A conservative calculation concluded that sixty thousand people were killed in the capital city alone. Not one church or government building was left standing after the earthquake and the subsequent tsunamis and fires. How many others perished on the coastline of Spain and Morocco could never be exactly computed. Waves over ten meters in height swept over the harbor, sinking all the ships and those that had taken refuge in them. The whole harbor disappeared, complete with ships, and no trace of them was subsequently found. In the space of half an hour the city of Lisbon disappeared off the map in what was the greatest natural catastrophe of its time.There have been many earthquakes since, with great loss of life, but the Lisbon disaster stretches across the centuries to form a link with the Sumatran tsunami as regards magnitude and loss of life. The ocean was the killer in both cases. Not surprisingly then, there are remarkable links between the two charts for the events.

See chart for Lisbon tsunami (Note 1)

See chart for Sumatran tsunami (Source: U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center, Denver)

Both charts bear the signature of Uranus in Pisces… a sudden and destructive shock arising from the sea. Uranus in this sign conjures up exciting trips to exotic islands, but it is easy to forget how destructive Uranus can be, and what great sorrow can be associated with the sign of Pisces. Uranus is always an explosion waiting to happen, and the trigger for the explosion was the entry of Mars into Sagittarius just hours before the catastrophe.

It often seems that when a planet enters a sign, it reverberates throughout the whole sign and can trigger results based on the aspects it will make traveling through the sign. When Uranus entered Pisces, the potential for total destruction was activated because of the pending square to Pluto. In December 2004 Mars first squared Uranus and then goes on to conjoin Pluto, joining the two outer planets, as it were. Another powerful indication that something was up was the movement of Mercury, which went retrograde on the black hole of the Galactic Centre at 26 Sagittarius, conjoining Pluto twice, and had just turned direct at the time of the tsunami. Venus had meanwhile entered Sagittarius, squaring Uranus, and at the time of the tsunami and its immediate aftermath, Venus and Mercury moved in tandem to make the final conjunction with Pluto in the first week of January, aptly reflecting the utter destruction of infrastructure and the tourist-based economy of the affected countries.

In the period of the Lisbon earthquake – 249 years ago – Pluto was also in Sagittarius… it takes 246 years to go around the Sun so it was one cycle earlier. And on that occasion the Uranus/Pluto square was within 3 degrees of orb. Where the 1755 square related to the dramatic change in European consciousness through colonization and exploitation of the New World , the 2004 tsunami spotlights the phenomenon of western tourism, which has grown to vast proportions since the 1960’s.

After the death of Mao Tse Tung an earthquake struck the city of Tangshan , China , on July 28, 1976 killing at least 655,000 people. (This was soon after the entry of Uranus into Scorpio, when it squared Saturn… it was the falling buildings that killed the people) Communist China did not request help, and the earthquake made no great impact on public consciousness in the West. But in the Sumatra quake, many thousands of western tourists lost their lives, and this has made an enormous impact. Sweden alone lost close to 2000 citizens, dwarfing the sinking of the passenger ship Estonia as a national catastrophe. Apart from losing many of their own citizens, many Europeans personally know the beaches of Sri Lanka , India and Thailand and love the countries and their people. Therefore the outpouring of compassion and help has been enormous.

Planets in Pisces, and Neptune itself, are nearly always linked to suffering of some sort. Both the disaster and the subsequent outreach of compassion are well reflected by the mutual reception of Uranus and Neptune in a blend of humanity and concern for human suffering. Uranus in Pisces shows two sides of the coin – on the one hand sudden destruction from the sea, and on the other a tremendous awareness and compassion fuelled by the media.

However the main astrological pattern evoking compassion is the Jupiter/Neptune trine, which took place on November 29, 2004 and will repeat on March 14th and August 17th 2005 . This trine from Libra to Aquarius shows the universal brotherhood of Man, bringing nations and their governments together in common humanitarian cause. The tragic proportions of this natural catastrophe dwarfed for a short while petty political and personal concerns. Governments donated huge sums of money, but individuals themselves banded together to raise even greater sums to alleviate the suffering of the affected nations. Such is the effect of expansive Jupiter when linked to Neptune .

Apart from the positions of Uranus and Pluto in Pisces and Sagittarius in both the Lisbon and Sumatran tsunamis, there are other extraordinary parallels. Jupiter is also in Libra in both charts. Saturn is at 23 Capricorn in the Lisbon chart and opposite at 25 Cancer in the Sumatran. Likewise Neptune is at 10 Leo in the one and 13 Aquarius in the other. The Sumatra chart, seen as a transit chart, therefore powerfully activates the Lisbon one.

A number of other details are worth noting in the Sumatran chart. December 26th was the last day the Moon’s nodes were in Taurus/Scorpio… the next day they moved into Aries/Libra, so perhaps this transition point is particularly destructive. Furthermore the Ascendant/Descendant axis is at 22 Cancer/Capricorn, and these degrees have been identified by astrologer Dennis Elwell (Note 2) as being associated with mass murder, or more precisely the numbing of conscience that makes murder an option for some people. Here the sheer numbers of the dead numb consciousness. Chiron was on the Ascendant as the first waves swept over the Indonesian coast, and exactly opposite Saturn, perhaps showing the drastic wounding of civilization.

Having listed these astrological influences – the parallels with the Lisbon tsunami, the squares from Sagittarius and Pluto to Pisces, the Moon’s nodes and other details – it is anyway apparent that traditional western astrological techniques are unlikely to have predicted what must constitute the most traumatic worldwide natural disaster in centuries. Some astrologers were on track. Astrologer Richard Nolle (Note 3), who has a reasonable prediction record, had noted that the high declination full moon of the 26th would make it “more or less certain to see an upsurge in strong storms and notable seismic activity….” but this was a long way from a full prediction.

Elephants do it better. At Khao Lak beach in Thailand elephants whose job was to give tourists rides started trumpeting in a most distressed way when the earthquake happened off Sumatra . They then calmed down, but began wailing again about an hour later and this time they could not be comforted despite their mahouts’ attempts at reassurance. According to one eye witness, “The elephants didn’t believe the mahouts. They just kept running for the hill.” Those with tourists aboard headed for the jungle-clad hill behind the resort beach where at least 3,800 people, more than half of them foreigners, would soon be killed. The tsunami drove up to 1 km inshore but it stopped short of where the elephants stood. (Note 3.) That’s Jupiter in Libra for you… excellent judgment

According to Indian astrologer K. N. Rao the research scholar N. Venkatanathan, who is currently undergoing a Ph.D program in Predicting Earthquake and Seismic Construction Designing (!) said he had already presented a report about the Indonesian earthquake on 22 December to members of the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi. If this source is to be believed Venkatanathan predicted that the disaster would occur on 26 December 2004 at 00:30 (GMT) – at a spot within just 160 kilometres and ½ hour of the actual place and time. Apparently the prediction was based on the full moon and certain planetary configurations. Gosh!

Being unable to communicate with elephants, and not having the time to join Venkatanathan’s research program, I think I will have to accept the limitations of traditional western astrology for the time being. Natural disasters have a way of delivering a message that is important for the whole world, over and above the actual destruction. Just as the earthquake in China after Mao’s death presaged a major transformation for China , so did the Azerbaijan earthquake in Gorbatchev’s Soviet Union signal the coming dissolution of that country. The 1999 Turkey earthquake may also be the precursor of the ultimate entrance of Turkey into the European Union. Perhaps the earthquake at Bam – one year to the day before the Sumatran tsunami – will signal change in Iraq .

It may be too early to judge what the consequences of this tsunami on world consciousness are. It has certainly changed the face of tourism and graphically brought home the fragility of life on Earth – one moment sunbathing on a beach paradise, the next moment utter destruction. It has created solidarity between East and West, and showed that the people of industrialized world can deliver aid as well as arms. Many of the poorest countries too have also supplied what aid they could, and many of the peoples of the affected countries have demonstrated what resources they possess, not least in selflessly helping surviving tourists. It has highlighted ecologically issues, particularly the destruction of mangrove forests that protect the coastline. And one thing is certain: no one can lie on a beach again, and feel perfectly safe.

Adrian Ross Duncan 18.01.2005