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.
Given Trump’s disdain for science, fact and expertise, coupled with a complete inability to take direction or follow sage advice and a propensity for reckless action, it was perhaps inevitable that he and the coronavirus would become personally acquainted at some point, sooner rather than later. So Trump’s 12:45 AM EDT Tweet on October 2, 2020 confirming that both he and Melania had been exposed and tested positive, was hardly a shock, but it was a thunderous admission regardless. With Trump’s age and corpulence, he was a prime candidate for a serious, if not deadly, COVID-19 infection, and with his re-elect pending just a month away, his turbulent campaign was thrown into a tailspin, while a shattered nation waited with bated breath for the outcome.
[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.
Asteroid Sisyphus is named for that worthy denizen of Hades, doomed to forever roll a rock uphill, only to have it roll down again, thus necessitating endless repetition of the action. As such, astrologically, Sisyphus represents futile action without purpose or accomplishment – repetitive, pointless effort which achieves nothing lasting.
In light of President Trump’s repeated, one might say endless, refusal to accept the clear results of the 2020 election, where Americans handed him his hat and showed him the Oval Office door, it occurred to me to take a closer look at asteroid Sisyphus, to see what role it might be playing in the election and its aftermath. It’s not just Trump who’s beating this dead horse: 90% of elected Republicans in Washington refuse to publicly acknowledge his loss, and his “legal team” has been rejected in all but one of the nearly 50 court cases filed to overturn the results in key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.