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Slow Global Warming


by Gary Brand - written April 13, May 11, & June 15, 2011
published in the May, June & July 2011 editions of Echo* newspaper
Storms Spawning Tornado Outbreak in the Southeast on April 27, 2011 This is a satellite photo of the storms on April 27, 2011 that spawned 301 confirmed tornadoes, which tore huge paths of destruction and death through Mississippi and Alabama that day.  This tornado outbreak was the worst in all of recorded weather history and it was only the second day in recorded weather history (the other being April 3, 1974, the day of another “Super Outbreak”) when three or more EF-5 tornadoes (the most destructive category, with winds over 200 MPH) developed.

EF-4 Tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama April 27, 2011 This snapshot was taken shortly after 5:10 PM, when this terribly destructive EF-4 tornado began to rip through Tuscaloosa, Alabama on April 27, 2011.  As of April 30, 45 in Tuscaloosa and a total of 249 people in Alabama had died of injuries sustained during this and other exceptionally deadly storms during the April 25-28 outbreak.  About 40 minutes later, this same tornado struck the northern suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama, including Pleasant Grove.

Chart of EF-4 Tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama April 27, 2011 This chart is for 5:10 PM CDT, the time that the above EF-4 tornado struck Tuscaloosa, Alabama on April 27, 2011.  One of the most significant things about this chart is the positions of the key planets - Saturn, Uranus and Pluto - on the “angles.”  Saturn is conjunct the eastern angle or Ascendant, Pluto is conjunct the IC or 4th house cusp, while Venus and Mercury are conjunct the western angle or Descendant (with Uranus nearby).  These planets formed a T-square and, when they moved to the angles of this location, they set things in motion and signified that the destructive nature of this T-square was in an active mode.  Although Venus is considered a beneficial planet, it (and Mercury in this case) can act as a “trigger” or activator of a T-square like any of the other fast-moving planets.  Furthermore, Venus is not a benefit or “benefic” in this chart because she is in Aries where she is in her detriment, though not without essential dignity (in traditional astrology), because she is in her bound or term.  Venus is also conjunct Uranus, opposite Saturn, and square Pluto, all malefic or bad and destructive influences.  This means that Venus is weak and unfortunate in this chart and could not prevent the loss of life and property.

April 27, 2011 EF-4 Tornado compared with Tuscaloosa, Alabama The inner wheel of this chart is the positions of the planets on the day that Tuscaloosa, Alabama was “born” or first incorporated on December 13, 1819.  The outer wheel has the positions of the planets at 5:10 PM CDT, the time that the above EF-4 tornado struck Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011.  At the time of this tornado, transiting Pluto was conjunct Venus and Mercury in Tuscaloosa's chart, transiting Venus, Uranus and Mercury were square the city's Mercury and Venus, and transiting Saturn was square the city's Mercury and Venus.  All of these transits indicate that the city's commerce, communications, and power (Mercury) were disrupted or partially destroyed and the city's social activities and revenue (Venus) were disrupted and reduced.  Although the Pluto and Uranus transits to the city's Venus and Mercury last for several years, they were “triggered” or activated by transiting Venus and Mercury.  The most interesting thing about Tuscaloosa's birth chart is that the Saturn-Pluto conjunction is square Uranus.  So Tuscaloosa was born during a Uranus-Pluto square and this tornado occurred during the current Uranus-Pluto square!  This is an incredible correlation that my teacher told me about more than 25 years ago - that crises often occur when aspects in the birth chart are repeated by transits, whether the transiting planets aspect those in the birth chart or not!  Ignore the houses in this chart because I don't have a time of day for when the law that first incorporated Tuscaloosa was signed by the governor so the chart is arbitrarily calculated for noon on that day.

Peak of the Uranus-Pluto Conjunction on July 9, 2011 The chart for one of the peak dates for the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto T-square, when Venus acts as the “trigger” or activator of the T-square by forming a “grand cross” with the other planets in the T-square.  The period of time within a week or two of this date is likely to be a time when disasters of historical proportions occur in the world and crises come to a head in our lives.  This date was chosen because it is the day that Uranus is stationary turning retrograde and, therefore, at its first close square to Pluto, the only peak in 2011.  There are no houses shown and the Moon is not included because this is not the chart of an event.
The following is a composite of a series of articles about the rare square (90 degree separation in the sky) between the planets Uranus and Pluto.  The fact that astronomers have demoted Pluto to “dwarf planet” status does not diminish the tumultuous impact of “hard” or difficult aspects (angular alignments) between these two planets throughout the course of history.  The first part of this page is somewhat technical (I'm a technical guy) but it lays the groundwork for the articles that follow in this series.

Uranus' period of revolution around the tropical zodiac is 83.75 years and Pluto's period of revolution is 245.33 years (N.D., p. 74 (1980)).  After a conjunction (when they are at the same longitude in the sky) between these planets (their last conjunction was 1962-1968), it takes Uranus one orbit and an average of more than 43 additional years (slightly more than half an orbit) to catch up to Pluto again.  Although the average period between their conjunctions in the tropical zodiac is 127.28 years (Id., p. 85), there is a great deal of variance in this period because Pluto has a very elliptical orbit.  This means that Pluto spends a relatively brief period in some signs (the shortest period is in Scorpio where it spends only 11.5 years), because it is moving relatively fast, and very long periods in the opposite signs – the longest period is in Taurus where it spends 32 years creeping along at a very slow pace.  The leading or waxing square between Uranus and Pluto last occurred November 1873 – August 1878, the beginning of which was 137 years and four months before the onset of this leading square in March 2011 (using a 10 degree orb between the two planets during application and separation).  This period of 137.33 years is 10 years in excess of the average Uranus-Pluto synodic cycle of 127.28 years, which serves as an example of the variability of this cycle.

The synodic cycle between any two superior planets (those outside Earth's orbit) begins with their conjunction.  The completion of the first quarter of the Uranus-Pluto synodic cycle is marked by the waxing or leading square because the faster planet (Uranus) is 90 degrees in front of or leading the slower planet (Pluto) in the order of the zodiacal signs.  Their synodic cycle is one-half finished when Uranus opposes Pluto and three-quarters complete when Uranus forms a waning or trailing 90 degree square to Pluto.  This square is so named because Uranus is trailing Pluto in the order of the signs of the zodiac when it occurs.  The current square (March 2011 – May 2018) between these two planets is a leading square, as Uranus pulls away from Pluto after their conjunction in 1962-1968.  The beginning of the current Uranus-Pluto cycle in the mid-1960s was the most tumultuous time this country has experienced since WWII.  The country witnessed the brutal murders of President John Kennedy, his brother Bobby, civil rights activists Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, and four unarmed students at Kent State University, assassination being a keyword of both Uranus and Pluto (R.E.B., p. 9 (1976)).  There were deadly riots (Uranus/Pluto) in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago.  Massive demonstrations (Uranus) against racial discrimination and the Vietnam War and were ultimately responsible for Lyndon Johnson choosing not to run for a second full term as president in 1968.

You may notice that I primarily select what might be construed as “negative” keywords for Uranus and Pluto when describing a square between them.  This is because the square is primarily a negative aspect, with keywords like conflict, tension, stress, discontent, disruption, friction, and demands.  If Uranus and Pluto were trine or sextile each other, the choice of keywords to describe the manifestation of those aspects would be more positive.  As I mentioned in my last article, Uranus (in a square with Pluto) represents anarchy, rebelliousness, freedom, assassination, disorder, revolution, crises, autonomy, fanaticism, erratic behavior, extremism, excitement, unrest, inconsistency, and upheaval.  Combine this with some very similar or the same keywords for Pluto, like revolution, upheaval, fanaticism, assassination, extremes, violence, eruptions (volcanic and political), and we are in for a wild ride through most of this decade.

Greek mythology can give us some idea of what we might expect from the clash of these two planetary entities.  In Greek myth, Uranus was the original ruler of the starry heavens and the son and cohort of Mother Earth.  The concept of Father Sky god and Mother Earth goddess, as two primordial deities who created the universe and populated the world, is common to all Indo-European mythologies.  Uranus was probably threatened and did not want to share the attention of Mother Earth with his offspring.  According to Hesiod, Uranus was so horrified by the birth of his children (the 12 Titans, the three Cyclopes, and three monstrous Centimanes) that he stuffed them back into Mother Earth as soon as they were born.  This essentially made him a tyrant, which is symbolic of the human need to not feel that we are being supplanted.  The brutal castration of Uranus by his youngest son, Saturn, weakened Uranus because all of his children were simultaneously released into the world (including Saturn).

With some similarity, Uranus' grandson Pluto (Hades in Greek myth) ruled the underworld, domicile of the dead, with an iron fist (symbolic of how unbending and domineering the will of some people is).  Mercury was the only deity who could come and go from Pluto's domain at will.  The god of the underworld (symbolic of our subconscious mind and behaviors) wore a winged helmet that made him invisible, which symbolizes the invisible motivations and desires that reside in our subconscious.  Pluto became enamored with and abducted Persephone to be his wife.  This is a metaphor for the threat that our conscious mind might be abducted by our subconscious desires and passions in order to satisfy our senses.

The above section was the first part of a series of articles about the Uranus-Pluto square that appeared in the May 2011 issue of Echo newspaper.  The next section, part two in the series, was published in the June 2011 edition of Echo.

Most of this section is devoted to the relationship of the Uranus-Pluto square to recent events.  Since Uranus and Pluto are slow-moving planets, a square between them lasts for several years.  Using an orb of influence of 10 degrees between them (my rationale for which is explained below), Uranus is square Pluto from March 2011 – May 2018 (more than 7 years).  The traditional “orb” used by Arabic and Renaissance astrologers was 9 degrees for Saturn and Jupiter, 8 degrees for Mars (e.g. J.S., p. 39 (1539)) so, following this pattern, I'm using a 10 degree orb for Uranus and Pluto because their orbits are larger that those of Jupiter and Saturn, just as the orbs and orbits of Jupiter and Saturn are larger than Mars.  I reasoned that, had they known about these planets, traditional astrologers would have assigned at least a 10 degree orb to them.  A 10 degree orb means that the square is in effect from when they are 80 degrees apart in the sky until they are 100 degrees apart (90 degrees plus or minus 10 degrees).  The current Uranus-Pluto square lasts more than a year longer than the three previous squares, which were in effect March 1929 – March 1935 (6 years), November 1873 – August 1878 (less than 5 years), and December 1817 – December 1823 (6 years).  This is alarming, in part, because the three previous squares encompassed three of the four worst depressions this country has ever suffered.

If you are an eternal optimist and believe that another “Great Depression” could never happen again in this country – with safeguards like the Federal Reserve, leveraging limits on Wall Street, and the eagerness of Congress to bailout huge banking and mortgage institutions – think again.  Every one of the problems that contributed to and caused the financial and housing collapse that began in late 2007 and accelerated/deepened in 2008-2009 are still with us!  In fact, many of the underlying problems have been exacerbated since the collapse and they foreshadow an even worse collapse in our near future.  The greed that caused the current economic disaster has not abated, rather it continues to mushroom in this multi-national corporation-dominated culture.  It also runs wild on Wall Street as stock and commodity markets continue to spiral upward, despite all of the ominous forebodings, such as ongoing record foreclosures, lingering high unemployment, and increasing downsizing and outsourcing of American jobs.

There are many recent manifestations of the Uranus-Pluto square and such events will continue throughout the seven years ahead.  Complicating and intensifying the expressions of this square is the formation of a T-square resulting from Saturn opposing Uranus and squaring Pluto.  This T-square is in effect from the last week of April through mid-August, which coincides with the first period of peak intensity for the Uranus-Pluto square during June-August.  The most recent events that are discussed later in this article occurred during the period of this T-square and their severity and the extent of their effect is an expression of the difficult aspects Saturn is making to the Uranus-Pluto square.  I will write more about the T-square in my next article.

The revolutions and demonstrations in the Middle-East and the war for independence in Libya are archetypal manifestations of the Uranus-Pluto square because both of these planets represent demonstrations demanding dramatic change, uprisings, revolutions, and upheaval.  On March 11, 2011, the very day that this square began (according to traditional astrology, because that was the day Uranus transitioned into the sign of Aries), a tremendous earthquake and tsunami occurred off the coast of northern Japan.  Earthquakes are symbolized by Uranus because they are sudden, unexpected, shocking, and unpredictable, and also by Pluto because they are often very destructive, they can kill many people, and they originate in the nightmarish underworld far beneath the surface of the earth.  The nuclear power plant disaster in Japan that resulted from the tsunami was also portended by the Uranus-Pluto square because nuclear power is epitomized by Pluto and the vulnerability of those power plants came as a complete surprise (Uranus) to the designers, operators, and customers.

On April 14-16, 155 confirmed tornadoes left paths of destruction in 14 states, killing 43 people.  In North Carolina, it was the largest tornado outbreak since March 1984.  April 25-28, 2011 was the largest tornado outbreak in U.S. history!  This outbreak spawned 301 confirmed tornadoes, three of them in the most destructive EF-5 category, that killed at least 340 people and injured thousands.  The EF-4 tornado, with peak winds up to 190 mph that ripped through Tuscaloosa, Alabama, killed 41 people, injured over 1,000, and was the deadliest tornado in the United States since 1955 (see satellite image and photo of this tornado above left).  The U.S. National Weather Service determined that April 2011 (with 625 confirmed tornadoes) was not only the worst April on record, it was also the worst MONTH for tornadoes in all of recorded weather history!  The Uranus-Pluto square was implicated because Uranus represents tornadoes in general, their unpredictable nature and path, the surprise of their strike, the twisting winds that spawn and feed the tornado, and the swirling chaos in and around the twister, while Pluto signifies death, destruction, and the upheaval (along with Uranus) that continues in their aftermath.  Hurricanes are also under the purview of Uranus, because these storms are unpredictable, constantly changing, and they are composed of swirling winds.  Hurricanes are related to Pluto because of their destructive and deadly nature.

Even the record flooding of cities and towns in the Mississippi River basin in May was a manifestation of the Uranus-Pluto square because it was a surprise to most people, it was very destructive of homes, businesses, farmland, and people's lives (total damage could reach $4,000,000,000), and it resulted from extreme (a keyword of both Uranus and Pluto) storms, snowfall and rainfall amounts upriver.  In Memphis alone, 3,000 – 4,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed (Pluto).

During the Uranus-Pluto square, we can expect and anticipate more deadly earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, nuclear disasters and other natural and man-made catastrophes in the future.

This section, part three in a series of articles about the square between Uranus and Pluto, was published in the July 2011 edition of Echo*.  Most of this segment is devoted to the meaning of this square in the context of a T-square they form with Saturn and the impact of the T-square on the lives of some of us and in the world.  This T-square, which consists of Saturn opposite Uranus and both square Pluto, began about the last week in April and continues through mid-August.  Later in this section is a review of the events since it commenced, which fit the symbolism of the T-square to a “T”.

First of all, some word associations will make this segment more understandable.  For example, the words “extreme” (and by extension, extremism and record-breaking events) and “catastrophes” are attributed to both Uranus and Pluto (R.E.B., pp. 23, 47 (1976)).  The square between these two planets for the next seven years will manifest all sorts of natural and human extremes and catastrophes.  In addition, the same source assigns “disasters” to Saturn, Uranus and Pluto (Id., p. 37), so is it any wonder that there have been so many since the onset of this T-square at the end of April?  Degeneration, decay and decadence are keywords of Saturn and Pluto (Id., p. 35) in a square and these are apropos words to describe the U.S. Congress and their indifference to the best interests of the public.  An oft-heard refrain now:  throw out (almost) all of the incumbents in Congress!  I hear more and more from the political pundits on NPR that there is a continuing and growing anti-incumbent mood in America that doesn't care about party affiliation of incumbents.  However, the REAL issue is the huge amounts of money that it now takes to buy a seat in Congress and such money can only come from special interests – mostly multi-national corporations, which have millions of dollars to spend on political campaigns and 26,000 high-paid lobbyists who make sure that Congress votes in the best interests of their corporate benefactors.

Often a T-square of slow moving planets like this is “triggered” or activated and events come to a head or crisis point when the faster moving planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars) enter the T-square by conjoining one of the three planets or by forming a “grand cross” with them.  This was the case when Venus and Mercury were the triggers during the tornado outbreak of April 25 – 28.  Even normally beneficial Venus, when it acts as a trigger like this, can signify disaster.  From June 16 – 25, Mercury in Cancer forms a grand cross with the planets in the T-square, from June 21 (the summer solstice) – about July 8, the Sun forms a grand cross with them, Venus forms a grand cross with Saturn-Uranus-Pluto from July 4 – 13 (using Venus' traditional 7 degree orb), and from August 3 – 20, Mars completes the grand cross but continues in a square with Saturn until about September 9 (using Mars' traditional 8 degree orb).  The Mars-Saturn square was considered a particularly malevolent or malefic influence by traditional astrologers so don't expect August 3 – September 9 to be an easy or happy time (although there may be happy interludes).  However, not all disasters occur when the T-square is activated by a fourth planet.  Because of these aspects to the T-square, it's going to be a damn hot summer – and I don't just mean the temperature!

This spring of our discontent has brought the worst tornado season in recent times, out-of-control wildfires, a record heat wave, and record-breaking flooding.  Extremes in the weather since the onset of the T-square include the following.  The tornado outbreak of April 25-28 (the worst in our history) devastated much of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and several small towns from Mississippi to Georgia, killed 341 people (as of April 30), injured thousands, and spawned 301 confirmed tornadoes (NBC, April 30, 2011).  A huge tornado devastated (a Uranus-Pluto keyword, R.E.B., p. 36 (1976)) much of Joplin, Missouri on May 22, killing 153 people (HP, June 13, 2011) and destroying 8,000 dwellings.  The worst wildfire in Arizona history, which has burned out of control since it began on May 30, has scorched more than 470,000 acres (NBC, June 14, 2011), and is sending smoke as far east as New England at times (air pollution is ruled by Uranus and Pluto).  This is the driest spring France has suffered in 50 years and Texas is stuck in one of the worst droughts on record.  Tallahassee, Florida, where I presently reside, is in an extreme drought, having received only 39.5% of the historical average rainfall from March – May and only 0.6” of rain during May; numerous wildfires are burning in Florida as a result of the drought.  Meanwhile, record-breaking flooding, in May along the lower Mississippi River and in June along the Missouri River and its tributaries, has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people in seven states (Pluto signifies flooding).  A very persistent, record heat wave gripped most of the U.S. in June, setting new record-high temperatures in dozens of cities on an almost daily basis.  Although not weather related, on June 4th Chile's Puyehue volcano began erupting, spewing huge clouds of ash and disrupting air travel across South America, New Zealand and Australia (more volcanic eruptions will occur in the coming months and years because volcanoes are the epitome of Uranus square Pluto).

Think about what you and your community would do after you survived a disaster.  When we can't dodge the disaster, perhaps we can figure out how to recover or cope with the aftermath quickly and/or effectively.  How would we communicate if a huge solar flare knocked out the grid over two-thirds of the country?  How would we even know what's going on?  Maybe we each need to have an occasional “17th century weekend” to see how we would get through a couple of days without the grid, cell phones, TV, refrigerator, microwave, computer, and e-mail — a full-shutdown, no electricity, techno-nightmare!


*Echo is a monthly newspaper about community, the environment, health, cuisine, and spirituality that is distributed in central Virginia.
Good Timing and Location are Keys to Success

Gary Brand, Traditional Astrologer
Tallahassee, Florida

© copyright 2011-2013 Gary Brand.  All rights reserved.