Egypt’s long road to democracy has been bloody and violent, strewn with coups, assassinations, military dictators and strongmen, and this latest round of turmoil threatens to dissolve the country into a state of civil war. One of the most hopeful events of 2011’s “Arab Spring,” the revolution in Egypt which toppled President Hosni Mubarak from power after 30 years on February 11, 2011, was largely bloodless, a genuine popular uprising with support in all sectors.
But democracy is a quirky thing, and without the institutions to ground and back it up, it can easily be led astray. Such seemed to be the case in the 2012 Egyptian presidential campaign, the first of its kind, which ultimately placed Mohamed Morsi in power. A leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization, Morsi’s election may not have been legitimate. An abysmal turnout in the May 23-24, 2012 elections, when only 43% of the eligible electorate cast a ballot, saw the vote split among a broad slate of candidates, with almost half of the 23 million voters choosing candidates other than the top two who ultimately participated in the runoff election on June 16-17. The results of this second vote were withheld for a full week, until June 24, and there are allegations that Morsi actually came in a close second to Ahmed Shafik, a senior Air Force commander who was formerly Prime Minister in January through March 2011, during Mubarak’s last-ditch attempt to retain power. But the military, alarmed at the prospect of civil unrest from Islamists if their candidate was defeated, chose instead to install Morsi, but retain the reins of power.
Although barely one-quarter of the less-than-half the electorate that voted in the first ballot supported Morsi, he governed as though he held a popular mandate, cracking down on dissenters and political opponents, arresting journalists and even comedians who offended him. He was inaugurated 30 June 2012. Barely a year later, protests against his arbitrary assumption of powers and imposed alterations to the Egyptian constitution created the largest mass demonstrations in history, as millions of Egyptians once again took to the streets to register their discontent with his administration. On 3 July 2013, the military stepped in and deposed Morsi, to general popular rejoicing and acclaim, but it was mere days before the inevitable backlash began, as millions of Muslim Brotherhood supporters came out in force to protest in favor of Morsi’s return to power.
At first the military’s response was fairly restrained, with most of the violence coming from clashes between members of opposed political factions. But as protests grew, encampments were set up in Cairo and elsewhere for Morsi supporters. When negotiations to disband these broke down, the government’s crackdown became severe. In August 2013, more than 1000 demonstrators were killed and thousands more wounded.
Egypt had been a part of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years before the end of World War I, when the Turkish state was broken apart after the Allied victory. Egypt’s independence under a monarch was enacted in 1922, and a military coup in 1953 established a Republic which abolished the monarchy, but effectively Egypt became a dictatorship headed by a military strongman. Egypt has had only four heads of state in the sixty years before Morsi, including Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak, who dominated half that period.
A chart set for 11:30 PM GMT on June 18, 1953, when the Republic was announced in Cairo, can be used to analyze Egypt’s current dilemma. What stands out immediately is a Cardinal T-Square comprised of a Uranus/Mercury conjunction at 17 and 20 Cancer (straddling the IC), opposing Chiron at 19 Capricorn (on the MC), with the fulcrum found in a tight pairing of Saturn and Neptune at 20 and 21 Libra (broadly conjunct the 29 Libra Descendant). The angularity of this pattern reinforces its importance, and the Saturn/Neptune conjunction is pivotal in more ways than one, defining the type of government the nation is drawn to.
Saturn is governmental structure, but also rigidity and staying power. Neptune dissolves, inverts, permeates and pervades, weakening and eroding. Probably the best example of what is possible on a positive level when Saturn and Neptune come together is the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, with boundary-ruling Saturn representing the Wall itself, and Neptune the process of its dismantling. This union occurs only every 35 years, and just four days after the Wall fell, Saturn and Neptune conjoined for their third and final time in that cycle.
But for Egypt, the natal Saturn/Neptune conjunction has shown the pervasiveness of government authority, and the longevity of the regimes that have guided the country in the 60 years since the coup. Its placement in the natal Sixth House inclines Egypt to rule by military authority, and the square from natal Uranus anticipates that coups and revolutions may be the norm. There is also an implicit potential here to mix Church and State, for fundamentalist (Neptune) conservative (Saturn) elements to dominate the society, a capacity which military rule has kept in abeyance for decades, but which reared its ugly head with the Islamo-fascist tendencies of the Morsi administration.
The Uranus/Mercury combination speaks of a strong urge for freedom (Uranus) of speech (Mercury), but with Saturn in exact square to that Mercury, governmental repression ruled the day, clamping down hard on journalists and any form of dissent. However, Uranus here also shows the ultimate key to that free speech–technology. Particularly in the initial stages of the original 2011 revolution, it was the internet’s social networking sites which brought the demonstrators together, allowing them to plan and coordinate, and keep tabs on developments in the moment. This also allowed them to communicate with the outside world, which watched events unfold in real time–this revolution was definitely televised!
Chiron completing the T-Square has several possible manifestations in the national psyche. To date, there seems to be an accent on the woundedness Chiron can bring, but potentially healing is also offered. There is a tendency for the government (Saturn) to act in maverick or unpredictable ways with Chiron so prominent (it also exactly conjoins the MC from the Tenth House, the natural seat of authority and power). Chiron’s ability to bring healing and reconciliation has been notably absent, with its darker or shadow side more prominent thus far, but this may turn on a dime, due to another layer of astrological information, that offered by galactic points.
Galactic points are deep space anomalies such as Black Holes, Quasars, Pulsar and Masers. In Egypt’s case, it is Black Holes that dominate the nativity, remnants of collapsed stars whose gravitational force is so great, not even light can escape them. Black Holes represent the volte-face, the sudden, swift, unexpected and total reversal of the status quo reality, where events radically alter in the twinkling of an eye. They are points of energy attraction and energy drain, accumulating vast reserves which may not be easy to tap, but which may spontaneously erupt into new forms without warning.
With Chiron exactly on a Black Hole, its healing potential has been bottled up within the confines of the anomaly’s gravitational field, but may suddenly be released, flipping the circumstances 180 degrees and radically altering the ways Chiron has manifested for Egypt in the past. Adding to the complexity is a second Black Hole at 22 Libra, just ahead of the Saturn/Neptune conjunction, and exerting its gravitational pull on both. This creates a government which is extremely controlling in nature, attempting to grasp hold of every aspect of its citizenry’s lives, but also subject to sudden reversal or alteration. This can be seen in the unexpected assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981, and both Mubarak’s and Morsi’s sudden fall, all of which precipitated constitutional and governmental crises. Ultimately any administration Egypt forms is unstable, subject to the whim of the Black Hole, and the country gravitates to a strong man leader as the personification of the Black Hole’s insatiable appetite for power.
An astrologer working with only traditional points might be hard-pressed to determine exactly why Egypt has been in such turmoil for so long recently. True, there was a total solar eclipse at 13 Capricorn, broadly opposing the nation’s 17 Cancer Uranus (ruling revolution) just weeks before the initial protests in January 2011, an event which energized much of the Arab Spring nations, and the prior lunar eclipse at 29 Gemini in late December 2010 conjoined Egypt’s Sun at 27 Gemini. But for the traditionalist, there has been a distressing dearth of hard aspects by transit from the major movers and shakers of the cosmos as Egypt careened from crisis to crisis.
Not so if we look a bit further afield. Dominating the period has been an ongoing transit of TNO (Trans Neptunian Object) Rhadamanthus, crisscrossing the nation’s Saturn/Neptune conjunction. An object from the Kuiper Belt in the far-flung reaches of the solar system beyond Pluto, Rhadamanthus has an orbital period of 245 years, and spends more than two years scouring each degree of the zodiac with its particular brand of scrutiny. Rhadamanthus first entered the degree of Egypt’s Saturn in late November 2010, less than three months before Mubarak’s fall, and will not exit Neptune’s degree until early September 2013.
The good news is that this period of testing and trial is coming to a close. The bad news is that the Uranus/Pluto square, which has been wreaking havoc with governments worldwide, is only just beginning to spit on its hands and get going with Egypt’s T-Square. This is infinitely more violent than Rhadamanthus’ energies, which are more focused on trial and error, going over past mistakes and applying both penalties and remedies, and could well indicate the emergence of a civil war in the next two to six years, as the Uranus/Pluto aspects become exact.
Rhadamanthus is named for a classic Greek mythological figure, a kingly son of Zeus and Europa who was so noted and respected for his exemplary dispensation of law and justice that he was made a judge of the dead in Hades. Harsh but fair, scrupulously honest but exacting, Rhadamanthus was impartial, but totally impassive, unmoved by pleas or excuses, taking no guff from anyone, but meting out justice firmly as he thought fit.
Metaphorically, whenever we encounter a figure that is half mortal, half divine, we know that he is straddling two worlds—the idealized, perfected state of divinity, and the harsh, tactile reality of human existence. Rhadamanthus sees and understands both worlds. His quest is to take the haphazard, fragmented, flawed reality and bring it into alignment with what is pure, righteous, moral and just, whatever that takes. In myth, Rhadamanthus’ judgments were final, his remedies immediate; but in reality, it may take many attempts to fix what’s broken, restore order and justice, enact perfection in the midst of disorder.
In addition to the protracted conjunction with Egypt’s Saturn/Neptune, Rhadamanthine energies were also activated by a solar eclipse at 9 Cancer in July 2011, which fell on the country’s natal Rhadamanthus at 8 Cancer, from where it conjoins Mars at 3 Cancer, an invitation to work out differences through conflict and bloody justice, an unfortunate celestial signature of “might makes right.” Rhadamanthus’ prolonged sojourn on the planets denoting Egypt’s military government and the fundamentalist Islamic opposition has revealed both the ways in which they clash, and their symbiotic relationship with each other, stoking distrust and fear which energizes the supporters of each. Saturn/Neptune also hints strongly of a shadow government, one where the true power and authority resides elsewhere than formally acknowledged. Rhadamanthus’ basic mission in this transit conjunction is to expose the prior wrong-doing, air grievances and dispense justice. Its primary inquiry is, “does this form of government work for the people? Is it just and equitable? Whom does it serve, and to what end?” And finally, “what redress can be had, what is the judgment of the people and the balm for their ills?”
A second crucial factor in Egypt’s current temperament is another TNO, Eris. Named for the Greek goddess of discord and strife, Eris’ discovery created a controversy in 2006, when her size caused astronomers to revisit the definition of the word “planet,” a reclassification which ultimately led to Pluto’s demotion to “minor planet” status. With an orbital period of 560 years, more than twice Rhadamanthus’, she is even more tenacious in her inspection of whatever zodiacal sector she happens to be housed in, and has been opposing Egypt’s Saturn/Neptune conjunction since June 2001.
Eris’ energy is one of discontent, fractious, quarrelsome squabbling, and disorder tending toward chaos. Easily provoked, she is resentful, especially of perceived slights, and favors outcasts and those marginalized by society, of whom there have been no lack in modern Egypt. After sporadic but frequent hits to Egypt’s Saturn, by March 2005 Eris had devoted herself exclusively to the 20th and 21st degrees of Aries, applying increasing pressure to Saturn/Neptune and ramping up the discontent in the country exponentially. She continued her relentless opposition, which encourages awareness of the current conditions and a sense that things have come to a head, a crucial turning point now being reached, until July 2009, when she began to move tentatively forward with brief excursions to 22 Aries, still well within orb of the natal conjunction. Eris will not finish with her exact opposition to Egypt’s Neptune until February 2014, affording more than a dozen years of bringing to the fore discontent with the nation’s governmental structures and exposing their inherent weaknesses.
Natally, Eris has a tense relationship with Rhadamanthus in Egypt’s nativity. At 8 Aries, Eris exactly squares Rhadamanthus, inclining those in the population who are marginalized and denigrated to focus their righteous discontent on just and impartial solutions, which may require harsh punishments or penalties for wrongdoers. Eris is accompanied by TNO Typhon at 12 Aries, named for the Greek Titan who was known as the fiercest of monsters, a storm god of incredible destruction (and from whom we derive our word “typhoon”).
Astrologically, Typhon often appears when we are “weathering the storm,” when our lives are spinning out of control and descending into chaos. This combination considerably ramps up Eris’ ability to sow discord and unrest, with possibly dire ramifications for civil strife. Transit Uranus came to station retrograde exactly conjoined Eris (and exactly squared Rhadamanthus) in July 2012, and now has come to station exactly on Typhon in July 2013, encouraging the explosive reactions and situations that have developed since.
The Morsi administration walked right into this maelstrom, ironically, due in large part to that suspicious week’s delay before the results of the runoff election in June 2012 were announced. Not inaugurated until 30 June 2012, Morsi’s administration has a Sun at 9 Cancer, directly in the path of Egypt’s natal Eris/Rhadamanthus square, and hit very sharply by the transit Uranus/Pluto square, at that time forming an exact T-Square from 8 Aries and Capricorn.
Born of revolution, the administration collapsed under the same pressures, succumbing just a year later on July 3 as the transit Sun, fresh from its solar return, moved to 11 Cancer for Morsi’s deposition, once again taking direct fire from Uranus and Pluto, now at 12 Aries and 10 Capricorn.
Natally Morsi was susceptible to many of the pressures affecting Egypt. Born just two years before modern Egypt, on 20 August 1951, Morsi sports the same conjunction of Eris and Typhon, at 7 and 10 Aries, to which he adds Jupiter, at 13 Aries. This identifies his politics as reflective of Eris’ focus on discontent and disenfranchisement, welded to Typhon’s potential for stirring things up in a big way, leaving havoc in its wake.
Natal Uranus at 12 Cancer squares natal Jupiter, indicating a radical, revolutionary philosophy, and conjoined the Sun both of his administration and his deposition, which occurred just as transit Uranus came to station exactly squared its natal degree. At his ouster, transit Neptune at 5 Pisces, representing the fanaticism of the constituency he led, had come to exactly square his natal asteroid Achilles at 5 Gemini, exposing his inherent vulnerabilities and the weakness of his position (all Achilles motifs, as in the phrase “Achilles heel”, a weak spot which promotes undoing). This point was also opposed by the lunar eclipse at 4 Sagittarius the month before, and was further receiving an inconjunct from Saturn at its station degree of 4 Scorpio when Morsi fell.
Whither Egypt? As noted above, both Uranus and Pluto will come to exactly oppose and square its natal Saturn/Neptune conjunction over the next few years, though thankfully they will do so separately, no longer locked in their volatile square. As such, we may see another period of revolution and turmoil for Egypt, as Uranus makes its contact, followed by Pluto’s ability to bring rebirth and regeneration, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the old power and politics. But it is likely to be a longer road yet before Egypt reaches its goal of a truly open, democratic society.