My purpose here is to review the astrological history of past great depressions in order to show why the years 2008 through 2019 are likely to be the most difficult so far in US history—and, since the US economy is now so integrated into the world economy—for other nations as well.
In ancient societies that developed astrology to high levels—Egyptian, Hindu, Babylonian, Greek, Mayan, Chinese, etc.—the study of planetary influences was confined to priesthoods. No attempt was made to publicize how these priesthoods worked, knowing that the combination of mathematics and mythology they employed would baffle the masses.
Now, computer programs make astrology more accessible to more people than ever before. Computers have also made astrological research much easier and faster. Not many years ago, it required months of work by astrologers to find data that computers now find in seconds. The data presented here can be checked by anyone with an astrological program and access to historical information.
Great Depressions Defined
There have been four great depressions in US history: the 1780s, 1840s, 1870s and 1930s. Great depressions are not to be confused with periods of less hardship or shorter periods of hardship, often called depressions or recessions or downturns. There have been many periods called recessions or depressions in US history but only four that qualify as great depressions.
How can we distinguish recessions and depressions from great depressions? Dr. Ravi Batra provided this definition (The Great Depression of 1990, Simon and Schuster, 1987, page 106):
“A recession usually lasts for one to three years, during which the rate of unemployment, while rising, is generally below 12 percent. When a recession lasts for more than three years, and/or the rate of unemployment lies between 12 percent and 20 percent, the economy may be said to be suffering from a depression. When unemployment remains high and business stagnates for six or more years, the nation’s plight may be called a great depression. Thus, depending on its severity in depth and length, the downswing of the business cycle may be defined as a recession, depression, or great depression.”
What looms ahead in the not-to-distant future is likely to combine the social upheavals of The Sixties with the angst of the 1930s Great Depression and the rebelliousness of the American Revolutionary period. This prognostication is not certain, understand, but it is very likely. I base the likeliness of it on two things: 1) correlations of past great depressions with a certain repeating planetary pattern, and 2) the thrust and momentum of current events.
What makes astrology “unscientific” is that each repeating cyclical pattern formed by the planets of our solar system occurs in an ever-changing celestial environment. For example, each New Moon, the most frequently recurring cycle, occurs within a solar system in which all the other planets are arranged differently in relation to the Lunation. Moreover, our solar system has changed in relationship to the surrounding universe due to the Precession of the Equinoxes. Thus, each moment in “cosmic time” is unique, never to duplicate again. Scientific verification depends on duplication. Astrologers are continually dealing with a changing universe and thus dogged by various degrees of uncertainty.
Nevertheless, astrology is the best predictive tool we humans have. It can tell us what periods will be difficult, what periods will be easy. Combine astrological prediction with the trend of current events, and accuracy of prediction increases.
History of Great Depressions
The single economic condition that has coincided with all great depressions of the past is a record gap between rich and poor. By the beginning of the new millennia, the gap had never been greater. This is so both inside the USA and throughout the world.
But isn’t it possible to fix this problem and minimize another great depression? Yes. The stars do not compel, the future is not set in stone. Even devout believers in laissez faire capitalism know something must be done to narrow this gap that eventually threatens all. The problem is that there is no agreement concerning what must be done to solve the wealth disparity problem. That’s why we are likely to be well into the 2000-teens before circumstances overcome ideological debate and dictate practical solutions.
I should add that as an unrepentant idealist, I believe we will emerge from the coming hard years better than before. Crisis is opportunity. My aim here is to show, first, astrologically why the years from 2008 through 2019 are likely to be the most trying in our history, and second, to stimulate thinking about long-range solutions.
From a purely astrological perspective, every time the USA suffered through a great depression, Saturn § was found in mid-Capricorn forming a 90-degree square angle, as viewed from Earth, to one of the so-called malefic planets in mid-Aries. These heavies have been Uranus ¨, Neptune ©, Pluto À and Mars ¥. Understand that in the solar community, no planet by itself is good or bad. It’s when these planets move into certain angles to each other that their combined influence is experienced by us as good or bad. And malefic angles or aspects formed by the slower-moving Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are notoriously the worst, with Mars a close runner-up.
Grand Cross in US History
Never has a great depression occurred when Saturn has arrived in mid-Capricorn without forming a square to Pluto, Neptune, Uranus or Mars in mid-Aries. And the grand cross pattern with Saturn in Capricorn has never formed without coinciding with a great depression.
Of all the various geometric patterns the planets form, the most difficult, demanding or malefic is the grand cross. But the grand cross does not impact all nations equally. To find out how the coming grand cross will impact one nation as compared to another, biwheel charts are used. These show how a given aspect up there in the sky will affect one nation differently than another. All nations may be swept up in the problems of the coming great depression, but not all will face the same challenges.
Combining the time of each great depression with the time of the USA’s birth shows what I call “the great depression grand cross.” A biwheel shows two moments in time so they can be compared to one another.
A word about 1893 to 1895, often called “one of the worst depressions in history,” and indeed it was extremely difficult. Crop failures were rife and prices were the lowest they’d ever been to that point in US history. It was ushered in by what is now called “The Panic of 1893” when the primary economic measurement of that time, The Business Curve, dropped from 10 points above normal to 20 points below normal. However, it was too brief to qualify as a great depression.
Another example of a difficult but brief period was the Oil Embargo of the 1970s, when the price of gasoline was driven skyward by the OPEC oil cartel. We had what was dubbed “stagflation,” a combination of stagnant activity and inflationary prices. Nevertheless, this did not qualify as a great depression either.
How to Verify
Planetary positions and angles are astronomical measurements. They can be verified by checking an Ephemeris (a table of daily planetary positions). Comparisons of biwheel charts are best done by acquiring astrological software and erecting two charts: one for the USA’s birth, July 4, 1776, Philadelphia, (or for the birth of any other nation) and the other for when a past great depression bottomed. The two charts mapping planetary positions are then combined by putting the nation’s chart on the inner wheel and the event chart on the outer wheel, creating a symbolic freeze-frame of two moments in time. This transit-to-natal method has enabled me to discover the repeating planetary pattern that has always coincided with repeating periods called great depressions.
Until the 1990s, America experienced great depressions in roughly 30- and/or 60-year cycles. It takes Saturn 28 to 30 years to complete an orbit by transiting through each of the 12 constellations or Signs of the Zodiac. When Saturn returns to mid-Capricorn each 28-30 years without squaring Pluto, Neptune, Uranus or Mars in mid-Aries, (for instance, in the 20th Century during the 1900s, 1960s and 1990s) the country has experienced economic or social upheavals or adjustments but no great depressions.
When the USA was born on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, the Sun was at 12 degrees and 44 minutes of Cancer, forming a 90-degree square aspect to Saturn at 14 degrees and 47 minutes of Libra. Rounding out to the nearest degree: Sun at 13 Cancer, Saturn at 15 Libra. This Sun-Saturn square has proven to be economically sensitive down through American history.
As for the precise time of the USA’s birth or inception, there is endless argument. The exact time of birth is important because it gives us the degree of the Ascendant or Rising Sign, the moment of dawn, around which the planets are then placed in “houses,” signifying areas of activity. The Ascendant indicates how an individual sees his world and is seen by it. Some astrologers make a sound argument for using Scorpio Rising, which appeals to me personally because it puts my natal Sun conjunct the USA’s Ascendant. The most widely used is the Sibley chart, with Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius Rising. We Americans may see ourselves as a Jupitarian-generous, Sagittarius “sage” philosophical nation but we are definitely not perceived that way by other nations. Rather we are seen as original, unique, even eccentric and unpredictable, by turns genius and outcast—the qualities of Uranus in Gemini Rising.
I use the Gemini Rising chart with Uranus on the Ascendant because it gives a more accurate astrological reading of who the USA is in the community of nations. Yes, it’s illogical that our Founders would sign the Declaration of Independence around 2 AM. On the other hand, quite a few were Masons and concerned with the astrology involved, and one could hardly ask for a more prosperous indicator than Sun, Jupiter and Venus together in the 2nd house, indicating great material wealth.
The 12 constellations are important to map our Solar System. In effect, they each denote a different neighborhood within our Solar System and in the vast universe beyond. For astrological purposes, they are mapped into 30-degree sections. These sections are called Signs in astrology. Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn are called Cardinal Signs. They correspond to spring, summer, autumn and winter—the two Solstices and two Equinoxes. Planets in Cardinal Signs, it is often said, “make things happen.”
X in a Box
The USA was born when the Sun was in Cancer. The constellation Cancer is opposite Capricorn. And Libra (wherein resides the USA’s Saturn) is opposite Aries. So by comparing the USA’s birth chart with a second chart for a great depression, a grand cross pattern is shown by transiting Saturn in Capricorn 180 degrees opposite the US natal Sun in Cancer, while another malefic planet in Aries is 180 degrees opposite the US natal Saturn in Libra. Since the planets involved are also thus 90-degrees square to each other, a box pattern is also formed. It’s this X-in-a-box pattern astrologers call a Grand Cross. It puts the Earth in the middle of a crisscross of planets.
Another way to approach a biwheel chart is to imagine the US birth chart as a clock face. In a biwheel chart, the clock face depicted as the inner wheel remains stationary. The 12 planets depicted on the second chart, shown on the outer wheel, become the clock’s moving hands. The combination tells us what cosmic time it was for a certain event.
Most economic or financial astrologers use single charts, not transit-to-natal biwheels. I chanced upon the value of using transits to the USA’s birth chart in the early 1980s and found, as I continued to work with this method, that it speaks eloquently about US economic history. Great Depressions have arrived when the cosmic clock shows the x-in-a-box grand cross pattern made by transiting Saturn moving opposite the US natal Sun’s position at 14 Cancer, while another “heavy” planet is transiting through Aries opposite the US natal Saturn’s position at 15 Libra. Every time this pattern has formed, the USA has gone through a great depression. Never has it formed without coinciding with a great depression.
The worst wars in US history have occurred when transiting Uranus returned to its natal position in the US chart; other less destructive wars have occurred when planets “hit” the US Uranus from various other hard angles.
Stock market panics become likely when the US Mars-square-Neptune is “hit”—the subject of another paper. The list of such “coincidents” expands as one continues to explore.
Am I saying that the planets control our economy? No. I am saying astrology enables us to forecast difficult economic times. How we collectively respond to difficult times is what results in great depressions.
The grand cross anchored by Saturn has brought great depressions because we humans are creatures of habit. We are not controlled by the stars but we tend to apply solutions that have worked in the past instead of finding new solutions to new problems. I encapsulate this as “Belief trumps evidence.” We find the evidence we seek and do not find evidence we do not seek. Devotees of an economic ideology tend to become fanatical and apply solutions that worked in the past. But—
“History repeats but does not rhyme,” as Mark Twain put it. We can foresee future times that will resemble past times but we cannot predict exactly what specific events will manifest, and thus what innovations will be needed. Planetary cyclical patterns repeat but always in an ever-changing context. No two moments in cosmic time are ever the same. Old economic ideologies must change with changing times.
Another Way to Visualize
Another way to visualize the grand cross pattern is to imagine the Solstice/Equinox chart, which has 0 degrees Aries (spring) Rising at 9 o’clock on the chart, 90 degrees from 0 degrees Cancer (summer) at 6 o’clock, Aries (autumn) at 3 o’clock, with Capricorn (winter) at 12 o’clock. The great depression grand cross would then have Saturn up near noon in Capricorn, square another outer planet around 9 o’clock in Aries, with both opposite and square the US Sun in Cancer (6 o’clock) and Saturn in Libra (3 o’clock). Visualizing this most basic of astrological charts emphasizes the Cardinality of the four Signs involved in the great depression grand cross.
These oppositions and squares are measured by longitude only, and need not be precisely exact. They are effective when they are “within orb”—that is, within 5, 7, 10 or even 15 degrees of exact. I prefer to apply a 7 degree orb.
When Saturn reaches 7 degrees of Capricorn, it has come within 7-degree orb of an opposition to the US Sun at 14 Cancer. Planetary aspects have been found to be more powerful when “applying” than when “separating,” much as ocean waves have more force when cresting to breakers.
Keep in mind, also, that the larger, outermost planets orbit slowly as measured in Earth years: Saturn averages 28-30 years, Uranus 84 years, Neptune 165 years, Pluto 248 years. Pluto, the most distant from our Sun, has the most erratic orbit. None of the planets move with the mechanical precision of our earthly clocks. We use our human measurement of time to track the planets, although the planets cycle to their own celestial rhythm.
Great Depression of the 1780s
The first great depression in the new nation’s history became an undeniable fact around December of 1783. Saturn §, Uranus ¨, Neptune © and Mars ¥ were all involved in the 1780’s grand cross, and this first great depression is viewed by some economic historians as being as severe as any in US history.
On the biwheel chart for this one, Saturn was at 15 degrees Capricorn, which puts it opposite the US natal Sun at 13 Cancer; meanwhile, Mars at 21 Aries is opposite Uncle Sam’s natal Saturn at 15 degrees of Libra. Adding to this combination is Uranus conjunct Uncle Sam’s Sun and thus also opposite transiting Saturn. Neptune was conjunct Sam’s Saturn, and thus also opposite transiting Mars. Saturn, Neptune, Uranus and Mars–four of the five malefic bodies were involved in this grand cross.
What was happening then?
“Even more than their civilian neighbors, the former soldiers nursed grievances that they could attribute to incompetent, if not dishonest, government. They had left their farms and shops to fight the hated redcoats, but they could not even depend on the paltry sums their services had earned for them. Inflation had made their Continental currency almost worthless, and now the government set up by the Articles of Confederation was delaying payment of overdue wages and retracting its promises of lifetime pensions for officers.” (“Shay’s Rebellion” by Alden T. Vaughan, page 199, Historical Viewpoints.) Thus, a record gap between Haves and Have-nots existed. The British had issued huge amounts of counterfeit Continentals into the new nation’s money system, using money as a weapon, in order to cause hyperinflation.
Great Depression of the 1840s
The second great depression in US history held the nation in its grip after two cycles of Saturn or 60 years after the 1780s, during the 1840s when Saturn again arrived in mid-Capricorn, this time square to Pluto in mid-Aries. Again, the grand cross pattern was formed with Uncle Sam’s Sun and Saturn. Mars added to the stress by being at 14 degrees of Libra conjunct Sam’s Saturn.
While Saturn has “anchored” all four great depressions from mid-Capricorn, the planets occupying mid-Aries have been Mars (the 1780s), Pluto (the 1840s), Neptune (the 1870s) and Uranus (the 1930s). When Saturn has opposed Uncle Sam’s Sun without forming a grand cross with Uranus, Neptune, Pluto or Mars, no great depression has occurred.
Remember: astrologers speak of planets being “square” when they come within orb of 90 degrees to each other as seen from our perspective here on Earth. To be within orb, I allow 7 degrees. Thus, when Saturn reaches 7 degrees of Capricorn and Uranus reaches 9 degrees of Aries, they are within orb of an applying square to each other, and simultaneously within orb of oppositions to the USA’s Sun and Saturn. They are within orb but separating when Saturn reaches 21 Capricorn and Uranus reaches 22 Aries.
Astrologer Raymond A. Merriman analyzed this crash and depression in terms of it following the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 1834-1835 (“The Implications of Saturn in Opposition to Pluto to World Economies and Financial Markets,” The Mountain Astrologer Magazine, November-December 2001 issue.) “When the stock market began to fall, and the land development projects failed to materialize, and banks began to fail…a financial panic ensured in 1837, which resulted in a full-fledged depression by the early 1840s.”
(Note that not all financial panics have led into great depressions.)
Merriman continued, “The stock market tumbled approximately 80% off its highs of 1835, and it wasn’t until 22 years later—in 1857—that the financial markets began to recover. In short, it was a 22-year economic downturn from the highs of 1835, coinciding with the first and only time the US government was forced to default on its bond (debt) obligations.”
The profits of big companies have long been our primary economic indicator but I find this indicator very iffy. We must not forget that the vast majority of Spain’s people did not benefit from the tons of gold shipped back from the New World by companies in the 1500s. Nor did the vast majority of Americans benefit from the spectacular run-up of stocks during the 1990s. There have been periods when corporations flourished while populations suffered. I therefore focus on the overall society’s economic wellbeing.
Great Depression of the 1870s
Thirty years (or one transit of Saturn) after the 1840s, the nation suffered it’s third great depression during the 1870s, following the Civil War in the 1860s. This time Saturn § in Capricorn formed a square with Neptune © in Aries to create the grand cross with the US Sun and Saturn. For this date, we expand the orb between Saturn and Neptune to 9 degrees but keep in mind that it’s difficult to pinpoint when the depths of any great depression was reached. Economists endlessly debate rational causes and results, and statistics, presented months later, reflect conditions past.
Neptune’s influence contrasts with Saturn’s so distinctly that they are often considered opposites. Saturn demands structure, systems, and practicality. Neptune inspires searches into the unknown, promotes spirituality, poetry, the arts and new scientific undertakings. Yet even the most Neptunian inspired artist must apply Saturnian order to render his explorations communicable.
Great Depression of the 1930s
Sixty years and two transits of Saturn later, the USA went through what is arguably the worst great depression of its history. I say arguably because historic data indicates the Post-American Revolutionary Great Depression of the 1780s was as bad or worse. We contemporaries are more aware of the 1930s because we have haunting photos of that time, and some still alive to tell us about it.
Although economists are not likely to agree when the bottom of any great depression was reached, by January 1, 1931 it was clear that this crash was not going to rebound quickly. Fear that the whole economy would be impacted had become widespread, despite efforts by important people to propagate optimism. Since this great depression is the most recent, I will include a biwheel chart for it, and explain that chart.
The biwheel chart for 1931 shows transiting Saturn § at 16 Capricorn square Uranus ¨ at 18 Aries to form the grand cross with Sam’s Sun and Saturn. Two years previous to this, when the crash of ’29 came, Jupiter ¦ and Pluto À were both in Cancer conjunct Sam’s Sun, opposite transiting Saturn and thus also square transiting Uranus. Therefore, the grand cross to Uncle Sam’s Sun-square-Saturn at this time was anchored by Saturn and included Uranus, Pluto and Jupiter. It’s also notable that this great depression followed the Saturn-Pluto opposition that would reoccur to usher in The Sixties. The one following The Sixties coincided with the attack of 9/11/01. (11th Sept 2001)
Understand that there is a lot happening up there in the infinite universe at any given moment. I am pinpointing attention on the planets within our Solar System and ignoring the countless other celestial bodies in and beyond our Solar System. We could also include asteroids, planetary moons and rings, comets, perihelion positions and latitudes as well as declinations and more, complicating the picture immensely. We might venture beyond our Solar System and include many other suns and planets, or add Sirius (Polaris) to our calculations. I aim for the simplest way to portray this pattern that correlates with great depressions.
No Grand Cross, No Great Depression
Following the great depression of the 1930s, Saturn next arrived in mid-Capricorn, opposite Sam’s Sun, in 1960. There was no heavy planet square Saturn from mid-Aries, and thus no great depression. What developed as The Sixties unfolded a rare combination of the unprecedented (Uranus) and transforming (Pluto). Uranus and Pluto were conjunct in Virgo, with both conjunct the US Neptune.
The first decade of the 20th Century was a rocky time for stocks. Two stock market panics rattled Wall Street (1903 and 1907), sending Wall Street financiers down to Washington to seek help from government. After much wrangling in the halls of Congress, Wall Streeters got their way and on December 26, 1913 the Federal Reserve System was created as America’s version of a central bank. In effect, Congress turned control of the nation’s monetary system over to private bankers, but by calling it the Federal Reserve, created the impression that the federal government was still in control, as prescribed by the Constitution.
Since then, we have had a debt-based monetary system. Politicians borrow money from the private bankers of the Fed and stick unaware taxpayers with the debt at compound interest. In effect, the US government has operated, since 1914, on something like a limitless credit card, charged to taxpayers.
What $100 bought in 1800 it would still buy in 1900. What $100 bought in 1914 now costs $1000 or more. This debt-based monetary system’s impact on American society and the world has been subtle but dramatically accumulative. During the past 35 years, goods and services have quadrupled while the dollar has devalued by 90%.
Saturn’s return to Capricorn in 1961 was another dicey time economically, but military spending provided an innovative mix of Keynesian stimulus and monetary policy delivered, via the military-industrial complex, as corporate welfare. As in the early 1950s when the Korean “police action” stimulated the economy, in the 1960s working class American draftees soon found themselves mired in a foreign land, this time Vietnam. The rationale for this war was—as it had been for the Korean “police action”—stopping communism.
Astrologically, these periods of Saturn’s return to Capricorn occurred without another of the “malefics” being found in Aires. No grand cross, no great depression. However, other economic “adjustments” occurred.
What’s most notable for 1989, is that Saturn, Neptune and Uranus were together in Capricorn—a rare conjunction of these three bodies—but with no outer planet in Aries, no great depression occurred.
Economists who track the 30- and/or 60-year cycle of great depressions were sure the 1990s would send the USA into another. Dr. Ravi Batra’s book The Great Depression of 1990 was a bestseller in the late 1980s. By May 1, 1989, Saturn at 13 Capricorn was within one degree of a conjunction with Neptune at 12 Capricorn, and within 7 degrees of a conjunction with Uranus at 5 Capricorn. As Uranus moves faster than Neptune, it was soon to come exactly conjunct. So this time when Saturn moved opposite Uncle Sam’s Sun, Uranus and Neptune joined Saturn in Capricorn—but with all three forming a beneficent 60-degree sextile angle to Pluto at 13 Scorpio, which in turn formed a 120-degree harmonious trine aspect to the US Sun in Cancer.
Conjunctions of Uranus and Neptune occur once every 171 years, approximately. “When a great conjunction like this happens, it means humanity has come to a ‘fork in the road.’ It is a chance to start over after the slate has been wiped clean—a moment of decision when we must choose a path of destruction or a path or renewal. This is the key to events of the 1990s. The end of the Cold War caused us to shift the direction of our lives and our society. Whether we move toward a peaceful, sustainable way of life that allows us to express our creative potential, or simply allow the destructive, depersonalizing corporate, military-industrial society to continue, is the great issue we confront in the years after this great conjunction.” (Horoscope for the New Millennium by E. Alan Meece, Llewellyn Publications, 1997, page 84).
The 1990 Uranus-Neptune crossroad brought us to the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany. The Berlin Wall came down November 9, 1989, marking a major turning point. This was not the first time a Uranus-Neptune conjunction had marked a major turning point.
During the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of 1650 at 15 Sagittarius, the Thirty Years War ended, marking an end to a protracted period of religious wars, and beginning another long period of wars between kingdoms and then nation-states.
The Uranus-Neptune conjunction of 1821 at 2 Capricorn coincided with the breakup of the Turkish Empire, which had ruled most of the Middle East.
The Uranus-Neptune conjunction of 1989-93 became exact at 18 Capricorn in 1993, and formed a beneficent 60-degree sextile aspect to Pluto in Scorpio, foreshadowing positive changes related to mankind’s genius, religious nature and institutions.
Nations or religious groupings of humans respond to planetary influences, positive and negative, according to their various beliefs, so positive aspects do not always bring positive changes only. Following this 1989-93 configuration, universalists synthesized the world’s great religions while at the same time fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, Jews and others demanded adherence to interpretations of scriptural phrases which had changed meanings as languages had evolved, another instance of status quo ideology inhibiting natural change.
In 2008 when Pluto and Uranus move into a square, we will move into another time of abrupt, dramatic and unprecedented changes. This period from 2008 through 2019 will share qualities of the 1930s and 1960s. A foreshadowing of the kind of events this will bring occurred September 11, 2001, when Islamic terrorists hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The Saturn-Pluto opposition of that time afflicted Uncle Sam’s natal Uranus and Mars, the warrior energies. Saturn-Pluto oppositions have a millennia-long history of coinciding with dramatic social and economic changes.
Neptunian Speculative Bubble
Economically, the end of the Cold War was followed by a record run-up of US stock prices during the 1990s. This was not as beneficial as it seemed, for it created a Neptunian speculative bubble, coupled with a foggily-perceived, widening gap between rich and poor—the two conditions which have always preceded past great depressions.
Would this bubble and gap bring another? Not during the 1990s.
This roughly 20-year period of the ’80s and ’90s was called “the best economy in American history,” but that Neptunian delusion confused the stock market with the overall economy. Only the wealthiest partook of the stock market’s fabulous run-up. The media shouted that a new record number of jobs were created during this run-up, but that was another Neptunian delusion. In previous decades, one worker could support a spouse and children, but by the mid-1980s it took mom and pop wage earners to keep most families afloat. Thus arose “the latchkey kids,” children who came home from school to empty houses because both parents were working jobs that didn’t pay either enough, in purchasing power, to hold a family together…during this so-called “best economy in American history.” Exacerbating the situation for working class Americans, many US-based companies moved overseas to obtain cheaper labor, abandoning workers, latchkey kids and towns. And, with a wink and a nod, the government did not enforce immigration laws, effectively importing cheap labor from south of the border, worsening the plight of working class Americans. In some cases, native-born American workers were replaced in a single day with undocumented Mexican migrants, who worked for one-third the wages paid Americans.
The two primary economic indicators which mindlessly measured the economy’s health–stock prices and unemployment figures–were dramatically good, so few economists noticed the plight of the working class. Also, by the late 1990s, many working class families had adjusted to the new two-job situation, and younger generations were coming of age never having known the single-worker household. Occasionally, someone such as Clinton Administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich appeared on TV and mentioned the downward trend of working class purchasing power, but such spokespersons were invariably sandwiched between pundits whose skyrocketing stocks were so expanding their prides, they had “no ears” to hear a discouraging word about “the best economy in American history.” The difference between money (means of exchange and measure of value) and wealth was blurred as money became equated with wealth itself.
“As it gets increasingly difficult for most Americans to make a living, it also becomes increasingly easier for a select handful to make a killing,” said Morris Berman in The Twilight of American Culture (Norton, 2000, page 22). “According to the Census Bureau, the bottom 20 percent of US families in 1970 received 5.4 percent of the national income, while the top 5 percent received 15.6 percent. By 1994, the corresponding figures were 4.2 percent and 20.1 percent.”
“This is what happens when irrationality shapes economic policy,” said Ravi Batra (The Great American Deception, John Wiley and Sons, NY, 1966). “People suffer because the leaders trust the self-serving theories of established economists, most of whom are engaged in pleasing their affluent patrons,” the wealthy few, the government and big companies.
Who Gets How Much
If great depressions of the past have been brought on by new record money disparities between the Haves and Have-nots (usually resulting in speculative bubbles) why had we not fallen into another great depression by year 2001? By any reckoning, we had seen a new record speculative bubble in the stock markets, concurrent with a loss of working class purchasing power, and a new record gap between the richest and poorest.
Astrologically, the answer is clear: no grand cross anchored by Saturn in mid-Capricorn square another heavy in mid-Aires has formed since the one that coincided with the last great depression, the 1930s. By 2001, the economy was in a recession, but by no measurement could it be called a great depression. Not yet.
Good News and Bad
As we moved into the new millennium, Saturn wasn’t due to arrive opposite Sam’s Sun till January 2019. That’s the good news.
The bad news is we are not likely to make it to 2019 without suffering something like a combination of the 1930s, the 1960s and the Revolutionary War. This is because Pluto, when it next arrives opposite the US Sun in 2014, will simultaneously square Uranus in mid-Aries, forming the next grand cross with the US Sun-Saturn square.
Before Pluto was discovered in 1930, Saturn (associated with Satan) was considered the energy that brought death and destruction. Astronomical data makes it possible to recover the history of Pluto’s cycles. Tracing Pluto’s history has shown it is well named for the god who rules the mystery from which we emerge at birth and into which we disappear at death. Although it is the smallest and most distant of the bodies we call planets, its cyclical history—in both personal charts and world charts—indicates that its effects begin subtlely but manifest as powerful and long lasting.
What appears most likely is that the overall economy will not be brought down by one dramatic stock market crash as happened in 1929, but rather that a series of stock market crashes will lead into the next great depression. These stock market crashes will most likely begin in earnest in 2008. By 2010, Pluto and Uranus will form a T-square pattern with Saturn, heralding a collapse of the overall economy. Combined with USA’s natal chart, this T-square creates a grand cross with the US Venus and Jupiter, a prelude to the grand cross that will soon hit the US Sun-Saturn square. It’s like we went over Niagara Falls to crash into the great depression of the 1930s, but will go white-water rafting down the Snake River’s rapids into the coming great depression.
As in the past, usury is playing a role as we head toward this next great economic disruption. Aristotle said, “Money exists not by nature but by law.” (Ethics). Of usury, he said, “The most hated sort of (wealth getting), and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange but not to increase at interest. Moreover, this term interest (tokos in ancient Greek), which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of all modes of getting wealth, this is the most unnatural.” (Politics)
“Aristotle is saying that money in principle is sterile. It does not beget more money the way cows beget more cows, or fields grow grain. He says that usury on money is contrary to the purpose of money, created by society as a measure and medium of exchange.” (The Lost Science of Money by Stephen Zarlenga, American Monetary Institute, 2002)
Since the conjunction of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in Capricorn 1989-92, the world—led by the USA—has embarked on a program of hyper-usury. More than two trillion dollars a day are now traded in the foreign exchange markets—money symbolically copulating with money and giving birth to more money. The top 100 corporations now make more from currency trades than from the products they produce. Never before in known history has usury been so glorified and profitable. Historical evidence proclaims that a monetary system that does not benefit all sectors of society is doomed.
I will sidestep the issue of the Winter Solstice 2012, the day the Maya Calendar ends, signifying to some an “end of the world.” There have been previous end-of-world predictions but we humans are still very much here. Since the Spanish priests of the 1500s destroyed as many Mayan records as they could get their hands on, it’s possible that the Maya Calendar does not really end at dawn of the Winter Solstice 2012—only their known records end there. In any case, the Maya were arguably the best astrologers and mathematicians humanity ever produced, and their cyclical economic forecasts have proven accurate into the present day. Therefore, we must assume that the Solstice of December 2012 will mark a major turning point in human history. (For more about Maya economic astrology, see “Maya Time and Money” by Robert Gover,
Uranus-Pluto Squares Past
Uranus-Pluto cyclical conjunctions occur approximately every 127 years. They then move from 0 degrees conjunct into 90-degree waxing squares, 180-degree oppositions, and 270-degree waning squares. When these aspects have not directly impacted sensitive points in the USA’s natal chart, they’ve had less impact on American history. However, when they have hit sensitive points—either the Sun-Saturn square or the Mars-Neptune square—Uranus-Pluto hard angles have had major impacts, even before the USA was “born”. Some examples.
The last conjunction was exact in 1964-65. It was within orb most of the 1960s into the early 1970s, and was conjunct the US Neptune (thus also square the US Mars). During the mid-1960s, Saturn moved opposite this Uranus-Pluto conjunction, square the US Mars. We now refer to this period simply as “The Sixties,” meaning social uprisings and burning cities, the civil rights and antiwar movements, the alternative culture movement, women’s liberation, Black Panthers, and an amazing rash of assassinations: President John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy as he ran for President, and a long list of less famous people.
The previous Uranus-Pluto conjunction in the first decade of the 1900s was followed by the waxing square coinciding with the 1930s great depression. Pluto was in Cancer conjunct the US Sun and then Mercury, roughly opposite where it will be during the 2000-teens. Uranus was where it will be again, in Aries opposite the US Saturn.
The square of the 1750s, coincided with the French and Indian War in the American Colonies and the Seven Years War worldwide. Most American Indian nations sided with the French and used terrorist tactics. For the two colonizing monarchies, this was another in a series of armed conflicts, with England acquiring most of North America from the French, establishing British language and culture in what became the USA. For native-born Americans of the 1750s, it was a much more devastating time, as it was followed by more British immigrants driving Indians from their tribal territories. Some historians cite this war as the beginning of the colonists’ movement for independence, which culminated with the American Revolutionary War 20 years later.
In 1676, Uranus was in Aries and Pluto in Cancer afflicting points where the US Sun-Saturn square would be a hundred years later. This coincided with an uprising called Bacon’s Rebellion in the Virginia Colony, which then constituted most of what would become the USA. The essence of this uprising—to summarize a complex series of events—was the uniting of African slaves and English indentured servants under the leadership of a planter named Nathaniel Bacon. The aristocracy of Jamestown fled to what is now the Delmarva Peninsula as Bacon’s militia burned Jamestown to the ground. The outcome was the seeding of American racism by laws color-coding of the working class into White and Black.
What this brief review suggests is that the upcoming period from 2008 to 2019 can be expected to be more tempestuous than any previous—because this Uranus-Pluto square will form a grand cross with the US Sun-Saturn square. Also, this grand cross will be within a degree of exact during the mid-2000-teens. By March 2015, Uranus will be at 15 Aries (opposition the US Saturn at 15 Libra) while Pluto will oppose the US Sun from 15 Capricorn. Its exactness will resemble the Uranus-Pluto square of the French and Indian War, and also the square of the 1930s great depression years. Because it will follow the conjunction of The Sixties, it can be expected to dredge up leftover issues from that decade.
As authors of financial newsletters like to point out, past performance is no guarantee of future performance. And, as scientists like to point out, astrology cannot be scientifically verified, as there is no known cause-effect medium. As for correlations, it takes 30 duplications to satisfy science but every repeating planetary cycle occurs in an ever-changing celestial environment. Since every moment in cosmic time is unique, duplication is not possible.
The ancient belief is that the planetary influences work invisibly from the causal plane outward, manifesting as ever-changing conditions. This invisible, causal realm is sometimes called the domain of the gods and goddesses, the Rishis of Hindu tradition. What we have figured out about this realm has been passed down to us in mythologies. Pluto the planet is named for the god of Hades. The most widely known myth about him is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. The planet Pluto “is ruler of all hidden things, including karma, occult knowledge, depth psychology, magic, sex and the procreative urge, healing, kundalini, transformation, and death…it is the energy that fuels all those hidden primordial drives and desires of our human nature, the natural urge to survive…it was discovered in 1930 around the same time we discovered plutonium. This volcanic atomic energy is symbolic of the force that Pluto contains.” (The Saturn Pluto Phenomenon by Jay Michaud and Karen Hilverson, Weiser Books, Inc., 1993.)
Uranus demands freedom. In African Yoruba myth, Uranus is the rebellious son of the Sun god, rejecting convention and tradition, seeking the new, original, untried. When negatively aspected, Uranus foments eccentricity, fanaticism, anarchy. He rebels against any authority that would restrict and oppress. When positively aspected, he seeks freedom from ignorance. Uranus is sometimes seen as amoral, breaking ties to the past anyway possible in order to bring progress. He is said to rule electricity and his name is a synonym for surprise. He brings the unpredictable, unprecedented. The intensity and ingenuity of the antiwar movement of The Sixties astounded and baffled authorities, and dethroned two Presidents, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. From an astrological perspective, this was the result of Uranus and Pluto conjunct, combining energies, working together.
Upcoming Uranus-Pluto Square
By April 2014, the grand cross will be formed by Pluto, Uranus, Jupiter and Mars, all afflicting the US Sun-Saturn square. Most amazing is that this upcoming Uranus-Pluto square is going to be within orb for most of the 11 years from 2008 to 2019. It isn’t due to separate till early 2019. This will be an exceptionally long lasting Uranus-Pluto square.
What does it mean that Saturn will not be part of the grand cross affliction to the US Sun-Saturn square in 2014? Saturn will have done its damage from the summer of 2008 when it moves opposite Uranus in Pisces, with both afflicting the US Mars-Neptune square, bringing down the stock market and monetary system, impacting the overall economy. Saturn’s conservation of past systems is now, 2008, in conflict with Uranus’ demands for freedom, innovation, change.
The last time Pluto moved through this area of the heavens was during the years leading up to the American Revolution. It was opposite the US Uranus and square transiting Uranus during the French and Indian War. It came exactly opposite the US Sun in Cancer in 1768, as the British Government was oppressing American colonists and favoring global corporations. Now, the American government oppresses working class citizens and favors global corporations. News travels in seconds now, whereas it took months back in the 1760s and 1770s.
During the early 1930s, the grand cross created by Saturn square Uranus square Pluto was most exact in 1931 at the pit of that great depression, and then dissipated as Saturn moved more swiftly through Capricorn. The damage had been done and sustained economic recovery would not come till the 1940s and World War II. Some historical accounts emphasize that Roosevelt’s social programs saved the country from a major rebellion. From another ideological perspective, Roosevelt’s programs prolonged the great depression. Police and national guard troops were busy during this decade, putting down rebellious demonstrators and protecting property. According to some, the capitalistic system was saved by the enactment of unemployment insurance, social security, and following World War II the GI Bill of Rights, among many other programs to benefit the working class.
By December 2015, Saturn in Sagittarius will be moving opposite the US Uranus in Gemini, and square transiting Neptune, as the grand cross pattern formed by transiting Uranus and Pluto continues to hold the US Sun-Saturn square in its grip. This indicates a prolonging of economic troubles and the distinct possibility of a second revolution and/or civil war. Since the influence of the US “corporatized” government now spans the Earth—and because news travels so much faster now—a second revolution would likely be worldwide as well as national.
By January 2019, when Saturn and Mars form a grand cross to the US Sun-Saturn square, the Uranus-Pluto square will be moving out of orb. Since Mars moves more swiftly around the Zodiac, this Saturn-Mars square will not last long. Mars will move into Taurus by mid February. By this time, the economy will be poised for recovery, and the very long Uranus-Pluto square will probably have revolutionized some economic assumptions.
Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that 2019 will mark the end of this time of troubles. There is the danger that the needed practical changes will be thwarted by ideology, or—with Neptune in Pisces—by religious fanaticism. My optimism that we will emerge better than before is based on a belief in the good-natured practicality of the American people.
Haves Versus Have-nots
What can be done to minimize the pain of the upcoming decade?
First, I believe it’s important to know that astrology can save us from being totally surprised and “sandbagged.” Even as Uranus brings the unprecedented, we’ll know where it’s coming from. Second, it’s important to know that great depressions are the outcome of economic imbalance. Every great depression in US history had been preceded by a new record gap between richest and poorest. Usury (excessive interest charges or making money from money) is now promoted as a kind of holy grail, ignoring its long history as a destroyer of societies. So the sooner we collectively right the current imbalance, the better. If we don’t do this voluntarily, “events will conspire” and conditions will force it.
Unfettered capitalism dramatically expands the economic pie but unfettered monopoly capitalism creates unsustainable imbalance between Haves and Have-nots. Bureaucratized socialism pulls the impoverished up and narrows the wealth gap, but frustrates economic innovation and expansion. Thus, the question hanging is, what combination will create a system that enables dynamic capitalism without the imbalance between Haves and Have-nots?
A successful resolution of this dilemma would not end cycles of good economic times and bad, but it would minimize the suffering that has come to be associated with great depressions.
The conflict I expect to see resolved by 2019 is that between neo-feudal and democratic economic systems, especially regarding corporations. “We may picture the public corporation as a rational tool of accountants, but it is not. It is the brainchild of brutal men in a brutal age, hell-bent on amassing for themselves untold wealth, and leading a feudal revolt against the notion that corporations must serve the public good. But as (Thomas) Paine might remind us, the presumption that Robber Barons can govern us from beyond the grave is the most insolent of all tyrannies.” (The Divine Right of Capital by Marjorie Kelley, BK Publishers, 2003, page 142.)
Big combines of corporations and their network of associated wealthy investors and lobbyists now control the US Congress and many other branches of our government, and the governments of other nations around the world. The neo-feudal world they are building is anti-democratic. No semblance of democracy is possible in a world under their control. The purest form of capitalism is slavery. Since mankind is simultaneously moving with considerable momentum toward more and better democracy, the clash will be between these forces. The neo-feudalists may win every battle—they control the guys with the guns—but their world is unsustainable, economically as well as ecologically.
Ironically, much of the economic mess we will be dealing with by 2014 will have roots in the Bush Administration’s policies, which exacerbated the rich-poor imbalance. As a devotee of the so-called free-market, Bush merely did what his education had taught him to do. This form of “corptocracy” capitalism was out of step with the times and the expected benefits did not trickle down to those in need.
The wealth distribution is sometimes depicted as pyramid shaped. When the bottom 90 percent base of the pyramid crumbles, the top 10 percent goes down with it. Bush’s tax breaks for the richest, privatization of social services and plundering of the national treasure to make money-profitable wars has presented Uranus and Pluto with a red-carpet welcome.