They're Alive… Wait, They're Dead


We're up, and then we're down. Our feelings, like passengers on a runaway roller-coaster car, jerked and spun around.

Last week's tragedy at the Sago Mine goes down in history—along with 'Dewey Defeats Truman', the inaccurate newspaper headline following the 1948 US presidential election—as one of the most upsetting public instances of quick-trigger-fingered misinformation.

For those who missed the story, an explosion at a West Virginia coalmine last Monday morning (Jan 2) led to a 40-plus-hour standoff, as miners' family members waited with held breath for rescue workers to return with word of their trapped loved ones. Finally, late on Tuesday (Jan 3), they got what they were waiting—wonderful news of the 'miracle' that 12 of the 13 miners were found alive. Rampant rejoicing and thankful hymn-singing followed.

Only, the news that had leaked out was wrong. And it took mining company officials another three hours before correcting the report and informing everyone that, in fact, 12 of the 13 miners were dead. Euphoria turned to fury. Distraught kin had to be restrained to keep them from throttling the messengers.

Talk about a wild mood swing: One minute, your husband or brother or son has astonishingly survived a life-threatening ordeal, and you're eagerly anticipating a tearfully joyous reunion… and the next, the rug is pulled out from under you, as his lifeless body is dragged from the site of its mortal trauma.

Try to imagine it for yourself. Pause, and consider. In a split second, you must suddenly switch from the experience of hearing the best news of your life, to the experience of hearing the worst news of your life. That's what makes this headlining tale so gripping and resonant—the about-face reversal of emotional tone.

Astrologically speaking, on the evening of Tue Jan 3, as those first misleading reports trickled their way out, the Moon was in Pisces, conjunct to Uranus, purveyor of the dramatically unexpected. A Pisces Moon is highly compassionate, bringing souls together in sympathetic psychic union, anxious family members and nationwide TV viewers alike. It was as if all our prayers would be enough to effect the very miracle we were hoping for.

Pisces, however, is also infamous for illusory thinking of the 'wishful' variety, for gazing at reality through tinted lenses. Though an 'official' spokesperson hadn't issued a 'formal' statement on the status of the trapped miners, everybody seemed willing to believe the upbeat rumors because they wanted to believe them. One relative of a miner even referred to that initial reaction as having 'gotten the high' of good news—a quintessentially Piscean phrasing, emphasizing the intoxicating quality of an emotional rush.

Unfortunately, another characteristic of a 'high' is that we inevitably must come down… and that's not always a pleasant process.

A Moon-Uranus conjunction always carries a shocking emotional twist, some discovery or realization that spontaneously displaces one feeling with another. But as the Moon conjoins Uranus once a month, it isn't necessarily quite so dramatic a shock every time. We might suddenly find peace with a situation that had been long sticking in our craw. Or perhaps we find ourselves surprisingly quick to anger or tears, after some relatively insignificant event triggers something much more profound. Together, the Moon and Uranus act fast to shift a mood. In the Sago Mine case, they did so twice—once with the incorrectly happy ending, then again with the revised, tragic truth.

As the Pisces Moon came together with Uranus, it also made a furtively friction-ridden inconjunct (150-degree aspect of subtle tension) to Saturn in Leo. Saturn's transit through Leo, as I've been reporting, smacks of the need for responsible leadership—he zaps those who stray beyond their own legitimate authority, in order to fuel their egos or make others like them.

This Saturn-inconjunct influence was certainly in play on the evening in question, when folks who lacked the clout to disseminate the sensitive information began making surreptitious thumbs-up signs and cell-phone calls, yanking the lingering-in-limbo emotional strings of the miners' loved ones. Even presuming these unwarranted communicators had only the best intentions, still they overstepped their appropriate bounds—probably because they wanted to be involved in a big story, to play the role of happy-news deliverer. That role wasn't legitimately theirs to play.

This is a poignant example of a well-intentioned ego's desire effectively trumping the duty to 'do the right thing'. The emotional frenzy of the Pisces Moon conjunct Uranus overwhelmed the Saturn-in-Leo pressure to lead with graceful reserve… and as a result, the unfolding sorrow was made unfortunately worse. In the end, Saturn always returns with consequences.

With Saturn and Uranus in continued inconjunct through the first half of '06, we can learn from how news from the mine was shared. Even in the most extreme circumstances, we must be clean with why we are personally motivated to become involved—especially when the situation is big, and there are folks who will be intensely emotionally impacted by it. In an eager rush to be celebrated for carrying home the buried treasure or the enemy's decapitated head, we could inadvertently rouse the townspeoples' ire toward ourselves. Good news becomes bad news fast. Once we broadcast it to the studio audience, it's too late to take it back.

If nothing else, we must at least give pause to ponder the possible reactions to what we put out there, before we get excitedly ahead of ourselves… and mistakenly toy with others' emotions. Perhaps we should let someone else step up to the podium, if in fact the lead is rightfully theirs to assume.