The Astrological Karma of the U.S.A.
Foreword to the 2nd Edition
“The teacher appears when the student is ready.” Such was the case on a cold January night in 1993, when I met Steffan Vanel for the first time. I responded to a newspaper ad — something I almost never do — concerning a lecture he was giving in Atlanta on the Kabbalistic approach to the Tarot. Frankly, I was in over my head, as I didn’t even know what “Kabbalistic” meant, let alone how to spell the word. And up until that point, I think the only time I had seen a Tarot deck was in a James Bond film. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to attend.
Thinking back, I was struck by Steffan’s low-keyed demeanor, which was in sharp contrast to his thin frame and crisp features. Moreover, there was an underlying wisdom in his voice, a knowingness. It was almost as if he emanated from another place, another time, maybe another world. I impulsively booked a private reading with him two days later. It turned out to be a prophetic, snowy Sunday morning that changed my life. Figuratively speaking, Steffan “took me to church.” He offered a glimpse of myself I hadn’t seen before. At the risk of sounding cliché, it was both exciting and scary at the same time. I guess you could say I was reborn during the winter of my discontent.
More than 10 years and countless readings later, Steffan continues to play a major role in my life. He is not only a gifted Astrologer, but also my spiritual advisor. My teacher. My friend. His insight has navigated me through many of life’s winding roads, including difficult relationships and rocky career changes. Most importantly, Steffan has been a guiding force in my marriage. The fact I’ve been happily wedded for five years and have a two-year-old daughter is a testament to his good counsel. No wonder my wife, who’s known Steffan almost as long as I, considers him family. When embarking on a difficult decision, we think of his insight as a kind of Astrological AmEx card: “We don’t leave home without it.”
Much of Steffan’s popularity rests in the fact he is in the world but not of it. A product of the Sixties counterculture movement, he has since circled the globe relentlessly, studying, sharing, and honing his gifts. Steffan’s deep understanding of and compassion for all peoples has allowed him to amass a diverse international clientele. At the heart of his work is a two-fold approach to Astrological interpretation — Jungian psychological thought coupled with channeled insights from the Ascended Master Hilarion — that seems to speak to multiple generations, be they Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers.
This delicate interplay between science and metaphysics has a strong spiritual component. Steffan will be the first to admit he’s not a psychic, at least, not in the popular sense. He’s a guide, motivated not by profit or instilling fear, but by a sense of compassion and unconditional love. What separates Steffan from many Astrologers is that he prefers to not predict the future. Instead, he uses one’s birthchart to look at the big picture: the general lessons and experiences one has agreed to take on during this lifetime. Like Hilarion, Steffan believes the only good prophet is a false prophet, one whose warnings have so impressed his/her listeners that they alter their lives for the better, thus averting what has been foreseen.
Hence, this book is not as much about specific prophecies as it is about the big picture. It was originally inspired by a lecture given Sept. 12, 2001, in Eugene, Oregon, for which Steffan, at the last minute, created an Astrological birthchart for the United States. The purpose of it was to examine the significance of the previous day’s events through the language of Astrology. Just as an Astrologer can compose a birthchart for a person, he/she can do the same for any entity, such as a business or nation. For the next six months, Steffan launched into a deep exploration of the soul and psyche of the United States, resulting in the first edition of this book.
Steffan has since spent the better part of the last two years working on this second edition. In addition to improving the layout and design, he has added new chapters about President Bush and presidential candidate John Kerry, the end of the Mayan Calendar, conspiracy theory, and the purpose of existence. The result is what you see here: a compelling statement, exploring the lessons, challenges, and possible destiny of one of the greatest nations in the world.
Drawing mainly on the U.S. birthchart, Steffan opens the book by examining 9/11, which he refers to as a “Plutonian wake-up call.” He pinpoints, with scientific clarity, how a series of transits in 2000 between Pluto (the bringer of change) and affecting the U.S.’ Sagittarian Ascendant (governing self-image and personality), not only triggered Bush’s rise to power, but also set the stage for a “fated uncertainty.” The real question following 9/11, he asks, is whether the United States will be stirred into the “right kind” of action or allow itself to be lulled back to ignorance and disillusionment. The answer lies not as much in the heavens, but in Americans’ willingness to work with, not against, Pluto’s beneficial energies.
From there, Steffan turns the clock back some 225 years and plunges into an in-depth analysis of American history. Considerable attention is paid to what he labels the three sources of U.S. Astrological tension: the Saturn/Jupiter square, personified by an ongoing resentment of authority, played out in such events as the Revolutionary and Civil wars; the Pluto/Mercury opposition, whose tension has resulted in much “fuzzy thinking” about sexuality, wealth, and money, spurring everything from slavery and the Great Depression to heated debate over AIDS, homosexuality, and abortion; and the Mars/Neptune square, whose victim/victimizer and “first-we-hate-them-then-we-love-them” themes persist in everything from McCarthyism and the Cold War to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. In particular, Pluto’s opposition to Mars and square to Neptune between now and 2006 will be a time of great tests and trials, not unlike what occurred in the Sixties.
As Steffan explains, the main purpose of Astrology is to investigate the various relationships, or tensions, between planets in a birthchart and explain their influences. This kind of information, while seemingly negative and disturbing, yields tremendous power and responsibility. Only when these tensions are healed and integrated within one’s self or one’s nation does true growth occur. It’s this dynamism and drama, he writes, that forces people to grow and, ultimately, operate from a higher perspective.
Fortunately, the world is blessed with angels like Steffan to help lead the way.
- Rob Enslin