Sunday, September 14, 2014

Scottish referendum pushes UK to the brink

(14 September 2014)  The people of Scotland are on the verge of making history this week.  On Thursday, they will vote on whether they will become an independent country or remain part of the United Kingdom. Under the leadership of First Minister Alex Salmond, the "Yes" side has enjoyed considerable gains in the popularity in the past weeks. Recent polls now show about a 50-50 split for Scottish independence.  The gains for the independence side has brought about a vigorous response by pro-Union "No" supporters including intensive campaigning by the leaders of all four UK political parties.  The vote will likely be very close but which side will win?

Based on my understanding of the key astrological influences at the time of the referendum, I think the chances are high that Scotland will vote to remain in the UK.  There are a few angles one could take in answering this question, but let's focus on the chart of pro-independence leader Alex Salmond.  Born 31 December 1954 at 4.30 p.m., Salmond's chart is quite strong as one would expect.  His 10th house Moon in Pisces hints at his ability to lead (10th house) people towards an idealistic vision (Pisces). 

His talents in this kind of undertaking receives a huge boost from the very close trine aspect of the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in his second house. Moreover, we can see that Jupiter was extra-powerful at the time of his birth since it was at its highest degree of exaltation (3 Cancer) according to Vedic principles.   All of that good Jupiter energy could then be directed towards his Moon in the 10th -- a perfect signature for someone who is a popular representative and servant of the people (Moon).  The cross-sign conjunction of the Moon with Mars gives him more energy to succeed in his tasks to lead and inspire the people around him.

Even more remarkable is that his Venus (2 Scorpio) forms a near-exact Grand Trine pattern with Jupiter/Uranus and the Moon.  Venus confers more good fortune on Mr. Salmond as it enhances his skills at making social connections and friendships.  Jupiter's aspect to Venus also makes his 5th house more powerful since Venus rules Libra, the sign in the 5th house.  The 5th house is associated with intelligence generally as well as the ability to give trusted advice.  The 5th house is also said to be the most explicitly political of all twelve houses in the horoscope.

Saturn is also very strong in this chart as it is exalted in Libra in the 5th house of politics and is actually located precisely on the equal 5th house cusp at 25 Libra.  This can give Salmond a very disciplined and logical approach to life and should be seen as a useful counterweight to the idealism of his Pisces Moon.   Salmond's restlessness and desire to break with the status quo is perhaps indicated by the conjunction of the Sun and Mercury with Rahu (North Lunar Node) in the 7th house.  Rahu tends to destabilize planets it is associated with as it guides individuals to innovative or sometimes radical action.  Sun-Rahu conjunctions may also imply an inherent resistance (Rahu) towards authority (Sun) and that may well be the case here as Scotland vies to break with three hundred years of union with Britain. 

On the day of the referendum, we can see there are some very potent transits. Saturn will be almost exactly conjunct its natal position at 25 Libra.  While Saturn is a malefic planet by nature, its exalted status here means that outcomes are more open-ended.  But aside from the question of outcomes, the Saturn Return is associated with taking of responsibility for past actions and fulfilling one's destiny.  Salmond has been a campaigner for independence for many years and his long struggle is reaching its apex now.  His profile has never been higher.  While the exalted status of Saturn is something of a plus for this transit, the potential problem is that Saturn rules the 8th and 9th houses in his chart.  Neither of these houses are associated with gains or competition, however, so I am less inclined to see this Saturn-to-Saturn transit in positive terms. While not necessarily negative, it may only refer to the huge personal significance of this referendum.

Transiting Ketu and Uranus are in the 10th house and also underscore the importance of this time for him.  These are both slow moving planets whose transit of the 10th house of status and career symbolizes how pivotal 2014 has been in Salmond's life.  In this respect, Ketu (25 Pisces) is exactly conjunct his equal 10th house cusp and thus is an appropriate placement for a circumstance that focuses public attention towards him.  The flip side is that Rahu is on the 4th house cusp, which is another indication of the intensity and instability of his current emotional condition as he awaits the public verdict on his life-long dream.

On balance, I think there are too many malefic planets involved in tight transits at the moment.   Ketu isn't always bad in the 10th house and Saturn isn't always bad in its return to its natal position.  But to have these two happening at the same time may be a bridge too far for Mr. Salmond.   Venus will be a fairly close opposition to Mars on the day of the referendum which is usually not conducive with happiness, while Lagnesh Mercury by transit in Virgo will fall under Mars' 8th house aspect.   For these reasons, I don't think Salmond will be satisfied with Thursday's result.  While some other scenarios are conceivable with this chart, I generally expect the No side will win and that Scotland will choose to remain part of the UK. 

Financial Markets Update

US markets slipped a bit last week as investors pondered the likelihood of higher interest rates sooner rather than later as the Dow closed at 16,987.  In Mumbai, stocks inched slightly higher with the Sensex again closing above 27,000 as falling oil prices lessened inflation worries.   I had been fairly neutral here given the mix of influences.  We did see some midweek strength on the Jupiter influence while the late week Sun-Saturn alignment brought about some selling.  As expected, gold and many commodities extended their recent decline.

This week again could see stocks move in both directions.  Tuesday's Mercury-Rahu conjunction looks problematic so some downside is more likely at that time.  However, there may still be some intermittent upside possible on various short-term Jupiter aspects throughout the week.  And the Jupiter-Uranus aspect isn't due to peak until the 25th so that could provide enough optimism to keep the rally going a little bit longer.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Draghi cuts rates as Europe slips back into recession

(7 September 2014)  One wonders when all this talk about an economy that is "moving in the right direction" will finally end and the economy will truly get back to "normal".   But six years after the Great Recession of 2008, most Western economies are still struggling and remain below their pre-meltdown levels by most measures.  This never-ending recovery has seen the official US unemployment fall to 6% but many discouraged workers have simply dropped out of the labor force and are therefore not counted.  Wages have been stagnant while much of the Fed's zero-interest rate and QE policy seems to have helped Wall St. and the wealthy more than the average person.  The Fed's version of trickle down economics has purposely driven up the stock market to record highs.  Unfortunately, someone should inform Janet Yellen that the majority of Americans don't actually own stocks so this only makes the rich richer.  The situation in Europe is arguably worse as several countries have now actually slipped back into recession as official unemployment is stuck at a stubbornly high 12%.

Enter ECB President Mario Draghi.  Last week, the head of the European Central Bank followed the Fed's playbook and cut EU interest rates to near zero (0.05% to be precise) and announced a QE-style debt buyback program of his own.  The risk of another full-scale recession and deflation (i.e. falling prices) forced Draghi to essentially print more money in an attempt to encourage more economic activity in the Eurozone.  His move to cut rates to zero is aimed at getting more European banks to lend to businesses who may in turn hire more workers.  That's the theory anyway. 

These moves by the ECB also amounted to a de facto devaluation of the Euro as lower rates meant less reason for investors to hold Euros.  The fall in the Euro may well be the underlying logic for the rate cut since a lower currency ought to boost export-related jobs as their goods become cheaper. In fact, we should see these recent stimulus measures by the ECB, the Fed, or the People's Bank of China as currency devaluations aimed at kickstarting the economy.   A similar currency war occurred during the Depression in the 1930s as governments were desperately looking for any way they could to escape the downward economic spiral.  History is repeating itself. 

In my financial newsletter, I had been forecasting a significant summer decline in the Euro.  This has largely come to pass as the Euro ended the week under 1.30 against the US Dollar after trading as high as 1.40 in May.  There were several astrological influences behind this decline in the Euro.  First and foremost, transiting Rahu (North Node) is conjunct the natal Mars (24 Virgo) in the Euro horoscope. Rahu is considered a natural malefic by Vedic authorities although it can also correspond with positive outcomes depending on other factors in the chart.  A more negative outcome was more likely here since the planet it was conjunct, Mars, is also a natural malefic. 

Moreover, Mars was closely opposed by destabilizing Uranus (21 Pisces) and this may have made the Rahu influence more likely to manifest negatively.  We may also speculate on the effects of the close 30-degree alignment between transiting Saturn (24 Libra) and Mars.  While Saturn is not properly aspecting Mars, the exact alignment is usually important enough to coincide with some effects. The devaluing of the Euro is a very appropriate manifestation of this triple whammy of Rahu, Saturn and Uranus.  The four-month long decline of the Euro began in May with a similarly negative astrological influence as Ketu (South Node) conjoined natal Saturn (3 Aries).  Again, this was a conjunction of two naturally malefic planets not unlike the current situation.

I would expect the Euro to continue its decline well into 2015.   While Rahu will move away from Mars fairly soon, Uranus will form a more exact opposition to Mars next year.  We could therefore see the Euro move much lower still.  This suggests the recession in the Eurozone will likely worsen and hence force Draghi to buy a larger amount of asset and government debt.  The money printing may well continue indefinitely, or until we get hyper-inflation or a deflationary collapse.  Either way, I'm not optimistic.

Financial Markets Update

The ECB interest rate cut helped to boost stocks last week as investors cheered the inflow of liquidity.  The Dow was up marginally closing at 17,137 while the Sensex added 400 points finishing at 27,026. I had been somewhat neutral last week given the mix of planetary influences in play.  We did get some modest gains in the first half of the week on the respective Venus and Jupiter influences.  And the entry of Mars into sidereal Scorpio on Thursday did correlate with declines in many global markets that day. 

This week again offers support for both bulls and bears.  The midweek Jupiter-Mercury aspect looks bullish so we could see some gains.  But the late week Sun-Saturn-Rahu pattern looks more difficult for stocks.  We could see the Euro fall further this week along with gold and other commodities as more money moves into the Dollar.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Russian invades eastern Ukraine

(31 August 2014) Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine last week prompting calls for tougher sanctions against the Putin government.  Putin denies that any invasion took place but evidence is mounting that the Russian adventure in Ukraine has entered a new phase.  Some observers are suggesting that Putin wants a land connection to Crimea, which Russia already took control of several months ago.  Thus far, US and EU sanctions have had little effect in deterring Russia and the eastern Ukrainian rebels.   Putin continues to bank on the unwillingness of the West to stop him militarily.  Meanwhile, newly-elected Ukrainian President Poroshenko is calling for NATO membership and armed intervention by the West. 

In a previous post in July, I suggested that Putin was likely to do something unpredictable and likely unsuccessful in August and September.  I noted that transiting Rahu (North Node) conjoined his Saturn at 24 Virgo.  I also thought that last week's Mars-Saturn conjunction at 23 Libra could also signify important developments in this crisis since it would align with Putin's Saturn.  Thia invasion would seem to fulfill some of that planetary symbolism as Putin is revealing himself as a law unto himself without regard for international opinion.   We can see that the invasion occurred when transiting Mars and Saturn were square his natal nodes.  This is a classic signature for unrestrained aggressive action without consideration for consequences.  Putin's tendency to act suddenly and unpredictably is further indicated by the exact Uranus opposition to his Sun. 

In the July post, I thought that Putin's chart did not look good given the Rahu and Saturn influences.  Not only is Rahu conjunct his Sun-Saturn pairing, but transiting Saturn (24 Libra) is moving up to oppose his Jupiter (26 Aries) and aspect his natal Ketu at 26 Cancer.  Of course, it is a matter of interpretation whether Putin is getting what he wants at this point.  Ukraine has not yet taken back eastern Ukraine although it has made gains in the past weeks against the Russian-backed rebels.  And the Russian troops have not yet gained a clear advantage or even engaged the Ukrainian army in a significant way.  Putin likely expected the current level of Western outrage but short of arming Ukraine, the West likely hasn't done anything that he wouldn't have planned on.

Given the tightening of the Saturn aspect to Jupiter and Ketu in the next several weeks, I would expect Putin's efforts to be opposed quite strongly.  The US may well decide to send arms to Ukraine.  And it may also decide to send NATO troops into the nearby Baltic states as a deterrent measure against possible future Russian attacks. In keeping with Saturn's tendency to deny one's ambitions, both of these moves would be a step backward for Putin's plans of resurrecting the Soviet Empire.  With Putin's chart looking afflicted in September, I would expect his troubles to continue with stronger Western actions quite likely. 

Putin's fortunes will likely improve, however, by November.  Saturn will have moved away from its affliction to Jupiter and allow for more of his plans to be realized.   This could include presenting a better case to the international community to justify his actions, or it may mean divisions among Western nations.  And it may also include military success.  I don't know if there will be a full-scale war with Ukraine.  Certainly, that is still possible given how unstable Putin's horoscope is in the coming months, even if his birth time is unknown.  He is capable of acting quickly and will not shy away from a fight.  If there is going to be a war, I think it is more likely to occur in early 2015. That may be the most dangerous time as Uranus conjoins Ketu (South Node) from December 2014 until March 2015.  

Financial Markets Update

Despite the rising risk of war and economic disruption in Europe, stocks inched higher last week.  The Dow closed at 17,098 while in Mumbai the BSE Sensex hit another all-time high of 26,638.  I had expected a little more action in the markets last week given the Mars-Saturn conjunction on August 25th.  As sometimes happens, a multi-planet alignment can coincide with gains even if malefics like Mars and Saturn are prominent.  Monday and Tuesday saw Mars align with Saturn but also with Uranus, Mercury and Venus.  The alignment reminds me of a famous five planet alignment that occurred on 24 August 1987 -- the very day the US market made a high after a long six-year rally. Less than two months later, the biggest crash in history took place that saw 25% of the value of stocks erased in a single day.  Only time will tell if last week's alignment will have a similar historical importance.  While I do not foresee an imminent crash, I still think the current planetary alignment is hostile to further gains. 

The planets this week offer a mixed bag.  There could be some early week strength as Venus enters Leo on Monday.  Wednesday's Sun-Jupiter alignment may also bring about some optimism.  The late week is more troubled as Mars enters Scorpio, however.  Underneath it all, Saturn is moving closer to its alignment with Rahu (North Node) so there is a rising risk here.  Even if stocks manage to stay aloft this week, there should be some turbulence quite soon. 

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.