The city of Flint, Michigan has been poisoned by bad governance. That’s not a metaphor: it is literally true.
Flint, located between two of the greatest freshwater lakes on the planet, is an old industrial town, ravaged like its big neighbour Detroit by post-industrial decline. Because of this collapse, State Governor Rick Snyder (campaign slogan: “one tough nerd”) sent in the suits to fix Flint’s books. In order to save $5m or so, they decided the city should stop buying water from Detroit and start processing water from the astonishingly polluted Flint River.
On April 25, 2014, the city made the switch from fresh water from Lake Huron to “treated” effluent. By August, officials were advising people to boil their water because of an outbreak of ecoli; by October General Motors had stopped using the water to clean cars because it was so corrosive. By January 2015, Detroit offered to reconnect — for free — because Flint’s water was so bad. The suits in charge of Flint said no.
Meanwhile, citizens were getting weird rashes, their hair was falling out, children were sick. And they were getting nowhere complaining to the local government.
To cut a long story short, it turns out that the water that comes out of the taps in Flint, Michigan is toxic. For example, 104 parts per billion of lead were detected in drinking water: 15 parts per billion is considered unsafe. President Obama declared a state of emergency on January 16. Water is now being brought in by the army — in bottles.
But for some children, this may be too late. Lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage and stunts growth.
This is a tale of catastrophic failure in the world’s richest country, of course, and people should be going to jail. But it’s also a a story of American knowhow and assertiveness. If the citizens of Flint had not called in experts, the local doctor had not kicked up a fuss, if mothers had not nagged authorities and hassled officials, they might still be getting effluent out of their taps. It’s still possible to shame the people in charge into doing the right thing.
The heroes of this story are the people of Flint who went on complaining — despite being dismissed as nuts by officials. Did the fact that the most vocal campaigners were mothers, or that most of the people affected are poor and black have any bearing on the criminally slow response?
Now coincidentally — or not at all — I have just written a little bit about another story of water contamination in the ebook I completed on Friday.
“The other remarkable example of Neptune-Saturn in action took place in London. During the first square, there was a terrible outbreak of cholera in Soho, in those days a slum. Cholera was believed to be caused by bad air. Dr John Snow, by plotting the cases on a map (how Saturnian), pinpointed the source of the disease to a pump. He showed that it was dirty water killing people. He used statistics (Saturn in Gemini) to contain the disease (Neptune). Snow put his imagination at the service of science. He contained an epidemic. Snow was thinking big, but he was also thinking in a structured and organised way. Instead of accepting the received idea of miasma, he tested his own original theory.”
We are under a Neptune in Pisces-Saturn square again now. It’s not exact but the energy is there. This time Saturn is in Sagittarius (not Gemini), but we have the same idea of Saturn stopping Neptune (both water and disease). In Flint, even the government could not argue with the scientific data collected by, among others, Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, a local practitioner who measured lead poisoning in children, and Professor Marc Edwards and his team at Virginia Tech, who got in their cars and drove to Flint to test the water.
A Saturn-Neptune square can mean death by water, but the square may also offers solutions. Saturn is the planet we associate with measurement and science.
The poisoning of Flint is significant for the whole of the United States. You can see this by looking at the charts. On April 24, 2014, the day Flint made the big switch, a Grand Cross — about the toughest pattern imaginable — was sitting on the US Sun. Jupiter, the planet of exaggeration, was on the Sun, with Pluto, the planet of destruction opposing. Mars Rx squared from Libra and Uranus from Aries. This activated the natal US Saturn-Sun square — native stinginess with a dam-busting combination.
This Grand Cross was always going to have impact. It’s slow-working but we begin to see the cascading effect now. It would be interesting to recall what else took place under this aspect.
On the day President Obama declared a state of emergency, January 16, 2016, the Jupiter-North Node conjunction was on the US Neptune. This conjunction has been active for a while and will carry on for a month or so. Neptune rules water, of course, and in the US chart it’s in Virgo, which may be the planet’s detriment, but it may also suggest a land that is rich in water resources. However, water is already an issue in parts of America. California is having an awful drought — and the governor declared a state of emergency this January too. Jupiter and the North Node put focus on the future of America’s water resources.
Saturn has reached 12° Sagittarius — the degree area of the Grand Cross, but one sign along. This puts the taskmaster and maker of boundaries in a quincunx with the US Sun. Science is going to change things. It might be an idea for everyone to test their water.
But this story is an iteration of the bigger story of the past few years: inequality, and the fight against it. It’s as if one part of that tale has been put under a microscope and then blown up — just to clarify things. If government no longer protects its citizens this is what happens. In the States both Occupy and #blacklivesmatter have been attempts to stand up to the power elite, currently symbolised by Pluto in Capricorn. This was the theme of the Uranus-Pluto square. We saw in the Middle East what happens when Pluto wins. But if Uranus wins, we could end up with, say, super-Uranian Donald Trump as Prezbo. The two energies need to be integrated.
Neptune in Pisces adds another level of complexity, of course…. but more on that later.