of the Solar Eclipse on August 11, 1999
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More on Solar Eclipse of August 1999.
Astrologer and anthropologist, Ian Thurnwald, takes a new look at the effects of the eclipse, its associated cosmic Grand Cross and the tragic aftermath of this predictable event:
The August 1999 Solar Eclipse and cosmic Grand Cross and its aftermath.
At the individual level, many people have seen their lives change markedly since July/August 1999. This has been a period of lifestyle shake-ups and shake-outs. For many, untenable relationships and lifestyle choices came to an end rather abruptly before the eclipse, clearing the way for new beginnings after the eclipse. Indeed, some people have seen certain aspects of their lives change completely.
This is especially so for people born under a fixed-sign (Sun in a fixed-sign), or for those who have the fixed signs prominent in their horoscopes (fixed-signs on angles; many planets in fixed-signs). For the rest of us, the eclipse aspects have impacted to a greater or lesser degree on more specific areas of our lives (i.e., on those houses of our horoscopes that are tenanted by fixed-signs) — the areas ruled by (the houses that contain) the signs Leo and Aquarius, Taurus and Scorpio.
I was concerned in my last article on the effects of the solar eclipse with demonstrating how long-term aspect patterns operate in cycles which unfold over time. I attempted to do this by focusing on the eclipse cycles, which are always crucial. This article has a different purpose, but is again set in the context of the recent total eclipse of the Sun. Here I'll show how the aspect-patterns of the slow-moving planets energised certain degrees of the fixed-signs and demonstrate how the aspects of the swift-moving planets, especially the Moon and Mars, serve to trigger these already energised fixed-sign degrees, resulting in events as described by astrology. We find that the transiting Moon served as an especially effective trigger, for up to one month after the August 11th eclipse.
The Planets Align — July 1999
- The Solar Eclipse of August 11th 1999, the eclipse of the Sun by the Moon at 18° Leo, completed a grand cross configuration in the heavens between the fixed-sign polarities Leo/Aquarius and Taurus/Scorpio. In other words, the eclipse released the tension inherent in the configuration of Mars in Scorpio, opposing Saturn in Taurus, both in square aspect to Uranus in Aquarius. At the time of the preceding lunar eclipse on July 28th, another stressful T-square in fixed-signs also formed: retrograde Mercury in Leo, opposing Neptune in Aquarius, both in square aspect to Jupiter in Taurus. This configuration was also present at the solar eclipse on August 11th, when Mercury moving direct re-established this aspect pattern. What I want to demonstrate here is that these configurations had been forming for some time, because they are founded on the longer-term squares between Saturn and Uranus on the one hand and Jupiter and Neptune on the other.
The Aspects — Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury and Mars
Saturn, slowing in its forward motion through the middle degrees of Taurus, made a square aspect to retrograde Uranus in Aquarius throughout July. The exact square occurred on July 18th when both planets were at 15 degrees of their respective signs. This is the first square between these planets since their conjunction back in February 1988. It marks an important, stressful phase in a new 45 year Saturn-Uranus cycle. By the time of the eclipse almost one month later, these planets had separated only slightly, with Saturn moving forward to 16° Taurus and Uranus moving back to 14° Aquarius. In short, the Saturn-Uranus square energised the middle degrees of fixed-signs.
A Jupiter square to Neptune also first formed during July, on July 21st, when both planets were at 3 degrees of their respective signs. Transiting Mercury first set off this square from July 25th to 27th, when it was moving backwards through the early degrees of Leo. [see July 27th - Moon in Aquarius] Mercury had its station in the late degrees of Cancer on August 7th. Mercury formed the fixed T-square again on the day of the eclipse, when it re-entered Leo. By this time Jupiter was at 4 Taurus still in square aspect to retrograde Neptune at 2° Aquarius. So, the early degrees of fixed-signs were also activated.
On the other hand, Mars had completed a period of retrograde motion in the sign of Scorpio, which began with its station at 12° Scorpio on March 19th, five days before the bombs began falling on Serbia. Mars re-entered Scorpio in early July and was moving direct at full speed through that sign. Thus, Mars formed square aspects to Jupiter and Neptune in the early degrees of Taurus and Aquarius respectively from July 5th to 17th. [see Events July 1999] Mars reached the degree of its previous station (12° Scorpio) on August 2nd and by August 5th was approaching its square to Uranus (exact August 7th). Mars then opposed Saturn on August 11th, the day of the eclipse. [see Events August 1999]
Events relating to Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and Mercury aspects — July 1999
- India and Pakistan ended two months of hostilities over Kashmir on July 17th, just before the Saturn-Uranus square reached exactitude. This is apt, given that Saturn-Uranus contacts bring conservative or authoritarian political processes to the fore: politically there is a concern with establishing order (Harvey, 1995:181). More generally, the contacts of these planets relate "to the practical 'earthing' of brilliant ideas, insights, inventions [and] reforms", such as the launching of Sputnik and Apollo XI (ibid.).
On this note, it is interesting that July 1999 marked the 30th anniversary of the Apollo XI moon-landing. And, for some reason, Woodstock's 30th was celebrated then too. On a darker note, it was also 30 years since "Ted" Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Mass., resulting in the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne. Unfortunately, Saturn in Taurus also figured strongly in John Kennedy Jr's tragic death in a light-plane crash on July 16th at 9:40 PM EDT (July 17, 1:40 AM UT) off Gay's Head, Massachusetts (41N15 71W10). At the time, the Moon at 15° Virgo 38 was "transferring light" from Saturn (15° Taurus 32) to Uranus (15° Aquarius 39).
However, the Saturn-Uranus square is not over yet. Saturn squares Uranus again during November (on November 14th retrograde Saturn is at 13° Taurus, while Uranus is at 13° Aquarius), and, for the last time, on May 13th 2000, when Jupiter at 19° Taurus is approaching its conjunction with Saturn at 20° Taurus and both are squaring Uranus at 20° Aquarius. The aspects of May 2000 are extremely important and will be the topic of a forthcoming article.
The Aspects: Sun and Moon.
The Sun entered Leo on July 23rd. So it too made stressful aspects to Jupiter (a square) and to Neptune (an opposition) from the 24th through to the 28th. Also, the Sun eclipsed the Moon at 4° Aquarius on July 28th, straddling the Mercury-Neptune opposition of the fixed T-square: the Sun at 4° Leo (conjunct retrograde Mercury at 1° Leo) opposed the Moon at 4° Aquarius (conjunct retrograde Neptune at 2° Aquarius) and both squared Jupiter at 4° Taurus. Over the next 24 hours, the Moon moved on through Aquarius and made stressful aspects to the other planets in fixed signs: a square to Mars, a conjunction with Uranus, and a square to Saturn. [see July 27th — Moon in Aquarius]
The Moon then entered Taurus on August 4th and repeated the whole process of stimulating these aspect patterns in fixed signs by the 5th. The Sun also squared Mars from August 5th to 9th, while opposing Uranus from the 6th to the 8th and squaring Saturn from the 8th to the 10th. In addition, the Sun's relationship to the Moon's Nodes is important, as these are the eclipse markers — when the Sun and Moon are within 12 degrees of the Moon's nodes, an eclipse occurs. The Sun conjoined the North Node of the Moon at 12° Leo on August 5th, when, interestingly enough, the Moon was in square aspect at 13° Taurus. Finally, the Moon entered Leo on August 10th, setting off the fixed sign configurations again on its way to eclipsing the Sun on the 11th. [see Events August 1999].
Events (relating to Mars, Sun and Moon aspects) — August 1999
||Two trains crash near Siliguri, India, killing at least 120 people.
||Clashes begin between Islamic fighters and Russian forces in the Caucasus Mountains republic of Dagestan.
||A furnace explodes at Romania's biggest steel plant, killing at least three people and injuring nine.
||The fundamentalist Wahhabi Moslems, who are fighting to unite Dagestan and Chechnia as an independent Islamic republic, proclaim Dagestan an independent Muslim state.
||Russia launches a large-scale military operation against the Islamic fighters and claims that a Chechen warlord, Shamil Basayev, is responsible for the unrest. The battle rages for four days.
||Monday morning. Yeltsin sacks Russian Prime Minister Stepashin and entire Cabinet for 4th time in past 17 months. Vladimir Putin appointed as acting premier and named as Yeltsin's preferred Presidential successor at December 19th elections for the state Duma, the lower house of parliament. This effectively marks the beginning of the election campaign.
||A council of Muslim leaders in Dagestan declares Shamil Basayev to be its leader.
||By week's end, Russia stepped up its campaign against the rebels and Putin was already threatening to send troops into Chechnya. It is worth noting that the eclipse chart for Moscow has Mars (the planet of war) rising in Scorpio, while the eclipse chart for the Chechen capital, Grozny, has Pluto (the planet of mass destruction) rising in Sagittarius.
The Calamity Unfolds
We begin with an event which is perhaps not a prime example of what I seek to demonstrate, but which highlights a central theme for the events to follow: the meaning of Mercury in Leo opposing Neptune in Aquarius, both in square aspect to Jupiter in Taurus.
July 27th: Moon in Aquarius — Swiss canyoning tragedy
On July 27th, a sudden storm resulted in the deaths of at least 19 adventure-seeking tourists among a party of 44 and 8 guides canyoning in Saxeten brook, in the Swiss Alps near Interlarken (06:00 PM local time, 16:00:00 UT, 46N29 7E51). This event occurred some hours before the lunar eclipse in Aquarius, when the Moon was still in Capricorn, so it does not clearly show how established aspect patterns are triggered by swift moving transits. While the fixed T-square between Mercury, Jupiter and Neptune has a strong presence in the chart for the event, this configuration was not triggered in any obvious way at the time and would not be triggered by the Moon for some hours. Nonetheless, most astrologers would agree that this configuration is highlighted at the time of the event by Jupiter's rulership of the Sagittarian Ascendant, by Jupiter and Neptune's co-rulership of Pisces intercepted in the 3rd House and by Mercury's rulership of the Descendant.
The chart for the event explains the tragedy. Adventure-seeking tourists (Sagittarius rising), pursued their pleasure (Jupiter, ruler of Ascendant on the 5th House) through an extreme sport (Pluto in Sagittarius) that entailed great physical exertion by groups of people in a watery environment (Mars in Scorpio in the 11th House, while the 3rd House of the immediate environment has the water sign Pisces intercepted within it). This activity also carried with it a serious risk of physical harm (Mars opposing Saturn in the 5th House). The tourists engaged the services of professional guides (represented by the ruler of the 7th House, Mercury in Leo) to direct their travel through the brook and its canyons (again, Pisces in the 3rd House). However, the guides misjudged the situation (Mercury in Leo and in the 8th house of death, opposing Neptune) and the canyoners met with misfortune (Fortuna in Gemini in the 6th House of health and well-being, opposing Pluto in Sagittarius in the 12th House of self-undoing). They met with misfortune because a sudden storm (watery Neptune, co-ruler of Pisces, in airy Aquarius), turned the brook into a raging torrent (Mars in Scorpio), which dashed many people against the rocks and drowned them (Mars opposing Saturn).
I've cited this event because it illustrates the meaning of the fixed T-square between Mercury in Leo opposing Neptune in Aquarius, both in square aspect to Jupiter in Taurus. Mercury, as well as ruling routine communication, habitual thought-patterns and travel within one's immediate surrounds, is also associated with commerce. Leo is essentially an egocentric sign: it is the sign of the leader, the show-off, the person who needs recognition. Mercury in Leo, as it relates to humans acting in the world, can represent self-serving commercial operators, or, more generally, people who tend not to think beyond their own immediate interests. Obviously, this does not make for sound judgements based on any considerations of long-term consequences, either at a personal or a commercial level.
Neptune in Aquarius, apart from being an indicator of inclement weather, even cyclones, can represent the dissolution of loosely affiliated groups of people, like a group of tourists or a suburban neighbourhood. It can also be an indication of some deception which affects a whole community. More abstractly, it can stand for the undermining of lofty humanitarian ideals. Socially it can mean that large segments of a population feel disengaged from their society and its leaders. More positively, Neptune in Aquarius can mean selfless service, or self-sacrifice, on behalf of humanity. Concretely it can represent chaotic conditions in public corporations and modern technology, or involving electricity supply and water distribution. Of course, with Uranus also in Aquarius, we'd see sudden and catastrophic upsets in all these areas.
Among other things, Taurus rules building, architecture, finance and banking. Jupiter rules bankers, big businessmen, gamblers, judges, lawyers, high things, expensive things, excess and over-optimism. In the context of its dual squares to secretive Neptune and common-knowledge Mercury, Jupiter in Taurus can represent the revelation of deceptive and dangerous practices by property developers, or, as stated above, bad judgement in relation to the pursuit of somewhat excessive pleasures. And, with Saturn (the planet of laborious tasks, builders, hardship, privation, national calamities, and death) also in Taurus, in opposition to Mars (commotions, violent force, injury, iron and steel workers, epidemics of infectious disease) in Scorpio (the sign of death and rebirth) and square Uranus in Aquarius, then the scene is set for sudden, large scale death and destruction by crushing, choking and drowning.
August 4th: Moon in Taurus — Romanian steel plant explosion
On August 5th a furnace exploded at Romania's biggest steel plant (Galati, Romania 45N14 28E03), killing at least three people and injuring nine. The time of this explosion is unknown, but during the morning the Moon was transiting the middle degrees of Taurus. In other words, the Moon was separating from a conjunction to Saturn and an opposition to Mars. It is worth noting that the eclipse peaked over Romania.
August 10th: Moon in Leo — Pakistani plane downed, Earthquakes in Cyprus
The day before the eclipse, August 10th, the Moon entered Leo. The alarming news of the day was that India's border defence forces shot down a Pakistani military plane, killing all on board. Although the exact time of this event is unknown, we do know that it occurred during the forenoon (probably between 7:36 AM LMT and 11:09 AM LMT) and in a region that lay directly in the path of the forthcoming eclipse (near the Pakistani town of Badin 24N30 68E50). During that time the Moon moved from a conjunction with Mercury in late Cancer and then into Leo, forming an opposition with Neptune in early Aquarius, thus triggering the fixed T-square to Jupiter in early Taurus.
The history of India and Pakistan features charts that are strongly Leonine. Partition into separate states and the end of 250 years of British rule occurred for both countries at midnight on August 15, 1947 (with the Sun at 21° Leo, four other planets in early Leo, and Moon at 27° Cancer). The charts cast for this time and date for New Dehli and Karachi feature strong contacts to their respective angles from the planets involved in the grand cross configuration. The Pakistan chart has 17° Taurus (Saturn) on the Ascendant and 4° Aquarius (Neptune) on the Mid-Heaven. The India chart has 14° Aquarius (Uranus) on the Mid-Heaven.
As the Moon approached the Sun in Leo on the morning of August 11th, a series of earthquakes shook the Middle-East and western Mediterranean islands. At 12:03 AM local time (19:33 UT, Aug 10) a quake (magnitude 5.1) hit Moaminbad in north-eastern Iran (30N43 61E28). The Moon was at 9° Leo 14 making a square to the mid-point of Jupiter and Saturn (10° Leo 45). Then, at 4:20 AM local time (1:20 UT), there was a minor earthquake (4.2) centred on Akrounda, Cyprus. At this time the Moon made an exact conjunction to the mean North Node at 12° Leo 37. About three hours later Cyprus was hit by another larger earthquake (5.8) which damaged buildings the town of Limassol (34N40 33E02), and was also felt in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. By this time (7:20 AM local time, or 4:20 UT) the Moon was at 14° Leo 23, making an exact opposition to retrograde Uranus at 14° Aquarius 40.
August 17th: Moon in Scorpio — Izmit earthquake
The Moon entered the next fixed sign of Scorpio in the early morning of August 17th. Shortly afterwards, there was a huge earthquake (7.8) near Izmit in Turkey (40N46 29E55). This occurred at 03:02 AM local time (00:02:00 UT) when the Moon was at 00° Scorpio 41. In other words, the Moon formed its own grand cross to the solar eclipse fixed T-square between Mercury, Neptune and Jupiter. It should also be noted that at this time Mars, at 19° Scorpio, had just separated from its square to the Sun-Moon eclipse degree. Those of you familiar with traditional astrology will note that the Moon at 00° Scorpio is at the very middle of the Via Combusta (the malefic region of the zodiac from 15° Libra to 15° Scorpio), while Mars at 19° Scorpio is conjunct the malefic degree Serpentis (a degree also associated with the malefic fixed star Alpha Serpentis, or Unukalhai).
August 24th: Moon in Aquarius — Ankara aftershock; Russian 'victory' in Dagestan
By the time the Moon entered Aquarius, on August 24th, the Sun had also changed signs, entering the detail-oriented and health-conscious sign of Virgo. Again we see that the Moon first triggers the solar eclipse fixed T-square between Mercury, Neptune and Jupiter. Another tremor (4.4) shook Ankara (39N23 32E38) at 8:33:20 PM local time (17:33:20 UT), when the Moon was at 04° Aquarius 03. Thus, the Moon formed an exact square to Jupiter at 04° Taurus 59.
By this time the Turkish authorities called-off the search for victims of the Izmit quake and concentrated on wider public health and safety issues, like disease prevention and providing for the 200,000 homeless. The Turkish prime minister also admitted to certain shortcomings in the government's relief efforts following the Izmit quake, and confirmed the speculation that shonky building practices of past years had contributed to the massive devastation and huge death-toll.
August 24th also saw Russia claim victory in Dagestan, when the Islamic fighters withdrew into Chechnya. However, Russia continued its military operations in the region; this has since become a full-scale invasion of Chechnya.
August 31st: Moon in Taurus — more quakes at Izmit
Two quakes (5.2 & 4.5) strike Izmit again on at 11:10:49 AM local time (08:10:49 UT) — and again 20 minutes later (08:33:23 UT). The Moon at 03° Taurus 14 was nearing its conjunction with Jupiter at 04° Taurus 55. What is of more interest, however, is that the Ascendant was at 02° Scorpio 57 for the first quake and at 07° Scorpio 23 for the second. Thus the transiting Ascendant mirrored the motion of the Moon on August 17th, forming its own grand cross to the solar eclipse fixed T-square between Mercury, Neptune and Jupiter.
September 7th: Moon in Leo — Athens earthquake
A big earthquake (5.6) hits Athens (37N58 23E43) at 2:56:49 PM local time (11:56:49 UT). The Moon, at 14° Leo 05, was opposing the Uranus eclipse degree of 14° Aquarius 40. In addition, the eclipse chart for Athens had 19° Scorpio rising, so the Ascendant was conjunct the malefic degree Serpentis.
September 13th: Moon in Scorpio — Golcuk aftershock
The largest aftershock (5.8) of the Izmit quake strikes Golcuk, Turkey (39N07 27E59), at 02:55:28 PM local time (11:55:28 UT). The Moon, at 02° Scorpio 29, was opposing the Neptune eclipse degree of 02° Aquarius 33.
The Moon's effect begins to fade...
From this point, the process of the Moon's motion setting-off the eclipse aspect-patterns begins to fade. So below I merely list the dates of the Moon's entry into fixed signs and where appropriate the events that occurred.
September 20th: Moon in Aquarius — Taiwan quake
- While a huge earthquake (7.7) struck Chung Liao, Taiwan (35N44 51E26) on Sep 21st 01:47:19 AM local time (Sep 20 1999, 17:47:19 UT), this does not fit the process described here. Taiwan is well away from the eclipse path and the Moon, at 29 Capricorn 33, had not yet entered Aquarius [but is less than half a degree away - ed.].
September 27th: Moon in Taurus.
October 5th: Moon in Leo — Marmaris quake; Paddington Station train crash
- Another large quake (5.6) in Turkey, near Marmaris (36N40 28E14), at 03:53:29 AM local time (00:53:29 UT). The Moon at 17° Leo 53 was conjunct the eclipse degree.
Train crash near Paddington station, England (51N32 00W12), at 07:11 AM GMT. The Moon at 21° Leo 24 was separating from the eclipse degree, while Mercury at 00° Scorpio 07 set off the Mercury-Neptune-Jupiter fixed T-square.
October 10th: Moon in Scorpio — Cairo earthquake
On Oct 11th, a quake (4.9) shakes Cairo, Egypt (28N35 31E34) at 10:39:31 PM local time (20:39:31 UT). The Moon was at 15° Scorpio 07 in opposition to Saturn at 15° Taurus 39. Mercury, at 09° Scorpio 23, was on a critical degree of the fixed-signs.
October 18th: Moon in Aquarius.
October 24th: Moon in Taurus.
October 31st: Moon in Leo — aftermath of Orrissa cyclone
- A Cyclone hit the Orrissa region of India (Bhabaneshwar, 20N14 85E50) on Oct 29 around noon (12:00 PM INT, 06:30:00 UT). This region lay at the tail-end of the eclipse path. On the 29th when the cyclone began, the Moon was in early Cancer, but Neptune was rising conjunct the Aquarian Ascendant. Moreover, the eclipse chart for Bhabaneshwar had 15° Aquarius rising conjunct Uranus.
November 7th: Moon in Scorpio — Pakistan earthquake
- On Nov 8, a northern Pakistan (36N30 71E15) quake (6.5) jolts the country at 09:45:43 PM local time (16:45:43 UT). The Moon, at 21° Scorpio 45, had made a new moon with the Sun at 15° Scorpio 49, some hours before.
November 12th: Serpentis, "the accursed degree"
To finish, we should mention that on Nov 12th, when the Moon was still in Capricorn, Turkey was rattled by another huge earthquake (7.2). This hit Duzce (40N39 31E10) at 06:57:20 PM local time (16:57:20 UT). However, in this instance it is not the Moon that served as the triggering planet, but the Sun. The Sun, at 19° Scorpio 51, was triggering the eclipse degree by square aspect, as well as being conjunct the malefic degree Serpentis; the degree of the zodiac highlighted at the time of the Izmit earthquake and in the Athens solar eclipse chart.
This stimulation of Serpentis appears to complete one of the cycles within cycles pertinent to the events we have been talking about and is an apt place to end this discussion. Apart from Venus' transit of this point in mid-December, Serpentis will not see much action again until March and May 2000, when the heavyweights, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter make stressful aspects to this point. These influences, however, will be the topic of another article.