Three words and a browser: For What It’s Worth

On July 24, while watering the garden and daydreaming about the much anticipated Mars at perigee during the total lunar eclipse, a small crouching tiger interrupted my reverie. I imagined the orange fur ball as the embodiment of Mars retrograde, poised for action, exquisitely vigilant, perfectly still.  In the confines of the small garden, he seemed to have things under control, in stark contrast to the big human cats making headlines in our unsettled world. A shiver went up my spine upon remembering a rabbit in a similar pose some years ago, seconds before he’d been ravished by a raptor.

My thoughts shifted to the prey and predator archetypes. Are they not the yin-yang of the same neural currency? A rush of adrenaline happens no matter which side of the coin is experienced. If observing a house cat sitting in wait was enough to trigger an adrenaline response in me, what massive quantities of stress hormones are being generated in our collective experience on an average day in 2018? What is the steady dose of threatening news doing to our nervous systems? A valid question during Mars Rx (fight-flight response) in Aquarius (nervous system), I think.

Continuing to eavesdrop on the cat, I allowed myself to wonder who or what else might be out there watching us, watching me? Then my gateway drug kicked in.

Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep

It starts when you’re always afraid

You step out of line, the man come and take you away

When music suddenly appears on my thought waves, I’ve learned to surf the line to see where it takes me.

Watering the final corner of the garden, I ruminated on the dark hidey-holes of corruption currently being exposed in the media, and how paranoia has wormed its way into the collective consciousness, no matter where on the political spectrum we sit. Enough!

Meanwhile, halfway across the US, the President was feeding this paranoia at a convention in Kansas City, telling 4000 veterans of foreign wars not to trust the media, and even worse, not to trust themselves:

“Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,”

[Trump pointed at reporters. The crowd boos.]

“Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading

is not what’s happening.”

Indeed, paranoia does strike deep, very deep. I promise to return to this Orwellian wormhole, as it deserves attention. For now there’s research awaiting about a protest song.

Off went the garden faucet and into the house I strode singing that damn protest song from start to finish, determined to learn its significance. Hey Google?!

With three words and a browser I was back in 1966, revisiting the cosmic tension of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo, which brought into excruciatingly sharp focus the uncomfortable realities then facing the planet.

I was 12 that year. My country was bombing the hell out of North Vietnam. FBI agents had come to our kitchen door looking for a neighbor boy who’d gone AWOL. [He was later found dead a few states away.] Kids avoiding the draft were crossing US borders like rats leaving a sinking ship; outrage erupted on college campuses and in cities here and abroad. 1966 was the year civil rights icon, Martin Luther King, Jr. brought his non-violent message to Chicago and was stoned for calling attention to the economic exploitation of African Americans in the North. It was an abysmal summer for black communities in the Midwest, as racial violence plagued Cleveland, Omaha and Chicago. Miniskirts had arrived on the fashion scene and Janis Joplin was making her way to Haight-Ashbury. Across the Bay in Oakland, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale launched the Black Panther Party, while up the road in Sacramento, Cal lawmakers criminalized LSD. It was a volatile and polarized time.

Backlash (Saturn) against (opposed) new visions for social transformation (Uranus-Pluto) arrived with the November 8, mid-term election. Democrats lost three seats in the US Senate and 47 seats in the House. Three future US Presidents, Ronald Reagan, Spiro Agnew and George H.W. Bush, won gubernatorial and congressional seats in California, Maryland and Texas, respectively. [You doubt the importance of mid-term elections?]

A total solar eclipse [19 deg Scorpio 45’] arrived less than four days later, on November 12, at 6:26AM PST. High above Earth, rookie astronaut Buzz Aldrin took the very first space selfie, tethered outside NASA’s Gemini XII space capsule. In Hollywood, CA, 1000 young people gathered to protest the forced closure and demolition of their coffee house and music venue, Pandora’s Box. At 10pm, as the Moon joined retrograde Mercury at 29 deg Scorpio, 155 LAPD officers and 79 sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Sunset Strip nightspot in riot gear, bent on enforcing curfew for all those under 18.

Epimetheus opening fatal jar

The myth surrounding Pandora, depicted in the above 16th century engraving by Guilio Bonasone, is also worth investigating to bring astrological perspective to what was about to happen on the Sunset Strip. For now, let this popular definition of Pandora’s Box and etymology of curfew fill in the blanks.

Even before we consider an event chart, we have sufficient data to suspect that things outside Pandora’s Box would get out of hand that eclipse night. The first of The Sunset Strip Curfew Riots, a.k.a. the Hippie riots, was witnessed by folk singer-songwriter-musician, Stephen Stills, who later said,

Riot is a ridiculous name. It was a funeral for Pandora’s Box, but it looked like a revolution.

Stills went home that night and wrote the song. Yes, THE SONG that found its way into my head while watering the garden a few weeks ago, and into the collective mind of late sixties.

Stephen Stills’ natal chart, birth time 12:15am, with Jupiter on the ASC in earthy Virgo conjunct Chiron-Neptune in Libra, shows a nature and peace-loving artist type, invested in his career and its relationships (square to Saturn in Cancer in 10th). Stills was born ten days before a solar eclipse at 23 deg CAP, coincidentally the degree of my north node. His band may have been another family (Capricorn Sun – 4th house) as Stills moved a lot during childhood (Mercury-Mars in Sagittarius on the IC). The spontaneous, high energy natal Mercury-Mars square Jupiter aspect would override any reservations about performing professionally with his idealistic tribe of outlier friends (Venus in AQ – 5th). The Venus-Jupiter quincunx speaks of the extraordinary physical demands of performing; his Virgo Moon- 12th would need a peaceful environment to regroup away from the public (square Uranus) as well as space to dream up new material for songs (Moon-Saturn).

The Hippie Riot Event Chart set for 10pm has: 1) angles in fixed and cardinal fire and air signs, placing an emphasis on action and communication with a my way or the highway flavor; 2) Jupiter’s big personality on the Ascendant in drama prone Leo, in the 12th house of law enforcement, suggesting an exaggerated police response; 3) a stellium in Scorpio, exuding depth of feeling and pent up emotion, intercepted in the 4th house (home, safe place, and in mundane astrology– the opposition party) representing the youth faced with the loss of their hangout,  4) the opposition between Taurus North Node in the 10th house and the SC stellium, represent the Strip’s business leaders who argued that the kids were noisy, caused traffic jams, and were bad for business; and 5) Mars-Pluto-Uranus opposing Saturn along the 2nd-8th house axis, showing the clash of values and generation gap involved in the forced closure of Pandora’s Box.

The compound chart shows how the first “Hippie Riot” (outer layer) affected Stephen Stills (inner layer). We know Stills wrote the song upon returning home after the riot to the seclusion of Topanga Canyon where he could process the event’s intensity (riot chart’s Mars-Pluto-Uranus activating his 12th house Moon). It was supposed to have been be a funeral, after all. Writing the song was cathartic, giving voice to a message that had been neither heard nor understood (riot chart’s Mars-Pluto-Uranus square Still’s 3rd house Mercury)  (riot chart’s SC stellium activating Still’s 2nd -3rd houses). Stills was Messenger (riot chart’s Moon-Mercury on Still’s 3rd house). The song’s recording led to his rise in popularity (riot chart’s Jupiter in Leo activating his 11th house).

In Mercury retrograde fashion, the song got its name when Stills approached a record company executive saying:

I have this song here, for what it’s worth, if you want it.

For What It’s Worth was recorded as a single in early December. Buffalo Springfield performed it live for the first time on Christmas Day at Pandora’s Box as a funeral tribute. In no time, it reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and quickly morphed into a peace, love, and anti-war anthem, instead of a song about the youth’s right to party and peacefully assemble, as was Stills’ intention. Oh Mercury Retrograde, you are indeed a trickster.

For What It Is Worth

There’s something happening here

What it is ain’t exactly clear

There’s a man with a gun over there

Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn

Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

Young people speaking their minds

Getting so much resistance from behind

It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

What a field-day for the heat

A thousand people in the street

Singing songs and carrying signs

Mostly say, hooray for our side

It’s s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep

It starts when you’re always afraid

You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Stop, now, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Stop, children, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Fast forward to 2018. Mars Rx’s cosmic tour of duty in Aquarius, kissing the south node, has been a powerful reminder that sometimes we must revisit the past before we can move forward into the future. Thanks to the orange fur ball I had the opportunity to return to 1966, and particularly to the night of November 12, 1966, when the contents of Pandora’s Box were symbolically spilled. The same social and political issues linger unresolved 50+ years later. We can’t wait another 50 to address the forces in our hearts and minds that isolate, divide, and throw our lives into chaos.

Let’s lift the curfew from our creative inner fire. Pandora’s myth reminds us that there is still HOPE left in the Box.

[Heartfelt thanks to Pat Liles for venturing into the ghost lands of cyberspace to retrieve my post. True friend!]


Published by Mary Louise

Consulting Astrologer. Call +1.603.630.6282 or email:

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