Let Them Drink Dr. Pepper

The good news is that Dr. Pepper has extended its special offer for a free 20-oz. soda. Good luck trying to get the coupon, though. I didn’t have any luck because the beverage maker’s servers appear to be overwhelmed.

For those of you who don’t know, the free Dr. Pepper is fulfilling a promise that if Guns N’ Roses ever released its Chinese Democracy album, the soda maker would give free soda to the masses.

O.K., that was the good news. The bad news is that the U.S. government has had to step in and rescue Citigroup. Wall Street likes the deal; the Dow Jones industrial average is up 300 points as I write this.

But just remember folks, the Wall Street brokers, bankers, and hedge fund managers aren’t funding this bailout — you and I are.

Looking for the cosmic take on these turn of events? Me too. Well, since the Sun, Mercury, Mars, and Pluto are all in Sagittarius right now, that would certainly favor Dr. Pepper since Sagittarius likes spice. Ditto for guns and Chinese democracy, even if it’s the musical kind.

The Dr. Pepper/democracy hookup reminds me of a post I wrote on the Saturn/Uranus opposition earlier this year, when I was reminiscing about how beverage makers piled on to the revolutionary bandwagon in the 1960s, the last time that we had a Saturn/Uranus opposition.

Stay tuned.

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The Last Days of Pluto in Sag

I don’t know about you, but I’m counting the days until Pluto leaves Sagittarius on Nov. 26. Of course, my Mars is at 29 degrees of Sag and with Pluto sitting on it, I feel like I’m literally under the gun.

Speaking of guns, evidently there’s been a huge increase in sales of firearms and ammunition since Barack Obama was elected. Here’s an article from a newspaper in Elmira, N.Y., about the surge, which merchants attribute to fears that there will be new restrictions on gun ownership.

Sagittarius is the sign associated with the cowboy, so I think it’s fitting that folks are stocking up on guns and ammo in the last few days of Pluto’s transit through the sign. I know, cowboys carry a lasso, not a gun. I guess I saw too many movies about the trigger-happy Wild West when I was growing up.

Another Sag archetype is the pirate, and today it was reported that Somali pirates hijacked $100 million worth of Saudi oil.

I think we’ll be hearing more about cowboys and Indians during the next few days as Pluto takes his last ride in Sag before moving into the sober sign of Capricorn.

Any other Pluto in Sag sightings? Let Astrology Mundo hear about them.

Spending is Out; Saving is In

A friend of mine who works in marketing and PR asked me how Pluto in Capricorn, which begins on Nov. 27 and lasts until 2024, is going to be different from Pluto in Sagittarius, which began in 1995. She wants to know how she should change her media pitches.

The bottom line is: Most magazine and newspaper articles during Pluto in Sag were about how to spend money or speculate, or profiled people who were big spenders or big givers (generosity is a key Sag trait).

By contrast, most of the coverage in the consumer and business press during Pluto in Cap will focus on how to save money in all kinds of ways and will lionize those who are good at it. Cheapskates, this is your moment to shine!

Here’s what I’m talking about: My friend Barb tells me in Buffalo the daily newspaper has changed the name of its Technology section (Monday’s business front) to Money Smarts, which includes a weekly column by the “Discount Diva.”

During Pluto in Sag, we had lots of money but no time. Now, we’re going to have plenty of time but no money. Life is going to S-L-O-W down perceptibly, regardless of what the Mayan Code folks say.

Instead of paying other folks to do stuff for us, like raise our kids, clean our houses, and plant our gardens, we’re going to do it ourselves.

Finally — you’re not going to believe this — duty is going to make a comeback!

I’m talking about quiet, honorable duty, not pride or aggression masquerading as duty.

Election 2008: Trick or Treat?

When I started this blog, I decided to call it Astrology Mundo (world) in the hopes of taking a broad view and attracting readers and commenters from all over the world. Obviously, my mandate is limited by the fact that this is an English-language blog.

As we count down to the U.S. election, a lot of allegations about the candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, are spreading like wildfire through the blogosphere, and I don’t want to get burned. I’m interested in truth and transparency, but I’m not going to be the vehicle to spread rumors. Therefore, I’m not approving comments that appear to be motivated purely by political concerns, despite my desire to be broad-minded.

For the record: I don’t know who will win the Presidential election. Because of the aspect between revolutionary Uranus and restrictive Saturn that is exact on Election Day, there could be an “upset” of some kind.

The potential for a grand deception or a perfect storm also exists, as Mars in Scorpio will be squaring a stellium of Neptune, Chiron, and North Node in Aquarius, as Neptune turns direct.

Ray Merriman, the dean of financial astrology, decided to stop talking about the election in recent weekly columns because of the angry e-mails he was getting from folks who disagree with him. He’s got a forecast up this week, though, that reverses his earlier prediction that McCain will win.

His feeling is that Obama has become more Saturnian (responsible, conservative) and McCain more erratic (Uranus) as we’ve moved closer to the election.

As I mentioned earlier this year, I was fascinated by the premise of the underrated Kevin Costner film Swing Vote. In that movie, the Republicans start acting like Democrats and the Democrats espouse policies normally associated with the GOP, all in an effort to win the vote of one man (Costner).

Since the financial crisis erupted on Sept. 9, the Republicans have pushed through a program of government intervention that appears to take a page from the Democrats’ playbook. Although Congress, at the behest of President George Bush and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, has spearheaded what I’ve dubbed “welfare for Wall Streeters,” Republican voters continue to rail about possible “socialism” under Democrat Obama. They don’t seem to understand that government control of our financial system is accelerating under a Republican Administration.

As Nancy’s Blog has astutely observed, the culture wars are back in full force as Pluto makes its last pass through Sagittarius before entering Capricorn for good on Nov. 27. So the fur is going to continue to fly.

Rest assured, though, the Saturn/Uranus opposition will be informing politics for the next few years. If McCain and his vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin win the election with their “maverick” persona, the people will react in a Saturnian (conservative) way.

Likewise, if Obama is elected, I predict he will be too conservative for his supporters, who may be disillusioned as Neptune conjuncts the U.S. Moon in Aquarius during the next two years. Indeed, the financial crisis and the amount of money pledged to prop up the fragile banking system may put the kibosh on any plans that Obama had to bolster social welfare. This typically means using government money to improve services for seniors, children, the disabled, and the needy.

A huge problem with both candidates, who are in overdrive trying to woo Main Street with a populist (from populi, Latin for the “voice of the people”) message: The political system in the U.S. and our politicians are beholden to powerful corporations.

Sure, I think it’s great that Joe Biden is from Scranton, my Dad’s gritty hometown. Trouble is, Biden represents Delaware in the Senate and has strong ties to the credit-card companies based in that state that have raped consumers with interest rates of 30%.

As informed voters know, McCain was caught up in the savings-and-loan scandal of the late 1980s and was one of the Keating Five, a group of Senators punished by their colleagues for improper conduct in connection with Charles Keating, the former head of Lincoln Savings and Loan. The New York Times has also exposed McCain’s ties to lobbyists from the Indian casino gambling industry.

While candidates of all political stripes go out of their way to cast themselves as ordinary guys and gals for fear of being labeled part of the “elite,” the reality is they are dutiful servants of our plutocracy.

With Pluto in Capricorn, the bottom line is: We’re all on our own. Our government will not be able to help us — either because it goes bankrupt trying to honor its overly optimistic financial promises or because it’s dismantled by radicals on the right or the left, or by a fringe coalition.

It’s interesting when you read about home-schooling and private school vouchers, both of which take kids out of public schools, to see that supporters range from conservative Christians to lefty tree-huggers.

Sarah Palin’s fellow travelers in the Alaska Independence Party, who are working for the state’s secession from the Union, are the harbingers of this anti-government sentiment on a federal level. What’s going to be amusing is when the folks who have been preaching that it’s time to “get government off our backs” will be begging for handouts. It’s going to get ugly, no matter who is elected.

Still, the optimist in me says we’ll go back to the spirit of Yankee mutual aid celebrated by Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America. A case in point: When I was recently was cat-sitting for a friend in New York City, I discovered a whole lending library of books that the co-op has in the basement. At least people the people in that building will have something to read after the local library shuts down because of government cutbacks.

So build and cultivate your networks (the U.S. Moon in Aquarius), folks. But that’s what’s going to get you through the next four years, no matter who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Addendum: I was Googling trying to find a de Tocqueville quote about volunteerism and mutual aid and I stumbled upon this one, which is quite apt as the Bush Administration starts talking about the need for another government stimulus package with the election less than a month away:

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.

For the Love of Knut

I’ve been chatting with friends over the past couple of days and they’re really broken up about the Sept. 22 death of Berlin zookeeper Thomas Doerflein, known to millions throughout the world as the “father” of Knut the polar bear.

Knut was born Dec. 5, 2006 in the Berlin Zoo and was rejected by his mother. Doerflein reportedly spent 150 days around the clock feeding, bathing, and sleeping next to Knut. (Rhymes with “cute,” depending your accent.) Here’s a video about “Cute Knut” and his human daddy, for you animal lovers out there.

When Knut was introduced to zoo visitors on Mar. 23, 2007, he created an international sensation dubbed “Knutmania.” Doerflein was deluged with fan mail from around the world, including proposals of marriage, and was later awarded Berlin’s Medal of Merit, according to the Wiki.

As Knut grew larger, the hoopla died down, though not before he sparked a souvenir industry based on his image as a playful club frolicking with his “father” Doerflein.

I couldn’t find any birth data for Doerflein, who died of a heart attack at age 44, but I did find a birthday for Knut. I’ve run Knut’s chart, courtesy of Astrodienst, with transits for the day he made his “debut.”

He was born with a stellium in Sagittarius that includes Jupiter/Sun/Venus/Pluto, a powerful lineup that’s perfect for a media (Sag) darling. I’ve set the chart for noon because we don’t know Knut’s time of birth.

Interestingly, the noon time produces a horoscope with Neptune in Aquarius on the Ascendant, which might have some validity given the number of times Knut’s picture was taken and transmitted around the world on the Internet. (Neptune rules photography, while Aquarius is associated with electronic networks such as the Internet.)

On the day that Knut was presented to the public by Doerflein, transiting Sun in Aries was trining the cute cub’s Jupiter, transiting Jupiter was conjunct his natal Venus, and transiting Mars was on natal Neptune. A star was born!

Here’s a wild coincidence. Do you know what other “orphan” who became a worldwide celebrity has a stellium in Sagittarius? Elián González, who was born Dec. 6, the day after Knut, but not the same year. You may recall that the Cuban boy became the subject of a legal and diplomatic tug-of-war between the U.S. and Cuba in 2000.

Of course, Elián was born in 1993, not 2006, like Knut. And Elián’s mother didn’t reject him; she probably sacrificed her life on their trip from Cuba so that he could live. But both the boy and the bear have charts that were activated by Pluto in Sag, which has to do with powerful communications. Here’s Elián’s chart, courtesy of AstroDataBank.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Elián, now a teenager living with his father in Cuba, after he was chosen to deliver a speech in honor of the 80th anniversary of the birth of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

International fame made Knut the polar bear “addicted” to publicity and a “psychopath,” according to one of his keepers (not Doerflein). Life in the limelight can do strange things to bears and people. It is hoped that Elian’s brush with fame did not have a crippling effect on his psyche.

Astrology and Moving Targets

I was just Googling astrologer Richard Nolle to see what he has to say about the financial crisis, and I happened upon the Web site of an Indian astrologer dedicated to defaming Nolle and exposing his “false predictions,” including that Bill Clinton would be a one-term President.

I won’t dignify the site by linking to it, but the guy had the nerve to sign off by saying “Om, Shanti” (Peace)!

Unlike our Indian counterparts, most Western astrologers do not believe that an outcome is fated. We might look at our charts and say Barack Obama has a good chance of standing on the Capitol steps on Inauguration Day.

But then his GOP opponent John McCain chooses Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential nominee, and Obama makes a stupid comment about putting lipstick on a pig. The next thing you know holding up a tube of lipstick fully extended (sort of phallic-looking to me!) becomes a cool thing to do at McCain rallies.

Was the astrologer who predicted great things for Obama wrong or did the Senator from Illinois jeopardize his chances of being President by impulsively uttering an expression that was taken out of context? As the old Duke Ellington ditty goes, “A slip of the lip can sink a ship.”

I’m not a philosopher or a physicist, but I’ve heard the theory that everything that is going to happen already exists and we’re just walking through a tunnel experiencing all of the exhibits in the museum of our life in linear fashion. That may be true, but I still believe in free will.

As astrologers, we’re only as good as the data we’re given, and our ability to interpret symbols varies from one individual to another. I look at my Fall Equinox chart and see John McCain as Saturn in the 10th. My commenter Cynthia thinks it’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Who’s right? Maybe both of us. Maybe neither!

In terms of the outer planets, even one like Pluto, which has been “demoted” by astronomers: I think we’re imparting a valuable weather forecast to folks who are interested. We’ve just lived through the economy on steroids, under Pluto in Sagittarius (1995-2008). Now, we’re entering an economic deep freeze with Pluto in Capricorn. Life is going to slow down. We’ll remember how to smell the roses, assuming we do something about pollution pronto.

We’ll get very resourceful, picking up the picnic table that’s in someone’s driveway down the block with a “free” sign on it instead of buying a new one at Home Depot. These more general predictions I can make with confidence. They affect the collective. And even the folks who’ve got a lot of money squirreled away are going to “get back to basics.”

Economists are fond of noting that consumers account for three-fourths of gross domestic product in the U.S. Well, the American consumer is finally tapped out. We’re going to have retool and invest in infrastructure under Pluto in Capricorn. Otherwise, our bridges and highways are going to fall apart.

Right now, politicians in Washington are trying to prop up the structure of the financial system. But that is bound to come tumbling down under Pluto in Capricorn. It must be rebuilt.

To wind up this rant, Richard Nolle is a fabulous astrologer. His Web site does an amazing job of predicting extreme weather and where it’s going to happen. Perhaps when he predicted that Clinton was going to be a one-term President, he was expecting that Clinton’s impeachment was going to result in the President leaving the White House.

Or perhaps those prayers that Clinton offered up paid off. I believe in miracles, the deus ex machina, and Divine Intervention. But I also believe that how much a person can benefit from these forces depends on the aspects in his natal chart.

When the Sun sign column says it’s my lucky day, I usually get a windfall of some kind — a school tax refund that I’d forgotten about, a small royalty check, or a rebate check from buying a small appliance that I’d mailed in months earlier. Do I win the lottery? No, but I’ll keep buying the tickets, just in case.

I don’t think the election is a “done deal,” by any means, but as they say on Wall Street, “don’t fight the tape,” or in our case, the chart. Our Fall Equinox chart has Old Man Saturn in the 10th. Anybody who wants to run the show better let the gray show in his or her hair. Age and authority are back on top, at least in this horoscope.

Marjorie Orr on the Financial Meltdown

As readers of this blog know, I’m a great admirer of British astrologer Marjorie Orr. She has done an excellent analysis of what’s behind the current financial meltdown.

While the mainstream press would have us believe that major financial institutions are collapsing because of the housing downturn, the reality is more complex than that.

Massive fees have been earned by folks whom I’ll call “financial engineers” during the past few years by peddling exotic derivatives such as credit default swaps. Evidently Wall Street didn’t really understand the risk involved in these unregulated instruments. Marjorie gets it.

Because of the way her Web site is set up, with scrolling comments, I asked Marjorie for permission to quote her comments on “snake oil salesmen” here. The piece was written before today’s 449.36 drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to 10,609.66. You can read more at her Web site.

Here’s Marjorie:

It’s very easy to get hysterical about a financial meltdown with the oversensationalized media getting all hyped up, though yesterday in fact only took a few percentages off the stock market rather than the freefall which followed the 1929 crash. And stock markets anyway are not the “real” economy though there will be negative consequences filtering through into ordinary peoples’ lives.

Astrologically speaking the 1929 crash and depression following was due partly to Neptune moving out of overblown Leo (the Roaring Twenties) into earthy Virgo undermining employment prospects; with Saturn in late Sagittarius moving towards bleaker times in Capricorn heading for a really tough opposition to Pluto in Cancer bringing deprivation and squaring Uranus in Aries in the early 1930s.
[NOTE FROM AM: We’re heading for this same T-square in 2010.]

Pluto in Cancer altered family life and changed the status of women, pulling them away from their primary role as homemakers with a tremendous upheaval from Uranus square Pluto. It was largely caused, as is this crisis, by irresponsible lending to Americans hoping to make their fortune on the stock market. The banks lent more than they possessed and the bubble burst with catastrophic results for the next decade.

What has been intriguing me is to work out from the astrology what has been going on in the financial sector this time round. Part of it is irresponsible lending. But the real problem which could lead to banks going bust and people losing their savings – is the ramping up of debt in schemes of mind-boggling complexity which leveraged the original debt into stratospheric proportions, paying the money men percentages all the way up the line.

And it also interlinked all the banks since they laid debt off to each other, so if one goes down the domino effect kicks in. Warren Buffett in 2002 called these schemes “financial weapons of mass destruction – time bombs, both for the parties that deal in them and the economic system.”

There’s a feel here of megalomania, delusional disregard for reality – like the myth of Icarus who flew too high and burnt his artificial wings and discovered the hard way that he was not a god but an earth-bound human. That was there in the 1929 crash – gambling borrowed money to make profits on the markets without having to work for it – which does have a fire sign or afflicted Jupiterian feel about it.

But this time round there’s an additional sense of a hellish enmeshing, a deadly spider’s web of delusions, deviousness, and trickery which adds a Plutonic layer – or worse Pluto pumping its power-driven energy to vastly inflate the bubble. It’s almost Neptune/Pluto – too high and too low at the same time, except it isn’t around at the moment.

These high risk financial debt-offsetting schemes have been around forever, but only grew to prominence with deregulation through the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The 70s/80s had Neptune and then Uranus in fiery innovative Sagittarius (Sagittarius ruled by Jupiter doesn’t like limits). The 80s/early 90s had greed and power driven Pluto in Scorpio; plus the Saturn/Uranus/Neptune triple conjunction in business-oriented Capricorn which brought the first correction to the markets in the crash of 1987.

Whether this year’s end-of-the-line meltdown could be attributed in part to Pluto just leaving Sagittarius (1995 to 2008) isn’t clear. It’s certainly Pluto in a fire sign though its meaning has usually been confined to fanatical religious beliefs. Arguably Pluto just pushed the boat out too far in fiery, risk-taking Sagittarius – snake oil salesmen running amok.

Perhaps Pluto’s early foray into Capricorn (February to June 08) was a trigger to start clearing out the mess (purging being a Pluto effect) that the Triple Conjunction in Capricorn in late 80s/early 90s began but couldn’t quite get a grip on.

Pluto in its negative aspect is highly enmeshed, very secretive, controlling, stops change but eventually gets so constipated it silts up with toxins and self destructs. (The financial world ever flamboyant in its language is talking now of ”toxic debts” running into trillions of dollars/pounds.) In its positive aspect Pluto clears away garbage, deconstructs outdated attitudes and systems, reduces old power structures to ashes in preparation for the phoenix to arise. In the process it necessarily has to disentangle or destroy the spider’s web of the old controls.

What is scary about the present financial crisis is how interlinked it all is – a few poor folk down Missouri way were lent too much money to buy houses and suddenly every financial market in the world is in a state of nervous collapse. Capitalism will have a very different face come the middle of the next decade.

Isn’t that an amazing analysis? Thanks, Marjorie, for letting me reprint it here at Astrology Mundo.

Reverend Wright Redux

I’ve got to hand it to my commenter Chris. Earlier this year, when I wrote about the parting of the ways between Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama and his minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Chris had this to say:

“I expect some intensification when Pluto backs up to square Wright’s Sun and Barack’s Mars. Is it just a matter of time until the next you-tube sermon from Wright equating Barack to the Prodigal Son? Perhaps they’ll be a firecracker exploding soon relating to the Obamas and marriage counseling or tax-deductible donations made by Obama to Wright’s congregation.”

The comment ended up in the About section of this blog, not under my post about Reverend Wright.

Chris was prescient in his observation that Wright would be back in the news. Pluto has just turned direct and is moving to once more square Wright’s 29 degree Virgo Sun. He’s making headlines today because Elizabeth Payne, the secretary of a Dallas church run by one of Wright’s disciples, told the New York Post, she had an affair with the clergyman.

Assuming this allegations are true, perhaps Reverend Wright decided that Oscar Wilde was right after all: The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

Way to go, Chris!

The Death of Tim Russert and the Spring Equinox Chart

Hindsight is always 20-20 vision, but the sudden death of TV newscaster Tim Russert on June 13 got me thinking about the 2008 Spring Equinox chart.

That chart, set for Washington D.C., has Uranus in Pisces in the third house of media and communications square the Ascendant, a negative aspect that had Nancy over at Nancy’s Blog quite concerned about some surprising event in the nation’s capital.

Here’s the link to the chart: http://www.handclow2012.com/springequinox.htm

My post for the chart said there could be upsetting news, but that the “talking heads on TV will tell us everything will be O.K.” Obviously, I didn’t foresee that the upsetting news was going to concern one of the talking heads. In the words of the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz: “The news swept the capital like a shock wave.” Sounds like Uranus square the Ascendant to me.

Here’s the link to my Spring Equinox post: https://astrologymundo.wordpress.com/2008/03/20/happy-new-year/

Now some people might be skeptical that you could see the death of an individual other than a king or a president in a collective chart. But I would argue that Russert, as host of Face the Nation, was an important figure on a symbolic level to the U.S. In many ways, he was larger than life.

Perhaps his passing in Washington D.C. on June 13 also had to do with Pluto’s retrograde movement back into Sagittarius. Pluto’s previous passage through Sag, which ran from 1995 to 2008, coincided with the restructuring of Big Media. TV network news programs lost viewers, while circulation for newspapers and magazines declined as more people spent time surfing the Net. The current retrograde of Pluto in Sag lasts just a few months, until Nov. 26, and will see the tying up of loose ends, meaning more layoffs for journos.

Pluto was still in the last minutes of Capricorn when Tom Brokaw told viewers of Russert’s death at 3:40 p.m. Eastern time on June 13. It didn’t touch Sag until two hours later.

But the next few hours would be dominated by media coverage of Russert’s accomplishments, which included coining the term “red state-blue state” to describe the political polarization of the U.S. As Pluto, the planet of destruction and transformation, moved back into the sign of Sag, which rules Big Media, the airwaves and the Internet were focusing on the death of a prominent journalist.

Media types and their families always get better obituaries than the general public. When a journalistic brother or sister dies, the remaining members of the media community pull out the stops. Have you ever noticed a prominent obituary in The New York Times for a seemingly ordinary woman who was active in her community and her church? You find yourself wondering why she’s getting all this space until you read the list of survivors and learn that she was the mother, wife, sister, or daughter of an editor on the paper.

Another reason for the outpouring of grief about Russert’s death: Nobody likes it when somebody’s Dad dies right before Father’s Day. This kind of thing gets sentimental media types choked up.

Speaking of obits, here’s a link to WaPo media critic Kurtz’s obituary of Russert: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/13/AR2008061302423_pf.html

If you’re looking for an analysis of Russert’s chart and what the transits were when he died, you’ll find a good one here: http://www.acumind.com/News/Political/RussertTim/russertt.html

Interestingly, last week also saw the death of another important media figure: groundbreaking sportscaster Jim McKay, who passed away at age 86 on June 7. McKay, best known for hosting ABC’s Wide World of Sports , leaves as his legacy his trademark description, “the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.” I’m pretty sure he coined the phrase because back in those days, TV’s talking heads wrote their own scripts.

By the way, there are still a few days until the Summer Solstice chart kicks in on June 20, so we’re not out of the woods in terms of an unexpected event in Washington D.C., as foreshadowed by the Spring Equinox chart. But I’m hoping Russert’s death is the last of the upsetting news.