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© 2010 by Richard Nolle
last revised JULY 31, 2010

If you were expecting some kind of sun sign nonsense, forget about it. This is real astrology for the real world. If it's real astrology for yourself that you want, you can get it by phone or in print. And if you need help deciphering the astrological glyphs in the graphics accompanying this article, see Astroglyphs: Astrological Symbols Guide. Please note: this forecast is expressed in terms of Universal Time (UT). Also please be aware that, while I never change a forecast once it's published, I do post errata to acknowledge typographical errors and the like.

These are the times for which we were born.
-- David Spangler

2010 Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto T-SquareAugust is something of a turning point in 2010: lots of important Venus action in the heavens this month, pointing to the seeds of hope and reward taking root here on Earth. There’s one notable Venus sign in the sky after another, starting on the 8th when Venus aligns with Saturn, piling up on the 13th when the Moon aligns with Saturn, Venus and Mars, and gathering momentum throughout the rest of the month with the start of the Venus Max cycle on the 20th and the Venus-Mars conjunction the same day.

It’s not a clean break from the past, mind you, because the major configurations of the year are still very much in play. For example, the last of the five Saturn-Uranus oppositions has passed, but is still present. It was exact on July 26 and remains within a few degrees through the end of August, thanks to Jupiter’s alignment with Uranus - both opposing the Ringed Planet. This month’s Jupiter-Saturn opposition, the second in the current series of three, occurs on the 16th and is likewise within a few degrees of exact all month. And Saturn makes the last of its current series of three waning squares to Pluto on the 21st – again, remaining within a couple degrees of exact alignment the whole month long.

The Jupiter-Saturn complex (part of the year’s signature T-Square) combines with the start of the 2010 Venus Max cycle to suggest a kind of turning point, an adjustment aimed at stimulating economic activity – and with some success, judging from past cycles like this. It’s not as though universal prosperity breaks out all of a sudden, all over. But policies begin to be put in place in an attempt to remedy the unintended consequences of the various recovery measures instituted by governments around the world. They see to some extent where they’ve come up short, and they start making amends as best they can. Changes in tax codes will be a big part of this.

The Jupiter-Saturn opposition itself indicates an adjustment in political and economic strategy, in reaction to the flaws of the immediate responses to the near collapse of the world financial system associated with the beginning of the current Saturn-Uranus opposition series back in the fall of 2008. It’s a recognition that the economic remedies tried out since late 2008 haven’t managed to turn around the biggest global business downturn since the Great Depression. In the US, for example, the emergency measures commenced with the Economic Stimulus Act and Emergency Economic Stabilization Act under the Bush Administration in late 2008; followed by the Obama Administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, popularly known as "the Stimulus"), signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009.

AUG 16, 2010 Jupiter-Saturn OppositionArguably, there was some stimulation of the US economy (the equity markets and the housing industry in particular) starting in February 2009, during the Venus Max cycle that had gotten underway just a few days before the Obama Administration took office. (The 2009 Venus Max cycle began on January 14, closely followed by President Obama’s Inauguration on January 19.) Political and economic partisans argue the effectiveness of the Stimulus ad nauseam. I think there were signs of recovery in early 2009, coinciding with the Venus Max cycle. But I think it’s just as clear that signs of recovery and real recovery are two different things.

By the time of the first in the current trio of Jupiter-Saturn oppositions (May 23, 2010), it was becoming increasingly clear that the Stimulus wasn’t up to the task of turning the US economy around. Other national economies faced issues of their own, from sovereign debt in the US, Middle East and Europe to real estate bubbles and inflationary pressures as well as social unrest in the BRIC nations. The question then became, what to do next?

It’s a question that different nations will address differently starting this month, under the aegis of the Jupiter-Saturn opposition specifically and the Great 2020 T-Square generally. The solutions will differ in details from one nation to another, but they won’t be uncoordinated. And they’ll meet with some success, as the new Venus Max cycle gets underway. It starts with Venus as evening star (Venus Vesper, aka Venus Hesperus) reaching maximum elongation east of the Sun at 12° 57’ Libra on August 20 (conjunct Mars and smack in the middle of the Great 2010 T-Square). The cycle lasts into next year, ending with Venus the morning star (Venus Lucifer) attaining its greatest western elongation on January 8, 2011 at 1° 11’ Sagittarius. In between comes the Venus retrograde cycle, beginning with the retrograde station on October 8 (conjunct Mars again) and concluding with the direct station on November 18. In the middle of the retrograde comes the keynote of the whole cycle, the inferior conjunction with the Sun on October 29, as Venus passes between Earth and Sun. (The alignment will not be so precise that Venus actually crosses the solar disk as seen from Earth. That last happened on June 8, 2004 and will not occur again until June 6, 2012.)

When one of the inner planets (Mercury and Venus) in its faster orbit starts catching up on the slower orbiting Earth, the inner planet's apparent motion in our night sky begins to slow. At the same time, the inner planet gets as far as it ever does east of the Sun as seen from Earth. This is the maximum eastern elongation, and it marks a time when the planet in question is seen in the western sky during and after sunset. The planet moves slower and slower night after night until it comes to an apparent standstill in the heavens: this is the retrograde station, the point at which the planet appears to stop and then begin moving backwards (clockwise, or westward) through the sky. This period of reverse motion continues for some weeks (roughly three weeks for Mercury, about seven weeks for Venus), until the planet once more slows its nightly progress through the sky and again comes to an apparent standstill - the direct station, in this case. Normal counterclockwise (eastward) motion then resumes, until the next intersolar cycle brings a new retrograde.

Synodic Cycle of VenusNow that you've got the picture – see the animation of a typical Venus intersolar cycle - one thing should be clear: during its intersolar cycle, when it passes between us and the Sun, an inferior planet is actually closer to Earth, making it brighter and more prominent in our sky. That’s why I’ve christened it the planet’s Maximum (Max) cycle. In the case of Venus, this tends to coincide with a period of relative ease and prosperity, all else being equal. All else was far from equal during the 2009 Venus Max cycle, which came at one of the most desperate times in modern economic history. It still isn’t back to battery in the 2010-2011 cycle, which begins under the aegis of the Great 2010 T-Square. But any improvement is better than none, and way better than things getting worse yet.

Last year’s forecast described "the January 14-June 5 Venus intersolar cycle of 2009 as arguably the most positive part of the year, as far as financial markets and economic development go." Indeed, the Obama administration’s stimulus program got underway during this period, and the great market rally of 2009 got started on the very day Venus’ retrograde began (March 6). (A check of the Case Shiller index - - shows a pop in home price appreciation during this period as well.) This year’s Venus Max comes at a time when the first stimulus has pretty well run out, and the bills for financing it have started coming in faster and bigger every month. Probably this means that the fall-off in economic activity associated with this summer’s Great T-Square will be moderated somewhat. Things get a little better, but they don’t get really good just yet.

Still, we should be grateful for any improvement, however modest and temporary. If this is the best we can get even with a Venus Max at work, it is nonetheless a whole lot better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Use any and every advantage! Even a slight upturn in the markets, in employment, in any aspect of the economy is better than none, and a far sight better than the kind of total collapse some pundits foresee. From my reading of it, the Cassandras who warn of an economic Apocalypse may have a clearer vision of the truth than the Pollyannas who talk about this being a bull market. They both miss the mark though.

DEC 31, 1980 Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction (Trigonalis Dawn)This is not just a cyclical economic downturn. As I’ve already written, since 1980 we’ve been in a long-term (forty-year) transition from one cycle of civilization (the Industrial Revolution) to the next. I don’t know what this next one will be called, any more than anyone knew what to call the Industrial Revolution at the time it was beginning – other than a calamity, which is what most people thought it was at the time. (This time around, it may be the Virtual Revolution, Nanotech Revolution, Bioengineering Revolution, Quantum Revolution . . . any one might fit, and yet each one is probably too narrowly focused.)

Looking back on the economic, social and political evolution taking place at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, it’s clear that it was not an easy birth - as is typical of the onset of historical epochs. Agriculture and muscle power had been the order of the day; which meant that nobles were supported by the labor of tenants and their livestock, who produced the crops and cut the timber. (Ironically, two energy sources that far predated the Industrial Revolution will long outlive it: wind and water, both being forms of solar energy.) With the rise of machines to supplant muscle power (animal as well as human), and coal to replace wood as fuel, the wealth of the lords was diminished: capital was no longer mere land for producing food and fuel, and the tenants were leaving the farms to go to work in the factories in the cities. The socio-economic structure people had known for centuries was disintegrating, and a new one was taking its place. Anxiety was widespread then – as it is now.

This radical change was perceived as threatening by many. Those who tried to hang onto the old were run over by the new. Lords were steadily losing income as they lost their tenants. In order to maintain their expensive estates, they cut staff as much as possible, and sold off tracts of land. The subsistence family farmers watched as their village infrastructure emptied out to the cities. People from the bottom to the top of the old social hierarchy bemoaned the increasing poverty and decaying security all around them. Sound familiar? It not, you haven’t been paying attention since 1980, when the current dawn period – the one analogous to the 1802-1842 Earth Trigonalis dawn – got underway.

DEC 21, 2020 Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction (Trigonalis Dusk)The 1802-1842 Earth Trigonalis dawn was a time when the social, political and economic institutions that had sustained a civilization for centuries were just plain falling apart. People and institutions trying to maintain the old order were run over and crushed by the new system. The old occupations and industries became less and rewarding, eventually bankrupting nearly everyone who didn’t move on into the new system. It looked and felt like the end of the world . . . and yet it turned into what we have been pleased to call the Modern World over the past couple centuries or so.

That’s exactly what’s happening now. Yes, it is the end of an old era, an old economy, an old world. At this point, we’re about halfway through the dawn period. This is why I’ve been saying for years now that the salad days are gone – and that when they do come back, it will be an entirely different salad. In 2020, when the Air Trigonalis of the Great Chronocrator finally arrives, a new long-term boom epoch begins: a new means of production, a new form of capital, a new economy and new markets. Until then, the new normal is transition: the decay of the old (and the suffering of the people who try to hang onto it); and the birth of the new. What we’re seeing, in short, is not the end of the world, but the end of a world. And worlds like that end all the time, every generation at least – just not so much all at once as now, or back in the early 19th Century.

I bring up this difference between the end of a world and the end of the world because I think it’s essential first to survival and then to happiness and prosperity at all levels, from the individual to the collective. If you think the Apocalypse is imminent, you won’t do one thing right for tomorrow, because you don’t believe there will be a tomorrow. If you think a total collapse of the financial system will happen any day now, you won’t invest what capital you do have in such a way as to grow it over the years to come. The Chicken Littles will have none of this "don’t put all your eggs in one basket" stuff. They’ll go to cash, convert it all to precious metals, and then be at the mercy of the governments that show an historical penchant for confiscating those same precious metals. I know, I know, governments are perennial confiscators of everything anyway. But the more baskets your eggs are in, the fewer will get snatched up in one fell swoop by the agents of Big Brother.

SEP 19, 2010 Jupiter-Uranus ConjunctionThe Great T-Square of 2010 is a major milestone along the way in the home stretch of this long process. It includes the key Jupiter-Saturn opposition (exact on August 16), as well as the last Saturn-Uranus opposition (July 26), and by extension the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction (exact on September 19), as well as the squares to Pluto from Jupiter and Saturn (partile on July 25 and August 21 respectively). Although their individual alignments in conjunction, opposition and quadrature to one another are sprinkled over several months, the configuration as a whole is the dominant celestial configuration of the summer as a whole, from July well into September. Even as far back as May, it’s a pattern that’s been running the show in our little corner of the universe. So we’ve already seen much of what lies ahead, because it’s more of the same – but with a twist this time, with a bit of a positive spin for a change, as the Venus Max cycle kicks in.

There will still be a growing, jarring rift in the business as usual, status quo time stream. The changes accelerate, and here and there burst through, in the way of social, political, cultural and economic disturbances, shakedowns and breakdowns – including what I have long characterized as "panic in the markets, panic in the streets, people in need of rescue, just a whiff of revolution in the air."

Up above, Saturn is within a few degrees of opposing Jupiter and Uranus and squaring Pluto the whole month long – with Mars joining in at the Saturn end of the opposition from late July into early August. Debt, default and bankruptcy are still key issues under this kind of alignment: personal and corporate bankruptcies, central banks and governmental agencies going into default (including cities and states, entire nations even) – they’re all growing concerns this year in general, and this summer in particular.

AUG 20, 2010 Venus-Mars ConjunctionWhat changes this month is not the problem, but the response. So far, governments and central banks have concentrated on triage; stopping the hemorrhaging. No real attempt has been made to get the patient healthy again, only to stop him from dying outright immediately. And in reality, nobody really knows how to fix this situation, because no one has ever seen the like of it. No one has lived through the end of one civilization and the birth of another, such has happened at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. We’re going to blindly stumble through this one the way we stumbled through that last metamorphosis. Whatever is done to save the system as it is amounts to throwing money down a bottomless pit. It’s like trying to save the whip and buggy industry at the dawn of the auto age; or trying to save the long distance passenger trains at the dawn of the jet age.

So relax, be of good cheer, pay attention, and capitalize on the new age as it reveals itself – as it will begin to do more and more with Venus Max getting underway this month on the 20th. Do not expect an overnight outbreak of universal prosperity and full employment. The soufflé won’t be done settling for a good ten years yet. This isn’t a miracle. It’s a break in the storm clouds. Keep a sharp eye peeled for those bright spots. They’re good for the soul even if they don’t manage to put an end to troubling times. And what with this Venus Max starting out under a Venus-Mars conjunction, this is good for the soul in so many ways – a time of passion and excitement, all sexy and festive-feeling. There are babies to make and parties to throw, fancy-dress clothes to buy and décor that needs done; a stimulus package that starts from animal spirits rather than government incentives . . . especially from the 14th through the end of August, with Mars and Venus being only a few degree or less apart in the sky. (The feel-good outbreak will likely kick in on the week of the 10th, the 13th in particular under a slew of lunar alignments and on the heels of the Perseids meteor shower peaking.)

CUSTOMARY REMINDER: Never make a fetish of exact dates. There’s enough quantum flux in the Universe, and enough silliness and vanity in the human ego, to make exact anything a fiction. Decades of practical experience has taught me to allow three days either way of a full moon or a regular new moon, to see its manifestation. (Likewise, a degree or two at least coming into and leaving a major planetary alignment.) Practically speaking, this means that the whole month of August is tangled up in the 2010 T-Square, even if that whole muddy mess gets some hints of a brighter breakthrough under the aegis of the Venus Max cycle getting underway.

Mercury's Synodic CycleSpeaking of muddy messes and Max cycles getting underway, Mercury also reaches its maximum elongation east of the Sun this month - its evening star phase, the beginning of the Mercury Max cycle. This happens when Mercury has come 'round to the same side of the Sun as Planet Earth, and is relatively near us. The little planet is then pulling up to pass Earth on the inside track, as it were; catching up to us from behind and then passing between us and the Sun. Just as it catches up with us, Mercury passes directly between Earth and the Sun. This is Mercury's inferior conjunction with the Sun, when it makes its perigee (close approach to Earth). After the inferior conjunction, Mercury continues pulling ahead of us until it reaches its greatest elongation west of the Sun (its morning star phase), at which point the little planet is headed toward the far side of our parent star. Between these two extremes, the greatest east and west elongations, comes the fabled Mercury retrograde period of astrological lore. (See the animation for a picture of what’s happening.)

This is a peak Mercury experience, with the little planet shining brighter than usual as the evening star at the beginning of the Max cycle, the start of its close approach to Earth. And then it gets really strange, when Mercury’s apparent motion through our sky slows, then comes to a standstill, and then reverses direction – the infamous Mercury retrograde. After a few weeks, the reverse motion slows and stops, and then the little planet resumes its normal course of motion through our sky. Mercury remains brighter than usual following the end of its retrograde cycle, until it reaches maximum elongation west of the Sun (Mercury’s morning star phase) and then passes behind the solar plane as seen from Earth.

What I have termed the Mercury Max cycle is a way of putting the Earth-Sun-Mercury relationship into a perspective that reflects real-sky, observational astronomy. Look up in the sky over the indicated period and on the dates specified below, and you will see the phenomena described above. This perspective replaces the stilted, removed-from-reality practice of looking not at the sky, but at an ephemeris. The artificial "shadow period" theory looks to see when Mercury comes to the degree at which it will later makes its direct station, and second when it reaches the degree at which it will later make its retrograde station; and then designating to span between these two dates and the lesser included Mercury retrograde dates as the "shadow period" of the retrograde.

AUG 20, 2010 Mercury Station (Retrograde)For example, the "shadow period" for Mercury’s August 20-September 12 retrograde would begin on August 1 (the day Mercury reaches the degree at which it goes direct on September 12) and end on September 27 (the day Mercury returns to the degree at which it went retrograde on August 20). But in terms of any organic, visible manifestation in the skies of our home planet, these ephemeris-derived dates have no relevance to the Earth-Sun-Mercury dynamic. It’s like left-brain versus right-brain thinking, linear versus holistic. One is a made-up abstraction looked up in a book, the other a reality that can be seen in the sky. The corresponding organically derived dates for the real Mercury Max cycle are August 6 (Mercury reaching maximum eastern elongation) to September 19 (Mercury reaching greatest western elongation). It’s a cycle that includes the August 20-September 12 retrograde and the September 3 inferior conjunction: key moments in the cycle as a whole.

Mercury retrograde is the cycle when everything goes wrong, to hear some astrologers tell it. Again, the truth is not so simple-minded. All things Mercurial are crucial during the Mercury Max phase; infrastructure, commerce, information, communication and transport being prime examples. Absent careful investigation and planning, and conscientious follow-through, all such things are apt to go off track during these cycles. Mercury's Max phase is a time for focus, concentration, planning, investigation, information-gathering, follow-through and communication - all the qualities of the active and involved mind, in short. All are emphasized and highlighted during this cycle, to an unusual degree. You’ll see it in your life. You’ll see it in the headlines.

In case you haven't noticed, most people are not especially alert and focused most of the time. When this kind of sleepwalking runs into Mercury Max, with its focus on mental acuity, it doesn't take long for things to go awry. If you're sharp and focused and alert, you can avoid a certain amount of this mess. In fact, you can even prosper by concentrating on tasks that center on thought, planning and communication. But you'll still have to dodge all the chaos created by the people who are sleepwalking.

SEP 12, 2010 Mercury Station (Direct)Among the sort of things to be ready for during the August 6-September 19 Mercury Max: strikes and other disruptions affecting transportation and communication (e.g. postal, phone, mass transit, trucking, airline, shipping, dock and warehouse workers, teachers and all manner of media). Weather both terrestrial and solar (including geomagnetic storms) can play a part in the kind of breakdowns described here, but human inattention (and sometimes malicious action) is a part of the mix as well. Power failures due to infrastructure breakdown and computer network disruptions caused by hacker attacks, software vulnerabilities, heavy traffic and the like are also just a crossed wire or a keystroke away from a major mess at these times. (The May 6 "flash crash" that rattled Wall Street occurred during one of these Mercury Max periods.)

Note these dates; be ready with a fallback plan just in case. It's not so much that disaster is destined to strike under Mercury Max. Rather, it's that everything pertaining to Mercury becomes crucial; and unless it's treated as such, then it goes awry. More and more, we live in a "just in time" world - and if the slightest delay holds up just one single thing, then a whole process screeches to a halt. Unfortunately, few people keep their eye on the ball with any consistency and diligence. And that's the reason these Mercury cycles tend to turn into Murphy's Law festivals. Practically speaking, this means that having a "just in time" inventory of essentials is risky business at times like this. Don't say I didn't warn you!

The economic and political mid-course corrections and rethinks are the major themes for August, but they’re not the only stories. The fires, crashes, clashes and explosions that accompanied the Mars-Saturn conjunction of late July are bound to continue well into August, with the Red Planet and the Ringed Planet staying so close in alignment for so long. Arguably, because it feeds into the Great T-Square pattern (which include Venus, up to mid-month), this looks to be more or less continuous through the 13th, with peaks around the 1st and 13th. It’s a cycle that operates at the individual as well as collective levels, from domestic violence and accidents to riots and rampages to spectacular mass-transport crashes; from spree killings and mass murders to military and paramilitary clashes. No global thermonuclear war stuff shows up, just threats and probes, surgical strikes and strategic assassinations, war lords and drug cartels mowing each other down . . .

AUG 10, 2010 SuperMoon (New Moon)After a period of relative calm, this month begins a series of SuperMoons, and the associated surge in headlining powerful storms and seismic activity. The new series starts with the new moon at 17° 25’ Leo on the 10th. This one is, as mentioned earlier, very much in the throes of the 2010 T-Square: Venus and Mars are conjunct Saturn, opposing Jupiter and Uranus, squaring Pluto.

The tight Venus-Mars tie-in to this SuperMoon speaks of strong passions – great for a runaway romance or a lusty liaison, not so great in the case of runaway jealousy, hate or avarice. Something to keep in mind in one’s personal life during this particular SuperMoon shock window: sometimes lust turns to bloodlust, which is why Mars and Venus both represent warriors in one culture or another. So it’s probably not a bad idea to keep your cool (and your guard up) during this alignment too. When feelings run high and blood runs hot, it’s no time to be complacent. The Venus and Mars SuperMoon tie-in works on the collective level, as well as the individual. Border clashes, terrorist attacks, hijackings and military confrontations triggered by posturing and propaganda that gets out of control . . . we’re already under a strong Mars pattern early in August, so there are probably a few extra outbursts around the time of the SuperMoon on the 10th.

The August 10 SuperMoon has a wide effective geocosmic shock window, beginning on the 5th as the Moon’s north declination peak approaches; and continuing into the 13th. Expect the usual: unusually strong storms with high winds and heavy precipitation, extreme tidal surges, and of course a raft of newsworthy magnitude 5+ quakes and volcanic eruptions. I suspect that high winds may be this particular SuperMoon’s strong suit – think typhoons and hurricanes, for example - but that’s not to downplay the other correlates.

AUG 24, 2010  Full MoonIt’s cosmic in scale and therefore global in scope of course, but the August 10 SuperMoon’s astro-locality map shows a few areas of special vulnerability. These include a horizon arc that runs through the Pacific Northwest and the east African coast, and a couple of longitudinal arcs from the southern tip of Greenland through eastern Brazil in the western hemisphere and from Siberia due south down through central Australia in the eastern hemisphere. Do not feel complacent if you’re not in one of these zones during the August 5-13 geocosmic shock window. The skies, seas and crust of the whole planet respond to a SuperMoon, so there’s not place that’s completely off the target list. Being ready for heavy weather should be de rigueur at times like this. If traveling, be aware of the likelihood that schedules will be disrupted by weather-related delays – especially with the Mercury Max going on at the time. Have alternatives, double-check everything!

While the SuperMoon on the 10th is bound to be the biggest storm, tide and seismic disturbance signal of the month, it’s not the only one. There’s also the Moon’s south declination extreme on the 18th (effective from the 17th into the 19th. More significant yet is bound to be the full moon on the 24th, in effect from the 21st through the 27th. Looking at the full moon astro-locality map, the Atlantic storm track is right under a Sun-Moon meridian line that runs northward through Miami and up over the pole to come down through Russia and central China, down through the Indochina Peninsula and over the south pole to come up along western South America and eastern Central America. Central Africa, Greece, eastern Europe and western Russia fall under a horizon arc at the same time. These are some of the areas at special risk during the late August full moon shock window – but not the only ones.

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