Earthquake in Haiti
As a possible indication of what kind of year it will be, all that bad karma for 2010 we saw in the New Year's chart didn't take very long to manifest. Not even two weeks into the New Year, a powerful earthquake has devastated the small island nation of Haiti. On January 12, 2010 at 4.53 p.m EST, a huge earthquake measuring 7.0 struck just 10 miles from the capital Port-au-Prince. Early reports suggest there has been widespread destruction and countless thousands of deaths as the impoverished country now struggles with the grim task of recovery and rebuilding.
The horoscope of the earthquake shows considerable affliction, although the aspects and orbs with angles are not as close as one might expect for a event of this magnitude. It is perhaps no coincidence that the quake occurred just three days before a Solar Eclipse and just one day before Saturn, the planet of loss, turned retrograde. Planets near their retrograde and direct stations greatly increase their potency for do good or ill, depending on their nature and their current condition. Saturn is a natural malefic planet and it is currently in a close square aspect with Pluto, another mostly malefic planet, so that tilts the scales pretty heavily towards the negative. At the moment the quake struck, Saturn was just four degrees from the IC, or unequal 4th house cusp. Students of astrology know that the 4th house is associated with land and earth and afflictions to it are often implicated in earthquakes. The other critical difficulty in this chart is that the 1st and 4th houses (Gemini and Virgo) are ruled by Mercury and it is just three degrees from Pluto and therefore, also resonating with the negative Saturn-Pluto square aspect. If the 4th house represents land, earth and houses, the 1st represents the country as a whole. Both houses therefore come under pressure in this Mercury-Saturn-Pluto configuration, so that picture offers a plausible enough account for the earthquake. In addition, we can see malefic Rahu and Ketu closely straddled the ascendant-descendant axis. The lunar nodes are also frequently seen in sudden events, and when combined with other malefic aspects, it can signal an event of misfortune and hardship.
January 12, 2010 4.53 p.m. EST Port au Prince, Haiti
A chart that paints a more intriguing picture of the earthquake is the national horoscope of Haiti (January 1, 1804 12.00 p.m.). Transiting Saturn had returned to its natal position within three degrees, forming a Saturn Return. The fact that it was about to station intensified its energies considerably. Certainly, Saturn Returns can be difficult periods as Saturn's qualities of loss and limitations are often highlighted, but they are not always the harbinger of difficulty. Much also depends on Saturn's condition both in transit and natally. What was the condition of Saturn at the time of Haitian independence? Here we see that Haiti was "born" at the time of a Mars-Saturn square. While this is not a full-strength Mars aspect according to Vedic aspecting rules, it is a near-exact one so even the partial strength aspect suggests that Haiti's natal Saturn had Mars issues that lay in waiting for the right planet to activate them. These potentials could be released when Saturn was aspected by malefics, including its own transit. We should also note that Haiti was running its Saturn dasha at the time of the earthquake.
Transiting Pluto was conjunct natal Mars, a classic combination for violent destruction, with transiting Mercury also there -- itself slowing down ahead of its direct station on Friday -- acting as a presumable trigger for the slower moving planetary afflictions. This was such a negative event for this country that all the natural malefics were involved in this massive earthquake, as Rahu (North Lunar Node) was closely conjunct Mercury. Since the time of the independence chart is unknown, we can't be sure about house rulership here but Mercury's affliction is no less important here because 1) it is dispositor to Saturn in Virgo hence making Saturn more subject to trouble and 2) Mercury is involved with an destabilizing square aspect with Uranus in the natal. As Mercury came under Rahu's disruptive influence through its conjunction, the twin negative energies of Saturn and the Mercury-Uranus aspect were released. The simultaneous multiple afflictions in the chart speak to the enormity of this cataclysmic event.
After this shocking loss of life has started the year on such a bleak note, let's hope things will begin improve for the rest of 2010. With some of 2010's bad planetary karma now expended with this event, there may be some basis for optimism. Of course, most things that one can imagine look better than this carnage.