Many Waters: a year of disillusionment
Waves of hype crashing against the sands of time.
Catherine Leigh Schmidt on the astrology of 2022.
Last year we saw speculative crypto culture at its most illusory. Speculation is a flavor of divination. Those who trade in speculative markets imagine themselves to see the future enough to bet on it. Jupiter, planet of expansion, is at its most imaginative in Pisces. While Neptune, the planet of modern illusion, is at its most tenuous with reality in Pisces. Imagination and speculation are to some extent tools for knowledge creation. They are also akin to hype.
Perhaps knowledge of the future should be God’s alone. Perhaps we are not meant to predict. To the general public, astrology is synonymous with prediction — why else learn it?
I take an expansive view of divination. Divination is a form of reading: reading elements of the material world in order to access the word of the divine. Astrology is a form of divination practiced by humankind since the advent of timekeeping. The meaning of its symbols — the zodiac, the planets — mutate and reformat themselves according to the needs of the current age.
The divine word, or, phrased differently, the truth, is not subject to time in the same way our bodies are. Truth is unchanging, not subject to the entropy of time. We arrive to the future-telling potential of divination through the collapse of time that happens in the presence of truth.
But my astrology is a historian’s. I read the past with a symbolic language to better understand the present. I read the present to understand the future. I recognize the historian’s work as central to the collective imagination of how things are. I recognize this imagination as mutable.
Reading the past is less in-demand than predicting the future. Last year I wrote my first astrological forecast. This year, in an act of astrological archeology that probably has something to do with Mercury’s retrograde in Capricorn, I’ll review what actually happened.
Arguably the astrological highlight of 2022, and the aspect I focused on in my forecast for the year, was the conjunction between Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces that happened on April 12. I waxed about the power of love. I named-dropped Jesus. I focused on trends in crypto, online life, and the adoption of the aesthetics of magic by tech nerds.
While Jupiter and Neptune intersect about every twelve years, the next time this aspect will happen in both planets’ “home sign” of Pisces is a century and a half from now. Also, if there’s a single word to describe this planetary configuration, it’s “spiritual.” I’d have to be a pretty shoddy astrologer to leave that stone unturned.
Another word to describe this celestial event might be “illusory.” While I talked a bit about a reality check for crypto-utopianism, I stopped short of predicting a crypto market crash. In retrospect, I’m not sure I wanted to believe the market would dry up — one on whose hype-waves I was grifting. Astrologically, I doubt there’s any way that crypto would have survived the eclipses of 2022.
The eclipses of 2022 were nothing if not revelatory. Last year’s eclipses were in Taurus and Scorpio, an archetypal pair that might correspond to “life and death” or “visible and hidden” or “above and below ground.”
A market dip is also called an “adjustment” — the price of say, Ethereum, changes to reflect the collective understanding of its value. If buyers lose faith in the currency, perhaps because of a scandal or a hack, its value will dip. Its value adjusts to reflect new information, or a revelation.
Uranus was in earthy Taurus last year floating in and out of a square with Saturn in utopian Aquarius, a configuration to criticize our organization of the planet’s resources. I look to Uranus, planet of “enlightenment,” for stories about technology. While in Taurus, the sign of material provision, Uranus suggests the digitization of money. Uranus’ position put it in range of last years’ eclipses.
We saw several upsets in the crypto world around the eclipses of 2022. The most illustrative was the crash of an exchange called FTX directly following a solar eclipse on the 25th of October at 2º Scorpio. Revelations about the company’s under-the-table financing of a trading firm called Alameda Research caused the company’s value to plummet. In the wake of FTX’s demise, the value of crytpo currencies as a whole took a hit.
Many crypto projects are born from ideals — perhaps because the tech world is the most eager to believe its own bullshit. And who can blame them, as neoliberal governments all over the world paint the industry as a panacea. We entrust engineer-philanthropists like Bill Gates with eradicating disease. The architects of FTX and Alameda Research also imagined themselves as engineer-philanthropists — ones with very high risk tolerance. There is another timeline in which the shady dealings between FTX and Alameda were never discovered, and billions of dollars were donated to fix the world.
The point is, under those stars it was easier than ever to believe the hype. Buyers of NFTs wanted to believe that they were supporting artists. Members of DAOs — Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, or crypto co-ops — wanted to believe they were creating supportive communities instead of ponzi schemes. It all relied on a lot of marketing, a lot of hype, a lot of grift.
The hype winds have shifted from crypto to AI. On twitter the web3 people poke fun of AI people and enjoy their break from being the subject of the mainstream tech conversation. The truth is, there’s a lot to be done about the organization and digitization of resources and markets — Uranus is still in Taurus until 2026. The computing resources required to integrate AI into “workflows” are materially significant. A server farm is a building on land on earth, and the metals required for microchips still are dug up out of the ground (often under violent circumstances). I imagine Jupiter’s ingress into Taurus and sign-based conjunction with Uranus this year might shed continued light on the material aspect of technology.
In 2023 Saturn changes sign from Aquarius to Pisces. This moves it out of range of the difficult, if only sign-based, square with Uranus in Taurus, which suggests that the constraints and criticisms of the crypto market might be less harsh. Perhaps it will be a better year to gamble on crypto if you’re into that sort of thing.
Finally, this year Jupiter in Taurus makes a sextile to Neptune, which is still in Pisces (a period which began in 2011 and will end in 2025). This helpful aspect should aid in making the illusion real — great astrology for setting up your VR rig. Too, both Pisces and Taurus have a special relationship to Venus. Maybe the internet will become beautiful again.
— Catherine Leigh Schmidt