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When the Kursk nuclear submarine, called the "pride of the Russian fleet," sank after an apparent onboard explosion on August 12, another veil of the Iron Curtain was lifted. The former Soviet empire, once concealed far from the glare of western television cameras, was exposed to the critical voyeurism of the world media.

Another opportunity for public scrutiny was granted by the fire that broke out in the Ostankino television tower in Moscow, the second tallest structure in the world, two weeks later.

As news teams covered these events, images of poverty, struggle and even active-duty Russian soldiers begging in the streets reinforced the idea that the former Soviet Union is a crumbling nation. The Kursk and the Ostankino tower were the most recent in a stream of disasters including gas explosions, industrial accidents and breakdowns in the power grid, "which have underscored the weakened state of Russia's infrastructure due to lack of money and poor maintenance," in the words of one reporter there.

A look at the chart of the new Russian Republic (the flag for the new Russia was raised December 25, 1991, 5:45 pm GMT, Moscow) shows Neptune (erosion) transiting over natal Saturn (foundations) for an image of dissolving structures, especially where government is involved. Neptune often works invisibly, often in ways much deeper than perception can reach, but in recent months we have seen these changes begin to manifest significantly.

Striking at the Roots

Another picture of a crumbling foundation is the current exact conjunction of transiting Pluto and Chiron, which is conjunct Mercury in the Fourth House (the house that represents our home) of the Russian chart. This is a conjunction that speaks of great changes and advances in both individual thinking and culture. Transiting the Fourth House, it can represent the dismantling of the foundation of a nation, or an attack on the roots into the nurturing and support systems of its environment.

Both Pluto and Chiron, each harbingers of profound change in their own right, were slow and powerful in the sky at the time of the Kursk and Ostankino disasters, located in their exact degree of stationing to direct movement. When the Kursk went down, Pluto was within one arcminute of its exact station, and Chiron was within eight arcminutes. It is as if the very foundation of Russia was itself shifting and moving as these planets changed directions at the depths of the nation's natal chart.

Powerful planets like Pluto and Chiron working on the sensitive Fourth House can seem to cut us off from our base of support and undermine our foundations. But what they are really doing is forcing us to rethink the whole question of support and nourishment. "This emergency highlights what condition vital facilities, as well as the entire nation, are in," Russian President Vladimir Putin told a Cabinet meeting as the Ostankino tower burned, making exactly this point. "Only economic development will allow us to avoid such calamities in the future."

But the birth chart for the new Russia is hardly a picture of stability. Note the conjunction of the Sun to the North Node, which means a solar eclipse is about to occur. Eclipses always speak of moments of instability and change, and in natal charts can indicate extraordinary lives of fate or fortune. With this shifting and movement located once again in the Fourth House of home, comfort and security, we see pictures of deeply necessary struggle.

The Kursk Disaster

Looking at the Kursk disaster chart (August 12, 2000, 7:30 GMT, 69N40, 37E35), we see similar focus on the Fourth House. Once again, the roots and foundation of the horoscope are where the action is. The Capricorn  Moon is tightly conjunct the asteroid Vesta in the Fourth. The Moon in Capricorn is often cold, withholding and can possess a Spartan's limited sense of nurturing. The Moon in any public chart represents "the people" themselves. This one is conjunct Vesta, an asteroid with strong themes of personal sacrifice, and hence, the sacrifice of the people for the sake of government.

The Kursk disaster can be summed up as the people starve while the government plays high-tech war games and secretly tests new weapons beneath the North Pole. Cancer, associated with the Moon, is on the Tenth House cusp, where we look for information about big government. This house's ruler, Capricorn, is on the Fourth House cusp. Here again is a picture of where the priority of government (Tenth House) needs to be: on the Fourth House, the home base.

This chart has Libra rising, and it's fair to ask what is so Venusian (Venus is associated with Libra) about an explosion on a top-secret submarine that kills 118 people. But Libra is the sign of deliberation and balancing, and Venus is the planet of values. Notice that Venus, suspended in the Eleventh House of the public, seems to hang in the balance between Pluto and Jupiter, two planets that are now in their intense battle of ideology, which is a struggle for the truth to be freely revealed.

The sinking of the Kursk, a top-secret, lethal weapon of mass destruction, and other collapses in the Russian empire, raise critical questions of what is really important in the world, and in Russia, at this important and transitional moment of global history.



Eric Francis, the Seattle-based astrologer and essayist, writes Planet Waves. His twice-weekly horoscope and news service covers astrology, personal growth, environmental issues and political affairs. Eric blends astrology with investigative journalism and personal narrative to create a humorous, alive, and even responsible news source unique in the world.

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Other StarIQ articles by Eric Francis:

  • Venus and Mars Retrograde: Looking Back, Looking Within   1/25/2014
  • Beyond Death and Dowry: A New Sexuality   8/11/2012
  • Holistic Astrology: An Introduction to Chiron   3/17/2012
  • Beyond Death and Dowry: A New Sexuality   9/3/2004
  • When Lovers Become Parents and What to do About It   2/12/2001
  • Imbolc: In the Belly of the Stars   2/1/2001
  • Unbroken Chain: Samhain, Halloween and Scorpio   10/31/2000
  • Getting It Right: What to Do When Astrology Goes Wrong   7/30/2000
  • Go Figure! Newspaper Astrologers: How Do They Do It?   7/12/2000
  • Spicing Up Mercury Retrograde   7/6/2000
  • The Nuclear Axis   6/30/2000

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