War of the Worlds

The British writer H. G. Wells — a Virgo — is best known for his science fiction stories, and in fact Wells and his contemporary the French writer Jules Verne basically set the prototype for most science fiction written in the succeeding centuries.  The story of time travel was essentially created by his story The Time Machine.  This theme has been popular down through the ages and there is even a contemporary television drama based on this very theme.  The Mad Scientist trope was originated by his novel The Island of Doctor Moreau.  And then there was his story The First Men in the Moon which is about just what the title suggests.  But the theme of alien invasion which has been richly explored was originated by his novel The War of the Worlds (serialized in 1897, published as a book in 1898), which tells of an invasion of the Earth by Martians.  This story was written in the last decade of the Nineteenth Century, under the Neptune-Pluto conjunction, when Modernism was just beginning to shape Western civilization.  He predicted World War II in his work The Shape of Things To Come, written in 1933 (arguable not an extreme prediction at that time) which later became a film which he wrote.  Wells was a forerunner in his science fiction.

His classic novel The War of the Worlds, also serialized in an American magazine in the late Nineteenth Century, tells of an invasion by a Martian space craft into the Southern English countryside and the subsequent destruction of parts of London that were familiar to his readers.  When this theme was brought to America, as the films and the radio play discussed below did, the setting was changed to America, which was much more meaningful to the American viewers and listeners.  It was made into a film several times, the latest in 2005, directed by Steven Speilberg.

This novel was set into radio play by the famed actor Orson Welles (note the last names are similar but not the same) and his group the Mercury Theatre near the end of the Great Depression and before the official start of World War Two, less than a year later with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939.  The play was performed by Welles and adapted from the novel by a playwright who was later blacklisted in Hollywood.  The play was considerably different from the novel.   In Welles’ play, an orchestra was playing music of the kind people danced to in 1938, but this seemingly innocuous radio performance was interrupted by breathless announcements of an landing of an invasion party at a farm in New Jersey, close to New York City where the broadcast originated. Americans were in a fairly fragile state at the time, which may explain the famous reaction to the radio broadcast.  About 50% of the people who heard the radio broadcast on the eve of Halloween though that it was a true report of an invasion of this planet, in New Jersey, and of those 40% panicked.  There were, however, no deaths on this occasion; the same can not be said when the same performance was tried in Peru in 1949.  Welles’ Mercury Theatre would often base their plays on works of literature, and in fact just a week before this broadcast they did a radio performance based on Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, so people familiar with this CBS show should not have believed in was true.  It seems “fake news” is not just a contemporary phenomenon.  At this time radio was a relatively new medium, and Welles used it masterfully.  He was up against a show — ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy — that was ten times as popular as his show.  Much of Welles version of War of the Worlds was with an orchestra, with interruptions of announcements of the invasion timed to match the commercial breaks of the competing show.  Those who just tuned to his show from Bergen’s continued to listen after being entranced by the invasion.  As the invasion got worse, a “Secretary of the Interior” who sounded an awfully much like current President Franklin Roosevelt, urged listeners to stay calm.  By the end of the show, as in the novel, the aliens are killed by the bacteria of Earth to which they have no immunity.  However, many did not listen to the end of the show, but made panicked calls to their relatives or their local police departments.

By the next days, those who had realized that it was simply a radio drama congratulated themselves at their wisdom and thought Welles was a genius, while those who had believe the story were outraged and there were many lawsuits, all of which were eventually dismissed.

After people settled down, the results were beneficial for both Wells and Welles. More people started to read the original novel and H. G. Wells changed his opinion of the radio adaptation.  Orson Welles received a large contract from a movie studios and went on to direct and star in Citizen Kane, which even today is considered one of the best movies ever made.

 

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War of the Worlds Broadcast

 

We have two charts to look at.  It is convenient that we have an actual time for the performance, the time of that the broadcast started in the studios in New York City at 8 in the evening the day before Halloween.  If we look at the chart we see that the Moon is just beyond an opposition to Pluto: the opposition was exact about fire hours before the broadcast. In this case the Moon opposition Pluto indicated that the populace (Moon) was already primed to overreact and panic (Pluto) to this event.  Now obviously it helps that we know what event resulted.  Moon is opposite Pluto once a month, so while this always indicates that the people might be more prone to panic at this time, usually nothing occurs for people to act on the latent urge to panic.  The moon also make a tight trine to Mars which was exact a half hour before the broadcast.  Mars of course rules war, a very appropriate symbol for the event.  Then we have a loose opposition between Mercury — communications, such the radio — and Uranus– upsets.  Since the Moon is a fast moving planet, traveling about twelve degrees a day, its transits are not very consequential in the long, or even medium, run, but they are indicative of evens that happen at a certain time of that day.

 

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Broadcast Transits to USA

 

For the chart of these same transits within the chart of the United States, we first of all see an exact Neptune Return of the US.  This is the first time that Neptune had returned to its natal position.  For human beings planetary returns are important for some “crisis” (not a negative term) in the nature of the planet involved.  For people, the most notable return is that of Saturn, which occurs ever 29 years or so.  At one time this led to the saying, among those who had not experienced their first Saturn Return, of “Never trust Anyone Over Thirty”.  In biographies we can notice that people often change around thirty, an you may notice that in your own life.  People truly become adults at that time.  The second Saturn Return is at age fifty eight, and a change occurs then that many do not recognize.  A third Saturn Return, which also corresponds, more or less, to the Uranus Return, occurs at age 85.  This is important but not much talked about.  But humans never have a Neptune Return (or a Pluto Return, which is very important and coming up for the United Sates) which occurs at about 160 years.  This Neptune Return of the US involved some Neptunian examples of illusion and deception, though perhaps not intended.

In addition, Mars has just passed over the Midheaven of the United States.  This happens every two years, so it is not uncommon, but its position shows that Mars-like things, especially War, occupied the consciousness of the United States and thus the citizens of that country.  We also see transiting Saturn aspecting the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant of the United States, as well as opposing its own natal position, reflecting the still depressed state of the populace in these waning days of the Great Depression, and also the further repression that was currently happening because of Roosevelt’s tightening of activities that ameliorated the Great Depression, resulting in what is called the Roosevelt Recession. One can see that a number of astrological factors occurred at the same time that permitted the panic following this radio broadcast to take place.  While obviously the combination of these factors, all minor, would not allow someone to forecast the consequences, upon hindsight it is possible to “hindcast” what in fact did happen.

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