Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mars-Rahu Part 2: Israel under pressure for Gaza attack

(27 July 2014)  Israel came under increased international criticism for its military action this week as the Palestinian death toll in Gaza topped 1000.  The incursion into Gaza, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, began ten days ago as the Israeli army attempts to stop Hamas rocket attacks and destroy its network of tunnels which have been used to launch attacks on civilians.  The current eruption of violence in Palestine is the worst since the Israel's 2008 Gaza invasion and is another reminder of the intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

From an astrological perspective, the current action by Israel was very much a reflection of the major influences in its horoscope. The independent nation of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948 at 4.00 p.m.  One of the first things that one notices in the natal chart is that the Ascendant sits at 0 degrees of Libra.  Actually, 00 Libra 00 (i.e. 0 degrees and 0 minutes), according to the Krishnamurti ayanamsha.  This is exactly conjunct the star Spica which is used as the reference point for the entire sidereal zodiac.  Spica is quite auspicious by nature and the fact that Spica was rising on the horizon exactly at the moment that Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion brought the formal independence ceremony to order at 4 o'clock must be seen as similarly auspicious.  If nothing else, this Ascendant at 0 Libra should be understood as a cosmic reflection of the world-historic importance of the state of Israel.  The centrality of its location in the Middle East and its geopolitical and cultural importance to the US and the Western world is testimony to its outsized significance well beyond its tiny land area and modest population of under ten million.

The other thing that stands out is just how strong this chart is.  Chart ruler (lagnesh) Venus sits in the 9th house of good fortune and religion.  Israel's religious identity as a Jewish state is key to its essence.  Uranus (1 Gemini) is in a close trine aspect with the Ascendant and reflects Israel's dynamic and modern characteristics, especially against the background of its Arab neighbours.  In keeping with the symbolism of Uranus, Israel is a hub for science and technology.  Both Venus and Uranus receive the opposition aspect from Jupiter in Aries.  This offers a significant boost of outcomes to the country as a whole since Venus is a proxy for the chart. 

Mars sits in the 11th house of gains and is a possible explanation for the prominence of the military in Israel's history.  Mars is the planet of war and conflict and its placement in the 11th house could offer some explanation for why Israel has generally benefited from its military engagements. Its early wars with its Arab neighbours resulted in the conquest of the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights in Syria.  On the whole, Israel did not seek out to gain more territory in the wars of 1948 or 1967 and yet it vanquished the combined armies of its Arab adversaries. 

This is a good example of the kind of effect that Mars in the 11th house can have.  Gains are made through the application of Mars-type energy.  Moreover, we can see that Mars (5 Leo) receives a very close aspect from Jupiter (4 Aries).  This substantially boosts the likelihood that Israel would have a strong military force and enjoy good luck in military engagements.  The Moon's favourable placement in Cancer with Saturn and Pluto reflects a prosperous and a high profile people (Moon) who are determined, tough and stubborn and have a strong fixity of purpose (Saturn, Pluto) .  The fact that this Moon placement occurs in the 10th house of government may also suggest the strength and effectiveness of Israeli political leadership over the years.

The latest round of hostilities began on 8 July with the air attack against Hamas in Gaza and deepened with the land invasion on 17 July.    A quick glance at the chart says it all: Mars (27 Virgo) and Rahu (0 Libra) were both very close to that 0 Libra Ascendant for the beginning of the Israeli bombardment.  The subsequent ground attack occurred with Mars  (1 Libra) still very close to the Ascendant.  Mars-Rahu conjunctions are classic signatures for sudden or uncontrolled bursts of violence and conflict.  One has to then find the charts where the conjunction is resonating most strongly.  Certainly, Israel's does resonate since the once-every-two-year conjunction lined up exactly with its Ascendant. 

Transiting Saturn (22 Libra) is also forming a close aspect to the natal Saturn (23 Cancer) so that is one reason why this whole episode that began with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers back in June has spiraled out of control.  Saturn-to-Saturn transits are often marked by formidable obstacles and blocked progress and are often characterized by a sense of loss or disappointment.  Saturn will remain in a close square aspect for several more weeks and suggests that Israel will remain bogged down in this conflict to some extent.

On the other hand, Jupiter is transiting through Cancer now which is Israel's 10th house.  This should be a seen as a positive in any event, especially since the all-important Moon is placed there.  This may be one reason why the Palestinian fatalities outnumber Israel's by a 30-1 ratio.  Jupiter may be offering a protective effect to both the IDF and the Israeli people. And even if Netanyahu's government may come under criticism from friends and foes alike, this Jupiter transit to the 10th house suggests the government will likely enjoy a lot of support where it counts the most -- in the Knesset and the streets of Israel proper.  The Jupiter effect here may also imply that the Israeli attacks have been fairly successful in meeting their objectives of destroying the Hamas network of tunnels and rocket launch sites. 

A significant cease-fire looks more likely when Mercury and Jupiter conjoin near the natal Moon at 11 Cancer on 2 August.   This may be some positive news at least, even if the cease-fire may not hold.  The subsequent Venus-Jupiter conjunction on 16 August looks even better.  Before that, more difficulties seem likely near 8 August when the Sun and Mercury align with Saturn in a three-planet aspect with natal Saturn.  Renewed hostilities or some major Israeli setback are possible around 25 August when Mars conjoins Saturn.  This will line up almost exactly with the natal Saturn.

The situation could calm down through September and October but November again looks problematic.  Saturn will oppose the Sun at that time so Netanyahu's government may have some new problems on its hands.  Netanyahu himself may come under pressure and his coalition may be in jeopardy.  Saturn's entry into sidereal Scorpio in November may indicate more conflict at the end of 2014 and into 2015.  As Saturn enters Scorpio, it will square Israel's Mars in Leo from November until September 2015.  While the natal Mars is quite strong, that is a very long time to be under the wearying influence of Saturn.  I tend to think that this could be a difficult period for the Israeli economy as well as a period marked by a higher level of violence and armed actions.

Financial Markets Update

US stocks drifted slightly lower on the week as geopolitical concerns compelled some investors to take profits after the recent rally.  The Dow edged lower closing at 16,960. Indian stocks fared better, however, as hope for future economic reforms burned more brightly with the Sensex finishing above 26,000.  As expected, we did see some gains ahead of Thursday's Sun-Jupiter conjunction.  Stocks were generally lower on Friday once the Sun left the bullish influence of Jupiter.   We have yet to see any clear evidence of the apparently bearish Saturn-Uranus alignment, however. 

The focus this week is likely Friday's Mars-Jupiter square aspect.  This is not a full-strength square aspect but it will be near-exact during the US trading day. Mercury will be in the proximity of Jupiter at the time so that could offset some of the potential problems brought about by Mars.  Before Friday the outlook is less clear. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Global violence erupts on Mars-Rahu; Putin blamed for MH17 shootdown

(20 July 2014)  The world this week seems to be caught in a violent and unstable mood.  Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down a Malaysian airliner killing all 298 people aboard while Israel's invasion of the Gaza strip has produced hundreds of fatalities.  The brief astrological explanation for these unfortunate events is that Mars, the planet of violence, conjoined Rahu (North Lunar Node), the planet of distortion and disruption.  The Mars-Rahu conjunction happens about once every two years and is often a time of sudden and violent events.   Let's take a closer look.

The ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine took a dangerous and tragic turn this week with the shooting down of an airliner bound by pro-Russian rebels.  In a cruel twist of fate, the crash of  MH17 marks the second time Malaysia's national airline has been beset by tragedy after the loss of MH370 four months ago.  While the shoot-down of the passenger plane was unintended, the rebels and their sponsor Vladimir Putin have come under intense criticism from the global community.  Russia likely supplied the rebels with the missile that shot down the plane and now may be actively assisting the rebels in obstructing the crash investigation. 

While Putin's proxy war in eastern Ukraine had been going fairly well until now, this tragedy will likely complicate his position.  In the geopolitical chess game for control of Ukraine, Putin had seemingly out-maneuvered Obama.  Ukraine is not in NATO, therefore the US is less likely to defend it in the event of an attack from Russia.  Ukraine, of course, falls within Russia's traditional sphere of influence.  After February's Ukrainian revolution ousted the pro-Russian president, Putin helped rebels take Crimea back in March.  He also aided and abetted the rebels in the eastern Ukraine region in April and May.   The eastern Ukraine is now effectively in pro-Russian hands. 

But the shoot-down of MH17 may change all that.  Previously, Europe had been reluctant to support strong economic sanctions against Russia since it is dependent on Russian natural gas.  The outrage over this accident and Putin's apparent unwillingness to facilitate an international investigation will likely increase European resolve for stronger sanctions.  But how Putin was respond to stronger sanctions is unclear.  It could compel Putin to reduce or even withdraw his support for the rebels.  Alternatively, he could test European mettle and stop gas deliveries to Europe.

Back in March, I suggested that Putin would likely be in the driver's seat in terms of asserting himself in the region as a reaction to the loss of his client state in Kiev after the Revolution.  The retrograde cycle of Mars in Virgo through April, May and June would activate several of Putin's planets, not the least of which was his powerful Sun-Saturn conjunction.  While I thought Putin may have actually invaded under this influence, as it turns out there was no need to him to go that far since Donetsk is essentially now in his control anyway.  His proxy war conducted through the rebels has largely achieved his goals. 

While Putin's chart looked fairly strong, Obama's chart looked troubled by the Mars in Virgo transit through his 9th house -- conflict abroad.  In the previous post, I suggested that Obama's fortunes had a better chance of improving in July once Jupiter moved into Cancer.  This Jupiter influence would conjoin Obama's Mercury and aspect his natal Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Capricorn.  Ironically, it seems that this tragic shoot-down may be part of that Jupiter influence in Obama's chart.  Putin's imperial adventurism has come back to bite him and Obama is there to reap the benefit.  If Obama can now get his European allies onside for stronger sanctions, then Putin may be cornered.  The US is still reluctant to actively arm Ukraine lest the conflict intensifies into an all-out war with Russia, but Putin is much more isolated now as Russia begins to resemble a rogue state.

The shoot-down occurred on 17 July just after Mars (violence) had conjoined Rahu/North Node (breaking boundaries).  Mars-Rahu conjunctions are classic signatures for sudden and disturbing outbreaks of violence and disruption.  Mars (violent shock) squares Obama's natal Saturn (stability) and reflects the seriousness of this development.  Fast-moving Mars can act as a trigger but there has to be deeper problems with slower-moving planets to reflect the magnitude of the current state of crisis.  As I have noted previously, the double stations of Saturn and Uranus are very much front and center here.  Saturn stations at 22 Libra today (July 20) while Uranus stations at 22 Pisces on Monday. Significantly, both planets are in an exact 150 degree alignment.  The Saturn-Uranus alignment hits Obama's chart quite closely as Saturn sits atop his chart in the 10th house and squares his Ascendant.  Saturn is prominent in times of intense effort and heavy burdens.  Fortunately for Obama, Jupiter's influence may help him avoid the worst of it, although it is noteworthy that Obama is coming under a lot of domestic criticism for his overly detached, if not weak, leadership style.

The shoot-down shows up in Putin's chart through the Mars-Rahu conjunction.  Both of these planets are conjunct his Mercury (0 Libra) indicating intense (Mars) and out of control (Rahu) situations that undermine logical expectations and force quick thinking (Mercury).  The fact that this crash is so damaging to him is seen perhaps through Mercury's rulership over Virgo and Putin's Virgo planets.  The double affliction of Mars and Rahu to Mercury is therefore linked back to his Sun-Saturn conjunction.  The Sun-Saturn conjunction is the very root of Putin's power and ability.  Rather than being a simple one-off event, the importance of Mercury and Virgo in his chart means that this Mars-Rahu to Mercury will likely contain important long term ramifications for him.

So what happens next?  It is hard to say with much certainty since Putin's birth time is contested.  The accuracy of the 9.30 am chart presented here has not been confirmed.  However, one would have to think that the ongoing transit of Jupiter through Cancer will give more of a boost to Obama and not Putin.  Jupiter will aspect Obama's Capricorn Ascendant as well as Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury for the rest of 2014 and the first half of 2015.  That doesn't guarantee him positive outcomes in all matters but it is definitely favourable. 

Jupiter is much less prominent in Putin's chart, however.  Worse still, Saturn (obstacles, delays) will oppose his natal Jupiter (rewards, goals) for most of the rest of 2014.  We can also see that Rahu (North Node) will conjoin Putin's Virgo planets in the second half of 2014.  Rahu isn't always bad, but here it seems unhelpful as the Sun-Saturn pairing already gets some destabilizing Rahu energy from the natal aspect.  That seems like too much Rahu to me, so Putin could be beset by problems that cause him to make more mistakes.   He is more likely to do something unpredictable given all this Rahu influence.  While he could hit back against the West in this conflict, it seems unlikely that he will gain any strategic advantage any time soon. 

I will be paying special attention to the upcoming Mars-Saturn conjunction on August 25th.  This conjunction occurs at 23 Libra and therefore will highlight Obama's 10th house (leadership, status).  It will also closely align with Putin's Saturn at 24 Virgo.  Although this is not a proper aspect, it may still exercise some influence on him.   Given the Rahu aspect to natal Rahu (disruption) and the close alignment of Saturn and Uranus (breakdown of status quo), this may signal another important development in this ongoing geopolitical crisis.

Financial Markets Update

While markets reacted negatively to the MH17 shoot-down, stocks quickly recovered and finished generally higher on the week.  In New York, the Dow climbed back above 17,000 while India's Sensex also pushed back towards its previous highs.  I had been uncertain about the week as a whole although I did note the likelihood of some downside on the immediate effects of the exact Mars-Rahu conjunction early in the week.  But bullishness returned as the Sun entered Cancer where it enjoyed the auspicious company of Jupiter. 

The Saturn and Uranus stations loom large this week as this alignment of distant planets has the potential to mark a major trend reversal.  One complicating factor is Thursday's Sun-Jupiter conjunction.  This is typically a good combination for optimism although positive sentiment can disappear soon after the conjunction takes place. I would think the chances are fairly good for at least some gains ahead of this conjunction although they may not last.  They are also not likely to ultimately offset the more negative effects of Saturn as it resumes forward motion. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

India's budget disappointment: Jaitley takes a cautious approach

(13 July 2014) India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivered a much-anticipated budget last week as the incoming NDA government made its first significant mark on the post-election political landscape.  The budget was met with considerable criticism from many quarters, however, as Jaitley left in place the current tax regime as well as the thorny issue of subsidy rationalization, preferring to defer it to some future date.  Most measures taken were seen as too cautious by most in the business community as many wondered if the ambitious 4.1% deficit target was realistic given the fairly lethargic economy.   Indian stocks declined on the budget news as investors reflected on commitment of the government for serious economic reforms.  Clearly, FM Jaitley and PM Modi are trying to steer a middle path that appeals both to business and the wider population.

This early stumble for the newly minted NDA administration is seen through the current affliction to the horoscope of the swearing-in of PM Narendra Modi.  The swearing-in chart is the "birth" of the government and many subsequent developments on the political scene may be seen through this chart.  The budget disappointment is likely a reflection of the near-conjunction of Rahu and Mars.  Rahu (North Lunar Node) and Mars are both considered natural malefics which tend to create significant problems when they are associated with each other as they are here.  The difficulty for Jaitley and Modi is that the Rahu-Mars conjunction occurred almost exactly on the equal 12th house cusp at 29 Virgo.  The negative symbolism of the 12th house includes loss, sorrows, and isolation.   These sorts of manifestations would be more likely when a malefic planet like Rahu and/or Mars comes in contact with the cusp.  Both planets were just one degree on either side of this cusp. Interestingly, the focus of public attention and prominence of the government at the time of this budget announcement was also represented through the near exact Sun conjunction to Jupiter in Gemini.

The government is likely to be on the defensive for a few more weeks here as Rahu transits over that 12th cusp a bit longer.  After that, I would think that the period in late August or early September may be difficult also due to the transit of Mars and Saturn over the Ascendant at 29 Libra.  This looks like a time of intense scrutiny.  Saturn's role as the planet that governs austerity and responsibility may indicate issues regarding debt/deficit or government spending cuts will be at the forefront.  Perhaps Jaitley will address the subsidies question at this time.  

In October and November, Saturn transits the Ascendant at the same time that Jupiter conjoins the 10th house cusp.  While Jupiter is usually positive, the simultaneity of this mundane square of Saturn and Jupiter to the key angles in the chart does not look helpful for the government.  Jupiter-Saturn combinations are often prominent in times of blocked progress and stubbornness in the face of opposition.  The Jupiter conjunction to the 10th house suggests that the government may well enjoy some popularity, but the presence of Saturn on the Ascendant is an indication of disappointment, failure or resistance to their actions.  Overall, this chart suggests it could well be a rocky first year for the Modi government.

World Cup Update

Germany defeated Argentina in the World Cup final 1-0 on an overtime goal by Mario Gotze today.  I had thought that Argentina under the leadership of Lionel Messi had a decent chance to win but was unsure if they could really do it.  Messi's chart had some bright spots in the Venus and Jupiter transits but it wasn't enough.  He did win the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament but it was not much of a consolation.

Financial Markets Update

As noted above, Indian stocks sold off last week as investors expressed their disappointment with the budget.  The Sensex lost more than 3% and closed just above 25,000.   US Stocks ended only modestly lower on the week as the Dow closed just below 17,000.  I thought a little more upside was possible last week while noting at the same time the growing influence of bearish Saturn on sentiment. 

Mars conjoins Rahu on Monday just as the red planet changes signs and enters Libra.  Typically, this is usually a recipe for a decline.  One potentially offsetting factor here is that benefic Venus will enter Gemini on the same day.  This could go either way but I would be concerned more about the twin effects of Rahu and Mars.  Meanwhile, Saturn is likely increasing its collective influence ahead of its direct station on 20 July.  Gains are still possible with a strengthening Saturn but they are not something one can properly expect.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The astrology of sports: Messi and the World Cup

(6 July 2014) What does it take to be a great athlete?  A tenacious work ethic, fiery ambition, natural talent and a supportive family and community environment all play their part, but it doesn't hurt to have a great horoscope as well.  Argentine forward Lionel Messi is widely considered to be the world's best football player.  Whether as member of the FC Barcelona club or as captain of Argentina's national team, Messi tops all the relevant scoring and analytic rankings as the world's best player.   As the World Cup enters its semi-final round, it is worthwhile to take a look at the Messi's horoscope to see what it may reveal about his talent and fame as well as providing hints about the fate of Argentina in their upcoming games.

Messi was born June 24, 1987 at 5.55 a.m. in Rosario, Argentina.  There is some uncertainty about his time of birth as there is a second 8.20 p.m. time out there also.  I would tend to favour the 5.55 time as the chart seems to fit his life better. That said, we should keep an asterisk handy just in case.   One of the great things about this chart is the powerful 1st house.  The sign of Taurus (the Bull) rises with its ruler Venus and the exalted Moon also in the 1st house just below the horizon.  The 1st house represents vitality and self-projection and whenever it is this strong it describes a person who has a lot of positive karma who is successful and gets noticed for his efforts.  Rahu (North Node) is placed in the equal 11th house of gains.  This is likely Rahu's best house placement in a chart since this planet of material acquisitiveness can work well in a house devoted to monetary rewards and income.

Saturn actually provides a boost for him through its opposition aspect to Venus and the Moon from the 7th house.  While Saturn may repress his outward emotions, Saturn is lord of the 10th house (Aquarius) and its aspect to the 1st house lord Venus (within just one degree!) is a hugely significant astrological signature for achievement and success.  The tightness of the angular separation between Saturn and Venus intensifies Messi' potential for renown and fame.  Fame and success may also be seen through the placement of the last pre-natal lunar eclipse from April 13th at 29 Virgo 55.  Messi's Jupiter is less than two degrees from opposing this eclipse point.  Jupiter, of course, is the planet of success.

His athletic ability may be seen through the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th houses, their lords and the planet Mars.  We have already seen the strength of the 1st house, but his 3rd house of determination, courage and dexterity is also in excellent shape.  The 3rd house contains Cancer which is ruled by the Moon which is in Taurus its sign of exaltation and conjunct 1st lord Venus.  Ketu (South Node) is placed in the 5th house of sports which indicates an unusual or ingenious approach to games. 

More importantly, the 5th house lord is Mercury and it is very strong in Gemini, its own sign in a conjunction with Mars.  Mars is the planet of sports and competition and its close conjunction with 5th lord Mercury is very conducive to having a special talent in sporting activities.  In addition, Mercury is retrograde thus stronger than it would normally be.  The 6th house governs conflict and enemies and describes how an individual fares when faced with opposition.  The 6th house contains Pluto in Libra.  Pluto is a power-laden planet that speaks to great intensity when engaged in competition.  But Pluto's impact receives the bulk of its energy from the very good placement of the 6th lord Venus, which of course is in its own sign of Taurus in the 1st house.  The 6th lord in the 1st house describes a person who has a natural flair in competitive situations and who can rise to the occasion.  They are comfortable in the field of battle and have the stamina to outlast most rivals.

If Messi's natal chart is pretty much what one would expect from a great athlete, how does it look for the next week?  How will Messi fare in the semi-final on Wednesday and perhaps in the final on Sunday the 13th?  Transiting Ketu (0 Aries) is just moving a bit past its conjunction with Jupiter and thus activating the Jupiter-Uranus natal aspect.  This aspect is closely linked with sudden success so Ketu may well be playing a catalytic role here. To be sure, Ketu is a natural malefic but it is improved here due to the strength of its dispositor Mercury. Transiting Venus (25 Taurus) is just past a favourable conjunction with its natal placement for the semi-final game on Wednesday.  By Sunday's final, it will be in the first degree of Gemini, exactly opposite Uranus and thus activating the Jupiter-Uranus aspect again.  Pretty nice.

Transiting Saturn (22 Libra) and Uranus (22 Pisces) are backing into their respective direct stations at the end of July and form a near exact alignment with Messi's natal Venus, Mercury and Saturn.  While Saturn is normally a negative influence, it's alignment here with Uranus offsets some of its natural negativity.  I would tend to think that this alignment may actually be positive, especially given the importance of the natal planets involved.  A bigger concern would be the square between Mars (28 Virgo) and its natal position at 28 Gemini.  This is exact on Wednesday and a little past exact on Sunday.  Mars-to-Mars squares are usually bad influences and suggest too much energy to handle in a constructive way.  It can mean high levels of frustration and is generally not conducive with success.  It also increases the possibility of injury and conflict during the games.  Messi's chart would be better without this Mars contact, but it is what it is.  A more sanguine reading would suggest a very tense and emotional match on Wednesday (and perhaps Sunday) where perhaps his personal efforts come up short.  It is conceivable that Argentina may still win even if Messi experiences some individual troubles during the game.

Argentina is ranked #1 in the world and is one of the favourites to win the World Cup (after perhaps Brazil).   My brief analysis here would tend to favour the view that Argentina has a very good chance of winning.  I think the chart looks good on the whole, even if there are some reservations.   I have not looked at the charts of any of the other teams involved so I would be reluctant to make any categorical predictions.  We will be watching closely to see how these planetary influences play out.

Financial Markets Update

Stocks generally rose last week as the US jobs report showed the economy created more jobs than expected.  I thought there was a possibility of some early week problems on the Rahu influence but the late week gains did seem to reflect the ongoing Sun-Venus aspect as it aligned with Pluto.  The Dow pushed above 17,000 for the first time closing at 17,068 while India's Sensex enjoyed solid gains ahead of this week's Budget announcement. 

I would not rule out more upside this week as the Sun and Venus align with Saturn and Uranus on Monday and Tuesday.  This alignment isn't particularly great and actually carries with it some downside risk.  However, the sheer number of planets involved here may be enough to push sentiment a little further.  Friday's Mercury-Jupiter alignment also looks bullish.  That said, Saturn is slowly inching its way into an alignment with Uranus on 21 July.  This really does not look good.  It's hard to know when it will hit but it should hit nonetheless and with considerable force.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

100 years since the assassination that started World War I

(29 June 2014)  One hundred years ago yesterday, a young Serb nationalist named Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.   Just one month later, after accusations and recriminations produced nothing more than a series of failed diplomatic initiatives and broken treaties, the world would be plunged into a war that did away with the old regimes of Europe and usher in the 20th century. If nothing else, the assassination at 10.50 a.m. on 28 June 1914 is a reminder of the interconnectedness of human existence and of the power of unforeseen consequences from the action of a single individual. 

Of course, Gavrilo Princip had no intention of starting World War I. His terrorist act was intended to help free his native Bosnia and Serbia from the domination of a foreign power in Austria-Hungary.  And yet the shooting of the heir to the Hapsburg throne was the catalyst that would ultimately result in the deaths of tens of millions of people, end the monarchies in Austria, Germany, Italy and Russia and thereby produce the world's first socialist revolution.  The assassination would also start the war that would effectively end of the predominance of Great Britain as the world's power as well as the ascension of the United States to that position.

One would think that an act of such enormous historical importance must have a fairly unusual astrological signature.  I think it does.  Let's begin by looking at the moment of assassination itself.  The chart is dominated by malefics.  The Moon had just risen in Leo and was hemmed in between malefics Mars and Ketu.  This kind of set up is commonly found in situations of anger and heated emotions where self-control is often lacking. Violence is common enough where the Moon (emotions) combines with Mars (anger, action) but when one of the nodes, Rahu or Ketu is also involved, it can become extremely dangerous. It is a textbook bad alignment that one would expect to see in a volatile and disruptive event.  Also, Saturn (1 Gemini) sits at the very top of the chart and forms an exact square with the Ascendant.  Saturn rules loss and sorrow, of course, and its pride of place at the top of the chart in the 10th house (on the equal cusp at 0 Gemini) is very symbolic of an event that will be characterized by Saturnian energies. 

Pluto (power, coercion) and the Sun (leaders, kings) are also in proximity to Saturn in the 10th house and paint a plausible enough picture of a regicide that is famous.   An added layer of affliction to the Sun (kings) from the aspect of Rahu (disruption, erasing boundaries) fills out the astrological inventory of an event that marks the downfall of a major royal personage as well as one that began the eventual destruction of several royal houses of Europe.  The other intriguing thing about this chart is that the last lunar eclipse of 12 March 1914 occurred at 28 Leo.  This was just two degrees from the Ascendant of the assassination.  Eclipses are often highlighted in events with larger social and historical importance.

Interestingly, that lunar eclipse of March 1914 also figures prominently in the horoscope of Princip himself.  He was born 25 July 1894 at 4.40 pm in Bosnia.  He was only 19 years old when he fired the gun that killed the Archduke and his wife.  As we might suspect, the chart is quite intense as malefics are prominent.  Saturn sits atop the chart conjunct the unequal 10th house cusp (i.e. the "Midheaven").  It also forms an exact 60 degree full strength sextile aspect to the Ascendant.  And it is a very powerful and malefic Saturn due to the near exact opposition aspect from Mars which sits at the very bottom of the chart.  This is a very afflicted chart when the two worst planets are angular and suggests a troubled but driven person.  Mars (willpower, energy, violence) is combined with Saturn (power, sorrow, durability) in this chart and seems doomed to produce difficult outcomes.  As an echo of the assassination chart, the Sun is again aspected by Rahu, suggesting difficulties with the father and authority figures. 

Moreover, that eclipse at 28 Leo occurred exactly on his equal 10th house cusp square to his Ascendant at 28 Scorpio.  The 10th house symbolizes status and achievements.  It is tempting to think about the preceding March lunar eclipse therefore as 'marking' Princip as a person who would gain status somehow in the near future.  His angular Mars-Saturn opposition would be enough to ensure that his fame would be associated somehow with their planetary portfolios of strife and suffering.

An eclipse also figured prominently in his natal chrt as Princip was born with his Mars/IC combination conjunct the last pre-natal eclipse on 6 April 1894 at 24 Pisces.  The eclipse acted as a kind of karmic highlighting of his Mars, which was already extra prominent due to its association with Saturn and the 4th house cusp or IC.  The 4th house cusp is often associated with the notion of endings or "the end of the matter".  Princip's act of violence (Mars) helped put an end to the Old Imperial Europe in a most forceful way. The involvement of the eclipse may have served to extend the consequences of Princip's actions well beyond the back street in Sarajevo where the murder took place and into the annals of world history.

Financial Markets Update

Fortunately, it was far less portentous last week in the markets in the absence of any new developments in Iraq or elsewhere.  Stocks generally moved sideways in both New York and Mumbai.  Gold and crude oil also held steady.  As expected, we did see some weakness early in the week on the Mars-Uranus aspect.  The market then rebounded more or less in line with the more bullish Mercury-Jupiter pattern midweek.  I thought we might have seen some declines late in the week but prices stayed high.

This week also could be mixed as the early week may be dominated by the Mercury-Rahu aspect.  The Rahu influence can sometimes introduce uncertainty and confusion, especially here when Mercury stations direct on Tuesday.  While less reliably negative than some Mars aspects, the Rahu aspect here is a bit problematic. The late week offers some positive energy as the Sun and Venus align with Pluto on Thursday and Friday.   Meanwhile, Saturn continues to inch its way backwards through the sky to its eventual station on July 20-21 when it aligns with Uranus. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Predicting success: when Soros broke the Bank of England

(22 June 2014)  Is life all just random blind luck?  Or are there times when our efforts are more likely to bear fruit?  One of the great insights of astrology is that major life events usually occur at a time of a clearly marked planetary pattern in our horoscope.  Situations of loss and disappointment may be often correlated with times when Saturn is dominant.  Times of achievement and reward typically take place when Jupiter is highlighted in some way.  I see these patterns playing out over and over again.  Not every situation is perfectly predictable, of course, but we can often isolate time periods of months and years when things are clearly on the upswing or downswing depending on the planets involved.  Moreover, we can also say that it is the key events in life -- the ones that are the most important in shaping our life direction -- that usually stand out the most in terms of planetary alignments. 

The chart of billionaire investor George Soros provides a classic example in this respect.  Soros is a legendary hedge fund manager who is one of the richest and most influential people in the world.  He was born August 12, 1930 in Budapest, Hungary.  Unfortunately, his birth time is unknown so this makes a close analysis of his chart more difficult.  However, it is still possible to make sense of the chart in terms of major events.  For Soros, one of his life-defining events came on September 16, 1992 when his massive bet against the British Pound  paid off in spades.  Soros had reasoned that Britain could not maintain the value of the Pound after it left the European Exchange Rate Mechanism due to its internal economic weakness.  He therefore "shorted" the Pound for months while the Bank of England gamely tried to defend its value against currency speculators.  After some months of fighting a losing battle, the Bank of England finally capitulated on September 16, 1992 and let the market take the Pound lower.  Soros realized a $1 Billion profit in a single day.  He became famous as "the man who broke the Bank of England." 

There are a couple of charts that underscore the importance of this trade in Soros' life. First, the transits for that day show a rare Sun-Mercury-Jupiter conjunction at 1 degree of Virgo.  It is very close to aspecting the natal Moon (28 Aquarius) by opposition aspect.  Jupiter is the key positive influence here as its transits to the Moon and Sun typically correspond to situations where things go the way we want.  One problem is the exact position of the Moon is unknown in Soros' chart because his time is unknown. Since the Moon moves about 13 degrees per day, the Moon may be located somewhere between 22 Aquarius and 5 Pisces.  We are using noon as a stand-in time and therefore take the halfway point in the Moon's position.  We may suspect that Soros was probably born sometime in the afternoon since that would make the Jupiter-Sun-Mercury aspect to the Moon that much closer to exact.  Admittedly, there is way too much wiggle room here but that is one of the shortcomings of using the noon chart.  Bottom line, these transits are suggestive of gains but only form one fairly small piece of the puzzle. 

To my mind, the more telling chart is the Western secondary progressed chart.  Formed by progressing each planet's position one day for each year lived (i.e. age 62 = 62 days since birth or Oct 13), there is a huge alignment of planets around 26-27 degrees of their respective signs.  As we would expect, Jupiter is front and center in this alignment.  Secondary progressed Sun (26 Virgo) is tightly square progressed Jupiter (26 Gemini).  Most Sun-Jupiter patterns are invariably positive and coincide with rewards and status enhancements.  This one is special because of all the natal planets that are also placed in that degree.  Soros was born with at least three planets near this degree -- Sun (26 Cancer), Pluto (27 Gemini) and Mars (26 Taurus).  There are four planets if we include Chiron at 26 Aries.  So the progressed motion of both Jupiter and the Sun had moved these planets to activate this very powerful natal alignment.  Given the various different planetary velocities involved, this was very much a once-in-a-lifetime alignment. 

When the Sun had transited 26 Leo thirty years before in 1962, it activated the same pattern but Jupiter had not yet moved into that position.  At 23 Gemini,  Jupiter was still too far away from the natal Pluto to trigger a major life-changing gain.  It was only in 1992 when both the Sun and Jupiter would align more closely with the rest of the planets in Soros' chart.  Progressed planets moved quite slowly, so we could only make the statement that the whole year 1992 would be generally beneficial for him rather than September 16, 1992 more specifically.  More narrowly focused predictions usually require an accurate birth time, as well as other levels of analysis beyond what we are discussing here. 

The takeaway is that major life events require major life alignments.  And if we are looking for times when our efforts will pay off in terms of investments or career, then it helps enormously if there are some progressed and transit alignments that involve Jupiter as well as other benefic planets like Venus or Mercury.  The progressed alignments provide the karmic resources needed to deliver the goods.  The more planets involved in the alignment, the more significant the period will be.  Obviously, all charts need to be looked at relativistically.  We can't all make billion dollar currency trades, but we can highlight the times in life when we are likely to go to the next level and have our efforts pay off.

Financial Markets Update

US Stocks edged higher last week as Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a very dovish testimony that suggested a lack of concern with signs of growing inflation.  The Dow ended the week at 16,947, a new high.  Indian stocks were subject to more profit-taking on nervousness over rising oil prices and Iraq.  The Sensex slipped a bit to 25,105.  This generally positive picture coincided with expectations as I noted the twin ingresses of Venus and Jupiter at the middle of the week were likely to improve sentiment.  Yellen's testimony came on Wednesday just as Venus was entering Taurus and Jupiter was entering Cancer.  US markets enjoyed their biggest gain of the week on that day. 

This week looks more challenging as Mars forms a close opposition to Uranus on Monday and then aligns with bearish Saturn on Friday.  Declines would seem to be more likely near those aspects.  The middle of the week could perhaps see some gains as Mercury aligns with Jupiter on Wednesday and Thursday.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Iraq in chaos as insurgents advvance towards Baghdad

(15 June 2014)  The Iraqi government teetered on the verge of collapse last week as jihadist insurgents continued their advance on Baghdad.  The radical Islamist group ISIS has recently taken over large swaths of territory in the Sunni-dominated north and now threaten to topple the Shiite Maliki government.  Iraq's sectarian divisions now threaten to redraw the existing boundaries as the country may be better off dividing along religious lines.  And as Iraq moves towards total disintegration, the US is most concerned with the fact ISIS it a terrorist group with Al-Qaeda connections.  If they take over all of Iraq or even just establish a separate Sunni state in the north of Iraq, it would provide a potential terrorist training area not unlike what Afghanistan was before 2001.

The most pressing questions now are: 1) what are the chances that Iraq be taken over by ISIS or will be broken up into separate states with new boundaries?; and 2)  more immediately, how long is the current round of fighting likely to last?   Analysts have suggested that President Obama is in a difficult position here as he would be very reluctant to provide much military cover to the Maliki government.  Air strikes are still possible but likely only in a temporary capacity to stop the current advance by the insurgents.  His options are therefore very limited.  Maliki could also enlist support from neighboring Iran to prevent a worst case scenario of a total takeover by ISIS.  It may take some time for the government to re-assert its control over the central portion of the country, let alone re-take the northern Sunni-controlled area.  With the situation in flux and the future uncertain, what insight might the planets provide?

From an astrological perspective, one quick look at the Iraq horoscope and we see the problem.  Transiting Saturn (23 Libra) is backing into a very tight conjunction with the natal Moon (23 Libra) in this chart.   The Moon represents the people as a whole and is usually activated in any significant national developments, for good or ill.  Saturn, of course, is typically the most negative influence of all the planets as it symbolizes suffering, loss, and death.  To be sure, Saturn also has more positive significations, but its more negative associations are more likely to manifest in this time due to the afflicted nature of the chart as a whole.  Natally, Saturn is damaged from the get-go due to its opposition with Pluto across the 1-7 house axis.  Pluto symbolizes coercive power and potential cruelty.  To some extent, all Saturn transits in this chart will therefore be stamped with this more negative Saturn-Pluto energy. 

The reason why this particular Saturn-to-Moon transit correlates with such major difficulties is because Saturn is due to station at 22 Libra on July 20th.  In other words, it is moving very slowly at the moment and therefore has assumed much more energy than when it is moving at normal velocity.  A Saturn station to a key planet like the Moon often coincides with significant historical events in the life of a country.  That would appear to be the case here.  Saturn's conjunction with the Moon lasts from approximately May until August so that period runs the greatest risk of hardship and suffering.

Also we can see that the lunar nodes, Rahu and Ketu, are very much front and center.  First, we should note that the transiting Saturn comes under the influence of the aspect of Rahu (24 Aquarius) during this long Saturn direct station period from May to August while Saturn is barely moving.  The Saturn-Rahu pairing is typical in situations where boundaries and structures (Saturn) are undergoing disruption and change (Rahu).  Over the past weeks, Iraq is fragmenting as the large numbers of soldiers have fled and surrendered territory to the jihadists. 

We can also see that transiting Ketu (2 Aries) is closely conjunct the equal 10th house cusp (0 Aries).  It will exactly conjoin this point on July 2nd using the true node measurement.  In mundane astrology, the 10th house represents the government and its leaders.  Like Rahu, Ketu symbolizes change and development, usually in a sudden or shocking way.  The fact that transiting Ketu still has three weeks before becoming conjunct with the 10th house cusp suggests the the period of greatest intensity and disruption is yet to come for the Maliki government in Baghdad. 

Transiting Mars is in the picture too (of course!) as it conjoins the Sun-Mercury duo in Virgo close to the unequal 4th house cusp.  Mars is the planet most connected with violence and its conjunction with the Sun is evocative of the violent attack on the Iraqi government and its military. 

Somewhat paradoxically, benefic Jupiter conjoins the Ascendant.  What symbolic role could Jupiter take in the current situation?  There are a few possibilities here and I wouldn't argue to strongly for any one in particular.  Jupiter could represent US air strikes that help to save the Maliki government from defeat.  Or help could also come from Iran, a Shiite ally in the region.  Jupiter makes its exact conjunction with the Ascendant on June 23rd.

Whatever the possible stabilizing influence of Jupiter in the next week, the outlook seems problematic for Iraq.  As already noted, Ketu has yet to make its closest conjunction with the 10th house which takes place in the first week of July.  Moreover, transiting Mars will conjoin Rahu on July 13th at 0 degrees of Libra.  This will fall exactly on the 4th house cusp and will thereby activate the natal square of Pluto (0 Cancer) and Uranus (29 Aries).  This looks like a time when violence and military action could be near their peak.  The transiting Sun will cross the Ascendant a few days later on the 17th and thus set up a larger alignment with Rahu, Ketu and Mars.   If the Maliki government is going to fall, this would be one possible time for that to happen.   A sustained attack on the city of Baghdad is another possible manifestation of this pattern.  August 25th also looms large as that is the date that Mars conjoins Saturn in the sky and hence both malefics will be closely conjunct Iraq's Moon.  I would expect large-scale military actions to continue in Iraq until at least that date. 

Interestingly, by late August Jupiter will have moved into an exact conjunction with the natal Mars at 14 Cancer.  This is exactly where Jupiter stationed in April 2003 when the US invaded Iraq and toppled the Saddam government.  This is probably not going to be a repeat of history, but it may support the notion that major military action will occur in August. 

I am agnostic on the question of whether Iraq will survive.  The chart is afflicted but probably not afflicted enough to suggest that it will be dissolved.  Nonetheless, the next year or two look troubled for this country.  The next six months are probably going to be the most significant for shaping its future direction.  I hope to revisit these questions in later posts as more details become known.

Financial Markets Update

Stocks edged lower last week as worries over the Iraqi situation gave investors a reason to take profits.  The Dow lost 100 points closing at 16,775 while the Sensex dipped to 25,228.  I had noted the presence of some bearish-looking aspects midweek (Venus-Saturn) and late week (Mars-Pluto) so the move lower did not come as a big surprise.  Friday's rebound in the US also seemed to correlate nicely with the more bullish Sun-Jupiter aspect that day.

This week looks somewhat more positive as both Venus and Jupiter -- two benefic planets -- change signs at midweek.  I would think this simultaneous shift in energy of these planets is likely to correlate with some upside here.  However, Mars is approaching its opposition with Uranus as we get deeper into the week so that is a significant red flag that could suggest some panic selling.  Friday's alignment with the Moon is perhaps most portentous in this respect although the aspect does continue into early into next week.