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Slow Global Warming


by Gary Brand - written December 17, 2003,
published in the January 2004 edition of Echo* newspaper

Hurricane Isabel on September 18, 2003, taken by the
MODIS instruments on NASA's Terra and Aqua spacecraft Hurricane Isabel on September 18, 2003 at 4:55 PM EDT.  The image was taken by the MODIS instruments on NASA's Terra and Aqua spacecraft.  Courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio/Visible Earth (
 like to begin the new calendar year by clearing up a common misperception:  the real or natural year begins on March 20 or 21, the date of the spring equinox, not on January 1.  From ancient times until they adopted the Gregorian calendar, most European countries and the American colonies (up until 1752) observed the beginning of the year on March 25 (4-5 "intercalary" days after the spring equinox).  In addition, your personal year begins on your birthday.  Therefore, if you want to make "new year resolutions" and to initiate changed behaviors, do so on your birthday.  January 1 is an arbitrary date of no astronomical or astrological significance.

The year of 2003 brought central Virginia a 3.9 Richter scale earthquake on May 5 that rattled windows and shook floorboards, Hurricane Isabel on September 18, which caused widespread electricity outages lasting for days, and a 4.5 Richter scale earthquake that sent shock waves rumbling through our homes and offices for nearly half a minute on December 9.  What's happening in Charlottesville's chart to indicate such major and unusual events and will there be more in 2004?  Astrologically, earthquakes are most closely associated with the symbolism of Uranus and Pluto, both of which represent change, upheaval, disruption, and sudden surprises.  At the time of the May 5 quake, transiting Uranus was making a very strong (less than one degree) square to Pluto and making a wider square to Jupiter in Charlottesville's (city) chart.  Because the Uranus to Pluto square will continue, off and on, for about a year and a half and we won't have earthquakes every day during this span of time, other transits act as triggers or activators to release built-up, underground tensions.  One trigger on May 5 was transiting Venus in a very strong opposition (less than one degree) to Uranus in the city's chart (Venus is the largest of Earth's planetary neighbors).  Since the Uranus to Pluto square began last spring and will persist throughout 2004, it is highly likely that we will experience more and possibly bigger earthquakes before it is over in 2005.

The USGS web site says that the 4.8 earthquake in 1875 was the last time this city sustained an earthquake the size of the 2003 earthquake (4.5 on the Richter scale).  At the time of the December 9 quake, Uranus was square the city's Pluto, the primary signature for shaking us up.  However, the trigger for this seismic event was again, interestingly enough, Venus in very strong (less than 1 degree) square to the city's Uranus!  Looking at the chart for September 18 when Hurricane Isabel struck, one of the influences indicating widespread electrical outages was transiting Saturn (limitation, obstruction, destruction, and it rules old trees) square the city's Uranus (electricity, electronics, earthquakes, and hurricanes).  Saturn makes this square only once every 14 years but it continues, off and on, for a year (it began in September).  Additionally, transiting retrograde Mercury formed a very strong opposition (less than 1 degree) to the city's Sun (vitality) and Mercury (electricity, commerce), triggering the square of transiting Pluto to the city's Sun and Mercury (upheaval, disruption).  Finally, transiting Neptune (flooding) was in a strong square to the city's Moon and conjunct the city's Venus.  This influence will continue to impact the city during a portion of 2004, and together with transiting Uranus square the city's Pluto and transiting Saturn square the city's Uranus, another hurricane and/or electricity outages are strong possibilities.

What is fascinating about all three of these events (the earthquakes and Hurricane Isabel) is that the Moon at the time and date of each, and they were all different months and days of the month, is at the same position in each chart (only a three degree variance)!  If the city chart for Charlottesville is calculated for noon (we don't know the actual time of day when the legislation was approved), the transiting Moon at the time of the above three events was conjunct the ascendant in all three cases!  Further evidence of the importance of this point in the city's chart is that transiting Saturn was conjunct this ascendant on May 5 and transiting Mars was square it on December 9!  These positions are more than coincidence and suggest that the city chart has late Gemini rising.  Those with questioning or skeptical minds might be thinking that the impact of these three events weren't confined to the city limits and, in fact were regional.  Quite true, but if the charts of surrounding towns and cities affected by these events were examined, transits of similar meaning and significance would be found.

Recently, The Hook (a weekly newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia) interviewed me to get my forecast for the winter.  As with most interviews, they only printed brief excerpts of what I said along with a disproportionately huge photo of me.  So a more in-depth, seasonal forecast follows.  First, however, a few words of explanation about weather charts, which are calculated for the beginning moment of each season for a particular location and contain a general weather forecast for that place and season.  Astrologers for the last two millennia, including great men like Johannes Kepler and Benjamin Franklin, have calculated such charts to forecast local, seasonal weather.  In such a chart, the 4th house represents one-half of the weather influence, the ascendant and 1st house represent another one-quarter, the Moon's sign and aspects represent one-eighth of the weather influence, and the last one-eighth is represented by planets in or ruling the other angular houses.

It is truly amazing how similar the winter solstice chart (December 22) is to the spring equinox (March 20) and summer solstice (June 21) charts, and you remember how wet the summer and spring were - they made 2003 the wettest ever in Charlottesville (since records have been kept).  The 2003 winter solstice chart with Venus in Aquarius in the 4th house and governing the 1st house (same as the spring equinox chart) means cold, wet weather, and beneficial rains and snows that recharge the ground water.  Neptune in the 4th house (same as the spring equinox and summer solstice charts) means fog, high humidity and misty weather, haze, and increased moisture in a wet chart such as this.  Saturn in Cancer (same as the summer solstice chart) and governing Capricorn on the 4th house (same as the spring equinox and summer solstice charts) means very wet, snow (in a cold season chart), and colder than usual (spring and summer were unusually cool this year).  Saturn exactly opposite Mercury in Capricorn means windy, colder than usual, stormy with snow squalls and ice storms a distinct possibility.  Sun, Saturn and Mercury all square Mars in Aries mean storms, dramatic temperature variations, and strong winds.

From this synopsis, a clear picture of the general weather forecast for this winter emerges:  colder, wetter, windier, and more stormy than usual with significant amounts of cold rain, snow, sleet and ice - maybe more than last winter.  However, this can be offset if the moisture charts for each quarter of the Moon's cycle (each week) reveal a lack of rain.  By the way, the summer solstice chart also had a strong storm signature (Sun conjunct Saturn in Cancer, both square Moon), confirmed by the powerful thunderstorms that rolled through our area and by Hurricane Isabel, which wrought her havoc on September 18 - only 5 days before summer's end.

*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

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