The Cycle of Uranus and Algol in 2002
[editor's note: this page was reformatted in 2009 to keep up with technology but the content is the same as when published first in 2002]
"Is it me, or does it feel like Retrograde? I just looked, and it's not that time of year, but what is going on out there? Communications are funky, people are dying, war between Israel and Palestine, and lesser more annoying things are happening. Anyone know why all this is going on? Is it planetary?"
That message from a reader on our Forum has prompted an intriguing answer from Ian Thurnwald, leading Mundane Astrologer and co-founder of Astrology on the Web.
The unpleasant feeling that surrounds us, generating a sense of uneasiness and anxiety is due in part to the cycle of Uranus, the force of upheaval and Caput Algol, the most malefic of the fixed stars.
Yes, Algol – the most malefic of fixed stars – appears to be the culprit. The planet Uranus (upheavals; sudden changes) and Algol are entering a critical phase of their cycle, which began with their conjunction back in 1941-42 – the height of World War II. This is an important 84 year historical cycle (albeit one which most astrologers don't seem to take account of), and it is one of the major influences for 2002. The other, the opposition phase of the Saturn-Pluto cycle, which began back in August 2001, relates more strongly to the so-called 'war on terror' and is yet to play itself out in full.
Caput Algol – the Ghoul, or Demon Star
Algol, or Caput Algol – Ras al-Ghul, the brightest star of the Gorgon's Head – has consistently and universally been seen as a malefic star that brings calamity and loss to humanity. On a personal level it means to lose one's head, in other words, it makes people act rashly, without forethought or due consideration.
Algol is such a malefic fixed star that its zodiacal position assumes the importance of a critical degree that must always be considered when looking at unfolding trends (eg transits, solar returns, etc.). At present Algol is at about 26° Taurus.
The Implications of Algol
The implications of this for natal astrology are that certain Taureans will have Algol strong in their birth-charts. Any Taurean born between the 15th-20th May will have at least their Sun conjunct Algol's zodiacal degree. So these Taureans will manifest the positive or negative traits of Algol.
At best they are very passionate and intense people who won't tolerate injustice. They'll have the capacity to deal with the intense situations life presents them with. At worst they will be ruthless, brutal and destructive people. These Taureans will feel Algol's influence on their birthday and any other time there is a transit to 26° Taurus. To a lesser extent, the other fixed signs will also feel the effect of the Uranus-Algol square, especially Leo's born 17-22 August, Aquarians born 14-18 February and Scorpios born 17- 22 November. The same applies to anyone (or any entity) that has a planet or point at 26° Taurus.
Apart from the Uranus square (see below for details), the only other recent transit to Algol was the Mars conjunction of 5-8th April. This period saw the US assume a much stronger role in trying to end the violence in Israel-Palestine amid fears the conflict would spread. President Bush announced that Secretary of Sate, Colin Powell would go to the region. Interestingly, Bush and Blair held their scheduled 'war council' on Iraq that weekend, but it was overshadowed by the conflict in Middle East. Powell, an Aries, left on the 7th, two days after his birthday, so Colin Powell's solar return for this year has Mars conjunct Algol (he – and any other Aries born around 5th April – would be well advised to, literally, keep his head down when in a war zone). Meanwhile the Israeli incursions continued and the violence over this period was the worst to date, culminating in the deaths of 13 Israeli troops and more than 100 Palestinians at a refugee camp in Jenin.
Long Term Significance
Now let's look at the significance of the long-term Algol-Uranus cycle.
Uranus forms its last incoming (most malefic) square to Algol, basically from February/March this year through to January/February 2003. (For those who are interested in specifics, the exact square is in force three times over this period: 7-24 Mar; 17 Aug to 11 Sep; 26 Dec to 16 Jan 2003.)
By looking at the past critical phases of this cycle we can get an idea of what's in store. But, given the symbolism of Uranus and Algol, we'd expect to see sudden, shocking events that have the potential to bring calamity, grief and loss for large numbers of people. These are likely to be either natural calamities (Algol), or political/ideological ones (Uranus).
World War II
As already mentioned, the cycle began with Uranus conjunct Algol over the period March 1941 through March 1942. (The aspect was exact only once during this period, from 27 Apr to 14 May, however, Neptune also trined Algol in May/June, while Saturn was conjunct in June/July and again in November 1941 and March 1942.) This was the stage of WWII when Hitler ordered a surprise attack against Russia with the largest land army ever seen (June 41), which, by November 1941, proved to be a crucial tactical error for the German war machine. It was when he proposed his "Final Solution" for European Jews (July 41), and when the first death camp opened (Dec 41). And it was when the USA fully entered the war once Japan attacked Pearl Harbour (Dec 41).
Cold War Crisis
The first outgoing square occurred over three periods, from October 1960 to January 1961, and again in August to September 1961, and finally from February through June/July 1962. (The exact square is in force two times over this period: 17 Aug to 1 Sep 1961; 29 Mar to 10 Jun 1962. ) This period was marked by events which led to the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 – Castro's Cuba aligned with the USSR, Kennedy was elected (Nov 60) and went ahead with the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion (Apr 61), the Berlin Wall went up (Aug 61), the Soviets began shipping missiles to Cuba (May 62). The missile crisis was the most severe crisis of the Cold War when the USA and USSR were a hair's-breadth away from all-out nuclear war. Another interesting fact is that the Sandanista rebels appeared in Nicaragua in 1961.
The opposition was in force over two periods, from October 1980 to January 1981, and again from May to October 1981. (The exact opposition was in force two times over this period: 21 Nov to 6 Dec 1980; 17 Jun to 20 Sep 1981.)
The events of this period also have a strong ideological flavour. Saddam Hussein of Iraq sought to become the hero of the moderate Arab/Muslim world by going to war with the recently established fundamentalist regime in Iran (Sep 80), however, this proved to be an inconclusive 8 year war, the longest conventional war of the 20th century. Reagan was elected on a platform of making America great again, especially vis a vis the "Evil Empire" (Nov 80), and, around the same time an anti-Sandanista rebel army, organised and funded by the US, was established in Honduras (1980-81).
In Israel, Begin was re-elected with Ariel Sharon as defence minister (Jun 81). Sharon immediately launched an illegal and ill-fated campaign against the PLO and Syrians in Lebanon (this lasted until 1983 and left Israel's international reputation in tatters). The pretext for this was the shooting of an Israeli diplomat in London by a fringe PLO group that took their orders from Iraq. Israel also destroyed Iraq's only nuclear reactor before it was able to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Later in the year, President Saddat of Egypt was assassinated for his commitment to peace in the Middle East (Oct 81), while vice-president Mubarak miraculously survived the hail of bullets, assumed power, and remains President to this day.
Even from this cursory overview it's evident that current world events may bear some relation to this Algol-Uranus cycle. Taurean people and Taurean entities the world over are either responding to, or acting out, the energy of Uranus square Algol. The rest of us may well be doing the same if we have a planet or point at 26° Taurus or in aspect to that degree.
Twenty-two years after his first botched attempt to deliver a knock-out blow to the PLO, Ariel Sharon is at it again. (Sharon is a Pisces with Moon conjunct Algol and Neptune square it. Israel itself is a Taurus country with Sun close to Algol and Mars square it. While the chart for Palestine makes it a Libran entity with Moon close to Algol. Arafat, a Virgo, also has Moon close to Algol. And last but not least, Iran, which supports the Palestinians with money and arms, is a Taurus country with Mars-Jupiter square Algol and Saturn opposing it.)
Twenty-two years after the Iran-Iraq war Saddam Hussein is again the centre of world attention, and his response has been to attempt to influence world oil prices. (Hussein is a Taurus with Mercury conjunct Algol.) He also figures strongly in the Israel-Palestine equation, not least because he grants $50,000 to the family of any Palestinian who martyrs him- or her- self for the cause.
Meanwhile, Tony Blair, (a Taurus with Jupiter conjunct Algol) will need all his skills of persuasion to rally support at home, let alone abroad, for any proposed bilateral action with the USA against Saddam Hussein. Pope John Paul II (a Taurus with Sun-Moon conjunct Algol) appears to be fading fast, while the church he leads is embroiled in a paedophilia scandal. And Queen Elizabeth II (a Taurus with MC-Saturn opposing IC-Algol), lost her sister in early February and her mother in late March.
Finally, American readers might want to watch the US Attorney General (Ashcroft is a Taurus with Uranus conjunct Algol). I suspect that whatever new measures his office has the capacity to instigate will be ones that "necessarily" curtail basic rights and freedoms.
A Word on Saturn-Pluto
Robert Hand wrote an authoritative article on this 33 year cycle that appeared in 'The Mountain Astrologer' back in Aug/Sept 2001. He characterises the combined energies of Saturn-Pluto as "shrinking transformation". To paraphrase Hand, he says the opposition aspect, especially, relates to the destruction of an existing order of taken-for-granted reality and the creation of a new one. Usually this process of transformation occurs under conditions of privation that restrict our freedom of movement, or because some crisis makes it evident that our lawful, orderly and predictable system needs to be changed at a deep and fundamental level.
Now, the critical time when Saturn once again opposes Pluto will be from late May to early June, but with Mars entering Gemini and meeting up with Saturn in early May, and with the solar eclipse of 10 June conjunct Saturn, all of May and June look bad, especially for the Middle East and perhaps the Balkans, but I won't go into that here.
Read more about the Saturn Pluto Opposition