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Taking Place: the Arabic Uprisings of 2010-2011
Published: 1st July 2011
At around 11:30am on the 17th of December last year, a man named Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in the street in Sidi Bouzid, in Tunisia. Twenty-eight days later, on 14th January 2011, a revolution had occurred and the president stepped down. In the country where these events took place, what happened is known as the Sidi Bouzid Revolt.
Throughout January and February there was a groundswell of uprisings and protests in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, and more. Many of them continue to this day, despite the resistance from the authorities who are, alas, still trying to hold onto the status quo, despite the grass-roots momentum of the people's will to overturn them and bring about a betterment of their societies.
A slogan rose up and became popular, first in Tunisia, then spreading to Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and beyond: 'The people want to bring down the regime.' It can also be translated in other ways, such as: The people want the fall of the regime, or The people want to overthrow the regime, or The people want to topple the regime, and by 'regime' it is not always meant 'the government' per se, but sometimes it refers to the system, or the status quo that prevails in a particular place, or the wider order under which multiple countries are organised.
Astrologers have used various methods to analyse why these things happened at this time, and in these places. Clearly the Uranus-Pluto square aspect has much to do with these events, however in this article I want to discuss one method which has not, as far as I know, been written about but which helps to answer not only 'Why now?' and 'Why this part of the world?' but the more specific question: 'Why Tunisia?'
A lot of people reading this will already be familiar with what an aspect is in astrology: an angular relationship between two planets, or between a planet and a point such as the Ascendant, or the Moon's north node. In simple terms, and avoiding getting into the technical and mathematical side of the subject, a star-planet paran is a particular type of relationship between a star and a planet which links up with a particular latitude or band of latitudes. The latter part of that is vitally important: 'a particular latitude, or band of latitudes'.
Whereas aspects between planets are not location-specific, star-planet parans are very latitude-dependent. Longitude doesn't affect them so strongly, but latitude affects them very much. What this means in practice is that a particular latitude or band of latitudes will be linked with a star-planet relationship for a specifiable period of time. In other words, a village, town or city will resonate with a star-planet relationship between certain dates. Sometimes the band of latitudes is broad - for instance, 10 degrees of latitude could be related to a star-planet paran - other times the band is very narrow and focused.
Star-planet parans cover varying bands of latitudes
NB This graphic is for illustrative purposes only, intending to give an approximate representation of the above principle, not actual paran data
Just like aspects, star-planet parans come and go: they build to an ever-closer state, reach exactitude, and then fade. This is similar to an aspect being 'within orb', getting closer to the exact aspect, and then separating from exactitude. Because planets move retrograde as well as direct ('backwards' as well as 'forwards') star-planet parans can come back again, sometimes more than once, so that there will sometimes be a series of these parans linking with a latitude band throughout several months.
Guess what happened during the Arab Revolutions?
Four separate star-planet parans, known to have themes of outrage, rebellion and leadership changes, were present at different times and in different combinations over a band of latitudes in northern Africa from December 2010 to February 2011.
So why was it in Tunisia, specifically, that the revolutions began?
Part of the answer to this seems to be that in Tunisia, at the latitude of the capital (i.e. Tunis), all four parans were present, in sequence, and with a period of overlap where all four were present at the same time. This was not the case for Egypt, or Libya, etc.
What's more, the parans help to explain why Libya didn't fall, and give additional information to the standard astrological techniques about when Gaddafi might finally be overthrown.
The rest of this article covers the details: the dates, the locations, and the paran data.
First, some graphics to help explain what star-planet parans are.
Rising, Culminating, Setting, Anti-Culminating
Just as the Sun rises and sets every day, so does every planet, and many of the stars. We're familiar with the fact that the Sun always rises in the eastern half of the sky, and sets in the western half. What we might not be so familiar with is the idea of culmination and anti-culmination.
Culmination refers to the process of reaching the highest point possible. When the Sun culminates it is mid-day (although the clocks we use have long since been divorced from these natural time-keeping movements, so mid-day generally doesn't coincide with noon on the clockface). When the Sun anti-culminates – an awkward phrase, but one which simply means the opposite of the peak (we could probably call it the trough, but the Latinate word tends to be used) – it is midnight, although again the clock will probably tell you otherwise.
What these four moments – rising, culminating, setting, anti-culminating (or rising, peaking, setting, troughing) – give us is a set of pivot points. They are highly symbolic places of power in the relationship between the sky and the Earth.
When we say that a star and planet are in paran with one another, what it means is that the star and the planet are both located in any of these four places at the same time as each other, as viewed from a specific latitude. Here are some examples of star-planet parans - not the parans which are relevant to the Arab rebellions; we'll discuss those further on in this article - but just some star-planet parans picked for the purpose of giving us some clear images of how they function and what they are:
In this first example Venus is high above the horizon, and the star Phact is much lower but still above the horizon. Both Venus and Phact culminate at the same time, and are therefore in a paran relationship. We would say that there is a Venus-Phact paran at this latitude.
In this next sample, the grey line across the centre represents the horizon. What is below it would be invisible to an observer. What is above it would be, weather and local topography permitting, visible to an observer. The diagram shows two star-planet parans:
1) the Moon is setting as the star Alhena is also setting, and so there is a Moon-Alhena paran
2) the Moon is setting as the star Hamal reaches its lowest point beneath the horizon, so there is a Moon-Hamal paran too
Because the outer planets move slowly, and the stars even slower still (they barely move throughout a human lifespan), a paran between them can last for a few months, which leads us to the context of the Arabic uprisings – Uranus-Pluto squares.
Taking place: the Uranus-Pluto squares
The current series of square aspects between the two outer planets Uranus and Pluto has been anticipated by astrologers for years as a time of revolutionary change in all facets of life, not just the political sphere. Imagine then that when forming their squares that either planet alone, or both together, is/are also forming parans with stars, some of which have a similar type of theme of radical alterations in and overturnings of the status quo. The parans add an extra layer of information not just in ascertaining the meaning of the series of squares, but in reckoning the geographic locations where that meaning can, literally, take place.
Parans of the Arab Uprisings
Whilst there are several star-planet parans that were relevant to the events of December 2010 and January-February 2011, research showed four that stood out as very apt for what happened. These four were all connected with Uranus, or Pluto, or both. Significantly, they are also parans which will return for further visits, so to speak.
These are the four star-planet parans that this article focuses on:
For the potential meanings of these star-planet combinations we have the astrologer-researcher Bernadette Brady to thank. Over a decade ago Bernadette conducted research into them, taking into account the ancient star-lore of various cultures as well as in astrological traditions, and published her results. The following sentences were extracted from Bernadette's software, for the simple reason that they were written about a decade before the uprisings in northern Africa and the Middle East. Although they are brief, if I copy and paste them unedited it goes beyond my personal wording and explanations, and in so doing adds some objectivity to the research I did on the Arabic Revolutions:
Uranus in paran with Algol
Rebellion, the anger of the common people
Pluto in paran with Algol
Assassination, to kill one's enemies
Pluto in paran with Canopus
Change of an establishment leader
Pluto in paran with Murzim
The words of one person, or a seemingly small event, has very powerful consequences
The earliest of these four parans became present in Tunis was on 18th-19th December 2010. That paran was between Uranus and Algol, the rebellion and anger of the common people.
Pluto peaks as Algol rises...
Back in April this year when I did the research for this article I was struck by how these four parans were present across northern Africa during the time period of the uprisings. At first I thought that they would have been present across large bands of latitude, and so be relevant for large swathes of the Earth, so I researched up and down the planet, segment by segment, fine-tuning here and there to see which latitudes they were present in, and which they were absent from, and noting the dates of each.
I compiled a spreadsheet to keep track of the findings (the link to download the results as a .pdf file is at the end of this article). I expected to find bands of latitude several degrees wide where these parans were present, and in some cases that was so but it was by no means a general finding, and most intriguingly there was one very narrow latitude – so slim that it couldn't really be called a band – where all four parans were present during the time period under investigation.
That latitude was approximately 37 degrees north of the equator, which is where Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, is located.
Doing further checks to ascertain the width of the latitude 'band' where this paran of Pluto and Algol was present it turned out that, using a 2 minute (of time) orb, the top of the 'band' was at 37d 19m North, and the bottom was at 36d 46m North. In other words, the Pluto-Algol paran was present in a 'band' just over half a degree of latitude wide (0d 35m to be precise). Put that onto a map of the Earth's surface and this is what you get:
As you can see, Algiers is also within the same latitude range, so star-planet parans – just like any other astrological factor - are clearly not the only astrological event to take into account in looking at what happens where and when (it would be contrary to astrological thinking, as well as just plain silly, to suggest that any one thing is all that's needed to explain anything). In the northern hemisphere no other capital city is on this line of latitude, although it passes just above Tehran and Tokyo.
Another interesting feature of the way star-planet paran work is that they are always mirrored on either side of the equator. That's to say, at whatever latitude you find a star-planet paran, if you look in the opposite hemisphere you will find that same pairing of star and planet, but in a reverse 'pivot point' relationship.
To make that clearer, let's take this Algol-Pluto pair as an example:
In mid-January 2011 until mid-February 2011 at the latitude of 36 degrees 48 minutes north Algol rose over the eastern horizon as Pluto reached its peak height above the horizon, and during the same period of January-February at 36 degrees 48 minutes south the opposite happened, i.e. Algol set at the western horizon just as Pluto reached its lowest depth below the horizon.
However, at 36-37 degrees south of the equator there are very few places which would be likely candidates for such dramatic uprisings (the line passes through Chile, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand, but doesn't pass through or near any of their capital cities), although the parans should still be present in the affairs of any populations at those latitudes.
It is obvious that star-planet parans as a method of gleaning useful insights are not the whole story and must not be used as an isolated technique; they are but one factor in a complex jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces interact with each other and nothing ever repeats itself in exactly the same way. However I would contend that they are a very interesting and potentially very useful piece of that puzzle, very much worth keeping an eye on, and definitely worthy of more research and application in mundane astrology.
Turning back to the events themselves and what astrology tells us about them, these Arabic uprisings and overthrowings are, of course, not separated from the rest of the world. They are interlinked with it and bound to it. They are globally relevant.
You will see in the .pdf file linked to below that these four star-paran links are not gone; they will return later this year, and in some latitudes some of them will return in 2012 too.
We live in exciting – and anxious - revolutionary times. A comment I once wrote on the blog still seems apt, the paraphrase of which reads:
It's not a question of 'Do you want a revolution?'
It's a question of 'Whose revolution do you want - ours, or the governments'?'
.pdf file - dates of each of the four star-planet parans at various latitudes
NB the dates for the parans shown in this file are accurate to within 24 hours – a leeway of 1 day is recommended to be kept in mind when reading the file.
Grafitti from the uprising in Cairo
Reflections on the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt
Original blog comment from February 2009 about revolution being inevitable at this time
and requoted in June 2009
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