I hope this finds you all safe and dry. I flew down to Florida on Wednesday to visit my dad, who is not well. The following newsletter was begun last week, but I didn’t get a chance to send it out, and I’m aware that some major events have unfolded since then! Several folks have asked me to comment on Hurricane Harvey, and I plan to do so next week.
So, here’s the story. As many of you know, I co-lead a weekly astrology lecture and discussion group on Tuesdays here in New York City. We meet at 7:00 PM at the Church of the Transfiguration (see details here), and we talk about current events through the lens of astrology.
In the wake of Charlottesville, one of my colleagues suggested that we discuss racism and white supremacy in the United States. She found the chart for a seminal moment in the history of that ideology: a speech known as the Cornerstone Address, which was given by Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, on March 21, 1861 in Savannah, Georgia — just after Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration, after seven states had seceded, and shortly before the attack on Fort Sumter that began the Civil War.
In the speech, Stephens declared white supremacy to be the “cornerstone” of the new Confederate government. He stated that the founding fathers — though many were themselves slaveholders — had been insufficiently committed to protecting the institution of slavery, because they were insufficiently racist; men like Thomas Jefferson failed to understand the “great physical, philosophical, and moral truth” that enslavement is the “natural and normal condition” of Africans and their descendants. His rhetoric positions the Confederacy as a revised version of the original United States, rebooted without its fatal flaw, the proposition that “all men are created equal.”
The chart for Stephens’ speech (image below) has some fascinating connections to the Eclipse chart from last week, which may help us make sense of the political situation today.
As you can see, the Cornerstone Address chart, contains a very tight T-square in the mutable signs, formed by Uranus at 8 Gemini, Saturn at 4 Virgo, and Eris at 7 degrees Pisces. Eris is exceptionally far out of bounds, at 44 degrees declination! The usual maximum is 23. (Vesta and Ceres are out of bounds too; their message is, “you can’t go home again.”)
Virgo and Pisces, though opposing signs, are both associated with servitude. Virgo is the sign of the apprentice or indentured servant — a young person who, historically, would be bound to a master for a set amount of time in order to learn a trade. Pisces is the sign of permanent enslavement, the total loss of personal autonomy.
The fact that Eris, the Goddess of Discord,so exceptionally far out of bounds in the sign of permanent enslavement, reflects the fanatical enthusiasm and political divisiveness of Stephens’ ideology. And Uranus in Gemini is about correcting the wording and breaking the contract: “no, all men are NOT created equal, and therefore we must separate.”
Now, the Ascendant of our 2017 Solar Eclipse chart, when cast for Washington, DC, is 4 Sagittarius. That degree exactly squares Saturn and fills the empty leg of the mutable T-square in the 1861 chart.
The Ascendant is the most visible part of any chart. Your natal Ascendant (i.e. your rising sign) is your persona — how you enter a room, the face you show to the world. Same goes for events. The events that took place under last week’s Eclipse can be understood as the unmasked “face” of Cornerstone ideology. The KKK members and other white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville did not wear hoods, and the vivid light from their tiki-torches made them recognizable in photos.
Remarkably, the same three planets that form this hard T-square in the 1861 chart (Saturn, Uranus, and Eris) ALSO aspect each other tightly in the 2017 Eclipse chart. They unite with the Sun and the Moon (i.e. the Eclipse planets), as well as with the North Node and Mars, in forming a Grand Trine in Fire. In the 1861 chart Saturn (i.e. structure), Uranus (change), and Eris (discord, aggression) all fight with each other for mastery.
In the 2017 Eclipse chart, we have Saturn at 21 Sadge, Uranus at 28 Aries, Eris at 23 Aries, the Sun and Moon at 28 Leo, the North Node at 24 Leo, and Mars at 20 Leo. The harmonious nature of the Grand Trine in Fire means there’s no buffer or barrier to the flow of the energy. The Fire spreads quickly, chaotically, each planet inciting the others. There is a potential for violence, but also for insight.
Fire is the visionary element. And Leo, in particular, asks us to look at who we are: our self-concept (the Sun), memories (the Moon), wishes (the North Node), and aggression (Mars). Reality check. “Let me show you who you REALLY are!” say the heavens. Eris says, is this the kind of discourse we want in our land? With the literal FIRE of the tiki-torch march?
Note that the Path of Totality for this Eclipse approximately mirrors the Mason-Dixon line, which once split the country in two. Furthermore, the Eclipse path made landfall directly over a town called “Lincoln” (in Oregon) and cut across several other “Lincolns” as well (Nebraska, and not far from Lincoln, Missouri). Historical divisions are highlighted again.
Is this the vision you had for your life? If not, what will you do about it?
After the election last November, one of my assistants started wearing a tee shirt with a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “If you remain neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” It’s a gentle reminder of something profoundly true.
In the Cornerstone chart from 1861, we see the North Node (our hopes and wishes, karma, and destiny) stationing at 19 degrees Capricorn (the land and the law) — the same part of the heavens where Pluto is right now, and where he will remain for the next year.
In the 2017 Eclipse chart, Pluto is at 17 degrees Capricorn, closely conjunct the 1861 North Node. Pluto is the planet of power dynamics, secret sins, psychological transformation, and most importantly evolution. The events that unfolded under the current Eclipse show how we as Americans struggle to reconcile our North Node vision with our Plutonian past.
Time to evolve!
The Cornerstone Address of Alexander Stephens
March 21, 1861 in Savannah, Georgia, 7:30 PM local time
The Solar Eclipse of August 2017
August 21, 2017 in Washington, DC, 2:30 PM Eastern US Time
Inner Wheel: Cornerstone Address
Outer Wheel: Solar Eclipse of August 2017