Some previous New Year's charts have left an unambiguous footprint on the year in question. The 1989 chart highlighted a very hopeful Mercury-Jupiter aspect the year the Berlin Wall crumbled and Soviet-style communism ended. Saturn (traditions, structure) was also tightly aspected by Ketu (South Node), the planet that erases boundaries. The 1963 chart was marked by a very close aspect from Mars to Venus (violence/damage to the beloved) as later that year President John F. Kennedy would be assassinated in Dallas sending shock waves around the world. Mercury, the 10th house lord (leaders) would also be conjunct malefic Ketu (South Lunar Node) and Saturn.
The 2001 chart hinted at the 9/11 attacks as Mars was in close square aspect with Neptune ("destructive deception") while Saturn formed a square with Venus ("happiness lost"). Finally, the 2008 January 1st chart featured an alignment of Mars with Pluto and Rahu (North Lunar Node) ("manipulation and distortion causing harm") as the world would be plunged into the financial meltdown later that year. Saturn, the planet of loss, was positioned very close to the middle of the 12th house, a house which is most associated with losses.
Putting it charitably, this year's chart does not fill me with optimism (see below). Mars rises a few degrees from the Ascendant in Washington, DC in close opposition to Uranus and in square aspect to no less than the Moon, Sun, Pluto and Mercury. This is an incredibly tense and potentially violent alignment of energies. Mars represents harm and damage, often as a result of violence or sudden events. Uranus tends to act as an energy multiplier with a tendency towards quick or revolutionary changes. When it is aligned with a positive planet, Uranus can indicate auspicious scientific breakthroughs, as when man landed on the Moon in 1969 when Jupiter was conjunct Uranus in the 1 January 1969 chart. The combination of Mars with Uranus seems to indicate either an natural disaster such as an earthquake, or some significant military-type attack which has violent consequences. Pluto's involvement in the pattern ratchets up the potential for destruction and also introduces some notion of politics and manipulation into the equation.
The fact that both the Moon and Sun are closely intertwined in this alignment suggests that many people will be affected either directly or indirectly. The Moon and Sun are planets which have a general association with mankind as a whole as well as the collective mood. The Sun also has associations with governments and its leaders. For this reason, this powerful Mars alignment may reflect more civil unrest than usual which causes some larger governments to be overthrown. Obviously, this happens to some extent every year, but this planetary pattern suggests there will be more of it this year and it will effect more people than usual.
So what kind of event could this pattern actually represent? It could be any number of things including a major destructive earthquake, volcano and/or armed conflict. With Mercury so closely conjunct Pluto here, there could be serious economic harm as a result of the violent event. It may also bode poorly for the global economy in its own right as Mars was strongly implicated in the 2008 meltdown. It's prominence in this 2014 New Year's chart opens up that potential door again.
Ketu (South Lunar Node) also participates in this alignment at arm's length through its trine with the the Moon and Sun. The fact that Moon's nodes fall so close to the same degree as the Ascendant adds to the potential for turbulence in 2014. A more hopeful interpretation may instead focus on Ketu's connection with transcendent beliefs and renunciatory practices as found in many ascetic spiritual traditions. 2014 may be witness in a growth in this kind of ascetic or anti-capitalist faith traditions. Pope Francis has already created some waves in this respect in 2013 by arguing passionately for a return to human values against the unfeeling logic of the global economic system. The strong Ketu in this chart suggests his message may continue to gain an audience.
More positively, we can see that Jupiter in Gemini will aspect all of those 4th house planets in Sagittarius. This will likely mitigate some of the worst implications of the Mars-Uranus-Pluto framework, although I suspect it will do little to prevent some painful collective events from occurring. Jupiter's aspect is closest to Mercury (18 Sagittarius), so that argues for more technological innovation that will benefit mankind. Given all the unstable and disruptive Mars energy around this year, we will probably need it!
Financial Markets Update
Meanwhile, financial markets generally moved higher in the Christmas holiday period. The Dow posted another all-time record high as it hit 16,500. India's Sensex also climbed back above the 21,000 level. Reflecting the generally optimistic tone, crude oil moved above $100 for the first time since October. While I thought we could see some early week gains, the absence of any late week trouble from the Mars influence was a little surprising.
This week Mars gets another kick at the can. As we have just discussed, the New Year's chart (Wednesday) looks quite afflicted. While it is possible the stock market could shake off this kind of negative alignment for a while, it seems more likely that market sentiment will suffer at some point along the way this week. Further gains would therefore seem more unlikely.