Islamist terror attack in France reignites debate over Western values

(11 January 2015)  France is reeling from its worst terrorist attack in decades after an assault on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday in Paris.  The murder of a dozen leading journalists of the magazine was perpetrated by three radical Islamists who had taken offense at the magazine's depictions of Mohammed.  The attack has once again highlighted the problem of Muslim immigration in France, who now comprise 10% of the population.  Muslims have typically not assimilated very easily into French society and the resulting disaffection has made them more susceptible to appeals from radical groups.  

The popular response to the killings has been overwhelming in France and around the world, as citizens stand up for freedom of the press and against fundamentalist Islamic terrorism. While this massive outpouring of support for Western values may be inspiring, there is uncertainty about what the future will hold.  As anti-immigration political parties gather strength throughout Europe, one wonders how France and other countries will be able to manage the often difficult balancing act between respect for its traditions and openness.and tolerance towards newcomers and their cultures. 

The current astrological influences provide a compelling backdrop to these events.  There are several candidates for the horoscope of France, but the one that may work best is the day the republic was proclaimed following the removal of King Louis XVI on 21 September 1792 at the height of the French Revolution.  Following Occam's razor, the best explanations are the simplest ones so we should be able to see some clear clues in the transit picture.  We can see the natal Mars-Moon conjunction in Scorpio closely influenced by both transiting Saturn (7 Scorpio) and transiting Mars (2 Aquarius).  Saturn (obstacles, loss, disturbance) is the much slower body here so its approximate conjunction provides a structural affliction to Mars (violence, conflict, aggressive action).  This was close enough to reflect a rising tension in the country over the past several weeks following its exact conjunction in mid-December.

As is often the case, the triggering planet was the faster-moving Mars which was just a few days before its exact square alignment with natal Mars.  Mars-to-Mars transits are notoriously negative transits and often coincide with violent events.  We can also see that transiting Rahu (20 Virgo) was in an exact conjunction with Venus (20 Virgo).  Rahu is often associated with foreigners and outsiders and here it may be symbolizing the Islamic terrorists who were affiliated with the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda. Venus here may be seen as representing the national happiness which the Islamic Rahu had shocked and damaged through this attack.

Underneath it all is the withering influence of Neptune (11 Aquarius) which is in a square aspect with the Moon (13 Scorpio).  Distant Neptune is often seen as the planet of dreams and vision, and when it is favourably disposed, it can be associated with great national programs and aspirations.  But when it is in hard aspect as it is here, Neptune's effects are usually negative and suggest confusion or deceit.  The Moon symbolizes the people and their mood so this Neptune-Moon pairing may reflect a national sense of confusion about the nature of French citizenship.  Given all this tension and conflict between cultures, what does it mean to be French?  Is France going to remain a secular Republic that encourages assimilation or is that mission now impossible given the inability and unwillingness of many Muslims to feel a sense of belonging in modern France? 

The Neptune-Moon aspect will continue to be quite close through much of 2015 so we can expect a lot more soul-searching on this question.  Worse still, Saturn will remain in fairly close proximity to the Moon for the rest of the year so that suggests an ongoing unease and frustration over this issue that could erode the national will.  I would be especially concerned over the late summer-early fall period when Saturn stations exactly on Mars (destruction and strife through conflict) while a nodal return places Rahu with the Sun-Rahu conjunction in the natal chart. The heavy Rahu influence could be a clue that France will become more deeply entangled in conflict involving foreigners, either abroad or at home.

Financial Markets Update

Stock markets suffered modest declines last week on growing fears over the renewed possibility of Greece leaving the Eurozone after new elections at the end of January.  The Dow lost 1% closing at 17,737 while the Indian Sensex finished at 27,458.  The week unfolded more or less as expected as the early week Mars and Saturn influences coincided closely with larger declines.  Also not surprising, was the midweek Mercury-Venus-Neptune alignment coinciding with a rebound after the latest soothing words from the Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. 

This week looks somewhat more promising as Mercury and Venus continue their journey and align with Uranus and Pluto during the first half of the week.  While some anxiety is possible in the early going, I would think some gains are likely midweek.  The late week looks much more difficult, however, as Mars tightens its square with Saturn.  Just where stocks might finish the week is harder to say.