Saigon evacuation, 1975, from the roof of 22 Gia Long St. -- not the U.S. Embassy.

When the United States began the bombing and invasion of Iraq on the last day of winter 2003, Mars and Chiron were about to form a conjunction. At the time, this seemed like an ominous aspect -- and I devoted the March 28, 2003 edition of Planet Waves Weekly to the subject. Here is that article, reprinted in its entirety. - e.f.

WHAT DO the worst disasters of the Vietnam War, the downfall of a hawk president and the resignation of his distinguished, long-time secretary of defense all have in common?

The answer is Mars conjunct Chiron involved in the process.

The Mars-Chiron conjunction happens once every two years. On April 1, on the day of the Aries new moon, we will experience the first such conjunction since Chiron entered Capricorn 16 months ago. It is happening at a time when the United States is plunging toward the most serious on-the-ground battle in numerous generations, what will be preserved in history as the Battle for Baghdad.

When considering astrology from a historical standpoint, or even a personal one, remember that while cycles repeat themselves, they always do it in different ways and in different contexts. As the years progress, conjunctions happen in different signs and thus express themselves different ways. Outer planets are moving, and defining themes of long cycles in history. The galaxy is swirling and nothing is really the same. The one true hope that astrology offers is that an evolutionary process is in motion, for each of us and for all of us. Certain people are going to try to repeat cycles in old ways, and others in new ways. The choice remains open.

In the collective world, the Chiron in Capricorn era (which began in December 2001) has been marked by scandals in church, government and major corporations. We have seen numerous post 9-Eleven crackdowns on civil liberties, the Patriot Act and the proposed Patriot Act II. We've witnessed the conquering of Afghanistan, and the bombing and invasion of Iraq. We've also seen the emergence of vibrant global anti-war and pro-peace movements. While this may look like an even split between the good and the bad, remember that the United States is always bombing someone. Now there is vocal resistance, including from many foreign nations. And there are always ugly events going on down in the corporate bowels, and sick laws being passed by smiling tyrants. Now we're starting to find out about some of them.

Chiron moving through any sign brings what's already there to light. Capricorn, in the collective sense, is the sign of corporations, government and religious institutions. Raising awareness is how most of its effect as an agent of healing is manifested. Chiron's presence makes the impersonal very personal, emphasizing our individual relationship with these institutions, which function as the rough equivalent of our parents in our adult lives. While it may not be clear quite yet, we're in the process of redefining our relationships to the parental institutions that dominate our lives. John Lennon said that we shouldn't blame the institution, we should free our minds instead. But if our minds are bound, they are bound in a relationship, and getting clear about that relationship is what Chiron in Capricorn is about.

Within our private lives, we may also be seeing this theme appear as issues with our parents and partners that have reached an impasse, showdown or point of urgently demanding resolution. These needs may have existed for quite a while but which suddenly 'appear out of nowhere' or flare up due to the addition of Mars.

As it works out, the coming Mars-Chiron conjunction falls the same day as the Aries new moon. Auspicious? Well, some people like their music loud. Some results of this conjunction, which happens once every two years, will show up immediately, and more of them will appear around the time of the next full moon, in Libra on April 16. The coming full moon is vibrating with the feeling of being a significant turning point in both personal and world history. Part of this turning point involves Governor Bush's natal chart, which is getting its rafters rattled on that full moon. And part of it involves what is perhaps the single most important chart presaging the Sept. 11 attacks, which is under transits eerily suggesting that we have not gotten to the bottom of that incident.

But most disturbing is that this astrology coincides with the probable date range of the Battle for Baghdad, words that already ring with infamy.

Taking it Personally

The cover story of Time magazine from Dec. 30, 2002 tells us something about the first year of Chiron in Capricorn: the Persons of the Year were Cynthia Cooper of Worldcom, Coleen Rowley of the FBI, and Sherron Watkins of Enron. All three women are what's known as whistle-blowers: people who decide that the truth is more important than their personal reputation or livelihood. They see something wrong, it affects them as a person, and they take action. Cooper and Watkins blew the whistle on financial scandals within their companies. Rowley is at the center of what's known for sure about the fact that the U.S. government was warned of 9-Eleven scenarios long before Sept. 11, 2001. What the government really knew in advance of Sept. 11 is critical because the events of that day opened the door of everything else that followed, including the war on Iraq.

Consider these women, working their straight jobs and being part of the system and supporting their families working long-term career tracks -- all Capricorn enough themes.

Now add Chiron, raising awareness within the system. "I feel at this point that I have to put my concerns in writing concerning the important topic of the FBI's response to evidence of terrorist activity in the United States prior to September 11th," Rowley wrote in her now famous memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller. "These issues are fundamentally ones of INTEGRITY and go to the heart of the FBI's law enforcement mission and mandate." She said it was of "absolute importance that an unbiased, completely accurate picture emerge of the FBI's current investigative and management strengths and failures."

Rowley, personally embodying the maverick attitude so well demonstrated by all things Chiron, could have been writing a textbook entry on the planet. Integrity (which means integration), objectivity, accuracy, responsibility -- all documented in writing, via her memo -- are at the essence of Chiron's meaning and purpose. Acting as Chiron in Capricorn, she embodied the person who raises awareness within an institution. And then she felt the wrath of Capricorn come back at her. She was called a traitor, compared to a spy, and made an outcast. But the point was made: the FBI knew or should have known. It is now documented in history that the U.S. was warned.

Add Mars to this equation and you get power, speed and a cutting edge. Mars adds drive, desire, and some kind of incident or event. Mars is a personal planet and makes the transit of Chiron very personal.

Of Bullies and Underdogs

Dale O'Brien is a Eugene, Oregon-based astrologer who has studied Chiron in the charts of 2,500 individuals, and has lectured and taught about the new planet since the early 1980s. He offered Planet Waves readers his take on the Mars-Chiron combination.

"A significant issue would be being a bully, or being bullied. Psychologists have done these studies in which the abused tends to become the abuser. So whenever I see Mars-Chiron in any aspect, I look for that as a potential issue."

He likened it to the story of the Karate Kid in which someone who was threatened by bullies takes up a means of acquiring power and discipline and learns how to take care of himself. He takes the martial power of Mars and adds the precision and artistry of Chiron.

"With Mars-Chiron, one does not win by overwhelming force. It is not like Mars-Pluto or Mars-Saturn. It's associated with what would be called guerilla warfare. During the American revolution, the British and the other European soldiers would go out marching in a square. They would stand in a square and shoot at each other in a square, like Saturn. And what happened in the American revolution is that the Americans would stand on the edge of the woods and from behind trees and stand at the British standing in their red coats. And they would say, 'That's not fair'.

"They weren't behaving like human beings in war, they were using their animal instincts." Chiron, as a Centaur, is half-human and half-animal; he is fully connected to his animal side. As such, Chiron and all the Centaurs represent something that is, in a sense, super-human: we're animals. We may speak and play musical instruments and do surgery on one another, but we're animals, too. Is it any wonder that Centaur planets are not especially welcome in the cerebral, Greek-dominated world of astrology?

Under the influence of Mars-Chiron, says O'Brien, "The advantage is often for the underdog. He explained that the U.S. recently dropped numerous pamphlets in Iraq about how to surrender. And then what happened is that the Iraqis read the pamphlets and in an incident last week, came out looking like they were surrendering, and caught the American military off guard. 'Oh, we figured you were either fighting or surrendering'. And now the Americans are saying, 'This is totally unfair, you guys are not fighting fair'. The American position is that they're just supposed to stand there in their underwhelming numbers and their underarmed capacity and get the snot beaten out of them. So that issue is up, big time."

O'Brien said there's a sense that America was bullied by 9-Eleven, taking the mentality, "You hurt us, so we're going to hurt you back. You and I know and the rest of the world outside the United States knows that it wasn't Iraq that did 9-Eleven. But nonetheless, on a raw psyche level, the masculine psyche of the country has been wounded."

He said the aspect could be likened to "Underestimating one's enemy militarily." He encouraged me to dig up the history of the peak years of the Vietnam war as told by Mars-Chiron conjunctions. The three dates that came up were Feb. 13, 1968, Jan. 29, 1972, and July 24, 1973.

There's a LOT of history in those dates. As a point of background, at that point the Vietnam war had become the longest running war in the history of this country, and over 30,000 Americans had died. Lynden B. Johnson, a Democrat, was president, and it was pretty much his war. He had inherited it from Eisenhower and Kennedy, but Kennedy was in the process of withdrawing troops at the time of his death. Under Johnson, the war escalated greatly. But the Americans were bogged down in what was clearly becoming a no-win situation where everyone was losing.

Mars-Chiron Conjunction and the Tet Offensive

The weeks surrounding the Mars-Chiron conjunction of Feb. 13, 1968 (in Aries) saw something called the Tet Offensive. This was a campaign by the North Vietnamese waged during the time of Tet, the New Year, which is normally a time of truce.

Some references below come from a timeline is here.

"Communist plans called for violent, widespread, simultaneous military actions in rural and urban areas throughout the South -- a general offensive. But as always, military action was subordinate to a larger political goal. By focusing attacks on South Vietnamese units and facilities, Hanoi [the Communist capital] sought to undermine the morale and will of Saigon's forces [the southern capital, and purported US ally]. Through a collapse of military resistance, the North Vietnamese hoped to subvert public confidence in the government's ability to provide security, triggering a crescendo of popular protest to halt the fighting and force a political accommodation. In short, they aimed at a general uprising by the South Vietnamese."

The offensive didn't work so well. While those days of January and February 1968 saw some of the most intense combat of the whole 25-year Vietnam experience, the rebellions were put down in a few days. But there was a twist: it was a shocking PR victory for the North Vietnamese. The north lost in military terms, but won in PR terms.

"Americans at home saw a different picture. Dramatic images of the Viet Cong storming the American Embassy in the heart of Saigon and the North Vietnamese Army clinging tenaciously to [the city of] Hue obscured the assertion that the enemy had been defeated. With almost a half-million U.S. troops already in Vietnam, doubts on the conduct of the war prompted a reassessment of American policy and strategy." To say the least.

The Defense Department called for deployment of nearly 60,000 more troops, reservists and former servicemen, which Johnson put into perpetual "government study" mode.

On February 8, 1968, three college students involved in a civil rights protest against a whites-only bowling alley were killed in confrontation with highway patrolmen in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy said that the U.S. could not win the Vietnam War. February 18, 1968. 10,000 in West Berlin demonstrate against the war.

On February 29, 1968, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, one of the great hawks of his day -- comparable to Donald Rumsfeld -- resigned after concluding that the U.S. could not win the Vietnam War.

This was followed by the My Lai incident of March 16, 1968, which involved the infamous Charlie Company raping and massacring women and children in a Vietnamese village while superior officers hovered overhead in helicopters. This incident was later exposed by investigative journalist Seymour Hersch, and became one of the great symbols of the atrocity of the war.

More about this incident is here.

On March 31, 1968. President Johnson announced a virtual halt to all bombing of North Vietnam in a unilateral gesture of peace; discusses Vietnam in a speech for nearly 40 minutes, then announces "I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

But there was a backlash. The year 1968 also brought the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both dedicated to ending the Vietnam War. And then there was the Democratic National Convention of August 1968, where the Chicago 7 protest organizers were charged with inciting riots. Protestors rioted in the face of 12,000 police, 7,500 Army troops and 6,000 National Guardsmen. They were later cleared of most of the charges after a stunning, hilarious fiasco of a federal trial.

Bombing of Cambodia: Tin Soldiers and Nixons Coming

On January 29, 1970, there was a Mars-Chiron conjunction in Aries. This was two full years after the disaster of Tet, and the downfall of McNamara and Johnson over the war. Vietnam had been inherited by President Nixon, who decided to drag it out as long as possible, and expand it into other parts of southeast Asia. Nixon at this time was secretly bombing Cambodia. While the effects of the conjunction did not play themselves out on the world stage until about 14 weeks later, it heralded yet another of the most important turning points in the history of the war and the social history of the era.

In Late April, Nixon got on television and announced that he had been secretly bombing Cambodia, Vietnam's neighbor. (This was the beginning of a campaign of genocide against the Cambodian people that lasted through the 1970s, initiated by the U.S. and continued by the Khmer Rouge, one of the most vicious regimes in world history in terms of the sheer number of people exterminated. This is copiously documented in the video Manufacturing Consent.)

Instantly, the anti-war movement reacted in a national uprising. The protests were so fierce that fully one-third of the campuses in the U.S. were closed before finals, or the administration seriously considered doing so. It was in this week that National Guardsmen shot four by-passers at Kent State University in Ohio, and students were shot at and/or killed at other campuses as well, including Jackson State and the State University of New York at Buffalo. In Buffalo, the campus was shut down by the president and students were sent home without academic penalty.

Mars-Chiron Conjunction of January 1972

After the Mars-Chiron conjunction of early 1972, the North Vietnamese Easter offensive began. According to's timeline, "Total U.S. military strength in South Vietnam was about 95,000, of which only 6,000 were combat troops, and the task of countering the offensive on the ground fell almost exclusively to the South Vietnamese. Attacking on three fronts, the North Vietnamese Army poured across the demilitarized zone and out of Laos to capture Quang Tri, South Vietnam's northernmost province. In the Central Highlands, enemy units moved into Kontum Province."

Hubert Humphrey went on the offensive against Nixon, "saying that it was taking longer for President Nixon to withdraw U.S. troops from Vietnam than it did to defeat Hitler," according to's timeline.

"Humphrey called for an immediate end to the war, declaring: 'Had I been elected, we would now be out of that war'."

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