Predicting the Big One

Problems Inherent in the Astrological Prediction

of Earthquakes and Natural Disasters

by Joelle Steele

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Sooner or later, the earth is going to shake causing massive damage and loss of life. Can astrology be used to accurately predict when the "big one" is going to occur? For centuries, astrologers have tried to predict earthquakes. But how can you accurately predict an earthquake when each year there are about 50,000 felt worldwide? They are a daily event, about 25 per hour on average, 3 of which are felt. And what about other natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, or tornadoes? The answer is the same for any kind of catastrophe. We'll use earthquakes as an example.

To accurately predict earthquakes using astrology, the astrological charts of quakes must be studied in relation to the natal charts of cities or nations that are affected by the quake. Charts of quakes by themselves are of no predictive value. I have collected thousands of them and studied hundreds of them to no avail. But, when you take a quake chart and compare it to the natal chart of a city or country, some indicators do appear. Ditto for progressed aspects to that city or country.

In predicting an earthquake, we look at a city's natal houses which denote the effects of the disaster. Structural damage, death and injury from falling debris, broken water lines, and electrical loss are all common. The 4th house rules living conditions and the 8th carries the danger or risk to the people. If food supplies or resources are affected, the 6th will show it. Injury, disease, and lack of shelter fall within the domain of the 12th. The 2nd and 3rd houses should also be examined since the 2nd indicates the financial condition of the area following a disaster, and the 3rd would contain information about the neighboring areas.

In ancient times, astrologers such as Ptolemy studied transits to the midheaven of a city or country, because the midheaven's ruler in a flat chart is Saturn, the ruler of earthquakes. Ptolemy also looked for planetary stations, and conjunctions of the sun and moon at eclipse. Today, Mars is often considered as the ruler of seismic events due to its violent impact, and Uranus also as a co-ruler for its sudden and unexpected action. Vedic or Hindu astrologers cite Mars-Uranus conjunctions and Saturn-Uranus aspects as quake indicators. While there is not a lot of agreement about which aspects to use to predict a quake, it does seem that very small orbs (1 deg.) are essential.

Unfortunately, most of the predictions cited in today's writings are made by forecasting backwards and explaining how a quake occurred astrologically, something any competent astrologer can do. But, citing transits and lunations which occurred years before a seismic event occurred does not make a case for a valid predictive method. If astrology is to be used as an advance warning system, specific event dates must be determined.

As with any form of prediction, it is important to look at everything that is on the way astrologically and how it will impact a natal chart, whether it is the chart for a person or for a city or country. Aspects to a natal chart from secondary, tertiary, minor, etc., progressions should also be considered in addition to daily transits, eclipses and lunations, planetary returns, solar returns, etc. Being thorough is essential since an accurate method of earthquake prediction has the potential to save countless lives.

But the single greatest problem in predicting earthquakes and natural disasters is finding an accurate natal chart for the city or country. How do you determine the birth date and time of a city? Of a country? Do you use the date a city was first settled? Its official founding date? The date it was incorporated? What about a country? Quakes can affect entire nations. To use just one example of thousands, what would you use as the official birth date of Iran, a country that is plagued by severe earthquakes in the 21st century and has probably been suffering from such disasters for tens of thousands of years? Do we ignore the most ancient and unknown prehistoric dates of the Elamite Dynasty there and rely on something more current, say about 600 BC when Iran was part of Cyrus the Great's Persian Empire? Or should we fast forward to the founding of the Safavid Dynasty in 1501 AD? Or should we rely on the 1925 founding of the Pahlavi Era or go directly to 1979 when Shah Pahlavi was sent into exile by the Ayatollah Khomeini? Do these more recent changes in a nation's leaders make any difference? Or do we change the birth date only when a nation changes its borders?

Even if we were to establish an accurate birth date for Iran or any other country or a particular city, the earthquake data itself can be "iffy" at best. No matter what source prepares the data, it can vary considerably with the various sources that provide data for the same seismic event — particularly with regard to the epicenters and the magnitudes — because the placement of the seismograph and the interpretation of its output are dependent on humans. Even seismographs at the country of the epicenter vary in their interpretation; Berkeley and Pasadena — about 500 miles apart in California — frequently disagree on the exact epicenter and the exact magnitude of a quake, both of which are highly subjective anyway.

In fact, epicenter data itself is of little value. Astrologically, we need geographical coordinates, dates, and times to analyze an event of any kind. We need to know where an event occurred so that we can look at the houses to determine property damage, injuries, loss of life, famines, floods, etc., that accompany many quakes. To do this, we need not the epicenter coordinates, but the coordinates for the actual locations that experience the damages, life loss, etc. Think about it: If a plane crashed in New Jersey, you wouldn't do a chart for the time it left the airport of origin in Chicago. So why would you study an earthquake that killed 20 in Amman, Jordan using transits calculated for the quake's epicenter in Adana, Turkey?

Damages and life loss from quakes occur only where there are people and structures. Epicenters, however, can be anywhere: on an isolated island, off the coast, or right in the heart of a downtown area. A single large quake epicentered in one place can create significant property damage and life loss in several different areas, different cities, and even different countries. For example, take a quake off the coast of Hokkaido in Japan. Where does the damage and loss of life actually occur? In the water? Of course not. It occurs in cities on Hokkaido and possibly surrounding areas or other islands in Japan or nearby. Where does a tsunami cause its damages? At the causal quake's epicenter? No, at a distance from the epicenter that varies according to where the epicenter is and the strength of the quake, etc.

The time and coordinates for a tsunami would be at the moment and place where the wave first hits the shore, not the time of the quake, since there can be several minutes between the seismic event and the time when the tsunami hits. For example, with the Anchorage quake (1964, largest earthquake ever recorded in North America and second largest ever recorded in the world), the tsunami hit the Oregon coast, killing four people, quite some time after the quake hit Anchorage. To give you an idea as to the time variation, in Seward, Alaska the tsunami hit a full 20 minutes after the quake struck. I don't know how long it took before that wave finally reached the coasts of BC, Washington, Oregon, and California — and Japan! It also caused rivers to overflow inland. As you can see, the area covered by a quake and its effects can be enormous. That's why just analyzing a chart for the event itself is not particularly useful. I'm sure anyone can find something interesting in those charts but, in reality, they are quite meaningless until you apply them to a specific place.

The magnitude of a quake is not necessarily a factor either. Areas that are well-developed with structures built to withstand quakes may not suffer a lot of damage in a 6.8 quake. However, a 4.2 quake in a large Third World city like Cairo or Tehran can cause extremely heavy property damage as well as significant loss of life. Small quakes in mountainous areas of China and India have been known to bring down hillsides that completely covered villages far from the epicenter, killing thousands. Isolated islands, such as those in the Aleutians and in the South Pacific, regularly receive quakes over 8.0 in magnitude with no damage or life loss whatsoever.

In the end, earthquake and disaster data makes for compelling interest and study. But to accurately analyze any event astrologically, you have to do transits to the location(s) which was impacted by the event. Period. And not having accurate birth data for cities and nations is the number one problem in that regard. Forecasting backwards and trying to build a case for a disaster based on eclipses, planetary stations, the latest stellium, is a waste of time. And you can study those transits calculated at epicenters until you're blue in the face, but they will never work because that isn't even good basic astrological practice.

This article last updated: 05/15/2015.