Monday, September 30, 2013

Pluto Ricin: R.I.P. Walter White

May I propose this epitaph for Walter White's gravestone? “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really...I was alive.”

While I normally pride myself on being somewhat detached from U.S. pop culture (I couldn't identify any of the Kardashians in a line-up and have not seen a single episode of American Idol), and normally refuse to allow myself to be manipulated by the machinations of art in any medium, I had to surrender to Breaking Bad like any self-respecting meth-head would surrender to Heisenberg's finest.

And now that "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," I decided that while Walter White's corpse was still warm, I would attempt to rectify his birth chart based on the September 7, 1959, date given in the divorce papers -- and also examine how it lines up with the chart of actor Bryan Cranston, who has acknowledged that playing this character was "the role of a lifetime."

Small surprise that no matter what time of day Walter White was born, he had a Scorpio Moon. And hell hath no fury like a Scorpio Moon scorned, for the Moon represents one's deepest emotions and truest feelings and needs; in Scorpio, the need is for validation of its stunning perception and absolute, unlimited power both at home and in the world. Jupiter is also placed in Scorpio, which magnifies the effect of the Moon.

When we first meet Mr. White, he's what his student/partner/stand-in son/enemy/fellow soldier Jesse Pinkman would term a total "bee-yatch" -- at everyone's beck and call except his own, someone who never even attained has-been status, because he took himself out of the big time so soon with Gray Matter Technologies that he was herewith reduced to an also-ran. Whatever time of day Walter White took his first breath, it was only a matter of time before he "broke bad," for his Moon, in the sign of its fall, was within range of squaring Uranus in Leo, also placed in the sign of its fall, representing the last of the baby boomers (born 1955 - 1961), also called "Generation Jones," a group known for its high rate of crime and addictive behavior.

I like to think of Pluto Rising as the Superman/Clark Kent position, for no one seems to notice that Clark Kent is Superman. It seems that if you put on a pair of dorky glasses and act like a hopelessly unhip egghead, people do not see you as someone who is capable of doing anything spectacularly good or bad; you are reduced to a worker bee who doesn't get no respect. I believe this is particularly the case when Pluto Rises in Virgo (1957 - 1972), for Virgo is considered an "omega" sign compared with the likes of, say, Leo or Aries. Virgo is given short shrift in astrology; its characteristics sound pretty dreary (organized, clean, detail oriented, service oriented, finicky). Therefore, I believe that Walter White was born at about 6 a.m. (most likely in L.A., as that is where his mother lives) with Pluto just behind the Ascendant, conjunct from the 12th house (to better conceal his disguise) and also exactly conjunct Venus and Mercury at 4 Virgo, a critical degree.

This critical-degree stellium defines Walter White's complexity, intelligence, and multiple personas. Venus-Pluto points to Walter White's attraction (Venus) to the underworld (Pluto) as well as the sexual charge he receives from it, plus his simmering resentment in his marriage (Venus) that periodically blows up, though despite all the shit that hits the fan, he and Skyler never make a clean, definite break. It is worth keeping in mind that Walt's Venus is in the sign of its fall, and Skyler (represented by Venus) briefly becomes "Mrs. Heisenberg." Mercury-Pluto highlights Walt's ability to use his mind (Mercury) and extensive knowledge of chemistry to make the purest meth on the planet (Virgo strives for purity) and get out of tight spots through ingenuity, and murder (Pluto) anyone standing in his way, most impressively via ricin -- poison being represented by Walt's strongly aspected Neptune in Scorpio.

"Say my name," he says menacingly to some badass cartel hombres while rocking the now-iconic black wide-brimmed porkpie hat in season 5A. Names are ruled by Mercury; take a Mercury-Pluto conjunction exactly sextile Pluto's despositor, Neptune in Scorpio (drugs) in the 3rd house (also ruling names), and voila: we have Heisenberg, a persona that was brought out by Walt's death sentence of cancer (Pluto) at the beginning of season 1.

Walter White's Virgo stellium exactly squares his Midheaven (MC) at 4 Gemini (also a critical degree). The MC indicates one's career path, and in the mutuable sign Gemini it's not a surprise that when we meet Walter White, he has two jobs: high school chemistry teacher and area carwash drudge. Pluto square MC indicates trouble with authority; Mercury square MC points to poor communication skills with the powers that be and poor judgment concerning public standing; Venus square MC shows Walt's ability to put up a supposedly benign front -- he successfully hides his Heisenberg identity from his wife and family, most notably his macho DEA brother-in-law, for an impressively long time. Interestingly, Hank finds the incriminating evidence in the form of poet Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass in Walt's bathroom (Pluto) while taking a shit (more Pluto) -- and the original "WW" himself had Pluto Rising! Pluto can manifest in self-sabotage; Walter White left the inscribed volume of verse for Hank to find instead of sensibly stashing it in his bookcase or burning the damned thing altogether. "Say my name," indeed. In a deep-rooted Plutonian way, Walt wanted to be found out -- and no matter what pain resulted, as least Hank would never again view his brother-in-law as an insignificant, nerdy milquetoast.

Walt's 5th-house cusp is 7 Capricorn; the ruler, Saturn, is in the 4th house at 0 Capricorn -- another critical degree. Such a placement indicates challenges and downright disappointments concerning children; Walt's oldest child, named after him, has CP and ultimately rejects his father, calling the cops on him and asking, in their last heartrending phone conversation, why he is even still alive when Walt tries to arrange to send him money from his hideout. (If you're reading this and haven't yet seen the series finale, please stop!) Still, Walt perseveres (Saturn) and manages to arrange an eventual trust for his son (symbolized by Jupiter in Scorpio) via his former business partners from Gray Matter who have publicly distanced themselves from him on Charlie Rose, using some classically Heisenberg ingenuity and intimidation without actually resorting to violence. As for baby Holly, whose name has Christmastime (early Capricorn) overtones, she will never know her father as anything but a criminal mastermind. At least Walt got to bid her, and his wife, a tender farewell before going off to the neo-Nazi compound to finish some unfinished business -- and "accidentally on purpose" finish himself off as well.

I count myself among the relatively few who were still rooting for Walt despite all the death and destruction he unleashed; as reprehensible and unforgivable as his actions were, he refused to lie down and die without trying to leave behind a legacy, albeit a dubious, death-filled one. Even though at the eleventh hour he admits to his wife (and to the vast TV audience who were glued to their sets) that he truly did it for himself, if he had not had a family (symbolized by Sagittarius at the IC exactly squaring his Virgo stellium), he might not have had the literal spur digging into his side to do it at all.

Actor Bryan Cranston's exact chart is unknown, but his Pisces Sun falls in Walter White's 7th house of partnership, his exalted Mercury in Aquarius (which lends itself well to science) in Walt's 6th house of work, and his Saturn falls at the bottom of Walt's chart, acting at the IC as a solid anchor and foundation for his character. Arguably, the only Moon sign that rivals Scorpio in its will to power is Capricorn -- which Cranston has, placed in Walter White's 5th house of creativity. Interestingly, Cranston's Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in late Leo is placed in Walt's 12th house -- there was much gold (Leo) to mine on an unconscious, collective level, and with outer planets acting so strongly in the 12th house, Cranston's portrayal of Walter White is truly iconic, providing a perfect catharsis for our Uranus-Pluto square era, a time of massive collective crisis, a time when so many of us Waltesque "losers" have been squashed down and hemmed in by a few bad choices plus a huge dose of bad luck.

And I firmly believe that long after the last Uranus-Pluto square occurs in 2015, Breaking Bad will continue to inspire obsessive, Pluto-driven passion in viewers -- the same planet that drove Walter White to break bad, transform his self-identity, rise from his own ashes, and irretrievably change his world as well as the worlds of everyone who came into contact with him.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Those Damned Plutocrats Are Giving Pluto a Bad Name

"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics."
-- Plutarch, AD 1

"Jesse, you asked me if I was in the meth business or the money business. Neither. I'm in the empire business."
-- Walter White, Breaking Bad, 2012

Sometimes I get political in my posts. Some readers don't like that and have let me know in no uncertain terms that I should stick to astrology and leave politics out of it. But astrology does not exist in a vacuum, and neither do I. And since Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008 (not coincidentally ushering in our most recent so-called recession from which most of us "little people" aka "takers" have not recovered) and the modern-day Plutocrats have gotten ever more out of control, like a rabid pit bull on a fraying leash, I find myself increasingly preoccupied with how the United States of America is increasingly resembling the ancien régime (you know, the one that ended with the storming of the Guillotine and the rolling of lots of filthy-rich heads, including Marie "Let Them Eat Cake" Antoinette's). The U.S. government may shut down on October 1 due to being held hostage by a minority of Plutopathological public officials in bed with various too-big-to-fail entities.

We are truly in trouble if Marie Antoinette's frivolous cluelessness looks almost compassionate compared with the likes of Robert Benmosche, Top Pit Bull at AIG (the ginormous insurance company that played an equally girnormous role in launching a global economic crisis and was given a huge bailout by the federal government). This week, he compared the understandable public uproar over AIG's continued hefty bonuses being paid to its execs to lynchings in the Deep South -- literally, not figuratively -- declaring that the bonus backlash was “just as bad and just as wrong.” This is even more outrageous than his comment made last year from his seaside villa in Croatia about how the European debt crisis combined with increased life expectancy should push up the age of retirement all around the world to eighty. Sounds fair to me, especially since we all know there are so many job opportunities for the laid-off post-fifty crowd and no one's body or mind ever starts to wear out till eighty-five or so.

But Mr. Benmosche has some competition for the title of Prickiest Postmodern Plutocrat. Back in 2010, Stephen Schwarzman, Head Cheese of the Blackstone Group (one of the world’s largest private-equity firms), compared proposals to close the carried-interest loophole -- which ensures that the incomes of executives at firms like Blackstone are taxed at a gobsmackingly low 15 percent -- to World War II: “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”

Also in the running is Harry Binswanger, who wrote just last week that the 99% should gift the 1% with obscene tax breaks and engage in some serious ass kissing: "Here’s a modest proposal. Anyone who earns a million dollars or more should be exempt from all income taxes. Yes, it’s too little. And the real issue is not financial, but moral. So to augment the tax exemption, in an annual public ceremony, the year’s top earner should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor." I'd be tempted to call this satire, but it appeared in Forbes, not the Onion.

Paul Krugman, my favorite columnist in the New York Times, describes our current crop of Plutocrats as sociopathic. I agree with him in the sense that sociopaths first and foremost do not feel any compassion or empathy toward others, but I feel he doesn't go nearly far enough. Plutocrats aka the 1% are addicts. Allowing them to control the distribution of wealth is like allowing a junkie to stand guard over a hospital's methadone supply or a warehouse full of confiscated smack. Yet this is exactly what has happened with Pluto in Capricorn. Corporations (not coincidentally ruled by Capricorn) have the same rights as people, though the reverse does not hold true (except, of course, if you're a 1%er), and thanks to the outcome of the United Citizens case of 2010, we can now get the best elected officials that money can buy. To quote Mark Twain, "If voting made any difference, they wouldn't let us do it."

Today's Plutocrats, like their counterparts throughout the ages, are the very embodiment of greed run rampant and having to win at all costs -- and they, and I, do mean at all costs. No matter if America's economy, ideals, education, and very infrastructure falls apart -- no matter that there are people going hungry and homeless through no fault of their own. If the Plutocrats' gated communities are no longer safe enough, they can fly in their private plane to one of the many islands they bought for a song. What's the difference between having $900 million or $1 billion? Nothing -- it's not about the money per se, it's about keeping score and always wanting more.

Oh, but I'm not being fair to 1%ers like Bill Gates. Look at his Gates Foundation...working to privatize the U.S. public school system. Okay, so as I was saying...

The Pluto-in-Capricorn era did not invent Plutocrats, but especially in the midst of the Uranus-Pluto square era, these greedy, sociopathic addicts sure are giving my favorite planet a bad name. Pluto unhinged is indeed greedy, sadistic, power-mad, and must win at all costs, which means it does not fight fair. Of course, all planets have a dark side -- for example, Jupiter unhinged is a gambling addict; Mars unhinged is a bloodthirsty soldier; the dark side of the Moon languishes in self-pity and torpor; Mercury's evil twin lies and kleptos everything. Yet Pluto is so intense on its best of days that its dark side is way darker than any other planet in our solar system.

The last Uranus-Pluto square back in the early 1930s gave the United States a Great Depression but also a New Deal; Pluto's placement in Cancer (U.S.'s Sun sign) might have helped America transform in a more positive way concerning wealth distribution and the creation of such safety nets as social security and unemployment insurance. Now with Pluto in Capricorn literally opposing the U.S.'s Sun, these safety nets are in danger of being shredded into handkerchiefs at the same time that 95 percent of the post-recession gains have gone to the 1%, and especially to the .001%. This year's sequester, which was never intended to go through because its terms were so ludicrous and unjust, did not touch the salaries and cushy benefits of our elected officials -- just the well-being of the long-time unemployed and those who were hapless enough to work at jobs that were "furloughed."

According to Dr. Lawrence Britt, one of the consistent characteristics of fascism throughout history is the protection of coporate power: "The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite."

You might have noticed that thus far, I have refrained from savaging those evil, no-account "Republicons" and massaging those angelic, no-fault Democrats. This is because I am so cynical about politics that although I admit to being relieved that Mutt Rummy did not clinch the U.S. presidency, and although I freely acknowledge that President Obama has had to deal with an unconscionable amount of Far Right obstruction for the past five years, I do not think at this point it's about the conflict between our two major parties; besides, Wall Street loves Obama so much they sold a lot of Girl Scout cookies for his 2008 campaign.

What this is about is class war, and to make matters worse, the 99% is not fighting back -- at least, not yet. The widely ridiculed Occupy Wall Street movement two autumns ago was a blip on the radar screen, and in each of the three national elections that have taken place since Pluto entered Capricorn (2008, 2010, 2012), far too many of the have-nots have continued to protect and enable the have-everythings against their own best interests. Sad to say, this is mostly because so many of the "working poor" (a nice euphemism for the Pluto-in-Capricorn era) plan to win the lottery or invent something useful like air, and thus be able to ascend Capricorn Goat Mountain and join the 1%... at which time they will not want to deal with the lazy, inferior, mooching 99%. No wonder I am a self-identified misanthrope.

There has been a bit of recent grumbling in the media about the increasingly entitled, insufferable attitude of "kids today"; how the spawn of the Boomers and Gen X are hurtling unchecked through college and Kindergarten, restaurants and other public places, like little dictators who cannot and will not be polite, share, or work for good grades, and how especially the younger ones, the so-called Precious Snowflakes or Homeland Security Generation, cannot be expected to be held accountable for any of their bad behavior lest their feelings be hurt. Instead, they are all awarded participation trophies and told how "special" and "unique" they are -- and more for their parents' benefit than the kids', since losing at anything, no matter how minor, is something to be avoided like the Black Death, and so many parents these days treat their little geniuses as extensions of themselves.

True dat, so why can't the media, and the rest of us for that matter, stop worshipping the Precious Snowflake Plutocrats, who make those little brats screaming their heads off at the local multiplex or slugging their mothers in supermarkets for failing to add Frosted ADD Flakes to the shopping cart look like saints, and start holding these 1%ers accountable for their increasingly bad behavior instead of constantly making excuses for them and bailing out their sorry asses?

It is no longer enough for the Plutocrats to have everything; they want the rest of us to bow down before them, too (especially the ones born between 1937 and 1957 with Pluto in autocratic Leo). What if the 99% walked away from them, instead? I realize how unrealistic and naive I must sound, for as of 2013, Americans are either too scared of losing their livelihoods or too tired and beaten down to fight. But history has a way of rhyming, if not exactly repeating itself. The American Revolution occurred with Pluto in late Capricorn; Bastille Day, July 14, 1789, occurred with Pluto in Aquarius. We can only go on for so much longer living this gross imbalance of power before something snaps on a collective level. And the longer we wait, the more carnage and devastation there will be on both sides.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumnal Equinox Special 9/22-10/6: How Deep Is Your Love?

It's nearly fall: the Sun enters relationship-oriented Libra at 4:44 p.m. ET. The Sun's ruling planet, Venus, will be transiting deep, intense, passionate Scorpio till 10/7. In honor of the Autumnal Equinox and this highly romantic Sun-Venus combination, during this two-week window I am offering a special hour-long love reading via Skype at a 20% discount. Whether you are single and looking or attached, let's explore the ins and outs of your love life, your style of romance. Let's also discuss your definition of beauty and art and how you can increase your own attractiveness by trying a new look and/or attitude. If you are interested, please email me at plutorisingastrologer@gmail.com for details.

(Please note that this discount applies to orders placed from 9/22-10/6; your actual reading may take place after 10/6. Also, at this time I only accept monies via PayPal.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Notes from the Underground: Sun Shining on my Pluto

This morning, I woke from a sleep so filled with Plutonian dreams I felt that I hadn't slept at all. And the lyrics from one of my favorite Beatles songs, "She Said She Said," have been ringing through my head all day: "She said, 'I know what it's like to be dead, I know what it is to be sad,' and she's making me feel like I've never been born." The amusing-to-me thing is, I am the "she" in this morbid scenario. Yes, it's that time of year again: summer's almost gone, and the Sun is conjunct my Pluto. Metaphorically speaking, I died this afternoon, and feel like just a shell of myself. However, I anticipate a real sense of rebirth in approximately 10 hours, when the Sun conjuncts my Ascendant and enters my 1st house.

If you are born with a planet rising in your chart, the nature of that planet -- more so than the sign it tenants -- imprints itself on your self-identity and self-consciousness to such an extent that it claims you as its own (and vice versa). Lucky ducks born with the Sun, Venus, and Jupiter Rising tend to view the world as a positive, beneficial place full of possibilities, and greet the world with vitality (Sun), beauty (Venus), and faith (Jupiter) -- unless, of course, said Rising Planet is seriously debilitated through multiple shitty aspects with other planets.

I am not about to claim that Pluto Rising is the hardest or "heaviest" of all planets to be placed on the Ascendant -- though fellow Pluto-Rising Kurt Cobain, had he been big into astrology, could've written the ultimate grunge-rock song about it -- but Pluto Rising could probably win a pissing contest against Saturn Rising, and as Saturn walked away shaking piss off its shoes, it would probably accuse Pluto of having a bad attitude.

The three outer planets are impersonal, "generational," dealing with the desires, dreams, and fears of hundreds of millions of people, and for one person to come into such immediate contact with a "collective" planet almost guarantees alien status, as well as feeling compelled toward a highly unusual destiny that does not always translate into owning an impeccable curriculum vitae and enjoying good, clean fun with your family and a bunch of swell, upstanding folks. If you who are reading this happened to be born with Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto Rising, chances are that your biggest goal in life is not to be CEO, have a sexy yet reliable spouse and 2.3 kids, or win the lottery in order to take early retirement and spend the rest of your life shopping. Your wants and needs are far bigger: fame. Brilliant bursts of creativity leading to breakthroughs in the arts or sciences. Shamanistic visions. Taboo or "alternative" practices that can estrange you from friends and family. Especially in the case of Neptune Rising, your desires are often inchoate: you may not always know what you want, just what you don't want -- at least, not on alternate Thursdays.

Pluto Rising people long for power and control, yet are often considered too dominating (or, paradoxically, too vulnerable), too sexed-up, or too dubious to attain it through normal channels. Not all Pluto Risings are self-destructive scofflaws, but if you are looking for a wholesome boy- or girl-next-door, it's best to look elsewhere. Pluto Rising, despite its deadly serious rep, does not lack a sense of humor -- but unlike Mercury and Jupiter types, Pluto Rising uses humor as a defense mechanism, as well as to "get in there" before going for the jugular.

Aside from Kurt Cobain, Pluto Risings include Judy Garland, Issac Mizrahi, Emperor Nero, Ted Bundy, Madonna, Keanu Reeves, Steve Martin, Muhammad Ali, Donna Cunningham (an astrologer who is responsible for the many hits my "'We' Regeneration" post has received -- thanks, Donna!), Walt Whitman (whose "Song of Myself" declares that he is "large and contain[s] multitudes"), Al Pacino (only someone with a powerhouse-Pluto placement could've portrayed mobster "godfather" Michael Corleone so effectively), and Glenn Close (whose depictions of scorned "bunny boiler" Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction and, over 20 years later, ruthless, unscrupulous lawyer Patty Hewes in the TV drama Damages brilliantly demonstrates what happens when Pluto goes unhinged and off the deep end).

Pluto Rising natives do not only long to soar high -- they desire to plumb the depths. Call a Pluto Rising person anything you want -- he or she has probably heard it before. But one adjective that can never be applied to someone with this placement is "shallow."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Moving House: Progressed Moon Conjunct Midheaven

Today my progressed Moon is officially conjunct my Midheaven at 24'48" Gemini. The last time this happened was in the late spring of 1986, when I was in high school and couldn't really do much with this most public, career-oriented, sitting-on-top-of-the-roller-coaster aspect except ace some Regents exams, write a lot of angsty poetry, and act in a community play. But oh, was I ambitious...not in the "normal" sense of the word in my high school, i.e., being Ms. Extracurricular or pulling down straight A's, but in the sense of longing to make my mark in the world of the arts. I dreamed of living in a Soho loft and writing and drawing my aching heart out. Of course I dreamed of finding soul mate, too -- but even at that tender age, I wanted validation, and the freedom that comes with that validation, more.

And now, like that Carly Simon song from the mid-1980s, it's "coming around again" and I still haven't made my mark. It's more like a faint scribbling in the sand that could easily be washed away by the incoming tide. None of my publications in various genres have enabled me to quit copyediting and proofreading other authors' books for a barely eked-out living. I couldn't even make the Labor Day deadline for the children's chapter book that I am both writing and illustrating. It's progressing (if you'll pardon my pun) fairly well, mind you -- but it's nowhere close to being finished.

While my progressed Moon was in my 9th house, I had many adventures, inner and outer travel, ups and downs, moved twice (i.e., two times too many for a Cancer Sun), and garnered enough material in general to fill a Proustian-length body of work. I even found my soul mate, or should I say, he re-found me, and because of him, my world expanded to include two adolescent girls and a gray tabby cat who is petite and contains multitudes. Now, with my progressed Moon entering my 10th house, I feel in a mad rush to finish sowing in order that I may reap. (On that note, I do not feel it is a coincidence that the Harvest Moon is coming up on the 19th, and falls pretty much on my Asc./Desc. axis.) Yet I also realize that I am at the very beginning of an important progression that will last for nearly three years.

I have known for at least half of my life that I have not chosen an easy path. The paradox is that I have been given much without "earning" it -- or if I did, it was in a previous incarnation. But I am very much aware that with this privilege comes an even greater responsibility. I have a whole slew of "first world" worries that sometimes fill me with shame whenever I am objective enough to have some perspective. I am far from starving and for now, at least, have a place to call home in one of our planet's epicenters of culture and cool. And I really have no excuse not to make it -- despite some aspects that I would not wish on my worst enemy, my 2nd-house Jupiter trines my MC.

Yes, far from starving, indeed -- but still very, very hungry.

The night before last, something occurred that perfectly symbolizes my progressed Moon changing houses in late Gemini. It was the first night I'd slept in my own bed in over a week; in fact, I'd slept in four different beds due to travel. I woke up sometime in the wee hours, needing to pee, and though my eyes were wide open, I had no idea where I was. I might have still been dreaming, for I could see unfamiliar furniture and got the distinct feeling that I was in a strange house. I pulled on a shirt because I was not not certain where the bathroom was and equally unsure whom I was going to run into en route, in the almost otherworldly darkness. About halfway there, I finally realized that I was home.