PART FOUR - updated Friday 7th January 2005 - FINAL UPDATE
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Why should a new planet at the edge of our solar system make a blind bit of difference to anyone? Many people are wondering this right now. They just can't see how a heavenly object so far away can have any influence at all. From a physical point of view they are quite right. It can't. There's absolutely no gravitational pull. The connection is symbolic. That though, makes it strong, not weak.
To see what I mean, please suspend your disbelief and join me in a leap of imagination. Try thinking of the entire planet earth as just one living entity. A sort of giant tree with many branches. If our planet is actually just one living, breathing, thinking thing, then every piece of land is a part of the same big rock. Every drop of water part of the same big ocean. And, er... every human being? Well, what if it turned out that you and I weren't just related to some distant ancestor but were linked in a series of other, much more immediate ways? What if we actually were, to some extent at least, a PART of each other? Hold that thought please. Or put it down if you prefer. It's quite a tricky notion to hang on to, I find. We'll return to it shortly.
Meanwhile, let's return to space. If the earth is ultimately just one living entity, perhaps the entire solar system is also part of that same giant being? In which case, when we discover a new planet at the very edge of our world, it is as if we are discovering a new possiblity at the very edge of our own personality! You think that's far-fetched? Read on. I strongly predict that Sedna's arrival is about to unleash upon our world, a series of ideas that makes all the ones above seem dull and ordinary. Get ready, very soon, to start wrapping your mind around the mechanics of time travel and the practicalities of Star Trek-style teleportation. Scientists are about to confirm to us all that both are possible. Sooner than we think. Meanwhile, even more weirdly, we are all going to start edging ever so slowly towards a future in which human beings respect each other more, resent each other less and are generally willing to let their differences be forgotten. Still not convinced? Then, let me tell you a rather lovely, if slightly gory story that has been handed down by word of mouth for countless generations by the Inuit people.
Once upon a time, a beautiful maiden married a suitor who turned out to be raven in disguise. Her father set out to rescue her but as they were crossing the sea going home, a flock of birdpeople created a huge storm. Her father believed that the only way to calm the waves was to make them a sacrifice. In a fit of mad and despicable panic, he threw his daughter into the ocean. As she clung to their boat, he chopped off her fingers till she fell to the bottom of the sea. Her fingers became the whales, seals and all the other sea mammals. The Sun and Moon, though, gave her new life as the eternal goddess of the ocean. She forgave her father. And he went to live with her at the bottom of the sea where they still exist today. The maiden's name was Sedna. She's who the new planet has been named after. We'll discuss the meaning of that many times in my column over the next few months. For now, though, just consider this. Despite all that he did, she forgave her father. They went on to exist in peace and wisdom. So whatever else this story is, it's a tale of redemption, of forgiveness and of the ability of humans to rise above all the dreadful things they do to each other out of fear and ignorance. I find it deeply inspiring that Sedna has now chosen this time to emerge from the shadows and to become part of our solar system. She's a part of our culture now. And maybe too, she's about to become a part of us all!
Interest rates will go down a couple of times in the early part of 2005. By the end of the year, they will still be lower than they are now. Inflation won't give any of us anything to worry about. Nor will deflation. The much-predicted crash in the housing market simply will not occur. Prices may continue to drop a little in some parts of London and the South East but in most parts of the country prices will be steady and may even rise a little towards the end of the season.
Weaknesses in other areas of investment will make property seem a more attractive proposition. The dollar will take a few more months to recover from its current weakness. A nasty late-March dip in the value of the US stock market won't help it... though it won't prove catastrophic either. Oil will come down in price. Gold will edge up and down like a yo-yo, proving attractive to investors with nerves made of a somewhat tougher metal. Employment prospects will continue to improve, especially in the run-up to the UK election, just before Tony Blair's birthday in May. If he leaves it later than that - or goes much earlier, the celebrations will be most appropriatley held by Sagittarian Charles Kennedy. Tenacious Taurean Tony will still win. But not by as much as he wants to.
For more about the ambitions that can be fulfilled and the powers that can be gained and attained, join me later in Part Four for the next in our series of predictions. Today though, we're looking mainly at money and, in particular at the impact of the newly-discovered planet Sedna, on all things fiscal. Sedna is not, of course, a 'financial planet' in the strictest sense. She's much more a symbol of spirit than of wealth. Her recent discovery though, cannot help but have an influence on the hearts and minds of people, all over the planet. Insofar as this is due to be, primarily, an uplifting one, we can at least rest assured that her arrival won't trigger a recession. About the only thing that will start to recede, now that Sedna has shown herself to us from a hiding place at the far extreme of the solar system, is some of the callous, careless, heartless cynicism that has held far too much of the world in its grip during the last century. As I explained yesterday, new planets only ever arrive at times when the world is about to go through changes so vast that there simply aren't enough words to describe this in the existing astrological 'vocabulary'.
The last such arrival was Pluto, in 1930. That planet, named after a mythical 'Lord of The Underworld' certainly lived up to its name. Dark dreams enveloped the planet from the very moment of its arrival. From the great depression to the holocaust, from the atomic bomb to the advent of global warming, humanity finally got to see just what a terrifying place it was capable of turning the world into. The common theme in all these horrible events was an insistence on principle before compassion. In some cases the principles were political, in others mercenary. In all cases, they were ugly. And widespread. Sedna belongs to a different mythology. She's not a greek figure but a goddess of the ancient Inuit people who once, we called Eskimos. Her main influence, it is already clear, will be to help all people of the world forge a new respect for each other... and for the planet. She's not without her dark side either, as I shall explain in Part Four. But compared to Pluto, she's a shining star of bright new hope.
Last year, an international consortium of scientists announced the discovery of a celestial object, 900 times further away from the Sun than we are. This dark, cold and distant world is following an orbit so slow that it is only now returning to the position it held in the sky while the Egyptians were starting to build the Sphinx. Some astronomers argue that it is slightly too small to be called a planet and ought, really, to be classified as a planetoid. All agree though, that its existence obliges us all to think again about what we previously knew to be possible in our solar system. It also obliges us to think again about what's possible here on earth.
We astrologers now know, from long experience, that new planets only ever turn up at times when our world is starting to change beyond recognition. They coincide, as I began to explain in Part One, with new discoveries, new powers, new philosophies and new ideals. This latest arrival has been officially named Sedna after the ocean goddess of the ancient Inuit people. Later this week, I'll tell you her story in detail and I shall explain why she could be heralding the advent of the most mind-bogglingly potent technology the world has ever seen. For now, though, let's focus on the fact that, to the people of the icy northlands, Sedna was always the goddess of relationships. The Inuits knew, as we all know, that real life relationships are never easy and that sometimes, years can pass before old wounds can heal between people who have inadvertently hurt one another. The emergence of the planet Sedna though, is undoubtedly a symbol of hope for all humanity. There may soon be a lot more love on this earth, not just between couples and families but between races, nations and even religions.
Sedna, above all else, is the planet of emotional intelligence. She represents the chance that we shall soon all have to stand back from the powerful things we feel... and, without repressing or denying our deepest passions, to learn how to express them constructively, with sensitivity and care. Before you turn to your forecast to see how Sedna's gift of emotional intelligence could yet help you transform your love life this year, let me tell you just a little more about the last time humanity made such a dramatic discovery in the sky.
Between 1930-31, Percival Lowell's laboratory found the planet Pluto - a fact immediately celebrated by Walt Disney in the creation of Mickey Mouse's pet dog. That may seem like a rather trivial association but it is very telling. Disney went on to become the most influential storyteller on the entire planet. There's hardly been a single impressionable young mind, anywhere on the earth, that has not been exposed to an unforgettable 'Disney vision' at some point in the past seventy-five years. If Disney has shaped the positive side of our culture, Pluto's other namesake has become indelibly associated with negative side. It is absolutely no coincidence that the most powerful and potentially dangerous substance on the earth should have been given the name Plutonium. The element wasn't isolated (and thus the atom wasn't split) for a few years after Pluto's discovery but the planet's first 'shadow of doom' fell across the earth almost immediately. Pluto became a symbol of 'global fear' - a previously unheard of concept. Prior to this, all threats and dangers were localised. Suddenly, Pluto gave us terrors from which there could be no hiding place. The Great Depression, when America sneezed and the whole world caught cold. World War II, when almost the whole world really did go to war. Then, the cold war. Suddenly, whole generations were growing up with secret fears too dark to face. Pluto's symbolism lay behind all these and has also been associated with the threat of Aids and of global warming. Looking back on the 20th century, it is easy to see how Pluto, the Lord of the Underworld, so aptly summed it all up. As we now look forward to the 21st, it's inspiring to see a new symbol, of far greater hope, emerging in the sky to encourage us.
It may only seem like a small ball of rock at the edge of the Solar System but now that the tenth planet has revealed itself... all our lives are about to change forever. The big shock came on March 15, last year, when an international team of scientists announced a new discovery, 1,000 miles wide and 84 billion miles from the Sun with an orbit that takes 10,500 years. They found it for the first time in November 2003 and, in a controversial break with protocol they immediately gave it a name, Sedna, after the ancient Inuit goddess of the ocean. This upset many astronomers who feel that their official 'naming committee' was being rudely bypassed. Others were aghast because, they felt Sedna was far too small to be a proper planet and should really be described as a 'planetoid'. The fact remains, though, that she exists and, from her current position in the middle of the sign of the bull, she is already starting to exert an extremely powerful influence on the whole human race.
You don't believe it? Then follow me, please, back to 1781.
That's when the first of these 'new' outer planets turned up and the world first changed forever, for everyone. The technology of that time was not exactly primitive. People understood a lot about how the world worked and had long been using telescopes to study the sky. Through these, they could see that Jupiter had moons and Saturn had rings. They laughed at the old idea of the earth going round the Sun. They would have laughed even louder though, if you had tried to tell them there were more than seven permanent 'moving bodies' in the sky. That fact, they believed, was observable and indisputable. You could no more question it than you could assume that humans were capable of, er... flying.
In March 1781, while William Herschel was peering through a home-made telescope and becoming the first person ever to see the eighth planet, French engineers were starting to experiment with the world's first hot air balloon. Very shortly after the name Uranus was officially given to the new discovery, human beings really COULD fly and the world was never going to be the same again. Suddenly, the minds of the great were all thinking alike, 'If we can do THAT, what else might be possible?'
A thousand further discoveries followed. Revolutions in politics, science, art, fashion and agriculture soon swept the globe. It's largely because of what changed, when Uranus was first found, that astrologers believe that a 'new' planet only starts to have a big influence once it has been identified. Think, if you like, of the planets as a performing troupe. Between them, this team of actors can play most roles, express most ideas, communicate most messages. Sometimes though, a new and truly mind-blowing idea will come along. It simply can't be conveyed by the members of the existing cast. At such a point, a new actor steps in and it turns out that he (or she) has been patiently waiting in the wings since the play began.
We are, of course, interested to know what the new arrival has been doing for all that time... but we are much more concerned about what will happen next. Because the cosmic cast are so versatile, such additions are rarely required. Uranus, the magician, though, was needed not just to provide an astrological symbol for 'flight' but for steam engines, electrical impulses and innovative technologies of all kinds. It also became a metaphor for 'spontaneous discovery with life-changing consequences'. Uranus 'did nicely' as the planet of the new, until about 1840 when once again, humanity made a breakthrough so big that there just weren't words, in the existing language, to describe it. Suddenly we realised that we might be descended from the apes, that the human mind had mechanisms which could be understood and adjusted, that moving images could be captured, that people's voices could be recorded, that messages could be instantly telegraphed thousands of miles... and that if you wanted to find a new planet you could work out its position by a series of algebraic equations. An age of intellect had begun and Neptune, the planet discovered by formula, had become its chief symbol.
By now, I hope, you are starting to get the picture. New planets turn up only when humanity is just about to take a truly historic step forward. They don't just symbolise new technology, they symbolise new thought processes, new social orders, new expectations and new possibilities for everyone. I'll show you more during the rest of this week when I tell you about the influence that Pluto's discovery had on the world, back in 1931. I'll also start to tell you more about how I think Sedna, the newly discovered tenth planet, could be about to catapult us into a world of time travel and telepathy, and, perhaps more importantly, how it could be about to herald a step for the whole human race towards a far deeper level of emotional maturity. I shall also explain how she is set to open up so many exciting new possibilities for you.
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