A little less than every two years on average, Mars conjoins Uranus, and when that combination of explosive force and targeted energy meet, often all hell breaks loose in the period surrounding. A good example is the conjunction of August 17, 1945—Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened just days before, and the first pictures of the Hiroshima blast went public that day. It happened to be my birthday—my mom used to tell me Japan surrendered as soon as they heard of my arrival—which may be why I have a fondness for it, despite its bad rep.
Although its usual passage is brief, this year (2003) we get an extended dose, as Mars goes retrograde a month after the conjunction of June 23rd, 4:03 PM EDT and makes it all the way back to within half a degree of Uranus to go stationary direct September 27, 3:52 AM EDT. So we really get two for the price of one and a whole summer full of potentially troublesome action in between, aggravated by the usual frustrations and delays of a retro Mars.
What's it all mean? Is it time to redecorate the panic room and the fallout shelter? Probably not, at least not for everybody, but there are some traditional places to look—to look to avoid, actually. That wonderful curmudgeon Al. H. Morrison once told me that where the exact Mars-Uranus conjunction rose and culminated would be the places on the globe that would be hot spots of wars, natural disasters, and general catastrophe for the next two years. Like so much of astrology, that seems to work more often than not, but sometimes misses the boat by a mile. This year you can probably count on results, as the June 3rd conjunction rises over central Africa, up through the Middle East and on to Chechnya, and it culminates over Western Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and China. Bound to be lots of action in most of those places. The Sept. 27th near-conjunction as Mars goes direct rises over Western Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and Japan and culminates over Hawaii and Alaska. Well, you be the judge, and make travel plans accordingly, but I'd certainly put that trip to Indonesia and the Philippines on hold, and just buy a nice gamelan music CD to tide me over…
That's fine for mundane forecasters, but how about the personal stuff? How are either of these events going to affect you, personally? Minimally, if you are careful, but perhaps critically, if you are not. I remember running into Al Morrison (again) on the way back home from St. Vincent's hospital with a just-repaired broken nose gleefully declaring that he had finally rectified his chart—he had been hit by a car exactly as Mars conjoined his Ascendant! And that was without Uranus being in play…put them together, however, and you might describe this cautionary tale:
It's about my hit man. Seriously. One day in the spring of 1980 my friend Harry Stathos, then night city editor of the New York Daily News, referred a client to me. This was in the days when Al Morrison was secretly ghosting the daily horoscope column for the New York Post and Charles Jayne was doing the same for the Daily News (betcha hadn't heard that tidbit!). The client's name was Wayne Eckhart, and when he walked into my apartment I was more than taken aback. He was fully six-and-a-half feet tall, with a scarred, stove-in face and fists the size of hams. If all you had was a visual of him, you'd be terrified—but in person he had the air of a gentle lamb, like this hulking giant would never hurt a flea.
Actually, Wayne hadn't always been like that. His troubled and violent childhood began in the Midwest (1/24/30, 2:30 AM, Marion, Iowa) and had led him through multiple troubled and troubling careers first in the military (thrown out), then in boxing, robbery, and finally as an enforcer for the mob. The police knew his work by his signature: one in the head, three across the chest. That's one way to use a natal Mars-Pluto opposition.
But not the only way. While serving time in Greenhaven Prison in Connecticut, a force more powerful entered his life. He had a vision of the Virgin Mary, whose burning tears fell scalding on his back (I'm quoting him) and he converted to become a follower of Padre Pio. A long way from his Seventh Day Adventist upbringing. Later he teamed up with another inmate, ex-financier Roberto Tomarkin, and together the two helped pressure prison reform legislation after the murderous 1971 prison fires at Attica. By the time he made it to this astrologer, he was dating a blonde Playboy bunny and looking to turn his experiences into a book.
Alas, time for that project was running out faster than anyone imagined. One Monday in September (9/29/80) he came by for a reading and advice on what might be coming up. I noted that the Mars-Uranus conjunction was exactly hitting his 23 Scorpio Ascendant that very week. My advice was to stay home and above all, do not visit any of his old haunts (he had hinted earlier that might have been developing). In Godfather terms, go to the mattresses, and stay there until the heat's off.
Apparently, he didn't, or maybe it was just too late, anyway. The following Wednesday (the very day of the conjunction) over dinner I received a call from the Homicide Division of the Bergen County, New Jersey, Prosecutor's Office, asking me if I knew a Wayne Eckhart. They found my business card in his wallet when they discovered his murdered body, dumped on the Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. What did I know about him? they asked.
Not much, truthfully, that would help—de mortuis, nil nisi bonum, after all—except that sometimes, you should really listen to your astrologer...