Election '04


What does astrology tell us about the upcoming presidential election?

Well, for one thing, as I reported last week, Mercury's current retrograde transit has produced a lot of irrelevant detail, clouding the bigger ideological questions at stake in the election. I suppose the same could be said for a lot of major campaigns these days, though I personally feel the Swift Boat Veterans controversy deals in a particularly excessive proliferation of fine points with regards to a particularly inconsequential issue. But we can gain even more substantive astrological insight by examining the specific zodiac zone of this Mercury retrograde and how it affects the charts of the two candidates.

Mercury turned retrograde on Aug 9 at 9 Virgo—that is, at the ninth degree into Virgo (each zodiac sign covers 30 degrees). At that point, Mercury began its reverse movement, crossing back into Leo on Aug 24. It continues until it stations direct (momentarily stands still before shifting back to direct, or forward, motion) this Thursday, Sep 2, at 26 Leo. This means the portion of the zodiac between 26 Leo and 9 Virgo is the zone where Mercury retrograde has carried out its effect, and astrological charts prominently featuring those degrees will be more significantly affected. The manner in which Mercury retrograde's convoluting and contorting influence impacts a chart depends on the archetypal energies of the planet or point in the chart that Mercury is aspecting.

Interestingly, the charts of both George W Bush and John Kerry are notably stimulated by the retrograde passage of Mercury through the 26 Leo-9 Virgo zone. In Bush's natal chart, Mars sits at 10 Virgo, within one degree of where Mercury first turned retrograde three weeks ago. When transiting Mercury conjoins natal Mars, an individual receives a jolt of mental stimulation to the engine of their outward will and physical drive. This Mercury-to-Mars transit contributes an increased force to communications, which can add both an advantageous competitive fortitude as well as a shorter fuse for anger and a more ego-driven 'battle of wills' mentality—either extra oomph or a louder crash-and-boom.

In Bush's case, Mercury comes very close to Mars without actually conjoining it before heading back the other direction, indicating that the additional forcefulness in communication doesn't quite achieve its fullest peak; rather, the energy revs up and the will flares, but with the lacking mental clarity associated with Mercury retrograde. Bush may believe he sees all the necessary details to proceed into battle with his usual practically-minded precision (natal Mars in Virgo in the 2nd house), but Mercury's movements say otherwise.

Kerry's chart, in contrast, features natal Jupiter at 28 Leo, two degrees from where Mercury will station direct on Thursday. When a planet moves retrograde, it temporarily traces back over the region of the zodiac it most recently moved through. Then, when the planet turns direct and starts moving forward again, it visits that same zodiac zone for the third time, before continuing past it. In other words, during the period surrounding a transiting planet's retrogradation, that planet has the potential to trigger something in a natal chart at least three separate times.

And that is the case for transiting Mercury's conjunction with Kerry's natal Jupiter. Mercury first hit Kerry's Jupiter on July 22, while it was still moving in a forward fashion. Then, during its retrograde, Mercury returned to this same spot and hit Kerry's Jupiter again this past Sunday, Aug 29. And finally, after Mercury turns direct, it will retread this same ground and hit for the third time next Monday, Sep 6. In retrograde-created triple-play transits such as these, astrologers often read the first hit as initiating the astrological effect, the second hit as generating additional activity, and the third as bringing some conclusive climax, with the entire period surrounding all three as under the influence of the transit. For Kerry, this means that Mercury has been energizing his Jupiter since mid-July, with its effect finally coming to resolution next week.

Jupiter in a natal chart symbolizes where an individual experiences great growth and easy expansive opportunities for enhancing his worldview through seeking exposure to new influences, and it is generally considered a beneficent or good-luck planet. With Kerry's Jupiter in the philosophically driven 9th house, where we seek to universalize our beliefs into a unified system through which we manifest our ethical judgments, Mercury's transit delivers mental energy to help him in articulating where he stands on big-picture issues.

While transiting Mercury conjoining natal Jupiter usually brings a favorable incorporation of new ideas into existing beliefs and an optimistic tolerance for other viewpoints, we mustn't forget the retrograde effect on the overall astrological picture. Kerry may ultimately gain philosophical insight and intellectual confidence from this Mercury transit, but not until after it has turned from retrograde to direct and made its third pass over natal Jupiter next week. In the meantime, his ability to convert his wide-focus vision into a clearly communicated statement of belief is overshadowed by confusion between 'objective' factlets and the egos that produce them. Bush, meanwhile, won't emerge from the Mercury-retrograde confusion surrounding his 'fighting words' and his ability to use logic and speech to accurately reflect his will until the following week, once Mercury finally conjoins his natal Mars on Sep 16, after its initial flirtation with conjunction more than a month earlier.

If I were astrological advisor to the candidates, I would begin by counseling both of them to watch what they say during a Mercury-retrograde period. As miscommunication is a most common mishap related to Mercury retrograde, I'd want to make sure they made as few direct value statements as possible—and those they must make should be extra-super-duper quadruple-checked by multiple aides—to minimize the potential of being misinterpreted. I'd warn Bush to verbally restrain himself in attacking or competing with his opponent until mid-September, out of concern that he might inadvertently be perceived as too combative or misinformed in the premise of his attacks. By holding back, he can exercise more preciseness in his offense, appearing as a strong leader rather than a bully.

For Kerry, I'd advise decreasing the zeal with which he speaks about his beliefs in absolutes until next week, so as to prevent becoming sloppy from too much enthusiasm. If he's kept his eyes and ears open to fresh input from friends and foes alike during the past few weeks, he's likely to emerge from this transit with broader knowledge and a keener sense of how to bring ideas together into coherent unity, which he'll soon be able to articulate more succinctly.

Judging from the analyses of these two candidates' Mercury-retrograde transits, the easy answer would be to attribute greater benefit to Kerry during this period, due to the involvement of Jupiter, the traditional good-luck planet. However, according to recent polls, it seems like Bush has enjoyed a slight bump in the polls as a result of (or in spite of?) the airing of the Swift Boat Veterans' ads in key battleground states. It is, of course, worth noting not only that the small lead enjoyed by Bush is within the margin of error of the polls (meaning, essentially, that it's too close to call), but also that Mercury is still retrograde, immediately calling into question the factual accuracy of any polls made during this time.

Still, these analyses also reflect the complex way in which astrology must be used if we desire an effective tool for better understanding. Kerry may indeed benefit philosophically and intellectually from these last few weeks, but that doesn't necessarily mean the benefit will come in the form of an election victory. At this same time, Bush may have risked too much force or willfulness coming through his thoughts and communications, but what might otherwise be a potentially alienating transit on a personal level could be quite beneficial in this antagonistic campaign season, one of the most aggressive and warriorish in recent history.

I've just given a microscopic example of how astrology can be used to interpret the dynamic of a presidential campaign. So many factors—such as the chart of Election Day, as well as the effects of the upcoming pair of eclipses in October—come into play when framing cogent astrological analyses of the political scene… hmm, perhaps I'll have to write more on this later.