Occupy Wall Street
Originally published in The Mountain Astrologer, 2011.
Throughout 2011, astrologers have watched the Uranus and Pluto square approaching like a revolutionary advance guard.1 Everywhere in the world, infrastructures are crumbling in the face of this long-awaited transit. The epochal Arab Spring has segued into winter; the European Union threatens to break apart at the seams; there is mounting chaos in Russia, Africa and India.
The weekend before the Autumnal Equinox. Uranus and Pluto were just a degree away from exactitude when they were nudged into expression by Mars and the quicker-moving seasonal transit triggers. On September 17th Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was born in New York City.
OWS and the Sibly Chart
The impact of this newborn movement was immediate and explosive. In a matter of days the news had spread like wildfire from city to US city and was going global. Within a couple of weeks, via the instant democracy of tweets and videos, OWS was shaking windows and rattling walls all over the world.
The USA responded to the birth of OWS like a stack of bone-dry tinder waiting for a spark. Progressives had almost given up hope of something like this happening in the USA; the political/ financial establishment had long dreaded it.2
For astrologers, it came as no surprise, considering the symbolism of the world-altering transit building in the sky: the First Quarter square between the planet of revolution (Uranus) and the planet of breakdown/ renewal (Pluto). In Aries and Capricorn, the square configures with Cancer and Libra in the national chart to form the most intense configuration in astrology: a Grand Cross.
When the OWS chart (figure A)3 is overlaid the Sibly, we find OWS Venus (banks) conjunct the US Midheaven and opposed to OWS Uranus – seeming to say, Wake up, people! – which falls at the Sibly nadir like a bomb under the floorboards. OWS Pluto bisects the opposition.
The Moon and Jupiter were in Taurus the day OWS was born. The bull’s strong presence is reflected in the whimsical graphic used in the movement’s original call to arms: a ballerina dancing on the back of the massive Wall Street bull. The image became an overnight icon, expressive of the movement’s cri de coeur: people over profit.
Pluto (raw power) was maximally strong on September 17th. It had stationed the previous afternoon was just hanging there in the sky. Transiting Mars (conflict, attack) was closely opposing Pluto’s placement in the national chart. The stage was set for a blow to the jugular of the US power structure.
A potent expression of Mars-Pluto arose when the movement had entered its second month, in the reactions of the powers-that-be. Videos of cops in riot gear pepper-spraying and clubbing peaceful demonstrators went viral quickly entering the collective image bank.4
Hard aspects of Pluto and Mars can be understood as a teaching about dominance and control, a theme that applies not only to recent police tactics but to the whole economic and political power hierarchy in 21st-century America. Spanning the second/ eighth house axis of the Sibly chart, this opposition asserts the primary raison-d’être of OWS: to expose the financial industry.
Pluto works by revealing decay, so that what is degenerating in a collective can cede the way to regeneration. It points out the toxicity that has built up in existing systems so that whatever is obsolete can cleanly fall away. The sign Pluto is transiting, Capricorn (2008-2023), tells us what arenas are being laid bare: the authoritative infrastructures that constitute a society’s skeletal framework, such as its political and financial systems.
OWS is making the case that instead of a trading and banking system based on the real value of goods and services, we have a legalized gambling system subsidized and propagated by government. They are pointing out that we have an economic system where corporations, granted “personhood” under the law, in effect govern the government rather than the other way around. With financial crises rocking populations all over the world, the Occupiers’ critique is a full-throated calling-out of the irredeemably corrupt aspects of a system that has become unsustainable.
Plutonian transits indicate that change is a life-or-death matter. Governor of mortality and putrefaction, Pluto does not shy away from the nastiness of death. But from an evolutionary perspective, these unsavory processes exist only as prerequisites for rebirth, preparing the way by means of a thorough purge. Like Hercules cleaning out the Aegean stables, the OWS is part of a wave of postmillennial forces with the potential to transform the status quo.
The Moon is square Neptune in the OWS chart, which helps us understand why the encampments gave observers a first impression of both vagueness and emotional power. Moreover, the conjunction of the OWS Sun with the Sibly Neptune, which natally squares Mars in Gemini, tells an interesting story. The movement seems fated to provoke the irrational (Neptune) and conflict-prone (Mars) feature of the national sensibility.
From the American mass media (itself a corporate entity5) a kind of projection seemed to be going on, with the natal Neptune square foisted upon the movement. The complaint that immediately resounded from the pundits was how confused and scattered (negative Neptune) the Occupiers were: They’re protesting so darn many things (Gemini)! Lacking a singular agenda that could fit into a sound bite, the protesters were accused of being incoherent and all-over-the-map.
And it was true. Neptune is about inter-connectedness, not bullet-point formats, and its square in the US chart to a Gemini Mars points to a multiplicity of variables. The OWS message is about all-encompassing patterns whose meaning cannot be thoroughly grasped when taken separately.
The Occupy movement is declaring that foreclosures, income disparity and the defunding of the social safety net are all related. It is saying that unemployment and the outsourcing of jobs are joined at the hip. It is pointing out that bloated executive compensations, the
deregulation of the financial industry and deep-pocket lobbying in Congress are pieces of the same puzzle. The case is being made that all of these issues are symptomatic of a system that has become more plutocracy than democracy.
Americans are not used to thinking about their country from a vantage point this comprehensive. But it didn’t take long to get them on board.
After a few weeks of OWS being in the news, polls were showing that the demonstrators were more popular than any of the headline-grabbing presidential candidates on offer — whose own rambling, maladroit performances in televised debates during the same period came off as the embodiment of negative Neptune: false, pretentious, and quite deliberately vague.
We might also chalk up to Neptune (universality; the masses) the extraordinary emotional resonance OWS was met with by so many different kinds of people. In its sheer inclusiveness, “We are the 99%” may be the most all-encompassing battle cry in history.
The slogan challenges the observer to look in the mirror. It says, “Don’t look at us; look at yourself.” It doesn’t say “Join-our-club,” it says, “You are already in our club.”
By juxtaposing the numbers ninety-nine and one the way they have, the Occupiers have wrenched out of the closet a striking socioeconomic reality that, despite its obvious relevance, was rarely heard in public discourse until now. “The 99 percent” is a reference to Nobel Prize-wining economist Joseph Stiglitz’s study showing that the richest one percent controls forty percent of the wealth in the USA.
At first the statistic seemed to inspire shock and incredulity; yet it was hardly classified information. Herein lies another shading of meaning of the conjunction with US Neptune, the planet of credulity. Nowhere in the rhetoric of mainstream politicians or pundits do we usually hear reference to the fact that the US income gap has grown as large as it has. On the contrary, many Americans, brought up to think of their country as the world’s greatest democracy, cleave to a patriotic image quite at odds with the facts and figures.
A national tendency towards naiveté or willful ignorance is indicated in the Sibly’s 9th-house Neptune, which suggests a collective imagination distracted from reality by a constant barrage of pop culture information (square to Gemini Mars). But now that a slogan has been made of the numbers 99 and 1, a fatal blow has been dealt to their deniability.
The Mercury-Jupiter trine in the OWS chart helps us understand why, in just a few short months, the language (Mercury) of the movement has been so readily embraced. The phrases “one-per-centers” to mean the rich and “the 99%” to mean the rest of us have already become part of the vernacular.
Despite the movement’s internal dissention (Venus-Pluto-Uranus T-square) and official hostility against it, whatever else the OWS accomplishes they will have brought into mass consciousness a statistic that has profoundly shifted the international (Jupiter) conversation (Mercury). The geopolitical discussion will never be the same.
The Uranus piece of the transit puzzle shows up loud and clear in the movement’s exuberant populism, which is expressing itself in overt activism (Aries) for the first time since the 1960s6.
The OWS are critiquing the system not from its sidelines — as have the unions and liberal organizations like Moveon.org — but from a vantage point defiantly outside the box. They eschew the conventional narrative, and they repudiate both of America’s established political parties.
Interestingly, so did the Tea Party, at first.7 But their schema did not address the role of the one per cent (except by implicitly identifying with the ruling class, in its championship of the freedom of corporations to make as much money as they want, and in distancing itself from the poor). It took the Uranus-Pluto square to engender a movement that highlighted the relationship between government, corporations (Pluto) and the public good (Uranus).
Astrology associates Uranus with democracy. The planet was sighted in the sky in 1781, when revolutions were tearing asunder the class hierarchies of the old world. Even without the geometry that now binds them, Uranus would be in natural conflict with the sign Pluto is in right now: Capricorn.
The Occupiers channel Uranian impulses not just conceptually but tactically. Rejecting vertical models of organization, the movement has made a commitment to operating without leaders (one of the features that so irritates the media and politicians who try to engage with them). The protesters are not bending over backwards to get their voices heard in Washington (Pluto). Preferring to stay independent of the normal channels, they are trying something new (Uranus).
With varied degrees of success, OWS has embraced a horizontal model, through general assemblies, rotating authority figures and an über-democratic (and by now much-parodied) human mike system which uses supportive vocal echoing and wiggling-finger hand signals as a means of including every participant’s opinion. Rather than cobbling together a traditional top-down communicative structure, they rely on the loose, quick communications made possible by the latest technology (Uranus again).
Two weeks before the OWS set up camp, America’s Saturn Return peaked for the third time. This is the transit we all go through — countries as well as individuals — every three decades, where we are called upon to recommit to our adulthood. The watchdog of the solar system, Saturn is there to curb our excesses and give us a backbone of integrity by following our own rules. Its transits show us where we’ve gone lax and taken shortcuts.
Saturn’s role in the national chart reveals Uncle Sam’s Achilles heel. The square between the Sibly’s Sun-Jupiter-Venus conjunction (abundance, profligacy) and its 10th-house Saturn tells the tale of
America’s failure to integrate its Saturn.
Since the Millennium, the nation has been struggling with Washington’s abdication of responsibility for safeguarding the public good. The Enron scandal reared its head when Saturn was opposing Pluto right smack dab on the horizon axis of the USA chart. Seven years later, when Pluto entered Capricorn, the recession made explosively visible the lack of government oversight of big banks and Wall Street brokers. Two years after that, the DeepWater Horizon crisis during the Cardinal Climax (with Saturn opposed to Uranus) exposed the negligence of official agencies set up to guard against abuses to the environment.
Once Saturn returned to its natal position in the US chart, OWS arose to connect the dots.
At this writing, mid-December 2011, the OWS is in a transitional phase. The novelty of the first three months has worn off. Cold weather and local authorities have rousted the tent cities from city squares and public parks nationwide, necessitating a change of tactics.
The Earth trines in the OWS chart bode well for its durability, and its Venus-Sun opposition to Uranus give it the to morph into new expressions of radical whimsy. But there are plenty of twists and turns in the transit road over the next few years.
Some of the Occupiers have moved into mobile actions, such as demonstrations at foreclosed houses and port shutdowns. There are signs of fragmentation within the leaderless movement, and evidence that it has been widely infiltrated by undercover agents. The public seems confused by mainstream media coverage that has turned by turns hostile and dismissive.
But the transit picture tells us that this is just the beginning.
1 The square is approaching seven exact hits between June 2012 and March 2015.
2 On the very day OWS was born, before anybody had any idea how big it would become, the billionaire mayor of New York had given voice to the worst nightmare of one-per-centers throughout the ages: He warned that the poor might riot. Speaking on WOR Radio, the inadvertently prophetic Bloomberg called unemployment and poverty in the United States a potential powder keg.
3 The exact time that OWS convened on September 17th is not certain. I use a noon chart.
4 In the Nov. 25th Guardian Naomi Wolf analyzes the nationwide crackdown on OWS camps in mid-November, a coordinated campaign of the Department of Homeland Security involving local police departments and government agencies all the way up to the White House. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/25/shocking-truth-about-crackdown-occupy
5 Mercury (media) is in the 8th house of corporations in the Sibly chart, opposite Pluto in the 2nd (plutocratic interests).
6 Myriad cultural commentators have drawn the comparison between this new surge of demonstrations and those of the ‘60s, which took place under the last major aspect of these same two planets: the conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in Virgo (during 1965-6 Saturn increased the tension by opposing them from Pisces).
7 In early 2009, the tea-baggers appeared as an activist (Aries) uprising (Uranus) that challenged and threatened America’s Democratic-vs.-GOP duopoly. But the movement was soon co-opted through funding from the Koch brothers and other plutocratic interests (Pluto).