Gone Fishin’

Tomorrow, Aug. 8, 2008, my friend Patricia and I are driving to Lily Dale, N.Y. for Patricia Bell’s seminar at 8:08 p.m. We’ll be fishing for spiritual inspiration and trying to tap the power of 8.

I met Patricia Bell at the United Astrology Conference in Denver back in May, so this trip is yet another great thing that came out of attending UAC. By the way, the pictures from UAC are now up. You can see them here.

In the interest of communing with the spirits that are said to inhabit Lily Dale, I’m leaving my laptop at home. So if Amy Winehouse dies of a drug overdose or there’s an earthquake in Beijing during opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics, I won’t be able to write about it till Sunday, Aug. 10. Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

I’m really doing it: I’m turning off my computer right now.

Down and Out in Muncie

You know things are bad when you drive into a small Indiana town and the first thing you see is a billboard that says, “Make $240 a month selling plasma.” Whoa! I should have hit the brakes and taken a picture that I could post, but I had two kids in the car and we were on our way to a swimming pool on a hot summer day.

Many people who watch Late Night With David Letterman are familiar with Muncie because it is the home of Ball State, and Letterman often mentions his alma mater on the show. Letterman always gets a laugh by mentioning Ball State, probably because some folks in the audience are old enough to remember when “ball” was the slang du jour for sex.

I have friends who live in Muncie and work for the college. If you stay in the vicinity of the campus, you might imagine that everything is O.K., though there are quite a few homes for sale.

But drive to the country club, where there’s no one in the pool or on the golf course because few people can afford the modest fees to join the club, and you start to get the picture. Go to the mall and see the empty storefronts.

Or pick up a paper and read the panic-infused stories about the closing of a Borg-Warner plant that makes transfer cases for the Ford F-150 truck and Explorer sport-utility vehicle. The 500 or so jobs at the plant are being transferred to Mexico, which offers lower wages and has special trade privileges under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

I Googled Borg-Warner and learned that the company’s roots in Muncie date back to 1901, when its predecessor, the Warner Gear Co., was founded. This is not just a random factory closing; this shutdown strikes at the heart of Muncie’s industrial bedrock.

Where is Ross Perot when you need him? That “sucking sound” of jobs moving to Mexico that he talked about is louder than ever. As Bruce Springsteen wrote, “Those jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back, to your hometown.”

Even before the subprime mortgage disaster, Indiana had one of the highest home foreclosure rates. The homes being lost are owned primarily by workers in the auto parts industry, one of Indiana’s leading employers. A lot of auto parts production has moved to China and Mexico because of lower wages.

I wonder when this country is going to figure out that there’s no such thing as “free trade.” I’m not a protectionist by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we need to move to a system of managed trade where the losers are compensated. We can’t afford to write off whole towns like Muncie. Meanwhile, farmers in Mexico are starving because NAFTA has brought them into direct competition with U.S. agribusiness, which enjoys big government subsidies.

For those free marketeers who believe Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” will take care of everything (not that any of them are reading an astrology blog), let’s recall that government helped prime the pump for those Ford Explorers whose parts were made in Muncie.

How? By giving tax breaks to small-business owners who bought SUVs and used them “exclusively” for business. I’d heard about the SUV tax breaks, but never believed it until I saw them with my own eyes when I started doing my taxes with TurboTax three years ago. (My husband’s Jeep Wrangler didn’t qualify for the deduction because it wasn’t heavy enough, by the way.)

Government has the power to influence consumer and corporate decision-making by offering incentives. Let’s say the local or state government in Gloucester, Mass., where there has been a surge in teen pregnancies, set up full college scholarships for high school girls who don’t have babies. This probably would be hard for government to do under laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender, but a private group might pull it off. Four years from now, the pregnancy rate will have fallen, I guarantee you.

Of course, students who have children shouldn’t be denied scholarships. I know that. But I’m trying to make a point here about the power of financial incentives to change lives. All the evidence shows that the more education a mother receives, the better the life of her child will be. Of course, if a woman spends the majority of her child-bearing years earning postgraduate degrees and working, she may run into fertility problems when she finally does decide to have kids, but that’s another post.

Human beings respond to economic rewards, whether it’s deductions for small-business SUVs, scholarships for at-risk students, or the tax breaks that California has enacted for zero emission vehicles (See “Tesla Motors: California’s Gain is New Mexico’s Loss”. It’s a fact.

Along those lines, how about setting up economic redevelopment zones in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan? Would conservatives who happily spend $12 billion a month or more on the war in Iraq brand efforts to bring new jobs to the industrial Midwest as “socialism”?

I was talking to a friend whose husband is involved in the Beltway media business. She was telling me that in the early Eighties, when we were both in journalism school, she didn’t have a lot of sympathy for workers who were losing steel industry jobs. “I thought they should just move to another town, retrain, and get new jobs,” she admitted.

Now, as she’s watching neighbors and friends get laid off at the Washington Post (see “Wassup with the Washington Post?” ), she says she finally understands the economic pain that job loss inflicts on families. Maybe now that the chattering classes are being affected by downsizings, we’ll be hearing more in the media about the plight of displaced workers.

At the United Astrology Conference in May, astrologers were predicting that this final passage of Pluto through Sagittarius, which ends on Nov. 25, will coincide with the last wave of media cutbacks. And then the ax will fall in banking and financial services as Pluto, which governs restructuring, moves through financially-oriented Capricorn.

Question: How does an out-of-work journo retool? No, this isn’t a joke.

Astrology Mundo Makes Time

I’m in Boulder, Colo., for a wedding, but my friend and astrological comrade-in-arms Christopher just left me a voicemail with the exciting news that Astrology Mundo is quoted in this week’s Time magazine in connection with the Gloucester High pregnancy epidemic. (See my post of June 24, “The Gloucester High Pregnancy Pact,” http://astrologymundo.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/the-gloucester-highpregnancy-pact-and-the-summer-solstice-chart/

Of course, the mention is a little tongue-in-check, but who’s complaining? Here’s the link:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1818191,00.html

Frankly, I’m stunned at the level of interest that mainstream media has shown in astrology lately. There’s still a hardy dose of skepticism and a bit of snarkiness, but it’s nothing compared to the ridicule that self-satisfied reporters heaped on cosmobiology, as our German friends like to call it, until very recently.

I have to look at my AstroCartoGraphy for Denver. (See “AstroCartoGraphy: Your Own Map of the World,” http://astrologymundo.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/astrocartography-your-own-map-of-the-world/)

If I remember correctly, I’ve got Uranus, the ruler of surprises and astrology, on the IC (fourth-house cusp) there. Here’s what’s interesting: I learned about the Time mention minutes after landing in Denver, where I also attended the United Astrology Conference in May. Last but not least, I recently learned that Elsa P., whose Top 10 Sources portal has brought this blog so much traffic, is based in the Denver area.

So in my chart, at least, Denver brings astrology home (IC).

The Return of Nikola Tesla

I had been thinking about inventor Nikola Tesla even before my weekend visit to the Integratron, an electromagnetically charged chamber in the California desert that was built by engineer George Van Tassel based partly on Tesla’s research (“Getting Charged Up at the Integratron,” May 26, 2008).

Tesla has inspired a cult-like devotion among his followers, many of whom believe his electrical inventions were thwarted by financiers such as Bernard Baruch and J.P. Morgan because they challenged the economics of the utility industry. In light of today’s fear that we are nearing “peak oil” and are running out of fuel to power our autos and other machines, Tesla’s claim to have discovered “free energy” is more intriguing than ever.

In 1933, the inventor told the New York American newspaper: “This new power for the driving of the world’s machinery will be derived from the energy which operates the universe, the cosmic energy, whose central source for the earth is the sun and which is everywhere present in unlimited quantities.”

One reason I got interested in Tesla is that the same day I started Astrology Mundo (Mar. 17, 2008), production began in San Marcos, Calif., on a breakthrough electric vehicle called the Tesla Roadster. The 100% electric car gets the equivalent of 135 miles per gallon, according to Tesla Motors. This electrical marvel costs a pretty penny, though. The base price for the 2009 model is $109,000.

Here’s the link to the company’s Web site: http://www.teslamotors.com/

Tesla the man surfaced as a character in Christopher Nolan’s 2006 film about magicians, The Prestige, and was portrayed by rocker David Bowie. Interestingly, 2006 was also declared the Year of Nikola Tesla by UNESCO. I rented The Prestige not long before visiting Niagara Falls for the first time in October, 2007. While I was at the falls, I saw a statue of Tesla on Goat Island. All roads were leading me to Tesla!

With the mysterious Tesla making cameo appearances in modern-day culture, I started looking into his chart. That’s when the confusion started. There are several charts circulating for the eccentric inventor who emigrated to America and registered 700 patents.

Everyone agrees that Tesla was born close to midnight. Legend has it that his midwife said he was born just as a bolt of lightning struck. This has led many astrologers to conclude that his chart must have the electrical planet Uranus rising.

Astrodatabank says Tesla was born at midnight on July 10, 1856, in Smiljan, a town that was in Austria-Hungary at the time of the inventor’s birth. It was later part of Yugoslavia and is now in Croatia. Here’s the chart: http://www.astrodatabank.com/NM/FeedbackPRT.asp?ChartID=46

If you scroll down the comments below Tesla’s AstroDataBank chart, you’ll find one dated May 15, 2001, that says that Tesla’s father was an orthodox priest who “recorded his birth according to the old calendar,” and that his real date of birth is July 22, 1856. The commenter cites a Serbian astrological magazine. Tesla’s parents were both of Serbian origin.

Given the lore about lightning striking as Tesla was born, here’s the chart I like. It shows a birth time of 11:10 p.m. local time on July 21, 1856. Yes, I know this is July 21, not July 22, like the Serbian astro magazine says, but this one works for me.

In many places, Tesla’s birthday is recorded as July 9/10, so it’s conceivable that he could have been born late on the night of July 21 because of the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. If you want to read about calendars, click here:

http://www.astro.uu.nl/~strous/AA/en/antwoorden/moderne_kalenders.html

The chart I like has a 25 degree Taurus ascendant with Uranus rising, a Sun/Venus conjunction at 29 degrees of Cancer, and a Moon/Neptune conjunction in Pisces, which could reflect the confusion about Tesla’s birthday. Here’s a link to that chart: http://www.astrology21.co.uk/p1tesla.html

I need to do more reading about Tesla, but everything I’ve perused indicates he was an extremely nervous person, so the Uranus rising chart seems plausible.

It’s worth noting that transits from Uranus to a deceased person’s chart often activate interest in that individual. It is for this reason that I think astrologers should watch the date that the first Tesla electric car hits the road and compare the transits of that day to the various natal charts circulating for the inventor.

Based on the speculation about the development of a new energy source that was circulating at the United Astrology Conference in Denver, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Tesla. If you want to read more about his life, click here for a Web site that accompanied an excellent PBS series: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/index.html

The 2008 United Astrology Conference: It’s a Wrap

One of my favorite things about WordPress is that you can see the sites and search terms that are generating your traffic. Right now, most of my readership is coming from people searching for news about the United Astrology Conference in Denver.

If you’re looking for my complete coverage, please go to Categories on the right-hand side of the screen and scroll all the way down to UAC Denver 2008. There, you’ll find all the articles I wrote about the Denver conference in one place.

Thanks for stopping by! After making my bid to reach 500 hits in one day, I made it to 650 yesterday, mostly based on the interest in UAC.

Astrology Gets a Second Life

It seems every day brings another mind-blowing revelation for me about astrology. Excuse me if I have the enthusiasm of a newbie, but I’ve been out of touch with astro for a few years after living and breathing it in the early Nineties.

I know from reading the business press that Second Life has been a lucrative venue for entrepreneurs who design avatars, sell clothes, and other necessary accoutrements for living the virtual life. Here’s a piece that ran in BusinessWeek about entrepreneurs making real money in Second Life: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_44/b4056410.htm?chan=search

Now, I’ve just learned that astrologer Chris Brennan of Colorado does astrological consultations in Second Life with your chart up on a big screen. This is way cool, if you ask me. Here’s the link to his site: http://www.astrologicalconsultingservices.com/services/natal/birthchartconsultations.html

Chris is also president of the Association for Young Astrologers, a new group that was lighting up the scene at the United Astrology Conference in Denver. I’m wondering if many of this group’s members have the Uranus/Neptune conjunction in Capricorn, which was exact in 1993-94. That would make them very open to occult pursuits, but quite practical and businesslike in how they approach astrology, tarot, numerology, etc.

Maybe all the young astrologers hang out in Second Life. That sounds pretty groovy, if you ask me, even if I’m not ready to make the leap to virtual life. As you can see from the comments that I’ve posted on this blog, my avatar is a stark rendition of the Capricorn symbol.

Maybe if I lose 20 lbs., I’ll go for a humanistic avatar. It would bother me to have one that looked better than I do in real life. With Mars ruling my seventh-house cusp, I can be quite competitive — even with my avatar.

My Lunch With Nancy

One of the highlights of my trip to the United Astrology Conference in Denver was having lunch with Nancy, whose eponymous blog has been functioning as the watchdog of the Bush Administration. The conversation, not surprisingly, centered on politics and the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Nancy’s grasp of what ails our once-great nation is awe-inspiring, as is her mathematical ability. I attribute both of these traits to her stellium in tech-savvy Aquarius. During our lunch at a restaurant along Denver’s hospitable 16th Street pedestrian mall, Nancy confessed to me how she keeps track of all the transits to the natal charts of politicians, generals, and the various hot-spot nations in the world like Pakistan and Afghanistan. She uses graph paper to plot various aspects along a timeline: the old x/y graph, with x equals aspects and y equals time.

Yes, you read that correctly. Nancy says she has graph paper tracing transits to key charts going all the way back to the beginning of the first Bush Administration. That’s a lot of graph paper. She only recently acquired SolarFire software for her laptop because someone advised her that she wouldn’t have any street cred with the UAC crowd without computerized charts to back up her assertions.

Nancy told me that in her day job she’s a therapist who deals with a wide variety of clients, some of them bipolar. No wonder she’s so good at psychoanalyzing the American psyche! As a nation, we’re a bit bipolar, if you ask me. To read what’s on Nancy’s mind these days, click on my blogroll. She’s got a great post right now synthesizing the mundane and financial news out of UAC.

Crude Oil at $144 a Barrel?

Given that oil hit a new high of $130 a barrel this morning, I’ve put a new top on one of my posts of last week.

One of the more interesting predictions emanating from the United Astrology Conference in Denver came from financial astrologer Ray Merriman. Considered by many to be the “dean” of financial astrology, Merriman thinks oil is headed for $144 a barrel, give or take $8, most likely by the end of this month. He thinks the Jupiter sextile Uranus aspect of May 21 could produce the new eye-popping high.

However, he expects prices to decline $30 to $40 by the fall. The reason isn’t likely to be consumer restraint during the summer driving season. Merriman says oil prices are heavily influenced by conflict in the Middle East, and “when it’s 120 degrees outside, guys don’t like to fight.” The war will continue during the summer but not at the same level of intensity, he says. And that should help bring oil prices back down some (emphasis on the word “some”).

The Word at UAC in Denver: The Dollar is Toast

Most of the people reading this blog have grown up during a time when the American dollar was one of the most sought-after commodities in the world. For those of us who remember parity, when one dollar was worth one euro, it’s tough to come to terms with the beaten-down dollar, which now equals .63 euros.

Don’t count on a rebound in the greenback any time soon is the news coming out of the United Astrology Conference in Denver. In fact, the downhill descent hasn’t even begun to pick up steam, according to the astrologers gathered at the Sheraton.

Now, the general public may think of astrologers as doom-and-gloomsters, but I can cite plenty of evidence to the contrary. For instance, when I attended the UAC in Crystal City, Va., in 1992, prior to the Uranus/Neptune conjunction in Capricorn, the forecasts were relentlessly upbeat about the opportunities for technological innovation to transform the business world.

I remember one astrologer telling me around that time that I was going to make money in the future by writing for “a screen.” That’s impossible, I told her, because I write for print publications and I’m not a screenwriter. Well, in retrospect I see that her prediction was anticipating the advent of the Internet, which has brought me a new source of income, though none yet from my baby blog.

What I’m trying to do with this preamble is to establish some credibility for the crowd of stargazers from all over the world who periodically assemble under UAC’s umbrella. As a rule, they are not gold bugs, they are not survivalists, they do not believe in Armegeddon.

However, they do believe the U.S. is headed for hyperinflation very soon, and that the once-mighty greenback could go the way of the Reichsmark, Germany’s currency during the Weimar Republic, which became so worthless that people burned it in their stoves to keep warm.

The thinking is this: The Jupiter/Neptune conjunction on the U.S. Moon, which I’ve written about in my post “The Coming U.S. Depression,” will bring about hyperinflation and the extreme devaluation of the dollar, ultimately leading to its demise.

Anyone who has spent time in Brazil realizes this is not an unusual occurrence in the Third World. For the record, Brazil has moved out of the league of developing countries into the higher tier of emerging markets, while the U.S. is moving in the opposite direction. Since 1970, Brazil has used the cruzeiro, cruzado, cruzado novo, cruzeiro real, and the real as its currency. My source is this link..

In his May 19 talk on “Politics and Financial Markets through 2011-2013,” Austrian economist Manfred Zimmel, who is a graduate of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, predicted complete destruction of the U.S. dollar during 2012-13. “It’s terrible to see a currency destroyed,” he observed. No kidding, especially when it’s that of your own country.

Zimmel made some other dire predictions for the U.S. and Japanese economies, but I want to limit the frame of this post to the dollar. I left his lecture feeling quite depressed, but also consoling myself that maybe his downbeat outlook was yet another example of European schadenfreude, taking pleasure in others’ misfortune. You know, those Euros want to see Yankee ingenuity go up in smoke, I told myself.

Then today I basically heard the same downbeat dollar story from Shelley Ackerman,  a tell-it-like-it-is astrologer from New York City with a theatrical background. Although Ackerman lacks Zimmel’s economics credentials, her forecast seemed so down to earth and grounded in astrological precedent that it resonated with me.

She thinks hyperinflation could be coming sooner than Zimmel. In her wide-ranging lecture on “The Outer Planet Dance of 2008-2012 and Beyond,” Ackerman pointed out that the transiting Jupiter/Neptune conjunction of July 10, 2009 basically takes place on the U.S. Moon in the so-called Sibley chart for U.S. independence, which I also use.

This aspect could bring about a lot of illusion, confusion, and even airborne illness, Ackerman says. But she thinks inflation will go “crazy” and the dollar will be dead as a currency by 2012. “Have you noticed that many New York stores are already accepting euros?” she asked the audience.

How do you protect yourself against a declining dollar? Zimmel says commodities and stocks are good investment vehicles. The idea here is that the massive expansion of the U.S. money supply under the Bush Administration will not harm shares, which will continue to rise along with profits and inflation. Of course, for foreign investors, buying stock in U.S. companies isn’t a good idea since the dollar will be declining and U.S. stocks are denominated in dollars.

Ackerman recommends buying euros. Even if you don’t have the minimum required to open an online bank account or CD denominated in euros, you can buy American Express traveler’s checks in euros and put them under the mattress. However, she did express fear about what would happen if the U.S. economic scene gets so bad that American Express does under.

I think that scenario is highly unlikely. Even if AmEx runs into trouble, investors from the Mideast would be likely to step in and provide it with an infusion of capital, as they have recently done for many troubled U.S. financial institutions, including Citibank.

This next point wasn’t mentioned in either lectures, but as a student of economics, I realize that hyperinflation benefits debtors by reducing the value of the money they owe. Perhaps inflation will be a deliberate strategy by the Federal Reserve to get individuals, corporations, and the U.S. government itself out of debt.

Overheard at the United Astrology Conference

I’ve long been an avid eavesdropper, and the wireless revolution has created more opportunities for me to engage in this fascinating pastime as people have personal conversations in public places on their cell phones. Early this morning, I was sitting in the lobby of the Denver Sheraton, where 1,500 astrologers from 48 countries have gathered for the United Astrology Conference.

The subject of my interest was a meeting between an astrological software developer and a venture capitalist for an astro matchmaking service that comes with social networking features. I did a quick Google search and it does appear that some dating sites have tried to incorporate astrology, but nothing big-time jumped out at me.

Of course, in India, where no one marries without consulting an astrologer, I’m sure something like this already exists. But what these guys were talking about was e-Harmony meets MySpace and AstrologyZone. The only problem I anticipate with something like this is the tendency of people, particularly those past the age of 30, to lie about their age.

Case in point: One of my former sweethearts gave me a birthdate of July 30, 1931. Based on this information, I calculated a composite that I thought was a beautiful thing. I even threw a birthday party for him for a special year. Fast-forward through four years of entanglement in a complicated triangle and his license falls out of his wallet one day.

As I picked it up and say, “What a nice photo this is for a license,” his face turned white. I didn’t look at the birthdate because I had no reason to believe he was lying. As I handed the license back to him, he confessed that he had shaved two years off of his life and that his real birthday was July 30, 1929. You gotta love those vain Leos!

If memory serves me correctly, the new composite had Sun square Neptune, the planet of disillusionment and deceit in it.

So good luck to any astrological dating service that accepts a date of birth without supporting documentation!