The Jupiter archetype is big this summer for Uncle Sam. It’s exaggerating everything we love and loathe, both, about this country. Now in Cancer, Jupiter is magnifying the national penchant for self-protection and security (for a discussion about the NSA surveillance scandal, see my blog, “The Spy Who Loved Us“).
The Second Sun
Let’s consider what we already know about Jupiter, sometimes referred to as “the second Sun.”
On one level of meaning, Jupiter teaches us how to deal with quantity. For example, when this big gas giant transits the Sun in our birth chart, we get a once-in-12-years chance to see whether we’re overdoing things. Maybe we’re overextending ourselves at work; maybe we’re allowing our self-image, or our belly, to inflate unbecomingly (see our last Daykeeper column).The lesson here is how to handle growth with grace.
Another of Jupiter’s meanings relates to our identification with a system of higher learning, or higher meaning. If we subscribe to the principles of a certain church, for example, or university or social movement, we’re called to pay a new kind of attention to it. We adjust or reaffirm our ideology of choice.
Countries have Jupiter transits, too. The USA (Sibly) is having a Jupiter Return right now, peaking July 17-23. This milestone will be followed by Jupiter’s conjunction with the national Sun cluster, active through June 2014. Given that Jupiter symbolizes foreignness and the 7th house (where it resides in the Sibly chat) refers to relationships, here’s where we start looking if we want to understand America’s international relations.
Jupiter defines the high road, as conceived by the native (the person whose chart it is). It symbolizes our ethical motivations. In an individual chart, Jupiter develops the moral criteria with which we justify our behavior. In a collective, it refers to that part of the group mind that holds positions about right and wrong. These may have nothing to do with pragmatic or rational considerations.
Saturn, by contrast, takes a stand by considering its hard-nosed workability. Mercury decides what to do according to reason and logic. But Jupiter—conjunct the Sun in the US chart, and chart ruler by virtue of our Sagittarius rising—takes its positions according to criteria that make no claim to rationality or pragmatism. It is Jupiter (with a little help from Neptune (1)) that comes closest to explaining why, for example, a population as financially hard-pressed as America’s is allowing a billion tax dollars a day to be spent in Afghanistan alone.
We often hear our politicians say, “We need to [e.g. send bombers to Syria] because it’s the right thing to do,” a baldly Jupiterian argument. Did you see the movie “Lincoln”? A picture of war at its most Jupiterian, it depicted politicking going on against the stirring backdrop of a great cause.
No doubt Obama wishes he had Spielberg’s artistry at his disposal for PR right now.
Americans, especially those who have to remove their shoes at the airport frequently, will have noticed that a postmillennial version of war (on “Terror” (2)) has replaced the old-fashioned kind (our noble king vs. your petty tyrant, rah rah rah). Although colonial expansion has been out of favor as a rationale for invading other countries since WWI, it was 9/11 that really changed things.
That was when transiting Pluto (destruction) conjoined the US Ascendant across from transiting Saturn (defensive postures) on the Descendant (foreign engagements). At this point “national security” started to take hold, in a newly feverish way, as a justification for full-throttle militarism. It was also when something extraordinary started to happen to traditional notions of national borders (Saturn in the Sibly 7th house). The idea of the enemy belonging to a distinct nation-state started to lose currency.
It started happening on both sides in the “war on terror”. Al-Qaeda and its offshoots tend to move, fluidly and without apparent patriotic qualms, back and forth between Pakistan and Afghanistan, not to mention, well, everywhere else in the world. And Uncle Sam’s rules of engagement have become boundary-blind in a new way. Our robot planes have killed 4,000 people (ACLU estimate) in countries where we’ve never officially declared war: Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, the Philippines, possibly others.
This is a profound shift, when you consider that, throughout military history, it was national identity that was the primary determiner of who was “Us” and who was “Them”.
As the new millennium began, suddenly it was religion that defined the combatants. Uncle Sam’s long drawn-out conflicts in Central Asia and the Middle East have been propelled by an official narrative that is simplistically Jupiterian: the age-old struggle between Christianity and Islam.
But with transiting Pluto opposing the US Sun cluster for several years now, Americans have, in the main, grown more conscious of a sub-narrative at work here that is decidedly Plutonian. This is the acquisition of worldly power, i.e. the power that comes of controlling coveted resources, or of being in a position to do so (3).
As the USA nears its Pluto Return (2022), the official story seems in the process of being overtaken by the unofficial one. Certainly future historians of the Age of Oil will describe this period primarily in terms of the motivations we would chalk up to Pluto.
Meanwhile an abyss is growing between the two realities.
Washington has declared the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to be “over,” but the violence in Iraq, which exploded at the US invasion in 2003 and has not stopped since, has escalated—especially this past Spring, with Mars so strong—almost to the point of all-out civil war. On the very day that the square between Uranus (explosions) and Pluto (destruction) reached its most recent exactitude, May 20, an astonishing 95 people died in a dozen car bombings. In Afghanistan as well, American soldiers and Afghans are still dying daily.
The military-conquest-as-religious-calling saga killed many people in the time of the Crusades. But its updated version has proved fatal for many more, largely because of the far more lethal capacity of modern technological warfare.
Uranus governs advanced machinery; Pluto, of course, governs death.
The square between them, the longest arm of the Cardinal Cross, has jacked up the old Jupiter story with a dark edge befitting the times. Cosmically scheduled for this all-or-nothing era, one of the teachings of the Uranus-Pluto transit is to reconsider our collective moral standards. Reluctantly, Americans are facing questions about the use of robots to destroy presumed national enemies, and any stray persons who get caught in the fray.
The question of who is innocent and who is not is a Jupiterian one. Women and children have been dying in Afghanistan in the hundreds from the Pentagon’s robot planes (4). As for the deaths of Afghan males, which are of course far more numerous, Washington has initiated a creative use of terminology.
When young men get killed, they officially become “terrorists”, “militants” or “suspected insurgents”—and these deaths are celebrated, by some Americans, as victories. No proof is offered by the government, or required by most American citizens, that these deaths warranted extra-judicial execution. The young men just get offed, and it’s reported in the paper, and perhaps many Americans think, Oh wow, we’re winning the War on Terror.
But of course Uncle Sam can’t win this war, and I don’t mean that just in Jupiterian terms (morally). Even in practical terms—as will be increasingly clear over the next couple of years, with the Cross intersecting with the US Sun-Saturn—he’s not going to win this one.
It seems difficult for many Americans to understand that villagers in a drone-targeted region, knowing that they or their children could be blasted by a drone strike without warning, day or night, might begin to lean just a tad towards anti-American feeling.
There is karma to consider here. A prominent Yemini commentator recently said drones are “now the face of America” to many Yeminis. What violent militants have failed to achieve over several years’ time—the transformation of young Muslim men from ordinary teenagers into agents of vengeance and death—one drone strike achieves in an instant.
1 Consider the square between Neptune (phobias, inspiration, fantasy) and Mars (war) in the US chart, discussed here.
2 I propose that we all use quotation marks with this term, to signal our refusal to be manipulated by it. It was under the Bush administration that “terror” started to be coupled with “war” and both capitalized, for use as a stirring propaganda concept. I discuss this ersatz “war” in Martial Law.
3 The USA is not the only power with Plutonian designs on these countries. Afghanistan, which is believed to have untapped natural gas and oil, has been the target of over the centuries mainly because of its geography. The Brits wanted to make it part of their empire because they feared that if they didn’t, Russia would, and could then encroach on the Indian Raj. What a difference a couple of centuries make. Today India itself has its eye on the Silk Road, control over which could make or break her as a new superpower.
4 With the American public finally registering that this drone policy is distressing, Washington was forced to justify it. Obama’s speech took place while the May 20th transit was buzzing in the air.