The Great Australian Fires of 2019/2020 (updated at end)

Australia is currently undergoing its largest bush fires in its short national history, which can also be seen as a very serious illness. An ‘illness’ you say? Probably the most widespread fires in its recorded history is an ‘illness’!? In fact, yes. And this is not downplaying what is happening there. As of this writing (2 Jan) there have been 18 fatalities (updated below), but the total land swept by the fires is 5,900,000 hectares (22,780 square miles), an area almost equal to the states of Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut combined. We will look at the factors contributing to the fires here, but before we start, we also pray for a swift end to them, and hold our support for the families who have lost their homes, livelihoods and loved ones.

The last time we saw fires this bad in Oz was in 2009, with the Black Saturday fires. I was living there then, and those were indeed terrible. The loss of human life in those fires was far greater than these, but the land mass was not nearly as great. What we are seeing with the present fires are the symptoms of the coming together of many factors, which we examine later in this piece. But first, a bit of background:

The ongoing 2019–20 Australian bushfire season is already the most destructive bushfire season since the 2008–09 Australian bushfires and the most widespread in history, having already burned over 5,900,000 hectares of land, destroyed over 2,500 buildings (including over 1300 homes) and killed at least 18 people [28 as of 20 Jan]. From November, it heavily impacted various regions of New South Wales, such as, the North Coast, Mid North Coast, the Hunter Region, the Hawkesbury and the Wollondilly in Sydney’s far west, the Blue Mountains, Illawarra and the South Coast, with more than 100 fires burnt across the state, and as well as Eastern Victoria. Moderately affected areas were South Eastern Queensland, southern South Australia, and southwestern Western Australia, with a few areas in Tasmania being mildly impacted.

Coupled with the preceding, Australia has recently baked under record temperatures, with Adelaide having recorded a temperature of just over 46° (115° F) over several days. In the 19 years I lived in Adelaide the temperature never went over 42° (107° F). This has been in the absence of an El Niño, which usually brings such heat. Instead, this heat wave was caused by “an unusual sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event also added to the hot dry conditions by shifting the westerly winds, which usually lurk over the Southern Ocean, up onto the continent.” In addition, there has been an extended drought, which has worsened fire conditions.

Climate change has been blamed, at least in part, for the severity of the fires, brought on by the higher temperatures and the extended drought periods. With the elevated temperatures this year  – and we have not even gone into February, the hottest month of the year in Oz  – there is no doubt shifts in the climate have been a big factor in the fires, but the high temperatures and drought are not unprecedented. Higher temperatures cause the volatile oils in the vegetation, especially gum trees, to vaporize quicker, adding to the great heat of the fires, as well as rendering dry vegetation into kindling. But there is actually nothing new in severe fires in Australia’s history. Aussies know well the names ‘Black Saturday’, ‘Ash Wednesday’, ‘Black Tuesday’ and so forth.

Before these fires, the worst fires in total area and loss of life in recorded history in Oz were the Black Thursday fires of 1851, which rivalled the extent of the present fires and killed over a million sheep and cattle. We cannot blame climate change on that one. There must be other reasons. The absolute largest fires in area were in 1974/75, which burnt a total of 15% of Australia, but those were in central Oz and were barely noticed until satellite data revealed the extent after the fact. Ten years ago, the Black Saturday fires in Victoria killed 175 people, but covered a far smaller area, for perspective. So, although these fires are large, they are not as fatal to human life as some of the previous ones, though the animal life has been decimated in the affected areas. The photos of affected animals have been heartbreaking.

Probably the main reason for large catastrophic fires, aside from prolonged drought and high temperatures, is a lack of land management, with overgrowth not being cut back, with people moving into fire-prone areas (as in the Adelaide Hills, for instance) and not paying attention to vegetation close to houses, and then being careless with fire and equipment or ignoring fire warnings.

Ignoring fire warnings? Bloody idiot!

Before the Europeans landed, the aboriginals knew how to manage the land and keep the big fires from happening, but even that has not prevented large fires from happening. Australia is one of the three most fire-prone areas in the world. From a previous link, additional causes for bushfires include lightning, arcing from overhead power lines, arson, accidental ignition in the course of agricultural clearing, grinding and welding activities, campfires, cigarettes and dropped matches, sparks from machinery, and controlled burn escapes.

As to the factor of arson, it is an uncomfortable fact that there are people who get a thrill out of setting such fires, with a dozen such people about to be charged for the present fires in New South Wales alone – one of them a young volunteer firefighter. Further, from the penultimate article:

…the majority of fires currently scorching the state [NSW] were started by lighting, or embers spread from those fires — but…individuals’ negligence in respecting total fire bans when holding barbecues and going camping, was not insignificant when compared with arson.

And as well:

…at least 56 people have already been charged or cautioned with 71 bushfire-related offences since August, with 16 ongoing investigations into suspicious fires, including a blaze that threatened the rim of suburban Sydney in South Turramurra, on Sydney’s Upper North Shore, on November 12.

With all the preceding in mind, what do we see with the present astrology of Australia, and why call the present situation an ‘illness’? We start with the chart of Australia, using the ‘swearing-in chart’ at Sydney, below (bigger):

We cannot judge from a national chart whether or not a nation is naturally fire-prone. That would require a chart for a region, which would be very ancient. Instead, what we see in the Aussie national chart is a proclivity for man-made disasters, with the midpoints shown to the left of the Ascendant. The Australian national chart goes to the statement about illness at the beginning of this piece, which will be outlined below.

Aries rising can contribute to carelessness, with an attitude of “She’ll be right, mate!” It can also indicate arson, with Mars, its ruler, being a central planet in the midpoint trees. A quick look at those midpoints is revealing, with regard to arson and accidents:

  • Asc=Mars/Uranus: An excitable person with the inclination to commit acts of violence. – An upsetting event, accident, physical injury, (arrest).
  • Asc=Mars/Pluto: Daring and temerity, the desire to face danger. – An accident

Those midpoints can and do at the same time contribute admirable qualities, as we see in the firefighters and the volunteers battling these blazes and working to save properties and animals. The same midpoints can be both very destructive when misused, as in the case of carelessness and arson, and contribute to acts of great courage and exertion.

On another side, the Aries rising also makes for pioneers, and Australians have been world leaders in many areas, not the least of which is environmentalism, which is reflective of the Virgo national synthetic soul. This is further reinforced by the Aquarius Midheaven, showing the progressive spirit of the nation when it is rightly directed. Then, we have the directions and transits at the start of the fires, in September 2019. The chart is below (bigger):

We note really only one thing in particular with that chart which would indicate a fire, although by itself it does not go to show the scale of the fires. There had been a direction of Mars to the Aussie Sun, which was strongly in effect at the last election. But the Sun rules the 4th house of the chart, which represents the land, infrastructure and the general populace. It had a heating effect, and could be one of the significators of the drought as well as the general heating of the land and its people, literally and figuratively.

The only indicator of something massive about to take place is the transit of Jupiter across the Vertex and Uranus, opposite Pluto. But then, that also activated the aforementioned midpoints: A big accident or precipitated huge event.

If we really want to get to the crux of what is happening, though, we go to the directed midpoints. Then, the situation becomes very clear. That chart is below (bigger):

There are three directed midpoints shown. The first, MC=Sun/Neptune, shows weakness, illness and impressionability, along with hypersensitivity and emotional stress. This one applies to both the government and the land/people/infrastructure. It is noteworthy here that “the Berejiklian Government [of NSW] made major cuts to the capital expenditure budgets of both Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service” in the months leading up to the fires, despite warnings that this could be one of the worst fire seasons in memory. Then, there was the little matter of ScoMo (Aussie PM) going on his Hawaiian vacation in the middle of the fires, and at the time of the deaths of two firefighters. It was not the best move, politically, and it will play badly at the next election, too. His polling has since plummeted and he is now outshone by Anthony Albanese. He did say he was sorry, though.

The next directed midpoint is the Sun/Pluto to the Aussie Mars. In its entirety: “The desire to perform record achievements, over-exertion or overtaxing one’s powers, ruthlessness. – The tendency to work to the point of a physical breakdown.” This describes, through Mars, both the arsonists (record achievements, negatively, and ruthlessness) and the firefighters, working to the point of physical breakdown. But then, the firefighters’ performance so far is a record achievement – legend, as we would say.

Then, finally, there is the reason I called what is happening in Oz at the moment a serious illness, and that goes to the direction of the Saturn/Neptune midpoint to both the Meridian axis and to Pluto. The ‘illness’ is not about the land and the fires, so much as it is the government and public mood. Pluto=Saturn/Neptune is one of the indicators of a serious illness. It is also an indicator of heavy emotional depression. Saturn/Neptune is our ‘illness axis’.

To the MC or Meridian axis, it has the following connotations: “wavering between materialistic and idealistic inclinations. – Emotional suffering, the state of illness.” And this brings us to perhaps the most important considerations, over time: What wisdom can we draw from these fires?

Australia suffers under two outmoded and failing systems: the legacy of British government as we recently saw it play out with the Brexit drama and the UK election, reflected in the election of ScoMo to the position of PM; and secondly, the increasingly unstable economic system we know as neoliberal economics, which produces austerity policy and selling off of state resources to private interests, among other things.

Australia is a fragile environment. It requires the attention and care of the government and the people to keep it in health. Instead what we see is the increasing selling off of our resources to large corporate interests, expressive of the synthetic Capricorn personality of Australia, and the Australian Capricorn Sun, with the current emphasis on business and jobs.

There is a video that would be helpful for every Aussie to view which puts the present course of business interests in Australia into stark relief. Water is the most precious natural resource the nation has, and it is being sold off, wasted and used for business interests. The rivers are drying up, not because of climate change, although it is a contributing factor, but because of big business interests. This will only accelerate the desertification of the continent, forcing people into the coastal areas, increasing the environmental stress in those areas and the commensurate increase in fire dangers in the future as a result, with larger loss of life.

We see the neoliberal austerity measures in the cutbacks to services, so-called ‘trimming the fat’, all the while the rates, insurance and fines go up and services dwindle. I watched this first-hand while I was living there.

I was living there when the Black Saturday fires swept through Victoria, though, and remember the outpourings of support from the public for the victims, and the community that rallied around them. There was the soul of Australia. But then, afterwards when things had settled, did anything really change? Politically, I mean? Not that we can see.

We Aussies have some serious decisions to make in the immediate future. The world is changing rapidly, and it is going to force some difficult choices. Financial, geopolitical and geological factors all figure. But unless certain resources are nationalized or at least restricted as to private ownership, and unless the environment is more protected, then the quality of life and the types of life will continue to dwindle.

Every illness is a message and a purging, a vehicle toward a different point of view, to pay attention to our general health into the future. Fire is a purgative agent. Australia needs a certain amount of it for various species of plants to propagate. But fire also has the capacity to draw out the soul as well as destroy, and to throw a light on areas that have become corrupted, burning those away.

Unless the public forces the needed changes in the current trajectory of successive governments and economic policy, our situation in Oz will only probably get worse from here. Let us hold the thought that these fires finally get the message across to the powers that be and to the public. Capricorn materialism must give way to Virgoan healing and care for the land. We need to pioneer a new way forward, and at a community level, we need to learn to live more in attentiveness to the land.


Update, as of 20 Jan 20:  From an article dated 20 Jan 20:

Twenty-eight people have been killed and at least 2,300 homes destroyed as the fires burned through 8.4 billion [a misprint, should be million] hectares (50,000 square kilometers) of mostly rural land in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, South Australia and Queensland — a geographical area bigger than the entire territory of Denmark.

…Westpac [Bank] noted that affected areas this time, mostly on the south coast of NSW and the same region of Victoria burned out a decade ago, account for only 1% of the economy. However, they are major producers of fruit and vegetables, beef, seafood, timber and wine. They are also big tourism areas…

…the cost in terms of insured and uninsured losses [is estimated to be] around $5 billion,” the bank said in a report.

That makes these fires the costliest in Australia’s recorded history. And we are not even into February. The fires could go on into March. And now, to top that off, there is massive flooding in some areas. The costs will be high, financially, politically, emotionally (already), health-wise and in infrastructure. The cost in animal life is already staggering, with at least 480 million dead, and some estimates as high as one billion when the fires have finally finished. 

Featured pic from Express UK

3 Replies to “The Great Australian Fires of 2019/2020 (updated at end)”

  1. Thank you Malvin. Beginning to feel ashamed to be an Aussie – we are basically naive with less soul. Trying to right things now may not be too late.

    1. Thanks for looking into Oz, Malvin. We’re so tired, so hot, so dispirited and exhausted. I hope the PM and his neocon henchmen never recover from the shame they’ve heaped upon the nation. They’re systematically selling off our values, our ecology, our standards to the lowest form of high bidders.

  2. Thank you for this insightful interpretation. I also feel that our country is ill and I believe it is very much related to the killing of our arterial river systems and aquifers, which you referred to. Before evacuating from a local fire I had a vision of a black snake trying to get to our local lake but not being able to. I saw the Snake vision in in the fire . Eventually the fire was put out by firefighters before it reached the lakeside suburb. The visible black ziz zag pattern of burnt bush ends well before the shores of the lake, showing that the Snake could not get to the water. The black Snake is not an aggressive creature, it only wants to be left in peace, so I was puzzled that the snake was in the fire. It took me a while to begin to understand what i saw. The message from the Snake is about water ….our absolute misuse of it and about our failure to treat this land and its wildlife and with any sensitivity or respect. And the fires are the land trying to purge itself. It is irrelevant if they are arson from this perspective. I Having a recent fire burning within a km of my home and seeing the aftermath and the sheer number of trucks and manpower it took to put it out, showed me how much harder and hotter these fires are burning …the soil is too dry and there is no moisture buffer anymore. We can’t be both a country of droughts and a country of major water extraction.

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