Astro Blog

Italy – Past & Present

Sylvio Berlusconi entered the swing door, through which Italy’s many presidents quickly pass, in April 2001. This was not his first time – he was president for seven months in 1994 before having to resign on corruption charges. Loved or hated, but not ignored, this man is the richest man in Italy. He owns the vast majority of the Italian media, and ensures that he is both portrayed often, and portrayed well. Not averse to a little cosmetic surgery, he was absent for a few weeks from the media at the beginning of 2004. It turned out that his wife had “pushed him to reshape his face”, as he quaintly put it.Berlusconi’s style

To the more subdued denizens of Northern Europe, it may seem odd that a man constantly in the courts facing corruption charges can enjoy the confidence of the electorate. This is the man, who, when Italy commenced its 6-month presidency of the EU in July 2003 commented to a German MEP in the European parliament, “Mr. Schulz, I know there is in Italy a man producing a film on the Nazi concentration camps. I’d like to suggest you for the role of guard. You’d be perfect.” Thus he got off to a rather lamentable start, and crowned the 6-month period by failing to get the EU to reach agreement on the constitution. Nevertheless he felt he had done a pretty good job. Right after the summit, the Italian president declared his presidency to have been one of the most glorious of recent years. And he has certainly been appreciated by the President Bush of late, for his unqualified support for the invasion of Iraq.


Which does bring memories of that other glorious leader of Italy, Benito Mussolini (note 1), who ruled the country from 1922 to 1945. He was an enormously popular ruler, who succeeded in impressing many world leaders before his ill-fated alliance with Hitler and disastrous invasions of Libya and Greece. Roosevelt admired him greatly for his success in crushing communism, and he was greatly loved by women – a fact he was not slow to take advantage of whenever the opportunity presented itself. He was seen as the cream of Italy’s manhood. Mussolini had a Mars/Moon/Saturn/Pluto stellium in Gemini in the 7th house – quite a man.


Another well-known Italian leader, who shaped the political life of Italy after the creation of the republic in 1946, was Giulio Andreotti (note 2). A double Capricorn with ruler Saturn on the 8th cusp opposing Uranus (and Mars) on the 2nd, he was obviously a dangerous and implacable man to cross swords with. His Mercury in Capricorn in the 12th opposing Pluto and Jupiter indicates many state secrets. He ultimately had to leave office when accused of corruption and protecting the Mafia, as well as of involvement in the 1979 murder of a journalist, Mino Pecorelli. He was ultimately sentenced to 24 years in prison, but did not have to serve them because of his age.

The formation of Italy

See chart for kingdom of Italy – 1871

So what is so special about Italy, that gives it such colorful leaders? Men so revered yet so poorly judged. After the disintegration of the Roman Empire around the 6th century, Italy existed as a number of separate and competing states. It was not until the mid-19th century that Italy came into existence in as a unified country. The main horoscopes indicating this are the creation of the Kingdom of Italy (note 3) in 1861, and the later ceremonial entrance of the king, Victor Emmanuel, into Rome on a train 10 years later. This latter horoscope is very descriptive.

This chart is appealing because it actually looks like Italy. It is characterized by a massive full moon eclipse on a strong Saturn/Jupiter opposition. This visually brings to mind the elongated boot of Italy. At the top is an exalted Jupiter with the Sun, the king and father of the country, and at the bottom a dignified Saturn conjoining an exiled Moon. This seems to speak volumes about the rich, industrialized and privileged North and the poor agricultural South. It shows a country bound by convention and tradition, in the grip of Catholic cardinals. The poor people scratch a meager living from the soil, and the Catholic mama rules the family with an iron hand.

It’s a great chart for a country to have, with so many strong planets, yet the eclipse opposition is squared by a Mars in detriment in Libra, which possibly alludes to the womanizing nature of some of its great leaders. The Sun/Jupiter conjunction in itself indicates the adulation that Italy’s leaders can enjoy when they are larger than life.

Madonna and whore

In this chart the ruler Venus is at 24.52 Leo, and the 1946 Republic chart curiously reflects this, where the Ascendant ruler of Scorpio, Mars, is at 24.35 Leo. It says something about the romantic and exhibitionist side of the country, with its great love for the opera. The sextile of Venus to a strong Mercury in Gemini shows the people’s love of the arts. Great loves rend Italy’s soul, even though it is Mama who runs the roost. Mussolini was married with children, but this did not prevent him setting up his mistress Carla Pettaci in a luxurious apartment in Rome, much to the dismay of his wife. Learning from historical precedent, Berlusconi, who was married with two kids began an affair with topless dancer Veronica Lario in 1980, finally marrying her in 1990 after she bore him three children. Of course this is all good stuff for the Italian people, who prefer the entertainment of Mars/Venus in Leo, to the moralism of their catholic heritage reflected by the eclipse on Saturn/Jupiter.


Of great significance in this chart is the square of Venus to Pluto in Taurus in the 8th house – a strong indication of the endemic corruption needed to finance the life of luxury of the elite. Any politician who subsequently has a Venus/Pluto aspect – and Berlusconi also has Libra rising, with ruler Venus in Scorpio square Pluto – is likely to channel this energy. With Pluto in the 8th house of the 1871 chart, it may be possible to trace the roots of the influence of the Mafia in Italy – the secret threat of a drastic fate, should those in power betray the secrets of corruption.

The Republic Chart

See the republic chart – 1946

The influence of the 8th house is however shown far more strongly in another important chart for Italy, the Republic chart of 1946, created when a referendum resulted in the abolishment of the royal family. This horoscope shows the chart ruler Mars on the 1871 chart’s Venus, very strongly placed near the Midheaven, sextiling the planets in Gemini in the 8th. The chart channels the power of a wonderful Uranus/Jupiter trine, showing a very modern and optimistic spirit in the country. Again, the Sun is conjunction the North Node – perhaps this shows the eclipse shadow over Italy’s leaders. Certainly, with the Sun/Uranus conjunction, post-war Italy has experienced many sudden upheavals and changes of government, with loose alliances constantly changing the balance of power. The Uranus/Jupiter trine indicates a revolutionary attitude in parliament, in which change is preferable to stability.

The Scorpio influence

It’s a very scorpionic chart. The Moon in Scorpio in the 12th square Pluto shows the power of a secret family undermining the fabric of the country, and the planets in Gemini in the 8th reinforce the theme – omerta, the vow of silence, vendetta, the vow of revenge. There is deep tragedy in this planetary placement… widows and grieving mothers. Generally speaking the hand of Saturn lies heavy on the feminine side of the charts that reflect Italy. In the 1861 Kingdom of Italy chart Venus is in Pisces opposition Saturn. In the 1871 chart the Moon in Capricorn conjoins Saturn, and in the 1946 Republic chart Venus conjoins Saturn in Cancer on the 9th cusp. (This latter does seem to reflect the strength of the judiciary, which is an important counterweight to the history of corrupt governments.) There are strong family structures in Italy. Sons and daughters stay with their families longer, and show great loyalty to each other. A loyalty which in the case of the Mafia leads to family vendettas.

The Appeal of Berlusconi

See Berlusconi’s chart

Perhaps this is why Berlusconi strikes a chord in Italy – he has a Moon at 12 Pisces placed on an exact Saturn/Neptune opposition. It is exactly on the Venus 12 Pisces in the 1861 Kingdom of Italy chart. It is rather a surprising aspect to find in the richest man in Italy’s horoscope as it is rather “socialist” in form, generally evoking great concern for the suffering masses. It reflects a number of things in Berlusconi’s career. Firstly he is a populist, and his populism stems from his vast control of the major media outlets in Italy, from magazines to television. It is the Piscean world of film and glamour that he inhabits. The leadership qualities come rather from the Sun conjoining the Libra Ascendant. He is also a football enthusiast, and it is part of his business. He acquired AC Milan in 1986 – fulfilling business and populist goals at the same time.

Birth Time Rectification

At this point it should be said that there is some discussion about Berlusconi’s birth time. His birth certificate shows a time of 6.30 a.m. which would give a 7 degree Libra Ascendant. However some astrologers claim that to have received a time of 5.40 from Berlusconi’s lawyer, the time coming from Berlusconi himself. This would give an Ascendant of 27 Virgo. The problem with this is that it is very difficult to imagine him with a Virgo Ascendant, with his unabashed vanity and incredible self-promotion. When the press confronted him with his recent absence for cosmetic surgery his response was: “I like the way I look. I feel fine. I look in the mirror and I like what I see and I think I am more pleasing to others too.” That hardly sounds like Virgo rising. I have rectified the 6.30 birth time to 6.20, which gives the Sun rising in Libra, exactly on the Ascendant. The ruler would then be Venus at zero Scorpio exactly on the 2nd house, which firstly shows a deep-seated need to amass a fortune, and secondly shows a propensity for facial remodelling.

For the rectification I chose the following major events from his life:

  • 1961: Graduates from law school
    MC pr. 29 Leo moving from the conjunction with Pluto to the square to Venus. (The Sun progresses into Scorpio at this time and conjoins Venus, and his pr. Venus moves appropriately into Sagittarius)
  • 1965: Marries
    Venus progressed trine Descendant
  • 1980: Begins affair with topless dancer (who he later marries)
    DS pr. conjunction Uranus
  • 1986: Buys AC Milan
    AS 12 Scorpio trines Moon in Pisces in 6th house.
  • 1990: Marries mistress
    Venus pr. 6 Capricorn conjunction IC.
  • 1994: Elected Prime Minister
    MC 1 Virgo conjunction Mars, sextile Venus
  • 2001: Re-elected Prime Minister
    MC trine Uranus, semi-sextile Mercury. Most significantly his Mercury progressed conjoins Jupiter in Sagittarius, a real winner combination.


Currently Berlusconi is embroiled in scandal, though this is nothing new for him. He has attempted to influence the government to pass laws that in effect would grant him immunity from prosecution for corruption. The opposition – who receive no favorable coverage from Berlusconi’s dominating media empire – have fought back, figureheaded by Romani Prodi and the president of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. The president has refused to sign a media bill which would give Berlusconi unprecedented power. Apart from his three Mediaset channels – Italia 1, Rete 4 and Canale 5 – he holds political influence at the board of state broadcaster Rai. The bill would have removed a previous restriction on one person owning more than two national broadcasting stations.

Quite clearly the legal controversies Berlusconi is involved with relate to the current Pluto transit over his Jupiter at 18 Sagittarius, simultaneously squaring the Saturn/Neptune opposition. Under the circumstances it is amazing he has survived. Other transits include Saturn over his MC squaring his Sun, which occurred as Italy took over the EU presidency. This will return to conjoin the MC in March this year, but with Jupiter picking up the sextile to Saturn, I doubt this will cause him much difficulty. Indeed the current Saturn transit of his 10th house could indicate consolidation of his power, and he may well survive until the next election in 2006.


Current progressions show the IC at 12 Virgo, so with the conjunction to the Moon this is a crucial time for him. One cannot underrate the sense of martyrdom the Moon on a Saturn/Neptune opposition gives, so it is likely that Berlusconi will see himself as a victim from now until the culmination of this progression on Saturn/Neptune. His populist appeals will be tinged with more and more pathos, and there will probably be a growing dissolution of influence. It’s interesting that the dairy (Moon) giant, Parmalat, is crashing down at the time of writing. This is the largest financial scandal in Italian history. Calisto Tanzi, the founder of the company, fiddled its books for years to cover up billions of pounds of missing funds. He has now been jailed and members of his family, who held high positions in the company, have been arrested. Tanzi is reputed to be giving the names of politicians and bankers who have taken bribes over the years.

This case will see the unraveling of Berlusconi’s government. It could take a number of years, but the key period will be as the progressed Sun activates the Jupiter/Saturn/Neptune T-square from 2007 to 2009. It is in 2009 – according to my rectification, that the MC/IC axis hits the Neptune/Saturn opposition. Whether he is in power or not at this time, it seems that he has a specific destination, for the signature of Saturn/Neptune from the 6th to the 12th is… hard labor, in isolation.

Adrian Ross Duncan 20 Feb 2004

1. Benito Mussolini: 29 Jul 1883 13.10 Dovia, Italy 44N13/12E02 AS 20.31 SC
2. Giulio Andreotti: 14 Jan 1919 7.00 Rome. AS 11.48 CP
3. Kingdom of Italy: 17 Mar 1861 0.00 Turin 45N03/7E40 AS 3.58 SG


The Future of Iraq

Saddam Hussein had an unhappy childhood. He was born in the total poverty typical of rural villages near Tikrit, north of Baghdad. His father died or left the family soon after birth, and he was brought up by his mother and a brutal criminal stepfather, who relentlessly beat his stepson and forced him to steal. Only at the age of 10 did he escape this home to live with an uncle in Baghdad who grew to have tremendous influence on him. The uncle had nazi sympathies – and was instrumental in getting Saddam into the fledgling nationalist Baath party in his late teens. Schooled in violence from an early age, Saddam participated in an assassination attempt of General Qassim, who had just overthrown King Faisal II, at the age of 22, got wounded in the leg, and fled to Syria and later Egypt to continue his “education”.

Apart from the childhood, there are few mitigating circumstances in Saddam Hussein’s life, although the whole climate of Iraq was pervaded by a unique brutality at the time. When Baath party officers overthrew General Qassim, he was tortured and assassinated, and this and the subsequent execution and mutilation of his followers was shown on television for all to see.

Rise to Power

Hussein quickly returned to Baghdad, where he excelled as interrogator and torturer, rising through the ranks of the fascist Baath party. He built up an all-pervading security network of spies and informers, not dissimilar to the agent network in East German during the same period, which he had studied in detail. When he finally took power in 1979, his first act was to “cleanse” the party, and he and his henchmen personally executed 20 of top officials in his own party. Add to that the millions killed in the debilitating war with Iran, and the killing of 5000 Kurds in poisonous gas bombings, it is safe to conclude that Saddam Hussein is not a nice man – difficult childhood notwithstanding.

The Future Trial

This man is now a prisoner. The time ahead will be a collective remembering for the people of Iraq, as he goes to trial, and his crimes against humanity are listed. It seems the Americans in Iraq had learned from their lamentable handling of previous high-level fugitives, the sons Qusay and Uday, who were quite unnecessarily killed when located. Unless Saddam Hussein was taken alive by error, as some Arab commentators suggest. He has a lot of truths to tell, which will be very embarrassing to the West. Britain, America, France, Germany, Russia… they kept him well supplied with weapons and all the ingredients needed to make chemical and nuclear weapons throughout the eighties.

A Possible Birth Chart

Officially, Saddam was born on April 28, 1937 and this date was made a national holiday in 1980. Whether this is his actual birth date or not is a matter of dispute. The tradition with poor peasants at the time was to give them all the same birth date: July 1st, and there is evidence to suggest he borrowed his birthday from an associate with a better pedigree. Still, the official birthday is a fascinating chart, and definitely worth using.

See chart for Saddam Hussein

The Journey of Progressive Mars

Taking a noon time for the birth, which often works well for public figures, because this places the sun in the 10th house, there is a dominant Sun/Uranus conjunction in Taurus that could show his revolutionary rise to power. What is fascinating about the chart is Mars, which (like Venus) is retrograde at birth. During the course of his life Mars moves back into Scorpio first trining Saturn and then Pluto, indicating his relentless and ruthless consolidation of power through an all-pervading informer network. In the buildup to the 2nd Gulf War, Mars finally stations at 19 degrees Scorpio, which just happens to be the unchanging position of the actual planetary node of Mars. This degree is associated with evil in horary astrology, and has the name Serpentis . Currently his Mars is at 19.49 degrees, moving direct at just 3 minutes of arc a year, and soon to make a sesquiquadrate to Saturn progressed at 4.57 Aries.

With the capture of Saddam Hussein, George W Bush, certainly a believer in the corrective powers of the death penalty as governor of Texas, has called for the “ultimate penalty” to be imposed. The Mars/Saturn connection in Saddam’s birth chart indicates that this is not an unlikely fate, no doubt at the hands of a court run by the provisional government of Iraq. In the meantime CIA experts are interrogating Saddam, and entertaining him with his own torture videos from the past between sessions.

Venus and the Trial

Another interesting progression in the chart is Venus, which moved direct at the age of 10, when Saddam moved to Baghdad, and is now at 26 Taurus, trining Jupiter on the one hand at 26 Capricorn, and Pluto on the other at 26 Cancer. This Pluto/Jupiter opposition may indicate the elevated position and power of Saddam’s clan based around Tikrit, and the ruthless political power that was evoked in him through the influence of his uncle. This will almost certainly culminate in a high-profile court case, and the Venus trine from Taurus may indicate that he receives tremendous support, both financially and in terms of support from his clan. It is probable that a high profile lawyer will defend him well. Mind you, Venus is currently 26.06 Taurus and the ill-fated star Algol is currently placed at 26.09 Taurus. This star is particularly associated with injuries to the neck, such as hangings.

The Capture

The capture of Saddam Hussein was an interesting and predictable moment. This took place at the Sun/Pluto conjunction… obviously a completion of the process started at the Sun/Pluto trine which took place at the exact moment Saddam’s statue was toppled in Baghdad back in April. Mars was also leaving Pisces, after a 6 month sojourn in the sign. Quite obviously the direct and retrograde motion of Mars during the latter half of 2003 related to the chaos in the country at the time, and the deterioration of conditions for the US military. Mars in Pisces also represented Saddam on the run, and when Mars’ time in Pisces ran out, he ended up as a prisoner. Curiously, when the invasion took place on 20th March 2003 at 3.34 am the Sun was at 28 Pisces. Mars finally arrived at this degree with the capture.

See chart for capture of Saddam Hussein

At the time of the arrest Mercury was in exact opposition to Saturn, and because of Mercury’s retrograde motion this aspect will take place two more times in December and January. Despite reports that Saddam was cooperative, this hardly indicates a talkative prisoner. One would imagine that a painstaking interrogation would take place until at least January 22nd, when the final Mercury/Saturn opposition takes place. As Mercury retrogrades to conjoin the Sun it makes a square to Mars, now in Aries, which certainly indicates high stress levels, if not an element of brutality. Still, with the three Saturn/Mercury trine, it seems like there is a triple lock on information.

The Future of Iraq

See chart for Republic of Iraq

There are a number of horoscopes for Iraq for the last century. I have ignored the earlier horoscopes that relate to an Iraq under the control of the British, and concentrated on the military coups that established republics, the first one being in 1958, and the subsequent one when Saddam Hussein came to power. The 1958 coup shows a Moon/Venus conjunction in at 19-20 Gemini opposition Saturn at 20 Sagittarius, and obviously the current Pluto transit has been activating this opposition, and will continue to do so in 2004.

Amongst other influences it was this Pluto transit that suggested that the Americans would go to war. As I wrote in a previous article (Sept 2002): “This suggests that the long-suffering Iraqi population will undergo a hammering throughout the year, but it also suggests that the yoke of oppression will be removed, especially for women and children.” The American invasion has brought tremendous destruction to the people, and the loss of a good deal of their cultural heritage through plunder. Whether Iraq continues to be plundered as American corporations make lucrative contracts in the country remains to be seen. Still, whatever the ravages cause by western capitalism, they are unlikely to equal the material and spiritual destruction of Iraq, which Saddam is responsible for.

An Islamic State

The actual chart for the foundation of modern Iraq (23.08.1921 6 a.m.) has a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 22-24 Virgo. Pluto will activate this in 2005, which will almost certainly indicate an ongoing transformation and upheaval of all existing political and religious structures, typified by extremism and ruthless power play. Saudi Arabia also has a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, (conjoining the Sun in Capricorn), and this may indicate the union of religion and politics in government: namely, the Islamic state. Therefore it is likely that elections in Iraq in 2004 do not result in a stable government, but rather bring extremist religious groups to the fore. Pluto transit in square to Jupiter/Saturn simply does not promise a democratic country or democratic reforms. Indeed, 2005 is the year when there is a full Uranus return to its position at 8 Pisces at the original creation of Iraq – another indication of revolutionary upheaval at this time.

Adrian Ross Duncan 19.12.2003

Mars in prison by the sea – Guantanamo

Planets visiting Pisces have many manifestations, and when depicted in an upbeat light, they can be said to be uplifted, transcendent, creative, caring and spiritual. These qualities are arrived at by a process of refinement of the grosser manifestations of human behavior. In Pisces, humans can no longer get away with how they might like to act as a normal member of society – it just does not seem to work. Perhaps that is why so much suffering is associated with Pisces; material pleasures pall, ambitions seem empty, desires run riot but do not bring satisfaction. Learning spiritual lessons comes at the cost of having to give up the ways of the world. So when the astrologer tells the client that he or she is entering a great period for spiritual growth, that’s often code for a long and trying period.The Fate of Pisces

Many Pisceans, or people affected by a difficult Neptune aspect or transit, will be able to tell a story of repeated efforts ending in dissolution, of a sense that the world is weighted against them, that they are misunderstood or hard done by. Hence the tendency of Pisceans to withdraw – either mentally into a world of fantasy and imagination, or physically to remote places. Undisturbed by the dreary demands of so-called reality, they can pursue their errand with who or what they perceive to be God. Some discover that the world is nothing more or less than what you perceive it to be, and rejecting martyrdom make life a playground for their creative ideas, often becoming rich and successful in the process. Others identify with fellow sufferers, and become shepherds for lost souls. Others still discover that, yes, the world is out to get them and fight imaginary battles against imaginary enemies. But even those Pisceans who descend to the absolute depths find redemption through giving themselves up totally to the battles within their soul.

And it is possible to imagine these battles right now, in the souls of those imprisoned in the world. With the transit of Uranus through Pisces from March 10th 2003 to March 12th 2011, prison is just one of the areas that will be highlighted. And with the current movement of Mars back and forth through Pisces from June 17th to December 16th – six long months – 2003 will be the year when the greatest trouble and suffering will manifest. Problems to do with prisons in this period will capture the public imagination… and they won’t go away.


That is the significance of the closely-guarded Guantanamo prison camp in these months, which has all the qualities of the Mars/Uranus conjunction in Pisces. It’s a prison housing religious militants on an island . Therefore, by following the aspects to Uranus and Mars in Pisces over the coming months, it should be quite possible to predict how things will develop. Guantanamo is an American outpost on the tip of Cuba, which is not technically a part of America (and obviously the Cubans don’t dare demand it back). Guantanamo is not a country, so it’s not subject to international law, which is quite useful, because prisoners can be held indefinitely and without charge for as long as the American military want. The militants – Mars/Uranus in Pisces – are having a hard time there particularly because they have no status, no international protection, and no way of knowing when – if ever – they will be released. The prison houses almost 700 people most of whom are very young, teenagers really. Three are between 13 and 15 years of age. Ten attempted suicide in 2002, and 11 more in the first three months of 2003.

The only journalist to enter the camp is Ted Conover (Note 1), who reports that prisoners can see documentaries about the ocean, Disney cartoons – and the only feature film: Cast Away (with Tom Hanks starring as a man surviving alone on a desert island.) Like Tom Hanks, these prisoners dropped from the sky onto some unknown island to experience indefinite detention. The slogan at the camp’s main gate is “Honor bound to Defend Freedom”. (Slightly reminiscent of war-time Germany’s “Arbeit mach frei”?)

Legal Limbo

As Guantanamo holds combatants from 42 countries, it’s a bit of a foreign relations disaster for the USA, especially as some are allied nationals, coming from countries like Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Australia and England. There are conventions ratified by the UN, which protect child prisoners, but then Guantanamo is not part of the UN. Each prisoner lives in a 7 ft by 8 ft cell (about 2½ meters by 2 meters) with wire mesh walls, and is allowed out 3 times a week for 20 minutes of solitary exercise, and when leaving the cell must be shackled. Had the inmates been designated as prisoners of war, then they would have enjoyed protection from the Geneva Convention that would have prevented solitary confinement and interrogation, but with their status legally undefined, they are subject to repetitive interviews from different US intelligent agencies who all have an agenda.

In April this year, Secretary of State Colin Powell – chided by foreign ministers around the world – sent Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a strongly-worded letter pointing out the dangers to America’s reputation which Guantanamo represents. Here in July 2003, matters are reaching crisis point. Tony Blair, already under pressure from member of the Labour party to assert his independence from Bush, is facing concerns that the coming military tribunals in Guantanamo could result in the death penalty – also for the British prisoners. Apparently officials at Guantanamo have begun planning for construction of court facilities and an execution chamber.

Activation of Uranus/Jupiter opposition

See how Mars and Jupiter trigger Uranus and Pluto

The first obvious crisis in this respect is the coming opposition between Jupiter and Uranus, which happens on August 30th at 0.34 Virgo/Pisces. This opposition takes place on the borderline between two signs. Looking at the graph, it can be seen that retrograde Mars goes back to oppose Jupiter on September 7th and then goes direct at 0.07 Pisces at the end of September, narrowly avoiding a second conjunction with Uranus. This period will be a time of uproar about justice. There will be world indignation about matters of international law. The fact that zero degrees is activated emphasizes the issue of borderline matters – that Guantanamo is on (the edge of) an island and outside international law and that detainees have no official status is part of the picture. Although there can be many other crises in the difficult month of September, Guantanamo will certainly be a major one.


It is interesting to note that the chart for Cuba (Note 2), when it was granted independence from the USA in 1902, shows an Ascendant/Descendant axis of 0.17 Virgo/Pisces. This further emphasizes the focus on Guantanamo in the months to come. This chart for Cuba shows a Mercury/Pluto conjunction at 17-19 Gemini in opposition to Uranus at 20 Sagittarius – just the spot for extreme manifestations of the law perhaps. The current Pluto transit of this aspect will show upheaval in the legal status of Cuba, and radical change in its international relationships over the next year. Actually, the Cuban government ended a 3-year moratorium on the death penalty this year, and sentenced to death three hijackers in April provoking bitter international protests. America has obviously chosen the right place for it’s future trials of the detainees.

Consequences for Washington

The astrological picture is clearer looking at the chart for the New Moon around this time, calculated for Washington.

See chart for New Moon in Washington

Here, with the opposition between Jupiter and Uranus about to form, the new Moon also draws the Mars/Venus opposition into a massive constellation of tension, which falls on the MC/IC axis in the US capital. As new moon charts tend to describe events over the following month, this presages many troubles and worries for the US government. It’s a time when the US progressed Mercury retrogrades to conjoin the Sun – a very rare event which takes place coincidentally on September 11th (happening extraordinarily synchronistically just as transit Mercury retrograde also conjoins the Sun and squares Pluto.)

The Venus/Jupiter conjunction in early September is a force for peace and mercy, but both planets are weakly placed, suggesting that their influence will be ineffectual and swept aside. The Mars/Uranus conjunction is perhaps a more powerful influence, indicated continued anxiety about terrorist threats – an anxiety that is probably justified. During September opposing forces will be arrayed, one representing the voice of logic and reason, the other the presenting the specter of irrational fears. Obviously there will be virulent criticism of the US government, both from within and from abroad.

The Jupiter/Uranus cycle

The fact that Mars is retrograde until September 20th shows many old issues returning to haunt the administration, not least the misleading of the country about those infamous weapons of mass destruction which Iraq was supposed to possess – part of the big lie of the earlier Neptune/Jupiter opposition. Thus there will be battles on many fronts, and the planets in Virgo will strive to get clarity, whilst the planets in Pisces will strive to maintain the smokescreen. The backdrop for all these developments is the Jupiter/Uranus opposition, which takes place every 14 years, bringing revolutionary justice, battles for intellectual freedom, and struggles for transparency in international law. Going back 14 years, this was the time of revolution in Eastern Europe, and subsequent freedom of movement between borders. 14 years prior to that, when the opposition took place from Taurus/Scorpio the US high court upheld that the death penalty did not constitute unnatural punishment. It is very likely that the death penalty will loom large as an international issue as Jupiter moves away from its opposition to Uranus to make a square to Pluto in July 2004. However unnatural it is, anxiety will probably win out anyway at this time.


After the September crisis in international relations through developments in Guantanamo, the next key period will be in November. At this time Mars, now direct in Pisces, will again oppose Jupiter and go on to square Pluto. Of course, a major theme of Mars in Pisces is self-immolation and suicide. This relates to suicide bombers just as it does to the Iranians who set themselves on fire in June (just as Mars entered Pisces) to protest at their political party being branded as terrorist and banned in Europe. Not just prisoners at Guantanamo are affected either – the whole issue of prisoner releases in the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Palestine is part of the larger picture. It is possible that that as Mars stops at 0 Pisces (imprisonment), and does not go into Aquarius (freedom) that neither prisoners in Cuba, nor in Israel will be released in significant numbers. November will again see these issues coming to ahead amongst a growing atmosphere of extremism.

These developments reach their finale in April 2004 with a Mars/Venus conjunction in Gemini opposing Pluto, which by this time is exactly opposing US Mars at 21.23 Gemini). There can hardly be any doubt that the USA will assert its power at this time notwithstanding international opposition, and they are unlikely to be intimidated into avoiding the death penalty. It is in these months, leading up to the US election, that America’s military will be high on the political agenda. A vast restructuring of the US army is unavoidable, and indeed it is part of Donald Rumsfeld’s grand plan for change to have highly mobile and smaller elite forces placed strategically around the world. What is likely however is that the Mars in Pisces will show US troops getting bogged down, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that restructuring can be more far-reaching than anyone in the State Department imagines right now.

It is unlikely that the current US government will bow to pressure about the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. But the polarization of world opinion regarding this peculiar manifestation of American justice will be a volatile issue for months to come. Guards at Guantanamo have cut a large hole in the canvas that had been shielding the prisoners from a view of the bay, and say that the prisoners now derive great pleasure from looking at the ocean. Well-fed, and with the requisite health care, they have put on weight, and can learn more about their hosts through watching Walt Disney cartoons. Yes, torture has many forms.

Adrian Ross Duncan 14.07.2003

Note 1. The Observer: 13.07.2003
Note 2: Cuba independence: 20.05.1902. 12.00 Havana 82W22 23N08 (Book of World Horoscopes: Nick Campion)


There are times when it is simply ineffective in the astrological consultation – and indeed any other form of communication – to convey information in a conventional, explanatory way, because the conscious mind of the receiver for one reason or another is not capable of absorbing the explanation. Especially when strong emotional, intellectual or identity issues are at stake, there can be considerable resistance. In the psychological discipline of NLP there is a ground rule which states “communication is the response you get” . In other words it is not what you say that counts, but how the listener responds to it. In circumstances like this it’s useful to have some stories up your sleeve.

Brighu Samhita

Which reminds me of a tale that a Vedic astrologer colleague of mine named Finn once related. Visiting India for the first time he set out to find one of the famed “palm-leaf” astrologers, who have the fate of every visitor stored on their archive of palm leaf charts and readings, written thousands of years ago by the legendary Bhrigu. In the northern city of Hoshiarpur he located such an astrologer, who after a few minutes search in his archive placed a horoscope on the table which replicated Finn’s planetary positions exactly. He commenced his reading:

“The man is born in Varn-mahadweep ( Europe?) in a city beginning with K. ( Finn was born in Copenhagen, which begins with the sound of “K”) . He will come here at the age of 35 to hear my predictions between the rivers Satluj and Vays in a city called Chachadpuri (Hoshiarpur?) . His name will be Pinn Wandahl. His father’s name will be from Kai-namsa” (his father’s name is actually Kai). (See Finn’s website )

After describing Finn’s recent past in accurate detail, there followed a long story about his previous life, in which Finn got a curse, which was supposed to destroy his family happiness in this life and the coming two incarnations as well. The curse could be canceled through a religious ritual, performed by the astrologer himself, for which Finn was to pay him Rs. 51.000, equivalent to US Dollars 3.600. For reasons I have never been able to fathom – I mean the astrologer was accurate in almost every respect – Finn refused to pay up. Mind you the astrologer did get that first letter of his name wrong. Accuracy is important.


Finn also told me – or did he? I have to confess that recently my progressed Mercury conjoined natal Neptune, and in a few years will go retrograde to conjoin it again, insuring that the rest of my life will be a rather fuzzy affair. Though, being born with a Mercury/Neptune square, it’s hardly been an example of crystal clarity up to now. Mercury/Neptune could explain my predilection for something as illusory as astrology. Could it? Anyway, when you are telling stories, there is no virtue in being truthful – what counts is the response.

So, Finn also told me about another Indian astrologer… He was famed for his simple methods. When the querent arrived the astrologer simply placed his staff in the ground. Discerning from its shadow the time off the day, and being cognizant of the planetary positions at any given time, he could then read the nadi (horary) chart for the person’s arrival, and accurately relate his or her fate. It is indeed the simple methods that work.


And practicing astrologers in the West can certainly emulate the methods of this esteemed astrologer with very little extra study. We are quite capable of making detailed predictions about the lives on anyone we encounter without the help of computer-generated charts. This is the case because nothing can arise at any given moment that is not in harmony with the movement of the spheres at that moment. Events unfold interdependently with everything else in the environment. The individual consciousness is like an energy node in the flow of time, and when it is focused on an instant in time, all the interrelations are revealed. The astrologer is rather like a wandering question mark, or the Descendant of the chart for the moment, and any event or person entering into this field of consciousness, arises, as it were, on the Ascendant, and is represented by the planet that rules the Ascendant. If you accept this, and have a knowledge of the planetary movement at any given time, then you can develop the same predictive skills as our Indian astrologer. Planets in signs have their stories, and a mastery of these stories is the key to the understanding not only of current events, but of the main life stories of clients.

The Iraq story

At the time of the US invasion of Iraq, both the Sun and Mars were exalted, in Aries and Capricorn respectively. Catching the zeitgeist of the time, news stories picked on the split between the US executive in the form of Bush/Rumsfeld on the one side and the generals on the other. TV documentaries wheeled out retired generals (Capricorn) who criticized the risky nature of rapid advance with extended supply lines (the Aries story) and counseled a slower build up of massive force. Both may have been right, but the combination of these exalted planets was certainly unstoppable. When the Sun finally made the trine to Pluto, Saddam Hussein’s statue was pulled down in Baghdad, a truly iconic moment. As Venus was in Pisces during this period, there was huge humanitarian concern too, making this second Gulf war unique. The holy texts of hundreds of hand-illustrated ancient Korans in Baghdad did not fair so well though. As Venus squared Pluto and went on to square Saturn, plunder was in the air and a thousand years of Iraq’s religious history went up in smoke and filtered down over the city as fine ash over the following days. That’s probably a Uranus in Pisces story too.

Another story – Same time

Basic stories on a macro level, will be reflected by corollaries on a micro level. The people you met during this same period will have embodied the planetary stories of the time. There will have been the efficient and ambitious Mars in Capricorn, who had worked hard all his life, and did not ask for any reward but the satisfaction of a job well done. This Mars will have had a tense relationship to a highly respected Sun in Aries, who had brilliant leadership capabilities (exalted) but an element of ruthlessness (trine Pluto). In the scenario there was a kind and selfless person – represented by Venus in Pisces – struggling with her own private suffering.

This is a person who:

  • Has a life-changing shock (illness, loss?) and entered a completely new phase of life. (Meeting Uranus at 1 degrees Pisces).
  • Goes through a trauma or loss, perhaps an operation, a break-up, or a bereavement. (Squares Pluto at 19 Sagittarius).
  • Meets heavy challenges or crushing difficulty (squares Saturn in Gemini), but rises above all these to gain new spiritual powers. (Exalted in Pisces).

Traditional rules

In meeting people during any particular period, you will be able to identify what planetary energy they are associated with through listening to their story. Even the activities of peripheral people in their lives will be reflected by one of the personal planets and its movements, and will therefore be predictable. If someone talked of a sister who was suddenly diagnosed with cancer, and received radiation therapy, you can safely assume that Venus and its movements will reflect this person. Of course these principles are enshrined in traditional (horary) astrology, though in terms of dealing with clients and meetings it is not necessary to master complex sets of rules. Accurate results can be obtained by simply following the movement of the planets, accurate judgement made by understanding the quality of a planet in a particular sign, and accurate prediction made by ascertaining what aspects were made (the past) and are to be made (the future). Sometimes it helps to invent a story for the benefit of a client, so that the myth or basic energy of a planetary configuration in the client’s chart can be elucidated. This can be particularly useful when the client has a powerful ego, or when pride obscures self-knowledge.


This reminds me of… One client had national renown as a New Age group facilitator with a very successful teaching institute. He worked with his wife, but she was threatening to leave him, because she claimed he took all the credit in their joint work, and behaved liked a guru. As he had a Mars/Pluto conjunction in Leo in the 11th house, I had a feeling his wife had a point… but how to tell him? This is what worked…
“Gosh, I can see you have a Mars/Pluto conjunction in the 11th house. I’ve got that aspect too. (Oh that Mercury/Neptune!). I used to teach astrology in my own school, a bit like you. My wife used to get so annoyed, and she said to me < You flirt openly with your pupils, and they always end up hero-worshipping you, because you lay on the charm so thick > . Personally I didn’t think this was true, but I did find that a lot of women clamored for my attention, and it was getting rather tiring. Maybe she had a point so I said to myself < Make the following experiment. Turn down the energy and force you are using to make an impression > . I found teaching became less exhausting, and I must say my wife preferred the more laid-back attitude and our relationship improved”.

Here the statements in < quotes > are said directly to the client, whose unconscious mind gets the message that his conscious mind would never allow him to receive. As the astrologer you can choose to simply tell a story, or design a metaphor that fits to a particular aspect, claim the aspect yourself and describe how you dealt with it, or recall or make up a client who has the influence. The important thing is to describe the aspect in a way that fits the client, describe its consequences, and describe its solution.

Another story

Which reminds me: I have this friend who has an extremely strong Mercury/Pluto square… I found him extremely perceptive with an amazing ability to get to the root of the matter [Get in your praise at the beginning] , but he had a recurrent problem. People who knew him well got exhausted listening to him because he was so relentless and intense in his communication. His intimate relationships degenerated, as partners ended up either arguing for hours, or maintaining a stubborn silence. [Describe the manifestation] After a period of therapy he discovered that his insistent communication was related to anxiety about a secretive atmosphere in his childhood, which made him feel things were left unsaid, so that he tended to interrogate others. [Describe a probable cause]. He found his relationships were transformed when he relaxed and ceased boring into the secrets and motivations of others. By saying what was on his mind, and then dropping it, anxiety-ridden communication became a thing of the past. [Describe positive alternative behavior.]

The elegance of this kind of interpretation delivery tends to bypass the resistance clients have, enabling them to “try on” alternative behaviors without necessary openly admitting their insecurities. Sometimes clients themselves supply the metaphor that can be the guiding image for their life, either through their dreams or through real events. When this is the case, the astrologer can seize and expand on the client’s metaphor.

Of Whales and Men

The following story, which unfolded when the client’s progressed Mercury retrograded to make a station on radix Neptune in Scorpio in her 3rd house, contains a great spiritual lesson. I wonder if it can explain my own progressed Mercury/Neptune conjunction?

“This woman took a long break from work pressures to travel on a small boat with a group of friends across the Atlantic Ocean. Halfway across the boat was becalmed for two long weeks, the sail just hanging there, and with no land or ships on the horizon. [The Mercury stationary direct] . Very early one morning she was on watch, and she saw a large whale approaching the ship, coming closer and closer…. until it dived and disappeared under the ship. Curious and bored, my client put on her swimming goggles and dived under the boat. Just a few meters from her was the huge whale, with enormous eyes, which stared placidly into her eyes. In those eyes she saw a world she never imagined could have existed, and she told me that she was never quite the same again.”

That might very well be a true story.

Adrian Ross Duncan 29.04.2003


Strength & Weakness – How to handle them

In modern “democratic” society it is politically incorrect to differentiate between people and their potential. Everyone has the chance to be someone, even if they come from humble beginnings. Bill Clinton proved that natural talent can sweep away obstacles, (though George W Bush also proves that being born privileged certainly does not get in the way of success.) Much of the political development since the discovery of Uranus in 1781 has been geared to a leveling process that is designed, in theory at least, to give equal opportunity for all. Similarly, politically correct astrology as taught in much 20th century literature has emphasized equality of opportunity via the horoscope, whatever the planetary strengths and weaknesses. In this light, hard aspects have been viewed as opportunities, bringing character strength through overcoming difficulties, whilst there has been a view that soft aspects can encourage laziness and self-satisfaction.The Good and the Bad

This was hardly the view of astrological tradition, which simply classed Mars and Saturn, for example, as malefics, and Venus and Jupiter as benefics , and saw soft aspects as “good” and bad aspects as no less than “evil”. This change of view has taken place with the discovery of the outer planets. Pluto in particular has brought a new consciousness which forces people to confront their own demons, rather than projecting them on the outer world, making possible an inner transformation process which brings consciousness growth. This psychological view gives a dynamic approach to the problems inherent in difficult aspects and weakly placed planets, empowering people to create change.

Horary Astrology

However, whilst the idea that planets can perform equally well no matter where they are placed can be an empowering view when working with clients, practitioners will be led astray if they apply this view unilaterally in their practice. They will simply not be able to make clear judgements about what to do and what not to do, and therefore their advice will be obscured by a fog of vagueness and generality. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the everyday assessment of trends in society using the astrology of planetary placement and movement here and now. Many of the principles of a “here and now” astrology are enshrined in traditional horary astrology, and these principles can usefully be applied to personal and mundane astrology today. Planets have a particular character dependent on the sign they are placed in, and when making a judgement on any course of action, it is crucial to differentiate between signs.


The first clear guideline is that a planet is strong when it is placed in the sign it rules. This sign is its own territory, and other planets must enter this territory with due respect. When a planet returns to the sign (or signs) it rules, it is free to express its true nature in its purest form, just as you would do after a long day at work. You open the door to your home, enter and throw yourself on the sofa with a cup of tea and some nice music. Should another planet now enter the sign, it is as if someone rings on the doorbell. You may invite them in, but they had better be on their best behavior. You can decide how much you will put up with, and the visitor would be foolish to start bossing you around.


Of course, planets have affinities for each other, so if Mars was at home in Aries, and Jupiter knocked on the door, then it would be with excitement and exhilaration that Jupiter would be welcomed. But if Saturn happened to be passing through, Mars would groan and open the door, but only out of a sense of duty. Nevertheless, even though Saturn might behave like a Jehovah’s witness laying down the law, Mars would still be in much the stronger position. Likewise, planets have natural attractions, which are based on sign rulership polarities, such that Venus, Jupiter and Sun/Moon are natural partners to Mars, Mercury and Saturn respectively. These planets can be both adversaries and partners. Certainly, if Venus should knock on the door of Mars in Aries, she would be entering dangerous territory, but the attraction would be strong and she could scarcely get through Aries without a dramatic affair developing.


The first guideline of planetary strength – that a planet is supreme in the sign it rules – leads to the next: that a planet is weak in the sign opposite to that which it rules. Far from home, and with lines of supply fully stretched, the resources of the planet in detriment are at low ebb. Herein lies the opening for guidance. The client with a planet in detriment must act accordingly, and not pretend anything else. It would be foolish for the Sun in Aquarius in the 10th to try and force through dictatorial policies. He can only rule with the consensus of the group. Similarly it would be unwise for a Venus in Aries in the 7th house to try and push the partner around. She is on foreign ground, and though her nature is to lead and take the initiative, this should not lead to her thinking she had the power. She might find the freedom she fights tooth and nail for – but it would be without the partner she also needs.

Venus in Trouble

See graph for Venus in Scorpio

December 2002 presents a typical scenario in which understanding planetary strength is crucial. Venus entered Scorpio on September 8, 2002 and went retrograde at 15 Scorpio on October 10. On November 21 Venus goes direct at 0 degrees Scorpio, finally leaving Scorpio – the sign of her detriment – on January 7, exhausted and psychologically raw. This can be compared to a sensitive opera singer being forced to perform in a London pub full of testosterone-charged men for four months. Avid newsreaders will have noted the many financial scandals and general doom in the financial markets at this time, as Venus, which traditionally rules finances, struggles through.

False Memory Syndrome

At the time of writing, as Venus becomes stationary, one news story illustrates exactly the dilemma of Venus in Scorpio. The story is of a young woman who has not talked to her parents for 10 years because she “discovered” during hypnotherapy that her father had had an incestuous relationship with her. As Venus reaches the end of its backward journey, she confesses publicly that the incest was imagined (Venus had squared Jupiter in Leo and Neptune in Aquarius – which is stiluatiing for all-encompassing fantasies) and she asks her parents to accept her back, which they forgivingly do. This long period in exile from her family is typical of a planet in detriment. Indeed, such a placement often shows exiled people. Of course the retrograde movement through Scorpio shows the taboo and sexual nature of the story, as well as the emotional catharsis of the family, in what proved to be a long exhaustive investigation of the past.

Meeting the Monster

Venus will feel uncomfortable as long as she is in Scorpio. She has entered a mysteriously empty cave in which shadows play in the half-light. When Mars enters Scorpio on December 1, 2002, the cave dweller returns, and can hardly believe his eyes. Venus has lingered tantalizingly on the threshold (zero degrees for two whole weeks) as Mars falters through the sign of his exile Libra. When he returns, Venus will probably find she gets more than she bargained for. December is a month of sexual fixations, all-consuming jealousy, control and coercion. It is curious to note that Mars gets within 50 minutes of arc of Venus (as both square Neptune) but she gradually picks up speed. It’s a bit like one of those dreams where the pursuer just manages to get hold of the trailing hem of the fleeing beauty’s dress… she may escape, but she will be unclothed.

Exaltation and Fall

Another important consideration regarding planetary strength is the concept of exaltation and fall, the roots of which seem lost in tradition. The idea of exaltation is that the planet is like an honored guest. Of course, if an important community leader came into your home, you would make a great effort to impress. You might ordinarily eat meatballs and boiled potatoes, but for your honored guest you would serve the very best meat and wine, and arrange a party in his honor. Similarly, the guest would be on his best behavior, and would hide his weaknesses and just display his strengths. The traditional exaltations are Mars in Capricorn, Venus in Pisces, Mercury in Virgo, Sun in Aries, Moon in Taurus, Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Libra. Just as exaltation leads to the finest expression of a planet, when a planet is placed in the opposite sign to its exaltation, it is said to be in fall – and fall is an ignominious place to be. It truly is the lowest of the low, an incredibly weak position in which the person in question is gravely compromised. Mars is in fall in Cancer, Venus in Virgo, Mercury in Pisces, Sun in Libra, Moon in Scorpio, Jupiter in Capricorn and Saturn in Aries.

Horary > Natal

It might seem unfashionable to classify planetary strength according to arcane rules, but daily work with the astrology of the moment, (for example using the consultation chart for the client’s arrival) seems to confirm the validity of the approach. The question arises as to whether judgement can be made according to this yardstick in natal astrology, and if yes, how one can prevent such judgement from being disempowering. I personally have Jupiter in Capricorn in the 4th house, and spent the years from 12 to 17 in a typically oppressive English boarding school. I have vivid memories of the housemaster bending his cane between his pudgy hands and saying in all seriousness to me “Duncan, I want you to think of me as your father”. Sigh… planets in fall.

What is “Good”?

Planets strong in sign are able to express themselves freely, but this does not necessarily mean that they are “good” in the traditional sense. For example, Ariel Sharon has Mars exalted in Capricorn – he’s a great general and an effective politician, but he is also a ruthless man. Mars’ brief has nothing to do with compassion, and everything to do with getting a job done. Similarly, Jupiter is wonderfully placed in Cancer, and its position there in the US chart testifies to a welcoming and generous country. But Jupiter expands everything to do with the country including its appetite, which may account for the prevalence of gas-guzzling vehicles and general over-consumption. Nevertheless, having many planets placed strongly can be a great advantage, because they give a natural dignity that evokes respect. Even Saturn changes character when it is in Libra, Capricorn and Aquarius, and manifest with great fairness and little oppression. Sean Connery manages very well, despite having Saturn rising, perhaps because it is in Capricorn. Mind you, with Jupiter in Cancer and Venus in Libra he has a lot going for him. Bill Clinton also has his Ascendant ruler, Venus, in the first house, which undoubtedly contributed to his popularity. OK, he also had Mars in Libra (detriment), and conjunction Neptune, which Monica Lewinsky could, and did, testify to.

The 20th century also led to the integration of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto into the planetary pantheons, and their corresponding rulership of Aquarius, Pisces and Scorpio respectively. Whilst I am sure this assigned rulership has validity, it would be a mistake to ignore the significance of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars as co-rulers of these signs. The outer planets will always represent collective forces in society rather than human characteristics – and it will be the traditional rulers in mundane, horary and personal astrology, which truly describe the character of the person or object in question. From a spiritual and psychological point of view, it may not matter where a planet is placed, because the planet, its placement and its aspects will in the last analysis simply represent material to be worked on in the process of personal growth. If I had had Jupiter in Cancer, I may have had more than my fair share of happiness, but then I might also be fat.

Adrian Duncan 18th November, 2002

Sharon and Arafat: Nemesis

The Israelis know what it is like to be faced with overwhelming power, with little means of resistance. On April 19 1943, a young 23-year-old, Mordecai Anielewicz, issued a proclamation calling for the Jewish people in Warsaw to resist being sent to death camps. With just a few weapons, 750 fighters kept the might of the German army at bay for nearly a month in the Warsaw Uprising before being overwhelmed… a mythic feat, which has gone over into Jewish history.Jenin

The resistance of Palestinian fighters in Jenin was scarcely as magnificent, though it will certainly be the stuff of myths for the Palestinian people in the years to come. The slaughter and secret disposal of the bodies of hundreds of fighters and civilians by the Israeli army is not of the same magnitude of what happened in Warsaw. When the Jewish fighters were finally overwhelmed. 56,000 Jews were captured and 7,000 shot on the spot, with the remainder deported to concentration camps. The Warsaw ghetto was totally flattened by shells and bombs, but in Jenin, only the central swathes of the refugee camp were completely flattened – though bulldozed sometimes with whole families still within (Note 1)

Later comment:
The United Nations issued a report into the Israeli incursions, which concluded that no widespread killings had occurred. (But Amnesty International points out that as UN officials did not actually visit Jenin, the report was no substitute for a thorough and impartial investigation. While early Palestinian claims that hundreds of people were massacred have now been discounted, Amnesty believes that over 50 Palestinians were killed in the fighting in Jenin, and at least another 80 in Nablus, many of them civilians. Women and children were among the dead.)

The Israeli People

Israel’s chart shows Libra rising, with its ruler Venus in Cancer, which is quite a soft and kind influence, with strong values about home and family. This Venus position is exactly the same as the USA’s Venus position, and shows the strong transatlantic bonds, not least financial, between the two countries. They are a kind and generous people. By no means all Israelis are happy about current developments in their homeland. One Israeli helicopter gunship pilot refused direct orders to fire a missile at a Palestinian house because of the risk of civilian loss of life. (Note 2). There has been widespread condemnation of the use of such gunships within Israel, as well as of firing on ambulances, preventing medical help and access by red cross organizations in series of actions by Israel, which contravene international regulations. A group of Israeli officers have formed an organization, which refuses to do duty on Palestinian territory, and Israeli peace organizations lobby hard against their right-wing government, but the fact remains that 70% of Israelis support Sharon in his attempt to root out terrorism.

Axis of Evil

This is a period in which communication seems crippled, with the extraordinary demonization of enemies. The declaration by George Bush against the “axis of evil” could hardly be a better testimony to the power of the current Saturn/Pluto opposition. It fell last year at 12 and 13 degrees Gemini/Sagittarius, right on the USA’s (Sibley) Ascendant. The USA – and specifically the people of New York, whose twin towers collapsed into dust on September 11th 2001 – has reacted by declaring a war on terror. And Sharon seized the opportunity to declare his own war on terror. This war is the war between Saturn and Pluto. One represents the established power of the state (and its business aspects – Gemini), the other the power of terror, the suicide bomber, the religious fanatic. As is always the case with Pluto, it has the power to create vast upheaval quite out of proportion to its size. Witness the atom bomb.

State Terror

Pluto is also the planet of the disempowered, who use every available method to ensure continued existence. However hard you try, you cannot eliminate Pluto. The forces used to destroy Pluto are the forces of Pluto itself, which then grows in power. Perhaps that is why it becomes increasing difficult to distinguish between the terror “out there” and State terror. This is the paradox of the current situation, which is starkly expressed in the Sharon/Arafat power battle. What seemed a simple equation with the USA versus bin Laden crusade, seems more complicated in Israel. The more Sharon tries to humiliate and crush Arafat, with the mighty display of force and the besiegement and destruction of Arafat’s compound, the more sympathy – and therefore strength – Arafat gains. As usual, Sharon is winning the battle, but losing the war. The damage to Israel is vast. As Gerald Kaufman, the veteran Labour MP who is Britain’s most prominent Jewish parliamentarian says: “It is time to remind Sharon that the Star of David belongs to all Jews and not to his repulsive government. His actions are staining the Star of David with blood.”

The May Planetary Lineup

The astrology of the current situation in the Middle East is not designed for negotiation or peace. Looking at the graph of the third and final Saturn/Pluto opposition, it can be seen how the Moon’s nodes retrograde to trigger eclipses, with the major one on June 10th falling at 19.54 Gemini on USA’s Mars (21.29 Gemini). All this is triggered by Mars and Venus, which also transit Gemini in May, bringing total communication breakdown, but at the same time enormous international pressure for dialogue. It looks dire for the USA, whose ignominious behavior is crowned at the time of writing by Powell’s failed mission. Whilst Israel busies itself with concealing civilian casualties in Jenin – Bush says the Palestinian Authority “must act on its words of condemnation against terror” and calls on Arab states “to step up to their responsibilities”. (Note 4) The rage against Bush – not just in the Arab world, but also in Europe – is palpable. It’s obvious that the current Intifada was provoked by Sharon himself, with his visit to the Temple Mount in 2000, and his policy of encouraging settlements on Palestinian land in a strategy of occupation and encirclement.

Sharon – the General

See chart of Ariel Sharon

With Aries rising close to his Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, Ariel Sharon is a man who believes in action. Apparently his nickname is “the Bulldozer” for his ability to crush the enemy. With Ascendant ruler Mars exalted in Capricorn he is an excellent strategist, and the sextile to Uranus shows his ability for unpredictable, surprise moves. To understand the brutality of Sharon, it is necessary to look at his 7th harmonic chart, where the natal Uranus at the midpoint of Pluto/Saturn configures with Sun, Moon and Mars to make a truly murderous combination Beneath the surface, his Piscean Sun conjoining retrograde Mercury in the 12th shows a sensitive and secretive nature, probably with inner worries about dissolution. When he hears threats of Israel being swept into the sea, he takes it literally, because that is his greatest inner fear. Though I know nothing about his childhood, the period when progressed Mercury stationed opposition his Neptune from the ages of 5 – 16 (spanning the 2nd World War and Holocaust) must have imbued a sense of loneliness, disillusion and isolation in him. He is probably incapable of seeing himself objectively. Curiously his progressed Mars – now currently at 25.49 Pisces – “leads” and opposes the progressed Mars of Israel now at 24.28 Virgo. He will always drag Israel into war.

International Judgement

The major transit in Sharon’s life right now is the passage of Pluto over his Saturn at 18.21 Sagittarius in his 9th house. This culminates in January, June and November 2003. It will result in international opprobrium, with the real likelihood of him being indicted in an international court of law. (Quite apart from the war crimes case prepared in Belgium against him for the Shatilah massacre in 1983). Sharon himself only believes in biblical justice. He has his roots in an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, and has nothing but contempt for soft-hearted liberals. Nevertheless this transit will almost certainly result in an ignominious fall from power (Saturn rules his MC), which will come sooner (in 2002) or later (2003). It’s possible that the June 2000 eclipse on his Saturn will be enough to precipitate an early fall. Of course the current military madness is related to the transit of Uranus opposite Israel’s Mars at 28.18 Leo, exact on 28th April and 10th July 2002, and 9th February 2003. With this influence it is sure that suicide bombings will continue unabated, and just as sure that Israel will continue a policy of intervention and oppression – a policy that will undoubtedly succeed, as Saturn sextiles Israel’s Mars (and trines Uranus) at the same time.

Yasser Arafat

See chart of Yasser Arafat

Birth data for Sharon’s old enemy and possible nemesis, Yasser Arafat, is disputed. I have previously worked with a Virgo birthdate, but came across a chart used by astrologer Joyce Hoen which seems rather descriptive. Note 6.

The death of his mother when he was 4 would correspond to Pluto’s transit of his Moon, just as the Moon/Pluto rising in Cancer also corresponds to a man desperately seeking roots for himself and his people. Living as he currently does amidst the ruins of Ramallah is an apt depiction of this astrological influence. It is interesting too that the Mars at 18.43 Virgo in this chart configures in exact square to Sharon’s Saturn, and reflects the present military catastrophe. His current virtual imprisonment in Ramallah may be shown by the Neptune transit opposing his Sun, which finally ends in December 2003. Amidst the ruins of Moon/Pluto luck smiles constantly on Arafat. He was the sole survivor of an air crash, which would seem to reflect the Jupiter sextile his powerful Sun/Uranus trine. It will be interesting to see if there is confirmation of this chart when Jupiter conjoins his Sun (and Israel’s Pluto) in September 2002. His fortunes could turn at this time.

The Future

Current planetary transits seem to indicate that the situation in Israel will be explosive for at least another 10 months, but that a change will arise when Uranus finally leaves Aquarius and enters Pisces in March 2003, a time when we’ll see Sharon, if he is still in power, shuttling hectically to Washington and back. Sharon will never make an agreement that lasts, because of the extremely weak position of his Mercury opposite Neptune. He will say anything to pursue his agenda, and will lose all credibility. Israel will remain undefeated and on top for many years – indeed her existence will never be seriously at risk during the whole of the 21st century. Only when Neptune activates her Sun square Saturn and Mars from 2005 to 2011 will her ability to maintain a protective shield be undermined. She will never be able to prevent her borders from being porous, and military methods will be completely bankrupt in these years, which means there is actually hope that peaceful methods will gain a foothold. Finally a turning point will come when Israel’s progressed Venus turns direct in 2007 – exactly on her natal Uranus in Gemini. The future of the State of Israel is coexistence together with the State of Palestine.

Adrian Duncan 19.04.2002

1. Guardian online: Brian Whitaker Thursday April 18, 2002
2. Guardian online. Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem, Thursday April 18, 2002
3. Guardian online: Ian Black in Brussels, Ewen MacAskill and Nicholas Watt Wednesday April 17, 2002
4. Guardian online: Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem and Julian Borger in Washington Thursday April 18, 2002
5. Isaac Starkman quotes Ariel Sharon’s mom in MH 10/1986, “about one hour after sunrise”. (LMR calculates sunrise as 6:36 AM EET.) Starkman rectifies the time, using over 25 events, to 5:49:19 UT, ASC 12Ari02.
6. The time of 3.a.m and the date of 4th August in Jerusalem was given by Arafat himself, but a birth certificate has been found stating 24th August.

Saturn and the rise and fall of Politicians

It is unlikely than anyone can rise through the political ranks without a strongly placed Saturn. Access to this planet’s energies gives the tenacity and determination to win through against the odds, and to work for long-term goals. Coupled with Jupiter, Saturn keys into social forces which are the building blocks of society, particular law and government. At its finest, the politically-expressed Saturn represents a sense of responsibility and duty towards society, and a selfless dedication to government. However, on a personal level Saturn often evokes a sense of inferiority, lack of self-esteem and a feeling of not reaching the summit. To some extent this feeling is the driving force of ambition: the need to achieve something for society also rests on the need to prove oneself and gain recognition. Fear of failure leads to great efforts to succeed.

Ambitious Drives
If fears of insufficiency dominate behind the driving force of ambition, then it can be very difficult for the person in question to recognise when goals have been achieved. The force which drove them to achieve high position, still drives them when this position is reached. Ultimately there is the danger that ambition becomes overweening, and leads to fixed ideas about how success should be administered, and struggle when struggle is no longer needed. Thus overwork and over-control undermine health, popularity and success in the later stages of the career. Stressful aspects of the Sun to Saturn, particularly the square, and Saturn in the 10 th house have all acquired a reputation for fall from power, with Napoleon and Hitler often being cited as examples. The picture is however far more nuanced than this. Hitler’s Saturn in Leo in the 10 th was in detriment, so it was extra important for him to compensate for inferiority feelings by being leader of the 3 rd Reich. And Saturn was square a retrograde Venus in Taurus conjoining a debilitated Mars at the same degree. Even half a million people simultaneously rising their right arm in military salute could not quite convince him that he was loved. With no mitigating aspects to Saturn in the 10 th , it is hardly any wonder that it expressed itself appallingly.

Mitterandsee chart of Francois Mitterand

Francois Mitterand (Note 1.) had Saturn in the 10 th also in square to the Sun, yet he acquitted himself rather well as President of France from 1981 to 1994, being its first socialist president… much to the alarm of the USA at the time. Born at the time of a Saturn/Neptune conjunction, he has a typical “socialist” astrological signature. He was also imprisoned by the Germans during WW2 – another expression of Saturn/Neptune squaring the Sun. Although dogged by rumours of collaboration with the Vichy government, this never seriously affected his government, and neither did his womanising. (Probably seen as a plus-factor in France). His ability to handle presidential power is probably shown by the Pluto/MC conjunction trining his Sun. This may also explain why he was so keen on building up France’s nuclear deterrent. (Their intercontinental missile was called “Pluton”.) In Mitterand’s case, his Sun is also opposing Jupiter, which probably counteracts the negativity of the Sun/Saturn square, and Mars trines Saturn and Neptune from the 3 rd house, giving him the ability to fight for his case in a very convincing way.

Kohlsee chart of Helmut Kohl

Another great European leader, Helmut Kohl (Note 2) had Saturn in the 10 th also square the Sun, which makes quite a convincing case for political success – and success which is long term – as Kohl was Chancellor of Germany for 16 years until 1998. His success was even more marked than Mitterand’s, with the unification of East and West Germany as the crowning point of his career. The point is, that in Kohl’s case, Saturn is extremely well-placed in its own sign, and it is square to an exalted Sun in Aries. Furthermore, Kohl’s Sun/Uranus conjunction is exactly sextile Jupiter, though it is also tied in to a T-square with Pluto. It was at the time of the Saturn/Neptune conjunction at 10 Capricorn – right on Kohl’s MC – on Kohl’s 2 nd Saturn return, that the Berlin wall dissolved and the two Germanyy subsequently unified. He was certainly the right man in the right place at the right time. His departure as leader of the German conservative party was marred by a scandal concerning the misuse of party funds, presaged no doubt my his 2 nd House Gemini Moon exactly squaring Neptune.

Chiang Kai-Shek – see chart of Chiang Kai-Shek

The Saturn/Sun/Jupiter theme continues for another long-term leader, Chiang Kai-Shek, (Note 3) who led China from 1928 to 1949, where he retreated to Formosa, later Taiwan, which he governed until his death in 1975. The iron hand of a general can clearly be seen in the fixed sign square between Sun in Scorpio and Saturn in Leo, and his ruthlessness in the Pluto square Mars in the 8 th house. His fate as leader of a “second” China, which was eventually to be disowned by the international community can perhaps be seen in the conjunction of Neptune and Pluto in the 4 th house, opposing Mercury in “exile” in Sagittarius. He personally felt that the hand of fate had been against him, and that Taiwan was small compensation for China. It is said he died a disappointed man.

Milosevicsee chart of Slobodan Milosevic

One man currently in the news with a Saturn/Sun square is Slobodan Milosevic. (Note 4) With Sun in Leo and in the 5 th he dreamed of being acclaimed leader of a “Greater Serbia”. Adulation was probably very important for him. The trine from Mars in Aries gave him military tendencies, though the 12 th house position showed him manipulating events more behind the scenes. His tragic childhood, indicated by a Moon/Pluto/Chiron conjunction in the 4 th house, meant that he played out early trauma on a national and international stage. Both parents committed suicide, his father in 1962, and mother in 1972, and his own subsequent behaviour as Serbia’s strongman turned out to be equally suicidal for his home country. His fall from power in 2000 and his incarceration as a war criminal in The Hague coincided with Neptune’s transit opposing his Moon. His war trial in 2002 coincides with the transit of Uranus in opposition to Sun and Mercury, and square Saturn, guaranteeing him media attention. Perhaps he still has a few surprises up his sleeve. As transiting Saturn sextiles his Sun from the 3 rd house cusp from August 2002 to May 2003 we can expect him to put up a stubborn defence, making a successful prosecution difficult.

Cheneysee chart of Dick Cheney

Even more relevant for the present period is the Sun/Saturn square in the Vice President of America, Dick Cheney’s, horoscope, (Note 5) which is now receiving a transit from Neptune. Again we can see the powerful configuration of Jupiter conjoining Saturn in aspect to the Sun, propelling him into an ambitious career as an arch conservative: pro-gun, anti-abortion, pro-death penalty pro-oil and anti environment. With three fixed planets in the 9 th house, he is unlikely to change his views in this life, and he undoubtedly does not believe in the next. His 6 th house Aquarian Sun shows him as a loyal servant of the Republicans in general and the Bush family in particular. His notoriously weak heart is probably also shown by his afflicted Sun in detriment here.


Whilst his career boost predictably took place with the repeat of the Saturn/Jupiter conjunction on his Midheaven in 2000 – exactly like Helmut Kohl – he is surely heading for disgrace and obscurity now. Neptune triggers his Sun from May 2002 to November 2003, and Pluto triggers first his Mars in the Spring of 2002 (whilst Saturn opposes – he is under tremendous stress), and later his Moon. It’s difficult to believe he will see out his term, and it may be scandal rather than health which beats him. What obviously springs to mind is Cheney’s involvement with the energy giant Enron, which collapsed with catastrophic results at the end of last year. Fortunately for both Bush and Cheney, the current terrorist war has kept the public’s minds off this crisis, but it is now seeping back into the public’s consciousness. Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force met six times with Enron officials last year, and Enron’s Chairman Ken Lay personally met Cheney on April 17 th . As Enron was Bush’s largest campaign contributor, questions are being asked about how much Cheney used his influence to help Enron. At present nobody knows because Cheney refused to disclose details of meetings on February 2, 2002, invoking “executive privilege”.

Oil Secrets

With Neptune on his 2 nd house cusp, opposing the Moon in Pisces, it is naive to believe that Cheney does not have hidden links with energy companies, particular as regards oil. In 1993 Cheney left politics and entered the private sector, serving as chairman and CEO of Dallas-Based Halliburton Corporation, specialising in the development of oil and gas production around the world, particularly the new emerging Caspian Sea area. For his Neptune in the 2nd, oil is where the money is, as shown by its links to Venus in Capricorn. It’s difficult not to raise questions about the present US Afghanistan policy, when the enormous oil reserves of Central Asia are considered. With US interests firmly entrenched in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea area they are reluctant to empower Russia or Iran by leading pipelines through their countries, and it is common knowledge that they wish for access to the South East Asian market via pipelines through Afghanistan. Obviously the desire to fight terrorism in Afghanistan was a major factor for Bush and Cheney, but it will be interesting to see how they consolidate their influence in this country once Al Quaeda is pacified. We can expect to read of a growing scandal involving Cheney peaking in May 2003, as a transiting retrograde Mercury in Taurus squares a Mars/Neptune conjunction. This precisely activates Cheney’s Sun/Saturn – a situation he is unlikely to survive, though it could drag on for some time.

Danish Downfall

Closer to my own home base in Denmark, inhabitants have been treated to the spectacle of the imminent downfall of a well-known mayor who also sports an interesting Sun/Saturn square. He has had a high profile for many years because of unconventional and pronounced right-wing methods, but he went too far when it was discovered he had been indulging in exclusive dinners (with exclusive wines at $1000 a go) with his cronies, paid for courtesy of his electorate. Subsequent investigations in February 2002 showed that he had manipulated with enormous sums of money channelling them into pet projects like sports stadiums and the like, quite unbeknownst to the council commute. Too much power for too many years had led the man, Peter Brixtofte, into believing that the city he controlled was his own personal fiefdom.

See chart of Peter Brixtofte

Looking at Brixtofte’s horoscope (Note 6) it’s easy to see that he is an extremely hard-working person, (with a Mars/Saturn conjunction in Virgo, as well as the Moon) and that his Jupiter/Venus on the MC shows a love of his political duties and the people he represents… as well as the fact that he has been popular for many years. At the present time he is fighting for his political life, as the council has taken the extraordinary and perhaps unconstitutional step of relieving him of his duties. A canny interviewer on TV (Michael Meyerheim) asked him “Do you think you may have difficulty admitting that you are wrong?” That’s the right question to put to a Sagittarian! His answer, initially, was naturally that he hadn’t done anything wrong. Brixtofte is fighting like a fish on a hook.

Dead Man Walking

He believes he still has a future. But the transit of Pluto to conjoin his Sun and square his Saturn shows that his career as mayor is definitively finished. He will not survive, but he is at present unaware of this. The last transit of Pluto to the Sun comes in November 2003, but the coup-de-grace will probably come quickly with the Saturn opposition in June, and the eclipse of the Sun at 19.54 Gemini on June 10 th . His star goes out, and he would be well-advised to seek new pastures, perhaps in federal Europe. It remains to be seen what the consequences will be for the present right-wing Danish government, with whom Brixtofte has such strong links. It is significant that the Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has Sun 6 Aquarius square Jupiter 12 Taurus – echoing the chart of Dick Cheney. Here too it is likely that government power is dissolved by escalating financial scandal.

Judging from these high-profile examples, it would seem that a strong Saturn and a strong Jupiter configured with the Sun is an excellent tool if you are seeking influence in society. Ignominy and fall only come when the complexes associated with Saturn obscure the nobility of the Sun, and this is by no means a foregone conclusion. Difficult Saturn aspects may bring setbacks, but they also bring determination and resilience. There is no guarantee that they bring self-knowledge however, although a downfall or two certainly gives rise to lonely periods of introspection.

© Adrian Ross Duncan 15 Mar 2002

Thanks to for birth data.
1. Francois Mitterand: Gauquelin Vol 5/1504. AA data.
2. Helmut Kohl: Alexander Von Pronay from birth certificate. AA data.
3. Chiang Kai-Shek: Blackwell quotes Soong Dynasty (Harper & Row, 1985, p.152) “At precisely noon.” B data.
4. Data from Stjernerne .
5. Dick Cheney: Stephen Przybylowski quotes data read from the birth certificate.
6. Data from Jørn Nielsen, source unknown.

Osama bin Laden

In May 1970 I crossed the border from a grey and oppressive Iran and entered the magical land of Afghanistan. Fellow wanderers from that period will be able to confirm that the atmosphere was liberated, happy and very welcoming indeed. There was no obvious sign of religious fundamentalism at that time, just a colourful country with colourful people, although a fair number did like to carry rifles. Just three years later a palace coup deposed the monarchy, and the subsequent destabilisation process provided fertile ground for the catastrophe of the Soviet invasion, and the subsequent Jihad against the Soviets, who finally withdrew in February 1989. The Taleban themselves took Kabul on April 25th 1992 at the time of the Uranus/Neptune conjunction at 18 Capricorn, which is an indication of revolutionary Islam, and which resonates with the Uranus/Neptune conjunction which marked the start of the Muslim Era in the year 622. At this time Mars was at 21 Pisces activating the US Mars/Neptune square, and therefore linking the country to the US war potential. The Taleban take-over was 18 years after the original coup, which means that the position of the Moon’s nodes in Capricorn/Cancer is repeated.

See chart of Afghanistan

An Unconquered People

The chart for the coup does give some indication of the nature of Afghanistan, but the country itself has a long and fierce history and no one chart can be used. It has been conquered periodically but never subdued. Alexander the Great conquered it in 329 BCE but ultimately had to withdraw because of constant revolts. The British in their turn tried repeatedly in a series of wars in the 19th century. In the first Anglo-Afghani war, the British invaded in January 1842, and out of 16,500 soldiers (and 12,000 dependants) only one survivor returned to the fort in Jalalabad. I suppose they left one to tell the tale. The 1973 chart is very telling, showing as it does the Jupiter/Moon conjunction in the (solar) 8th house, which is currently receiving a long-term conjunction from Neptune. Afghanistan may be a warrior country, but for the young, the women and the older men, the current bombing campaign is a disaster on top of years of suffering culminating in the current oppression by the mediaeval Taleban fundamentalist government. The Mars in Aries shows the country’s warrior culture, its opposition to Uranus emphasising the extreme independence and tendency to be both a victim of high-tech warfare, and to adapt to it. Venus at 19 Leo was struck by the August 1999 eclipse, which also cast its shadow through Afghanistan. At the World Trade Centre attack, Venus was again at 19 Leo.

Afghanistan and the US

The nodal axis falls on the US Venus/Jupiter conjunction, and the position of these nodes was exactly reversed at the time of the terror attack on September 11th, 2001. It is also interesting to see that the 1973 Afghan chart has the Sun at 24 and Mercury at 29 Cancer which strongly activates the secretive US Mercury/Pluto opposition from 24 Cancer to 27 Capricorn. This is a strong indication both that Afghanistan houses spies and terrorists that have a secret connection to the US and also that the CIA has made an extensive use of spies and terrorists in Afghanistan, especially during the eighties. Indeed it was at this time that America recruited and trained Osama bin Laden and financed the infiltration of Saudi militants to fight the Soviet Union there. In the light of the fact that Afghanistan has assumed great strategic importance as an oil pipeline route from ex-Soviet states, there could be some truth in the suggestion that the US has a secret agenda in attempting to subdue Afghanistan. One should not forget that Bill Cheney and a large number of Bush’s entourage, including Bush himself have their roots in oil.

The Muslim Calendar

See chart for the beginning of Muslim Era

Since the New York attack, there have been many attempts to pin down the birth date of Osama bin Laden, but it has proved difficult. Interpol have a birth date of the 10th March 1957, whilst the US State Department has a date of 30th July 1957. There are many conflicting dates. Here I have chosen the July date for a specific reason. The traditional date of Mohammed’s arrival in Medina is 16th July 622 AD, and the Muslim Era is dated from sunset of that date. (Note 1.) This date is the first day of the first of the year of the Hijrah, which is Anno Hegirae MuHarram 1 , or 1 A.H. The Muslim calendar dates not from the birth or death of Mohammed, or from the celebration of any mundane event. According to the Islamic sage Muhammad Ilyes, its religious significance is to teach man that struggle between Truth and Evil is eternal, and to remind Muslims every year not of the pomp and glory of Islam but of its sacrifice.

It’s an extremely unusual chart with all the planets grouped on the Western horizon (except for Jupiter and Pluto) between the Sun at 25 Cancer and Mars at 20 Virgo. There are 4 planets and the North Node (Rahu) in Leo, and 3 planets in Virgo. Saturn and Rahu are in conjunction, which does seem to indicate a rather heavy fate for Islam. Traditionally things do not go well for Muslims at the repeat of this pattern every 22/23 years. The 1967 six-day war led to the loss of vast tracts of land to Israel, and the Gulf War in 1991 humiliated Iraq. Similar setbacks for Islam can be expected in 2002, when the North Node conjoins Saturn and opposes Pluto. The position of the Sun in the Muslim Era chart is almost opposite the Sun in the chart for Saudi Arabia (15.01.1902 Riyadh: Ascendant 24.27 Capricorn), as well as that of Afghanistan. As guardian of the holy shrines of Islam, particular in Mecca, the Saudi chart, with its Sun/Saturn/Jupiter conjunction in Capricorn strong reflects the severity and deep traditions of a nation rooted in the past.

The Terrorist bin Laden

See chart of Osama bin Laden

Having studied the Muslim Era chart, it’s interesting to look at the proposed chart for bin Laden, which I have cheekily also calculated for sunset. After all the man has taken on the mantle of leader of an Islamic revolution which will reverse the domination of the West, and get rid of the “evils” of capitalism, democracy and women’s liberation. To me at least it seems fitting that he should be a Leo, as his poster has pride of place in many young Islamic bedrooms, much as Che Guevara did amongst Western youth in the sixties. It can thus be seen that bin Laden has 4 planets in Leo and 4 planets in Virgo, with only Saturn and Neptune outside of the planetary bunch. More Muslim than the Islam itself? There are extraordinary parallels with the Muslim Era chart. He has his Sun/Uranus conjunction on the Era’s nodal axis and close to its Saturn. His Mars/Pluto conjoin the Era’s Mercury and Moon, whilst his Mercury/Venus in Virgo are exactly on Uranus/Neptune. This is a man completely possessed by Islam, a messenger for Islam, and a revolutionary for Islam.

bin Laden and the USA

This chart has a number of extremely dangerous signatures, which key directly in to the US Independence chart. The main danger is from the Sun/Uranus conjunction at 7 Leo which is exactly on the US North Node, and semisquare both Mars and Neptune. This aspect corresponds rather well with the fact that his father died in a plane crash. Note that transit Neptune is currently transiting this point, and that the biological terrorism taking place with anthrax right now is a manifestation of this, indicated both by the US chart and also by this proposed chart for bin Laden. Although there are suggestions that the anthrax spores originate from America’s right wing, the synastry seems to show a link to bin Laden.

The Weakness of bin Laden

Without wishing to offend anyone dealing with the difficult energies of a Mars/Pluto conjunction, for a terrorist like bin Laden, this shows a ruthless implacability, and the close conjunction between Pluto and Mercury could show the use of transport and the post as a means of destruction. With the US Moon at 27 Aquarius, the Mars/Pluto conjunction in this bin Laden chart constitutes a deadly threat to the American people. In the progressed chart Mars is at 22.44 Virgo, exactly activating the US Mars/Neptune and pointing clearly at bin Laden as a perpetrator. There can be no doubt that this is the horoscope of a fanatic, and with the many planets in Virgo, this is a person who also plans fanatically, which is probably also its weakness. Obsessed with detail, it’s likely that the Saturn square Venus/Mercury demands an elegance in the execution of plans which cannot be achieved when the pressure is on. This is a person who gets flustered, although there is a well-documented example of him surviving a missile attack just yards away from where he was standing. He enjoys risks and extreme conditions, but his standards of perfection must be a pain to satisfy.

Man with a Mission

Early in bin Laden’s life, the two outer planets Pluto and Neptune made the transition from Leo and Libra to Virgo and Scorpio respectively. Born at a time of enormous collective change, he probably sees himself as the man to effect this change. He declared war on the USA and the West in a fatwah from Afghanistan in 1998, and he has a wide-ranging organisation that recruits young Muslims for the cause. Comparing his chart with the Muslim Era, it is doubtful that the Prophet would approve. The ideological rigidity of Saturn in Sagittarius is exactly square the Era’s Jupiter in Pisces… the Prophet would no doubt prefer more compassionate methods.

The Future

Right now, life cannot be comfortable. His Sun/Uranus is opposite the Afghanistan Moon/Jupiter in Aquarius, and is receiving the same Neptune transit. This is hardly the time for executive action, and he will have to lie low for a year. If he makes a move, then he is also likely to make a mistake. He may be tempted to do so when Mars joins Neptune in early November. Of course, if the chosen means of attack is chemical or bacteriological, then this could conceivably be successful, although it is in the nature of Neptune for it not to be. As far as the current campaign in Afghanistan is concerned, America cannot win. You don’t have to be an astrologer to work that one out. It is also unlikely that Osama bin Laden will be localised, let alone captured. Perhaps justice will be done – he is a brutal murderer after all – when Saturn conjoins his Sun in 2005, disposed of by the Afghanis themselves.

Adrian Ross Duncan 29.10.2001

Note 1. Book of World Horoscopes , Nick Campion


The China Olympics

On Friday 13th July the Olympic committee, assembled in Moscow, chose Beijing as the venue for the 2008 Olympic Games. This announcement came just hours after Jupiter – the largest planet in the solar system – moved into Cancer, so perhaps it is fitting that that the most populous country in the world was chosen. It seems that when a planet makes its entry into a new sign, it likes to make an introductory flourish as it were. In this case Mercury joined Jupiter and they crossed the border from Gemini to Cancer hand in hand. Millions celebrated the news in China. They flocked onto the streets of the major cities, and police gave up trying to control them. Great joy was brought to the largest population on Earth.Human Rights Issues

Human Rights groups – especially supporters of the exiled government of Tibet – were less than enthusiastic. They believe that the choice of China as venue legitimises a regime which overwhelmed Tibet by force in the Fifties, and is now well into the process of wiping out the ancient culture. There was extremely strong lobbying to exclude China for human rights abuses – they had already lost one bid in 1993 – but in the end sheer persistence paid off for China. One could argue that with one quarter of the world’s population within their borders, it is simply unwise to ostracise them. When living in the West, it’s always difficult to discern how far opinions are orchestrated by the cultural model of the USA and Western Powers, who have little understanding of the culture of other countries. After all, many of China’s opponents in the US have a political agenda, which has nothing to do with the rights of oppressed peoples.

The Origins

In connection with the Olympics there are those who argue against the politicisation of sport, and those who say it is unavoidable. In actual fact, the Olympics have always been politicised. Even at their very formation in 776 BC, the Games were seen as a way of cementing peace. The tradition was that there should be no fighting as long as the Games were on. The chart for the initial Olympics would appear to have taken place at the time of an eclipse in Leo opposing Neptune in Aquarius, so the ideals of the merging of states into a giant melting pot through games was firmly integrated into the opening chart. However, the same chart shows a retrograde Mars conjoining Uranus and opposing Pluto, so the competition was no doubt extremely fierce. War by other means. The institution of the Olympics actually lasted for 12 centuries (!) without a break, and they were only abolished in 393 AD – the 293rd Olympiad.

Olympic Revival

After a break of 1500 years the Olympics were recreated and the first Games in modern time took place on the 6th April 1896 in its ancient cradle of Athens. The old traditions were revived, including the lighting of the Olympic flame at the temple of Hera whilst a hymn was, and is still, sung to Apollo. This revival took place with a wonderful grand trine involving Venus exalted in Pisces, Jupiter exalted in Cancer, and Uranus/Saturn in Scorpio. The position of Venus in Pisces is very significant for Greece, as it was in this sign at the time of its revolution in 1821, and the establishment of a kingdom in 1830. It’s a very suitable position for a nation founded on the gods and goddesses of Olympia.


See chart for Berlin Olympics

The grossest example of the appropriation of the Olympics for political purposes was at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Hitler seized the opportunity to demonstrate the supposed superiority of the Arian race. The opening chart of August 1st shows Mercury conjoining Venus at 18 Leo exactly squaring the Pluto position for the birth of the German Empire (Jan 1st, 1871 at 0.00 Local Time in Berlin). At the same time transiting Pluto conjoining Mars is exactly on the IC position of the horoscope for the 3rd Reich. (Jan 30th, 1933 11.15 CET, Berlin). Obviously these Pluto combinations were rather good for concealing the ugly facts of the Nazi administration. All evidence of the persecution of the Jews was hidden, and the opening ceremony was characterised by the release of thousands of doves. However Hitler could not resist promoting himself and Nazi ideology, and there were rather more Nazi flags and photos of himself, than other flags. Germany won more medals than any other country at this Olympics, although there was a slight hitch, because black Americans won a large proportion of the athletic events. Hitler couldn’t quite bring himself to place awards around their necks, and absented himself from the prizegiving ceremony.


See chart for the Munich Olympics

In the latter part of the 20th century, the enormous focus of world attention on the Olympics has made them even more vulnerable to political statements. It was ironically in Germany again that the most catastrophic games in history played themselves out. It was at this time that Pluto had slipped into Libra after 15 years in Virgo. The Olympics in Munich proved the ideal place to demonstrate Pluto’s effect, namely that a small terrorist group could seriously change the balance of power. The Palestinian Black September group took the Israeli Olympic team hostage, and in a bungled operation 11 Israelis, 5 Palestinians , and one policeman died. With Mercury moving into Virgo at the time of the catastrophe and squaring Neptune, bad light and mist confused German sharpshooters at the airport where the terrorists were making their escape, enabling a surviving terrorist to execute the Israelis. At this time the Sun had moved from 3 Virgo to the Mars position at 7 Virgo, which just happened to be the exact North Node position in the horoscope for the 3rd Reich. Interestingly the North Node of the Munich Games was at 25 Cancer, the exact position of the 3rd Reich’s IC and Pluto, and Israel’s MC. The Games were suspended for one day, but continued in an atmosphere of sorrow and shame, aptly illustrated by the opening chart’s Moon in Pisces square Saturn, and the Sun/Mars square Neptune.


See chart for the Moscow Olympics

Subsequent to this Olympics, the 1980 Games in Moscow became the next victim of a political statement. The USA and some Western allies refused to take part because of the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union on Christmas Day 1979. On the one hand it’s easy to see that US participation would have seemed like an endorsement of Soviet policy, but the argument can also be made that the USA suffered no similar retribution when they were bombing Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s interesting to see how there was an exact Saturn/Neptune square at this time. In fact Saturn at 22 Virgo was exactly on the US Neptune, and Neptune opposite the US Mars – a combination which suggests frustration and sacrifice on the American side, especially as regards their athletes, who had trained for so many years. Saturn/Neptune combinations are always significant for developments in the socialist world, and these games were a celebration of Eastern Bloc power, although the Saturn/Neptune square could also symbolise the morass of Afghanistan, which ultimately drained the Soviet Union of its ability to maintain structure. There are many who argue that the power of the world’s media in itself is enough to expose human rights abuse and force change in autocratic countries, but there was no apparent softening of Soviet control over the communication apparatus at this Olympics. The retrograde Mercury in a water sign squaring Pluto was perhaps sufficient to maintain secrecy and manipulate news stories, but it did not help that 62 nations boycotted the Games, including the USA, West Germany and Japan.

Changes in China

See the chart of China

The 2008 Olympics in Beijing will have enormous significance for China. This huge country has had many vast upheavals in its long history, and is well aware of the fragile nature of its national identity, seen from a historical point of view. Anything that threatens the cohesion of China is stamped out by its leaders at an early stage, as was the uprising in Tiananmen Square on June 4th 1989 when the Saturn/Neptune/Uranus conjunction was squaring China’s stellium in Libra. Similarly China has not been slow to crack down on the group Falun Gong over the last few years (with Neptune transiting their Moon and Ascendant in Aquarius). The 2008 Olympics will take place in Beijing in July/August around the time of a total eclipse in Leo opposing Neptune in Aquarius, rather like the original Olympics of 776 BC.

See map of the eclipse

The path of the eclipse goes through Siberia ending almost exactly at Beijing, which in itself should have been enough to predict that the 2008 Olympics would be awarded to China. With Jupiter at 14.41 Capricorn rising over Beijing at the time of the eclipse, exactly squaring China’s Neptune at 14.39 Libra, there will be tremendous media attention, but it is also likely that religious groups which use the opportunity to broadcast their views. This is a Jupiter return for China, which already has a natal Jupiter/Neptune square. The nodal axis of the eclipse, conjoining Chiron, falls exactly on China’s Pluto, activating the Mars/Pluto square Venus of the revolution horoscope, and therefore also revealing the massive autocratic power of the Chinese military underlying the government elite. But the eclipse itself in Leo together with Mercury and a glittering Venus/Neptune opposition speaks of happiness and joy. These Games are going to be one big media party. No one should expect the official media to reveal anything that compromises the integrity of China here.

The Effect of the 2008 Eclipse

See chart of the eclipse

In itself this horoscope is peaceful and happy, especially when compared to the 1936 Olympics with its Sun/Uranus square and Mars/Pluto conjunction. But then, the whole idea is for international sport to spread openness and peace, and therefore these Olympics should serve a good purpose. It’s what happens after the Olympics that is more important, because the event inevitably opens up the country to mass tourism, and this will bring the ordinary Chinese citizen more and more in contact with Western values. Like thunderclouds on the horizon, the 2008-eclipse chart shows a Pluto/Uranus square growing stronger and stronger. As Saturn travels through Virgo entering Libra in 2010, Pluto will have made its way into Capricorn, and Uranus into Aries. By June 2011 there will be a particularly virulent T-square between these three planets strongly activating China’s Sun at 7 Libra. The Chinese will try to resolve a crisis at this time through the heavy hand of authoritarianism. Over the course of the next three years, the square of Uranus and Pluto will evoke dramatic and transformative change in the Chinese leadership – and also for many governments whose formation was on the 1st of January of any particular year. (And therefore have the Sun at 10 Capricorn, like the United Kingdom). It is in these chaotic years that opponents of China will see a scenario developing which could mean their dreams, and the dream of a free Tibet, come true.

Adrian Ross Duncan


Memento – A Retrograde Feast

Memory is a fragile thing, but we are totally reliant on it to relate to our individual world. There are many who through disease, accident or old age actually lose their capacity to retain events in memory, and though they can recall old long-term memories, they are unable to remember what happened just a few minutes previously.Which means, if you had no short-term memory, you would now be wondering what you are reading.

You would go back over the last paragraph, just to get it to stick in your mind, and you would reach here again, but it will not have stuck. If you think you could seek solace in television, books or film, this would not be the case, because you would not have the ability to follow the plot. But you would really like TV adverts, which just lasted a minute or so. You would remember those with whom you had had a long term relationship, but new people coming into your life would be forgotten minutes later, and each time you met, the meeting would have all the freshness of the first meeting. You would have to be told when it was time to wash, brush your teeth, eat, otherwise you might simply repeat these actions after a few minutes had elapsed.

Loss of Short-term Memory

How then, would you be able to live a productive life? This is the subject of the extraordinary film Memento , in which the last memory of the main character, Leonard, was the discovery of his wife on the bathroom floor, murdered and raped. The shock of seeing this took away his short-term memory, and the film starts with him trying to unravel the mystery of who killed his wife, so that he can exact bloody revenge. The problem is that he cannot remember people he has talked to in the process of his investigation, what they have said, or when they said it. He cannot remember where he is staying, or what car he is driving. But he has a system, which consists of writing notes and taking polaroid pictures of his car, people and places and annotating the pictures. When he comes across an extremely important fact, he has it tattooed on his skin, engraved in body memory for all time.

A Film that goes Backwards

Memento starts where it ends, and ends where it starts, because the delight of the plot is that it goes backwards. It opens violently with a polaroid picture of a dead man. The picture fades, gets sucked back into the camera, then the man’s death is enacted backwards, and this reverse scenario sets the scene for a film portrayed in short clips, each subsequent clip preceding the one before in time. This is a retrograde feast. By the end of the film we see just how great the consequences of short-term memory loss can be. For in this film, nothing is certain, except that Leonard’s condition is being exploited by certain unscrupulous people.

The Influence of Retrograde Planets

See chart for viewing Memento

As an astrologer, reality seemed even more distorted, for the horoscope for my own personal viewing of the film perfectly reflected the nature of its plot. The late Scorpio ascendant clearly illustrates what this film is about: revenge. The originality of the film unfolding backwards is shown by the ruler Mars, retrograde in the first house, and opposing Mercury, retrograde in the 7th. Leonard is Mars, and note how Mars has conjoined Chiron, where it stationed before going retrograde. This man carried the wound of the trauma of his wife’s death, and his wounded mind led him on an odyssey of blind and hopeless revenge, for, even if he succeeded in finding the murderer, and killed him, how would he remember the accomplishment? Mars has already conjoined Pluto, and will return to 15.06 Sagittarius to almost make the conjunction with Pluto again. Almost, because Pluto is also retrograde and has by this time slipped back from 15 to 13 degrees Sagittarius. There is no final solution.

Sorrow and Revenge

During the film, his wife is a shadowy figure whom he revisits in flashbacks, sometimes alarmingly changing the details supposedly engraved in his memory. He is driven by the tragedy of loss, and the longing for a supposed ideal marriage, and this is shown by the Venus/Neptune square. It is interesting to see how Neptune and Venus configure with the Mercury/Sun/Jupiter stellium opposing Mars by semi- and sesquisquare, connecting the theme of lost love with revenge. In actual fact at the moment the film started all these planets configured with the MC/IC axis with squares and half-squares. Retrograde Mercury (exactly opposite Chiron – how about that for a damaged mind?) is about to conjoin the Sun, with both sesquiquadrate Neptune.

The Stellium in Gemini

The movie is punctuated by the flash of the polaroid camera “capturing” reality, the flash of the Sun, and the subsequent etching of the words of Mercury on the photograph. All this in the pursuit of a supposed justice, for Jupiter is also in the picture, still touched by its previous opposition to Pluto. Leonard is the judge and executioner, but his mind is flawed, just as Jupiter’s capacity is flawed in Gemini, where it is in exile. What Leonard simply cannot do is create an overall picture – his world is circumscribed by his scribblings and his pictures but he cannot make a connection between them or gain any kind of time perspective. A nice detail is the tattoos, which ultimately cover his body, as he frantically adds new “facts” to his most trusted memory bank – his skin. What better expression for Saturn in Gemini?

Astrological Timing

But wait! The film had been showing in Copenhagen for some time, and had been seen at European film festivals last year. For what possible reason can the horoscope for my viewing the film with a fellow astrologer be so apt and accurate? What if we had gone to see the film a couple of months later with a completely different set of aspects? Of course, a film like Memento has its own astrological dynamics and, as might be expected, its release in America fully accorded with appropriate astrological patterns. The first public showing in America (Note 1.) was on March 16th 2001 when it was released simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles to rave reviews. This was the day when a retrograde Venus was returning to activate the Mars/Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius, triggered by the Moon, so the theme of love, justice, murder and revenge was equally powerful. It is interesting to note that Mercury had at this time almost returned to the point at which it went retrograde in February at zero degrees Pisces square Jupiter in Gemini, a pattern which also reflects the ambiguity and confusion which characterises the film.

Astrological Reality

The amazing congruence between the film and the astrology of the moment, reminds me of other episodes when I have watched a TV film, and the film has been so perfectly in tune with the planetary positions of the time. In a way it’s very understandable when a broadcast reflects astrological events so well, because it is a collective event. It’s a bit more worrying, when my partner rents a video, and that also encapsulates the astrology of the moment. That is simply a personal event. As an avid follower of planetary movement, I enjoy seeing the changes in my environment as a planet changes sign. On one occasion, as Mars moved into Gemini, I left my house, caught the morning train, and found myself sitting next to a man in jogging trousers, who was opposite another man in identical jogging trousers, identical T-shirt, identical faces… they were twins.

Your World and Your Beliefs

And I couldn’t help asking myself if the show was put on for my benefit, for I was the one looking for a sign from the heavens about Mars in Gemini, and twins were provided. There are not enough twins around to put this show on for everyone, but then not everyone’s chosen belief is astrology. In India there is an astrological tradition in which horoscopes are inscribed on palm leaves. Analyses and predictions were written – thousands of years ago – describing the life and karma of every seeker who visits the astrologer. A common question the astonished visitor poses to the astrologer is, “How can the lives of everyone on Earth be contained on these palm leaves”, and this prompts the answer from the astrologer: “Goodness gracious, not everyone… we only have the horoscopes for the people who come to ask”.

The Power of Belief
It seems that an intelligent universe proactively mirrors the mind of the consciousness which interacts with it. Whatever you choose to believe in will create a reality around you, which fully accords with your beliefs – unless some enormous change confronts you with another reality. It was a shock for many Western communists when the Berlin Wall dissolved in 1989, and tens of thousands of Eastern Block citizens joyfully streamed in the West. The evidence for their suffering and the indignities they had undergone at the hands of an autocratic and secretive state could not be denied. With these citizens casting away their communist past with such enthusiasm, how could hard core believers in the West continue to hold onto dogma which had previously defined their identity? It was a real crisis for many. But most of us have the luxury of sticking to our beliefs from the cradle to the grave, without them every being challenged.

Using Astrology

For Leonard the defining belief was revenge, but without memory he could not enjoy it. Driving along in a stolen Jaguar sports car, which he had come to decide was his at some point during the film, he desperately asks himself, “The world doesn’t suddenly disappear when you close your eyes, does it?” Well, no it doesn’t, but it’s something you can never be sure of. Astrologers who would like to feel most attuned to their beliefs and to the universe, could perhaps enrich their lives by choosing to do things which best reflect the astrological influences of the time. If Mercury squares Saturn, then applying oneself to serious study for the day would be effective. If the Moon in Virgo squares Pluto, then an hour’s radical clean out would be just the job. Make that bank appointment to get a mortgage when the Moon in Cancer sextiles Venus in Taurus … the bank manager is just waiting to lend money, so you may as well be the lucky one! You have to take your beliefs very seriously indeed, because the universe does.

Adrian Ross Duncan
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