In the early hours of 2016, more than a 100 women were sexually assaulted by roaming gangs of men in the streets of the German city of Cologne. At least one was raped. At least 1000 men are said to have been involved in the organised attacks.
It took five days for the media to catch up with the story.
Cologne is a 2000-year old town on the banks of the River Rhine. It was smashed to pieces in World War 2 and as it rose from the rubble again, lovingly rebuilt in its own image, it became symbolic of the new, peaceful Europe, a place where old rivalries could be finally buried.
The fireworks by the Rhine on New Year’s Eve are, apparently, rather good. People come in from all over the surrounding area to see them.
This year as usual young people took the train into town, but when they got off they found they had to walk through a crowd of men, described as “North African” looking, or maybe “Arab”. Women were groped, mauled, bruised, pushed to the ground, had their clothes ripped and their possessions stolen.
From The Guardian.
“One of the victims, identified only as Katja L, told the Kölner Express:
“When we came out of the station, we were very surprised by the group we met, which was made up only of foreign men…We walked through the group of men, there was a tunnel through them, we walked through…I was groped everywhere. It was a nightmare. Although we shouted and hit them, they men didn’t stop. I was horrified and I think I was touched around 100 times over the 200 metres.”
One investigator told the Kölner Express: “The female victims were so badly pushed about, they had heavy bruises on their breasts and behinds.”
This assault on the women of Cologne is an assault on freedom. A core theme of the women’s movement is “taking back the night”, making the streets safe for women.
In parts of the world, women are not free to walk down the street at all, and in much of the world, the risk of going out at night, even chaperoned, is death. Remember the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh in Delhi two years ago. Even if you’re not going to be murdered, you risk molestation. For example, according to the UN, 99.3% of women in Egypt have been sexually harassed. If you’ve ever walked down the street in Cairo, you’ll wonder about the .7%.
But in Europe, it’s normal to feel safe. That’s not to say it’s always safe, but most of the time, it is. What happened on New Year’s Eve broke that. It was a reminder of a different kind of world, a place where we might live if history had worked out differently, a world where public spaces are not safe for women.
In Europe and the West, public space used to equal male space. That’s changed over the last 100 years. And the other side to that is that men have been allowed into the kitchen and the nursery. We don’t have perfect equality between the sexes, but we are stumbling there. And this sharing of public and private space is essential to our evolving collective identity.
To write in sociologese for a moment, the gendering of space has been transformed in the West over the last century, but in much of the world public space is still male, while private space is female.
Think of the signs around the zodiac. Aries, the first one is I or me; then as we move around, the signs become more and more collective in nature, until we reach Pisces, the collective unconscious, the mystery. But before we get to Pisces, we have Capricorn, the collective earth sign, the sign that rules the topmost house in the “natural” chart. This is the sign of public life, government, indeed you could say, for Victorians, for example, the “masculine world” or public spaces. This as opposed to the Cancerian world of hearth and home, the “angel in the house”, another Victorian concept. But you can translate these ideas to say, the harem and the salamlek in traditional Ottoman houses, or today, in, say Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.
During this transit of Pluto through Capricorn (since 2008) and Uranus in Aries (since 2010), we have seen the Occupy movements and the Arab Spring transforming public spaces such as Tahrir Square in Cairo. In contrast, we have also seen the privatisation of much space that used to be publicly owned.
Then there were the attacks in Paris last year. These were also about the dominion of public space. Parisians went on the offensive after the massacre at the Bataclan by going on “en terrasse”; drinking, eating and having fun in restaurants and cafés.
The hard square between Uranus and Pluto, the individual and the organised group is no longer exact. However, it’s just one degree away, so every time a fast moving planet touches one, then the other outer planet, the square re-emerges. Pluto is also a planet associated with criminality and the underworld.
It’s noteworthy that Lilith, the notional Dark Moon, the goddess of transgression was rising in the chart for Cologne at midnight. Not only that, she is creating a T-square with Uranus-Pluto. Now, there are good things to do with Lilith in your own chart, but this is a dangerous marauding energy. There’s a reason Lilith is strong in the charts of serial killers and crime writers. Remember, she is the goddess of dead babies, vagina dentata, the untamed.
Venus, the planet of young women — and the victims were mostly young, was at 2° Sagittarius, the freest, funnest position for Venus. This is a party Venus.
Pluto is also associated with crime and the underworld, in Capricorn, crime becomes organised.
The mauling men of Cologne demonstrated contempt for women. Maybe that’s rooted in fear of the wild feminine. If you come from a culture where women are covered, at home, shut in, then the women of Europe out on the town for a night of fun are the embodiment of feminine freedom — dangerous, intriguing, “wicked”. Shrews that need taming. But Lilith is also manifesting within these men as the spirit of uncivilisation, anti-nurturing, uncaring. Lilith is the opposite of the Moon.
Lilith is currently in Libra, a highly political sign. A sign of argument, discussion, confrontation, dialectic. Libra is a sign of opposition. And what happened in Cologne was a clash of cultures. Of course, the politicians of Left and Right are piling in now. The far right in Germany and across Europe gets just the ammunition it needs, while the Left is in a pretzel trying to figure out how to defend women’s rights, defend refugees but condemn the attackers and avoid racism. Already the stories of the victims are being lost in the political name-calling.
This incident triggers the tension between generosity and fear, Jupiter and Saturn, which are squaring each other — widely at the moment but the stress is there already. Meanwhile, Jupiter hovers near the North Node. This will have big repercussions.
With Mars (men in uniform) in Scorpio (retribution) for much of this year, there’s no doubt that things could get unpleasant.
Why was there silence about this outrage for five days? Indeed, it was not until Mercury turned retrograde that the news began to spill out. Mercury turned back towards the Sun and Pluto. On the day the news began to spread, the Sun squared Lilith exactly.
Sexual violence is a endemic in much of the world, according to the UN, but it’s something that we still have trouble discussing.
Mercury, the planet of talk, will be retrograding back over the incident in the coming weeks. So far, the commentariat silence here has been resounding — except for this interesting piece by an African poet resident in Berlin.
Women’s right to occupy public space is under attack right in the heart of Europe.