Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturn and Rahu in British imperial ambition

In view of the second Rahu major period beginning in the 16° Virgo rising horoscope for the UK on 1 January 2013, it is interesting to look to the events that transpired in the previous Rahu major period from 1 January 1893 to 28 December 1910. In an earlier article, the social strains in British upper class society over the trial of Oscar Wilde in this period have been described. Another significant event in the collective life of Britons is the Anglo-Boer Wars of the late 19th century, in particular the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, which was a protracted and difficult affair. The British empire, which had expanded across the globe, stood at its zenith. However, there were other European powers on the horizon, including Germany, which Britain viewed with suspicion.

The Anglo-Boer wars
The Anglo-Boer Wars, also known as the Freedom Wars in South Africa, were two wars fought during 1880-1881 and 1899-1902 by the British Empire against the Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic.

The First Anglo-Boer War was a brief affair, after Boers, mostly farmers began a rebellion against British rule in the Transvaal on 16 December 188, in an effort to re-establish their independence.The war, which ended on 23 March 1881, occurred against the backdrop of the Pretoria government becoming increasingly ineffective at dealing with growing claims on South African land from rival interests within the country. British expansion into southern Africa had been fueled by three things, i) a desire to control the trade routes to India, ii) the discovery in 1868 of huge mineral deposits of diamonds and iii) as part of a race against other European colonial powers in Africa. Four days after the Boers revolted and declared their independence from the United Kingdom, they ambushed and destroyed a British Army convoy on 20 December 1880. From 22 December 1880 to 6 January 1881, British army garrisons all over the Transvaal became besieged. Although generally called a war, the actual engagements were of a relatively minor nature considering the few men involved on both sides and the short duration of the combat, lasting some thirteen weeks and involving few men on either side and sporadic actions.

The Second Anglo-Boer War lasted from 11 October 1899 to 31 May 1902. By contrast, it was a lengthy war—involving large numbers of troops from many British possessions, which ended with the conversion of the Boer republics into British colonies. These colonies later formed part of the Union of South Africa. The discovery of lucrative gold mines – contributing each year 7 billion Pounds in modern value -- added to the British desire for control over South Africa.The British fought directly against the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State, defeating their forces first in open warfare and then in a long and bitter guerrilla campaign, which was an innovation that has since become a standard part of modern warfare. Concentration Camps were also an innovation in British warfare. British losses were high due to both disease and combat. The policies of "scorched earth" and civilian internment in concentration camps (adopted by the British to prevent support for the farmers/Boer commando campaign) ravaged the civilian populations in the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State.
The war had three distinct phases.
  • First phase: The Boer offensive (October – December 1899) In the first phase, the Boers mounted pre-emptive strikes into British-held territory in Natal and the Cape Colony, besieging the British garrisons of Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberley. The Boers then won a series of tactical victories at Colenso, Magersfontein and Spionkop against a failed British counteroffensive to relieve the sieges.
  • Second phase: The British offensive (January -September 1900). In the second phase, after the introduction of greatly increased British troop numbers under the command of Lord Roberts, the British launched another offensive in 1900 to relieve the sieges, this time achieving success. After Natal and the Cape Colony were secure, the British were able to invade the Transvaal, and the republic's capital, Pretoria, was ultimately captured in June 1900.
  • Third phase: Guerrilla war (September 1900 – May 1902) In the third and final phase, beginning in March 1900, the Boers launched a protracted hard-fought guerrilla war against the British forces, lasting a further two years, during which the Boers raided targets such as British troop columns, telegraph sites, railways and storage depots. In an effort to cut off supplies to the raiders, the British, now under the leadership of Lord Kitchener, responded with a scorched earth policy of destroying Boer farms and moving civilians into concentration camps.
Towards the end of the war, British tactics of containment, denial, and harassment began to yield results against the guerrillas. The British offered terms of peace on various occasions, notably in March, 1901, but were rejected by Botha. The last of the Boers surrendered in May, 1902 and the war ended with the Treaty of Vereeniging signed on 31 May 1902. Although the British had won, this came at a cost; the Boers were given £3,000,000 for reconstruction and were promised eventual limited self-government, which was granted in 1906 and 1907. The treaty ended the existence of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State as independent Boer republics and placed them within the British Empire. The Union of South Africa was established as a member of the Commonwealth in 1910.
Socio-political ramifications
Domestically, there was fallout. Although the 1900 UK general election, also known as the "Khaki election," had resulted in a victory for the Conservative government on the back of recent British victories against the Boers, public support quickly waned as it became apparent that the war would not be easy and further unease developed following reports about the treatment by the British army of the Boer civilians. Public and political opposition to government policies in South Africa regarding Boer civilians was first expressed in Parliament in February, 1901 in the form of an attack on the policy, the government, and the army by the radical Liberal MP David Lloyd George.
In South Africa, the Second Anglo-Boer War cast long shadows. The predominantly agrarian society of the former Boer republics was profoundly and fundamentally affected by the scorched earth policy of Roberts and Kitchener. The devastation of both Boer and black African populations in the concentration camps and through war and exile were to have a lasting effect on the demography and quality of life in the region. Many exiles and prisoners were unable to return to their farms at all; others attempted to do so but were forced to abandon the farms as unworkable given the damage caused by farm burning and salting of the fields in the course of the scorched earth policy. Destitute Boers and black Africans swelled the ranks of the unskilled urban poor competing with the "uitlanders" in the mines
The international reaction to the abuses was mixed. The vast majority of troops fighting for the British army came from the United Kingdom. However, a large number did come from other parts of the British Empire. These countries had their own internal disputes over whether they should remain tied to the United Kingdom, or have full independence, which carried over into the debate around the sending of forces to assist the United Kingdom. Many Irish nationalists sympathised with the Boers, viewing them to be a people oppressed by British imperialism, much like, in their opinion, themselves. Irish miners already in the Transvaal at the start of the war formed the nucleus of two Irish commandos. Stretcher-bearers of the Indian Ambulance Corps during the war included future leader Mohandas Gandhi. 
Astrology of the events 
The first thing to note in the 16° Virgo rising horoscope for the United Kingdom is the placement of Rahu at 22° 59' Pisces and 7th house. The 7th house deals with others and in mundane astrology this house is closely connected with foreign policy. The placement of Rahu, the indicator of shadowy and manipulative things in this house, indicates that the UK has strong desire in this domain of life, more so as Rahu aspects the 1st lord Mercury at 26° 28' Scorpio and 3rd house. Mercury is weakened in Navamsa chart by having its dispositor badly placed and debilitated. The 3rd house of speech and action, is itself further compromised by the aspect of 8th lord Mars at 20° 40' Aries and 8th house. Hence, the chart suggests that the actions of the British state may at times be motivated more by an desire for aggrandisement, dressed up in plausible arguments, than by a purely objective concern for others well being. When this is the case, the result may be less positive than hoped for and may even result in setbacks to the national pride.

It is interesting that both wars took place during the sub-periods of Saturn, the 6th lord of conflict, which is weak being in infancy and badly placed in the 12th house, while also debilitated and badly placed in the 12th house of the Navamsa chart. The 12th house rules losses, foreign things and far away places. The 12th lord Sun at 19° Sagittarius where it is in the most effective point (MEP) of the 4th house of land and in aspect to the 10th house of international standing is suggestive of the foreign reach of empire but also of the dramatic losses of the same. The first Boer War took place during the Moon-Saturn period. The second Boer War began during the Rahu-Saturn period and was concluded in the Rahu -Mercury period. The lesson here is that Saturn thus placed is not helpful for participation in conflict. Fortunately, 4th lord Jupiter is exalted and well placed at 10° 49' Cancer and 11th house, with 11th lord Moon at 28° 20' Gemini and 10th house. The UK has friends like the USA. However, the weakness of the Moon, also in view of the aspect of 12th lord Sun to the 10th house, suggests that the strength of such friendship has its limits. However, let us again turn to Rahu, as the second war took place in its major period. Interestingly, the war brought out guerrilla tactics by the Boers, to which the UK reaction was ruthless, adopting a scorched earth policy and concentration camps in order to win the war. The UK was attempting to maintain its grip on a far away country in the face of local resistance by both the Dutch colonialists and indigenous people. As for the transits, at the outbreak of the Second Boer War, transit 6th lord Saturn was exactly conjunct natal 1st lord Mercury in the 3rd house and closely conjunct transit Rahu. Transit Saturn had just completed a station at 24° Virgo while transit Rahu was about to settle into a station at 27° Virgo. While the UK won at significant cost, the gain was fleeting and the debate at home was highly divided over the methods used. For the balance of the Rahu period, Britain was free of participation in major wars, but the concerns continued. In the Jupiter period, which began well enough, the peace among the major powers was finally out in July 1914, when the first World War broke out. Again, the Saturn sub-period was operating. While, the result was not unambiguously bad for Britain, the power of the USA was in ascendancy. World War II, which broke out during the Saturn-Mars period, was more harmful to British global standing, as the Pax Americana replaced the prior Pax Britannica. 

In short, the British have a desire for importance in the world, linked to Rahu in the 7th house of their chart in aspect to their 1st lord Mercury. However, when they invariably get pulled into foreign conflict, the result is a setback to their dreams as shown by their weak 6th lord Saturn in the 12th house along with the 12th lord Sun afflicting their 4th and 10th houses. Looking ahead, the aspects during the summer of 2019, when the Rahu-Saturn period will be operating, look quite difficult for Britain.

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