The Solar Eclipse 1999
|August 2nd:||Two trains crash near Siliguri, India, killing at least 120 people.|
|August 2nd:||Clashes begin between Islamic fighters and Russian forces in the Caucasus Mountains republic of Dagestan.|
|August 5th:||A furnace explodes at Romania's biggest steel plant, killing at least three people and injuring nine.|
|August 7th:||The fundamentalist Wahhabi Moslems, who are fighting to unite Dagestan and Chechnia as an independent Islamic republic, proclaim Dagestan an independent Muslim state.|
|August 8th:||Russia launches a large-scale military operation against the Islamic fighters and claims that a Chechen warlord, Shamil Basayev, is responsible for the unrest. The battle rages for four days.|
|August 9th:||Monday morning. Yeltsin sacks Russian Prime Minister Stepashin and entire Cabinet for 4th time in past 17 months. Vladimir Putin appointed as acting premier and named as Yeltsin's preferred Presidential successor at December 19th elections for the state Duma, the lower house of parliament. This effectively marks the beginning of the election campaign.|
|August 11th:||A council of Muslim leaders in Dagestan declares Shamil Basayev to be its leader.|
|August 13th:||By week's end, Russia stepped up its campaign against the rebels and Putin was already threatening to send troops into Chechnya. It is worth noting that the eclipse chart for Moscow has Mars (the planet of war) rising in Scorpio, while the eclipse chart for the Chechen capital, Grozny, has Pluto (the planet of mass destruction) rising in Sagittarius.|
We begin with an event which is perhaps not a prime example of what I seek to demonstrate, but which highlights a central theme for the events to follow: the meaning of Mercury in Leo opposing Neptune in Aquarius, both in square aspect to Jupiter in Taurus.
On July 27th, a sudden storm resulted in the deaths of at least 19 adventure-seeking tourists among a party of 44 and 8 guides canyoning in Saxeten brook, in the Swiss Alps near Interlarken (06:00 PM local time, 16:00:00 UT, 46N29 7E51). This event occurred some hours before the lunar eclipse in Aquarius, when the Moon was still in Capricorn, so it does not clearly show how established aspect patterns are triggered by swift moving transits. While the fixed T-square between Mercury, Jupiter and Neptune has a strong presence in the chart for the event, this configuration was not triggered in any obvious way at the time and would not be triggered by the Moon for some hours. Nonetheless, most astrologers would agree that this configuration is highlighted at the time of the event by Jupiter's rulership of the Sagittarian Ascendant, by Jupiter and Neptune's co-rulership of Pisces intercepted in the 3rd House and by Mercury's rulership of the Descendant.
The chart for the event explains the tragedy. Adventure-seeking tourists (Sagittarius rising), pursued their pleasure (Jupiter, ruler of Ascendant on the 5th House) through an extreme sport (Pluto in Sagittarius) that entailed great physical exertion by groups of people in a watery environment (Mars in Scorpio in the 11th House, while the 3rd House of the immediate environment has the water sign Pisces intercepted within it). This activity also carried with it a serious risk of physical harm (Mars opposing Saturn in the 5th House). The tourists engaged the services of professional guides (represented by the ruler of the 7th House, Mercury in Leo) to direct their travel through the brook and its canyons (again, Pisces in the 3rd House). However, the guides misjudged the situation (Mercury in Leo and in the 8th house of death, opposing Neptune) and the canyoners met with misfortune (Fortuna in Gemini in the 6th House of health and well-being, opposing Pluto in Sagittarius in the 12th House of self-undoing). They met with misfortune because a sudden storm (watery Neptune, co-ruler of Pisces, in airy Aquarius), turned the brook into a raging torrent (Mars in Scorpio), which dashed many people against the rocks and drowned them (Mars opposing Saturn).
I've cited this event because it illustrates the meaning of the fixed T-square between Mercury in Leo opposing Neptune in Aquarius, both in square aspect to Jupiter in Taurus. Mercury, as well as ruling routine communication, habitual thought-patterns and travel within one's immediate surrounds, is also associated with commerce. Leo is essentially an egocentric sign: it is the sign of the leader, the show-off, the person who needs recognition. Mercury in Leo, as it relates to humans acting in the world, can represent self-serving commercial operators, or, more generally, people who tend not to think beyond their own immediate interests. Obviously, this does not make for sound judgements based on any considerations of long-term consequences, either at a personal or a commercial level.
Neptune in Aquarius, apart from being an indicator of inclement weather, even cyclones, can represent the dissolution of loosely affiliated groups of people, like a group of tourists or a suburban neighbourhood. It can also be an indication of some deception which affects a whole community. More abstractly, it can stand for the undermining of lofty humanitarian ideals. Socially it can mean that large segments of a population feel disengaged from their society and its leaders. More positively, Neptune in Aquarius can mean selfless service, or self-sacrifice, on behalf of humanity. Concretely it can represent chaotic conditions in public corporations and modern technology, or involving electricity supply and water distribution. Of course, with Uranus also in Aquarius, we'd see sudden and catastrophic upsets in all these areas.
Among other things, Taurus rules building, architecture, finance and banking. Jupiter rules bankers, big businessmen, gamblers, judges, lawyers, high things, expensive things, excess and over-optimism. In the context of its dual squares to secretive Neptune and common-knowledge Mercury, Jupiter in Taurus can represent the revelation of deceptive and dangerous practices by property developers, or, as stated above, bad judgement in relation to the pursuit of somewhat excessive pleasures. And, with Saturn (the planet of laborious tasks, builders, hardship, privation, national calamities, and death) also in Taurus, in opposition to Mars (commotions, violent force, injury, iron and steel workers, epidemics of infectious disease) in Scorpio (the sign of death and rebirth) and square Uranus in Aquarius, then the scene is set for sudden, large scale death and destruction by crushing, choking and drowning.
On August 5th a furnace exploded at Romania's biggest steel plant (Galati, Romania 45N14 28E03), killing at least three people and injuring nine. The time of this explosion is unknown, but during the morning the Moon was transiting the middle degrees of Taurus. In other words, the Moon was separating from a conjunction to Saturn and an opposition to Mars. It is worth noting that the eclipse peaked over Romania.
The day before the eclipse, August 10th, the Moon entered Leo. The alarming news of the day was that India's border defence forces shot down a Pakistani military plane, killing all on board. Although the exact time of this event is unknown, we do know that it occurred during the forenoon (probably between 7:36 AM LMT and 11:09 AM LMT) and in a region that lay directly in the path of the forthcoming eclipse (near the Pakistani town of Badin 24N30 68E50). During that time the Moon moved from a conjunction with Mercury in late Cancer and then into Leo, forming an opposition with Neptune in early Aquarius, thus triggering the fixed T-square to Jupiter in early Taurus.
The history of India and Pakistan features charts that are strongly Leonine. Partition into separate states and the end of 250 years of British rule occurred for both countries at midnight on August 15, 1947 (with the Sun at 21° Leo, four other planets in early Leo, and Moon at 27° Cancer). The charts cast for this time and date for New Dehli and Karachi feature strong contacts to their respective angles from the planets involved in the grand cross configuration. The Pakistan chart has 17° Taurus (Saturn) on the Ascendant and 4° Aquarius (Neptune) on the Mid-Heaven. The India chart has 14° Aquarius (Uranus) on the Mid-Heaven.
As the Moon approached the Sun in Leo on the morning of August 11th, a series of earthquakes shook the Middle-East and western Mediterranean islands. At 12:03 AM local time (19:33 UT, Aug 10) a quake (magnitude 5.1) hit Moaminbad in north-eastern Iran (30N43 61E28). The Moon was at 9° Leo 14 making a square to the mid-point of Jupiter and Saturn (10° Leo 45). Then, at 4:20 AM local time (1:20 UT), there was a minor earthquake (4.2) centred on Akrounda, Cyprus. At this time the Moon made an exact conjunction to the mean North Node at 12° Leo 37. About three hours later Cyprus was hit by another larger earthquake (5.8) which damaged buildings the town of Limassol (34N40 33E02), and was also felt in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. By this time (7:20 AM local time, or 4:20 UT) the Moon was at 14° Leo 23, making an exact opposition to retrograde Uranus at 14° Aquarius 40.
The Moon entered the next fixed sign of Scorpio in the early morning of August 17th. Shortly afterwards, there was a huge earthquake (7.8) near Izmit in Turkey (40N46 29E55). This occurred at 03:02 AM local time (00:02:00 UT) when the Moon was at 00° Scorpio 41. In other words, the Moon formed its own grand cross to the solar eclipse fixed T-square between Mercury, Neptune and Jupiter. It should also be noted that at this time Mars, at 19° Scorpio, had just separated from its square to the Sun-Moon eclipse degree. Those of you familiar with traditional astrology will note that the Moon at 00° Scorpio is at the very middle of the Via Combusta (the malefic region of the zodiac from 15° Libra to 15° Scorpio), while Mars at 19° Scorpio is conjunct the malefic degree Serpentis (a degree also associated with the malefic fixed star Alpha Serpentis, or Unukalhai).
By the time the Moon entered Aquarius, on August 24th, the Sun had also changed signs, entering the detail-oriented and health-conscious sign of Virgo. Again we see that the Moon first triggers the solar eclipse fixed T-square between Mercury, Neptune and Jupiter. Another tremor (4.4) shook Ankara (39N23 32E38) at 8:33:20 PM local time (17:33:20 UT), when the Moon was at 04° Aquarius 03. Thus, the Moon formed an exact square to Jupiter at 04° Taurus 59.
By this time the Turkish authorities called-off the search for victims of the Izmit quake and concentrated on wider public health and safety issues, like disease prevention and providing for the 200,000 homeless. The Turkish prime minister also admitted to certain shortcomings in the government's relief efforts following the Izmit quake, and confirmed the speculation that shonky building practices of past years had contributed to the massive devastation and huge death-toll.
August 24th also saw Russia claim victory in Dagestan, when the Islamic fighters withdrew into Chechnya. However, Russia continued its military operations in the region; this has since become a full-scale invasion of Chechnya.
Two quakes (5.2 & 4.5) strike Izmit again on at 11:10:49 AM local time (08:10:49 UT) — and again 20 minutes later (08:33:23 UT). The Moon at 03° Taurus 14 was nearing its conjunction with Jupiter at 04° Taurus 55. What is of more interest, however, is that the Ascendant was at 02° Scorpio 57 for the first quake and at 07° Scorpio 23 for the second. Thus the transiting Ascendant mirrored the motion of the Moon on August 17th, forming its own grand cross to the solar eclipse fixed T-square between Mercury, Neptune and Jupiter.
A big earthquake (5.6) hits Athens (37N58 23E43) at 2:56:49 PM local time (11:56:49 UT). The Moon, at 14° Leo 05, was opposing the Uranus eclipse degree of 14° Aquarius 40. In addition, the eclipse chart for Athens had 19° Scorpio rising, so the Ascendant was conjunct the malefic degree Serpentis.
The largest aftershock (5.8) of the Izmit quake strikes Golcuk, Turkey (39N07 27E59), at 02:55:28 PM local time (11:55:28 UT). The Moon, at 02° Scorpio 29, was opposing the Neptune eclipse degree of 02° Aquarius 33.
From this point, the process of the Moon's motion setting-off the eclipse aspect-patterns begins to fade. So below I merely list the dates of the Moon's entry into fixed signs and where appropriate the events that occurred.
While a huge earthquake (7.7) struck Chung Liao, Taiwan (35N44 51E26) on Sep 21st 01:47:19 AM local time (Sep 20 1999, 17:47:19 UT), this does not fit the process described here. Taiwan is well away from the eclipse path and the Moon, at 29 Capricorn 33, had not yet entered Aquarius [but is less than half a degree away - ed.].
Another large quake (5.6) in Turkey, near Marmaris (36N40 28E14), at 03:53:29 AM local time (00:53:29 UT). The Moon at 17° Leo 53 was conjunct the eclipse degree.
Train crash near Paddington station, England (51N32 00W12), at 07:11 AM GMT. The Moon at 21° Leo 24 was separating from the eclipse degree, while Mercury at 00° Scorpio 07 set off the Mercury-Neptune-Jupiter fixed T-square.
On Oct 11th, a quake (4.9) shakes Cairo, Egypt (28N35 31E34) at 10:39:31 PM local time (20:39:31 UT). The Moon was at 15° Scorpio 07 in opposition to Saturn at 15° Taurus 39. Mercury, at 09° Scorpio 23, was on a critical degree of the fixed-signs.
A Cyclone hit the Orrissa region of India (Bhabaneshwar, 20N14 85E50) on Oct 29 around noon (12:00 PM INT, 06:30:00 UT). This region lay at the tail-end of the eclipse path. On the 29th when the cyclone began, the Moon was in early Cancer, but Neptune was rising conjunct the Aquarian Ascendant. Moreover, the eclipse chart for Bhabaneshwar had 15° Aquarius rising conjunct Uranus.
On Nov 8, a northern Pakistan (36N30 71E15) quake (6.5) jolts the country at 09:45:43 PM local time (16:45:43 UT). The Moon, at 21° Scorpio 45, had made a new moon with the Sun at 15° Scorpio 49, some hours before.
To finish, we should mention that on Nov 12th, when the Moon was still in Capricorn, Turkey was rattled by another huge earthquake (7.2). This hit Duzce (40N39 31E10) at 06:57:20 PM local time (16:57:20 UT). However, in this instance it is not the Moon that served as the triggering planet, but the Sun. The Sun, at 19° Scorpio 51, was triggering the eclipse degree by square aspect, as well as being conjunct the malefic degree Serpentis; the degree of the zodiac highlighted at the time of the Izmit earthquake and in the Athens solar eclipse chart.
This stimulation of Serpentis appears to complete one of the cycles within cycles pertinent to the events we have been talking about and is an apt place to end this discussion. Apart from Venus' transit of this point in mid-December, Serpentis will not see much action again until March and May 2000, when the heavyweights, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter make stressful aspects to this point. These influences, however, will be the topic of another article.