First Visit to Thailand
Since our round trip tickets to Bombay, India included free stops in Hong Kong and in Bangkok, Thailand, and since neither of us had visited either place, Bill and I decided to add them to our itinerary. We spent a day and a half in Hong Kong on the way to Bombay, rode the ferry and took a couple of tours, as well as wandering around the streets and trying out local food specialties. These days, Hong Kong is less noted for shopping bargains, though we did get silk kimonos from China from a stand outside the Tiger Balm Garden. Sorry The Mutable Dilemma is not geared to pictures. Bill got some shots of streets full of little stands and people which could have come equally well from India or from Thailand, or even from Mexico.
The Indian part of the trip is described in other articles in this issue of The Mutable Dilemma. Bangkok was an experience! The temperature was even more hot and muggy than Bombay. The streets and sidewalks in the shopping areas were even more full of little stands selling everything imaginable. My main impression of the country was of a land of entrepreneurs, including many women wearing pants and operating their own small businesses, looking more free and equal than the women in India. All three Asian areas tend to have women guides on their tours for foreigners, but there seemed to be more independent women in Thailand. Certainly, there are fewer beggars, a constant sight in Indian cities like Bombay. In general, the people seemed more cheerful, with less sense of pressure.
Thailand is also a land of incredible gold-covered temples and orange-robed monks, seen everywhere. We were told on every tour that the country was 95% Buddhist, and my memory is that they have something like 30,000 temples. We saw one giant statue of Buddha that was solid gold. It had been covered with concrete at the time of an invasion from Burma, to save it from the attention of the invaders. Centuries later, after the land was again Thai, enough of the cement chipped off to reveal the gold, and it was restored to its original splendor. Another large statue of Buddha is emerald, and there are no words to describe the spectacular colors of the temples with mosaics of all colors forming roofs and walls interlaced with the gold. I wonder how much of the wealth of the country has been poured into the temples?
We saw many young boys in the orange robes of the monks, and were told that it was common for families to give them to the temple at an early age, but that they could not be fully accepted before the age of 21 and could “opt out” at that time if they wanted. One guide told us that all men in Thailand had to be monks for at least one day at the age of 21. They could remain in the order for one day, one week, one year, or life if they chose. They made the decision how long they wanted to stay with the vocation. The monks (and novices) wander the city in their orange robes with all their worldly possessions in a bag slung over the shoulder. In the morning, they go out with their bowls and someone gives them a meal. They are not supposed to eat anything after noon.
I asked about women joining an order and becoming nuns, but our woman guide giggled and said “oh they only do it if their heart is broken, if they are disappointed in love.” So women’s liberation is far from complete. Maybe women are more practical?
Besides the frequent temples and monks, another sign of the faith of the people was the omnipresence of “spirit houses”. These are models of houses, sometimes quite large and elaborate with the same bright colors as the temples, which are mounted on posts and placed in the yard or sometimes on the roof of a building. As the name says, they are literally “houses provided for spirits” who are thus invited to bless and protect the family or business providing their dwelling. Food and other offerings are made to the spirits, but one of our guides assured me that the Thai people are practical. After the food has been offered to the spirits and they have taken the “spiritual essence”, it can be eaten by the family. The idea of the spirit houses is more closely connected to the Hindu religion with its family shrine included in the homes of devout people, than it is to Buddhism. One guide told me that mostly people who practiced the Hindu religion had the spirit houses, but there were far too many for them to be limited to that, and another guide said that many Buddhists still believed in spirits and had the little houses. If I ever go back to Bangkok, I am going to try to ship one home to put in our garden. They are really unique and attractive. I think we are always surrounded by “spirits” in the sense of friends functioning on the next level beyond the physical body, and the little houses are a lovely reminder of their presence and help.
With the strong focus on spiritual principles in the country, but also the strong entrepreneurial climate, there are bound to be some interesting contradictions. Bangkok at least seems also to be noted for thieves. We were warned repeatedly by the desk clerk at our hotel not to leave valuables in our room and to be wary of men cutting my purse to take the contents, rather than just snatching it. So, of course, I had to experience the country’s specialty and lost all my U.S. money, traveler’s checks, credit cards, checkbook, and pocket computer to someone on a crowded bus. We called home, cancelled the credit cards and checking account, and will replace the traveler’s checks, but it was still a nuisance. Fortunately, the thief did not get my passport and Bill had enough money to handle the balance of our expenses for hotel and food. But I would have gotten some of the lovely Thai silk, one of their specialties, if that particular episode had not occurred. We discovered the purse had been cut up the end and some of the contents removed when more articles started falling out on the bus. I bought a leather purse after that, and recommend that anyone going to Bangkok either wear a money belt, carry their purse in a metallic bag that would resist a knife or razor blade, or avoid city buses at rush hour.
Other than the one episode with the thief, Bangkok treated us very well. Through a U.S. engineer met at Sai Baba’s ashram I was able to meet a Thai woman who was interested in astrology. Emorn provided me with the data for Thailand’s Prime Minister, Mr. Prem, as well as the date the country became a democracy and the founding of the present capital, Bangkok.
Looking at Prem’s chart, we see that he has a stellium in Leo in the twelfth house with Virgo rising along with Sun and two more planets in Virgo in the first house. Even hours are suspect, especially in a country which does not value astrology as India does, and which has less obsession with time than is common in our western world. But, if the time is accurate, Jupiter is exactly conjunct the Ascendant. Even if the time is only close, the rising Jupiter fits the choice of a political career, according to the Gauquelins’ research.
The Sun and Saturn in the first house add to the potential for power-drive, as does Mercury, ruling the MC, placed in Leo. The Moon, ruling the last degree in the tenth house, is in Capricorn in the Leo house, repeating the focus on power. The Taurus-Scorpio emphasis, particularly with Mars in Scorpio, says it again. The chart suggests a person with strong natural leadership potentials who is likely to move into a position of prominence.
On the other hand, the mutable emphasis is as strong as the fixed. The fixed signs are in mutable houses while he has a mutable sign in the first house (what we do naturally from the beginning of life) and the mutable Sun suggests a continued growth in practical intellect applied to the material world. Uranus in Pisces, opposite his Sun by progression for most of his life, and asteroids in Gemini and Sagittarius (especially since they are the Virgo asteroids) add to the mental capacity and general versatility of the nature. He looks like a competent, practical and conscientious worker.
The Leo-Virgo mixtures are great if they are integrated, with the fire providing initiative, creativity, enthusiasm, courage, the willingness to start things, while earth is realistic and productive. If the two elements are not integrated, the fire side of the nature wants to take risks and to keep moving on, bored with details and routine, while the earth side is cautious and wants to continue what is being done until it is done really well.
I can’t offer much information about Prem’s actual performance or how he is perceived in his country. Prior to this visit, I had not paid particular attention to Thailand in the news, knowing only that they have had a problem with refugee camps along their borders with Cambodia which presented a major challenge as the various factions in Cambodia and later the Vietnamese fought over the country. Thousands of Cambodians have been killed, and many more thousands have fled from the country, often wounded and near starvation. A variety of relief organizations provide food and medical assistance to the refugee camps, but they are still a constant concern to Thailand.
Prem was rarely mentioned during our stay, though one guide complained about his devaluation of the currency which occurred just before our visit. The local “baht” dropped from 23 to a U.S. dollar to 25 for a dollar. Though that seems like a rather small change, we did notice some prices marked up in the one store in which we made purchases. Mostly, we bought from the sidewalk stands. It was interesting to watch them arrive and set up shop, but sometimes difficult to get by on the sidewalk.
Continuing with the analysis of Prem’s horoscope, the concern with finances expressed in the devaluation of the local money is appropriate for a chart with a Taurus-Scorpio emphasis. Of course, most of the world is caught up in survival issues at present, so we would expect such themes to be present in their leaders. We would also expect idealism or faith to be important in the leader of a country in which religion seems as important as it is in Thailand. Prem has Mercury, ruling his MC and Ascendant, in the twelfth house along with both Neptune and Jupiter, the natural rulers of the twelfth, and the East Point as an auxiliary Ascendant. His Antivertex (another auxiliary Ascendant) is in the ninth house, our other house of faith, and we have mentioned Uranus in Pisces and Vesta in Sagittarius. Mercury (ruler of the first), Jupiter on the Ascendant, Antivertex in the ninth, and Chiron in Aries all show an identification with faith, whether the person feels he has arrived and has final truth and the right to what he wants (some of the negative results the Gauquelins have found in their Jupiter work), or whether the person feels that he must try to do God’s will and always to live as perfectly as possible. More often than not, the natural humility of Virgo will suggest the second tendency in a chart such as this one. Saturn in the first house can be similar; a choice of “my will is law” vs. “I must carry out the law and subjugate my own will to it.”
In addition to the rising Jupiter, prominent Saturn, and Capricorn Moon, I have often found Pallas strongly placed in the charts of people drawn to law and politics. Prem has Pallas just over a half degree from his Antivertex. Note that a birth occurring near the equator can have the Antivertex anywhere in the chart, including the western half as in this case. Normally, the Antivertex will fall in the eleventh to second houses.
On the whole, Prem’s chart seems favorable for his position. The earth emphasis shows practicality, the fire leadership, and the grand water trine can be nurturant as well as helped by others. The weak element is air, though there are planets in all the air houses. The high focus on mutables shows ample intelligence, but Prem may be overly serious and intense. He may have trouble gaining perspective and taking things lightly. Next to air, Taurus has the capacity to relax and say “that’s the way it is. Enjoy it anyway.” But Prem’s Taurus is in the ninth house, suggesting a tendency to develop it later in life, and the south node in Taurus suggests that the Taurus side of life is partly a lesson for him. If his faith in a higher power is sufficiently strong, he will be able to handle the stress of his position and the world’s problems but if the south node in the ninth house is also pointing to a danger of feeling that he has to do it all himself and a need to trust God to do a little more, he may be suffering some heavy pressures.
A brief look at Prem’s secondary progressions supports the probability seen in many other charts that 1985 will be a year of continued concern with responsibility and power. His Moon reaches the MC about the end of February at a time when the 1947 chart of India suggests the possibility of serious trouble. Prem’s progressed Ascendant is going over the progressed north node of the Moon while his progressed East Point is on the natal north node, thus activating that ninth house south node and the issue of faith and relationships with other countries. Thailand is very conscious of being a democracy surrounded by communist countries, with the belligerence of Vietnam a special concern.
Progressed Venus quincunx the south node and octile natal Moon points in the same direction. The same patterns can also be read as attention to financial needs. Relationships, perhaps including political ties, are also emphasized by progressed Sun on Juno while progressed Juno is on Mars. Mars opposite Pluto is a key to the issue of personal will and desires vs. the power and desires of others, calling for compromises. Some easing of strain might have occurred when the progressed MC left the quincunx to Uranus in the seventh house, but it is square Juno and approaching the square to the progressed nodes.
On the potentially positive side, progressed Vesta’s trine to natal Saturn and the long Jupiter conjunction with Saturn support much personal ability to cope, while Saturn’s long trine to the Moon is highly favorable for continued success in handling public needs. We will have to wait to see whether progressed Mercury moving into Sagittarius and into the fourth house, along with the Sun’s coming trine to Pluto but quincunx to Chiron and the Venus quincunx to Pluto, will bring changes of work or more challenges from the deteriorating situation in the world. We can certainly wish him well, and I’m sure that in the future, I will read the news of Thailand with greater interest.
The balance of this article will appear in the next issue of The Mutable Dilemma, including a description of Thai astrology and its relationship to Hindu astrology.
Thailand as Democracy; June 24, 1832; at 5 A.M. local mean time Bangkok; 13 N 45; 100 E 31.
Bangkok founded; April 21, 1782; about 6 A.M. local mean time Bangkok.