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Tidal Sky Surge!

Is a retro/direct set of spring tide waves coming to your shoreline?  You bet it is, and it's already underway...

...when retro planets get out of control...

By John Townley

November 2011

We’ve done a couple of articles on retrogrades, from summer 2009’s tidal metaphor about planetary change easing in with breathable increments to 2010’s physical description of how the dance really works over time. More recent trend articles have focused on the dominance of Jupiter in the coming tweens of this century, its benefits and risks. But just now we are entering a rare period of intensity determined by the clustering sky that is intimately linked to direct and retrograde periods – because as the planets cluster, so do extreme alternating direct and retrograde skies. And, the effects down below are nothing less than world-changing.

Extended, alternating retro and direct periods happen when all the planets are lined up closely in the same part of the sky.

In ordinary times, when the planets are distributed more evenly here and there around the circle of the sky, there is a running average of one or two planets retrograde all year long, and it’s rare that an individual is born (or an event happens) with no planets retro – or, conversely, with a whole host of them in reverse. Natally, we tend to give special emphasis (or rather, de-emphasis) to the one or two planets retro in a chart, and in mundane astrology we figure their associations to be weakened according to their individual nature (like, don’t make war when Mars is retro). But when we see nativities (or periods of history) that are loaded with retros or have none at all, realistic interpretation is hard to come by.  Like, is someone with six planets retro so slow on the uptake as to be just barely functional, or a no-retro personality something akin to a go-go super-Aries on speed? Probably the best commentary, actually backed by some real statistics, is John McCormick’s wonderful 1975 Book of Retrogrades, get one used if you can find one. There you will see relative frequencies of each number of retros along with charts of people particularly representative of the combination.

Bowl skies (l) bring a month or so of alternating all-direct and multiple retros, bundle skies (r) mean up to three months of it.

But there’s a problem with the statistical, averaging approach: it’s not about probability and averages, with extremes happening rarely and by chance. It’s very much regular cause and effect, directly related to where the planets are in the sky, how close they are to each other, and where we are in our orbit in relation to them. You can (should) go back and read the exact how and why, but suffice it to say, for our current situation, that when planets bunch up in the sky, from a loose bowl chart to a really tight bundle, periods of all-direct and many-retro planets increase radically. As long as planets are clustered like that, you get two alternating seasons of all-direct planets (for as much as over three months, from one Mercury retro to the next, such as in the winter of 1993-94 ) then five to six retro planets (or even more).

Every couple of generations, retro-related tidal surges sweep the world and put everyone on the run.

It’s a phenomenon that happens once every couple of generations, when the outer planets bunch (or at least are all on one side of the sky) and then Jupiter and Saturn (and briefly Mars) drop inside them. These are watershed periods in history, as we explained in our WOW Award-winning article Which Side Are You On? Events come in rolling waves, in alternating opposite seasons, sweeping over the world like massive spring tides with an onshore wind behind them. One season the celestial tide of all-direct planets rushes in to reach new high-water marks (when the Sun is also inside the bowl/bundle), then rushes out six months later with a skyful of retrogrades (when the Sun opposes the bowl/bundle) while we all recover and regroup below, only to be caught by the next season’s returning tidal tsunami. It usually ramps up in one set of opposing seasons (like summer/winter) then migrates forward and tapers off during the next set (like fall/spring) after which the planetary pattern breaks up. Depending on how the middle and outer planets align, that can take up to five or six years from start to finish.

Most notable examples in recent history have been the WWII years, when global military dominance was at stake, the early 1980s when the socio-economic swing back from the post-War socialist-democratic model began, and the late 1980s and early 1990s when communism fell and the whole world realigned. The ups and downs of each were propelled and magnified by the accompanying celestial spring tide effect, making them go to greater extremes than they otherwise would or perhaps should.  Indeed, students of WWII may note with fascination how tightly events (especially in the European theater) tracked the alternating periods, with first Germany taking advantage of the flood, while the Allies regrouped at the ebb, then a reversal as the advantage in the war changed sides, ending with the extreme bundle skies that formed just after VE Day and on past the first atom bombs.

The full bundle retro tide phenomenon will hit just before America experiences its first Pluto return.

Historically, major world changes were already underway before the final set of bowl/bundle retro/direct phenomenon reached its fullest. By the time there were three months of one or the other, as in the early 1990s or the end of WWII, the message of the writing on the wall had already come to pass and the wall itself was being swept away. Right now, we are in the final stages of this fairly short period where bowl skies bring on the tides for a while but not too long, during which we have already seen a Great Recession, Arab Spring, and still more to come. It has been (and still will be) a harrowing ride, both in America and in other parts of the world, but it’s only a brief taste of once and future extremes. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:22) gets the spirit of it. 

The next time we get the really intense bundle skies and months-long direct/retro tidal waves, similar to late WWII and the fall of communism, will be in the winter of 2020-21. Assuming you’re going to live to see that next big one, now is the time to learn from today’s ongoing dress rehearsal.


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