I was watching a BBC programme about entropy, the idea that the universe gets more disordered over time. As one scientist put it, in non-technical language it means things are getting worse. And I thought what a strange way of looking at the world.
I learned about entropy at school, but it wasn’t until more recently that I felt able to question accepted scientific theories. They are so battened down by proofs and equations and authority that it doesn’t seem like one can question them. This is probably the biggest fundamentalism of our age, every bit as rigid as the Islamists or Christians can get. And of course, if you are in it, you can’t see it.
The guy who came up with entropy, Ludwig Boltzmann, suffered from depression and eventually killed himself. I wonder if there is a connection. And what kind of culture is it that thinks things can only get worse? The eventual fate of the universe, according to this kind of thinking, is ‘Heat Death’, a vast cold empty nothingness.
My experience is NOT that things unravel over time. Our particular culture is making things worse, but that is particular to us. Just look at life, in its abundance and beauty and complexity. It has been there a long time. We are the babes of creation, the ones who do not know who they are and are making a mess. But our elder brothers and sisters, all the animals and plants – they don’t make things worse, they don’t make things gradually unravel, because they know how to live. They know about balance.
So, here is a big question: my experience is that the world does not unravel over time. But accepted scientific theory says it does. Which should I go with, and do I even have the right to think in this sort of way? And almost as a matter of principle I say we need to go with our experience, because if we can’t do that, then what do we have? It is part of the disempowerment, the brainwashing of our complex culture, that needs people to be productive and to conform, that we have learned not to trust our own experience anymore.
Another example is the Sun going around the Earth. That is something we experience every day, it is a basic part of being human to see this happening. And yet we are told it is not so, that it is the other way round, and we believe that, because we are told it. This, in my view, is degenerate, we have lost our power as humans. Humans that have that power are seen as ‘primitive’.
And the other big question is what kind of culture sees things as inevitably getting worse?
According to Buddhism, everything is Mind. Not mind in a narrow sense, more in the sense of the primordial imagination (in astrology, Neptune) that throws up the world around us. The world is produced by the imagination, life imagines the world into being, and it is real, but not ‘objective’ in the way that science would have us believe. Nor is it a solipsistic fantasy. It is something else, ineffable, that takes a lifetime of contemplating.
So the world is a product of the imagination, and that is what keeps it buoyant and creative, it has that force of life behind it. That is why, left to its own devices, the world does not unravel.
But we have become unmoored from that imaginative link to creation. We think the world is material and separate from us: that is a basic assumption behind the scientific method. So the world around us is no longer being maintained by the forces of our imagination, it has been unmoored, and that is why it is gradually falling apart over time. Hence the theory of entropy.
‘Primitive’ cultures understand this link. That is why, some, for example, participate in the rising of the sun every day, in the belief that if they ceased to do so, the sun would cease to rise. We are a literal-minded culture, and think that people must be primitive indeed to think like this. But welcoming the Sun every day is based on a profound truth, it really does make a difference to the nature of the world.
Anything said or done in a heartfelt way affects the world, contributes to its aliveness, stops it unravelling. This is how prayer and magic work. This is a form of cause and effect that is outside the scientific remit, but it is the most important form of all. Contributing to the world – saving the world, even, as if we could possibly know how – is not just a matter of direct action, though that has its place. It is also about inner work, of heartfelt intention, of prayer. And that connects us to the deeper soul of the world. It is that thing beyond us, that is vastly bigger than us, that makes the difference.
I'm running a TRANCE DANCE next week. Sun 19th Feb, 2pm, Jubilee Hall, Chagford, Devon, UK. Most of you are probably too far away to come. Since the late 90s, it's been my strongest and most natural way of connecting to what one might call the Spirit world. And I'm mobile: if you're in the UK and you hire a hall, I can come and run a dance. And/or do some astrology readings.
And this is what Trance Dance is about, at least how I see it:
People have been dancing to rhythmic music for thousands of years. The dance acts as a gateway to ‘non-ordinary’ consciousness: to the Spirit world, the Otherworld, the Unconscious…. There are many ways of framing it. In this sense it is a ritual, a ceremony.
We are more, much more, than our everyday ‘rational’ selves. This understanding was basic to early peoples. It is a perspective, a way of being in the world, that has been largely lost in the modern West. And with it, a source of deep nourishment and guidance.
Trance dance helps us re-establish that relationship with the larger self, which knows no boundaries, that connects us to the whole of life. At the same time, the dance journey is personal and practical: we can bring those ‘close-to’ places that trouble us, or a desire for guidance, or prayers for others. Whatever we bring, the Spirit world has a way of addressing it, of helping it move on.
There is no defined form to the dance. ‘Movement’ might be a more accurate word: we go where the music, and the spirit, takes us, and that can range from a still contemplative space to something very vigorous. And it is not a performance, because no-one is watching or judging. Along with the rhythmic music, we wear a blindfold, a further prop to moving our attention inwards. (As facilitator, it is my job to keep an eye to ensure you don’t bump into anyone or anything!)
Trance dance can be like a shamanic journey, or like a big dream. We are taken somewhere else, and it can have a profound effect on our daily life. Everyone’s relationship to this other world is personal to them, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ experiences. And it takes time afterwards to reflect on and absorb what has happened. Like dreams, the implications can sometimes take years to unfold.
The dance itself lasts about an hour. We are in ceremonial time, so it can seem much shorter or longer. And there is plenty of space around it: beforehand, to quietly gather ourselves and find our intentions (if any) for the dance; and afterwards, to slowly make the transition back to this reality.
Last summer a Frenchwoman told me that if there were a referendum in France on the EU, they would vote leave. I don’t know if a vote would actually go that way, but it is indicative of popular sentiment. A referendum on the constitution in Italy at the end of last year turned into a referendum on the EU, and the anti-vote won. In Finland, severe curbs are being placed on immigration. Austria has just banned the wearing of the veil in public.
Across Europe and the US, we are seeing a swing to the right politically, and a re-assertion of the nation state in the face of globalisation. The last time there was a Uranus-Pluto square – the early thirties – there was a Depression followed by a swing to the right across Europe, triggered by the economic difficulties. America avoided that political swing in the thirties, but not this time.
This new political mood has not yet taken form on mainland Europe, but that is simply because there have not been elections. As I wrote previously, the 2 big political events this year will be the French and German elections, and we can expect swings to the right, but not in the normal sense: it will not be business as usual, albeit with a conservative tinge. It will be something quite different, as we have already seen in the US and the UK.
A new era is being born. Uranus still has one more conjunction with Eris. This series of conjunctions describes the shocks to the system, people hardly able to believe what has happened, the deep dismay many of us have experienced: the inexorable progress of western democratic liberalism, 'the end of history', stopped in its tracks, reversed by a bunch of insular racists and rednecks. That's how it can seem. But civilisations rise and fall, values change.
And Marine Le Pen is likely to be the next President of France. She is leader of the National Front, a previously extreme right-wing party, led for a long time by her father, but whose positions and image she has softened (and this has included expelling her father from the party.) But it’s still pretty right-wing.
|Marine Le Pen|
She is economically protectionist, and wants France to leave the Eurozone, as well as the Schengen Area, which allows people to move freely between countries. She is opposed to the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon, the most recent step in the political integration of the EU. She sees 2017 as a year in which nation states will be reborn across Europe, a domino effect coming out of the Brexit and Trump votes.
She is to all intents and purposes a Frexiteer, and she is narrowly ahead in the polls.
So now for some astrology. I don’t think astrology on its own can make successful predictions: for example, there are plenty of people born at the same time as Marine Le Pen, they will have the same chart, but they will not be President because they are not politicians. So we have to combine astrology with available information.
To make a prediction of this sort I look at 3 things: does the politician have popular appeal; does their chart make strong connections with the national chart; and do they have major transits empowering their charts in the coming years?
There are 3 main candidates: the socialist Benoit Hamon, the centre-right Francois Fillon, and Marine Le Pen. I can't say much about charisma, popular appeal, because I'm not that clued up to French politics. But the other 2 factors I can say something about.
I’m ruling out Hamon because his recent major transit (Pluto opp Asc) is finishing, and there is no new major transit for some years. Also, his chart only makes one strong connection with the French Chart: his Asc conjoins the French Moon. (Update: Since writing this, Emmanuel Macron's popularity has increased; I hadn't mentioned him because he fails on both astrological criteria, and that remains.)
Fillon likewise has just one strong connection with the French chart: his North Node is opposite the French Moon. As for transits, Pluto finished with his Angles a year or two ago, but has still to conjoin his Node. Also, he has Neptune conjoining his Sun over the next couple of years, and Saturn moving onto his Angles. So the transits are there, but I’m a bit suspicious of the major one, Neptune conjunct Sun.
It could be the transit of a popular redeemer – Tony Blair was empowered by Neptune throughout his time as Labour leader – but I think you have to come from nowhere to achieve that. You can’t be a redeemer if you have a track record in power – and Fillon used to be Prime Minister – because then people know you, and being a redeemer is dependent on people not knowing you (like Obama, with his natal Sun square Naeptune), so they can project their hopes onto you. I think Neptune in Fillon’s case is therefore more likely to suggest him leaving politics. The current investigation into alleged improper payments to his wife, even though it may turn out to be a non-story, seems indicative of this.
|Marine Le Pen|
And then there is Marine Le Pen. Her Asc-Node-Saturn conjoins/opposes the French Sun-Node Asc (these are fairly wide stelliums, but together they add up to something very strong). And her MC-Mars in Cancer conjoins the French Moon-IC in Cancer. And then her Capricorn Moon conjoins the French MC.
So she has an extremely powerful connection with modern France (the chart I am using), far more so than the other candidates.
As for transits, over the next 3 years she has Pluto opposing her MC, and Saturn hard aspecting her Moon and Angles.
So I expect Marine Le Pen to be President, and to be very effective in bringing about change for the 1st few years of her Presidency. After that, her transits will dry up and she will become less effective. (When I say ‘effective’, I mean that she will achieve much of what she sets out to achieve: it does not suggest I either agree or disagree with what she does, that is not my job as an astrologer.)
One further argument in favour of Le Pen: in the next few years France will be coming out of a long period in which Pluto and Uranus will have hard aspected the country's Sun, Moon, Node and Angles. This is huge. Le Pen is the only candidate with the radiclaism to bring about the level of change that the outcome of this series of transits requires. France will be a very different country in 2 to 3 years time, or sooner, with a very different relationship to the EU.
Meanwhile, Theresa May has been clever in delaying the start of the Brexit negotiations (ie triggering article 50) until the end of March, a few weeks before the French elections. We are likely to see a French President who would like to see for France what the UK is claiming for itself, and that could change the whole process: it’s like all bets are off as to the outcome.
Theresa May, the UK PM, has promised to initiate Brexit negotiations by the end of March. She’s not the usual sort of politician, in that she doesn’t say much, but when she does say something, she means it. We don’t have a birth time for her, but she has Saturn conjunct North Node, as well as square Moon and Venus, and sextile Mercury.
She has a Saturnian personality: she is notoriously withheld, but wants to do a proper, detailed job. She has earned her position through being Home Secretary for 6 years, and popularity for her is secondary (Saturn square to Venus). So she has the right temperament for the job at hand, Brexit.
But subsequent to triggering article 50, we are likely to see a phoney Brexit for most of this year. For the UK, Brexit begins in earnest once Saturn goes direct in the autumn, leaving Sagittarius for good and entering Capricorn, where it will begin to hard aspect the UK Sun, Moon and Angles, all of which are in Cardinal signs.
This, of course, fits nicely with the waiting game we are likely to see until the French and German elections have been held, in the spring and autumn respectively. Until then, we will not really know who we are negotiating with, though there will continue to be posturing from both sides.
Europe is likely to see further shocks this year, as we experience the outcome of the Uranus-Pluto square, energised by the conjunction of Uranus to Eris. The dark underbelly of globalisation (those left without jobs and prospects as industry moves to cheaper countries, and as jobs become automated, and the problems caused by lack of sensible border controls) that Pluto has revealed, and that brought about Trump and Brexit, has yet to bring major political change to mainland Europe.
This is because unlike the US and the UK, Europe has not had elections or referendums. Except Italy, which had a referendum on the constitution in December, that became a referendum on the EU and the Euro: the anti-vote won. That seems like a clear sign of the way things are going.
The Euro currency has an exact opposition between Mars and Eris (18.21 Libra/Aries), Mars ruling the 8th House of shared wealth. So Mars is a key player. Saturn at 26 Aries, at the start of the 8th, is also a major player. As Uranus completes his crossing of transiting Eris and moves on to natal Saturn this year, and as Pluto finishes with natal Mars/Eris, we are almost certain to see crises within the Eurozone, the 2 obvious contenders being Greece and Italy, both of whom have debt problems. It could easily result in one of them leaving the Eurozone.
The big events, however, are the French and German elections. Both countries (using their modern charts) are in the thick of Pluto or Neptune transits to major points: France has Pluto hard-aspecting her Asc, Node and Moon; Germany has Pluto hard-aspecting her Moon, Mars, Saturn, as well as Neptune conjoining the Asc.
So how can there not be major political change in these 2 countries, that reflects the anti-globalisation mood, and the EU’s part in bringing it about? The major symbol of these events, this new political mood, will be the fall of Angela Merkel in the autumn.
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She will be seen as a great leader, and as such her trajectory is in the stars: she was elected in 2005 as Pluto crossed the German Midheaven at 23 Sag, and continued as Pluto opposed the German Sun at 9 Cancer, and this year as Pluto finishes his business by squaring the German Moon. And so too will Merkel be finished as leader.
Mother Merkel (whose birthtime is approximate) has Sun at 24 Cancer, conjunct Uranus at 23 Cancer, showing the divided homeland she was born into, and which she experienced first-hand as a child when her family moved from West to East Germany. It is interesting with her Uranus that her job should be as a unifier, not just of Germany but of the EU. Her Sun-Uranus squares her Neptune-MC at 23-22 Libra. So this square, which is basic to her chart, has been under hard aspect from Uranus for a year or two (reflected in her waning popularity, much of it brought about by the immigrant surge which she, the caring Cancerian, oversaw.) Pluto will be approaching, rather than exactly aspecting her Sun-Moon, but that will be enough. She may, however, remain in politics for a few years after she loses the election, until the exact aspects have occurred.
The EU came into existence as the EEC in 1958. All the Angles were at 29 degrees of the mutable signs, which is the worst place to have them if you want something to last. The Euro currency has the same problem. Neptune won’t be exactly aspecting these points for another 7 years, but that is soon enough. In the case of the Euro, Neptune will exactly square the Moon (the member states) in 5 years.
So my prognosis is a dissolution of the EU in its current form, beginning with the start of the dissolution of the Euro over the next 2 or 3 years. And Brexit of 2016, followed by the French and German elections of 2017, will be seen as the key events which began this process. The rise of nationalist sentiment across the EU may mean that what the UK wants and what Europe wants are much more closely allied – ie more border controls, and devolution of power from Brussels - and that will radically change the negotiating picture.
This easier climate for negotiation is reflected in Saturn’s passage across the major points of the UK chart, which will be complete in autumn 2020, and all over bar the shouting a year before that, after 2 years of serious negotiations.
The underlying transit that the world is experiencing is the Uranus-Pluto square. A new world is being born, whose form is not yet clear, but Trump and Brexit are indicators of where things are going. Away from globalisation, towards protectionism and border controls. And maybe an economic crisis along the way.
At present there are overlays of Uranus conjunct Eris, and Saturn square to Neptune. Uranus-Eris describes the game-changing shocks to the system, the earthquakes, of which there are more to come.
And Saturn-Neptune describes the ‘post-truth’ world which we are, for now, entering. A world in which politicians win elections by telling bigger whoppers than usual, which then get whirled around social media. That is what it amounts to.
But it's not that simple. It is right-wing politicians who are telling the whoppers (in the cases of Trump and Brexit), and the liberals are fighting back using their own cultural weapons, promoting the concept of ‘post-truth’ to describe their political enemies.
I don’t like the cold-heartedness of many right-wing politicians. But if the liberals had won by telling bigger lies, I don’t think the Republicans/Tories would be promoting a word like ‘post-truth’ and getting it put in dictionaries, as if it were a description rather than a weapon. When Tony Blair lied about WMD, we weren't told we were entering a new era in which politicians told big lies. And what he (and GWB) did was lie in a much more serious way than anything that has happened this year.
While there will always be a few who believe the lies that politicians tell, I don’t think most people do. People vote for the more charismatic candidate, the one who connects best with people, for better or for worse. In the case of Brexit, we had the appeal of Boris and Nigel Farage on one side, and the relatively bland David Cameron on the other. And it was the same with Trump and Hillary. (To say that doesn't make me right-wing: I'm not.)
This way of looking at things is, of course, insulting to the intelligence of the voters, but it is the way things go in elections time and again. You don’t even need astrology to predict the outcome. As Churchill said, Democracy is the worst form of government, apart from all the others. It is the ongoing Saturn (substance) vs Neptune (appearance) nature of democracy, and Neptune generally wins. It is how GW Bush and Obama each won the presidency, and how Tony Blair became the UK leader.
Saturn-Neptune describes the fact that the debate has come to centre on the lies of politicians. But it’s not the real issue, because politicians have always lied. Neptune is a hall of mirrors, it reflects back on itself.
And the same people who are crying foul because of the lies of the Brexit and Trump campaigns, have also been denying loudly that the Brexiteers and Trump actually won. The political lies are (correctly) being called unusually egregious, yet the simple facts of who won and who lost are being denied.
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The lies, particularly in the case of Trump, have admittedly been exceptional. The man will say anything that suits, and exaggerate and castigate to his heart’s content. (Though I also think it is important to admit when he has a point, like when he said that Castro was a dictator; otherwise our opposition is blind, and this kind of blindness is surprisingly common amongst ‘educated’ people.)
But the pretence that Trump and the Brexiteers lost - or that the elections were stolen and invalid, or that Brexit won't happen, or that the electoral college won't elect Trump - has to me seemed to be what is truly unusual about these events. Yes, Saturn-Neptune and bigger lies from politicians, that is part of the picture, if anyone is actually listening. 'Twas ever thus. But this new element of outright denial of a basic fact by an educated part of the population: that is what is truly different. Maybe we should be talking about the post-fact era?
I think it shows just how polarised things have become politically, which is what one expects from the larger picture of Uranus-Pluto. But I think it reminds us yet again that being educated and being self-aware are not the same thing. I think that the sense of moral superiority that many liberals have also confuses the picture, like Trump/the Brexiteers can't have won because they're the bad guys, so how did they cheat us?
Being an astrologer and being self-aware, at least in these polarised times, do not seem to be the same thing either. At a major astrological conference in the USA in October 2016, a panel of 12 experienced astrologers unanimously predicted that Hillary would win (though some said that it was 11 out of 12.)
Either way, this just doesn’t happen when you ask a bunch of astrologers to predict something. And if they’re good, I’d expect most to be right. But I certainly wouldn’t expect them all to have the same answer - in any other situation, it would be called groupthink. But these were 'gifted' astrologers, we are told, so that can't possibly be what was happening!
And I don’t think it comes down to method either, though I’m wandering now into the nature of prediction. I think if you rely on method alone for predicting, it will break down in time. Mercury the trickster comes in, this was something that Jung found. No, there is also intuition involved, even in how you decide which charts to use. It is the skilled intuition that is essential, that is the real gift of the astrologer. But because it is personal, it is also subject to personal wishes and the wishes of the collective.
This, I think, is what happened. It can happen to all of us, and we can all get predictions wrong. I do. But astrologers are well known for being politically liberal. It was a fiasco, and soul-searching is needed.
It makes astrology look ridiculous, and heaven knows we don’t need that. But the reason I’m writing about it is that the issue was then surrounded by the same sort of defensive denial that you find in the population at large, namely that Trump hadn’t won the election because Hillary got more votes, even though everyone knows that it doesn’t work like that.
This denial compounded the fiasco. Astrologers, and diviners of all sorts, need to be able to stand apart from their political preferences and collective currents. This is really basic. And we will sometimes fail. But please at least let's be honest when we get it wrong.