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Posted December 2004
Election 2004 and the U.S.Chart
The following article is adapted from the keynote address I gave in Ashland, Oregon on November 4, 2004 at the NCGR Regional Conference. Although I spoke right after the election, the themes discussed here have a long reach and are still affecting the climate of the country.
I will start with a consideration of a few of the main themes in the (Sibly) chart of the United States. The U.S. horoscope has the planet Neptune in the most elevated position in the chart, closest to being directly overhead at the moment of birth. The most elevated planet has long been recognized as a prominent planet in any horoscope; the ancients observed the night sky, of course, and noticed that what was directly overhead was especially significant.
Although the planetary archetypes are complex, I will choose a few essential words to convey their meaning. Neptune rules longing and yearning and relates to all things that are confusing or not seen with a clear eye. At best, true inspiration and subtle awareness are Neptune's offerings. In its more usual guise, affairs are confused, seductive, ambiguous, or deceptive under its influence.
In the U.S. chart, Neptune is placed in the 9th house, the domain of the horoscope that relates to treaties and international affairs, lawyers, judges, and the legal system. All questions of ethics, religion, and philosophy are contained in this part of the horoscope. This is true for either an individual chart or that of a nation.
We see that the U.S. may inherently have some confused ideas or unclear objectives about its moral and ethical stance and that its religious or philosophical systems are open to being misunderstood or manipulated, or are themselves manipulative. We can also assume, perhaps, a certain naivete and guilelessness in the U.S. psyche that others may exploit to their own advantage
The planet Neptune in the U.S. horoscope (22° 24' Virgo) is made more sensitive, agitated, and pronounced by its tight square with Mars (21° 22' Gemini), the planet of war, aggression, and willpower. Planets in aspect to one another are bound to act together. This aspect is tight by degree, and Mars is strong by placement, being in an angular house (the 7th).
With Mars square Neptune in the natal horoscope, we can say that the nation born on July 4, 1776 can be strongly idealistic in its ethical stance but, at the same time, open to corruption, misjudgment, and confusion about the effects of its actions on the global community.
I will mention two other themes suggested by this particular planetary alignment in the U.S. horoscope: One is the possible co-opting or corruption of religious beliefs or ethics (Neptune in the 9th) toward aggressive aims (Mars). The second theme is the prominent and distorting effect of the U.S. corporate media. I add the theme of media to the discussion here, because Neptune rules film, imagery, and photographs, and the 9th house of a horoscope relates to publishing, far-reaching ideas, and foreign affairs.
Again, these are complex archetypes, but to put this in simple language: Pluto, that most intense planet, symbolizes a demand for change from the inside out. The U.S. is critically challenged, throughout 2004 and 2005, to relentlessly face our illusions as a nation and to clarify our image in the world. At this time in our history, international affairs and relations are highlighted as especially stressful.
Pluto's transit suggests that we are confronting the aggression and denial in the American psyche. At best, as a nation, we have a chance to act with unparalleled resolve and to convert sustained anger into creative and productive energy.
Pluto impels things to change from one state to another, to expose in a raw and ruthless way whatever it touches so that, ideally, a realization born of a deeper integrity can emerge.
I would say, simply, that we have created or attracted powerful enemies, and yet we are unclear or indirect about our real goals. Pluto brings confrontation with this inner and outer dilemma.
I will offer some examples of how transiting Pluto opposite the U.S. Mars and square Neptune (again, most acute throughout 2004 and 2005) is manifesting in our country. The specific areas I discuss here are the influence of the media and the issues of international law and ethics. Throughout these examples, perhaps you can get a glimpse of Pluto's capacity to bring to the surface what is corrupt, so it can be uncovered and true growth can proceed.
I'll begin with a few examples of the state of the U.S. media - again, a 9th-house/Neptune affair - with both its power and its distortion.
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post, with tragically belated hindsight, have published articles in the past six months critical of their respective papers' coverage before the Iraq war.  Both papers stated that they had been less than balanced in their coverage of the buildup to the war, with the Bush administration's justifications for the war prominently (and most often unquestioningly) placed on the front page. Other opinions about the decision to go to war - whether based on legal, moral, or even practical or strategic issues - were either not published at all or relegated to a page deep inside the paper. In his syndicated column on September 9, journalist David Broder wrote a critique of the media that included this obfuscating understatement: "We've let our standards slip."
The Swift Boat ad phenomenon certainly qualifies as an ethically suspect but powerfully effective media campaign. This series of television ads distorted and reinterpreted John Kerry's service in Vietnam. (This occurred when the transiting South Node was over Kerry's natal Venus in Scorpio.)
Another topic that points to important changes in media is the fact that many of the biggest stories that broke during the presidential campaign came from outside mainstream sources: These are blogs, the Weblogs of often very savvy political observers. I consider this a positive trend away from the tightly controlled corporate media. One notable example was Dan Rather's CBS story on September 8 about President Bush's National Guard service. At the time, this was seen as a political bombshell and damaging to the president, but within days, CBS, the most profitable news organization in history, admitted they had been misled about the source for the story. This incident was mentioned in a survey, published right before the election, on what various bloggers considered the most important moments of the campaign. 
As I've considered media influence, I have been continually amazed by the discussion on evening cable television news, in these last six months or so, of what happened on Donald Trump's show, The Apprentice. This is treated as a news story. The news media don't show photos of the Iraqi civilians killed or injured that day in the war, but Americans can find out what happened on the previous evening's reality show.
Neptune - which rules photography - stationed on May 17, 2004, during the dissemination of the horrifying photos from the Abu Ghraib prison. Seymour Hersch's last article - in the series which brought the prison abuse into the public eye - appeared in The New Yorker, implicating Donald Rumsfeld's involvement in the scandal. The effect of these photos on the Arab world is not something that our nation will recover from easily. (This station occurred at 15° 23' Aquarius, which is on the Aries Point and square the Ascendant of the 2001 Bush Inauguration horoscope at 14° 39' Taurus.)
I will not detail the complete litany of the Bush administration's disregard for international law and reforms in our domestic legal affairs. I will simply point out that, from the astrological point of view, this is an area we will be aggressively facing for the next few years - and (I hope) eventually repairing.
One shocking move from the Bush administration came on September 17, 2002, when the Bush Doctrine (previously known as the Wolfowitz Doctrine) was released and became the official U.S. policy. With this policy, the U.S. rejected Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which has been a cornerstone of international law. Article 51 allows for a preemptive strike of one country against another only if a public, objective process of assessing grievances has taken place. The Bush Doctrine changed the very nature of American foreign policy, declaring that we would use both preemptive force and the even more dubious "preventative force" based on our own perception of threat.
"The 33-page document presents a bold and comprehensive reformulation of U.S. foreign policy. It outlines a new and muscular American posture in the world - a posture that will rely on preemption to deal with rogue states and terrorists harboring weapons of mass destruction...It states for the first time that the U.S. will never allow its military supremacy to be challenged as it was during the Cold War. And the NSS insists that when America's vital interests are at stake, it will act alone, if necessary." 
It is striking that, on the fateful day the Bush Doctrine was issued, transiting Mars was at 12° Virgo in the Sibly 9th house of foreign affairs, square transiting Pluto at 15° Sagittarius. The transiting lunar nodes were also at 12° Gemini/Sagittarius across the Ascendant/Descendant axis of the U.S. horoscope.
The Bush administration has carried the U.S. into another legal and moral quagmire: the use of torture. Many international experts in the field of human rights believe that the U.S. moral authority to call for the rule of law and respect for human rights has been seriously undermined by the Bush administration's failure to comply with the Geneva Conventions, and subsequent spurious justification of torture. The U.S. has deliberately placed itself above the moral and ethical codes agreed upon by most of the rest of the world; many human rights groups have reported examples of the Bush administration's devastating noncompliance with the Geneva Conventions.
According to the profoundly important reference point provided by the Geneva Convention, it is essential to protect noncombatant civilians in a wartime situation. Lest we forget, in April 2003 during the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. did not protect Iraqi hospitals, although the Ministry of Oil was secured by U.S. troops.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) served the Iraqi people until conditions became too dangerous and it withdrew most of its team from Iraq in October. According to the tenets of Human Rights Watch, if you occupy an area, you have the responsibility to protect people's safety - something this administration has tragically and heedlessly ignored in Iraq. 
Another example of going beyond the bounds of legality can be seen in the essentially lawless zones in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a current update to the ongoing situation, the lead story in the New York Times on November 29 (with Mercury in the degree of its station at 26° Sagittarius quincunx transiting Saturn at 26° Cancer) spotlighted confidential reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross to the U.S. government (dating from July). The front-page article claims "that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion 'tantamount to torture' on prisoners at Guant‡namo Bay, Cuba."  The part of the American psyche that is truly generous and humanitarian (both Saturn in Libra and Jupiter in Cancer are in dignity in the U.S. horoscope) could hardly imagine a more devastating judgment on the world stage.
Saturn and the Election
Looking at the election, the planet that may be the simplest indicator of who won the U.S. presidency is Saturn. Saturn is currently traveling in the sign of Cancer, where the ancients knew him to be in detriment.
With Saturn, it is very easy to project and to cast blame, especially when the planet is in detriment. We can look to this very simple idea for clues to our own motivation and behavior, both personally and collectively, as Saturn travels through Cancer from June 2003 through July 2005.
In essence, Saturn relates to boundaries and containment; in Cancer, the sign of its detriment, Saturn can be obsessed with security and defense. Wherever Saturn is placed, we are vulnerable to fear. I know I'm not alone in noticing the startling irony earlier this year  when Yusef Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens), singer of "The Peace Train," was denied entry into the U.S. and deported back to London. A U.K. paper reported this in words that clearly describe this part of our particular dilemma: "The United States is shutting down its house, building walls around itself." 
Another example of Saturn's highly defensive posture is especially poignant now when the awareness of our interconnection is present in most systems and eminent thinkers: Tariq Ramadan, Europe's best-known Muslim intellectual, was refused admittance to the U.S. to take up his teaching position at Notre Dame University this year. Ramadan, who lives in Switzerland, is a leading Islamic thinker among Europe's Muslim immigrants. He was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important innovators of the 21st century. His life's work is to address the critical issue of integrating Muslim faith with contemporary Western culture; yet, U.S. authorities revoked his visa without explanation. 
As we all know, President Bush is a Cancer, and his birthday is July 6, in very close range of the U.S. birthday on July 4. The Sun of the U.S. horoscope is at 13° Cancer, the same degree as President Bush's Sun. There is a very strong resonance between this president and what this nation really is at heart.
To return to the Saturn and Cancer theme at the election: At the time Senator John Kerry called President Bush to concede defeat, the Moon was at 24° Cancer, exactly conjunct the U.S. Mercury at 24° Cancer, which is opposite natal Pluto.  So, at the moment of Kerry's concession to Bush, a difficult-to-integrate aspect in the national horoscope was prominent. This, along with transiting Saturn's station exactly opposite our national Pluto, leads me to say that the shock, heaviness, and grief that many have felt since the election does have a strong celestial indicator.
When Senator Kerry gave his concession speech, the Moon had moved to 26° Cancer, and Pisces was rising in Boston. The Senator's speech was full of emotion and Piscean imagery: He spoke of the "danger of division in our country" and said, "Today, I hope we can begin the healing" He further stated that "we must find common cause," and we are "longing for a larger measure of compassion."
When President Bush gave his acceptance speech, the Moon had moved to 27° Cancer, exactly on his natal Saturn. The Moon symbolizes the public, and in essence, the public came to support the president. (The brave of heart may want to check the Sabian symbols for 26° Cancer, Kerry's heartfelt concession speech, and 27° Cancer, Bush's acceptance speech.)
The necessary consideration of what policies will make us truly safe as a nation may seem to be absent from this administration's dialogue, but the question of our own personal security is a pressing one that is arising in all walks of life and levels of perception. It is something that we all are engaged with - and wise to notice.
The 2005 Inaugural horoscope has Saturn in Cancer at the IC of the horoscope, leaving me with an image of the need to hold steady. Activating a positive Saturn seems to be key in these testy and divisive times: Discipline, focus, and uncompromising determination are Saturn's gifts.
On November 7, Saturn stationed at 27° Cancer exactly opposite the U.S. Pluto and has moved very slowly since the election. I think this reflects the feeling I've gotten from many friends and clients that there is great and daunting work ahead.
The U.S. progressed Moon is at 13° Cancer now, exactly conjunct the Sun: Perhaps our collective hearts and minds are being recharged for the task at hand. Sirius, the largest and most brilliant star in the heavens (although far from the ecliptic), is at the same degree as the U.S. Sun by longitude. Joseph Crane writes on his web site: "Sirius appears to brighten the beneficial qualities of that planet it is affiliated with." 
In a mundane chart, the Sun represents the essential character of the nation, as well as the president or leader. With the U.S. progressed Moon (symbolizing the people) now conjunct the Sun, perhaps a subtle (water sign) alignment is taking place, whereby the brightness of Sirius will inspire the public to keep steering the nation toward a more beneficial future.
 Transiting Pluto is exactly opposite U.S. Mars on January 27, 2004; May 23, 2004; and November 25, 2004. Transiting Pluto is exactly square U.S. Neptune on December 23, 2004; July 14, 2005; and October 19, 2005.
 Washington Post, August 12, 2004, page 1; New York Times, May 26, 2004, page 10.
New York Times, November 2, 2004, page 27.
 New York Times, November 29, 2004, page 1.
 New York Times, September 24, 2004, page 6: "British Singer Calls His Deportation a Mistake," by Patrick E. Tyler.
 MSNBC, November 3, 2004: live coverage.
 U.S. Sibly, July 4, 1776; 5:10 p.m. LMT; Philadelphia, PA (39° N57', 75° W10').
 Bi-wheel. Inner wheel and house cusps: John Forbes Kerry, December 11, 1943; 8:03 a.m. MWT; Fitzsimons, CO (39° N45', 104° W48'); A: Time of birth given to Boston area astrologer Karen Thorne by Kerry himself in 1996; location of birth from the official John Kerry Web site: www.johnkerry.com. Outer wheel: transits for August 24, 2004.
 Inner wheel and house cusps: 2001 Inauguration, January 20, 2005; 12:02 p.m. EST; Washington, D.C. (38° N54', 77° W02'). Outer wheel: Neptune station, May 17, 2004; 12:00 p.m. EDT; Washington, D.C. (38° N54', 77° W02').
 Inner wheel and house cusps: George W. Bush, July 6, 1946; 7:26 a.m. EDT; New Haven, CT (41° N07', 72° W56'); Outer wheel: transits for November 3, 2004; 3:00 p.m. EST; Washington, D.C. (38° N54', 77° W02').
 2005 Inauguration, January 20, 2005; 12:00 p.m. EST; Washington, D.C. (38° N54', 77° W02').
 Bi-wheel. Inner wheel and house cusps: U.S. Sibly chart, July 4, 1776; 5:10 p.m. LMT; Philadelphia, PA (39° N57', 75° W10'). Outer wheel: progressed to December 4, 2004.
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