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The USA's Healing Crisis: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans

Despite being expected for many years, the recent hurricane that bombarded USA states Louisiana and Mississippi, and which led to the devastation of New Orleans, has drawn attention to various weaknesses in the preparations for coping with just such a hurricane.

This writing aims to place these current events in a meaningful context. It is generally accepted that if people can create meaning out of adversity, they fare better. The purpose of this piece, then, is to help that process of creating of meaning.

Context of the hurricane

Mentioned elsewhere¹ on this site is the current transit of Pluto to the USA's Mars-square-Neptune natal aspect. This transit provides the context for the devastation and chaos in the USA at this time.

Throughout August 2005 Pluto was virtually stationary in the sky. It had been moving backwards (as seen from the Earth) over the previous months, and was getting ready to change direction to a forward motion. The exact date of turnaround was 2nd September, when hurricane Katrina had passed but the flaws and weaknesses in the coping plans were to the fore.

The three or four weeks either side of a Pluto turnaround date tend to be ones of chaos, disorientation, anger, and intense drama, where the potential for great creation and great destruction has to be faced.

As well as Pluto opposing the USA's Mars and squaring its Neptune, Pluto was also in a close trine to the USA's Chiron. Chiron represents the USA's achilles heel. It is where problems have existed for a long time, but have never been adequately dealt with. It is a sore spot, a hobbling area, a vulnerability.

The reality of this symbolism is now apparent in the USA's political arena at city, state, and federal levels, as well as in the fact that New Orleans was located at a site below sea level and surrounded by a large river and a lake. New Orleans, then, was always at the mercy of nature, and citizens of that area grew up asking 'when will New Orleans be destroyed?'.

Birth place of the hurricane

It is not the purpose of this article to discuss the astrology of hurricanes or weather. For the purpose of understanding this Pluto station, however, the birthplace of the hurricane is of paramount importance.

Just as we can map a birth chart onto the Earth's surface in order to see where a person will meet different parts of themselves, so we can map transits in the same way.

The question is: from the USA's astrological perspective, at the time of Pluto's turnaround, where on the surface of the Earth was the planet located?

Note that this is not 'where was Pluto located in the sky' or 'in what part of the Zodiac was Pluto located'. We know those things already. This question is about mapping Pluto's Zodiac position in the sky down onto the Earth's surface from the USA's point of view. This personalises the transit - which is about timing - in terms of place.

Here is the answer:

Hurricane Katrina - birth place
Click here for larger version - opens in new window

The dot and text in the centre, near the island, mark the birth place of hurricane Katrina (using tracking co-ordinates from Weather Underground website - these co-ordinates show the time and place when Katrina was first tracked as a tropical depression).

The Yellow sloping line marks the position of transiting Pluto from the USA's point of view. The blue shaded area shows the locations within 1 degree orb of Pluto's position. The graduations in the blue shaded area show the increasing exactitude of places closer to Pluto's position. As you can see, hurricane Katrina was 'born' as a tropical depression as the USA's transit reached a peak, in a place where the transit was focused. What does this mean?

It means that all the USA's potential for chaos, disorientation, anger, creation and destruction, was located at this place and time. This is clearly a tricky and uncomfortable topic of conversation, and the ramifications will be left to the reader to ponder.

Connections with New Orleans

The city of New Orleans was founded in 1718. The city was sited on marshland, and clearing work began in February/March. At this time, Neptune (water) was at 14 degrees of Taurus, square its position at the time of the city's recent flooding.

On 16th April 1718 the city was officially founded (according to, and at that time Mercury was at 18 degrees of Aries, conjunct the USA's Chiron, and therefore trined by the recent station of Pluto. Mercury in Aries represents a very competitive trading hub, which is exactly what New Orleans was intended to be, and which is why it was bought nearly a century later by the USA.

On 20th December 1803 the whole of Louisiana was formally purchased by the USA, at least in part in order to gain control of the important New Orleans trading port. This doubled the size of the USA overnight, and what is now the state of Louisiana is but a fraction of the 'Louisiana' that was bought. On this date, New Orleans became a USA city. Mars was at 24 degrees Sagittarius, within 2 degrees of Pluto's station on 2nd Sept '05. This Mars iss also therefore opposite the USA's Mars, square the USA's Neptune, sesquiquadrate the USA's Node, and trine the USA's Chiron.

The Louisiana purchase was ceremonially enacted on 10th March 1804 in St Louis, known as 'Three Flags Day'. The USA flag was raised in the morning of the 10th. Venus was at 24 degrees of Aries, conjunct the city's foundation Mercury, conjunct the USA's Chiron, and in trine to the Mars position of 20th December 1803. The recent Pluto station was trine this position of Venus.


So what we are dealing with here, it seems, is a healing crisis within USA society. The headlines of the past couple of days are that New Orleans 'will rise again', reflecting the Phoenix-like nature of Pluto transits.

There is a lot of emphasis on the city's importance as an import-export hub with airport, rail, road, and water connections that are unrivalled elsewhere in the USA. This is that original Mercury in Aries popping up again.

But Mercury in Aries, conjunct the USA's Chiron in Aries in the 4th house, not only symbolises the interconnected nature of the trading port, it also symbolises the disconnected society, the pitting of neighbour against neighbour in competition to survive,

So saying that new Orleans will 'rise again' may seem like a bold and defiant statement of power (Pluto themes), but who or what is this demonstration of power addressed to? Nature? Other nations? The USA itself?

Wherever Chiron is in a chart, that is where we fail to learn from experience. Our undoing then becomes self-inflicted and we become stuck in an endless cycle of harm. We repeatedly struggle with difficulty in this area. We stay stuck by returning to the wounded place, knowing we will be wounded again, wanting an end to the vicious cycle but seemingly unable to do something different.

Each re-wounding is a healing crisis, an opportunity to get off the treadmill, to end the cycle of harm. What is the USA choosing?

Confirming this 'healing crisis' interpretation is transiting Chiron conjunct the USA's Pluto; so not only is Pluto trine the USA's Chiron at the moment, Chiron is simultaneously in the same degree as the nation's Pluto. Healing crisis indeed.

This Chironic repetition - and eventual release through the exercise of illuminated choice - is beautifully portrayed by Portia Nelson (who also had Chiron in Aries, aspecting the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Neptune) in her poem 'Autobiography in Five Short Chapters', which forms the conclusion of this article:

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
by Portia Nelson

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost...
I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in; it's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

¹ For more information about the transit of Pluto to the USA's Mars-square Neptune aspect, please click here.

This article was written & published on 16th September 2005

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