With Uranus squaring Pluto in the sky, it strikes me as a good time to propose an update to an old astrological maxim. In the name of Uranus (challenges to tradition), I hereby suggest we change the traditional planetary rulership of oil.
Astrological textbooks associate oil with the planet Neptune, governor of lubricants. But recent developments in global history are mirroring back to us a distinct meaning shift as regards this ancient black goop.
Since the advent of the Industrial Age (1), the archetype of oil has become darker, more dangerous, more compulsive—in a word, more Plutonian. I propose we extend oil’s governance from Neptune alone to a joint rulership with Pluto. Let them share the crown.
I have made the case elsewhere that the designation of Neptune as a sole ruler ignores one of the most definitive and evocative of oil’s characteristics: that the stuff is dug up from underground. It is Pluto that governs underground riches (2), such as precious jewels, minerals and ores. In the collective imagination, oil has for the past several decades replaced spice, gold, silver (3) and gems as the premier symbol of global value.
Oil has nudged aside traditional valuables not merely in terms of financial worth. It is the new top signifier in iconic terms, too, as evidenced by one of its nicknames: black gold.
Moreover, there are deeper and more troubling reasons to attribute Plutonian rulership to this singular liquid that greases the wheels of the industrialized world.
It is not for its use value alone that countries want oil, any more than it is for practical reasons that people have always coveted gold. Consider the role of “gold fever” in political history, myth and literature. The extremism with which these resources are desired slips easily into pathology, with fatal consequences. I would argue that a Plutonian resource is one that has acquired connotations of death and destruction.
The colonial adventures of the old European empires were motivated first by spice, later by sugar, tobacco, slaves and diamonds, then by natural gas and oil. In the 19th Century, the USA took over as global superpower, riding high on the wave of the Industrial Age, whose complexly interconnected systems of manufacture, infrastructure, transportation and distribution depend—with absolute singularity—upon this one product: ancient dinosaur slime. In fact, as we are only now starting to realize (some with dread, others with jubilation), the industrial model of societal organization would die overnight without oil.
The Sibly chart of the USA features Pluto in the 2nd house, which indicates an obsession with control over whatever resource is deemed the most valuable in any given epoch. A cursory glance at recent American foreign policy bears this out. Washington has used its military might to sate its desire for oil wherever in the world it is to be found.
Kill the Tyrant
The USA is in a new war. According to what we hear on TV, Uncle Sam is saving another country from another bad man. We are to believe that this is why all those submarines and F-16 bombers have been bombing Libya.
Were it not for its incessant repetition in the media, this story, now being met with childlike credulity by even the most well-informed and best-intentioned Americans, would have no legs. It would be met by a healthy skepticism from every citizen over ten years old.
It was ten years ago, three months after 9/11/01, that the White House conceived of attacking Iraq. Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Feith et al. used the media to convince the US public to go along with their plan by explaining that, as the world’s good guys, we needed to eliminate the tyrant Saddam. This is the same propaganda gambit we are hearing now. In the chart of the USA, Mercury (information) opposes Pluto (mind control), giving rise to a mass media so powerful that it can transform otherwise life-affirming human beings into lemmings to the battlefield.
It’s been a sobering ten years, however. The American public found out that the rationales behind the Iraq war were lies; that the short military “cakewalk” they were promised turned out to be anything but; and, perhaps most bothersome of all to this pocketbook-conscious populace, that the war had become very, very expensive.
Appealing to collective psychology to guess the public’s thinking about Libya, we might expect that the expense factor would rankle quite a bit. For everyone except a tiny fraction of the US population, the recession is getting worse. The unemployment rate is the highest since 1948. Most Americans are barely scraping by.
Human nature being what it is, many are grabbing at straws for someone or something to blame. The Tea Party crowd is reacting with hair-trigger outrage to any federal expenditure that could be vaguely construed as a waste of money.
So it might seem logical to expect that the reactionary pundits on mainstream TV and radio, who are notorious for pouring gasoline on the flames of popular anger, would be champing at the bit to talk about the hundred million dollars (so far) that the Pentagon has spent bombing Libya.
But this is not happening. The news channels play the songs their funders give them; and questioning the wisdom of the Defense Department budget is not in the lyrics.
Here Comes the Cavalry
Neither is providing the complete story behind the 7,459 bombing attacks (4) that have descended upon Libya since the Equinox. The American media’s portrayal of the anti-Gaddafi troops as disaffected citizens stops short of explaining under whose control they are fighting.
In fact, as in every other place in the world where global powerbrokers want a regime changed, the insurrection is under the direction of Western commanders and led by Western commando units. These are the “advisors” that are occasionally referred to in media coverage; but they have been dispensing more than advice. First they froze and seized Libya’s assets in Western banks, then they started handing out shiny new weapons and billions in financial aid.
Leaving this information out of the Libya story (5) is a strategic decision on the part of the powers-that-be. Instead of giving the public the full picture, the commentary from all along the political spectrum plays up the simplistic narrative that led many Americans to approve the bombing of Baghdad, ten years ago. It’s the old America-as-noble-avenger myth.
With Sagittarius rising and Jupiter conjunct the Sun in their national chart, Americans would like to believe that their country is motivated primarily by moral principles. Most seem happy with the image of Uncle Sam as the fearless cowboy galloping in to save Libya from an evil madman.
Blood for Oil
It will be in spite of, not because of, the mass media if Americans connect the dots between the horrors taking place in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya. Those who get their news from outside of the standard sources—from WikiLeaks or BBC Al-Jazeera, for example—will hear information that could make them consider other reasons why their taxes are funding yet another war.
Such as the fact that Libya possesses the largest oil reserves in Africa. From Wikileaks they would hear that Washington was none too happy about Gaddafi’s threat to re-nationalize Western oil companies’ property unless they granted Libya a bigger share of their profits (6).
Until It’s Gone
Under the Longest Arm of the Cross, Uranus is prodding all things Plutonian into the light. There is a window of opportunity for Americans to begin looking at Washington’s military decisions differently. There is a chance here for people to go beyond the nationalistic spin and consider the human perspective.
This might entail a shift of focus from the madman in the caftan. It might lead Americans to ponder, instead, what it must be like to be a denizen of a part of the world where a dangerously coveted resource exists; one that powerful leaders, in the thrall of negative Pluto, would kill to possess.
It would entail our seeing Libya in other terms than as an inscrutable, war-torn foreign region. What thoughts would arise, if we looked at the Arab world as a group of human beings, very like ourselves, except for the geography?
I believe we would find ourselves wondering whether the Arab people will be allowed to live peacefully while there is still oil under their land, or whether they will they have to wait until the oil is gone.
(2) Pluto (his Roman name; the Greeks called him Hades) was the god who presided over minerals and jewels from suberranean mines. On a psycho-spiritual level, this hidden world of invisible wealth is symbolizes the valuable energies we keep sequestered away deep within our beings. (See chapter Three: “The God of Secrets,” in Soul-Sick Nation).
(5) It’s an omission that is analogous to the failure of US election coverage to mention which special interests fund which candidates. If voters were told, for example, how much money the insurance industry donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign; and how firms like Goldman Sachs lavished cash on both Obama and McCain to ensure whoever became President was indebted to them, it’s a good bet that many citizens would realize the meaninglessness of the much-touted distinctions between “liberals-vs.-conservatives.” Such information would threaten the fiction that the divide in the American system is lateral—between “left” and “right”—when in truth it is vertical: between those at the top and those at the bottom.