Dear Fellow Traveler:
How does it feel not to have crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico?
As of the current moment, the blown out Deepwater Horizon well is still capped “like a soda bottle,” in the words of The New York Times. This is part of a 48-hour integrity test to check whether oil will leak out underground or elsewhere in the system once it was sealed and therefore put under pressure. For the first time in 86 days, after many failed and dubiously sincere attempts, the flow of oil was finally stopped Thursday afternoon at 2:25 pm local time. BP’s well is the deepest in history, situated a mile under the Gulf and dug to a depth of more than 35,000 feet. A collaboration of BP, Transocean, Mitsubishi and Halliburton, it was completed in September 2009.
On the night of April 20, disaster struck when the pressure coming from inside the well exceeded the pressure from above the well, causing an explosion and fire and resulting in the oil gusher coming from the wreckage. Eleven people were killed. Two days later the massive rig sank, taking with it 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Up to 100,000 barrels a day of oil have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico every day since. Added to this are millions of gallons of the toxic dispersant Corexit, which has been turning the oil into an underwater haze contaminating vast areas of the Gulf of Mexico.
Everyone is wondering the same thing: why couldn’t they have capped the well sooner? To my mind, the answer to that comes in two parts: one is it’s not easy to work with robots in the midst of tangled metal and and crude oil a mile under the ocean, and two, there is a lot we don’t know. The integrity test — putting the whole well system under the extreme pressure caused by capping the well — reveals how much we don’t know about what is going on, a detail we should always remember. Emails, blogs and some news reports circulating on the Internet have been describing things like the possibility of fractures in the rock floor of the Gulf of Mexico, a massive methane bubble near the surface of the well and various other worst-case scenarios. BP’s incompetence and silence lends credibility to these possibilities, and the integrity test confirms that company and government officials may have similar concerns.
News reports say that pressure inside the well system is being checked every six hours. If the pressure remains high, they know that the cap, the destroyed blowout preventer and the underground system are holding up. If the pressure drops, they know they have a leak somewhere in the system. This is a temporary measure until two relief wells designed to intercept the flow of oil beneath the ocean floor are complete, which we’re being told will happen in August.
Here is how the Times summed up the situation in this morning’s editions:
The oil stopped flowing from the well around 2:25 p.m. Thursday when the last of several valves was closed on a cap that the company succeeded in installing at the top of the well last week, Mr. Wells said. Earlier in the week, Mr. Wells said that the longer the test continued, the better, because it would indicate that the pressure inside the well was holding and that the well bore was intact.The announcement that the geyser of oil streaming from the well had been stopped came after a series of failed attempts to cap or contain the runaway well that had tested the nation’s patience. Mr. Wells emphasized that pressure tests were being conducted to determine the status of the well, which is now sealed like a soda bottle. BP and the government could decide to allow the oil to flow again and try to collect all of it; they could allow the oil to flow and, if tests show the well can withstand the pressure from the cap, close the well during hurricanes; or they could leave the well closed permanently.
In a bizarre way, we are watching technological history being made. Several months ago I proposed that we might be going through the anti-Sixties this summer. I said that because we are experiencing a conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus 180 degrees from one that occurred during the illustrious summer of 1969. That conjunction was in very early Libra. Many things seem to have made a big 180 since that time. The current conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus is happening in very early Aries, so both have reached their opposition point from the summer of 1969 simultaneously. The conjunction is, of course, in opposition to the Aries Point, suggesting monumental, world-changing events. The current aspect is complicated by an opposition to Saturn and a square to Pluto, suggesting the intensity, stress and volatility of the situation. This is the cardinal T-square that we will be living with into 2012, representing the wild, unpredictable changes in society that we will be living through.
The 41st anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the Moon is July 20. During that summer we also witnessed the Woodstock festival in Bethel, New York, the Manson murders and numerous other one-of-a-kind events.
During both summers, humanity has reached a technological frontier: in 1969 the world anxiously watched those shaky live television images from the Moon as mankind demonstrated its ingenious conquering spirit, accomplished through a combination of corporate and government collaboration. This was one of technology’s most brilliant moments, so far unsurpassed. In the summer of 2010 we are watching these odd remote television images from the bottom of the ocean as we demonstrate how quickly things can run out of control. Most people would agree that the Deepwater Horizon spill is one of the most shameful blights in the history of technology, reminding us of our frailty and shaking our faith in both engineering and corporate ethics.
The well was capped just shy of 90 days from when it first blew out on the first day that the Sun was in the sign Taurus. This is approximately a square: the Sun is currently a few degrees from the beginning of Leo. I was expecting some kind of turning point as that happened. The development is also synchronous with a total eclipse of the Sun, which occurred Sunday. Notably, the eclipse was conjunct the Cancer Moon of the blowout chart. That chart is published in my article Tales from Topographic Oceans.
Let’s take a look at the horoscope for the capping of the well and see if it tells us anything. To my eye, it’s nearly as strange as the chart for the blowout itself, which seems curiously understated for such an event of global magnitude. I only have time to do a brief reading of this chart this morning, but let’s look at the basics. In an event chart, it is a good idea to start with the ascendant and the Moon.
Scorpio is rising, putting emphasis on Mars and Pluto (the rulers of Scorpio). Both of those planets are directly in the mix of this chart. Mars is about to take a conjunction from the Moon, and Pluto is taking a square from Jupiter (part of the cardinal T-square). There is an asteroid in the ascendant — Pallas Athene, in the 12th house of secrets and in Scorpio, the sign of mysteries. The suggestion here is that there are many legal, government and corporate secrets involved in this situation. With the Part of Fortune conjunct Pluto exactly aspecting Pallas Athene, we cannot ignore the role of money in the bungled response to the disaster, or the event itself.
The Moon is conjunct another asteroid: Vesta in Virgo. This suggests the environmental sacrifice that has happened as a result of this event, which was blatantly public in the 11th house. The Moon is making numerous aspects, so we know this situation is unfolding. We’re kind of at the point where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have arrived on the lunar surface and now we’re waiting to see if they’ll be able to come home.
One interesting design in this chart is the Sun’s position. As mentioned, it’s conjunct the Moon in the blowout chart. It’s also square Eris and conjunct Varuna, that is, it’s aspecting a significant outer planet event that I have not had a chance to mention here but that I wrote about briefly over the weekend. Eris is in red at 22+ Aries. Varuna is not shown in this chart, but it’s very close to where we see the Sun. My key concept for Varuna, the ancient creator god and Lord of Waters, is “the great equalizer.”
Perhaps the most interesting and one of the more obvious features in this chart is the position of Mercury. That’s the green object on the top of the chart, in Leo. Mercury is positioned just to the right of the MC or midheaven, giving the feeling of lurking just out of sight, in the 9th house. For all its trickster-ish stuff, Mercury is one of the most honest planets, and it’s another factor warning us how much is going on behind the scenes. Mercury is the ruler of Virgo — where we have many planets in this chart — and of Gemini, which rules the 8th house of business deals, proprietary trade secrets, control and the values of corporations and banks.
Everything we’ve witnessed this summer is about money. If we only knew the real story — and someday we will.
Yours & truly,
Fleecing the Rubes | Political Waves
Sometimes it seems there’s nothing to say about our political system that I haven’t said already. Politics both molds and is molded by our social structure, confirming the notion that politics is personal and proving that we can’t escape our choices, however much we’d like to. Remember, too, that no choice IS a choice for the status quo. We long for someone to correct our social and political ills and bring us back to sanity, so we can continue living our lives in the comfortable humdrum and perpetual competition that define us. We thought that someone might be Obama, but he’s proven to be a president in a systemic straightjacket. We need someone whose only vulnerability is Kryptonite.
The American system of democracy, despite its warts, is still head and shoulders above other forms of governance, thanks to the vision of our founders. When Ben Franklin said, “It’s a Republic, if we can keep it,” he wasn’t just whistling Yankee Doodle. No ideology — whether socialism, communism, or democracy — has ever sustained itself without continual adjustment and reinvention. To America’s credit, her diverse melting pot of immigrants kept intellectual variables alive and active in the political conversation. The progressive base behind the union and civil rights movements that catapulted FDR into a New Deal could not have existed without the socialists and communists. Along with the industrial growth of World War II, progressivism gave us several decades of stability and prosperity never seen before in America.
The conservatives have been fighting that vision of the nation ever since. In one corrupt decade, they traded an unregulated free market for any last bits of humanism they might have embraced. Taking from the rich to distribute to the middle-class and poor is anathema to conservatives, who happily pour billions of welfare dollars into the pockets of corporations while the ‘great unwashed’ scramble to keep a roof over their heads. Chaos works in their favor. Cheap labor suits their purpose.
It seems as though the movers and shakers planned this, doesn’t it? Essentially, they did. I don’t think they were insightful enough to realize how dangerous the game would become; the obsession for wealth seldom takes the long view. As Naomi Klein points out in her book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, the successful exploitation of chaos in order to increase wealth and power for a few has produced a pattern of manufactured disasters, such as war and economic upheaval. Klein defines disaster capitalism as “the rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies still reeling from shock.” She contends that although the pieces required to maximize this activity took years to design, it wasn’t until the Twin Towers fell that the re-engineering began in earnest.
And after that? According to Klein’s webpage:
At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts…. New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks — wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters — to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy.
When is enough enough? When do the overload of our adrenal system and wounds to our way of life become unbearable? In short, we’ve been punked. The President attempts liberal reforms that are unable to survive partisan review, while the false meme that he is ‘hostile’ to the business community spreads like wildfire. Free-market capitalism — as so brilliantly defined by Annie Leonard’s short film, The Story Of Stuff — is like a bloated python swallowing its own tail. What will they sell us when they tap out the planet’s resources? Water, sun, air? Certainly they will if we let them.
Think of the shock doctrine when you hear that BP still hasn’t fixed its gusher almost 3 months into the disaster and still won’t allow reporters to take pictures of the fouled beaches, or that the energy industry has spent almost 3 BILLION dollars in lobbying money over the last decade. Think of it when you read that the nation’s debt is ‘cancerous,’ and notice that the first projection of things to be sacrificed are Social Security and Medicare. A commission to study this process of belt-tightening is called the Catfood Commission by progressives, who remember what hungry elders have resorted to eating in the past. Think of Naomi Klein when you hear that the new zeitgeist is “tough love” for the nation’s millions of unemployed, while Wall Street CEOs and financial gurus still receive blasphemous salaries and bonuses.
When I was a kid, the State Fair was the epitome of grand exposition. As much as I enjoyed the exhibits and entertainments, it was the carnival games that mesmerized me. The carneys hawked their prizes and expertly worked the public who strolled by their booths. When I stayed the week with friends who had daily passes, my father told me I wasn’t to spend on games until he got there on the weekend. To my dismay, when Dad arrived, he walked right past the dime pitch with its sparkly pyramid of goldfish-filled glass. He bypassed the hoop toss, steered clear of the dart game, and looked askance at fools pitching baseballs at lead-bottomed milk bottles. “Rigged for suckers,” was all he said to my protests.
Eventually we came to the least exciting and least glamorous game, rolling balls down an incline into numbered slots. He studied the angles, hefted the balls and pronounced this “the one you can win.” At ten cents a ticket, I walked away with a four-foot stuffed animal for less than fifty cents. It was all quite simple, according to Dad. The attractions themselves were designed to fleece the rubes. In order to win, you had to properly assess the game.
Today, we are all rubes. The shock doctrine we’ve been exposed to in recent years has us all in a permanent stage of PTSD, looking back with nostalgia at old versions of our life and nervously dodging bullets in this one. We can’t find balance until we understand that the current game is designed to take advantage of our fear, confusion and ignorance. Coming off of decades of radical deregulation, psychological manipulation and corporate hubris, we’re the rubes, clutching our dime and wondering what to play next.
Disaster capitalism, predatory corporatism, plutarchy — that’s the game. You have to wonder what would happen if we stuffed our money back in our pockets and took it elsewhere; ultimately, that might prove the most effective revolution of all, but we are too confused about the essential nature of money and debt to act. So long as profit and loss, business and expansion, are considered more important than the principles of democracy, we’re all rubes in a giant scam that has no hope of enduring. We might remember that parasites have been known to consume their host.
Politically, we’re walking the midway, listening to the pitchmen hawk their wares. Those pitching austerity want it for us, not for themselves. Those preaching war are opportunists who value profit over life. Those obstructing progress are protecting their personal fortune and power base. The longer we play a rigged and weighted game of ideological politics, the longer and louder the carneys will pitch it, keeping the crowd mesmerized. The only way to win a rigged game is to understand the con and refuse the sucker’s bet.
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, July 16, 2010, #824 – BY ERIC FRANCIS
What would it take to transition into being absolutely real in your relationships? By that, I mean no pretenses, no public relations ploys, no glossed-over truth, no white lies and no excuses. You would start maintaining this with yourself and then take these guidelines into your conversations with your intimate partner(s). I would also include what you say to your friends with whom you are in ‘non-intimate’ relationships where you discuss your intimate relationships, and hold yourself to a standard of actual authenticity. Here is why I say this now. Saturn is about to enter your relationship house, Libra. One way or another you’re going to be held to a standard of uncompromised integrity. If you take this to heart and do it voluntarily, you will find it easier and much more useful.
Your ideas about sex are as important as the physical aspect of eroticism. It would help to remember that judgments aren’t really ideas. To make the distinction easy, let’s say that a judgment is not fun, and an idea is fun. So play with, explore and get to know your ideas. See who will play along, and by that, I mean see who will go daring places with you. Let yourself go past the place where you fear the judgment of others, then beyond what you would usually consider right or wrong. Some of the most adventurous pleasure you can have is by pushing and stretching your concepts and thresholds about what you are ‘supposed to feel’ and letting yourself feel exactly what you do. You’ll know when to bring your body into the story, alone or with someone else.
You are having one opportunity after the next to confront your insecurities. Some of them are rather old, dating back to the neurotic tendencies of your family. Plenty of them relate back to what it was supposed to mean that someone was a boy and someone was a girl; these simple-enough biological facts are the cause of much stress, anxiety and phobias. As you integrate your male and female sides, you get to release these fears and do something more creative with your energy. The transition from being caught in an endless web of anxiety and experimenting with pleasure and creativity does not happen automatically; often we must move from one zone into the other, taking a series of small, conscious steps. Remember who turned you against yourself, and that they are no longer here to enforce the rules. You no longer need to do their bidding.
Where are you now? How is your life different than it was one month ago? I don’t mean this rhetorically — I mean it in the temporal sense. I suggest you get out a date book or calendar and go back one month from right now and notice where you were, what you were doing and who you were with. What has changed? In what ways have you found direction? Have you released certain persistent emotional issues that seemed like they would never give you a break? And, in the odd chance that you are facing new challenges, I would ask: is there a way you can interpret those developments so that you see them as points of growth, awareness and maturity? On our planet, that is the name of the game.
What you’ve learned about money the past couple of years could fill a book. Now you get to take that information, craft it into a vision and aim for something extraordinary. You’re capable of much greater achievements than you’ve ever dreamed of; all you need to do is get out of your own way. You’re about to shed a thick layer of useless ideas, most of them installed by your parents, which have kept you in a mental and emotional box. Are you ready for some freedom? Are you ready to let go of our society’s prevailing ideas about finances, all of which are based on competition and limits rather than on truly exploring your potential? The way you get there is not with wishes; it’s by consciously allowing your true nature to come out. Visioning is essential to this process. Imagine what you want and don’t say or do anything to discourage yourself.
It’s always a relief when Saturn leaves one’s birth sign. This is particularly true for you, because Saturn in Virgo has been one of the most daunting phases in recent history. Nearly everyone around you has had their deepest fears stirred up, while you have faced a long series of challenges, one after the next. I trust that during this time, you’ve figured out who you are and what is important to you. The key now is remembering not to forget. Humans so often forget what we learn. The knowledge you’ve acquired has been both hard won and is precious to your wellbeing. I suggest you take some time and remember what you’ve been through. Admit that once you determine something is false, it is no longer true and therefore you are no longer subject to it. Tested, time-honored truths are known as values, and these you must honor every day.
Saturn is about to enter your sign. That is another way of saying that it leaves your solar 12th house. While you haven’t exactly been living inside of a cave, you may begin to notice the many ways in which you’ve been contained, isolated and silently craving freedom you suspended any expectation of actually finding. Your particular 12th house is a world where it’s continually necessary to work out small fears, and I trust you’ve noticed how few of them actually have any relevance at all. Freedom is both the freedom from fear and the freedom to make choices. Saturn’s opposition to Uranus says that you’re likely to encounter many suddenly presented opportunities, potential experiences and new social situations. Explore them consciously and remember that unless you’re choosing between options, you’re not really choosing.
Your life is an example of how one’s outer relationships reflect the relationship you have with yourself. Over the past few weeks you’ve had many hints, clues and illustrations how this is true. You have seen what is possible when you are scrupulously honest with yourself: the bonds that others seem to place on you suddenly dissolve. The reason they do is because others cannot really place bonds on you; that’s something that only you can do to yourself. Your inner relationship is now at the stage where you may, if you want, go beyond self-bondage and into a place where everything you do is in harmony with who you are. As you develop this method of living, you’ll figure out that you would choose to do many things differently — and I would remind you the choice is still open.
You still have a few details to work out before you move onto expressing your highest vision. Yes, you’ve waited a while, and patience is not your strongest suit. Give yourself through Sept. 22 to take whatever steps you notice are necessary before you step into your new role. You may be frustrated at times, you may get antsy and you may feel that opportunities are passing you by. Anything that is truly yours will come back to you; of this you can be sure. When it does, you will feel more confident for knowing that the details are covered and that you have worked out any lingering doubts. Meanwhile, I suggest you invest some energy refining the specifics of what you want to accomplish. You seem to be aiming for something that is authentically unique. Remember that you will do it in a way that is absolutely personally you.
Remember that you cannot really relate to a group; you can only relate to people one-on-one. Try as we may to typecast ourselves, humans resist categorization, we often resent sacrificing our identity to cliques and organizations, and we want to be honored as individuals. Therefore, live as an individual. Express who you are from the inside out. Make eye contact with people. Remember their names. If you have goals, build supportive relationships that are based on clarity and an honest exchange of energy. You might call these things living in the spirit of cosmic law. You are becoming the vehicle through which fairness expresses itself. You are evidence that people with influence can see many sides to a situation. You are proof that trust is fairly invested. Remember these things, and live truly, because people are looking up to you.
You know you’re at that point where you must reconcile the two versions of who you are. That will extend into relating to others not as half a self (with the other half concealed) but rather as a whole being. You’re doing this for yourself, not for anyone else. For years you have been working out in theory the ways in which you want to do this, and have fussed endlessly over whether you’re ready. Your moment is about moving from theory to action. It’s easier now than it’s likely to be for a long time, because you can see the issues clearly. As you move into the new territory of your life, you don’t want to bring along with you any of the old splits and schisms that have held you back in the past. Those inner divisions will have more influence now, as will your choice to resolve them and live from your unified inner core rather than from some appearance. The catch is, you may not think that these particular opposites can be reconciled — but whatever you may believe, you won’t know until you try.
You are no longer bound by your old ways of doing things, or by the emotional patterns that held you there. Indeed, every facet of your life is an invitation to do things differently. This mainly involves daring to go past the emotional limitations that held you back; that urged caution; that had you sidestepping challenges; that made you believe that you always needed a path of retreat. It is challenging for a Pisces to learn how to live boldly and not feel like you’re going to offend the whole world. Just remind yourself that somewhere, someone is offended by everything and therefore it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you take your life into your hands consciously, and live each day to create the life you want. Get used to feeling some mixture of entitlement and wide-open willingness. Get used to saying yes when you mean it. And remember: you are the only person who can give yourself permission to truly live.