Chernobyl: Witnesses, Far and Near

Editor’s note: this piece was written in Brussels for the April 27, 2007 subscriber edition. We are running it today as part of our commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. This article includes a chart for the event.

Photo by Elena Filatova

I can relate to Chernobyl because I have seen so much environmental damage in the United States. Chernobyl was and is a lot worse, but it never seemed like someplace else, or something we were exempt from elsewhere.

Among these disasters I am most familiar with is the Love Canal area of Niagara Falls, a neighborhood where 700 homes were contaminated with dioxin. There, on the site of the 99th Street School, is a grass-covered clay cap that buries the schoolyard, and the toxic waste dump directly beneath it, three-quarters of the way to the tops of utility poles. They poke up a few feet and follow the line of a long-forgotten street.

Seeing that for the first time one afternoon, I witnessed the tragedy of civilization. It was like finding the Statue of Liberty’s torch sticking up out of the ground. No place is exempt. This is both frightening and reassuring; we’re all in this environmental game together.

Chernobyl happened in the Ukraine. When I was a kid, my best friend Eric Olynik’s family was Ukrainian, so the place was always real to me; I had heard of it, and knew stories from there, and had a feeling for the people: proud, down-to-earth and bold. At the time the Ukraine was part of the USSR, but Ukrainians always made the point that it was its own country. Today, production on Planet Waves occurs in the Ukraine because that is the home of our webmaster, Anatoly Ryzhenko.

Before Chernobyl, I knew about nuclear power because my father worked in the industry as a public relations and communications consultant. He came in shortly after Three Mile Island and was part of the team that helped clean up the PR disaster that the partial meltdown in Harrisburg, PA, created.

I became suspicious then, but was listening carefully to both sides of the issue. Somewhere there is a photo of me in a radiation suit inside the containment building of what was then called Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant near Peekskill, NY, where with my dad I was given the VIP facility tour one day. Over my shoulder was a radiation warning sign. The previous person to get the big tour was Jimmy Carter, a week earlier. The place is controversial because it’s located within one of the most concentrated population centers of the world. Nuclear engineers have a knack for a ridiculous lack of foresight, and for making some serious mistakes.

From what I knew about nuclear power, Chernobyl seemed like a setup; like an accident waiting to happen. Proponents of nuclear power always say never; it’s never going to happen. It’s convenient to believe them.

At the time, in the spring of 1986, it hit me in the stomach. Coming at a crucial point of reorienting my life, I knew at that moment it was my destiny to be involved with environmental issues. I just did not know what or when, but I was radicalized.

I was living in Buffalo at the time, and as the disaster spread, I was in bed for a week, unable to process much of reality. If I was not actually taking a significant enough dose of radiation to knock me down like that (we all took at least a small dose), I was taking it energetically, and I could barely communicate my feelings. The whole experience was psychic and emotional rather than cognitive. I was in the midst of my Chiron first square, and this was one of about five different factors, all of about equal force, that made the spring of 1986 a point of no return.

Photo by Elena Filatova

We did not have television where I lived, in the Generation house at 54 Vernon Place. I was spared the visions that I can now see in these photos from the dead zone. Here, you will meet a young woman named Elena Filatova, who travels the area around Chernobyl taking photos of the ghost cities and towns, describing what she sees and experiences. She is eloquent, honest and funny. She uses all her senses. She is my sister, sending postcards back from these places without names.

“As long as we travel through the Wolves Land, we only see the shadows of a dead villages and ruined farms,” Elena writes in one photo caption. “We also see, the grass that growing aside the road, we call this grass Chernobyl, the wormwood. It has bitter taste.”

In one photo essay, she writes, “By territory Ukraine is a bit bigger than France, and in history books it was called a bread basket of Europe. It is because in Ukraine is 40% world’s supply of black earth. Soil is good here, put a stick into this soil and it will grow. Now, this bread basket flavoured with wormwood and no one want to buy food products made in Ukraine.”

In another caption she writes, “If we travel in autumn, the fruit trees will bent low asking to treat ourself to those big apples and pears, but we don’t take them.”

In one photo essay of destroyed property, she says: “The fire engines never returned in their garages, and the firemen never returned to their homes,” she writes. “The firemen were the first on the scene, and they thought it was an ordinary fire. No one told them what they were really dealing with.”

She conveys the feeling that Chernobyl happened on an ordinary spring day like today. One day you were going to work, your kids were going to school, and by that night, your life as you knew it no longer existed. You can think of Chernobyl as a radiation disaster, as a power plant burning, as brave pilots dumping sand and lead on a burning graphite fire. But you can also think of it as the delicate patterns of lives that were disrupted that day; the loss of all things familiar; the onset of change too vast and devastating to understand, but experienced personally simply as loss.

The Horoscope of Chernobyl

The Horoscope of Chernobyl

The Horoscope of Chernobyl

I did not know that a dangerous system test immediately preceded the Chernobyl disaster — that in effect, it was triggered by human action, even if unintended. According to Elena, the reactor’s defenses had been lowered, and a series of human errors and mechanical failures led first to a steam explosion, then to a fire in the graphite cooling core of the reactor. This fire spread most of the radiation around the globe, though about two-thirds went to neighboring Belarus.

Uranus is rising to the degree, symbolic of something sudden. With Sagittarius in the ascendant, we have something sudden that shocks the world, and apropos of Uranus, spreads radiation throughout the world.

Saturn is also in Sagittarius, opposite Chiron in Gemini. I get the feeling from this that it could have been a lot worse; I guess it always can. We are currently experiencing a series of Saturn-Chiron oppositions right now, which seem to reveal the weakness within a structural system.

Notice that this is an eclipse chart. There was an eclipse of the Moon two days earlier, in early Scorpio. You can tell that an eclipse is in the neighborhood because the Sun is near one of the lunar nodes. When that occurs, you always know there is an eclipse or two in the vicinity. The Moon has just opposed the Sun, which was the Scorpio Full Moon; that was a pretty potent total eclipse. You will find this in many charts associated with world turning points.

The eclipse on April 24 and the system test coincided within 24 hours. This is one of those circumstances where I think it would be good for scientists to use astrology, but of course they exist on two entirely different levels of reality. For us as people who follow astrology, it’s a good indication of why it’s better to let eclipses get out of the way before doing something dangerous, such as surgery. In any event, Chernobyl is associated with a total eclipse of the Moon in Scorpio, which is fitting enough, given how many people died, how many will die and the fear (and toxins) that were spread around the world.

Notice that the Sun is exactly opposite Pluto. So we have a double signification of radiation: Uranus in the ascendant to the degree, and the Sun opposing Pluto to the degree. Neptune is taking an exact trine from the Sun; that is because Pluto and Neptune were moving at the same speed in a 60-degree angle, the famous “transiting yod” that affected many people’s lives in those years because it meant simultaneous transits from both Neptune and Pluto — that is a lot.

Notice also that a trine is involved — Sun to Neptune. We see once again how trines open the flow of energy, and that it’s not necessarily so helpful.

This chart is best seen in the context of the Nuclear Axis chart. Most of the world’s atomic disasters occur when the important planets are in aspect to planets in the chart for the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction. That chart has many planets in early through mid Gemini and Sagittarius, including Uranus and Saturn (just like in the Chernobyl chart), as well as the Sun, Mercury and Venus.

The Moon in the Chernobyl chart (at 24+ degrees) is close to Mars of the Nuclear Axis chart (at 21+ degrees). And, notably, Neptune and the Moon in the Nuclear Axis chart are exactly opposite the Aries Point, in the first two degrees of Libra.

In recent years, we have been through many outer-planet transits to the Nuclear Axis chart, but without a serious nuclear emergency, at least not one that was made public. I consider this a miracle. We have, however, experienced a lot of nuclear politicking, threats and counter-threats, and North Korea detonating a device and China proving it could take out our space-based weapons if it wants to (praise the lord, we have a lot of them).

We did experience the Sept. 11 incident. Ominously, the scene was referred to as “ground zero,” which is an ill-omened reference to the scene of a nuclear detonation. It may well be that what we experienced as Sept. 11 was a reduced form of the same karma that gave us essentially the same message. Abused as that message is, had a nuke gone off that day, it would have been a whole other game.

The abandoned village club in Smirnovka, in the Wolves Land of the Ukraine near the Chernobyl disaster. Photo by Elena Filatova

The abandoned village club in Smirnovka, in the Wolves Land of the Ukraine near the Chernobyl disaster. Photo by Elena Filatova

Nuclear Axis Reprise: The Chernobyl Connection

This is an article  introducing the Nuclear Axis chart — the chart for the beginning of the nuclear age. The chart is for the first time scientists created a self-sustaining nuclear reaction, the kind that would be necessary for the creation of atomic bombs or their incestuous first cousin, nuclear power. The article we posted above, Chernobyl: Witnesses Near and Far, includes the chart of the explosion at the reactor. It is what you might call a classical Nuclear Axis chart, with planets piled up across the critical degrees of Gemini and Sagittarius.  I am republishing the Nuclear Axis article for astrology students who would benefit from knowing this chart exists, and what its implications are. –efc

Nuclear Axis — the chart for the first self-sustaining atomic reaction.

While we’re on the nuclear topic, this is a good time to get the conversation going about the Nuclear Axis. For more detailed background and some chart examples, check this old article I wrote for Star IQ. The Nuclear Axis chart is the chart for the first self-sustaining atomic pile, created in a secret lab under an athletic field at the University of Chicago toward the beginning of the United States’ involvement in World War II. This was part of the Manhattan project.

What we have is a chart for the Nuclear Age. It is exceedingly rare to have exact data for such a profound event in the history of humanity, particularly given that this one happened under the cloak of absolute secrecy.

The ‘axis’ part of the chart is the opposition from Gemini to Sagittarius. This is fairly easy to see: you know the glyphs for Gem and Sagg, and the planets are connected by a series of purple lines that form the axis. In Gemini we have Uranus and Saturn; in Saggitarius we have Sun, Mercury, Juno and Venus. Not shown in mid-Sagittarius is the Great Attractor, an inter-galactic point. The ominous thing about the Sagittarius alignment is that it has themes of international and death; as well as obsession, and lots of money.

Indeed, after WWII in many respects the entire economy would be based on the vast expenditures of the nuclear industry — all those bombs and airplanes and personnel and missiles that needed to be developed and countless spies and so on and on — and all the apparatus of defense that had to be erected around the nuclear arsenal: indeed the whole military industrial complex.

Now, what tends to happen is that when planets line up in the early- to mid-degrees of any mutable sign — Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces — there is a nuclear effect of some time. Like most things in astrology it’s not 100%. And it can have odd manifestations. The most intense activation of the nuclear axis came at the time of the 911 incident: Saturn was in Gemini and Pluto was in Sagittarius, splat on the axis. We had a huge false flag terrorist attack, and the crime scene was called Ground Zero, a term borrowed from the lexicon of nuclear warfare.

That was a close call and if you ask me it was a form of mitigated karma. Based on the astrology, that incident could just as easily have involved an atomic device, such as a dirty bomb. But the effect is dependable enough.

These are the planets on a 90-degree dial aligned approximately with the Mars-Borasisi conjunction. In other words these are the points that are conjunct, square or opposite the conjunction.

Minor planets in the Japan quake chart: placed on a 90-degree dial aligned approximately with the Mars-Borasisi conjunction. In other words these are the points that are conjunct, square or opposite the conjunction.

The Nuclear Axis is again getting transits. Here are the planets at the time of the quake. Now, what we see here ain’t the Saturn-Pluto conjunction — thankfully. But we do do have the involvement of several slow movers (Chaos, Borasisi, Pholus) and a quick mover: Mars. Chaos speaks for itself; were there ever an issue that qualified for the Borasisi effect of wishful thinking, that would be nukes. Nuclear power is not a technology — it’s a religion. It is addictive. By splitting the atom, people have come as close as they can to ‘playing god’, and it seems that once ‘scientists’ get into this, they never really come out of it.

Like the fictional religion from which the name Borasisi comes, nuclear power is a religion of lies. I wish that were an overstatement. There is simply nothing true about nuclear power, except that the atom is split, water is boiled and sometimes electricity is made. The truth stops right about there.

I would point out a few other features of this chart as discussion starters. One, look at the Moon-Neptune conjunction. That describes the emotional impulse of the deception involved. Note that the Noon and Neptune are in very early Libra, exactly opposite the Aries Point, suggesting the scale and size of the deception, and revealing how personal the situation really is when you look at it honestly. Any time we get a transit to the Aries Point — such as Uranus opposing that Moon right now as it has just entered Aries — we will stir up this chart.

Next, there are three bits involving centaur planets, none of which were discovered at the time of this event. First, the ascendant is the degree wherein Chiron was discovered in 1977 — 3+ Taurus. Next, there is a centaur there at the time of the event — Nessus, which is about the cycle of karma.

Next, Chiron is prominent: it’s on the North Node, like a kind of warhead. It is in the last degree of Leo, along with the Node in the next to last degree of Leo. Have a look! It’s easy to see; they are both orange points with high numbers (in the high 20s on a scale of 30).

Next, Pholus is on the midheaven — just like two charts we’ve seen recently: the self-immolation that started the revolution in Tunisia; and the shooting earlier this year in Tucson, AZ. Pholus is, appropriately, in Capricorn: the sign of matter itself, the structure of matter, and in the house of government. Pholus represents that which cannot be contained once it’s released. Gee whiz! Look, it’s even in green. Right spot-on in the MC.

Right where it will stand as a warning — unfortunately unacknowledged, but known at the time to minds the likes of Einstein — to be extremely careful with this technology, indeed, not to go there because once the nuclear age begins it never really ends.

I have never taken a close look at this chart with the centaur planets in (and if I did, I didn’t understand them at the time). I have to say this is just wild, to have centaurs covering the ascendant, the midheaven and the North Node; and the degree rising predicting the discovery of the first centaur some 35 years later.

The centaurs are all about raising awareness, and this chart is saying nothing if not pay attention.

5 thoughts on “Chernobyl: Witnesses, Far and Near

  1. GardenGirl

    I can hardly breathe, thinking about what happened at Chernobyl. I had the same reaction as dear Eric when Fukashima was drowned by the tsunami and subsequent reactor(s) explosion. I was numb for a week, barely able to function. I searched the web, looking for credible information (citizen investigators, like Eric). I found a site that included included raw scientific information that was not censored by the official media.

    The graphics showed a bright cyan cloud slowly encircling the Northern Hemisphere with radioactive Cesium and other deadly particulates. It was like living that scene from the movie the “The Ten Commandments”, where the Angel of Death descends, cloud-like, to kill the first-born of every family in Egypt without the protective coating of lamb’s blood on the door lentil to block entrance to the home. Only we don’t have ‘magical lamb’s blood’ to shield us from this cloud of death, or do we?

    In spite of being very much frightened by these events I continue to look for ways to be truly alive. I garden, eat glorious food, some of which I grow and give away, and delight in the great beauty of our sweet little planet.

    One happy ‘accident'(random magazine purchase), that has cheered me greatly, is an article that appeared in More magazine 25 years after the Chernobyl disaster about Babushkas returning to their old village, remaking their lives in their former homes. These elderly women have outlived some of their counterparts (and sadly some of their children) forced into apartment blocks in the city. Here is a link to the article

    This article gave me some inkling of how we might recover as well:
    Don’t throw away your life, trusting the ‘experts’
    Resist discarding culture, ‘common’ wisdom is accumulated life-knowledge
    Community requires contextual touch-points to which everyone can relate
    Joy is an an absolute necessity for survival, find something to be ecstatic about

    I love our little PW community and look forward to finding Joy with you all as we explore Beauty in Desperate Times!

    Much love,


  2. GardenGirl

    Just to clarify: these little old ladies returned to their old homes within the 1,600 mile Exclusion Zone.
    The government has not tried to remove them. Some of them do have health concerns related to the explosion; but they thrive and are joyous in the lives they have courageously decided to reclaim.

  3. Barbara Koehler

    I notice that Nessus and Pholus (not being used in charts back then) are strategically placed in the Chernobyl chart; Nessus at 21 (almost 22) Leo in the 9th house of foreign countries is trine the same chart’s ascendant and Uranus at 22+ Sagittarius. (Nessus in the Chernobyl chart also squares the Mars in the Nuclear Axis chart.) This Uranus in Sagittarius, which squares the U.S. Sibly chart’s Neptune at 22+ Virgo which conjuncts the Chernobyl chart’s MC at 22+ Virgo, makes it look very personal.

    Pholus in the Chernobyl chart would be in the 4th house at 8+ Taurus and quincunx Saturn in the 12th house at 8+ Sagittarius which was opposing the U.S. Sibly chart’s Uranus at 8+ Gemini. Pholus was only 3 degrees ahead of the Sun in this chart, therefore also opposite Pluto.

    The Chernobyl Moon is trine the U.S. Sibly chart’s Mercury at 24+ Cancer, while the Chernobyl chart’s Mars in the 2nd house at 13+ Capricorn is opposite the U.S. Sibly chart’s Sun at 13+ Cancer. With the U.S. being a foreign country to the Ukraine, was the U.S. somehow involved in this debacle or is this just synchronicity at work?

    The Nuclear Axis chart’s Saturn at 8+ Gemini and conjunct the US Uranus makes sense of course, it happening in Chicago. Could that be what the Chernobyl Saturn-quincunx-Pholus references only? The Nuclear Axis and not the U.S.A.?

    Having Chiron’s discovery degree (as well as the degree where Chiron was in the discovery chart for Uranus) on the ascendant of the Nuclear Axis chart, in hindsight must have indeed been a wake-up call.

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