What the sky is doing at the moment a baby takes its first breath encodes the child’s lifelong potential.
The first few days of the lunar cycle set the tone for the entire month.1
If you are mystically-minded you’ve no doubt explored this principle. You’ll have noticed that whatever occurs to you at a cycle’s inception says something about the cycle to come.
It might be a parking ticket you received on your first day as a house guest. Or a freshly remembered dream that colors the rest of your day. Or an animal you see just as you pull out of the driveway for a road trip.
This principle applies equally to the human collective. Certain of the global events that hit the headlines3 at the start of the year can be read as bellwethers for the year to come. They allow us to predict themes (which is different from predicting events.4)
Events are knots of cosmic tension that have become actualized; clusters of energy that have made the leap across the threshold of manifestation. The ones that make a big stir are ideas that have jumped from the collective unconscious to mass consciousness.
By reviewing a few key events from the first few weeks of 2014, we get a sense of this radical, exciting time in which we’re alive.
For many of us, the year began in mourning for Chilean activist Nicolasa Quintreman. She was a leader of the Mapuche tribe who was found drowned in the reservoir she’d spent a decade trying to prevent from being built. Her death, probably at the hands of those building the hydroelectric dam she opposed, personified the most urgent issue of our time.
The desecration of Earth by industry has become a primary focus of consciousness during the cardinal cross years. The people of the world have been getting the message, by leaps and bounds, that ours is the epoch — this one, right here — that must bridge the gap between an old, life-destroying worldview and a new life-affirming one.
Except that the new one, ecology, is ancient. This paradox was personified by Quintreman, who was 73 when she died, under the exact opposition of Mars (activism) and Uranus (the very old and the very new). As the year’s first environmental martyr, she and her murderers made explicit the quintessential issue of 2014.
The King Must Die
The day after Quintreman’s body was found, muckraking journalist Tetyana Chernovil was brutally beaten in Ukraine. The street protests that have racked the country since then illustrate a second theme of 2014, during which the Uranus-Pluto square becomes a grand cross: populist (Uranus) activism (Mars) against governmental power plays (Pluto in Capricorn), and how this unrest gets disseminated to the world at large (Jupiter).
A third theme is suggested, too, in the singling out of this particular Eastern European country. 2014 will bring to global attention that there is a “race for what’s left” of the world’s resources in this age of climate change. As food shortages begin to dictate geopolitical strategies, Ukraine, as the third-largest grain exporter in the world, will be a hot spot.
Meanwhile, long-suffering Iraq, whose horrific spike in violence puts it once again in American headlines, is keeping the world’s attention upon another key resource in that scramble. Iraq remains emblematic of the West’s desperate attempts to control the last of the world’s oil.5
Enter the Dragon
China, whose natal chart is being skewered by the cardinal cross, has been in the news constantly this month. Despite its notorious censorship, stories have been emerging almost daily about anti-corruption riots, pollution crises, sweatshop fires, food poisonings and government scandals.
We are also hearing about China’s astounding economic prowess – including, ironically, their successes with solar energy – which is making Western businessmen quake with envy. The place is roiling with change that it seems barely able to control.
As such, this ascendant Asian behemoth is emerging as the poster child of industrialization turned toxic. In their frenzy to beat the capitalist West at its own game, China is showing the world, in exaggerated form, the crazy destructiveness of growth-at-any-cost.
Their much-publicized smog, their nonstop building and their razing of ancient shrines have had the unintended consequence of showing the world how insane it is to prioritize growth over every other cultural value.6
Up until now, the winner of this dubious prize has been, of course, the USA, whose birth chart features Jupiter (growth) conjunct the Sun. Growth is still considered the solution to every social problem in America, as exemplified by Obama’s recent response to a question about income inequality: “We’ve got to grow the economy even faster.” (Huh?)
Since WWII, the blinding drive for more-more-more has been enshrined as our national religion. It is the premise behind the NSA’s data collection — following the model of Silicon Valley, which presumes there’s no limit to how much data can be created, collected and passed around. It is the premise behind fast food and super-sized portions, which have led to an epidemic of obesity that makes this generation of American children, astoundingly, the first to have a shorter life span than their parents.
But a backlash has arisen. The Degrowth movement, already popular in Europe, is rearing its head in the USA, too, as the calendar year begins.
Too Much Too Fast
Retrograde Jupiter is opposed to Venus and Pluto right now, inaugurating a spring and summer during which this big gaseous planet – symbol of expansion, increase, quantity – will move back and forth over the US Cancer cluster as part of the cardinal crosses. More and more people are noticing the dark side of the planet of growth, and the realization has gelled into a social crusade.
The Degrowthers are challenging a fundamental orthodoxy of the modern world: the concept of GDP, which is based on the assumption of infinite economic growth (which, in turn, is based on the delusion that unlimited resources and space exist on a limited, physical planet.)
Given that GDP has dictated U.S. policy since the 1930s, the implications of repudiating it are enormous, as indicated by the transits overhead.
Jupiter (growth) is feeling tremendous pressure this year from Uranus (brand new ideas) and Pluto (elimination of toxicity), a pressure which won’t be confined to the economic realm. Once we start questioning growth-as-an-absolute-good in the financial realm, we will question it everywhere.
The tiny house movement comes to mind, and the burgeoning preference among ecologically minded folks for simple, uncluttered living spaces and minimal possessions. This aesthetic/philosophical shift in the wind recalls the back-to-the-land idealism of the hippies, a generation ago (when Uranus and Pluto were in conjunction).
In a related development, more and more of us in the busy, wired world are considering “digital detoxing”: getting away from the superficiality and soullessness of being online 24/7. The information age has been around just long enough to have inspired the urge to pull back from its excesses.
People are feeling the need to make time to reconnect with their bodies and spirits, and to relate to other beings face-to-face. Apps are now available that limit personal internet use, for cyber addicts who realize that they need help pulling away from their tiny screens.
In the USA the potential exists this year and next for a profound re-balancing between the drive to grow (Jupiter) and the drive to slow down and re-ground (Saturn). America’s natal chart is being hammered by transiting Uranus, Pluto and Jupiter.
This T-square is challenging the monopoly America’s Jupiter has over our collective mind. It’s doing so by provoking Saturn’s natal square with the Sun, which becomes part of the grand cross this year and next (see my article in the Feb/March Mountain Astrologer Magazine).
Bats and Bears
While Americans along the Eastern seaboard shivered in record-breaking cold these first few weeks of 2014, in Australia overheated bats dropped from the trees and kangaroos suffered heat stroke. Yesterday’s headline in the San Francisco paper was about California bears being unable to hibernate, because climate change has made the woods too warm.
Not a day goes by without some new study coming out about carbon pollution, water shortages, deforestation, land too polluted to plant. To cap it off, we are told that the world’s population is expected to approach ten billion in the next few decades.
For anyone not in denial or crippled by apathy, contemplating the prognosis for living things in the coming decades on Earth can lead to despair. Which is why we must turn our attention to Right Now.
When we do, we see there’s something special about this particular world moment. The transits tell us we’re at a tipping point. On our watch, global consciousness is shifting. A critical consensus is forming. 7
Under these explosive skies, the recognition is gaining traction in millions of minds that human activities put too much pressure on the environment to be sustainable. Utterly obvious but hugely radical, this idea has, of course, the power to change the world.
Human nature being what it is, though, the old thinking won’t go away all at once.
Most people alive, whether haves or have-nots, have grown up believing in a certain definition of success: an idea that focuses solely on the material plane, involves exercising power over other humans, and presumes our right to exploit Nature. If we want to change this fatally flawed perspective, we start by identifying it as the old normal, and calling it out when we see it.
This is the work of those aligned with the grand cross during 2014, the year of Cardinal Climax 2.0.8 This work involves keeping an eye out for the ways in which the status quo stiffens and reacts when challenged, sometimes pulling out all the stops to beat back change.
In this regard we can expect news of the Degrowth Movement to continue to be ignored or disdained by the old-school capitalists (including the tech barons of Silicon Valley, who, despite their youth, are a surprisingly insular and politically conservative lot.)
We can expect the industries that get rich from fossil fuels to continue to deride green ideas. We can predict that politicians who are financed by these businesses will keep blathering on about “jobs”, promoting the lie that we can’t have a clean environment without putting the hardest-hit classes out of work.
We can expect government agencies like the White House to continue to weave an official narrative that displaces attention from our true priorities, and to keep beating the drum for the old thinking.9
Center of Our Charts
But we don’t have to buy into it. When we attune to our birthright, we ground ourselves in the new approach to life on Earth. We respond, in every instance, from the center of our charts, in whatever way the moment calls for it. We respectfully decline to play along with the conventional spin, no matter how many others are stuck in it. We avoid being roped into arguments where old assumptions dictate the terms of the conversation.
Consider, for example, the way Greenpeace activist Joel Stewart answered the media’s questions after the Rainbow Warrior was busted recently. A reporter kept trying to get him to talk about how awful it was to be arrested. “The real risk isn’t getting arrested, it’s climate change,” he said. “No amount of military superiority or terrorism is going to get us out of this one.”
There is a dignity to not letting least-common-denominator thinking frame the narrative. There is a sense of liberation when we hold, instead, to what our highest perception and common sense tell us is important.
1 A principle which applies twice over to this year, which opened with a double whammy: New Year’s Day fell on a New Moon. See my January Skywatch.
2 There is a gradualism to these cycles, which is why astrologers speak of “orbs of influence” when interpreting aspects in a person’s chart. For example, where the lunar cycle is concerned, the whole first week (up until the First Quarter) lays down the paradigm of the month to come — with the portents closest to the exact moment of the New Moon being considered the most significant. Analogously, in the context of the Gregorian calendar, the whole month of January can be considered paradigmatic of the year itself, with the most significant portents closest to the beginning of the month.
3 I’m not suggesting that the mainstream media tells us what’s really going on. The corporate media is, by definition, not about information but profit. But we can and should pay attention to the news — from a distance. If we want to stay connected to the world moment, we need to know what our society is thinking. Our goal should be to keep its stories in our peripheral vision.
To get the real scoop, of course, is a different thing. The best way to self-inform is to partake of a wide variety of sources, including international ones. Among those I find most trustworthy: Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman; journalists David Sirota, Matt Tabbei and Robert Scheer; commentators Rebecca Solnit, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolff; websites TruthDig, Al-Jazeera America, The Guardian.
4 In his blog from Dec 31st on Astro-Inquiry Frederick Woodruff lucidly addresses the misapprehension that astrologers are able to specify what’s going to happen on the event level.
In a subsequent post I address a related misunderstanding, held by many readers of online astrology, about how much a practitioner can tell them without seeing their chart. When a reader of an astro blog expresses the desire for information that is “less general,” she usually means, But what is its relevance to me? To know this, she needs to have her chart done.
5 Washington’s unstated rationale for trying to control Iraq has not changed since Dubya’s handlers penned the Project for the New American Century. Big Oil and its generals need a puppet in the region, and they lost Iran, so that leaves Iraq. Thus Obama’s answer to the current spike in violence there: to send arms to the al-Maliki regime.
6 And yet it is China, that hotbed of paradoxical extremes, that is developing a companion metric to GDP that would measure the value of nature.
7 Discussed in detail in my book At the Crossroads.
8 That is, the series of grand crosses in 2010 that occurred in the early degrees of cardinal signs. The Dec’13/ Jan ’14 issue of the Mountain Astrologer contains articles by Tem Tarriktar and Bill Herbst on the reiterated cross in 2014.
9 Those who looked to Obama for visionary leadership six years ago, and then again two years ago, need to consider the man’s role in perspective. He barely mentioned global warming in his reelection campaign; his previous State of the Union address acknowledged that Congress would never pass a bill to address climate change. He doesn’t pretend to be able to mobilize the public on the issue; the best he’ll do is leave it to toothless regulators. To admit this is not to impugn the man’s character, competence or personal fibre. It’s the system.