I know I’m not alone in feeling perversely gratified that the oil has made its way to the white sands of Florida. Certainly I wish no ill to the local tourist industry, any more than I wish more suffering to befall the fishermen in Louisiana (who, screwed and angry, are calling the compensatory pittance BP has offered them “shut-up money.”)
But there is a bitter justice in the fact that the slick might become visible in Pensacola. It feels just that more and more humans will have to see the desecration up close.
Normally we can get away with pretending our waterways are not being poisoned, day after day, by industrial pollutants, because the toxicity is relatively invisible. And we can defer thinking about the occasional catastrophe when we hear the anchormen say, as they did after the 2007 San Francisco spill, “The oil is floating well away from shore. Nothing to worry about. It’s headed out to sea.”I say, bring on the tar balls. Let brown streaks leave their mark on white sand. Let sludge ruin expensive sandals.
We have upped the ante so high on our tolerance for the intolerable that it took a trauma like this to rouse us out of our complacency. We cannot look away.
We are watching more than an oil slick spreading. We are watching a sea change in our thinking about human civilization. The insults to which our society submits the environment are being seen by many people as if for the first time. The public has been watching TV reports for two months now about the horrors created by “Pandora’s well,” as geologist Jill Schneiderman calls it. People are hearing that it has turned marshland into dead zones. They are seeing photos of oil-soaked pelicans suffocating on the sand.
Over the two years that Uranus (rude awakenings) has been opposite Saturn (big business) there has been a shift in how people define corporate accountability and social acceptability. With the DeepWater incident this trajectory has crested. There is a mythic quality to the disaster; everything about it is larger than life. This is not surprising, given that when the disaster began, Jupiter (exaggerated size) had moved into a key position in the sky. The big gas giant, whose dark side is excess, was conjunct Uranus (explosions) and opposite Saturn (failure) when the rig blew up.
Negative Jupiter manifests as hubris. The ambitions of the oil-drillers – who are still operating a dozen other deepwater rigs of equally fatal size, right now, lessons unlearned – were all out-of-proportion to common sense. It is now well known that BP did not subject its stupendously ill-advised project to even the barest minimum of testing or planning. Misused Jupiter leads to puerile recklessness.
The oil company’s petition to drill was riddled with short-cuts and flat-out lies. As Naomi Klein has observed, in BP’s assurances to the feds of how little risk the drilling would entail, they talk about Nature as if She were a predictable, agreeable junior partner; sort of an unpaid subcontractor. After the explosion occurred, they scrambled to put together clean-up strategies that were so astoundingly ineffective they’d be comic if they weren’t so hideously tragic. The spirit behind these failed fixes, even their names, seems to derive from a bad action movie. Top kills, junk shots and laser-directed robots with diamond saws? It sounds like little boys dreaming up cool comic-book rescues. Goddess forbid the oil executives would admit, even now, that they don’t know what they’re doing.
Through its malfeasance in obtaining the green light to drill, its incompetence in safeguarding the operation, its botched efforts to clean up the mess and its dishonesty in spinning the disaster to the public, BP is embodying the skewed perspective that allows these disasters. That is, the blind imperiousness of unfettered corporate power. Their approach expresses contempt for the safety and welfare of living systems, and an oblivious condescension towards Nature Herself. The world is bearing witness to the all-around cluelessness of the unbalanced Masculine.
The Cardinal Climax is upon us. Pluto, planet of subterranean (and submarine) riches is now T-squaring Saturn (responsibility) and Uranus (revelations)/Jupiter (global implications). Together they have ushered into the group mind a blowout drama that is bringing up many urgent questions at once. From the point of view of consciousness evolution, these questions are the reason this had to happen. The disaster has triggered an unusually emotional public response. People are viscerally engaged. They are thinking about the role of cars in their lives. The phrase “oil addiction” has been coming up a lot.
Many have started thinking differently about water.
There is a growing sense among the populace that if a bay is fouled miles away, our personal relationship to water is accordingly compromised. From an ecological perspective, this is a literal fact; and clean water is fast becoming the most precious resource on the planet. More people die from polluted water every year than from all forms of violence, including war.
The physical and esoteric meanings of water parallel each other. We learned in biology class that humanity’s ancestors were single-celled sea creatures, and that all waters find their way eventually to the sea. On a symbolic level, water is the universal matrix from which we all arose and to which we will all return.
To assuage the anguish that the clean-up crews and the oil companies and the government have failed to assuage, we can press into service, right now, the symmetry between the physical and the mystical meanings of water. As astrologer Adam Gainsburg and other supporters of the Unity Wave have suggested, one way to spiritually engage with what is occurring in the Gulf is to connect with the waters of our bodies. Such an exercise can help us come home to the universal matrix that water represents, to resonate with it, to pledge allegiance to it. This ritual promotes a healing that is appropriate to the injury at hand.
Since April 20th I have heard many people say that they feel the Earth has sustained a gushing, bleeding wound. This image is pure Chiron, which has been conjunct Neptune (the collective unconscious) for two years now. At the moment of the explosion, Chiron had just entered Pisces, the most universal of the water signs, for the first time in 41 years.
Because it departs so uncomfortably from our psychological assumptions, Chiron is one of the most problematic symbols in astrology. It dares to propose that although human pain is a fact of life, when we follow its lead fearlessly pain becomes soul medicine. Understanding this distinction between pain and suffering, which is also essential to Buddhist thought, is the key to Chironic healing. (If we miss it, we’re in the same boat as the student of Pluto who reads death/rebirth as merely death.)
The Gulf disaster is one of those learning moments for humanity, created by the group mind. It has escorted us into the summer of the Cardinal Climax, a season long heralded as a time of revelation.