Egypt in crisis: protests against Mubarak government intensify

(Posted January 31, 2011)  Egypt is currently in the throes of an almost unprecedented wave of civil unrest as protesters are calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and the end to his autocratic regime.   Starting in Tunisia in November, the Middle East has been the scene of a series of popular uprisings as runaway inflation and high unemployment have exposed the rotten core of a corrupt and undemocratic system of government that prevails in most Arab countries.   The situation is quite chaotic at the moment with both sides digging in -- the opposition is organizing a huge rally against the regime while the Mubarak is relying on the army to keep the lid on things. 

The current astrological circumstance shows an fairly high number of potentially significant coincidences.  Just from a transit perspective, it is quite telling that all this upsurge in popular opposition is occurring at the time of the conjunction of the Sun and Mars in sidereal Capricorn.  This conjunction takes place about once every two years and often reflects a time of taking initiatives and being in a state of competitiveness.   It's worth noting that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 occurred just a month after another Sun-Mars conjunction.  The Sun and Mars are the two fiery planets of the solar system and their combination here suggests a time of courage, assertiveness, and aggressive actions.  The Sun is usually seen as a planet of vitality, confidence and leadership while Mars symbolizes the more action-oriented side to the equation as it reacts quickly to stimuli, and is impatient for change.   It is also the planet of aggression and violence.  The fact that this conjunction occurs in sidereal Capricorn, the constellation that represents government and leadership structures, highlights how all this fiery energy is being directed towards changing the Egyptian government and removing Mubarak from office.  Since Mars is exalted in Capricorn, some its more positive qualities are more likely to come to the surface: courage, stamina, and heroism.  We can see that these qualities are clearly in evidence over the past week as the unarmed mass of Egyptian citizens are defying curfews and standing up for what they think is right.   It's also worth noting that the Egyptian army (Mars) is similarly rising to the occasion by refusing (thus far, at least) to crack down and shoot on unarmed protesters.   

What makes this Sun-Mars conjunction more unusual and problematic, is that it is occurring this week while in a close trine aspect with Saturn.  While the 120 degree trine aspect is not a full strength aspect in Vedic astrology, it nonetheless exerts some influence when it is this close by degree.  In the best of circumstances, Saturn represents tradition, routines, structures and prudent constraints on human freedom for a higher purpose.   The Sun-Mars desire for change and action is coming in conflict with Saturn's preference for stability and order.  More ominously, Saturn's darker side symbolizes loss and destruction, so we cannot be too surprised that there has some loss of life already thus far.  

We can see the specifics of the uprising from the horoscope of Egypt.  There are several possible candidates for this chart.  Britain granted independence in 1922 but it was a conditional sovereignty that was still seen as constraining Egyptian freedom.  The July 1952 revolution created an independent state and is commemorated today as a national holiday.  However, the final step towards complete autonomy appears to have occurred in the early morning hours of June 19, 1952 when Egypt was declared a sovereign republic.   I have to admit a certain level of ignorance of the finer historical points here -- especially on the accuracy of the exact time (1.30 a.m.) of this latter chart -- but for the moment, let's see what the this Republic chart reveals. 

The protests began on January 25 just as the Sun and Mars were passing over the natal Rahu in the 10th house of government and leaders.   Rahu in the 10th house suggests a tendency towards an acquisitive and headstrong approach to government. Rahu does like not constraints on its action and can be materialistic and devious when it is subject to transit affliction.  The Sun-Mars conjunction was therefore activating Egypt's 10th house of government and bringing it into focus.  But this is only one fairly short-lived and "triggering" transit influence and it cannot explain the occurrence of the whole uprising.

The historic importance of the current popular movement is better seen through the dasha periods and the transits of slower moving planets.  Egypt entered its Saturn major dasha period in August 2009.  Saturn can be a difficult influence symbolic of loss and delays and in the natal chart we can see that rules the 10th house (Capricorn) of government and leaders.  Moreover, it is weakly placed in the dussthana 6th house with the withering effects of Neptune.  This is quite a difficult placement and suggests weakness or deception (Neptune) and confrontation or "illness" (6th house).  Saturn is likely to produce more negative results since its sign dispositor (Virgo) is Mercury and it is with Uranus in a square aspect with Saturn again.

Amazingly, Saturn stationed and turned retrograde on the day the protests began -- quite a coincidence.  Of course, astrology suggests that such coincidences are not random and planetary positions have a special significance for events on Earth.  Here are a few more more coincidences worth pondering: Saturn has turned retrograde while returning to its natal position within just a few degrees -- a so-called Saturn Return that occurs every 29.5 years.  It's worth noting that the previous Saturn return corresponded quite closely (just a few months before) with the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981.    Saturn Returns seem to be quite unforgiving to government and leaders since Saturn rules the 10th house (govt.) and it is weak in the natal chart.  The recent Saturn retrograde station at 23 degrees of Virgo casts its square aspect to the unequal 4th house cusp (25 Gemini) of people and the population  and thereby afflicted both Uranus and Mercury.  This Saturn influence emphasizes the hardship of the population and underlines the stressful conditions that the country is facing at this juncture.

Another key transit influence was the conjunction of transiting Ketu (South Lunar Node) to the natal Sun and Mars in Gemini.  Ketu is a natural malefic that symbolizes unpredictable or unwanted change.  It erases boundaries and exerts an inimical influence on the material world.   Egypt's Sun and Mars are in natal conjunction in Gemini -- an interesting echo of the current transiting conjunction of those two planets -- and is therefore afflicted by this transit of Ketu, so government (Sun) and army (Mars) are being faced with challenges to its authority by the upsetting energy of this shadowy lunar node.  Ketu was likely made more malefic in this instance due to the extreme affliction to its sign dispositor, Mercury.  Natal Mercury is being aspected by Saturn, while transiting Mercury is also in a square aspect with Saturn.  A very bad chain of planetary energy there.

Finally, transiting Uranus (3 Pisces) is exactly square to the natal Sun (4 Gemini).  Uranus has an energy of independence and rebelliousness while the Sun, of course, represents the government and Mubarak himself.  Uranus' square aspect is especially difficult to handle as it creates destabilized situations and can reflect sudden or radical changes.  For example, the popular protests in France in May 1968 occurred when Uranus formed a square aspect to the natal Moon in France's horoscope.   The Moon represents the people, so it reflected the extremely agitated and rebellious mood of the population as the general strike almost succeeded in toppling de Gaulle's government.   We can see much the same story unfolding here on the streets of Cairo.

So how will this situation resolve?  Since Uranus is not near a station, the maximum intensity of this disruptive transit will not last too long, perhaps just another week or two before it loses some of its power.  Transiting Ketu is already past Mars but will still closely afflict the natal Sun for another month or two at least so that suggests the uncertainty of the situation and pressure on authorities may last for a little while longer.  It's quite possible that Mubarak could survive this week, but the charts do not suggest that the overall situation will return to normal anytime soon.   The Mars aspect to natal Venus over the next couple of days (Feb 1-2) could see intense stresses placed on the country.  Then transiting Venus opposes natal Mars on Feb 6-7 so that may be another difficult period where violence could flare up.  So Mubarak may well survive in the short term, but he is unlikely to last into next year.  Unfortunately, we do yet not have any timed birth data for Hosni Mubarak himself which might have shed additional light on this question.

More troubling is that Uranus will eventually station in exact square to Mars in the summer, on July 10.  Since it will form a t-square pattern with Pluto, this marks a very dangerous time for Egypt.  Mars symbolizes the army and conflict, so this suggests a likelihood of some kind of violence or explicitly conflictive situation will occur around that time.  This may refer to more internal strife, or the army dividing into factions, or it could represent a war with an external enemy.  Rahu and Ketu will be squaring the natal Moon (28 Leo) around that time so that may coincide with situations that are disorienting or disturbing to the people.  More pointedly, transiting Ketu will be in aspect with dasha lord Saturn in August so that may coincide with disruptions of authority and law and order.  Saturn rules the 10th house of leadership, so this does not bode well either for the government in power, whoever it may be.  Early August also stands out as quite eventful as transiting Mars conjoins the natal Sun-Mars conjunction in Gemini.  In so doing, it will further complete the nasty t-square pattern between Uranus and Pluto.  It looks like quite a violent and destructive time for Egypt. 

So even if Mubarak survives the next week, there are several more difficult patterns in the Egyptian horoscope this year that suggest further unrest and violence.  And with the exact Saturn return due in October, it would appear that the clock is winding down on the Mubarak government.  Regardless of who is in control, Egypt looks like it will be a very unstable and and, at times, violent place throughout much of 2011.