Published Jan. 9, 2020 | Link to original
Dear Friend and Reader:
It is encouraging that on the eve of the lunar eclipse and Saturn-Pluto conjunction, tensions between Iran and the United States began ramping down, not up. Full Moons can be confrontational, and Sunday’s grand conjunction in Capricorn represents some major turn of history.
We are not out of the woods. The world is a mess, and there is a petulant adolescent in the White House. Deploying 18,000 Marines and soldiers back to the Middle East is not the way to end the “forever wars” of the United States.
The Doomsday Clock is still set at two minutes to midnight. This is the metric of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. It is a measure of the potential for nuclear war breaking out. The best we’ve done any time recently was in 2010, when it was all of six minutes to midnight.
We are now entering the crescendo of Pluto in Capricorn (2008-2024), which finally culminates with the United States’ return of Pluto in its natal chart (though we are also under the effect of that as well). Before I share my more spiritually focused thoughts about the current astrology, I want to offer a summary of the whiplash-inducing events of the past few days, making two points about the Iran situation in particular.
Qasem Soleimani Was Assassinated While on a Peace Mission
As everyone knows, on Jan. 2, Trump ordered the assassination of a top official in the Iranian government, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. And everyone agrees he was a bad dude. It is also a salient fact that this murder occurred with Articles of Impeachment about to be delivered to the Senate. Even if someone wants to pretend that is not a factor, it is still a fact.
The Trump administration has taken a “self-defense” type of excuse, claiming that there was some imminent attack being planned by Soleimani against the United States, but so far have offered nothing convincing about what that might have been.
Top administration officials told House and Senate leaders absolutely nothing Wednesday in a closed-door briefing. Both Democrats and at least one Republican have described the briefing as being based on what was reported on television — not a report on the intelligence whereby anyone concluded that there was an imminent threat.
Then on Thursday, Trump claimed that the assassination was because Soleimani was planning to “blow up” the U.S. embassy in Iraq — for which he provided no evidence. On its face, this is an absurd claim. Soleimani himself would not do such a thing, and killing him would not necessarily stop it. Even if it did (for a while), the potential repercussions of killing someone like that are potentially enormous.
John Kerry, who served as secretary of state under Pres. Obama, was interviewed Wednesday night on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. Kerry said that killing Soleimani was always on the table, though when the topic came up, the problems and repercussions were deemed to outweigh any potential benefits every time.
Yet what is not widely known is that Soleimani was murdered while on a diplomatic mission, heading to a meeting that was supposed to be about reducing the persistent tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Trump asked Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki, the prime minister of Iraq, to set up a meeting to which Soleimani was invited — on Iraqi turf. Because it was a diplomatic mission, he flew in without his usual protective cover. Then, without even consulting the Iraqis — or our own congressional leaders — the United States killed him with a drone strike just after he arrived at the Baghdad airport.
Mafia 101 Tactics
Said another way, Trump ordered the assassination of the military leader of a nation with whom we were at peace, on the land of a country with whom we are technically also at peace. To my ear, the only thing this is reminiscent of is the Mafia, whose tactics Trump seems to adore. Really, I would expect better ethics from a bunch of actual mobsters.
While killing him in this fashion may not specifically be a war crime under the Geneva Convention, it’s easy to see how serious a problem this causes.
Diplomacy is the only way to end a war without completely destroying the enemy via scorched earth and genocide. Therefore, people on diplomatic errands are usually exempt from being harmed.
In battle, when someone waves the white flag, they are surrendering, and it is in fact a war crime to ambush someone under those circumstances. The white flag cannot be a trap, or else there is no point. The same principle applies here.
Trump called for a peace talk and then murdered one of the participants. We need a condition of trust to end wars. You cannot end a war without trusting that someone is not going to blow you up when you arrive in good faith to negotiate. This casts the United States as a bad faith party pretty much henceforth.
Then making matters worse, the U.S. denied an entry visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, preventing him from attending a United Nations Security Council meeting scheduled for this week. Once again, Trump is attempting to subvert the diplomatic process — a process that is the only alternative to war.
The Iran Nuclear Deal Was Working
This week, Trump has been beating his chest about preventing Iran from getting the atomic bomb. But that was already in progress, based on a 2015 agreement between Iran and what is called the P 5+1 — the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council, and also Germany.
This discussion began under the Bush administration in 2006. Obama finished the work started by Pres. Bush, laying a foundation that Trump could build on.
Said another way, in 2015, Iran came to an agreement with Russia, China, the United States, France, Britain and Germany, whereby it would dismantle its nuclear enrichment facilities and agree to monitoring.
In exchange, it would be brought into the realm of supposedly civilized countries.
Then Trump took office and tore up the deal. That led to rapidly escalating tensions with Iran. With the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in place, Iran stopped its proxy forces from attacking the United States. That was not part of the deal, but it served to get that result.
In effect, the world had achieved relative peace with Iran, and then Trump came in and screwed that up. It is true that there was further to go. There were other problems with Iran, but at least the atomic bomb was off the table, and its nuclear activities were under constant observation. In quitting the nuclear deal, Trump did not just betray Iran and the United States; he betrayed all of the countries who participated in organizing the treaty, and in truth, the whole world.
Even after the United States withdrew from the accord, Iran continued to honor its provisions, out of respect for the many other countries that were involved in its negotiation. Then, they tossed it when Trump murdered their top military leader.
So, this is all fabulous for people who love nonstop war — which by the way Trump campaigned to end. Iran retaliated the other night, with a largely symbolic gesture of shooting a few rockets at U.S. facilities in Iraq. Now they are free to retaliate covertly, in their usual style — through proxies. And these are proxies that only Gen. Soleimani had the power to control. Now, they can do whatever they want to avenge his death.
It’s also a perfectly fabulous distraction from the impending impeachment trial of Pres. Trump. This was a Wag the Dog moment, though with extremely high stakes. So high as to be psychotic. We might say it was potentially a Dr. Strangelove Moment, where someone takes an action designed to ignite all-out war.
Explaining the World to a Child of the Future
This could all be a lot worse. I guess it always can, unless the Doomsday Clock strikes 12. And it is close. We forget that many different countries are armed with thermonuclear weapons, a fact that all of us have grown up or come of age facing.
What occurred over the past nine days had the potential to ignite a massive hot war in the Middle East, and it still could; the situation is extremely delicate.
So are many other situations in the world. I often wonder how I would tell the story of our time in history to people who are living 100 or 400 or more years in the future, and I’m at a loss to explain the insanity. I’m at a loss to explain the paralysis and hubris that is preventing us from dealing with global warming, just to give one very large example.
By explain, I mean to meet the understanding of a child, rather than the convoluted way that most adults think they understand something.
We could say modern society is addicted to energy, and that is doing the damage. But then we would also have to say inventors like Nikola Tesla and Buckminster Fuller (and many others) had come up with numerous ways to create safe and cheap energy; Tesla wanted electrical power to be free, which is why his corporate sponsors cut him off.
So we would have to say that greed is the problem. A few people are making a lot of money, and many others are sustaining their lives and paying for the privilege several different ways. Yet would that be comprehensible, or even meekly satisfying, to a nine-year-old of the future?
They might ask: why didn’t people get together and solve the problem? Then you would have to explain how a capitalist society divides people, and allows a few of them to hoard 99% of the resources. So once again, it comes down to greed.
We Are Responsible for What We Know
Then you would have to explain that people are exhausted and confused. You would have to explain that all of this modern convenience is taking a toll on people. People who have enough food and water and a home to live in don’t have the energy or strength to stand up to the things that are oppressing them and killing the biosphere.
Then you would have to somehow relate that all this digital consciousness makes it difficult for people to think straight. It’s a little like being on a drug they cannot handle, and under the influence of which they cannot tell the difference between reality and hallucination.
You might also explain that many people are heavily caught in religion, which justifies all kinds of ignorance and actions based on it. You could also say that despite everyone being connected by technology, most of us are lonely and feel isolated.
A great many humans struggle for the experience of their lives having any purpose. This, in a world abounding with need and infinite missions of every conceivable form that are begging to be taken up. A world that needs our help.
I don’t know. If I was a kid hearing that explanation, I would have a hard time accepting it. These would sound like lame excuses. In truth, they are. It defies basic intelligence that people cannot stand up for their own interests, or their collective interests — which now have a lot in common.
Yet here we sit, at the dawn of a new decade, not in some future time dealing with the consequences of our choices now. We are definitely dealing with the consequences of our choices from the past, but the thing is, we know so much more now than we did then.
And we are responsible for what we know.
We might remember that this whole experience here on Earth is transient. Every 35 million years or so, an asteroid comes along and whacks the planet, creating a mass extinction event. We are about due for one of them.
Maybe that accounts for the thousands of nuclear weapons many different countries have aimed at one another. Maybe that’s the thing that’s in the background of everything.
Meanwhile, it is two minutes to midnight. This is a clock we can turn back, at least for now.
PS — I have written a special edition horoscope for tonight, covering the eclipse and the grand conjunction.
— Additional research and writing: Samuel Dean, Cindy Ragusa
Monthly Horoscopes and Publishing Schedule Notes
Your extended monthly horoscope for January was published on Friday, Dec. 27. We published your extended monthly horoscope for December on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Please note: we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope after the Sun has entered a new sign.
Thursday Night Horoscope for Jan. 9, 2020 (#1272) | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — It is not your position or your reputation that grants you influence. It is your ability to relate to others on their own terms. This may not mean a lot today, though over the next few months, you would be wise to make this a way of life. Pluto moving through your 10th house since 2008 has emphasized your desire to climb professionally. Though there have been plenty of shakeups between then and now, it is likely you’re in a much more solid position than you were a decade ago. Saturn moving through the same territory has only emphasized the point. However, let’s consider a bit of wider background. While you aspire to be a fair-minded person, let’s set this into context. Throughout the duration of Pluto in Capricorn (2008-present), the world has experienced the popularization of the power grab, and it’s getting old. Step ahead of the trend. Prepare yourself to become an innovator and teacher of cooperation and collaboration.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Once you figure out that your old beliefs no longer hold water, much less serve you, it’s time to live on different terms. What you’re now discovering is that you must write your own constitution. This is a restless time for you, perhaps even a revolutionary moment. You are starting to feel your potential in a whole new way. And you know the rules and limits that were instilled in you as a child simply do not serve your purposes, or make sense in any objective way. It is fair to say this is a moment of breaking free for you, even if you’re not sure what that means. Yet it is vital to your nature to have an investment in tradition. If you’re doing the most innovative experimental theater, read Shakespeare. If you’re creating an avant-garde music experiment, listen to Mozart. Your role is to keep a certain tradition alive, rather than to abandon it.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Friday’s eclipse of the Moon aligns exactly with your ruling planet Mercury; this is a personal message for you. One of the themes of your life for many long seasons has been figuring out why people seem to hold so much power over you. This may have come in the form of financial situations, sexual relationships, employment situations and other scenarios when you were least expecting it. It is now clear that you must be your own advocate, and moreover, must understand what it means to give your power away. Once you have a clue about that, it’s a lot easier to stop doing so, and to claim it back. To do that, you need your own internal moral guidance. You must know what is right and true for you, and not fall prey to the guilt trips and traps that others lay for you. It’s essential that you study the agendas of others, and work with that information. Then you need a plan of your own.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Friday’s lunar eclipse in your sign is a magnificent opportunity to redefine yourself, in concept, in word, in deed and in reality. An element of this is letting go of some vexing emotional attachment from the past. Indeed, you must commit fully to the past no longer defining you. This is, of course, the great challenge of the spiritual path and that of self-actualization. You know by now that you are a person with a mission. You now have a focused calling. It is the invitation to rise to a challenge. What is easy and familiar is most likely representative of the past. What seems laden with obstacles is also likely to be part of the done deal of history. Hear your calling and take up your mission joyfully. Commit to leadership in the form of living your life well and truly. Remember that everything you do, down to the smallest decision, sets an example for others — and they are watching.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — By now you’re aware that your personal healing journey is the theme of your existence. You must take what you’ve learned in these years and reduce it down to a few basic guidelines. Speaking as someone who aspires to be gluten free on the parts-per-million level, I know both how challenging this is at first, and then how liberating it is once mastered. ‘Mastered’ means that it becomes a central organizing principle of my life. This is what I am talking about, in terms of how you organize your own efforts at self-care. It must begin with self-awareness: monitoring how you feel, what your body is telling you, and awareness of your limits. Speaking of limits, those are often talked down, though they too become a structure for accomplishment, because they compel you to set priorities and focus your activity. This is something you can get better and better at, which will multiply your efficiency and effectiveness, and help you feel good.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — I believe that the central Virgo quest, or struggle, or challenge, is that of aligning with your self-expression for its own sake. You may not even know what this feels like, or it may have taken you many years to figure it out. The current momentous astrology is pointing to a breakthrough. This is less about waking up a musician, a poet or a painter, and more about making contact with your vitality. Removing or clearing any seemingly minor blockage can go a long way toward increasing your flow of energy. It will help if you get the message to stop resisting yourself. Do whatever you do with your full attention, your full intention, and just enough passion. Balance out your activity in the moment with your awareness of a goal; you need both, so that you’re working within a wider context. The more creativity you allow through you, the less isolated you will feel.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Our once-in-a-lifetime astrology is the perfect setup for an earthquake, and it happens to be taking place in the lower region of your chart, where you make contact with the ground. And that ground may be shaking right now, or it may be tense, and you may be wondering what you’re going to do about it. You don’t have to do anything, really, though it would help if you ask yourself one question. That would be the one about what it means to feel safe in a world that is rife with one change after the next. You know your confidence must come from you and only you. You’ve been through enough tests and trials and tribulations to have built up a well of confidence. You have learned that your personal foundations are stronger than anything in this world. Now, you are free to face the future with a sense of optimism, knowing you can rise brilliantly to any challenge.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — The time has arrived when you must be driven by your own motives and your own necessities. And when you engage that, you can expect to meet some resistance. That might come in the form of an overt rebellion, or what seems like some sly form of betrayal. What is crucial is that you not betray yourself or your own cause. You are at a point where you must get all self-destructive tendencies under control. You do not have a lot of wiggle room here, not if you want to see at least some of your most cherished goals come to fruition. “I have a weakness for that” is not an excuse; it is an alert. Eventually, you will come to love the feeling of success more than submitting to emotional games, unwholesome habits (whether of thought, or physical), or having days when you don’t give a toss. This is a significant time in your life, rivaling any and all others. Stay awake.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Mars in your birth sign is pumping you full of confidence and drive. Neptune in Pisces is a well of uncertainty and insecurity that keeps on hassling you. You get to decide which one is the true voice. Our particular moment of astrology is sending you a bold, clear message: you must live for what you know to be true, for you. Be aware of when you make small compromises, which will no doubt be based on some fear or insecurity. Pay attention to your decision-making process. Notice, as well, who in your environment inspires your self-confidence, and who drains your energy and brings you down. You have a choice about whom you associate with. You have a choice of whose energy you allow to affect you. Note that you are most susceptible to infiltration by family and in domestic situations. This is not exactly late-breaking news for the human race. The big news would be how you respond.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Current astrology — what I have described as the most potent since the 1960s — is focused in your sign. This is a crux point for you: a before and after moment in your entire life (and as I write here in Dominick’s Cafe, a grandfather clock is striking the noon). This is a fulcrum moment. Think of a telescope that pivots on its stand. Move the scope one millimeter and you can get a view on the other end that’s light years away from what you first sighted. That is where you are today. Every decision is worth making carefully, and with full information. Decide nothing “with your gut.” Use your full intellect and intuition, and commit to your choice. This counts for matters large and small. If something seems on a very high level of importance and you are uncertain, then set a deadline and work to meet it. The eclipse is Friday and the grand conjunction is Sunday, though in truth you have till the Sun leaves your sign to get the maximum effect from an important personal choice.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — This week’s thundering astrology (which has been building for years) is happening in a kind of blind spot in your chart: the 12th house. So it may feel like some nondescript inner movement, or tension that keeps bubbling up, or maybe even panic attacks. You will come out of this long phase in several steps. The first is the Saturn-Pluto conjunction completing on Sunday. My sense is that this will drop the stress level somewhat, and make it easier to see what is an irrational fear, and what is a legitimate concern calling for action. Another will be Saturn entering your sign on March 21. Between these two events, you have an impeccable opportunity to complete some profound inner work; to come to terms with difficult elements of your past (both recent, and distant); and to sense your own potential before you have any outer confirmation that it’s real. Hang out there for a while.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You are at an unusual breakthrough point. Let’s start by saying that Neptune is in Pisces, which is providing you with abundant energy of a sort that is difficult for most people to deal with. Neptune not only demands boundaries, it has a way of exceeding them, so it presents a special challenge. Yet the high-focus action is taking place in the public angle of your chart, Capricorn, where you most readily relate to the world around you. This is the 11th house — considered by the old schools of astrology to be the best of them all. And this is where your breakthrough is happening. Take your life seriously. Focus on what you want to do, and have faith in your sincerity and your abilities. Set aside your tendency to doubt yourself. Replace it with the confidence that only comes from active engagement with people, and with a focused purpose. Then, keep on going.