A year is a mysterious thing. Four seasons, 52 weeks, 13 orbits of the Moon. Twelve signs of the zodiac. What a difference one makes, how long it seems at the beginning and how fast it seemed at the end. The year 2004 of the Common Era begins in year 15 in Japan (15th year of the reign of the emperor, His Imperial Majesty Akihito), 1424 in the Islamic calendar, 1382 in the Persian calendar, 5764 in the Hebrew calendar, and the Year of Our Lady of Discord 3170. With the New Moon on January 22, the Chinese year of the Monkey begins, in particular, the Green Monkey, or wood element of this rather fiery critter. When you think of the Monkey, think of 1968. That was the water Monkey.
In the Western world, the new year is reckoned approximately with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere and the day the Sun makes a 90-degree angle to the Tropic of Capricorn. It falls in the time once known as Saturnalia, which was a big celebration and orgy back when people really knew how to party. Today we peck each other on the cheek and sip a little eggnog.
As your neighborhood astrologer, it’s my duty to pass along advance info on the approaching four seasons, which promise to be, well...once again the word is interesting. We have not had a year that was not interesting in a while. Let’s see, there was the stolen election in 2000, appropriately in the year of the metal Dragon. The next year brought September 11 and the war on Afghanistan Part One, spiced up by a little anthrax and the proverbial “three minutes of hate” each day for Osama bin Laden. Astrologically, we can chalk that up to Saturn opposite Pluto (historically, think of plagues and crusades).
Then came fabulous 2002 (the only numeric palindrome of the century), accentuated by more Saturn opposite Pluto. That was the year the gory details of Enron came out, and the Arthur Anderson bust and other corporate shenanigans exposed (the first full year of Chiron in Capricorn, which is still unfolding). In August, the pitch for the war in Iraq, begun the prior September 11 with false allegations that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the World Trade Center attacks, went into high throttle. There was the DC sniper and the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, always the “one” in all those 99-to-1 votes. Too bad he’s not running for president, isn’t it?
Then came 2003. Outgoing Gov. George Ryan of Illinois commuted every sentence of a death row prisoner after capital sentencing in his state was proven (largely by journalism students) to be a complete sham. Space Shuttle Columbia shattered over Texas, killing seven astronauts and grounding the shuttle fleet. There was the biggest pre-emptive antiwar protest in history (602 cities, millions of souls) against the biggest pre-emptive war in history. Then came “winning” the war, and then the insurgents taking a long turn at winning the war with the Ramadan Offensive. There was terrible loss of life in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other places. Nearly 500 United States soldiers have died this year. Mars retrograde in Pisces, please take a bow.
There are two big astrological hot spots in 2004. One is centered on a natural event, and the other an artificial event. First the natural one, which involves the retrograde of Venus this spring in Gemini. Venus goes retrograde fairly rarely, for six weeks every 18 months (as opposed to Mercury, which does the retro three weeks out of every four months). This is to say that Venus, the orbit of which is closer to the Sun than Earth’s, goes past our planet on the inside and appears to move in reverse. It’s like being passed by a train going a little more quickly than your train—that slightly nauseating backwards motion effect. Perhaps you recall the last Venus retrograde, in the fall of 2002, in Scorpio.
During every retrograde, Venus makes an interior conjunction to the Sun. What’s different about the coming conjunction is that Venus passes exactly over the disk of the Sun, creating what’s called an “occultation”. It’s as if Venus eclipses the Sun. No shadow is cast on the Earth; Venus is too far away. For both astrologers and astronomers, this is a big deal. It happens June 8.
Writes Philip Sedgwick in the Galactic Times, “This event occurs at intervals of 121.5 years, eight years, 105.5 years, and then again at eight years. None has occurred in the last, approximately, 121 years. After June 2004, we’ll see another just in time for the ‘ending’ of the Mayan Calendar in December 2012, which contains strong Venus reference.” Hence, events of this year are a mile marker on the way to whatever 2012 is about, and there are many different New Age interpretations of that time, mostly popularized by a writer named Jose Arguelles (The Mayan Factor).
To me, the astrology offers a number of images that help us define the split (read: divided and conquered) roles of women in our culture. There is a potential phase of concentrated growth and healing around the dualism of roles women are compelled to play and that men are, as a result, compelled to play along with. These include schisms such as mother/lover, lover/friend, mother/worker, self/wife, wife/mistress, prude/slut, and many others. There is—astrologically, anyway—a powerful confrontation with the conditioning powers, the attackers, the abusers—and a moment of challenging of the fundamentalist religious dogmas that hold up our society’s hypocritical values.
But greater forces are at work. When Venus stations retrograde on May 17, it does so standing in exact opposition to the galactic core—the very center of our Milky Way galaxy. To me, this is a beautiful symbol of the worldly and human feminine gazing into the cosmic mirror and seeing a reflection of the heart of our galaxy. It is about contacting the divinity within what we normally think of as feminine, which is pretty easy if you’re paying attention.
The last time the Venus-Sun occultation happened, in the 1880s, we were in the early era of Women’s Suffrage in both New Zealand and the United States. Interesting that the right to vote is once again a central issue at the time of a Venus-Sun occultation. This leads to the second hot spot. That would be the All Soul’s Day presidential election of November 2.
I wish I had better astrological, or technological, news for you about this election. The election is surrounded on all sides by extremely turbulent astrology, a true mine field. Rare clusters of occultations by the Moon of many planets occur in both October and November, and two eclipses lead up to the election itself—it is a deck full of wild cards. The range of possibilities for the election most likely spans from election fraud at best to a Code Red cancellation of the election, at worst.
The chart for the election itself (which is posted to the annual horoscope section of my Web site, along with a detailed analysis, please see below) contains an exact square of the Sun in Scorpio to Neptune in Aquarius. Every national election happens with the Sun in Scorpio, a sign associated with the disbursement of power and the keeping of cosmic, sexual, and financial secrets. It is the Sun’s square to Neptune in Aquarius that I find troubling, firing up the mass obsession with delusion and self-delusion that is so popular these days.
“An analysis of Diebold software by researchers at Johns Hopkins and Rice Universities found it both unreliable and subject to abuse,” Krugman wrote in the Times last month. “A later report commissioned by the state of Maryland apparently reached similar conclusions. (It’s hard to be sure because the state released only a heavily redacted version.)
“Meanwhile, leaked internal Diebold e-mail suggests that corporate officials knew their system was flawed, and circumvented tests that would have revealed these problems. The company hasn’t contested the authenticity of these documents; instead, it has engaged in legal actions to prevent their dissemination.”
This is very much a “personal is political” kind of political issue. Most people didn’t blink an eye the last time an election was stolen. This one is more likely to feel like a whack on the head, one that we very much deserve for so casually abandoning our democracy.