Merrill-Force-Lorentzen Family History, Part 1: 19th Century and early 20th Century
The earliest information that I can find begins with Amos A. Merrill, born February 7, 1836, in Franconia, New Hampshire. Amos married Mary Anne Farmer, born April 28, 1845 in Findley, Ohio. They were married in Findley OH on December 19, 1864. They had eight children. The oldest was Nancy Jane Merrill, born October 7, 1865 in Fontanelle, Iowa.
I have no birth and death information for Edward Force, except that he died of dysentery some time near the end of the Civil War. He was married to Abbey Maddock, but I couldn’t find the birth and death information for her either. I did find a hand-written note mentioning Vermillion, Minnesota, but I don’t know if Edward and Abbey had lived there, or if one or the other was originally from there. They had one son, Levi Ebbert Force, born after Edward’s death, March 13, 1865 in Kankakee, Illinois.
It’s a mystery to me as to how and why these people moved around so much, but somehow Levi Force and Nancy Merrill met and married on October 21, 1883 in Momence, Illinois, just east of Kankakee near the Indiana state line.
Levi and Nancy had twelve children. Their fifth child was Theodore (Ted) John Force, born December 11, 1892 in Weller, North Dakota. He married Martha Magdalene McAdoo, born June 15, 1908 (no location that I can find, but she must’ve been from the area in central-west North Dakota). Ted and Martha had five children; their first was Elizabeth (Betty) Jane Force, born September 16, 1930. Levi’s and Nancy’s sixth child was Lulu Etha Force, born January 7, 1895 in Washburn, North Dakota. Lu married Jack Emil Lorentzen, December 8, 1915 in Manning, North Dakota (county seat of Dunn Co.) Jack and Lu had six children: Lorene Lillian (Sept 27, 1917) , Leonard Levi (May 15, 1919), Norman Jack (April 12, 1921) Lyman Lloyd (February 4, 1923), Rosemarie (July 9, 1925), and Gaynor Earl (April 27, 1929). Lyman Lorentzen married his cousin, Betty Force, August 28, 1948 in Casper, Wyoming, sort of ‘doubling down’ on the Merrill-Force connection in the family, and adding the McAdoos.
Jack Lorentzen was born January 13, 1885 in Peoria, Illinois to a Danish immigrant family and spent his childhood in Lincoln, Nebraska. He had an older brother (don’t know his name), who as an adult moved to Stanley, North Dakota. The boys’ mother died when Jack was 13-14 years old. His father went back to Europe, reportedly to Sweden, and took Jack with him. The timing gets lost here and we don’t know when Jack returned to the U.S., but apparently his father stayed in Sweden. When Jack returned, he went to visit his brother in Stanley, ND, but whatever happened between them, they never had anything to do with each other after that. Jack went south across the Missouri River and settled in Werner, only a couple hours from Stanley. He was 30 yrs old when he married Lu Force, who was only 20 at the time.
The current Jupiter/Neptune cycle began on 27 May 2009 at 03:55pm EDT set for Washington, D.C., the conjunction occurring at 26’29” Aquarius (Tropical). In principle, the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction refers to new statements of intent regarding the current expressions of both legal theory and practice and religious thought and practice (Jupiter) in the context of the institutionalized social and cultural values of the time (Neptune). In this sense, when applied to the United States, the conjunction has everything to do with ‘truth, justice and the American way’ and how those principles are nudged in new directions over time.
In this American context, the conjunction always has something to do with the perception and treatment of certain groups in a very diverse society. In the sign of Aquarius, it was sure to bring awareness to the social, political and judicial currents in the society related to previously marginalized groups who were not yet fully integrated into mainstream social and political processes, as well as radical elements in the culture and society who were, for whatever reason, not fully enfranchised in the political and economic life of the nation, now with the potential for inclusion and/or political power. Two groups stand out in the American political landscape: the LGBT community and those left behind by the technological revolution and the collapse of the heavy manufacturing sectors in the economy. Both of these groups found success in this cycle—the former through the Courts, most significantly with marriage equality, and the latter through politics, albeit radical populism. Other minority groups, including women, Hispanics, Native Americans and African-Americans, found themselves faced with overt institutional discrimination, and yet, at the same time, growing political influence through activism and political engagement to counter the social currents moving against them.
In looking at the chart for the conjunction, Libra is rising, with its ruler, Venus, conjunct Mars in Aries in the 7th House, sextile to Jupiter/Neptune. Mercury, ruler of the 9th in Gemini and the 12th in Virgo, is retrograde in Taurus squared to the conjunction. Since we are dealing with Jupiter and Neptune, the natural rulers of the 9th and 12th Houses, the placement and aspects to Mercury in this chart, although perhaps secondary in importance, are still critical in the outcome of the cycle. Mercury Rx square Neptune all but promises difficulty in social and political communication, confusion, deceptions, lies, and subterfuge. Mercury square Jupiter with Neptune suggests an unfortunate, but heightened role of propaganda, misinformation and disinformation that colors the entire cycle from conjunction to opposition and back to conjunction. Here is the chart for this last Jupiter/Neptune conjunction.
To place this conjunction in its historical context, in 2009 the world was at the beginning of the Great Recession, and, in the United States, both the previous Bush Administration and the new Obama Administration infused massive amounts of money into the economic system and bailed out financial institutions and important corporations in hopes of keeping the recession from sliding into a more serious second Great Depression. Although it took another three years, their strategy did work and the economy turned around in 2012 as Jupiter and Neptune were forming their First Quarter square. However, during that three year period, U.S. manufacturing went into decline, unemployment sky-rocketed, and areas of the country like the Great Lakes region in the Midwest, the South and Appalachia, that were already economically weak, suffered the brunt of the recession.
The people in those regions felt disregarded and abandoned, and rose up in political opposition to the Obama agenda. But the Jupiter/Neptune principle went much deeper than just the economic inequality that lay at the surface of American politics. Regions like Appalachia, the South and Midwest, that were culturally entrenched in pre-1965 Uranus/Pluto conjunction America with its fundamentalist Christianity, racial and ethnic segregation and white supremacy, and still not fully reconciled with the changes that had eroded their privilege to dominate the society after the Uranus/Pluto conjunction, tied their political wagons to the Tea Party movement and rode into the U.S. Congress in the mid-term elections of 2010 as new, more conservative, if not radical Republicans. (Forgive the American Old West metaphor!)
The Jupiter/Neptune First Quarter square occurred on 25 June 2012 at 3:53am EDT, Washington, D.C., less than twenty-four hours after the Uranus/Pluto First Quarter square occurred on 24 June 2012 at 05:12 am, EDT. We were experiencing two critical first quarter squares in two different synodic cycles of the outer planets at the same time. Although the economy was turning around, the U.S. was experiencing a serious political and cultural conflict with liberals and mainstream Republicans on one side and these new radical Republicans on the other, who later would identify themselves as the ‘Freedom Caucus.’ Obama went on to win re-election, which shocked these new Republicans. They believed they had the political upper hand, but apparently the country was not as supportive as they imagined. Obama would go on to win one argument with a national health care plan, but much of his socially progressive agenda was blocked by the new Republicans and he used ‘executive orders’ to put many items of his agenda in place. Of course, there was an immediate reaction from the new Republicans and accusations that Obama was by-passing the Constitutional role of Congress as the legislative body.
Additionally, radical right wing media outlets began gaining popularity among these ‘disenfranchised’ people in the Midwest, South and Appalachia. InfoWars, Breitbart and The Daily Caller all became more influential and began influencing the direction and agenda of the new Republicans in Congress. InfoWars and Breitbart, specifically, had been spreading propaganda, right wing conspiracy theories, and misinformation that caught the attention and imagination of the new Republican base. Yet, this was foreseeable in the Jupiter/Neptune Conjunction chart with the square to Mercury Rx. But all of this comes down to the Jupiter/Neptune and Uranus/Pluto First Quarter squares. Both charts have Gemini Rising, so they are very similar, the only difference being the Moon placements in Leo and Virgo.
In the Fall of 2013, things began polarizing in the U.S. Congress and they shut the government down, effective midnight on 1 October 2013. This was at the time that Jupiter and Neptune were 135 degrees apart (sessquare), opening the Gibbous Phase of the cycle. Typical for this planetary phase, it was at this point in time, that the Freedom Caucus and the new Republicans began successfully taking over the House of Representatives. The moderate Speaker of the House, John Boehner, began losing control and the radical Republicans were successful in pushing their agenda. This continued until September of 2015, when Jupiter and Neptune reached opposition, and John Boehner resigned leaving the House in the hands of the radicals. They had achieved their ultimate success—almost.
There was something else happening in the Fall of 2013 when Jupiter and Neptune were sessquared. The exact 135 degree aspect occurred on 28 September 2013, 10:37pm EDT, 21 Gemini was on the Ascendant. An interesting astrological ‘co-incidence’ is that Trump’s natal Moon is at 21 Gemini, pulling him into the Jupiter/Neptune cycle at the time when the radical Right in Congress were gaining political traction and power over mainstream Republicans. And of course, he would eventually become their anointed Leader as a result. Donald J. Trump went to Moscow, Russia for the Miss Universe Pageant on the weekend of 9-10 November 2013, and that night two things happened. He and a couple of wealthy Russian oligarchs made a tentative deal to build a Trump tower in Moscow, and then the infamous events with prostitutes that were later alleged in the Steele Dossier. This became important when Jupiter and Neptune reached opposition in 2015.
Fast forward to 2015. In early March 2015, Mercury was conjunct Neptune in Pisces about 8 degrees. According to U.S. intelligence, they intercepted communications at that time between Trump and contacts in Russia. It is still a secret as to what the intelligence community knows about those conversations. On 20 March 2015 there was a partial eclipse at 29 Pisces, and within a few hours after the eclipse it was reported that Trump was intending to announce his candidacy for president sometime before summer. Let’s look at that eclipse with the U.S. chart (1 July 1776, 07:08 pm LMT, Philadelphia).
Jupiter is still in the waxing Gibbous Phase to Neptune, Neptune squares Uranus at 8 Gemini, but the explosive planetary aspect is the tight Uranus-Pluto square exactly triggering the Moon-Saturn square in the U.S. chart, Pluto conjunct the U.S. Moon squaring Saturn, Uranus squaring the Moon and opposing Saturn. I was not using this ‘Powell Chart’ for the U.S. at the time, but had I been, I would have been extremely alarmed. We now know the history over the last four years since these transits occurred, and the divisive, disruptive, unsettling nature of them is hard to ignore. It was also at this time that Russia began organizing its cyber-attacks, campaign of disinformation and anti-Clinton propaganda using social media and the right wing media outlets that were mentioned earlier. Trump declared his candidacy on 16 June 2015 at 11:24am EDT in New York. The Ascendant was 7 Virgo. There was another partial eclipse on 13 September 2015 at 20 Virgo, and four days later, 17 September 2015 at 02:53am EDT, Jupiter reached opposition to Neptune at 7 Virgo/Pisces right on the Ascendant of the announcement that Trump was formally a candidate. That fall and winter of 2015-2016, Trump and those key players in his campaign were actively engaged with Russians in furthering the Trump Tower deal. There were outside players involved as well—Rex Tillerson and the family of Betsy DeVos, both of whom ‘coincidently’ became cabinet members in the Trump Administration.
So, astrologically, we now see a clear connection between the Trump Campaign, Russia, and the Jupiter/Neptune opposition. This relationship, and it’s clearly supported by the astrology, was meant to help Trump and disadvantage Clinton, according to the U.S. intelligence community findings.
During the campaign between September 2015 and May 2016, Trump kept the Trump tower deal a secret. He had to. It was a clear conflict of interest. Information did leak out, however, but nothing substantial enough to conclude anything definitive beyond speculation. Trump, though, denied having any financial or other connections to Russians.
In April of 2016, Neptune reached 10 Pisces, conjunct the I.C. of the U.S. Government (4 March 1789, 12:00am LMT). Trump appointed Paul Manafort to manage his campaign on 7 April 2016. Manafort, as we now know, was a paid agent and representative of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government, although he failed to report that status to the Federal Elections Commission. As such, he knew about the relationship between Trump and Russia. He indicated to his Russian connections that he could get them ‘inside’ the Trump Campaign. He volunteered to work for the campaign for free. He came on board, and then was promoted to Campaign Manager a couple months later. Other players in the campaign were then given assignments related to campaign fund raising and getting Russians to contribute. In some cases, they did this directly with smaller amounts of cash, but Russian oligarchs discovered they could go through the National Rifle Association, give them millions, and have them contribute to the campaign without raising any suspicions. In short, Neptune was conjunct the U.S. Government’s I.C., undermining the foundations of our democratic institutions and election laws. Jupiter was at 14 Virgo still in opposition to Neptune, but directly opposing the Government’s Sun/Saturn conjunction at 13-14 Pisces, indicating the influence of a foreign power in opposition to the Government’s purpose and functions (Sun) and its institutional regulations and laws (Saturn). In addition, transiting Saturn had joined the fray in mid-Sagittarius creating a t-square to the Jupiter/Neptune opposition causing even more damage to the rule of law, although the public was not yet aware of what was happening.
Then, as we all now know, Trump Jr., Manafort and others met with Russian intelligence people in Trump Tower in New York on 9 June 2016 at 4:00pm EDT, because they had promised to reveal ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. Trump had just met with Putin in Hamburg, Germany, and as per his modus operandi, it was a private meeting, and no one knows what was discussed. He was flying back to the U.S. when the 9 June meeting took place. He did two things on that flight home: He called the New York Times and told them Putin was not responsible for the alleged interference in the election, and he drafted a memo lying about the nature of the meeting in Trump Tower with Russian intelligence.
Of course, what followed was FBI Director Comey’s public announcement in July that the FBI found nothing illegal in the investigation into Clinton’s email server and usage. It was at that point, though, that hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee were being released through DCLeaks in June and July, and then by Wikileaks on 22 July. The Russians were planning on hacking the Clinton Campaign as well. On 27 July 2016, with apparent pre-knowledge of what Wikileaks and Russia were about to do, Trump, now the official Republican candidate for president, at a campaign event in Roanoke, Virginia, requested that Russia find the 30,000 missing emails from Clinton’s server. He began his request with the words, ‘Russia, if you are listening…’ At the time, of course, no one understood what he was doing. But, within hours of Trump’s public request to Russia to hack Clinton’s campaign, the Russians did just that, capturing emails from Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, and then turned them over to Wikileaks, who published them beginning 7 October 2016. And as we also now know, Trump and his people had been in constant negotiation with Russians over the Moscow Tower deal into November of 2016, at the time of the election, but lied about it the entire time to hide the conflict of interest. The Jupiter opposition Neptune t-square Saturn was in full force.
Trump won the election on 8 November 2016. Pluto had retrograded back to 15 Capricorn, conjunct the U.S. Moon and square Saturn in the Independence chart, where it was when he announced his candidacy and began his campaign. Uranus was at 21 Aries and triggered the Government chart’s Jupiter/Neptune square at 19 Cancer and 22 Libra in the time leading up the election, which should have sounded the alarm that something wasn’t right with the political campaign. But then American politicians don’t look at the astrology of the political process. However, even American astrologers couldn’t imagine there was something rotten in the process—the presidential election has always been understood to be a sacrosanct, incorruptible democratic institution. It was unimaginable to believe that transiting Uranus square Jupiter and opposing Neptune in the Government chart indicated any level of corruption. But the planetary transits don’t lie. When the results of the election were announced, there was a collective shock, revulsion and convulsion that shook the country and the world. Millions of people poured into the streets across the country and around the world in mass demonstrations against his presidency.
His inauguration on 20 January 2017 at 12:00pm EST had transiting Jupiter conjunct the Government’s Neptune quincunx Mercury, triggering the chart’s Jupiter in Cancer square Neptune in Libra, reinforcing the problems in this Jupiter/Neptune cycle and presenting the country with a level of dishonesty never before seen from a president. Neptune was conjunct the I.C., poised to transit the Sun/Saturn conjunction over the next two years. There was an immediate corrosive influence of Neptune and the resulting deconstruction of the administrative state and the undermining of political and institutional norms. Adding insult to injury, transiting Mars/Saturn square had directly hit the U.S. Mercury the week before the inauguration, challenging the press and news media, revealing the Administration’s antipathy to honoring the truth and respecting the rights of the news media as a necessary part of the checks and balances in government. Here are the transits to the Government’s chart at the time of Trump’s inauguration.
Through most of 2019 America will be faced with the Last Quarter Jupiter/Neptune square, that, because of retrograde patterns, repeats three times between January and September—a time of crisis in consciousness and awareness of everything that went right and everything that went wrong through the cycle from conjunction in 2009 until now, but especially since the opposition in 2015. The Last Quarter square is always the beginning of the end. It starts the last quarter of time in the cycle before the new phase begins in 2022. It is a time when it is necessary to evaluate, assess, and admit to what has gone wrong, and to maintain and improve on what has gone right. Objective truth and realism are now required above all things.
The right wing’s extreme, radical reaction to the Obama Administration in 2009 initially formed around the ‘Tea Party’ and the objection to the economic policies in combating the recession at the time of the conjunction. Then the conservative fundamentalist Christians and nationalists joined that movement within the Republican Party at the Jupiter/Neptune waxing semi-square and gained political traction at the First Quarter square, then succeeded in taking over Congress at the Gibbous sessquare. Unfortunately for the Republicans, they tied themselves to Trump at the opposition, who, because of his financial wheeling and dealing with the Russians, promised them to end the economic sanctions for their transgressions in the Ukraine and elsewhere. In exchange, the Russians ‘donated’ heavily through illegal means to the Trump Campaign and created a massive propaganda and disinformation campaign aimed at the Democrats and Hillary Clinton using social media platforms and the extreme right-wing media outlets in order to help Trump gain the necessary traction in key states. And the radical Republicans, both the voters and politicians, were willing to believe the lies and deceptions.
Much will be revealed and challenged during the Last Quarter phase over the next year and half, but especially during the period when the two planets are within orb of square. These coming nine months between January and September will be decisive as Neptune and Jupiter go square, then retrograde, then come back to square, go retrograde, and come back to square again. The reaction of Americans to what is revealed this year under this square regarding Trump’s misadventures, misdeeds, conspiracy and conflicts of interest, will determine what happens when Jupiter reaches 45 degrees behind Neptune, opening the Balsamic phase in the cycle of the two planets in early January 2021. Because the conjunction occurred squared to Mercury Rx in Fixed signs in 2009, the possibility of a trend to deconstruct the truth and promote mis- and disinformation, if not outright lies and propaganda, was there from the beginning. That the developing cycle hit the US Government chart in such a profound way at the square and sessquare, and then at the opposition it pulled Donald Trump into the cycle, I suppose it was also inevitable that, with the election of Donald Trump, Americans would be faced with the negative side of Jupiter/Neptune in the deconstruction of its institutions and objective truth (Neptune conjunct, Jupiter opposed and Saturn squared the Government’s I.C., Saturn and Sun), and an attack on the press and media as ‘enemies of the people’(transiting Mars conjunct and Saturn square the Government’s Mercury at the time of the inauguration), in an attempt to undermine the constitutional role of those estates, and thereby protect Trump’s inherent dishonesty, conflicts of interest and conspiracy with the Russians.
If the wrongs that have been done are not appropriately dealt with, things will get even more difficult for Americans when the Balsamic phase opens in early January 2021 at the waning Jupiter semi-square Neptune. It will be at that point, with the last gasp of the cycle, that either chaos and disintegration occur and the future looks dark and up for grabs by the most undemocratic, truth-refuting elements in society, or the challenges will have been met, dealt with, and the country will begin to plan for a better future and new statements of intent regarding truth, justice and the American way, fully aware of the issues in the past that have led them to this point.
There is a potential point of optimism with the Balsamic waning 45 degrees between Jupiter and Neptune, and that is, the next Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 0 Aquarius occurs just days before the Jupiter/Neptune waning semi-square is exact. Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions always reset the social, political and economic trends. All presidents in the U.S. are inaugurated with the Sun at 0 Aquarius, and, therefore, America will have this new twenty- year cycle of Jupiter/Saturn that will begin directly on the degree of the Sun for all future presidents between 2020 and 2040. I am optimistic these approaching transits will help reset America and the country can begin reconstructing objective truth and integrity in the American system. This experience will not end completely, though, until 2022 when the next Jupiter/Neptune conjunction occurs. Only then can America, and the world, say a heart-felt, collective goodbye and good-riddance to the years of Jupiter/Neptune chaos and political surrealism especially since the First Quarter square. How these events have changed geopolitics and the world order will now have to be assessed by political scientists and historians.
When discussing social, political and economic processes in worldly affairs, astrologers point to the synodic cycles of the planets Jupiter and Saturn as the most important cycles to observe, especially the beginning of a cycle when the two planets come together in a conjunction approximately every twenty years. In a social and political context, Jupiter represents the urge to expand civil rights and diversity within a society, while Saturn represents the social organization, traditions, structures and institutions that sustain a society. This often translates to liberal (Jupiter) and conservative (Saturn) political culture as well. When the two planets are in conjunction, there is always a new statement of intent for the short term (approximately the next 20 years) regarding who in the society is going to continue to have full participation and equal access, and to whom equal protection under the law and access to the established social institutions will be granted. These conjunctions occur at a moment in time when societies, generally, have just gone through a difficult transition period as the cycle comes to a close in the last couple years just before the two planets come together again.
It is useful to use a lunation cycle model to examine any synodic cycle, which then yields eight periods of 45 degrees in the 360 degree cycle—the New phase from conjunction to 45 degrees, the Crescent phase from 45 to 90 degrees, the First Quarter phase from 90 to 135 degrees, the Gibbous phase from 135 degrees to opposition, the Full phase from 180 degrees back to 135 degrees (to the next conjunction), the Disseminating phase from 135 back to 90 degrees, the Last Quarter phase from 90 back to 45 degrees and the Balsamic phase from 45 degrees back to 0 at the next conjunction. Here is a graphic representation of the eight phases with the standard planetary aspects included.
New Phase The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn marks a new phase of short term social, political and economic development. New ideas are brought forth (Jupiter) and put into effect in the social and political institutions (Saturn). Who makes these new statements of intent and politically institutionalizes them, depends on who ‘won’ the political argument during the closing phase (Balsamic) of the last cycle. The New phase encompasses 45 degrees of arc between the two planets and approximately two and half years of time.
Crescent Phase When Jupiter reaches 45 degrees ahead of Saturn, the Crescent phase begins, and those in political power, as well as those people who now dominate the social narrative, will have to mobilize their energies and their ‘tribe’ or base to maintain what they’ve set in motion since the conjunction. If they maintain their momentum in the society then the next two and half years will be productive and their intentions effective.
First Quarter Phase However, when Jupiter reaches 90 degrees ahead of Saturn, about five years after conjunction, the First Quarter phase begins, and there is always a backlash to the statements of intent made at the conjunction. It is a crisis in action for those who are in control of the social and political narrative. Their vision for the future is always severely tested because it is a time when any problems with their vision and agenda will become quite clear to everyone, and people will respond critically and push against what is not going well. The positive, viable statements of intent will survive the crisis, but the intentions that are not viable will have to be abandoned, which usually happens then when Jupiter reaches 120 degrees (trine) ahead of Saturn. In economics, if there are problems that are not dealt with effectively at the beginning of the First Quarter phase, there will be a full-blown economic crisis at the Jupiter/Saturn trine that follows. Those in political power are forced into crisis management as the ‘ship of state’ begins to list.
Gibbous Phase When Jupiter reaches 135 degrees ahead of Saturn, the Gibbous phase begins, and it marks a time when the efforts to resolve the problems and ‘right the ship of state’ take hold and, when effective, there is improvement in the economy and lessening of any political turmoil. However, if the measures taken violate or somehow run counter to the original statements of intent made at the conjunction, or they are ineffective in solving the crisis, then there will be heightened political tension over the next two and half years. Governments and economies can collapse. New political movements can form to oppose reform measures that have been undertaken since the Jupiter/Saturn trine.
Full Phase Approximately ten years after the conjunction, when Jupiter and Saturn are 180 degrees apart, the Full phase begins. It is at this time that the positive, viable statements of social, political and economic intent made at the conjunction come to fruition, and those that were not viable are left to the dustbin of history. Those original statements of intent now become fully institutionalized and part of the fabric of society. If there was an economic crisis during the First Quarter phase, then the Full phase marks a time when the crisis truly abates, if the measures taken beginning at the previous trine (120 degrees) and sessquare (135 degrees) were effective. If there are any issues still unresolved, but they deal with intentions that are still valid and reliable, then there will be some resistance to going any further with those intentions. Within civil societies, those who oppose these intentions will try legal means to remove them. In societies that have few if any democratic institutions or they are not well developed, or economic policies have been too expansive, the Jupiter/Saturn opposition often brings turmoil and governments and national economies can collapse.
Disseminating Phase When Jupiter reaches 135 degrees behind Saturn, approximately 12-13 years after the conjunction, the Disseminating phase begins. This is the point in the cycle when the political powers mobilize their base and distribute or disseminate their vision and message throughout the body-politic in all areas of the society. Whatever successes were had at the opposition and whatever was made a fixture in the social and political fabric of the nation will now be ‘adopted’ by the whole of society and it is taken for granted that the original intentions and goals are an integral part of the social and political institutions. Those intentions that were legally challenged at the opposition will now either be rejected by the court/legal system or given legitimacy. Whatever previous social, political and/or cultural projects failed or were suppressed by the government causing failure at the opposition, the disseminating sessquare will bring forth objections, demonstrations, and resistance against leaders and governments. Depending on the national horoscope, it could lead to open rebellion or even civil war. And, since it is a ‘disseminating’ phase, in the case of such conflict, people will disperse and migrate for safety and security reasons.
Last Quarter Phase As Jupiter squares Saturn again, 90 degrees behind Saturn, the Last Quarter phase begins. Once again the society experiences a crisis—this time a crisis in consciousness regarding the whole history of the cycle up to this point. This two and half year period marks a time of looking back, reflecting on what has happened, and feeling the need for change. The political opposition to the powers-that-be may gain traction in the body-politic and there is a strong push to make changes. Where there are large pockets of people who have been left behind in the cycle, they will rise up and challenge the status quo. If there is meaningful opposition, they may be successful at the Jupiter/Saturn sextile when Jupiter is 60 degrees behind Saturn.
Balsamic Phase The last period, the Balsamic phase, begins when Jupiter is 45 degrees behind Saturn. This marks the last two and half year phase before the next conjunction. It is often a bit chaotic and confusing as the old statements of intent seem no longer functional and it becomes clear adjustments need to be made and a new set of goals, standards and intentions needs to be established for the future. The cycle winds down and the old statements of intent and political successes begin unraveling. It is often accompanied by extremes in political positions as the liberal Jupiterian and conservative Saturnian elements in the body-politic vie for the advantage and the privilege to set the new standards that will have to be made at the next conjunction. And yet there is no real, solid vision of what is to come.
The Balsamic phase is often the most politically tumultuous period because the standards and values of the cycle are no longer wholly viable and reliable and a political struggle ensues between those who want to keep them and improve them and those who want to abandon them and start over at the next conjunction. The Saturnian conservative elements will seek to maintain what they value from the cycle whether it has worked or not, while the Jupiterian liberal response is to abandon what does not seem to work and expand or venture off into a new direction. These political currents run counter to each other and often polarize the people into ‘tribes’ of either Saturn or Jupiter, and it doesn’t matter what kind of political system the society has. Even in a parliamentary democracy with multiple political parties, the various parties will come together in their coalitions creating two general camps, one Jupiterian, the other Saturnian. It should be a time of calm reflection when the political leadership wisely brings people together in order to come to some collective consensus on what to do next. Brainstorming, planning and compromise are the positive political behaviors associated with this phase of the Jupiter/Saturn cycle, which will always happen to some degree. However, politics is always a little dirty and, if it gets out of hand, a country could experience widespread agitation, polarization and political conflict.
The Elemental Pattern These scenarios depend as well on the longer trend of these conjunctions occurring in specific signs and elements (fire, earth, air or water). The conjunctions change elements approximately every two hundred years. In Western tropical astrology, this last elemental cycle started in the Earth signs in 1820-21. The mutation to Air will occur in 2020. When the conjunctions change elements it’s often called a ‘great mutation’. It often happens toward the end of the elemental period that the second to the last conjunction will occur in the next element. This also happened in this Earth period. The conjunction shifted to the early degrees of an Air sign (Libra) in 1981, however, the next ‘great mutation’ does not actually become a reality until 2020, since the 2000 conjunction, the last of the Earth conjunctions, once again occurred in the late degrees of Taurus. As it was the last conjunction in Earth signs for centuries to come, it marked the end of the Earth elemental cycle and the 2020 conjunction will bring the beginning of a new Air cycle with the conjunction at about 1 degree of Aquarius. For the next two hundred years the conjunction will continue to occur in Air signs. It is probably important to think of these Jupiter/Saturn synodic cycles within this larger elemental pattern. There are ten conjunctions within each elemental cycle and there is probably some important socio-political-economic progression or evolution associated with each elemental. There needs to be more research on this and more written to add to the body of work on the synodic cycle of these two planets.
The outline presented here is obviously described in very general terms and much depends on where the conjunction occurs in a national horoscope and, geographically, where in the world it falls on the one of the four angles, Midheaven, Ascendant, Nadir or Descendant. so it is important to provide an example to see how the synodic cycle has actually worked in history. Since most readers are probably familiar with the history since the year 2000, let us examine the chart for the 2000 Jupiter/Saturn conjunction. Key to understanding the effects of the conjunction are the aspects to the conjunction from other planets.
Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction, May 2000 The last Jupiter/Saturn conjunction occurred on 28 May 2000 at 12:05pm EDT. This chart is set for Washington, D.C., but readers can relocate it to any location. It is of interest to note that relocating this chart to the Middle East puts Uranus on the IC (4th House cusp) in northeastern Africa (Tunisia, Libya and Egypt), and Pluto on the Ascendant in Iraq. In 2003 Ba’athist Iraq was attacked by a coalition of countries led by the U.S., the country was destroyed and the dictator, Saddam Hussein, was captured and executed (very Pluto!). In the winter of 2010-11, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya went into open, violent revolution (Uranus) against their political leadership. But then in the tropical zodiac the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 22 Taurus 43 was squared by Uranus Rx at 20 Aquarius 49, promising a very disruptive, tumultuous, revolutionary twenty year period, complete with radical religious groups (Uranus square Jupiter), authoritarian leaders ousted by the people in open revolution (Uranus square Saturn), economic recession that started in the real estate mortgage banking system (Moon in the 8th semi-square Uranus and the MC), and a serious disruption in the existing geopolitical world order (Uranus square Jupiter/Saturn).
With the conjunction at the MC squared by Uranus Rx, in the United States there was an immediate political crisis when the presidential election in November of 2000 was virtually tied in the Electoral College with Al Gore receiving a very slight majority in the popular vote. The outcome of the election was decided in the Supreme Court and George W. Bush was declared the President even though he had not won the popular vote. The following September 11, 2001 radical Islamic zealots attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC., murdering nearly 3,000 people and injuring over 6,000. This became the defining moment for this Jupiter/Saturn cycle, ultimately leading to the protracted war in Iraq, the rise of ISIS, the problems in Syria, and the increasing threat of terrorism in the world. The conjunction squared to Uranus also promised economic disruption and world-wide political repercussions. As you read through the Jupiter/Saturn phases and their aspects over the last twenty years, keep in mind the basic principles regarding each phase as outlined above.
Jupiter/Saturn Phase Relationships-2000-2020 New Phase The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn squared to Uranus brought important, new statements of intent in geopolitics regarding radical religious terrorism (Uranus square Jupiter), and in economics regarding an untethered free market (Uranus square Jupiter) with little institutional or governmental control (Uranus square Saturn). Unfortunately, the independent financial and economic institutions in the world didn’t police themselves very well and without much government oversight, they took the world economy to the brink of catastrophe under these planetary aspects.
In regards to geopolitics and radical religious terrorism, at the time of the World Trade Center attack, Jupiter and Saturn were still within their New Phase, but Saturn was then opposed by Pluto, and Jupiter was with the North Node opposed by Mars conjunct the South Node—the violence and terrorism clearly indicated in those combinations. Considering that Jupiter and Saturn were still in a New Phase, the event would shape and inform the world situation for the entire cycle. The original Jupiter/Saturn square Uranus set up the radical threat to the established world order and 9/11 was the first event to make that clear. The world’s response would be felt and seen at the beginning of the next phase as it mobilized against the terrorism.
Another important issue that began with this conjunction in this New Phase was a dramatic push in Europe and the Americas to liberalize laws regarding LGBT people. Individual states in the U.S. offered ‘civil unions’ for same-sex couples, beginning with Vermont. The following year, 2001, civil unions were granted in more states, in Germany, in England, and anti-discrimination laws and ordinances were passed in many countries and states in North and South America. Additionally, there was a legal challenge in Canada against the definition of marriage being only between a man and a woman. That court case was eventually settled and the definition of marriage was expanded to include same-sex couples. It seems the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction square Uranus also set up a revolutionary change (Uranus) that challenged long-standing cultural and religious traditions and institutions (Jupiter/Saturn) regarding sexual minorities and the definition of marriage. This would become a dominant theme in Western countries throughout the cycle as LGBT activists created a new statement of intent regarding their status in society and the definition of marriage.
Crescent Phase Jupiter reached 45 degrees ahead of Saturn in 2003, marking the beginning of the Crescent Phase, and, true to form, there was a military mobilization of many countries in a coalition that attacked Ba’athist Iraq and took out Saddam Hussein. However, Saturn was still opposed by Pluto, and Jupiter was then opposed by Neptune, so the mobilization effort, although militarily successful, created more confusion and instability (Neptune) and a terrible loss of life with now a stronger reaction from terrorist forces (Pluto).
Issues of national security consumed most Western nations, and in the U.S., a new law enforcement agency was formed, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It is responsible for investigating crimes involving human trafficking, weapons trafficking, art theft, document fraud, human rights violations, money laundering, etc. But it also has a bureau called ‘Enforcement and Removal Operations’, which hunts down undocumented people inside the U.S., arrests and deports them. It is probably the most criticized and controversial agency in the new Homeland Security Department.
But the Jupiter/Saturn semi-square is all about mobilizing and expanding (Jupiter) safety and security (Saturn), and sometimes the fear-based decisions (Saturn) become exaggerated and non-citizens can become scapegoats and targets (Jupiter). At the time ICE was founded, both Pluto and Mars opposed Saturn, and Neptune opposed Jupiter, indicating perhaps an overly aggressive, militant (Mars/Pluto) agency that runs more on a xenophobic ideology (Neptune opposing Jupiter) than anything else.
Regarding LGBT rights, as Jupiter semi-squared Saturn, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case Lawrence vs. Texas, that state laws criminalizing homosexuality and consensual sex between two adults of the same gender were not constitutional. Homosexuality was no longer a crime anywhere in the U.S. This court case and the decision opened the door for same-sex marriage and adoption. In Canada, the Supreme Court case expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples led to the first gay wedding in the province of Ontario. In Belgium, gay marriage also went into effect and throughout the West, LGBT activists were mobilizing their legal teams to challenge existing laws that discriminated or limited their access to society. Gay activists in Spain filed legal proceedings against the government regarding the definition of marriage, which would then lead to the legalization of gay marriage in 2005.
First Quarter Phase Jupiter reached 90 degrees ahead of Saturn on 25 October 2006 opening the First Quarter phase. There didn’t seem to be any major developments in the world at the time, except for a couple of important economic warning signs. The New York Stock Exchange reached 12,000 for the first time in its history, and housing prices reached their peak in the U.S. market at the same time. Then a report was released at the end of the year showing more than 1.2 million home foreclosures in 2006, leading economists to warn that there was a ‘bubble’ in the housing market that could not be sustained and the home mortgage banking industry needed to make changes. They did not, which would eventually prove nearly fatal for the industry.
The only other event of note during this time was on 5 November 2006, Saddam Hussein, as the emblem of the Middle Eastern brutal ‘bad boy’, was tried, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed at the end of the month.
Jupiter reached 120 degrees ahead of Saturn in 2008 releasing the energy that was blocked at the square. Neptune was still between 21-24 Aquarius continuing its square to the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 22 Taurus, the North Node entered Aquarius and moved across Neptune. Neptune has a ‘dissolving’ or ‘erosion’ effect, and when combined with the North Node and the release of blocked energy as Jupiter trined Saturn, the economic warnings that had been ignored and the stubbornness of the financial/banking industry in not making necessary changes at the square brought economic disaster. In 2008, the face of the global economy changed forever. Investment banks, the secondary credit market, and an unregulated financial market disappeared. As the free market failed, the U.S. government bought a controlling share in banks and insurance companies. The central banks around the world propped up the financial system. In September of 2008, America came very close to total economic collapse. The stock markets started sliding in September and on 24 October 2008, the New York Stock Exchange collapsed losing in total nearly 46% of its previous value.
As might be expected, the movement to liberalize laws regarding LGBT gained momentum everywhere in the world, including Asia and Africa. South Africa legalized gay marriages; Mexico, Czech Republic and Slovenia legalized same-sex civil unions; Scotland legalized adoption for same-sex couples. There was, however, the beginning of a backlash against this liberalization under this Jupiter/Saturn square. The first Gay Pride Parade was held in Moscow, but it was banned by the government and there were violent clashes in the streets between police, anti-gay mobs and the LGBT marchers. In the U.S., seven states banned gay marriage, although those laws would eventually be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gibbous Phase Jupiter reached 135 degrees ahead of Saturn on 30 January 2009. Barack Obama had taken office as president of the United States on 20 January 2009. He continued the economic and financial policies of the Bush Administration to counter the economic recession, and then went even further with government spending to infuse money into critical businesses. These measures included billions of dollars in bail-out funds to support the automobile and banking industries. There was an immediate reaction from conservatives who objected to government spending to bail out these large corporations that were deemed ‘too big to fail’. But government central banks all over the world were doing the same, and there was evidence already at this Jupiter sessquare Saturn that measures were slowing down the economic free fall. There was a new optimism that government actions could stop what appeared might become a world-wide economic depression.
However, certain countries did not follow the U.S. lead in the crisis and in Iceland, for example, the economy and banking system completely collapsed which resulted in mass demonstrations that led to the collapse of the government. In Greece, the economic crisis revealed under-reported debt and the government wasn’t able to make its interest payments on loans. This led to the collapse of the economy, the ‘Greek Depression’, and the repercussion that had on the economic stability of the European Union. In Uganda right at the time of the Jupiter/Saturn sessquare, a bill was introduced to allow the execution of LGBT. It was called the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill. It was eventually overturned by the Ugandan courts, but it marked a new level of resistance to the growing liberalization regarding sexual minorities. However, the momentum gained by LGBT activists around the world was not thwarted or hindered. Norway legalized gay marriage at the time of the sessquare. Iceland elected the first openly gay woman as Prime Minister, the first openly gay head of state in the modern world. Argentina and the Philippines ended the ban on gay men serving in the military and Japan legally recognized same-sex couples married in countries where it is legal. In the U.S. more states were added to the list of those legalizing gay marriage.
Full Phase Jupiter and Saturn reached opposition on 22-23 May 2010 opening the Full Phase in the cycle. In spite of evidence that government policies to counter the Great Recession were succeeding, there was a strong conservative backlash to the amount of public funds being spent on the crisis. In the U.S., the Tea Party was organizing and gaining political traction as the mid-term elections in November approached. In Europe, the E.U. set demands on Greece that amounted to an ‘austerity program’, if they were to stay within the Euro Zone. In Iceland, a new government was formed that reformed the banking system, arrested the former leaders of these financial institutions and put the country back on a reasonable economic track that would eventually succeed. The economic experts came to the consensus that the Great Recession was now ending, and the governmental interference in the free market was successful in averting a major depression.
In the Middle East, what began with Jupiter/Saturn conjunction squared Uranus, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and then war in Iraq in 2003, now reached its fruition and completion, and the U.S. announced its intentions to pull ground troops out of Iraq. Within a month after the Jupiter/Saturn opposition, elections were held in Baghdad and their tentative sovereignty as a new nation began.
LGBT rights in the United States were further extended at the Jupiter/Saturn opposition with the end of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, allowing LGBT to serve openly in the U.S. military. Argentina, Iceland, Portugal and Tasmania legalized same-sex marriage as well. The original statement of intent at the conjunction to expand civil rights for sexual minorities reached a peak of activism and legal success in the world during the opposition.
Disseminating Phase Jupiter reached 135 degrees behind Saturn on 20 July 2012 at 10:00pm in Washington D.C. opening the Disseminating Phase. On that very evening near Denver, Colorado, there was a mass-shooting in a movie theater, and, although there had a been a few mass-shootings before, there would be from this time on an ever increasing number of mass-shootings in the United States reaching epidemic proportions over the next six years. In the chart for the Disseminating phase, Mars was opposed to Uranus (sudden outburst of violence), squared to Pluto (mass violence), and trined to Jupiter (inflationary, expanding violence).
Another interesting event occurred ten days later in India. Mercury was retrograde, and relocating the Disseminating phase chart to Agra, India, Mercury Rx and the Moon were rising just above the horizon in the 12th House. Ten days later, Mercury still retrograde and Mars still opposing Uranus and squaring Pluto, the electrical grid failed and there was a massive power outage through most of northern and northeastern India. They managed to bring back the grid, but it failed again the next day, 31 July, starting at 01:02pm in the area around Agra. Twenty-two of India’s twenty-eight states were without power, affecting more than 600 million people—the largest power outage in human history.
The aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings became concentrated in Syria in 2012. By mid-June of 2012, just as Jupiter and Saturn were approaching sessquare, the United Nations officially declared Syria to be in ‘civil war’. Beginning in late July and early August, just at the time of the exact sessquare aspect, the conflict began to escalate, moving into the two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo. This created a wave of millions of refugees that has continued through the Jupiter/Saturn cycle since then.
LGBT rights were once again expanded in the U.S. in the Disseminating phase when the Courts ruled the federal ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ was unconstitutional. It did not legalize same-sex marriages at the federal level, but it paved the way for the Obergefell case in 2015 that would. On the other hand, resistance to this kind of social liberalization occurred as well. Russia passed a law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’, which effectively bars anyone from speaking publicly about homosexuality. And some countries in Africa strengthened their anti-gay laws as well.
Last Quarter Phase Jupiter reached 90 degrees behind Saturn on 3 August 2015 opening the Last Quarter phase in the cycle. The civil war in Syria became even bloodier and more destructive; the refugee problem in Europe began to reach crisis proportions creating political turmoil, and out of the turmoil grew a right-wing political movement in France, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Austria that opposed Middle Eastern and African immigrants and refugees.
Likewise, in the U.S., increasing economic problems, corruption and out-of-control violence in Central America, brought a wave of refugees to the border. The U.S. system for taking in those seeking asylum was overwhelmed, forcing refugees to try to cross the border illegally. This led to a policy called ‘catch and release’, where families were detained briefly, given a date to appear in court, then released. As in Europe, the situation created a wave of right-wing anti-immigrant sentiment. Donald Trump, then as a candidate for President, used that to his advantage, promised to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico, to severely curtail both legal immigration and asylum, and to reform the immigration policy to include a ban on all Muslims. Trump’s success was a clear signal that the U.S. was making a sharp turn to the right politically, which created immediate and massive protests. The courts refused to allow the Muslim ban, but a limited version of it, banning Muslims from certain countries and immigrants from Venezuela, was implemented. In Turkey, there was also a swing to the right as President Erdogan began dismantling the liberal, progressive State, limiting freedom of the press and the extension of civil rights, especially to gay people. However, in the U.S., the Supreme Court ruled that the states could not ban same-sex marriages, which made gay marriage legal throughout the country. Ireland, Cyprus, Chile and Slovenia were also added to the list of countries legalizing marriage equality.
True to the nature of the Last Quarter phase and Jupiter in a waning square to Saturn, there was a world-wide crisis of consciousness regarding the largest migration of people since World War II, the ensuing issues of human and civil rights, and how to proceed now that the global war on terror seemed to be achieving some level of success.
Balsamic Phase Jupiter reached 45 degrees behind Saturn forming a waning semi-square and opening the last, Balsamic phase of the cycle on 22 December 2017. This phase is one of the most difficult periods of time in the whole cycle as the statements of intent that occurred about eighteen years earlier now have to be re-visited, reflected upon and decisions have to be made as to which intentions will be used as a basis for the next cycle. In economic terms, the intentions in 2000 to further globalization and reduce trade barriers between countries are now being severely tested. The United States under the Trump administration has decided open trade has hurt the U.S. and trade barriers are once again being raised in the form of tariffs.
The European Union’s currency and trade policies that came into effect at the end of the last Balsamic phase of Jupiter and Saturn, just before the new conjunction, are now being criticized and attacked by the United States. China and the U.S. developed bi-lateral trade agreements in 1999-2000 at the time of the last Jupiter/Saturn conjunction and China was admitted to the World Trade Organization in 2001 shortly after the conjunction. As can be expected, now that Jupiter and Saturn are again in Balsamic phase, the trade relationship between the U.S. and China is also strained. The U.S. is moving towards economic nationalism and a certain degree of isolation from its trading partners, as it applies tariffs to foreign products sold in the U.S. These tariffs are meant as both punishment for ‘abusing the U.S.’ and to protect American manufacturing and labor. However, the E.U., Canada, Mexico and China are responding with their own tariffs on American manufactured and agricultural products. This ‘trade war’ could do serious damage to the world economy. It is still recovering from the Great Recession and the pressures created by these trade barriers could create serious problems at the next conjunction in 2020.
It is also evident in this last phase that the U.S. is attempting to re-align the geopolitical relationships that have been in place throughout the cycle–thus, Trump’s courtship of Russia and North Korea and his increasing criticism of both traditional partners and allies like South Korea, Japan, Canada, Mexico and European countries, as well as new trading partners like China and the E.U. The political situation in the United States has become volatile and chaotic since Trump’s election and the Republican Party has allegedly become the Trump Party, abandoning traditional, conservative Republican economic, trade and geopolitical policies in order to ‘follow and appease’ Trump. The on-going investigations into his actions during the campaign have yet to be completed. The results of the investigations will create turmoil no matter what the outcome of the investigations is.
Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction 2020 This new Trump Party lost ground in the U.S. mid-term elections in 2018 allowing the Democrats to re-gain the majority in the House of Representatives. This sets up a major political battle within the government between the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch as the behavior and actions of President Trump will be politically and legally scrutinized. Who wins this battle will be made clear in the outcome of the next general election in 2020.
A month after the 2020 elections, the next conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on 21 December 2020, with its Mars rising in Aries exactly squared to Pluto in the 10th House in Washington DC, will most likely lead to extreme social, political, economic and military turmoil and conflict, both domestically and internationally.
Mars as ruler of the chart exactly squared to a 10th House Pluto promises extreme power struggles centered on the executive branch of government and presidential leadership. If the Democratic Party succeeds in 2018 and 2020, there will still be extreme chaos and conflict within the United States and a serious power struggle that will challenge if not threaten the American system.
Key areas of the world will be strongly affected. The Jupiter/Saturn conjunction along with Pluto falls near the Descendent in Europe squared to Mars at the Midheaven (MC). In Asia, and specifically in China, the conjunction, including Pluto, falls at the Nadir (IC) squaring Mars at the Descendent. 2020 to 2022 promises to be a very dangerous time for the world as we experience the next New Phase of these two planets. The last two and half years in this last Balsamic phase of the cycle will prove critical to what happens at the next conjunction. But we are, as yet, still lacking the vision to see clearly what is coming. We sense the chaos and conflict, but in this final phase of the cycle the future still looks very opaque and foggy. The overriding challenge of the Balsamic phase is to develop a collective vision for the future as the old structures of the last 20 years are gradually replaced by new intentions, new relationships and a new order. This next conjunction will start an entirely new elemental cycle in Air signs (in Western tropical astrology), and the conjunction at 1 Aquarius promises a disruptive, revolutionary set of social, political and economic intentions for the world, and especially for the West. But there will be extreme power struggles and massive resistance to those intentions based on the 2020 chart.
Today marks the beginning of ‘eclipse season’ as the New Moon occurs today in early Leo. This will be followed by the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in mid-Leo on August 7th, and then the total Solar Eclipse in late Leo on August 21st, whose path dissects the U.S. from Oregon moving southeast across the Midwest to South Carolina.
There have been two previous total Solar Eclipses in the last century at the same degree of the tropical zodiac at 28-29 Leo: Aug 21, 1914 and Aug 22, 1979. There have been other partial and annular eclipses at the same degree in 1906, 1933, 1952, 1971 and 1998, but I’m going to focus here on the total eclipses. The 1914 eclipse path went through Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The 1979 eclipse path went through the SW Washington, NW Oregon, northern Idaho, Montana, the northeast corner of North Dakota into central and NE Canada to Greenland.
It’s beyond the scope of this blog to examine the charts for all the countries and states directly within the paths of these total eclipses. To make it reasonable and digestible to the reader, I will focus on the U.S. Government’s chart to see the impact the eclipses had and will have this August on the administrative state, i.e. the government. (The U.S. Constitution and therefore the government went into legal effect on March 4, 1789 at midnight. I’ll be referencing the chart for that moment in time.)
The chart for the US Government/Constitution has 27 Scorpio Rising with its ruler, Mars, at 28 Aquarius. All of the eclipses at 28-29 Leo, whether partial, annular or total over the last century or so have stood in direct opposition to that Mars and square the Ascendant, which forces the government into action to deal with emerging crises. In 1914, it was World War I and the Spanish Influenza epidemic. In 1933 it was countering the rise of totalitarian dictatorships in Europe and Japanese Imperialism as well as taking governmental action against the Great Depression. In 1952, it was the growing nuclear threat from the USSR, the agitation to end the Korean War, which forced the newly elected Eisenhower to go himself to Korea and he ended the war shortly thereafter, and the reactionary political environment in the US called the McCarthy Era. In 1971, it was the oil embargo as a result of US support for Israel. In 1979, the eclipse marked the demise of the Carter Administration over its handling of the Iranian Revolution and embassy crisis in Tehran, which forced the government to take military action that failed. It’s also noteworthy, that the 1979 eclipse path through the Pacific Northwest also brought Mt. St. Helens to life which then erupted nine months later and spread layers of ash all along the eclipse path! In 1998, it affected President Clinton, himself, with the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his resulting impeachment. But Al Qaeda also bombed US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania the day before the eclipse, forcing the US to launch attacks against their bases. In all of these examples, the US Government was forced into action as the eclipse opposed its Mars.
This coming total eclipse will once again oppose the Government’s Mars and square the Ascendant. However, as always, it isn’t just about the degree of the eclipse itself, but also the angles and the other outer planets in relation to the Government chart. At the time of this year’s eclipse, transiting Neptune will be at 13 Pisces conjunct the Government’s Saturn/Sun, Pluto opposes its Jupiter, Saturn squares its Mercury, Uranus sextiles its Mars, and the eclipse Ascendant opposes its Moon. These planetary combinations are rather alarming, but as usual we are aware of unfolding events that will reach crisis stage due to the eclipse.
Transiting Neptune conjunct Saturn, for example, has been hovering there since early January when we first heard the words from the Trump Administration, ‘the deconstruction of the administrative state’. Since just before the election transiting Pluto has been opposing Jupiter, and we’ve been hearing about the subterfuge and efforts of a foreign government to wield influence in the election and the possible involvement of the Trump team in that effort. Transiting Saturn squaring Mercury, ruler of the 10th House/Midheaven (leaders, executive branch, etc), has revealed the limitation, ineffectiveness and resistance to the new President. All of these transits are still in effect at the time of the August 21st eclipse, so we can expect increasing tension and mounting crisis as we approach that date. The eclipse itself often indicates a ‘watershed moment’ in ongoing crises, the resolution of which occurs in the months thereafter.
The following charts are the Secondary Progressed planets for the Government with the Solar Eclipse on the outside, and the US Government chart itself with the eclipse planets on the outside.
As you can see in the Secondary Progressed chart, the Government will have a progressed New Moon two days before the eclipse. Total Solar Eclipses literally ‘cast a shadow/shade’ on a chart. That this shadow should also occur at the same time as a progressed ‘darkening of the Moon’, indicates to me that the Government must in some fundamental way ‘start over’ with new statements of intent. With transiting Uranus conjunct the progressed Midheaven and opposing this progressed New Moon, events related to the Executive Branch will be shocking and upsetting. But I think on some level, since Uranus has been opposing the progressed Sun for a number of months now, the foreshadowing for this eclipse event has been more than evident. We can expect more of the same in the Trump Administration as we’ve experienced him over the last six months, but it will reach critical stage as a result of the eclipse. He will continue to attempt to disrupt and disturb the federal bureaucracy. The actions of the President over the next month will determine the depth of this growing crisis. With Uranus in Aries on the progressed Midheaven, I fully expect rash, erratic, unprecedented actions that bring serious, unsettling consequences for the government.
Transiting Mars as ruler of the progressed Aries Midheaven is at 20 Leo in the eclipse chart squared to the Mercury/North Node conjunction in Scorpio in the progressed chart. The actions of the President will be intensely scrutinized by a media that he will continue to attack. If the media and Trump have a difficult relationship now, the eclipse will intensify the animosity. Transiting Jupiter square Pluto sextile to the progressed Mercury/N. Node conjunction will bring even deeper legal scrutiny of Trump and his administration. And that transiting Mars is in a 3+ degree opposition to Pluto in the 7th, so we can expect very serious power struggles between the president and the legal and congressional investigation teams delving into his campaign’s behavior and his finances. I suspect it will turn into open ‘warfare’.
In the final analysis, given that the Solar Eclipse falls right on Trump’s natal Ascendant/Mars conjunction, with transiting Saturn exactly conjunct his natal Full Moon eclipse in Sagittarius in his 5th, and the eclipse’s rather stunning impact on the chart of the US Government, I suspect he will act impetuously and unwisely in open defiance of the ‘administrative state’s’ resistance to his policies and its investigations of his behavior and financial history. If Trump and his supporters ever really believed he could actually ‘change Washington’ in the way he promised by ‘deconstructing the administrative state’, and apparently by hook or by crook, the eclipse will reveal just how valid or invalid those intentions are.
A perennial question regarding eclipses is the length of time of their influence. I personally don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule here, but subsequent planetary aspects to the eclipse degree are important, and from what I’ve seen, there isn’t necessarily an astrological statute of limitation. The summer of 2018 has a repeat of the Leo eclipse this time at 18 Leo (exactly opposing the government’s Pluto at 18 Aquarius) with 13 Leo Rising (at Washington D.C.) and Uranus Rx on the MC. We may not see a substantial expression of this summer’s 2017 Leo eclipse until then. This 2017 eclipse begins the crisis and sets the terms, but transits to the eclipse chart and the government chart over the next year will bring to light for the public exactly what is at stake. The eclipse on August 11, 2018 exactly opposing the government’s Pluto should prove very damaging to the Trump administration, but the damage can be traced back to this summer’s eclipse at 28 Leo.
Politics as usual? Not anymore. The Republican Party is in serious trouble and the CNN non-debate the other night illustrated all too uncomfortably just how serious their problems are. The GOP leadership has lost control of their ideals and message to the extent that their Speaker, John Boehner, gave up and resigned, and their more traditional and more electable Republican, Jeb Bush, has left the presidential race, leaving two freshman Senators and a non-politician and former Democrat-turned-obnoxious-foul-mouthed-demagogue in the lead. It is a very sad state of affairs for the Party and it does not bode well for them in the future.
But this is something of their own making and we have seen it coming for at least six or seven years since the Tea Party formed back in February and March of 2009 and the mid-term elections of 2010. At that time, in reaction to the economic collapse and the failures of the G.W. Bush administration that led to the collapse and its policies to try to stop it, fiercely ideological, anti-politics, and anti-Federalism elements within the party attacked the mainstream Republicans and the party leadership, and in coalition with the radical Christian right hijacked the party’s processes and put a stop to ‘politics as usual.’ They allowed no more consensus, no more compromise, no more politics and no more discussion. They dug their heals in and obstructed all political process in the Congress. They blamed ‘government’ and ‘politics as usual’ for the country’s problems, echoing the radical ‘John Bircher’ mentality of the mid-20th century. But then, that mentality has existed in the GOP since the mid-1960s, albeit kept fairly marginalized by party leadership who believed in the political process.
This anti-political element in the GOP started in 1965 in reaction to their 1964 loss to President Johnson and his liberal social and economic agenda. The Vietnam War destroyed Johnson’s presidency, and in 1968, Richard Nixon courted those radical voices in the GOP and in a strategy known as ‘The Southern Strategy’ successfully courted former conservative Southern Democrats who hated Federalism and the new era of civil rights, integration and social equality. Reagan followed the strategy in 1980, but he expanded his base by allowing a radical Christian right-wing a place at the GOP table. Reagan, however, with Party leadership, was able to keep that radical element from exercising too much influence. In anger, the radical Christian right wing devised a strategy of their own to infiltrate local and state political offices, essentially creating a socially conservative Christian political movement throughout the Midwest and the South. Gradually, over the next twenty-plus years they exercised their political muscle well enough to make serious gains in Congress in 2010. Those freshman congressional Christians found an opportunity to attach themselves to the coattails of the new Tea Party who came in at the same time. Their collective status as ‘outsiders’ and their incredible lack of political experience or understanding of politics as the art of consensus and compromise created havoc in Congress and seriously undermined the effectiveness of government. The more ineffective it became, the louder the people screamed for outsiders to come in and fix it.
In addition to this political history, conservative media expressed the same quasi-Christian, anti-politics and anti-Federalism attitudes through Beck, Huckabee, Hannity, Limbaugh, et al, and Fox News with their intense propaganda efforts to attack the political process and denounce ‘consensus and compromise’ as inadequate and a failure in fixing the country’s problems. This added to the din and desire for outsiders to come in and do something.
Much of this is also in reaction to Obama’s election and re-election as the first partly African-American president and an avowed liberal whose policies to address the Bush Administration’s global economic mess were anathema to the new breed of anti-politics and anti-Federalism Republicans. Obama’s election unveiled the barely disguisable neo-Confederate nature of the Tea Party and the new wave of Republicans in Congress and those who supported them. Their insistence on a strict interpretation of the Constitution ‘as it was written and literally meant by the Founders’, their resistance to federal Court rulings regarding American society and social equality, insisting social policy is a Tenth Amendment States’ Rights issue, their rejection of the principle of Judicial Review of existing laws, their view of the Second Amendment as a right to defend themselves against ‘government’, and their view that the Fourteenth Amendment only applies to African-Americans and no one else, are all clear echoes of the Confederacy’s complaints against the federal government in the late 1850s and early 1860s. The old slogans, ‘The South Shall Rise Again’, and ‘Forget, Hell!’ are no longer historical relics of a previous century, but they have become, ironically, yet, in fact, revived sentiments within the GOP since 2008 when Obama was elected.
These anti-politics, anti-Federalism, anti-judicial, quasi-Christian, socially conservative ideals are now dominant among those in Congress, the Party, and among the rank and file. Their confederate, un-American mentality and insistence that outsiders, especially ‘business leaders’ come in and run the country like a corporation instead of a political system, has led to the current state of affairs. And it is, therefore, no surprise that they support someone like Donald Trump. Trump is, perhaps, more apolitical than anti-political, but his refusal to accept consensus and compromise; his direct, often vulgar, retrogressive and bombastic style and rhetoric regarding Hispanics, Muslims, and women appeal to these confederates in the Party. His disdain for politicians and the political process, preferring instead to bully, punch and insult his way through it appeals to the confederate mentality in its frustrated inability to feel heard in a Federal system that doesn’t take a fundamentalist stance on the Constitution and States’ Rights.
And thus, this is where the GOP is today. These anti-politics and anti-Federalist (a.k.a. neo-Confederate) voices are having their day and they have their outsider, champion demagogue in Donald Trump, who uses force and intimidation in order to get himself heard, yet offers nothing of substance to the American people, and he is enough of an egotist and narcissist to enjoy and wallow in the adulation and media attention, whether positive or negative. However, he is probably electable as a presidential candidate should he get the nomination, given their gerrymandered control in the states. Mainstream Republicans will be making a concerted effort to bring him down before the nominating convention this summer, but even if they cannot, the old GOP is no more. Their self-undoing over the last few decades and especially since allowing the Tea Party and radical Christian right to take control will lead again to future failure even if they succeed in November. Trump will not handle well the realities of governing. They are probably facing a future of embarrassment in the face of extreme incompetence and experience, but that’s better than another Democrat, which would be stomach-wrenching for them. They will have to figure out finally who the GOP is and what they really stand for, because if they maintain this ‘anti-politics and anti-Federalist’ ideology, they will not find any traction with the younger generation or the growing racial and ethnic minorities, and they will cease to exist as a political party fading away like the Whigs of old. It is a sad state of affairs.
This week there is the World Congress of Families (WCF) being held in Salt Lake City. It is primarily an anti-LGBT gathering of religious organizations and anti-gay activists from around the world who promote the notion of ‘natural’ marriage. There are about 3000 attendees from sixty different countries this year. The WCF was formed out of a meeting between Allen Carlson of the Illinois Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, and two professors from Moscow State University in Russia. Initially, the impetus was a concern for the demographic changes in the U.S. and Russia, that were leading to a population decline and a growing movement for homosexual inclusion in mainstream society. The congress was first organized as a pro-‘natural’ family event to promote one-man-one-woman marriages and families around the world. Their work has been instrumental in the success of some of the anti-gay legislation in Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia. The WCF, however, denies any ‘anti-gay’ agenda, yet they allow very extreme people and organizations to participate. One such extreme organization is The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) represented by it’s leader, Brian Brown. Brown really tipped his hand regarding his organization’s agenda In his address to this world congress. This is what he said:
” The Supreme Court didn’t change the definition of marriage, it “put a lie into the law” — just like slavery and the Dred Scott decision.” Brown said that there’s no time for activists to be depressed. Citing the history of Christian martyrs, abolitionists and civil rights activists, he criticized believers in his anti-LGBT cause who don’t want to reveal themselves publicly because some of their Facebook friends might think less of them. “Instead of being depressed, we should savor the fact that we live at a point in history, like those times before, in which we can stand for the truth, make a difference, and God has put us here for some reason. This fight is not over. It has just begun.”
In his address, Brown proposed four goals for the anti-marriage equality movement:
1. Affirm continually and publicly that marriage is by nature a union of a man and a woman.
2. Reject the Supreme Court’s decision as illegitimate
3. Overturn the decision, perhaps through decades of struggle or perhaps with new Supreme Court justices appointed by a Republican president elected in 2016
4. Contain the damage in the meanwhile by passing laws that allow public officials and businesspeople to refuse to have anything to do with gay couples’ marriages and families.
This agenda is, on its face, absurd, especially number four. Brown now makes it perfectly
clear that these religious freedom laws that NOM supports and promotes in states around the
country have nothing whatsoever to do with protecting ‘faith’ or anyone’s religion. It is a straight
forward attack on the humanity, dignity and families of gay people.
They can believe whatever they want about LGBT and their families, but to attempt to create
a legal framework to marginalize, persecute and discriminate against gay people should be a
frightening proposition for everyone and a clarion call for everyone politically to fight against
Although the WCF itself doesn’t advocate any level of violence, there are those at this world
congress who advocate imprisonment or death for gay people, and there are many so-called
Christians here in this country who agree with that. The fact that NOM, Brian Brown, politicians
like Carson and Kansas Governor Brownback, and other U.S. religious organizations are
participating in this world congress with people who advocate violence against LGBT, gives tacit
if not overt approval of this disgusting, medieval, puritan attitude. These people who advocate
imprisonment or death for homosexuality are sociopaths with no level of empathy with their
fellow human-beings whatsoever and they hide their sickness behind the veil of ‘religious
freedom’. Rational, intelligent, humane people, whether religious or non-religious, are not
fooled by this deception. NOM, Carson, Brownback, Huckabee and Cruz need to be publicly
criticized for their participation and/or support.
Brown’s stated agenda and his participation in this ‘congress’ sends the message to all
Christians that it is good to target any group of people worthy of Christian hatred. The
message is very transparent that they want to impose their beliefs on the whole country. The
message is not meant just for Christians, but for all of America. The intention is to remove
the barriers between Church and State, establishing state-level religious laws to oppress and
suppress homosexuals and homosexuality ‘in the name of God’, and in the guise of ‘protecting’
believers from prosecution for exercising their First Amendment right to ‘freedom of religion’.
But Brown’s fourth agenda item makes it quite clear that protecting freedom of religion is NOT
the underlying motive in their support for religious freedom laws. Rather, the motive is to target
LGBT and render them legally and politically inferior within the American body-politic. That
item is a clear statement of bigotry and not religion.
They obviously don’t care one bit about the US Constitution or the rule of law. In their
agenda, they make it perfectly clear they have no respect for the Constitution or the Supreme
Court. Asserting ‘God’s’ law and forcing it on American society is what they’re after, which
makes them essentially no better than ISIS or conservative, authoritarian Muslim governments
when they imprison or execute gay people. Just because NOM and the WCF do not openly
advocate such tactics, does not mean they do not sympathize with the attitude. Their ignorance
is so frightening, it is hard to imagine anyone who can still think in these archaic, medieval
religious terms–but they do.
They also have their politicians who are participating–Ben Carson’s PAC is there as well as
Kansas Governor Brownback, who is giving a speech to the congress. Other presidential
candidates like Cruz and Huckabee also support the WCF and NOM. The Southern Poverty Law
Center has identified NOM as a hate group based on their agenda and activities. Of course, they
object to the label, but truth is truth. The very fact that Brown’s fourth agenda item singles out
and targets LGBT for open discrimination makes the hate group label a reality. Conservative
politicians who align themselves with NOM and the WCF do so at their political peril. It does not
matter what anyone believes about gay people and their families, but it does matter that they
are being targeted for open discrimination and persecution by groups like NOM and the WCF.
As Americans, whose basic mission statement includes the fundamental right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, whose Constitution guarantees equal treatment and equal access to all levels of society for everyone, this anti-LGBT agenda has to be rejected as both irrational and un-American.
The whole world is watching the controversy in Rowan County, Kentucky and the recent imprisonment of Kim Davis due to contempt of court charges after she refused the court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She is claiming the right to her religious freedom to disobey the law. Because the Supreme Court ruled in June that same-sex couples have the right to marry in the United States and state laws denying this right are unconstitutional, the federal judge is claiming she violated her oath to uphold constitutional requirements in her role as an elected civil servant. Even as she was escorted away from the court room, she refused to issue the authorization for her staff to hand out marriage licenses. Five members of her staff, after being threatened with the same contempt of court charges, agreed to issue the marriage licenses and those licenses were handed out beginning Friday morning. In spite of this, the controversy and argument are not over.
What is really going on here? In this specific situation, Kim Davis is being punished for not doing her job and violating the law. Her religious views were not considered as relevant by the judge. Yet, for Kim Davis, it is the only thing that is relevant. She is getting plenty of support from social conservatives and most of the Republican presidential candidates, as a result. They are claiming she was jailed for her religious beliefs. The judge denies those allegations.
I think what is really happening here is a deep-seeded change in American culture, probably due to demographic changes, that is dismantling previous Protestant Christian privilege. A glimpse into American History makes it pretty clear that, although there is a constitutional mandate for separation of church and state, and the government may not endorse any religion, the reality is Protestantism has always held a superior place in the culture and enjoyed an obvious cultural privilege. The way I see it, that has been changing and Protestants know this and feel this. There is, in fact, no war on Christianity. Kim Davis was not jailed because of her beliefs. She was jailed because she violated her oath and the law. She is still allowed to believe in her ‘Apostolic Christianity’; she is still allowed to believe, with all her heart, marriage is only between and man and a woman and she can preach that in her church. But what she cannot do is use her elected civil position to discriminate against people because she does not believe in what they are doing.
In the past, Protestant social values were often the basis for community laws and prescribed behaviors. That was a result of their cultural privilege–they were just accepted as our American cultural values. Ever since the mid 1960s, however, that cultural privilege has slowly eroded as a result of Supreme Court decisions regarding abortion, women’s rights, interracial marriage, civil rights, and now the rights of LGBT to be full participating members of the society. Marriage equality was the final blow to that privilege and I can imagine it must feel demoralizing for those Christians who feel they are increasingly marginalized in the culture. There is a problem of perception here though. They, as people and citizens, are not being marginalized at all. They have every right to believe what they believe and that has not changed. What has changed is the unwillingness of the majority of Americans and the judicial system to continue to allow them a privileged status complete with laws and community values that reflect and support their beliefs at the expense of others.
Christians adamantly adhere to the belief that the United States, its government, laws and culture are ‘Judeo-Christian’ in origin and that tradition and history should not be abandoned. However, as it stands now, only one in five Americans actively engages in a religious community or congregation. The younger generation is less religious than any previous American generation, and as they come of age, they do not tolerate the rigid religious social rules of behavior and identity that impinge on their freedom of expression. They simply do not understand how romantic and sexual love can be limited by biological gender and prescribed by a church or religion. It leads, obviously, to the question, ‘What about the civil rights of those who are not practicing Christians?’ And this is the crux of the conflict.
Kim Davis has become a hero or martyr of sorts to these Protestant Christians, which was expected. The wave of support for her is all about the last dying gasp of a privileged religious denomination that has dominated American culture for more than two centuries, but has lost that status over the last fifty years. The Republican Party is dominated by these believers and their field of presidential candidates makes that clear. But their privilege and cultural dominance will no longer be a reality and sending Kim Davis to jail is emblematic of their situation. The Republican Party and its believers, as they are now, will never be able to succeed in the current cultural, social and political landscape as long as they push for a return to the old White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant America of yesterday. Protestantism will still be the dominant American religious sect, but it will never again be allowed to dictate to the rest of us how we live our lives, whom we love, or how we plan or arrange our families. Those days are gone. It is sad that they are feeling marginalized when that is not really the case. It is even more disturbing that they are now taking to ‘civil disobedience’ in order to stop the erosion of their influence and privilege, because it is a futile, quixotic tilting at windmills. We are a nation of laws based on the Constitution and that includes the 14th Amendment that guarantees all of us equal treatment and equal access to all levels of society, not just Protestants.
After reviewing the Supreme Court’s arguments this last week regarding the constitutional questions of marriage equality and state recognition of married same-sex couples, I pondered over one of the statements of a Supreme Court judge suggesting to allow and recognize such marriages would ‘redefine the institution’ that had been between a man and a woman for ‘millennia’. Something didn’t ring true in that statement. I remember in graduate school, I studied medieval culture and epic poetry, which expressed for the first time in the culture something that would be called ‘romantic love’ as the basis of relationship. However, in the literature it was portrayed in conflict with traditional values regarding marriage as a social, political and economic contract between families.
In Gottfried’s 12th century ‘Tristan and Isold’, for example, the romantic love between the two main characters ran afoul of the arranged marriage between King Mark and Isold. The fact that it took a ‘magic potion’ to bring Tristan and Isold together, in part, suggested that this romantic love between people could not be helped. The heart knows what the heart wants and the power of this romantic love trumps the traditional notions of relationship and marriage. The romance between them, however, ultimately led to tragedy in its interaction with the existing rules of social interaction and arranged marriages.
This idea of romance and courtly love had its origins in Eleanor of Aquitaine’s efforts to lessen the brutish behavior of her knights at court by encouraging her Ladies-in-Waiting (who were married) to flirt with the knights and thereby get the knights to fall in love with them, in hopes these feelings of romantic love would ‘civilize’ the brutes. If ‘God is love’, then any man who felt this love for a woman was experiencing God. Love was the divine manifestation of God in the human heart and being in a ‘state of love’ was a spiritual experience that would in itself civilize the brutish, martial behavior of the men. Of course, any sexual unions from such flirtations (called ‘courting’) were severely punished and crazy measures to circumvent any such unions were taken. One such measure was the ‘chastity belt’, usually demanded by a lady’s husband.
The Aquitaine Court became the model throughout Europe and this romantic love became a new cultural value during the High Middle Ages. Yet there was a significant cultural lag between the advent of this romance, experienced equally by men and women, and an improved role for women in society and especially in marriage as a social contract. Courtly love was apparently still a male prerogative. The reality was, women were still property and objects of trade between families and kingdoms. In lower classes, marriages were often arranged for men and women by their local royalty and, in large part, were for the purpose of procreating and establishing alliances. Until the High Middle Ages, marriages, whether among the nobility or in the peasantry, had been strictly a civil matter. It was only after this new ‘courtly love’ appeared that the Church demanded that marriages become an ecclesiastical convention performed by a priest in a church with two witnesses. This form of marriage continued through the 18th century, but with a growing acceptance of the two involved people to determine for themselves whether to enter into the contract. By the 19th century, although marriages were still often arranged, many people entered into marriage as an act of free will, but it was still not often based on romance. Love and commitment were considered desired developments over time. It is quite clear that there was a very significant shift in cultural values regarding love and marriage in the 11th-13th centuries and it shifted again in the 19th century. So, this idea that marriage has looked the same for ‘millennia’ is, on its face, false and misleading. Not to mention, marriage in pre-Christian cultures was entirely different and did not look at all like marriages of the medieval period.
Romantic love did not become a standard for the basis of marriage until the 1890s, but even then it was within the social practice called ‘courting’. Prior to the 1920s, people ‘courted’, which was mostly a supervised prelude to marriage. ‘Dating’ was not a social practice until the advent of the automobile, which allowed for unsupervised, private ‘courting’ away from the family. This new ‘dating ritual’ gave young women more autonomy as individuals in their own right and gave us love and romance as the primary impulse for marriage. But emotionally, there is a fine line between love and hate, as the adage goes, and divorce rates began to increase, even if it meant you had to go to Nevada, which for a while was the only state that had legalized divorce. This gave women a modicum of freedom within a marriage, but there was a level of social backlash to this ‘modernism’. By the end of World War II this backlash had become a ‘cult of domesticity’ that forced women through propaganda and advertising to stay barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. It peaked in the 1950s when America experienced a frightening degree of conformity in an effort to slow the rate of social change.
The fact is, we cannot separate the definition of marriage from the role of women in society, even if we think of it as primarily love and romance. The changes in women’s roles as a result of a vibrant civil rights movement over the last two centuries led to a complete redefinition of traditional marriage by 1980. Wives in the 18th and 19th century America had no right to their own property or even their own children. There was no such thing as ‘marital rape’ well into the 20th century. Any property or assets they had prior to marriage transferred to the husband. A married woman could not even get her own credit card until the mid-1970s. These inequities were not corrected until women began using the U.S. Constitution to make their case for equality in marriage, as well as for themselves as autonomous individuals. Although women are still not constitutionally enfranchised by an Equal Rights Amendment, court rulings have placed women on a much more equal footing with men and many of those rulings have to do with the role of women in marriage. As a result of their efforts, marriage now is completely different than it was forty years ago. So marriage has already been redefined many times in Euro-American culture since the Church took over the institution in the High Middle Ages.
Now in the 21st century we still accept that love and romance are the basis of modern marriage but previously prescribed roles for husband and wives no longer exist. There is no longer a requirement to have children, for example. Today people don’t question a couple’s decision not to have children. I can remember a female friend of mine who got married in 1972 and, in a conversation with her, she expressed concern that I might judge her as selfish and ‘unwomanly’ because she and her husband had agreed, at least for the foreseeable future, that they were not interested in having children. I seriously doubt any woman would say anything like that today. If children are not the overriding reason to get married, then we have already redefined traditional marriage. If married women can own their own property and have their own assets, then we have already redefined traditional marriage. If we no longer need a minister or priest, opting for a civil servant to perform the ceremony, then we have already redefined traditional marriage. If wives have the same rights as their husbands within the marriage contract, then we have already redefined traditional marriage.
Because we have already redefined marriage in ways that loosen the social and legal bonds of the partnership (it’s relatively easy to get a divorce), and extend the same rights to wives and husbands, it has become important for society to find other ways to support these marriages, rather than relying on traditional roles and customs. We have done this through financial and social benefits bestowed upon us by the state and federal governments. It makes financial and social sense to get married and there are supports in place to maintain that relationship. Yet, there have not been any social or financial supports for gay people who fall in love and form a permanent bond. Of course, historically, since the advent of a Christian Euro-American culture, homosexuality has been demonized as a pagan ‘behavior’, a ‘sin of the Greeks and Romans’ and, according to (mis)interpretations of the Bible, is rejected by God and a violation of ‘Natural Law’. The resulting repression and persecution of homosexuals in Christian cultures are well-documented, but like women and racial minorities, gay people have stood up and begun to fight for their rights in a free, pluralistic society by applying constitutional principles to their situation.
Their horrific persecution through forced sterilization, electro-shock treatments, criminalization and imprisonment, and social and economic discrimination and marginalization is finally becoming socially and politically untenable. As we learn more about human sexuality and gender, and as gay people bravely ‘come out’ to reveal to us all that they are everywhere (and always have been), as a society we are gradually becoming uncomfortable with their past treatment and we cannot help but have some level of empathy (that is, if we are not sociopathic). The social, political and cultural changes in America since 1965, one of the most important of which was the redefinition of marriage and the role of women within the institution, and therefore within society, inevitably lead to marriage equality, where, for all people, marriage will be based on love, romance and commitment, and nothing else. Since a spouse can no longer be considered ‘property’ or subordinate in any way, is by all legal standards equal to the other spouse, and procreation is no longer either a social or cultural requirement, there is nothing standing in the way of allowing two people of the same gender to get married.
Marriage equality does not redefine marriage away from ‘traditional marriage’ any further than we already have. It merely expands who can participate. Religious prejudice and bigotry are the only impediments to this equality, when they need not be. There is nothing stopping believers from holding to their anti-gay beliefs. But it is unacceptable, and obviously unconstitutional to force the whole of society to believe as they do, and politically shape policy in America to conform to their religious dogmas.
In reality, creating marriage equality is a very conservative move, if we hold to the idea that marriage is a stabilizing force in society. It expands the definition of family as a basis for social order, reduces promiscuity, and thereby protects us all from disease and increases social stability. It also provides a pathway out of a forced, insular gay subculture and its resulting ghettoization. We saw what can happen in such insular subcultures, and inevitably to society as a whole, when the AIDS epidemic struck. If society had supported and promoted especially committed male-to-male relationships, we could have avoided the deaths of millions. Those who religiously believe that homosexuality, as a ‘sin’, should be suppressed, have nothing behind their views other than outright bigotry. That bigotry proved harmful to society with the unconscionable slow response to AIDS. According to Scripture, all people are ‘sinners’ and as a society and culture, we do not and should not marginalize each other for our sins, unless those sins are hurtful and harmful to others.
In my view, none of this is really about redefining marriage, per se, but rather it is about overcoming prejudice to extend to LGBT their constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and the human right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To allow John to marry Jane, but not Tom to marry John, or Jane to marry Lucy, seems to me to be outright gender discrimination that impedes Tom and John or Mary and Lucy from living their lives as they are and as they choose, freely and openly.
The Supreme Court , I think, has no choice, therefore, but to judge the cases before them as a form of gender discrimination (and therefore bans on same-sex marriage would be unconstitutional based on current law) and also inconsistent with our traditional constitutional values, especially regarding the Fourteenth Amendment.
As I understand it, there is a federal law signed by Bill Clinton called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that allegedly makes sure there is no religious discrimination within the federal government and its agencies. The Supreme Court ruled that the law only applies to the federal government, and as a result, since 1997, there have been 19 states that have passed these RFRAs. However, what is happening at the state level is a cynical attempt to remove discrimination protections for LGBT in the face of the expected Supreme Court ruling coming in June regarding marriage equality.
The most recent state to pass such a law is Indiana. Governor Pence signed the law earlier this week. Others are moving through state legislatures in Utah, Arkansas and Georgia. The problem with these current laws is that they are specifically targeting the LGBT communities. The Indiana law makes it clear a merchant may refuse service to a gay person simply out of ‘religious conscience’. That was never the intent of the federal law, nor was it the intent in a number of the earlier state laws. As the anti-gay religious communities realize they are losing this battle in the courts, their anti-gay organizations are hemorrhaging money and losing credibility, and marriage equality seems certain to become the law of the land, they are seeking legislative assurances that they will not have to treat or deal with gay people if it violates their ‘religious conscience.’
In other words, they are seeking legislative rights to discriminate, but they are wrapping their discrimination in religion and tying it with the bow of bigotry. It is one thing to refuse service to someone for specific unsocial behavior–intoxicated, high, inappropriately dressed for the type of business, being accompanied by a pet, or any other singular reason for one specific person. However, to allow a merchant to refuse service to an entire group of people based on their identity and social status seems to me a blatant violation of the 14th Amendment.
I realize this is a slippery slope argument, but what if a Christian refused service to a Muslim? Or what if a gay merchant refused service to a Christian, or say, a Republican, by using the argument that it violates his/her conscience and belief system? I doubt the religious communities and social conservatives would accept that as legal. Yet, these new state laws are loosely written enough to allow such scenarios. In the end, this will turn into a litigation nightmare and an economic boon for lawyers. And given precedents over the years, there is no doubt the Courts will rule such laws are unconstitutional.
We know, though, that someone in Indiana, for example, will push a merchant not to serve him/her because of their sexual identity, then sue them and the state for redress. It will take a couple years to go through the system, but the ACLU, Lamda Legal, and the HRC will certainly take these cases all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
So what is in it for Indiana and the other states who are now passing these so-called ‘religious protection’ laws? Since Governor Pence signed the law into effect this week, there have been calls for boycotting the state and petitions circulating to remove major sporting events, conferences and conventions from venues in Indiana. Salesforce, a multiple billion dollar cloud computing company, has canceled all employee work-related trips to Indiana and has begun limiting investments in the state. The CEO of Salesforce has also warned other corporate CEOs that they need to scrutinize the situation in order to protect their employees and Indiana clients from discrimination. In addition, there are now calls for removing the regional college football championships from Indianapolis and the NCAA has issued a statement saying they are concerned about their players and fans who could face potential discrimination. GenCon, the largest comic convention in the country has a contract with Indiana to hold their event there, but has now stated they will re-evaluate their relationship with the state.
From my perspective, there is not much in it for any state to pass such a law that specifically targets the LGBT community for discrimination by packaging the law in ‘religious conscience’. UPDATE: Utah just now passed a similar RFRA as I am writing this blog. I suppose it is par for the course. You can’t force people to like or support you, but you can challenge bigotry and discrimination where you see it. I suppose it is now my civic responsibility to cross these states off my ‘to visit’ list. And should I ever have to drive through them, I will certainly not spend any money there or as little as I have to.
Today is Wednesday, February 25, 2015. I have not been blogging in the last few months because of a sudden change in my work schedule temporarily back to full time, then three weeks in Europe, and then the need for a vacation from my vacation.
But in the last week or so, I have been having a conversation on social media with a couple of Russians in Russia about gay rights, marriage equality and homosexuality, in general. I have heard reports of extreme homophobia and have posted before on the 2013 Russian ‘Anti-Gay Propaganda Law’. I didn’t expect the opinions and points of view expressed in my conversations with them. It is really a lot worse than I imagined. Here’s an example of one adult male Russian’s interpretation of my support for marriage equality and equal rights under the law for homosexuals, in general.
“Let me summarize your answers to my questions: 1) First question was answered affirmatively – redefinitions of ‘the family’ are possible since “The nature of family changes over time–it’s not a constant.” 2) Second question was also affimatively answered so that there shouldn’t be _any_ barriers for such a redefinition. “It’s a matter of social evolution. Nobody writes down a plan, a schemata or graphic and says this is what family should look like.” 3) The main principle is that “Everyone should have the right to live according to how they identify as long as they pose no harm to others.”
First of all thank you for such complete answers.
Having those answers, I can make some conclusions. I understand that for Gary any change of family redefinition is possible, especially in the light of recent achievements in biology. You guys are not alone in your fight with constants. There is a Dutch Pedophilia Party that seeks to legalize pedophilia.
That is moving in the same direction as you do with gay marriage and homosexual rights.
As far as I understand you don’t see anything wrong in pedophilia if a child ‘loves’ his adult ‘partner’ and they both ‘make no harm’ to each other and people around. That is a direct conclusion from the answers that you give.
You also shouldn’t be against any form of sexual deviation if it follows principle, which you defined when answering question #3. Any type of ‘family relations’ is possible if we start following that principle. Everything, including zoophilia (taking into consideration recent achievements in biology).
It is absolutely obvious that once you start ‘redefining’ the family (which is constant), there won’t be _any_ stop. Any ‘redefinition’ of the family or ‘extension’ of that definition is regressive, leads to promiscuity and, in the end, to degeneration/extinction.”
My response to this was as follows:
“Once again you seem to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. Your ‘slippery slope’ argument that leads to bestiality and zoophilia is stupid. Christian conservatives make the same claims here in the States. It’s nonsense. There’s nothing good in pedophilia! It should never be allowed! And it has nothing whatsoever to do with two adults of the same gender who are in love with each other. There’s no equation here between same-sex adults in a consensual relationship and adults who take sexual advantage of children. It’s a nonsense argument. I don’t support pedophilia–I don’t support or even suggest that zoophilia is something to allow, because there’s nothing consensual in it. It harms the animal and that’s wrong. An animal can’t rationally decide its ‘life and pursuit of happiness.’ If it’s abused by a human, the animal is not ‘free.’ So, it simply shouldn’t be allowed. It’s not humane.
The most important part of this is that the two adults agree to the relationship. If there’s no consensual agreement, then there’s no relationship. To develop a sexual relationship with a child is not consensual–even if the child should ‘want’ it. The child doesn’t have the emotional and psychological maturity to understand the nature of the adult-child relationship. The adult does–or should have. So, the adult is taking advantage of the situation and the child and that’s wrong, and in my opinion criminal.”
His response to me went like this:
“I am not talking about your personal relation to kids, I am talking about principles that you described. Pedophiles are exactly following your steps and have exactly the same argument (why would you change anything that works?)
Several decades ago nobody could imagine homosexual marriages. I am convinced that that change had been done deliberately by slow media brainwashing. Shaded windows work all the better the more people become disoriented where Good and Evil are.
How can you tell the good from the evil if you don’t have morality and everything is relative? In the world that you describe moral is dynamic, so, basically, it allows multiple interpretations that allow an escape from any kind of responsibility and the role of morality in this case diminishes to near zero values.
In this situation, when taboos are lifted, I am pretty sure that soon some ‘new scientific evidence’ will come out which proves that sex with children is health-giving for adults and psychologically favorable for children.
The argument will be the same: family has no constant definition. Society develops and recent scientific findings prove…(whatever you want to say here.) And the last argument will be: are you against children’s happiness? Are you against children’s mental health? You don’t believe solid facts (and the facts will be presented as almost absolute truth and with all the authority)? Then you are retrograde person, a pedophilophobe and more than that – you don’t have a heart!
Destruction of the family and lifting barriers started from the madness, called ‘homosexual marriage’. But this blow is not the only one. There are numbers of them, that are impacting society simultaneously, which adds some credit to their artificial origin.
I am talkig about juvenile justice and sexual education in the first place. Though such factors are a social narcotic which breeds inane people and moral mediocrity. And the most dangerous result of this mediocrity is the rise of neonazism, which inane people will be able to accept.
What we see is the end of classic modernity which stands on family, private property and the government (state). All these three major institutions are under attack with gay rights and gay marriage.
And you are the part of the army that does that attack.”
My response to this (gulp!) was really total shock. Extending human and civil rights to LGBT amounts to an attack on ‘family, private property and the State’, the three core principles of ‘Modernity.’ We all need to think about this allegation for a minute. His argument does not make any sense to me. OK, yes, pedophiles try to make the same argument for acceptance, but they have no grounds for their point of view–in fact, an adult sexual relationship with a child is ‘unequal’ from the beginning and therefore the child is always disadvantaged in the relationship and suffers one way or another. Two adults of the same gender who agree on their relationship is a completely different thing. He continues to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia. Yet any rational person knows there’s no relationship or connection between the two. There are many more hetero pedophiles than homo, according to available crime data. No gay person wants to have sex with a child any more than a straight person does–and in either case, if they do, meaning they’re pedophiles, they are criminals if they act on their impulses. That isn’t going to change, so it’s hard for me wrap my brain around this Russian’s argument.
Again, he is using a ‘slippery slope’ argument that is only speculation and has no truth or proof to it. The fact remains, homosexuality between consenting adults should never be illegal–and it isn’t in Russia, either. And if such a relationship should lead to a committed love between the two people, then they have the same inalienable rights as everyone else under the law to be who they are and live the way they do openly and without fear of persecution, prosecution, discrimination or humiliation by any majority or the government or any religion. But that has NOT been the case, and we have had to fight for the right to live freely without discrimination. Happily, the U.S., Canada, many European and South American countries have constitutional law that says the government may not discriminate against any minority group, and gay people have taken their case to the courts accusing government of prejudice and discrimination and we won. In some cases, states and countries voted to accept marriage equality. In the U.S., each state also had laws against same-sex marriage, but those laws have been deemed ‘unconstitutional’ and now 39 states must allow same-sex couples to marry. And it looks like the Supreme Court will render marriage equality bans unconstitutional nation-wide by the end of June of this year.
In the end, I see no destruction of the family. There’s no impact on heterosexual marriage. Heterosexuals will still do what they do and form their families. Homosexuals will do the same. But now, according to the law, our families will hopefully be equal to heterosexual families and must be treated that way.
In regards to children and this thing called ‘gay propaganda’ in Russia, we have to socialize children and if they are never told the truth about same-gender relationships, couples and their families, heterosexual children will never learn to live with the ‘other’, and homosexual children will be painfully forced to hide themselves to avoid discovery, threats and persecution. Young people need to know that two people of the same gender can fall in love and develop committed relationships with families. It is important for both straight people and gay people to be ‘out’ and in public, so that people begin to understand that gay people are completely normal, intelligent, friendly human beings, who only want to be a part of their communities, society and country. They want to contribute to their neighbors and cities like everyone else. They are not monsters or something to fear. There is no such thing as ‘gay propaganda’–there is only open discussion, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and education in order for people to sort out the truth of the situation. Russia has laws now that censor any open discussion of homosexuality as ‘propaganda.’ It is outright oppression and I see it as no different than Nazi censorship of Jews in an effort to limit ‘Jewish propaganda.’
I can tell you, if I had known any gay people when I was a teenager, I wouldn’t have felt so isolated and alone. If I had seen gay couples and families, it would have made it a lot easier on me to accept myself and not hide myself away from people. Having to hide is extremely psychologically damaging and painful. All gay people ‘internalize’ the homophobia from the family and the society–we hide and hate ourselves as kids as much as society seems to hate us. Breaking through that ‘closet’ door and coming out, standing up for ourselves, not taking ‘no’ for an answer from family and society, fighting for our rights to be who we are, making others see us as human, making people understand that this is a matter of human right as well as civil right–that is changing the world for the better. It is not an attack on the family, property rights or the government.
If Russians think it is an attack on ‘modernity’, then modernity was cruel and unjust and it needed to be deconstructed. And I am very proud and thankful that those ‘modern’ inhumane attitudes–like this Russian’s attitude–are being swept away into the dustbin of social history. As we say these days, he is on the wrong side of history. And if the majority of Russians think like he does, then Russia itself is on the wrong side of history with this issue, and it will be increasingly difficult for Russia to adapt to social realities in the 21st century.