The Yin Yang Crisis


***Before I lay out the astrological explanation of the financial crisis, I have a request. If you know of a blogs, radio show, magazine, a reporter or an editor that you think might find this article interesting for publishing or discussion, please email me. I have received many emails asking me to spread this article further and since I travel all the time, I need a little help in that department. Any suggestion of contact will help! Thanks!

How Astrology, Kabbalah and Daoism Can Heal the Global Economy Crisis

The ancient Daoist symbol of Yin Yang is one of the world’s most powerful representations of unity. According to Daoism, the eternal dance between Yin and Yang, black and white, feminine and masculine, creates the balance and equilibrium we need in order to walk “The Way,” the natural flow of the Universe that results in effortless success. For many this path marks the course toward enlightenment and peace of mind. The West has revered and mirrored this universal spiritual force in iconic depictions of Mother Mary nursing baby Jesus on her lap. And the binary language of computers, the interplay of 0 and 1 (Yin and Yang), has interconnected our entire world in an astounding and mostly beautiful way.

When these opposite forces embrace and complement one another, the organism—which can be anything from an individual’s psychological well being to the globe’s economic solvency—thrives. When the pendulum swings too far in one direction, however, turmoil generally ensues. And right now the global economic calamity signals rather loudly that the forces of Yin and Yang, receiving and giving, saving and spending, pessimism and optimism, caution and risk, honest dealing and deceit have tumbled dramatically out of whack.

In my recent travels across the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, I have consulted with clients from all walks of life and witnessed first hand the myriad faces of this economic mayhem. It is indeed epidemic. It is indeed global. Many economic experts contend that the cause of the current crisis can be traced to two parallel processes: the mortgage and credit crunch which originated in the United States and the global imbalance between creditor and debtor nations, namely Asian producers like China and Western consumers like the United States. The U.S. had a $246 billion trade deficit with China as of November 2008, and at the same time, the U.S. owes the world 10.7 trillion dollars to the rest of the world! Consider this data, in 1982 households in America spent about 60% of their income while now we spend 130% of what we make! But as the ancient axiom as above so below reminds us, these practical, on-the-ground explanations also correspond directly to the conjunction of two rare astrological cycles: Saturn in Virgo (that began in September 2007), which happens every 30 years, and Pluto in Capricorn (that began in Fall of 2008), which occurs every quarter of a millennium. Pluto and Saturn stand as the two critical planets most closely associated with crisis and challenges. Saturn represents the celestial “contractor” that helps us renovate our lives, and Pluto operates in the realms of transformation and the destruction of false philosophies.

The USA, born on July 4, 1776, is a typical Cancer. As a Cancer, home, land, and security protrude as the nation’s preeminent values. It’s not surprising that during the eight years of George Bush’s presidency (a Cancer himself) the country expended enormous sums of money on wars and security measures. In fact, adhering to the “eye for an eye” code of Hammurabi (1850BCE) and the balance of Yin and Yang, the current stimulus plan almost matches the number of dollars spent on the war in Iraq. I believe that Americans realized that the situation both at home and abroad required a big fix, and they elected a president who emphasized the fact that he was one of the only contenders who opposed the Iraq war from the start. The current financial collapse also commenced as a result of another issue close to the Cancer’s heart: bad loans issued for the purchase of homes. There is nothing more important to a Cancer than his or her home, and yet 2.3 million households underwent the pain of foreclosure in 2008. It is an agonizing lesson to all the residents of a Cancer nation.

Since the Declaration of Independence, hence the moment of birth of the United States, occurred at 5:12pm in Philadelphia, the rising sign of the United States (the sign that demarcates the path of the country) is Sagittarius. According to astrology, Sagittarius is associated with overspending, excessive optimism and misplaced trust. In other words, a rash tendency to say, yes. “When your bank says no, Champion says yes” is just one example of how institutions such as Champion Mortgage advertised its services to potential homeowners with bad credit. The unconditional yes induced recklessly optimistic bankers to lend more than the true value of the home; and on Wall Street this wild imprudence manifested in leveraged bets on financial instruments tied to housing debt that sometimes exceeded 30 to 1 and ultimately destroyed Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual, and crippled a host of the world’s biggest banks. Why? What caused this surge of Sagittarian influence?

One explanation is that from 1993 to 2008 Pluto, the planet that tends to amplify the energies of whatever sign it moves through, was in Sagittarius, inspiring banks to lend more than they could afford to people who had less then they disclosed. Phil Gramm, a strong supporter of deregulation was the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee from 1995-2000, right when Pluto was in Sagittarius. The economic wheels were lubricated with Sagittarian promises of a better future – you can always refinance the already twice-refinanced property! Even people who should have known better impetuously assumed that houses would always rise in value. The Pluto transit in cheerful Sagittarius likely contributed to the inflating of the Internet and housing bubbles. But bubbles are made to burst. They always do, and in 2008, just before the banks started to collapse, Pluto moved from Sagittarius to Capricorn. Capricorn is the archetype associated with pragmatism and pessimism. In fact, right now, American pessimism is soaring, resulting in the lowest reading ever in the 42-year history of the Consumer Confidence Index. Pluto moves through Capricorn every 250 years, and in the birth chart of the USA, Pluto is also located in Capricorn. The USA has returned to its roots, providing the country with an opportunity to reboot, to create a new world, to resurrect the core values of the Founding Fathers (and Mothers). Last time Pluto traveled through Capricorn, the American Revolution successfully broke the yoke of British hegemony and instituted a brand new form of government called democracy. It seems likely that a new revolution—at least within the financial system—is called for again today. So what do we do? How can we fix this mess?

Kabbalah, the esoteric spiritual strain of Judaism, posits an intriguing concept called Tikkun, Hebrew for fixing or rectifying. The Kabbalistic mystics assert that God intentionally created the Universe with imperfections in order to provide humans with the chance to mend and perfect the creation, thus actively participating in the everlasting process of creation. You can call it empowerment by default. Kabbalah identifies Saturn as the planet associated with this process. And so the astrological sign Saturn is currently transiting offers us clues about what needs to be fixed and how those repairs can best be achieved.

Saturn, the grand auditor, moved into Virgo, the humble sign of accounting, in September 2007, just a month before the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its all-time high and commenced its ongoing plunge. Virgo’s main purpose is to teach us how to say no in a constructive way. It represents the qualities of criticism, analytical thinking and perfectionism. I call this sign the Super Nanny of the Archetypes, the Mary Poppins of the Zodiac. Saturn will continue to rumble through Virgo until November 2009—a sojourn designed to teach us how to enact limits and say, no. As Daniel Gross of Newsweek put it: “Our ‘Yes, We Can’ president is going to have to fix a ‘No, We Can’t economy.’” In other words, the No of Virgo must fix the Yes of Sagittarius. We now find ourselves inevitably grounded by the earth sign Virgo, just like the CEOs of the three major US automakers were forced down to earth from their private jets into their hybrid cars. This humbling trend was echoed by Vikram Pandit, who became CEO of Citigroup in December 2007, when he declared that he would settle for an annual salary of $1 until the company’s financial plight improves.

Saturn in Virgo demands that we read the small print and pay attention to all those pesky details. For example, a client of mine from London works as a very successful stylist to the stars. He is accustomed to throwing expensive rags on starlets and sending them 5- or 6-digit invoices later on. He told me that even these mega-rich celebrities have been feeling the pinch. Really? I was skeptical. Yes, he snapped back. They started asking me how much each item costs! His face wore an expression of disgust as he spit out this tale. According to the Tarot, Virgo represents the archetype called the Hermit – the self sufficient, humble, pure, and quiet monk. Our lesson is plain: less is more. For the USA, it is clearly the time to cut back, account for expenses, and act humbly throughout this transit of Saturn in Virgo. If we do all this and “fix” our accounting, then by the spring of 2010, many things economic should improve.

Just as Daoism defines The Way as the balance of Yin and Yang, Astrology asserts that life works as a dance between dark and light, feminine signs and masculine signs. Astrologers tell us that we are now entering the Age of Aquarius, the age of assimilation, in which men and women, poor and rich, atheists and believers will all find the Golden Path. It is obvious that we have spent way too profligately here in the West and racked up far too much debt. Despite pleas over the years from Wall Street, the White House and mortgage brokers to spend and spend more, shopping therapy does not work. Impulsive consumerism does not heal us nor power a healthy economy. In fact, this irresponsible consumption has left us with a gigantic pothole in the center of our economic system. What fuels any successful system is exchange, balance, innovation, and progress. Money is just another symbol for energy; it’s a means, not an end. While the Western world has stumbled because of a disequilibrium created by overspending, many Asian or Eastern countries like China suffer under the opposite problem: too much saving or hoarding. These dual imbalances have cratered the world’s economy. In a way, the West and East have a codependent relationship.

What’s the solution eternally espoused by Yin and Yang? Rebalance. We need to learn from the East the Art of Saving while they must integrate from us the Art of Living (loosening up a bit with some disciplined spending).

The West has always nurtured a reverence of individuality that has manifested itself in the American Dream as well as the Han Solo myth of the renegade hero. We always have cherished the pioneer, she or he who boldly goes where no one has dared to tread before. That spirit led us to “discover” America, then the Old West, and eventually to land a man on the moon. But it also caused us to be become overly masculine—excessively childish, irresponsible, aggressive, and drowning in debt. In Daoist terminology, we have become too Yang. The East, on the other hand, tends to place more value on the society and tribe. This emphasis on the collective induces a strong compulsion to save, nationalist economies, and the manipulation of currencies. It has triggered not only monumental armies of workers humbly pulling together to create a near flawless Olympic extravaganza, but six consecutive months of Chinese production decline, according to CLSA Financial Services. In esoteric terms, a clear and severe case of Yin-itis.

The Yin Yang interplay and the difference between the East and the West can also be seen in extent of government involvement in the market. It is obvious that much of the financial crisis was caused by irresponsible deregulation. This process started decades ago (right after the last visit Saturn paid to Virgo in the late 70s), when Reagan made the government the enemy and decided to cut the government’s control over the Market. This echoes the Yang, individuality that is so characteristically Western. It is the Lone Ranger, and the Wild West attitude which Reagan was so famous for. On the other side of the globe, governments are over involved in the market to the point of manipulating currency as well as controlling the information available to the public. The Chinese Great Wall that marked the boundaries of the motherland, has transformed from bricks to digits as the government blocks, censures and restricts blogs, web sites and other forms of free speech

The Way out of this financial crisis, both on the global and personal levels, lies in harmonizing once again the Yin and Yang. This prescription is also supported by the central teaching of Kabbalah, which for centuries has claimed that healing emerges from balancing receiving (debtors) with giving (creditors). I believe that this crisis has given us the opportunity and motivation to create great good, an entire world filled with concord and abundance. But for this rebalance to result both East and West must move and change. America ought to relinquish some of the financial control it has wielded since the Bretton Woods Agreement (1944), which established the US dollar as the preeminent reserve currency. It is time to shift towards a more pluralist distribution of economic power. It’s time to welcome and befriend the new kids on the block and to realize that only a team effort will pull us all out of this colossal muddle. Auspiciously, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chose to make Asia (China) the destination for her first trip abroad in her new job rather than Europe, which is where most of her predecessors generally ventured first. The Yang at last has started to recognize the Yin.

On the other side of the globe, Asian markets must tamp down the saving-for-a-rainy-day mentality since these savings have served to call down the very storm they were so afraid of. The Chinese Internet Wall must fall to more closely attune to the ideal of Western openness and the free flow of trade and communication, just as the Berlin Wall crumbled to reintegrate the countries of Eastern Europe into the global community. And both East and West ought to do away with as many forms of separation, seclusion, and all other signs of a superior/inferior complex as possible. No one is special, and that is what makes us all so special. When these rebalances meet in the middle, the East and West (Yin and Yang) can marry and give birth to an Aquarian reality that most systems of religion and mysticism have prophesized will transport humanity to its final stage of evolution. If we play the cards and planets right, and focus on a world in harmony, then Pluto, which will trek through the terrain of Capricorn until 2023, will help us reshape our consumption of resources, wean us off our addiction to fossil fuels (Capricorn is associated with oil), and prepare us for the next auspicious shift, which will occur in 2023 when this small but powerful planet finally moves into Aquarius. This last point is very important since the U.S. and China collectively produce more then 50% of greenhouse gasses emission.

Astrology is not a deterministic art. It is a system that charts what is happening, not what will happen. Astrology, like modern physics, believes in parallel futures. The future is not written in the stars. The heavenly bodies merely describe the possibilities. It is up to us to make choices on a personal level and on a global level too. In November 2009, Saturn, our spiritual Pro-Tools, will move to Libra, the sign of relationships, diplomacy, and balance. It will afford us the rare opportunity to fix all that remains unbalanced between nations, between masculine and feminine, and to restore the ultimate equilibrium between Yin and Yang. And who knows, with the help of all of us who choose to follow the signs of truth and harmony, show us the way to The Way…