Aug 2010
Tinderbox Moment

As the month of August begins, the Saturn-Uranus opposition has just peaked for the final time, after two years of spinning us dizzy. Mars is conjunct Saturn and opposed by Jupiter, which is conjunct Uranus; and they are all squaring Pluto (dismantling) in Capricorn (nation states; the economy). Into this fraught setting the New Moon will arrive on August 9th.

These transits have the feeling of a wad of combustible material ready to burst into flame. All the ingredients are there: Saturn is stasis; Uranus is revolution; Pluto is break down; Jupiter is international scope. And Mars is the spark.

The most literal form an explosion can take is geological. Fittingly, a few weeks ago the story broke about a huge undersea methane bubble at the Gulf rig site, the ignition of which could cause a tsunami.

Explosions can also take financial form. In his writings about the global economy, Andrew Palmer has described this period as “a tinderbox moment”.


The Dollar

This past Spring saw bank runs spreading like wildfire from Greece to Portugal and Spain, giving the lie to the EU’s claim of economic and social cohesion. Despite the “shock-and-awe” economic rescues cobbled together by Europe’s governments to save its debtor states, there is straining at the seams. These transits augur disintegration on many levels, not excluding that of political unions.1

Right now, we have not only Pluto, but Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars – any combination of which are quite capable of cleaving unions – all configured together in the Cardinal Climax.

The USA is a notoriously isolationist nation, and most Americans seem to think Europe’s troubles have nothing to do with them. But this is as short-sighted as imagining that because we can’t see oil in our drinking water it means the disaster in the Gulf has nothing to do with us. If Chiron going into Pisces (on the very day the DeepWater Horizon blew up) tells us anything, it is that what’s going on in any one part of the matrix of life has impact upon the whole. The fact that on April 20th the planet of wounding (Chiron) ingressed into the most universal of water signs (Pisces) while conjunct the planet of oceans (Neptune) is perhaps the most telling feature of the Gulf explosion chart.2 The Chironic warning at the root of the calamity: that we deny at our peril the interconnectedness of all things.

This includes social systems. Americans are not yet rioting in the streets; but like the Greeks they are living in an economic tinderbox, their enormous debt being the most obvious point of comparison. Pluto began opposing the US (Sibley) Venus and Jupiter (money, expansion) in 2008, just as Wall Street hit the skids. Since then, Pluto’s partners in the Cardinal T-square have assembled. The whole pattern has been slowly gathering strength, hammering the USA Sun cluster in Cancer.3

The extraordinary transits upon the US chart indicate that beyond the worries brought on by employment, surreal federal debt and bankrupt state governments, something even more fundamental is looming for the country. The USA is undergoing an identity crisis tantamount to an individual going through a nervous breakdown. And given the country’s self-concept as proud masters of the material realm, this breakdown is being played out financially.

Pluto’s opposition to the country’s Venus (resources and value) is not merely changing spending habits; it is gutting assumptions about worth. Even if Pluto were the only actor in this planetary line-up, it would be more than enough to threaten, for example, the perception that US bonds are the safe haven they have historically been. With all these other planetary heavyweights involved as well, America’s meaning as a financially viable entity is being rocked to the core.

The dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency is no longer unquestionable, and it is clear that Washington’s borrowing behavior cannot continue as it has. American pundits may talk about the economy “getting back on track” and “returning to normal,” but the transits suggest this attitude is delusional. The world is not going back. It is going forward; and it is headed there fast.



The change in America’s relationship to China in recent years has been absolutely stunning, though the shift seems not to have penetrated the USA’s collective consciousness. A vague but fervent Sinophobia 4 left over from the 1950s appears to be afoot; as well as, perhaps, a sense of shame — often an ingredient in Pluto transits – connected to being in debt to one’s ideological enemy. These confused Cold-War attitudes only serve to obscure the harsh realities of the USA’s precarious financial position. But it won’t be possible to postpone much longer. China, to whom Uncle Sam owes a trillion and a half dollars, is working on ways to reduce its dependency on the US Treasury. It sells more now to European than to American customers.

The failure of most Americans to consider the implications of their massive deficit is on a par with their failure to consider what’s going on in the rest of the world. The truth is that at this point in human evolution, isolationism is an anachronism. The human race is on an evolutionary trajectory that leads beyond the illusion of physical or psychic separation from the entire web of creation.

Speak No Evil

In addition to this pummeling from the Cardinal Cross, the transit spotlight remains on the USA through the Neptune-Chiron conjunction. For several years this pair has been harrowing the US Moon. They peak again in November of this year.

This transit has been a teaching about mass denial. Americans have been exposed to an avalanche of evidence about how deluded we are as a culture; having witnessed during this period everything from the unmasking of the banking industry to the myriad corruptions of Big Oil and the collusion of our government in these corruptions. And we have been presented with plenty of opportunities to wake up from the delusion.

Where the economy is concerned, Americans’ delusions are legion. Deeply ingrained in the collective imagination is an image of the country as a great cornucopia of uninterrupted plenty (US Jupiter conjunct Sun in Cancer); a font of endless growth. We can see why this where this imagery comes from. Cancer, an emotionally conservative sign with more attachment to the past than the present, governs food, protection and security. Though the USA’s aid to developing countries is miniscule compared to other industrialized nations,5 the nation still sees itself as a benevolent breadbasket for the world.

Shock and Fury

As economist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has written, there is typically a lag-time between economic shocks and social fury. When people are hit with a drastic cutback in their resources, there tends to be a stunned interval that eventually erupts into a backlash against the established orders.

The wild card here is consciousness. Those observers who see things in terms of human evolution are finding nothing surprising about what’s happening; nor do they see cutting back as necessarily unhealthy. The bigger a perspective one takes, the more likely one is to see global economic changes as a cosmic corrective for the excesses of an old world we are leaving behind.



1 The situation makes me think of something astrologer Liz Greene wrote in the late 1970s. Transiting Pluto was approaching the Sun in the chart of the USSR at the time, and she saw it as signifying that that Union would go through “a break-up.” Hard as this was to imagine at the time, so it happened, as soon as Pluto moved into position.

2 For a detailed interpretation of the explosion chart, see “Disaster in Deep Water: The Astrological Message of the Gulf Coast Oil Crisis,” The Mountain Astrologer, August 2010.

3 The money supply in the United States is contracting at an accelerating rate that now matches the average decline seen from 1929 to 1933, despite near-zero interest rates and the biggest fiscal blitz in history.

4 Consider the case of the California parents’ group that took to the airwaves in July to protest the Chinese language program being offered at their children’s school. Their fear was that learning Chinese would expose their little ones to “communist propaganda”.

5 More than half of the US aid budget is spent not in the poorest parts of the world but in middle-income countries, in the Middle East; and for military and strategic purposes, not to feed people.. Only $3bn a year goes to South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.