Syria: The Blood-Dimmed Tide

Thursday April 12th 2012
A member of the Free Syrian Army, an avatar of Pluto wearing his helmet of invisibility.

This was written by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats in the 1919 in the aftermath of World War 1 and the Easter Rising in Ireland. As well as being a poet, Yeats was a visionary and a mystic. Read this piece carefully, because it could not be more appropriate to the current situation in Syria.

    The Second Coming
    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The news from Syria is horrible, and seemingly relentless. And the possible future scenarios are all pretty mind-bogglingly awful. Will Turkey have to invade? What will happen to the Kurds in that case? Will the minorities be safe if and when Assad is ousted? Quite simply, will the blood bath continue, get worse, get better?

I have two charts for Syria: one for independence from France in 1944 and one for this regime, which came to power under Hafiz al Assad, the current leader’s father, in 1970 after years of political turmoil. It’s clear at a glance that the 1944 chart is accurate. Syria’s Sun is at 9° Capricorn, the very degree at which Pluto has been sitting for so long.

January 1, 1944, 12;01 AM. Syrian Indpendence from France

To be exact Pluto reached 9° on February 24 and has been there ever since. Today Pluto turned retrograde and so the heavy planet will continue to press down directly on Syria’s Sun until May 30. And that does not signify an ending, since Pluto is due to return to 9° in December. And then again in the summer and autumn of 2013. In all there will be five passes of Pluto over this point – which is a lot.


When a heavy planet stations retrograde on any point in a chart it brings intensity and focus to the issues related to the planet or angle. When the heavy planet happens to be Pluto, which is naturally concentrating and intense, the pressure is enormous. The core identity of the whole country is being put under pressure.

The only sliver of good news in this is that this indicates that the people in power, the Assads, are feeling the pressure too.

Assad’s Coup, Nov 13, 1970. 6:08 AM

Bashar al-Assad was born in 1965, so he has the very tight generational Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo natally. What is more that powerful pair conjuncts his Sun. He may well have internalised Pluto-Uranus, which can be a very cruel combination, and in Virgo it has special vicious efficiency. He was never going to roll over and let the rebels win. He will fight ferociously, ruthlessly to stay in power. 

Mars has been transiting through Virgo since the end of 2011, turning retrograde in mid-January just before things started to get really nasty. As I’ve said before here, the attacks on the Syrian population by the government are a Mars in Virgo style “clean up”.

What makes Assad a particularly ruthless opponent is the fact that he feels himself to be the victim in all this (Chiron in Pisces, and possibly the Moon), and this is fuelling his fear, Saturn also in Pisces and directly opposed by the Sun-Uranus-Pluto. He has seen and learned from what happened to Saddam Hussein and Gaddaffi. This is already a fight to the death unless he can find a safe haven. There is some potential for this as Saturn crosses his natal Venus (last week retrograde and again in September).

Time is unknown.

Right now, Jupiter is opposing Assad’s potentially fanatical Neptune-Mars and unrealistic conjunction in intense and militaristic Scorpio. And in the regime’s chart, Jupiter will be opposing all those planets on the Scorpio ascendant and conjunct the Saturn-Moon. This means that Syria’s enemies are likely to be strengthened.

Let us pray for as many ceasefires as possible, because this is a long, drawn-out struggle. I really hate to be pessimistic, but it seems to me there is a strong potential for civil war, whether Assad himself stays or goes. If the international community does not contain Syria, the blood-dimmed tide could roll over the whole region.

For a more detailed look at the Syrian charts, click here.

For more on the massacres earlier this year, click here.

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  1. KL says:

    Yeats’ poem creepily echoes the present. I suppose this feeling comes round and round again through history, and not always in the same place.

  2. Isy Aweigh says:

    Chillingly apt.

    I can’t say enough about your depth of understanding of world affairs. Your blogs on these hard issues are such a haven of honesty and solid sense, if not always optimism 🙂 In such hard times that honesty and sense is invaluable.

  3. Helen says:

    A truly prophetic poem but I’m not sure about all of the analysis. I don’t think Assad is a fanatic. I would look to the Saturn/Moon/chiron conjunction more as the wound of his ruthless father out of whose shadow he has never been able to escape and would want to place that on the IC. I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a populated 12th house too – he is possibly just as much a prisoner of the regime as its victims in a self undoing kind of way. I think his Virgo planets point more to the doctor that he wanted to be (plus Mars in scorpio). Back in 2011 he stood on the threshold of living out his uranus sun conjunction and pluto got in the way. It’s tragic for Syria as well as for him as it will likely lead to his own rather nasty demise. The open enemies are clear but I see plenty of hidden enemies triggered by saturn coming through the 12th house of the regime. Sadly I think that if Assad loses his grip then you really will see a blood -dimmed tide that makes all that went on in 2012-13 look moderate. I’d be interested to see how the charts of France and Russia line up over Syria.

    • Christina says:

      Me too. And thanks for bringing me back to this post, which I wrote two years ago. I like what you say about Assad, but I think the blood-dimmed tide here.

  4. […] There’s a holocaust on Europe’s doorstep. We have seen this insanity before: in Rwanda, in Congo, in Cambodia, in Germany. The behaviour of ISIS or Daesh or whatever you choose to call them is familiar — and it has not come out of nowhere: we’ve been witnessing the ravaging of the Middle East for years. Because of a chain of bad choices, in the past few years there’s been a horrible sense of the last inevitable slide to chaos.  Back in 2012, before anyone had heard of ISIS, I wrote, “If the international community does not contain Syria, the blood-dimmed tide could roll over the whol…” […]

  5. Rachel says:

    I recommend taking a look at the documentary Return to Homs, which despite winning quite a lot of film festival awards has not gotten much press attention. It follows a 19-year old star goalkeeper who goes from voice of peaceful resistance to leader of a rag-tag militia leader — all in an attempt to save their neighborhood from the advancing and relentless Syrian Army.

    The documentary is filmed over two years by a Syrian filmmaker who is himself from the neighborhood and part of the resistance. It’s not an easy watch, and it’s not intended to shed light on the entire conflict or politics behind it. Rather it’s a touching biography of a young man who is called to give his all in service of Homs.

  6. Rachel says:

    Also, for some astrological content: I wonder if October 2015 will be a ‘tricky’ month for Bashar.

    Venus/Mars/Jupiter will be conjunct in middle Virgo opposite Neptune/Chiron in Pisces — bang on top of his own rather nasty Sun/Uranus/Pluto opposite Moon/Saturn/Chiron. Plus Saturn in Sag will be square his Mercury in Virgo (ruler of Sun/Uranus/Pluto) and applying a square to everything else.