As we enter the second half of 2011 (doesn’t it feel as if the year has either just barely begun or has been ten years long already?), the USA is moving towards the last peak of its Saturn Return, a crisis of maturity that happens every three decades.
Anybody out there having your Saturn Return? You are, if you’re around 28 years old, or fifty-seven years old… or 235 years old, as the USA is (discussed in detail in my lecture, America’s Growing Pains).
Those who have been through this transit know what a stiff challenge it is. When Saturn returns to its natal position in our individual charts, we get tested to see how grown-up we are. We are forced by circumstances to answer to our conscience, that inner taskmaster who holds the keys to our self-esteem. If we abdicate responsibility or space out on our goals, we feel like silly young punks, devoid of character.
The USA’s Saturn Return is a major part of the Cardinal Cross period, the long series of transits that will decide America’s status as a world leader. Peaking three times (December 2010, March 2011 and August 201), this part of the collective learning curve has to do with the values professed by Libra, in which sign the national Saturn resides.
Prominently placed at the top of the chart in the tenth house of international reputation, America’s noble Saturn holds certain ideals to be terribly important. But that doesn’t mean they are easily integrated. Saturn squares the Sun in this chart. The Saturn Return is bringing to a head the most difficult conflict in the national character.
All those Libran goals we learned about in American history, and that we continue to hear bandied about by international officials, are being put to the test right now. These include impartiality, justice and legality.
The image the USA proudly projects to the world (tenth house) is adamant about rule of law (Libra). But the Sun cluster, squaring Saturn from the third quadrant, reveals a self-protective entity whose instincts prioritize comfort and security (Cancer). How do these two get along? Awkwardly, as indicated by the 90-degree angle that separates them. With the Pluto-Uranus square triggering this dynamic and the Saturn Return making it globally obvious, the USA is being forced to confront its cherished commitments.
We hear a great deal of huffing and puffing from our elected officials when other countries flout international treaties. We hear outraged pundits roundly castigating any number of global autocrats who drop the Libran standard and operate outside the law. But Saturn cares nothing about public pronouncements. The cosmos is only interested in how the native himself behaves. In this case, the question is: How has the USA been standing up to its own convictions? Are we practicing what we preach?
Libra is an air sign, which inclines it towards clean, unemotional judgments. Behind the concept of Libran justice is the notion that subjective influences should not influence the balancing of the scales of justice. How well has the White House been honoring the Libran mandate?
Rule of Law
Consider the case of Bradley Manning, the young soldier imprisoned for disclosing government secrets to WikiLeaks. Is his treatment an example of high-functioning Libra? Held in an isolation cell for 23 hours a day, stripped naked and deprived of sleep, Pfc. Manning is being subjected to the kind of hideous mistreatment that Washington condemns tyrants for doling out to those who disagree with them.
It was in March, when the US Saturn Return was peaking for the second time, that State Department media spokesman P. J. Crowley declared, at a seminar at MIT, that Manning’s treatment was “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” Two days later he was fired.
There are so many ways in which Bradley Manning’s punishment must be considered appalling. Anyone with water signs in their chart would be sickened by its cruelty; anyone with earth would be repelled by its counterproductivity. From a fire standpoint it is appalling by virtue of its moral repugnance. At issue here are the ways that it is appalling from an air point of view. When we consider the USA’s Libra Saturn, we have to conclude that what is happening to Bradley Manning flies in the face of everything the country is supposed to believe in.
When Obama was in San Francisco on April 21, a group of Manning’s advocates crashed the president’s fundraiser. Obama responded: “If I was to release… information I’m not authorized to release, I’m breaking the law.. He [Manning] broke the law.” First of all, as journalist Bob Egelko has pointed out, in fact the president has the authority to declassify whatever documents he chooses; he wouldn’t be “breaking the law” by releasing them. Secondly, the Pentagon Papers, which Obama and his apologists claim were a whole different kettle of fish from the WikiLeaks cables, were classified top secret—a far more restrictive classification than applied to the Manning material.
But the most egregiously Libra-flouting piece of Obama’s response was this: Bradley Manning is still awaiting trial. Isn’t he legally presumed to be innocent?
Mine is not a particularly Libra-driven chart; I find the Manning case loathsome mostly for other reasons. But the USA is up against its Libra karma right now, and it is by Libra standards that it must primarily be judged. At issue is the part of the American legacy that has to do with legality and judiciousness.
It was also in March, just before the Equinox, that Washington ordered up missile strikes in Libya without the niceties of Congressional approval. The US public seemed utterly untroubled by this violation of Constitutional law (Libra), thanks to a confounding dose of strong collective emotion (Cancer). Americans were sufficiently horrified by Khadafy’s violence to the protesters—with whom the US public was primed to identify at this particular moment in history, given the recent triumph in Egypt—to brush aside the laws of their republic.
Here again, the US chart’s Sun won out over its Saturn. In this case, a flood of fierce, protective feeling (Cancer) won the day. The loser in this contest was the cool rationality of Saturn in Libra, whose strong suit is to weigh the pros and cons of any endeavor. As the Tomahawks, aircraft carriers, destroyers, nuclear submarines and F-16 bombers swung into action, caution (Saturn) was thrown to the winds.
The popular mood in the USA is still blithely impervious to the prospect of unintended consequences that might be incurred by a new war in the Middle East.
And then, last month, Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad. Here we see group feeling triumphing even more fulsomely over any pretence of legality. In fact, Obama could even invoke the word justice in his televised announcement without the slightest risk of anyone quibbling about its actual technical meaning (trials, public trials and evidence).
The US public came down on the side of Cancer (domestic security) once again. Even more so than with the Manning case or the decision to bomb Libya, in this instance the government’s extra-judicial action met with an unambiguously jubilant response. There were a few critics, but they were mostly just the Obama-baiters, doing their predictable partisan thing. I heard no one in the mass media advocating for Saturn in Libra.
The Bones of the Chart
Saturn represents our boundaries; it’s there to correct our excesses and keep us honest. It provides an underlying structure, giving us solidity in a chaotic world. The USA desperately needs a well-functioning Saturn right now: with its Sun caught in a Uranus-Pluto T-square, the next few years are going to be uniquely chaotic. At the moment, however, the country is adhering only very selectively to the laws enshrined in its Constitution—that much-touted document considered so sacrosanct by theoretical patriots.
Ignoring the rules of Saturn’s game comes with a price, and never more so than at the Saturn Return. By blowing off those laws that serve as the cornerstone of its collective integrity, the USA is weakening its bones.