The crisis-packed period I’ve been calling the Cardinal Cross is five years old. This is the rare, world-altering series of transits whose longest arm is the 90-degree angle (cross aspect) between Uranus and Pluto, in cardinal signs (leadership). It’s a fractious rendezvous between the planet of revolution and the planet of breakdown/renewal. And it’s got Uncle Sam’s name on it.
The USA has been in an identity crisis for several years now, symbolized by the T-square between the planets in the sky and the hotspots in its own chart. At their fourth exactitude, Halloween 2013, Uranus and Pluto are at 9½ Aries and Capricorn respectively: precisely at the midpoint of the USA’s Cancer Sun and Jupiter (1). In an individual’s chart, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a nervous breakdown with transits like these.
But the challenge being faced here is about more than simply falling apart. It’s a redefinition of the life purpose.
In any birth chart, the life purpose is represented by the Sun. It is our reason for being born. Any planet that conjoins the Sun strengthens, complicates and modifies this purpose (2). Because the US Sun is in Cancer, the nation’s karma is bound up with protection, nourishment and shelter. The transits that have been pummeling this chart since 2008 have been trying to wrench Americans into a deeper understanding of what it means to care for those in need.
Outer planet transits get us to understand an archetype by exposing its dysfunction. In the case of Cancer, at issue are those institutions charged with providing succor to the vulnerable. Any corruption in this area must be revealed in order to be set right.
Pluto’s five-year-long opposition to the US Cancer cluster has been merciless in its exposure of the neglect, malfeasance and fraud that have been perpetrated, society-wide, in the name of protection. Scandals have abounded about supervisory agencies that failed to protect the taxpayers who funded them, such as those that failed to rein in the mortgage industry from evicting homeowners, or those that failed to oversee corporations which then went ahead and befouled the environment, as BP did in the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps the most visceral blow in this litany of failures to protect is Congress’ inability to pass sensible gun laws, in order to keep the nation’s children safe, at the very least, at school.
When an astrological archetype is not channeled with awareness, it gets pumped into distorted forms. These constitute its shadow. We see Cancer’s shadow in the strident insistence upon self-protection in American society that is disingenuous at best, homicidal at worst (e.g. stand-your-ground laws). We see reactive self-protection behind the hostility towards immigrants (the darker-skinned variety), whether migrant laborers or Miss America pageant winners. We see the public’s desire for protection being exploited; for example, by whatever government agency it was that coined the phrase “Homeland Security”—a wry cosmic pun on the sign Cancer.
Shadow Cancer (family) is notorious for displaying an irrational antipathy towards those it considers outsiders (non-familial or unfamiliar). This tendency has been cannily taken advantage of by Washington, which has been abrogating some of the country’s most essential values when it comes to those it labels “terrorists” (3). Since Pluto’s transit over the US ascendant in 2001, the American public has gone along with policies long held as definitively uncivilized and indecent; i.e. un-American, such as extrajudicial assassination and torture. It is noteworthy that the politicians and pundits who support such policies tend to justify their stand by invoking patriotism, a related Cancerian concept.
The outsider-as-enemy rationale suffered an abrupt tweak this past spring, at the third Uranus-Pluto exactitude, when the NSA’s domestic surveillance program was revealed. Suddenly it became clear that the government and its inscrutable corporate contractors (major Pluto symbolism here) had been spying on insiders, too. Not just foreigners, but US citizens, unsuspected of any crime, were fair game.
This constituted a new level of distortion: here was a flouting of those rights that were devised by the Constitution-framers as inviolable protections. The public now realized it might need protection from its putative protectors. The Cancer archetype had been turned inside out.
Past the Sell-By Date
We can see in these developments a breakdown—not of Cancer, but of corrupted Cancer. It is part of an organic process, as inevitable as a piece of fruit rotting after its sell-by date. The certitudes of protection in the American group mind are experiencing decay. Along with them, patriotic conventions are wearing thin, and trust—another Cancer concept—in the government is diminishing. Gone is the uncritical perspective that earlier generations of Americans grew up with, with its expectation that the president would play the part of the good parent, and Congress the reliable uncles, for the benefit and protection of a childlike public.
This departure, painful as it is to many, is as it should be. The Cancer archetype needs to be renewed, or it will be stymied in arrested development. A shift must come about, sooner or later, for every Cancerian entity. In order to empower itself, Cancer must go through a learning curve about dependence, about vulnerability and about the nature of true support. This learning curve will crescendo next year in the Grand Cross that will peak the US chart, which we will cover in this column.
Even at their most toxic, the expressions we are seeing of benighted Cancer are part of a moving, breathing process, designed to reintroduce Americans to our collective potential. They give astrologically inclined Americans, in particular, a chance to take a deeper look at the beautiful features of their country’s chart. They allow us to imagine the astounding visions that must have motivated those 18th-century idealists who decided to create something with this magnificent an astrological blueprint.
By default, these revelations should provoke us to reach far more deeply into the Cancerian archetype that is so deficient in its present expressions. They can inspire us to tap into the sextile, for example, between the US Mercury in Cancer and winsome Neptune, which, at its highest, confers genuine empathy with the victims of persecution and disaster abroad (9th house). They can give us a chance to reconnect with our buoyant Jupiter and Sagittarius ascendant, that have called out to so many immigrants over the centuries, offering to shelter them and take them in, from the highest impulses of Cancer. They can lead us to consider what that much-abused concept, patriotism, could truly mean.
(2) Jupiter (expansion) is seven degrees away from the USA’s Sun, signifying a country whose whole raison d’être has to do with size (discussed in April’s and July’s columns). Venus and Mercury are also in Cancer in this chart, but it is with Jupiter that the Sun most closely conjoins. I interpret the US chart in detail in Soul-Sick Nation.
(3) Ours is not the only government that deploys this mot de guerre capriciously, to justify the harassment, incarceration and worse of individuals and groups that it sees as impeding its interests. When Pluto was stationary at the Full Moon in September, a ship carrying Greenpeace activists protesting oil drilling in Arctic waters was towed by the Russian coast guard. The activists could face terrorism or piracy charges.