“A WATERSHED moment.” “A crossroads.” “Things will never be the same again.” “Is anybody awakening to the fact that there is a new reality at hand?” These words were spoken in the space of five minutes on CNN’s Lou Dobbs program Wednesday night.
By now, most of us know — at least in outline form, or in our gut — what happened this week. America’s Empire of Debt imploded on itself. The cosmos of zero savings, zero down and maxed-out 18% APR credit, was revealed to be the vacuum that it is.
Monday morning, hours after the Pisces Full Moon conjunct Uranus lit up the New York City dawn, we were greeted by “surprise” news of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the sellout of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America. Two of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious investment banks, once symbols of Wall Street’s supremacy, evaporated; Lehman is, to date, the largest bankruptcy in American history. Merrill Lynch and its 16,000 financial advisers may be its biggest embarrassment.
Everyone paying attention wondered what was next. Pisces is the karmic filter of the zodiac. The Moon and Uranus, the astrological equivalent of The Tower tarot card, seemed to be flushing things out fast. The Bush administration’s grand finale started to unfold much as the story had begun: back in the days of Enron, Worldcom and Arthur Anderson. If the collapse of the World Trade Center was a movie-like metaphor, this was the corresponding reality.
Then on Tuesday, the federal government bailed out the American International Group, Inc. (AIG), the world’s largest insurer, to avoid what was being described as a potential global economic meltdown. Had the insurer collapsed, the losses would have rippled through the economic system causing a kind of domino effect. All this, a result of stock losses, defaulted benefits payments and mere shock.
The cost of the AIG bailout was up to $85 billion, but this was in exchange for the United States government taking over 80% of the company’s stock; in other words, taxpayers bought the farm. In an unprecedented, astonishing move, the government took ownership of a massive, multinational corporation, though the recent bailouts of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had a similar feeling.
This, in effect, changed our form of government; some are calling it corporate socialism, but that’s being entirely too kind. In a supposedly free market system, the government merging with corporations leans more toward the technical definition of fascism.
By Wednesday, Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest consumer bank, was on the auction block. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the only two remaining major independent investment banks, were on shaky ground. Eleven banks have failed this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen by nearly a thousand points by Wednesday’s close.
By Thursday morning, a $25 billion federal bailout of the American auto industry was being considered. Central banks were pouring money into the markets. By the close Thursday, stocks had rebounded 400 points. The Wall Street Journalreported that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has started a “wide-ranging investigation into short-selling in the financial market” related to companies that had gone bankrupt or been bought out. Short-selling is profiting by betting that a stock will go down.
By Friday, the bill for the bailout was around $900 billion. The New York Times reported, “Senior aides and lawmakers said the goal was to complete the legislation by the end of next week, when Congress is scheduled to adjourn. The legislation would grant new authority to the administration and require what several officials said would be a substantial appropriation of federal dollars, though no figures were disclosed in the meeting.” In other words, the Bush administration was being given another blank check.
What really happened? The astrology is revealing — too revealing. We’ll get there in a moment; let’s stay grounded in some real-world analysis. You could say that America’s financial shadow came to the surface. You could say the entire shadow banking system revealed its existence. You could say that free-market capitalism was revealed to be an illusion. It was clear that we were witnessing history, but then that’s difficult to consider a privilege if you’re wondering whether you’re going to have a job, a business, a retirement fund or a place to live.
I’ve spent much of the week on the phone with and emailing experienced market professionals and one of its former longtime leaders, trying to sort out the news. What I took away from these communications is that what is happening is unprecedented, and that while many people saw it coming, what is now happening is entirely unpredictable. That it’s occurring within 50 days of a major presidential race demonstrates that something had run out of control.
Said one of my sources, “Forty percent of the value of the stock market came from the financial services industry, and that was untenable. We drove up stock prices without understanding the balance sheets of this industry. Without the actual criminality that was Enron, the people in charge of these banks had an extraordinary amount of hubris because they grew so big they thought they were untouchable. They believed they couldn’t be allowed to fail. And they took on all kinds of unsustainable risk.”
Part of that risk involved investing in Residential Mortgaged-Backed Securities: basically, massive, reputable banks investing in worthless mortgages. Part of it involved securities firms being leveraged 60-to-1: that is, for every dollar in cash, they had up to $60 in debt. This makes Manhattan’s skyline look like a Hollywood facade.
I heard several times how everything we are witnessing was driven by greed, that this is the end of the road for Americans thinking they can have it all, and that the deeper disease we share is denial. However, I would not rule out the “actual criminality of Enron,” based on the astrology or otherwise.
Part of that greed is that Americans want everything so cheap, they don’t actually have to make up their minds about what they really need. It is easier to go into debt than it is to make money, and it’s more difficult to get out once you’re there. Though while many people were living beyond their means, the risks and the rewards were not distributed evenly.
While numerous Americans lost all or part of their retirement funds and life savings between 1993 and 2007, Lehman CEO Dick Fuld took home $466 million in pay (according to executive pay research firm Equilar). Why should he and other CEOs be allowed to take home such staggering paychecks? Well, of course: we live in a free market system. And that system is now being purchased by the government.
Smashing the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999
I learned that part of the problem goes back to the fairly recent repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, a Depression-era law which established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and separated the different kinds of banks and thus protected depositors from the activities of market speculators. In other words, if you put your money in a savings bank, the law protected you from someone gambling your funds on the stock market. That repeal occurred in 1999, essentially paving the way for what we are witnessing today by removing the banking regulations designed to prevent another Great Depression.
That date got my attention: the year of the grand cross and total solar eclipse, a rare kind of total solar eclipse at the heart of the fixed signs that many people predicted would reshape reality. If we want to get a sense of the risks that were being taken at the time, that was the summer that NASA shot the Cassini Space Probe with 72 pounds of plutonium past the Earth on the way to Saturn — enough to give 32 billion people lung cancer, had the probe accidentally re-entered the atmosphere and burned up.
The 1999 total solar was the first Leo eclipse in 18 years, with the grand cross reaching into the fixed signs Taurus, Scorpio and Aquarius. Solar eclipses returned to Leo this summer, in effect triggering the 1999 eclipse and initiating a cascade effect out of that sign.
While Taurus (the scene of an unusual Full Moon in May 2008 that triggered something called the Aries Point) is the sign of values, Leo, whose metal is gold, is the sign of value. And the value of things has been changing very fast this year and in particular since the Aug. 1 eclipse. Remember that two of the nation’s giant mortgage funds, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also went under in the wake of that eclipse.
The Capricorn Files
But here is what I’m really thinking. On Dec. 11, 2001, about a week after Enron declared bankruptcy and with the World Trade Center still smoldering, Chiron entered Capricorn for the first time in more than 45 years. At the time, I thought that Chiron would be running vanguard during its four-year journey through this sign — vanguard, that is, for Pluto, which was due to arrive there seven years later, in 2008.
I once buttonholed astrological legend Rob Handcoming out of an elevator and asked him what he thought Chiron was about. (Rob, for those who don’t know him, is only nominally interested in minor planets — he is a traditional astrology scholar, which is why I asked him.) He said that Chiron represented something like an event that revealed the weakness in a system. If you fixed the system based on that revelation, it would work, and if you didn’t, the system would collapse.
The Enron disaster — immortalized in the astonishing documentary, The Smartest Guys in the Room — was followed on its heels by the Arthur Anderson accounting scandal and then the Worldcom scandal: two of America’s allegedly most blue-chip stocks, and the auditing giant, all went up in the smoke and mirrors of mass public deception at the beginning of the Bush administration.
At the time, Worldcom was the largest Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in history, but this honor was taken over by Lehman Brothers this week. Worldcom’s chief was eventually convicted of fraud, conspiracy and filing false documents with regulators. Enron in its entirety turned out to be a lie.
Now that Pluto is working its way into Capricorn, we have more than a clue that the flaw in the system wasn’t fixed; to the contrary, it seems to have been exploited. With just a brief visit to Capricorn earlier in 2008, the events of this week made Enron look like a joke — and it wasn’t. It was a prototype.
Now consider that Pluto will re-enter Capricorn in December and take until 2024 to finally make its way into Aquarius. Pluto’s journey through Capricorn will bring numerous cascading changes like the ones we are seeing this week that will reshape the structure of society on every level.
To the extent that anyone is profiting from these changes, difficult question we have to ask ourselves is: is someone doing this intentionally?“Intent” is not as simple as it sounds. In fraud law, intent translates to being able to say that someone “knew or should have known” that an action or lack thereof would have a certain effect; for example, you know that your actions will cause your company to collapse while you profit.
I have covered fraud for many years, and in hindsight, I notice that there are two kinds. One is where the people who are being lied to have no idea and no desire to be fooled; and another kind where the fraud is accomplished with their complicity. In other words, the supposed victims “knew or should have known” that something was up. They had warning. That is the more frightening kind of fraud, because it’s done with full complicity of the victim. In the current scenario, both kinds of fraud are at work. We have had many warning signs, but many people were too busy swiping their credit cards to notice. The system was working for them.
An Aquarius Awakening?
Aquarius represents the general public, the tribe and our sense of community. It’s also an excellent archetype for the electronic media. The presence of Neptune in Aquarius, which began in January 1998, has fostered an environment where it seems people are begging to be lied to and the electronic media is very happy to oblige.
The first major news event of the Neptune in Aquarius era happened later that year: the Clinton impeachment, which in my view was a first-class fraud on the public. Yet it could not have happened without so many people so devoted to being offended by sex. While I affirm everyone’s right to be offended by whatever they want, that’s fine as long as it’s not abused by someone with some other agenda.
In 2000, we all witnessed a stolen presidential election. Whether you may think that Florida’s electoral votes were stolen or not, the United States Supreme Court, full of Reagan and Bush appointees blocked a recount, and that is a form of fraud. It is a fact that Al Gore won the popular vote and George Bush took office. That is not a democracy, but very few people complained, wanting life to get back to normal. Where was the outrage?
Less than one year later, in September 2001, we witnessed the destruction of the World Trade Center and an attack of some kind on the Pentagon. In less than an hour, before any investigation and before anyone had claimed credit, the word was out that Osama bin Laden had done it. The United States immediately went to war with Afghanistan in “retaliation.” But to this day, Osama’s FBI wanted poster neglects to mention the Sept. 11 attacks.
Then came the war on Iraq, which was foisted on the American people because Sept. 11 was blamed, in the second instance, on Saddam Hussein. When I asked my congressman, Maurice Hinchey, why Sept. 11 was left off of Osama’s wanted poster, he said it’s so the administration could more easily put the blame on Saddam because it wanted a war with Iraq. I will skip in this article what an obvious inside job the Sept. 11 incident was, but I will say that it seemed like a strange slumber had come over the nation between the fake impeachment, the pretend election, Sept. 11 and its multiple supposed perpetrators.
Then came Enron, and Worldcom and a long-forgotten splash of news in May 2002 about how Bush actually knew that the country was about to be attacked (which I think was, in itself, a cover-up). If you would like to research this for yourself, check the Wikipedia page on the CIA’s Aug. 6, 2001 presidential daily brief. That was the one that said, “Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S.” more than a month before Sept. 11 occurred — yet administration officials claimed they had no warning.
If you track the history of Neptune in Aquarius, it’s one scandal after the next, but so far I haven’t heard the word scandal used in the mainstream media; everything is just business as usual. Scandal is an understatement. And that includes how the American public ran up its credit cards on cheap goods from China and the lenders who profited, while Washington ran up $9 trillion in national debt, much of it to China, and much of it to fund a war that costs $230 million a day.
Chiron is now in Aquarius, and that is a wake-up call. If Neptune is the energy of sleepy delusion and denial — mainly because so many people shun the spirituality and love that it could represent — Chiron is the energy of awakening and the crisis that leads to consciousness. Chiron is now just five degrees from a conjunction with Neptune, which will exact on May 31, 2009.
This is really a triple conjunction of Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune — and it’s going to be big. It is the moment when the truth, whatever that turns out to be, is undeniable. We can’t quite say that today.
Yours & truly,
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, September 19, 2008, #732 – By ERIC FRANCIS
Aries (March 20-April 19)
You may feel something developing in a close personal relationship, but I don’t suggest you guess what it is or who it involves. While the aspects that are developing involve all of your relationships, someone seems to be leaving the scene and someone else seems to be entering. However, the person who is apparently leaving is not really leaving, and the person who is arriving may be here to stay for a while, but their role in your life is not exactly certain. This may start with you learning to speak a new language of relationship, one that takes the emphasis off of traditional sex roles and puts you into contact with a dimension of yourself that will be quite pleasant if you are willing to let go of old ideas about who you are.
Taurus (April 19-May 20)
It’s time to review of your work-related goals, including any plans you have to develop your creative potential. The two are now more closely related than ever. However, I suggest you take heed of the experiences of so many talented people who made it to the top of their profession only to discover that it was not so romantic, exciting or alive as they thought it might be before they got there. You are about to go through a review period that will give you the chanced to review what you have considered your most important goals and deepest passions. You are set to make up your mind at least three times before coming to a final decision. Remember, fame is different than fortune, in the true sense of the word.
Gemini (May 20-June 21)
As you are escorted by the cosmos through the change of seasons and the next few weeks of your worldly journey, remember that spiritual growth puts an emphasis on balance. True love puts an emphasis on stability. Creativity and passion, self-exploration and inner discovery, require anything but these things. Well, true, you probably need a door with locks and plugs that produce electric power, but it doesn’t go much further than that. Consider what you’re about to experience as an experiment. The two words have the same roots. Here is what Etymology Online has to say: The word “experience” is first recorded in 1377, from Old French; experience, from Latin, experientia “knowledge gained by repeated trials”…”to try, test”…sense of “feel, undergo.” Get ready; the adventure is about to begin.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Your home is about to become an extraordinarily interesting place, potentially the scene of many encounters of the artistic and/or erotic variety. I suggest, at least, that you guide things in that direction. It’s true, the world may be going mad, there no longer seems to be a difference between truth and deception, and enough people around you have decided that life is a game of Survivor Man to get you wondering. However, your own experience is different; it must be. There seem to be two cosmic games you’re about to dive into. One is exploring the idea that you of all people can only call home that place where you can truly be yourself. Second, if you can thread together the connections between five or six seemingly unrelated events, you’ll discover that you are actually surfing the wave of synchronicity to a whole new state of existence, in a way that you never thought possible.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
Most people only think they think. Some people think. You are about to learn the meaningful difference. It’s a little like this. Imagine you’re standing on a train platform. You can imagine the train coming through. That is thinking you think. Then you feel the air rushing through the tunnel and a train comes in at full speed, stops, opens its doors and you can actually get on board. That is actually thinking. The only thing is that at the moment, the train is not an express from New York to Philadelphia. It’s a kind of mystery train that will take a circuitous route from where you are now to several places you have never been and indeed where you never expected to go.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Very few of us understand money. Anyone who does usually ends up wealthy. Money is not about exchanging chickens for goats. It is about the flow of energy, and the idea of an exchange more than the real thing. You are about to be taken for a grand tour of this universe — and you will see where your personal values fit into the equation. The most important value is what you want. Question number one is whether what you want is actually what is important to you. The second question is what you do about what you want, once you figure out what it is. You cannot take the second step without taking the first. Most of our mental chaos around money involves getting these two steps in the wrong order. As you will see, once you arrange them in sequence, then the mystery really begins.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
You would do well to ask yourself why there is such a taboo on self-knowledge. The reason is that such leads to freedom, and freedom is scary. This is because actual freedom implies the idea of personal responsibility, and the daunting need to make choices besides paper or plastic, debit or credit. In fact, freedom is threatening to most of ideas of the current version of the world, much as politicians and; in particular, advertising pay lip service to the concept and try to convince us that we are free. Given this, I suggest you keep your focus on building self-knowledge, and its predecessor, self-awareness. You will have no shortage of opportunities the next few weeks. And you may be visited from afar by someone who brings an entirely different cultural or spiritual orientation to the question of not just what it means to be aware, but what it means to be alive.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
Some astrologers will tell you that Scorpios are afraid of nothing, but even the great yogis must confront their deepest fears. The point of this experience is not to turn your life into a Stephen King novel. Rather, it’s to go past fear and experience the world beyond the limitations that seem to smother so many people. The charts are clear about one thing, at least: the moment you are willing to admit your deepest apprehensions or anxieties, you will be rewarded with an entirely new experience of who you are. One suggestion I have is to be sensitive to the possibility that very old fears are coming up in new forms. In fact, I suggest you travel in time back to somewhere between ages three and six and remember what made you shudder then; what thought was the most distasteful. Start there. Raise awareness. See if an inner door opens.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
Most people have, at some time, slipped on the line between friend and lover, and most of us avoid this territory as if it were contaminated with radiation. And many have wondered why it’s seemingly so dangerous, or why it has to be so dangerous. The answer can be summed up in a few words: expectations; dependency; jealousy; integrity. And a sentence: we cling to old relationship models as if they are a life raft on a sea infested with sharks. And often enough that does seem true, but I think that the deeper issue is that we fear change and moreover that we feel unprepared for it. Anyway, there are a lot of excuses for not being free, and many more for not feeling free. You know who and what you want. Ask yourself what is stopping you. You may not plunge into a new reality in one minute, but I think it’s a good idea if you know what your boundaries are.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
I’ve heard that it was really horoscope writer Patric Walker (1931-1995) who said to John Lennon that “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Clearly you have career plans and clearly, something else is happening. I suggest you go with what’s developing, assuming it’s at least mostly legal and mostly harmless. You won’t have a clear idea what you want to do until the Sun crosses the sensitive midheaven angle of your chart on Monday, and it will be two or three days more until you see the flaws in your concept. Remember, you’re seeing the problems so that you can solve them, not so you can be discouraged by them. And if some deeper truth about your direction emerges over the next few weeks, don’t worry if it’s inconvenient, a little strange or not entirely clear what to do. At this point, it’s better to do nothing than to do what is wrong for you.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
Do we believe what we see, or see what we believe? This is the question on which your life currently hangs in the balance. I suggest you put the theme of belief under the microscope for a while and observe what you learn. In this world, whether it comes first, second or last, belief has tremendous power. Belief is the thing that proves that the truth does not matter; after all, if you don’t believe it, what good is it? What you may notice over the next week or so is how radically belief can change, and what interesting new directions it can take. What was impossible yesterday can be inevitable today, because that is what we think. Faith is another matter entirely, because it has the potential to transcend what your mind is telling you entirely. Watch where that fits into the picture of your existence — it does.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
An agreement or arrangement that you or a close partner wants dearly is not necessarily what you think it is. It may be something better; it may be something worse; it may simply be different but just as interesting. The important thing now is that you be aware of your desires and needs, and that you remain flexible about how they are going to be met. There are possibilities that you cannot see at this point, and these are going to make themselves known. You must remember having those kinds of situations where you thought you knew what you wanted, and after you had it, you got some information that would have caused you to change your mind? You’re in that kind of situation now. Only I’m here to tell you that the information you need in order to make up your mind is forthcoming.