Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August eclipses and the markets: echoes of the 1998 Russia crisis?

(9 August 2017)  They say history doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes.  At its core, astrology is the study of repeating planetary cycles.  Since the motion of each planet adheres to a predictable pattern, so too may symbolic correspondences of planets manifest in events of a similar nature according to a predetermined time frame.  Predictions are therefore rooted in the presumption that the clockwork-like repeatability of each planetary cycle can form the basis of the understanding of future trends.

Eclipses also follow their own cycle.  Every 18 or 19 years, the lunar and solar eclipse pair returns to the same place in the sky.  Monday's lunar eclipse occurred at 21 degrees of sidereal Capricorn and the much-anticipated total solar eclipse will take place across the continental US at 4 degrees of Leo.  As it happens, this is exactly where the eclipses occurred 19 years ago. almost to the day, in August 1998.  A lunar eclipse happened on August 8th at 21 Capricorn and a solar eclipse followed on the 22nd at 4 Leo -- just one day after this year's eclipse pair. 

One very important event took place in August 1998 during this eclipse period.  Russia suffered a major financial crisis in which its currency lost 75% of its value within just a few weeks.  The ruble crisis marked the beginning of the end of Boris Yeltsin's government and set the stage for the rise of his successor, Vladimir Putin in 1999.  While the Russian ruble crisis was devastating for the Russian economy, it also sent shock waves around the world.  US stocks lost 12% of their value over just one week at the end of August. 

Could this happen again this year?  I think it could, although we should note that eclipses are only one part of a larger pattern of planetary configurations.  If these placements are connected in some significant way according to the rules of astrology, then noteworthy events are more likely to occur.  For a major event to take place, we usually need to see: 1) a close alignment of slow moving planets which are activating the natal chart in an obvious way for good or ill; 2) an eclipse should take place either near a sensitive point or key planet or in aspect to it in the natal chart; and 3) the eclipse point (either lunar or solar) should then be transited by another planet at some point after the eclipse has taken place.  The presence of other simultaneous aspects may intensify the post-eclipse effects, say if the chart is strongly marked by malefic or benefic alignments. 

The 1998 Russian Financial Crisis

In the 1998 Russian financial crisis, the Russia chart was under strong affliction by transiting Saturn (9 Aries) which was closely aspecting both Venus and natal Saturn.   Even more telling was that Saturn stationed retrograde on August 15th, just two days before the crisis began in earnest.  This greatly amplified the negative effects of Saturn as its restrictive energy was transferred to the Venus-Saturn square in the natal chart.  We can also see the transits were made more potent in August 1998 since Rahu was in close trine (5th house) aspect with Saturn and thus transiting Ketu (7 Aquarius) was in alignment with Venus (9 Libra).   Venus carried an added importance since it was dasha lord as the chart was running its Venus-Mercury period.  Both planets are clearly afflicted natally: Venus by Saturn's square and retrograde Mercury is combust the Sun.  Venus rules the 11th house (Taurus) of income and is a natural planetary significator of the economy.

The lunar eclipse on August 8th fell one degree from the 7th house cusp (20 Capricorn) and may be interpreted as destabilizing the entire chart since it is opposite the most sensitive point, the Ascendant. The crisis reached its maximum on August 26th when the Russian government suspended all trading in the ruble.  The ruble was no longer convertible to other currencies, thus preventing what would have been an even worse situation.  It was on August 26th that the crisis hit other financial markets as US stocks began their sharp decline.  And the transits bear out this difficulty as Mars (9 Cancer) was exactly square Venus and opposite natal Saturn.  It is true that the eclipse points were not subject to clearly negative transits during this time.  However, it is worth noting that retrograde Mercury has just stationed direct on the Ascendant and opposite the lunar eclipse point at 22 Cancer two days before trading in the ruble was suspended.  

To be clear, I am not predicting a similar crisis for Russia at this time.  That's because while the eclipses fall in the same places, the level of affliction to the Russia national chart is not as severe.  As in 1998, Saturn is stationing again, although this time is going direct at 27 Scorpio.  But the placement of Saturn does aspect any other planet very closely.  It does form a trine aspect with the Midheaven (MC) but that could indicate problems with government and leadership (Putin) rather than the economy.  I think Russia is more likely to become prominent in the news around the time that Mars conjoins Rahu at 0 Leo and approaches the solar eclipse point at 4 Leo.  Coincidentally, this occurs in the last week of August right around the same time of the month that the 1998 crisis reached its peak.  

Interestingly, the point at which Mars conjoins Rahu at 0 Leo also falls just one degree from the Ascendant (1 Leo) of the Putin swearing-in horoscope from May 7, 2012.  Mars-Rahu conjunctions often symbolize sudden and unpredictable actions, up to and including military action.  Russian politics could therefore move into the forefront during this period.  I wonder if the Trump-Russia investigation will become more uncomfortable for Putin.  It's possible since Trump's chart is also under heavy pressure during that time.  But that is just one possible scenario.  As I have noted previously, the activation of Mars in the USA chart still looks more like military action.  The way things are going that may well mean something involving North Korea.  I hope to post something more specific on North Korea in the coming days.

The eclipse risk to global stock markets

But the other takeaway here is that stock markets are vulnerable to declines given these similarities to 1998.  Again, the eclipses themselves are only part of the story.  The meat of it is the approaching Saturn-Rahu alignment which occurs around the time of a Saturn direct station. This is a difficult alignment that raises the risk of declines over the next month or two.  And this is the same alignment that occurred during August 1998 -- Saturn was aligned with Rahu (North Lunar Node) at a time when Saturn had stationed. 

We can see how these different factors played out in the horoscope of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (5.00 p.m., May 26, 1896). The eclipses in 1998 looked like they hit key points.  The initial lunar eclipse at 21 Capricorn was exactly square Saturn (21 Libra) and thus may have highlighted this bearish planet.  The solar eclipse two weeks later at 4 Leo was just one degree from Ketu (South Node).  Like Saturn, Ketu is considered a natural malefic which has a stronger correlation with declines.   The biggest decline occurred on August 31st when the Dow lost 6% in one day.

We can see the pattern of affliction fairly clearly: the usually troublesome inverse nodal conjunction as transiting Rahu conjoined Ketu.  The Saturn station at 9 Aries made for a fairly wide trine with natal Ketu (5 Leo) but still close enough to suggest problems.  Transiting Mars (13 Cancer) was conjunct Jupiter and aspected the Ascendant.  It also formed a larger alignment with the Moon-Jupiter-Mars grand trine pattern in the natal chart.  Mars is a malefic planet by nature and its opposition with Uranus (15 Capricorn) at the bottom of the chart could have added another layer of difficulty given the alignment with the Ascendant at 17 Libra.  This picture of affliction was also grounded by the ongoing conjunction of Pluto (11 Scorpio) to the Moon (13 Scorpio).

This time around the 21 Capricorn/4 Leo pairing of eclipse points will again activate malefics, Saturn and Ketu, as in 1998.  Transiting Saturn does not align with the natal nodes but rather only the transiting nodes.  This looks less problematic.  Saturn does align closely with the Midheaven but that seems like a weaker, second order affliction.  The nodes are again in an inverse conjunction, although Rahu is a full five degrees past exact.  But the worse part of it may be the closer aspect from Ketu to natal Mercury -- just two degrees.  Mercury is the ruler of the 12th house of loss in this chart so the Ketu aspect is more likely to be coincide with market weakness. 

The decline in 1998 occurred in the last week of August and that could well happen again.   That said, the strong eclipse-based pattern extends into the first week of September.  The Mars-Rahu conjunction looks quite negative and is more likely to coincide with some declines on Aug 28-31.  However, Mercury ends its retrograde cycle while in conjunction with Mars at 4 Leo around September 3-5 near Labor Day.  And that is exactly atop the solar eclipse point!  And that is likely to bring more bad news for the Dow since that is close to the natal Ketu at 5 Leo.  September as a whole looks like it could produce a more complex market as the current period of calm is unlikely to continue into the early fall.

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks remain near record highs this week despite growing nervousness over the North Korean situation.  Asian and European markets sold-off today as both sides ratcheted up the war-mongering rhetoric.  US stocks are slightly negative at midday Wednesday with the Dow still trading above 22,000.  Indian stocks have trended lower so far this week as the Sensex closed Wednesday at 31,797.   This mixed outcome is not surprising as I thought last week would likely be bullish but this week looked more difficult.  That has proven to be the case in most markets, although not quite yet in the US. 

The rest of this week is similarly a mixed picture.  Some midweek upside seems possible given the Sun's alignment with Jupiter and Pluto today and tomorrow.  However, Friday and particularly early next week look more difficult as Mars conjoins the lunar eclipse point at 21 Capricorn and also aligns with Venus. 

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.