Here’s a trenchant parallel for us Uncle Sam watchers to ponder. Right now America is experiencing the transit the British Empire experienced100 years ago: Pluto opposed to natal Sun. (1)
At its peak, England was the largest empire the world had ever known, encompassing a quarter of the Earth’s total land area. But her crown was starting to slip when Pluto in Cancer opposed her Sun in Capricorn. (2) Now, Pluto is transiting through Capricorn, opposing America’s Sun in Cancer, exact to the degree in 2014-5.
The earlier transit marked the death of the Victorian idea of empire. Pluto, the planet that breaks things down into their constituent parts, shattered the British conglomerate back down into the pieces that had made it up; many of her colonies opting for national identity over allegiance to the crown. Plutonian dismantling allows its former ingredients to become a whole new thing. This is the most thorough kind of change there is.
As Sibly-trackers (3) are aware, the current Pluto opposition is part of a greater drama: that of the Uranus-Pluto square, which reaches its third exact hit on May 20 of this year. The transit is skewering the US chart like a shishkebab, making America’s most difficult natal aspect—its solar Saturn square—into a full-blown Grand Cross (discussed in detail in my book At the Crossroads).
As individuals get born, grow, die and turn into something else, so do nations. We might identify 2001 as the year this process began for the USA. That was when Pluto hit the ascendant of the Sibly chart. 2008 marked its lurch into a new phase, when Pluto went into Capricorn and started opposing the US Venus. 2014 will begin the third phase, when the Uranus-Pluto square hits the degrees occupied by the natal Sun. The fourth phase will be in 2022, when transiting Pluto returns to its natal position.
Retrograde Jupiter (ethical judgments) was conjunct the US Uranus (shocks) within a degree at the New Moon in December 2012, when the country experienced its latest school gun rampage, in Connecticut. Jupiter is also the planet singled out in the chart of the much-storied winter solstice—Dec 21, 2012—which many astrologers see as the birth chart of the new epoch. In the solstice chart Jupiter is the apex planet in a yod, or Finger of God.
Jupiter represents where we stand on the big questions of life. Properly used, it inspires our highest values: the moral code we use to frame our conduct and aspirations. But in the absence of consciousness Jupiter is not so benefic. It can signify religious or political dogma and demagogy; exclusionary ideology all fancied up with righteous justification. Its expansiveness can become inflated and extravagant, its theories far-fetched and self-serving.
An example is the belief on the part of millions of American evangelicals that Jesus will come again as soon as Israel gains final supremacy in the Middle East. Thus has a strange-bedfellows situation arisen, that seems counter-intuitive given the traditional anti-Semitism of the American Right: many conservative Republicans have attached themselves to a dogma that champions the Israeli government no matter what it does.
The Armageddon subplot, a peculiarly Jupiterian one, girds Uncle Sam’s involvement in the Middle East and complicates the nation’s already checkered karma there.
Assault on Gaza
Mars (war) was approaching its conjunction with Pluto (death) and Jupiter was exactly trine the US Saturn in Libra (Uncle Sam as world policeman) when Israeli bombers assaulted Gaza under the solar eclipse in November 2012. After a week of bombardment by Israel’s state-of-the-art weaponry—the overwhelming majority of which is made in the USA—hundreds of Palestinian civilians were dead and 1200 were wounded. By contrast, there were six Israeli deaths and 240 Israelis wounded. Making it sound as if it was the other way around, however, the rhetoric of those American politicians who spoke up about it skewed the reality like a corrupt cop fudging a crime report.
Washington pushed for a ceasefire, worried that a new Israeli ground invasion of Gaza might provoke rebellions in neighboring Arab countries. But in the historic vote two weeks later Uncle Sam was unambivalent. It was then, with Mars conjunct Pluto in the sky and the lunar eclipse just beginning to wane, that the UN recognized Palestine as a state, over Washington’s intractable objections.
For war-ravaged Gaza, November’s assault was only the latest round. This tiny strip of land looks to be the lynchpin in the global power struggles we will be seeing as the Cardinal Cross bears down on the nations of the world (see the lecture on my website, The Devil in the Mirror). America, the great Jupiterian superpower (Sibly Sun conjunct natal Jupiter) of the 20th century, is among the hardest hit by the transit. As a collective we have some intense self-examination ahead of us.
The other motive behind Washington’s unstinting support of Israel seems to be purely Plutonian: the maintenance of a puppet state in that volatile, resource-rich part of the world—to “safeguard American interests”, as the saying goes. This is the Pluto-in-Capricorn piece of the puzzle. Over the next few years we can expect America’s checkered relationship with Israel and Palestine to force itself into our sight lines.
The USA has been isolating itself from global consensus for years now in pledging unconditional allegiance to Israel, whose war crimes record ranks it right up there with Burma and the Congo. But Washington’s position is starting to stick out like a sore thumb. Out of 179 U.N. member countries, Uncle Sam was one of only nine to vote against Palestinian statehood in November.
Although the US media typically frames the violence in the Middle East as an ancient, distant conflict between two inscrutable tribes—a situation that, though lamentable, has little to do with everyday Americans—it has everything to do with us. It is we taxpayers who pay for the bombers that rain destruction upon Gaza. As individual members of this collective, each of us has to develop our own relationship with Jupiter, our own sense of right and wrong.
Metaphysical law holds that we are influenced by what goes on in the collective of which we are members: it isn’t random that we end up identifying with one nation-state over another. Each of these layers of our identity is a part of our here-and-now. Jupiter, the ethical dimension of the psyche, demands that we attend to the group aspect of our identity just as we must to the personal aspect.
1 Thanks to UK astrologer Dharmarucci for calling this to my attention.
2 Both the horoscope commonly used for England (i.e. for William the Conqueror’s coronation on Dec 25, 1066), and the one for the U.K. (unifying Great Britain and Ireland, at least in name, on Jan.1st,1801) have Capricorn birthdays.