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Simone Biles – overcoming the odds to become the world’s best

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American artistic gymnast Simone Biles won the women’s all-around Olympic gold medal by a rout in “a dazzling display of power, agility and gravity-defying moves”. Only 4ft 8 inches, she’s described as the greatest ever gymnast and the other competitors joke the only question is who gets to be second. She hasn’t lost an all-around competition since the spring of 2013, claiming three world titles and four U.S. crowns in the process.

Yet her start in life was highly inauspicious, to put it mildly, with a drug and alcohol addicted mother whose four children all had to go into care. Simone and one sibling were rescued by her grandparents, who despite their modest circumstances indulged her drive to succeed. The two other siblings were taken in by other relatives.

Born 14 March 1997 in Columbus, Ohio (no birth time) – three days before swimmer Katie Ledecky (see post below) – she’s a Sun Venus Mercury in Pisces opposition Mars Node in Virgo. Mars in Pisces is known for being a dancer’s placing; here she has dynamic Mars tied into her Pisces’ planets. She’s got a tough Saturn in self-reliant Aries trine Pluto, sextiling onto a focal point Jupiter Uranus in Aquarius. Sakoian & Acker describe Jupiter Uranus as the ‘power of positive thinking’.  And she harnesses that ability to create her own luck with driving discipline.

Her Moon is in agile Gemini as opposed to Ledecky’s watery Moon in Cancer. Both have heavily aspected super-star 22nd Harmonic charts.

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Arianna Huffington – the iron-clad butterfly flits off again

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The ubiquitous Arianna Huffington is on the move again, leaving her baby Huffpo to launch a health-and-wellness start up.

She’s had an extraordinary life and career, powering ahead with chutzpah, brains, social charm and not altogether- likeable determination. Described variously as the “Sir Edmund Hillary of social climbers”; “a “right-wing Lady Macbeth” (that was before she switched from Republican to liberal); and “the most ruthless, unscrupulous, and ambitious person I’ve met in thirty years in national politics,” she certainly arouses strong reactions.

Born 7 July 1950 3pm Athens, Greece, she moved to the UK aged 16, became the first foreign President of Cambridge University Union, made a name in UK media as consort of the Times columnist Bernard Levin, wrote books, became a media celebrity, moved to the US and married wealthy Republican Michael Huffington, became known during his unsuccessful Senate run, chummed up with Newt Gingrich, had two kids, got divorced as Huffington came out as bisexual, switched political allegiances to the left, wrote books where there were allegations of plagiarism, and helped to pioneer digital-only journalism with Huffpo which now appears in 14 different countries. The concept for it was sold as the new idealistic ‘citizen journalism’ where contributors were not paid – and she then sold out for $315 million and there have been sharp criticisms for that betrayal as well as for the blurring of the lines between journalism and advertising.

Not a lady who does things by half. She’s always had an interest in New Age spirituality so the new project will be interesting to watch.

She has a 9th house Sun Cancer (conjunct Mercury Uranus) on the focal point of a Cardinal T Square to a showbizzy Mars Neptune in Libra opposition an Aries Moon. Cancer as a sign often has a ‘nose’ for what is the mood of the moment and 9th house is global communication. Uranus is good for digital IT and for being an outspoken maverick. Loads of cardinal give her initiative by the bucket full. Her focal point Sun will  make her ego-centric with unshakeable self-belief.

More pointedly, or at least in addition, she has Pluto conjunct her MC from the 9th which will give her a craving for power and influence. Her Pluto is trine her Moon and sextile Mars Neptune on one side as well as an emphasised Venus in Gemini on the other – so a talented Half Grand Sextile. Her Venus in social butterfly Gemini is deeply buried in the 8th, giving her intensity and it squares onto Saturn in ultra-hard-working Virgo in a scared-of-failure opposition to Jupiter.

She does have tr Saturn now moving through her first quadrant, so less successful, less high-profile at the moment and for a few years ahead. Her Solar Arc Mars is square her Saturn exactly now which looks like a major setback and she has a discouraging Solar Arc Mercury conjunct her Saturn within months; and tr Pluto will make one more stressed and confusing opposition to her Sun and square Neptune this September – so not the best time of her life. For all the spin, this career move may not have been a choice that was made without pressure. The new set-up won’t launch spectacularly well since she’s got tr Neptune opposing her Saturn in 2017/2018 with tr Pluto square her 6th house Moon – so challenging pressures and some angst.

She has an extraordinarily powerful 5th Harmonic (quintiles) which is ruthless, creative, enthusiastic and quite slippery. Her pleasure-seeking 9H is also strong; as is her 13 and 17H charts.

Knows what she wants and goes straight for it.

Gary Johnson – mountaineering, marijuana salesman and dull

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Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico and self-made millionaire, is running for President as a Libertarian he did in 2012. The Libertarian Party stands for a radically smaller and less powerful federal government and is pro-abortion rights and same-sex marriage equality. In 2012 he got less than 1% of the vote, but is now polling in double digits in some places, though his aggregate of 8% is way below the 15% needed to appear in a national debate with Clinton and Trump.

He’s an extreme athlete who has scaled Everest and was until recently director and CEO of a marijuana marketing and packaging company. Despite his CV he seems to lack charisma being described as about “as telegenic as an educational film about the metric system.”

Born 1 January 1953 Minot, North Dakota (no birth time) he’s an ambitious Sun Capricorn in a quirky opposition to maverick, so an outsider by temperament. His Sun is in a confident trine to Jupiter in money-minded Taurus. His Pluto is trine Mercury in Sagittarius, opposition Venus in Aquarius (conjunct Mars in Pisces), and sextile Saturn Neptune in Libra. Although he’ll be persuasive, too much Pluto can also muffle a personality, making him overly controlled.

There’s nothing much of help from his chart without birth time. He’s got tr Saturn square his Solar Arc Sun exactly at the election which isn’t positive.

He’s not an intuitive fit for the USA since his Uranus is conjunct the US Cancer Sun squaring the US Saturn in Libra – so unless the country is in the mood for a total upheaval, he won’t be in with a chance.

He announced his bid on 6 Jan 2016 on Fox Business at 8.11am New York (I think). This gives a hidden 12th house Sun Pluto trine an 8th house Jupiter, sextile a Scorpio MC and square a 3rd house Uranus; with Uranus trine Saturn – certainly top marks for perseverance and marking out a new path, but it looks too behind-the-scenes to be a winner.

Third party candidates tend to do better across the summer and then fall away. But with everything up in the air at the moment, anything’s possible. He won’t appeal to Republicans because of some of his views or to disgruntled Democrats because of others. After Ralph Nader’s votes unwittingly helped GWB win in 2000, there’ll be a reluctance to vote away from the main parties.

America – Mercury Pluto – corruption and wild right-wingers to the fore

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Whatever did America do to deserve Donald Trump? Nuke them, waterboard them, build a wall on the Mexican border, mass deport immigrants, ban Muslims from the US, persuade Putin to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and is now inciting the gun lobby to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights (carry guns) into doing what precisely? He backed off the straightforward interpretation of his off-the-cuff encouragement to them, saying he only meant their votes. Yeah. And did the over-heated, unstable elements amongst them hear him that way? I would doubt it.

The USA 1776 chart has only one opposition of Mercury in Cancer opposition Pluto in Capricorn – and tr Uranus started to pick up the square to Mercury mid 2016 and continues on till early 2018. Mercury Pluto is overly intense and tr Uranus throws an excitable firecracker into the mix.

Looking back on previous tr Uranus hard aspects to that opposition, it is really interesting. Oct 1973 to Oct 1974 – VP Spiro Agnew resigns faced with tax evasion charges. Watergate is raging, escalating and ends with Nixon’s resignation to avoid impeachment charges, as tr Uranus squares the US Mercury for the final time in August 1974, tugging on the US Pluto.

During tr Uranus in Cancer conjunct the US Mercury and opposition the US Pluto in 1953/54, the McCarthy sniff-out-a-commie hearings were in full swing, along with increasingly vociferous criticism of his bullying and witch-hunting tactics which led Ed Murrow to ask “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”

On a previous occasion – April 1933 to April 1933 – President Franklin D Roosevelt declares a national emergency to come off the Gold Standard; and the Business Plot was uncovered which was an attempted coup d’etat against the government and Roosevelt’s progressive policies, by a group of fascist veterans and wealthy businessmen, wanting to ally themselves to Hitler’s Germany and Italy. At the time it was written off as a hoax but there did seem to be some wild scheme in place.

So this influence definitely attacks both the government and US democracy, either by dragging scandals into the open or letting loose hard right-wing fanatics.

Another thought entirely. On the USA 4 July 1776 chart (I use 11am), the Progressed Mercury went retrograde in December 1994 – the rough interpretation of this is going mentally off track, not thinking straight, not speaking out. In Dec 1994 the Senate started an investigation into the Whitewater scandal – questions arising about real estate investments by Bill (then President) and Hillary Clinton and associates. One conviction resulted but the Clintons were deemed to have no criminal evidence against them.

That Progressed Mercury goes direct in late November this year. Whether this means more of the same will come out into the open to be spoken about more clearly. Or it ties the matter up securely I’ve no idea. But good to keep an eye on. What’s for sure, if the past repeats itself, is that 2017 won’t be one in which the US ruling elite (or pretenders thereto) will cover themselves in glory.

The USA Solar Return for July 2016 (ignoring natal chart start time) has a hugely emphasised Uranus – on the point of a T square to Pluto opposition Moon Venus; and on the focal point of a Yod to Jupiter sextile Mars in Scorpio. Such a Uranus covers a spectrum of – erratic, rebellious, innovative, fated changes, disruptive, trail-blazing, socially explosive, reformist, lawless, fringe activism, progressive. Plus the focal point Saturn in self-righteous, rigid-thinking Sagittarius in square to Neptune opposition North Node Jupiter in Virgo – so neurotic, fearful of failure, up and down.

The Inauguration chart for 20 Jan 2017, assuming 12 noon or thereabouts, which gives the tone of the first term of whichever nominee makes it, has a focal point Pluto in the 9th square Uranus opposition Jupiter. 9th house is foreign relations and Jupiter Uranus is fairly gung ho. Given that there is also a military Saturn square Mars, it might point to armed involvement overseas being a strong priority. 9th house also focusses on the country’s religious beliefs and general philosophy, as well as education and legal matters, all of which will stoke up intense reactions. The Saturn Neptune square has mercifully gone, pulling paranoia down a notch or two. Neptune is 11th –  unclear about future direction and friends. Saturn in 8th – money or shortage thereof being an issue, perhaps because of defence spending.

And before anyone starts yowling about me being anti-right, can I quote the non-partisan Black Hat hackers who were so alarmed at Trump’s invitation to Putin to hack Hillary’s email, that they stepped into to help. The leader said it was the principle that bothered them;  they weren’t pro-Hillary and thought the election was a choice between ‘bad and evil’. So back to the evil of two lessers, just a worse one than GWB v Gore.

Duke of Westminster – unwanted riches and charitable largesse

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The Duke of Westminster, Britain’s richest aristocrat, who once said he’d prefer not to have been wealthy, has died suddenly aged 64. He owned the freehold of much of London’s most expensive property in Belgravia and Mayfair, including the American Embassy. His business empire, Grosvenor Holdings, owned shopping centres around the UK, including Liverpool which transformed the centre, as well as commercial interests abroad. When he inherited the estate in 1979 it was debt laden and he turned it into a several billion pound concern. He had strong charitable interests in the NSPCC (child cruelty), gave foot-and-mouth farmers a sizeable donation and was a driving force behind the new Rehabilitation Centre for wounded soldiers due to open in 2017. In recent years he’s been plagued by depression and had breakdowns.

Born 22 December 1951 he was a Sun Sagittarius (unless a very late night birth in which case he’d be Capricorn) with his Sun trine Pluto; and an uncomfortable collection of (Moon) Saturn Mars Neptune in Libra, suggesting a less than lyrical childhood. His Saturn Mars (Moon) opposed Jupiter in Aries squaring onto Uranus in Cancer – so definitely innovative. His Mercury in Sagittarius was trine Pluto, sextiling onto Mars Saturn – so he’d take his duties seriously, but feel constantly frustrated when plans hit snags which they frequently would. It would also put a good deal of stress on his Mercury causing mental pressures. Over the past eighteen months he’d had the tr Uranus square tr Pluto in hard aspect to his Mars Saturn, which would be very challenging and strained.

His heir, Hugh, 29 January 1991, is a different temperament with an Aquarius Sun opposition Jupiter, sextile/trine Mars in Gemini – confident, impulsive, talkative. He also has the highly-strung and innovative Uranus Neptune and Mercury in Capricorn.

Turkish Russian entente – spells trouble for Syria

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Turkey is now turning eastwards towards Moscow after Western criticism of the brutal suppression of the coup. Recep Erdogan, the president, has been meeting Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg with placatory apologies healing the recent rift over a Russian plane being shot down by Turkish forces.

It’ll make the already over complicated situation in Syria – with a myriad of conflicting groups fighting for different ends – even more of a mire. Rebel forces have just fought back against Assad and Russian planes to open a munitions route to Turkey. Which presumably would be one thought in Putin’s mind. Erdogan’s main aim is to quash the Kurdish separatists, while Putin wants not to get swamped down in Syria for ever and needs a victory of sorts before he exits.

Putin’s relationship with Assad is sagging under disappointment through till late Jan 2017 as tr Saturn opposes exactly this month, and tr Neptune squares the emphasised composite Jupiter. And his relationship with Erdogan will not be easy to hold together with tr Uranus opposing the composite Neptune, trine Pluto; and tr Pluto opposition Uranus from early next year on.

Turkish/US relations, already shaky,  look in a parlous state from early 2017 onwards with tr Pluto square the composite Saturn. Even before then the tr Neptune square tr Saturn is in hard aspect to the composite Sun Mercury Venus and following for a couple of years Jupiter as well. This September’s Solar Eclipse will conjunct that composite stellium, so this is a critical, game-changing point on that diplomatic front.

Assad’s presidency chart, 17 July 2000, having weathered a fair few storms since the civil war began, looks insecure and at risk in January 2017 with tr Uranus square Mars; and thrown off course by tr Uranus square the Sun from late April. I’ve given up predicting his exit but, on the astrology, if 2017 doesn’t topple him, it’ll be 2021 when he hits his nadir – with tr Pluto opposition the Presidency Sun; and Solar Arc Uranus square the Pres Pluto. But it’ll be a tough, frustrating, dangerous few years between now and then with tr Pluto opposing the Mars in 2018/19.

The great risk, putting aside the poor Syrian people (the ones who are still left standing), is that what is already a proxy war on the ground between Russia and the West, escalates into something much worse. The US are supporting some of the ‘rebel’ groups who have an uncomfortable provenance; while Putin supports the insupportable Assad.

It was beautifully skewered in a Peter Brookes cartoon a couple of years back with Obama standing on a bluff looking down on a valley full of Arabs tearing each other to bits. The caption read; ‘Can the good guys please put their hands up?’  Who’d know?  Following the old Arab saying that the  enemy of my enemy is my friend – can lead down the road to perdition.

Pluto – the inexorable cycle

Pluto next moves sign, into Aquarius in 2024 staying till 2044.

Last time round, 1778 to 1797, the American Revolution was in full swing and finished victorious as the Brits were booted out; and the French Revolution also got underway, though admittedly for the latter there was a Uranus opposition Pluto. The Industrial Revolution was also in full swing in the UK with inventions, heavy industry and production of goods proliferating.

Aquarius is scientific, so no surprises there were major advances in chemistry. And, with blissful syncronicity, William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, which rules Aquarius. Explorers, another Aquarian strength, were also out and about with Captains James Cook and William Bligh leading the way to ‘new’ lands.

It was a productive period for philosophical and progressive social thinkers – Emmanuel Kant and Thomas Paine (Rights of Man); with cultural highpoints from Mozart and Scottish poet Robert Burns, who later established a global footprint. Apart from that there was the usual plethora of wars.

This next time round tr Pluto in Aquarius will march in time to Neptune in Aries (2025 to 2038) and early on to Uranus in Gemini (2025 to 2033) – so early on there’ll be a Uranus trine Pluto sextile Neptune after mid next decade – innovative and creative. Of the earlier historical happenings which might repeat, we can expect more advances in science and exploration (outer space/bottom of the sea/under Arctic ice?).  Certainly a ferment of new ideas on social cohesion and rights, though Aquarius can have a fascist as well as a humanitarian side.

For the rest – the US and France will have come full circle back to their first Pluto Return or the immediate aftermath, so significant shifts/adjustments, epochal events in both countries. With luck the UK might manage to get back to actually making things, rather than relying on the financial service industry for prosperity. Though sometimes empires that rise on one Pluto cycle, fall on the next.

Pluto was in Virgo 1956 to 1971, the middle patch of which was swamped by the revolutionary and chaotic conjunction to Uranus opposition Saturn in Pisces across the mid 1960s. Advances in medicine and changes in attitude to work and working methods would be obvious outcomes. More serious than Pluto in Leo, less indulgent and less ego-centred.

Pluto in Libra – 1971 to 1983 – intense and focussed on one-to-one relationships, though in typical Plutonic fashion, it leads to either full-on or switched-right-off. Certainly a different attitude to co-operation and interdependency.

Jupiter in Libra – sprinkling a little love around

Jupiter moves into Libra on September 9th to stay until October 2017. Good news for those with Sun in Libra; and even better for those with Libra Ascendants. Jupiter supposedly is the bringer of health, wealth and happiness, which may be too much to expect, but certainly it will bring more confidence, morale boosts and good luck. Jupiter can have a tendency to expect everything handed on a plate without effort, so it can be lazy, demanding, at times a bit above itself, and self-righteous to boot if it gets into know-it-all gear. But in general it is good news.

Aries (Sun or Asc) – better close relationships: Taurus – good for health and work, though indulgent; Gemini – social fun; Cancer -happy home; Leo – confident communication; Virgo – more money;  Scorpio – inner peace; Sagittarius – optimistic, new friends;  Capricorn – social and career success; Aquarius – travel, study, adventurous; Pisces – good for joint finances and sex life.

Libra is the sign of relationship and justice, as well as one of the communication Air signs. Jupiter will have an expansive effect on all of those areas.

Looking back over previous Jupiter in Libras (every 12 years) – Oct 2004 for 1 year; May 1981 for a year; late 1968 for a year; Aug 1957 for a year – it’s tricky to extrapolate what could be attributed solely to it and what to other influences around.

But it does seem to be significant, as might be expected, in promoting better social relations. Civil Rights, gay rights and consumer protection movements started. A variety of joint diplomatic ventures and associations between countries got under way, including the European Economic Community in 1957.

Aerospace, Sputnik satellites and their ilk seem to be more active during these periods.

Both of Prince Charles’ weddings were held under its beneficent parasol, the first to Princess Diana being watched on TV by 700 million round the globe.

Phelps, Ledecky, Peaty – at home in their element

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The incredible Michael Phelps has just won his 19th Olympic Gold Medal and 23rd Olympic medal overall with more chances to come this week in the Rio pool to beat his own record as the most decorated of all time.

You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”

“Swimming is normal for me. I’m relaxed. I’m comfortable, and I know my surroundings. It’s my home.”

Born 30 June 1985 (maybe 5.55am) Baltimore, Maryland, he’s a Sun Mars in Cancer, on this birth time on the Ascendant, with Sun trine Pluto and opposition Neptune – Neptune Pluto often gives outstanding ability, putting power behind a dream. His Mercury squares Pluto which will be good for single-minded focus; and his Venus in Scorpio opposes Saturn, so he’s able to push aside an indulgent lifestyle when necessary. That opposition squares onto Jupiter at 15 degrees Aquarius (which mid Aquarius position is frequently found in athletes’ charts) – so confident, scared of failure and obsessive about getting things right.

His Jupiter is further emphasised being on one leg of a Yod sextile Uranus inconjunct Mars – this would give him a sense of strain, not fitting in initially, until he found his track. He was hyper-active as a child (ADHD) until he was sent swimming to soak up his energy when his Sun had moved by Solar Arc/Progression to conjunct Mars on the focal point of his Yod – and he’s never looked back since. He found a way to make his ‘difference’ to other people an advantage. His Moon is Sagittarius.

Tr Pluto is sextile his Solar Arc Jupiter at the moment with Solar Arc Jupiter square his Uranus – so feeling the luck is with him and full of confidence.

Katie Ledecky, is another US swimmer, with a Gold from yesterday when she broke her own world record. Not yet 20, she has a cupboard full of medals and has broken 12 world records. Born 17 March 1997, she’s a Sun Venus in Pisces opposition Mars in Virgo; with her Sun sextile Neptune and trine Pluto – so again a feisty Mars, and Neptune Pluto. Her Jupiter at 12 degrees Aquarius is conjunct Uranus and on the focal point of a mini-Grand Trine of a tough-minded Saturn in self-reliant Aries trine Pluto. Her Moon is Cancer.

Adam Peaty restored GB’s morale by winning the first Gold since 1988 for swimming. He won by a staggering second and a half, breaking his own world record. Born 28 Dec 1994, he’s a Sun Capricorn trine Mars in Virgo; with a disciplined, dedicated Saturn opposition Mars squaring onto Jupiter in sporting Sagittarius and Pluto in last degree Scorpio – so powerfully confident. His Uranus Neptune in Capricorn sextile his intense and charming Venus Pluto in Scorpio.  His Moon is Scorpio. A larger than life personality, he follows a punishing training schedule, like the other top athletes, eating 8000 calories a day when at full stretch. He was sent off to swim very young to try to overcome his fear of water.

All have Water as the dominant element in their charts – whether that’s a coincidence or not I don’t know. Phelps is Water Fire and the other two Water Earth.