What a Way to Start the New Year…


…and what a week I picked to excuse myself from the responsibility of weekly astrological commentary.

Nothing really big happened… just some tiny little earthquake underneath the Indian Ocean, a humble 9.0 on the Richter scale (merely the Earth's largest since 1964)… followed by a tiny little tsunami (or 'giant wave'), resulting in an ever-increasing death toll which has barely hit a mere 150,000 so far, only another several million folks in many surrounding nations affected… that's all, I guess.

Returning to my computer keyboard after a week's holiday-festivity-filled respite, I hit a creative impasse. The mind-bogglingly devastating quake-and-tsunami provides the most obvious source of inspiration… the single event so major that everything else is dwarfed… and so, of course, I must write about it… what else would I write about?… though I'm acutely aware that every other commentator is also writing about it… what else would they write about?… and at once, I'm struck by the near-inescapable unoriginality of what I will write, as well as its inherent inability to adequately address the profound enormity of what went down on Dec 26 on Earth—and the unavoidable necessity of writing it anyway.

It doesn't really get much bigger than this. Land masses have changed position and shape, altering the map. The earthquake sped up our planet's rotation and increased its tilt, reducing the length of our days. The ramifications for astrology are real, though negligible—the planetary positioning information in our computers and ephemerises is now ever so slightly off. But the obvious larger meaning hovers: This single event has literally wobbled us, shaken us to our core and knocked us off axis.

Compare the figures and expert opinions from the past to try to gain some perspective on the now—if such perspective is possible—then remember the numbers are still coming in. These 'numbers' are individual human beings, not only those who were tossed around and washed away, but also those who will starve, contract terminal illnesses and/or die mad and broken.

Stop and feel. Refrain from incessant hypothesizing on what could happen to us. Rather, consider what has already happened, and continues to happen, to them. We are them; they are us. Feel the reality, not some fear-driven fantasy.

One of my jobs as an astrologer is to identify, to the best of my abilities, the astrological indicators at play when a major event occurs. Like other astrologers, I rush to cast a chart of the event as quickly after it happens as I can, and I use that chart to help me make sense of what's happening. Upon examining the chart of the Indian Ocean quake, I spied that aggressive Mars had entered straight-ahead Sagittarius only hours earlier and was in applying square to abruptly-chaotic Uranus (i.e., approaching a challenging 90-degree angle). A Mars-Uranus square is a quintessential aspect of physical disruption, the kind of indicator that might lead me to warn of accidents or disasters—expected and unsurprising, though Mars squares Uranus once a year or so and doesn't always bring such drama.

Also, at the time of the quake, the Moon was approaching its 'fullest' fullness of the year—that is, a Full Moon in its ruling sign Cancer—and would become exact later that day. This is not surprising, given that astrologers have long noted the connection between big quakes and the relative positions of the Sun and Moon, which are often within a day or two of newness or fullness either way. Again, though, a Full Moon (even in its ruling sign) is certainly not enough to indicate a global event of this magnitude.

The most striking feature of the Dec 26 quake chart is a close opposition between Saturn in Cancer and planetoid Chiron in Capricorn, falling right across the horizon (or Ascendent-Descendent axis) of the chart wheel. In other words, Chiron was 'rising' and Saturn 'setting' at the time and place of this mammoth geological occurrence. To me, this Saturn-Chiron opposition glares in our direction as the big astrological 'key' to this event—the symbol of difficult acceptance of our human limitations (Saturn) facing off against the badge of our wounded nature, through which we discover our healing potential by incorporating 'woundedness' into the fabric of our being (Chiron). Here is where our astrological 'search for meaning' must pause for contemplation.

Since Saturn entered Cancer in June 03, we've faced heightened responsibility for honoring our emotional wisdom, an increasingly challenging feat for those of us immersed in the consume-more/feel-less cultural milieu, interminably mediated by the McMedia. With Saturn in Cancer, we are forced to heed our feelings directly. We must accept their illogic and behave accordingly, with requisite caring and self-trust, at the same time we learn to differentiate our emotions from the distractions of others'—otherwise, we harden into emotionally dishonorable souls. In conversations with clients, I often combined the keywords for 'Saturn' and 'Cancer' to describe this difficult task as 'building a fence around water', in order to both dwell in its wetness and keep its boundaries intact. Little could I imagine, Saturn in Cancer would literally manifest as a 'wall of water', drenching our consciousness from head to toe.

Chiron, meanwhile, sits in opposition to this disastrous waterwall in Capricorn, the sign of our heroic father-figure authorities who protect us in times of need. Chiron in Capricorn (where it's been since Dec 2001) signifies the uncovering of festering wounds within our governing bodies, exposing areas in which the duty to provide a solid structure and responsible strategies for collective success has gone unmet. In this instance, Chiron in Cap stands in for the inability of existing governing entities to get warnings out in time to save lives, and the verdict is still out on whether aid will make it through the system and into the hands of those who need it in enough time and abundance. Its opposition to Saturn in Cancer speaks of both despair and redemption at the intersection of private needs and the public administration of their satisfaction. As our globe has changed, so too must methods for governing our life upon it.

But even Saturn opposing Chiron, one time out of seven between Sep 03 and Jun 06 alone, explains little. There is much more to say about this, and yet nothing that can be said. I feel but cannot fathom it. As an astrologer, it is far easier to point out indicators than to step out on a limb and interpret what they mean. Who am I, safe and warm and dry, to now wax philosophic on the broader implications of this profound circumstance, to hail this dark cloud's silver lining in the face of so much suffering still? Too soon, too close…or too far away… or too…I don't know quite. Tritely but truly, I am humbled.