August, 2006


Mythic Prelude:

Surf 'n' Turf

All right, yes, the title is flippant, as our topic this month is two of the most august and severe characters in our planetary system. As we shall see in coming months, though, a light touch will be much needed in year that begins this month and extends into July of 2007. The Surf role here belongs to the dark, cranky Neptune, lord of the sea, who will move slowly through Aquarius until he exits into his home sign of Pisces in 2011 - 2012; and the Turf is the even darker, dour Saturn, ruler of the Earth sign of Capricorn, who will remain in Leo until he crosses into Virgo -- and into a very auspicious trine with Pluto in early Capricorn -- late next year. The ongoing opposition between Saturn and Neptune is arguably the master "aspect" (that is, planetary relationship) of the year to come. Its implications in every major area of our lives -- physical and environmental, political and financial, cultural and spiritual -- are much discussed by astrologers now, and will continue to be, especially when these two "malefic" planets oppose each other again twice in 2007.
It's vitally important now that we begin to see what the Saturn-Neptune friction of 2006 - 2007 is about, if only so we understand better that our current sense of unease, discomfort and even foreboding is a matter of celestial dynamics, and it will pass in its time. A Saturn - Neptune opposition is usually a time of waiting for something -- the other shoe, the icicle, the sword of Damocles, the market -- to fall. It normally precedes by a few years the more dramatic and overtly "decisive" events that seem to define each generation's experience. And, as is usually the case with aspects between slower-moving "outer" planets as they alternate between direct and retrograde motion, it comes in a trifecta that resembles in many ways the main events of any story, especially a drama:
Saturn-Neptune Oppositions, August 2006 - July 2007
Major Related Aspects

Act 1: Opportunity

8/11 - 9/21/06, exact 8/31
Sun conjunct Mercury
Venus trine Pluto
T-cross among Mars, Pluto and the Moon's Nodes
Jupiter trine Uranus
Act 2: Complications
2/2 - 4/4/07, exact 2/28
Sun conjunct Uranus
Moon opposite Mars
T-cross among Jupiter, Uranus and the Moon's Nodes
Jupiter trine Saturn and sextile Neptune
Yod among Moon, Mercury and Pluto

Act 3: Climax

5/21 - 7/18/07, exact 6/25
Grand Trine among Sun/Mercury, Moon and Moon's North Node
Moon opposite Mars
Venus opposite Chiron
Mars trine Pluto
* Timing parameters for the start and end of each phase: within a 3° orb of exactitude.
Exactitude is reckoned here as the minute when the planets first reach exact opposition.
Are we about to discuss here all the technical features of all three of these oppositions? Of course not, though this information will naturally be of some use to astrology practitioners and students who want to scope out the trend and flow of the story. What concerns us all here is that these three oppositions, in the summer of this year and the late winter through early summer next year, will enclose a birth phase of roughly nine months from August of this year through April of 2007, when we can expect profound changes in the institutions that have until now maintained order, or at least control, in most people's lives. Some of our structures of government, commerce, religion and culture will begin to weaken and erode, even begin to collapse. But -- and this is a very big but for those who want quick relief from the horrors of the moment, and who want to see fast-acting better outcomes get here not just soon, but now -- we can't expect to see most of these changes yet, though we will begin to perceive some of them.
Saturn, after all, is subtle, and Neptune is bottomless. They do not exactly excel at show and tell -- as Mercury and Uranus do -- and they frankly have no wish to. Saturn tends to give up the information only to those who will invest the effort to earn it. Neptune imparts his most mysterious imagery to those who dive deep enough to leave the surface flotsam behind -- and even then he may wrap his visions in seaweed and illusion, as he is still the ruler of theatre and dance. The bottom line here is that we can't see the bottom, so we will have to get our bearings with something other than the usual leftbrained "facts" and material weights and measures.
One metaphor that may help comes from the cardinal premises of holistic energy medicine. It is very different from conventional white-coat allopathic medicine, which attempts to determine a purely physical cause for a purely physical symptom of unwellness, then treats it by prescribing purely physical remedies that normally don't nail a cure -- so the patient keeps suffering the same ailments and paying for the same pills, sprays and shots until he either dies or goes broke -- though the IMI, the Illness Maintenance Industry, continues to benefit. According to the spiritual paradigm of holistic medicine, though, the holes and torn spots, toxic knots and energy imbalances that go unhealed over time in the spiritual, mental and emotional bodies will eventually work their way inward until they manifest as dis-ease in the physical body. As the cause of the deterioration is not physical, the dis-ease process cannot be reversed, and health restored, by physical means alone. That is why most people do not heal, for they have not addressed the problems of the soul, mind and heart that are showing up in the flesh.
Is this month's ordeal by fire in Lebanon and Israel, now entering its third week as of this writing on July 30, the all too tangible product of dense, deadly impurities that have been deeply impacted for a very long time in the energy fields of Muslims, Christians and Jews? Undoubtedly. Are the old thoughtforms and heartbricks more dangerous now than they have ever been to the people of the Middle East and to everyone else? Absolutely. Is it about time we all found a solution? You bet. Do the Saturn-Neptune opposition that begins this month, and other planet alignments that will form before 2007 is out, offer some clues about the best ways to proceed? Yes. If anything, the Saturn-Neptune opposition in particular offers so many possibilities -- as some of it plays in the magical mystery pool of the Pisces Playhouse that Neptune rules -- that finding where to focus first can be a challenge. So we define the field before we zoom in.
The energy of an opposition has been well described as one of "creative tension," as the two opposed planets are in complementary elements, in this case the fire of Leo, where the cold, heavy Saturn is in discomfort -- he is said to be "in detriment" here -- and the bright, scintillating air of Aquarius, which Neptune finds too light and quick for his taste. So while neither planet likes the scenery he's moving through now, at least the elements of the signs are harmonious. Air feeds fire to yield warmth and light, to power new creativity and action, and burn away old soul slag so that the heart can be purified of what is not love.
An allegedly difficult 90° square -- really an irritating invitation to get more inventive -- and a conjunction between "malefic" planets like Saturn and Neptune are said to bring out the "negative" or "painful" effects of their relationship, though it would probably be more accurate to say that these two alignments tend to grease the chute into denial and self-defeat that human beings whiz down when we get fearful or lazy about our own powers, and the resources that are waiting to help us. A 120° trine, a 60° sextile and a 72° quintile are said to be "easy" and "happy," even "lucky," though what they really do is amp our confidence and creativity, so we are more likely to get what we want. In an opposition between Saturn and Neptune, though, all the possibilities are in play, the game is wide open, so that what we get depends on what we do, with the awareness and capacity we have now and will have soon, under what are called the given circumstances of the play.
For whole societies and our entire planet, as well as for us as individuals, both Saturn and Neptune embody a whole palette of possibilities, ranging from the most blind, stuck and mean to the most enlightened, free and generous, depending on how awake the soul is, and whether the love tank of each one -- and each group -- is almost full, or almost running on empty. If it is true that each of us can move during our lives from the pinches and limits we chose for ourselves, to the open routes and tailwinds that we also packed before we got here, then it's also possible that nations and communities of believers can also wake up and free themselves, once they get a better look at the maps that are waiting in their soul bags.
At the negative fear pole of his energy battery, Saturn is who the ancients called him: the bringer of old age, sickness and death; the agent of isolation, estrangement and separation, and the patron planet of rigid, imagination-challenged people everywhere whose reply to every new idea is to say that we've never done it that way before. In his middle band, Saturn is the industrious grunt worker, like the guy who drives the amateur theatre company's truck and assembles the set for the play, cheerfully or wearily taking on and carrying out well the unglamourous jobs that nobody else wants to do. At his best, Saturn is a master of voluntary suffering who finds productive happiness in solitude, and achieves extraordinary results through patient, devoted effort. When the Saturn alchemy is perfect, it yields a Ben Franklin, Isaac Newton or Stephen Hawking -- all of them Saturn-ruled Capricorns -- whose practical insights into the way things work can open new spheres of thought and invention for centuries to come. At his most august and severe, Saturn is the karmic debt collector whose swift scythe is least painful for those who can accept that they must change and evolve.
Then there's Neptune. Before one locates the treasure cell where his boundless store of empathy, intuition and compassion waits to be found and used, he is a perpetual victim and energy vampire, the artist of addiction who gets stuck in every available substance and then gets measurelessly deceptive in lying about it. He is also the wishful thinker who conceives the most fantastic, gorgeous dreams, but can't seem to start himself toward realizing them. The first thing that Neptune awakens in us is often our creativity and our capacity for realizing beauty. This is why more notable composers of music are born under Neptune-ruled Pisces than any other sign, and why the sensitivity, vulnerability and impressionability of the Neptunian nature shows up so abundantly in actors and other performers. At his best, Neptune has the psychic power of an Edgar Cayce or the spiritual vision of a Rudolf Steiner; and the Neptunian type can feel the universal heart so deeply and sympathetically that even when he has the formidable intellect of an Einstein, he will feel that "kindness and a good heart are more important than intelligence and learning," and that if he doesn't get to hear the music of Mozart in heaven, he doesn't want to have to live there.
Within this enormous range of possibilities, what specific shades and angles can we find in this month's Saturn-Neptune opposition? The first clues are in the sign positions. Saturn in Leo is more useful to us at this time than most of us know, as the horrific smoke and flames of late July and early August may blind us to a hidden but crucial blessing: that the fixed Leo qualities of patience, loyalty and steadiness, and Saturn's ability to listen and to hold caution when needed, have anchored quiet diplomacy that has so far braked a momentum of bloodshed that might have been much worse. Neptune in Aquarius has manifested so far in late July, and will also in August, in dazzling displays of fraud and trickery by players whose war game in the arena of public opinion is far more fluid and complex than anything the armies are doing. It remains to be seen whether anyone will accept the most noble and exciting invitation that Neptune in Aquarius extends: to welcome imaginative, even revolutionary changes that may benefit the entire human and Earth community. A rich ferment of new ideas, and new ways to deliver them, is bubbling now, and can transform everything we do once we take the inevitable step of agreeing that the things we are doing separately are still not working, and are even costlier than they were before, so it is time to drop the illusion of our differentness and affirm the common sacredness that unites us in the Universal Soul we create and share.
The next clues are in the house positions, which can be very different, even totally opposite to one another, as they depend on the location for which the chart is cast. The chart just below shows how the planets look, from the vantage point of Washington, DC, at the minute when Saturn moves into exact opposition with Neptune.
Why Washington? Isn't it about time we began to outgrow the notion that the world revolves around the capital of the United States? Of course it is -- but the outgrowing is already well underway, and will accelerate in the months and years to come. For those who'd like to see how the Saturn-Neptune opposition plays in two other places, a Prelude Supplement for this month has charts for Beijing, China and Teheran, Iran. But we begin here with Washington because it remains, for the moment, the central point of world military and economic power; because its own narrow aims and horrendous blunders have set the table for today's feast of fire and ruin; and because the spiritual position of the United States is pivotal. The planet's peace and cohesion depend on America's awakening, whether this comes about proactively or painfully. And, in ways that many of us cannot begin to believe now, the suffering of the United States will be a test of compassion for all of Earth's people. The changes of the coming months and years will be especially onerous for Americans because they have the most to lose.
It is not our purpose here to do the kind of exhaustive analysis that astrologers do with and for one another, but mainly to let a picture be worth at least a few hundred words:
Saturn Opposite Neptune Chart for Washington, DC:
Aug. 31, 2006 at 6:39 am
Even a person who's never looked at a chart can see that the main energy axis here is in the bowtie-shaped alignment of planets in Leo and Virgo in the 12th and 1st houses at the left of the chart, and in Aquarius and Pisces from the 5th to the 7th houses on the right. We also see three planets at the bottom of the chart, in the 3rd and 4th houses; and we note that the four houses at the top of the chart, the 8th through the 11th, are empty. What does this tell us about the USA at the moment of the first Saturn-Neptune opposition? Plenty.
To sum up the main points here: the USA is at a moment of very high friction and tension between its desire to keep projecting its prestige and power in the world, by military force if possible (Mars conjunct the Moon's South Node), at a time when its traditional friends, even its closest allies, are increasingly alarmed by the quarrelsome, potentially catastrophic arrogance of the American regime. The Sun combust the Ascendant at the left of the chart-- they are only 17 minutes apart in the same degree -- indicates a pronounced, possibly excessive desire to assert one's importance. The central element of stress in this chart is the T-cross formed by the Moon at the bottom, the Midheaven in Gemini at the top and the Sun-Mercury-Ascendant cluster at left. What this T-cross means is that the United States is about to arrive at the moment when a critical mass of its citizens is able to see that what their country has been doing for decades is now so unworkable and unsustainable that long-overdue changes can no longer be denied and opposed. Change must begin now. Fortunately, there are three aces in the hole, as the patience of Saturn, the charm of Venus and the ingenuity of Mercury are all working in the shadows of the 12th house; while Neptune in the 6th and Chiron in the 5th offer us exciting chances for new healing outcomes that flow from Americans' new perceptions of the oneness and interdependence of the human family and all beings.
Only one more thing before we leave this chart. If it is true, as some astrologers believe, that the upper half of a chart represents the spiritual dimension of our life, and the lower half the physical, is there any significance to the four empty houses at the top of the DC chart? Is it possible that much of the trouble the USA now causes for itself and others is a sign of the difficulty human beings create when their lives are so overwhelmingly materialistic that their true spiritual impulse and hunger have withered into a furious religiosity? Only a question.
So what about now? When are Hezbollah and the Israelis going to stop firing, and when are the talking heads on TV going to stop lying? What's going to happen? No honest astrologer can tell you this. All we can do is lay out the stage set on which you and all the other actors, all in equally important roles as creative free agents, play the scene. The only honest answer to anyone's question about what's going to happen is another question: What Are You Going to Do?
You don't have to be as prolific a thinker as Dr. Bob Hieronimus, who has a simple, optimistic take on the world environmental problem that underlies all the others: "Don't be overwhelmed at the enormity of global warming, friends. Repealing the ban on industrial hemp production alone would spur our American inventing ingenuity so fast that we could quickly convert to a profitable industry that could ultimately replace carbon-based fuels." This is but one example of a simple shift in thought that could be enormously beneficial if we only make the effort to wrap our imaginations around it.
Not many of us will be hemp farmers, or builders of other genius products like Dr. Bob's Art Car, though more of us are wearing hemp clothes and shoes again, as our ancestors did. But all of us can get actively in the game, read the signs and take action. Have you seen Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth? If not, why not? This is the only film that the respected reviewer Roger Ebert has ever urged his readers to see, suggesting to them that one who doesn't see it, and has grandchildren, should be prepared to explain to them why he didn't see it. Are you ready to see it with at least one person, ideally a young person, who is not yet in the choir? Are you willing to assist the momentum?
It's been building for more than a year, and is rising. Some months before any but a few people knew that a new film called An Inconvenient Truth was coming in the spring of 2006, the August, 2005 UFC carried these words about China's decision to revalue the yuan in relation to a "more flexible basket" of currencies: "One hardly gets a hint about any of this in the US media, where the new adventures of Don Yuan may get a playing card-sized box on page 6 of the business section, or ticker across the bottom of your TV screen under today's main stories about which Hollywood stars are sleeping together, or claiming they're not, or which baseball teams have pulled the bonehead plays of the week, or which trailer park dweller started a fire by using a vacuum cleaner to siphon gas from his truck. One would almost swear that some central controlling intelligence were deliberately trying to keep the people of the United States so continuously distracted with gossip and scandal that no inconvenient, uneasy truth can possibly get through."
But now the inconvenient, uneasy truth is starting to get through. And the opportunities to take action in concert with others are proliferating. One of them arrives this month, just after the Saturn-Neptune opposition begins to form. Patricia Diane Cota-Robles has noted that the time window of Aug. 12 - 17 is of very great import for the spiritual alignment and lift of our planet. It is also worth our notice in passing that the week of Aug. 12 - 17 comes exactly seven years since the Grand Cross alignments of August, 1999 began the 9-month birth cycle that culminated in the Taurus Stellium of May, 2000.
The importance of this moment is extreme, and the degree of difficulty is high. The iconic astrologer Reinhold Ebertin wrote that the principles of a Saturn-Neptune combination may include the "renunciation [and] asceticism" of giving up some beloved comfort in order to attain some worthier result. The internal pressure of Saturn opposite Neptune can be extreme, as it involves "a struggle between the higher and lower nature . . . between idealistic and materialistic tendencies." While all kinds of queasy symptoms -- "neuroses or diseases with causes difficult to ascertain" -- may manifest, it is possible that right action and determined effort can bring extraordinary successes in the end.
This will get more feasible if we look beyond the physical heat and pain of the fire -- this summer will continue to be written in it -- to the mythic and medicinal purpose of fire as a cleansing medium. Rumi understood, in "The Question" (this version by Coleman Barks):
"One dervish to another, What was your vision of God's presence?
I haven't seen anything.
But for the sake of conversation, I'll tell you a story.

"God's presence is there in front of me, a fire on the left,
a lovely stream on the right.
One group walks toward the fire, into the fire, another
toward the sweet flowing water.
No one knows which are blessed and which not.
Whoever walks into the fire appears suddenly in the stream.
A head goes under on the water surface, that head
pokes out of the fire.
Most people guard against going into the fire,
and so end up in it.
Those who love the water of pleasure and make it their devotion
are cheated with this reversal.
The trickery goes further.
The voice of the fire tells the truth, saying I am not fire.
I am fountainhead. Come into me and don't mind the sparks.

"If you are a friend of God, fire is your water.
You should wish to have a hundred thousand sets of mothwings,
so you could burn them away, one set a night.
The moth sees light and goes into fire. You should see fire
and go toward light. Fire is what of God is world-consuming.
Water, world-protecting.
Somehow each gives the appearance of the other. To these eyes
you have now
what looks like water burns. What looks like
fire is a great relief to be inside."
Hard to believe when one's house and robe are on fire, when one's children are dead. The premise that we have chosen this, and it is purposeful, will get harder to accept in the year to come. It is best to meditate on fire, and practice singing in high heat.
Keep Holding That Frequency.

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Copyright 2006 Dan Furst. All Rights Reserved.