Monday, August 18, 2014

Hillary Clinton's difficult summer

(18 August 2014) It's been a tough summer for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.   The former first lady and Secretary of State published a political memoir that met with tepid reviews and poor book sales.   Many commentators saw it as thinly-veiled political ploy designed to boost her profile before her formal declaration for the race to the Democratic nominee for President for the 2016 election.  Her subsequent book tour did little to improve the the book's reception as Ms. Clinton tried in vain to deflect criticism.  Then in a magazine interview two weeks ago, she was openly critical of Obama and distanced herself from him over his handling of the Middle East and Syria in particular.  She was forced to awkwardly walk back her comments in order to appear less confrontational towards the Obama White House.  These missteps have seen her popularity fall 10% in the past two months although she remains the overwhelming favorite to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. 

We can see that Hillary Clinton has been suffering from a bout of "Saturnitis" for much of the summer.  The Saturn station in late July was just one degree off her natal Venus.  Saturn-Venus transits are often times when life feels like it is contracting rather than expanding.  Our social circles also come under pressure as joy and happiness are harder to come by. Saturn isn't all bad -- no planet is -- but there are two important factors that made this particular transit conjunction worse.  First, it was the station of Saturn to her Venus.  Stations last for weeks and describe extended periods where we are feeling heavy or slowed down.  Saturn was within range for her Venus back in June and is still conjunct Venus at 23 degrees of Libra even now, some two months later.  For most people, a little Saturn gives structure, responsibility and maybe some worthwhile life lessons.  But a Saturn transit that lasts not for days but for weeks can reflect major obstacles and setbacks that can throw us off our game.  Saturn will finally move off her Venus in the next week or two so that bodes well for her.

The other problem with this Saturn transit is that it wasn't just Venus that suffered.  Ms. Clinton also had her Mars-Pluto conjunction at 20-21 Cancer closely aspected by Saturn during this time.  While this aspect was still a couple of degree off exact, it was close enough to cause problems.  An afflicted Mars-Pluto can indicate exercises of power that do not end well or may go against you.  This is what happened to Hillary following her comments on Obama's foreign policy.  The Saturn aspect would also raise the likelihood of frustration, especially in matters pertaining to the 10th house such as career and status.  It makes a lot of sense that Hillary would suffer more than her fair share of problems and hassles during this Saturn transit.  These difficult Saturn transits suggest that she did not expect to have this kind of fallout from her comments. 

Hillary's fortunes will likely improve further as Jupiter moves closer to its conjunction with Mars, Pluto and then Saturn this fall.   Jupiter stations exactly on her 10th house Saturn in December so that may be a particularly noteworthy and positive time.  I should note that her birth time remains in question but I am using the 8.00 a.m. chart for now.  Since I'm not sure it's correct, I tend to give less emphasis to time-dependent factors like house placements and rulerships and more on simpler planet-to-planet transits and progressions which are contingent only on her date of birth. 

Transiting Jupiter will remain in Cancer and her probable 10th house for the first half of 2015.   This would be an ideal time for her to declare her candidacy for President.  Usually Presidential candidacies are declared in the January or February of the year before the election.  Hillary could declare as early as December at the time of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction but she likely won't lose anything by waiting for early 2015 since Jupiter will still be in a powerful position in her chart.  I think her chances of winning the nomination are very good indeed, as is her chances to be the next President.  I hope discuss the race in greater detail in the coming months once we have a better idea of the other candidates.

Financial Markets Update

Stocks generally moved higher last week on easing geopolitical tensions and mostly positive macro economic data.  In New York, the Dow climbed about 1% finishing at 16,662 while the Indian Sensex jumped 3% to 26,103.  I had been fairly neutral last week although I noted the likelihood of gains in the second half of the week on the approaching Venus-Jupiter conjunction.  Indeed, stocks were mostly bullish after some early week indecision.

We could see a little more upside this week as the Venus-Jupiter conjunction is exact on Monday.  Tuesday's Mercury-Neptune opposition is more problematic so that could offset some or all of any preceding gains.  The rest of the week may be increasingly choppy and even jittery as Mars gets closer to its big conjunction with Saturn on next Monday the 25th.  Gains are still conceivable here but we could see intraday volatility increase.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ebola outbreak declared global health emergency

(10 August 2014)  Last week the WHO declared the current Ebola outbreak a world health emergency as the virus has yet to be contained and the number of deaths approaches 1000.  The latest outbreak began in February and has since affected four West African countries leading to the closing of borders, many village-level quarantines and widespread fear.   Health officials on the ground say the virus is out of control as the number of cases continues to increase exponentially.  The current outbreak is by far the worst since Ebola first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and Congo. 

There are a few possible astrological observations here.  First, it may not be coincidental that the outbreak reached this emergency status while Saturn and Uranus both stationed in a very close alignment in late July.  As I have noted previously, this simultaneous station of Saturn (22 Libra) and Uranus (22 Pisces) was bound to mark some significant troubles in the world.  We have seen an upsurge in conflict and military violence in the past several weeks (Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq) alongside the worst outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.  It is clearly a very worrisome time.  Saturn is the most malefic planet, of course, and at its worst it symbolizes loss, death, illness and suffering.  Uranus is a more unpredictable planet which is often prominent in situations marked by sudden and unexpected developments.  Together, these two distant planets are very apt markers for a somewhat mysterious and deadly disease that has a fatality rate of over 50%.

The really interesting thing about Ebola is that the Saturn-Uranus connection was quite prominent in the very first recorded case of Ebola on 27 June 1976 in Sudan.  To be sure, it is impossible to know the exact "birth" of Ebola (i.e when the first human was infected).  I also don't know exactly when in the fall of 1976 that the virus was given the Ebola name as this might also have created a viable birth chart.  But we do know when the first person with symptoms came to seek treatment. Although imperfect, this is the best "index case" for the virus and therefore is a plausible enough basis for casting a horoscope. 

The most dominant characteristic of this chart is the near exact square aspect between -- you guessed it -- Saturn and Uranus.  These planets reflect the dangerous and unpredictable nature of the virus as it suddenly appears and then disappears over two dozen times over the past forty years. The first case chart is also noteworthy for the opposition aspect between Mercury (communication, interaction) and Neptune (illness) which is quite appropriate for a contagious viral disease.  The gruesome deadliness of the virus's manifested symptoms may be seen through the exact 45 degree aspect between Mars and Pluto. 

If the virus itself was primarily marked by the cosmic imprint of Saturn and Uranus planetary energies working together, then it is not too surprising that we should see Ebola return once again when the energies of these two planets were again front and center.  While their alignment now not in a square aspect, the 150 degree angular separation is none the less significant, especially since both planets stationed (i.e. reversed their direction) on 20-21 July.  Stationary planets are at their most powerful in terms of influence.  We may also speculate if the transit of Jupiter (11 Cancer) to conjoin the natal Saturn (9 Cancer) is one reason for Ebola's continued spread to global emergency status at the present time.  Jupiter is the planet of expansion and growth and its influence on Saturn would suggest that the outbreak is still growing.

But what lies ahead?  If this chart is usable -- admittedly a big if -- then we could see the virus come under greater control around the time when Mars conjoins Saturn on 25 August.  This conjunction aligns with the natal Mercury in the Ebola horoscope so that may reflect some significant new obstacle in the spread of the virus.  Rahu's aspect to Mercury will tighten further in the coming weeks and could signal further interruption in the spread of the virus in September.  I would also think that we could see Ebola's spread significantly contained or even stopped by October as Saturn aspects both Jupiter (27 Aries) and Mars (0 Leo) at that time.  The first week of October sees Mercury turn retrograde in close square aspect to Saturn and may reflect a blocking of transmission, either through strict quarantine or, more optimistically, through the introduction of a vaccine.  The Mars opposition to natal Mercury occurs around the same time and is likely to reflect significant progress against this Ebola outbreak.

This analysis is more than a little tenuous given the poor quality of the data involved.  Hopefully, the current outbreak will give us two more start-stop data points against which the original chart data can be assessed and improved.

Financial Markets Update

Stock markets were mixed last week as the Ukrainian crisis seemed to lessen after Russia pulled some of its troops back from the border.  The Dow moved modestly higher closing at 16,553 while the Indian Sensex edged lower to 25,329.  I thought we might see some downside, especially later in the week on the Sun-Saturn aspect. Indian stocks did bottom out on Friday very close to this bearish aspect.  US stocks had been fairly negative until Friday but enjoyed a small rebound on that day. 

This week could see more mixed markets as Mercury and the Sun align with Ketu.  These are aspects that often foretell unexpected or counterintuitive moves in sentiment.  Venus approaches its conjunction with bullish Jupiter late in the week (although it is exact on Monday the 18th) so that could briefly boost some stocks.  The ongoing presence of the Saturn-Uranus aspect still looks like an enormous cloud over the proceedings, however.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Palestine under Saturn and Mars: the war in Gaza continues

(3 August 2014)  The fighting in Gaza resumed this weekend after the failure of Friday's cease-fire.  It lasted only ninety minutes.  There are hints that this round of bloodshed may be ending as Israel claims it destroyed most of the Hamas' network tunnels.  Israel may also have an interest in ending its attacks as it has been widely criticized for hitting several civilian targets, most recently a U.N. school which was being used as a shelter.  In last week's post, I wondered if we might get some kind of cease-fire around 2 August and the Mercury-Jupiter conjunction.  As it happened, the cease-fire came the day before.  I also thought it may not hold, and that proved to be correct.  Perhaps peace has a better chance near 16 August when Venus conjoins Jupiter.  We shall see. 

This war presents a problem for astrologers since the Palestinians do not have a proper national horoscope.  They are not yet a full-fledged nation.  All we have is several lesser charts which may or may not be significant for describing developments in Palestine, whether on the West Bank or Gaza.  The best one I have found thus far is the chart of the declaration of Palestinian independence in 1988.  Even if not as pertinent and accurate as, say, Israel's in 1948, it ought to have some force.  Tellingly, the declaration was made in absentia in Algeria by the Palestinian leadership under Yassir Arafat.  The declaration was the first time that the PLO official renounced violence and tacitly accepted Israel's right to exist.  The declaration paved the way for increasing international recognition which led to the Oslo Accords and the granting of limited sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza in 1994 and beyond.

There are some compelling elements of the chart that seem appropriate.  Ketu (South Lunar Node) rises on the Ascendant in Leo.  This may reflect the constantly unstable situation of the nation which has no fixed territory.  As the planet of asceticism, Ketu is said to deny the material realm.  This is perhaps fitting for a declaration of independence for a people without a homeland.  Ketu is also a spiritual planet, of course, and this may reflect the religious nature of Palestine as an Islamic state.  The triple conjunction of Mercury, Pluto and the Sun in the 3rd house of courage and determination seems to conform to the tenacity with which Palestinians have fought over the year to regain their homeland. 

The Moon's placement in the 6th house may provide a small window on the extent of their suffering although it does not seem quite right somehow. Jupiter's benefic aspect to the Moon is even more puzzling.   One would think the chart would have clearer afflictions which reflect the hardship of the Palestinian people.  Perhaps that comes from the lord of the 4th house (Mars) being poorly placed in the 8th house in a square with Saturn and Uranus.  And perhaps it speaks to better, more prosperous days in the future.  But the big problem with this chart is that there are no clear transit afflictions in recent weeks as one would expect given the large loss of life in Gaza. 

Or is there?  One possible explanation is that the Saturn-Uranus alignment at 22 Libra/22 Pisces is really hitting this chart but just in a less obvious way.  Saturn at 23 Libra is now 135 degrees away from Mars at 8 Pisces.  Western astrology does use the 135 degree sesquiquadrate aspect since it represents an 8-fold division of the circle of 360 degrees.  If this chart is correct, then Saturn will only move away from its 135 degree aspect with Mars later in August and September. That would suggest there could be more fighting and suffering in the days to come. 

Worse still, the Mars-Saturn conjunction on 25 August could be disastrous for Palestine since this is almost an exact aspect to the natal Mars.  A major escalation of violence seems very likely at that time.  Not surprisingly, the chart is running a malefic dasha period -- Rahu-Saturn from 2013 until 2015.  Both of these planets are natural malefics and Saturn is doubly problematic due to its placement with destabilizing Uranus and the weakening influence of Neptune.  Perhaps a lasting cease-fire is more likely as transiting dasha lord Rahu conjoins Venus in late August and into September.

The long term outlook for Palestine doesn't look good.  Some meaningful improvement in possible under Rahu-Mercury dasha from 2015 to 2018 and yet Mercury also suffers from its conjunction with Pluto (coercion) and the aspect from Rahu (deception).  I would be hesitant about expecting too much from this period although it should be better than what Saturn has delivered.  The general situation in Palestine may only substantially improve with the coming of the Rahu-Venus dasha in 2019. 

Financial Markets Update

Stocks tumbled across the world last week as US economic data suggested that the Fed may be forced to hike interest rates sooner than expected.  If the Fed does have to raise rates, then this asset bubble that has been forming over the past 5 years may suddenly pop.  The Dow lost 3% closing at 16,493 while the Sensex also dipped 3% and finished at 25,480.  This outcome was not a big surprise as I thought we might see some noteworthy moves on the late week Mars-Jupiter square aspect.  The big decline came Thursday just one day before Mars was made its closest angle.  It seems the market may be on the verge of falling further in the wake of that Saturn-Uranus alignment on 20 July.  It's still too soon to tell what its eventual impact will be, however.

This week could also be difficult as the Sun and Mercury come under the aspect of Saturn late in the week.  This alignment isn't exact until Saturday so it's possible some of the negativity may be avoided.  But even if stocks do recover this week, there will be renewed pressure soon enough.

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.