Revisiting History: 11 Minutes to Blackout…NYC 1965

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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November 9, 1965 was a day for the history books. Without warning, the lights went out in the northeast region of the U.S., centered in New York but affecting other areas as well. Remember November is the beginning of winter in the northeast. No lights, no heat, no choices. What went wrong was really fixed quite quickly for such a potentially catastrophic event. From my reading of history, it was another “cascading event” where one piece of an intricate puzzle failed and the cascading began, reaching totality in about eleven minutes. It took some time for the authorities to determine just what happened and as such became a part of our history in the world’s largest library, the Internet. I have drawn most of the details from Wikipedia but I have a number of backups for the info. I will tell you that I do think the beginning moment is earlier than the events define. Not surprising due to the circumstance.

Be aware that the electrical grid for that part of the country and adjacent areas in Canada is joint in supply and demand. What happens to one small station can affect the whole of the grid, and so it did. Some municipalities have their own power stations and were not as drastically affected. It was cold with demand pushing the grid to its limit. Failsafe relays intended to protect the grid from either gridlock or shutdown were compromised at one tiny moment in time and the rest is history – cascading shutdowns. The moment that has been defined as the key is 5:16 PM EST in the small electrical sub-station on the Canadian border in Lewiston, New York. One relay was triggered and it did what it was meant to do to protect the overall system. I am not educated regarding electrical systems, so I will refer you to the ricochet activity that spontaneously happened as one part of the system triggered another area, which defended itself as it was meant to do and passed on the ball of power to the next in line, divergent from the initial inflow. As the ball (of electricity) was passed from one player (station) to another, all sorts of activity triggered: accept power, reject power, pass it on to others in the grid, etc. Within eleven minutes, it had completed the process and NYC went dark at 5:27 PM. Not all of NYC to be sure, but a substantial area.  What happened astrologically?

5:16 PM Lewiston, NY:

  • 1 Aquarius 36 on the Midheaven: electricity is the mission and the goal.
  • 25 Taurus 04 is rising conjunct Caput Algol, the malefic fixed star, which is conducting the show. Moon 26 Taurus 46 is in the first house conjunct the Ascendant in applying aspect. Applying suggests ongoing to future activity.
  • Mars is at 26 Sagittarius 42 in the eighth house of destiny or catastrophe mutually applying to the opposition of Jupiter at 00 Cancer 34 retrograde. Jupiter is the ruler of the eighth house of destiny or catastrophe. That Mars/Jupiter influence got really big and out of hand very quickly – almost instantaneous. Mars had the upper hand in this opposition; it is direct, not intercepted, freer to act then the retrograde Jupiter.
  • Co-ruler of the Descendant Pluto is 18 Virgo 01 closely conjunct Uranus (ruler of the Midheaven) 18 Virgo 42.

Why did I suggest an earlier trigger? This is not an instant which is detached from all previous instants and also all of those to come. This is a process with a built-in instant. Whenever we attempt to read an event without considering its process, we can miss significant timing points. Something led up to the moment that the first relay tripped. Perhaps it was the accumulation of winter cold that built the demand for electricity to the point where it stretched the system beyond its capacity. Perhaps a weakness in the system itself had lain undetected and managed to trigger at that moment. Something preceded the tipping point which made the tipping point possible – process. What astrologically transpired just prior to this moment?

  • The Full Moon at the end of the previous day was 16 Taurus 33 triggering the already tight Sun/Neptune conjunction.
  • As the Moon moved forward it opposed Neptune at 19 Scorpio 39 at fixed star Serpentis “the accursed degree of the accursed sign”.
  • Mars a few days prior (October 29-30) had squared the Pluto/Uranus conjunction. That means that the last energy Mars encountered (embodied) was its square to Pluto/Uranus and the next energy it would encounter would be its opposition to Jupiter. To me that reads “besieged by aspect.”

That process is also not separated from the results of that trigger (event). Every explosion has an aftermath that is not truly separate from the explosion itself. Flash forward to 5:27 PM, eleven minutes after the relay was tripped in Lewiston.

  • The Ascendant is 28 Taurus 38 conjunct the fixed star Pleiades, something to weep about.  The Moon was now on the twelfth house side of the Ascendant, in the shadows, hidden from direct observation. This is the moment when NYC went dark. If you read the Wikipedia section about the on-air broadcast of a radio show, the fine-tuning and timing is noted as fluctuations in broadcast frequencies.
  • The Ascendant moved 3 degrees and 34 minutes in only eleven minutes on the clock. The Moon had advanced only 7 minutes of arc in that same period. When the Ascendant reached an exact conjunction with the Moon (5:21:20), the tempo of the music being broadcast by the station had slowed down as the electrical system began to fail.
  • At 5:27 PM, much of the city of NY went dark, the show was over, cascading events over a brief period of time shut down a city and more.

Power was back up in some of the affected parts of the city by 11 PM, others by 7 AM the next day and in only a few hours in western New York thanks to the ability of independent power suppliers and generators to restart those that had shut down. Teamwork made short work of a potential disaster.  Think winter, cold city streets and buildings, no heat or light or comfortable shelter. Think of the homeless at a time like this. Think beyond the event and allow the event chart to teach you the ramifications of such an experience

It was not only New York City that was affected. As mentioned, total blackout was spotty due to independent power carriers and stations. You would have to look at individual city chart workups (natal, progressed, transits) to determine the effect on an isolated municipality. What about the state map for New York? Natal: July 26, 1788, NYC, NY noonmark LMT used.

  • NY natal Uranus 00 Leo 45 conjunct natal Sun 4 Leo 13 and noonmark Midheaven 02 Leo 45; blackout relay trip Midheaven 1 Aquarius 36, NYC blackout Midheaven 4 Aquarius 16.
  • NY natal Mercury 16 Leo 03R opposed natal Pluto 16 Aquarius 49R tightly squared by the Full Moon that preceded the cascade.
  • NY natal Mars 20 Virgo 02 tightly conjunct the blackout Uranus/Pluto conjunction.

Circles within circles, our country map encircles the wholeness of who/what we are as a country. Contained within are the smaller circles for state, containing smaller circles for municipalities, containing smaller circles for the all-ness of its population and the events that jointly affect us. Interconnected.


Published in AFA Today’s Astrologer Nov 2017 vol79#11, republished with slight editing.

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