The worst oil-slick disaster to hit Britain for 35 years happened on the morning of January 5th 1993. During terrible weather conditions, the tanker Braer was hurled onto rocks at the Southern tip of Shetland. Its deadly cargo put thousands of birds, sheep and ocean creatures at risk.
In the chart drawn for the event the ascendant in Capricorn and the Moon in Gemini signify the body of the ship. The ruler of the ascendant, Saturn, signifies those that sail in her. Since Saturn is well placed and essentially dignified, and receives the trine of the Moon, the crew are shown to be in no real danger and, in fact, all managed to escape without serious casualty.
The signs where the malefics are placed indicate the parts of the ship from where danger and damage arise. Saturn is in Aquarius, signifying the master of the ship; Mars is in Cancer, showing the bottom of the ship; and the South Node is in Gemini, indicating the stern. The blame for the disaster lay with the captain who, in choosing to sail dangerously close to the Shetlands during appalling weather (rather than maintaining the original, longer course) put the ship in danger. The Braer was literally thrown onto the rocks and crashed with its bow projecting into the air. Damage was sustained on the floor of the ship, towards the rear.
Malefic planets on the angles of the chart show that there is fear for the ship's safety. On the descendant, they are threatening because of their opposition to the ascendant. Retrograde Mars is angular in the 7th, in its sign of fall (Cancer - a sign of the ocean) and applies to an opposition of Neptune, Uranus, the Sun, the ascendant and Mercury. The moment clearly held an astrological signature of disaster.
Mercury, ruler of the 6th house of small animals, also rules the 8th house of death and the 4th house of grave.
It is afflicted by being peregrine and under the sun's beams in the 12th house, showing the threat to the
island's wildlife. The South Node is situated on the 6th house cusp, again highlighting sickness and a danger to animals.
Jupiter, ruler of the 2nd house (the cargo) is a natural significator for wealth and oil (CA., p.354). It is situated in the 8th house, receiving the retrograde square of Mars. The Moon's next aspect is a trine to Jupiter, but this naturally 'easy' aspect connects the symbolism of the 4th house of drowning to the 8th house of loss, and reflects the ease with which the oil was dispersed into the sea. During the terrible storms, the air was also severely polluted by the oil, as reflected by the Moon's location in the air sign Gemini, and Jupiter in Libra.
The Part of Fortune is conjunct the fixed star Algol, a combination which Lilly noted as a loss of wealth (p.564). Algol is considered one of the most violent stars and is widely associated with death, danger and tragedy.
The Part of Fortune is on the 4th house cusp, with the Moon in the 4th house and all the
main significators Under the Earth. Lilly said of this:
Principal significators under the Earth; ill: worst of all if in the fourth, for that is an assured testimony of sinking the ship. (CA., pp.165-166)
Lilly also wrote:
If the unfortunate Signes (viz, those which are afflicted by the presence of Saturn, Mars or the South Node) be those which signify the bottom or that part of the Ship which is under Water, it's an argument of the breaking and drowning thereof or receiving some dangerous Leak. (CA., p.159)
Strangely, in view of the potentially devastating effects of this oil leak, far less damage was caused to the environment than initially expected. The heavy storms that continued unabated for several days, and originally frustrated attempts to lessen the damage, actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise by naturally breaking up the oil. After about a week, scientists were astounded at how little of the oil remained and spoke of the island's wildlife being 'extremely lucky' to have escaped far more serious consequences. This may be seen as a more beneficial manifestation of that friendly application between the Moon and Jupiter; for, as William Lilly said in discussing charts of this nature:
it 's a general maxime in such like cases, if the Moon apply to the Fortunes, or by good aspect to any Planet or Planets in angles, then there is reason we hope well, &c. (CA., p.164)
© Reproduced from Traditional Astrologer magazine, Issue 1, June 1993