The Sun is conjunct Lord of the Underworld Pluto on this fateful New Year's Eve, just past exact, as we unfold out of the December 24 Capricorn New Moon. The awareness of how monstrously complex, complicated, and embedded our Pluto in Capricorn situation really is confronts us in our conscious current moment.
The global conditions pretty much speak for themselves, so long as you have the ability to peel away propaganda and rhetoric (not many do). How it filters into our personal lives requires a little more sociological imagination - but not much.
I've been at the ranch for the past little while, attempting to regain some equilibrium with the help of the sun and moon. And really, it's no surprise that my small source of (relative) sanity would now be steamrolled, Pluto in Capricorn-style. It's a miracle it's held out this long, really. This is oil drilling country, after all, and the oil industry is one of the most damaging and deadly Pluto in Capricorn forces on the planet at this time.
I'm a little in shock right now, though. When Pluto would like you to know just how much of a fait accompli it really is, how little chance you have of resisting, it wastes no time. It shows its hand. It plays the high Joker, and that trumps it all. No argument.
The day I arrived, I was bringing my suitcase into the house and stopped for some fresh air in the yard. Instead of the usual quiet of the country, I heard: thump, thump, thump, thump. The sound was alarming and disorienting, as it was the first time in my life I'd heard anything like it from the house steps.
It turns out an oil well was recently drilled about two kilometres from the ranch house, and the sound was coming from a generator at the pumpjack.
As is generally the case with Pluto, it took a while for me to understand fully what this meant. There was a little confusion, a little disbelief, a little putting it out of my head.
But yesterday, the Plutonic situation was fully illuminated for me. I went to the pasture where my Dad was shredding hay for the cows and realized that sometime after Christmas, as the Sun moved from New Moon position to its exact conjunction to Pluto, they had also erected an oil flare. There it was, blazing away, burning off whatever it is they need to burn off and emitting it into the air.
When Pluto in Capricorn lays the smack down, it doesn't mess around.
Oil flares are associated with benzene poisoning, a major cause of leukemia. Living in close proximity to oil flares is also associated with an increased incidence of cancers of the thyroid, bone, pancreas, and connective tissue. Oil flaring has been connected to autoimmune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis (Saskatchewan has a higher than average incidence), rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid disease. They are also a cause of increased chemical sensitivity.
This isn't the only oil flare in the area. There are many. The most prominent one is a huge flare emitting a strong sulphur smell along the highway less than ten kilometres east.
All around that huge flare are farms and ranches and on those farms and ranches live people and animals - our neighbours.
All around that huge flare, in the sparsely-populated surrounding area, there has developed over the past years a cancer cluster as well as an increased incidence of autoimmune disorders.
As little girls, my sister and I played with another little girl who grew up on a neighbouring farm. We rode our bikes or walked down the gravel road to her place to play Barbies or to play with new kittens. She developed leukemia when she was 18 years old, received chemotherapy, and has been cancer-free for about ten years.
My Dad's childhood friend and his wife lived about ten kilometres from us. His friend's wife developed cancer and has battled it for more than a decade. His friend was diagnosed with cancer more recently, prior to them retiring and moving to town.
Another rancher and his wife live a few kilometres to the east, closer yet to the huge flare near the highway. His wife was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and has had bouts of chemotherapy since. He suffered from a disorder that involved vertigo and, at times, had a difficult time doing his work.
My mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia twenty years ago, an autoimmune disorder causing pain, chronic fatigue, and equilibrium problems, among others, and has suffered with it since. She is one of a number of people in and around this area with fibromyalgia or autoimmune disorders like it.
The medical establishment, the oil industry, and anyone benefiting from those things would argue there's no connection. That it's all just a bit of bad luck.
I know better. Even without one word of "scientific" evidence, I would know better.
This is not to say that the oil flare was the only factor. Or that this new flare is the only factor. With the heavily industrialized agriculture going on in this area - chemical herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified crops - it's just the factor that pushes things over the edge, blanketing us in one too many toxic layers.
The speed with which the damage is done has increased exponentially during Pluto's transit of Capricorn. The mask is off, and there's not even an attempt to conceal it anymore. It's a race to see who can destroy more, faster.
It wasn't a tsunami, an earthquake, a flood, or a hurricane, but the place where I got my foundation in the natural world, where I learned the basic dynamics and the basic elements that made me an astrologer, the place that helped me maintain sanity, is effectively not here anymore.
My Dad casually remarked a few nights ago that he hasn't heard the coyotes howling lately. They used to serenade this house on an almost nightly basis, and I have to say, it was one of my favourite sounds. One of the last wild sounds. They're gone now. I doubt they'll return.
I can't really put into words how deep this goes. It goes to the root - but to a root that was never properly secured, to a root that always, inevitably, drew poison as it searched for stability.
This unsettled feeling won't be going away. The knowledge that we're in a real motherfucking mess is omnipresent. I'll know it every time I walk down that gravel road.
All this for $3,600 per year in surface rights paid to my Pluto in Cancer grandmother, eventually going to my Pluto in Leo father, and then, what? To my sister and me? How do the Pluto in Libras put this one right?
You see, it's the money. The almost worthless mass psychological delusion called money. It always is, right? Thirty-six hundred per year is the price put on the priceless. The Pluto in Cancer and Pluto in Leo involved think they got a hell of a deal.
Yeah, I'd say that's exactly what they got.
Really, all I can do is laugh. What else is there to do? Pluto in Capricorn satire playing out in real life. And it's been going on for decades now. "Absurdity is easy once accustomed to the horror." That's a line from a poem I wrote about 15 years ago. Still holds up. Our sense of pitch black humour is certainly being sharpened to a fine point as we enter this foul year of our Lord two thousand and twelve.
I held out some type of hope that I could one day try to reclaim the spirit of this land, reversing the depletion and degradation that has come about and making it a healing place. That probably won't be possible.
We're grieving as we go now. On the move. No time to stop. The last of fin de Pisces flakes off like layers of paint on an old wagon wheel fence.
And yet, another attempt to paint us into a corner, and all it does is renew my sense of freedom, somehow. My exhilarating sense that nothing that is done, no matter how wrong, poisonous, unjust, vile could really affect me, or us, as long as we don't turn away. The ones who know and who knew all along. The ones who see every dirty move and still can't be swayed. The ones they just can't get rid of, no matter how many of us are put to sickness or death.
Pluto in Capricorn square Uranus in Aries razes old dreams so that something more powerful, more relevant, can emerge. Every long-held dream that dies, every version of ourselves shed, every fall-back plan eliminated lightens the load and frees things up for something new. It positions us in the current, cutting edge moment and nowhere else.
Happy New Year 2012, my fair friends. This could be the most surreal 365 days we've experienced yet.
But honestly, I think we have this one in the bag.