Astrology of the 2014 Crimean Crisis (or Is It the Russian Crisis)?

March 15, 2014 by  

Mars Sleeping

Mars Sleeping by Hendrik ter Brugghen, 1625


Much has been made of the claim that Russia invaded Crimea, starting the Crimean crisis, under Mars retrograde, as it is said (by an unattributed source) that wars begun under Mars retrograde end poorly for the initiator. I am not sure that the invasion will end terribly for Russia, and definitely not because of Mars’ retrogradation. An examination of the timeline indicates the Russian invasion began up to two days before Mars went retrograde on March 1, 2014. Specifically, as early as 4:20 am on February 27th, armed professionals planted a Russian flag on the Crimean parliament. On February 28th, soldiers without insignia, but widely believed to be Russian, took over major Crimean airports. Thus, I question the premise that the invasion actually began when Mars was retrograde, since on February 27th, Mars was still moving forward, though only at about a minute per day.

If anyone knows the source of the aphorism that wars and conflicts begun under Mars retrograde are bad for the instigator, I’d be interested in knowing about it. Interestingly, my research uncovered zero major 20th century conflicts that began under Mars retrograde, making it difficult to support or deny the accuracy of the aphorism. However, their very absence might suggest that conflicts begun under Mars retrograde tend not to become major wars.

So, how does this invasion turn out? We can look to the horoscope for Ukraine’s legal independence, which has the IC, Moon, and Venus all in Libra. Given the combination of Mars retrograding back to 9 Libra, the situation could be resolved as early as May 20, 2014, when Mars stations direct. It may take that long for Russia to feel that it has sufficiently asserted its control over Ukraine, after which point the forces may come home.

However, note that eclipses in the Aries-Libra polarity will continue until March 23, 2016, which will be the last eclipse (lunar) at 3 Libra. There may be new protests in Ukraine against Russian domination for the next few years. Given the upcoming April 15 eclipse in Libra conjunct Mars, I expect the situation to culminate in the next few weeks ahead of the eclipse, but the underlying tensions and violence to not really go away until after the Aries-Libra eclipses have passed in 2016.

Progressing the independence horoscope, we see that progressed Mars sextiled the Moon in December 2013, an influence that will likely be felt for at least all of 2014. Even today the progressed Midheaven squares progressed Saturn, a restrictive, sad, and bad influence for another two years, through 2015. I suspect that Ukraine is in for a challenging two years, though the Moon-Mars sextile suggests the population finding its identity and voice in 2014.

What about Russia? I initially expected it to run into problems due to indications in its Aries Ingress horoscope, but then realized that the Ingresses set for Moscow and Kyiv are very similar, almost identical. So which country gets the bad prognosis? Common sense says that it is Ukraine, as the smaller neighbor. So comparing Ingress horoscopes is out. Note that historically, comparing Ingresses probably rarely worked, since it’s often neighboring countries that go to war. Thus, the Ingresses set for their respective capitals will often be similar. Still, we can analyze the Ingresses and see if we can tease out any specifics for either Ukraine or Russia.

The medieval Arab author, Abu Ma’shar, writes that if, in an Aries Ingress, malefics make hard aspects to Aries, Scorpio, the Part of War, the sign of the country in question, or the significator of the king, then “enemies will achieve victory over [the country]” and will cause the country “grief and sorrow.” Several of these conditions are true for Russia, though we must take them with a grain of salt, since some are true worldwide for that Aries Ingress. The Aries Ingress horoscope set for Moscow (which sets the tone for the following 12 months), is below. The same Ingress holds for the Ukraine, with a few degrees of the house cusps earlier than that of Moscow’s Ingress.

First, war is indicated during the 2013 Aries Ingress period (March 2013-March 2014) according to Abu Ma’shar, since Mars is in a sign angular from the Ascendant (Aries is the 10th sign from the Ascendant). The Part of War is calculated by taking the distance from Saturn to the Moon during the day, and projecting the distance from the Ascendant. The Part of War is in Aries for both Russia and Ukraine.

2014 Aries Ingress for Russia (nearly identical for Ukraine)

2014 Aries Ingress for Russia (nearly identical for Ukraine)

Let’s take Abu Ma’shar’s conditions for defeat one by one:

  • The malefics (Mars and Saturn) are both present in signs of Mars. This is bad, but true worldwide, indicating that any country starting a war during this year would do badly.
  • Mars is with the Part of War. This means defeat, but for whom?
  • Russia is traditionally a Taurus country, and Saturn in Scorpio opposes Taurus.
  • The significator of the Russian president is Mars, which is accurate right now, but not negative as Mars cannot aspect itself nor is it aspected by Saturn.

Abu Ma’shar also says that if the king’s significator (here, Mars) is combust, defeat and “grief and sorrow” will be “feared concerning him.” Here, Mars is very much combust. Again, we are talking about both the Russian and the Ukrainian government, but we cannot have the same thing happening to both parties, so we can assume Ukraine will be harmed more.  As the Athenians said to the Melians, just before they annihilated the small island city-state: “The strong do as they can, the weak suffer what they must.”

The 2014 Aries Ingress paints a similar picture.

  • Saturn is still in Mars’ domicile, and Mars in Libra opposes its own domicile. Again, this is true worldwide, but bad for countries starting conflict at this time.
  • Mars is with the Part of War, which is in Libra, another strongly negative indicator…for one or both parties.
  • Saturn is still in Scorpio, opposing Taurus, the sign of Russia.
  • The Moon rules the king, and it is conjunct Saturn in the second house, suggesting that economic restrictions create problems. The problems will be worse for Ukraine as the smaller country. This could be foreign sanctions, or simply problems with the domestic purse. Again, Ukraine has a much smaller budget than does Russia, so one would expect it to suffer much more than Russia.
2014 Aries Ingress for Russia (nearly identical for Ukraine)

2014 Aries Ingress for Russia (nearly identical for Ukraine)

Russia does seem to be in danger of overextending itself with this operation. Vladimir Putin’s natal horoscope has progressed Mars square Jupiter sometime this year (the exact date is unclear because his birth time is not known). This combination indicates too much risk-taking and conflict-seeking behavior, resulting in losses, especially financial or reputational. Of course, this also shows conflict (Mars) with foreigners (Jupiter).

Traditional Astrology Handbook: How to Ask Horary Questions

March 12, 2014 by  

Excommunication of Robert the Pious by Jean-Paul Laurens

Excommunication of Robert the Pious by Jean-Paul Laurens
[this is what happens when you don’t consider your horary question for a sufficient length of time]

Since June 2013, I have been writing a book-length commentary on Guido Bonatti’s 146 Considerations.  This is not as dry as it sounds; my work is an astrological textbook with lots of examples, using the Considerations as a structure to convey astrological concepts in a systematic, organized manner that is also fun and relevant to modern readers. Now, on its face, Considerations is a long list of astrological guidelines, rules, and aphorisms written in the 13th century. It is well-known among astrologers even today, but mostly as a collection of handy pointers rather than something more substantial. This sells the Considerations far short of the complete astrological study guide that it really is. Here is a better description, from my introduction:

The Considerations are actually much more than Bonatti’s random brain droppings: they are a syllabus for a complete traditional astrological education, but, in the traditional manner, the teacher does not spoon-feed the student much. Until now, to get the full benefit of the wisdom in the Considerations, the student had to do significant additional research to locate the relevant reference sources. Often, Bonatti only names a concept and then moves on, leaving to us the work of locating his sources. My book collects and interprets key sources for the reader, so that it completely fills in Bonatti’s telegraphic outline. If Considerations is the course syllabus, my book is the textbook for an intermediate or advanced astrologer who wants to enrich her technique and improve her results.

I will be posting occasional excerpts from the book on the blog. Today’s excerpt is from the 2nd Consideration: How to Ask a [Horary] Question. Asking horary questions the right way is key to obtaining a clear answer.  If one’s mind is unfocused, the chart for the question will reflect that.  From my experience, this advice holds even when using  other divinatory means to ask questions, such as the Tarot cards, I Ching, geomancy, or dream incubation.  Bonatti provides a two-step approach to ensuring one asks horary questions (or any divinatory questions) in the proper way:

1. Pray to God [I would add that this means any personally meaningful spiritual entity/concept] to receive the truth
2. Hold the question in mind for at least a day and a night before going to the astrologer (or casting one’s own horoscope), “not touched by just any motion of the mind (as sometimes many impertinent people are wont to do, as is said elsewhere).” (p. 265, Bonatti, Treatise 5 of the Book of Astronomy, 146 Considerations, trans. Benjamin Dykes) It is also acceptable to ask questions immediately that arise out of suddden events, where waiting 24 hours is not practical.

My commentary on the 24-hour waiting period, from the “2nd Consideration” chapter:

The 24-hour minimum is a useful requirement, because it allows the querent to live with the question while awake as well as asleep, allowing both the conscious and unconscious to work on the matter. Very often, the querent will end up with a slightly different question at the end of the incubation period. The extended incubation fosters active problem-solving as it prods the querent out of the realm of vagueness into a deeper understanding of her own motives. The horary does not only reflect one’s situation, but also the querent as actor in her own life. The clarity of the querent’s mind and intention is directly related to the clarity of the resulting horoscope.

The recommendation for waiting 24 hours is helpful especially for astrologers and horary students, since the temptation to cast charts at whim is always there. Unless there is a genuine emergency (and those are thankfully rare), it is best to wait and turn the horary question in one’s mind for a while. Very often, one finds that there is no need for a chart; the answer is right in front of one’s face. The clarity of the horoscope goes up significantly when the querent poses a well-considered question.

Sometimes, it is challenging to wait the necessary 24 hours, and I am the first to admit that putting this kind of restriction in place was difficult at first, given that I like answers fast.  That said, it’s improved the quality of the readings I do for myself immeasurably, whether using horary astrology or other means of divination.

The English astrologer William Lilly, who, along with his student, Henry Coley, translated (and heavily edited) the Considerations into English, had this comment on Bonatti’s recommended horary question process:

Those that take this sober course [the process recommended by Bonatti], shall find the truth in what they enquire after; but whosoever do otherwise, deceive both themselves and the artist; for a foolish Querent may cause a wise Respondent to err, which brings a scandal upon Art amongst inconsiderable people, whereas the Astrologer is not blameable, but the ignorant silly Querent.