When I went on the air to do my weekly Planet Waves FM webcast on Tuesday, August 19, I was prepared with the chart of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which had happened 10 days earlier.
This latest shooting by police of an unarmed black youth set off weeks of riots in a city about the size of Kingston, located in St. Louis County. Local and state police, as well as the National Guard, were called in, though as the days progressed, the situation escalated and many times went out of control.
Brown's death is being seen as part of a pattern of unarmed men of color, mostly teenagers, killed by police. Among the deaths we've actually heard of are Eric Garner, age 43, Staten Island, 2014 (the guy who sold loose cigarettes, killed in a chokehold); Kimani Gray, age 16, Brooklyn, 2013; Kendrec Mcdade, age 19, Pasadena, 2012; Ervin Jefferson, age 18, Atlanta, 2012 (shot by a security guard); Ramarley Graham, age 18, Bronx, 2012; and Victor Steen, age 17, Pensacola, 2009. This doesn't count Trayvon Martin, who was killed by wannabe cop George Zimmerman.
The well of rage that Brown's death taps into is related to this pattern, though the shootings are just the most visible attribute. It also includes the stop and frisk policy of the NYPD that went on throughout the Bloomberg administration, the noted phenomenon of being pulled over for driving while black, and many other circumstances.
In an article published the third week of August, Rob Urie of Counterpunch laid the scenario out in stark terms. "Had the murder been an isolated incident it would be tragic. But the death of Mike Brown was a political assassination. The systematic nature in which youth of color are harassed, intimidated, incarcerated and assassinated perpetuates the historic repression of American blacks and browns from the barbaric founding of the US in slavery and genocide to supposed resolution with the Civil Rights movement. This is to state that any of these murders might be considered individually but the aggregation paints a clear picture of systematic racial repression."
It takes some awareness of history, and some sensitivity, to know that what we're seeing in Ferguson is part of a very old pattern. Dred Scott, the former slave whose name is attached to one of the most infamous Supreme Court decisions in history, is buried just a few miles away from Ferguson.
In that 1857 decision, Chief Justice Roger Taney declared African Americans "beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."
Astrologically, the scenario in Ferguson is set before the backdrop of the Uranus-Pluto square. This is the astrology that defines our time in history, in a way similar to how the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 2001 and 2002 defined the 9/11 era. Pluto is a small planet that works on a large scale.
In his 2006 book Cosmos and Psyche, historian Richard Tarnas (author of The Passion of the Western Mind) documents the Uranus-Pluto cycle as a time of revolt and revolution, with stops at many infamous eras in history. The last big stop was the conjunction of 1965-1966. What we think of as The Sixties was a reflection of, or a product of, the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo, an aspect that had a ripple effect back to the 1950s and well into the 1970s; that's how these aspects work.
Now nearly 50 years later we're at the square, the equivalent of the first quarter phase, which is exact between 2012 and 2015. We saw the first manifestations of this with Arab Spring, the Wisconsin labor protests and the Occupy movement, all of which took place in 2011. The Occupy movement was snuffed out, Wisconsin was crushed and Arab Spring did not turn out so well.
Since then it's been pretty quiet, though people have had plenty to protest. In fact, I would describe the past few years as having an eerie calm, given the astrology. The longer it's gone on, the weirder it's seemed to me. By silence I don't mean the world—the world seems to be spinning off its axis right now.
It's the human response to all this mayhem and injustice that I've been listening for. Each time an incident would increase the pressure on individuals and on society, I kept waiting for the echo, the response or the point of release, and again and again, there was nothing. Then Ferguson happened.