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Time To Talk About Trump
"We’re all in hard labor together, being squeezed toward whatever the next phase is that wants to be born." An astro-dialectic between astrologers Jessica Murray and Frederick Woodruff.
THE CREATION AND RELEASE of Trump’s mug shot last month had the same drop-jaw impact as the photo I saw as a kid when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the Moon back in 1969. The booking photo was the money shot both sides of the aisle had salivated for.
Trump’s indictments have redefined ‘doubling-down’ for the right and the MAGA faithful. While for the flummoxed left, there’s only bald-eyed incredulity. And we’re right back where we started in 2016: in the middle of Crazy Town.
Trump is a Gemini Trickster Supreme, a cartoon-like character that sets the brain careening toward a precipice. But admit it: You skipped the broadcast once you heard Trump wouldn’t participate in the GOP debates last month. Within our culture’s obsession with personality cults, he’s the grift that keeps on giving.
Donald’s existence confirms that dysfunctional ‘gotcha’ entertainment is the heart of modern politics. And as commentator Paul Begala once quipped, “Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.”
And if it’s true that a nation has the ruler, king, or president that it deserves, well, Trump’s the bespoke figurehead for our national psychotic break—the tip of an iceberg that’s expanded since the conclusion of the Civil War—which never resolved.
So here we are, with transiting Pluto back in Capricorn—its natal position in the US’s birth chart—releasing the final fumes of the US’s Pluto return, agitating again the ghosts related to Pluto’s second house position in the chart, which, after taking inspiration from astrologer and author Jessica Murray, I covered in detail here.
Murray is the astrological kingdom’s sharpest commentator on the larger cycles (and the stories they portend) related to geopolitical events. As Murray would frame it, these circumstances implicate each of us because we were born into this historical moment and have a role to play in the larger national drama.
With Trump’s mug shot punctuating his four indictments, this seems like a good moment to consider Trump’s natal chart, the current transits, and how his horoscope and the US’s birth chart are entwined in an ongoing saga that will extend far beyond the 2024 election. This appears to be another blow to the United States’ historical stature. And how our embarrassing impasse shuffles the power dynamics on the global chessboard.
I invited Jessica Murray to participate in a dialogue about the current political Zeitgeist. Our conversation was via email and has been edited in spots for clarity.
FREDERICK: What was your initial reaction to seeing Trump’s mug shot?
JESSICA: When you see this guy trying to look tough and defiant, you never know whether to laugh or throw up. Imagine him practicing in front of the mirror, probably standing in front of a poster of his fave movie star, Clint Eastwood, trying to emulate that manly squint. And doing his best Winston Churchill scowl. He still comes off looking petulant. Sarah Larson (from the New Yorker) says he looks like the muppet Sam the Eagle, being sent to his room.
And can you beat the signature irony of that banner caption: “Never surrender,” proclaimed as he was in the act of doing just that? Here's a man who believes his own lies. He’s getting high on his own supply, which is what makes him such a successful conman and also what will doom him in the end, like Al Pacino in Scarface.
FREDERICK: And yet, presently, the ongoing ‘will he, won’t he’ quandary dominates the national imagination. Trump confirms what astrologer Grant Lewi elaborated in his classic book Astrology for the Millions, namely that once Saturn (by transit) starts climbing towards the midheaven, there’s a momentum toward success that’s hard to knock off course (his growing poll numbers with his base confirm this daily).
Of course, Lewi’s thesis is a generalization. But several years ago, I noted that if Trump came away unscathed from transiting Pluto’s lengthy opposition (in 2021) to his natal Venus/Saturn conjunction, all bets were off when Saturn broke free and continued to ascend toward the top of his chart.
JESSICA: Interesting idea: that surviving Pluto gave him a perverse immunity, a stay of career execution. One thing that the opposition accomplished was to expose his bone-deep sense of inadequacy with women (Venus-Saturn). Stormy Daniels and E. Jean Carroll (and 25 others) were Plutonian furies, courageously identifying the rot at his core. The trouble is, as you say, most of his fans identify with that rot and were fine with it.
FREDERICK: Of course, before taking off for his midheaven, retrograde Saturn makes one last critical stop, on November 3rd of this year, where it stations on the cusp between Aquarius and Pisces. That puts it in direct opposition to Trump’s ascendant at 29 degrees/55 minutes of Leo.
JESSICA: Saturn transits reveal what we’ve got coming to us, for better or worse (Nixon resigned when Saturn was in his 10th). Saturn on Trump’s Descendant—the standing he’s built up with his base—represents his reaping what he sowed back in 2006-7 (when Saturn was conjunct his Ascendant) when he glued in place the pugnacious victim persona (12th-house Mars) that has made him a star (Leo). This reputation has ballooned into a cult, and Saturn, the planet of dry-eyed realism, doesn’t think much of cults.
Will something happen at the station to splash cold water in the collective face of his base? It's tempting to imagine that the transit could act as a cosmic deprogrammer. But I guess that’s too much to hope for since, as humorist Peter Sagal has noted, that would take half the country kidnapping the other half and locking them in a hotel room, and then who would feed the pets?
FREDERICK: With the indictments piling up, I've noted that the Saturn transit is taking its toll (Saturn) on his physicality (the opposition to his ascendant). Photos this month show him appearing deflated, haggard, and working hard to generate the classic Trumpian mannerisms for the crowds.
Of course, the wild card related to Trump’s midheaven is transiting Uranus, triggering a hard square to Trump’s Mars conjunction to his Leo ascendant. That’s an explosive transit, and the symbolic image I keep picturing is that of a tempestuous child destroying the sand castle he’s built on the seashore’s edge, a way to beat the encroaching tide to the punch. How do you read the Uranus transit to Trump’s midheaven?
JESSICA: Great image. The puerile ego throws a tantrum and destroys its own work, in the vain hope of avoiding the inevitable. It does seem to be a battle between Trump's own wounded ego and forces far greater than himself—for example, the inevitable, unstoppable demographic changes that are happening. His acolytes, too, fear being swept away by this great oncoming tide. Notice how they often refer to immigration with water imagery: immigrants flooding across the border. They’re afraid their white entitlement will be washed away by nonwhite invaders. With his Mercury square to Neptune natally, DT speaks their language.
Uranus-Mars configurations can be violent when deployed without maturity. The lightning god prods an unstable Mars to unbridled explosions. And this guy’s ego (Mars) is his whole self-image: right on his Ascendant. We can see this in his tone-deaf attempts at projecting courage. Right now, Uranus is stationing, just shy of that magic degree on his Midheaven. Then it will shimmy backward, retrograde, through the winter, raking back and forth over that career point like a series of lightning strikes. It’s as if the forces of Shock-&-Awe have released a trailer, just to tease us, heightening the suspense. This suggests Trump will supply some kind of October Surprise.
FREDERICK: Let’s consider the synastery between Trump’s natal chart and the Sibly chart for the United States. The ‘red alert’ that captures my eye is the US’s Mercury in Cancer sitting on the midpoint between Trump’s Saturn/Venus conjunction. Echoing your sentiment about Trump’s expertly finessed victim/martyr role, this seems a fitting link between the two charts.
Trump’s conjunction activates the US's Mercury-Pluto opposition and its obsession with conspiracies, and the culture's irrational worship of billionaires. Trump’s Saturn makes him into a literal representation of the Mercury/Pluto’s shadow side. And with Venus in the mix, he’s become a romanticized figure for millions. I remember asking my mom why she was so aligned with Trump, and her only response was, “I don’t know. There’s just something I love about him.”
JESSICA: Right. He appeals (Venus) to the country’s emotional Mercury, which is mostly stuck in shadow Cancer: so afraid of insecurity that it punishes the insecure (the poor, the homeless, immigrants). Not to be confused with the healthy expression of Cancer, which is acutely empathetic towards those in need. But the presence of natal Saturn (fear) on Trump's Venus would default to resisting and denying the sign’s tender side, redefining vulnerability as weakness. With this conjunction, unless someone has done their Saturn work, i.e. grown up, they’d tend to project their insecurities onto others, as Trump does willy-nilly.
Remember when he mocked that handicapped reporter? He’s found a podium in a culture that is itself stuck in arrested development in the caretaking department (US Saturn square Sun); a society that separates babies from their mothers at immigration centers, in a hideous distortion of the sign of mother love. It’s the same kind of perversity Trump displayed when he sought out his porn star while his wife was recovering from childbirth.
FREDERICK: I’d like to get your reaction to a comment that astrologer Nick Dagan Best made in a recent interview I published. When I asked Nick what he sensed about Uranus’ upcoming entry into Gemini in 2025, he responded:
The obvious person to look at is the last name you want to hear. When he ran in the U.S. presidential election in 2016, I recognized that his chart was uniquely representative of the national astrological relationship with Uranus. The man who was number 45—and who will likely be 47—was born during a Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius, opposing the Sun, Uranus, and the North Node in Gemini. I didn't pick him to win that year because I thought it was too early; someone with a chart like his should come in 2024, not 2016. If I could have let myself imagine non-consecutive terms, I might have called it. He just has the most American chart I've ever seen. It's as simple as that.
Jessica: The astrological writing was on the wall when he won in 2016. He was having a Jupiter Return—talk about lucky breaks—trine his Sun-Uranus. His phenomenal success with a certain segment of the public is partly thanks to the connection his Sun makes to the the US Mars-Neptune square: at its worst, a puerile masculinity, desperately afraid of being called a loser. Highly suggestible, Mars-Neptune is prone to cults.
He’s also struck gold, as we’ve noted, with those Cancer connections. His provocation of the US Mercury-Pluto opposition (what other aspect could conjure up an image of baby-eating Democrats?) certainly helps to explain his blood feuds with the media. Remember when he weirdly accused Megyn Kelly of anger-menstruating (“blood coming out of her wherever”)? His recent threat to use the presidency, if he wins, as his personal vendetta machine is pure Capricorn-Pluto-Mercury. Most fundamentally, his own lifelong fear of not being socially accepted (Venus-Saturn 11th house) resonates with a simmering class grievance in this country that's been building to a boiling point.
All this is in the service of the Pluto Return, for which the 2016 election was the starting gun. Whoever was president, the United States was fated to become dis-United during these years.
Frederick: Yes, the US’s second house Pluto attracts gangsters, black marketers, gang leaders, and Mafiosi. But also shadow accountants, profiteers, and billionaire power mongers. With its Pluto return, the US is forced to confront these shadow elements through a kind of airing out process. I put Trump in the same Plutonic cauldron as Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and other meddlers that are part and parcel of the US’s ongoing transformation into a corporatocracy. The more they become entrenched in political machinations, the quicker our notion of democracy collapses.
Jessica: Pluto was always going to break down obsolete structures (government, traditions of national decorum) that had held the country together as a cohesive whole (Capricorn). Then Trump comes along, this preposterous upwardly-losing sociopath who’s cosmically typecast to be the primary agent of that disunity. The public’s faith in its institutions has been destroyed during these years, but it wasn’t merely collateral damage caused by Trump. It was the main point of the US’s Pluto return.
Frederick: Right. And the fallout is incredibly regressive. Our obsession with political factions have replaced religion in America. And the hope of any agreement or even nuanced exchange seems impossible. Doris Lessing pegged this syndrome for communists in the 1930s in her book The Golden Notebook, where she wrote that communism served to create a psychological existence for its adherents. I’d extend that notion to our current moment, where we define ourselves strictly by political parties.
This, of course, isn’t ‘new’ to the US. As I mentioned in the intro, we still live with the fallout from the Civil War between Northern and Southern mindsets. The difference now is that the contrasts, the festering class, and racial differences have traveled over the event horizon.
But I’m curious about Trump’s incredible run of luck. He seems to be coated in Teflon.
Jessica: Trump's Jupiter not only greenlit his victory in 2016 but has served as a lifelong Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card. It’s in Libra, which helps us understand his chronic whining about being unfairly treated (shadow Libra is obsessed with injustice—but only towards the self, not other people.) It’s also conjunct Chiron, which explains his moral sense, if you could call it that: it springs from wounding, as it does for those of his fans who feel disenfranchised themselves.
But Jupiter was square to Pluto when Trump won in 2016, and as I wrote, back then in an essay for The Mountain Astrologer (in December of 2016), that’s the transit of legal reprisal. These court cases are his Achilles heel (Chiron).
Frederick: I love the term you’ve mentioned in your Skywatch newsletter: Pluto Fatigue. Let’s close with your close read on that concept.
The past few years have beaten down the US psyche. The American Experiment has been on death watch, crucified by a geometrical cross: between Trump’s mutable opposition (Gemini-Sagittarius) and the country’s own mutable square (Mars-Neptune). That's a full-blown Grand Cross, whose symptoms include our metastisized culture wars (gender identity, reproductive rights, racism, guns) churned up to fever pitch by social media… all of them set against a background of global crisis. Is it any wonder people are freaking out?
But freak-outs are merely symptoms of larger evolutionary cycles. If the world feels unhinged, it’s because it is; we incarnated into a time of polycrisis. From a transpersonal perspective, this isn’t considered a problem. The decay of structures doesn’t mean something’s wrong, any more than tectonic shifts are just Nature being cruel. These mass destabilizations are part of the wrenching evolution of mass consciousness. We’re all in hard labor together, being squeezed toward whatever the next phase is that wants to be born.