What is going on in the U.S.? Firestorms erupt over new HHS regulations which would require Catholic institutions to act like everybody else and cover contraception of their employees; the Susan G Komen foundation decides to pull its funding from Planned Parenthood; Virginia GOP legislators seek to probe the bodies of women seeking abortions with state-mandated transvaginal sonograms; Arizona GOP legislators mull a bill requiring women seeking contraceptive coverage under employer-based health insurance to prove that they have a medical need for contraception beyond, well… contraception; South Carolina GOP leaders require potential candidates to sign a purity pledge promising abstinence before marriage, fidelity after, and not to view pornography ever; a conservative radio icon slanders a 30-year-old law student as a “slut” and “prostitute” for daring to testify before Congress about the additional medical applications of oral contraceptives; and a leading GOP presidential candidate decries the evils of … birth control?
In all cases, the culprit here is the current Mars retrograde period, which began January 23 as the planet of confrontation and conflict came to station in exact square to TNO Quaoar, a minor planet from the Kuiper Belt out near Pluto, noted for an affinity with reproductive matters.
Not only that, but the station roused the American public’s rather incoherent and nonsensical attitude toward sexual issues by falling close atop the U.S. natal Neptune at 22 Virgo, which squares the U.S. Mars at 21 Gemini, engendering the dynamic clash (square) we experience in this country between sexuality (Mars) and fundamentalism (Neptune). The tension of both the activated natal and current transit squares and the planets involved has ignited another round in the ongoing American culture wars, focused in this cycle on abortion and contraception issues.
And no incident in the Mars retrograde catalog thus far has been as egregious or illustrative of the energies evoked as Rush Limbaugh’s three-day verbal assault on Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, called to testify before Congress on the additional health applications for contraceptive medications, beyond birth control. Mis-characterizing Fluke’s testimony as an appeal for financial support for sexual excess, Limbaugh proceeded to slander Fluke herself as a “slut” and a “prostitute”.
The source of the controversy was Fluke’s testimony before Democratic members of the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee, which on February 16 held a hearing on the Obama administration’s supposed erosion of the wall separating Church and State by requiring Catholic institutions to cover contraceptive medications as part of the preventive health care package in the Affordable Care Act, despite their moral objections to contraceptive use.
Republican Committee Chair Darrell Issa refused to allow testimony from Fluke, who had written a Georgetown paper op-ed on the negative impact restrictive contraceptive coverage has on women with medical complaints that are also treated by birth control medications, on the grounds that she had no medical or religious accreditation.
The committee chose instead to hear from an exclusively male panel about the implications and impact for women of lack of insurance coverage for contraceptives. After protesting this apparent gender bias, Democratic committee members invited Fluke and others to speak in a private hearing, recorded but not televised.
On February 23 Fluke testified to the financial hardships endured by fellow students as a result of out-of-pocket expense for contraceptives, and related the case of a friend who was denied coverage for contraceptive medications, despite hormonal therapy being necessary to treat an ovarian cyst, which later cost her an ovary when the condition worsened.
Fluke’s testimony quickly made the YouTube rounds, and on February 29, ironically Sadie Hawkins Day, a traditional date when women were empowered to propose marriage, Rush Limbaugh picked up on the incident and chose to devote much of his three-hour-long radio program over the next three days to it.
“What does it say about the college co-ed [Sandra] Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps. (interruption) The johns? We would be the johns? No! We’re not the johns. (interruption) Yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word. Okay, so she’s not a slut. She’s “round heeled”.
Limbaugh followed up these remarks the following day with, “So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.” He further characterized her as a woman “having so much sex, it’s amazing she can still walk,” who “wants all the sex in the world whenever she wants it, all the time, no consequences.”
And continuing his attack on March 2, Limbaugh once again decried Fluke’s alleged nymphomaniacal sex drive, asking, “Well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have? … She’s having sex so frequently that she can’t afford all the birth-control pills that she needs. That’s what she’s saying.”
Beyond the execrable nature of these comments directed at a private citizen who did nothing more than respond to a congressional request for testimony, the thrice-divorced, four-times-married Limbaugh seems to be confusing female oral contraception with the Viagra he requires to perform his marital duties (which most insurance plans cover).
Obviously, oral birth control is a hormonal treatment, and requires just one dose daily to prevent conception or treat a wide variety of health complaints, independent of the amount of sex being had. Unlike Viagra or condoms, it’s not doled out on a per-incident basis, rendering virtually the entirety of Limbaugh’s argument not only moot but also insulting to the intelligence of his listeners (assuming they have some to begin with).
The fallout from these comments was not long in coming. By March 3, sponsors had already begun to pull advertizing from the nationally syndicated radio show, and several stations dropped the program altogether. Late that day a half-hearted apology appeared on Limbaugh’s website, regretting his “choice of words.” On Monday the 5th of March, he repeated portions of his apology on air, but quickly segued into a diatribe against the negative reaction in the “liberal media” his words had caused. This failed to stem the tide of rats leaving his sinking ship, and by mid-March, The Rush Limbaugh Show had lost nearly 150 advertisers.
How Fluke and Limbaugh became the focus of this latest round of culture wars is easy to see with reference to additional points activated by the Mars station, and its impact on their natal charts. For in addition to the tense exact square to Quaoar (for more info on Quaoar’s links to reproduction see “Quaoar and Reproduction—A Link Outside of Time,” Daykeeper Journal, 2003) and its raising of reproductive issues, Mars also formed the Apex of a Yod, or Finger of Fate, with inconjunct aspects to centaur Nessus at 22 Aquarius and TNO Eris at 21 Aries. Nessus evokes issues of sexual impropriety, actual or perceived, and Eris, named for the Greek goddess of strife, signals division, contention and discord (for more info, see “Nessus: Men Behaving Badly,” Daykeeper Journal, July 2011) .
Born 12 January 1951 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Limbaugh’s natal Moon (representing women in general as well as conception, pregnancy and childbirth) falls precisely opposed the Mars station at 23 Pisces, exactly between the arms of the Yod, making this period a highly personal one for the conservative commentator. Both Nessus’ issues with sexual impropriety and Eris’ with contentious, divisive discourse are plain to see in Limbaugh’s reaction to Fluke’s testimony, reinforced by transit Nessus’ exact conjunction with Limbaugh’s natal Mars (sexuality, confrontation and attack) at 22 Aquarius. (More on Limbaugh’s astrological chart here.)
Additionally, Fluke’s (born 17 April 1981) natal Mars at 24 Aries taps into the Eris side of the Yod, marking her sexuality as a target for attack. Fluke’s natal Sun at 27 Aries is also within orb of the Yod, and conjoins a Black Hole, making her susceptible to radical revision of her image by others, and misrepresentation of her message. Natal asteroid Sandra (#1760, her first name) at 29 Aries conjoins the Sun and is exactly conjunct natal asteroid Lie, exposing her to untruths and mis-characterizations. Rush Limbaugh’s natal Lie at 15 Leo conjoins Pluto at 19 Leo, signature of the Big Lie, something he has built a career on (Lie/Pluto semisquare natal Saturn at 2 Libra).
Rush’s propensity for stirring the pot is well known, and his position as national goad is confirmed by natal asteroid Agita, representing ill ease and discontent, at 26 Aries in tight square to the US natal Mercury at 24 Cancer, itself exactly conjunct the nation’s natal Agita. Limbaugh’s natal Agita, of course, also ties to the Yod by conjunction with Eris, ramping up the divisive effect of his statements. Rabble-rousing is his stock in trade. With rash, reckless asteroid Icarus in the mix from 26 Capricorn, from where it conjoins his natal 21 Capricorn Sun, Limbaugh is a natural hothead, rushing in where angels fear to tread, and his commentary often gets him in trouble.
The position of asteroid Sandra in Limbaugh’s natal chart is also significant—at 2 Capricorn, it is an exact match for natal TNO Salacia (named for the Greek goddess from whom we derive our word “salacious”, meaning undue or indecent interest in sexual matters). Both conjoin natal Mercury at 1 Capricorn, squaring natal Saturn at 2 Libra. Much of what Limbaugh utters in his radio show may be considered as salacious, in that it incites or stimulates others to a desired response, much in the way pornography does. Asteroid Sandra’s natal potential coming to the fore now points up the degree to which this is true of Limbaugh’s opinionated commentary (Mercury) generally, and also puts at risk the career (Saturn) he has worked so long to maintain. Transit Salacia at 23 Pisces opposed Mars at its station, and exactly conjoined Limbaugh’s natal Moon when the controversy broke.
Also for that February 29 date, transit asteroid Sandra at 0 Sagittarius lies in exact square to transit Neptune at 0 Pisces, marking Sandra Fluke as the sacrificial (Neptune) lamb in this controversy, which keys on a natal conjunction in Limbaugh’s chart, of asteroid Apophis (named for the ancient Egyptian personification of pure evil) at 1 Sagittarius with natal asteroid America at 4 Sagittarius. Thus Sandra works to point out just how evil Limbaugh’s brand of commentary is for the nation.
Transit Venus was further stimulating the Eris end of the Yod pattern by conjunction from 24 Aries, also exactly conjoined Fluke’s natal Mars and within orb of her Sun/Sandra/Lie and Limbaugh’s Agita. Transit Mars, retrograded back to 14 Virgo, was then precisely stimulating Fluke’s natal Eris/Quaoar inconjunct aspect, from 14 Aries to Scorpio, forming another Yod and activating the latent natal potential for Fluke to experience strife or discord (Eris) from issues regarding reproduction (Quaoar). Transit asteroid Russ (#69311, for Rush Limbaugh) at 14 Cancer ties to this pattern exactly, by sextile to Mars, square to Eris and trine to Quaoar.
Transit Saturn at 29 Libra retrograde was exactly opposed Fluke’s natal Sandra/Lie and formed a T-Square with an exact square to Limbaugh’s natal Nemesis, representing retribution or vengeance, at 29 Cancer, perhaps predicting dire consequences (Nemesis) for his career (Saturn) based on his deceptive attacks on Fluke (Sandra/Lie). With transit Uranus at 3 Aries also opposing Limbaugh’s natal Saturn at 2 Libra, some degree of career disruption is to be expected.
How will it all end? Will Limbaugh’s career finally crash on the reefs of his own recklessness and sensationalist confrontation? In choosing Sandra Fluke as his latest target, Limbaugh may have tempted fate too far: her natal Nemesis—retribution—at 6 Pisces lies in exact semisquare to his Sun, and with her natal Chaos at 3 Taurus forms yet another Finger of Fate with Limbaugh’s natal Saturn—his career. It would be a fitting end.