Friday, 31 October 2008

Crisis! What crisis? - Capitalism, consumerism or something else?

What crisis?” is, of course, not a denial of the problems so far, nor those yet to come. It is a genuine question; to what does this crisis fundamentally relate? This post will look at whether what we are experiencing is a crisis of global trade, of industrialisation, of capitalism, and/or of consumption or just a trivial banking crisis and what the astrology has to say about each. First of all let’s get the basics out of the way by setting out what I mean when I use some of the terms:

At its most basic; any exchange of anything- either for money or by barter. Does not have to be for monetary profit, although it will normally arise as a result of the mutual self-interests of the parties. It obviously requires division of labour and/or resources to be worthwhile. It can however be enforced by a third party at a value that the third party determines.

Society and urbanisation
We are not seeking to define the society and urbanisation merely to state that both are dependent on trade and on labour and resource division regardless of what system is implemented to allocate or enforce them.

A faith based system with two components,
§ physical money (usually but not essentially state mandated legal tender) which allows non-barter exchange transactions without a banking intermediary. In this case the parties must physically encounter each other to make a transaction and almost all transactions will, on one side, be for non-money items.
§ Banking IOUs known as bank accounts, which allow promises to pay between parties to be exchanged for other promises to pay through the banking system intermediaries.
In this case the originating parties do not have to meet, and the true parties at any one moment are unknown to each other, e.g. an employer has a liability to pay salaries and bank account from which it will make its salary transfers, it does not know the ultimate borrowers from the bank that will “fund” that account, only the bank intermediary. The employer makes the transfers, and the employees become the depositors who are now no longer owed a salary by a known employer but are owed the same amount indirectly via the bank by the combination of borrowers, until they in turn transfer the IOU to another party when they purchase good or services.

Unfortunately most definitions are loaded by the political bias of the writers and too often accompanied by the word exploitation on the one hand or free market and open competition on the other. I will try to be as even handed as possible in mine.

In its purest form capitalism would be any activity which involves individual or private interests, as opposed to state ones, in production.

The wide definition of private interests just makes it a meaningless concept as under this definition even peasant ( though not slave) labour is capitalism, even if they own nothing else, as long as the peasants are free to select the amount of work they provide. This is not as crazy as it seems; in theory I could start with nothing and sell you consulting without any investment in anything other than my time. I could even charge you an exorbitant fee and gradually accumulate large amounts of resources. ( i.e. I could be a strategy consultant); equally I could do so just for subsistence.

With the above definition, free-trade and capitalism are synonymous. Indeed freedom is its key.

So better to specify capitalism as the use of certain privately owned resources, above and beyond one’s own labour, to accumulate more resources.

But in this definition of capitalism, freedom, free-trade and capitalism are no longer synonymous. Our starting position has allocated certain resources to the players, and does not require that all players start with anything like the same level of resources. Thus the freedom of some players is more limited than the others. Furthermore, in this case, trade can happen without any accumulation of resources so we can have free-trade without any capitalism. It is harder to have capitalism without trade; although one may own capital in the form of a sheep or a tin-mine, if no-one else wants the wool, meat or tin, there won’t be any trade, and no capital accumulation.

A process that can be considered to have started in the mid to late 18th century, as a product of technological innovation, whereby the production of and increasing number of goods and services became automated – i.e performed by machines rather than people.

Financial capitalism
Essentially the accumulation of resources from money related activities such as investment, banking and speculative activity rather than from physical production.

Consumerism should not be considered the same as Capitalism; although it may well be difficult to make a success of the latter without someone providing the former!

While the division of labour inherent in advanced societies means that members of such societies need to be consumers of at least some things, consumerism as generally defined is considered to exclude the basic needs, and to refer to those purchases above and beyond such basics. Clearly it is only possible to have consumerism where there is an excess of resources accumulated. So it is certainly compatible with capitalism.

In theory, at an individual level, capitalism could lead to substantial resource accumulation without any consumerism, if all resources are reinvested in the production process. However at society level we are back to my original statement that it is difficult to accumulate substantial resources if there are no buyers for your services…

The history and the astrology

So let’s take a look at history. Trade and capitalism in its most basic sense has been around a very long time, in fact it is how families tend to operate, whether or not money is involved in the transactions, so it’s an integral part of the human condition. There is little point in looking for an astrological cycle to match it to – unless we are also looking for the end of the human race: an interesting exploration I am sure but one I propose I leave for others to pursue.

The same problem applies to money, especially physical money- it has been core to the effective functioning of society and urbanisation- an exact date for its invention is not available.

We can however take a look at the modern evolved versions of the above.

In its modern sense, capitalism has been bound up with industrialisation. Indeed when economic historians talk about a crisis of capitalism this is to what they are really referring, basing their start date with Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations of 1776. And by association the same applies to many other astrologers. It is obviously a key point, what planetary activity triggered the process of industrialisation?

The industrial revolution is generally considered to start with Hargreaves and Arkwright’s inventions of the 1760s. Astrologically that corresponds with a grand earth trine between Pluto Neptune and Uranus, (though even Uranus was not identified until 1781). That might not sound particularly significant; it was, however, the first and only grand trine involving these three planets that occurred between the Pluto Neptune conjunction that determined the beginning of the Renaissance in 1399 and that which determined the modern and oil era in 1891. The planets, signs and degrees are thus important for the industrial age.

Three things are worth noting. First, the earth trine makes it all too easy to wear out the earths resources; we are aware of that now and need to grasp opportunities that these planets provide us to employ technology to slow the process down. The upcoming square between Pluto and Uranus can potentially help by making us face some of these issues. Secondly Pluto was in Capricorn in the late 1760s as it will be over the next decade, so we can expect radical restructuring is everything that has been built since that moment; it is time to transform and renew and question some fundamental assumptions. Finally, the most critical times for the industrial era will be when all three planets are in hard aspects- i.e. not yet – Neptune has not completed its long sextile Pluto. The next critical point is 2059. So far there have been a couple of critical points – in 1821, when Pluto was square a Neptune/Uranus conjunction, a minor aspect in 1888, and another in 1932-33. Until 2059 then we still have some choices. So in the coming few years we are likely to encounter a mini-industrialisation crisis but not a complete destruction of our industrial capitalism world view.

What about consumerism? As readers of my oil chart exploration will know, I also date the current oil usage era to the 1891 Neptune Pluto conjunction and more specifically to the start of the sextile in 1950.

We don’t have a hard aspect between Neptune and Pluto yet. The sextile might be wide but it will return for one last dance in 2032. When is the next square? 2059. I won’t be terribly worried by then, but I suspect people won’t be in maximum consumption mode any more. Just as well as we at least partially eliminated the industry that was supplying it in the preceding paragraphs!

There is another side to the consumerism of the 1950s and that is personal credit. The Diners club card was a creation of the 1950s and the other cards followed, the possibility to easily buy consumable items on credit was born. The 1980s, after the Pluto Saturn Jupiter conjunction sextile Neptune, also saw the burgeoning of home equity withdrawal, particularly in the UK, and the corresponding increase in household indebtedness.

It does appear that this credit has reached a limit now. It probably has another phase to go through until 2032, but that will take a few years to get off the ground again. We do not have a crisis point in this area, but we have reached a maximum elasticity point as Pluto and Neptune have separated from their sextile. By itself this situation would certainly lead to recessionary conditions over the coming years but not a repeat of the “meltdown” we have seen.

However, the other side of consumer credit is of course the accumulation of resources through financial capitalism. And this certainly seems a likely area to explore given the events of the last few months.
Most references to financial capitalism refer to America and date its emergence to the 1890s. Before we return again to that infamous decade, though, we should note that Modern Capitalism by Henri Eugène Sée dates the introduction of modern financial capitalism to bills of exchange in the 13th century trade fairs. However these were discrete events and the major financial investment before 1400 was in state bonds, it was the creation of the bourses in the 16th century that created financial capitalisism in its broader sense. We can then, in practice, date modern coordinated financial capitalism to the Neptune/Pluto conjunction of 1399, (the first in Gemini and the beginning of the Renniasance). Even though it took until the end of the sextile in the 1530s to establish the first permanent bourse in Antwep, it was the Renaissance and the exploration that accompanied that period, that led to the trading need for larger scale financial capitalism. Later joint stock companies from 1600 (around the time of a Pluto Uranus conjunction trine Neptune) gave the world a new financial commodity to trade. Financial capitalism was not something that followed industrial capitalism, but something that not only preceded it, but enabled it.
Thus done, we can return to the authors who refer to the 1890’s. They are also right; financial capitalism as we experience it today was a product of the second Pluto Neptune conjunction in Gemini: the next level of development of the system. And it is the subsequent Pluto /Uranus conjunction of the mid-60s in the form of computerisation that has enabled its expansion this time in much the way the bourses did before. Furthermore, much as the age of exploration created trading demand in the first Gemini Pluto/Neptune cycle, it is the consumer age and its associated aspirations that has fuelled this phase of growth. So is financial capitalism over? The end of the banking system and stock markets perhaps?

No. As bad as things may look, we are not at a square between Pluto and Neptune. However there is evidence that we are at a crucial turning point.

The 1st August eclipse was conjunct the Sun of the 1891 Pluto Neptune chart, as we know from our review of Paulson’s chart. Now by itself that does not sound very exciting given that eclipses are at least twice yearly events. But if I say it is the only total solar eclipse at this exact degree since 1891 that is more interesting. Making it even more interesting is the lunar eclipse of 15th August, one of only a couple of lunar eclipses that have fallen within 2 degrees of a Neptune/Sun conjunction since 1891 and, even more significant, one of a pair (since the February 2009 eclipse will still be within 2-3 degrees of Neptune).

What we have seen then is an eclipse of credit inflation. We do have, astrologically, exactly what the media have been calling it, a “credit crisis.” But we have only demonstrated a consumer credit crisis, not one rooted in inter-bank lending/derivatives etc. What about the elements of financial capitalism that have had fingers pointed at them during the crisis?

Hedge funds for example? The first so called hedge fund is generally credited as being set up by A.W Jones in 1949, close enough to the Neptune Pluto sextile to tie it in with that cycle. However the hedge fund “industry” did not really start until 1966-68- naturally at a critical industry turning point when Uranus and Pluto were in conjunction – many of these disappeared with the 1973/4 Pluto Saturn square.

However, it is not hedge funds per se that present a problem it is their competence and their strategies. And, in fact, it was the derivatives industry which led to the hedge fund boom of the last two decades and particularly the last few years, so it is to derivatives history that we turn for further inspiration.

Derivatives of some sort, like money and borrowing, have a long history; indeed interest itself is essentially a derivative, albeit a simple one that no-one even stops to consider. But the earlier ones were transparent at least to their counterparties and are not directly relevant. More recently it could be argued that the establishment of the Chicago Board of Trade on 3 April 1848 (incidentally a day of a partial solar eclipse) was a key moment in modern derivative history. The true modern era, however, dates from 5 periods post 1950: 1965/6, 1973, 1982, the early 1990s and 2000. Let’s deal with the derivatives themselves first. In 1973 Black & Scholes proposed their options pricing model, and on 26 April of the same year the Chicago Board Options Exchange began trading standardized, listed options with regulation in the form of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Astrologically the period was characterised by a grand trine between Saturn, Uranus and Jupiter, and a wide trine between Neptune and Jupiter.

Then on 30 September 1982 Liffe was established, and on 1 October CBOT launched its first options on futures contract for U.S. Treasury Bond futures, corresponding to the Pluto Saturn conjunction.

The relevance of the dates 1965-6, early 1990s and 2000 is that the greatest advances in the volumes of financial capitalism in general and derivative trading in particular have come because of technology. While I don’t intend to detail computing history in this post, 1965-6 is mentioned as it represents the core, although not the beginning, of the harnessing of computing power, the early 1990’s as the birth of the internet and e-trading and 2000 the year that LIFFE became a fully automated exchange. It is these advances that have enabled not only the growth of trading but also the use of program trading, algorithmic trading and the invention of numerous derivative products through quant models etc.

Finally, in relation to the hedge funds and derivatives trading we need to consider the related dimension of leverage. As already stated borrowing has a long history most of which we can ignore. Unfortunately I am unable to track down the dates for when leverage for derivatives and “hedging” became significant, but it is likely to be a product of the low interest culture of the mid -1990s onwards, in the US and elsewhere and it really appears to have taken off post 2000/2001.

Keen observers will note that we are currently experiencing a long Saturn Uranus opposition with a trine to Jupiter and next year’s conjunction involves Neptune and Jupiter, all of which resonates to the 1973 developments. The 1982 events, on the other hand, resonate to the Pluto Saturn cycle – i.e. the implications of this have yet to be fully revealed and will follow in 2009-11. The growth of derivative creativity increased as Pluto sextiled Uranus in 1997 and finally the growth in leveraged derivatives dates to the Jupiter Saturn conjunction square Uranus in 2000 followed by the Saturn Pluto opposition in 2001. We are looking at more than one cycle here and of course major problems arise because so many of these cycles are converging in the period 2008-2012.

It was the Neptune aspect to the August eclipse that resonated to the financial unwinding of the consumer credit problem via the banking system. However, while that is not over yet, (remember the February eclipses at a similar degree), what we are seeing now is the impact of the Saturn Uranus opposition closing out any excess misguided post 2000 leveraged derivative and hedge fund activity. It is time for a spring clean, and with the long opposition plus the coming Pluto aspects, this facet of the crisis is only just beginning. However deducing the medium term impact of this on individual markets cannot be done without reference to those individual markets, something I am addressing gradually elsewhere. It is not a simple case of fund liquidating and asset prices falling in the medium term – though the short term effect might indeed be so– it depends on the destination of the funds once a fund is liquidated.

In conclusion then, we are looking at significant but not terminal points in the history of industrialisation and consumer credit and we are looking at a big shake out in the hedge fund and derivative markets and other over-expanded elements of financial capitalism. The changes as Pluto transits Capricorn will not be easy but we still have chances to make industrial and even some elements of financial capitalism work if we don’t try to bury the problems and acknowledge the flaws in the applicability of some of the fundamental assumptions of neo-classical economic theory. I suspect we won’t do so, I have less faith in humanity than most astrologers, but one can hope.

Sources: all accessed 25/10/2008
Modern Capitalism. By Henri Eugène Sée
A brief history of the hedge fund: Jim McWhinney

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Popular music Part II I-late 80s to date

The 1990s begin early

Finally, in 1988, we get some real planetary activity. A Saturn Uranus conjunction in 1988, in Aquarius, coupled with a Pluto Jupiter opposition, followed by a conjunction between Saturn and Neptune in 1989 opposed by Jupiter and coupled with a sextile of Saturn to Pluto. The importance of the two conjunctions is enhanced by the fact that they were the prelude to the later conjunction of Uranus and Neptune. In reality, the 1990’s started here.

So as the 1980’s pop scene was really on its last legs by 1988/89, having become so bland as to be without direction, not surprisingly anything new was a relief and the sampling idea took off, albeit not with much insight with Jive Bunny having 3 number 1s in 1989. It was the crossover into the mainstream of DJ led music.

The other creeping theme that resulted from the upcoming conjunction was the birth of the boy band trend; again filling the need by 1988/89 for something new in the pop scene and another trend for the producers to cash in on. And once again the light stuff hit the mainstream in the US before the UK with New Kids on the Block.

1990-Relections on the score

So really starting in the last couple of years of the 1980s, the 1990s at last ushered in some real changes with the first outer planet aspect since the mid 60s; Neptune conjoining Uranus in 1993 and later Pluto sextiling Uranus in 1995.

Neptune and Uranus together are considered astrologically a rather esoteric combination; a chance to reach for the higher levels of consciousness. We saw what they did in the late 1960s while in sextile with the growth of psychedelic rock. Not really surprising then to find that their conjunction led to dance music and, specifically, trance music, coupled with the wide use of drugs, becoming one of the dominant styles of the early 1990s. Trance built on the earlier Uranian experimentation with techno, which had started with the conjunctions of 1968-71 and developed with the oppositions of 1977 and the aspects of the early 80s.

The 1992 charts had number 1s that encapsulate these themes, with the Shamen’s Ebeneezer Goode and Snap’s Rhythm is a dancer.

The importance and strength of the conjunction cannot be underestimated, and its effect was felt from 1989 through to 1997. But everything has its time and so it is not surprising that Wikipedia says “By the end of the 1990s, trance remained commercially huge, but had fractured into an extremely diverse genre. Some of the artists that had helped create the trance sound in the early and mid-1990s had, by the end of the decade, abandoned trance completely in favor of more underground….”

As mentioned the only other key theme of the conjunction was the taste for Boy Band pop, with the UK copying the US producing a prolific stream of bands, etc. The strength of the conjunction also tapped into the Neptune Jupiter aspects of the years, recreating some of the manias of the early 1970s, and although it may seem to be the antithesis of the trance scene, in fact it harnessed the same energy from the conjunction to whip up mass enthusiasm in a very similar way. Only the object of the addition was different.

By 1997, however, a new 12/13 year cycle was ending and begin with a Neptune/Jupiter conjunction. Once again this tapped into the fervour factor and allowed the music business to harness a new commercial pop market. In this case it was the birth of girl bands most notably the Spice Girls, who also tapped into the Pluto Saturn trine with the spirit of “girl power.” I would also include Britney in this category, depite her being a solo artist as she tapped in to the same cycle.

But the focus in the decade was not only on the Neptune Uranus conjunction. At least as interesting was the Pluto Uranus sextile in 1995. Neptune and Uranus together are all higher states and not very practical. With Pluto though, we get true creative direction, the developments that derive from the dance music of this time mixed with the heavier impact of Pluto are only now (2008 onwards) likely coming into their own

Furthermore rock still existed in the 1990s although it was rarely mainstream in the whole decade. New alternative rock bands in the mis 1990s around the time of the Pluto Uranus sextile were probably typified by Muse, formed in 1994, Evanescence and Linkin Park in the US in 1995 and 1996 respectively and Coldplay a little later in 1998 under a rather more depressing Neptune Saturn square.

Finally, decades after its creation during the Pluto Saturn square of the mid 1970s, the Pluto Uranus sextile of 1995 followed by the Pluto Saturn trine and a Uranus Saturn sextile of 1997 allowed hip hop to become mainstream, at least in the US. It was becoming an integral part of popular music, and many American pop songs had a major hip hop component. To such an extent that even the harder elements of gangsta rap with its controversial lyrics and themes was becoming an accepted part of the mainstream. One of the features of the trines of the period was the growth of featuring, with many collaborations between artists of different genres, allowing the blending of styles which as we have seen is often the key to broader commercialisation. As a result by 2000 over two decades after its formation rap was a mainstream popular music form, although it took until the Saturn opposition to Pluto to perfect the effect in the Uk.

2000s- Take a bow

Despite the success of hip hop in the US in the late 1990s, it was not until 1999/2000 that Eminem brought the rap genre to the UK mainstream.

In terms of astrology the 2000s have more in common with the 1970’s than any other decade. With no outer planet aspects until post 2010, it does not have the impetus of the 1960s and 1990s, but a multitude of Saturn aspects means there is more opportunity for cross-over than in the 1980’s, and as we have mentioned cross over is good for integrating more interesting elements from the fringes in to mainstream pop.

Remember the Pluto Saturn Jupiter conjunction of 1982 and its mega commercialisation effect? Well, part of that the cycle ended in 2000 as Saturn and Jupiter formed a new conjunction and the commercialisation of that era took a further hit in 2001 when Pluto opposed Saturn. It might have meant overt terrorism for the USA but for the music industry it meant commercial terrorism in the form of file-sharing.

Unfortunately that in itself has not done much for creativity as the music industry has focussed on other ways of commercialising the product, original creativity in rock has arguably taken a back seat. However, as we have seen from the development of hip-hop, the partial demise in the mainstream of traditional rock music has not left a gap. It has been replaced by the broadened appeal of modern R&B which no doubt purists would consider the sell out of that genre instead.

The year 2000 in the UK charts was characterised by the vast quantity of short lived number 1 records. Astrologically the Jupiter Saturn conjunction came with a package of 5 other planets in Taurus in May and a square to Uranus. It also introduced us to the talent show pop star – a reaction to the file-sharing as record companies looked for new markets, Unfortunately such commercial activity is the downside of Jupiter Saturn and Uranus – the upside will have been creativity which will be going on at some level somewhere even if not in the mainstream.

We have already mentioned Eminem, who caught the shake-up vibe of the year, there was still quite a smattering of dance music too with Fragma, Sonique and Groovejet. While the latter partly represents the end of the 1990’s era, the focus had moved to female DJ/vocal on these, a development that reflects the merging of dance from the early 90s with the emphasis on female artists of the latter years.

The potential darkness of 2001’s Saturn Pluto opposition actually seemed not to reach the charts in style terms that year. However that summer was characterised by Shaggy’s Angel, Robbie Williams’ Eternity and a cover of Eternal Flame- clearly the theme of death and rebirth was going on but not as a new genre. Indeed it is in its own way scary to note that in the week following September 11th the Uk number one was Bob the Builder!

In the background, however, the other change that was happening was a move towards global music. A low key theme in the 1990’s, the conjunction of 2000 allowed it to supplant the more bland pop offerings as the new decade progressed. In 2001,Shakira broke through onto the English-speaking world with her latest album. World music was already an expanding background theme but not mainstream. It is likely that the period 2009-2012 will see a greater move in this direction.

2002-2003 astrologically was dominated by a Neptune /Saturn and then a Uranus/Saturn trine backed up by oppositions of Jupiter to first Neptune and then Uranus. With trines gradual assimilation of change is the name of the game. Remember that these trines arose from the cycle that began with the conjunctions in 1989- 1993. Wikipedia states “In October 2003 for the first time since the dawn of rock'n'roll 50 years ago, none of the artists in the official Billboard American Top 10 was white. The ascendancy of rap and contemporary R&B as the music of choice for young Americans, black and white, was total and irrefutable (most notably Alicia Keyes, 50 Cent and OutKast)”. Whether that statement was applicable to the UK in the same year is debateable too but even in the UK the dominant hits of the year were the US Black eyed Peas “Where is the love’ and Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”.

The next shift was 2006-7 with a Pluto and Saturn trine, and a Saturn and Neptune opposition , and a Pluto Jupiter conjunction.

The somewhat contrary effect of the aspects was the come-back phase. Pioneered by Take That in 2006, it also seems to have been a product of the Saturn opposition to Neptune and the Jupiter aspects bringing about an element of nostalgia. The Saturn Neptune configuration might have created the longing for the past but success or not of the reforming bands is determined in the longer term by their new material, and the ability to harness the trines and sextiles to blend more recent styles to update their styles.

The other effect of the 2006-7 conjunctions gave rise to such creative hits as Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy, and the to Scissor Sisters. These represent yet more blending of themes and utilization of the sampling that was born out of the hip hop and dance genres, to create whole new sub-genres. Although frankly it is harder to match the astrology with the styles at such close quarters, it will be much easier to see a genre in retrospective.

One other less obvious trend was the increase in assimilation of global influences. Whilst in the power ballads in the 1980s movie becamehits, in the 2006 film Inside Man took the reworked Bollywood Chiyya Chiyya for its theme. It wasn’t a single but it more than worked, another sign that music for the next decades is likely to go global in style.

We are now in late 2008 and the statement regarding R&Bin the US can most definitely be extended to the UK. We are also approaching the first of five opposition contacts between Uranus and Saturn – the old and the new. As I wrote the first draft of this (on Saturday 19th) I noted that the top Hit40uk top 10 hits this week is dominated by mocking irony. (It is the common theme which links the music and videos of Pussycat Dolls’ When I grow up, Kaiser Chiefs’ Never miss a beat, Pink’s So what, Rhianna’s Disturbia, Katy Perry’s I kissed a girl, Sugar Babes’ Girls and Ne-Yo’s Miss Independent). That is the pleasant effect of having the Uranus- Saturn opposition supported by Jupiter, and has been responsible for some delightful humour about the credit crunch and the global meltdown scenario too.

However I expect the mood to darken further, and the humour to take second place as, over the coming few years, the Jupiter trine disappears and the cardinal cross comes more into focus.

A return to some very dissonant sounds can be expected by 2010. The styles born out of the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of 1965 will meet their biggest resistance yet. Expect the final death of residual old rock groups, and any artists who have not learnt to integrate traditional rock with the wider elements. On the other hand the aspects are likely to lead to a much heavier style in the mainstream again. Furthermore we can expect more global influences, especially in the underlying beat especially by 2010 when Uranus and Jupiter are in conjunction in early Aries, but opposite Saturn. Technology is also likely to create further changes in this period probably related to the restructuring of some of the big music companies.

However, before that, in 2009 we will also encounter the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction together with Chiron. Since this relates to healing and consciousness, music is likely to take on a transcendent feel for a year or so.

Where music goes next can perhaps be identified by looking to a statement by Muse "I've been listening to quite a lot of music from the south of Italy on this album", Bellamy admits. "I've been living in Italy for a while, and I discovered this music from Naples, which sounds like a mix of music from Africa, Croatia, Turkey and Italy. It kind of gives it a mystical sound, so I think that's one thing that influenced the album. I like being influenced by things that have a mixed style ”. Mystical and boundary crossing- certainly Neptune/Jupiter and Chiron fits that as well as the global influences.

Though, at the extreme there is a possibility that someone might go for re-creating space music and the sound of particles colliding as a side effect of interest in the Large Hadron Collider!!

In the longer term, there are likely to be major changes in 2020 when Pluto Jupiter and aturn conjoin as in 1982, and a reduction in commercial popular music as a whole post 2032 as Pluto and Neptune finally separate from their sextile.

Popular music Part II -1970’s and early 80s

1970’s – themes and variations

As the major conjunction of the mid 60’s dissipated, there were few dramatic outer planet aspects in the 1970’s, rather a series of lesser adjustments. But as a result of the changes brought on by the late 1960’ the 1970s became the decade where popular music began to divide the population as its different genres resonated to different groups. Indeed BBC2 recently selected the 1970’s as arguably the most influential decade in pop for the reason that it was the decade that popular music really started to develop its various sub-genres and become self-aware.

The first major aspect that is relevant was Neptune conjoining Jupiter in Sagittarius 1971. The previous conjunction had been in 1958 and predated the changes of the 1960’s, so the start of this new allowed the development of a number of new themes building on the mid 60’s shifts.
Neptune with Jupiter makes things more glamorous and/or more pervasive with an almost religious fervour. And the conjunction was rapidly followed by a number of other quite different aspects so it had a number of effects.

First the conjunction brought glam rock into being mainly in the UK, although even this took a number of forms. The Jupiter Neptune was rapidly followed by the Pluto Saturn trine of 1971-72 and the Neptune Saturn opposition in 1972. These darkened the style significantly and the related trine of Uranus and Saturn allowed the performers such as Bowie and to become increasingly bizarre. .

The same Neptune Jupiter conjunction in its other form also brought a lot of light-hearted sweetness into the charts and whipped up the fervour of the teenage manias that characterised the period- although the associated music styles were less clearly defined than the reaction to the performers. In this case the subsequent Pluto trine increased the obsessiveness of the effect.

While the above themes dominated the charts many of the styles from the late 1960’s continued to develop, with the Pluto Saturn trine allowing heavy metal to coexist with glam. And the trines allowed a gradual introduction of the use of synthesizers. A Giorgio Moroder
composition, Son Of My Father performed by Chicory Tip, was the first UK number 1 to prominently feature a Moog Synthesizer in February 1972.

The next key, though lesser aspect was the square between Uranus and Jupiter in 1973. This may have been the first waxing square since the 1960s Pluto Uranus conjunction but it was the second since the birth of rock and roll and in the UK groups such as the Rubettes and Showaddywaddy revamped and reworked late 50’s songs that characterised the themes the first time round.

The Pluto square Saturn in 1973-4, created a similar nostalgia for the 1940s and 1950s but with a different effect. It was the trigger for the introduction of some new styles, that had been kicking around the whole time, into the mainstream.

Soul, which had been a increasingly important element of the music scene in some cities of the US finally went mainstream globally with songs such as the Three Degrees When will I see you again. Furtermore the related soul and funk inspired disco music became important in the charts with George McCrae’s Rock Your Baby and the Hues corporation’s rock the Boat which although they do not typify disco in its later form, are representative of the era, being disco hits that became chart hits. At the same time Claptons’ 1974 cover of Bob Marley’s I shot the Sheriff became the first mainstream reggae hit and paved the way for Bob Marley & the Wailers own No Woman, No Cry in 1975. 1974 might have been the year that these styles first reached the charts but it would take the trines and sextiles of the next few years to develop them fully.

The same 1974 Pluto Saturn square was also creating a challenge to the opposition of the planets that had birthed the rock groups of the mid 60’s. The related economic situation was also leading to disaffection. The reaction to these factors would lead to the punk movement, although at this time it was still an underground style not a chart one. It would also lead to Hip-hop although it would take until the conjunction in 1982 for the latter to develop fully in the US and until the series of Pluto Saturn aspects from 1989 through to 1997 for it to go globally mainstream.

It is also worth noting that some notable bands appeared during this period, the most enduring is probably Queen. Queen’s success is probably due to the fact that they successfully managed to encapsulate so many of the exisiting themes into their music. Although created in 1970, it was after incorporting the impact of all the above astrological aspects that they came to mainstream prominence in 1974: touching on glam but with a stronger hard rock component and mixing in nostalgic elements they managed to be both original and mainstream.

Despite the importance of the early 1970s, it was 1975 when Uranus began to square Saturn together with a Pluto opposition to Jupiter that the shifts were most noticeable by the eclectic nature of the charts that year as the new and old themes overlapped: glam, soul, country, reggae nostalgia all topped the charts.

1976 saw a Uranus/Jupiter opposition, the first since 1962. Uranus opposing Jupiter inevitably signals a turning point and in 1976 was probably the death knell for the early 70s styles such as glam, the teen-manias and nostalgia leaving the field open for disco, punk etc. There were some less obvious turning points too; The Real Thing’s You to Me Are Everything may arguably be one of the most enduring pure pop songs but it was also a landmark being the first number 1 single by a Black British band.

We also can’t really do a review of pop music without mentioning Abba. Although their Eurovision hit was in 1974, it was really 1976 before they really began to dominate the pop charts, especially with Dancing Queen, which tapped beautifully into the burgeoning disco movement.

With the opposition of Jupiter and Neptune in 1977, which succeeded the Uranus opposition, disco was able to further break boundaries, using technology to harness Neptune’s ubiquity in Donna Summer’s I feel Love. According to Wikipedia “it has been said that this song is the first disco-style song recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track, thanks to Giorgio Moroder's innovative production. In particular, the song popularised the insistent, robotic bass line, which has been frequently imitated ever since”. I confess I was not a great fan at the time but I cannot contest the statement that it“ has been enormously influential” particularly on the styles of the early 1990’s.

In the same year technology also had another indirect impact on music and disco in particular. The introduction of VHS tapes in the US in 1977 coupled with the release of the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever” possibly the first introduction for many to the concept of home music videos. Either way it extended the market for disco.

At the same time as disco was having its time in the sun and was for the most part ignoring the Saturnian themes that were developing, it was Saturn sextiling Pluto and trining Neptune in 1976-7, that harnessed the power of the Pluto Saturn square of 1974 and began to bring punk to the mainstream.

Although I thought the Sex Pistols were unnecessarily overdramatic, for me this is one of the most interesting style histories to follow, (a reflection of my age at the time), for it was the one I best recall unfolding. Many of the artists that I associate with the 1977/8 did not actually reach the number 1 spot until 1979/1980 yet I clearly recall the Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen and the Strangler’s Peaches and Go buddy go as well as the Radio discussions of the growing punk movement in 1977. It is an indication of the way musical waves develop that it was the less critically acclaimed Boomtown Rats that had the most chart success and even then not reaching the top spot until November 1978.

The astrological key is that punk needed something more than the sextiles of 1976-7 to reach mainstream popularity. It was actually the Neptune Saturn square of 1978-9 that was needed to kill off old styles so that the new could dominate and to moderate the style sufficiently to make it acceptable in the mainstream. And it was the Uranus Saturn sextile of 1979 that was needed to make the population resonate to the darker messages of punk.

[A further note is that as I write this there is a cutesy family orientated Waitrose advert on television…. playing the Strangler’s golden brown in the background. An indication of how far the planets have allowed society to come since the days of early punk? or perhaps Waitrose is merely branching out into a new organic line?]

Anyway the upshot of the astrological configurations and their impact on the commercialisation of punk was that the 1970’s really lasted until 1981.
Running parallel with punk, in the US, was hip hop and in 1979 the US Rapper's Delight by the Sugarhill Gang was one of the first hip hop hit singles to reach the mainstream. But unlike punk it was a one off at that time.

I have also to (reluctantly) mention Gary Numan at this point. The use of sythesisers and the reference of style to the early 70’s was actually a hint of the trends of the early 80s; and an example how the darkness of the Saturn aspects at play mixed with the Uranian Jupiter square in 1979, to move muisc forward. It was certianly a hint of the coming end of the old Pluto/Saturn cycle and birth of the new Pluto Saturn Jupiter cycle which will last until 2020.

Finally, since the decade closed in the UK with the massive Pink Floyd hit Another brick in the Wall, which can probably be lyrically classed as a progressive/punk cross-over record, I can’t close the 1970’s without a mention for progressive rock and its derivative genres. Although a product of the 1960s, Floyd, Genesis and their ilk were dubbed the intellectual side of rock, incorporating other styles and more creative lyrical sources. They weren’t generally mainstream in the singles charts in the decade but often dominated the album charts and the record collections of the generation. In the 70’s the genre expanded to include those such as Dire straits and Supertramp. Whilst much progressive rock is “artistic” (hence not mainstream) some is ironic and/or iconic and consequently more accessible to the mainstream audience.

1980s- Orchestration?

Some might argue that the 1980’s as a whole was not the best decade for music development. The astrology would certainly confirm it. Whereas the 1950s and 1960s were characterised by major aspects between the three outer planets, and the 1970’s by a series of aspects involving those planets and Saturn, the 1980’s started with some drama and ended with some Saturn aspects but the years from 1983 to 1987 are characterised only by aspects to Jupiter. There was growth but no radical change and nothing of much long term creative impact.

However the period 1981/1982 when Pluto was conjunct Saturn and Jupiter are the exception and a number of themes developed at this time. It was time for the old to die and the new to be born.

Terminology and genre are a little mixed for this period. On the one hand there was New Wave derived from punk, on the other New Romantics. Groups that represent these overlapping genres to a greater or lesser extent included Depeche Mode, Adam & The Ants, Culture Club, Duran Duran Spandau Ballet, Tears For Fears, The Human League,. This was a type of glam, but more grown up and instead of using synthesizers just for effect the music was almost all sythesized. Furthermore many bands which emerged in the aftermath of punk, such as Ultravox and Simple Minds also showed the influence of progressive rock, as well as their more usually recognised punk influences. Although these movements and groups soon disappared as the aspect waned, their influence continued throughout the decade.U2, however, was one of the few rock bands that really came out of this era and retained the longevity by hooking into to some of the other themes of the 1980s.

The depressive energy of Saturn Pluto in 1982, without the commercialism of Jupiter, also gave us the Smiths, and probably thus paved the way for the brit-pop of the 1990s. Personally I have a birthchart that prefers the more aggressive styles of the Pluto Saturn hard aspects such as punk and rap than the whinging of this miserable conjunction, but we can’t ignore the influence.

On a related theme the birth of MTV in 1981 shifted the emphasis further from the music to the whole performance. For better or worse, and despite the rise of U2, a bit of the rock that was born in the 1960s died in 1981/2 ( indeed as the aspect applied to perfection in late 1980, Lennon literally died).

Add a dose of Jupiter though and you get something a lot more dramatic and upbeat, so the conjunction of all three planets 1982 also brought Thriller to the scene and a different level of commercialisation to pop. Michael Jackson is alledged to have changed the way the industry functioned; “as an artistic entity and a financial, profitable organisation.” Mainstream pop was always commercial but now it could be big business.

The 1983 Uranus Jupiter conjunction followed by the 1984 Neptune Jupiter conjunction closed the cycles that peaked with disco inspired pop 1977 and started new ones. By this time Neptune was moving into business orientated Capricorn. The change brought Madonna to the fore. Madonna who, like Jackson, (and also Prince) was born in 1958 and has a Neptune Jupiter conjunction in her own birth-chart, giving her the ability to tap into the wider musical consciousness and move with the style of the moment.

With plenty of time to play and no more major astrological challenges, these artists could get a foothold without fear of removal by the next big thing emerging from the underground. And indeed as a result the 1980s was a great decade for the production of pure pop; with Wham! and the Stock Aiken & Waterman production machine.

It was also the decade that rock went all soft on us and the power ballad really caught on, the decade of the movie crossover songs and of course of the charity record. The latter was another product of the Neptune /Jupiter conjunction of 1974. Neptune/Jupiter as we have seen before emphasises shared sweetness as well as fervour:-in this incarnation it believed it can save the world by caring and sharing through the very Capricornian mode of selling records.

As mentioned, commercially the middle of the 1980s had some clear themes but stylistically these are not particularly interesting developments. There were some Jupiter squares in 1986/7 but these merely created subtle shifts rather than any noticeable ones.

Having said that, MARRS' 1987 release Pump up the Volume, when Jupiter was trine the approaching Saturn /Uranus conjunction, is considered to have been the first UK number one to contain samples from other songs and is again one of those one’off songs which is a precursor to a whole genre reaching the mainstream. For that we turn to Part III

Popular Music Part I 1950s and 60s


Why am I breaking up the flow of an economic blog with a diversion into popular music, you ask? It is a good question. But there is some method in my madness, if I stretch it far enough…

Music and art cultures reflect the prevailing mood of the time far better than anything else. I therefore thought that a look at the musical themes of the last 60 years would be an ideal way of deepening our understanding of the planetary combinations. Furthermore, music and art change as a result of harnessing technological inventions – art always mirrors science - and as we are likely to see the some major technological shifts in the coming years it is a helpful meditation on where we are likely to go.

Finally, there is the relevance of Neptune to the current economic themes. While Neptune does not rule music “per se” (all planets together are what create music both within us and in general), it does transmit the dominating musical themes of each generation and is responsible for what becomes mainstream. Neptune also has a strong correlation with the music business and my next post touches on the subject of consumerism as a whole, so the music scene and industry are a good introduction to this.

However, before I start I feel some provisos are necessary:

When I talk of music I mean the not only instrumental music but the interrelationship between the instrumental composition and the lyrics- the rhythm of the poetry and its vocal interpretation as an integral part of the whole. My approach reflects the fact that I am as likely to be drawn to the lyrical interpretation as to the harmony or beat of a composition. That is just my birth-chart at work, I mention it so that everyone is clear of my definition.

Inevitably the focus will be on the UK. This regrettable bias toward the UK over the US is almost entirely down to my own balance of experience, although the existence of just one chart in the UK for many years when there were a variety of them in the US means it is easier to identify mainstream in the former anyway. The choice of the UK/US, on the other hand, reflects the link to the consumer/western society and the planetary influences those countries themselves resonate to. A perspective from the East would be very different.

Although I shall be dealing predominantly with mainstream chart music, when I refer to the prevalence of a genre at a specific time, this does not preclude its initial appearance outside the mainstream 10 years earlier, since there will always be those whose charts pick up on the coming aspects before others. We are looking at the dominant influence on the masses here, though we will try to address some undercurrents too.

I am not a music expert so I am not so hot on music theory. In an ideal world I would be collaborating on this post with someone who could relate the composition structure of each genre to the planetary configurations at play. Perhaps one day I will get to update this with expert help, but not today.

Not being an expert also means that I am unlikely to pick up the subtleties that define the minute differences between some genres, so I will undoubtedly get some terminology wrong. It might matter to purists that I have identified one sub-genre with its sub-genre antithesis, but from the perspective of the broader themes I am covering it is not important, and you will just have to learn to live with it.

Linked to the subject of sub-genres is the fact that everyone has their own musical identity. As mentioned music is the product of all the planets so it is hardwired into everyone’s birth-charts and the progressions to it. We each resonate to some genres more than others and no amount of “musical education” will change that. (Indeed it is quite a fun game to inspect people’s charts to see whether their claimed taste in music and art is real or just pretension to fit in with their peers). A strong outer planet aspect in an individual chart will determine that person’s choice of genres and can override any taste for the prevailing musical direction of the year or decade. I have tried to be as objective as possible, but inevitably my own chart and opinions will creep in, for that I apologise.

The 1950s – The overture

I will start with the 1950s and rock and roll because of the relationship with consumerism. The ability of the public to buy records was a key practical factor in what on the surface might look just like creative developments. And it is also instructive to remember how we got to that point. Although the history of the phonograph dates back to the mid 19th century, its use by record manufacturers dates to the 1890’s . Similarly radio owes its origins to the 1890’s, although broadcasting was a 1920’s development. The connection of both to the Pluto Neptune conjunction of 1891-2 cannot be ignored.

Finally, in music composition great changes were taking place behind the scenes in the early half of the 20th Century with country and jazz as well as increasing experimentation in classical music.

However it was in the1950’s, as Neptune started its sextile with Pluto, that this all really came together with the shift into popular music as we recognise it today. The birth of rock and roll as a separate genre in the early 50’s corresponded with Neptune’s conjunction with Saturn in 1952, but it was not until the square between Uranus and Neptune in 1954-56 that people were truly ready to break with the old causing the new genre to go mainstream with the younger generation. The trigger was the conjunction of Jupiter with Uranus in 1954, also picking up an opposition with Chiron. In May 1954, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded Rock Around the Clock….a year later, as Jupiter conjoined Pluto, the song set the rock and roll boom in motion. At this stage rock and roll can reasonably be correlated with the growing consumer society in the US and had yet to make mainstream impact in the UK until a few years later.

Shifts were already occurring in style by the late 50s. of which Buddy Holly’s style is a key example. The UK is more inclined to take the mainstream lead with Saturnian themes and the shift in focus to the UK in fact followed, the rather Saturnian theme, of Buddy Holly’s death in 1959.

The 1960’s – Radical shifts of key

The next big step can be reasonably correlated with the period around 1962. In that year Uranus moved from Leo into Virgo and came within orb of Pluto and its sextile to Neptune. Uranus also made an opposition to Jupiter. It was an exciting year of transition for media as a whole and the birth of the Rolling stones in the UK and the Beatles.. However transition years are often only appreciated in retrospect and don’t always produce too much concrete, so, although the Beatles’ popularity, resonating to Jupiter-Uranus, increased through 1963, Saturn in quincunx to Uranus that year delayed some of the impact of the Stones for another couple of years. In fact it is 1964-66, when Uranus and Pluto were together in conjunction and opposed by Saturn that the UK rock scene really took off with the Stones and the Who as well as a host of other bands, who would later come to prominence in various sub-genres, including what has subsequently be termed progressive rock. At the same time the Beatles conquered the US, and in the US the influence of Hendrix began to dominate the genre.

The next key astrological configurations which carried the new musical era on its crest, was the sextile in 1966-68 of Uranus with Neptune. Where the square in the 1950’s had set off rock on roll, in this case the sextile represented gentler experimentation; this was the flower power era, and the period when the growing psychelic rock movement and a greater integration of elements of folk music became part of the mainstream.
The sextile of Uranus with Neptune set the scene for what became during the next decade very important: the (Neptunian) blending of otherwise unconnected (Uranus) musical themes that really created the multitude of genres that followed.

Music technology was the other Neptune/Uranus product of this period- notably the use of synthesizers particularly Moog’s version. Neptune and Uranus together are often considered to co-govern modern astrology and it is rather curious that two of the first records to feature synthesizer were Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, Ltd. by The Monkees and Cosmic Sounds by The Zodiac in November 1967. Synthesisers were another element in the development of popular music that started as just a whisper but became increasingly important later and to which we will return later.

Finally, the conjunction of Jupiter with Pluto in 1968 was the first to follow the Pluto Uranus conjunction. Jupiter makes things bigger and more boisterous and in this case together with the heavy darkness of Pluto it made them louder and took rock a step further into heavy metal with groups such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple all forming in the year in the UK.

The various trends described as developing from 1966-1968 finally culminated as Uranus conjunct Jupiter in 1969 in the huge Woodstock festival, which incorporated elements of all of them.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Despite its size and non-participation in the EEC, Switzerland has been on my “to do” list for a couple of reasons.

I wrote the bulk of this around 13th October, but editing the 2010-12 element has taken a little longer and events in the form of a bail out have overtaken me.

The reasons for my Swiss post plan were:

  • First it is generally associated with banking and also with gold deposits.
  • Secondly, it is one of the co-host countries of CERN and its Large Hadron collider.

Due to the delays with the LHC, I will return to that issue another day. I think early 2009 should be plenty of time, as I am sure that the collision experiments will bear fruit ( whether good or bad I haven’t analysed yet) in May next year when Jupiter Neptune and Chiron combine semi-sextile Uranus.

In the meantime, banking is much more topical. As of 11 October 2008, the banking industry in Switzerland has an average leverage ratio (assets/networth) of 29 to 1, while the industry's short-term liabilities are equal to 260% of the Swiss GDP or 1,273% of the Swiss national debt (1). However, contrary to what might be said about countries with large banking industries, this does not make the country more or less prone to failure – the factor that matters is the business and risk strategy they employ. Unfortunately of late Swiss banks have pursued some risky strategies…

Once again we are faced with the “which chart?” question. There are a number of options, all of which have some tale to tell. I am torn between the September 1848 chart, with a Virgo sun, which I think describes modern Switzerland well and the August 1291 (o.s. calendar) chart, which I thought probably has something greater to say about European co-operation, trade, banking and taxation.

However on reading up on the history it becomes apparent that despite Switzerland’s reputation in banking, it was Amsterdam and London that were the big trade banking centres first. So my early post on the Bank of England is probably the better source for where we are going banking-wise.

Nevertheless I still think Switzerland can tell us something about bank deposits/gold etc. The only question then is do I use the 1848 country chart or the 1850 coinage chart? They have remarkable similarities and since the 1848 chart seems to be timed but the 1850 chart is not, I am using the former. I am not confident with this chart yet, so the longer term forecasts are not very insightful. I will return to it periodically to reforecast as the meaning of the configurations become clearer.

As I write this, I am wondering how things are going under the surface in the Swiss nation. The September full moon was opposite the country’s natal Saturn, highlighting both its weaknesses and on the other hand its safe haven status.

The chart shows that it currently has progressed Sun conjoining its natal Neptune. Deception all round. Perhaps there are internal leadership problems, but perhaps there are banking issues we have yet to see there as well or problems in the pharma industry – all of which are represented by the importance of Neptune in the country’s chart.

Furthermore Uranus is at 19 degrees Pisces, opposite the country’ natal Sun and square its progressed Ascendant. Saturn is at 16 Virgo and the progressed Moon at 18 Capricorn. Within one month there is likely to be a radical evaluation.

Indeed while I have commented elsewhere that the Uranus Saturn opposition of November is not directly picked up closely by many of the economic charts, The same cannot be said for Switzerland. The calm so far has been because the country did not so severely pick up the August eclipses.

Now however with Neptune tapping in the key 21 degree of the Ascendant, and also picking up natal Saturn and Uranus, the focus is switching there. The question is, is this because it will flourish due to safe haven status – or will that assumption be challenged by events? My guess is a bit of both. A major banking problem will undermine the economic situation, but the currency will maintain its strength at least in the medium term.

Note (25/10/08): the bail –out type support offered by the Swiss government on 16th has confirmed the banking element statement of this.

Late November and early December signs suggests that government action keeps stability in place. But later in the month of December we have a double whammy of Jupiter conjoining progressed Mars and square Pluto, together with Pluto squaring Mars. This is aggressive stuff, expect some trouble then- a challenge to the things that make Swiss banking attractive, perhaps security and/or gold reserves are found to be deficient. At a political level there is likely to be infighting.

2009 starts more gently, with a trine aspect of the progressed moon to Saturn and a sextile to the Ascendant. But the events of December rear up again in February as the progressed Moon conjoins progressed Mars and reactivates the same themes.

March is disruptive, if less aggressive. Jupiter opposes Jupiter and Uranus conjoins Saturn. Saturn is retrograding over the natal Sun. Since this all picks up the mundane opposition we can expect Switzerland to be the focus of attention again. I wish I had the time to look at the charts for the individual banks. All in all it will be a difficult time to manage a country or currency. The latter will probably suffer in value as Pluto squares Venus.

May is of course the critical currency time. But in this case, while the progressed Sun is still approaching the conjunction with Neptune, the other factors don’t look so bad. A sextile to Pluto and a Pluto sextile to the progressed Sun are what we have to think on. Definite fundamental change but not too difficult to deal with- certainly there are worse currencies to be in. Although with the progressed Moon square Pluto during the month there will be fear from the public. I think it will be short lived though here and would probably bank (sorry!) on the Swiss Franc at this crucial time – although the events of February should clarify this one way or the other.

Curiously it is over the summer that things seem to get a little tougher again. Saturn returns to conjoin the Sun, and Pluto to square Mars in August. In September Saturn opposes Saturn and Jupiter passes over the progressed MC. The country may be the focus of attention yet again for the reasons mentioned in November 2008.

November 2009 continues uncertainty with Uranus transiting Saturn, and Saturn restraining the Mars motivation to trade and compete. When the Neptune conjunction reforms in December it is closer to 21 degrees square the Ascendant and Pluto square Saturn contacts Venus so Switzerland’s currency does not escape in the way it appears to do in May.

Two background themes define this year. Progressed Mars approaches a sextile to Saturn suggesting strength and comfort with the mechanisms that run the country. However the country’s progressed MC will square its Ascendant- the rest of the world won’t be so happy with the decisions made by Switzerland at this time.

In January the December 2009 themes continue. By March though, Saturn retrograding over Mars, suggests depressed activity at the time, maybe government imposed suspensions of trading, and the Sun progression to Neptune becomes exact suggesting some weakness of state and currency but little direction. May and June time continues this theme of not much happening, surprising given the upcoming square.

The square in July and August impacts the country’s Venus and Mars, which suggests challenges in terms of its assets and its sporting/military and other Mars related activities and to a lesser extent its Pharmaceutical and banking industries as the progressed Sun /Neptune conjunction is also activated. Maybe there will a major bankruptcy. The country will require some re-evaluation of where it is going at this time. The people will be emotional as the moon opposes Jupiter – so perhaps Switzerland has to face some unpleasant facts about its attitude.

The period around October is more mixed yet November might see some big upsets as Jupiter and Uranus transit Saturn progressed while sextiling Mars. However breakthroughs in new technology are also possible with this aspect.

The MC square becomes exact in December suggesting a poor image with the outside world. At the same time progressed Mercury crosses the IC, in some ways Switzerland is going back to a situation pre 1996 – given that this was the time that global banking really took off perhaps Switzerland tries to recover its niche as the safe secret haven.

The early part of the year is less eventful. But the country reaches a key point in April as it has a Neptune return – the first since its establishment in its current form in 1848. This will mean reviewing the core function of the country and its government and then currency. A process that will likely take a few years and may involve it deciding to co-operate in more international unions.

By May 2011 Uranus opposes Venus ( generally another challenge to asset values would be suggested based on this ) and with the progressed Moon transiting the progressed MC the country’s relations with the rest of the world will be in focus again throughout the summer months.

However August looks positive benign and even September when the Uranus aspect to Venus returns, it is modified by a nice sextile of the Moon and Pluto.

November and December look trickier though. Saturn opposes the country’s Uranus and Pluto conjunction, while transiting Uranus opposes Mars again. Even a gentle sextile from Jupiter to Neptune and the progressed Sun, activated by the progressed Moon is unlikely to offset the effects of this hard aspect – expect significant government restriction to developments- an example would be refusal to allow a takeover of a major Swiss company from outside.

The themes of the end of 2011 continue into the first half of 2012.The Neptune return continues throughout the year and the Saturn opposition to Pluto continues until the end of August. We will have a better idea how these will play out by 2010/11, there are too many variables at this time to determine the exact path.

In April Uranus returns to its opposition with Venus. A key aspect as progressed Venus will also conjoin natal Uranus at this time increasing the impact – it is an unlocking value but not always with the result that is desired.

And in May the country is in the spotlight as Jupiter crosses its Ascendant and reaches a turning point of some sort in August when the progressed Moon reaches the IC.

The latter months of 2012 are then focused on integrating the events so far, with no new direction.

Chart for Switzerland, 12 September 1848, 11.12 LMT (-0.29), Bern, N Campion. Book of World horoscopes.

(1) wikipedia

Friday, 10 October 2008

Icelandic banks – A storm in a teacup, or the mirror of all our problems?

This was an article I wrote in late May/early June, but didn’t post. You will see that at the time I was thinking about it- I posted “the astrologer’s dilemma” as a result of my musings on the prediction problem. However in the end I just chickened out of writing off a whole country.Well at least no-one can blame me for what has ensued. And to be fair I got the timing wrong by a whole 6 weeks. Anyway here is the original, complete, with a few comments from today added in Orange.

In mid May, the banks of Sweden Denmark and Norway, unveiled emergency facilities to be used by Iceland in the event of any sustained financial crisis or attack by speculators. The question is will it be enough?

Sceptics often comment that astrologers failed to predict this, that and the other. The reason for this is not a failure of the astrology, usually it is not even the failure of the astrologer- although, as in most professions, there are some bad ones out there; no, the failure is that astrologers are for the most part working alone and can only look at one thing at a time. And they tend to select what is close to their heart.

So last July and August when I was looking at the charts of Northern Rock and the Bank of England, I never for one moment considered looking at the banks of Iceland as well.

However, it is not too late to take a peek now. And, we are not interested in the outcome for any specific bank here, the banks are massive compared to the size of the country. So, it is not necessary to track down the charts of the individual banks, the chart of the country should be quite sufficient.

The most recent Iceland chart is quite delightfully descriptive of the country name, with Neptune on the ascendant, and Saturn on the Midheaven (MC)– quite literally “Ice”. Fascinating but not terribly relevant to the question in hand, though it does affirm the validity of the chart.

The first indication that there has already been a problem is that transiting Neptune has been opposing the country’s Jupiter throughout February and March. Neptune creates uncertainty dissolves, deceives and with Jupiter creates inflationary conditions. At the same time transiting Saturn was retrograding over the country’s progressed Jupiter and MC. Saturn creates hardships, in this case difficulty with the credit markets. Given that the country clearly resonates to Neptune and Saturn, it is not surprising that the countries economic wealth, and banking system have been the subject of speculation, both theoretical and actual.

Since both planets have passed these critical points we might be tempted to relax and think any potential crisis has also passed. However, by June, Saturn has gone direct and Neptune then retrogrades. By early July, Neptune will again approach an opposition to Iceland’s Jupiter and Saturn again transit the progressed Jupiter and MC. Unfortunately we can expect the liquidity issues of these banks to resurface then. Since Neptune moves slowly, and Saturn goes on to transit progressed Venus by September, it is difficult to see the problem blowing over quickly.

This turns out to have been the understatement of the 21st century. As you can read in my wider analysis “Reviewing the situation” that precedes this post. The eclipse did indeed create major upheavals but they have taken longer to work through the system than I expected.

There is an interesting tie between Iceland’s Jupiter and the UK Saturn, which means that the August eclipse will affect both Sterling and the Krona. There is a further tie between Iceland’s progressed Jupiter and MC and the Jupiter of the Bank of England, this is a long term, albeit not permanent link between the two. Clearly Iceland is sensitive at present to the economic events of the city of London. And as we have seen those events don’t look good for the summer.

Since the Icelandic banks are exposed to property and to retail, we might conclude that economic problems in the UK and elsewhere are going to lead to financial pressures on those Icelandic banks this summer.

And as we can see now, with the deposits frozen, the effect appears to be working both ways, with BOE having to bail out who knows what Local authorities, charities and whatever by the end of the day.

Since the relationship is between Jupiter and Neptune in this case, it may bear little relationship to fundamentals- speculation may indeed be the order of the day. It seems that Iceland will need all the help it has already been promised and more.

And even that is an undertstatement…..

The Jupiter/Neptune conjunction of May 2009 and December 2009 also hits the Icelandic Jupiter. Suggesting further episodes of speculation and or inflation. Though as we will see elsewhere these events aren’t likely to be confined to one country

Worse is the long term outlook. Iceland has an Ascendant of 2 Libra and an MC of 3 Cancer. The degrees of the major upcoming cardinal cross and, interestingly, of the Euro. Pluto will start to transit these degrees in 2009 and will be joined by Saturn on the country’s Ascendant by November/December 2009, and Uranus and Jupiter on the Descendant in summer 2010. If Iceland was a company, it would be highly vulnerable to a takeover in such a situation. Indeed, it looks like the situation may result in a sudden change of government in 2009 as Uranus squares the country’s sun.

Or takeover by Russia as has been suggested by some!!

Essentially what we can expect then is increased banking and speculation problems. It looks like this will definitely result in a major contraction, although whether there will be a complete meltdown of the banks is less obvious.

I confess I thought yes, but couldn’t quite imagine what that would entail nationally or internationally. The nationalisations have answered that question, although we still wait to see what happens in the longer term to the country as a whole.

What is clear is that the medium term outlook ( 2-4 years) is for a severe recession in the country and probably the need for more external support.
But that statement can just as easily be applied to the UK or US. Iceland is a microcosm – nothing more.

Oh dear!!! That does not bode well does it?

In fact it is the fact that the Universe is pointing to Iceland as a microcosm, that from an astrological point of view is the most interesting. The universe is not just telling us to look at Iceland’s banks – it is telling us to look at what Iceland represents in the world today – namely the universe is also pointing us to the question of climate change and energy. It wants us to use credit as a metaphor to solve our more fundamental problems for the future.

Given the current situation it is difficult to imagine any more fundamental problems. But in fact the credit crisis is the hologram equivalent of the longer term issues.

Chart used:

Iceland. 17 June 1944, 14.00 local time Reykjavik, Iceland.

Reviewing the situation

Mercury makes me think again.

First of all, hello again. As you will have noted there have been no posts here for a while. This is not because I have gone into meltdown along with the banking system, although I came close this morning!

In fact, I was away for a large part of mid-September, and had to follow the events from the 15th on my blackberry and sometimes, when in the desert, not at all.

I had originally planned, on my return, to submit an updated summary analysis of what I concluded globally would happen from 2008-2012 based on a consolidation of all my individual forecasts. But obviously events have been more exciting than even I expected, and significantly more negative than I expected at this stage, despite criticisms that my forecasts were a bit depressing…..

Anyway, Mercury has been retrograde since 23rd September and that makes it a perfect time to go back over what has occurred and revise ones position.

As I said before, my long term forecasts can only be relied on to predict the timing of events within 1-3 month basis as I am not looking at the minor factors that trigger the exact timing, so I am not apologising for not getting the exact timing of some events right. However in this case I am particularly interested in what is contributing to such extreme conditions and why now?
Finding the perp.

We do have an approaching Saturn –Uranus opposition, and certainly that would lead to some big shake outs and removal of dead wood in any circumstances. Remember what happened to the Nasdaq in 2000 when they were square each other. But this cannot be the only cause. First, the two planets are in hard aspect every 8 years or so and people are now talking of 1929 again. Secondly, the degree of their first opposition is not strongly highlighted in many of the individual charts I looked at. The approaching opposition is making people nervous and is almost certainly an accomplice but it is not the main culprit here.

I mentioned in my forecast for the Dow and Nasdaq that 15th September would see a time of volatility (one of what has turned out to be my significant understatements). This deduction was made on the basis of the full moon at the August full moon eclipse degree. And the position of Neptune at that degree.

Now I am not a lover of Neptune at the best of times. But the more spiritual astrologers do like it as, they claim, it shows our ability to connect with the higher plane. It is not though, we would all agree, terribly great for materialistic impulses…..

However in a strange way, Neptune also rules money (but not material wealth)- as money is a faith based system (or a “no faith at all” system at the moment). And since Neptune is also perfect for dissolving everything it touches, and when negatively placed, rudely awaking people from their delusions, it is clear that it has all the hallmarks of the perpetrator in the case.

Neptune takes 165 years to make a circuit of the zodiac. 83ish to do half. Its position in the charts of the indices and countries is therefore more likely to be a contributory factor to the, thankfully infrequent, events of the last month.

The other hint that it is still the August eclipses that we should be considering, is the birth-chart of Mr Paulson.

Hank Paulson was born on 28 March 1946. We do not have a time – though I can guess at a couple of possibilities. However one of the key factors in his chart is an opposition between Moon and Pluto, which is at 9 degrees Leo, the degree of the 1 August solar eclipse.
Mt Paulson also has Sun opposite Neptune at 7 degrees of Libra/Aries, within a degree of the September 30 new moon

If one supports the free will argument, one could claim that it was reckless in the extreme to appoint such a man to his position with such astrological signatures. But if one believes we are all tools of fate, then it was Mr Paulson’s destiny to be involved in the downfall of the world financial system. Don’t we all wish we had such a glorious destiny in store for us?

Anyway, the upshot of this is that his chart confirms the importance of the eclipse degrees and Neptune in the events that have unfolded.

The one question I haven’t satisfactorily answered yet is why the major events happened in July and September through October, but not actually in August. I believe that from a practical point of view a lot was happening behind the scenes then, but the vacation season meant that there were no governments in place to make decisions so nothing happened until they could. I may return to this theme when I do my consolidated review in December.

So what next?
Have I changed my forecasts for the future in the light of everything that has happened in the last few weeks? After all, it is as bad as it can get, right?


One of the things that is remarkable about this so called crisis, is that everyday I walk through the city of London to and from my office, and everything looks just as it always did. The Neptunian system might be floundering but the real world is still solid. So far.

Another thing that is interesting is that yesterday, even though the US indicies closed down, there were still gainers. That is significant, has not been the case on all the down days and a point missed by commentators. Switching is still happening as well as selling.

It makes sense. The market was right before though it is overreacting now. Banks first, insurers with bank share exposure next as the markets fall. Then later economic problems with general and food retailers, transportation cos, etc. Utilites, infrastructure support (though not construction) drugs and food, energy (though not oil at speculative prices as in June), a few specialist luxury retailers, and information should survive though not grow much in real terms. Still better bet than cash which will be eroded by govt, indebtedness.

So, I am not changing my predictions, indeed I am now beginning to understand them better. When I was writing in April through July, it was difficult to see how we would get from where we were to where we seemed to be going. Now it is clear. Nationalising of banking debt (whether via direct nationalisation or indirectly through other bail outs) is taking us to what I can see for 2009, i.e huge government debt/money supply and subsequent currency collapse in some major countries e.g. US and to what I see for late 2009-2010 etc, severe recessions and civil unrest in some places.

This also accords with what I forecast for the markets in the medium term to 2012; much chopping and changing of sectors, some mini bubbles and some big bankruptcies, and lots of continued volatility in most of the indices. But not complete wipe-out of the stock-markets, at least before 2013.

So does that mean some recovery in the markets from today? I believe that it does and that the turning points are in the next week.

Today will probably continue bad as the moon approaches Neptune. But may change after the conjunction at 11am BST ( 10AM GMT), about the time I am going to be posting this. Monday looks unsettled but without direction, and Tuesday like a final collapse and turning point as the full moon trines Neptune. Wednesday has Mercury go direct at the end of the US trading day suggesting sentiment change.

Nevertheless, the continued full moons at 21 degrees of each sign in aspect to Neptune until the February eclipses, don’t suggest big recoveries. And by then we will begin to see what will happen to government debt and to some dying sectors.

Coming in October
Iceland – the one I didn’t post before.
A brief look at Switzerland, another banking nation.

A more detailed look at consumerism and the Neptune/Pluto cycle that was touched on in my search for an oil chart.
A more in-depth look at next year’s Neptune/Jupiter/Chiron conjunction and how it may manifest.
And since everyone needs a bit of light relief, so I am going to do a review of “pop” music one week

Coming in November/early December
Serious stuff
North Korea

And in December

And starting 2009 with the consolidated review I have been putting off.