The effects of Mercury retrograde are unmistakable.
If our society is a machine, then the Mercury Retrograde period is when ghosts and gremlins are unleashed. It is the open season for mindless blunders, delays, glitches, cancellations and reschedules.
Mercury retrograde exposes the lapses in our judgement. Our assumptions and automatic response become unreliable, and we are prone to skip and stray from our normal decision-making process. Our brains seem to slip out from under us. We can’t remember the words at the tip of our tongues. We blurt out what we don’t mean to say. We give and receive incorrect, incomplete or irrelevant answers (especially when contacting the tech support). Even handling a phone number can be dicey.
This period calls for a healthy dose of skepticism of everyone – ourselves included. Most consequential of all are contracts signed and agreements made under this influence. Every word needs to be scrutinized with a magnifier, (even then…) It is likely the information presented is not truthful and complete. Our judgement could be temporarily impaired, and we will need to retract and reconsider afterward. The arrangements may not come to fruition.
When in doubt, withhold or delay major decisions as much as possible. If a decision must be made, be prepared for some revision or reversal in the future – the probabilities are significantly higher. The shining object of your desire – be it the dream car, house, job, vacation, or romance – could lose its luster after Tricky Mercury resumes his forward motion.
For the pessimists, give some slack for pleasant surprises, for Mercury retrograde’s plot twists go both ways. A negative outlook could unexpectedly turn around. Salvaged junks may reveal themselves to be priceless treasures. Delays allow extra preparation, and cancellations open up space to regroup and realign. One major advantage of this special phase is that if we make an agreement under external pressure or coercion, we can expect to rescind or rearrange it down the road.
4th Degree of Gemini: Boundaries and Obstacles of Self-Expression, Information, and Mental Power
The Mercury degree at the beginning of a retrograde carries predominate influence encompassing the entire period. During this Mercury retrograde, we will be presented with the lessons of the 4th degree of Gemini and retracing our steps back to the 26th degree of Taurus. My working degree symbol for the 4th degree of Gemini is:
A reporter is disciplined and passed over for promotion because herefuses to dumb down and sensationalize his reporting.
The 4th degree of Gemini is about working with limited information and the confine of our minds. It asks us to build a robust framework to withstand, organize and disseminate massive inflow of data. It also implies the struggle to think and express freely, as well as the hardship resulting from such actions. The Sabin symbol for this degree is “a radical magazine”. In this case, truth is revolutionary.
Under this strong influence, we are supported to restate our truth. If we ever were too intimidated to say it out loud for fear of rejection and prosecution, here is our second chance to put our feet down and set the record straight.
This is the time to stare at the enormous complexity we are living in and recognize the limit of our knowledge and mental capacity. We don’t know. Moreover, we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know what questions to ask, and what we don’t know to ask. The experts and authorities have not provided satisfactory answers, but they want us to go along. We cannot consent to what’s happening and what is prescribed for us. How do we give informed consent when vital information is withheld from us, anyway? We should not and we will not. It is time to say “stop this madness” before the momentum carries us cross the Rubicon. It’s okay to change our minds. To pause, reverse, or put a hard stop to define and defend ourselves – especially during Mercury retrograde.
As Mercury retrogresses, we will be asked to return to the childlike inquisitiveness (3rd degree of Gemini) and look at our word with fresh eyes. The picture may not be pretty, but we can no longer turn a blind eye and just move along the predesignated path. It is the time for heart-to-heart conversations and ask real questions, however stupid they would seem (2nd degree of Gemini).
Dane Rudhyar symbolized the beginning degree of the Gemini as “a glass-bottomed boat reveals under-sea wonders.” We will sure be swimming in the infinite sea of information, disinformation, and malinformation. If we stay afloat, a quietness will dawn, and we’ll see that information, ideas, and thoughts shape our world; their malignancy our poison, their censorship our prison. Only when we take command of our full mental capacity and secure unrestricted access to information are we truly free to interface and shape our world.
In this article, I will explain the astrology of the U.S. Pluto and the significance of the U.S. Pluto return. We will dive into the 27th degree of Capricorn, explore its hidden meanings through its antiscia degree, and discover possible solutions provided by the 27th degree of Cancer.
The long-awaited U.S. Pluto return is upon us. This is the period when Pluto completes a revolution around the sun and returns to the same zodiac degree in the nation’s birth chart. Based on the most commonly-used U.S. national birth chart, the exact U.S. Pluto return dates are February 19, 2022; July 12, 2022; and December 27, 2022. Using a narrow one-degree orb, the active period of this transit started in March 2021 and will stretch well into the end of 2023.
It is monumental because beside its rare occurrences (approximately once every 248 years), both participants of this event are equally powerful and unyielding. Natal Pluto symbolizes the entity’s survival instinct and nucleus of strength. Transiting Pluto, manifesting as external events, transforms everything it touches, destroying the frivolous and folly, mercilessly cutting down wastes and excess, and unifying the false dichotomy. Pluto transits force us to define and defend the crux of our existence, the spark of our souls. Failing that, we are zombies, lobotomized. We are a shell of our former selves. Our lights go out.
At the founding of the nation, the colonists presented the Declaration of Independence, stating:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In reality, this credo has not held true. In this series, I will attempt to unpack the U.S. Pluto through astrology and history. Once we define our core strengths and our survival strategy, we have a better chance to find a clear path forward.
The astrology of U.S. Pluto
The most widely used U.S. Birth Chart was elected by British physician, astrologer, and occultist Ebenezer Sibly (1751-1799). Sibly’s chart placed the U.S. Pluto in the second house at Capricorn 27 degrees and 32 minutes. It is not the scope of this series to cover the U.S. birth chart in its entirety. Instead, I will focus on the astrology of U.S. Pluto and its cycle manifested in past and current events.
Meaning of the Second House
The second house of an astrology chart points to the resource at one’s disposal. Most commonly referred to as the house of money, it actually refers to value and resource in the broadest terms: judgment of worth, weighing of priorities (for deploying resources), money, time, energy, efforts, talents, personal properties, faculties, and freedom. Simply put, it is what we deem valuable and dedicate our resources to as a nation.
Meaning of U.S.’ Capricorn-Aquarius Second House
The second house in the U.S. birth chart spans from the 9th degree of Capricorn to the 13th degree of Aquarius. The Capricorn house cusp and the Pluto placement in Capricorn warrants heavy emphasis on Capricorn quality regarding the nation’s value and priorities.
The archetypal Capricorn is conscientious, responsible, insecure, and status-seeking. Driven by the underlining inferiority complex, Capricorn appeals to the authority and desires to present itself as the arbiter of reality. Predictably, Capricorn strives for stability and respectability, i.e. money and social status, and by extension, demands others to honor and conform to the social order it helps build, for it abhors the unpredictable and the deviant.
In short, Capricorn aspires to project success and order. Contrary to popular belief, Capricorn in the U.S. second house indicates that we as a nation value status and stability above all. Our collective pursue has always been wealth, power, and control.
The second part of the U.S. second house is in Aquarius. Innovation, revolutions, freedom, and Egalitarianism are also at our disposal. Pluto’s placement near the cusp of Aquarius hints at solutions that contain contradicting maneuvers, which I will discuss further.
Meaning of Pluto
Pluto in our natal chart represents the nucleus of our psychological and physical survival. It is what we cling to in our most perilous moments. It’s the part of us that digs deep and plays dirty for self-preservation.
Pluto is the fear of annihilation petrified into obsession, and the obsession eating its own tail. In the case of U.S. Pluto, our obsession with staying safe has turned a pent-up citizenry explosive. The interventions to stabilize domestic and international crises have destabilized the intended target in most cases. The need to control and manipulate our environment and relationships is sometimes so great that an off-the-rails Pluto will seek to alter the status quo by self-destruction. Despite its many negative manifestations, losing our Pluto, we lose the will to live and become frail facades.
Transiting Pluto shares the same quality and manifests through dramatic external events. During a Pluto return, the entity’s will to survive encounters the universal force to transform. Surviving and thriving during Pluto transits requires letting go of the status quo, –no exceptions. The more we try to stay the same, the more drastic the demolition. The only way through it is shedding all non-essential and pretense in every aspect of our lives. When we do, we’re indestructible.
Pluto in Capricorn
As these once-sacred institutions will simultaneously face the Plutonian purging and reform, seeking shelter from these establishment will be futile. Frauds exposed, credibility plummeted, the dismantling is unfolding right in front of our eyes. We share our fates with our nation, but that does not mean we face the same limited options as an overreaching and overstretched behemoth. It is worth mentioning that the U.S. Pluto placement also entails that the government and institutions will try the tools of control and oppression, even blatantly violate the social contract during their breakdown and transformation.
Pluto in the Second House, Ruling the Twelfth House
Pluto in the second house puts tremendous wealth and resources at U.S.’ disposal; it also clearly points to Plutocracy and Plutonomy. Destructive and weaponized Pluto signals dramatic rise and fall of fortune and unscrupulous policies that could rip the social fabric and undermine U.S.’ global standings. Pluto’s will to power and its manipulative, meddlesome approaches, in combination with misguided foreign entanglement and systemic corruption, could spell U.S.’ self-undoing.
Meaning of Capricorn 27th degree
The 27th degree of the zodiac is a degree of discontent and defiance; it is also a degree of exceptionalism. People under the influence of this degree acknowledge the deterioration of the institution and absurdity of the status quo. They also regard their peers as ineffectual when it comes to support and insights. To serve a higher calling, they depart from the social perimeter and blaze new trails.
The Sabian symbol for Capricorn 27th degree is “a large aviary”. We get the colorful image of chattering birds in confinement, but this hardly provides enough clues to flesh out our current predicament. My interpretation for this degree is twofold:
“Technocrats conspire with foreign agents to manage a discontent populace and disappointed international allies.”
“Disappointed truth seekers confront their peers who have resorted to underhanded maneuvers, and decide to remove themselves to take a higher ground.”
Lonsdale’s reading of this degree reminds us to rein in our follies:
“You need to drop the vast bulk of your voluminous self-indulgences in order to, after all, start to wake up and really remember purpose and the whole story.”
Capricorn 27 people are workaholics and truth-seekers who separate themselves from their peers to rise above groupthink and mediocrity. This degree reveals that the system has been corrupted and is breaking down. No help is coming from the establishment; they must break away from the consensus and convention to craft their exit plans. A small group of visionaries will propose solutions that seem impossible and unpopular, but soon will become the only viable option. At the founding moment, the energy of this degree was imprinted as the nation’s core strength and survival mechanism. We have come a long way and strayed far from the trailblazing business in many ways.
Another way to read a zodiac degree is to look for the hidden meaning derived from its shadow degree (antiscia). Antiscia is the zodiac degree that shares the same distance from solstice points as the degree in question, like a reflection in a mirror that stretches from the 0 degree of Cancer to the 0 degree of Capricorn. The Sabian symbol for Capricorn 27’s antiscia, Sagittarius 2, is “two men playing chess.” In uncanny synchronicity, Martin Goldsmith expanded the imagery and described:
“A young prince and his tutor concentrate on a game of chess. Around the board, an inlaid design depicts black and white dragons biting each other’s tails.”
The image brings in sharp focus inter-generational conflicts and geopolitical competition with China, frequently symbolized as dragons. Goldsmith further elaborates:
“Playing to win, no holds bars, vs. playing like a gentleman (dangerous opponents); making calculated moves; waiting for the right time to act, vs. rashly forging ahead; … bluffing by acting weak or bluffing by acting strong.”
This degree foretells coming geopolitical conflicts and inter-general competition for resources. Sagittarius 2 also hints at difficulty with international diplomacy, disagreements on beliefs and principles, and trusted elders turning on their young.
In the zodiac wheel, the opposite degrees are considered two sides of the same theme. Looking to Cancer 27 could propose a solution to our Capricorn 27th degree problems. The Sabian symbol for Cancer 27 is “a modern Pocahontas.” Later interpretations depict a Native American girl introducing her white boyfriend to the tribe. This degree points to breaking away from emotional dependency on one’s family, tribe, and race, and forging new connections outside one’s heritage and cultural identity.
Ellias Lonsdale, in is book “Inside Degrees” promised innate guidance to those involved with the 27th degree of Cancer:
“Inwardly knowing where to go, what to do, how to do it, and where it all leads. You have a special faculty for karmic clairvoyance or sensing the individual and collective destiny-territory that must be navigated through. Placed strategically in the molten core of world dilemma to remember how to get it right. Driven by a force of will that is overwhelming. You are guided to be in the right place at the right time for catching the drift of the tide we all are swimming toward. Unconsciously and superconsciously in touch and in tune with what is happening. Consciously, walking a tightrope between the heights and the depths, and never sure while being sure. Given an engraved destiny invitation to participate to the utmost in collective cycles of renewal and to stay within your place of power throughout. For you have gathered considerable awareness toward this time of decision, and this vertical attunement is a welcome ingredient–one vitally needed.”
ACall to Awareness
Throughout U.S. history, national crises unfolded around Pluto themes, and the same themes will be the focus again during the Pluto return. Regrettably, second-house matters such as national prosperity and personal freedom do not mix well with Pluto energies. Moreover, a Scorpio twelfth house subjects our national psyche to subversive and deceitful stratagems, as well as a predisposition to misuse the transformative and weaponized energy. Pluto principle underpins our national priorities and permeates our collective unconscious. Call it the original sin or collective karma, this is a burden we have to bear as a nation. The Pluto return is a period when we must take our own medicine and ride out this once-in-a-Plutonian-year storm. Think of it as a storm that flushes out the stale and the stifled, the outdated and the unsound. Whatever remains will be consolidated and stronger than before, like a newly acquired superpower. I speculate that by the time this transit is over, the current system and our endless, divisive bickering will reach a conclusion, and the opposing positions and their hotly contested issues will be irrelevant. (To be continued)
Mundane keywords: social misfits, cultural diversity, minority groups, multilingual, multiple ethnic and cultural identities, one who has difficulty assimilating, foreign languages or specialized languages/codes, China and the Chinese people, cultural ambassador, segregation.
Social and psychological keywords: being singled out for what one says or how one acts, determined to express oneself at the risk of being ostracized, being in and out of mainstream, juggling multiple cultural identities yet never quite at ease in one’s own skin, being a foreigner in one’s own country, the “you and me against the world” mind set, lost in translation, standing out from the crowd, speaking to an exclusive crowd, doubts and suspicion, xenophobia, elitist and inferiority complexes.
The 17-18 degree of Gemini locates in the Libra decanate and sits across the Sagittarius and Capricorn dwads. It describes a mental and communication process (Gemini) concerning personal relations (Libra) in a foreign (Sagittarius) society (Capricorn). The number 8 (1+7=8) and 7 (7th degree of the decanate) denotes the struggle (7) for power and wisdom (8).
We have two Chinese men speaking Chinese in western crowd. Being out of their native environment, they rely on each other for companionship and understanding. We don’t know if this is a chance meeting or a partnership, all we know is that they speak the same foreign language and they are naturally drawn to each other in such a setting. There might be a sense of comradery, a sort of “you and me against the world” mindset. Understandably, from the westerners’ point of view, the language barrier naturally arouses curiosity, mistrust and suspicion.
On the surface, this degree signifies one who is determined to drive home the point in a foreign, even hostile environment. For those living with this degree in their charts, to assimilate or not to assimilate is the question. Acutely aware of the shifting sands in a multicultural society, they hold on to their cultural traditions, abide with the mainstream as needed, and at the same time is mindful of the stark contrast between themselves and the norm. Nevertheless, they are compelled to speak out and are fully aware of the risks.
Martin Goldsmith went one step further and has the degree as “In a crowded Midwestern diner, two Chinese-Americans watch a television newscast, then argue about it in Chinese”. Here, against the all-American Midwest dinner backdrop, the social convention is conservative, commonsensical, and has a respectful distaste for outre behaviors. When the two Chinese-Americans watched the news and argue about it in Chinese, undoubtedly they would draw attention to themselves for their appearance and their foreign tongue, yet, their argued on. There is not only disagreement between the two, there is also glaring difference between the pair and their environment, with no compromise in sight. This degree points to conflict in the interpersonal relationships and one’s relation with the society as a whole.
The depiction of “two Chinese men” is interesting. If we were only to depict foreigners, there would be so many different nationality to choose from, why Chinese? Chinese culture is the longest consecutive major culture in the world. It is formidable in its depth and breadth; it is mysterious and exotic to outsiders yet its heritage directly influences roughly one quarter of the world population. The Chinese language is difficult for westerners for the enormous number of characters that are composites of meanings, pronunciations, and images. The Classical Chinese is often incomprehensible even to native speakers. Therefore, we can reasonably assume the symbol’s emphasis on cultural barrier to a colossal body of esoteric knowledge, at least to the western minds.
Incidentally, number 7 not only resonates with specialized knowledge and non-conformist tendencies, it also points to the path of mysticism. From a higher perspective, Dane Rudyar mentioned being “in” the world but not “of” the world. Ultimately, this symbols asks us to detach ourselves from what’s familiar and taken for granted, seek out the exotic, the esoteric, and a new approach that reconcile the contrasting polarities. Do we abide by the convention or risk the dirty looks? Do we eat at the same diner, or leave the comfort zone? Do we dare to suspend our ingrained prejudice and walk in others’ shoes? More than just choosing sides, we overcome the limitation of duality, and build a unified perspective –we become both the “two Chinese men” and the “western crowd,” at home with the world.
Some famous people and events that shares this degree are:
Barbara Bush (Sun): American First Lady and matriarch of the Bush political dynasty. After touring Houston Astrodome, one of the relief center in the horrific aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she shared her observation of the refugees who have lost their homes and possessions, and were cramped into the crowded facility:
“Almost everyone I’ve talked to says, “We’re going to move to Houston.” What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them”.
Jason Alexander (Moon): American actor famously known for his portrayal of George Costanza, a neurotic man suffering from low self-esteem and habitual lying, among many other personality flaws. He goes to great length to start and maintain romantic relationships but always falls short.
Jim Carrey (Moon): Canadian American actor and comedian. Famous for his maniacal brand of comedy, Carrey suffered from depression for significant period of his life and overcame it through spirituality.
Donald Trump (Uranus): American business man and presidential candidate. His has strong appeal to so called “angry (white) republicans,” and routinely offends various ethnic minorities during his presidential campaign. He is seen as xenophobic.
December 5, 1955 (South Node): Trial of Rosa Parks and the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Parks was arrested for refusing to yield her seat in the colored section to white riders when the white section had filled up. The boycott was the first large-scale civil right protest in U.S. history. It was successful in removing the seating segregation on Montgomery buses.
June 3, 1946 (Uranus): The United States Supreme Court ruled in Morgan v. Virginia that a Virginia law requiring segregation of white and African-American bus passengers was illegal for interstate travel.
San Francisco Chinese laundry, 1881. Public Domain.
Mundane keywords: immigrants, racial issues, labor, self-employment, East Asia and its people, washing and laundering (literal and metaphorical), stereotyping and character assassination, foreigners and aliens, society-imposed limitations.
Social and psychological keywords: racism, stereotyping, xenophobia, alienation, finding a niche in difficult social and economic environment, overworked and underpaid, carve out a niche for survival, inability or unwilling to assimilate, profound understanding of large-scale misdeeds and the cause to right such wrongs.
The California Gold Rush of 1848–1855 commenced the first significant wave of Chinese immigration to the U.S. The predominately young male population were first welcomed for their hard work in the mines and large labor projects. However, as the gold deposits dwindled and labor market tightened, anti-Chinese sentiment grew.
Degrading stereotyping and fictitious accounts brought on by competing prospectors and laborers, mostly European and American, were deliberately spread by union bosses and politicians, which exacerbated the racial hatred. Consequently, anti-Chinese legislation kept Chinese immigrants out of desirable careers. Many turned to the laundry business as it was often the only job to be found. At one time, in San Francisco, about 89% of the laundry workers were of Chinese descent.
Hand laundry was grueling work. A typical 10-16 work day consists of manual labor over kettles of boiling water and hot stoves. From Wikipedia:
“Laundry work was especially wearisome, because it meant the soaking, scrubbing, and ironing of clothing solely by hand; moreover, prompt and high quality service was necessary to keep customers satisfied. Workers in laundries and groceries received the going wage of twenty-five dollars per month, and despite long hours the work-week was seven days. For the majority of the Chinese, then, the daily routine was almost solely working, eating, and sleeping. There were a few other occupations available to Chinese”.
As the non-Chinese vying for the same business interests, Chinese laundries were the targets of harassment by local governments:
“In 1880, 95 percent of San Francisco’s 320 laundries operated in wooden buildings. The city passed an ordinance requiring owners of laundries in wooden buildings to obtain a permit. Two-thirds of the laundries were owned by Chinese people, but none of them was granted a permit. Only one non-Chinese owner was denied.”
–Chinese Laundries by Alice Myers
In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was signed. It aimed to keep Chinese from entering the U.S., and excluded Chinese nationals in the U.S. from seeking citizenship, making them permanent aliens.
During the Great Depression, the job of launderer became increasingly attractive and again Chinese were targets of hostility from white labor unions. In 1933 the New York City Board of Aldermen passed a law to limited ownership of laundries to U.S. citizens while the Federal law suspended naturalization of Chinese immigrants.
The Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance successfully repelled the anti-Chinese legislation and preserved the livelihood of thousands of Chinese laundry workers. The labor organization continued to advocate for the civil rights of Chinese in North America.
Around the turn of the 20th century, one in four male Chinese immigrants in the United States worked in a laundry. The stereotype of Chinese Laundry persisted well into present days:
Here is a Jawbone commercial taking place in a Chinese Laundry:
21 to 22 degree Sagittarius locates in the Leo decadent (10-degree divisions within a sign) and the Leo duad (2.5 degree sections within a sign). It is the 21st degree of Sagittarius and 1st degree of the decadent, therefore carries the energy of numbers 3, 7, (3×7=21), and 1.
People and matters contacting this degree identify themselves passionately with –or against – an individual, a ethnic or social minority group that’s underprivileged or prosecuted. The social climate that supports such discrimination and injustice is often prejudiced, hypocritical, unreasonable, and going against the universal value of fairness and equality.
Due to Leo’s influence, there is also a strong dramatic element associated with these unjust events. Spreading of falsehood, or some sort of a “creative” effort, is often involved.
On the opposite side of same coin, this symbol speaks of the bitterly oppressed and those who take on the thankless job of cleaning up the aftermath of epic misdeeds. At its higher expression, this degree allows profound understanding of the deep rooted injustice and societal wrongs, and take courageous action to counter such atrocities.
Some famous people with 21-22 Sagittarius degree in their chart are:
Donald Trump (moon), whose hard-line and controversial stance of deportation of illegal immigrants marks the flagship issue of his presidential campaign.
Richard Gere (moon) , known for his dedication for fair treatment of the Tibetan people and preservation of their culture. He was also a pioneer in the fight against stigma and discrimination against AIDS and its patients.
Amanda Knox (moon), an American student accused of murdering her roommate while studying in Italy. She was subjected to unprecedented negative publicity before her trail in Italy. Fictitious accounts of her live were invented by local authors for monetary gain. The CBS special report of her ordeal was titled “American Girl, Italian Nightmare”.
Harry Hay (moon), “the father of gay liberation.” He stood against assimilationism by the mainstream gay right campaigns.
King George VI (Sun): Living under the shadow of his elder brother Edward, King George reluctantly ascended the throne after his elder brother abdicated in order to marry divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. King George VI oversaw the crisis of abdication, the hardship and eventual triumph of World War II, and the rapid decline of the British Empire.