Well, we’re still smack in the middle of the Uranus-Pluto square, as evidenced by any handful of news headlines you can find on a daily basis. As I write this, judge Col. Denise Lind just issued a verdict on the Bradley Manning case. The Manning case is likely to be remembered historically as one of the hallmarks of this transit, and the verdict could have a profound impact on our culture. Whether you believe Manning’s actions were right or wrong, the case calls into questions our current legal system, and glaring issues around accountability for wrongdoing within our armed forces and systems of government.
As a true representative of the Uranian archetype, whistleblower group Wikileaks is seen as a threat by the status quo. They are criticized for “going too far.” Their actions are seen as “offensive and operating outside the law.” And maybe that’s true. But in the eyes of those blowing the whistles, the means taken to reveal truth are necessary to shed light on wrongdoing. These are extreme archetypes at play, so whatever stories unfold on the world stage right now, they’re sure to be dramatic.
Manning’s case represents the fight – the tension and conflict represented by the square aspect – between the status quo and those challenging the system. We’ve seen this specific flavor of drama play out on the world stage before, most recently in the 60s when Uranus and Pluto were conjunct. It’s a recurring theme historically. The planetary movements ensure that we’ll repeat it again and again. And hopefully we learn something new and evolve a little more each time.
Let’s take a quick look at today’s chart in the context of the verdict released. Mercury has just recently returned to direct motion, and is still in range of a square with Uranus. Communication remains a bit choppy, and the energy is stop-and-go, sometimes frenetic, and unpredictable. Mercury had a sextile with the moon early in the day, but otherwise isn’t forming any harmonious aspects. So we can start off by saying that the news isn’t the most upbeat it could be, but it makes sense that after a period of deliberation, the verdict is finally released as Mercury moves direct.
The Sun is square Saturn (challenges, obstacles, difficulties), and Venus is opposite Neptune signaling the potential for disillusionment. But the big news is that Mars is conjoined with Jupiter and forming a T-square with Pluto and Uranus. Wow. Fireworks. This judge serves up her “justice” (Jupiter) with sword in hand (Mars). While Lind may have cleared Manning on the most important count of “aiding the enemy,” she took care to convict him on 20 other counts. This case is meant to send a message. But is it a just one?
Our first clue in answer to that is that Mars is now out of bounds (from June 18-August 16, 2013). Although as a collective we haven’t done enough research on Mars out of bounds, Steven’s work with the Moon suggests a hypothesis: we should be able to apply some aspects of the Uranian archetype onto any out of bounds planet (for more read his article on the out of bounds Moon). Here we may find Mars operating just outside the “legal” domain of the Sun. This could mean Mars breaking ground into exciting new territory. But it could also show us a Mars with a warped sense of right and wrong, and the unchecked freedom, however temporary, to do whatever it wants.
Mars is in Cancer, the sign of its “fall.” We’re about to release Steven’s talk on planetary “debility,” so you’ll have the opportunity to hear his take on the subject soon. But suffice to say that we don’t like to use those kinds of “old school” descriptions much, although they do give us some useful information about the nature of a combination. While every planet-sign combo comes with its own set of challenges, some combinations stand out as having more or less ease. Those in rulership and exaltation are said to have more ease. Those in fall or detriment are said to have more difficulty. But it’s not as simple as labeling some good and others bad. For instance, Mars might rule Aries, and thus be a clear channel for the energy. But what if that channel is being used for anger or aggression? In short, all combinations have a shadow side. And all of them – even those in “detriment,” have a high expression too.
In the sign of Cancer, Mars has a natural check in place. Mars is attuned to adrenaline and dangerous situations. Cancer is more attuned to maintaining security. When this combo is working well, we can find someone who puts Mars to good use defending the helpless. But Mars in Cancer can also be overly defensive, and even vindictive. Cancer is often associated with a more protective or conservative nature. So perhaps Manning’s judge feels she’s rightly defending our country’s values. Then again, maybe she’s just “out of bounds.”
Either way, things don’t look good for Manning, who has not yet been sentenced and faces a maximum of 136 years in prison. And what does the verdict mean for the rest of us? Many fear that the case has wide-ranging implications that would affect how we communicate, how news is shared, and even our “freedom of speech” over the internet. The prosecution argued that because the material Manning leaked was shared over the internet, it counted as “aiding the enemy” because the enemy could have read it, even though that was not Manning’s intent. This has many citizens and journalists feeling edgy, and for good reason. The lines of right and wrong here are a little too blurry for any of us to navigate easily, and the outcomes for any missteps are potentially perilous. It all echoes back to the last time Uranus and Pluto had their dukes up in the 30s, when fascism in Spain and Italy prevented people from freely expressing themselves. Let’s hope we’ve evolved enough that we don’t have to repeat those same mistakes.
I sympathize with Manning supporter and protester Rachel Atwood, who said, "The very idea that he is being punished for coming out against war crimes and such cruelty by his fellow servicemen is, it’s really disturbing.” But that’s also the nature of these aspects, isn’t it? If we’re not disturbed, we’re probably not paying attention. Pluto and Uranus aren’t really motivated by helping us have a fun or easy time of it.
Protesters around the world are calling for Manning’s release. Given the circumstances, this just doesn’t seem likely. And all of this means that as a culture, we still have a lot to learn about the core values our country was founded on, including freedom, justice, and free speech.
A Refresher on Mercury, Venus and Mars
As a preview of Steven’s upcoming AP Program in Southern California, we’re sharing an article from the archives on Venus, Mercury and Mars. And to get a taste of what to expect in the workshop, you can find an introduction to the subject in Steven’s recent lecture Purifying the Three Poisons.
Weak expressions of Mercury, Venus, and Mars correspond closely to the "three poisons" in Buddhism -- Ignorance, Attachment, and Anger. They all orbit close to the Sun, and thus can be seen as defenders of the ego’s self-centered view.
How can we work with these three "personal planets" in a way that converts them from obstacles to allies in the evolutionary journey? What does their position in the natal chart suggest about turning ignorance into understanding, attachment into transformative love, and anger into boundless courage? Learn how to work consciously with the energies of the personal planets Mercury, Venus and Mars.
by Steven Forrest
Core Concept: The reception and transmission of data between a person and the surrounding social, physical, metaphysical, and psychic environments.
Developmental Focus: Evolving perception. Evolving thought. Evolving speech.
Positive Response: Curiosity, wonder, open-mindedness. Alertness. Comfortable self-expression; good listening.
Negative Response: Mental rigidity, intellectual defensiveness; compulsive speech, running around in circles.
Tony Howard graduated Summa Cum Laude in history and film from the University of Colorado. His degree turned out to be the perfect precursor to his career in astrology, where his focus includes historical research and chart analysis. His writing has been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and in two Flare anthologies: Astrology, the Next Generation and The Book of Music Horoscopes.
Tony has been researching declination since 2011 and specializes in “out of bounds” planets. He also loves working with and studying aspects, which forms the core of his work with clients. He is the founder of Astrology University.