New Clear Blues

AS IF the world did not have enough problems right now, it would appear that North Korea successfully tested an atomic bomb earlier this week. There is no independent confirmation of a nuclear event, only a seismic reading observed at about 10:35 am local time near Gilju on the Korean peninsula, north of the border. Warnings and threats were issued in advance. I was doubtful, till I saw the chart. And until I remembered what I was writing six months ago.

Photo by Gerard Gueniot.

Back in the spring, I warned that September through November was a time of “threading the eye of the nuclear needle.” Many charts relevant to the discussion of atomic weapons and radiation are going off at once, if you’ll excuse the pun. “This is a turning point in the history of the nuclear world,” I wrote into the published caption of one of those charts, which will be exact Nov. 6, but which has been rather active going back to late summer.

Let’s back up a little, for the sake of anyone who is new to the astrology of the Bomb. There is one chart that is the basis of the discussion: the first time a self-sustaining nuclear reaction was created, as part of the Manhattan Project, in 1942 (the USA’s then-secret program to make an atomic bomb). Remarkably, it was only 32 months between a chain reaction in a Chicago lab to the Hiroshima bomb that vaporized much of a city, and killed and sickened hundreds of thousands of people; followed by Nagasaki, for which there was no excuse, military, political, moral or otherwise.

The first self-sustaining reaction chart has a name — the Nuclear Axis. The “axis” part is a strip across early-to-mid Gemini and Sagittarius, and when these degrees of the zodiac are activated by planets going by (called a transit), the nuclear issue heats up dependably. Given that Pluto has recently covered the territory, we are lucky that we’ve done so well. But Uranus is now there, and its energy tends to be more overt and expressive rather than deep and mysterious like Pluto. Still, Pluto’s journey across the axis (along with Saturn, in late 2001 through 2002) gave us the deep and mysterious Sept. 11 incident, the physical location of which was called Ground Zero (previously, the term for the epicenter of a nuclear detonation).

What a great idea! Diagram of the first atomic bomb,the Little Boy, that was dropped on Hiroshima. Imagecourtesy of Dr. Oppenheimer and Wikimedia Commons.

What Sept. 11 may have lacked in radioactivity it more than made up for in dioxin. This is a sad reality now coming home to the men and women who worked in New York City close to the fires and cleanup, where plastic, carpeting and chemicals smoldered for weeks. You get a lot of things from a fire like that, and you get a chemical called TCDD, tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin. It is a chemical with the power of radiation, measured in amounts as small as trillionths of a gram, when it’s measured at all.

Yet the nuclear issue is lurking in the back of everyone’s minds, and maybe closer to the front than usual. There are a lot of possibilities for things to go wrong, from a Russian suitcase nuke getting into the wrong hands, to use of a Made In USA tactical weapon or ten of them on Iran. It is not merely George Bush and Dick Cheney who put the thought into our heads, though they are not helping the situation. We have lived in the nuclear shadow for a long time. Everyone alive today has done most or all of their growing up knowing that it all could be over in 15 minutes, meanwhile being told that actually, those bombs made us safer.

If we knew how much human ingenuity, resources and money that could have ended poverty and cured disease went into piling up nuclear weapons, we would have reason to grieve. Not that we don’t anyway. I think everyone knows how dangerous the situation has been, and how much more dangerous it’s becoming as the world situation is pushed to the brink and heated up to the flashpoint, but we just do what we can: hope for the best.

And we can read the astrology. Why not; it’s a good way to get some detachment. Here is the chart for the test, based on the seismic reading taken Monday. The coordinates used are those provided for the epicenter. Let’s see what it reveals.

Let me get technical on you; for this section I must.

The Moon is a good thing to check first in any chart (the ascendant works too), and the Moon is in Taurus, about to make aspects to Neptune, Jupiter and Saturn — a grand cross. That is not small fries, it’s definitely a supersize sundae. The Moon will continue to make progressed aspects to these three planets for the next 10 months.

As for what happened this week, that is, was it really a nuke, the first giveaway in the chart is the ascendant/descent angle — which goes right through early Gemini and Sagittarius, exactly where the nuclear axis begins. The way you say this if you’re an astrology professor is, “In this chart for the supposed nuclear test in North Korea, the Nuclear Axis is angular.” Angular means that something makes contact with the ascendant/descendent angle, or the midheaven/nadir axis — the “angles.” Those angles are like the chart’s eyes, ears and fingers. They are how the chart senses and feels. When they are touching something, they feel it, and the chart vibrates with the energy. Either that, or you look it up in a book and get a clue.

Sagittarius is rising, thus Gemini is on the 7th house (the rising sign, or 1st house, and 7th house, are always opposite one another). The 7th house cusp picks up Uranus from the Nuke Axis chart because they have the same degree, 2+ Gemini.

Uranium is the radioactive metal named for the planet Uranus, and the first metal used to make a nuclear bomb. And it is Uranus in the Nuclear Axis chart that shows up most prominently in Monday’s bomb test chart; the two are exactly conjunct, to the degree. The 7th house is about relationships and this is surely about a relationship with the power of the split atom. If we take Uranus as a psychological or experiential factor, it’s usually a shock or surprise, as well as often standing for a technological breakthrough. But this was one surprise that should not shock anyone.

There has been some speculation that this test involved a bomb that went wrong. Media reports via BBC say the French are not convinced that it was a nuke, or suggest that it’s a nuke that didn’t quite work (the French have some of the world’s most advanced nuclear scientists). One possible hint that it’s a nuke that went popped halfway is that the ascendant has not quite reached 3 degrees. This is generally the sign in an event chart that something is ready to go. However, with 2 degrees and 58 minutes rising, it appears to be almost ready.

Bruce Cunnings, a history professor at the University of Chicago, summed it up well, quoted in Thursday’s New York Times: “The nuclear test is a response to the threat that North Korea feels. It’s entirely real. It’s not a figment of their imagination. They were put in the axis of evil. We have nuclear weapons pointed at them, and we have for decades.”

Meanwhile, Uranus in Monday’s bomb test chart (that is, transiting Uranus) is about to make another square to the Sun of the Nuclear Axis chart (Uranus, now in Pisces, square the Sagittarius Sun in the Nuke Axis chart). A square is the aspect of “something happens” and the Sun is one of the central ideas in any chart, the power source, the main place the spotlight shines or rather, the light itself. Uranus square the Sun feels a little like a detonation.

Looking at the chart, notice how much energy is spread across the left side, and the top left, in particular. That’s the public quarter of the chart and, whether radioactive or not, and whatever else is going on behind the scenes (there is plenty, which I’ll get into), what we have here is a big show. Something involves reputation and power, or the perception of power. The highest planet in the chart is Juno, famous for her jealousy and scorekeeping. Juno, in fact, missed no opportunity to be jealous. That angle, the dark line pointing sort of straight up (the 10th house cusp, and often called the midheaven or MC), happens to be the one about the leadership of nations and corporations. The chart is about Korea (a nation), and Juno symbolizes its not only threatened, but jealous, leader. Not a good combination, but it’s the combination we have.

The next point is the South Node, which is astrological shorthand for “old story.” Nukes are indeed an old story. I have noticed that any time the MC is pressing in the lunar nodes in a natal chart like that, there is often a struggle around parental authority, where the energy is basically stuck in the past. You could read it as the need to give up being controlled. Given the state of the world, however, it’s extremely last year for world leaders to be playing a chess game where billions of lives are at stake. Everyone knows that nuclear bombs are like popcorn. Once you set one off, it’s all very hard to stop.

I could go on here dissecting the 10th and 11th houses, but I want to skip to Scorpio and the 12th house, which are the truly disturbing, if interesting, parts of this chart, and which tell a story that will unfold in the public sphere and in all our lives over the next two months.

First, notice how close those two planets are, Mercury (green guy with horns) and Jupiter (orange symbol that looks like a 4). Mercury and Jupiter are about to make a series of three conjunctions, two in Scorpio later in October, and one in early Sagittarius (where Mars is directly involved). The third one is the one to watch: Dec. 11, an exact conjunction of Mars, Mercury and Jupiter right in the ascendant of this chart — that is, just one degree into the 1st house.

Before that, there’s a lot of wheeling and dealing behind the scenes, in that Scorpio 12th house. Let’s just put it this way. It is extremely ambiguous in all of this who is a friend and who is an enemy; who is the big boss and who is the peon; who is doing what, and why. And as usual, the main nuclear threat involves communication and problems therewith: who says what, who means what, and what signals countries are sending one another.

But my take is that whatever went off Monday in North Korea was indeed a nuclear weapon and that the issue is developing rapidly behind the scenes; and is going to start moving quickly as planets start to ingress Sagittarius in early December.

Of course, nukes are not going to be the only topic of conversation; everything is on the table. Because when that energy starts to move — and we will have earned it, after whatever this Scorpio Mercury Rx is about — it’s going to move fast, somewhat unpredictably, and with gusto.

Jupiter square Saturn: Block, or Building Block?

I HAVE heard the word “blocked” about 50 times this afternoon, in three different conversations. First I wandered into a newly relocated mystical bookstore that has taken over a space the size of a small department store. I asked if they had a tarot card reader in English (I still like reading cards in person) and the owner offered me a chance to test out.

I chose the Dutch version of the Rider-Waite tarot and went to work, with the owner and her two assistants present at a black-felt covered table, with a tall candle burning, listening attentively. They insisted that I do the session in French so that everyone could understand, which is a stretch for me.

And in every direction there was a block of some kind; resistance; a dead end; a bog.

Now I am working in a health food restaurant in a swanky part of Brussels, and I keep getting asked about astrology. I also have a copy of the Hansen-Roberts tarot on the table and that is attracting attention, to wit, from a press officer from the Hungarian embassy to the EU who happened to be here with her kid. Everything is blocked, she said. She used the word about 25 times.

Last a friend called me tonight: she is feeling very blocked. We had a long talk about plans, structure, self-esteem…and Saturn.

There are definitely some blockages in the world right now, and interesting images in the planets — one in particular, the ongoing Jupiter-Saturn square. Squares are blocks — and building blocks. They force us to integrate very different things, resolve paradoxes and get our lives to work. But they are not easy.

Jupiter in Scorpio is pushing into a long, agonizing square with Jupiter in Leo. This is the third of a three-part story: first pass, Dec. 17, 2005; second pass, June 22, 2006 (at summer solstice time); and third pass about to happen, Oct. 26, 2006. Mercury in its retrograde process is directly involved in that one, and in fact, Saturn is still in the process of opposing Neptune. So Neptune is still out there throwing a haze over things, melting the sand castles and making alcohol extremely appealing (naturally, because too much of reality is a dangerous thing).

Imagine the two largest planets making a right angle with the Earth right in the corner. Combined, these planets are more than 2,000 times the size of the Earth. Back and forth, this right angle has been coming in and out of aspect, applying and separating and now applying again. The feeling is one of working through something. It’s more productive than it feels — I suspect for many people it does not feel productive at all. But it’s like all that Jupiter energy of potential is pushing with all its considerable might on the structure and necessity function of Saturn.

Everyone depends on Jupiter to improve their lives, and now Jupiter is having to depend upon Saturn to be exist in a tangible way — this is often the case, that Saturn gives Jupiter form. So if this phase is calling on you to get serious, get organized, lay down a structure, and so on — it’s not only worthwhile, it’s the tune of the times.

Short Comment on Forthcoming Mercury Retrograde

WRITING HOROSCOPE after horoscope on the coming few months, I’ve been living the Mercury retrograde pattern out holographically again and again, and it IS interesting. Mercury heads into late Scorpio, making a conjunction to Jupiter and a square to Saturn, then turns retrograde, setting off the square again. Because Neptune is in the degree range (in Aquarius) Mercury squares Neptune as well.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, the real kicker is Election Day USA, when Venus and Mercury make a conjunction and square Neptune. It’s mind-boggling and so complicated, it verges on funny.

But then suddenly the energy opens up. Planets start to move in to Sagittarius, and by Dec. 10, there is an exact, triple conjunction of Mars, Mercury and Jupiter in early Sagg. You could not have more brilliantly different energy as contrasted with the Scorpio square dance. It is like the long, strange process of Mercury retrograde is leading up to something. But for various reasons, we cannot quite see what.

Scene on main plaza, Krakow, Sept. 28, 2006. Picture by Eric Francis. You can read Eric’s week-longphoto and article series on his visit to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Memorial at this link.

Weekly Horoscope for Friday, October 13, 2006, #632 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Allow the glory of those you love to shine all over you. True freedom is, at the moment, the freedom to allow and encourage others to enjoy their lives. You would not merely be coming along for the ride in such a case, but rather your presence and encouragement gives those you love permission to open up. Family Focus: All siblings are twins: exactly the same, and entirely different.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You really are participating in the events of your life, even though at times you may feel like a detached bystander or witness. You may, however, need to involve yourself more consciously and in ways that make you need to stretch, adjust and reach for new possibilities. If you can do that, you will find them. Family Focus: Bear with certain emotional pressures a few more weeks — they will subside.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
You can now get to the bottom of a health-related issue that has been the source of a long-term struggle or challenge. But before you devote yourself to getting past it, stop and consider the valuable life lessons you’ve learned along the way. I trust you would not trade them for anything. Family Focus: You have more in common with your children than you may imagine — so discover and enjoy.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Close partners are under pressure that you cannot quite see but you may be able to feel. Make sure that living up to your expectations is not one of them. Stand back and give them the psychic and emotional space they need. They will be deeply appreciative, though at this point they may lack the words to express it. Family Focus: Plan for an extended-distance adventure with kids the next few weeks — at least a two-hour drive.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
Enjoy the tangible experience of getting over a crisis of self-expression that has existed in varying degrees the past year or so. A hidden door opens in the midst of all your responsibilities and life pressures, and you get to have the conversation you’ve always wanted, write the ultimate love letter, or paint your room your favorite color. Family Focus: Everyone needs more space. First, take a little for yourself.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
By all rights, your financial picture should be excellent, and if not, you may want to consider why. It would seem that the only missing ingredient is a creative approach to the economics, and that means more than counting up your beans. A soon-to-arrive idea for a financial project is well worth your attention. Family Focus: You’ve been emotionally independent a long time, but you need more.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
The paradox of the moment is that you’re the one who has so much to give, yet you have some deep needs that remain unaddressed. Today you have little choice but to persist with faith. As doors open one-by-one over the next few weeks, you’ll recognize that a truly beneficial exchange is possible. Family Focus: You have tried to be the ultimate diplomat. Fortunately, you’ve failed, and now you can be real.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
There is more to life than dreams, fantasies and wishes, but over the next few weeks, personal fulfillment arrives in different colors than you may have been expecting. Indeed, expectations are the whole problem; but there are times when actual events far outdo what we may have hoped for, so please set your hopes aside. Family Focus:Every crisis has a gift, if you will only look for it.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. Your role at this point is to prepare yourself, by being available, open to change, and to the greatest extent possible, free from past influences. Repeat the mantra, “I am who I am in this moment only.” This should get you some very good results, including noticing that several people around you are awake as well. Family Focus: Really listen to, and think about, what your children say this week. You cannot pay them too much attention.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
To make the most out of these miraculous weeks, you need to adopt a new style. Look through the different roles people seem to play, such as their social status and the importance of their job, and see them vividly as equal to you. They are human, they have needs, and we all have a gift for one another. Family Focus: Experiment with activities that show children the kinds of things they can do as adults.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
Professional developments and reputation are in the spotlight now, and you need to live every moment as if your special destiny awaits you. The cosmic law that what you project outward comes back to you is working in full force — so be your most beneficent, generous self, and take every opportunity to help people that you can. Family Focus:You have come a long way toward discovering who you are and this has been very good for your family.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Life rarely lives up to its potential. But this is the time to light the fire of faith, and to fan the flames every day. It’s also the time to stop thinking about what you cannot be and start thinking about who you are and what you can do. Yes, you’ve faced a lot of obstacles lately — but even those run out eventually. Family Focus: If you’ve never had kids, you may be considering it seriously now.

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