Did I see among them, the intelligence and refinement: the true, honest, patriotic heart of America? Here and there, were drops of its blood and life, but they scarcely coloured the stream of desperate adventurers which sets that way for profit and pay. It is the game of these men, and of the profligate organs, to make the strife of politics so fierce and brutal, and so destructive of all self-respect in worthy men, that sensitive and delicate-minded persons shall be kept aloof, and they, and such as they, be left to battle out their selfish views, unchecked. And thus this lowest of all scrambling fights goes on, and they who in other countries would, from their intelligence and station, most aspire to make the laws, do here recoil the farthest from that degradation.
American Notes 1842
It’s very common in a brief human life to believe that things have changed drastically during one’s lifetime – and usually for the worse. As I age and have this feeling often, I try to remember that it’s simply nostalgia talking, that third century Chinese intellectuals had the same feeling. And they didn’t have indoor plumbing let alone hand-held electronic devices.
But then again, maybe it’s true that some things have improved and some have declined, as our earth changes would suggest. It truly is getting worse, from the earth’s perspective if not from my own.
“Change is the only constant,” you hear. But you will also hear “the more things change the more they stay the same.”
What’s changing and what’s staying the same?
As an avid reader of history, I enjoy first-person narratives best for the very reason many don’t – it’s only one perspective. The history we learn in school is the established story which combines fact and myth. One person’s honest view is more real to me than the packaged and rationalized history we learn in textbooks.
From the mid 19th century travelogues of Charles Dickens and Frances Trollope, I’ve learned that American religion and politics have not changed much for 180 years. Or more precisely, the more that American politics changes, the more it stays the same.
But there are things that have changed since Dickens’ and Trollope’s travels to the United States – chewing tobacco is much less common; spitting is very rare; blood pudding is not generally served for any meal; and pigs do not run amok in the streets of Broadway, unless you use the term “pig” as an adjective to describe humans.
Things do always change.
Speaking of politics staying the same after 180 years, J.D. Vance, author of The Hillbilly Elegy, is running for U.S. Senate from Ohio.
As it happens in the life of an astrologer or “new age” (old term already) practitioner, I coincidentally just read The Hillbilly Elegy having found it on the shelves of the the thrift store (two copies actually). Had I know that Vance would be running for public office, I wouldn’t have thrown it in the resale bag. The fraction of a dollar I probably earned from it could have inflated to . . .who knows what.
While The Hillbilly Elegy is viewed by some as social commentary, I found it a very enjoyable read by a good storyteller. And like good storytellers, certain facts seemed to be missing both to enhance the story and possibly to protect others’ privacy.
In one scene I recollect (but don’t have the book in hand to get the exact details) Vance was in a car with his mother and said something to her he “doesn’t remember” but it caused her to stop the car and yell (or beat?) him upon which he ran far away. It was a big event in his life.
And he doesn’t remember what he said to cause such a severe reaction?
That scene alone brought the astrologer out in me and I took a quick glance at his horoscope then. Oh, he’s a Leo. Good storyteller. So he leaves out a few details, don’t we all? I don’t mind when someone is telling a story. A story is a story.
But now that Vance wants to have a say in my life, I need to know: J.D. Vance – What did you say to your mother?
To his credit, Vance does occasionally mention in his elegy that he could be difficult, as children from broken homes often are. As children are still developing, we give leeway and forgiveness for actions committed before maturity.
So why hold back?
As a natural storyteller, it’s easy to say that Vance is already a politician, doesn’t need to become one. Sun in Leo is often in leadership roles due to its confident nature, positive outlook and ability to bounce back from any situation as Vance describes in his autobiography. Add Uranus and Neptune in Sagittarius and we have inspiration and magnetism – charisma as it’s called – as part of his personality.
Vance’s moon and Pluto in Libra indicate an individual very concerned with relationship – always having one – and with Pluto nearby being in control of that relationship. This is another area in his autobiography where Vance treads lightly. In our younger years, love and romance are so important they often eclipse other concerns yet it’s almost completely absent from this book published when Vance was just 32.
In the fall as the election heats up, I suspect we’ll be hearing from some of Vance’s prior Pluto/moon relationships. Vance’s Saturn in Scorpio is square to the sun in Leo while Mars in Scorpio is square Venus in Leo indicating some intense relationships that went from very hot to very cold. No relationship is casual.
Pluto/moon aspects (generally the square but any other) are what I’ve always called the mark of a politician. It’s a need for control and with Vance the negative attention will hit him hard as Libra above all wants to be popular. While he’s buddied-up with the 45th president who likes all attention – good and bad – moon in Libra does not deal well with negative publicity.
Libra is very creative. So regardless of how his political life evolves, Libra will make some beauty out of it now or later. Part two of the elegy can be the Public Years. Libra also wants fairness so it’s possible that in subsequent years Vance will defend fairness or explain how unfairness was inflicted upon him.
Leo, Libra, Scorpio – in order these signs represent the fire, air and water elements. Vance also has two planets in earth – Mercury in Virgo and Jupiter in Capricorn. This is a nice balance for fire and air because it creates some grounding of the inspiration and creativity that comes from those two elements.
Having all four elements is a nice thing – balanced. The challenge of Vance’s horoscope – and we all have challenges – is the squares of Saturn/Sun and Mars/Venus. For those that are driven to succeed in some way, we usually find squares which are a tense energy of someone needling you or rubbing you the wrong way that makes you want to succeed in response.
Squares are different than oppositions of which Vance has none in his chart. Some astrologers might find the lack of oppositions a delight but it also means that you don’t have an open enemy in which you feel the polar opposite – I’m right and they are wrong.
Oppositions are easier than squares in this way because you see the “enemy” on the other side of the street. With squares the “enemy” is near by and you sometimes like them a lot when they are not driving you mad. Squares are never resolved – the itch, the rub is always there irritating you like a recurring rash.
The political energy
Speaking of a rash that won’t go away, transiting Pluto is in the late degrees of Capricorn making a square aspect to Vance’s natal Pluto. That means the plutocracy that will be guiding and advising Vance will ask him to do some ugly in order to get the beauty – the end justifies the means.
What will he do?
For some he’s already tossed out ideals for political expediency by buddying up to a man he once referred to as an idiot. There’s a square for you. I now need this idiot.
Transiting Neptune in Pisces squares Vance’s natal Neptune in Sagittarius. Another square! In this one, there is the tension of the fight for the mission versus hurting those that are in need. With Vance’s water element under stress from the natal horoscope, the question is how much he responds to his own feeling and the feelings of others in response to the hero quest of saving others and making a fairer world.
Transiting Saturn in Aquarius is opposite Leo, opposite Vance’s Venus. Now this is a group that is openly against Vance – they will feel he’s working for the self (Leo) and not the group (Aquarius). Are the hillbillies going to desert him?
Transiting Jupiter in Aries, which will flip back to Pisces just before the election, provides energy Leo (sun/Mercury) and Sagittarius (Uranus/Neptune). So while Jupiter is direct from now until July Vance will feel the wind at his back but come July he’ll be facing more of a headwind as Jupiter goes retrograde and then back into Pisces at the end of October.
October, in politics, is the month of “surprise.”
J.D. Vance – Washington Hillbilly
While Vance the storyteller proclaimed his love and connection to the “hillbilly” culture in which he was born, politics with the Pluto in Capricorn crowd is much more than jumping out of the hills of Kentucky. Plutocrats are not just individuals who have embraced Capricorn ideals of business and success, who’ve chosen a different line of work than the coalminers or steel workers, but a whole different culture that was always far removed and continues to grow more distant from the common culture of packed lunches, rush hour, balancing the checkbook and housework.
In old Europe there was the landlord in relation to the tenant, the lord and the serf. That the tenant relates to and votes for the landlord is still a great mystery to me and I’m just chalking it up to something in our DNA.
Vance’s image as just a hillbilly with some inner drive (squares) is a nice one in a world of politics that is increasingly for the super wealthy alone. In the fall we’ll have a chance to see what this hillbilly has inside. We may even learn what he said to his mother to make her so angry.