Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Astrology and Money

Astrology and Money have a lot in common. Both are highly visible in what we call "the real world" of the tangible and precisely measureable, yet both are mysterious in their origins and theories. What we call astrology includes a spectrum from simplified Sun Sign fortune-cookie blurbs to complex transit-to-natal and progression studies based on past history. And what we call money ranges from the dollar bills and coins we carry in our pockets to vast amounts of credit whirling about in cyberspace and tracked on computer screens. Metaphorically, both Astrology and Money are like magnificent mansions that appear distant from each other yet are invisibly linked. The two-mansion image sprang to my mind as I contemplated the December 21, 2010 Winter Solstice simultaneous with the Lunar Eclipse, aligned with the Galactic Center of the Milky Way, what the Maya mythologized as the universal mother's vagina from whence came our planet and us. Transiting conjunct this latest Solstice was Pluto, Mercury, Mars and the Moon's North Node. All these heavenly events hit the US Federal Reserve's natal Sun opposition Pluto. Since the Fed is the source of our money—and increasingly controversial as an institution—the 2010 Winter Solstice suggests an opportune time to change the Fed, and thus change how our money is distributed. (1) Growing controversy about the Fed also indicates it is ripe for some kind of major transformation. But about 99% of the population, including Congress, does not comprehend how the Fed operates, how money is created and distributed into our society and the world economy. If people did understand it, as Henry Ford quipped decades ago, there would be a revolution before morning. I checked out the previous Winter Solstice/Lunar Eclipse, which occurred in 1638. What was happening then? For Europeans, it was the Age of Discovery. Newly arrived colonists in the Western Hemisphere were exploring their new environment. A natural canal connecting the Amazon and Orincoco Rivers was discovered in Brazil. The first printing press began operating in the Massachusetts colony. The British established their first colony in India at Madras. Russian Cossacks explored beyond the Urals to the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese adopted a "closed country" policy. The Ottoman Empire and Persia agreed on borders separating what are now Turkey, Iran and Iraq. The world as we know it today was, it seems, about midway in the process of being discovered and mapped, mainly by European Christians with a drive to bring their religion and culture to the rest of humanity—and not so incidentally discover new money in the primary form of those times: Gold and silver. What is the driving force today? From a purely economic perspective, it is still money, but specifically what money has become, compared to what it has been in the past. Like astrology, money is an amazing human invention with a long history, sometimes dismal, sometimes wonderful. Our Cro-Magnon ancestors had a life expectancy of 18 years; we now average close to 80 years. Money enables us to trade with each other rather than plunder each other. Astrology enables us to know when times of opportunity for improvement are nigh. The USA's Federal Reserve was enacted into being on December 23, 1913, based on the privatized central bank of medieval times, the Bank of England, founded in 1694. The Fed has grown during the 20th Century into the world's prototypical independent-of-government central bank. The other kind of central bank is public, under government control and responsive to the whole society. That's the kind of central bank favored by Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln and Sun Yat-Sen, who brought the concept to China. Both money and astrology are human inventions. Money developed as a means of exchanging goods and services, and astrology as a means of forecasting times of opportunities and times of difficulties. Millennia ago, before money became what it is today, astrology was used to guesstimate harvests; if this year's harvest was abundant, a portion could be stored for future times when harvests would be curtailed by bad weather. Astrologers in ancient times found that aspects to the 20-year conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn were good indicators of future abundance or lack. Today, the most economically-meaningful planets are the outermost four: Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Both of these human inventions, money and astrology, are valiant attempts to improve our lot, yet vulnerable to misuses that can lead to quite the opposite. The Banker can misuse money to create poverty for the many and uncouth wealth for the few. The Astrologer can misuse the art of interpreting planetary patterns to influence people for selfish, evil purposes. J. P. Morgan combined the two, using astrology to accumulate a fortune at the expense of the masses. By the Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse of 2010, a growing number of people saw the Fed's control of money as being the heart and soul of economic hardship that commenced with the crash of 2008 and threatened to extend into the foreseeable future. What is now called the "housing bubble" arose under a Saturn-Neptune opposition 2006-2007 (the Fed had lowered interest rates inviting speculation) and the inevitable crash came in 2008 under a Saturn-Uranus opposition square Pluto to form a grand cross with the USA's natal Mars-Neptune square, bringing us to the present time of economic malaise. Since the Fed lends money to government at ever-compounding interest, with the taxpayers legally obliged to repay that debt, the present malaise is all about what's called "the national debt," and resulting federal government budget deficit. In the USA, the ripple effect is that states and municipalities are forced to cut social services for lack of money. The European Union has its Fed-like central bank, too, so its member states are in the same predicament. The news in 2010 was full of hand-wringing concern over how Greece and Ireland would repay their debts, and in the USA how New York, California and other states would survive this period when bank-originated credit money is in such short supply. (Actually, the multinational banks have trillions of dollars and euros, but prefer to maximize profits by derivatives trades rather than loans to stimulate economies.) Meanwhile, the economies of nations such as China and India with public central banks are booming. Why is there no shortage of money in China? Why is it that China can launch a huge infrastructure building program and enjoy around 10% annual increase in Goss Domestic Product while the USA and EU are suffering? And the most crucial question for Americans and Europeans: How can there be such a shortage of money for the people when the banks are sitting on trillions of dollars and euros? I've addressed this last question in a series of articles and in my book Time and Money: the Economy and the Planets (second edition due out in February 2011). It's complicated as it takes us into the question of who owes whom for the national debt, which has been divided into Treasury Bonds and Bills and sold to investors all over the world. But reduced it to its simplest terms, the answer is this: China's government lends money to banks, the USA's central bank lends money to both banks and government. In other words, it's a question of who creates and controls money. In the USA, the idea that government should lend to banks has become unthinkable. In China, government borrowing from private banks is unthinkable. The USA has been a money laboratory since it was 13 British colonies strung along the East Coast four centuries ago. The British decreed that the colonists had to use British money and forbad them from creating their own media-of-exchange to trade among themselves. But British money went back and forth across the Atlantic without touching the hands of most colonists. So they defied the law and developed a variety of currencies: Wampum, tobacco, chickens and pigs, Spanish coins, and various ways of keeping track of who owed whom how much. Plus what Ben Franklin called "colonial scrip." When the King raised the taxes of colonists to repay the Bank of England for the French and Indian War, the seeds of rebellion were planted under a Uranus-Pluto square that formed a grand cross with what would soon become the USA's natal Uranus and then its Mars-Neptune square. The colonists had struggled for about a century and a half to create some prosperity for themselves, and by the mid-1700s were doing better than their counterparts across the Atlantic. In an attempt to defuse what threatened to become a bloody conflagration, Ben Franklin went to London as a lobbyist. When Britain's rulers asked him to account for the amazing prosperity in the American colonies, he replied: "That is simple. In the colonies we issue our own money. It is called Colonial Scrip. We issue it in proper proportion to the demands of trade and industry to make the products pass easily from the producers to the consumers. In this manner, creating for ourselves our own paper money, we control its purchasing power, and we have no interest to pay to anyone."

Almost a hundred years later when President Abe Lincoln needed money to mount the Civil War, instead of borrowing from European banks at around 36% interest and sticking taxpayers with the bill, his government issued so-called "greenbacks." The Confederacy borrowed from bankers and its money wound up worthless. By creating its own money the Union caused consternation among conservatives. Cried the London Times: "If that mischievous financial policy which had its origin in the North American Republic should become indurate down to a fixture, then that government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off its debts and be without a debt. It will become prosperous beyond precedent in the history of the civilized governments of the world. The brains and wealth of all countries will go to North America. That government must be destroyed or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe."

Sun Yat-Sen became fascinated with American history as a kid growing up in an older brother's house in Hawaii. Decades later when the Chinese were mounting their own revolt against British rule, Sun brought what I call the Ben Franklin and Abe Lincoln concept of money to China. His import led eventually to the establishment of the Peoples Bank of China as an agency of the modern Chinese government. Since the establishment of the Fed in 1913, the US dollar has inflated tremendously so that what cost $1.00 then now costs $100 or more. This inflation developed so slowly that people barely noticed it. The idea that grandpa paid $10,000 in 1900 for the house that sold in 2000 for $10 million was taken for granted. "Real estate is your best investment," it was often said during the 20th Century. And owning your own home was "the American dream." Dramatic rises of stock prices were cheered and the role played by inflation ignored. (Neptune conjunct Mars and opposite Jupiter in the Fed's natal chart). Meanwhile, the US economy overall gained until the 1970s when "trickle-down" theory gained ascendance and "free trade" policy advocates captured control of the government. The financial sector grew from less than 4% of GDP to over 40% now. What the financial sector does, essentially, is move money for a fee. So paying over 40% for this service has become one of the absurd spinoffs of the Fed. It's like the Mafia owning 40% of a neighborhood's income. (Saturn transiting conjunct the Fed's Pluto opposite the Fed's Sun and the Moon's North Node, indicating a time of change.) Wall Street is the headquarters of the nation's and the world's financial industry. And the big banks of Wall Street are the Fed's most cherished customers. To restart the economy after the slump of 2001-2002, the Fed cut interest rates way down. This stimulated buying and selling of real estate, which soon became such a moneymaker (as compared to real wealth generator) that the smart guys on Wall Street sliced and diced mortgages into bonds and sold them worldwide, enabling bankers to make more real estate loans. To insure these bonds against default without government oversight, Wall Street developed credit default swaps, a black market where you could buy insurance for real estate bonds. Just about everyone was making so much money in this game that few noticed it was a variation on the classical Ponzi scheme and destined to implode. The bubble peaked in 2007 under the most recent Saturn-Neptune opposition, and crashed with amazing suddenness under the 2008-2009 Saturn-Uranus opposition which simultaneously hit the USA's natal Mars-Neptune square. Since 1857, every major stock market crash has occurred when that Mars-Neptune square was afflicted by transits. Not every time the square has been afflicted has there been a crash, but every time there's been a crash, the square has been afflicted. The smart guys on Wall Street made big money as the real estate bubble was being inflated, and then made even more money when the bubble burst. The smart money sold the bubble and captured the losses via "short selling" of unsustainable mortgages when it burst.—until the bursting got out of hand because more credit default swaps had been sold than there was money to pay the insurance. The big banks then persuaded government that they were "too big to fail" and thus captured the billions politicians threw at their most generous campaign contributors, under a legislative plundering of American taxpayers called TARP. The bankers who run the Fed are "birds of a feather" with the bankers who run Wall Street, so it's no surprise that these birds would stick together to weather economic storms. And since they are in the business of making money by moving money, it's no surprise that they would engineer the massive money movements that create economic storms. Most of us moderns have come to love money so much, we have forgotten the old cliché, "Love of money is the root of all evil." Many have forgotten the love part of that saying and have shortened it to "Money is the root of all evil," which of course it's not. Money is neither good nor evil. It's a human invention we can use for good or evil, and quite often what seems good today turns out to have evil consequences tomorrow. Money is like water. It can save someone dying of thirst, or drown another in too much. Money is also the life blood of any society's economy. Bad circulation of it has been the downfall of many a society in the past. Bad circulation used to be called usury. Today, usury is how our economy functions: Every buyer and reseller of credit money needs to take a piece of the action to stay in business. Money has also shape-shifted over the centuries. Time was when cowry shells and dried cow dung were used as money, then gold and silver coins. Then came paper money and checks based on deposits of gold and silver in banks to back the paper. Today, most of what we call money exists in cyberspace, denominated on computer screens. It's now possible to buy everything you need without ever touching paper bills or coins. And at the center of this vast spider web of cyberspace credit money is the USA's Federal Reserve. Which returns us to the question of whether it is best for government to buy money from banks, or sell money to banks. And the Lunar Eclipse of the Winter Solstice of 2010 and the growing movement to change the Fed or even abolish it completely. Ellen Brown, author of Web of Debt, stated the problem this way: Our money system is not what we have been led to believe. The creation of money has been "privatized," or taken over by private money lenders. Thomas Jefferson called them "bold and bankrupt adventurers just pretending to have money." Except for coins, all of our money is now created as loans advanced by private banking institutions — including the privately-owned Federal Reserve. Banks create the principal but not the interest to service their loans. To find the interest, new loans must continually be taken out, expanding the money supply, inflating prices — and robbing you of the value of your money. Since 1914 the Fed has operated as a supposed quasi governmental agency but actually as a private group of bankers with no responsibility to the public. An amendment tucked into the Wall Street reform bill last May by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont mandated an audit of the Fed, which had hitherto done its own audits in secret. With the Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse of 2010, an independent audit brought an amazing fact to light: The Fed, since the collapse of 2008, has secretly dished up to its most cherished customers, at taxpayer expense, $12.8 trillion, trillion with a T. Wrote Sanders on his blog: "The $700 billion Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country…The Fed said that this bailout was necessary to prevent the world economy from going over a cliff. But three years after the start of the recession, millions of Americans remain unemployed and have lost their homes, life savings and ability to send their kids to college. Meanwhile, big banks and corporations have returned to making huge profits and paying their executives record-breaking compensation packages as if the financial crisis they started never happened." One of the most astounding things the Fed and its favorite customers have done is convince a majority of Americans that spending tax money on the people is absurd. What's right and proper is that the people subsidize big banks and corporations. While agonizing over the Social Security Fund, we ignore the trillions thrown at banks and multinational corporations. This cognitive dissonance has been accomplished by control of information in the mass media. With the Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse the American people are getting the jaw-dropping news that Fed bankers stuck them with the bill for their generosity to bankers. No, correct that: Most people are not getting the news. "What if the greatest scam ever perpetrated was blatantly exposed, and the US media didn't cover it? Does that mean the scam could keep going? That's what we are about to find out." (Poorrichard's blog) "Even if WikiLeaks reveals documents from inside a large American bank, as huge as that could be, it will most likely pale in comparison to what we just found out from the one-time peek we got into the inner-workings of the Federal Reserve." The move to change or abolish the Fed is not a Conservative v. Progressive issue. Its two main advocates in Congress are Senator Ron Paul, Conservative Republican from Texas, and Representative Dennis Kucinich, Progressive Democrat from Ohio. Ron Paul believes we should return to the gold standard to control inflation. Dennis Kucinich's proposed bill, HR6550, was timed with the Winter Solstice. His bill is lengthy but, for anyone who is interested in the future of the US money system, worth reading for its lucid list of reasons why it's needed. (See Ironically, the most radical proposal comes from a former employee of NASA and the Treasury Department, retired after 32 years, Richard C. Cook. He published a book in 2009 titled We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform (Tendril Press, Aurora, CO) in which he advocates a guaranteed income for all citizens. A summary of his reasoning can be found on pages 200 and 201. Here's a brief sampling: "The number one cause of war (and poverty) in the modern world is the debt-based monetary system run by the banks." "The present system is just as harmful to the wealthy who hold their fellow human beings in bondage as it is to the debtors they oppress, for the rich as well are deprived of the benefits of living in a world where human beings are free and happy, generous and productive." "The 13 original colonies built a dynamic economy without the presence of a single bank. Throughout the 19th Century, we developed the most powerful economy on earth without a large national bank." "We should abolish the Federal Reserve as a bank of issue and re-establish Constitutional control of credit as a public utility." To those who advocate a return to the gold standard, Cook clarifies a confusion about "fiat" money (declared the national currency by government) and "commodity" money (valuable in and of itself, i.e. gold and silver). He calls the bills now issued by the Fed "not money at all…It is simply temporary credit with a lien against it for repayment with interest." Real "fiat" money, says Cook, was the Civil War greenbacks issued by Abe Lincoln—"true democratic money that was spent into circulation by government and was not inflationary. Rather, it allowed commerce to expand and people to prosper. This type of money is actually the key to economic democracy." As our Founders decreed in the Constitution, we have a natural-born right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and this cannot be curtailed by any government that is of, for and by the people. What the Founders didn't foresee was that Congress would turn the creation and control of our credit money over to private bankers, with a legal responsibility to maximize profits for their shareholders, at the expense of the rest of society. Transforming our credit money from the property of bankers into a public utility controlled by a government agency responsible to the electorate—this would be no easy accomplishment. The history of US money has been a tug-of-war between bankers and government, and presidents who have "dissed" the bankers have encountered assassins. Andrew Jackson's assassin missed because his bullets got wet in a Washington rain. But the assassins of Abe Lincoln and John Kennedy succeeded. There is no known evidence they were hired by kingpin bankers. Both assassins were assassinated before they could either confess or stand trial. And there are those who believe there is no such thing as meaningless coincidence. There is likewise no meaningless coincidence when it comes to such a rare and powerful pattern as that which formed on December 21, 2010. What will finally emerge from this rare pattern regarding the Fed and our money we have yet to discover. Astrology tells us when a time for change has ripened, but not what change we will collectively make. Endnotes: I am ignoring the difference here between tropical and sidereal, Western and Vedic systems of astrology, and emphasizing planetary angles and transit-to-natal aspects. Figured according to the Vedic system, transiting Pluto is in Sagittarius, not Capricorn, owing to a 26 degree difference in Western and Vedic systems. To map both the Fed's nativity and the Winter Solstice of 2010 according to the Vedic system would mean that there is no alignment with the Galactic Center because of the Precession of the Equinoxes. Why adhere to the Western system? Well, when we go to a lumber yard and order two-by-fours, we know they no longer measure two honest inches by four honest inches, yet we still call them two-by-fours and they still work for their intended purpose. Even though I admire the astronomical accuracy of the Sidereal Vedic ephemeris, the Tropical Western ephemeris works just as well to reveal the meaningful mundane and transit-to-natal aspects. For an in-depth Tropical analysis of the Fed's natal chart, I recommend "Funny Money and the Fed" by Kathy Allan, 2010 Libra Edition of The Mountain Astrologer. See Arlo Guthrie: "I'm Changing My Name To Fannie Mae' - Why do I use the Uranus in Gemini Rising chart for the USA when prevailing opinion argues for the Sibley Chart's Sagittarius Rising? When we review the history of how the people of the 13 original colonies declared themselves a separate nation, it is revolutionary passion that dominates, and Uranus is the undisputed planet of revolutionary zeal. Establishing the exact time for the USA's "birth" is an exploration of subtle and not-so-subtle reasons for and against the July 4 date, and one exact time on July 4 verses others. This gives rise to endless debates based on endlessly debatable data. Rather than deal with the squabble of this debatable data, I view the USA as an entity and ask what Ascendant best describes the character and personality of this entity in the community of nations. That takes us to perceptions, viewpoints. Most Americans see the USA as possessing the qualities best described by the Sibley Chart's Sagittarius Rising. But if you travel to other lands and listen to people discuss the USA, the viewpoint you get is best described as Uranus Rising in Gemini. The USA is seen by turns as the world community's innovative genius and feared outcast. Above all, from the viewpoint of other nations, the USA is unpredictable. Our government ostracizes Cuba and North Korea as communist, yet establishes interdependent relationships with the world's leading communist nation, China. While we as a nation vigorously deliver charity to some, we just as vigorously bomb others to rubble. Stripped of our own homegrown rationales, this behavior also describes an entity with Uranus in Gemini Rising, one who "marches to his own drummer." So my choice of Uranus in Gemini Rising is based on our behavior as a nation and the conflicted history of our founding. In the transit-to-natal studies I do, what matters most are natal and transit-to-natal planetary aspects within our tidy little Solar System, rather than our Solar System's ever-changing position in the vast and yet-to-be-discovered universe beyond.