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The Circle, Still Unbroken
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

AS PLUTO makes its last pass into the final -- and critical, some say -- degree of Sagittarius, I can't help but think how far we've traveled in these many years; how many elemental issues we've examined, turned topsy-turvy, corrupted and confused. Pluto's coming entry into Capricorn will arrive to survey the ashes and prompt the rising Phoenix in a remarkable array of broken systems.

Planet Waves
By Danielle Voirin.
Over a dozen years ago, Pluto arrived in the sign of the Centaur, with astrologers projecting a time of upheaval in areas of international politics, foreign affairs and matters of law and philosophy. They warned about Religious radicalism, with an eye toward Islam; looking back, they should have worried, as well, about extremist Christianity. Pluto is the planet that arrives on our doorstep announcing jihad.

That term strikes fear into the hearts of Western civilizations, since it is used by terrorists to represent holy war; essentially, no war can occur in the Muslim tradition unless it promotes Islam, so they're all holy. But the non-violent meaning of the concept is self-reflective; an inner struggle for faith and righteous living, or "jihad of the soul."

It's the religious duty of the believer to perform an inside-out personal inventory of self-discovery, and walk their talk: the spiritual work of a lifetime. Sounds pretty through-the-gut-and-back-again Plutonian to me.

Pluto's energy seems to take us by surprise. It's the one planet in our personal charts which we have little ability to interpret, as it works so deeply in our unconscious; it rules the underworld, it reflects our karmic disposition. It tickles the portions of our psyche that prompts self-sabotage and we almost never see the result of this energy coming. It's our unexplored territory, slowly grinding away at our edges to break us down in order to allow for recreation. It's the mirror too smoky to see into -- it's the irrational blind spot in our mind’s eye.

1995 was the year that Pluto moved out of Scorpio, leaving us with a clear picture of the down side of a very self-centered period in American culture: sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, if you will. We were left with social ills defined by drug addiction, AIDS and the beginning of a number of financial bubbles that would come to create a growing separation between the haves and have nots.

We had already begun to see the worrisome rise of Fundamentalist Christianity as the counterpoint to excess; we were swept up by Conservative reformers who wanted to turn the clock back toward "safer" times, lead by Newt Gingrich in an all-Republican Congress.

We were poised on the Monica Lewinsky incident as fodder for repressive political and religious hysteria. We were primed for the next thing, and the next thing was wearing the big, expansive and too-often zealot’s face of Jupiter.

Jupiter, it should be noted, never heard of taking things with a grain of salt; everything under its influence must get bigger, like a helium balloon inflated to the point of explosion. After well over a decade of this energy, an exhausting ride through extremism, surreal and mindless expansion, we find the American contract stretched to its limits, deflating quickly and the nation's citizens awakening with a gaseous hangover the size of, well, the size of Jupiter.

1995 was also the year that my Mother passed, and Pluto began to encroach on my early Sagittarius Sun. In true Centaur fashion, I felt called upon to pack up my life, ride to my father's rescue and launch the series of events that brought me to the Pea Patch. In a dreamlike state recently, I was going through those boxes I'd long ago packed and stopped to read some of the headlines on the yellowing, crumpled newspaper.

Do you remember that year? It was OJ, OJ, OJ on a 24/7 news cycle. The new Plutonian energy had us delving into the dark side of high-profile living and domestic abuse, and discovering the legal system of Judge Ito's court with the same rapacious appetite displayed by those who wouldn't miss an episode of Dancing With The Stars if their life depended on it.

The fate of The Juice, as Simpson was known, and the trial of the century took up our every conversation and became a form of entertainment.

I was fascinated. I taped the afternoon sessions so I could watch them after work; in the end, I came down on the side of strict legalism. If the crime couldn't be categorically proven, I thought Simpson should be found not guilty; I was the only one in my workplace that felt that way.

As you might imagine, I wasn't Miss Popularity on the day Simpson was acquitted -- but it gave me a clear picture of the dynamic that would come with the new Pluto: unleashed passion, righteous indignation, belief superseding fact and us versus them, with racial mistrust as the elephant in the room.

What I didn't anticipate was a loosening of the strictures on rationalism and the morphing of nationalism and religion into a single entity. I didn't foresee someone like George Bush lurking in the background, ready to create an alternate reality and put his own brand on a future that would move from one system to another, examining, redefining and tearing them asunder; up to and including the United States Constitution.

Channeling of the period told us that Americans would give up their freedom for "safety," but I couldn't imagine it. The repressed emotions we were sitting on were a vast lake of sludge beneath our feet.

It's amazing how the threads that weave our energies together occasionally flash their colors; reminding us we're going in circles, reexamining the same human behaviors by each iteration of circumstance. All human events are circular, echoes of the past; there truly is nothing new under the Sun. OJ Simpson has recently been convicted of kidnap and assault with a deadly weapon, and will probably serve the last of his years in jail. Some say "better late than never."

As well, Judge Ito, all but disappeared from the public eye, was famous for a single case prior to the murder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman -- he was the judge at the proceedings for the Keating Savings and Loan scandal, suddenly come back into scrutiny because of John and Cindy McCain's ties to Charles Keating.

As an aside, it's clear that our initial exposure to DNA -- our imaginations captured by that bloody glove -- seeded an abiding interest in both crime and the scientific art surrounding it; CSI is a word everyone knows now, and the televised dramas by that name enjoy continuing popularity. In the years since the Simpson trial, we've made great progress in studying the human genome, unlocking many of its secrets, and we've established the credibility of DNA, especially in death penalty cases.

DNA screening still remains a matter for individual states, and many of them refuse to test; but, in a survey done in 2000, 92% of the American public felt that testing should be done for those that were found guilty prior to the discovery of the technology.

Despite the disinterest of our current governance for scientific issues, I'd expect even more of us would support such a measure as we near the end of this decade.

This week, General Colin Powell, still respected despite his compliance with the Bush administrations push for war, declared his support for Barack Obama on Meet the Press. Those on the Right saw it as one black man promoting another; those on the Left decided it was the military expert of our times rejecting the militaristic erraticism of the Republican candidate.

As dramatic as was his endorsement, his remarks to the press shortly after were even more impassioned. The divisiveness of the current presidential campaign pushed Powell toward the spotlight: that and his personal notions of American patriotism.

Not surprisingly, it's the Sagittarian embrace of the underdog that I heard in Powell's remarks, and the higher ambitions of tolerance and empathy; the clear understanding that religion has poisoned the water internationally and here, on our own soil.

And now, a Republican General and former Secretary of State to George Bush points us to the immense danger we've endured from within, even more dire than the events that have assaulted us from without. He predicated his remarks on the death of a Muslim-American soldier; he had stared, said Mr. Powell, at the young man’s headstone for an hour, mulling his emotions.

We have made the word Muslim into a curse word without taking the personal inventory or desire for righteous behavior that is described in the very concept of jihad. We have fought an unholy war, across the planet and within our own nation and displayed our religious arrogance and intolerance.

Now we stand at the crossroads between a newly-awakened and pragmatic rationality or the continuance of and theocracy-inspired exceptionalism; one or the other must give. We have played out the worst of Sagittarian energy and we're only now looking into the rear-view mirror to catch a glimpse of what we've created.

Some astrological schools of thought propose that the first degrees of a planet are the most potent; some say the weakest. Some indicate that they’re the last degrees that offer the big bang or don't, just leaking out the last bits of tired energy. I still have no opinion on that, even after 40 years. Do we have one last impressive Sagittarian hit ahead? I don't know.

The larger picture of these last few years shows us examining every wrinkle of human behavior -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- and noticing how the circle constantly reconnects itself and reminds us where we came from.

Who is wise enough to say a huge event, like 9/11, is any more powerful than a small one, like Powell's call to reason? I think it's more likely that the internal ground we plow, in our personal process of mindful jihad, encourages the seeds of circumstance into dismal events or mighty turning points based on our ability to accrue wisdom. It is always in our own hands, and perhaps this Pluto has prepared our soil well.

As we approach this final degree in Sagittarius, our great craving for hope and change has finally lived up to the Centaur’s reputation for freethinking and visionary philosophy. Pluto transforms by putting us through the lowest, as well as the highest, aspirations of an energy signal and I can clearly see both variables at work; still, with the tangle of powerful transits informing this moment, lifting that single energy signal out of the mix is like playing pick-up sticks in a fresh pile of Plutonian ashes. Much as acknowledging George Bush's final days in power, it is important to take a moment to reflect on this passing energy.

As Jupiter's influence fades, perhaps now we can discard the rampant Christianity that has blocked rationality, even as Bush continues to illegally promote it. This is our opportunity to pull ourselves back from the brink of irrationality and understand that all religions have an extremist fringe. Perhaps now we will remember that we already have a national religion, given to us by the Founders who foresaw what might happen, while hoping it would not: secularism.
Secularism is neutral. It is neither a dogma nor a doctrine. If anything, it's an abstention. Secularism abstains from favoring one religion over another, or favoring atheism over religious belief. It is a political principle that aims at guaranteeing the largest possible coexistence of various freedoms.

--Agnes Poirier
We will not draw a truly free breath in this nation until we have returned to the absolute rule of law under the Constitution, and the rehabilitation of the separation between church and state.

Pluto in Sagittarius: 1995 - 2008. As much as we may think it improbable, we're going to miss the fiery character of the freewheeling, expansive and explosive Sagittarian signal. Like Jove's rowdy children, we broke the world and now we're going to have to put it back together with more wisdom than we used to bust it up.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was a time of darkness yet we ushered in a resurgence of light. We saw ourselves through the glass dimly yet we looked ourselves squarely in the face. We discovered our flaws and limitations but we remembered our promise and our aspirations. We went through Alice's looking glass and back again.

Many of us understand, finally, that we are all in this together. Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall, puts it this way: "When we perceive and experience wholeness, we are transformed. We no longer see nature, people, events, problems or ourselves as separate and unconnected."

We've paid a high price for wisdom, yet we've only begun this journey. As if we were prepared to recreate the world, we broke it and bought it, to paraphrase General Powell's Pottery Barn warning to George Bush when he went to war. Now it's time to fix it. If we remember it's all a circle, connected in everything as we all are to one another, we'll know what to do next.

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