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The Rains in the Plains 26/05/2014

Posted by zoidion in Event, Long Emergency, urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The season’s pattern of wet chill has shifted to above-average temperature in the past few days. The jack-in-the-pulpit plants–many of them–have erupted out of the ground, though so far I only see two little leafy stems from the dozen or so roots of solomon’s seal that I plugged into the then-frozen ground not that long ago.

Enough sun has shone on the ground to push the soil temperature into the sixties. 

Accordingly, I expect to be seeing more tender stalks of the Mandan Bride corn within the next few days. Two days after the New Moon on the 28th, when the Moon enters the very fertile water sign Cancer, I’ll add the seeds for the beans that will climb up the corn stalks, and the seeds for the squash (delicata, I think) that will cover the ground around them. This is a first for me: “the three sisters.” Barring high winds–unlikely here in Shady Hollow–or hail, it could be a glorious scene come late summer.

Two notable rainstorms made the news in the past two weeks following the Full Moon on 14 May. The week of the Full Moon was the season’s crucial week: The Full Moon with Saturn replicated that combination in the season chart.

Welcome rains–not without the usual problems of hail and flash flooding–fell on the High Plains of west Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas: the most in nine months. It was far from a drought-buster: An extended shift in the dry pattern would be needed. And anyway: Drought is the norm for that region: Big changes will be forced upon it: Changes that will require living within its natural limits.

It’s instructive to see the relevant chart differences between here and there (focusing on Amarillo, Texas). It’s a difference of ten degrees in latitude, eight in longitude.


It shifts the crucial lower meridian from cool Virgo to hot Leo (ruled by the Sun in warm, dry Aries), the ascendant from wet Cancer to dry Gemini (ruled by Mercury, conjunct Neptune, close to the upper meridian in wet Pisces). The astro-potential is there for a fluke rain incident at some point in the season.

It came along right on schedule, when the May fourth quarter lunation chart featured a one-degree-different Gemini ascendant, this time with Mercury in conjunction. Mercury relates to wind factors, and Gemini to duplicity. There was a strange and rare phenomenon at play that brought significant rain to that region: a persistent low-pressure area to the west that drew in two streams of moisture: one from the Pacific, across northern Mexico, and one from the Gulf of Mexico. They converged over the High Plains, bringing over three inches of rain in some spots.

The other major astrological factor was the Moon in Pisces, conjunct the place of Mercury in the season chart, with Neptune on the upper meridian.

One-hundred-and-thirty degrees to the east, however, disaster befell the Balkans. The deluge–primarily affecting Bosnia and Serbia–seemed triggered by the Full Moon on the 14th, which was preceded (seven hours earlier) by an occultation of Saturn by the Moon: a similar situation to what occurred on 20 March. I took that (the occultation on the date of the season chart) to be an indication of deepening water-related problems, a general sense of crises suddenly worsening.

Indications for the season began with the season’s start minutes after sunset: a weak moment for the prospects of the status quo (amply demonstrated by events in and around Ukraine). The potential for a fast-developing disaster was further represented by Pluto near the lower meridian, closely configured with Uranus and Jupiter. The only ingredient missing was a trigger: Mars, stationary direct (a moment of special potency) in a closer configuration with those three at the time of the flood disaster.


Plus the water-disaster symbolism of Moon / Saturn – Venus in the season chart was grounded at that locality, where the lower meridian was at the midpoint of those planets.

The Full Moon added Venus (moisture) to the much-discussed “Grand Cross” combination. With the meridian in the Full Moon chart in alignment with the zero degrees Aries-Libra axis, the heavens and earth were aligned and ready for what would be. Que sera sera.

The Balkans disaster comes with a typical sign of climate change impacts in this era of deepening financial and resource limits: “Bosnia and Serbia could be saddled with several billions in recovery costs from the record flooding of the past week, but neither country has the available funds. . . . The flooding affected 40 percent of Bosnia . . . It wrecked the main agriculture industry in the northern flatlands, wiping out infrastructure, farms, buildings and homes. One quarter of the country’s 4 million people have been affected by the six days of floods and 2,100 landslides.”

To make the situation even more dangerous: The floods unearthed thousands of unexploded munitions left over from the ethnic-cleansing wars of the 1990s: gifts that keep on giving.



Peak Oil Power Play 14/05/2014

Posted by zoidion in Long Emergency, Mundane.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The temperature has been creeping up (ever so slightly), the sun shining (a wee bit more). Even yet, the trees appear reluctant to unfurl their leaves–fearful, perhaps, of a late freeze (or snow).

The wet and chilly spring season has lived up to expectations thus far.

Despite the slow start, there has been some new work to do at the homestead. The package of perennials from Perennial Pleasures arrived, and I promptly plugged them into the ground; as I did so, I had to keep reminding myself that I wouldn’t see much growth and no harvest from them this year: a sobering realization sinking in. (Another blow to consumer thinking.)

On a Saturday that threatened to become sunny, I went to a workshop at the new Cherry Tree House Mushrooms site–about cultivation of shiitake mushrooms–and came home with a spawn-impregnated log to situate in one of my shady spots. When the rainy weather let up for a day or two, I remembered to sprinkle the log. And I’ve now been rewarded with the first fruit.

Having decided to add hazelnut bushes to the two remaining sunny-enough spots in the yard, I made local inquiries and studied the site of Badgersett Research Farm, which for several decades has specialized in developing hybrids of hazelnut, chestnut and hickory for commercial-scale production. Because of Badgersett’s history and the esteem in which its founder is held, I decided to go for a couple of those, but due to the late spring I’ll have to wait a bit.

Oh, and I managed to acquire a bucket’s worth of woodland soil and portioned it out to various spots around the homestead: an inoculant, to help build the urban soil with mycorrhizal and microbial riches. Another contribution to a future healthy habitat.

As the major media have, as could be expected, fixated on the drama of Ukraine, they have ignored a major story–perhaps as potent in long-term significance–playing out thousands of miles away.

Vietnam, ten years past its peak petroleum production, has collided with China’s desperately hungry (and lately teetering) economic juggernaut. Brushing aside Vietnam’s rightful claim to a 200-mile exclusive zone offshore, China moved a giant oil rig and military vessels, one of which rammed a Vietnamese naval vessel.

“On 2nd May 2014, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) positioned the drilling rig HD-981 in a location of 15°29’ North latitude, 111° 12’ East longitude, approximately 120 nautical miles from Vietnam’s waters, within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam. CNOOC’s action violated Vietnam’s sovereign and jurisdiction rights under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

See the details here.

The article details how Vietnam, with a small hydrocarbon bank within its territory, has quickly transitioned from a minor oil exporter to importer. The Petrovietnam company has had to contract with Azerbaijan, in the Caspian Sea region, to make up the gap. The urgency to keep Vietnam’s portion of the global economy’s garment factories humming must be considerable.

(However, as tensions escalate and Vietnamese nationalist sentiment rises, at least fifteen foreign-owned factories in Vietnam have been burned.)

Perhaps Vietnam can afford the financial cost–for now–while some other less fortunate country loses out in the competition for that share of fossil hydrocarbon. But, to judge from the astrological evidence, Vietnam is clearly at a crisis point, and an economic downtown seems likely.



The crash-and-burn potential in a struggle with vastly more powerful competition–signified by the Sun-Venus-Pluto configuration in the reunification chart (2 July 1976)–has been activated of late by the much-discussed Grand Cross. The Jupiter arm of the cross has crossed Sun and Venus, as Mars has crept (apparently) backward to the place of Pluto. No wonder there’s been an explosion. (Watch for crucial developments around the time of the Mars station: 19 May.)

The station of Saturn, back in March, at the lower meridian–in opposition to the place of Jupiter at the time of reunification (the symbol of its recent prosperity and attractiveness as a tourist destination)–was a signal that the good times were coming to a close.

To make the situation a bit more emphatic, the recent solar eclipse–falling in the ninth house of foreign affairs–was conjunct the south lunar node in the reunification chart. Translation: the nation’s tide of power ebbing. (The connection with the node is a reminder that a solar eclipse occurred close to that degree in the months before reunification; indeed, it was less than one-half degree later.)

Note how the meridian and horizon for the 2014 eclipse align closely with those of the reunification chart–especially with Mars, signifier of strife, military action . . . and flames.

The shape of political and economic life will be profoundly altered by the eruptions that flow from these events.

By the way, the Law of the Sea may come through these events in tatters as well, as shown in part by hits to its chart by the solar and lunar eclipses of late. (Historically, the compact belongs to the great globalization fad concurrent with the Uranus-Neptune conjunction in corporate Capricorn; although agreement was reached in 1982, it took twelve years before enough signatories rendered it effective, in the same year as NAFTA began its ravages of the North American economy and ecology.)

Law of the Sea - effective

It seems likely it will be put to the test, and found wanting–at least the willingness of key signatories to abide by it. (The United States is not a signatory to the Convention, and the Senate has repeatedly deferred consideration. A number of American commentators have objected to potential limits to corporate exploitation of the oceans, and the ever-voracious former War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has warned that taxing authority might be extended to cover resources in outer space.)

Earth to Donald: The limits are here on Earth.

Look at the graphs, look at the trends for southeast Asia.

The trends spell trouble. And as has lately dawned on many people with respect to the Ukrainian situation, petro trouble has become typical.



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