“This is really a kind of astrological thinking, that the position of the planets determines what happens on Earth.” ~ David Morrison, NASA Astrobiologist
NPR’s recent interview with NASA’s David Morrison, of the website Ask an Astrobiologist, looks at worldwide fears of Friday, December 21, 2012. On an episode last week of the popular program “Talk of the Nation,” Morrison and host Neal Conan discuss the worry people are feeling:
CONAN: And as you say, I mean, it’s easy to snicker, maybe, but these are agonized questions.
MORRISON: They are, and they include some young people who say they’re contemplating suicide. A friend of mine, a teacher in Stockton, had two parents come saying they were planning to kill themselves and their children before December 21st. And another extreme, one of the early questions I got was quite touching. It was, “My only friend is my little dog. When should I put her to sleep so she won’t suffer in the cataclysm?”
Conan asks Morrison how he got into the position of answering these questions. In the opening section of the piece, Conan addresses the listener,
“it’s possible that you may have received such questions [about the apocalypse], too, as a parent, as a teacher or as a faith leader.”
Parents. Teachers. Faith leaders. In other words, trusted counselors who provide reliable, informed, and spiritual guidance. Conan knows archetypally, though post-Enlightenment hegemonic thinking won’t let him say it: he should be interviewing an astrologer.
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Morrison, as a NASA scientist, is the proper authority for questions about the mechanical nature of events in the sky. Such questions are within the purview of post-Newtonian, modern science. However, there is a deep psychological process underlying the anxiety behind the questions Morrison receives. People are feeling and experiencing something for themselves, something that science is at a loss to explain. People know something is happening:
CONAN: And there are, of course, those who are worried about some unusual alignment of the planets, foretelling terrible events.
MORRISON: Right. This is really a kind of astrological thinking that the position of the planets determines what happens on Earth. It’s a little crazy because if you actually look at where the planets will be on December 21, they’re scattered all over the sky. There’s about as far from being a planet alignment as I can imagine. But by sheer repetition, mostly on the Internet, these things are said over and over, where friends of mine, smart people, come and say, “Well, I know that Nibiru thing is junk, but what about the alignment? What is that going to do?” There is no alignment.
Looking at a noon chart for December 21, 2012 in New York City (see below), we see it is true that there will be no conjunction, an alignment where two or more planets are in the same place in the sky, which is probably what Morrison means when he says “alignment.” However, the planet Neptune will be almost conjunct Chiron (an asteroid also referred to by astronomers as a minor planet) on that day, both in Pisces. By most standards, this is close enough to qualify as a conjunction as it is within 5 degrees.
Since its discovery in 1977, Chiron has been successfully integrated into the modern astrologer’s symbol system. The Neptune-Chiron conjunction in early Pisces suggests a new beginning (early degrees of a sign) in humanity’s expression of compassion (Neptune, Pisces) and deep psychological healing processes (Chiron). Due to the slow motion of these celestial bodies, which are out past Saturn in our solar system, this conjunction in early Pisces has been happening since February.
In addition to being highlighted in the chart by a Neptune conjunction, Chiron is also at the focal point of an aspect pattern called a T-square consisting of Chiron’s squaring (90 degrees) both Venus in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Gemini, which are opposing (180 degrees) each other. Jupiter, in turn, is the focal point of another aspect pattern, called a Yod (also Finger of God or Finger of Fate), consisting of Jupiter’s quincunxes (150 degrees) to Saturn in Scorpio and Pluto in Capricorn, which sextile (60 degrees) each other.1
Synchronistically, the very people writing questions to David Morrison at NASA seem to be acting as a mirror reflecting this new beginning in early Pisces. We are at the point where we, as human beings who are more than just our rational minds (Jupiter in Gemini), are being called to extend compassion to the healing processes of ourselves and others. This starts with not pathologizing human emotions, not calling people who believe in aliens or apocalypse (or astrology) “crazy,” and listening objectively to what people say (Gemini). When people tell their stories, a healing process takes place (Chiron). As this T-square is mutable, consisting of three mutable signs (Gemini, Sagittarius, and Pisces), change and flexibility are required here.
Pluto in Capricorn and Saturn in Scorpio speak to the transformation of old structures, in which things and ideas that have outlived their usefulness to humanity must either be discarded or transformed. The Saturn-Pluto-Jupiter Yod pattern shows a struggle for wholeness focused on religious ideas and the language of philosophy (Jupiter in Gemini). 2 Resolution comes after the frustration between the established, post-Newtonian scientific ways of thinking are integrated with new philosophies and spiritual ways of thinking. As this aspect is referred to as the Finger of Fate (or Finger of God), it shows us that people are waiting for something to happen to them, something they believe is beyond their control.
Pluto is relevant in another way on December 21, as it squares Uranus in Aries (2012-2015), a symbolically potent aspect that some are calling “The 1960s, Part II.” In brief,
“Pluto is the archetype for destruction and renewal through the massive welling up of massive forces long restrained. Uranus symbolizes sudden and unexpected revolts and upheavals that challenge the status quo. Together, the activations within their shared cycle indicate periods where old worlds collapse and new worlds arise, whether for better or worse.” (Bill Herbst, “Critical Mass Approaches”)
This sounds a lot like what the doomsday apocalypse believers have been saying. Using the language and stories from any tradition they know (Hollywood, the Bible, maybe a mixture of both), the believers are trying to put words to these real feelings. Astrology has the language they are looking for, but they may not be aware of such an astrology, one that describes psychological processes. Many people only know the discipline through newspaper horoscopes, often printed in the comics section, which belie its potential to bring a deeper level of awareness to human existence.
At the end of the interview, Morrison notes that, for people who may be stockpiling supplies in an air raid shelter, “the end of the world doesn’t mean the same thing to them it does to me.” “Not the end of the world necessarily; dystopia perhaps,” replies Conan. The problem apocalypse believers have is merely a lack of imagination. Using key ideas from Herbst’s brief analysis above, the same Uranus-Pluto square that could symbolize dystopia could also be seen as a time of “renewal” and “challenge to the status quo” where “new worlds arise,” possibly “for better.” The potent part here is the possibility.
Astrology is a tool for seeing possibilities. Therein lies its value. With free will, humans are able to choose which possibility they want to make manifest in the real world. We can choose to create dystopia, or we can create a better new world. Both are possible. The choice is ours.
1The Pluto-Jupiter quincunx will have been exact (0 degrees, 00 minutes) at 8:15 pm the previous night (December 20), and by noon on December 21 it will be 0 degrees, 05 minutes from exact (see above chart).
2In addition, Jupiter is currently retrograde, as many of us are deluged with information overload. For more on retrograde Jupiter in Gemini, see the Oxford Astrologer’s recent, highly accurate post.