Earthquake and tsunami devastate Japan: Rahu-Uranus wreaks havoc
Japan's strongest earthquake in recorded history has devastated the northeastern part of the country. The quake hit on Friday, March 11 2011 at 2.46 p.m local time and had a magnitude of 8.9. Its epicentre was under the ocean about 100 kilometers east of the city of Sendai. The death toll from the temblor and resulting tsunami is now likely in the thousands and has caused billions of dollars in damage across a wide area. To make matters worse, the quake also damaged several nuclear power stations and radioactive contamination is now a potential problem.
From an astrological perspective, this earthquake seems to be another reflection of the very disturbed nature of the New Year's horoscope. As I have noted previously, the horoscope for midnight January 1, 2011 featured a close aspect between Mars and Saturn, the two most malefic planets. This increases the likelihood of destruction and loss of life through natural disasters or human conflict. The 4th house of this chart contained Mars, Pluto and Rahu -- all malefic planets capable of causing harm. Since the 4th house represents the population as a whole and lands/homes, the presence of these bad planets would tend to increase the number and seriousness of any natural disasters during 2011. As I wrote back on January 1, there will be "a higher than normal number of earthquakes and volcanoes in 2011". At the time, however, I thought it might not be as bad as 2010 which featured the Haitian earthquake that claimed over 200,000 lives. We're only into March so far and already we've seen two major earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan. We shall see if my expectation for a lesser loss of life this year will be correct or not.
Some astrologers also understand such natural disasters by analyzing current transits or astronomical patterns such as recent eclipses and lunations. I generally don't follow this approach, if only because I lack the experience to draw up a compelling picture of the situation. However, I would note that the Moon is currently just a few days from an unusually close perigee to the Earth. This 'supermoon' is the closest it has been in 18 years and will be at its closest perigee on March 19. When the Moon is close to the Earth at its perigee, there is an increase in its gravitational pull upon the Earth. This makes tides higher and reportedly makes earthquakes a little more likely than chance would predict. Interestingly, a day before the quake struck some mainstream media outlets in fact ran a story speculating whether natural disasters were more likely, citing the work of astrologer Richard Nolle. Most scientists don't take astrology too seriously, but if I wonder if they will now. Probably not, since astrology does not adhere to the standards of evidence that is demanded by science.
What is particularly fascinating to me is how natural events such as this Japanese earthquake can show up in the horoscope of the nations concerned. While one might not that think the rhythms of the natural world would resonate with the man-made world of nation states and politics, I have found that large-scale events do show up fairly clearly in the chart. This earthquake is no exception.
There are a few possible horoscopes for Japan. I have previously analyzed and predicted a Japanese earthquake using the 1947 chart which represented the adoption of Japan's post-war constitution. The current quake does show up fairly well in that chart, but it looks clearer in the other common horoscope for modern Japan, the 1952 chart. On April 28, 1952 at 10.30 p.m. Japan regained its full sovereignty ending the post-war occupation by the US.
Before we plunge into the chart, here's a primer on mundane astrology for use in earthquake analysis. The 1st house represents the country as a whole and it is often afflicted at times of crisis, whether from natural or military/political events. As noted above, the 4th house is also a sort of catch-all that stands for the population as a whole and specifically for lands/homes. Earthquakes usually coincide with afflictions to the 4th house since the people suffer and the earth and land is shaken and disrupted. The malefic dussthana houses (6,8,12) are sometimes also implicated in disasters such as these, and their planetary rulers may also be a factor in the overall picture. The main planetary culprits in earthquakes are: Saturn (destruction, loss, depression), Uranus (sudden changes, large manifestations of energy), the Moon's Nodes, Rahu and Ketu (disruption of order, chaotic events) and Pluto (transformation, coercion, 'below the surface', death). Neptune is sometimes involved although it usually is more specifically aligned with either diseases or water-related damage. Mars is a fast moving planet that can sometimes act as a trigger to release the energy of the slower, more powerful planets listed above.
We can see how this chart fell victim to the same Uranus-Rahu aspect that caused all those problems in Egypt and Libya. Since the ascendant is 7 degrees of sidereal Sagittarius, transiting Rahu (aka the North Lunar Node) was just three degrees past an exact conjunction with this point. Even more telling was that Uranus (sudden and explosive energy) was almost exactly square the ascendant. Uranus was transiting the equal house cusp (7 Pisces) of the 4th house of the population and lands suggesting major, sudden changes were more likely. I should also mention that Uranus entered the tropical sign of Aries just one day after the quake hit. Aries is known as a fire sign, and this sudden burst of Uranian energy into a new sign no doubt added to the scope of the event. (N.B. While I generally follow the sidereal zodiac, tropical ingresses such as these can also provide useful information.) So while those two factors were important components of the earthquake, they were not in the themselves sufficient conditions.
A closer look reveals the chart has an incredibly high level of planetary affliction. Look at Saturn. It was transiting 21 degrees of Virgo almost exactly opposite natal Mercury in the 4th house. An affliction to any planet in the 4th house will tend to increase the likelihood of suffering or dislocation to the population depending on other factors. Saturn had just completed its second Saturn Return conjoining its natal position and this can often be a time of burdens and distress. Transiting Ketu (South Node) was almost exactly conjunct the natal Moon. The Moon is the planetary representation of the people and its affliction here is another indication of chaotic and harmful situations that are in keeping with the effects of an earthquake.
Ironically, it is Jupiter which may provide the key to the whole chart. As we know, Jupiter is a good planet that usually brings blessings and favours. In the Japan chart, it is doubly important because it is the ruler of both the 1st (Sagittarius) and 4th houses (Pisces)-- the key houses when analyzing natural events such as this. First, we can see that natal Jupiter (6 Aries) was aspected by transiting Rahu within just two degrees. That is a potentially difficult aspect and suggests uncertain situations that may fall outside of routines. However, it is transiting Jupiter at 16 Pisces that really appears to weaken the whole chart. That's because Jupiter is exactly opposite natal Saturn. Since transiting Jupiter carries its natal imprint with it, when it comes under the aspect of an evil planet like Saturn, it weakens the houses it rules. In this case, it weakens both the 1st and 4th houses, the very foundations of the entire horoscope and thereby opens the door to a much larger situation of disruption and suffering.
Neptune's role in this is interesting. As we know, the tsunami may have killed more people than the earthquake itself. In this sense, Neptune should be active in this chart in some obvious way. And it is, through its close trine aspect with Ketu. Since the Ketu conjunction with the Moon (people) generated chaotic and disruptive situations involving the population, the energy from Neptune (liquids, water) may have acted as the planetary agency through which that chaos was channeled. By itself, Neptune's tight trine aspect with the Moon may not have corresponded with damaging situations. The difference here was that Ketu was undermining the ability of the Moon to channel that Neptune energy in a positive and constructive way. As a result, the Ketu-Neptune trine was a key source of instability in the Japan chart and contributed to the extent of the damage from water. I would also note that Neptune may be further implicated in the event of any radioactive contamination since Neptune rules disease.
Just wrapping up the transit analysis, I can see that transiting Mars (18 Aquarius) formed a grand trine with natal trine between Mars (conflict, violence) and Uranus (sudden events, high energy). The Mars-Uranus aspect in the natal chart is a signature for sudden and dangerous events and may describe the tendency for Japan to suffer these kinds of natural disasters with a fairly high frequency. Although the grand trine is considered a good aspect in Western astrology, too much Mars is rarely a good thing and in light of all the other afflictions in this chart at the time, it likely acted as a trigger.
If anything, the tertiary progressions paint an even clearer picture of destruction. TP Mars was conjunct the ascendant within two degrees and was aspected by TP Saturn and opposite TP Sun. The TP ascendant was also in close aspect and thereby intensified the affliction. This is an extremely troubled chart.
I should also make a brief mention of the dasha periods that were running. Japan is currently in the Mercury-Venus dasha period. The Mercury major period began in 2005 and the Venus minor period began in 2009. We can see that both dasha lords suffer affliction in the natal and both were under pressure by transits. Mercury is debilitated in Pisces the 4th house and aspected by Saturn within just three degrees. This is a very heavy affliction and bodes poorly for most 4th house indications including lands/homes and general happiness and prosperity of the people. As we saw, Mercury was also coming under the aspect of Saturn at the time of the quake. The minor period lord Venus is in an even more intriguing situation. While it is exalted in Pisces here, it is in the last degree and hence becomes somewhat weak and unpredictable in its results. It's also very close to the IC, or unequal 4th house cusp, and therefore is more closely associated with the land and the people. And here's the clincher: it is in a close opposition with Neptune within just three degrees. Venus minor periods may therefore feature situations and events where liquids and water figure prominently. The damage wrought by the tsunami definitely seems to correlate well with the Neptune influence in this chart, both through its natal aspect with minor period lord Venus and through its trine aspect with the natal Moon.
So it was the combination of all these layers of affliction that detailed the extent of this massive earthquake. But if these indications were so clear, then would it be possible to actually predict it? The difficulty there of course is that one has to consult the horoscope beforehand in order to make a prediction. Since I don't make a practice of regularly consulting Japan's horoscope, there was little chance for me to make this prediction. In my previous correct prediction of a Japanese earthquake in 2004, I was fortunate in that I just happened to look at it a few weeks before the fact. I saw that it was heavily afflicted for an upcoming period and then posted the prediction. In any event, the possibility of making correct predictions from these national horoscopes is a promising avenue of analysis that warrants further study.