Welcome to the February 2021 edition of our Cosmic Weather Forecast from your editors Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry. Saturday February 27th at 3:17 am EDT we celebrate the Full Moon at 8°57' Virgo and the Pisces Solar Festival.
The Sabian symbols for the Full Moon and this month's Solar Festival indicate strenuous efforts to concentrate and focus the mind, summon inner strength of will, and act with determination to achieve our dearest spiritual, artistic and material goals.
The Toilet of Venus by Zygmunt Waliszewski,
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The symbol for the Sun at 8°57' Pisces is A jockey spurs his horse, intent on outdistancing his rivals, and the symbol for the Full Moon at 8°57' Virgo is An expressionist painter at work.
Last sign of the Zodiac, Pisces is the bridge between the last, most difficult part of the winter season, and the new beginning of the seasonal wheel occurring at the Spring Equinox, some three weeks from now.
Pisces is represented by two fish swimming in opposite directions.
Pisces constellation from Johannes Hevelius'
Prodromus astronomiae, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, sive Uranographia, 1687
Esoteric astrology assigns Pisces two rulers -- Jupiter and Pluto. Pluto delivers to Pisces a strong stream of the energy of the First Ray of Will and Power, while Jupiter provides Second Ray energy of Love and Wisdom.
Pisces is a sign of transpersonal consciousness, receptive to the psychic atmosphere of the collective hive mind, and responsive to the emotions of related individuals and groups, to the point where it can be difficult for the Piscean to assert their own individuality or to maintain clear boundaries with significant others.
Pisceans lacking in spiritual discernment and Self development can be conformist in nature, with a pliant inner sense of self, truly mutable in their beliefs and hard for others to categorize or predict. Have you ever held a large live fish in your hands? The fish is very hard to grasp.
For those whose consciousness is dominated by the egoistic, rational mind and whose emotional energies are firmly fixed in the solar plexus, Pisces is a sign of contradictions which we must learn to harmonize in Earth's harsh schoolroom.
For individuals who have progressed further on their spiritual journey, Pisces is the sign in which the the soul and the egoistic personality are ultimately harmonized.
"Salvator Mundi" by Leonardo da Vince - c.1500, oil on walnut panel
, courtesy Wikimedia
The Higher Self dominates the feeling nature and the lower mind in Pisceans who have achieved true individuation, expressing more and more of the Will to Good and Loving Wisdom in the outer life. In such individuals, the Piscean energy manifests powerfully as selfless service for the benefit of all humanity. This is why Pisces is called the sign of the World Savior.
Sensitive, soulful, strong willed Pisceans are also known for their artistic talent. Michaelangelo, Piet Mondrian, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Anselm Kiefer and Elaine de Kooning are just a few prominent Piscean visual artists. Musical Pisceans include Frederic Chopin, Rihanna, and Johnny Cash.
Scientific prowess depends in large part upon a highly developed intuition, characteristic of well developed Pisceans, coupled with unerring discernment, and strong First Ray will forces necessary to complete complex projects. Pisces scientists include Albert Einstein, Nicolaus Copernicus, Linus Pauling and Lynn Margulis.
This Pisces Solar Festival we would all benefit from focusing our concentration on spiritual practices such as meditation, ritual, yoga, and prayer that help us unite soul and body and enter realms of transpersonal consciousness.
This Full Moon in grounded, practical Virgo, sign of maternal service, provides a golden opportunity to reflect upon the ways we can direct our devotion and our spiritual beliefs into practical acts of selfless service for the benefit of all humanity rather than simply focusing on our own inner development or zoning out in a realm of astral glamours and seductive inner visions.
This Full Moon week Venus joins the Sun and Neptune in Pisces, Mercury in Aquarius has finally gone direct, and both Jupiter and Saturn join Mercury in the sign of the Water Bearer.
The strong Aquarian energy that peaked at this month's full moon persists, and helps to direct the highly emotional, devotional energy of the Piscean seasonal interval into activities beneficial to society at large.
With Venus in Pisces, this Full Moon projects an unconditional sweet loving vibe free of possessiveness, so a love that is shared more broadly is a love more fully lived.
The continued square of Saturn in Aquarius to Uranus in Taurus, a long term aspect that dominates the cosmic weather patterns for the entire year, highlights a heightened clash of values within society and a need to re-create social systems that are overly stressed on both the collective and individual levels of our lives.
In March, the onset of springtime, at the end of the Pisces interval, prior to the next Full Moon, brings new extremely powerful aspects that could usher in positive transformations for many of us.
Chiron Instructs Young Achilles
Ancient Roman Fresco, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, courtesy Wikimedia
The week of March 18-22, Mars in Gemini trines Saturn in Aquarius and sextiles dwarf planet Chiron, situated between Saturn and Uranus.
These aspects amplify the energy of the Saturn-Uranus square, and indicate a degree of mental suffering and a pressing need for the pursuit of healing, which is the domain of the wounded healer and Centaur Chiron.
The strong Mars energy in positive aspect to Saturn and Chiron could help us to break free of our old patterns of behavior in pursuit of personal and social healing, although that may be painful in the short term.
In addition, Jupiter will be rising in Aquarius on March 20, the day of the Spring Equinox, in Washington D.C. which indicates a very positive energy, conducive to collective celebration. There may be good news related to the ongoing pandemic, or social benefits administered by the federal government. No matter what the cause, a moment of American joy is indicated which will positively impact cosmic weather patterns throughout the spring season.
So this Pisces interval, which begins with the Virgo Full Moon this weekend, is an ideal time to pursue new and unconventional solutions to pressing problems.
No matter how painful the current situation seems to be this week, cosmic weather patterns will be more positive in March, so it's important to demonstrate faith in our intuitive guidance and trust in the Universe, which provides us with an ongoing roadmap of archetypal symbolism to help us navigate the path of Spirit during these times of unprecedented global turbulence.
View from Curtis and Jane's Balcony During the Pisces Ingress 2021 Ice Storm
As the Sun entered Pisces on February 18, here in Winston Salem we woke up to a frosty winter wonderland. A monster Valentine's weekend ice storm, stretching from Vancouver to Houston to New York and Boston had triggered winter storm warnings for 150 million people.
The deregulated Texas power grid failed catastrophically during the Valentine's weekend winter storm, shutting down 680 municipal water systems around the state. Millions have suffered without power and safe water for days.
The storm highlighted the need for Americans to re-evaluate their collective priorities, and to decide if we want to continue to prioritize profits for the few at the expense of society as a whole, or if we are willing to demand a more socialized approach to the provision of social goods and services such as electricity, water and health care.
This is a very appropriate time for this conversation, with an Aquarius Stellium this month, under the incoming influence of socially concerned Pisces and Virgo energies.
The first step in assessing the social value of existing systems and evaluating alternative solutions for the future is to understand what has happened in some detail. So how did this Texas sized disaster come about?
The Texas electrical grid is not well connected to the rest of the country's power lines, so during an emergency there is no way to obtain additional capacity. That's not a bug, it's a design feature, which was implemented by extreme right wing Texas politicians with a secessionist bent in the early 20th century.
In the 1930s, Texas lawmakers made sure that there is only the most minimal interstate component to the Texas electrical grid, so that the Texas grid would operate beyond the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates interstate electric transmission.
Former Texas governor Rick Perry deregulated electric utilities in 2002, and made sure that the deregulated Texas power grid is not allowed to buy power from out of state, keeping federal regulatory agencies out of the picture and maintaining the Texas power grid's secessionist configuration.
In the wake of the catastrophic grid failure during the 2021 Valentine's Ice Storm, Texas politicians who created the social framework for the failed utility grid were far more concerned with avoiding federal regulation than with coming to the aid of millions of Texans without power and potable water.
Rick Perry called for Texans to voluntarily forego heating their homes to help stabilize the grid and thus avoid the pending scrutiny of intrusive federal regulators concerned about the unprecedented power outages.
“Texans would be [happy to be] without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,” former Texas Governor Rick Perry said in a blog posted on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s website. “Try not to let whatever the crisis of the day is take your eye off of having a resilient grid that keeps America safe personally, economically, and strategically.”
Current Texas Governor Greg Abbott tried to shift the blame for the crisis to proponents of green energy.
Donald Trump, Rick Perry and Greg Abbott in Oval Office
Office of U.S. Energy Secretary, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
"Ignoring that experts and officials agreed that a disruption in energy powered by fossil fuels was the biggest culprit behind Texas' outages, Abbott added that losses in wind and solar energy 'thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power in a statewide basis,'" according to an article in The Texas Tribune. Abbott said that "the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America.”
The lack of system resilience was the proximate cause of the grid failure, however, not the increase in wind powered energy in Texas over the last few years. That lack of resilience resulted from overdependence on electricity to power residential gas furnaces and the entire natural gas distribution network in Texas, according to Leonard Hyman and William Tilles, in an article for Oilprice.com. When the electricity goes out, natural gas can no longer be distributed, and home heating systems fail. So does water pressure because water systems depend on electricity.
"This is not a resilient energy system," Hyman and Tilles explain. "It is fragile in philosopher N. Taleb’s terms, the exact opposite of what people should expect here. This is not a problem we believe people will talk about because it is very difficult and expensive to remedy."
To fix this problem the entire power grid in Texas would have to be reconfigured and upgraded at a cost of many billions of dollars. Many societies around the world have power grids that operate well in cold climates using a mix of energy sources, both conventional and renewable. So the problem is not an engineering problem, but a political one.
Ever since I grew up in Houston, critics have said Texas politicians run the state for the benefit of the fossil fuel industries that dominate the state's economy. For those individuals who own and manage those companies, the status quo works just fine.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at the game against the Washington Redskins, October 29, 2017.
Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA,
CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is majority stockholder in Comstock Partners, a drilling company in Texas in the natural gas marketplace. The Valentine's Ice Storm had Jones celebrating.
"This week is like hitting the jackpot with some of these incredible prices," Roland Burns, [Comstock's] president and chief financial officer, said Wednesday, according to Bloomberg. "Frankly, we were able to sell at super premium prices for a material amount of production."
Meanwhile, in Texas' deregulated marketplace, customers who chose rates that vary according to demand on the grid rather than flat rate prices for electricity found themselves paying thousands of dollars for a few days worth of intermittent electricity.
“'My savings is gone,' said Scott Willoughby, a 63-year-old Army veteran who lives on Social Security payments in a Dallas suburb," as reported in an article in The New York Times. He said he had nearly emptied his savings account so that he would be able to pay the $16,752 electric bill charged to his credit card — 70 times what he usually pays for all of his utilities combined. 'There’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s broken me.'”
So who does the current system serve, and who is to blame for this debacle? According to Texas politicians, the current system is a divinely ordained capitalist Utopia, and consumers are to blame for any problems.
Simple diagram of electricity grids in North America.
United States Department of Energy, SVG version by User:J JMesserly
This image is a work of a United States Department of Energy (or predecessor organization) employee,
In a Facebook post that went viral, Tim Boyd, the libertarian cowboy mayor of Colorado City, Texas, blamed power consumers and a "socialist" federal government for mass suffering triggered by the collapse of the totally made-in-Texas, Republican managed statewide catastrophe.
Boyd told Colorado City residents "No one owes you are (sic) your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim it’s your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING!"
"If you are sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your (sic) lazy is direct result of your raising! Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish (sic)," Boyd raved on. "Folks God has given us the tools to support ourselves in times like this. This is sadly a product of socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW will work and others will become dependent for handouts."
Thick Ice on Mugo Pine, IceStorm 2008, Claverack, New York,
photo by Jane Sherry
One can easily imagine how this Facebook rant must have triggered a string of irate phone calls from apoplectic members of the local Chamber of Commerce and Republican party consultants based in Austin. Business owners in Colorado City pay city, county and state taxes as well as high utility fees with every expectation that local government and state utilities will provide reliable services so they can conduct business as usual. They would not appreciate being told they are owed NOTHING for their money.
Within a matter of hours, Mayor Boyd resigned, but astute political observers are certain that the current crisis will not derail bidness as usual in the state capitol.
"'Texas Republicans are probably not going to accept any responsibility for failing to regulate the state’s power grid because politicians from either party usually don’t accept responsibility for natural disasters in terms of preparedness,' said John Higley, professor emeritus in government and sociology at UT-Austin," who was quoted in The Texas Tribune.
“If you go back to Hurricane Harvey and all the damage done in Houston along the coast, nobody took responsibility for that. And no one’s going to take responsibility for this disaster either,” Higley said. “There will probably be an investigation of some sort, but it won’t really change the situation. I mean, you’re looking at a well-entrenched profit-making system with powerful interests invested in that system. They’re not about to cave to an investigation.”
The Texas State Capitol dome viewed from The Great Walk,
an allée formed by a double row of live oaks.
© 2020 Larry D. Moore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Not this year, not in Austin, where laissez-faire Utopian free market Republicans are firmly in control, as they have been since the Nineteen Eighties.
That's not to say that the Democrats don't share responsibility for this Texas-sized power and water fiasco.
"As the Texas power grid fails spectacularly, let’s recall that energy deregulation was a priority of the Clinton administration and neoliberal environmental groups," charges Jeffrey St. Clair in an article in Counterpunch. "One of the founders of NRDC, John Bryson, became the CEO of SoCal Edison, the group’s chief energy flack promoted Enron and the deregulation of California’s grid, with predictable consequences."
So, given the fact that there is a bipartisan consensus among our political classes to continue the status quo of deregulation and privatization, what will happen if these types of storms occur more frequently in the future?
Scientists say that arctic warming is causing the jet stream to shift in position, wobbling around during the course of the year, and dramatic changes in arctic weather patterns could play a part in allowing frigid polar air to sag down into Texas.
"There are waves in the jet stream and because of climate change and the warmer air in the Arctic and the largely ice-free Arctic sea, those waves are able to go far south," meteorologist Chris Gloninger told NBC News. "So places like Alaska or Iceland, which today is in the low 40s, is warmer than places like Texas, Louisiana or Oklahoma. That's why we're seeing these extremes."
A glance at the map indicating the locations of the 22 separate billion dollar weather and climate disasters to hit the United States in 2020 should make an open and shut case for upgrading and hardening the entire country's power grid as global climate change continues to accelerate, triggering extreme weather events during newly unpredictable spring, summer, fall and winter seasons.
Power outages are costing the United States somewhere between $25 and $70 billion per year, according to a 2013 report issued by President Obama's Executive Office. Somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of consumers across the country, who have seen the dramatic effects of widespread seasonal power outages related to extreme weather events, are willing to pay more for upgrades and hardening of the national energy grid, according to a recent Harris Poll.
But, given the general ineffectiveness or total absence of government regulation in both red and blue states, can anyone trust their local power company?
Consumers in California, stung by repeated PG&E outages and equipment failures that led to massive wildfires, and residents of Texas, left to freeze in the cold without water by profit hungry deregulated utility companies, would probably say no. So would New Yorkers who lived through Hurricane Sandy.
Southern California Edison's 220 kV electric power lines
east of Interstate 5, crossing Highway 138.
George Garrigues (GeorgeLouis), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Whether you live in a state with highly regulated utilities, like California or New York, or in a state with deregulated utilities, like Texas, it seems there is no reliable mechanism to hold utilities accountable for their performance.
This is one of those perennial problems that everyone knows about, and no one seems to be able to solve.
Just enter the phrase how to hold utility companies accountable into Google, and you will see 159,000,000 results in .54 seconds.
As power outages caused by extreme weather events multiply during the next few years, power grid resiliency will be a defining issue for societies around the world in the 21st Century.
There are solutions if we are ready to consider some radical changes in the way America structures and regulates its power grid.
Clearly the entire energy grid must be updated, and as it is upgraded, ideally it will be reconfigured to rely on renewable sources of energy to help mitigate fossil fuel emissions contributing to accelerating climate change.
Energy researchers estimate that it would cost $5 trillion to upgrade our current, fragile, obsolescent national power grid. That's what's needed in the next decade just to maintain the status quo.
Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) control room operator
Dpysh, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
There are ways to improve the quality of the existing system, of course, but that would cost even more.
It's possible to replace current coal fired generating plants with natural gas.
A more resilient and sustainable 21st century solution would be to emphasize the use of renewable energy in a grid with the ability to store and utilize hydrogen as a renewable fuel source.
It would be a huge improvement to upgrade to a national grid similar to the national highway system, which would allow for fast reallocation of electricity from one state to another in times of emergency. An upgraded national grid could include expansion of the transmission system to remote locations where solar and wind power can be generated without impacting heavily populated communities.
"The US does not actually have a national grid," explains a recent article in Vox. "Our grid is instead split into three regions — the western interconnection, the eastern interconnection, and, uh, Texas — that largely operate independently and exchange very little power."
North American Electric Reliability Corporation US Grid Interconnections
The creation of a new national grid would allow for increased use of renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save consumers $47.2 billion dollars a year through increased efficiencies, make the grid more reliable, and create thousands of well-paid construction and maintenance jobs.
This multi-trillion dollar initiative would bring America's energy infrastructure into the 21st century. It's a huge investment that ought to be made now, when interest rates are at historical lows, and there is vast demand for good jobs with a huge pool of unemployed and underemployed workers.
To initiate a national initiative of this magnitude would require the regulatory and funding power of the federal government, and the political will to reconfigure the existing fragmented regional system with its dual federal and state run regulatory agencies.
Technology alone cannot solve the problems plaguing our power grid. Spending money cannot alone solve these problems. Only a new social contract that places the needs of people above the prerogatives of utility companies can begin to create a resilient power grid for the 21st Century during the time of accelerating climate change. And the only way such a new social contract can be created is through the demand of an aroused populace.
Maverick planet Uranus, courtesy NASA
During this month of the Aquarius Stellium square Uranus in Taurus collective decision making is being challenged by the advent of unexpected large scale problems.
New pandemic variants have emerged. Ice storms have revealed that America's power grid is unsustainable and obsolete. Another earthquake in Japan rocked the Fukushima power plants, draining radioactive water from the reactors that have not yet been successfully remediated after a decade of effort.
These electrifying Uranian shocks require us to imagine and to implement innovative solutions that will transform vast interconnected systems necessary to the well being of the entire society.
Clearly the looming problems with America's aging power grid represent a Uranian wake up call to all of us to do the difficult work of examining current systems and future options in detail and then to engage in the contentious political debate that will certainly determine whether or not America has the will to do what must be done.
To birth a new post-hydrocarbon renewable energy civilization it is necessary to spark a revolution in our political, economic and social systems.
For that revolution to be successful, we must first initiate a revolution in consciousness that reconnects the human being to the web of life on the Earth we inhabit.
Tree of Life Tribe, Magic Lantern Drawing, by Jane Sherry,
photo by Jane Sherry
We must also renew our ancient awareness of the inhabitants of the subtle energy realms where angelic presences, devas, elementals and nature spirits preside over the morphogenetic fields that ensoul, inform, and structure the bodies of living beings on planet Earth.
The necessary revolution in human consciousness must include a clear understanding of the interdependence of the Angelic Realms, the Earthly realm and the Realm of the Nature Spirits. Human innovation in partnership with these Energy Beings can bring about a renewal of the three Realms of life on Earth
That partnership is the quintessential first step towards a New Age.
Jane and I affirm and pray that each and every one of you receive the grace and guidance you need this Full Moon week to achieve your loftiest spiritual and material goals. Set fear aside during this spiritual festival of the energy of the World Savior, and aim for the stars!
Jane and Curtis Selfie, Elkin, North Carolina 2-23-2021
Meditation Moment: The Undiscovered Self
" A mood of universal destruction and renewal. . .has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the kairos -- the right moment -- for a "metamorphosis of the gods", of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious human within us who is changing.
Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science. . .So much is at stake and so much depends on the psychological constitution of the modern human. -- C. G. Jung
Group photo in front of Clark University: Front row: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, C. G. Jung;
Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi.