The BP Oil Spill and the Sibly Chart

I’ve been having my own Neptune issues lately so I haven’t taken the time to study the chart of the BP Oil Spill closely, but my off-the-cuff observation is that the out-of-control gusher provides compelling evidence for the Sibly chart for the birth of the U.S. This chart uses a 5:10 p.m. time for the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia and was originated by Ebenezer Sibly (which is often mispelled as “Sibley”).

In the Sibly chart, the U.S. Moon is at 27 degrees and 10 minutes of Aquarius. On April 20, 2010, the day the BP oil spill occurred at 9:50 p.m. near New Orleans, La. (data courtesy of Jude’s Threshold), Neptune had just hit 28 degrees of Aquarius.

Since most astrologers use a July 4 date for the U.S. chart (one notable exception being Michael WolfStar), there is agreement that that the U.S. has a freedom-loving Moon in Aquarius. As Neptune has moved through Aquarius to conjunct the U.S. Moon, there has been a lot of speculation about what kinds of Neptunian (read “confusing,” “deceptive,” or “disappointing”) events would transpire that would involve the U.S. public. I for one expected the swine flu epidemic to be much worse than it was.

This is one of those discussions that is the astrological equivalent of Talmudic debate, but I’m positing that an oil spill that defies the attempts of man to stop it and that endangers the fishing and tourism industries in the Gulf of Mexico qualifies as a major Neptune event. Although it happened nearly a degree past the position of the Moon in the Sibly chart, it’s all the confirmation I need.

Has Jim Rogers Been Reading Jim Kunstler?

Check out this story from CNBC, where legendary commodity investor Jim Rogers says that he’s bought land and started farming. I’ll confess I haven’t read the whole story yet, but I was expecting Rogers to advise us to buy gold.

Here’s my thinking on bullion: The approaching conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune in Aquarius opposes Leo, the sign that rules gold. An Aquarius stellium helped make Leos India (Slumdog Millionaire) and Sean Penn (Milk) winners at the Oscars. I’m betting it will do the same thing for gold.

In case, you don’t know who Jim Kunstler is, check out his site. The peak oil guru, who was recently profiled by The New Yorker, envisions a world where food will be grown locally — by you and me!

Well, the U.S. started as a nation of gentleman farmers back when Pluto was last in Capricorn. Maybe we’re going back to the future.

All Charged Up About Scranton

Something’s happening with Scranton. It started with the U.S. version of The Office, which is set in the “Electric City,” the nickname Scranton gave itself in 1886 after becoming home to the nation’s first electrified trolley system.

Then, at the end of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd dubbed her the “Scranton gal” because Clinton had struck a chord with Wal-Mart Moms, Scranton got another notch in its tattered belt.

The hometown of Delaware Senator Joe Biden, Scranton received some more high-voltage exposure over the weekend, thanks to the hilarious vice-presidential debate routine on Saturday Night Live.

In the skit, Biden, played by actor Jason Sudeikis, runs Scranton through the mud, calling it a “hell hole,” among other things, to establish his working-class street cred. From Scranton’s point of view, though, any publicity is good publicity.

While trawling the Net this morning, I discovered a T-shirt for a Police cover band called Scrantonicity on the Snorg Tees Web site that’s at the top of this post. Commenter Marge informs me that Scrantonicity is a “fake” Police cover band that Kevin from TV’s The Office plays in.

Still, the “icity” suffix in Scrantonicity suggests a Uranus transit for the hardscrabble city in Northeastern Pennsylvania, as does all the TV and Internet coverage. (Uranus is associated with electricity.)

Carolyn Dodson’s Horoscopes of the U.S. shows a Scranton chart with Neptune rising at 15 degrees of Virgo, just past a 14 degree Ascendant. The chart is set for noon on June 2, 1773, when an ordinance was adopted to establish the town. The noon time suggests that the actual time the ordinance was passed is unknown.

Even so, natal Neptune is getting an opposition from starmaker Uranus in Pisces. Bingo! Transiting Saturn is also conjuncting that Neptune as it moves toward an opposition with Uranus on Election Day. Maybe the presence of Saturn is why the buzz (Uranus) surrounding Scranton is of the backhanded-compliment kind.

The natal chart has a Sun/Venus conjunction at 12 and 11 degrees of Gemini, respectively, at the Midheaven, squaring Neptune in Virgo. My brother (there’s a Gemini word for you) once observed that Scranton had more bars and churches (both ruled by Neptune) per capita than any place he had ever visited.

The chart also features a Mercury/Uranus conjunction in Taurus in the Ninth House fortunately trined by Pluto in the fifth at 22 degrees of Capricorn. That Taurus/Capricorn aspect reflects the city’s wealth from coal and its reputation as a leading industrial center from 1846 until 1945, when the city began a long steady descent. By the 1970s, the city known for generating energy by producing coal was becoming an arson capital.

In recent years, Scranton’s fortunes have been revived somewhat by good old-fashioned pork barrel, which led to the creation of a new National Park Service site called Steamtown. Founded in 1986, Steamtown is dedicated to the history of steam railroading.

Evidently, millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted to maintain Steamtown and its attendance figures have fallen short of the mark. Still, it’s a feather in Scranton’s newsboy cap.

In the spirit of disclosure, especially since the SNL skit labeled Scranton as a “genetic cesspool,” my grandfather emigrated from a part of Austria-Hungary that is now in Ukraine and became a coal miner in Scranton. Like Biden, my father clawed his way out of Scranton, actually a “suburb” called Peckville, but his exit strategy was to join the military.

In the SNL skit, “Biden” claims to be the only good thing ever to come out of Scranton. That’s not quite true. The city has produced a Pennsylvania political dynasty for the family that gave Scranton its name as well as some exceptional athletes. Gerry McNamara, who played for the Syracuse University Orangemen from 2002 to 2006, comes to mind.

No doubt some young punk or punkette is walking Scranton’s mean streets today, with just one goal: to get out of the Electric City and see his or her name in lights. Hey, I’ve got your back. We’re from the same genetic cesspool!

OPEC’s Staying Power: The View From Brazil

Today is turning out to be a doubleheader for Gian Paul, our Brazil bureau chief. Do they have beisbol down in Brazil? I think not. Probably Ronaldinho and Ronaldo would not allow it.

About a week ago, Gian Paul filed a long comment that referenced OPEC and I promised that if he fleshed it out a bit, I’d give him a post of his own. After some crossed signals and technical difficulties (Mercury retrograde), I think we have a readable, interesting post on the chart of OPEC. Here’s Gian Paul:

Anybody who has any doubts about the long relationship between oil and Saturn should take a look at the chart for OPEC, the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Using a birth time of noon on Sept. 14, 1960 in Baghdad produces a chart with the Sun on the midheaven making a T-square to Jupiter and Mars. The Moon is in Cancer (not bad for liquids) opposing Saturn retrograde at 1 degree of Capricorn.

It’s seldom that one finds a chart with four planets in the sign of their rulers: Venus in Libra (must be fun to own an oil well or two), Jupiter in Sagittarius (moving almost overnight from riding camels to driving Mercedes-Benzes to flying Learjets and Falcons – the metallic kind), Moon in Cancer (the crescent is on all Islamic flags), and finally Saturn in Cap, retrograde.

In the style of astrology I follow, this gives the OPEC chart four “governors.”

Some salient aspects of the chart: Expansive Jupiter is in a tight opposition to martial Mars. This world’s arms dealers a long time ago discovered the beauty of Middle Eastern deserts.

Another striking feature of the OPEC map is its “cutting” planet, Mars, and its “trailing” one, Saturn. (The cutting planet is the one with the biggest open space ahead of it, moving in a counterclockwise fashion, regardless of degree.) In the almost 50 years that OPEC has been in existence, the group has functioned in a fairly cohesive manner, thanks to its strong Saturn and generally favorable planetary positions.

Of course, its members are periodically shaken by infighting, conquests, war. Big fluctuations in the price of oil are the norm. As the stuff is getting rarer or at least more difficult to find cheaply, the trend can only be up, especially with China as a big new consumer. No need for economists nor astrologers to predict that.

Today, OPEC’s members in total must sell large quantities of oil to simply maintain their high standards of consumption. That’s why I suspect that Iran is pushing towards nuclear energy. Knowing that once nuclear power is up and running, they, and others, could reduce selling oil at critical moments, thereby pushing up the price etc. The other “nuclear problem” with Iran is playing games, mostly.

It’s useful to remember here that OPEC member Indonesia has a population of over 250 million. Add Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Nigeria, and a few others to the account, and one gets at least 400 million to 500 million car-loving oil producers generating their electricity from oil today.

“Sheik” Lula, as the Brazilian President is increasingly called around here (he loves the role), recently visited the United Nations in New York. There are rumors circulating that he may be tempted to make a bargain: If Brazil is admitted as a permanent member of the Security Council, he may forget about wanting to join OPEC. Tough decision, isn’t it?

Looking at the current transits on OPEC’s chart, simply using the Fall Equinox chart, it’s truly exciting from an astrological point of view. Jupiter has just crossed natal Saturn, Neptune soon will terminate its opposition to Uranus, Saturn is heading for its 29-year encounter with OPEC’s Sun and will activate the T-square with Jupiter and Mars.

In the days of Yasir Arafat, it would have been easier to forecast OPEC’s next step. By looking at Arafat’s chart, as the guy had some emotional grip on OPEC, one was able to “combine things.” Presently it’s more difficult. But I have no doubt that something serious will happen leading to higher oil prices ahead, perhaps as high as $200 a barrel.

The transits on OPEC’s chart are crying for it. It’s possible that Israel will take action against the Iranian nuclear laboratories. Both Pakistan and India have nukes, remember. Not that they will use them. But they may get the CIA running, and others behind. We are “at the edge of a possible precipice,” so to speak.

As an aside, I have an acquaintance in Geneva in real estate. One day he was really lucky. One of Saddam’s brothers or a cousin bought a villa from him. The price (neither one of the two spoke English very well ): 2 million. The Iraqi made a bank transfer for 2 million dollars, when the price was 2 million Swiss francs, giving the seller more than double the then-exchange rate. These were the days when the dollar was a lot stronger.

The real estate guy bought himself not a Mercedes-Benz but a Ferrari, four-seater, a very rare model to have. Not bad.

Thanks, Gian Paul. Well, I’ve been on the receiving end of many a mathematical error in my day, but the mistake never seems to be in my favor. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to be Swiss in my next life!

Remembering Kondratiev, the Martyr Economist

Back in the early 1990s, when Uranus and Neptune were conjunct in Capricorn, I became quite interested in the work of Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev (also spelled Kondratieff), who was born March 4, 1892 in Kostroma, Russia..

How about that? I’m writing about Kondratiev the day before the anniversary of his death, Sept. 17, 1938.

Kondratiev got in trouble with his Marxist bosses for positing the existence of a “long wave” that surfaced every 60 years in capitalism. The Marxists believed that capitalism was hurtling toward its end, not that it was an enduring system racked by periodic turmoil. As a result, Kondratiev suffered for his theory. He was sent to the dreaded Gulag and was sentenced to death.

As this chart from Astrodienst (with transits of today) shows, Kondratiev was a visionary Pisces Sun conjunct Mercury. He had a T-square in mutable signs — Jupiter in Pisces opposing Saturn in Virgo both square Mars in Sagittarius.

This is a personal observation, but I’ve noticed Jupiter/Saturn contacts in the charts of several noteworthy economists — Nouriel Roubini, the latest “Dr. Doom,” has Jupiter sextile Saturn, as did John Maynard Keynes. As Liz Greene has noted in her research on the Jupiter/Saturn cycles, these two planets have a lot to do with socioeconomic trends.

Many economists are hoist with their own petard, to quote the Bard, but Kondratiev’s death sentence was a cruel fate indeed for a practitioner of the Dismal Science. Without an exact time of birth, it’s hard to determine exactly why it happened.

I need to do more work on the chart, but I can see that Neptune was at his Sun/Jupiter midpoint when he died, as this chart shows. Reinhold Ebertin, in The Combination of Stellar Influences, says this aspect can result in “the undermining of the health, material loss.”

Back when I was reading about Kondratiev, I knew a fair number of commodities traders. They were followers of Robert Prechter, a devotee of the Elliott Wave, as well as W.D. Gann, a legendary trader who reportedly used astrology to time the markets.

I became a member of the Foundation for the Study of Cycles, a group that publishes Cycles magazine. Alice had indeed fallen down the Rabbit Hole!

As technical traders in the commodities markets know, you can become enmeshed in a net of confusion studying various cycles and waves. As computer screens of stochastic oscillators and Fibonacci numbers give way to a metaphysical discussion of the Golden Mean and fractals, the lines between the fields of finance, science, and the occult become quite blurred. Ah, Neptune in Capricorn: I remember it well!

Followers of Kondratiev like myself were waiting for the bottom to drop out of the U.S. economy in the early 1990s because it was roughly 60 years after the Great Crash of 1929. But though the economy suffered twin recessions in the early ’90s following the Crash of 1987, a Thirties-style Depression never materialized. What happened instead was globalization (Pluto into Sagittarius in 1995) and the advent of the Internet (Uranus into Aquarius, also in ’95) combined to usher in a new era of expansion.

As much as I believe in Kondratiev’s 60-year cycle, I also subscribe to the idea of a roughly 100-year cycle operating in U.S. history. A few quick examples: War of 1812 and World War I, Civil War in the 1860s and upheaval and Vietnam War in the 1960s, financial panics in 1873 and 1973.

When Pluto went into Sagittarius, I got back into the business of trying to earn a living and put my cycles studies aside. But this week’s events are bringing me back to the 100-year cycle.

Market maven Barry Ritholtz has blogged on a book called The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market’s Perfect Storm by Robert F. Bruner and Sean Carr (McGraw-Hill, 2007).

Now, Wall Street Weather is making the connection between 1907 and yesterday’s bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the merger between Merrill Lynch and Bank of America that occurred under the “Harvest” Full Moon in Pisces.

You may know that the Panic of 1907 led to the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. You can see the Fed chart here. The Fed’s natal chart is being transited through the end of the year by expansive Jupiter. Then, it’s going to be activated by Pluto in Capricorn, as it was earlier this year.

Remember, things don’t always work perfectly, so the Panic of 1907 and the Collapse of 2008 are 101 years apart, not a century. It’s close enough for me. If readers have any ideas about the astrological aspects that might produce a 100-year cycle, I’d be very interested to hear about them.

The Beginning (and End) of the Oil Age

Taking a page from astrologers who look at the chart of the Wright brothers’ first flight for clues to why an airplane crashed, I’ve calculated the chart for the discovery of oil to see if we can learn anything about the recent spike in oil prices and whether fears that we’ve entered a “peak oil” period are valid.

According to the Web site of the Paleontological Research Institute (PRI), petroleum was first discovered on the morning of Aug. 28, 1859 in Titusville, Pa. The find was made in a well drilled earlier that summer by Edwin Drake that had been nicknamed “Drake’s Folly” because it hadn’t produced any results. Click here to learn more.

We don’t know what time the oil was first spotted, but the Web site says morning. I’ll venture to say that folks started work pretty early back in those days, so I’ve set the chart for 7 a.m.

Here’s the chart, courtesy of Astrodienst.

I want to point out that even if the Ascendant is iffy because I’ve arbitrarily picked 7 a.m., that Neptune in Pisces in the seventh house seems valid, given that Neptune rules oil and it is in the sign that it rules, Pisces.

Michael WolfStar at Neptune Cafe has rectified this chart and uses a 7:56 a.m. time. His page on oil is one of the most comprehensive collections of charts and commentary on the subject that I’ve seen.

What’s really interesting is that the upcoming Saturn/Uranus opposition in Virgo/Pisces, exact on Election Day, is quite close to the oil chart’s Neptune at 26 degrees of Pisces.

I’ve consulted my trusty reference book, The Combination of Stellar Influences by Reinhold Ebertin, to learn that Saturn/Uranus equals Neptune means: “weakening strength, separation, mourning, and bereavement.” Could we be sad because our oil is running out? If the chart is any indication, the answer is yes.

It’s interesting that this chart has a Venus/Mars conjunction in Leo when you consider that the automobile, powered by gasoline, was a venue for sexual exploration and other youthful (Leo) hijinks like “joy-riding” and playing “chicken” in the 1950s. We see a little of this in the opening scenes of the latest Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A lot of gasoline is burned in the name of fun, a Leo realm, as we drive and fly to weddings, parties, baptisms, graduations, family reunions, and vacations.

Another thing I find fascinating about this chart is that it has North Node and Chiron in Aquarius not far from where they are traveling right now. What does this mean? I’m not sure, but record high oil prices are leading us to re-examine our dependence on this commodity and perhaps our whole way of life.

As readers of this blog have probably gathered, I approach astrology and the charts I calculate with a Sagittarian enthusiasm. I see myself as an explorer. I’m looking for connections, but I’m not wedded to my own interpretations. I think charts are valuable maps for those of us who think we know how to read them, but they can operate on many levels at once and their nuances aren’t always immediately apparent.

I’ll write more later, and I’d love to hear what other students of astrology have to say about this birth of oil chart.

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”).

Mundane Musings

Interesting that with transiting Mars in Cancer making a T-square with the Aries Sun and Mercury and Jupiter in Capricorn over the last week that skyrocketing food prices have come onto the media’s radar. Here’s a good CNN piece that wraps up the food news..

In Haiti, Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was forced out of office in a weekend vote by parliament because of food riots in that country. In Haiti’s chart, set for Jan. 1, 1804, you can see that transiting Mars near the Midheaven is squaring natal Uranus in Libra in the first house.  Translation: Anger about food or home issues leads to sudden changes. Here’s Haiti’s chart, courtesy of Astrodienst.

Having visited Haiti several times myself and having made the acquaintance of many journalists, historians, musicians, and filmmakers who are very knowledgeable about the place, I feel guilty about the superficial interpretation. I could spend weeks looking at this chart and studying the history books. But I’m facing some time constraints. I’ve put analyzing the Haitian independence chart in depth on my to-do list.

In the meanwhile, at the risk of sounding blithe about suffering in a country where people are subsisting on mud cakes, I’m going to digress here and point out that on Jan. 1, Haiti’s Independence Day, it is traditional to make, serve, and eat pumpkin soup.

Back in the Nineties, after a trip to Haiti, I was scouring the Internet for the Soup Joumou recipe and couldn’t find it. Now, thanks to the explosion of blogs, I can find hundreds of recipes for the soup, which usually includes meat. Here’s one that I’m going to try:

I really should have gone into broadcasting because I have a tendency to inject a little happy talk into my news. Back to the grim reality, though. Egypt, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon have been hit by unrest because of rising food prices. Americans are also waking up and smelling the pricier coffee.

Here’s a link to an interesting radio interview on rising food prices by Amy Goodman at Democracy Now. Goodman talked to Raj Patel, the author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, about the current food crisis:

Barry Ritholtz, my favorite money guy, has a lot of interesting stuff on the implications of runaway food prices for governments around in the world. Click on The Big Picture in my Blog Roll to read his excellent analysis. Over the years, I’ve posted comments on Barry’s blog and have tried to gently introduce him to astrology, but he’s having none of it. That’s O.K. I still love his economic analysis and his book and music selections. He’s a hip dude!

If you’re one of those who believe that New York real estate is immune to the forces of gravity, I’d advise you to check out Marjorie Orr’s excellent post on Gotham, which she twinned with an astrological forecast for London in A Tale of Two Cities approach. You’ll also find Orr in my Blog Roll.  

Up on the Farm

Now that I’ve sung the praises of Main Street the place, let me talk about Main Street as a state of mind. When  I use Wall Street and Main Street in the same sentence, what I’m really comparing is equities vs. commodities, stockbrokers vs. farmers. I know Main Street is composed of merchants, not farmers, but it’s a useful handle to describe the heartland. 

When I lived in Kansas in the 1970s, the farmers drove Cadillacs. Many people have this idea of farmers as hayseeds, but these guys had ag science degrees from Kansas State. They knew about economics, weather forecasting, and hedging in the futures markets.

Now there’s no question that many of those farmers who used to shop on the main street in Chapman, Kans. aren’t in the farming business (yes, it’s a business) anymore. They may have lost their farms to the banks when the commodity markets crashed in the mid-’80s, prompting artists like John Cougar Mellencamp and Willie Nelson to sponsor the FarmAid benefit concert.

Or they may have sold out to agribusiness. In farming, as in many other businesses, it’s getting harder and harder for the little guy to make it, unless he’s got an angle, like a fancy organic label that he can market to the rich city folks. According to the Guardian, more women are trying their hand at small-scale farming in the U.K.:

Agricultural policy is something I’d like to learn a lot more about. I learned a little while working for a London-based consulting firm called Third World: EEC in the summer of 1981. Dr. Peter O’Neill and Uma Ram Nath, who run Third World, did their best to educate me about sustainable development and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union, but a lot of it was over my head.

The thing I came away with that summer is that the Brits thought CAP was a sweetheart deal for French farmers. Of course, when I told my student friends that I was working for Third World, they thought I was a groupie with the reggae band:

Despite my ignorance about global agricultural policy, I’m certain it’s going to be restructured while Pluto is in Capricorn. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is crushing farmers in Mexico, while in India, small farmers have been committing suicide in droves because they can’t make a go of it.  As a financial writer in a country that pays a lot of lip service to free markets, I’ve heard plenty about Japan’s “stupidity” in protecting its rice farmers.

It never seemed like a mistake to me. Anyone who has ever read Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth” knows the value of land can’t be tallied only using dollars or yen. There’s a lot of psychic wealth involved, for both the farmers and the nation as a whole. In the case of Japan, where there’s not a lot of land, the government extends farmers the kind of  preferential, even reverential, treatment that some Western nations give to religious institutions.

I don’t subscribe to any end-of-days theory, whether in the Bible or the Mayan Calendar. I do like to follow cycles though, and I think the farmer is going to be in the catbird’s seat pretty soon — whether it’s from raising corn for ethanol, speculating in the futures markets, or being able to grow food for his family during a time of shortages. But he probably won’t be spending his money on a Cadillac, unless it’s a hybrid.

Mars in Cancer — Whaa!

Maybe today’s full moon at 1 degree of Libra is stirring up the pot (it is squaring Pluto, for heaven’s sakes), but boy are people cranky out there! I noted this trend at the end of last year when Mars went into Cancer. I foolishly hoped we would be spared another go-around in the nursery after the retrograde back into Gemini because this transit is forward motion all the way. Scratch that theory. The whining is back.

Whaa! That’s the collective cry of 300 million Cancer babies who just saw the 4’s coming out at the local gas station. In California, the 4s are here, for diesel. We’re still on the 3s for unleaded, but for how long? I’ve watched the Valero around the corner from us go from $2.99 to $3.53 since Feb. 1.

In the U.S., gas prices are up 70% from a year ago and diesel prices are up 129%. Don’t believe me? Check out this site, courtesy of the Dept. of Energy:

Note to self: Don’t pull out in front of trucks coming out of the gas station. Could get mowed down by irate trucker.