The Delicate Sound of Lightning

Dear Friend and Reader:

BARACK OBAMA’S inauguration next week is the chart of a world in transition, or one about to unravel. These may amount to the same thing, necessary aspects of the same process: though if you ask me, this is a dangerous chart. We live in dangerous times and most of us have no clue the extent or depth of this fact, nor its profound virtue. This chart contains both the idealism of the election and also references to the mess that we are going to be left to clean up in the wake of what amounts to either an eight-year military dictatorship or abusive marriage.

Swallow and don’t stop. By Danae Sinclair.

Before I get into the chart, I want to offer a little background material on inauguration charts in general. And first, a bit about the word: it’s related to the concept of augury, or divination by the flight of birds. Etymology Online says the roots go back to Latin: “consecration, installment under good omens,” from inaugurare, “take omens from the flight of birds, consecrate or install when such omens are favorable.”

It’s unfortunate that astrologers cannot choose the time of the inauguration; rather, the time is constitutionally fixed, at noon on Jan. 20 after the election. This year it’s on a Tuesday, that is, this coming Tuesday. In our current era, the Sun is always in the first degree of Aquarius for the inauguration, and Taurus is always rising. The degree 14+ Taurus has been the rising degree since the second Nixon inauguration in 1973. (The position of the Sun and ascendant for a chart cast for the same time and place, year after year, will gradually drift due to something called precessional movement of the Earth; that is, our planet wobbling on its axis makes even fixed positions drift gradually over the centuries. There is a nice animation at the wiki link that I’ve highlighted.)

The Sabian symbol image associated with 14+ Taurus is a man braving a storm. The degree associated with the first degree of Aquarius is an old Adobe mission in California. One is a personal symbol, an individual facing adversity; the other is about the selfless legacy we leave behind for the benefit of others, symbolized by the California system of missions that has endured through many decades til the present day. We have images of both the personal and transpersonal experience of the new president. We’re reminded we’re acting on behalf of the future.

You can look forward at inauguration charts for generations; assuming that the scheduled time is not changed (that’s only happened once, when inaugurations were moved to Jan. 20 by the 20th Amendment), something unlikely to happen for a while, you can get glimpses ahead at history. We can also look back and see how the astrology reckons with what actually happened.

The question is what these charts really mean; and they do seem to mean something. Inauguration charts for both of Clinton’s terms and both of Bush’s terms were dark, suggesting extraordinary controversy and contention. Looking in 20/20 hindsight, had we understood Nessus, we could have predicted a sex scandal for Clinton’s second term. Bush’s second term chart was characterized by cruelty as a leader. Bush’s charts had death painted all over them; astrologers all wondered whether it would be him.

Bush miraculously managed to survive his two terms (despite the curse of the “zero year,” but he’s leaving office as broken of a man as Bill Clinton was, though without Clinton’s poise). Bush is trying to convince us that he has left a brilliant historical legacy. I think that this reveals the extent of his hubris: the nation is hobbled by two wars, bankrupt banks and both industries associated with the American dream, the home and the car, are devastated.

His true legacy has yet to emerge, and once it starts to come out, it’s going to be like dropping Mentos into a two-liter bottle of Pepsi.

Tuesday’s chart has several distinct features that speak of rapid change in movement that sets in instantly upon the inauguration. Two stand out right away: Mercury is not only retrograde, but it’s about to change signs to Capricorn. And the Moon is void of course. It’s so close to the end of Scorpio that had the inauguration happened just 24 minutes later, it would be taking place under a Sagittarius Moon with a very different feeling.

Also, we know that Pluto is at the beginning of its journey through Capricorn; and that Saturn, the ruling planet of that sign, is being opposed repeatedly by Uranus. These are longer-term symbols of changes to the structure of society, including government, business and perhaps the nation itself.

Finally, there is something that had long confounded me and is now starting to make a lot more sense. Two symbols of the marital partner — the asteroid Juno and a centaur planet called Chariklo — are occupying prominent places in this chart. Indeed, Juno is the most elevated planet in the chart. Now that we know something about Michelle Obama, we can see that she is likely to have an extraordinary leadership role as her husband begins the task of cleaning up the mess left by eight years of Bush and half a century of an unbridled military-based economy.

Let’s take these chart factors one at a time, remembering to keep them in context.

Mercury Retrograde

The inauguration takes place with retrograde Mercury making an exact interior conjunction to the Sun in the first degree of Aquarius. This is three statements in one: Mercury is retrograde; it’s exactly conjunct the Sun; and it’s about to change signs. I am sure everyone aware of this is wondering what this Mercury retrograde means.

Things never go as planned with Mercury retrograde; never is a strong word and I am using it consciously. Things don’t necessarily go badly under Mercury retrograde, but the plan changes. Events and information can be confusing, and it’s difficult to get to the essence of the problem. It’s difficult to plan for. Retrogrades tend to go particularly poorly if you don’t have a little money stashed away and if you don’t take care of your computer, your car and other basic technology devices.

I checked inauguration charts going back to Nixon in 1969. Mercury is always in Capricorn or Aquarius when the new president is sworn in; more often it’s in Capricorn. It’s only been retrograde twice in that time: when Nixon was inaugurated in 1969, and when Daddy Bush was inaugurated in 1989; both times it was in Aquarius when retrograde. It’s never been in a configuration even close to what we’re witnessing now, with Mercury at the edge of a sign, so at least that symbolism fits the picture: we are in unique, edgy and unpredictable days.

Mercury rules the chart’s 2nd house, that of values and wealth. It’s about to change signs moving backwards, from Aquarius to Capricorn, which is a good symbol of a recession.

But it also speaks to mentality. The president, in part represented by the Sun conjunct Jupiter in Aquarius, is a progressive person who has cloaked himself as a moderate, kind of like George Bush did: a radical conservative who claimed to be a moderate. The public, for its part, is reticent to express its progressive values, even though it may have them deep down on some personal level. We need to be moving deeper into Aquarius, and we are reluctant to do so.

Looked at another way, the money (Mercury, ruler of the 2nd) is going toward the corporations (Capricorn) and not the people (Aquarius). But the money is merely a reflection of values. We are still way too enamored of megamultinational companies for our vittles. We need a national movement of making our own soup, and getting rid of frozen microwavable.

The Moon is Void of Course

The void of course Moon is one of those things that can drive astrology students nuts, and it has some distinct properties. The easiest way to define it is that the Moon is very late in a sign. A more technically accurate way to say it is the Moon makes no new major aspects to major planets before entering the next sign. This is true of the inauguration Moon. To me this is a comment about the public being off its bearings than anything else. Most people are not connected to the challenges of the world, nor do they want to see them for what they are.

It’s worth noting that the Moon was void of course for part of Election Day, and that in certain versions of Obama’s many charts (his birthtime is not known, despite a diversity of claims), it’s also void of course there (in late Taurus, so the inauguration Moon is opposite his natal Moon).

What I have noticed is that in addition to things not going as planned, unlikely things happen when the Sun or Moon is void. It’s like a little door opens and the usual rules are suspended. If you know this, you can work with it. Awareness is the key, however, and that’s a scarce commodity.

The Moon is, however, exactly conjunct a centaur called Amycus, which has a very long orbit of 126 years (about six times longer than Saturn’s orbit, for reference). Most astrologers would deny that this eliminates the void condition, but you can’t ignore a conjunction if you know about it. Philip Sedgwick suggests that Amycus is about the creation of a long legacy; and also about “doctrines and policies designed to produce a result (policy manuals, creeds), any mechanical device that enables a shift in energy, for instance a clutch for shifting gears, monuments, commandments (as in carved in stone), pictographs and petroglyphs.”

Pluto, Saturn, Aquarius and Capricorn

Barack Obama was elected the very day that Saturn and Uranus — the two rulers of Aquarius — met in an opposition for the first time in 42 years. Two of the largest, most dynamic planets, they will make a total of five meetings through 2012, the second of which is on Feb. 5 — just two weeks after the inauguration.

What is interesting about Uranus and Saturn is not just that they represent the new and the old; it’s that both are rulers of Aquarius (traditional and modern, respectively), which are meeting in a face-off that I previously described as pluralist versus fundamentalist. That division is not gone; it was not solved by the election. Indeed, the split may only be beginning.

Let’s consider Pluto in Capricorn, which along with its incestuous cousin, Saturn opposite Uranus, speaks to the restructuring of society. I just turned on CNN for one of my three-minute surveys of the news, and the lead story was “Corporate Deathwatch.” Major companies, including two that got multi-billion bailouts in 2008 — AIG and Chrysler, along with The New York Times — are on the list of entities that may be chronicled in the obituaries of history.

Pluto perched at the edge of Capricorn puts us on notice that the structure of society is changing radically. We only saw the first whispers of this in 2008, though they hardly seemed like whispers at all. We can thank the Cheney-Bush administration for accelerating the process and driving the country $14 trillion dollars into debt — debt which is spread throughout the globe, because governments and corporations on every continent are holding what amount to bad mortgages on the United States itself.

We saw a similar version of this story emerge in November 2001, just as Chiron entered Capricorn, as Enron, Worldcom and Arthur Anderson collapsed in a puff of smoke and broken mirrors. I have written many times that the Chiron in Capricorn era, from late 2001 through mid 2005, was a kind of litmus test for Pluto in Capricorn. Chiron will reveal the flaw in any system that, if addressed, will make the system strong and powerful, but if ignored, will cause the system to collapse. I call this theory the Golden Flaw. But it’s not so golden if you do nothing about it, or if you do things that make the situation worse, like plunge the country into a war that costs $8 billion a month.

But it may go further. Ridiculous as it may seem, there are futurists who are predicting that the United States itself will break up into separate countries, forced into fragmentation by moral divisions and economic degradation. This seems absurd now. Yet remember that for those of us who grew up constantly hearing about the evil empire of the USSR, it was unthinkable that all of Eastern Europe would be rearranged in just a few short years. That is precisely what happened under the Saturn-Uranus conjunction of 1989 — and that conjunction has now become an opposition.

Dick Cheney and Karl Rove may be wheeled off to their ranches or the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, but they have left a legacy that will last for generations to come. We are the first generation to inherit this legacy, which may include their Trotskyite vision of a new republic arising from the ruins of the old one. They have certainly left us with plenty of rubble to work with. Let’s see if we can build something creative.

Yours & truly, 
Eric Francis

Bird God smiles on humanity; all survive Hudson crash

A NEARLY FULL US Airways flight crash landed in the frigid waters of the Hudson River off the West Side of Manhattan Thursday. According to early reports, all 156 people aboard, including the crew and an infant, survived the crash. The plane was an Airbus 320. Overwater landings with survivors are extremely rare. Several people were hurt, including a flight attendant with a broken leg and several people with hypothermia.

Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk. No wait… Icarus and Daedalus.

The crash is believed to have been caused by geese getting caught in an engine, possibly both engines, though an investigation is underway. The pilot may have been heading for Teterborough or Newark airports in New Jersey but had to drop the airplane into the Hudson, which is a major flyway. The airplane cleared the George Washington Bridge by 900 feet, according to CNN.

Many factors contributed to everyone surviving, including ferryboats and tugboats getting to the crash scene almost immediately. Life vests and seat flotation cushions were actually used. The pilot was Chesley Sullenberger III, a 29-year veteran captain and former fighter pilot. He also owns a consulting firm promoting safety in high risk businesses.

Now for the obvious question: what does the chart of a plane crash where everyone survives look like? Cancer is rising in the chart, setting up an initial image of water. This makes the Virgo Moon one of the chart rulers. What stands out right away is the Moon is void of course, kind of like it’s floating. Void of course is a perhaps unkind description (ancient term, really) of the Moon being done making aspects to major planets before it enters the next sign. My own theory for void of course planets, particularly the Sun and Moon is, unusual or unlikely things can happen. It is indeed rare that everyone survives an overwater crash landing; this may be the first time.

[Note, we have received a reader comment purporting that this was a staged event. It is entirely within my belief system that such is possible, and the first place I look for guidance there is the astrology. I don’t see it in this chart. We night wonder how the chart has a packed 8th house and everyone lives; Jupiter was there offering protection. And it is noteworthy that the Moon in late Virgo is exactly square that famous position of 28+ Gemini (Sept. 11, the tsunami and the Democratic National Convention) but to me that is a reference to history and an interesting synchronicity. We will watch for oddities and inconsistencies in this story as develops, however, and please let us know if you see anything strange. -efc]

Here are the minor planets. In that rising sign is contained Varuna, lord of waters and one of the great gods in the global pantheon. Though his realm is the celestial ocean, in the walking, swimming world he has dominion over rain, rivers and floods.

US Airways Flight 1549 makes an unscheduled landing on the Hudson River Thursday. NY Times photo.

Asteroid Daedalus is associated with air travel and transportation in general. We also find it in the ascendant, in the first degree of Cancer — exactly square the Aries Point. If you use whole sign houses, this is stunning: the first degree of Cancer speaks for the whole sign. Icarus, the son of Daedalus (associated with flight, flight impulse and peak experiences), was in a conjunction to the Sun; not exact, but a three-degree conjunction.

Many commentators are saying that it’s a miracle that the airplane did not break apart. The asteroid associated with the issue of keeping the parts together is Isis, which is exactly conjunct the Galactic Core. Notably, the Galactic Core is prominent in the chart for the first flight at Kitty Hawk: the Sun and Uranus were conjunct the Galactic Core when Orville Wright first took to the air way back in 1903.

At the time of the crash landing the Sun was exactly trine Makemake, a deity with a bird’s head. And the Moon was making a three-degree conjunction (exact a few hours earlier), one of  the last things it did before drifting over into Libra. We haven’t had time to check the position of Makemake in air crashes with a lot of survivors, but we will keep this one in our files. For now we will chalk this up to the Bird God smiling on humanity.

UA gets $3.16 mil to continue killer-asteroid hunt

HAVE YOU ever wondered why so many minor planets are being discovered? It seems like every time you turn around, there’s a new one.

Catalina Sky Survey director Stephen M. Larson (right) and David Brooks of Seattle, WA,discuss the 60-inch telescope at Steward Observatory’s Mount Lemmon site. The telescope can detect objects two million times dimmer than the human eye can see. Photo by Lori Stiles/University Communications.

The answer has something to do with various skywatch projects searching for near-Earth asteroids that might crash into us. There are several such projects, organized through NASA and various universities. In part due to their efforts, the number of catalogued planets orbiting our Sun has increased from 6,353 in 1995 to more than 200,000 today.

One such project, the University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey, has been awarded a new $3.16 million NASA grant to continue protecting Earth from killer asteroids. The grant was announced by the university on Thursday and will fund the survey through 2012.

The survey tracks and identifies near-Earth objects, which are asteroids and comets that have come or are predicted to come within 130 million miles of the Sun, making them a risk to hit Earth.

Scientists are looking for objects that are at least the size of 10 football fields. An object that size could disrupt the food chain because of the huge amount of soil and rock it could send into the atmosphere, which could then block the Sun’s rays for years.

However, what we might do about such a thing coming toward us is another question. We currently lack the technology to get to the Moon, which closer than any asteroid and easier to find.

— Eric Francis w/ Associated Press report

Comet of Cooperation is on its way

BIG MOMENTS in history deserve a good comet, and now we may have one on its way.

Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3) is approaching Earth, currently in the sign Scorpio. At the moment a mid-sized backyard telescope is probably required to see it, but it is at the threshold of naked-eye visibility under a dark sky. At closest approach in February, Comet Lulin is expected to brighten to naked-eye visibility.

Comet Lulin, photographed from Sierra Remote Observatories in morning twilight on Jan. 8, 2008. Photo by Paul Mortfield, Shaver Lake, CA.

Comet Lulin is a non-periodic comet. In other words, it does not return; it’s just passing through. Interestingly, it’s moving backwards through the constellations. It’s currently in Scorpio, soon to be clipping through the sky at nearly five degrees a day.

It was discovered in 2007 by a collaborative team of Taiwanese and Chinese astronomers. In China and Taiwan, the comet has been hailed as the “Comet of Cooperation.”

Chinese astronomer Quanzhi Ye co-discovered the comet from three images taken by Lin Chi-sheng in Taiwan on July 11, 2007. (The discovery happened quite close to the minor planet discovery of 2007 OR10, which was announced just recently. The discovery image of 2007 OR10 was taken on July 17, 2007, less than a week later.) Quanzhi Ye was only 19 years old at the time of the discovery.

At closest approach (0.41 AU = 61 million km, just under half the Earth-Sun distance) on Feb. 24, the comet should brighten to dimly visible to the unaided eye and it should be easily seen through binoculars. Comets can be unpredictable though. (Remember comet Holmes in 2007, which experienced a massive outburst in visibility.) The hyperbolic orbit of comet Lulin suggests that this could be its first visit to the inner solar system. At this point we can only guess how it will behave. Also, the chance of seeing the comet again is rather small, since things with a hyperbolic orbit are basically grazing past the solar system rather than caught in the Sun’s gravity.

The comet has a bright tail and an “anti-tail.” Quanzhi Ye mentions several tails in his blog. The orbital inclination of comet Lulin is about 178 degrees, so it is virtually in the same orbital plane as the Earth, but moving in the opposite direction. The fact that it’s moving backward is not unusual when talking about comets.

Near its peak brightness, around February 23-24, Comet Lulin will pass 2° south-southwest of Saturn.

— Universe Today, Kirsti Melto & Eric Francis 




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, January 16, 2009, #749 – By GENEVIEVE SALERNO

Aries (March 20-April 19)
People are picking up on an aspect of you that you may not be aware of at your workplace. This may be the root of any frustration you encounter this week. Imagine how the traveler to a distant land must feel when no one speaks the traveler’s language, and no one is impressed by anything the traveler finds amazing. Then one day, the natives of this distant land notice the brass buttons on the traveler’s pea coat and suddenly, everything changes for the better. In this instance, it is not what you say, but what you put out that will get your message across.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
What you do for a living is something that’s been on your mind recently. More and more it seems as though you are finding yourself on a quest to find the best way to present yourself to society at large. For many people, this is the ultimate sign of growing up, but it’s not like that with you. You are coming to the realization that you are the sum of all your parts, and so you have a desire to make everything work in harmony. This week might be a good time to start researching an area of interest to you. Keep the fire going. It will most likely be slow in its progress, but if anyone can handle it — you can!

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
This week is the time to do some exploring geographically and mentally for the benefit of your life’s purpose and outlook. There is a part of you that expects those you are involved with to do the same. The only problem that may arise is a misunderstanding regarding your breezy appetite for adventure. Be aware that it may come across as cold distance and practice patience, instead of discouraging yourself. It’s true the people that love you will miss you wherever you choose to go if they cannot follow. But the will be pleased with the wisdom you return with when you begin to share the new outlook you have access to.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
There are times when what you really need cannot come from another person, even if you have a specific exchange in mind that requires another person’s participation. Oftentimes the roles you assign to people in your life are facets of your own personality. To demand loyalty to a certain extent limits your own need to shift and change as you see fit. This week is a prime time to do some creative work for the purpose of expressing your place in the world. Proclaim who you are before you get into any sort of exchange with another person. Remember who you are and you will be surprised how much easier it is to accept what the other people offer you.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
See if you cannot take that hard work you’ve been pouring into everything else and bathe yourself with it instead. It’s clear you’ve got a lot going on and perhaps it has been showing in your health. Try to listen to the people you are in relationship with if they tell you they are worried about you: even if you don’t want to hear it, in a way it’s like a compliment. On the other hand, a chance to have an important conversation with someone you are close with may arise this week. The results will be flexible and not at all as grim as you may expect.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, something will happen to foil the plan. Even the best strategies are open season for chance. It’s important when things don’t go the way you expected them to not internalize. The benefit of a mistake or a bump in the road is the sense of flexibility that can come out of it. Remember: when architects build skyscrapers and bridges, they try to make them flexible to the elements. Rigidity is a structural weakness. Bring a sense of humor to your workplace this week: it might just be the perfect grease for that squeaky machine.

Libra (Sep. 22 – Oct. 23)
Have you ever heard the expression “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye?” Usually that’s the reason we tell little kids not to run with sticks. While I don’t see any cause for concern over your physical well-being this week, I do see a chance to discuss the rules of your game to those with whom you engage. There is an imbalance where service is concerned: service to yourself and also those in relationship with you. Someone, somehow, is reverting toward childish behaviors and what could be a pleasant trip to the playground is on its way to becoming a real temper tantrum. Be sure to take a step back and invite open discussion about what you expect and what is expected of you. Obligations and rules are easier to follow when everyone has a part in designing them.

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
There is a strong sense of camaraderie surrounding you that has the ability to turn your home into a social hotspot. You have the energy to mingle and by doing so, you’ll be able to make some stunning realizations. This week is going to be a good time for you to express your emotions and concerns. You are beginning to realize the source of a conflict near your home has strong connections to your own family pattern. You know that saying about how mud runs downhill? You have some time-tested theories about the way patterns tend to repeat themselves over and over again until someone does something different. Speak up about it.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 22)
Don’t get frustrated by the feeling that nothing is going on around you. Something is most certainly brewing, but like a train that rumbles on the outskirts of town, you have to stay still and keep your ears trained for the vibrations. Subtlety is key. You’re going to begin to notice a lot about the communication network of your immediate surroundings this next few weeks — and most importantly, how you handle them. Those moments that arise where you feel the familiar sense of loneliness may be a call to engage the intuitive side of your nature. Oftentimes, when this side of us has something to say, it creates the moment we feel as loneliness.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Don’t be afraid to put your philosophies out in the open. The best way to craft a personal code of ethics is to involve the ideas of as many people as possible. That includes the great philosophers and book makers as well as the humble diner waitress who always knows what you’re going to order. Everyone has a bit of wisdom to share. You have a wealth of values and opinions and while some of them may not get the response you’d like, the ones that do get it will be the ones to hang on to. Think of a shoemaker: if everyone told this shoemaker the soles were flimsy, but (s)he continued to make the same shoes, what kind of business would the shoemaker get? To share is to grow. To incorporate is to fortify.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
You might have a hard time expressing yourself this week while at the same time, you have an awful lot to say. You have noticed things about yourself, about those around you, and about the world that are so pressing that you’ve got to share what you know. Take your time. Looking at your chart right now I see a lot of room for confusing other people. Communication only works if everyone understands each other. Being open to other people’s questions will give you ample chance for the mental sparring you are ready for this week. You may also be part of an exchange with transformative qualities. I suggest looking for the metaphor in everything.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
The fish living in the darkest depths of the ocean do not rely on light to navigate their way — as a result, they have poor sight. Much like the deep ocean fish making its way, you seem inclined to navigate your own personal depths with capacities other than sight. When it comes to the hidden side of your nature, sight is practically useless. Instead, utilize the other senses you were born with. Your subconscious at this time is a lot like the ocean floor: laden with treasure. Having this kind of self-knowledge will benefit you greatly in your quest to find a place in your community. Like all manner of wealth, wisdom benefits the owner nothing if it is not shared.

Leave a Comment