in 1984, Pluto's transit through Scorpio coincided with numerous advances
in medical technology that allowed greater survival in life-threatening
circumstances. Scorpio is the sign associated with medicine and life-or-death
situations, but it also rules money and power. During the time Pluto was
in Scorpio, questions were raised about the artificial extension of life,
the extraordinary expense of medical care, euthanasia and the power of
decision concerning "who shall live." Pluto's movement through
Sagittarius (beginning in 1995) has brought even more attention to the
legal and ethical aspects of medical progress, including the technologically-induced
survival of premature babies.
of modern medicine has caused a population boom in premature babies. Advanced
medical technology has not only increased their rate of survival, it has
also created more of them through modern fertility treatments. This is
because fertility drugs tend to produce multiple births, and most multiples
are born prematurely. While 8 percent of singleton births are premature,
the preemie rate for twins is over 50 percent, and for triplets, nearly
100 percent. Again, the astrological "culprit" is Pluto, who
rules fertility, therapy and the massive replication of anything. Before
Pluto's transit through Scorpio (when fertility drugs were invented),
about 1,000 babies per year were born in the U.S. as triplets or higher-order
multiples. Today, that figure is 6,000, and rising.
the early twentieth century, the rate of infant mortality and stillbirths
was very high. Until recently, it was assumed that disease and unhealthy
conditions were the cause. But research has shown that these were mostly
premature babies who just didn't have the equipment to survive. With the
recent progress in medical technology, there has been a sharp increase
of survival rate for preemies, and with every new development, the survivors
get younger, smaller and more prone to infections and a variety of neurological
and organ complications. Modern medicine is very good at the high-tech
rescue of the premature baby, but at what price?
cost to "save" a preemie can be as high as $1 million, and that
doesn't include follow-up care.* More premature babies get to live, but
a high percentage get to be mentally or physically handicapped, as well
as emotionally damaged through the pain of spending several months in
neonatal intensive care units. The preemie's first and very Plutonic experience
of life includes having tubes shoved into their throats and other orifices,
and being poked and prodded with needles and wires.
difficulties that preemies face are daunting. In addition to being born
with underdeveloped lungs and other organs, they have a higher than average
risk for cerebral palsy, heart problems, mental retardation, hearing loss
and blindness. These physical challenges are reflected astrologically
in their birth charts. A recent astrological study** showed that a significant
percentage of preemies are born under difficult aspects to their
natal Sun, which represents physical health. The most common afflicting aspects
are from Saturn and Neptune. This study showed that preemies were three
times more likely than the average person to be born with Sun
conjunct Neptune or with Saturn square their Sun. Compared with full-term births,
preemies were twice as likely to be born with Saturn conjunct their Sun
or with Neptune square their Sun. Mars is another astrological indicator
of physical development, and this planet is typically challenged by Saturn
or Neptune in the birth charts of preemies.
kinds of aspects show up in the charts of "famous" preemies.
Victor Hugo was born prematurely and not expected to live; his coffin
was ordered from the carpenter at the same time as his cradle. Hugo's
natal chart shows Saturn making hard aspects to his Sun and Mars. Mark
Twain was born two months early, with a chart showing Mars afflicted by
Saturn and Neptune. When Sidney Poitier was born prematurely, weighing
only three pounds, his dejected father went to look for a shoebox in which
to bury the child. Poitier's natal chart shows his Sun opposed by Neptune
and squared by Saturn. Other famous preemies who were born with Sun-Neptune
afflictions include Winston Churchill, Thomas Hobbes, Isaac Newton and
challenge that is common in the charts of preemies is difficult aspects
between Mercury and Saturn. Mercury is an indicator of mental development,
language and social skills. Even when preemies survive the physical challenges,
they still have to deal with developmental delays. Albert Einstein is
a well-known example of this; he was three years old before he started
talking. Einstein had an exceptional mind, but he was also born with his
Mercury conjunct Saturn, the planet of delay.
As they get
older, many preemies don't catch up. Preterm children tend to score more
poorly in short-term memory, language development, writing skills, physical
functioning, mobility, I.Q. and social skills. A high percentage of preemies
are lacking in abilities of "executive brain function," such
as planning, sequencing and inhibition of impulsive behavior—all abilities
associated with the planet of self-control, Saturn. Some researchers say
this explains why preemies rate high among criminals.
of medical technology do not come without a price. In the relentless drive
toward progress, new discoveries are implemented prematurely, without
reflection on the ethical, social and long-term consequences. In astrology,
such reflection is associated with slow-moving Saturn and the
retrograde movement of planets. Unfortunately, technology is never retrograde.
*The $1 million
figure was taken from a number of studies, including those below:
the Cost of Having a Child? A Hard-Headed Inquiry”
U.S. News and World Report. March 30, 1998.
Office of Technology Assessment. Neonatal Intensive Care for Low
Birthweight Infants: Costs and Effectiveness (Health Technology Case Study
38). OTA-HCS-38. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office,
study of 150 premature births was done with charts from babies born between
1992 and 1999 who survived. Their gestation periods varied from 22 weeks
to 34 weeks. Their birth dates ranged throughout the year.