Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The KitchenAid Mixer and Pluto in Capricorn

Copyright 2012 J. Lee Lehman

Much of the text of Astrology of Sustainability is devoted to understanding from a mundane perspective how Pluto's passage through the signs really works. My historical analysis demonstrated that there is a lag phenomenon, a period of years in which the majority of people attempt to operate under the rules of the old Pluto sign. This period that can easily last years in the case of Pluto: probably as long as a quarter of the cycle, or more. When I was writing that book, Pluto was earlier in Capricorn than it is now. One thing I did say was that the transition of Sagittarius to Capricorn is about the most wrenching of the sign transitions, because the transition goes from Jupiter-ruled to Saturn-ruled, and people vastly prefer the openness of Jupiter to the rules of Saturn.

Here, having just witnessed Obama's reelection under the shadow of Pluto in Capricorn, there are some thing that are worth reflecting upon.In Obama's campaign in 2008, the watchword was change. This made complete sense, given Pluto's recent ingress into Capricorn. In Chapter 1 of Sustainability, I give the historical precedence for why we should take the first pass of a planet into a sign as the beginning of that sign period, even if it later retrogrades into the prior sign, Pluto went into Capricorn for the first time on 26 January 2008. Just how likely is Pluto to change signs during an election period? The last time this occurred was 1956, and the prior time was 1912. The next time will be 2066. So this has only happened twice before. So what was special about those elections? Woodrow Wilson won the 1912 election as a result of the Republican Party splintering between President Taft, and former President Theodore Roosevelt: in that era, the only time the Democrats could win the presidency was when the Republicans were too factionalized to agree on a single candidate. Despite the great disadvantage for national office of the Democrats at that time, Wilson won reelection, becoming one of the roughly 2/3 of presidents who ran for reelection who won. The other case was Dwight Eisenhower, an extremely popular president, running for reelection, who easily won a second term. So our very small sample size of two cases shows that when the Pluto sign change comes at an election with no incumbent, the other party not only has a good chance of winning, but of staying in office for the next term as well. The sign change in Wilson's case was from barren Gemini to fertile Cancer, from Mercury-ruled to Moon-ruled. This is a change, but it's not so dramatic as Jupiter to Saturn. In Eisenhower's case, it was Leo to Virgo, Sun-ruled to Mercury-ruled. Again, this is hardly wrenching.

What has struck me, now living through this process, is that over a quarter of the way into Pluto in Capricorn, I am still observing lots of phenomena that I would classify as leftover Pluto in Sagittarius thinking. Many of them have to do with the economy or economically-based decisions, whether personally, corporately, or governmentally. Let me explain.
  • First, astrologically, recession or depression looks a lot more Saturnian, and bubbles look like Jupiter. Thus, the housing bubble, derivatives generally, and running on credit, all look like Jupiter. The trend toward getting away from credit cards and using cash is Saturnian: living within one's means. 
  • Inflation looks more like Jupiter, and deflation looks more like Saturn. The credit crunch looks like Saturn. And yet, many banks and governments are acting as if inflation is what we must worry about.
  • Products designed for flash and features look like Jupiter, while products designed for durability look like Saturn.
Which brings me to the KitchenAid mixer. Back in 2011, my partner Maggie bought a KitchenAid mixer. Not that she wanted to: her previous mixer had a burned-out motor. However, she got an incredible deal on it, and so she bought it. We did not elect a time.

How do you interpret the chart? First, the time was easy: we took it from the e-mail confirmation that she received from Chef's Catalog. We did not examine the chart at the time. However, looking at it now, the 1st house represents the subject of the event, namely the mixer, and we see the South Node there: not a good sign. The Moon was in Taurus, which we had probably noted at the time in a vague sort of way.However, this chart hangs upon Mars.

Why Mars? Mars is the motor! In a mixer, it dies when the motor gives out, because most of the other components are replaceable. Go onto EBay, and you'll find just about every attachment available. Similarly, you can get many parts from the manufacturer.Here, Mars was peregrine and combust. There was some debate in the Medieval period about whether Mars combust was an accidental debility at all: here the suggestion might be that it may not be as bad as another planet combust, but it certainly doesn't help! That poor Mars is the most elevated planet, and it's a Mars hour, torquing up the importance of Mars. But this is a weak Mars.

So a couple of weeks ago, Maggie went to make bread, turned on the mixer, and the sound was like a car battery dying. One dead motor. The value of the Moon in Taurus was that Chef's Catalog replaced the mixer with only the difficulty of the confusion of the Mercury retrograde period, in which they got it confused about whether she wanted a refund or replacement.

So now, we come back to Pluto in Capricorn. When she got the mixer, even though the model number was the same, it felt different to her. One of the blades she had bought wouldn't fit. I felt the included blades: and they felt lighter weight. In fact, when she bought the mixer, she had bought an extra bowl, and when we weighed the old bowl and the new bowl, the difference was over two ounces lighter for the new bowl.

As we have been seeing for some time, corporations are finding all the ways they can cut manufacturing costs to maximize their profits. Everything about this new mixer is cheaper - and yet its price in the Chefs Catalog has risen about $100 in the less than two years since Maggie bought it, in the midst of this very inflationary period! This is Pluto in Sagittarius thinking on the part of KitchenAid: build cheaper equipment which dies sooner, but has nifty features, thereby hopefully encouraging the customer to buy the latest and greatest because of its still sexier features.

How long before corporations "get" it? Also in Astrology of Sustainability, I discuss the agency of outer planet cycles for change - specifically, that we are in a period until 2020 with no major outer planet conjunctions. Evidently, we are all likely to be slow learners for a while.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gaming Models and Presidential Elections

Copyright 2012 J. Lee Lehman, PhD

For many years, I have been interested in mundane methods for predicting the outcome of sporting events. Originally, I worked primarily with William Ramsey's rules. Later, I also worked with Bonatti's rules of warfare. In the latter case, I developed methods for working with presidential elections based on quantitative models: assigning points to each of the criteria used. I believe that this work is vital, because only quantitative models avoid the judgment calls that make historical work truly useful, rather than speculative.

The pitfalls of non-quantitative models was illustrated all too well in Sylvia De Long's 1981 work, Charting Presidential Elections. In this book, she presented a model using Saturn to rule the Democrats, and Jupiter to rule the Republicans. She used elevation and disposition as two of the factors to judge which planet was stronger in the chart for sunrise on Election Day.

The problem? The one advance chart she gave was 1984, in which she predicted that the Democrats would win, instead of 1984 becoming the reelection of Ronald Reagan. Oops. Now - we all will be wrong sooner or later in our predictions. But the point, I think, is that, when you know what the outcome was, it is difficult to be truly objective in rating the charts. Unless you have a friend run the data, then chop the chart information off the print-outs, it's hard to actually retrospectively predict rather than explain.

I made my own predictions for 2012 in August at a talk I delivered to the Northern Illinois Chapter of NCGR. I wanted to share a couple of my slides, to illustrate some ideas about mundane prediction, especially using gaming models.

I would also like to note that the media has given little coverage to the fact that not only were there several of the media statisticians like Nate Silver exceptionally accurate - but so were the betting models. Jamie Partridge has also mentioned this. During the run-up to the election, sites like http://www.predictwise.com/ and http://www.betfair.com/ were showing Obama winning consistently. Predictwise was likewise very accurate on the results for the US Senate.

So: about the astrology. I presented two different discussions: a comparison of natal charts based on chart comparisons from prior elections where we had good birthdata for each candidate.

For example, comparing the last three outer planet transits before the election gave these results:

This wasn't a stunning call for Obama, but given that Saturn aspects seemed more likely in winners, the fact that his last three aspects were all Saturn did argue for Obama. When I counted up which transiting planet aspected the natal chart, I did not break the data out by transited planet: off-hand, Saturn square Saturn seems harder than most.

Another example was the lunation cycle. I saw a number of predictions based on Romney going into the 8th phase as a negative.

This was a technique that was not predictive in this race, although I saw it used by several astrologers as an argument for Obama. Here;s the issue. This graph shows the actual historical count. Romney was born in the 6th phase, which, according to the graph, has more winners than losers. He had just gone into the 8th phase in September 2012. Given the description of the 8th phase in Rudhyar's work, this makes absolute sense as a call for Romney to lose. In the actual data going into this election, there was only a small elevation of losing associated with this phase.

Contrast this with Obama. Obama's birth phase, the 7th, is not historically good for presidential winners, whereas Romney's birth phase was. Obama's phase at the 2012 election had heretofore only been occupied by losers.

We don't have a lot of data points to work with here, so these results so far are just a start.

We have more data for mundane models, and this is what I will review now. My model is based on the following:

The major question is: what charts work? This is my summary slide of results leading up through 2008.

It was typical in the classical period to examine all outer planet conjunctions. Since the Outer Planets hadn't been discovered yet, that meant the Mars-Saturn and Mars-Jupiter conjunctions, as well as the more famous and more powerful Jupiter-Saturn. Here, the Mars-Jupiter and Mars-Saturn would potentially be interesting, because there is always at least one such conjunction between each election. Thus, one cycle of Mars and Jupiter or Saturn can only apply to one presidential cycle.

This being said, that doesn't guarantee that either of these cycles is predictive. In fact, the Mars-Jupiter does not appear to be. Similarly, the prior solar eclipse and the Inauguration Day chart are not predictive, at least using this particular rules of war model. This does not mean that some other model could not use these charts.

We may further note that the Libra Ingress turns out to be one of the more predictive charts: but in reverse. This is what is called a contrarian model: you take the winner as whatever the model deems the loser.

Examining all these charts together gives the following prediction, based on the historical model:

Going back to 1912, this combined model has been wrong only three times: in 1932, 1952, and 2008. It is interesting that 1932 was the first election after the onset of the Great Depression, and 2008 the beginning of the Great Recession: major economic downturns which clearly were outside the bounds of the model.

My future concern - that Election Day charts may become obsolete as more of the country moves toward early voting - may in fact be borne out by this year's data. The last time both Election Day charts were wrong was 1972: and these two charts have only both been wrong twice in the last century. We shall have to watch this trend.


Bonatti, Guido. The Book of Astronomy by Guido Bonatti. Trans. Benjamin N. Dykes. Golden Valley, MN: Cazimi Press, 2007.

Brady, Bernadette and J. Lee Lehman. Twelfth century castle besiegement in sport. The Astrological Journal 39(3): 27-44, 1998.

DeLong, Sylvia. Charting Presidential Elections. Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, 1982.

Ramesey, William. Astrologia Restaurata, or, Astrologie Restored Being an Introduction to the General and Chief Part of the Language of the Stars : In 4 Books ... : With a Table of the Most Material Things Therein Contained. London: Printed for Robert, 1654.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Indianapolis Explosion

Copyright 2012 J. Lee Lehman, PhD

It is odd waking up to the news f an explosion which takes out a house in a normally quiet city. We expect these things in war zones, and so all the descriptions of the scene picked up that image. From an astrological standpoint, the first thing that we want to know is what caused it. In this case, the chart gives a pretty good indication that the initial theory of a gas explosion is probably correct.

Data given bu USA Today, 11 November 2012.

First we see the Leo rising 0 fire. That is what all the preliminary pictures focus on: the appearance of the neighborhood as if a fireball had hit. The ruler of the chart is in the 4th, with dignity only by Face: the dignity that I have referred to as having the keywords fear and anxiety.

The presence of Neptune at the 8th house cusp does look like the gas leak scenario. Jupiter, ruler of the 8th house cusp, is not only in an air sign (gas!), but doubly debilitated: by being in Detriment, and being retrograde. That leaves little of its more benefic qualities, and more of the inappropriate expansive ones.

Saturn is at the IC. Were this a horary question about buying a house, that Saturn would immediately make me think there was something structurally wrong there.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What has the 2012 Election Taught Us?

©2012 J. Lee Lehman

First, congratulations to all my friends and colleagues who dared to predict the presidential election. I congratulate everybody, because the first step is to try.

I also hesitate to congratulate only those who predicted correctly because this kind of prediction is difficult, and fraught with problems. It is in the spirit of humbleness that I would like to address some of the problems I see in this prediction process, as well as to herald some things that I think we as a community are beginning to get right.

In the category of right, I congratulate the Political Astrology Blog and Chris Brennan and Patrick Watson for their work through the last two elections in providing a resource for predictions made, and timings recorded. It is extremely useful that the information from one election is not just quietly disappearing before the next cycle: and the next. We can only learn from developing a historical database. It is also for this reason that I urge everyone who has posted predictions or discussions of this election to not take them down. I know that nobody really wants to keep remembering their mistakes, but there is still gold to be mined in understanding both the "correct" and "incorrect" analyses - because hardly anybody gave single reason predictions. I would claim some small credit for Kepler College in helping to initiate a more serious discussion of these matters.

Here are some ideas I would throw out as important.

There are two psychological factors that we have to keep in mind that have major bearing, not only on our predictions, but those of the media, and citizens at large, whether of the country in question, or not.

  • It is an extremely well documented observation that virtually everybody makes the mistake of believing that other people agree with them more than is actually true. I have observed and commented for some time that there has historically been a high correlation between who astrologers predict will win with whom that astrologer will or would vote for. If we understand this within the context of this psychological tendency, we understand the very real peril: that if we believe that the universe is ordered, and we are right, then of course the universe will work out according to our own beliefs. While not a fully conscious process, this represents a considerable danger in making predictions.
  • When, as today, we are engaging in the post-election discussion, the tendency when one is wrong is to find a factor in the charts that one examined that could be construed as going in the opposite way, pounce on that factor, and then explain one's wrong prediction as being a result of that. So far, this may be plausible. But the real error is then the all too human tendency to believe that, having found the magic bullet, that one's prediction is transformed into a correct prediction, for having been explained.
In fact, predicting the outcome of political elections means using astrology in a fundamentally different way than we normally do. Natal astrologers are simply not generally called upon to compare two charts and see which one would be victorious in a contest held upon a particular day.

This simple reality is further complicated by the fact that everybody had a roughly 50-50 chance of being right or wrong. Thus, we are confronted with the probability that some of the correct predictions for Obama were actually fundamentally flawed in analysis and right by chance, whereas some of the predictions for Romney were just slightly incomplete, but primarily correct. How does one tell the difference, especially since we only repeat this exercise at four year intervals?

For now, let me address some particular factors, in the hope that they can help the thinking process for future elections.
  • The prediction of two-party models is completely different than parliamentary models, because only two party elections resemble the warfare models of which I am fond. If there are multiple armies on a battlefield, each one is not fighting all others: they are already aligned as allies, which is not how multi-party systems work.
  • I think we have to come to agreement for the future that if the US system is that the actual victory occurs through the Electoral College, that winning the Electoral College is the measure of a correct prediction. Frankly, we don't have enough data for a model of when an election is split between popular and Electoral College. However, I have to admit that I am being dragged kicking and screaming into developing some respect for the Electoral College idea. Had a hurricane or earthquake actually occurred on the day of the election, thereby significantly lowering a populous state's voting; or had a state referendum significantly changed the voter turn-out in just that one state; then the popular vote might not actually be more "just" than the Electoral College.
  • This election was the first failed case since Al Morrison pointed out the theory: that people nominated under a void of course Moon do not win the election. Obama was, and he did. My comment on this is twofold: first, there are no single factor arguments that I know that will work absolutely all the time. The second point is that the void of course has, imho, been blown up way out of proportion. It is merely one of the ways that the Moon can be afflicted. We must study them all.
  • This leads into the next issue: is there any critical event prior to the election itself that determines the outcome of the election? We don't often discuss this matter of multiple events surrounding an event, but we have the time a person announced candidacy, the time the election campaign is established, each of the primaries, the date of the primary at which the candidate receives the votes needed to become the candidate, the time that this is declared by the media, the time the nominating convention begins, the time that the candidate is announced as winning the nomination, and probably several other dates I am forgetting. Are any of these fail-safe predictors of the results? I tend to view these matters in the spirit of electionals in a string of related issues like a relationship (where one can do charts for the time of meeting, the first date, the first sex, moving in together, marriage, etc.): the most important thing may be defensive charting: that none of these event can predict a success, but any of them could preclude one.
  • Horary: it's time to give it up. Sorry, but let's stop kidding ourselves. In a world of seven billion people, the idea that any one of us citizens has the special pipeline to the truth about this is delusional. This cannot work, because of two irreconcilable problems: that we cannot know when the question was asked for the first time (making all subsequent attempts bogus with random access results), and we aren't really any more special than any other citizen of the Earth. I was especially disheartened by reading an argument that perhaps one gets the right answer if one has greater virtue. No comment. But I think the fact that there are many astrologers (me among them) who adore horary doesn't make this an appropriate technique.
  • It may do well for Americans to study European parliamentary elections as a model for the primary season. We simply don't have a model for what to do with multiple candidates.
  • In a world of early voting, it's time to revise our models. Dixville Notch is now a lovely historical asterisk, when literally millions have voted before those intrepid few have stayed up for their election night party. We may see a decline of importance of election day charts as being predictive, because so much of the voting has already occurred.
I believe that successful work on elections will occur through the combination of mundane techniques, and natal work focused around learning the appropriate factors to compare between timed charts of candidates: a database which now stands at seventeen cases where we have good data for both candidates. This is slow, hard work.

But most of all, I encourage my colleagues to persevere, always using caution about applying hindsight instead of foresight.