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Oh My Stars

Oh My Stars

Electional Astrology, Part One: Good Idea, Bad Timing – Bitcoin

beliefnet astrology matthew currie bitcoin(WARNING: Since the following subject requires a lot of technical explanations, both financially and astrologically, it’s going to be fairly long-winded. I’ll throw in as many jokes as I can to lighten the burden.)

You have a beginning, and thus you have a birth chart. What’s more, every venture that has a beginning also has a birth chart. The art of finding the right time to start on something new… a business, an investment, a marriage… is called Electional Astrology. “What’s well begun is half done” as the old saying goes. This is the first of a two-part series which demonstrates the power of the inception chart for any venture. Let’s begin by looking at what seems like a good idea but which has recently been exposed as (possibly) a terrible one: Bitcoin.

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There is a fascinating concept out there called “cryptocurrency,” and the best known example of that is Bitcoin, which has recently burst into the mainstream consciousness, but not for particularly good reasons. Bitcoin too has an inception chart, just like any other human endeavor, and it explains a lot about the troubles it has faced lately.

Before I explain what Bitcoin is, I’d better explain what “currency” is.  Currency is, at its most basic form, simply a magic token that means something to the people who possess it and those who want it. Take a bill out of your wallet and look at it. Despite all the fancy printing and symbols and pictures on it, it’s really just a piece of paper. However, because of the psychological and symbolic value we place on it, if you have enough of them you can use them to acquire a pizza or a car or the services of a lawyer to defend you when you get caught stealing someone else’s Magical Pieces Of Paper.

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The only thing that makes currency work is the belief that it works… plus the resources and enforcement ability of the country that produces it.

To a certain extent, ride tickets from the County Fair are a sort of currency too: two of them will get you on the merry-go-round, five will get you on the roller coaster, and so on. A coupon for ten cents off a bottle of Pepsi is a sort of currency too, but good luck buying a pizza with it. In theory, I could issue “Oh My Stars Matthewbucks” and attempt to purchase a pizza with it, but for more or less obvious reasons the delivery guy gets pretty upset with me whenever I try to pull that one on him… despite my insistence that they are a fantastic investment.

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Currency also derives its value from the fact that it is hard to fake, or “counterfeit.” If I could produce passable US Dollars with a color photocopier, the US Dollar would quickly lose all its value, because then everyone could make their own and the value of the “real” US Dollars would diminish to zero as everyone paid for their pizzas with fakes.

Bitcoin is a “cryptocurrency”: an entirely electronic currency which bases its security against counterfeiting on electronic encryption instead of watermarks or fancy artwork or hard-to-duplicate printing. The value of a Bitcoin fluctuates, just as international currencies do. If the Government of Venezuela suddenly appears to be unstable, the value of the Venezuelan Bolivar will go down relative to the US Dollar or the Japanese Yen.

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Cryptocurrency represents a sort of Libertarian Ideal in economics: it’s a means to establish value and exchange for goods and services without the market manipulation governments often perform to prop up their currencies. However, the Venezuelan Bolivar is still issued by a real government in a real place that has real authority. If the Bolivar crashes, your wallet full of them is still worth something, somewhere, to someone. No matter how bad things get there, a 15 year old hacker in South Korea can’t make Venezuela or your Bolivars simply vanish.

In February 2014, the online Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox shut down after somewhere around $350 million US Dollars worth of Bitcoins simply vanished. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to simply say that in February 2014 it became obvious that had happened. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that word finally got out at that point about a theft that may have happened a long time ago. If you thought it was mysterious how some people can become Internet Millionaires, apparently it’s pretty mysterious how some people can get seriously fleeced on the Internet too. Bitcoins may not be “real,” but in the world of the Internet, they’re real enough to steal, and on February 28th… as the transiting Uranus-Pluto square was conjunct/square Bitcoin’s Sun, Mars squared Bitcoin’s Jupiter, and the transiting Moon was exactly conjunct Bitcoin’s Neptune, Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy. In essence, the ultimate Libertarian dream of a government-free currency had to run to the Government for protection. Everyone’s a Libertarian until the house catches fire.

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Mt. Gox isn’t named after a mountain, by the way. It’s short for “‘Magic The Gathering Online’ eXchange,” where online role-players could trade game cards like they were stocks. See? You can make a currency out of anything if you (and enough others) just believe hard enough in it!

Although the February transits don’t represent when the actual theft happened, they represent when the matter made headlines, and when it comes to a lot of things on the Internet (and in Real Life, like “currency”) perception is everything.

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The first block of code for Bitcoin was created on January 3, 2009 at 18:15:05 UT. It’s a peculiarity of life in the Internet Age that we can know a “date of birth” so precisely but not know the place of birth, but the few charts out there for Bitcoin seem to agree on somewhere in the Greenwich time zone. I initially started with that, but see below for an explanation based on new information. None of this article was based on the House placements anyway. North and South locations for a birth make a bit of difference in Rising Sign and House placements, but even without knowing those for sure, we can look at the basic meanings of the planets in a chart.

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When we’re looking at money and value in a birth chart, we’re mostly talking about Venus and Jupiter, and the “master clock” of any birth chart is The Moonwhich also has an association with material resources. And even without the place of “birth” for Bitcoin, this birth chart was a financial train wreck waiting to happen. Jupiter was not only in the Sign of its debility (Capricorn), not only was it unaspected (other than an out-of-quality conjunction to Mercury), it would change Sign before completing an aspect to any other planet.  Thus, if anything other than The Moon could be said to be “Void of Course,” we could likely say that about Jupiter that day. The Moon was at 4 degrees Aries at Bitcoin’s birth, and Jupiter actually entered the next Sign over before The Moon got a chance to move into Taurus.

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As for that Moon: the next aspects it performed as it passed through Aries were a square to Mars and a square to the Sun before making it to the sextile with Neptune… but even that aspect is almost ruined by a quincunx to Saturn. And speaking of Saturn… a Saturn-Uranus opposition is rarely good for long-term stability.

And Venus? Although Venus makes a sextile to Pluto and is in the Sign of its exaltation, its ruler is in the 12th House from it… in other words, Venus has its ruler in its “blind spot.” Vedic Astrology tends to frown upon such things, and so do I.

By the way, there is one astrologer out there (no names!) who claims that Bitcoin has “the perfect Libertarian chart” because of the placement of the asteroid Pallas… the goddess of Wisdom. To this I can only reply that Jupiter in Bitcoin’s chart is exactly conjunct Tisiphone, named for one of the Furies, who was in charge of punishing murderers at Pallas’ command. Furthermore, it was exactly opposite the asteroid Benda, which sounds like “Bender,” the criminally-inclined robot from Futurama. Ha! Take that, asteroids! (A tip to all you astrologers out there: don’t go flipping through your listing of 10,000 asteroids looking for the one that tells you what you want to hear. The Major Planets will always win.)

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Bitcoin isn’t out of business yet, but the outrage of those investors is still real, and people’s memories are sometimes painfully short… especially when it comes to the Magical Thinking that comes with trading in your security for the bright shiny hope of beating the system. Don’t get me wrong: the notion of a nationless currency is in many ways a good one, and the idea is unlikely to vanish any time soon. The idea is still appealing to many, and there are other electronic currencies out there waiting to take up the slack, like Dogecoin and Peercoin and Primecoin and for a while (no, I’m not making this up) Coinye West.

Bitcoin may well recover, but for the moment hindsight has many wondering how it could have been taken so seriously in the first place. Maybe it’s simply a matter of human ingenuity leading to new things of value, which naturally leads to new ways to steal those things of value. At the moment, though, the notion of Bitcoin as a safe, reliable and innovative way to do business is as passé as an old Internet meme.

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Play Bitcoin off, Keyboard Cat.

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UPDATE: Time Magazine claims to have found Bitcoin’s creator in Temple City California. If this is the case, the relocated chart to that location (which I have posted here) goes from “not great” to “a dog’s breakfast”: the Saturn-Uranus opposition moves to the Ascendant-Descendant axis, and both are square the Midheaven. Yeesh.

NEXT TIME: Bad Idea, Good Timing: How the “worst film ever made” — Tommy Wiseau’s The Room — became a huge success, in part because of a fortunate premiere date.  Oh hi, Electional Astrology!

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