Monday, January 26, 2009

Void Moons and Dead Presidents.

There has been some hysteria in the bloggosphere about void moons and dead/failing presidents.

Mostly, it is astro-hysterical nonsense wherein a few salient facts are highlighted, a great deal of innuendo is attached to the remaining facts, and a lot of important information is omitted.

The tell-tale signs of astro-hysteria are an emphatic (negative or positive) disposition combined with large quantities of astro-jargon, and factoids strung together with innuendo. There is little sound reason behind an astro-hysterical diatribe.

The interest in the Void-Of-Course moon (VOC) and the presidential inauguration on this blog has prompted me to do some research.

Where a President dies or resigns the office, the Vice-President completes the Presidential term as President. This is called Presidency by succession.

The following figures have been rounded within acceptable error for simplicity’s sake-

The basic facts,
• One in six presidential terms have been completed by succession.
• One in six VOC presidential terms have been completed by succession
• One in four presidential terms begin under VOC
• One in four inaugurations occur under VOC

Primary conclusion:
VOC has no noticeable effect on whether or not a president finishes his or her term.

The rest of this post contains various facts, figures, and definitions that support my primary conclusion.

It is my personal opinion that VOC has little real place in mundane astrology beyond its significance in relation to the mood of the people, (see explanation of VOC below).

There are have been 17 Presidential inaugurations under a VOC moon by the medieval definition of the term. (Including the Obama inauguration, whose term is not finished so it is not counted in the rest of the analysis). VOC is a medieval technique which should, for consistency’s sake, only make use of the Classical planets, and Ptolemaic aspect by sign.

The 17 VOC presidential inaugurations are

John Adams, March 4, 1797, 12 noon, Philadelphia, PA
James Monroe, March 4, 1817, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (1st term)
James Monroe, March 4, 1821, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (2nd term)
Andrew Jackson, March 4, 1831, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (2nd term),
James K. Polk, March 4, 1845, 12 Noon, Washington, DC
Millard Filmore, July 09, 1850, 22:30, Washington, DC (succession)
William McKinley, March 4, 1897, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (1st term),
Woodrow Wilson, March 4, 1917, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (2nd Term)
**Franklin D. Roosevelt, January 20, 1945, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (4th term)
Harry S. Truman, April 12, 1945, 16:35 Washington, DC (succession)
Harry S. Truman, January 20, 1949, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (2nd term)
**John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961, 12 Noon, Washington, DC
**Richard M. Nixon, January 20, 1973, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (2nd term)
Gerald R. Ford, August 9, 1974, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (succession)
Bill Clinton, January 20, 1997, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (2nd term)
George W. Bush, January 20, 2001, 12 Noon, Washington, DC (1st term)
Barack Obama, January 20, 2009, 12 Noon, Washington, DC

In all there have been 55 presidential terms, begun by 34 different elected presidents and 9 of these terms have been interrupted necessitating completion of the term by succession.

Roughly one in six presidential terms has required completion by succession since 1789.

64 inaugurations have transpired for 43 presidents. The current President is number 44.
Of the 64 inaugurations, 16 have taken place under VOC moon. Roughly one in four inaugurations takes place under VOC moon.

Of the 16 inaugurations under VOC moons, 3 have been interrupted requiring succession. This represents slightly more than one in six, but less than one in five, however it does not represent a significant departure from one in six.

Of the 55 presidential terms determined by election, 13 have started under a VOC moon. Roughly one in four presidential terms has begun under a VOC moon.

Of the 47 presidential terms completed without succession, 10 have started under a VOC moon. Roughly one in 5 presidential terms that ran their full measure have taken place under a VOC inauguration.

All 9 presidencies by succession fulfilled the term of the original president. Three of these successions happened under VOC moons.

William McKinley was assassinated, but in his second term, not his first term.

James Monroe and Harry Truman both had two VOC terms, none of which were cut short.

For clarity, these are my definitions.

Void of Course Moon:
A chart wherein the Moon applies to no Ptolemaic aspect or bodily conjunction with a Classical Planet before leaving the sign it is in: where “applies to” means approaching aspect (as opposed to “separating” or leaving aspect), “Ptolemaic aspect” is opposition, square, trine or sextile by sign, “Classical Planet” refers to the 5 visible planets plus the Sun and Moon.

VOC is a medieval technique used primarily in Horary astrology (asking direct questions of the heavens) and Electional astrology (selecting auspicious times). In both of those occasions, the chart is purely subjective, the chart is dictated by no influence external to the question.

In my opinion, there is no place for modern planets in the application of the VOC principle. The VOC principle took shape a long time before Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were discovered.

Presidential inaugurations are determined by factors outside the control of the President or anyone involved. I am disinclined to use VOC beyond the Moon as indicator of the direction of the people in mundane astrology.

Inauguration of the President:
Noon on the date at which the previous term expires, or the moment of death or incapacity of a sitting president, whereby the Vice President assumes the office of president. There are accurate times for all of these events.

The Office of President is obtained by the vote of the electoral college, or by the death or incapacity of the sitting President.

A President assumes office at the beginning of his or her term or the Vice President assumes the Office upon the death or incapacity of the sitting President. The pertinent wording in the constitution considers the Office to be conferred without pause from one term to the next. Where a President dies or is otherwise unable to complete the term, the Vice President becomes President for the remainder of the term.

The Oath of Office allows the President to execute the Office, but cannot be construed as the means by which the office is obtained.

Therefore, the Presidential term begins at Noon on the day of inauguration, regardless of when or how the oath of office is sworn. The remainder of the term belongs to the Vice President should the president die or become incapacitated. The Vice-President-now-President takes the partial term from the moment of incapacity or death.

There is never a time at which there is no President. There have been moments when the president has no capacity to execute the office he or she holds. Those are the moments, where they exist at all, between the assumption of office and taking the Oath of Office.

So, to be clear, all of my inauguration charts are for the moment the office is assumed, irrespective of the vagaries of the time the Oath of Office was sworn.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Void of Course Moon and the Obama Inauguration.

Void of Course Moon and the Obama Inauguration.

This will be short and sweet: I’ve just read this article about the timing of the inauguration and the void-of-course moon.

The most common interpretation for Void of course moon is “nothing will come of the matter” and it is, indeed, a taboo for the astrology of selecting times, and it is a major indicator of weakness for an event indicated in horary astrology, (the astrology of answering questions).

The inauguration of the president is neither a selected time, (the time is determined by the constitution) nor is it the subject of a personally arrived at “question” between client and astrologer. Therefore “nothing will come of the matter” is meaningless in this context.

The inauguration is an event chart. According to the Constitution of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama becomes President of the United States of America at noon on January 20. If something goes wrong at 11:59:59 am, it is George W. Bush’s problem. At 12:00:00 pm it is Barack Obama’s problem regardless of when the band plays, who sings what, or when the President says, “I do”.

The inauguration chart reflects the nature of the presidential term. It does not reflect the future of the country. There are other charts for that.

In this event, a void-of-course moon means “the people lack self-direction” and this will be a signature of the first Obama term. The fiercely self-determined Americans are hurting from the financial collapse, and are looking for leadership. This is a time when leaders must step up to the plate and provide direction.

The plight of the people will be a major source of challenge to the President, and it will stay that way for his entire term. I doubt the President will feel that he has managed to do enough to ameliorate the suffering of the people, as he sees it, by the end of his term.

If the people lack leadership, then strong leadership must be supplied. If the Obama presidency focuses on “shepherding” the people, he will fulfill the obligation of this void-of-course moon in his inauguration chart.

The chart is what it is, there are many challenges in it, and wishful thinking about the moment the President takes his oath of office won’t change anything.

In my opinion, astrologers will do far better to advise leaders based on real charts and functional reality rather than grandstanding on astrological whimsy.

EDITED January 28- I have changed the introductory sentence to be less dismissive of Ms Ackerman's article. My inner cynic got the better of me in the moment. My apologies to all.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Office of the Bean Counter: Retrograde Mercury and the Obama Inauguration

If there is a symbol of retrograde Mercury’s influence on the Obama presidency, it is his appointment of Nancy Killefer as Whitehouse Chief Performance Officer. Yep, the federal office of the Bean Counter. Mind you, if ever the Whitehouse was in need of such a position, it is now!!

Retrograde Mercury’s signature is “attention to detail” and, being a few arc-minutes form the Sun, the president’s focus for this term, like it or not, will be attention to every detail of government.

The reason retrograde Mercury gets such a bad rap is that we are often inclined to leave details to chance. Retrograde Mercury makes certain that lack of forethought and lack of attention come home to roost. The other function that Mercury performs in retrograde is bringing an abrupt end to falsehood. President-elect Obama has said he will take on the culture of corruption in Washington, this chart suggests he will honor his word in that regard.

Before I go any further, the personality of the President is very important here. For any candidate for whom attention to detail is “someone else’s problem”, retrograde Mercury this close to the Sun would portend a catastrophic presidential term. However, for a president for whom attention to detail is already important, this chart plays to that strength.

In the US natal chart used for ancient astrology purposes, (March 19, 1789. Aries ingress), Mercury is retrograde in Pisces and tightly conjunct three other planets. US systems operate under Mercury’s retrograde influence where Mercury is in its detriment and fall.

Of particular note in the US natal chart is the principle that the people, and thus the country as a whole, can only do well when the interests of the wealthy are also served. Any Obama solution in this economic crisis has to include some stimulation for one sector or another of private industry.

The USA has one of the most inordinately complex, unwieldy, cumbersome bureaucratic systems in the world…. yet it functions in spite of itself. This complex system is dominated by the interests of the wealthy, though the interests of the wealthy (Jupiter) are in the sign of the common people (Cancer) in the inception chart. The tension between the interests of the wealthy and the interests of the common people is the on-going dynamo that drives American progress. Those who pay close attention to detail do well in American bureaucracy, those who don’t are blind-sided by details from left-of-field. It is really easy for the average person to be baffled by the bologna.

America’s dysfunctional bureaucracy will demand most of the President’s attention for this term. The interests of the wealthy will be sidelined for a while, however the president needs to be aware that those interests are also organic to America’s long-term prosperity.

Where the economy has been driven by banking and manufacturing over the last 100 years, there is nothing to say that this has to continue, however one sector or another of private wealth has to do well for the country to prosper. President-elect Obama is in a unique position wherein he gets to nominate which industries will do well going forward.

He is in a position where he could nationalize US currency and take it out of the hands of the banks for a while, cutting off the power of the international banks at the knees (the mathematical incongruity of the current monetary system is what has caused this mess… changing the way that US currency is issued could remove the necessity for eternal growth from the financial system, which in turn would place far less strain on environmental and social systems… however I digress).

Mercury retrograde in the inauguration chart, then, means that the President must be on top of the details of all of the nation’s systems for his entire term.

I am concerned about a major communications infrastructure failure, which would be catastrophic in this country. Should this occur (and a 3rd house solar eclipse in January makes that very possible) the country could be literally brought to a stand-still overnight. Communications companies are vulnerable, and were it my job to apportion the federal stimulus, a large portion would go to communications infrastructure, along with roads and bridges… all of which are retrograde Mercury concerns.

For what its worth, the President-elect appears to be up to the daunting challenge that faces him. He has been attending to the details of his new government since he won the election.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Obama Inauguration

Tuesday January 20, 12:00 pm, Washington DC, USA.

The president’s term begins at Noon according to the constitution, regardless of what time the swearing in takes place.

The chart for the inauguration sets the tone of the administration, and while there are no real surprises here, I think the astrology is very telling. I won’t spend a lot of time on this because it is difficult to separate my own hopes for this administration from the reading.

When I looked at this inauguration chart 6 months ago, I wondered what issue would dominate the inauguration, and portend poorly for any real success. I also looked at the Aries ingress for 2009, and saw a huge values issue, figured it would probably be a financial mess, but I had no idea just how bad the mess would be by the time we got to the inauguration. No I didn’t predict the meltdown (though lots of financial astrologers were doing so), I figured things were already bad enough to warrant the things I saw.

Now that we are here and we can see clearly what is happening, it is the financial crisis that is dominating this inauguration, and it will be this crisis that impedes any sense of success in this first Obama term.

President Obama will have achieved enormous success, in my view, if the USA of 2012 is stable and making incremental progress towards growth. But this, of course, does not mean significant growth in absolute terms, and this lack of absolute growth is strongly indicated in the inauguration chart.

President Obama will retain his great standing with the international community, and will do great things to restore America’s image as a leading light in the world. He will be a Leader’s leader.

At home, he faces a different picture. The hopes of the people are pinned on him for a “miracle” to ease the pain of the economic crisis. The miracle is not forthcoming. Obama’s message will be one of hard work and sacrifice, which is actually the message the people need to hear, but it is not the one they want to hear. The downturn will cause significant loss, hardship, and a fundamental redistribution of wealth. These material losses will overshadow any good the president does in office in the minds of the people. This will present a significant, though not insurmountable, challenge for the President should he seek re-election in 2012.

Military strength will dominate foreign policy. The President will use the military wisely, efficiently, and very effectively, which will go a long way to restoring the image of the US military as a force for the greater good.

In short, the Obama presidency will be sold, stable, and enduring. He will do great things for the USA abroad, and will not fare as well domestically as he grapples with the reality of the economic crisis.

The Astrology

The inauguration of the US president is always timed to have a Taurus ascendant, assuring stability in all but the most exceptional of cases.

A diurnal chart with the sect ruler in detriment, Jupiter combust, and Saturn out of sect in the 5th. This is a period where unilateral leadership is forced to yield to a more nocturnal spirit of collaboration, a process which yields surprisingly good results in some areas, though the nocturnal ruler, the Moon, is also poorly placed and void of course. The Obama first term is characterized by frustration overall, with a couple of very bright spots to offset the frustration just a little.

Mercury retrograde exact conjunct the Sun in Aquarius, an issue of commerce (or other systems) dominates the inauguration. Not only is Mercury retrograde and combust, it is in mutual reception with Saturn who is also retrograde in Virgo, the 5th house. This is “a lot of no fun” raining on the inauguration party.

Jupiter combust the Sun in Aquarius. Growth is overshadowed by the President’s attention to the economic crisis. While it may be theoretically possible to post growth figures, the President will be more interested in fixing the problem.

Moon, void of course in Scorpio, the 7th house. The people are feeling powerless and hold some resentment to the president over the course of the term. There may be talk of armed insurrection, but it comes to nothing. Many will be devoted to service within their communities to achieve a higher purpose.

Venus, ascendant ruler, exalted in Pisces, the 11th house. This portends extremely well for the presidency as far as international reputation is concerned. International reputation is one of the two bright spots. The charisma of the President will be sufficient to inspire hope and higher ideals on the domestic level.

Mars, ruler of the Moon, exalted in Capricorn, the 9th house. This suggests a well-organized military that achieves a great deal and returns triumphant. It also suggests that the military will assist with stabilizing the economy.

Saturn, ruler of the Sun, Mercury, Jupiter, and Mars, retrograde in Virgo, the 5th house. This represents negative growth, little commerce, an economy lacking the spark of vitality.

To finish on a positive note, the president is “on the job”, right on it!! Not only can he not avoid it, he will not run away from it or pretend it doesn’t exist. The situation could be a lot worse than it is. To have a level-headed, intelligent, charismatic leader at this time means that the trouble will be short-lived, and the USA should be on the right track, if not on the road to recovery, by the end of the first Obama term.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Working Towards a Brighter Future.

Having laid out a prediction for what will go down in history as one of the most challenging years America has ever faced, I feel the need to spend a few minutes sharing the benefits to be gained in such challenging times.

There are two distinct reactions we can have to difficulty.

We can isolate ourselves from our friends and neighbors in the interests of protecting “me and mine”. I think of this as the protectionist reaction, the very best result of which can be no further loss, however isolation precipitates a much greater loss which is measured not in dollars and cents, but in depreciation of the human spirit. You see, the magic inherent in humanity is that the potential of the group far exceeds the combined potential of the individuals within it.

I remember once, in a small town in Australia, there was a “100 year” flood that threatened the entire downtown business district. On that day, I watched sworn enemies, men who had not exchanged a civil word in twenty years, work side-by-side filling sandbags and building a levy to save the business of a third person whom they both despised.

In a moment of real and present danger, these folk were possessed of a humanity that went past their petty differences, and appealed to the far deeper human need to protect the whole community. Without the whole community, even those members they did not like, the community itself would fail, and failure of the community would threaten everybody’s survival.

There are times when we are required to put our differences aside for the greater good of our community, and this is one of those times.

The most recent lunar eclipse in August last year is one I described as the “Momentary Lapse of Reason” eclipse, where we, the people, are tending towards escape and idealism rather than reality or responsibility. This spirit of hope and idealism ably assisted Barack Obama in his run for the presidency. For millions of Americans, reality has come-a-calling under this eclipse in the form of pink-slips and economic upheaval, however that has not stopped the people from believing in a better tomorrow, right around the corner.

The coming lunar eclipse in February will bring it all home to the personal level. This could be a really good thing, or a really bad thing, depending on what we do with it.

The reality of our economic crisis will begin to sink in with the February eclipse.

This crisis IS as potentially catastrophic as the great depression.

This realization will cause people to take serious stock of themselves, their families, and their real situation.

This will throw some people into isolation mode. They will see the coming times as a serious threat, and treat everyone around them as potentially threatening. Many will erect a barrier between themselves and the outside world, and try to survive as best they can, receiving no help from anybody, and giving no help in return. Using the rhetoric of independence to mask their fears, they become bitter, cold, angry, and hard. They can do no different, for their environment and their fears will shape them.

Another group of people will, perhaps for the first time in decades, or even the first time in their lives, realize the magnitude of the problem facing the entire community. These folks will put their shoulder to the wheel, working alongside their sworn enemies, realizing that the problem facing their community is bigger than the squabbles that have kept them apart. Realizing also that, if our enemies go under, we go under with them.

Unlike a natural disaster, which is usually over quickly even if the aftermath takes a while to repair, this problem is man-made and hits everyone at the hip-pocket. It will last for a long time. It will affect everyone.

The energy of the February lunar eclipse, is Leo, the energy of the self. This influences the mood of the people for this most crucial period from February to June,

The people can insulate themselves in fear at this time, using Leo to represent “ more for Me and Mine, I can’t concern myself with You and Yours” or they can step up to the plate, saying “Me and Mine are in it with You and Yours, how can we help each other?”

There is potential in this eclipse for great things to come out of hard times. How we fare in these times will be determined, to a large degree, by the attitude we take.

The June lunar eclipse comes with the imperative “something has to be done” and wise leaders will be right there in the trenches with their people forging a plan. The eclipse period is very short, with another coming in August. This will be a period of transition from “really difficult times” to rolling up the sleeves and getting something done.

The July Solar eclipse will have the leaders persuaded to serve the needs of families, and on a broader scale, the people as a whole. This will energize the people briefly.

The August Lunar eclipse sees the people developing a stronger sense of common purpose, there will be more for people to do, and they will get about doing it.

As always, there is potential for negativity here as well, but I will address that closer to the day, when I see how these events transpire, and which of the many possible threats actually looms on the horizon at that time.

In difficult times, we have elected a president who is a thinker, a doer, a negotiator, a bringer of people to a common purpose. Much will be asked of him in his first 6 months in office, and I would much rather a president who is on the job and active in the pursuit of a better future, than one who would prefer to stand back and let the market forces determine our destiny.

I am not naïve enough to believe that president Obama can avert the trouble that is coming, I am hopeful, however, that he will display sufficient leadership to inspire the people to work towards a better future, rather than to squabble among themselves over the scraps left from the past.

With the right leadership, from the Whitehouse to the local PTA, great gains can be made from difficult times.