The Time for Atonement & Change
Pluto and Mars in the US Chart
All nations go through cycles of ups and downs over the course of their existence. Looking through the eyes of astrology at these cycles helps illuminate how and why it happens. Richard Giles treats us to some fascinating insights into the dramatic events associated with Mars and Pluto in the US Chart.
The nation I'm focusing on here is the most powerful today, the United States of America. It owns much of the world's resources through its business empires and its people are among the richest on the planet. It made its mark as both the harbinger of economic abundance, the author of human rights and freedoms and the imposer of its ways on smaller countries who don't have the resources to fight back. It's also offered the world unique art, music and creativity that changed the twentieth century.
Some nations were built on blood and sweat. Others are made of independence movements separated from their origins by war and strife. Some just come into being gradually over decades or even hundreds of years making themselves an individual entity with a minimum of fuss. The quiet way was not, however, the USA's. It decimated its original inhabitants (native American Indians) through war, disease and murder. It exploited its neighbours to draw on their considerable resources and it made its wealth on other's backs through oil, gas, timber, banking and manufacturing.
The USA was born July 4th, 1776 and has its astrological chart derived from the exact time the Declaration of Independence was signed (5.10 pm, 4/7/1776). With that in mind we can go to specific dates for major events watching how transiting planets in the heavens affect important points in the chart.
The transit many astrologers are now making comment on is in January 2004 when the planet Pluto (bringer of transformation, regeneration and fundamental change) directly opposes Mars's position in the US birth chart (21 and half degrees Gemini). Mars is the red planet - ruler of action, war, blood, heat, competition, fertility, passion, anger, hate and male sexuality. It's the ruler of Aries and sub-ruler of Scorpio thus its energy is both intense and direct.
Mars Action Heroes
To understand Mars through the movies look at actors like Clint Eastwood as 'Dirty Harry', Sylvester Stallone as 'Rocky' or Arnold Schwarzenegger as 'The Terminator'. Those movie men present a clear picture of how Mars energy works. Note that they are all American heroes who fight their way to the end through violence with force and win.
Mars in the US chart is in the Seventh House which on a mundane (worldly) level is about allies and open enemies. The US has a way of acting out its role in the world, especially in the last six decades, as an interventionist in other countries' affairs. It generally does this when the internal politics or the resources base of another country threatens its own national or international interests. In a personal chart, Mars in the 7th is about someone who thrives on a diet of 'fireworks' in relationships, i.e. they always feel better when there is some dispute or challenge going on. They are also most likely to be the first to stand up and defend another if he/she is being unjustly threatened.
Exact dates for the coming oppositions are January 26, May 27 and November 23, 2004. Pluto also stations within half a degree of the point in September 2005. However, exact dates aren't as important as the process, which lasts all through 2004 into 2005 and is already well underway. Pluto's long-term intensification of America's military force now manifests in a war obsessed nation.
So what happens to the US psyche as the war/action planet is opposed by the planet of fundamental transformation? The first thing we might expect is the lower manifestation of this energy - and that's likely to be either another war or an attack on the American homeland. As Robert Hand says in Planets in Transit (Para Research, 1976), "If you let the energy out with no restraint, you may run roughshod over everyone in your way and scramble furiously toward the top. But in doing this you are likely to arouse truly horrendous opposition from people who struggle to the death to prevent you from succeeding". More of the same for the US next year?
As the USA has launched two attacks on other countries in the last 2 years and is threatening a number of other Arab and middle eastern countries about its policies we see it in the midst of a climate of Martian action. It would be no surprise to have Pluto set off even more similar energies.
The internal aspects within the American chart are important to understanding how it could all play out (see USA chart). The US has Mars square to Neptune, this being a very tricky square to live with. On a personal level it brings up deep emotional desires from the subconscious manifesting in habit patterns formed from the unconscious. Whether the desires are suppressed or expressed, there are odd ways in which they come out. Mars/ Neptune can also be about strange diseases and addiction patterns over alcohol, drugs, or even oil. Very true to the way in which the US operates.
The other side of this square are neuroses, sexual or psychosomatic problems, self-deception and sexual obsessions. US conservatives have always had a huge issue about sexuality. Confusion about motives, muddling in others affairs and treachery or the acting out of hidden motives can be part of its manifestation.
Yet another side to this square is the power of creative and artistic expression which can often have an unusual twist to it. Look at the modernist and pop art movements in the US - the Andy Warhols, Lichensteins and other inspirational and experimental artists.
The Transformational Sixties
What happened last time when Pluto set off Mars in the US chart? The last transit was a square to Mars from Pluto in Virgo in the 1960s. Exact passes were in October 1967, March 1968 and August 1968 (plus May 1969). Some key events of that period included: December 1967 - the death (Pluto) of three US astronauts in a fire (Mars) on the Cape Canaveral launch pad. Early 1968 - the US exploded an underground hydrogen bomb (Pluto) in a site near Las Vegas. March 1968 - Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, and a massacre of up to 500 Vietnamese civilians took place at My Lai, led by Lt William Calley. June 1968 - Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. August 1968 - the Democratic Convention in Chicago was marked by street riots and police brutality, which was broadcast on TV around the world ("The whole world's watching!" was the chant on the streets).
The movies of the time included 'Bonnie and Clyde', 'El Dorado', 'In the Heat of the Night', 'The Chelsea Girls' (Warhol), 'Funny Girl', 'In Cold Blood', '2001: A Space Odyssey' and 'Easy Rider'. Music of the time reflects the rise of the Californian inspired music revolution from places such as Haight-Ashbury. The Woodstock festival came one year later in 1969 and a range of magical music created out of the drug revolution also featured. Groups and performers such as The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Velvet Underground and many others dominated American music in those years.
Dramatic political events came for a dramatic transit and there's no reason to think, as the US is now in a permanent state of war which George W. Bush says may last a decade or more, that this time will be any different. Immediate concerns are the fate of the nation's leaders ruled by Mars and Saturn (Saturn is conjunct Bush's and the USA's Cancer Sun again in 2004), and the psychological health and security of its soldiers. There is also a risk at this Pluto/Mars time in a country's transits that the head of state could be threatened by violence or assassination.
The nature of this Pluto/Mars combination really describes a fundamental tone for the entire year, which can be characterised as heightened violence, anger and religious zealousness. America as a whole is now seen by many countries as being an arrogant empire builder. And with a stated American policy to remodel the Middle East, the prospects for re-election of George W. Bush and the internal politics and safety of the US must be seen as dubiously volatile.
As Pluto passes the first opposition in January 2004 the US progressed Moon is at 19 degrees Gemini and in two months time will be atop the US Mars. Add to that Bush's progressed Uranus at 21 Gemini and his progressed Midheaven at 20 Gemini and you have a recipe for surprise, drama and action.
May and June 2004 are transit times for Saturn over the US Cancer Sun and Pluto opposite Mars and all this in the middle of the race to Presidential elections in November 2004 (which is the final pass of Pluto opposite Mars). It's not to be a happy time ahead for a nation trying to control the world.
There is another effect to consider from the Pluto's transiting position at 21 degrees Sagittarius in relation to fixed stars. The constellation Ophichus, the Serpent Holder and Serpens the Serpent, occupy that portion of the sky. Ophichus was known to the Greeks as Serpentarius, the healer who was also Asculapius, son of Apollo. He learnt the healing arts from Chiron and is depicted as holding a stick on which a serpent is coiled. This is today's symbol of medicine.
Pluto is moving through 21 degrees Sag, the fixed star position of Ras Alhague, the actual head of the Serpent Holder. Bernadette Brady writes in her Fixed Stars book that Ras Alhague can relate to being drawn to the healing profession or having a natural gift for healing. She says, "The driving force... will be to repair that which is damaged, to heal." The star is also associated with drugs or drug addicts according to Ebertein and with broadmindedness and humanitarianism according to Joseph Rigor. John Lennon had it prominent, as did Abraham Lincoln and Madam Blavatsky (the spiritual writer and Theosophist) and also Vincent Van Gogh (artist). It could be that Pluto on this star will cause the beginnings of a great healing process in the USA, starting in 2004.
In October 2003 Saturn made its retrograde station at 13 degrees Cancer, the degree of both George Bush's and the USA Sun. A stationary planet at an exact degree in the chart is very emphatic and signals a tense period until the next conjunction in June 2004. Saturn here represents the accounting for the consequences of all past actions and this will apply great pressure to meet a responsibility to rectify wrongs. Under Bush's administration, US policies have been thoroughly criticised internationally and its accumulated goodwill largely drained. So we can expect a fundamental re-examination of all America does in the coming year as Pluto applies the screws. Perhaps one half of the country will want radical change and the other half will want war and revenge and this clash could unhinge the US.
Recently an American officer was quoted as referring to his men as the "Cowboys from Hell" allowing them to paint this on their APCs when they raided Sadam Hussein's old home town of Tikrit, Iraq taking revenge for the shooting down of American Blackhawk helicopters and the resultant death of US soldiers. The US chart has a Sagittarian ascendant which exactly describes cowboys on the wide open plains. And it's interesting to further note that armed and angry cowboys are ruled by Aries/Mars and Hell is ruled by Scorpio/Pluto - is this officer being just too prophetic to be true?