12th House Rule: A progress report, with particular reference to Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto
By Roy Gillett
Tony Blair, I have 6th May 1953 at 6 10 am BST in Edinburgh; Gordon Brown I have 8 40 am UT on 20th February 1951 in Griffnock, Scotland.
With New Labour now in its fourth year of office and attempts to time and possibly predict the result of the next general election just over the horizon, I have been reading again my "12th House Rules - OK?" piece, written for the July/August 1997 Astrological Journal. To what extent has its best expectations, or worst fears been realised? Just how "OK" has, or is it likely to be? Most important of all, how can astrology explain and help us assess what has been and is happening?
Firstly, it is important to put Tony Blair's great initial success and long honeymoon in its astrological perspective. Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are the key transits. Throughout 1997, Pluto hovered back and forth across his descendent - an unusually powerful transformation of relationships. Saturn had been established in his large and packed 12th house since March 1996. Crucially, it was conjunct his Sun sign ruler Venus at the time of the election and off and on until February 1998. He felt and took the tremendous burdens of responsibility very personally to heart. Any limitations in his ability, or self-doubt were to be hidden for some time.
Appropriately, it was Jupiter than won the day for him. Bearing in mind the political circumstances of the time, its transit could not have been more favourable to win a May 1997 election. It crossed his Midheaven early January that year, trined his Ascendant, then conjoined his natal North Node, then his natal Moon between February and March. It entered his 11th house on 14th April. The effect was to create the impression here was a person, whose time had come. Only a "worn out party of the past" stood in his way. Having been held back throughout early 1997, the ground swell of public support surrounded and held him up in the weeks that followed. Then, on 10th June, Jupiter went into retrograde, moving back to 12 degrees Aquarius - just short of his natal Moon by October. It then moved on and finally out of his 10th house through the rest of year, then transited the 11th house of public service in 1998. The effect was possibly the longest honeymoon in British peacetime politics.
Jupiter first touched the cusp of Tony Blair's 12th house in June 1998, stayed for the rest of the summer, but retrograded back to the 11th until January 1999. Although his power and popularity continued to hold, criticisms and doubts increasingly appeared. They were 12th house in nature. He needed to keep control and work behind closed doors with selected advisors. Having cheered Jupiter in his 10th and 11th houses, the public resented the door being "shut in their faces", as it entered the 12th! Accusations of "cronyism", "too many advisors" and "control freak" abounded. The departure of Peter Mandelson, his close colleague, and the disgrace of others were cheered. Labour's poor showing in Scotland and even worse in Wales were portends of a humiliation to come.
With Saturn transiting his 12th house Sun during the second half of 1999, to complete quickly followed by Jupiter in April 2000, the early May London mayoral elections were destined to be a crucial turning point in Tony Blair's fortunes. Stories of him sitting in Downing Street, handwriting a "you do not understand" letter to "The Sun" newspaper, or personal strategy documents to advisers full of self-doubt were leaked. Attempts to bring personal authority behind his preferred candidate Frank Dobson backfired completely. Now, cheered on by the rest of the country, Londoners saw a way of getting back at his 12th house behaviour - "Vote for Ken". The birth of his son Leo on 20th May, led to more arguments about privacy. Paternal leave helped by keeping him away from public affairs for a week or so, but attempts to burst back with the transiting now on his Ascendant in June were premature. Jupiter was conjoining its natal position, but still in the 12th house. So the Women's Institute told him they "did not want to hear about politics".
Jupiter finally crossed Tony Blair's Ascendant in July - just as announcements of massive spending on health, education and transport were being made. A more successful economic cycle through 1999 had led to consequent tax windfalls, then further billions in mobile phone concession sales. The British economy was in surplus. We could afford to spend. Surely now the long hard 12th house struggle was over. Here were the proceeds of careful economic management from Gordon Brown, the Chancellor and his rigorous 12th and 6th house workaholic opposition. Surely now, with Jupiter back in Tony Blair's very public first house, all would be well.
On 4th September 2000, Jupiter opposed Pluto. Retrogression means it made a second opposition on 15th October and does not complete with its third and final hit, until May 6th 2001. In addition, Saturn went into retrograde on 12th September 2000, moving back to conjunct Tony Blair's natal Jupiter on 28th October 2000, to complete on 14th April 2001. Once it is back in strong forward motion from early next year, it will move on to conjunct his Ascendant on 29th May 2001. In the general transits, Saturn will also make three oppositions to Pluto in August and early November 2001 and May 2002. How the British Prime Minister handles these transits will determine his place in history. Will he be remembered as a great leader, whose destiny it was to marshal and focus minds on meaningful policies and values in the twenty-first century? Or, will he be no more than a one-term wonder, projected into the public gaze by a favourable Jupiter transit, but unable to rise above the fray and truly lead, when the astro going got tough?
Greatness and strength come from the way we handle challenges and adversity - in no area is this truer than politics. The transits listed in the previous paragraph chronicle the timing and extent of the challenges ahead. The Jupiter / Pluto opposition symbolises the popular revolt against oil prices exactly. An unexpected expansion of unusual power having far more effect than would at first seem possible. Here is the real test, beyond focus group politics. Does the government submit to public opinion, or lead and convince it? With the aspect ongoing until May 2001 the test cannot be avoided. Fortunately for Tony Blair, the 6th May 2001 opposition completes on at 14 degrees 39 minutes of Gemini / Sagittarius within just 22 minutes of arc of a trine / sextile to his natal Venus, which was being conjoined by Saturn when he first became Prime Minister. He will feel that everything is at stake. With Saturn conjoining his Ascendant on 29th May, little of his limitations will remain hidden. If he has sustained his strength and determination to win, it is from this point we will see the strength or otherwise of Tony Blair's character.
Certainly 2001 is destined to be a challenging year for the world as a whole. The Jupiter / Pluto opposition, then retrograde in September 2000 conjoined the Mercury in the chart of Israel and Jupiter in the chart of Ehud Barak. Retrogression is very likely to hold up any real progress in peace talks until the build up to Jupiter being back there in April 2001. With Saturn building to take Jupiter's place in July and December 2001 and April 2002, this is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Problems created by opponents of any agreement reached will be ongoing.
Both contenders for the Presidency of the USA have Jupiter close to their progressed Midheaven - it will be a close difficult-to-call election. Whoever is elected will have Pluto on the Midheaven on their natal chart, if relocated to Moscow. Al Gore would have Saturn and Mars near there too! The ongoing change of the dominant transit from Jupiter opposed to Pluto to Saturn opposed to Pluto will see major problems emerging from power struggles that have been so easy to become involved in this year. The possibility of an oil crisis associated with wider Middle East problems and what appears in the west to be Russian intransigence cannot be discounted. It will require the kind of strength and vision that helped us through the Kosovo crisis and the challenge of the 1999 grand cross eclipse.
Having had such an easy Jupiter-blessed victory in 1997, it is appropriately ironic that Tony Blair will have to face the country in 2001 or 2002 with Saturn fully revealed on his Ascendant arguing for "common sense", not offering what his focus groups tell him everyone wants. For at the next General Election, it will be the opposition party that offers populist alternatives. William Hague will have Jupiter applying to conjunct his IC and Saturn trining his 12th house Jupiter in May 2001 - clearly "a man of the people" - with Pluto close to his MC - struggling for power. If, in such circumstances, Tony Blair can convince the British people of the maturity of his vision and the rich rewards of a better world, if they follow it, then he will have won a far greater victory than in 1997. He will also be poised to play a crucial role in the dramatic world events of this decade years and to establish an exalted role for himself, when the history of the 21st century comes to be written