An Astrologikal Examination of September 11th, 2001
© 2001 Antero Alli


By no means is this essay intended to trivialize and otherwise diminish the gravity of the unfathomable horror that struck the east coast of the USA, on September 11th; even if I tried, it would be impossible. Yet, as an astrologer, I cannot deny that our national tragedy occurred during a significant astrological alignment involving an opposition between Saturn and Pluto. This opposition aspect will continue through November of this year. Then, after a relative lull of five months, it returns in full force throughout the entire month of May and the first half of June, 2002 (while conjuncting President Bush's North and South Nodes; more on this in a future essay).

It may be important to note that the last time Saturn and Pluto were in opposition was 1965/66; the time before that, in 1931/32. These eras marked turning points of political revolution and imminent warfare. Though common sense informs me that Saturn and Pluto do not cause wars or political chaos, I think the planets and their predictable orbits can act as heralds signaling the timing of change (rather than their ultimate causes); though not in the same form, these dynamics have happened before and as recently as 1966.

If approached as a language (not a science, religion or dogma), astrology can be used to decipher the archetypal, or symbolic, meaning of these worldly events. When the positions of these transiting planets, or transits, are superimposed over any horoscope -- whether that be of an individual or a nation -- we can discover where and how these shocks and their effects are impacting our personal and collective lives. Finding out where and how does not mean finding out why. Who can explain such acts of astonishing atrocity ?! Not I and certainly not astrology yet, some value may surface from examining this current transit which seems to have exposed what is suffering annihilation and decay (Pluto) and where integrity has been lost and needs rebuilding (Saturn).

July 4, 1776; 5:14pm LMT, Philadelphia PA


Transiting Pluto at 12 degees Sagittarius

Pluto transits tend to arrive well-synchronized to expose what has been corrupted or in a process of decay due to a rotting stagnation, a condition often resulting in loss of power. In the face of power loss, it is natural to feel powerless. (Feeling powerless, or helpless, is not the same as being powerless and helpless; feelings are important to experience yet highly delusional when confused for absolute truth). As transiting Pluto conjuncts the USA chart's 13 degree Sagittarius Ascendant, the timing coincides with a series of outside shocks to the national entity's sense of identity.

Besides suffering blows to national pride and civil self-confidence, there is also this creeping exposure of hereto hidden, "questionable or bad behavior"; the Ascendant symbolizes the behavioral patterns of what characterizes us. An over-inflated Sagittarius Rising ego can act pretty cocky, self-righteous and myopic.

Has the USA behaved badly ? We know it has. We know that the USA culture has consistently denied participating in the wrongdoing, crime or evil against other nations and, often by taking a "higher" moral ground. This signature of self- denial has characterized the USA to many foreign nations for a long, long time as hypocritical, a characteristic common to the shadow side of Sagittarius. Could the USA be fighting militant Arabic fundamentalists, in part, out of an ignorance and denial of its own fundamentalist posturings ? Are we shadow-boxing here ?

What exactly has the USA done to elicit such massive investments of wrath, as seen in the missions of these suicide bombers ? Why did the mainstream media of the USA fail to inform its public of the tens of thousands (some reports say hundreds of thousands) of Iraqi civilians and children killed by American bombs during the 1991 Gulf War ? Did the USA military perform acts of terrorism against Iraq ? Who knew that bombing Bhagdad was, to the Muslims, like bombing the Vatican ? Who remembers when the CIA funded Afghanistan and Commander bin Laden with the "stinger missiles" that shot down so many Russian aircraft in the late eighties ?

Please understand. My position is not anti-American but anti-bullshit and the USA is dangerously close to being called on its global history of political BS. On personal and collective levels, this Saturn/Pluto opposition tells me it is time to 1) drop our skanky attitudes (Pluto/Ascendant) 2) fess up to our errors and 3) start building significant long-range relations with those who share our goals and ambitions (Saturn/Descendant). For the USA, its citizens and those who live here, this amounts to atonement for past violations and the need to build coalitions of mutual protection and trust .

Wherever transiting Pluto traverses in your personal natal chart (the House), look for indications of power loss, as well as, those personal attempts to compensate for that loss by trying to control, or dominate, the situation. Power and control, as the terms are used here, do not amount to the same thing; one is an illusion and the other, quite real. Pluto transits tend to reveal the difference, almost as if to ask: what are you living for ? Illusion or reality ? Good questions.

In the exposure of what has been corrupted and stagnant, it is possible to become more aware of our sources of power loss, of what is draining vitality. It is usually something dead or deadening. The purpose of Pluto transits seems to be about the timing of death and rebirth; what needs to die before we can birth what needs to live ? And once we are aware of what has died, can we let go of our attachment to what is dead ? Or, shall we cling to death and suffer until we come to our senses ?

Rigid old dogmas rarely die without a fight. To reassert its bruised ego, the USA will understandably attempt to impose more control through legislation, morality and religion, mass media, aircraft and airports, patriotism and foreign policy (all related to Sagittarius). Attempts to restrict these areas, however, are far more likely to backfire and incite chaos due to the uncompromising nature of the Pluto archetype, which demands a kind of ego surrender. It is unlikely that terrorism will be defeated by diminishing the civil liberties of the American people in the name of security yet, that is what we will see the government attempting to do. The "backfire effect" will most likely manifest as dissent and civil revolt.

In the face of greater truths, the ego either becomes humbled or humiliated depending on how desperately it clings to a fixed image or idea of who we think we are or should be. Humility or humiliation; we decide. I think where our national entity can find real control, and begin rebuilding its lost integrity, is in those areas connected to the archetypes of Saturn and Gemini.


Transiting Saturn at 14 degree Gemini

An example. The Gemini archetype symbolizes issues of communication and intelligence, precisely where the USA experienced its greatest failures around the terrorist attacks. Though the USA is now busy correcting these errors, we can expect to see a kind of Saturn overkill for some time to come. Areas such as national borders, federal and bank buildings, moral legislation, as well as, Gemini phenomena like communication systems (the internet ?), CIA involvement in civilian affairs (the internet?) and freedom of speech (the internet?), all these relate to Saturn and Gemini. Sad to say, many of these imposed limitations have become necessary, for it is now clear that we have taken our freedom and our security for granted.

Transiting Saturn is conjuncting the USA chart's 13 degree Gemini Descendant, that point in any chart symbolic of how that entity relates with others. The Descendant also indicates what qualities we tend to attract to us and what we are attracted to in others, often out of a deep-seated need to balance an over-emphasized Ascendant (aka over-inflated ego).

As a national entity, the USA has entered a 30-year cycle of rebuilding its relationships with other nations; Saturn takes 29-30 years to encircle the Sun and any horoscope. Saturn transiting over the Descendent of any chart demarcates a reality check at the level of one-to-one relationship. This is a good time for the USA to write its own reality checks to those foreign nations showing enough solidarity to build a coalition based on common goals.

On a personal level, Saturn transits arrive in that area (the House) where reality structures are being tested for their integrity. These transits often coincide with a "grow-up" period -- a character-building time -- when the limitations and frustrations resulting from integrity loss grow obvious. Saturn transits also mark a time for facing our fears and responsibilities: where we are fully committed, or are ready to be, and where overwhelming insecurity has resulted from our own half-baked, halfhearted efforts. Integrity, as the term is used here, implies wherever you are willing and able to commit 100%; anything less than 100% amounts to integrity loss.

To be willing or able is insufficient; one must be willing and able. This is why the time of Saturn transits often demand applied effort, hard work and discipline; you snooze, you lose. These are times that tend to coincide with an exposure of obvious failures and -- if one is willing and able to learn from mistakes -- the hard knowledge of what needs fixing and rebuilding to assure future survival and success. In the archetype of Gemini, this means the Devil and God is in the details, the nitty gritty nuts and bolts of how things go wrong and what must be done to correct it.


When Saturn and Pluto Face Off

The opposition aspect (180 degrees) is commonly dramatized in confrontation. With any confrontation of forces, an extracting tension ensues with each of the opposing forces pulling out the essence of the other in a face-off. Another characteristic of the opposition is a seesaw effect between both sides. On the global battlefield, this dynamic will probably act out itself between the USA and the militant fundamentalist Muslims as a tit-for-tat oscillation of strikes; one hits the other and, the other retaliates and, so on until exhaustion claims the so-called loser; are there any real winners in war ?

The particular forces, or planets, in opposition are Pluto and Saturn. In one corner of the ring we have power-monger Pluto, (aka Hades) god of the Underworld and ruler of biological processes governing death, rebirth and imminent transformation. In the opposing corner, seriously-sussed Saturn (aka Chronos), lord of Karma and master of manmade reality structures, governments, professional ambitions and time itself. (In the Tarot, these two forces are symbolized as the archetypes of Death/Pluto and the Devil/Saturn; an unsavory battle at best.)

On a more psychological level, this opposition represents self-confrontation between two opposing and totally legitmate needs: the need to assert power and the need to be accountible for one's karma, or consequences. The timing of this Saturn/Pluto transit suggests we are now, personally and collectively, ready for a major reality check around facing the consequences of how we have been exercising, or avoiding, our will to power. Power unchecked by ourselves will now most likely be checked for us by others and, not necessarily how we'd like it or prefer it. At essence, this opposition symbolizes the need to balance power with accountibility; to own up to your impact on the world. A serious grow-up time for the United States of America and for all concerned.


When the Personal Becomes the Political

What is the correct use of power ? That depends on how are we defining power in the first place. There are many forms that power takes: power over, power with, power under, power within, power above, power outside, Etc. Just in case this is unclear, here are more examples: physical power, sexual power, economic power, social power (activism), spiritual power, the power of ideas, moral/religious power, the power of art, the power of love, the power of non-violence (humility). If we are not defining power in terms we can live with and abide by, the more likely we will continue feeling powerless and/or swept along by the external forces of herd mentality (aka Species Stupidity).

Something needs reiterating. Feelings of helplessness, though important to experience, can be dangerous if dwelled on or identified with too heavily. Over-emphasizing emotional helplessness can act on the will to survive in corrosive ways, rendering us passive, immobilized martyrs without a cause. Feeling powerless is not the same as being powerless. We have a choice in the matter and it is a political decision.

This Saturn/Pluto opposition marks a time for building more political integrity into our lives. This can be achieved by aligning ourselves with a vision of power we can get behind 100%, allowing for full personal accountability as a political force, where the personal and the political are one and the same. This doesn't mean that everyone signs up for active duty though many will.

Essentially, it means the end of political fence-sitting and of avoiding our responsibilities around power, the effects of our actions. If we turn our backs on this responsibility now, we run the risk of personal and political immobilization, rendering us frozen inside the snowballing momentum of a numbing and indifferent herd hysteria.


Define yourself or, be defined.

Other Work by Antero Alli



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