Astrolutely Fabulous! | established in 2000

Friday Bite: 23 February 2024

 

A Quiet Hero

JUST BEFORE THE Friday Bite was uploaded last week, the death of Alexei Navalny was announced. According to reports, the Russian politician “collapsed” at his Siberian prison after a “short walk”.  A week later, we are a little clearer on how this courageous dissident, this arch critic of Vladimir Putin, met his death.

According to Vladimir Osechkin, founder of Gulagu.net, an NGO that documents abuse in the Russian prison system, Navalny was killed by a single punch to the heart, a technique favoured by the FSB (formerly the KGB). Navalny’s body is currently under police guard at the Salekhard district clinical hospital. No autopsy has been performed.

On Thursday, Navalny’s mother, who had previously been denied access to the prison, was allowed to view her son’s body and subsequently signed a death certificate stating that he died of natural causes. She is, however, unable to take his body away because the authorities are insisting that certain conditions be met. Those conditions include the place, the time and manner of his burial.

Navalny’s death has generated global condemnation. The Kremlin has called Western reaction to the circumstances of his death “hysterical”.

ALEXEI NAVALNY WAS the leader of the opposition party, Russia of the Future and the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation. He was recognized by Amnesty International as a “prisoner of conscience” and awarded the Sakharov Prize for his work on human rights.

The opposition leader sprang to the attention of the wider world when, on 20 August, 2020, he fell suddenly and violently ill on a domestic flight to Moscow. The captain diverted to Omsk, thereby almost certainly saving his life. Navalny had been poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok. Two days later, and in large part due to the determined efforts of his wife, Yulia, he was air-lifted to Germany where he made a full recovery.

On 17 January, 2021, Navalny returned to Russia. He was arrested upon landing and the following day, detained for violating the terms of his suspended jail sentence. Less than a month later, he was sentenced to two and a half years for his parole violation and, four weeks after that, given an additional nine years for embezzlement and contempt of court and transferred to a maximum-security prison.

On 4 August, 2023, Navalny was convicted of charges related to “extremism” and “terrorism” and sentenced to 19 years.

On 11 December, 2023, Navalny disappeared from the prison roster. On Christmas Day he was located at the “Polar Wolf” penal colony, north of the Arctic Circle.

On February 15, 2024, Navalny appeared on a video link in a court hearing. He looked fit and well. Twenty-four hours later, he was dead.

Alexei Navalni natal plus SA progressions Feb 2024

I have to say that at first glance this chart does not radiate valour. However, after gazing at it for a while, a quiet heroism emerges. Virgo rises, placing Mercury, the ruler of the chart, in the ninth house. The Moon is also in Virgo and the Sun in Gemini in the ninth house and conjunct Venus. Certainly, the love of law, justice and liberty is displayed by the activity in the ninth house, but for an individual of such physical, intellectual and psychological power, one might have anticipated a rising Mars in Leo or Scorpio or a Sun-Mars conjunction in Capricorn or Scorpio or perhaps Scorpio rising, a Sun Pluto conjunction, Pluto conjunct the midheaven, or a whole string of formidable placements and aspects.

Mars is indeed in feisty and charismatic Leo and squared by revolutionary Uranus. It is placed, along with the Moon, in the eleventh house of ideals and altruism. The Mars drive and capacity to lead are boosted by a square to Jupiter and given a visionary quality by a trine to Neptune. Selfless actions and fealty to a higher cause are also redolent of the Sun’s and Venus’s opposition to Neptune. Mars is a little too far from Saturn to qualify as a conjunction, and it is in a different sign, but I am prepared to cite this gritty aspect as a major reason for his persistence, resistance and ability to remain unbowed in the face of overwhelming opposition.

You may have noticed that Saturn at 29 degrees 55 minutes of Cancer has been opposed by Pluto for the past eighteen months, which is one of the most challenging transits of all. (Those of you who have been living under Saturn opposing natal Pluto or Pluto opposing natal Saturn will know exactly what I mean.) Saturn in Navalny’s case is in the tenth house of career and life-direction and thus telling the story of the formidable struggle he has faced.

Alexei Navalny Death natal chart

Officials gave Navalny’s time of death as 14:17 on 16 February. Eight degrees of Leo was rising at that time, a couple of degrees away from his natal Mars and nine degrees away from natal Saturn. We can speculate that the punch that killed him was administered a little before the official time of death, perhaps as the Mars-Pluto conjunction conjoined the Descendant or as the Ascendant reached 29 degrees of Cancer, thereby precisely conjoining Navalny’s natal Saturn. As it was, Venus was at 29 degrees of Capricorn (opposing his natal Saturn) and applying to a conjunction with Pluto and Mars. And the triple conjunction in Aquarius was also squaring his natal Uranus and natal Chiron.

As far as the progressions go, by solar arc, the Sun had reached 29 degrees of Cancer (natal Saturn), progressed Mars was at 26 degrees of Virgo (conjunct his Ascendant) and progressed Neptune at 28 degrees of Capricorn (opposed to natal Saturn). Last but not least, the progressed nodal axis was flanking the MC-IC axis.

The above progressions serve to remind us not only of the efficacy of solar arc directions as opposed to secondary progressions but also how Saturn and Neptune are invariably involved at difficult, if not fatal, points of life:

Queen Elizabeth II’s death: progressed Neptune conjunct natal Saturn and the Midheaven, and progressed Saturn squaring the MC-IC axis.

King Charles III’s cancer diagnosis: progressed Saturn conjunct his natal Sun, progressed Mars opposition natal Saturn.

Neptune is another important figure on the astrological landscape. At 26 degrees of Pisces, Neptune was connected to all four angles of Navalny’s natal chart: conjunct the Descendant, opposed to the Ascendant and squaring the MC-IC axis. I often talk about Neptune’s role in sacrifice and suffering, and there can be no argument about the suffering he underwent and the sacrifice he made for the country he loved.

On the afternoon of February 16, the Moon at 24 degrees of Taurus was conjoined to Navalny’s natal Mercury, which suggests that his death sends a powerful message to Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin.

I WONDERED WHETHER there was anything to be gleaned from comparing Navalny’s chart with Vladimir Putin’s. Navalny was the sharpest thorn in Putin’s side for years. Indeed, two days after he was detained by Russian authorities upon his return to Russia in 2021, an investigation by Navalny and the FBK was published accusing the president of fraudulently obtaining funds to build a massive estate for himself near the town of Gelendzhik on the Black Sea. According to the report, the estate is 39 times the size of Monaco. There are impregnable fences. It has its own port, its own security, a church, its own permit system, a no-fly zone, and its own border checkpoint. It is effectively a separate state within the state of Russia.

Navalny posed far more of a threat to Putin than the perpetrator of the ill-fated coup, Yevgeny Prigozhin (who fell from the skies to his death on 23 August last year). Ironically, the two almost share a birthday – Prigozhin was born on 1 June with his Sun on Navalny’s Venus while Prigozhin’s Saturn is at the exact opposite point to Navalny’s. Both have Mars in Leo, in Prigozhin’s case conjunct Uranus and in Navalny’s squaring Uranus. Comparisons may be odious – and it is difficult to find a single virtue in Prigozhin who was a merciless thug while Navalny was a hero of the highest order — but it is curious that these two men who sought to change the course of Putin’s Russia share some key astrological features.

Vladimir Putin Natal with SA progressions

The seventh house of the horoscope is not only the zone of relationships but the “house of open enemies”. Taurus rules Putin’s seventh house and Venus, the ruler, is to be found at 11 degrees of Scorpio, precisely squaring Navalny’s Mars and conjunct his north node. Putin’s Mars (26 degrees Sagittarius) is conjunct Navalny’s IC, opposing his Midheaven and squaring his Ascendant-Descendant axis. Last but not least, Navalny’s Uranus is conjunct Putin’s Ascendant. All these connections would at the very least generate friction between the two, but at opposite ends of the political, moral and spiritual spectrum, they were destined to become mortal enemies.

The thing is that although Putin almost certainly engineered Navalny’s death, his victim may have the last word.

On 15 March, the Russian people will head to the polls to elect a president. These elections will be taking place in a Russia that is very different from the previous election in 2018. Since the war in Ukraine, Russia has become increasingly conservative and increasingly repressive. It is a country in which dissent has been criminalized and opposition politicians placed behind bars, assassinated or at least rendered toothless. The territory has changed too since areas of Ukraine now occupied by Russian soldiers will have a vote.

As the flowers and tributes laid in memory of Alexei Navalny were taken away in bin bags and hundreds of mourners detained, there is an aura of resignation hovering over the streets of Moscow and beyond.

As the prominent Russian sociologist Greg Yudin put it: “In Russia, they like to say that it is darkest before dawn. I think it’s true – it’s just that we hardly know the real darkness yet. Looks like it’s only starting to get dark. The sun is gone.”

Fly me to the moon

Friday Bite: 16 February 2024

 

Far out

Jupiter-Uranus conjunction – Moon Missions – Donald Trump

AGAIN, WE ARE spoilt for choice as to which global developments to include in this Friday Bite. I am aware that I have ignored the recent elections in Pakistan and Indonesia, for which I apologize, but there are only enough hours in a day to do the research necessary for these articles. However, I do think it quite the synchronicity that the followers of Imran Khan, currently behind bars in a Pakistan jail, won the popular vote…

On Tuesday, Mars entered Aquarius and the following day, conjoined Pluto. And, as we go to press, Venus has just entered Aquarius and will conjoin Pluto on Saturday. On the one hand, Pluto is presiding over developments that are shedding light on what has been under deep cover for some time and, on the other, sending important signals of things to come.

On Wednesday (Valentine’s Day), Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner, broke cover and announced that Russia intends to place a nuclear anti-satellite system in space. (Any attempt to launch such a system would violate the Outer Space Treaty of 1976.) Russia has previously managed to jam signals from the Starlink satellite network, which is being used by Ukraine, so the prospect of a device that has the capacity to neutralize any and all satellite systems is alarming to say the least. The White House later confirmed the reports but commented that they were “troubling” and not an immediate threat.

Also on Valentine’s Day, in an opinion piece on the political website, The Hill, the UK’s Foreign secretary, David Cameron, urged US legislators to pass a bill that includes support for Ukraine. In response, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene invited him to “kiss my ass!” Ms Greene, we should note, is a devoted compatriot of Donald Trump who, hours earlier, had suggested that Russia was welcome to “do whatever the hell it wanted” to a country that did not pay its NATO dues.

And then, on Friday, Alexei Navalny, a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin, who was serving a 19-year sentence in a penal colony in northern Russia, died following a morning walk. The cause of death is not known…

In an interview with ITV news, a leader of the Houthis, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, said that the group would attack deep inside the United Kingdom and America were it to have the rockets and war planes to do so. For the moment, the Houthis are focussing their fury on the UK and the US by attacking vessels in the Red Sea.

If you remember, on the Sun-Pluto conjunction of 20 January, there were a flurry of statements by defence ministers and military leaders regarding the need to be ready for war with Russia. Indeed, in that same period, Sweden notified its citizens to prepare for war.

All the above could be said to be nothing but a lot of sabre-rattling, but the signs of escalating hostilities between west and east are coming thick and fast and, when Pluto is a major player, they need to be taken seriously.

On to other things.

ON THURSDAY, ODYSSEUS Lunar Lander, nicknamed “Odie”, embarked on an historic journey to the Moon. If the mission is successful (the previous one in January, launched on a retrograde Mercury, failed) it will be the first touchdown of a US-made spacecraft on the lunar surface in five decades. Touchdown is set for 22 February.

Odie’s trip to the Moon is a “scouting mission” designed to assess the lunar environment ahead of a manned mission planned for 2026 and it is but one of a several – India and Japan launched successful lunar landings recently. This resurgence of lunar missions comes at a time when Jupiter and Uranus are aligned – Jupiter’s principles of expansion and exploration aligning with Uranus’s space-age properties.

Indeed, man first went to the moon on an exact conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus in Libra.

Apollo 11 natal chart

The chart of this event, this “giant leap for mankind”, is perfectly captured in the astrology. First and foremost, the exact Jupiter-Uranus conjunction, which is sextile Mars in Sagittarius and the placing of the Moon on the IC. The Mars-Neptune conjunction might have signalled a loss or failure of the enterprise, but instead, emphasized the aspirational intention of the mission.

Oddysseus Lunar Lander

Jupiter and Uranus are ten degrees apart – they will meet at 22 degrees of Taurus on 21 April – but technically they are already in conjunction. Plus, the Moon at take-off was within minutes of a conjunction to Jupiter, thereby linking all three planets and making a powerful statement about the event – an exploratory mission to the Moon, a feat of technology. Saturn is a figure of interest, being conjoined to the IC, although sextiling the Moon and Jupiter. We will have to wait to see if Saturn bodes problems with Odie’s landing, especially since the Moon of the mission is within a degree of Apollo 11’s Saturn, and the Ascendant (26 Scorpio) is conjunct Apollo 11’s Neptune and the Sun (26 Aquarius) squaring it.

I will talk more about the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction nearer the time, but we can also see this influence at work in the farmers’ protests across Europe, which have brought main arteries into capital cities to a standstill. Just to whet your appetite though, the last Jupiter-Uranus conjunction occurred in 2010 and marked another period of intense activity in the exploration of our solar system; it also presided over the birth of the Arab Spring. The Jupiter-Uranus conjunction of 1997 (early degrees of Aquarius) fell on the then Prince Charles Descendant and was a foreboding of the sudden and unexpected death of his former wife, Princess Diana.

THURSDAY WAS ANOTHER important day in the life and times of former president, Donald Trump. In New York, Judge Juan Merchan, rejected the former president’s bid to dismiss the charges brought against him by an adult movie star for alleged payments to her before the 2016 election. The judge set the trial for 25 March. This historic ruling means that for the first time an ex-president and potential presidential nominee will face a jury for an alleged crime.

On Friday, a ruling was expected in the civil fraud suit brought against Donald Trump. Judge Arthur Engoron could order the former president to pay a fine of $370m and issue him with a lifetime ban on doing real estate in New York.

Meanwhile in Georgia, things were looking a lot more positive for Mr Trump. An evidentiary hearing over whether to dismiss the Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, who brought the election subversion case against Trump and 14 of his allies, began. And it stands a very good chance of derailing the entire case.

Donald Trump Natal Chart

Mr Trump is facing a maelstrom of legal challenges, any one of which could lead to a conviction. (His popularity remains undimmed and his influence on the Republican Party ever stronger.) However, the first major test of the status quo will occur on 25 March when he will come before a jury who must judge whether or not he paid hush money to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. If they find him guilty, he will become the first former president to be convicted of a crime. That the case opens on a lunar eclipse conjunct his Neptune does not bode well for the former president.

We live in interesting times.