Phenomena: The “News”

Saturday November 3rd 2018
The magic screen comes into the home.

The magic screen comes into the home.

This morning I woke up and turned on the radio. The news poured out like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:  pestilence, famine, war, death. So I changed over to a music station and had my mind cleaned by Bach.

This set me wondering though, about the effect of constantly hearing the news on the psyche. Because the news we hear — at least where I live — is pretty much by definition bad: another tsunami, another corrupt politician, another child missing. Indeed, if our world view is shaped by what we hear on the news, then the world is a very dark place indeed.

It’s hard to get away from the news. There it is on our Facebook feeds, on TV, every hour on the radio — indeed an alien from another planet might find our constant diet of bad news really noteworthy.

Of course, humans have always spread news — fake and otherwise. Earlier examples of fake news? The witch-hunt in early modern Europe, the blood libel against the Jews. But it was not until the invention of the printing press that news started to be reproduced and distributed by governments and news entrepreneurs. 

The first paper was published in 1605 in Frankfurt by one Johann Carolus. That was a year during which Saturn in Sagittarius (dissemination of ideas) made a beautiful trine to Pluto and the North Node in Aries (beginnings). Jupiter, the publishing planet, was in mutual reception with Saturn from Capricorn.

frontispiece of Vulgus Brittanicus

Inside a coffeehouse, from the frontispiece of Ned Ward’s satirical poem Vulgus Brittanicus (1710)

Just over 10 years later, the first broadsheet paper was produced in Amsterdam between June 14 and 16, 1618. Saturn had by this time made his way around to the other sign on the axis of information, Gemini, opposite to where he had been in 1605. And during that week, Mars made a conjunction to Saturn, which is neat. What of Jupiter, the publisher? Well, Jupiter was squaring Saturn from boundless Pisces, and triggered by the Moon. An industry that is still with us was established. 

Newspapers are defined by the following four criteria. They are accessible to the public, published at regular intervals; their content ranges over several topics and the information they contain is up-to-date.

Starting with those early sheets, read avidly and passed from hand to hand in the coffeehouses of Amsterdam, Hamburg and London, the “news” has flowed through revolutionary pamphlets, war-time propaganda sheets, radio, television and now the internet. As it flowed, it grew in size, reach and frequency — and today we live in a world of 24-hour news from multiple outlets, all competing for our attention.

A critical moment came on 22 Oct 1835, when the French entrepreneur Charles Havas opened the first newswire office in Paris. From the offices of Havas eventually evolved Reuters and AFP (Agence France Press), both still with us today. Havas was able to provide almost instant international news from his network of correspondents across Europe.

Astrological Chart for Newswire

By 1835, Pluto was finally back in Aries — and the information axis was busy all year. Jupiter had been back in the journalist’s sign, Gemini, as Havas recruited his correspondents around Europe. And interestingly, Pallas, the asteroid of insight, spent almost the entire year in Sagittarius.

But perhaps most notable of all, both Neptune and Uranus were in Aquarius — just as they were in the noughties, when the internet went boom. Similarly, Havas’ wire service would eventually become a network that connected the entire planet.

On the day Havas established L’Agence des Feuilles Politiques-Correspondance Générale, Uranus made a perfect trine to Saturn in Libra. So it should come as no surprise that Havas was interested in establishing a stable of fair and unbiased reporters.

But back to the deluge of news that we wade through these days. The first 24-hour news channel on TV was CNN, which first broadcast in 1 June 1980 from Atlanta, Georgia. Radio had already been doing the 24-hour news cycle, but CNN and the other stations – Al Jazeera, BBC, RT among others – which followed would shape the next 38 years.

Astrological Chart for CNN

There are some curious synastries between these two chart; not least the 1980 Uranus, often associated with modern technology, sitting right on that Scorpionic journalist in the form of Mercury in the 1835 chart. 

Astrological Chart for Twitter

The first twitter message was sent on 21 Mar 2006, at 9pm in San Francisco, California. By that time we were into the age of Neptune and Uranus in mutual reception across the two most collective signs — Aquarius and Pisces. Information would know no boundaries — indeed personal stories could now be on the same footing as official news. Look at the conjunction of Uranus and Mercury Rx and Neptune-Venus…. The narcissistic echo-chamber of social media written in the chart. And yet, the egalitarian nature of Twitter — so Aquarian — is part of its charm.

Note also the conjunction of the Moon (people) and Pluto (!) in Sagittarius — back to our information axis.


So here we are now, with Uranus about to spend the best part of a decade in Taurus. The god of change and technology has reached the opposite side of the Zodiac from where he was in 1980, digging up the dirt in Scorpio. Is this a kind of mid-life crisis for 24-hour news? Have we unleashed a minotaur?

Personally, I have reached peak news. I’ll just look at some cats and owls on my twitter feed instead.

I’m interested in what you think about these charts.

This is my column for the bimonthly Infinity Astrology Magazine called Phenomena, which takes more general look at the zeitgeist. 

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  1. mimi says:

    Personally, I like to turn off tv and radio these days – I allways start with newsradio in the mornings because I like the combination of news and music, but then at about 12 o’clock I’m fed up with it and I turn it off. (every hour there are commercials too and I hate them).

    What then happens to me is so nice – I get to be so calm and relaxed in the afternoon. You should try it and then at about 4pm I start listening to Classic FM which is a very nice channel in the Netherlands with only classical music.

    We are being overfed in all possible ways in this era, not only there is an abundance of the food we eat, but also an abundance of ‘audible and visible and informational food’. If we become conscious of that we can start making choices in our ‘diet’ and become much happier overall.


  2. Jeanne says:

    With the US midterms approaching, I have been reflecting on news and democracy. Cable news has certainly helped with fracturing the body politic. Everyone can be bombarded with narrow views. And, I believe our minds are assaulted by the parade of gruesome details. A collective PTSD zeitgeist, if you will. Personally, I became fed up with TV news on the day news helicopters followed OJ Simpson around the LA freeways. From then until now, the only TV news I watch is election night returns.

    • Christina says:

      It would be quite interesting to pull up a chart for that date. It was indeed a new low.

      • 44 and counting says:

        Should be noted that the consequence of the OJ Simpson trial was TV networks realising the power and potential of “Reality TV”. Of course an irony is that Simpson’s lawyer was Robert Kardashian father of Kim and some of the others who found fame in the genre.

        Of course that was just the lead into the Uranus / Neptune in Aqua/Pisces years which really allowed ordinary people to become famous on TV for nothing more than living their ‘ordinary’ lives.

        • Jeanne says:

          So interesting! That was June 17 1994, and had the following: Sun in Gemini, Moon in Virgo, Uranus and Neptune in Capricorn, Pluto and North Node in Scorpio, all quite close to 26 degrees. My sun is 26 degrees Taurus and my Uranus is at 26 degrees Leo. I guess I! LOL

  3. mimi says:

    Somehow I feel that Jupiter and Pluto have something to do with this, or maybe the transit of Jupiter through Sagittarius when Pluto was there too.

    And maybe (this just occurred to me) Uranus will make us conscious and teach us to make choices in our ‘diet’ (in all kinds of ways) when Uranus will be travelling through Taurus because Taurus has very much to do with our food and everything we take in.

    Will I start losing those extra pounds then ?? Hope so.


    • Vesta says:

      Hope you’re right, mimi! I have uranus in Taurus opposite my sun in my solar return chart. Jupiter in Scorpio has been tough for me, plus we had that intense heatwave that demanded ice cream. I need to lose a few extra pounds too. I have certainly changed a few bad habits lately that weren’t serving me. It was really easy. Now I’m looking for more habits to change. 🙂 My thinking is, if I make these changes and have better, healthier habits, then the rest will follow naturally, and I’ll lose the weight. … here’s hoping 🙂

      • mimi says:

        That heatwave was really intense and yes metoo…………… I had too much icecream but there are things I wil not give up. And one of them is icecream.

        Nevertheless I think it would be a good thing if we all started to become more conscious of what we are taking in and not only of the food we eat, but also what information we take in.

        Fortunately, astrologers are the ones that are conscious and I think by realising this we can influence people around us so we don’t go nuts because of the overload of information and really start taking in the information we need and not the information that is poured over all of us constantly. We really do not need that !


        • Vesta says:

          I agree. I was just thinking all I do is consume, especially when it comes to information. I’ve stopped being creative and I miss that. So that’s something I’m going to think about, pick up a hobby or two again. I’m not giving up ice cream either, but I’ll go back to occasional treats, not every day. 🙂 🙂 🙂
          When I took just one day out from the news, I didn’t actually miss anything. There were the main headlines, and they get repeated anyway. Plus, I realised I had forgotten what it was like to have space to think. I was apprehensive at first, I was worried what would come up, but actually, it was just aaaahhhh, like sinking into a nice bath.
          Yes, astrologers are the ones who are conscious, you’re right. I wonder how they do it! 🙂
          I’ve been busy deleting news tabs in my browser. All the information you need is in the first paragraph. If it’s not, it’s badly written and doesn’t deserve our time anyway. Right now, we’re sort of in the in between, before the next lot of big changes happen. I’m looking at my books thinking I could just lose myself in a good story… 🙂

  4. Chrissy Faith says:

    “Current affairs” reporting is an out-of-control, manipulative monster designed to distract and feed off of our negative juices in vampiric fashion. Where we live in Italy, there is a television tax AUTOMATICALLY attached to one’s electric bill. We don’t own the demonic device, so we had to apply to higher ups to have it removed. True, we aren’t on the “cutting edge” (how apropos) of current affairs, but we’ll find out if it’s urgent, won’t we? And we get to focus on what’s important in life: beauty, love, exploring and adoring nature, sharing and expanding the positive with like minded, happy spirits. That’s how our garden grows: much sweeter fruit when your seeds aren’t tainted by BS.

  5. Vesta says:

    I remember the first time BBC had a 24 hour news broadcast, it was the night of Reagan’s election win. It was tedious. In the morning, they were showing anything to keep broadcasting, the funniest was an interview with the Whitehouse gardener, who was so boring, he was hilarious.

    Yesterday, I couldn’t face looking at the news or even Twitter. I looked at my computer and thought – no. I don’t have apps on my phone, deleted those a long time ago. I put my TV on, there’s internet on there too, it’s hard to escape nowadays, but there’s some great long meditation videos of calming music on YouTube. It took hours for my breathing to calm. I was stress breathing and hadn’t realised how bad. I discovered what @mimi describes, above, and will switch off more often.

    You’re right about the tsunami of news and information. I think it’s got toxic. Minotaur is right.

    The Twitter chart is interesting. 4 Gemini is my north node, and 19 Scorpio is my neptune/sun-moon midpoint, my Saturn is 10 Pisces. Twitter has had a powerful effect on me, shattering what I thought I knew. I have often wished we had it in the 80s during the Thatcher/Reagan years. I love it very much, even though it’s flawed. I’ve always said it’s up to you how you use social media. You can organise the information. But even though I feel at home with it, it’s not like it used to be and I need to find a new way to use it.

    I have hundreds of tabs open in my browser of news stories waiting for when I have time to read them. I’m going to delete them all. There’s no need to read a lot of them, I already saw the tweets they’re describing. I have decided I’m only going to read fun interesting things.

    There is very little news analysis now, if at all. I’m seeing people criticise journalists for being nothing more than stenographers and how irresponsible that is. When leaders/governments lie, it’s the journalist’s job to hold truth to power and expose the lie. But they’re not, and the reasons why are complex. Or very simple, depending on how you look at it.

    Abuse of information, propaganda, personal interests of the powerful, cyberwar, interference from other countries. We’re not looking at news anymore, we’re looking at a battleground. This is the new face of war.

    I know it was ever so. I know the news in the past propogated myths about national identity and what things mean. I know that’s all collapsed. I know we’re having identity crises as everything collapses around us. I know the noise is as much that as anything else. I thought I could watch it all with interest, but it’s dragging me down with it. I have to step back and let things collapse. Keep an eye, be aware, but focus on looking after myself.

    So what’s after the collapse? What are our goals? What do we need? How should things be? If we don’t have myths that explain the order of things, what explains the order of things? We need news and information, but it needs to be better. Better how?

  6. Faye Blake says:

    Yeah cats and owls good – I’m with you there. I was thinking about this as it’s Gemini time for my next blog. It takes less than a minute usually when watching news before the words vaccination, covid or corona are spoken. What the hell was news about before Jan 2020? Yes – interesting charts esp CNN Uranus opp – indeed mid-life crisis might be on the cards. I was just comparing mission statements of broadcasters and interestingly one vision statement for CNN’s is ” We travel to every corner of the globe to capture the unforgettable, telling stories that engage and inspire.” Sounds a bit like Merc conjunct Venus – they also mention all the usual integrity bla bla but international is one of their aims which suits Merc Jupiter sextile. Love your take on the Pisces in Twitter chart.