Equinox Reflections: Japan and Beyond


It's a humbling challenge to sit myself down and attempt to write something that addresses the Japanese triple-disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown.

I strive to be simultaneously insightful and respectful, which, to my mind, entails not claiming to understand The Higher Meaning (as if there's only one) of the horrors still unfolding in Japan…

… while, at the same time, knowing that folks visit my website looking for astrological perspective on the world's goings-on, and this surely qualifies as a 'going-on' that impacts us all. We clearly see this global impact with Uranus sitting on the Aries Point (0 Aries), moving from Pisces to Aries on the very day of the 9.0 earthquake that set off the chain-reaction of devastating events.

Whenever an event is tied astrologically to the Aries Point, it's said to carry a wider collective significance. And with Uranus involved, this collective significance would be a shocking one… chaotic and/or uncontrollable in nature, potentially explosive, and creating a radical discontinuity between past and future. Uranus at the Aries Point describes an abrupt jolt into uncharted land, a split-second entree into a new chapter where spontaneous creative invention is demanded, the end and the beginning. (Review Uranus in Aries here.)

Obviously, this is what we're presently witnessing in Japan, as those who are immediately confronted with a struggle to survive must react instantaneously to circumstances they would've been unable to consciously anticipate or accordingly plan for. How could one even be prepared for this? When I pause to think about what it must feel like to be a resident of the harder-hit regions of Japan, contending with questionable shelter and no power, insufficient food and water, cold weather, an impending and worsening threat of radiation exposure… well, it's those moments that are, frankly, nearly too painful to fully allow myself to deeply consider. I too live in a coastal town along the 'Ring of Fire' (San Francisco), where earthquakes and tsunamis are both possible and likely, and within 250 miles of a nuclear power plant. It could be me. How might I behave in similar circumstances, in order to survive, when there's no preparatory roadmap for 'what one ought to do'?

This is but one (albeit exceptionally emotionally dense) example of Uranus-in-Aries's call to 'do it differently': In the face of quick unforeseen change, we really have no choice but to respond with pioneering bravery and on-the-spot inventiveness. And in such extreme cases as Japan's current catastrophe, our best efforts may still not prove enough to compensate for forces larger than we can contend with… in which case, the subsequent response must be one of valiant-hearted moving forward, channeling a spiritual spark of ever-present life force, to rekindle our fire in the aftermath, to gradually emerge from dark into light once again as the green sprouts of spring never cease to succeed the cold depths of winter.

The seasonal metaphor is especially apt, with this week ahead bringing Spring Equinox (or, in the Southern Hemisphere, Autumnal Equinox)… not only the official beginning of a new season, but of the entire zodiac wheel. On Sunday (Mar 20), the Sun enters the first degree of Aries, where it meets Uranus for an exact conjunction the next day (Mon Mar 21). This Sun-Uranus conjunction at the Aries Point, alongside the Equinox and its initializing zodiac-cycle reboot, tells us in no uncertain terms that the season ahead—the whole year ahead, in fact—won't abide by the 'business-as-usual' rules. Something different is afoot.

We do not know what to expect. Though this is a universal truth, it takes more imminent relevance in light of the moment's astrology. On the ever-shifting brink of Uranus/Pluto revolutions of one type or another, we find ourselves thrust into an ever-greater need to simply be present and responsive to accelerated change. What has worked for us before may no longer work. Methods, habits or practices that have become virtually unnoticeable to us because we rely so heavily on them could suddenly break down, proving no longer productive… or even possible. That's why I've been repeatedly telling clients not to expect 'smooth sailing' or 'a return to normalcy' anytime soon—which may not necessarily be a bad thing in the long run, though can surely feel upsetting in the midst of the topsy-turviness.

Reality often turns on a dime. One day, everything's 'fine'; the next, not so much. It's what we do in those moments when reinvention is compulsory that defines our next incarnation of self. Do we take the opportunity afforded by the chaos to jump further ahead into an unknown more likely to reap us a greater sense of individualized satisfaction than what we had before, risks and nervous excitement and all? Or will we stick ourselves by refusing to let go of a past that's forever gone, regardless of how dearly we may've cherished it, and willfully ignore the call to keep going?

While presumably not all of us will face so mammoth a life-changer as what many Japanese presently face, and thankfully so, there is no getting around the truth that such dramatically terrible things happen all the time. It is, as they say, a fact of life. If it isn't an earthquake or a tsunami, it could be a tornado, a blizzard, a hurricane, flooding, drought… hell, even a meteor impact or galactic explosion. Natural disasters painfully remind us how insubstantial we humans are from the perspective of the Great Universal Mother (or whoever it is that's pulling the heavenly strings). What's more humbling than the Earth periodically reasserting its clear and obvious dominance over us?

And instead of anxiously concluding that the frequency and severity of these disasters is intensifying, due to whatever apocalyptic vision or prophecy one subscribes to, can we remind ourselves how incredibly limited our human-centered experience of geologic time really is—and how, despite the brilliance of our scientific minds, we still know very little about what happened here before we began 'recording history'.

But though an earthquake or a tsunami may be an unavoidable shakeup by the heavens' hands, a nuclear meltdown certainly is not. Here, I believe, is where we bump up against the arrogance of power-hungry humans as an avoidable liability, in terms of how we take compassionate care of ourselves and our environment—or don't, as the case may be. Just like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that occurred last year, gushing as Uranus similarly moved from Pisces to Aries during the 'cardinal climax', this nuclear crisis is just another instance of human technological achievement devolving into mass environmental harm.

It is unconscionable, in my opinion, that the cumulative power of human ingenuity has not yet been harnessed to develop alternative energy sources—wind! water! the Sun!—to replace the unsustainable and harmful ones like petroleum and nuclear energy. But the fact this hasn't yet happened is not an accident. Huge amounts of money, political authority and military might are at stake. People in power actively work to prevent such developments, in order to protect and consolidate their padded bank-accounts and hot-shot positions… at the literal expense of our collective health, financial sustainability, and well-being.

Once again, we see the dark side of Pluto in Capricorn, hitting up against Uranus in Aries by square, forcing a radical new chapter of the tale into being… one which I personally hope involves the long-overdue embrace of fixing our energy-source problems with respect for our planet, not continued willful destruction of it for the profit of a few.

Further Reading:
Thich Nhat Hanh: Message to Friends in Japan (Facebook)
Certainties of Modern Life Upended in Japan (NY Times)
One Day in the Nuclear Age (PlanetWaves.net)