Sumatra Earthquake Tsunami: part 1 | Part 2 | Threshold of a Dream | Thanksgiving | Festival of the Quickening
Sumatra Earthquake and Tsunami 26th December 2004
a painful process of growth?
At the Full Moon just after Christmas, Boxing Day 2004, a massive earthquake occurred off the coast of Sumatra, near the city of Banda Aceh in Indonesia. This was followed by a series of tsunamis, or tidal waves, which created phenomenal havoc throughout the Indian Ocean area, destroying uncounted lives and displacing millions of people. Malvin Artley, our regular esoteric commentator, examines the disaster in the light of the astrological aspects and the deeper meaning inherent in all suffering. Malvin argues that the Earth is a living being and that we are a part of its body. The process of growth can sometimes be painful, but eventually leads to a beautiful state of realisation, understanding and love.
Happy New Year, my Friends!
Given the events of the past week, though, such greetings for the New Year almost seem to be in bad taste. I have been trying to write this letter for the past week in response to people's queries as to what I saw around the meaning of the quake, but every time I sat down to write I felt completely blocked from doing so. In fact, I have not really been able to do any correspondence at all. Such has been my inner state. In hindsight, however, this time of year is a period that should be given over to deep reflection and withdrawal from the mundane existence, and I have found that to be the case for me this time around. Be that as it may, duty calls and after speaking with a dear friend last night, I finally feel the inspiration to get this short letter out to you.
Like most people, I went into the holiday season ready for a good break, looking forward to communion with loved ones, the usual amazing food that gets prepared, the opportunity to catch up with people I have not the chance to see at other times and a chance to sleep—a luxury for me given the past year. But, I could tell something was not quite right as I left for Melbourne on Christmas Eve. The day before, I had begun to notice heaviness around the heart and a lot of pains darting out from that area. I had also been having joint pains and a lassitude that had been difficult to move through. I knew something was going on in the environment because I particularly get pains in the joints when there is heightened seismic activity in the area and, sure enough, there was a quake off the coast of Tasmania around that time. The joint pain eased after the Tasmanian quake, but the pains through the heart didn't lift after that and I began to have niggling fears about my health. Many readers know that Christmas can be a depressing time of year and that the heaviness may have been more about depression around the holidays than about outside factors. Christmas has always been a happy time for me, though, so I knew there was something else going on. Then the quake off Sumatra occurred on the 26th and almost immediately the pains and heaviness in the heart lifted . One would think that it would be the other way around. It was as if I'd had a premonition of the heartache to come. The body is a wonderful barometer and environmental stresses affect us much more than we like to admit. If we know how to read the signals, however, these sorts of sensations can act as a sort of early warning system and we can see them as gifts rather than simple annoyances.
The Sumatra Earthquake occurred at 7:58 AM local time (00:58 GMT) at 3N18 latitude and 95E47 longitude (epicenter), off the coast of Sumatra near Banda Aceh. This places the Ascendant of the chart at the 23rd degree of Capricorn according to the Sabian symbols. I will not go into an exhaustive analysis of the chart here because that has already been done by so many others. My purpose in this writing is to look at some of the deeper factors at work with this tragedy and to give a bit of perspective on things. Human memory and perception has a tendency to be notoriously short and we, as a species, are more prone to look at events rather than the meaning behind them. The world thus seems a dark and cruel place at times for those who have not the greater Light of the Soul to guide them in life. Let us have a brief look at the main points in the chart of the event and see what we can glean of the symbolism contained therein.
Retrograde Saturn opposing Chiron, the Wounded Healer
The main feature that jumps from the chart is the Saturn/Chiron opposition stretched out across the Ascendant/Descendant axis. From previous letters we know that this has been called a heart-break aspect, and we have no better proof of that than in this chart. The purpose of the chart, as contained in the Ascendant and its ruler, is thus tied in implicitly with Chiron, since Chiron is conjunct the Ascendant. The fact that it is opposed by Saturn, the ruler of the chart from both the orthodox and the esoteric perspectives, points to a karmic necessity in the purpose of this event, the need for awakening to the realities of relations between neighbors and nations (since the opposition is an aspect that creates acute awareness through conflict and psychological cleavage), the pain of enforced and permanent separations between people-especially intimate relations-and the need for a more just and equitable sharing between people.
This is further indicated by Saturn sitting firmly on the 7th House cusp and its being retrograde as well. It also points to the fact that some hard choices are going to have to be made about relationships of all kinds in terms of how we deal with eachother at a very intimate and basic level. Saturn is the planet that forces choice upon us and thus brings opportunities for those who are able to adapt to the structures imposed by its actions. Saturn is the Lord of Karma in any horoscope, after all.
In addition, this Saturn/Chiron opposition is square to the nodal axis in this chart. The nodes represent fated occurrences for people. The North Node represents that which we must assimilate, whereas the South Node points to that which we must release and move beyond, to be very simplistic about it. We find the North Node in this chart at the first degree of Taurus by sign, and very near the star Sheratan in the constellation of Aries. Sheratan confers unexpected gains, wealth and leadership ability in its positive expressions. In the negative, though, it yields accidents, fiendishness, meanness and mercilessness. I think eventually we will see the positive side of this with respect to this event, but I will have a bit more on that later.
Saturn in aspect to the nodal axis indicates the necessity for the occurrence of the events due to causes set in motion often far in the past—one's karmic liabilities. The fact that it is square to both Nodes points to great tension in both the releasing of the old and the assimilation of the new. It generally means that familiar people are forcibly removed from one's life (South Node) and that new people and experiences are likewise forced upon one at the same time (North Node). On the whole, this is seen as a most unfortunate combination. It represents the agonizing frustrations around this event, blockages of aid to the people affected, slowness in the response of aid agencies and the lack of infrastructure that has both lead to the high human toll and which has hampered the relief effort.
In the end, though, much good could come from this in the lessons learned, the new structures put in place to deal with future problems of this nature and the relationships established in the working out of the immense difficulties with which people are faced at the moment. The fact that much good can come in the future is indicated by the sextile of Uranus to the North Node along with the trine of the Sun to the same Node.
In addition, this event occurred very close to the Capricorn full moon—roughly 14 hours before—and much that was said in that article applies to the spiritual energies impacting upon the world at that time. The North Node in Taurus in the 4th House and conjoined to that cusp points to the need for development of infrastructure in the affected areas, for proper distribution of goods and services and for a recognition of the value of the affected areas and of the people involved. This last point is further highlighted by the aspects to the nodes and by the sextile between the Sun and Uranus, which is placed in the second House in this figure, pointing also to the need for new means and ideas for the use and distribution of resources in those areas.
A Tremendous Release
Backtracking a bit, then, we can see the immense pain and shock engendered by the initial event. The oppositions and square just described proved to be a powerful buildup of force within the planetary psyche. All we need do is to look back over 2004 to see how that might be so. Saturn has a curious and most disconcerting way of bringing people together and in taking them away. It is almost as if all the people who were killed or traumatized by the quake were brought together for this one great event. It was a tremendous release, both of energy and of human life. This sudden release is shown to us in the chart by the square between Mars and Uranus. We have had more than our fair share of frustration as Saturn has transited through Cancer, as it has opposed Chiron and as it has squared the Nodes. Something has had to give, and in the cathartic release of the energy of this quake profound healing can eventuate through the struggle to save the lives of those left behind and in the rebuilding of their shattered lives.
When we get to the essentials about the basic meaning of this chart it is all about the setting right of old relations, of the establishment of better partnerships (Saturn in the 7th), of the healing of ancient wounds that can be done by no other means than by sacrifice and through selfless giving (Chiron opposed to Saturn and on the Ascendant), through a re-working of homeland and infrastructure so that it is better suited to people's needs-and all this through the old official channels, which will themselves be re-vitalized and redeemed in the process (the nodal axis along with all the aspects to it). I am leaving out a copious amount of detail here, but it would distract from what really needs to be said. What is important is that we grasp what is going on behind the symbols represented by the chart and in the symbolism of the event itself. In effect, this event was a great release and a reckoning of old scores. It was, in addition, a culmination and a recognition of responsibilities and liabilities as represented by Saturn and Capricorn. But, we need a better perspective on this to really understand what has happened on a grander scale.
The Earth is Alive!
We should always keep in mind that the Earth is alive. The physical world we see is the dense body of an immense Being and, as such, it is only the smallest part. This world, just as it is with our own physical body, is subject to psychic stresses and strains that pull on the physical fabric and which can thus eventually cause weaknesses and illness if left unchecked. We should also keep in mind that our world is undergoing more than its usual share of strain at the moment because of changing cycles and energy impacts. There are cosmic rays entering the earth's atmosphere as of now that are causing major disruptions in weather patterns throughout the globe, for one small example. All of these things impact upon humanity as well and add their share to our collective unease. All told, this is a time of tremendous shifting upon our globe and it is unprecedented from the standpoint of recorded history. As in any organism, then, if there are stresses, then the weakest part of the system will be the one most affected.
In part two of this article, Malvin asks "What is it that draws us all to be together in a given place at a given time? What is it that brings us together in collective grief or joy?" It has been said that we all incarnate in groups, whether family, community, spiritual or national. We come in together and we often go out
together. From the standpoint of the inner planes, then, these massive releases of Earth-energy and human karma are great occult events. There is release and healing that takes place on a world scale in these events and a “clearing of the slate” in terms of individual, national and racial
Read part two of Sumatra Earthquake Tsunami