“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”

The killing of a black man Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by a white policeman on August 9  has set off a flurry of demonstrations across the country in protest.  It is interesting that this event has triggered such a response, since previous events that were much more blatant did not result in such sustained protest.  Two example that occur immediately are the killing of Sean Bell in Queens (New York City) on 11/25/2006 while he was at his own bachelor party, as well as the wounding of two of his friends.  It appears that he backed away from an undercover police officer who came at him brandishing a gun, and that resulted in this death, though the police give another explanation.  Another case was that of African immigrant Amadou Diallo who was shot 41 times — though only 19 (!) bullets found him — while reaching for his wallet in a darkened stairwell on 2/4/1999 in Bronx (NYC)  just after midnight. In both these cases police officers were indicted and stood trial, but were acquitted, unlike the Brown case where the police officer was not indicted by the grand jury.  Shortly before the Brown shooting  Eric  Garner was strangled by police officers in Queens.  It was caught on video and  the officers involved   were  also not indicted.  Since the No True  Bill retuned by his grand jury was after Brown’s non-indictment, the protest continued to spread.

Many of these cases of police shootings involved young black men, so many that parents warn their children to be aware of police officers, but not always.  Consider the case of reclusive white millionaire Donald Scott, 61, who was killed on 10/2/1992  at his 200 acre ranch in Ventura County, California.  His ranch was invaded by Los Angles police forces and DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) agents but no Ventura County officers on the charge of having a marijuana plantation.  He was shot when he entered the room having just woken and recovering from a cataract operation and holding a pistol.  It turned out that the police were interested in gaining his ranch because it had a high resale value.  No marijuana was found. Very little  protest resulted.

But many other issues surrounding the use of police in the country have also come to the fore recently.  The militarization of the police, wherein the police departments of all major and many minor cities get surplus weapons that were designed to be used by American military forces, is one such issue.  And like the old saying that if you have a hammer everything looks like a nail, when police have military weapons they tend to use them in involvement with civilians. The heavily armed response to the killing of Brown is an example.   Then there is the issue of asset forfeiture.  This was originally a policy where the “ill-gotten gains” of criminals could be seized, but it has turned into a way that police can seize the property of an individual that they suspect of a crime, no matter how tenuous the connection to a crime could be.  It is as if the property itself is guilty, and no trial is needed.  The case of Donald Scott, above, was a case of forfeiture gone wrong.  The Washington Post recently (Sept 6. 2014) had a major series about the problems with asset forfeiture.  Another issue also being brought up, and one that was also at play in the case of Donald Scott, is the whole edifice of the so-called War on Drugs.  That policy is coming in for much more criticism these days than ever before.  One reason for all this uproar is that we are in a Uranus-Pluto square, and  people are more protest-worthy.  This recalls  all the protest seen during the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunction in the Sixties.  As a result of many riots from black communities in 1967, a report chaired by the governor of Illinois and thus called the Kerner Report in 1968 famously declared that our  nation is moving toward two societies, one black and one white, since the dominant white culture does not understand black culture.  We can all see how much attention was paid to their warning.

But the watching of blacks by police has been a long tradition in this  country, going back to 1704 and what were called “slave patrols”.   This first happened in the colony of the Carolinas. This was before that proprietary colony was split into two royal colonies with the names we know today.  These slave patrols developed into police.  For some reason the white owner of black slaves in America was  frightened of a slave revolt.  This fear got even more frenzied  after a successful slave revolt.  For example, the freed slave Denmark Vesey wanted to lead a slave uprising in South Carolina called The Rising.  When he was caught he was hung on July 2, 1822.

Another slave rebellion was that of Nat Turner: he and his followers killed 60 whites on August 21, 1831.  This scared the white slaveholders of Virginia.  Virginia was different from South Carolina: it had been settled by Cavaliers, the losing side of the English Civil War, whereas the Carolinas were settled by people from the sugar islands in the Caribbean, especially Barbados,  that had already dealt harshly with their large black population. The slave  holders in the Caribbean made the Chesapeake slave holder look like kindly gentlemen.

Now let’s look at charts representing these events.  None of them are especially definitive, and in some cases exact times and even dates are difficult to come by.  But notice that Neptune, representing confusing and deception, is prominent in many of the charts, and often Mars — violence — and Saturn — difficulty are also.  Mars and Neptune together are often prominent.  These two planets are in square aspect in the natal  chart of the United States, suggesting that that country has problems in dealing with violence and the military, the prime extension of the violence of the US into the outer world.


Nat Turner Event

The year 1831 started with a solar eclipse, and that year is described  in Louis Masur’s book 1831: Year of Eclipse; the year featured President Jackson’s harsh attitude toward the Cherokees,  Nat Turner’s rebellion, and many other things that helped to put the slavery issue into high relief.

Mars conjunct Saturn indicates harmful or destructive energy, blockage of proper expression of energy.  That was certainly true, since nothing much came of this event except more anger.  Jupiter-Uranus (Moon over conjunction some time that night): Optimism that things would work out, lucky.  The Turnerites thought things would work out so they went for it; unfortunately they were wrong.


Nat Turner USA

Transiting Mercury is conjunct natal Neptune with a small orb —  not thinking clearly, confusion. The Jupiter-Uranus conjunction mentioned above is sesquiquadrate the US MC, showing this was an event that would have meaning for the country.  And it still does: In 1967 William Styron wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Confessions of Nat Turner.  This is further emphasized by the fact that the transiting Sun — indicating the day — is opposite the US Moon.


Denmark Vesey Hanging

I’m not sure when he was hung, so I set this for noon, when the Sun is at the Midheaven.  This is another event that took place under the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of the early 1820’s, which was discussed in the article about Jacksonian America. Here again  we see a Mars-Saturn aspect, in this case a sesquiquadrate.  There is also a Venus-Jupiter conjunct, which would seem to be beneficial, and we will see this again in the Ferguson chart.


Vesey USA

Mars conjunct natal Neptune: Low energy, confused motives, difficult like Saturn-Mars.  Transiting Saturn is sesquiquadrate natal Neptune, filling out the Mars-Saturn-Neptune pattern.


Donald Scott Shooting

This took place early in the morning of October 2, 1992.  The most obvious pertinent aspect is the opposition between Mars (shooting) and the Uranus-Neptune conjunction.  The time is not exact, so we don’t know how close the Mars-Neptune opposition was, or if both were indeed square the MC  of the event, thus forming a T-square.  But in those hours Mars was opposite Neptune, suggesting confused use of energy or firearms.  Between midnight and two, the MC was in Aries.


Scott USA

Here the thing that juts out is Mars — representing shooting — in on the Sun of the United States.


Amadou Diallo Shooting

In the  event chart, we see the Moon in aspect (sesquiquadrate) to the  Sun-Mercury-Uranus conjunction at the bottom of the chart, as it should be considering it is just after midnight.      That triple conjunction suggests erratic thinking (Ebertin)  and the Sun-Mercury conjunction suggests that this event will be communicated.  The Moon was high in the sky at this time.  Also notice the Mars-Neptune square, stress and again bad or hasty judgment.


Diallo USA

This  murder took place shortly after midnight and the Moon was crossing the MC of the United States.   This event got immediate recognition in the country because of the outrageousness of it.   Bruce Springsteen wrote a song about it called “American Skin” with the refrain “41 shots”.   The tight Sun-Mercury-Uranus conjunction, discussed below, was aspecting the United States MC, again indicating this event would be known to the public.


Saun Bell Shooting

If this killing happen at nine in the evening, the Moon was setting; later and the Moon had already set.  The Uranus square Venus (erratic or unexpected relationship) suggests the nature of this event: it was a bachelor party for a wedding — no one expected the groom to be killed at his own party.  There is also a grand trine between Saturn, Pluto, and the Midheaven.  I’ve talked about Saturn-Pluto combinations before.  This is not a hard aspect, but with grand trines  behavior becomes stuck in a rut.  In  this case the rut was cops killing young black men.


Saun Bell USA

Neptune once again rears its head — Neptune is in hard aspect to the MC and Venus.  Saturn opposite the United States Moon.


Eric Garner Death

Garner’s death happened just a  few months ago, and the video of the event has been widely seen.  In this chart again  we have a prominent Neptune (video, movies), at the bottom of the chart and opposite the MC  —  people  (ie., the police) were confused.  And Neptune also represents that the event was caught on video and widely shown.  Notice also Mercury — communication — was aspectng both Neptune and the MC — this is an  event that was communicated to the wider world. Sun square Mars speaks of  possible violence. But Mars is square the Sun-Mercury — that doesn’t promise much good.


Michael Brown Shooting

Another widely reported event — Sun conjunct Mercury  up near the top of the chart.  Mars is in the first house: possible violence in  the environment.  And the Uranus is trine the Sun-Mercury: expect the unexpected.  And few in positions of power expected  the uproar that was engendered by this shooting.  For them, this was another ordinary thug shot by a law officer, nothing could  be more common.

But here is something I had  trouble coming to grips with: Venus and Jupiter on either side of the MC, which  is opposite the Moon at the IC.  Sounds sweet!  Ebertin says a union between two people that are good natured.  What could go wrong?  But that is the positive meaning of this combination.  Negatively, this combinations can   represent false conduct between two people, a relationship where everything goes wrong.  For Michael Brown this is true.  For the officer that shot him, Darren Wilson, while I’m sure he did not like shooting people, he probably thought he saved  his own life and the grand jury choose not to send his case  to trial.


Jacksonian America

Ah, what could be more boring than a discussion of the Age of Jackson?  He was President of the United States between 1829 and 1837.  That was almost 200 years ago  and who cares  about people in antebellum America.  They sure didn’t call it “antebellum”  in those days, for obvious  reasons.  But many important things developed at that time, which of course we take for granted now.  The standard biography about Andrew Jackson is the three volume set by Robert Remini, though many have written biographies about Andrew Jackson, a very interesting President whose character tells us much about America, though that might not be good.  A very good overview of Jacksonian America is The Rise of  American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln by Sean Wilentz.   What I am referring to as “Jacksonian America” or the Age of Jackson started before the man  was elected President, and just like Ronald Reagan, he served as a symbol for changes that were sweeping the country.

The Age of Jackson is important now because that was when the country  started  many of the  characteristics that are bedevilling it currently.  With the election of Jackson, as shown below, the country veered off from the path it had followed up to that time.  Many claim that the country became democratic, or at least more democratic, since by that time more could vote than just property holding white males.   Of course, women and Blacks, whether freed or slaves, could not vote.  Women had the vote for a brief time in some places, such as New Jersey.  This is the period in which America became a “hustler” nation (as described in Walter McDougall’s book Freedom Just Around the Corner and Morris Berman’s Why America Failed), a nation devoted to what’s best for Number One, a change from a democracy of fraternity to a democracy of cupidity (Hofstadter) as discussed previously.

Democrats claim that Jackson and Jefferson were the founders of their party, and have a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner once a year.  While Jackson did pay obeisance to Jefferson,  I think there was a disconnect between the party of Jefferson  and the party of Jackson, which  was called The Democracy.  And while Jackson gets the credit for creating the Democratic Party, the hard organizational  work was done by Martin Van Buren (who according to Gore Vidal in his novel Burr was the illegitimate son of Aaron Burr) who was Jackson’s Vice-President in his second term, and served a single term thereafter, because the Panic of 1837 (partially caused by Jackson’s dispute with Nicholas Biddle and the Bank of the United States)  doomed  him to only one term.  Van Buren, called the Little Magician and Martin Van Ruin, who  was the first of non-British descent to make President, also ran for President in the Free Soil Party  which became  part of the Republican Party twenty years later.

Like other eponymous President Ages, the Age of Jackson started  before Andrew Jackson became president, or even before he first ran for President.  Ages get names for significant Presidents who happened to be in office when major changes were overtaking the country, and they were just one of the changes, and something about their behavior or actions symbolized the changes taking place in the country.  For those who accept the Great Man theory of history, then the President was the person responsible for the changes taking place in the country.

In the United States, the country had as Presidents up until Jackson  either Founding Fathers or relatives of such, and most of those Presidents before Jackson were members of what is called the Virginia Mafia, since they were all from Virginia.  The Presidents of the United States were George Washington, from Virgina, and then John Adams, from Massachusetts, first Washington’s Vice President and then a one-term President, then Thomas Jefferson, from Virginia, the James Madison, from Virginia, then James Monroe, from Virginia, and then John Quincy Adams, from Massachusetts and son of the first Adams.  In the contested election of 1824 Jackson ran against Adams and, even though he had more electoral votes, did not have enough and so the issue was settled in the House of Representatives.   One of the candidates, Henry Clay of Kentucky, withdrew and threw his support to Adams.  Later, when Adams was President he appointed Clay to be Secretary of State.  This was not a politically wise thing to do, but since Clay was obviously the most qualified person for the post, it was natural that he was appointed by Adams.  Jackson was  very upset at what he considered a “corrupt bargain” and began campaigning for the next election.   There was so much ill will towards Adams that not much was accomplished in his term, but his remains the most accomplished post-presidential career.  Jackson beat Adams in the next election and served two terms.

At this point in the early Nineteenth Century the Industrial Revolution, which had began in England over 100 years before, finally spread into the wider world.  The Industrial Revolution is declared to have come to America in 1790 when Samuel Slater, who  was an apprentice in England, brought ideas of the Industrial Revolution to New England.  England had attempted to keep the ideas of the Industrial Revolution within England, but that could only last so long.

By the third decade of the Nineteenth Century  what is called Laissez-Faire Capitalism developed within America.  This had been started by the publication of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations in 1776.  Laissez-Faire implies leaving people alone to follow their own path.  What it amounted to in reality is that businesses could do whatever that wanted, within reason,  to make money.  At the beginning of this revolution, because it was certainly a revolutionary principle, things went along fine. It wasn’t until after the Civil War and the rise of corporations, starting with the railroads which had been empowered by the War, that things began to vary from the ideal.

Along with this was the development of something called the Market Revolution in America.  The cotton gin had been invented at the end of the Eighteenth Century, and it was coming into use in the South, where much cotton was grown.   Before the cotton gin, people wondered if there was a future for slavery, but the cotton gin made possible the  use of a type of cotton that had previously been difficult to use.  This made the need for slaves to harvest the cotton more important than ever.  This cotton was shipped to the many weaving factories in New England that had been automated by the work of Samuel Slater.  Massachusetts especially developed many weaving factories and employed young women from the cities.

At this time, when the Age of Jackson was starting, there was also a Transportation Revolution.    Before this time goods could be slowly transported by horse and wagon over relatively primitive roads or shipped down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.  But in this period many well maintained roads — call  turnpikes — were build by the Federal government, which allowed faster transportation by horse-drawn wagons.  There was also the building of the Eire Canal in upstate New York, joining the Great Lakes to the Hudson River whose outlet was New York City.  This allowed ships to enter the Hudson River at New York and access the many cities bordering the Great Lakes, including Chicago, and from there reach by wagons much of the Midwest.  While the Eire Canal is in much disrepair now, at the time it was revolutionary and allowed the country along the canal to build up, as well as the land of middle America that could now be reached from the Atlantic.  Other canals were built at this time,  connecting, for example, Lake Eire and the Ohio River.  The Cumberland Road, also known as the Nation Road,  was built in this period and extended over 600 miles from Cumberland, Maryland into Illinois.  It became the first road in America surfaced with macadam.  Steamboats became popular on the Mississippi River (think Mark Twain) and allowed relatively easy transport of people and goods up and down the most important river in the country, and helping to unite the Midwest.  Accentuating  this trend to easier transportation, the  railroad was first introduced into the United States in 1828.  By 1830 the Tom Thumb, first common-carrier railroad, was built.  The development of a railroad system in the United  States was helped by much investment from England.

The Communication Revolution is another event that occurred in antebellum America.  America had been a country interested in writing since the early days.  Daniel Boone, when he was out in the country, enjoy being told the tales of Shakespeare.    Bookstores were one of the first establishments to go  into a new town.  In this Jacksonian period the Napier steam-driven press was developed in England  and allowed more books and newspapers to  be printed easily.  This allowed the burgeoning middle classes to more easily find books, magazines, and newspapers, and helped support a literate population.  Schooling increased and eventually public schools became commonplace.  The telegraph was invented at the end of this period by  artist Samuel F. B. Morse in 1835. The telegraph has been called the Victorian Internet and for the first time ever allowed near instantaneous communication.


Age of Jackson 1

The most important transit for this period, and one with deep seated meaning, is that of Pluto over the IC of the US chart, and thus opposite the MC (black arrow chart 1).  The IC represents the foundation or base of the entity in question, in this case the Untied States.  Transits over the IC appear to last longer and their meaning less obvious than transits to more visible points.  Since Pluto moves so slow, this transit had never happened in the history of  the country;  it previously happened in the 1570s.  Pluto represent large scale change or transformation, and that is indeed  what the Age of Jackson had to offer.  There was a massive change in the United States, which had only won their war for independence forty or so years previously.  The country had started to become its own person (cf Joyce Appleby, Inheriting the Revolution for a description of the first generation of post-Revolution Americans).  Pluto then went on  to square the Sun of the US in 1832–38 (black arrow chart 4).  This was the time of the development of abolitionism and William LLoyd Garrison’s newspaper The Liberator.    The closing of the Pluto Sun cycle, and of course the beginning of  the next cycle happened with the Pluto conjunct Sun aspect in the  Twenties.


Age of Jackson 2


Age of Jackson 3

Compounding this situation during these years was the actions of Uranus and Neptune.  These two planets were conjunct in 1820-23 (red arrow in first chart) and square the MC  of the United States.  This conjunction happens three times per 500 years and the next time that conjunction happened was in  the early 1990s and we are still strongly witnessing the effects of that conjunction.  The conjunction of the early Nineteenth Century was opposite two of the core planets of America, Jupiter and Venus.  Uranus went on to oppose the Sun in 1823-24 (black arrow in second chart) and Neptune opposed the Sun 1824-27 (black arrow in third chart).  These aspects just added to the central changes happening in the country, in so many areas.  In this group of aspects the final one was Uranus conjunct the US Moon (chart 4),  which has been discussed before and signified the revolution of Texas, which had been part of Mexico but then split away, hoping to be part of the United States.


Age of Jackson 4