Standing Rock at the Precipice: The Astrology of NODAPL

Dakota Access Pipeline protest site near Cannonball, ND August 15, 2016; photo by Shane Balkowitsch via Wikimedia Commons. 

Dakota Access Pipeline protest site near Cannonball, ND August 15, 2016; photo by Shane Balkowitsch via Wikimedia Commons. 

You’ve likely heard about the ongoing protests against the construction of an oil pipeline on unceded territory of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota. It all began on April 1, 2016 when dozens of tribal members from various nations rode on horseback to set up camp near the construction site--the portion of pipeline that was to be placed beneath Lake Oahe which connects to the Missouri River. It is the only source of clean water for the people of Standing Rock as well as many other indigenous groups. It equally supplies water for 18 million people downstream. The protesters, who call themselves water protectors, traveled to the site to peacefully protest and pray to the land in which their ancestors are buried. They feel that this pipeline not only threatens this vital water source but also violates treaties made between the U.S. government and the Sioux nation, infringing upon sacred burial grounds and historically significant sites. 

“They’re going under the river 500 yards from my son’s grave, my father’s grave, my aunt who I buried last week. I really love my land, and if that pipeline breaks everything is gone,” Ladonna Allard, a member of the Standing Rock, told the Guardian. Oil pipelines are notorious for leaks causing massive environmental contamination and requiring large scale clean-up operations. Like the Keystone XL pipeline, the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has been subject to ongoing delays due to fierce opposition from protesters and environmental groups. However, unlike Keystone XL, DAPL doesn’t cross the Canadian border and is not considered a federal project. It’s privately funded and its construction is subject to approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). 

On Dec. 4 2016, the USACE denied an easement for the texas-based subsidy of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline construction. This proved to be a short lived victory for the water protectors and many felt it was a distraction intended to remove the No Dakota Access Pipeline (NODAPL) protests from the media. There was already very little coverage of the story by the mainstream press and, for the most part, complete silence from politicians before and after the 2016 election. Coverage of the DAPL protests has derived entirely from alternative media outlets and activist groups. As expected, shortly after his inauguration, President Donald Trump issued an executive memorandum expediting the completion of DAPL. As of this writing, on Feb. 7,  the USACE has stated their intention to now grant an easement which will give Energy Transfer Partners permission to continue construction beneath Lake Oahu. 

Lake Oahe; image by Doc Searls via Wikimedia Commons.

Lake Oahe; image by Doc Searls via Wikimedia Commons.

The camp at Standing Rock grew into the thousands over several months since the water protectors arrived in April 2016. Tribal nations across the U.S. and the world have joined forces to fight DAPL. Many non-native people also came to Standing Rock to show support and protest peacefully, including thousands of U.S. veterans who arrived just as the easement was denied back in Dec. 2016. Activists across the country held protests, demonstrations, and marches to voice their opposition to DAPL. The water protectors’ primary plea is for the pipeline to be rerouted from its present course so that it doesn’t threaten their sacred sites and source of clean water. In fact, the pipeline was already rerouted from its previous course just north of Bismarck, a highly populated city which, according to a 2010 census, is 92.4 percent white. 

The ongoing fight at Standing Rock is not only an environmental justice issue, but one involving racial and class discrimination. American History is tainted with stains of genocide and relentless oppression against Native Americans and many other ethnic minorities. The residents of Bismarck, just like the people at Standing Rock, opposed the construction of this oil pipeline that could potentially cause massive environmental harm. Yet unlike Bismarck, the voices at Standing Rock have only been faintly heard by Energy Transfer Partners and the USACE. It would seem that it’s far easier to exploit a subjugated minority group (who suffer a 63 percent unemployment rate) than the residents of Bismarck. 

Energy Transfer Partners has gone as far as hiring police from various departments throughout North Dakota to protect their pipeline. These militarized police forces have, in the name of defending corporate interests, inflicted harm upon American citizens, the very people they are supposed to protect. This abuse of power is one of the most egregious examples of the corruption that has infected the heart of corporate and governmental relations in America today. Attack dogs, tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and water cannons (in freezing temperatures) have been unleashed on the water protectors. They’ve been harassed, arrested (even kept in dog kennels), and overall treated as criminals on their own sacred land. 

People marching to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline near San Francisco City Hall; photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen. By Pax Ahimsa Gethen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

People marching to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline near San Francisco City Hall; photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen. By Pax Ahimsa Gethen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, this is nothing new for the native people of the U.S. American history is filled with the gruesome assault on native people. And yet, so many, including many of our elected (and supposedly “progressive”) officials, have remained silent about the injustices that are happening at Standing Rock. I’ve been following this story since the summer of 2016, yet just recently thought of looking into the astrology. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact time for the construction of the chart that would symbolize the fight at Standing Rock. April 1 is really the symbolic day that it all began. That morning, tribal members left on horseback to travel to a camp near the site. After some research and slight rectification (a method of testing a chart against various dates to adjust the time), I came up with April 1, 2016 @ 1:04 PM, Cannonball, ND, around the time they arrived according to video tweets from Unicorn Riot. We could also theoretically look at a time when they departed. Yet, this chart seemed a better fit than earlier variations as you’ll soon see.

I rectified the chart to 1:04 PM after looking for significant angular activation on days of critical developments (planets hitting the Ascendent, Nadir, Descendent, or Midheaven). For example, on Dec. 4, the date that the USACE denied Energy Transfer Partners an easement, Jupiter was conjunct the Nadir (fourth house cusp) trine the transiting Moon conjunct Mars. Venus was conjunct the radix Moon in the 6th house and sextile the radix Venus in the 9th. The transiting Sun was also exactly trine the radix Sun in the 9th. The secondary progressed Moon was conjunct the Descendant (seventh house cusp). These were all rather “positive” aspects. With stimulation from both classical “benefics”, Jupiter and Venus, and a nice trine from Sun to radix Sun, this indicated the symbols of a celebration which the water protectors certainly indulged in that day.

Taking this chart to be merely symbolic of the fight at Standing Rock, let’s see what it has to say. I will look at this chart from a classical approach and then interpret it from an evolutionary lens. To begin, the chart has tropical Leo rising. I adjusted the Ascendant (ASC) to 4 degrees of Leo which gave a sabian symbol of, “Rock formations at the edge of a precipice.” Interestingly, the opposite symbol, on the Descendent (DSC) is, “A council of ancestors.” This was immediately intriguing to me. With Leo rising, the ruler of the chart is the Sun, which is elevated in the 9th house and exalted in Aries. This gives the ruler of the chart, and thus the water protectors themselves, a tremendous advantage and considerable power and influence. 

 

The Sun is free of affliction from any malefic planets though it does receive a trine from Saturn which is actually quite supportive. The only trouble with this chart is the Moon. The Moon is in detriment in Capricorn and it’s void of course. On April 1 of that day, the Moon went void of course at 11:39 AM. Could the Sun’s exaltation overpower this negative omen from the Moon? When the Moon is void of course, it means that “nothing will come of the matter” or “the situation is out of your hands.” Let’s imagine that the Moon, the fastest moving planet, carries out our wishes and expectations. The Moon helps us manifest the things we desire which emanate from the unconscious, emotional terrain within the psyche. When the Moon is void, she is of no help to us. She cannot make use of our will or desires at these times. Now, considering that we don’t exactly know the official start of the fight at Standing Rock, and that the water protectors actually left for their trip to the protest site on horseback before the Moon went void, this may not have the greatest power over the will of the water protectors.

Yet, if it does, it may have much to say about the realistic result of the peaceful protest itself. Meaning, it’s possible that this fight, the ultimate rerouting of the pipeline, may be “out of the hands” of the water protectors. But that Sun is powerful! In Aries, it shows a group of people who are ready for battle. Aries is the warrior, the trailblazer, and the daredevil. There are three planets in Aries. Both Mercury and Uranus are conjunct each other and the Midheaven (MC) in the 10th house in Aries. This reveals the public persona that this group will create for themselves: those who are vocally opposed (Mercury) to the pipeline, willing to fight (Aries) and rebel (Uranus) against any authority (10th house) to the bitter end. Uranus and Mercury on the MC in Aries gives Standing Rock a powerful voice to spread a message publically about the injustices they face. 

With the Sun exalted in Aries and also conjunct the MC with Mercury and Uranus, this reveals a group of radical warriors willing to withstand and face any challenge. From the evolutionary perspective, the emphasis in Aries shows that the water protectors are destined to face tremendous stress and opposition. While the Sun is exalted, its placement in Aries foreshadows that this is a fight that will strengthen their group identity. Aries tells us that they must face some serious fears and cultivate immense bravery to carry this mission out. When Aries is highlighted, there is an element of risk, thrill, and considerable stress involved--all elements we have seen manifest at Standing Rock. 

The chart with transits on Dec. 4, 2016 when the U.S. Army Corps denied easement requiring an environmental impact study before further construction. This has now been revoked and DAPL has been granted easement. Note Jupiter on the IC with three more passes to go. 

The chart with transits on Dec. 4, 2016 when the U.S. Army Corps denied easement requiring an environmental impact study before further construction. This has now been revoked and DAPL has been granted easement. Note Jupiter on the IC with three more passes to go. 

The Sun in the 9th house in Aries paints the picture of true spiritual warriors that are fighting and defending their religion and beliefs. Interestingly, while the 9th house has a correlation with “foreign travel”, the very people who first settled on these lands are perceived by the rest of us as foreigners. Their customs, traditions, and way of life seem alien to westernized Americans, which they have fought to preserve against all odds. This strong Arian energy is something that the indigenous Americans have had to cultivate merely as a means of survival. The Moon in Capricorn reveals much about the group soul. In the 6th house, there is a deep concern about survival and the preservation of their daily life (6th house). 

Capricorn is concerned about the future and planning ahead. The emotional impetus of NODAPL is exactly that. The Moon is their home, their sacred land. In Capricorn, we feel a sense of urgency within these people driven by the fear of the dangers within the environment. The Moon is very widely conjunct Pluto (by over 9 degrees). Pluto has been in Capricorn since 2008, which began with the Global Financial Crises that shed light on the corruption of big banks and the government’s inability to hold them accountable. Many big banks have in fact invested in the pipeline. Pluto in Capricorn in the 6th house reveals a threat to survival and personal and environmental health. The Moon’s close proximity reveals the core emotional and karmic reasons for this standoff. Pluto also makes a square to the Sun (ruler of the chart), the MC, Mercury and Uranus. This further reveals a conflict that the water protectors (Sun in Aries 9th) must face and the hardship they will endure from the corruption of a big and powerful entity. 

Pluto is certainly a worthy opponent for this exalted Sun in Aries. The ultimate mission of these water protectors is highly thwarted by Pluto. This reveals that a compromise will likely be made, because in a square, neither side will back down. This tells us that the fight at Standing Rock is one that, even despite any “official” decision, will continue for some time. Looking at the South Node of the Moon, the core of any evolutionary reading, we see it in Pisces in the 9th house conjunct Chiron, Ceres, and Venus. The ruler of the South Node, Neptune, is in Pisces in the 8th house. This is all rather telling. As we know, Native Americans have been the victims of mass genocide for hundreds of years. Chiron conjunct the South Node reveals a deep, karmic wound of dissipation and loss of identity (Pisces) at the hands of foreigners (9th house). 

Neptune in Pisces in the 8th, the house of death, reveals a dark history of the native people facing the constant threat of annihilation. The South Node in Pisces has the feel of a ghost, unseen and unnoticed. Deeply buried in the karmic past, we see a people who feel unheard and forgotten. We see the soul of a nation that has seen the darkest side of humanity. With Venus and Ceres conjunct the South Node as well, we see that they have been able to band together and maintain a strong bond upholding their beliefs and customs. Yet, Chiron reveals the reality that these bonds, traditions, and way of life have succumbed to deformity and defectiveness. Ceres, the grain goddess, and its association with food and nourishment, tells of a wound related to malnutrition and poverty. We also see, quite poignantly, Pisces’ association with water. 

People marching in protest to the Dakota Access Pipeline; photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

People marching in protest to the Dakota Access Pipeline; photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Chiron speaks quite clearly to the threat of “wounded” (Chiron) water (Pisces/Neptune). The North Node of the Moon is in Virgo in the 3rd house conjunct Jupiter. It’s ruler, Mercury, is in Aries in the 10th, conjunct Uranus and the MC. From our evolutionary lens, we see that this protest, whether it succeeds in rerouting the pipeline or not, will have a greater impact on informing the world about this injustice, hopefully inspiring others to stand up against corporate and governmental corruption. The North Node in Virgo in the third house conjunct Jupiter reveals that these native groups must learn new skills and means of communication to get their message out. Many have teamed up with various legal groups to fight the pipeline in courts and to help communicate with police forces. Mercury conjunct Uranus in Aries in the 10th house urges the water protectors to continue to fight and rebel against the structures that seek to oppress them. 

Jupiter conjunct the North Node illustrates the unresolved wound within these indigenous groups of not feeling heard, noticed, or taken seriously. It also reveals the power of authority figures over them, who used a complicated foreign language (such as legalease) to oppress and dominate them. Jupiter’s presence here suggests that the water protector’s higher destiny involves taking a big risk--even risking it all, to stand up and be heard by the world. It also suggests the need to use this complicated language, previously used against them, to fight back. The presence of Jupiter may involve the need to take legal action. While many mainstream media organizations have persistently ignored the water protectors, the power of the internet and alternative media has given them a platform to be noticed (symbolized by Uranus conjunct Mercury).  

Saturn in the 5th house also makes a square to the nodal axis. This symbolizes a karmic “skipped step”, something that was left unresolved in the past but must now be integrated. Saturn has clear associations with authority figures and government. In Sagittarius, it relates to the further wounding and violence perpetrated upon these people by the ideologies and beliefs of European immigrants. A square is an overpowering influence, one which the ancestors of the water protectors couldn’t resolve previously. It speaks to past patterns of enduring daunting challenges that leave the karmic memory with a sense of futility and depression. The way to resolve it now is to persist against all opposition and accomplish something great. Saturn in the 5th house symbolizes a wound inflicted upon children and future generations, and the need to make a dramatic statement to preserve their traditions and spiritual beliefs. 

The chart with transits in mid April 2O17 with Jupiter's second pass to the IC. 

The chart with transits in mid April 2O17 with Jupiter's second pass to the IC. 

Looking ahead, it seems that Jupiter’s recent retrograde may give some support. All hope is not yet lost. Jupiter is set to conjunct the IC again in mid April 2017 in its retrograde phase (assuming this chart is radical and has predictive value). Just as it did in Dec. 2016, this Jupiter contact could indicate another victory for the water protectors, or another construction delay of some kind (considering Jupiter’s retrograde motion). Jupiter will station one degree from opposition to the radix Sun at 13 degrees of Libra from May to early June of 2017. It will hit the IC one last time in early August 2017, and so perhaps, if the God of good fortune smiles upon the bold efforts of the indigenous warriors, some good news or compromise will come. Early August looks potentially promising, with the Sun, then in Leo, making a trine to its radix position as it did from Sagittarius in Dec. 2016. The Sun will be joined by Mars in the first house of this chart, giving great willpower and new direction to the water protectors.

Venus turns stationary retrograde in early March conjunct the radix Sun near the MC. It then turns stationary direct in mid April while conjunct the radix Venus. Mercury also turns retrograde shortly after, and then stations direct in early May conjunct the radix Mercury/Uranus in the 10th. It’s hard to say if all of this retrograde activity is positive or not. Hitting major placements in the chart, we can see some definite significant happenings taking place with the fight against DAPL. With the symbolism of retrogrades, we can anticipate a delay; some lengthy chain of events that drags out the battle. It’s likely, considering the circumstances, that this may involve legal proceedings at this point. When the easement was denied in Dec. 2016, Mercury was in the shadow of its retrograde, one week before its station near the radix Pluto in the 6th. Thus, we can expect these events to manifest from March through perhaps mid May with a definite highlight around mid April. We can only hope that Jupiter’s retrograde cycle brings a solution or compromise (Jupiter in Libra) which will likely occur in the August time frame. 

The protest at Standing Rock also coincides with the opposition of Jupiter and Uranus. The cycle of Jupiter and Uranus historically correlates with periods political and cultural upheaval, leading to widespread demonstrations, marches, and protests worldwide. The last phase of the Jupiter/Uranus cycle peaked in the summer of 2010, during the height of the Occupy Wallstreet movement and the Arab Spring uprisings in the middle east. This next opposition phase will be active through the end of 2018 using wide planetary orbs. With this in mind, it’s quite likely that the battle for this sacred land is not over yet, and we’re likely to see more opposition against similar projects in the very near future. 

As I briefly mentioned above, the sabian symbol for the rising degree is, “Rock formations at the edge of a precipice.” Not only does this symbol allude to Standing Rock, the tribe whose land is being directly violated by Energy Transfer Partners, but it speaks to a profound truth about the indigenous people of the United States. They and the legacy of their ancestors, are indeed like these symbolic rock formations, ancient and yet still standing tall at the edge of a precipice. Yet despite the uncertainty of the moment, sitting on the edge of a cliff, they persist, defying all the forces that seek to take them down. They are a people whose way of life is on the verge of extinction. If we care at all about those who first nurtured and cared for this land, then we must too stand with Standing Rock. We must stand at the precipice with them and fight for the injustice that has been inflicted upon them. It is the destiny of the water protectors to fight, that much is clear, and it is their destiny to be heard. 

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The fight at Standing Rock is not over. Cheyenne River Sioux and Standing Rock Sioux have filed a lawsuit as of Feb. 9, 2017 in response to the USACE granting easement. There is another legal challenge to the Dakota Access Pipeline organized by Revolution Truth, a grassroots-based, human rights organization dedicated to protecting democratic principles and civil liberties. They are in need of funding to bring the case. 

Visit their gofundme page here
Revolution Truth website
RT interview with Tangerine Bolen

Here are some other ways you can support Standing Rock. Many need help with legal fees and cleanup costs....

Donate directly to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund

Lakota People's Law Project

Rise With Standing Rock

NODAPL 2017 Action Hub

Further Reading

The Treaties of Fort Laramie

Standing Rock Reservation

Declaration On The Rights of Indigenous People

United Nations Document on DRIP