Mars, Chiron and Iraq

Mars, Chiron and Iraq

HARD TO BELIEVE it’s now been two years of nonstop, escalating war in Iraq. Two years is one Mars cycle, and about once per cycle, Mars makes a conjunction to slower-moving Chiron. There was a conjunction in 2003 just following the invasion of Iraq, covered in Planet Waves Weekly in the article, ‘Taking a Ride on Mars Conjunct Chiron’, in which we observed the obvious disaster that was to come. Today, many factors, some astrological and some mundane, suggest that the Iraq policy, as it is euphemistically called, is falling apart.

Since Mars is the planet astrology associates with war (among other subjects), and Chiron was a renowned teacher of military sciences, battlefield medicine and ethics, with the Mars-Chiron cycle we have a useful tool to describe and analyze military situations.

This first go-round has not been pleasant. Even a summarized point-by-point litany of what has happened would go on for 15 pages, and be so horrifying that most people could not get to page two. The lies that have been told are just, well, incredible is the word, and we know only a tiny fraction of the truth of what has gone down in Iraq. It is all mind-numbing, and it is not-so-cleverly designed to be. Sensitive or sensible people naturally tune out, shut down or look the other way.

The approaching Mars-Chiron conjunction in Aquarius brings a point of reflection and, most likely, a wake-up call — and many turning points. Recall that Chiron is already in conjunction to the third centaur planet, Nessus (covered extensively in this space, and in my Q & A column) and there have been quite a few moments of clarity lately. Aquarius is a dimension that’s always waiting to crackle to life, and at the moment our culture is equally ready, wired for light, sound and video. In the digital world, information moves through consciousness fast, and it is continually archived. Our senses and nervous system are spread around the globe. All we need to do is tune in. And many are doing so. I propose that, were it not for new media, it would have taken the public 10 years to become as well informed as it currently is.

In many respects, this was a grim week: Neocon hawk Paul Wolfowitz was named to head the World Bank, described by his master as a compassionate person (a few have growled). Oil prices surged even as OPEC increased production quotas. The House of Representatives approved another $81.4 billion for the war. The Senate’s thin majority was close to trashing that body’s 200 year tradition of requiring widespread support for the approval of federal judges, apparently to appoint a few extremely imbalanced people to the bench. Invoking this ‘nuclear option’ could shut the Senate down if the minority refuses to cooperate with the many rules that require its participation. The Alaskan Wildlife Preserve was opened for exploitation of its few drops of low-quality oil, a move seemingly designed more to affront the sensibilities of those who care rather than to solve an energy problem. It became common knowledge that White House was busted for putting out fake news reports, and the Justice Department did nothing.

However, in the past few days, there has been what I think is a less routine and less predictable kind of turning point. Italy, once our staunch ally in the ‘Coalition of the Willing’, experienced a moment of clarity and announced that it will be the latest country to withdraw from the war. Perhaps you’re familiar with the story of how two weeks ago, the car carrying freed Italian hostage and journalist Giuliana Sgrena came under ambush by the American military at or near an Iraqi border checkpoint. In the assault, Nicola Calipari, the Italian intelligence officer who negotiated Sgrena’s freedom, dove to cover her and was killed by a shot to the head while saving her life.

He became a national hero of the Italian people, and the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, was forced by public pressure to announce withdrawal of troops beginning in September. This is the kind of event that can shape history, and it did.

The U.S. military’s story that the car approached the checkpoint at a high rate of speed and refused to stop when signaled strains pitifully for any credibility at all. These were seasoned military intelligence offers driving the car on an official mission, not drunk teenagers. They would no more approach a military checkpoint in a war zone at a high speed, or ignore official orders, than you would approach a toll plaza speeding, or ignore the hand signal of a cop to slow down. Even genuine idiot drivers usually respond to the hand signals of cops.

Survivors of the ambush said they had phoned ahead to the checkpoint and were expected, which Berlusconi personally vouched for. So, they were (by their account) expected.

If, however, there were no signals or lights, we are left to wonder why the U.S. military launched a spontaneous attack on a vehicle when there is official, high security business in progress. So no matter whose version of the story you accept, there is a serious problem with the U.S military’s conduct.

Why U.S. forces attacked a journalist is no great mystery; the U.S. military has shot lots of journalists in the past two years of this war, because the truth is damning, and journalists have a natural inclination to report what is happening. You cannot exactly bribe them in the Iraqi desert with lavish dinners and exotic hotels; one must keep a grip however is possible. Note that Sgrena works for a Communist newspaper, which should tell us something about why she was targeted. You can’t kill all the journalists, but you can kill some, and you can scare most of them.

It’s been reported that four hundred shots were fired at people who in theory are our friends. Italy’s withdrawal of support, in response to the attack, comes at a bad time for Washington. In recent weeks and months, the Netherlands, the Ukraine and Spain have also either withdrawn from the war or announced that they would be doing so. They have governments and leaders that are susceptible to public sentiment, and to common sense; all the prison atrocities, the lies and the utter failure of the project have not gone unnoticed. The United States government likes to make a big show of its contempt of the American people, except when pandering to their fears, which is conduct that is more cynical yet. But certain traditions persist in other countries, and my deep sense is that Italy’s withdrawal is a truly significant turning point; a kind of energetic tipping point.

It is true that Italy has 3,000 troops and Holland has 1,400. This is as many cops as Queens sends up to Manhattan the day of a big protest. You could say they are symbolic donations, except that the U.S. is calling twice-retired Army dentists and other senior citizens into active combat duty, due to its severe staffing problems.

The war in Iraq began two years ago, the day before the Aries equinox. This particular fact further lent support to my theory that the Bush administration has an astrologer who is doing everything he or she can to sabotage things. If you want a chart for beginning war that’s sure to go terribly, get bogged down in the mire and swallowed in its own lies, begin it the day before the Aries equinox, in late Pisces. For good measure, you might look for a Mars-Chiron conjunction.

We are now on the eve of another Mars-Chiron conjunction, the first in the sign Aquarius for more than 40 years. Aquarius is the sign of The People and of collective consciousness. It vibrates with themes of freedom, individuality and innovation. To the extent that Aquarius is about oppression (it is) the Chiron factor mitigates that to a great degree. And this time around, it’s a three-planet conjunction, involving a Centaur planet called Nessus, whose basic meaning translates to ‘the bottom line’. We are making progress, and this conjunction is about progress.

Two years ago, I asked, “What do the worst disasters of the Vietnam War, the downfall of a hawk president and the resignation of his distinguished, long-time secretary of defense all have in common? The answer is Mars conjunct Chiron.”

I quoted Dale O’Brien, a Eugene, Oregon-based astrologer who has studied Chiron in the charts of 2,500 individuals, has tracked the news and history, and has lectured and taught about the new planet since the early 1980s. His comments were prophetic.

“A significant issue would be being a bully, or being bullied,” he said in march 2003. “Psychologists have done these studies in which the abused tends to become the abuser. So whenever I see Mars-Chiron in any aspect, I look for that as a potential issue.” He said that Americans’ sense of being victimized by the Sept. 11 attacks, which was still more than a faint memory at the time, was essentially twisted into aggression by the government. But major strategy miscalculations were made.

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

“They weren’t behaving like human beings in war, they were using their animal instincts. Chiron, as a centaur, is half-human and half-animal; he is fully connected to his animal side.”

As such, Chiron and all the centaurs represent something that is, in a sense, super-human: we’re animals. We may speak and play musical instruments and do surgery on one another, but at the core, Chiron reminds us that we’re animals. Is it any wonder that Centaur planets are not especially welcome in the cerebral, Greek-dominated world of astrology?

Under the influence of Mars-Chiron, O’Brien explained, “The advantage is often for the underdog. He explained that the U.S. recently [in early 2003] dropped numerous pamphlets in Iraq about how to surrender. And then what happened is that the Iraqis read the pamphlets and in an incident last week, came out looking like they were surrendering, and caught the American military off guard. ‘Oh, we figured you were either fighting or surrendering’. And now the Americans are saying, ‘This is totally unfair, you guys are not fighting fair’. The American position is that they’re just supposed to stand there in their underwhelming numbers and their under-armed capacity and get the snot beaten out of them. So that issue is up, big time.”

He said the aspect could be likened to, “Underestimating one’s enemy militarily.” At the time, few would have foreseen that; we had what looked like the most powerful military in the world (by far, it is not — China’s is).

And he encouraged me to dig up the history of the peak years of the Vietnam war as told by Mars-Chiron conjunctions and see what I learned. The three dates that came up were Feb. 13, 1968, Jan. 29, 1972, and July 24, 1973. There’s a lot of history in those dates.

As a point of background, by the late 60s, the Vietnam war had become the longest running war in the history of this country, and over 30,000 Americans had died. Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, was president, and it was pretty much his war. He had inherited it from Eisenhower and Kennedy, but Kennedy was probably in the process of withdrawing troops at the time of his death, waiting for his second term. Under Johnson, influenced by banks, military contractors, and his hawk secretary of defense (and his own sense of insecurity), the war escalated greatly. But the Americans were bogged down in what was clearly becoming a no-win situation, and where everyone was losing.

Here is a re-cap of those dates from the original article.

<> The weeks surrounding the Mars-Chiron conjunction of Feb. 13, 1968 (in Aries) saw something called the Tet Offensive. This was a campaign by the North Vietnamese waged during the time of Tet, the Asian New Year, which is normally a time of truce. The offensive did not go well for the North Vietnamese from a military standpoint, but it was catastrophic for public relations in the eyes of the American people. It painted in the public’s minds a clear picture of a war that was out of control, contrary to all the neat, clean statistics, diagrams and predictions if inevitable victory being offered in repeated Pentagon briefings.

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

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

<> On February 29, 1968, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, one of the great hawks of his day — comparable to Donald Rumsfeld, but smarter — resigned after concluding that the U.S. could not win the Vietnam War. [His astonishing come-clean interview in the Academy Award winning film The Fog of War is essential viewing, in case you missed it.]

<> This was followed by the My Lai incident of March 16, 1968, which involved the infamous Charlie Company raping and massacring women and children in a Vietnamese village while superior officers hovered overhead in their helicopters. This incident was later exposed by investigative journalist Seymour Hersch, and became one of the great symbols of the atrocity of the war — and did much to turn the American people and the press against the war. We can presume there were many such incidents: but this one is the one that got out. Hersch has been one of the relentless voices for truth in Iraq.

<> On March 31, 1968, President Johnson announced a virtual halt to all bombing of North Vietnam in a unilateral gesture of peace; he discussed Vietnam in a speech for nearly 40 minutes, then announced, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president.” The shame and failure of the war drove him out of office. He was replaced by Nixon, who perpetuated it.

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

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

<> Instantly, the anti-war movement reacted in a national uprising. The protests were so fierce that fully one-third of the campuses in the U.S. were closed before finals, or the administration seriously considered doing so. It was in this week that National Guardsmen shot four by-passers at Kent State University in Ohio, and students were shot at and/or killed at other campuses as well, including Jackson State and the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The war still dragged on three more years, but finally, after a quarter century, Nixon and Kissinger pulled the plug and brought the troops home, but only after 54,000 were killed, hundreds of thousands were wounded and poisoned, and millions of Vietnamese were killed. Stupid policies can persist for decades. Just because they go on and on, and have elaborate rationales, does not make them right. But few people think they have the right to an opinion, particularly one that contradicts the television news.

A Mars-Chiron conjunction promises a turning point, not certain victory for justice — but it can be put to good use, and it can further the cause of peace. Certainly it does not make things easier for the perpetrators of war and it seems to make things a lot harder. The conjunction’s presence in Aquarius presents an interesting bit of data. We live in a world where things go faster now, and that speed can work to our advantage, if we take advantage of the intelligence we have and the resources we have available.

In our era, many people are becoming accustomed to expressing their ideas, whether in blogs, Web pages, discussion groups or emails to their friends. An enormous number of people are connected by the Internet, which is a very new development. There are ways to counter the official story, and the federal government’s never-tighter grip on information (where everything is a national security secret). Aquarius is a very, very different sign than Capricorn, where the last Mars-Chiron conjunction occurred at the start of the war, and which foreboded a kind of breakdown for official institutions that have not withstood the energy of Chiron well.

At the same time, the vibrational rate of reality has increased considerably since the Vietnam days. Many people have been pointed inward toward their own consciousness, where social awareness begins. A sense of personal responsibility has gradually emerged, even if it is often paralyzed by its own need to do exactly the right thing when it acts. Our sense of responsibility has clearly not reached critical mass, but there is a gradual stirring to life and consciousness that is apparent. I think Mars-Chiron-Nessus is a signifier of the next wave of awareness, and that wave is changing things now.

On top of it all, we’re heading into an extremely interesting equinox, eclipse and Mercury retrograde season, all involving Aries — as does Mars conjunct Chiron, since Mars is the ruler of Aries. Activity involving Mars, Aries and the Aries point have made life difficult for the masters of war in the past, and the approaching set of events is high-powered and grand-style. Let’s hope it’s a little too much awareness than the lies on which war thrives can stand. The sooner we wake up, I mean really wake up, the sooner people stop getting hurt for nothing. And we have the chance right now. ++

More articles: Intro to Aries, the Equinox, Mercury Retrograde and the Eclipse at I’ve done an overview of the Aries season on Jonathan’s site. It’s at my weekly Q & A column at this link: More info on the Aries point in an earlier article at:

Planet Waves Weekly Horoscope by Eric Francis
for March 18, 2005

Happy Birthday, Aries!

It may seem ambiguous and exaggerated to promise you the strangest and most interesting year of your life. But astrologically it is an accurate statement, and it is sound astrological advice. There is so much happening as the Sun makes its transit through your sign this year that there’s really no accounting for it. Mercury is retrograde, or very close to it, clear through from the Aries equinox through the Sun’s ingress to Taurus a month later.

There is an eclipse in your birth sign, which will probably affect Aries born April 5-15 more than others, but in reality everyone with the Sun, Moon or ascendant in this sign is affected and will notice the dramatic and momentous feeling effects of such a threshold.

Reverberations were bouncing through time like sonar beginning last March and April. There were reminders that something was imminent; there were most likely clues that you needed to get yourself ready, for someone, something, or some kind of intensified growth process. Now you’ve reached the peak of that moment. It is a good thing you’re an Aries and thrive on adventure and unpredictability, because that’s what you’re going to have in your life for a while. Many people would be cringing at the idea of so much progress all at once; for most, the idea of security is one and the same with stability.

I suggest you separate those two ideas to the greatest extent possible, particularly since real stability for you has more to do with going with the unusual changes and developments that seem to take over your life, than it does with holding onto what is sure and familiar. I have every confidence that you will be taken care of. I feel solid in saying that there are significant gifts coming your way if you can stay in the present moment and make your choices as you see them arise.

When the Sun makes its ingress into Aries in a few days, officially beginning your birthday season, it will be in an exact conjunction to the asteroid Amor. I happen to know that Cassanova, one of the most talented men (and lovers) of the modern age, as well as Alfred Kinsey, one of the most bold and curious, were born with the Sun conjunct Amor. So this bodes well for you, if you are looking for a life that is not what you would call ascetic.

Though you were never one to march along with the regiment, you are unlikely to havea much in common with the people who surround you, though a few will get the message and wake up to the changes that are imminent in their lives as well; there are some clues that significant partners are feeling these developments clearly, and that they have identified you as a point of origin, a reference and as a guide through this process.

There are many factors that suggest you’re in a real position to stand out from your friends and colleagues, and you will need to muster all your Aries power of will to remain clear, firm and secure. If or when you are confronted with anyone who might not seem to approve of you, your choices or your changes, remember that fear of feeling is the fear of life. Morals are nothing more than control devices put on those people who are not bold enough to declare for themselves what is right and what is wrong. You have no choice but to make this decision for yourself, and in one respect that is the spiritual lesson of the seasons that are ahead.

You may wonder, in the midst of this all, what is guiding you. The key factor is curiosity: the yearning and the quest for experience. Whether you’re driven by your hormones, your heart, or your soul, answer the calling to find out what this life holds for you, and what you have to offer it, and you will discover a lot more than you were expecting.

Aries (March 20-April 19)
You are certainly a person with a strong desire nature, though I think that as the season gets going, you will begin to feel the desires of others in a more direct way. The choice for how to respond is up to you, though you have a rare opportunity to truly indulge yourself in the erotic psyches of others. It helps immensely to create a safe space for people to express themselves. To sum it up in two words, offer emotional stability, and the willingness to consciously explore the feelings of others in a truly intuitive way. If you can do this, a world of bold and beautiful experiences awaits you.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You’ve reached a definite state of advancement, be it artistic, spiritual, or in the ever-elusive realm of self-acceptance. In the process, you have been through just about everything, sometimes once, sometimes twice, sometimes in endless cycles. But the way you have come to the place you are today no longer matters. Much of what you learned in the past can no longer serve. While you cannot pretend you know nothing, you can set its value aside, and enter a new realm of experience. This is truly a ‘take it as it comes’ time in your life.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
You’re much closer to realizing certain dreams or aspirations than you imagine. However, if you’re experiencing any kind of delay or frustration of your plans, quickly take a different approach. See, in particular, if you can consider the situation in the least personal way that you can. Keep the greater circumstances in mind, and the benefits that will come to the many people who are involved. Most of all, persist in your faith. Faith has the power to move mountains or build impossible bridges, because it opens the way to something more powerful, and more necessary, than our ambitions.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
In order to take advantage of the improvements that are rapidly developing in your professional life, you will need to reconsider your plans regularly, keep all the possibilities open, and be ready to make a few choices. Flexibility is essential at this time in your life, as is the willingness to revise your ideas. There is no other quality more supportive to the creative process, because it keeps the door open to that which is unknown or has never existed. You can trust that you’re stubborn and persistent enough to succeed; now you need to be willing to negotiate — in particular, with yourself.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
Religion often teaches that the love of God is more important than the love of humanity. At this time in your life, I suggest you consider that as a question, and not as an answer. I have no doubt that you’re feeling the ‘higher calling’ in life, the drive and desire to be the most complete person you can be, and that this may have some spiritual overtones. It’s also clear that love is the method for getting there. Yet you might ask: what is it in this life that will leave me feeling the most free? That is morality on a level that makes sense to you.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Any situation involving negotiating sex or money is likely to seem unusually complicated, and if so, I suggest it’s because you’re looking for yourself in the midst of it. If you try showing up knowing who you are and what you want, things are far likelier to go not only more smoothly, but also in some way you would prefer. If you don’t know who you are, people will take advantage of you. If you remain clear about who you are, it will be nearly impossible to do so, and you’ll be able to have both discussions, and experiences, on level ground.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
When Venus moves into Aries in a few days, you’re likely to notice that all the complications that have proven so frustrating over the past few days are little more than a state of mind. You need, however, to choose your state of mind, in part by choosing the people with whom you associate, since their psychological and emotional involvement will be deeply influential on you. It’s not so difficult. You can go through your day as if you’re shopping for awareness, asking yourself, “Do I like where this person is coming from?” And if not — then just move on, till you find exactly what you want.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
A specific domestic development you’ve been expecting or anticipating for some time is likely to unfold in the next few days. When it does, you will suddenly see a wide variety of connections between people, their motives, and how these contribute to you feeling safe. I suggest you put your own sense of security high on your agenda, and remember that you’re highly susceptible to the influences of your environment. Your usual tendency to take on the burdens of others is one that would be wise to turn down; you have your own needs, and you are finally in a position to get them met.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
While you may not exactly describe your life as being out of control, certain recent developments have given things a push in that direction. That influence, however, is backing off, and you’re likely to get the wild horses back into the corral with less effort than you imagined. Certain extraordinarily complex family situations that were threatening to come to a head will slowly lose their energy, and people will be more likely to give you time to work things out your way, in your time. They are not doing you any huge favors — it’s time and space they need as well.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
There is a credibility issue in the air; whose is it, yours, or a partner’s? Or is it possible there’s no difference between the two? The issue involves whether what is obviously the truth is accepted for what it is. That truth may involve someone’s comfort level, a degree of emotional stress, or the relatively simple fact of how much love and desire is a factor in the situation. I suggest you sit down with whoever may be involved, and get the truth out. You will both be a lot happier.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
Most of the people around you don’t recognize how complex your mental state is at the moment, and if they did, they would probably think you were a little nuts. The fact is, you are seeing some pretty deep connections, your intuition seems to be cautioning you about something truly important, and you know there is more to the picture than meets the eye. You, however, must not doubt your perceptions. You are in a moment of unusually profound insight, and the decisions you make based on what you now know will benefit you for years.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Struggles with self-esteem may be so basic to your nature that you don’t even notice them. On the other hand, nobody, not you or your worst detractors, can deny that you’re someone who is so yielding that you would be the way the world wants you to be. Sometimes this translates to infinitely helpful and supportive, and other times utterly lacking in confidence. The past, however, is the past. Many factors are adding up to your gaining what may be the most vivid sense that you now understand your beauty, your talents and your value to others. For you, this is daring territory — so take it as a dare.

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