Our Grow or Die Moment

Mister Happy Won the Trial! Photo by Doug Mills.

New York. Feb. 6, 2020 | Link to original

Dear Friend and Reader:

This has been a weird few weeks, pushing all limits. Everyone is feeling it, as some form of stress, vertigo, overwhelm, depression or exhaustion. And some are feeling the calling to rise to the occasion. I trust you’re one of them.

In tonight’s letter, I’m offering an analysis of what is happening now, and something of a map to the future. I am evolving my orientation from a political focus to a personal one. This letter is a point of transition.

Pluto as seen from New Horizons. We now know that Pluto is not just a binary, but a system of at least six points, with two at the core — Pluto and Charon (pronounced ‘karen’, the name of a male deity).

The U.S. and the U.K would appear to have a mostly political problem on their hands, as evidenced by a rogue presidency, a failed impeachment, and Brexit (which I don’t think anyone understands). For those who missed the most recent story, Britain officially divorced Europe a week ago, giving the English Channel new meaning.

In astrology, the seemingly political theme of our moment is emphasized in our maximum-density astrology in Capricorn, including the Saturn-Pluto conjunction, still in full force.

However, I would make a proposal. Our actual situation — the part that matters — is not political. It is social. Many factors, top among them the internet, confront us with a social problem. We are losing the ability to trust one another, and to communicate. We have all but lost any sense of cohesion in our lives.

All the noise and static about “identity” is just evidence that many people don’t know who they are, and are in extreme reaction. This reaction is not about self-discovery, it’s about being tribal. The tribal quality of our moment is being driven by the internet. At other times, it was radio and television.

Two Kinds of Tribal

When I say tribal, I don’t mean a bunch of aborigines having a goat for dinner. That’s the natural kind of tribal, a zone of consciousness from which we all emerge. I mean faux tribal as induced by electrical technology.

Being tribal works brilliantly for the political right, which is much better at the hive mentality and rallying around whatever — the flag, the dear leader, banning abortion, packing the courts, ripping apart Europe.

On the left, we have countless small tribes, warring factions and endless arguments over whose lives matter.

Here’s a lesson from history: the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s succeeded because leaders learned how to link the issues. Power in numbers meant finding common ground. After the war, the unified movement fell apart, disintegrating into the environmental movement and the black rights movement and the new age movement and many others that saw themselves as having separate interests.

How does this look today? Those to the conservative side of the spectrum are enjoying and exercising their rights and privileges. On the left, they are hiring people to tell them how racist they are — over a privileged, sumptuous meal.

Planet Waves
Here’s an artist’s conception of the Pluto system, showing some scale. Image below is a photo.

The United States Pluto Return

The United States is now fully engaged in its Pluto return — Pluto returning to the position it where was in its natal chart. This has been building for a while (I believe since Sept. 11, 2001), though it’s now front and center. If you are hearing any discussion of the empire crumbling (and there is plenty), this is the astrology driving the thought form and the conversation.

There are several dominant Pluto theories, though it’s crucial to remember that Pluto is the Roman god of the underworld, and commander of death, and is about the end of things. Sometimes those things transform, and sometimes they die.

Photo of the Pluto system, showing all six known points. Charon is not a moon of Pluto but rather its binary pair. The barycenter (center of gravity) is external to either point. By contrast, the Moon-Earth barycenter is inside the Earth.

From a psychological perspective, the feeling of Pluto is grow or die. There is an emotional and spiritual urgency that pushes, pulls, drives, attracts, or compels the person having the transit to act on it.

Though the Pluto return is focused on the United States chart, we — you and me and all our friends — are not an empire. We are people, and to some minimal extent, participants in the vast society. So we are experiencing this event in the U.S. chart indirectly. There will be fallout on us as individuals. Yet there’s only so much we can do in terms of the big picture.

What we do as individuals matters, mostly in terms of how we relate to one another. One of the problems of our time is the crumbling not of empire but of social bonds, largely driven by the chaotic, sudden, total immersion in the digital environment.

The “wind of madness sweeping the Earth” described this week by the Secretary General of the United Nations is, in my understanding, predominantly the effect of our merging our minds, bodies and relationships with the digital environment.

It has many properties: the escalation of tensions that he talks about; the destabilization of society; the breakdown of systems; and on the human level, the rise of fear, and fear as a way of life.

While there are many theories of Pluto, ultimately they are all driven by mortality. We are confronted by the impermanence of everything: ourselves, the patterns of our lives, our greatest accomplishments and those of our society.

The feeling of a Pluto transit is like being pushed, pulled or driven by an ‘unconscious’ force. My friend Martha Lang-Wescott pointed out in one of her talks that while we may curse Pluto while under its influence, we miss it when it’s gone. So, now is the time to tune in and take advantage of this; to take the opportunity.

Planet Waves
This is a rough diagram of our solar system. There are not “nine planets.” It’s visible here that the Pluto system is part of a massive entity called the Kuiper belt, of which there are currently more than 3,500 known members. The innermost circle in this diagram is Jupiter, and the second closest is Saturn. It is not to scale, but better than most diagrams.

A Planetary Return

For those not familiar with the concept of a “planetary return,” that’s when any orbiting body returns to the position where it started. Most astrology fans have heard of (and experienced) the Saturn return, which happens at ages 29 and 58. Many have heard of (and experienced) the Chiron return at age 51.

Any return (including solar and lunar) is the completion and beginning of a new cycle. They always come with challenges, which almost always fall under the general heading of growing up.

Most things in our version of the world don’t live to 248 years old. That includes critters, governments and companies. We have no notes from ancient astrology on Pluto, the planet; it was discovered long after the toga era, in 1930. So we don’t know much about this cycle as a natural event. But in the 90 short years since Pluto’s discovery, we have learned a little about it, from studying many personal transits and news events.

The first contact of transiting (real-life) Pluto with the natal position in the U.S. chart happens two years from now, on Feb. 20, 2022. That’s quite close given Pluto’s 248-year orbit. The next two contacts are July 11, 2022, and then finally Dec. 28, 2022. So 2022 is the big year. We don’t have long to get our act together.

The Acquittal Chart

For the past three weeks, there’s been something unusual happening — a trial of the president of the United States, before the Senate. That ended Wednesday at 4:33 pm.

Simplified version of the chart for Trump’s acquittal. Note that the Moon is opposite the Capricorn stellium. Over the next two years, the Moon will progress into an opposition with Pluto-Saturn and a square with Eris. That is when events involving Trump are likely to come to a head. This is not a prediction; we don’t know what is going to happen in this highly unusual situation. The one thing we know for sure about this chart is that the acquittal describes a developing situation — not the end of anything.

This is a not just a world horoscope, but also one we can take as a personal guide and timeframe. Note that the acquittal chart is directly related to the U.S. Pluto return, both in theme and in timing — though they are not the same thing. They are related because most of the important action involves Pluto in Capricorn in both charts; and because the U.S. chart has so much in Cancer, and the acquittal chart has the Moon in early Cancer.

In this article, I will focus on the acquittal chart, which I’ve also described in a video from earlier Thursday. If you’re feeling lost, just watch the video. It’s short and sweet.

When reading the chart of an event, you’re not looking just at something that stays in place. All charts develop, and their story is told partly in the moment of the event, and partly in how the chart progresses.

Progression is not something external happening to the chart; this is the chart itself developing from inside (your natal chart does this as well).

The Personal and the Public

The highlight of this chart is the Moon, which is early in the sign Cancer. This relates to the Aries Point, which is connected to a very wide public, and also to the private feelings of an individual. We know we have a high-impact event becasue the Moon is early in a cardinal sign.

The Moon is making a pattern. The pattern currently includes everything with a number value of about five or less, but ultimately brings in everything in Capricorn and Aries.

A somber and emotional Mitt Romney, former Republican presidential nominee, former governor of Massachusetts, and currently senator from Utah, explains why he is voting to convict President Trump of abuse of power. Consistent with the Moon-Chiron-Pholus theme, Romney admitted that this was a painful decision that would unleash retaliation against him — from his own party.

Most significantly, it is square Chiron and opposite Pholus (aspects drawn in marker). These are centaurs, not asteroids (centaurs have long orbits, and are more influential by a few orders of magnitude). The Moon’s contact with Chiron and Pholus ramps up the energy, and is what gives this chart (and our moment) its edgy quality.

Chiron (the orange key) in Aries talks about identity politics (which currently affect everything) and a sense of personal injury which could be on the infantile emotional level, and also to the public trust (Cancer Moon topic). If you want to understand the concept of identity politics, translate it to victim politics.

Cancer Moon square Chiron is intense emotion, and triggers the need or impulse to act — but most people will stuff it, or take it out on themselves, out of insecurity. Chiron in Aries is exactly conjunct another point — Salacia — that relates to the underlying sexual (salacious or otherwise) nature of this situation. Salacia has a way of turning everything into porno, even the State of the Union Address.

But it’s also about sexual maturity. Part of the sex story here is that pent-up energy makes people feel, think and do weird things. It leads to internal emotional meltdowns and also pushes people out of body, which is why the public is having such a hard time responding. Most people view the world as a virtual reality event. Were events perceived as physical and relevant, people would care more.

The Pressurized Release

Moon opposite Pholus (the green key) means the lid is coming off of something. It is a trigger. This also describes how the underlying issue is family. If you are wondering about the passionate attachment to Trump, think: DADDY.

This feature, known as Wright Mons, was informally named by the New Horizons team in honor of the Wright brothers. At about 90 miles (150 kilometers) across and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) high, this feature is enormous. If it is in fact an ice volcano, as suspected, it would be the largest such feature discovered in the outer solar system. Photo: New Horizons.

We live in a society with serious and deep parental issues, and people tend to cling to whatever symbol seems to fill the void. Currently, Trump is the big stand-in for daddy, Nancy Pelosi for mommy, Adam Schiff for the friendly, reasonable uncle, and so on. Ask any competent therapist or astrologer: even into their 60s and 70s, many people are still dealing with mommy and daddy issues.

Unresolved family material is paralyzing.

What is Pholus going to do here? What of all the unresolved pain that’s being held down? Well, it’s not helping anything to hold it down. And it does not help to project it onto the political arena (or mirage, as you wish).

If we need to take anything personally, we should be taking our personal lives personally. This is not about marching in the street. It’s about reading the right books (you can start with A General Theory of Love), finding good therapy, and learning how to be honest with the people around you. Families teach us how to lie, to preserve our place in the social order.

Note: personal and family drama is not a sign of working out family material. It is a sign of indulging it. Drama is one of the most distracting things in the world: distracting from growth, from creativity, and from meaningful involvement with the world. When you start to eschew drama, and decide you’ve had enough, and move on from the people who seem to cause it, you’re probably making progress.

Following the Moon to 2022

Now for the Moon’s movement, by progression — slow movement of a chart, not something happening from the outside. Here is where we get into predictive astrology, using the chart for an event. I am not going to predict outcomes, but I can tell you that this intense, early-degree Moon says that this story has just begun. It is not over.

The Moon is at the beginning of Cancer, powerful in its own sign. The program begins with the Moon square Chiron/Salacia and opposite Pholus. Just in that setup is all kinds of family material.

Imagine the Moon moves slowly, about one degree per month. As it does, aspects come into focus. This chart is telling a story that will unfold over about two and a half years, making a series of aspects to all those planets in Capricorn and finally Eris in Aries. Currently, the most significant mutual aspect (an event happening in the sky) is Pluto square Eris, which is illustrated in this chart.

Follow the story: the Moon will first align in an exact square to Chiron. This is the wake-the-fuck-up call. Whether one’s drug is sugar, cynicism, ignorance, rage, or alcohol, this is the stab of pain that is the call to attention.

This composite of enhanced color images of Pluto (lower right) and Charon (upper left), was taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it passed through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015. This image highlights the striking differences between Pluto and Charon. The color and brightness of both have been processed identically to allow direct comparison of their surface properties, and to highlight the similarity between Charon’s polar red terrain and Pluto’s equatorial red terrain. Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. Photo: New Horizons / JPL.

Then the Moon completes its opposition to Pholus, which starts to vent the pressure. Then it crosses the North Node and opposes Pallas on the South Node (a comment about politics as usual falling apart, and also a reminder to reclaim our most important traditions).

Next the Moon opposes Jupiter and things get BIG. There is more call to justice (also encoded into Chiron). Then the Moon opposes the Saturn-Pluto conjunction. And at the same time, it squares Eris.

The timing on this chart takes us out to early 2022. When we look back, just about everything up to the first impeachment will seem like obvious pointers along the way, amazing that anyone missed them. Don’t expect everyone to wake up, because you cannot awaken anyone who is pretending to be asleep.

The Moon Is What Changes

The Moon is what goes through a transformational process here. Remember, I am speaking about the chart for an event (the acquittal) as it develops. The Moon is us as individuals, as small groups, as society itself. It will seem like we are going through a political process, though to a real degree, politics is the distraction.

We need to focus there with discipline, remembering that the political chaos we are witnessing is a function of the social pain, alienation and chaos beneath it. We have much more influence over how we conduct ourselves socially. The reality in which we are living is about being conditioned to act like robots: to treat one another not only impersonally, but with cruelty (whether subtle or overt, passive or active) that does not need to be, and which is not helping anyone. Not you, not the other person.

We are not going to claim back “society” until we claim back the integrity of our social relationships. We cannot work together until we trust one another. We cannot solve large problems until we are interested in solving small ones.

This is good news, if we take it to heart.

We can always stick to our separate interests. That’s an easy game to play. We can keep ourselves busy arguing about who is more politically correct, who is more privileged, who is a bigger victim. But why?

Be grateful for your dry roof, and do what you can. Chances are it’s more than you’re doing now. So today, I leave you with a question: what’s it gonna be? Grow, or die?

With love,


Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Sunday and Thursday evening in Kingston, New York, Planet Waves, Inc. Core Community membership: $197/year. Editor & Publisher: Eric F. Coppolino. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Astrology Editor: Amanda Painter. Associate Editor: Amy Elliott. Assistant Editor: Joshua Halinen. Client Services: Victoria Emory. Illustrator: Lanvi Nguyen. Finance: Andrew Slater. Archivist: Morgan Francis. Technical Assistants: Emily Thing, Cate Ryzhenko. Proofreading: Jessica Keet. Media Consultant: Andrew McLuhan. Music Director: Daniel Sternstein. Bass and Drums: Daniel Grimsland. Additional Music: Zeljko. Additional Research, Writing and Opinions: Yuko Katori, Cindy Tice Ragusa and Carol van Strum.

“I want to repeat this, because it is vital that you hear this. Once before on your planet, the technology you developed was far greater than your ability to use it responsibly. You are approaching the same point in human history again. It is vitally important that you understand this. Your present technology is threatening to outstrip your ability to use it wisely. Your society is on the verge of becoming a product of your technology rather than your technology being a product of your society. When a society becomes a product of its own technology, it destroys itself.”
— Conversations with God

Mitt Romney’s Statement on Conviction of Trump

“Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mitt Romney received the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. He was the sole Republican who voted to convict President. Trump. See the video here. The full text follows.

The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it. The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of Congress for these many days. We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it. We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.

The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a Senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise “impartial justice.” I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

The House managers presented evidence supporting their case; the White House counsel disputed that case. In addition, the president’s team presented three defences: first, that there can be no impeachment without a statutory crime; second, that the Bidens’ conduct justified the president’s actions; and third that the judgment of the president’s actions should be left to the voters. Let me first address each of those defences.

The historic meaning of the words “high crimes and misdemeanours,” the writings of the Founders, and my own reasoned judgment convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they are not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office. To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove a president defies reason.

The president’s counsel noted that Vice President Biden appeared to have a conflict of interest when he undertook an effort to remove the Ukrainian prosecutor general. If he knew of the exorbitant compensation his son was receiving from a company actually under investigation, the vice president should have recused himself. While ignoring a conflict of interest is not a crime, it is surely very wrong.

With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavoury but also not a crime. Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the president’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the president’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit. There is no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the president would never have done what he did.

The defence argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president. Hamilton explained that the Founders’ decision to invest senators with this obligation rather than leave it to voters was intended to minimise – to the extent possible – the partisan sentiments of the public.

This verdict is ours to render. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty. The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanour.”

Yes, he did.

The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.

The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.

The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.

The president’s purpose was personal and political.

Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.

What he did was not “perfect” – no, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

In the last several weeks, I have received numerous calls and texts. Many demand that, in their words, “I stand with the team.” I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind. I support a great deal of what the president has done. I have voted with him 80% of the time. But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.

I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?

I sought to hear testimony from John Bolton not only because I believed he could add context to the charges, but also because I hoped that what he said might raise reasonable doubt and thus remove from me the awful obligation to vote for impeachment.

Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence. I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character. As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We have come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.

I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the president from office. The results of this Senate Court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgment of the American people. Voters will make the final decision, just as the president’s lawyers have implored. My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate. But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong.

We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.

Leave a Comment