domestic work force was slipping into double-digit unemployment.
As 2011 begins, the conversation has become polarized. Powerful moneyed forces have moved in to stage-manage the tea party “movement” for their own purposes, and the debate has become confused. But the institutions that caused the financial meltdown are still in business and still fattening themselves greedily at the trough, giving new meaning to the phrase “piggy bank.” The disparity is exponentially greater than ever before, between the bankers’ wealth and that of the 30 million global denizens who lost their shirts.
Living systems in the throes of Plutonian decay can grow extreme, and the rhetoric of breakdown tends towards the hyperbolic. We can see this both in the attacks upon and the defenses of the financial industry. As Wall Street’s spokesmen react to the current mass mood, one detects a note of panic; the mildest possible proposals to regulate their excesses are eliciting wildly exaggerated reactions. Consider hedge fund manager Stephen Schwarzman’s fevered protest against taxes on private equity. He says it’s like “when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
It is a curious thing that the industry that’s making the very wealthiest Americans even wealthier—the finance industry—is one that doesn’t design, build or sell a single tangible thing. This does not, in and of itself, signify fraud; but the fact that it strikes us as baldly counterintuitive is one more clue that our definitions of worth and value are due for an overhaul. This is exactly what Pluto (makeovers) is supposed to do as it passes through the house of money.
(1) The USA will be having its first-ever Pluto Return in 2022, when the teeny-weeny planet of great big power reaches the degree of the zodiac that it was in on July 4th 1776. My lecture America’s Money Karma discusses this transit in detail.
(2) The Bush tax cuts have so far bestowed roughly a trillion dollars on the richest five per cent of Americans.
(3) This may sound backward to those who understand the relationship between transits and their worldly circumstances in causal terms. But if we believe that planetary cycles and events coincide not through cause-and-effect but through synchronicity, it is equally valid to propose that the Uranus-Pluto square is the effect of the USA’s need to break down, as the other way around.
(4) Astonishingly, the banks themselves are using the word. On CitiBank’s own website, an article about the international economy baldly states: “The World is dividing into two blocs – the Plutonomy and the rest.”
(5) Certain plutocrats infer different meanings from their minority status than the rest of the country does. In a newsletter to his Wall Street colleagues, hedge-fund manager Daniel Loeb recently railed about how efforts to regulate the financial industry flew in the face of “every American’s constitutional right to be protected against the persecution of the minority.” Thus did the good banker, apparently without irony, declare himself a member of an oppressed minority; that is, the minority of the richest one per cent.