Graham Ibell – Extinction Rebellion

Sun system

Extinction Rebellion: a brief look at its horoscope

Last week marks another wave of civil disobedience protests around the world coordinated by the global movement Extinction Rebellion (XR), seeking radical political change to address current and impending ecological crises. For those who don’t know much about this you’ll find more here or here. Given my ecological sensibilities and that the movement’s seed first sprouted in Stroud, a small village in England that I lived in a few years ago, I have followed XR with interest. And now, with last week’s Wellington-centred protesters camping almost at my doorstep, it seems a good time to explore the astrology.

First, the chart: although the moment’s first protest was slightly earlier (2:30pm, 20th October 2018, Stroud, UK) Extinction Rebellion was officially launched in London’s Parliament Square at 10am on the 31st October 2018, and this is the one I’ll be exploring (see right).

On first appearance this doesn’t seem a particularly strong chart, and one might rightly surmise that astrologers weren’t consulted for this launch! But it contains some interesting signatures of the movement, its motivations and that which it is confronting. The chart also shows XR to be, along with such global initiatives as Greta Thunberg’s climate strikes (started 20th August 2018), a quintessential expression of Uranus’ transit through Taurus.

Uranus: the planet of rebellion and reform. Astrologers will often look to events, new initiatives or trends when a slower-moving planet such as Uranus first moves into a new sign as indicative, perhaps paradigmatic, of what this planet’s sign journey may be symbolising. Here we see Uranus, at 0º, in the very early stages of its 7 year passage through Taurus.

One of the simple ways I like to make sense of Uranus’ movement through a sign is as if it is emphatically saying, through collective human awakening, “there must be another way of…” In the sign of Virgo, of working; in Libra, relating; in Scorpio, engaging our darkness, etc. In Taurus, we might see Uranus’ transit here as suggesting a need to radically look for new ways to treat the Earth herself, to relate to her resources, and to reform consumerism and its institutions. XR, with 0ºTaurus Uranus, could be seen as a carrier – icon even – of this impulse.

Uranus’ very tight (0º02’) and disruptive opposition to a retrograde Venus, detrimented in Scorpio, ruler of the 10th house of aspirations, authority and leadership, suggests intense and protracted (fixed) confrontations with police, with a strong anarchic or anti-establishment feel. We see in this some degree of decentralised leadership – supported, too, by Sun’s placement in the 11th house of groups and friendships. But here also in an image of factionalism, internal rebellion, power struggles, even fanaticism, only further emphasised by the involvement of the Moon (the people, but also the organisations’ ‘culture’)

This opposition very closely squares the Moon’s nodes and the Moon. Planets on this  so-called Moon’s Bending (the point squaring the nodal axis) are often considered highly significant, being at crisis or tipping point, and often suggesting unwelcome, unconventional or destabilising change. Venus, at one level an image of the ‘toxic system’ often referred to by members of XR, is on the south-moving bending, suggesting a crisis leading to a U-turn and then a decrease; Uranus in Taurus, the revolution of the earth arising out of the people (4th house) – and as such could be seen almost as the symbol in this chart of the whole XR movement – being on the north-moving bending suggests a crisis leading to a U-turn and an increase. The north-moving bending is sometimes interpreted as a place at which a planet tips to a point of manifestation or outward expression. How apt, given the formation of this movement signals a clear outpouring of rebellion in response to an awareness of the climate having reached a tipping point, along with inadequate leadership and a political and economic system which have lead to the environmental crisis. 

That Moon in on the North Node of ‘increase’ points to a firm prioritising of lunar qualities, those such as nature, the maternal, belonging and inter-relationships, the Earth, the body etc. Given Moon’s placement in fiery, sun-ruled Leo there is also a symbolic link here with the earth (Moon) heating (Leo) up (north node). Relevantly, she is positioned in – and rules – the 8th house of death, crisis, and loss (Extinction).

This Moon in fiery, theatrical Leo in the 8th house of death makes a good symbol of the ‘Red Brigade’, the groups of ghostly-white figures in blood-red garments seen opening and performing at XR protests throughout the world, almost as mourners in an ancient greek tragedy. “Grief, Pain, Loss, Rage”. This Moon placement carries privilege, possibly connected with accusations of the movement’s alienation of the socially disadvantaged.

I’m curious about Venus’ position right at the beginning of Scorpio (where she’s in detriment), on the verge of retrograding back into Libra, her sign of dignity and strength. Taking Venus as an image of internal leadership (ruler of the 10th) we might expect a repositioning and strengthening of leadership, and possibly the adoption of more cooperative, negotiating (Libra) style.

I’m taken by how the Venus-Nodes-Uranus configuration could be seen – visually and symbolically – as carrying the ‘X’ in the logo and shorted name (see chart), which, to me, confirms the central significance of this motif to the movement and its aims. 2020 will certainly be a significant year, with first Saturn and then Jupiter and Saturn combined crossing the South Node at 0º Aquarius and triggering the whole tight configuration. We might expect a more concerted effort to shut them down, and a consequential intensification of their revolutionary call, possibly moving them beyond their peaceful identity. Times to watch are late March/early April, June, and then just before Christmas. One might see the movement, perhaps, as a herald of the zeitgeist-changing Jupiter-Saturn mutation over 2020/21, from 180 past years of earth conjunctions morphing to a 200 future years of Air conjunctions.

It’s fascinating to see co-founder Gail Bradbrook’s nodal axis directly on this nodal placement – but reversed. For her, XR is an expression of a wake-up call; when the transiting nodes are reversed comforts are challenged and a new path can open up to take us forward towards; how inextricably linked her destiny is with this movement.

It’s also intriguing that the two founders – Bradbrook and Roger Hallam – both have Taurus Suns. Being in early-mid Taurus, Uranus’ ingress into Taurus could be seen to have galvanised them into action.  I find this Taurus signature interesting; yes, Taurus knows deeply an enduring love of the earth, but it can be ultimately entrenched in materialistic thinking (scientism), leaving little space for hope, faith, the miraculous.  Though optimistic Sagittarius rises both faith-oriented planets (ruler Jupiter, and 9th house ruler Mercury) are muzzled in the 12th house, and Jupiter applies to a spiritually hurt and disillusioned Chiron in Pisces .

Chart ruler Jupiter in Scorpio shows passionate intensity, single-focused on a destructive regeneration of the “toxic system”, yet, being in the 12th house (self-undoing), may be granted little traction. With the 12th the house of prisons perhaps this links with the movement’s adoption of protester imprisonment as one of its key pressure tools. This 12th house position links well with the modern reading of the 12th as the collective unconscious: XR is giving shape to a collective urgency for deep and far-reaching change. On a different note, this Jupiter placement, to me, accords with the psychedelic journeying that provided the galvanising force to co-founder Gail Bradbrook.

Whilst internationally-focused and proselytising Sagittarius rising shows the movement’s impassioned global appeal, its polemic verging on the preachy, and spirit-infused, almost devotional, character, ruler-Jupiter’s quick movement shows rapid expansion, particularly once it moved into its home sign of Sagittarius on the 8th November 2018, right around the time XR held its first week of action (from 10th November 2018). It makes me wonder how things may turn once Jupiter moves into Capricorn, the sign in which it falls, in early December this year. I suspect the relatively charmed existence and warm reception its enjoyed may tumble, meeting more organised resistance (I’ll be curious to watch Jupiter arriving at 4º Capricorn just before Christmas, given this is the placement of XR’s Saturn, the latter located on the fixed star ‘Polis’, homonymically suggestive of ‘police’!)

Curiously, this rising Saturn, planet of establishment, has any dignity in this chart. This highlights a curious juxtaposition of effective opposites within the organisation itself – the System versus Reform – that, if well-carried could enable it bring about enduring and radical change.

I am also drawn to the largely unaspected Pluto in Capricorn in the 2nd house of assets: is this an image of the enormous reservoir of the disenfranchised, and those fearful of what they stand to lose, rising to challenge the establishment powers? But, without the integrative strengths of aspects to other planets, what happens when this is released? Only dispositor Saturn in Capricorn, the defensive powers of the capitalist system, can hold it. This makes the coming conjunction, in mid-January next year, between these two planets most interesting. 

Fixed stars are quite instructive in this chart, with four bright and significant stars in key positions in this chart: we see Toliman (alpha Centaurus) on chart ruler Jupiter , thus informs XR’s identity. According to Robson in Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology “Relationships to female persons [the Earth?] often seem spoiled, or an existing relationship is stricken by exceptional circumstances. Disturbances, riots, periods of storm and stress and revolt against curtailment of freedom.” Also, “Great ecclesiastical or legal honor and preferment, ritualistic tendencies, success in foreign countries, favorable for gain”. 

Fiery red Antares sits on the Ascendant (orb 0º31’), thus flavouring XR with rash head-strong, obstinacy leading to self-destruction. Reinhold Ebertin found this star, the brightest star in the constellation of the scorpion, to bring belligerence and pugnaciousness, but also strategic, dare-devilish action. Success can arrive through a cleansing life-and-death experience, often through intensity and pressure. From “Antares demands we ‘take a stand’ for our truth against the established conditions of our personal lives and against the established order or authority directing our lives when those conditions and that authority are no longer in our best interest nor supporting or evolutionary freedom.” Sounds apt? It’s blood-read colour offers another link with the Red Brigade mentioned above.

Opposing Antares and therefore sitting on the XR  Descendant (orb 0º29’) is another ‘Royal Star’ Aldebaran, the brightest star and right eye of Taurus, the bull. Sometimes linked with the archangel Michael, this star, according to Robson, gives temporary “honor, intelligence, eloquence, steadfastness, integrity, popularity, courage, ferocity, a tendency to sedition, a responsible position, public honors and gain of power and wealth through others”. The website suggests a more indulgent, hedonistic materialism. Combined it could be a picture of the triumph and shadow of capitalism.  It’s setting placement not only puts this in the position of XR’s ‘open enemy’ but shows this setting, therefore decreasing, even dying (the Descendant has ancient associations with death, as the Sun dies here each night – see Houlding’s The Houses: Temples of the Sky)

Given these two stars’ personalities, their permanent positions opposite one another, and their placement across the I-Thou (Identity-Other) axis of the horoscope I see this chart highlighting XR’s taking up the position of nemesis Antares against the capitalist system Aldebaran. Darkstarastrology again: “Aldebaran, unlike its opposite Antares, can get away with all manner of evils, even though they are both just as extreme as each other. The difference is that Aldebaran knows how to play the game.” The prominence of both stars in this chart suggest that XR must maintain great integrity and responsibility, least the “fall from grace be just as rapid as the rise”.

Finally, with Vindemiatrix, ‘widow-maker’, culminating (orb 0º08’) I don’t think it’s stretching symbol too much to link this with what XR are holding up for us all to see – that we, through “falsity, disgrace, stealing (and) wanton folly” are killing our mother, the Earth.

Although not traditionally a strong chart, this map shows a definite alignment what we see this XR as being and becoming. It has some fascinating and apt signatures, and shows itself to be an excellent lesson in Uranus in Taurus for our troubling times. I certainly will be studying it through the future of Extinction Rebellion, both to chart the fortunes of this significant movement, and to enjoy the way the cosmos speaks to us.


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