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Astrology & Politics, Washington's New Odd Couple

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In 2006 the astronomers demoted Pluto to a dwarf planet. Pluto probably couldn't care less; like the rest of the celebs with one name he knows the importance of good buzz and a high profile. Besides, since the planet of death and rebirth entered no-nonsense Capricorn (the sign that rules business, banking, government, and corporations) in 2008, we've seen the collapse of those once impenetrable institutions. Who's calling Pluto a dwarf planet now? Pluto will remain in Capricorn until 2024 where it will continue to transform those establishments and our own lives as well. Which is why this may be the perfect time to hunker down with a good astrology book.

"Politics and astrology might at first seem strange bedfellow," Jessica Murray writes in her thought provoking book, Soul-Sick Nation, An Astrologer's View of America (MotherSky Press, 2008). But maybe not so strange. These are extraordinary times with unparalleled problems; everybody has an opinion but no one seems to have the answers. Why not invite metaphysics into the conversation? If we're going to heal this country we need to think bigger and look deeper. Jessica Murray does exactly that.

At the center of this book is the birth chart of America -- yes, countries like people have birth charts. Murray is a superb astrologer and she masterfully analyzes the chart of America (born July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, PA). This country has a nurturing Cancer sun (we want to take care of the entire world) with a freedom-loving Aquarius moon (we're not exactly as we appear) and a colorful and optimistic Sagittarius (the symbol of the cowboy) ascendant. Both powerful Pluto (which rules what is hidden and repressed) and ambitious Saturn (associated with reality and responsibility) are prominent in the chart and she spends a good deal of the book dissecting those heavy weight planets and their contribution to America's character and destiny.

The most riveting part of the book is her analysis of the WTC bombings on 9/11 which took place at a time when Saturn (in Gemini, the sign of the twins) and Pluto (in Sagittarius, the foreigner) were facing off in the sky. Looking at this event as well as the chart of George W. Bush, the Bush administration and the war in Iraq all through the lens of astrology adds new layers of meaning. She also discusses the upcoming transits (planetary triggers) that are ahead of us. 2010 and 2011 are watershed years as there will be a series of extraordinary planetary patterns. Like the Chinese symbol for crisis, composed of two words, danger and opportunity, this period can be a real turning point. Will we repeat an old pattern or transform it?

To her credit she doesn't simply diagnose the problem; she shows us how to move forward. The last part of the book is inspiring and genuinely hopeful as she lays out a strategy for healing both as individuals and as a nation. Saturn and Pluto, those two cohorts, who figure so strongly in America's chart and in the unprecedented events of the past decade take on the role of compassionate yet stern teachers who have the potential to restore this country's dignity.

Even if you are not a fan of astrology you can't easily dismiss Ms. Murray; her book is well researched and well written; she is politically astute, and deeply passionate about America. Her book may not have all the answers but it does ask the right questions, and points us in the right direction. Ultimately, understanding the cycles of the planets and how they influence us provides a context in which to make sense of the current global crisis and even find a deeper meaning in it. In these uncertain times that is no small thing.