Born on the 4th of July: the year ahead for America

(4 July 2018) Many Americans are celebrating Independence Day today in an atmosphere of heightened anxiety and uncertainty.  While the Trump presidency has won its share of supporters who like his tough talk on trade, geopolitical isolationism, and anti-immigrant policies, most of the country still feels a mix of unease, fear and anger with the new direction of the country.   Trump seems determined on remaking the post-WW2 Pax Americana into a more unpredictable global regime where the US follows its narrower and more immediate self-interest regardless of the long-term consequences.

On this 4th of July, it is worthwhile to look at the Solar Return (SR) or Varshaphal horoscope for the USA to glimpse into possible trends for the year ahead.  While there is some dispute about the exact time (and even date in some cases) of the USA horoscope, I prefer the one timed for 6.30 pm on 4 July 1776 by Vedic astrologer James Kelleher.  I am not 100% certain this is the correct time, but there are a number of telling hits to the chart using past events which make it at least as plausible as any other time.  In that sense, it is a workable chart, if still a fallible one.

As we know, astrologers like to consult the birthday or Solar Return/Varshaphal chart of individuals or entities. The resulting chart can give indications for dominant themes for the next 12 months depending on how planets are oriented in the chart.  The birthday chart generally follows the same rules of interpretation as standard astrology, although adherents of the Tajika approach may beg to differ. 

If malefic planets like Saturn, Mars, the Lunar Nodes, Rahu and Ketu, are prominent in some way, then the year ahead is more likely to be challenging.  Progress may be slower than expected and setbacks and suffering are more likely if these malefic planets are negatively aligned with the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant.  Malefics in bad aspect with positive, benefic planets are also more likely to translate into difficult situations.  Conversely, if benefic planets like Venus, Mercury or Jupiter are more prominent in the chart, then the year is likely to be one characterized by rewards and happiness. 

N.B. The Solar Return chart for this year is actually dated for July 8 instead of the 4th due to the precession of the equinoxes.  In order to cast a chart for the exact same position of the Sun back in 1776, it is necessary to correct for the very slow movement of the solar system around the center of the galaxy.  This movement amounts to about one degree every 70 years.

2018 Solar Return

A quick look at this year's chart shows a couple of obvious problems.  Saturn is rising in the 1st house of the Self in Sagittarius while Mars conjoins Ketu in the 2nd house of finance and opposes the Mercury-Rahu conjunction.  Saturn in the 1st house suggests a year of pessimism and caution and the likelihood of intensifying national hand-wringing.  The negative Saturn influence suggests a continued souring of the national mood and the risk of major setbacks, economic, diplomatic and military. 

With Saturn in the legal sign of Sagittarius, we could expect more pessimism surrounding the legal process, the rule of law and thus the Mueller investigation.  Since Saturn in Sagittarius effectively pushes legal matters to the forefront, we are likely to see growing concern from these contentious areas including Trump's Supreme Court appointment, the laws surrounding immigration and border protection and possibly even the legal status of the President within the US Constitution.

But the good news is that legal institutions still look strong and may well rise to the occasion despite the currently chaotic state of affairs.  Jupiter is the planet of law, and it is in a very harmonious Grand Trine alignment with the Sun and Neptune.  The Sun represents the executive branch (President) and the government more generally while Neptune here should be seen as embodying higher principles of law, including its predominance over the wishes of any single individual. 

Therefore, I take this positive pattern as a hint that the US government will remain intact and legitimate for the next 12 months. Its institutions are likely to remain vigilant against any encroachment or attempted corruption by the Trump administration.  It also speaks to the outcome of the Mueller investigation.  The "witch hunt" label so often tossed around by right wing partisans will likely be seen as merely self-interested Trumpian bluster.  It seems likely that significant criminal charges will be laid in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 

To be sure, other interpretations of this Sun-Jupiter-Neptune pattern are possible as the strength of the Sun with Jupiter could reflect on Trump himself as his standing may improve.  However, the afflictions in Trump's personal horoscope look bad enough that I don't think this is a likely development over the next year.  The strong Sun-Jupiter in this chart is more of a reflection of Mueller than Trump in my view.


Economic and financial matters are likely to be an increasing source of worry during the next 12 months as the Mars-Ketu conjunction in the 2nd house could correspond with declines in national wealth.  Both Mars and Ketu are quick-acting and disruptive planets, so we could see economic fortunes deteriorate suddenly.  Trump's trade war is only in its initial "negotiating" phase, but this placement suggests it is likely to get worse before it gets better.  I would expect the rising tariffs on imports and loss of export markets for US goods to eventually reduce economic growth. 

Stock markets are unlikely to escape the fallout as 2018 looks increasingly like a lost year.  Previously, I had written that stock markets looked volatile and very choppy but might be able to avoid significant damage over the next year.  But this SR chart looks more negative for investing, so I would think a negative performance for markets is now more likely over the next 12 months.   

We can compare this SR chart with the SR chart for July 4, 2007 at the start of the financial meltdown.   Here again we see the 2nd house of wealth and assets afflicted by the Moon-Mars conjunction in Aries.  Mars is the key factor here as it usually makes outcomes worse for the matters related to the house it occupies.  Since Mars is with Ketu in the 2018 chart, there is a real risk that we could not only falling stock markets (N.B. the markets peaked in Oct 2007 and fell for the next 18 months) but that the US is more likely to suffer from slowing economic growth during the next year.  A recession (i.e. negative economic growth) is a likelihood in 2019 and 2020. 

Trump and the summer of 2019

While the 2018 Solar Return chart has more than its fair share of problems, the 2019 Solar Return chart looks much worse.  The Saturn-Ketu conjunction opposes the natal Sun within just a couple degrees while the Moon (people) forms a T-square.   This symbolizes stress to leaders and possible changes in government that will create an ugly national mood.  If Trump is going to leave the presidency, this July 2019 to July 2020 is the most likely time window when it could happen.  I tend to think the summer of 2019 is the most likely time when Trump will leave office.  A forced resignation is the most likely scenario given these terrible alignments.  The Mars-Mercury conjunction square to Uranus suggests deepening economic hardship leading up to the next General Election in 2020.

Weekly Market Forecast

The stock market suffered another decline last week given ongoing concerns about a deepening trade war with China.  The Dow touched as low as 24,000 last week before rebounding slightly early this week.  India's Sensex also briefly dipped below 34,000 last week before recovering somewhat this week.  This bearish outcome was very much in keeping with last week's market forecast as I thought Thursday the 27th's Full Moon would likely correlate with more downside.  The periods around Full Moons are often bearish, and this one was particularly negative given the close conjunction of bearish Saturn. 

Well, now that we are moving towards a theoretically more bullish New Moon on 12th July, will the market resume its upward climb?  I think that's likely but the gains may be more muted and unpredictable than previous New Moons.  The rallies into the New Moons on June 13 and May 15, for example, were fairly strong (4-6%) and were more or less one-way up trends.  The current period looks more mixed and suggests that the road higher could have some detours. 

One problem now is that Mars is retrograde and will align with Saturn and the Lunar Nodes, Rahu and Ketu towards the end of July.  As a rule, the more malefic planets involved in an alignment, the higher the probability of a down market.   Mars is already just three degrees away from an alignment although I suspect it will have to move a bit closer to produce any major selling.  Moreover, the next Full Moon will actually be a Lunar Eclipse on July 27th.  With both Mars and Saturn in the mix with this eclipse, it seems likely that this bearish Full Moon pattern will continue. 

Tomorrow's (Thursday, July 5) Mercury-Mars opposition looks bearish, especially in the morning although we could see some gains later in the day and on Friday as the Sun will be aspected by Jupiter. 

Next week looks a bit more positive as Jupiter ends its retrograde cycle on Tuesday the 10th and resumes forward motion.  Mercury will align with Jupiter in the early part of the week so that bodes well for positive sentiment, at least for a couple of days. 

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.