|Oddly enough, in an article written in 2002 about Uranus entering Pisces I asked whether we would see the first pictures of God. (Note 1) Little did I know. On September 30, 2005 the Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten, which is a mainstream broadsheet just to the right of centre, invited 12 cartoonists to portray their impression of the prophet Mohammed. The result was a series of seemingly harmless and rather sweet portrayals. Some were funny like the stream of ragged suicide bombers greeted by the prophet, who pleaded with them to stop because he had run out of virgins. One was more provocative, showing Mohammed with a turban shaped like a bomb.
Denmark prides itself on its democratic values and free speech, which over the past few years also included a campaign by the gutter press newspaper Ekstra Bladet, which encouraged the average Dane to express his or her true feelings about immigration. The result was not pretty. It was in this climate that the extreme right party Dansk Folkeparti managed to win enough votes to become a major player in the Danish government, which has resulted in a series of immigration laws that are the most draconian in Europe. Denmark has in fact proportionately far fewer immigrants than almost every other European country, though most of them come from countries where Islam is the predominant religion.
Denmark has now unwittingly unleashed a wave of anger and hysteria that has swept across the Muslim world, and the Danish government is at a loss to explain itself and powerless to control the consequences. The astrology for this event could hardly be more perfect. The editor of Jyllandsposten, Carsten Juste, has subsequently said that had he known the furore that was to ensue, he would not have pushed the button that set the printed press in motion. Actually, it was not his finger that did the deed, it was the finger of God… or rather the two fingers.
A quick look at the chart for the print (midnight time chosen) shows in fact that a Mars, which is about to go stationary retrograde, makes a quincunx to the Jupiter/Pluto sextile, and Uranus in Pisces makes a quincunx to a Saturn/Sun sextile.
Taking the first finger of God, Jupiter and Pluto show the atavistic power of religious expression and its international dimension. Mars in detriment in Taurus knows not what it is about to do, but its long retrograde until February 2006 will give it the opportunity to find out. The second finger of God involves the Sun in fall in Libra sextile Saturn in exile in Leo… an apt comment on the executive decision-making powers of editor Carsten Juste. The destruction of Danish consulates in Damascus and Beirut by hysterical crowds can be seen in the light of the pointing, irrational finger of Uranus in Pisces. The “reasonable” Saturn/Sun sextile upholds the undeniable right to free speech, which is the cornerstone of western democracy, illustrated by the refusal of Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to meet representatives of the Danish Muslim community who complained in the immediate aftermath. It seemed that the matter would soon blow over.
The first lesson of retrograde Mars is that nothing is over before the retrograde cycle is complete. So when Mars had completed its long journey back and forth, squaring Saturn and Neptune three times, finally making a long, drawn-out opposition to Jupiter in January 2006, the fuse burned down and the explosion took place just as Mars returned to the position where it stationed when the cartoons were published – 23 degrees of Taurus. Demonstrations took place in many Muslim countries and there was a concerted effort to boycott all Danish goods – something which hit the country hard because of its huge export of dairy products to these lands. Worst of all, the Danish flag was burned. A large proportion of Danes fly the flag at all times of the year to celebrate birthdays and other events, and have always associated it with the liberation of their country from Nazi domination and winning the European football cup. How could the flag of tolerant Denmark be burned?
The madness reached a crescendo as European newspapers reacted to the threats to Denmark by republishing the cartoons – an act which can either be seen as courageous, or stupid. The horoscope for February 1st, when France Soir published the cartoons (the editor was fired the next day by the Egyptian owner of the newspaper), reflects the perfect symbology of this event through the exact square between Jupiter in Scorpio and Neptune in Aquarius. On the one side is the huge emotional upheaval in the Muslim population, where deeply held religious feelings well up to the surface, and on the other, idealistic Neptune in Aquarius insists on the democratic right to free speech.
When Mercury joined the fray, merging with Neptune, suddenly everyone had an opinion. And the consensus in the logical corridors of western governments and households was that the right to free speech was inviolable, with the proviso that there should be freedom with responsibility and respect. That’s Mercury seen through the rosy glasses of Neptune in Aquarius. The reality is far more complex. For many Muslims, Mohammed is all they have got. Humiliated in Denmark through restrictive laws and a climate of distrust and lack of respect, they are made acutely aware of their minority status whilst there prophet is – in their eyes – blasphemously satirized. In Palestine they live without hope, without work and without passports that would allow them to travel. In other countries they feel under the boot of American imperialism, or repressed by oil-rich rulers who prohibit democratic activity.
With the Neptune/Jupiter square all perspective is lost, and imagined or real insults from the West cause the pot of injustice to boil over. Tellingly, Jupiter also trines Uranus during this period, which represents the transformative effect of new technology, and profoundly internationalises religious issues. In an age where everyone has access to a mobile phone or the internet, the whole question of freedom of expression is fraught with the sensitivities of cultural differences. Cartoons in Denmark can be seen the same day by people from Islamabad to Gaza, and this has consequences. For many readers and viewers it is a shock to encounter the irreligious views of western media… they have never seen anything like it. In a way East and West are just getting to know one another, and they are discovering just how different they are.
At the time of writing, this clash of cultures has been hijacked by different governments and interest groups to further their own agenda. Iran in particular has upped the stakes with a government newspaper proposing a series of caricatures about the Holocaust. (Note your feelings… that’s how the Muslim immigrant feels when the Western free press lampoons Mohammed). Iran is flexing its muscles these days, with its refusal to stop developing its nuclear technology despite EU and US threats, and a distraction that might unify the Arab world behind Iran could prove useful to it. Basically we are seeing the beginning of great upheaval in the Arab world as Pluto triggers planets in the charts of all the key players – not least Iran, whose Mars/Mercury conjunction in Pisces in the 8th house is currently experiencing a transiting square. (Note 2) There is no shortage of martyrs with that position! Interestingly Neptune at 17 Aquarius is exactly on the Descendant of Iran, and the Jupiter square goes on to conjoin Uranus in Scorpio in Iran’s 4th house, highlighting their secret domestic nuclear program.
The fact that Jupiter will go on to make squares to Neptune both in March and September indicates that the international unrest over the Mohammed drawings will not blow over for some time. The nature of this square is one of insolubility. No logical argument will work – the danger is that more petrol will be thrown on the flames. At the same time, the reactions that have been witnessed seem to be the height of irrationality. In fact one Jordanian newspaper actually published the cartoons with the caption “Muslims of the world, be reasonable” pointing out that most demonstrators did not even know what they were demonstrating against. Quite clearly irrational anxiety is a feature of Jupiter in Scorpio square Neptune. Denmark in fact has contributed considerable funds and expertise building sewer systems in the Gaza strip, yet it is from here that the greatest threats to life and limb have been made. Wise governments should wait without overreacting until the wave of irrationality has blown over.
What has been extraordinary about the atmosphere with the Mercury/Neptune conjunction square Jupiter has been the effort ordinary people have made to understand mindsets that are completely foreign to them. I recall a client born in 1960 who – when Mercury in Scorpio in the progressed chart went stationary direct exactly on Neptune whilst becalmed in the Atlantic ocean on a small boat – encountered a large whale which swam right up to her whilst she was taking an early morning swim. Looking into the eyes of this whale she had a profound realization of the existence of other beings with a completely different intelligence. It is this kind of realization that is beginning to dawn on the 5 million Danish people, who have stirred up a billion Muslims.
1. See first paragraph “Electric Fish”