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  • Mari Garcia

Rethinking Australia Day

One of the major images Australia has had to contend with in its short history is an underlying xenophobia/racism and the heritage of the White Australia policy which was in force for so many years. This debate has surfaced intermittently but over the last twenty years it has become politicized and entrenched as a national issue. So much so, that now it sits squarely on the national agenda and has had effects on trade, immigration and foreign relations.



So, where does it come from? Is it described in the astrology of the nation’s charts? To understand the issues, we must look at a broad chunk of history to gauge not only where these came from but their evolution.

Australia was settled at the end of the Uranus-Neptune cycle, born in 1650 at 15-16 Gemini, at its waning square. The Uranus-Neptune cycle mirrors religious, cultural and intellectual revolution and enlightenment. This cycle affects the illusions and truths of any time and generation - and thus how they impact on history through their beliefs and the externalization of the human psyche in public and cultural affairs. It is interesting that this degree is captured in the Sydney Cove chart with Jupiter occupying the degree of the Uranus-Neptune conjunction. We could conjecture that Jupiter becomes the ‘voice’ of the cycle, especially as it squares the Moon, significator of the people and lord of the Ascendant and Jupiter makes a wide conjunction to the South Node. In its detriment, Jupiter cannot bring the full impact of bounty or fruitfulness. Instead, I think this Jupiter, ruling the 6th and the 9th and as the exalted lord of the Ascendant, sitting in the whole sign 12th house stirs up the fears and anxiety of the collective. These fears and anxieties could centre on new ideas and beliefs which may challenge existing structures: physical, social, cultural and religious.

The lord of the Gemini 12th house is Mercury in Capricorn in a tight opposition to Uranus across the 1st – 7th house, and square Neptune, echoing the challenge of new ideas, points of view and opinions from external sources, alliances or enemies. The T-square with Neptune captures the concepts and ideals brought here with the First Fleet now forming a platform for Australian beliefs.

The new cycle in 1820 (a few years after settlement) was born at 1-3 degrees Capricorn, just a few degrees shy of the Sydney Cove Descendant. Previously, the exclusion of certain people was seen as a way of keeping the fruits of productive labour [1], (6th house) for the benefit of the local people. It had its roots primarily in ensuring that the native born were not disenfranchised from their heritage and livelihood. Unfortunately, native born did not apply to the Indigenous people who became the most disenfranchised group.

So, where did this attitude come from? To answer this question, we must go back to the original convicts transported to Australia on that First Fleet. These people had lost everything and in the sentence of ‘transportation’ imposed upon them for their crimes, they had little or nothing else left to lose. Transportation to Australia was a last resort and many would see out their remaining years. The other group of people who were part of the First Fleet were called Improvers who accompanied the convicts. This group comprised clergy, soldiers, governors, and civil servants, who saw the convicts as wretched creatures and denounced them as treacherous.


But what these Improvers did not see was a the source of the convicts future power and glory - the strength in their hands and brains to create wealth and the drive to use that wealth to buy property to acquire respectability which their society attached to property to found families and so experience those nobler human emotions which the pursuit of crime had left them a stranger. [2]


Apart from the convicts, there were also free settlers who in their decision to come to Australia fulfilled their need to seek the political, religious, social utopia which would not have the same shortcomings of the society they had left behind.

The Aquarian Sun describes the search for Eden, for utopia and over time that is what Australia as a country, has stood for to the many people who have, over the years, made their home here. This was the Promised Land where things could and were different. Ruled by Saturn, Aquarian ideals have to do with institutions and hierarchies established to fulfill collective needs but which may not necessarily foster independent or individual aspirations. Those first settlers, many of whom came under duress included: the convicts as victims of a system, the improvers as servants of the system and the free settlers in the hope of escaping the system. They were all looking for a new life.


By the time of the birth of the next Uranus-Neptune conjunction in 1820, the promise of the waning square was now in the process of being fulfilled. There was a strong patriotic development and many hailed the one thing that made this land different to the Old World was that it was free of war (the Aquarian idealism) but it is ironic that the chart, with its Mars in fall on the Ascendant describes the wars waged on the Indigenous people to the point of near extinction in many parts of the land.

From the idea that the colony belonged to the convicts and their descendants stemmed both the notion that the Australians could create a society free from the evils of the Old World (Aquarian idealism coupled with Uranus in the first house) and that the enjoyment of such an achievement should be reserved for the native born. [3] Sentiments of belonging to the country also went hand in hand with ideas of exclusive ownership which echo the Cancer Ascendant. Australian xenophobia has a long history and its origins can be traced to the passions and aspirations of those first convicts/settlers.


This exclusivity echoes the Cancer Ascendant which is driven by a need for emotional security, realized through the critical and pedantic Virgo Moon in the second house, square Jupiter and the Nodal Axis. The people or popular opinion is underpinned by the need for security and whenever this point is triggered the primal need in the collective will see this either as a physical threat or an undermining of what it stands for.


From this perspective, we can then view the 1992 Uranus-Neptune conjunction at 18-19 degrees Capricorn, placed squarely in the middle of the 7th house indicating that significant changes in Australia's relations with other nations are going to come about and that the nation will experience cultural and intellectual revolution and enlightenment which affects our relationships with our neighbours.


The racism debate has developed and has become a very big part of those changes. The 7th house is the house most likely to be projected out and in the racism debate, Australia is seen as taking the moral high ground by accusing other nations/societies (7th house) of giving preference to their own native born at the expense of others (like Australians) especially in matters of trade.


The spate of sensationalist, divisive and nationalistic comments and pronouncements made by a number of politicians - who in effect represent the people - on the issues of foreign aid, trade, multiculturalism and immigration has started to have effects on Australia's relations with other countries. As a nation, Australians have to deal with this because it is becoming the face by which it is known.


Over the past twenty years, the eruption of racist behaviour and it’s politicization has become more overt and apparent not only in the rhetoric but it is again being enshrined in government policy. The White Australia policy was formally enshrined in the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901. The passage of this bill is considered the commencement of the White Australia Policy but its predecessors, a series of taxes and exclusions based on race and ethnicity go back as far as the early 1850’s.


It is interesting to note that Pauline Hanson, one of the more outspoken politicians who has formed her own party, has her Sun at 5 Gemini [4] conjunct the Ascendant/MC midpoint of the Sydney Cove chart. The Ascendant/MC midpoint will describes the way in which the country puts its ideals and aspirations (MC) to work in the world (Ascendant). Having her Sun in this point suggests that Hanson’s popularity is based on the fact that she literally is the face (to some) of the country’s ideals and aspirations.


The Aries MC describes aspirations for independence, assertiveness and action enshrined via the ruler Mars on the Ascendant and expressed as possessiveness especially of that which is familiar or ‘owned’. We like being first at things: Australia has a pioneering reputation in many fields including sports, engineering, aviation, pharmaceutics, and medicine to name a few. As a society we strive to be the first, the fastest, the tallest, echoing very much the currency lads and lasses of the 1820's boasting of their prowess over their European counterparts. We like to be better than anyone else Today, Pauline Hanson and others say that they pride themselves in defending Australia from all the other nations - of putting Australia first. One of the important points here is that there is an assumption that Australia is so wonderful, everyone wants to live here, and that what we have is better than anything else on offer anywhere. The Sydney Cove chart with its Cancer Ascendant speaks of an Australian psyche constantly in search of nurture, nourishment and security. There is a deep fear that someone may take things away especially the ‘foreigner’. It is personified in the attitude of “if we keep ourselves to ourselves then that isn't going to happen”.


As Australia Day comes around again and we are faced with the escalating voices that on the one hand talk about the disenfranchisement which Indigenous people feel regarding the celebration of the landing of the First Fleet. On the other hand, we have equally vociferous voices using the notion of Australia Day to perpetuate a singular and very dangerous brand of nationalism. What we as a society need to do is re-discover the sense of discovery and unity in the creation of a unique society based on respect for our Indigenous heritage as well as the heritage of all who have made their home here rather than on the divisiveness based on who or what defines Australia. Respect, recognition and reconciliation will be what defines us.


Notes:

1. Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion and Charles Harvey, Mundane Astrology: an introduction to the astrology of nations and groups (London: Aquarian, 1984), page 230.

2. Michael Cathcart, Manning Clark's History of Australia, Abridged (City: Penguin, 1996), page 9

3. Ibid, page 78

4. Source for Pauline Hanson’s date of birth is Australian Government listing of Members of the House of Representatives as listed on the internet at http://www.aph.gov.au/library/trialhom.html.

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