A number of stories came across my desk during the third week of February involving the Saturn/Uranus square; none was active enough cosmically (not to say unimportant) to rate a full treatment, but here’s a rundown of the week’s highlights, in abbreviated CliffsNotes style.
Although removed from office almost a month ago, Donald J. Trump continues to set presidential records. Only president to lose the popular vote in both general elections where he was on the ballot; only president to never reach a 50% approval rating during his term in office; only president to be impeached twice; only president to be tried after leaving office; and now, the president with the most bipartisan impeachment and majority conviction in history.
[Cover Photo: a late January ice storm sets the birch branches sparkling in the early morning light]
Imbolc, commonly celebrated on February 2nd, marks the halfway point of the winter season. The light begins to grow and faint stirrings of life can be detected in the bleak landscape. Imbolc is a Cross-Quarter Day, one of four Major Sabbats in paganism, and is also a Fire Festival, noted for the use of light, typically candles or bonfires, in its rituals. As with most pagan celebrations, the early Christians coopted the holiday, terming it “Candlemas”, a day to honor the purification or “churching” of the Virgin Mary after giving birth. Candles are still brought to Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Episcopal churches on this date to be blessed for use in the coming year.
Not since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2019 has a freshman congressperson made such a stunning impact in the House of Representatives as Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), quickly emerging as an avatar for the extremist fringe of her Party. Greene latched onto the Trumpist base with all the furor of a Sarah-Palin-inspired “pit bull in lipstick”, hawking every conspiracy theory to come within range while endorsing the lynching of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and the assassination of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump strongly supported her candidacy, calling her “a future Republican star.” Since his departure from the Oval Office, he and Greene have exchanged phone calls frequently, with the newly minted Representative planning a visit to Mar-a-Lago soon, to kiss the ring: “Great news is, he supports me 100%, and I’ve always supported him,” tweeted Greene.
The recent Jupiter/Saturn conjunction of late December has brought on a rash of celebrity (Jupiter) deaths (Saturn), and as the Sun has come to conjoin this duo, highlighting this effect, famous people have begun dropping like flies. Three such recent departures are star baseball player Hank Aaron, broadcast legend Larry King, and the inimitable Cloris Leachman, one of the finest actresses of her generation, who all passed within five days in late January 2021.
On Tuesday 19 January 2021, I lost my dear fur buddy Charcoal to cancer. What I thought was a respiratory infection, which Charkey got every winter, turned out to be a mass in his mouth. While waiting for the biopsy appointment, the faint swelling I had observed on his left side blew up dramatically over the weekend, becoming so large it looked like he had a tennis ball in his cheek. I dropped him off for his appointment that morning, the vet confirmed the diagnosis a few hours later, and shortly after that, I held him as he passed.
“That hymn you hear [playing in Congress] is ‘Just as I Am,’ and we’re open for deathbed conversions.” – Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman and MSNBC morning show host
Can you feel it? Impending political mortality is in the air. Trusted councilors leave the bedside, rats exiting a sinking ship; former shark allies mass in feeding frenzy, smelling blood in the water; media buzzards circle, waiting to pick the bones. US President Donald J. Trump is in extremis, with scant days to go before the end of his political career.
By Constitutional fiat, all US administrations begin at 12 Noon on the January 20th following a general election, regardless of when the oath of office is actually sworn. This provides a celestial continuity from decade to decade, with all administrations having an early Aquarius Sun conjunct a late Capricorn MC, and a mid-Taurus Ascendant (unless begun by the death or resignation of the previous office holder). But within that rigid framework, the permutations are virtually endless, especially when asteroids are considered.
“Door-knock for Warnock, and vote your Ossoff!” – Democratic slogan for the runoff campaign
Lost in the mishigas and melee at the Capitol on Wednesday was a political revolution of another sort, this one successful. Even as Trump supporters vainly stormed Congress to prevent certification of Biden’s victory, the last race of the 2020 election cycle was being called in Georgia. Against all odds, both Democratic candidates in two runoff races won, bringing the Dems to parity with the GOP in the US Senate. For the first time since 2009, Democrats control both houses of Congress and the presidency.
On Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, the Feast of the Epiphany, Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol to prevent Congress’ counting and certification of Joe Biden’s election victory, preparatory to his inauguration two weeks later. Doors were forced, windows broken, as insurrectionists fresh from a Trump rally mere blocks away which featured an in-person address from the President took control from Capitol Police and security, who offered minimal resistance to the crowd, estimated in the tens of thousands. The Senate and House were evacuated, put on lockdown, as legislators cowered in safe spaces or barricaded themselves in their offices to avoid the mob.
[Cover Photo: the author with his Aunt Betty, 2011]
I had made it all the way through 2020 without personally knowing anyone infected during the coronavirus pandemic. Until New Year’s Eve, the last day of the year, when my cousin called to tell me that her 90-year-old mother had been hospitalized with COVID pneumonia. Aunt Betty was my mother’s sister, and had been a fixture of my childhood and an integral part of my family festivities for decades, until a hip fracture resulted in her moving in with her daughter nine years ago. This disrupted our seasonal celebratory cycle, and I have only seen her sporadically since then.
2020 went out with a bang in Nashville, Tennessee, when on Christmas Day 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner self-detonated a bomb in his RV in front of an AT&T network hub, killing himself, devastating the surrounding area and causing communications outages across the state. No motive for his destructive suicide has yet been established for Warner, a tech specialist conspiracy theorist whose writings express concern with “shape-shifting reptilian creatures that appear in human form and attempt world domination.” But Warner took pains to prevent additional loss of life, with the RV broadcasting warnings of the pending explosion and urging evacuation for 15 minutes before detonation. Despite these precautions, eight were injured in the blast.
[Cover Photo: An early winter sunrise bathes the landscape in pinks and purples]
Yule is the Norse term for the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, a time of hope as we draw the old year to a close and begin anew. Although most pagans have adopted this name for the holiday, humanity has celebrated this return of the light for millennia, under different appellations in cultures across the globe. The Romans brought in live oak and other evergreen plants, gave gifts, lit candles and celebrated the festivals of Mithras, God of Light, or Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun. In Celtic lands where winters were colder, huge bonfires were the order of the day, sympathetic magic to encourage the sun’s return. The Yule log tradition stems from the bringing indoors of a large section of tree trunk, estimated to be enough to burn for a full twelve days, a period of annual feasting as the old year died and was reborn into the new. Stone markers, from monoliths to the extravagant display of Stonehenge, were created to mark the exact moment of the light’s return.
OK, so Dems won the White House in the 2020 election, and kept control of the House of Representatives (albeit with a slimmer majority). What about the Senate?
In this time of political polarization, no administration can be completely effective without controlling all three, and the level of toxic waste Biden will need to clear from the detritus of the Trump administration is staggering. Without the Senate, much progress can be blocked. Take, for example, the last two years of Barack Obama’s second term, when Republicans took charge of the Senate at the midterm elections in 2014. Once Mitch McConnell consolidated this grip on power, Obama never got another judge seated again. McConnell just refused to bring his nominees to a floor vote, the most famous being the SCOTUS seat vacated by Antonin Scalia, which McConnell held open for a full year, but literally hundreds of federal judgeships remained vacant until Trump came into office, and McConnell finally filled them.
On Sunday, 8 November 2020, gameshow fans the world over were saddened to hear of the death of Alex Trebek, host of “Jeopardy!”, after an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Described as “the thinking man’s game show”, “Jeopardy!” inverted the traditional format by providing the answers to trivia questions, requiring contestants to phrase their replies in the form of a question.
The third longest-running gameshow on TV (after “The Price Is Right” and “Wheel of Fortune”), “Jeopardy!” has had several daytime and evening incarnations, but Alex Trebek has helmed the show for 37 years, since its latest version premiered in 1984. Its iconic final round theme is one of the most-recognized musical selections in the world, and the series has spawned several foreign-language versions in 32 countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Japan, Spain, Australia, Turkey and Israel. Trebek continued working throughout his cancer treatment, until the bitter end, appearing in the studio to film episodes just 11 days before his passing.
After a protracted waiting period while ballots were counted in crucial swing states, reputable news outlets, from the AP to Fox News, have finally stated what’s been obvious for days: Democratic candidate Joe Biden has won the 2020 US presidential election.
That Biden would be the popular vote winner was never in serious doubt, celestially or terrestrially, but the US Constitution provides for a less-than-democratic mechanism to determine who actually holds the office. In 2016, despite winning the contest by almost 3 million more votes, Hillary Clinton was denied the presidency on an Electoral College technicality. With 4 million-plus more voters casting their ballots for him, that unfair outcome has been avoided in 2020, and Joe Biden will now assume the office, with 273 Electoral College votes to Donald Trump’s 214. Not all states have been called, but when Pennsylvania fell to Biden on the morning of Saturday, November 7th, there was no longer a numeric path to victory for Donald Trump; the former VP had surpassed the 270 vote threshold. If the current leaders retain their positions and win those states where they are ahead, the final tally will be Joe Biden 306 and Donald Trump 230; ironically, this is the same number by which Trump won in 2016.
On Saturday, 26 September 2020, Donald J. Trump announced his third pick for the US Supreme Court, to replace recently deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Judge Amy Coney Barrett. I have been expecting this pick for years, after researching possible candidates at the last vacancy; her astrological bona fides for the job are unquestioned, though her judicial philosophy leaves much to be desired, from a progressive standpoint. A vocal opponent of reproductive rights, who has more than once opined that Roe v Wade was wrongly decided and should be overturned, Barrett’s appointment and likely confirmation cements a conservative 6-3 bloc on the High Court that could conceivably roll back freedoms on a wide variety of issues.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
–Ruth Bader Ginsburg
On September 18th, 2020, the US political world was shaken to its foundations by the death of the Notorious R.B.G., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an associate Justice of the US Supreme Court and liberal icon for almost thirty years. Ginsburg succumbed to complications arising from metastasized pancreatic cancer, after struggling with the disease in one form or another for over twenty years. Ginsburg’s death, coming so close to a US presidential election, completely upends the calculus, energizing both sides, as conservatives scramble to replace her before they may lose control of the White House and Senate, and progressives cry “Foul!” in the face of clear double standards regarding the rules for filling such vacancies.
On Tuesday 11 August 2020, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made his long-awaited choice for running mate in the 2020 election: US Senator and former nomination contender Kamala Harris (D-CA). I suggested Harris as a running mate for Biden in my January 2019 profile on her when she announced her candidacy for president, based not so much on astrological analysis as a gut feeling that this would make a winning team.
Harris’ chart shows a clear professional drive for the White House, and the connections between her and Biden suggest she’ll be an asset on the campaign trail, and a worthy successor when the time comes, should they win in November.
On July 17, 2020 US Representative John Lewis (D-GA), known as “the conscience of the Congress”, passed away at the age of 80. A former associate of Martin Luther King Jr, Lewis was an influential civil rights leader and had served his district as representative for more than thirty years. Lewis, one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington and the last surviving speaker at that rally, was a leader of the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965, which protested suppression of black voting rights, when he was viciously beaten by Alabama State Troopers at the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Members of this same organization now saluted his remains when Lewis’ casket was conveyed across that bridge one final time, as part of a protracted funeral process.
The five-day official commemoration of Lewis’ death focused on Alabama, where he was born; Georgia, where he represented the state’s 5th district; and Washington DC, where he had served in the House, highlighted in a funeral and lying-in-state at the Capitol Rotunda, first African American to be given that honor.
[For my sixtieth birthday, a bit of mythic whimsy, as I revision Nemesis’ role in Donald Trump’s life and career; all celestial relationships are authentic and reflected in Trump’s chart; events alluded to are accurate, though embellished; reported conversations may or may not have occurred.]
Nemesis pursed her lips as she glanced about her at the droves of celestials lining up in the Hall of Destiny, shuffling and taking their places for Zeus’ final approval of the about-to-be-incarnated’s horoscope as the birth moment approached. Enthroned on his dais, the King of the Gods seemed preternaturally still, even from Nemesis’ vantage point, some ninety degrees away.
She looked again at her traveling companion, standing on the same degree marker; this wouldn’t do at all.
In a surprise 6-3 decision June 15th, the United States Supreme Court ruled that gays and transgendered individuals are in fact protected by Title VII of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, which already prohibits discrimination in the workplace on sexual grounds. Conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the bloc of four liberals in essentially grandfathering in sexual orientation and gender identification to the nearly sixty-year-old law. Well, duh.
The senior Justice in the majority determines who will write the decision, and John Roberts wasted no time in passing this hot potato along to junior Justice Gorsuch, perhaps the unkindest cut of all for conservatives, who have put up with all manner of crudity, ignorance, and anti-Christian-values shenanigans from Donald Trump, all in the name of the justices he would appoint to the Supreme Court, whom they assumed would rule in support of their views. As historian Jon Meacham recently opined, “they sold their souls to Trump for the Supreme Court, and now find that his check has bounced.”
On Monday evening, May 25, 2020, Memorial Day, police were called to a small shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota following a report of a man trying to pass a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. Four officers took a black man matching the description of the suspect into custody, handcuffed him, then laid him down in the street, where one white officer held him prone with a knee on his neck for almost nine minutes, while he begged for air and called out to his deceased mother, and the other officers watched or assisted.
Passersby and EMTs pleaded with the officer to relax his stance, but he persisted, for almost three minutes after the man beneath him became unresponsive. Taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, EMTs worked to revive him for almost an hour before he was pronounced dead at 9:25 PM CDT. Protests began the night after the incident, escalating to violent confrontations with police and looting over the ensuing four nights, as demonstrations spread to urban centers across the country. All four officers were terminated from their employment with MPD the following day, and four days later the arresting officer was himself arrested and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.
It only happens every four years – Leap Day! Carved from the monotony of the calendar by the cosmos’ refusal to divide itself evenly into neat 24 hour increments just to suit human constructs, Leap Day provides us with an extra day, the opportunity to do whatever we like. Well, in theory.
This year I’m using my Leap Day to publish some random musings on the intricacies of the celestial sphere with additional asteroid research that really doesn’t fit into any category. I encounter these points haphazardly, and don’t always have a chance to thoroughly investigate them at the time.
Today is the day in the US when we celebrate all those crazy kids who brought us here, the men who grabbed the reins of American power and guided, propelled or dragged the country along with them, for a span of time. Some were giants, some could have been Munchkin extras in “The Wizard of Oz”.
Mostly, being a capitalist country, we honor their service and sacrifice with reduced prices on cars and large appliances, a chilly mid-February day off to break the monotony of work or school, and possibly their own category on “Jeopardy!’
On January 7, 2020, the Chinese government announced that it had isolated the cause of a new strain of flu-like contagion, which it named the novel (“new”) coronavirus. Part of a large class of viruses which include the common cold, MERS and SARS, the new disease had already claimed at least one life, in late December 2019, before it was identified. To date at least 259 people have succumbed to the virus, which has now spread to more than a dozen countries, with upwards of 12,000 known to be infected. Over 60 million people have been put on lock-down in China, and international researchers are racing to develop a vaccine before the contagion becomes a worldwide pandemic. The US government announced that as of February 2nd, all foreign nationals who had visited China in the past 14 days would be barred from entering the country, and all Americans returning from China would be placed in quarantine.
On Thursday 25 April 2019 former Vice President Joe Biden entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Biden’s Macbeth routine, “letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’,” was wearing thin, and at his announcement Biden joined an already crowded field of some twenty rivals who dove into the political (cess)pool ahead of him. Before officially becoming a candidate, Biden’s name recognition kept him at the top of most polls; now that he’s an actual contender, that may change. Fast.
On Sunday, 27 January 2019, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign in her home town of Oakland, California, before a crowd estimated at some 20,000. Harris is the former Attorney General of California, elected to the US Senate in 2016. As a mixed race child of a Jamaican father and a Tamil Indian mother, Harris is the first potentially viable candidate who is a woman of color to run for president. Her candidacy will electrify liberals and promote progressive goals, such as universal pre-K, debt-free college, and Medicare for all, and a long career in law enforcement may help to remove the “soft on crime” sting that many conservatives will attempt to apply.
When the 116th Congress convenes on January 3rd, 2019, it’s likely to have a most remarkable woman at its head. If chosen Speaker by the incoming Democratic majority in US the House of Representatives, it won’t be Nancy Pelosi’s first crack at wielding the gavel. The California-based Representative made history in 2007 when she became the first female Speaker of the House, a post she held until the 2010 electoral rout against the Affordable Care Act, spearheaded by the Tea Party, tossed Democrats out of power for 8 years. But progressives and Pelosi are back, and 2018’s Blue Wave has once again turned the tide in DC.
On Saturday 19 May 2018, Prince Harry of Wales and American actress Meghan Markle will wed in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Vows will be taken at noon, before a comparatively small (by royal standards) company of some 600 friends and relatives, after which the couple will drive on a two-mile procession through the town, followed by a reception hosted by the Prince’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.