January saw the second inauguration of President Obama on the 20th and 21st of the month. The ceremonies took place just as the Sun left conservative Capricorn (representative of the Republicans) and ingressed into progressive, egalitarian Aquarius (associated with Democratic values). Aquarius also happens to be rising in Obama’s natal chart, so he, the Democrats and the times appeared to be very much in sync.
This year, the inauguration date fell on a Sunday, so Obama was sworn in during a small ceremony in the blue room of the Whitehouse whilst public festivities were held the following day. Many were encouraged by his inaugural speech, especially the part that mentioned a desire for greater gender equality in the workplace, as well as his commitment to making gay marriage legal:
“Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
These are all highly Aquarian topics – both idealistic and controversial in equal measure – especially if we consider that its ruler, Uranus, was discovered during the French Revolution, whose hallmark was the rallying cry, ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’. The inauguration festivities themselves reflected this – the idealism of Obama’s speech on one hand contrasting with the controversy over whether or not Beyoncé mimed her rendition of the national anthem to the protest song about Obama’s involvement with Israel made by the rapper Lupe Fiasco during a performance at an inauguration party on the Sunday evening, leading to his being escorted from the stage.
On the day Obama made this speech, we experienced the start of a grand trine involving Mercury and the Sun, Jupiter and Uranus in air signs, including the Sun and Mercury in Aquarius. This planetary configuration, which will naturally be found in the chart of Obama’s inauguration, suggests that Obama’s inherent Aquarian idealism and his decision to make known his vision for a better, more egalitarian society was well-timed and may become a signature of his second term in office when the history books come to be written.
However, a few observations from the inauguration chart (which is timed to coincide with the first swearing in ceremony on Sunday 20 January 2013) might not go amiss here. First of all, the Aquarian midday Sun, situated close to the MC (at 00 degrees 48 minutes), together with Mercury, is almost exactly conjunct Obama’s natal Jupiter (00 degrees 51 minutes). This implies optimism and confidence as a leader, echoing the transits we mentioned above.
According to one Whitehouse aide, Robert Gibbs, Obama’s intention during his inauguration speech was to communicate that, “we’re going to move beyond what has paralysed this town for so long”, and encourage both political parties to ‘”lay aside their partisanship” when it comes to solving “protracted problems like budget, taxes and spending, gun violence, and immigration.”
However, also worth noting is the fact that the MC for this event, which happens to fall in Capricorn, is almost exactly conjunct Obama’s natal Saturn in Capricorn, a very strong placement, as I pointed out in my Astro-Article on the Presidential Election, but one that could also lead to a repeat of some of the problems from his first term, especially if he once again chooses to be solitary, rather than collaborative and try to dictate to Congress, especially the Republicans, rather than negotiate or compromise with them. That warlike Mars in Aquarius also happens to be sitting very close to Obama’s Ascendant, suggesting that he means business when it comes to bringing about reform, despite opposition from the Republicans.
In fact, one political critic, commenting on Obama’s inauguration, remarked on what he called Obama’s newly ‘combative tone’ – a very Mars-like description:
…[A]fter his re-election, we have seen a newly energised, aggressive president vowing to take Republicans on over debt, spending, immigration, gun control – you name it. His tone last week, speaking at his initiative on gun control, was combative.
Now, it just remains to be seen if he can pull it off. One thing is for sure: since the election, I think Obama has learned his lesson when it comes to taking the time to garner public support for his policies rather than attempting to strongarm political opponents from behind closed doors. And with the Moon, the planet of the people, exalted in Taurus, and in the first house of the inauguration chart, it seems likely that American voters are ready, willing and waiting to conspire with him in overcoming any partisan-based policies motivated by the self-interest of the minority, including rich plutocrats who don’t want to pay more tax or improve welfare, and uncaring or unethical capitalism that does not care about green issues. Many doubt his capacity to get anything past the Republicans, who seem as determined as ever to shut him down. However, this is a man who has Mars, Pluto and Uranus in his seventh house, so I wouldn’t underestimate him. I hope to take a more in-depth look at this topic in a future article, so watch this space.
Algerian Hostage Crisis
Also on the news agenda during January was the Algerian hostage crisis. Many consider this to be first real terrorist situation that David Cameron has had to face during his term as UK Prime Minister. As such, it may be considered by critics to be a test of his mettle. The siege, which began on the 16th of January, and ended with nearly 40 hostages of various nationalities dying, and 29 terrorists being killed during raids by Algerian troops, was thought to have been triggered by French military intervention in the neighbouring country of Mali. The rather extreme actions of the Algerian government seemed to take the wind out of everyone’s sails, including David Cameron. Despite the fact that the oil refinery seized by the Islamic militia group was co-owned by UK-based BP and Norwegian firm, Statoil in partnership with the Algerian government, the Algerian authorities, barely seemed to consult anyone else before taking action.
The attack managed to upstage Cameron’s plans to make his speech about the UK’s future in the European Union, which was originally scheduled for Friday the 18th of January in the Netherlands, forcing him to postpone it until the WEF Summit in Davos.
In a statement to the press afterwards, Algerian President, Mr Abdelmalek Sellal, praised the decision by the Algerian military to storm the venue, claiming that the real aim of the kidnappers had been to “blow up the gas plant”.
At the time of the attack, an interesting planetary configuration was lining up in the sky: Venus was very close to an exact conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn and both planets were trining Saturn in Scorpio. On the face of it, this seems like a positive transit, indicating fundamental but constructive reforms to power structures and institutions. However, you also have to factor in the Moon, which ingressed into Aries 12 hours after the hostage attack had begun, a from where it made a rather volatile conjunction to Uranus few hours later. This combination, in turn, squared Venus and Pluto.
Mary Plumb, blogger for The Mountain Astrologer, remarked at the time, that the Moon had, in effect, activated the Uranus-Pluto squares that have continued to dominate the astrological landscape since 2011 and which will continue to be a challenging presence throughout most of 2013. (See my Sept 2012 column for details of the last Uranus-Pluto contact.) These events are characterised by a combination of violence, unpredictability and extremism as the forces of reform and tyranny vie for control and power. Many see this particular attack as a harbinger of worse terrorist atrocities to come as the threat from Islamic extremism in Africa continues to grow, virtually unchecked, in the region.
Essentially, for our purposes though, this planetary configuration represents a stand-off between Venusian and Martian, or masculine and feminine energies – the urge to create and collaborate versus the urge to dominate and destroy. The exploding (Uranus) of the power plant (Pluto) in Algeria represents a perfect example of the destructive potential of this astrological combination.
Interestingly, the chart for the attack, which took place at approximately 05:45 on 16 January in the Algerian desert near In Amenas, also has cardinal signs on the angles, with Libra, the sign of both Cameron’s natal Sun and Ascendant, on the Midheaven; and Aries, on the IC. Saturn, ruler of the chart (Capricorn is rising) is located in formidable Scorpio in the 10th house of public reputation.
Saturn is the only planet in the configuration above that we haven’t mentioned yet. Located close to the Part of Fortune in the sign of Pluto: ‘take no prisoners’ Scorpio, and the house of public events and government, and sextile to Venus and Pluto, it is perfectly positioned to counter-balance and stabilise the volatility of the Uranus-Pluto square. The decision of the Algerian government to take firm, although perhaps what could be interpreted as rather ruthless action in the eyes of the West, helped to avert a prolonged situation that might have ended with far more people being killed, if the power plant had been destroyed with explosives. And astrologically speaking, it does look as though the detonation of the power station was a very real possibility.
The action of the Algerians, then, as symbolised by Saturn in the hostage chart, thus offered the UK and other prominent world governments something of a reprieve – not only were the Algerians happy to take public responsibility for nipping the terrorist attack in the bud and saving the power plant, but their position as a relatively small Islamic foreign state meant they could also justify their actions more easily than any large Western power, bound by host of UN treaties and other humanitarian conventions.
Ultimately, then, the astrology suggests that the Algerian government did the West a favour whilst also scoring something of a PR coup – not only winning the admiration of their own people (and no doubt, that of their neighbours and Western allies) but also sending out a strong message to other potential extremist militant groups that their activities would not be tolerated. They also helped to move Cameron’s Europe speech to a more auspicious time astrologically – out of the reach of Uranus and Pluto and firmly under the influence of the minor grand trine that featured so strongly in Obama’s inauguration.
 Inauguration Day: Unclear strategy for an Obama legacy, BBC News Comment, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21110438
 Algeria siege: 37 foreigners died, PM says, BBC news, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21127646
 Algerian press defends army action in hostage crisis, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21119931