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NewsScope for July 20, 2004

Martha Stewart's Nightmare

Last Friday, when Martha Stewart received the minimum sentence allowable of five months in prison, shares on her namesake corporation, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, soared 37 percent higher, increasing her net worth about $95 million in one day. Her actual jail time will be delayed pending the outcome of her expected appeal, a process that could take a year or two.

Martha Stewart's horoscope (August 3, 1941; 1:33 pm; Jersey City, NJ) reflects her current nightmare, with Venus being the current primary focus. Her potential to successfully appeal her sentence was described in this column (see NewsScope for March 9, 2004) based on Jupiter's station right in her Venus. The fortunate combination of the two "benefics" brought two credible claims to appeal the guilty verdict.

In Stewart's chart Venus, the natural ruler of the arts, is placed in the craft-oriented, perfectionist sign of Virgo. Venus is also found in her Tenth House of career, further defining the central role Venus plays in her chart. And most significantly, Venus is the ruler of her Twelfth House of confinement. If or when she enters prison, Venus will be prominently activated by progression or outer planet transit.

Unfortunately, Martha's nightmare is not over yet. Transiting Uranus will be opposing her Venus throughout 2005, threatening her freedom and status. However, her progressed Venus forms a very favorable trine to Mercury in September 2005, and since Mercury is placed in the Ninth House of legal matters, she may buck the odds by getting off on a technicality. At the same time, transiting Pluto will be conjunct her Moon, ensuring that she will be experiencing deep emotional trauma during the entire process.

The USDA and Obesity

Last week, Tommy Thompson, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, proclaimed that obesity is now being classified as a disease, and some treatments may get Medicare coverage. While his department recommends eating more fruits and vegetables, the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to subsidize the over-production of fattening foods to the tune of $5.5 billion every year.*

Astrologically, farming is traditionally associated with Saturn. In the U.S. horoscope, the Sun squares Saturn, reflecting the nation's original identity as a largely agrarian society. In the late 1800s farming special interest groups lobbied Congress to get cabinet-level representation, which led to the establishment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on February 9, 1889 (noon, Washington DC).

This chart features the Sun opposite Saturn (which is exactly conjunct the U.S. Midheaven), echoing the rise of farming at the national level. The USDA horoscope also has the Sun in Aquarius in an exact trine to Uranus in the partnership sign Libra, perhaps showing how government and agribusiness became an enduring cooperative venture.

On August 10, 1973, precisely one Uranus cycle after the creation of the USDA, Congress passed the revolutionary Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act, which began the subsidy program for American grains. This Act has Pluto at 2 degrees Libra, where it squares the U.S. Venus. It can be seen as the beginning of America's obesity epidemic, since it allowed for the cheap mass production (Pluto) of the sweetener corn syrup (Venus), the chief ingredient in the nation's abundant supply of junk food.

Shaquille O'Neal Goes to Miami

In a blockbuster deal guaranteed to shake up the NBA, superstar Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for three players and a first round draft pick. The former Laker, widely considered one of the most dominant players of all time, has averaged 27.1 points in his twelve years in the league, and will make about $90 million over the next three years.

Shaq was born with his Sun in Pisces (March 6, 1972; 8:15 am; Newark, NJ**) sextile to Mars, giving him an immediate connection to his Inner Warrior. The Sun and Mars are also closely connected to independent, explosive Uranus by the 150 degree aspect called the inconjunction (or quincunx). This Sun-Mars-Uranus configuration gives the 340-pound, 7' 1" center plenty of strong, surprising, and spontaneous moves.

The Sun-Mars-Uranus blend can also be highly reactionary or rebellious. While this instinct has made him one of the NBA's biggest stars, it's also gotten him into off-court conflicts with the Lakers' other superstar, Kobe Bryant. Over the last season, Shaq's progressed Sun formed an exact opposition to his Uranus when the conflict reached the breaking point, and he demanded to be traded.

Over the next year transiting Neptune will be forming a square to Shaq's Mars, an astro-event that could weaken his ability to perform as expected for the Miami Heat. Complicating the situation is a very active Venus (by progression Venus aligns with Jupiter, Neptune and the asteroid Pallas), indicating that Shaq's interests may turn to making music or movies while he's contracted to play basketball.

*For more in the link between subsidies, corn, and obesity see:
ABC News
Christian Science Monitor
Count Carbs Research

**According to astrologer Courtney Conrad Roberts, Shaq's mother says he was born around 8:00 am, which gives 29 degrees Aries Rising. Roberts' opines that Taurus Rising fits his personality and physique (I agree), so I have given 8:15 am to place Taurus on the Ascendant. This time should be considered speculative, and a starting point to rectify his exact birth time.


Michael WolfStar is a professional astrologer and writer living in Oregon. He writes regularly for Dell Horoscope and American Astrology.

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