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Matrix Software > Sessions in the Third House > Book Reviews

Sessions in the Third House

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Astrology Book Reviews

Book Name Soul-Sick Nation: An Astrologer’s View of America

- by Jessica Murray; review by John Townley

Soulsick NationIf you wondered if this mess we’re in hasn’t been obvious all along, then wonder no more. Jessica Murray’s take on what’s wrong with America (and through it, much of the rest of the world) reads a little like an astrological version of a Michael Moore cinematic polemic, including a wonderful sense of wit, ironic contrast, and literate outlook. Her insightful comments on the myriad conflicting aspects in the July 4, 1776, chart focus on the manifestations of Pluto and Saturn and how they’ve recently triggered much of the worst of what the national character has to offer. Economically power-mad Pluto in the second house opposite Mercury in the eighth, a feckless Mars square Neptune, and an insecure Daddy-complexed Sun square Saturn — all conspire to the nation’s undoing. Only the Saturn-Uranus trine seems to stand up to the hopes of history. And with both Saturn and Pluto about to drag us through some more lessons, there are dire times yet to come.

With plenty of specifics from the news, including some you likely missed, she’s really spot on and scary about how screwed up this adolescent nation is. We couldn’t agree more, as we have written elsewhere both about the adolescence (though for slightly different reasons) and the dire outlook. And, it makes the events of 9/11 seem obvious in retrospect — though of course, astrology always excels at 20-20 hindsight. Still, you’d think astrologers would have been shouting it to the skies well ahead of time, even if only in a Cassandra chorus, just for the record.

USA ChartsBut, really, they weren’t. Only a few starcasters went on record about the actual issues that were developing beforehand, and not all agreed on those. Why didn't astrologers proclaim these inconvenient truths to be self-evident? There are several reasons. One is that not everybody has agreed upon which USA chart to use. Murray uses the Sibly chart (12 Sagittarius rising), which we favor, but it hasn’t always been so revered. In the 1970s and ‘80s most people used the Gemini rising chart, as unlikely as that midnight-oil chart (+/- 2:30 AM) might seem to historians. Many still use it today, and it yields totally different house results. In the last decade, new documents have come to light which favor a mid-morning Virgo rising chart, which yet another set of astrologers espouse, and there are also Scorpio and Libra rising followers, although lately opinion has regathered to favor the Sibly chart. Even that varies with the house system you use. Murray uses Placidus, which places the Sun in the seventh house, whereas now-popular Koch puts it squarely in the eighth. So no wonder there has been no predictive or even analytic consensus, as there has been no general agreement upon which to base it.

Another reason for having seemingly missed the obvious ahead of time is that it’s not always so obvious, even using just one chart. In retrospect, 9/11 looks like a slam-dunk prediction, but in this chart even 20-20 hindsight tends to fail us, as some of the most standout events (like Pearl Harbor) don’t stand out on the angles the way they ought to, though culminations of inner trends, like the Civil War, look rather clear that way. One of the reasons for the popularity of various different (and sometimes absurd) charts is that it looks like the USA gets into trouble when the tough guys upstairs get to the middle of mutable signs, so maybe the angles are mid-mutable. But is it the conjunction, the square, or the opposition that's triggering them? Not always such an easy read, even when world-altering events are taking place.

Even if you know you’ve got the right data, forecasting a very specific event triggering a trend that follows it can get mixed up with forecasting a trend nudged along by multiple small events, but with similar results. The latter is a safer bet, as history tends to be cumulative rather than cataclysmic, but not always. That’s what we opted for in 1998 when we opined (in Dell Horoscope) that the then-coming transit of Pluto to the U.S. Ascendant would pretty much stomp on its world image and would force the country to accept far less than its (at the time) sole superpower economic and military standing. Not even a superpower can face down Pluto, but we knew the U.S., being youthfully arrogant, would try and would get the worst of it, and that the E.U., China, and India, among others, would get the benefit. That’s just what’s happening, but it didn’t have to be an attack on the World Trade Center that triggered the shift. It could have been a concatenation of smaller events, or just everything in general. What you probably could predict was the presidential and congressional elections, as the least-informed government was the most likely one to bring all this to pass, so one could assume that anyone even vaguely enlightened about the situation would lose, and of course they did.

So if you want a really good wrap on the U.S. chart, with special attention to America’s flaws and current predicament as a nation and a people, this is the one to get. And it’s not only on the mark like Michael Moore, it’s also funny and horrifying like Michael Moore. But not like Bill Maher, or even George Carlin. That’s because they don’t espouse a religious or spiritual analysis of or answer to the situation, and Murray does. Her astrology has its roots in Jung and Rudhyar, with smatterings of Steven Forrest’s “evolutionary astrology,” which raises reincarnation and karma to a credo and instills planets with a pre-existing “purpose” which can be worked out if you know how to follow it. It’s faith-based astrology, of a sort, and you can bet Maher and Carlin would step off the bus here. But fortunately, like good practitioners of any faith, Murray doesn’t let her astrological raison d’etre get too much in the way of good description and practical analysis, so it’s still a rigorous eye-opener for anyone looking for a contemporary view the U.S. chart. Whether individual “planet-work” can help us get out of the collective chaos we share may be in the thousand-points-of-light ballpark, but one still hopes that if we all lit just one little candle…well, it would and will help, eventually, no doubt.

In the current rage of interest in mundane astrology which includes Richard Tarnas and many more, this is undoubtedly a must-read and an enjoyable and entertaining experience throughout.

Author House 2006     



Jessica MurrayJessica Murray trained as a fine artist before graduating in 1973 from Brown University, where she studied traditional psychology and linguistics. After a stint in political theatre, Jessica began a study of metaphysics and has been practicing and teaching astrology in San Francisco for 30 years.

In addition to her monthly Skywatch, Jessica writes commentary for DayKeeperJournal.com, as well as articles for The Mountain Astrologer, Psychic and Spirit Magazine, and other publications.


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