Castro and Chiron

Dear Friend and Reader:

STUDYING ASTROLOGY, it’s not just that we can afford to go past the cultural rhetoric that surrounds a news event — we have a responsibility to do so. Whether someone is popular or not, or misunderstood or not, astrology’s job is to bring its light of awareness where we need it. Our craft is about seeing past the surface of difficult issues, into their depth and often, their contradictory nature. Astrology is a way of looking inwardly, and out at the world at the same time, reconciling the two.

Turquoise waters of Varadero, on the island of Cuba. Photo by Stephanie Mausset.

Part of that process includes being conscious of something called shadow material — that is, our own hidden pain and conflict that we disown and then project onto the world around us. Shadow material can be individual, it can belong to families, and it can be collective, such as belonging to a country. Sometimes it involves all three levels.

This week as Mercury stationed direct and we saw a total eclipse of the Moon, Fidel Castro resigned after leading Cuba for nearly 50 years. Right away, that translates to one word — Chiron. This is the duration of its orbit around the Sun (50.6 years), so when we have an event that occurs on or close to the half-century anniversary of something, Chiron is making a guest appearance, and potentially taking a starring role. We can be sure that, at the Chiron return of the Cuban Revolution (first pass is exact April 2008) Cuba is in for some big changes. The Chiron return is a process that usually lasts about two years. We didn’t need astrology to know that, but it can help keep us informed about the nature of those changes.

A reader wrote in this week and complained that one of our bloggers described Castro’s departure from office as poignant. Our blogger was right. In a world where everything is changing constantly, Cuba has pretty much stayed Cuba. Note, it is the nature of capitalism to remake everything every three to five years. You know what, people? It is exhausting.

Meanwhile, life expectancy in Cuba is about the same as in the US (better for guys), school classes are smaller, infant mortality is about the same, and rum is a lot cheaper. They got rid of the missiles in 1962.

One of the reasons that Chiron is not so popular among astrologers is because of its tendency to make shadow material more obvious. Castro has stood in the shadow of the United States for his entire duration in office, and he has often played the role of projection screen for things that the United States cannot see about itself, or does not want to see. Anyone who calls Castro a killer (this is suddenly the popular way to describe him) is not looking at Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, East Timor, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Afghanistan or Iraq — to name a few of the wars waged or supported by the United States since Castro’s revolution.

Who exactly did Castro kill, anyway? Why is it that this point is considered true and automatically does not need to be elaborated or footnoted? In the rhetoric of the US media, anyone we don’t like gets the title “brutal dictator.” It helps us feel good about ourselves.

Castro in April 1975. Photo: AFP.

Castro plays an archetypal role in our minds. We recognize him as the great Leonine leader (“Long live the king!”) and we vilify him as an evil dictator. In this particular game, the truth does not matter; only our opinion. Lately, everywhere I look I see a Che Guevara t-shirt. Do people have a clue he was one of Castro’s most trusted men?

Because it is so isolated, Cuba minds its own business perhaps more than any country in the world. Are people who call Castro a brutal killer talking about the enemies of the revolution who were executed in the weeks after he took power? That is what happens when you have an armed revolution. Killing is inherent in the nature of war. We don’t think of Abe Lincoln as a killer, even though the Civil War was the bloodiest in United States history. The Union army killed a lot of southern boys; Abe Lincoln “killed his own people.” The winner wrote history; he’s perhaps our most venerated president.

Meanwhile, the United States is one of a very few nations that still practices the death penalty (Iran and China are among the others), and a significant number of innocent people are sentenced to die. We still have a prison or two on the Cuban island at Guantanamo Bay. (We lease this land from Cuba under an agreement made with the prior government; Castro says it is an illegal occupation.) There, you can be held for years without any charges being brought, or a trial. The US Constitution does not exist at Guantanamo. You are likely to be tortured, and you may never leave. When we call Castro a dictator, why doesn’t anyone refer to that? I am not here to call Castro a nice guy. I am here to point out the ridiculous double standard: the shadow of “democracy” being cast across Cuban “dictatorship.”

When I say that Castro is a projection screen for the United States, this is what I am talking about. If we were to look at what our media and politicians say about Castro, we would learn something about our own tendencies.

Castro and Chiron have some notable things in common. What they don’t have in common is worth mentioning — for example, Chiron ruled nobody. He was primarily a healer and teacher, and his leadership came through the people he influenced. Castro is known for being a head of state. Chiron (when the process is working well) is not given to self-aggrandizement. Castro surely was.

There are parallels between them. Castro was an armed warrior, as was Chiron. He was also a teacher and storyteller, spending anywhere from one to three hours a day lecturing on Cuban state television, anything from philosophy to stories about the way things were. His country existed in isolation from the world community the entire duration of his rule, something that has more than a touch of Chiron to it.

In Castro’s natal chart (I use Aug. 13, 1926, mainly because that is the day Castro said was his birthday, and because of his obsession with the numbers 13 and 26), he has Mars conjunct Chiron. In the chart of the Cuban Revolution, Mars is square Chiron — a very potent aspect, when it is finally expressed.

Chiron specialist Dale O’Brien notes that Mars and Chiron together address guerilla warfare in contrast to conventional warfare by the rules of tradition (Saturn). Lacking a structured army or air force, this was precisely how Castro took power. “As the name guerilla implies, it’s ‘smart’ strategy from an animal’s point of view, but horrifying to educated perspectives on ‘civilized war’, which is an oxymoron,” O’Brien said in an email Thursday.

In many ways, Castro did everything he could to take Cuba back to less ‘civilized’ times. He and his small group of armed forces overthrew the United States-backed government of Fulgencio Batista. Batista was well on the way to turning Cuba into what every other Latin American nation was fast becoming — the United States of Dole, Del Monte and Chiquita.

Then there is this bit, amusing in retrospect:

Batista opened the way for large-scale gambling in Havana. He announced that his government would match, dollar for dollar, any hotel investment over $1 million, which would include a casino license. Havana became the “Latin Las Vegas,” a playground of choice for many gamblers. All opposition was swiftly and violently crushed, and many began to fear the new government.

In 1956, in midst of the revolutionary upheaval, the 21-story, 383-room Hotel Riviera was built in Havana at a cost of $14 million. It was known as mobster Meyer Lansky’s dream and crowning achievement. The hotel opened on December 10, with a floor show headlined by Ginger Rogers. Lansky’s official title was “kitchen director,” but he controlled every aspect of the hotel.

Fidel Castro, front, on March 14, 1957. He and several others launched a guerilla war in the Sierra Maestra mountains. Photo by Andrew St. George / Associated Press.

Castro is often blamed for the Cuban Missile Crisis. The name says it all. But that would not have been possible without the arms race, which already existed, and which still exists. When Castro and his crew managed to overthrow the Batista government on New Year’s Eve 1958-59, the world was at the peak of something called the Cold War. Despite Ginger Rogers and her fabulous floor show, it was an absolutely frantic time. The term “Cold War” is a little like saying “passive aggressive.” You understand it better if you drop the first word. Though highly civilized, polite as a game of chess and extremely expensive, it was in fact a world war, military, economic and technological. Though there was not an immediate body count, the fate of the entire planet was left in a few not-so-sane hands. It was the first time we know of that the gig — human life on Earth — could be up in an hour or so. This remains true; we forget. But hey, at least Castro has finally quit.

Just a few years earlier, the H-bomb (hydrogen bomb) had been developed and tested by the United States, delivering about 500 times the destructive power of the atomic bombs used on Japan. One year later, the USSR had the same technology, and by 1957, England — so recently back to three meals a day in the aftermath of World War II — had it as well. So, in the late 1950s, the world was gearing up to blow itself into pieces. Kids were doing duck and cover drills, people were investing in backyard bomb shelters, and even learning how to make their stay down there more cozy with special cooking classes. If this makes you curious, check out the film The Atomic Café.

Then suddenly there was a socialist government 90 miles from Key West. This could not be good. They did not like capitalism. They were supposedly friends with the Soviets. The guys all had beards. And what was more, they were not going to play lackey to American business interests. Not that we didn’t have plenty of other countries for that; but nobody likes the one person who won’t get in line. That was Castro. He was the exception to all the rules, one of the first things you’re likely to encounter when you meet Chiron.

He endured numerous assassination attempts, so many it’s funny, including one where an armed assassin slept next to him but could not do the job. This gave him a kind of immortal quality; consider how many world leaders have lived and died in his lifetime.

Castro survived something called Operation Northwoods, a US program designed to create a fake war with Cuba, mainly through the proposed use of false-flag terrorism. He endured the administrations of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush the First, Clinton and most of Cheney-Bush. The one thing all those presidents had in common (with the possible exception of Carter) was that they hated Castro. This long-enduring, long-surviving effect is all about Chiron.

Tobacco plantation on the Cuban island. Photo by Stephanie Mausset.

During nearly all of this time, Castro survived a trade embargo from the US and its allies. We forget now that a trade embargo (“economic sanctions”) is a direct act of military aggression. It is economic warfare, the modern equivalent of blocking a country’s ports with warships, designed to starve the population into submission. If you live on a little island, you need to trade with your neighbors. Even Puerto Rico, an American colony, struggles with this. It is amazing, then, that Castro was able to create the quality of life that he did in Cuba, given that it was impossible for his country to trade with the wealthy Western nations that opposed him. To this day, you cannot bring medical supplies into Cuba from the United States. It is a crime to possess a Cuban cigar. (Someday I will reveal my secret list of who smokes them.)

Apparently, that quality of life included a good bit of sex, drinking and plenty of time to talk about politics — the lives we wish we had here in the free world.

Ultimately, Castro’s sin was being different. As such, he was an embarrassment, most particularly to the United States. He made “the greatest country in the world” seem ineffective. He was a godless heathen, but seemed to be protected by some in comprehensible or invisible force.

What Castro really does is reveal the shadow material of the United States. When you hear the terms “ruthless dictator” or “iron fist,” stop and think. Today, we still live in the nuclear shadow. Nobody is talking about disarmament anymore. Civil liberties continue to be eroded in our supposedly free country. Here in our democracy, supposedly protected by the Constitution, you can have your home searched or your phone tapped without a warrant.

“It’s a good day for the Cuban people. They’re no longer ruled by a ruthless dictator,” Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., said to CNN. “The real question is how do we hope for a better day for the people of Cuba, so they can elect their own leaders.”

Good point, senator. We seem to have some important work ahead of us on that issue here in the United States as well.

Eric Francis




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, February 22, 2008, #702 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Are you comfortable with the division between worldly lust and your own cosmic nature? Do you really believe there is one? And if there isn’t, and if you say you know that, what exactly is holding you down? You seem to be caught in one kind of split inwardly, and another outwardly. One is all in your head, consisting of wrangling over which set of judgments you have about yourself is supposedly accurate. The other involves your tendency to see that which is exalted, holy and moreover in harmony with itself as outside of yourself. These two seemingly different issues are actually one and the same. There is no inner split, and what you see outside of yourself tells you nearly everything about who you are right now.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You are not alone, but here is the thing about your charts, now and perhaps for always: the greater things you aspire to, the less they tend to happen solo. In other words, the hotter your creative fire is burning, the more people are drawn into the process. Reach out if you want to — but meanwhile, notice who you just happen to pull in your direction. Notice how people respond to you in group situations. Observe the impact you have on the people around you, and the way the light you are emitting colors the whole landscape. The fact that you may feel self-conscious is not, and I repeat, is NOT a reflection on the way you are perceived. As much as any two things can be different, the way you experience yourself among others and the way that others experience you bear nearly no relationship. To see the truth of this, you’re going to need to look.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
You can afford to push harder: you’re pressing against something strong, something stronger than you are, and which is encouraging you to build your strength. You are doing this in the relationship you share with whoever or whatever it is; that is its purpose and in truth the deepest source of pleasure that it offers. Though you tend to be concrete and reasonable in your beliefs, this would be the time to open your mind and recognize that there is plenty about the world that you don’t understand. In a sense, what you are in right now is a relationship specifically to the unknown. You may think that your world-wise, brash, sometimes deeply cynical approach to life is nothing compared to the mysterious cosmic force you have encountered in another. But the symbiosis is perfect; this is really a case of the power of mutual need.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You’re likely to have experienced a breakthrough of some kind relating to an idea you’re developing. Since I am a writer, I’m hesitant to say that it involves writing, but that’s what the astrology says. Anyway, writing is not just for writers. It is one of the best ways to focus your mind, figure out what you’re thinking and evolve your ideas by one or two orders of magnitude. It also happens to be an excellent way to relate to the people around you. I suggest you take this thing that’s burning a hole in your mind and work on it for six months straight. Work at it every day, even if on certain days, you only have time to devote a single word to the effort. What you have is an opening. Now you can, if you want or more likely, if you must, go through that opening. Don’t plan — just feel, and write.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
You now have something of a fresh start on a key financial matter. As you are no doubt seeing, attitude plays a big role, and you seem to have let go of an old idea, value or hang-up that was preventing you from making the decisions you needed to make. Someone had an influence on you; it would appear that someone who changed their mind about something or expressed a long-withheld idea prompted your re-evaluation. In any event, you need to focus on money for the next six months. You’ve been getting this cue since Saturn left your sign several months ago, but you’ve been viewing that as a long-term process that was giving you no particular reason to rush. The long-term part is true; the other part, about focusing on making some significant progress before the next set of eclipses in the autumn, is even truer.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
You have caught a glimpse of the mind behind the emotions. Now you need to look for the deeper emotions behind the mind. These layers are interesting, and you love them. The way to do this is through exploring art. Art makes anything possible, and by all rights it would be a significant part of your life for well beyond the foreseeable future. I say this if you think you have no creative talent whatsoever, or if you fancy yourself one of the true explorers. At the moment, you are on the brink of significant, deeply positive changes. This is developing at the same time that Pluto and Jupiter are working their way through the most creative, passionate angle of your chart. Little interior pockets of consciousness are bursting free, releasing their energy and their vintage ideas. They seem to want to be expressed in the world in three dimensions rather than two: for example, sculpture rather than drawing.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Thank the gods and goddesses, Venus and Mercury are in fine form in one of the most dynamic angles of your chart — Aquarius. This adds up to an interesting astrological equation. You do something creative, and you get one result — and then you get another one that you weren’t expecting. You set out to make beauty, and you have a strange discussion; an unusual sexual opportunity arises, and you get to have a deep discussion about healing; you seek an experience for its own sake and you learn something you could not have learned any other way. In this angle of your chart, there is a kind of hidden layer, and the only way to get there is through experience. Rest assured, you can’t predict what’s going to happen, and it may not be convenient. But for sure it will be satisfying at least two different ways.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
As a Scorpio, you are one motivated by deep passions. Usually they run so deep; it takes you weeks to decipher them. At the moment, being aware of what you’re feeling is much easier, and all of those dark and watery sentiments are translating into words and images quite nicely. Take this excellent opportunity to explain yourself. You no longer need to use the excuse that you don’t have to explain yourself; that remains true, but it’s less significant when it becomes so easy to do so. If your solar chart means anything, I would say you’re feeling downright cerebral, and now that you have the newfound ability to do so, you might want to explain yourself to very nearly everyone. Well, you are free to — it would make an excellent experiment in a little-remembered thing from the good old days of Human Potential — self-disclosure is liberating. Liberating is fun. And right now it’s really easy.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
The emotional security you have been struggling for is finally beginning to find a home in your life. I mean this literally; a sense of security is something you must make space for. You declare your home a safe space, and then stop obsessing over the locks. This really is possible. One of my favorite Sagittarians hasn’t locked her front door a single day in the past 15 years that I’ve known her. Yet she is highly conscious of her boundaries; she knows where the perimeter is. It is then up to you to declare what happens and what does not happen inside that space. You set the definition of liberty, of respect, of conscience. One thing that would help is if you declare a symbolic hearth. Unfortunately most houses don’t have fireplaces or wood stoves any more, but this can be done symbolically. Let this be the center of physical space and of awareness, and organize everything around this one focal point.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Now that you can finally see the surface of your desk, what else do you want to see? Who do you want to know? What truly meaningful diversions have you been avoiding because you’ve been so busy balancing your checkbook over and over again? Speaking of, you are in one of those phases of your life when it is time to share your wealth. I don’t just mean money; I mean your human wealth, your values and priorities, your ideas, your friends, the pleasure of your company. Look around at all the bored people in the world. You have mysteriously been spared this affliction. Most people don’t understand how, and it’s finally safe to reveal that beneath your well-tailored image of propriety, you are a revolutionary. Only those who respect the past are free to do something about it. You definitely qualify. And a lot of people can benefit from your perception.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
The Sun is now in Pisces, but there is still a beautiful story developing in your birth sign. Mercury has stationed direct, which is releasing a stream of pent-up energy. Venus has arrived, and is easing her way into conjunctions with Mercury, Nessus, Chiron and Neptune. Whether you’re a man or a woman, this is about trying on the many facets and expressions of feminine experience and consciousness; of femaleness itself. You may feel like a different person every day, craving an entirely different relationship to the people around you. This is a time to experiment, with an aim toward feeling your reality in the world, but most of all, with the intention of liberating something inside yourself. If you encounter any dark emotions, which you surely will, listen to them, feel them through to your core, and express them in some tangible way. Freedom is the freedom to feel. From there anything is possible.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
The air is starting to clear up and you can finally see the light of day; and for that matter, the light of night. What a difference the Sun in Pisces makes. You know more than you did one week ago, you know a lot more than you did a year ago, and you finally have considerably less of that annoying, thinly veiled anxiety stressing your mind. You’re also free from certain obligations imposed by others in ways that you may not quite recognize yet. The question is: to what extent will you let yourself be free? I suggest you aim for a very large extent. Every factor in your chart is nudging you toward revolutionary independence, of mind and body as well as spirit. Remember, if you want others to be free, at the moment, you’re the one who has to lead the way.

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