Obama, the Tea Party, and Venus
What is the Tea Party movement? It is a conservative protest movement against government spending, taxes, and President Barack Obama. It is mostly made up of middle class white males who consider themselves libertarians or conservatives and typically vote Republican. It hails its name from the iconic Boston Tea Party of December 16th 1773, when American colonists dumped over a million dollars worth of tea into the Boston harbor in protest of England’s taxes on tea. Now the modern Tea Party has gone from ragtag protests to becoming a small but estimable force in American politics, to the point of seriously complicating negotiations to raise the nation’s debt ceiling to avoid default. What does the sky reveal about this development in America’s political discourse?
Much ink has been spilled over the fact that on the night of the 2008 election, Saturn perfected its first opposition to Uranus in a series lasting through July 2010, signaling a confrontation between forces for change (Uranus) and the status quo (Saturn), an upheaval of the established order, which was a fairly appropriate astrological statement since Obama himself framed his candidacy in those terms. However, for every action there is a reaction. Certainly his election established an administration of consequence which has already made some historic reforms, but perhaps the right has a claim to have contributed to an “upheaval of the established order” as well.
Interesting thing is, the last series of Saturn-Uranus oppositions spanned across the years 1965-1967. They largely occurred in the opposite signs of the most recent series, so the period of the mid to late-60’s is a kind of reflection or mirror-image of the period in which the Tea Party rose to prominence, 2008-2010. With Saturn in Pisces opposite Uranus in Virgo we saw a youthful, liberal protest movement against the (old, white) “Man”, but with Saturn in Virgo opposite Uranus in Pisces we saw an older, conservative protest movement against a youthful black man in the position of power, in many ways an embodiment of the social progress fought for in the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s. Tea Partiers are the anti-hippies.
There is another side to the story though, and it involves a planet which may not make much sense at first: Venus. Venus is popularly associated with romantic love, but really it is representative of all the things we value as a society that unite us together. Robert Schmidt theorizes the essence of Venus is to unite that which is unlike, for better or worse. That would account for the various things it has come to have relevance for: social interactions, whether it is between two individuals, or different groups of people or entire societies, cultures, races, religions, as well as for the things that unite different people together- art, music, pleasure, beauty, order, which in themselves are related concepts. Interestingly enough, Venus probably has the most regular planetary cycle, since it is very close to the ecliptic and whose 5 inferior and superior conjunctions happen just 2 degrees away from the place they did exactly 8 years before. It is orderly, beautiful even. In contrast, Mars, considered a planet of war and conflict, or according to Schmidt “that which separates that which is like”, is very far off the ecliptic and whose 7 conjunctions and oppositions with the Sun occur very roughly over the zodiac every 15 years.
Venus has a particular relevance for American politics because of the way elections happen to be scheduled, particularly for the 4-year terms of the President, since after 4 years, Venus is in the same part of the zodiac but in the opposite position relative to the Sun, whereas after 8 years, Venus is in the same part of the zodiac and in the same position relative to the Sun. Americans unwittingly elect Presidents on the regular schedule of Venus. Despite America’s historical skepticism of authority, opposing parties have often looked up to their Presidents as uniters, beloved heroes who strive to make things better for the country and maintain order. Sounds a lot like Venus to me. Mayan astrology might not tell us much about millenarialist fads such as the non-astrologically based 2012 Mayan apocalypse fad, but it does have a very interesting perspective on Venus.
Bruce Scofield is an expert on Mayan astrology and wrote an extremely illuminating article about the way the Mayans looked at Venus. It turns out the Mayan myth of Quetzalcoatl is a kind of allegory for what the different points of Venus’ synodic cycle might mean, which tells an archetypal human drama of sin, judgment and redemption which in some ways provides something that is missing from the western astrological ideas on Venus. The bizarre part is that it actually seems to have something to it. Scofield’s example shows the myth of Quetzalcoatl playing out quite literally in the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, timed eerily well by the cycle of Venus. The tale of the Bush administration’s history with Venus retrogrades practically deserves its own book. In practice, Venus retrogrades do indeed seem to be important for the US’s own Quetzalcoatl- the President of the United States, and Obama has been no exception in this regard.
In short, there are 4 main points to the cycle of Venus in the view of the Quetzalcoatl myth, according to Scofield:
1: the rebirth and descent of Venus as a morning star followed by a loss of self-control, 2: the judgement of social transgressions by the gods at superior conjunction, 3: the loss of god-status and acceptance of mortality during the evening star period, and 4: sacrifice leading to rebirth as a god once again at the inferior conjunction.
How we got to today can be understood remarkably well by examining these points of the Venus cycle.
Venus Superior Conjunction at 18 Gemini on June 9th 2008, Obama wins Democratic Primary
According to the Mayans, the superior conjunction is when Quetzalcoatl is judged by the gods. The gods in this case are the people, and in this particular election year, it was going to be a shoo-in for the Democrat. The real choice for who would take over after President Bush would be determined by the Democratic primary election, and fittingly, Barack Obama finally triumphed over Hillary Clinton close to a Venus superior conjunction on June 3rd 2008. It was also a remarkable event for race relations, which is very interesting in light of Nick Dagan Best’s research into the cycles of Venus as a uniter of different groups of people and its consequent relevance for the gradual and painful yet ultimately beneficial integration of peoples. It unites that which is unlike after all.
Venus Maximum Eastern Elongation on January 14th 2009, Obama Inauguration
According to the Mayans, the eastern elongation is when “Quetzalcoatl walks the Earth as a mortal. He has been judged by the gods and is humbled. The rules of the world prevail over individual urges”. This certainly captures the reality for the outgoing President Bush who was first sworn in at Venus’ maximum elongation 8 years earlier. But even for the incoming President Obama, the euphoria of the election must have been dampened by the sobering realities of the responsibilities he now had to face. Obama was inaugurated under a week away from the Venus elongation on January 20th 2009.
A funny thing about the Venus eastern elongations and presidential inaugurations that Nick Dagan Best also discovered: From 1793 to 1933, the inauguration was always held on March 4th. In 1793, the eastern elongation of Venus happened on March 18th. Every 8 years, the date of the elongation would happen 2 days earlier. Eventually, the elongation started happening so long before the inauguration that the following retrograde period began to get closer and closer to the inauguration. That is, until FDR’s inauguration in 1937 when the inauguration day was changed to January 20th, setting presidential inaugurations right back in sync with Venus’ maximum eastern elongation! It will be interesting to see if we change the date yet again once the elongation strays too far from the inauguration date…
Venus Retrograde 15 Aries-29 Pisces, March 7th-April 18th 2009, Rise of the Tea Party
According to the Mayans, the inferior conjunction during the retrograde period is where Quetzalcoatl commits a sin or otherwise errors. Venus entered its pre-retro shadow period on February 3rd 2009. With the economy in dire straights, Obama quickly signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on February 19th 2009. It was a sweeping combination of tax cuts and job growth programs in order to pull the country back from the brink of depression. At the retrograde station, President Obama held a forum at the White House to launch his health care reform effort. The combination of Obama’s efforts to save the American economy and reform its health insurance industry are a couple of the most cited reasons for the formation of the Tea Party. With the way these initiatives were presented in conservative media, Obama had committed an atrocity by marching the country towards “socialism”, as they perceived it.
In keeping with the Western notion of Venus as a uniter of peoples and redeemer of relationships, the retrograde period coincided with Obama’s world tour to repair relations with countries that had soured during the Bush years. On March 6th 2009, the day before Venus stationed retrograde, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart symbolically “reset” relations between the two countries by pressing an actual reset button. Ironically, the Russian word on the button was misspelled and actually read “overload” instead of “reset”. They pressed it anyway. On March 24th 2009, the US and Russia agreed on a new commitment to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons, called New START.
On March 20th 2009, the day of the vernal equinox, the people of Iran celebrated Nowruz, the new year from their Persian (and astrological!) heritage. In an unprecedented move, Obama used the occasion to reach out to Iranians directly through a video calling for a new beginning. On April 2nd, world leaders convened for the G20 Conference in London to reach an agreement on a global response to the recent economic downturn. From April 17-19th 2009, over the course of the direct station, Obama attended the Summit of the Americas. At these last two events, Obama’s gestures of social etiquette and respect, (a bow before the Saudi King Abdullah and shaking hands with Hugo Chavez) made a big impression on conservatives who viewed his efforts to repair global relations as an “apology tour” for the United States. Conservatives distrusted his ease and popularity with foreign countries, especially since some already mistakenly suspected he was not an American citizen or a secret Muslim.
Meanwhile, ragtag Tea Party protests continued to proliferate from late February through the retrograde period. The largest number of coordinated Tea Party protests took place 3 days before the Venus direct station, on April 15th 2009, coinciding with Tax Day, which included a protest right outside the White House.
Venus Maximum Western Elongation on June 5th 2009, Obama’s Cairo Speech
Bruce Scofield says the maximum elongation that follows a retrograde period exemplifies or intensifies a trend or cycle that began during the retrograde. The retrograde period was chiefly characterized by Obama’s efforts to repair global relationships. The day before the maximum elongation, Obama gave a well-publicized address entitled “A New Beginning” to students in Cairo, which was aimed at softening the tensions between the United States and the Muslim world. The Tea Party was also a trend that took root in the retrograde period however, and conservative reactions to the speech solidified in some minds the idea that Obama, by making overtures for peace with the Muslim world, was himself a secret Muslim, a terrorist or sympathizer, or something. Distrust of Islam is partly an unfortunate consequence of the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent invasion of Muslim-majority countries in retaliation to those attacks. The specific demographics of the Tea Party identify a group of people statistically more racially and culturally insensitive than other groups, and we will see the issue of relations between Muslims and non-Muslims appear again in a major way at another Venus maximum elongation.
Venus conjunct the South Node at 28 Cancer- Ted Kennedy Dies
Now technically this is not a phase of Venus although it relates obliquely to the Sun and the Moon since the Nodes are where the Sun and Moon’s path intersect, where eclipses happen. Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, champion of healthcare reform, died on August 25th 2009. August itself was probably the thorniest month for healthcare reform, as Tea Parties as well as ordinary town halls got out of control over anger at the initiative. Stay with me on this one.
Venus at 24 Libra square the Nodes at 24 Capricorn-Cancer, 2009 Gubernatorial Elections
On November 3rd 2009, a few states had off-year gubernatorial elections. Of particular interest were the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, where both Democratic candidates lost. While the campaigns did not focus on healthcare, it was clear that Republicans benefited from the public outrage at healthcare reform from August, and was interpreted as a referendum of sorts.
Venus Superior Conjunction conjunct the North Node at 21 Capricorn, Massachusetts Special Election
Because of Ted Kennedy’s death, a Massachusetts Senate seat had to be filled. The special election was widely reported as a general referendum on Barack Obama and his plan for healthcare reform. A lot hinged on this election: if the Democrats lost, they would lose their razor-thin filibuster-proof majority in the Senate necessary for passing healthcare reform. This is after all the phase of Venus the Mayans associated with judgment of Quetzalcoatl. Against a lot of expectations, Republican Scott Brown won in the bluest of states to replace a legendary Democrat whose life’s work on healthcare reform he campaigned against! Democrats were baffled and demoralized by the loss.
Venus at 20 Aries square the Nodes at 17 Capricorn-Cancer, Health Care Reform signed into law
Amazingly, despite all odds and setbacks, healthcare reform was finally passed through the Senate through reconciliation and signed into law on March 23rd 2010. I was surprised by how hard aspects between Venus and the Nodes seemed to connect these distinctly related events- from Ted Kennedy’s death, to the 2009 gubernatorial elections, to the 2010 special election in Massachusetts to replace Ted Kennedy, to the ultimate passage of healthcare reform.
Venus Maximum Eastern Elongation on August 20th 2010, “Ground Zero Mosque” Protests
Interestingly, the events surround the eastern elongation have a curious relevance to the previous elongation, when Obama gave his historic speech reaching out to the Islamic world. At issue was an Islamic activities center (like an Islamic YMCA) to be built where an old Burlington Coat factory stood, a few blocks away from the site of the 9/11 attacks, but was popularized inaccurately in the media as a mosque at Ground Zero. While the controversy had been brewing through June and July, it was on August 22nd 2010, just 2 days away from the eastern elongation that the largest and most vitriolic and blatantly anti-Muslim imagery and rhetoric were seen. Also in this time period, a preacher from Florida threatened to burn copies of the Qu’ran which caused international condemnations. The so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” became a divisive political issue in the 2010 midterm elections.
Not too far away from the elongation was Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” Rally on August 28th 2010. It was held at the National Mall on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, purposely timed to coincide with the 47th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. (Interestingly enough, the day of the 1963 protest was the day of a Venus superior conjunction with Uranus.) The purpose of the timing of Beck’s rally was to consciously connect the ongoing Tea Party/conservative revival to the Civil Rights movement. 47 years happens to be a Mars recurrence cycle (32+15) or (15+15+15+2). So again, we see these kinds of racially-tinged events centered around the phases of Venus.
Venus Retrograde from 13 Scorpio-28 Libra, October 7th-November 18th 2010, Midterm Elections
November 3rd 2010 was the day Venus made its heliacal rising, the morning after the nation participated in the 2010 midterm elections. Bruce Scofield says the Mayans paid particular attention to this phase as Venus’s heliacal rising as a morning star and was known to strike down those in power, Quetzalcoatl is “sacrificed”. The outcome resulted in the loss of the House of Representatives for the Democrats, and the Democrats lost more seats than any party had in a midterm election in nearly a century. It was a major test for the true influence of the Tea Party. This of course is interesting since the Tea Party came about during the Venus Retrograde in Aries of 2009, tested its power in the Massachusetts special election during the Venus superior conjunction in Capricorn in January 2010, and then came into power at the Venus Retrograde in Scorpio in November 2010. Obama admitted in a press conference the next day that his party had received a “shellacking”, and he took responsibility for the loss. Analysts tended to agree that the Tea Party had helped the GOP win the House of Representatives, but hindered it in taking the Senate as well.
The 2010 midterm elections were often compared to the “Republican Revolution” 1994 elections in the middle of Bill Clinton’s first term. This is interesting because both elections occurred at the same part of the Venus cycle. At the previous elongation, Beck held his “Restoring Honor” rally. Comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of the Daily Show and Colbert Report held their joint rally “Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear” at the National Mall on October 30th 2010. It was organized as a satirical response to Beck’s rally, although it blurred the lines between satire and political activism.
Venus Maximum Western Elongation on January 8th 2011, Gabrielle Giffords Assassination Attempt
Bruce Scofield says about the maximum western elongation: “Symbolically speaking, at this point in the cycle any conflict or trend that began at the inferior conjunction intensifies and becomes clear and objectified.” The last Venus retrograde encapsulated the 2010 midterm election campaigns. On January 8th, 2011, the day of the Venus maximum elongation, Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at a public meet-and-greet with constituents but managed to survive. Several others were killed, including a federal judge and weirdest of all, even a little girl who was born on September 11th, 2001.
While the assailant, Jared Loughner, did not have a coherent political philosophy and did not seem particularly associated with Republicans or the Tea Party, it did not go unnoticed in the media that excessively violent campaign imagery and rhetoric permeated the 2010 midterm elections. Sarah Palin’s PAC even released a map of Democratic seats they wanted to flip to Republican with the districts marked with crosshairs, and Gabrielle Giffords was one of them. Gabrielle Giffords even said herself at the time: “For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.” Violent political rhetoric from the 2010 midterm elections during the Venus retrograde became all too “clear and objectified” at the next Venus maximum elongation.
Venus Superior Conjunction at 23 Leo on August 16th 2011, Tea Party on Trial?
On July 25th 2011, Venus heliacally set. At this time, the US was in great danger of needlessly defaulting on its debts by not raising the debt ceiling. The Tea Party Republicans in Congress, now having grown in power every Venus superior and inferior conjunction, seriously complicated the nation’s prospects for avoiding a default by not agreeing to anything, even proposals from the top Republican in the House, Speaker John Boehner. Boehner unveiled his plan on the 25th, and Tea Party Republicans voted against it on the 28th. When Congress somehow managed to settle on a final deal, who shows up for the final vote on August 30th but Gabrielle Giffords! It was her first appearance in public since the assassination attempt, which connects the event of the maximum elongation to the events of Venus’s heliacal setting.
A New York Times/CBS News poll and others in the wake of the debt ceiling resolution revealed that the public tended to blame the Republicans more for the debt crisis for unwillingness to compromise. Negative views of the Tea Party were also on the rise, reaching 40%, while 20% supported it and the remaining 20% had not heard enough to have an opinion.
Remember that Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination right by a Venus superior conjunction in 2008? And Venus superior conjunctions are times of “judgment”? Well, interestingly enough, a major test (although it is claimed to be overhyped) for the Republican presidential candidates was the extremely recent Ames Straw Poll. While not always a reliable predictor of who would win the nomination, it could be a good launching pad for some candidacies while torpedoing others. Given the increasing profile and power of the Tea Party with each conjunction between Venus and the Sun since early 2009, it is extremely interesting then that Michele Bachmann, the self-proclaimed Tea Party Republican candidate came in first! For Tim Pawlenty, a decidedly more moderate candidate in the race, the Ames Straw Poll resulted in the end of his campaign. At the same time, Pawlenty was replaced by the arrival of a new and more Tea Party-ish candidate, when Texas Governor Rick Perry officially threw his hat into the ring. We’ve known that one of the two distinct factions of the Republican party would eventually have to prevail. It appears that this latest “judgment” reveals which direction the Republican party may be heading in, although with public opinion turning against the Tea Party, it will be interesting to see in what form Quetzalcoatl will take when he is sacrificed and reborn again at the Venus retrograde in Gemini in May-June 2012.