In this episode we talk with Ray Merriman from mmacycles.com about the importance of analyzing events in the context of cycles rather than fleeting planetary events. We discuss the Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions of 2020 and the insight that gives us into the timing of the pandemic, the importance of Pluto in 2020, and the question we all want the answer to: “when will it end?”
When Will It End? The Wisdom of Cycles in Astrology Transcript
Tony Howard: Well, hello, friends, and welcome to this episode of the Astrology University podcast, and today I’m really excited to have a new guest with us, Ray Merriman, of mmacycles.com and Merriman Market Analyst. So thanks for joining us, Ray, it’s great to have you here.
Ray Merriman: Thank you, it’s great to be here with you, Tony.
TH: So we’re gonna talk a bit about cycles and some great information that you’ve been sharing in your free weekly newsletter, but I thought you could start by telling our listeners a little bit about the focus of your work at Merriman Market Analyst.
RM: Fine, good. Well, the Merriman Market Analyst or MMA deals in market timing techniques and methodology that I’ve put together over the last 40 years. So the company itself is primarily service and product-oriented. We offer an annual forecast book, that’s our most popular item that comes out in December of every year, with our outlook for the next year.
And we have a monthly newsletter called the MMA Cycles Report. Now, that’s been present since 1982, and we have clients all over the world who’ve been subscribing to that since then. We also have a weekly report for active traders, and a daily report. Every day I writer a daily report on eight different markets for our very active traders. And in addition to that, I’ve written several books, helped develop a software program, and we do webinars occasionally too. So we sell these products, MP4s, books and software elements, as well.
TH: Thanks for sharing that. And folks, even though Ray’s work does include a lot of information on the stocks and stock analysis and trading, there’s also a lot of other information that I think just the general public would be very interested in as well. I love your annual book and there’s a lot of great information, even in the newsletter. I have to admit to skipping through some of the trading information myself, because I’m not a trader, but I love your newsletter for the astrological insights.
RM: Well, half of our clients are astrologers, because astrologers are doing well in the 21st century and they’re interested in the astrology part, plus the overview of the markets. But the other half are market people, and they’re interested a little bit in the astrology too. They know there’s something there that helps me with my market timing. So I got a nice mixture of market people and astrological knowledgeable people.
TH: And you’re not just working alone either, you have a whole team of people doing research as well. Can you tell folks a little bit about your team?
RM: Well, in 2013-2015, I put together what I call the MMTA, the Merriman Market Timing Academy, and I had 40 people sign up for it, for a two-year course, they traveled from all over the world, 40 people, and 20 of them actually graduated, stayed with me for two years, ’cause it’s not an easy course. And of those 20, I took the top 9 or 10, and I hired them to write on different markets, so I keep myself focused on the stock market and the precious metals markets, but I have my graduates who are now analysts themselves write about treasuries, interest rates, currencies, commodities, crude oil, soybeans, things like that.
So yeah, we have a team of nine different analysts right now who’ve been trained by me, who know my methodology and can write about it in the weekly or the monthly reports. And occasionally, I have them write in the annual report too.
TH: Cool stuff. That’s, it’s really great. It’s a real solid operation that you have going there. Congrats on that, for getting that together, yeah.
RM: Yes, it’s worked out well, it’s evolved very nicely here. Especially since… ‘Cause after I finished writing those books on the stock market timing, which by the way, that took me 15 years to complete, five volumes, over 1600 pages, it’s all quantitative research on cycles and astrology, long term, short term. But after I finished that, I thought, wow, what’s next, what can I do next? And I thought, well, the thing to do is teach people. I have to get some apprentices for my works of this knowledge that I put together remains out there for people who want to learn how to apply these market timing methods that aren’t available anywhere else, really.
TH: Right. One of the things I really appreciate is that not only is it research-based, but you’re demonstrating how you can’t just go by the numbers. At the end of the day you have to make a call or make a judgement based on the numbers and the cycles. And I think you do a great job with that, of demonstrating what that could look like.
RM: That’s true. I use cycle studies and I’ve done a lot of work on that, showing the numbers that go with how often these markets will bottom or top out without any astrology. And then I put astrology, and I’ve gone back and researched how many times they make 4% or greater reversals or 10% or greater reversals under each aspect of each two planets so that helps to narrow the time band down. Then technical analysis, and then chart patterns, with trend analysis. So you’re putting all of this together. And sometimes these studies aren’t congruent, they’re not complementing each other. In fact, that’s the way it probably has to be because market timing is a leading indicator.
So if your leading indicators say, hey, you got a top coming up here, your technicals aren’t gonna show that. The technicals are strong, they’re bullish. So you’d have to make some judgements here. And that’s the art and the science and the challenge of what I do.
TH: Well said, well said. The art, the science and the challenge, yes, I love it. Well, getting to some specifics, I wanted to talk about some astrology stuff. And we’re in the midst of all this COVID-19 business right now.
That is a health crisis unfolding and definitely correlating with what we saw coming this year, beginning with the Saturn-Pluto exact conjunction in January. But in the March 30th edition of your MMA Cycles newsletter, and this is in 2020 when we’re recording this, you start off with a couple of quotes about the market possibly rebounding after the public health crisis stabilizes, if it does. In previous writing you quoted Ben Bernanke predicting that we were headed for a drop-off anyway, in fact, using the analogy of Wile E. Coyote jumping off a cliff.
That is what Ben Bernanke had said, because the stimulus was applied to the economy at a time when it didn’t need it. That was his analysis. And it turns out the economy did take a sharp turn in 2020 but not because of something we could say organic to the economy, but definitely related to this health crisis that we’re in.
And still, the timing worked out pretty well according to your forecasting where you were predicting an 85% chance of a downturn. But what do you make of that? And do you still think that we could be headed for that more. For more of a drop-off after the crisis stabilizes?
RM: Yeah, let me talk about cycles for a second here. Because the reason I was forecasting that there would be a sharp downturn, I think I had March, April period, give or take a couple of months, was because you have a pre-presidential election cycle and almost 80% of cases during the year you have an election, there is a big drop between October and March prior to the election.
So since this book was written in October-November, and the markets were still making highs at that point, the idea was we’d still bought them somewhere before March, ideally. Then within cycles themselves, we have, we call it a 50-week cycle, and that can extend anywhere from 34 to 67 weeks. When you use that interval of time there’s like an 91% rate of frequency of good declines in the US stock market.
Well, that ended April 10th, that’s the 67th week. So I had a pretty good idea there was gonna be a drop before April 10th. And on top of that, we have what we call the four-year cycle, which like all cycles divides in either two or three equal sections. Well, one third section, six-and-a-half months, from the big crash we had in December of 2018, remember that Christmas crash we had, we had over a year ago? Well, 16 months later would take you to April, give or take three months. So I had a pretty good idea that we’re gonna get a bottom here by March, probably no later than April 10. So that part fit really well.
And that’s organic, that’s cycles, and it had nothing do with the… Well, it had nothing that I knew ahead of time would do with the pandemic. But the point is, those are not the longest term cycles, those are intermediate term cycles. So I knew there’d be a good decline then, maybe about 7.5% to 20%. But looking further ahead, we have a bigger decline coming up, that’s a six-and-a-half year cycle, and that is doing 2020 to 2023, and I’m associating that more with Saturn-Uranus.
Go back in history and look at Saturn-Uranus, especially the squares, but any Saturn-Uranus hard aspect, there’s an awful lot of cases, I can’t tell you exact number, maybe 80%, 90% of cases where the market does have a pretty good decline like 26% all the way to 90% in the Great Depression, it happened.
So I was expecting the final load to be somewhere around 2022, give or take a year. And again, based on astrology, you can also go back and look at the seven times than Saturn and Pluto were in a hard aspect. And within one calendar year, Saturn and Uranus were in a hard aspect. All seven times you had that decline of 26% to 89%. Most of them were around 30-55%.
So that’s when I’m looking for, a 30% to 55% decline, and it never happens before those aspects. The high is always during those aspects and half the time it happens before the Saturn-Uranus. Half the time it happens in the first part of Saturn-Uranus. But then the low happens during Saturn-Uranus or within two years afterwards. Okay?
So my theory, based on cycles, based on the astrology cycles, and based on rhythmic cycles, that we would have a first downturn due by April, March of 2020, we’d have a good rally after that. I wasn’t sure if we’d make a new high, we have a 50-50 chance of making a new high. I don’t even give 50-50 anymore ’cause we fell so much.
But then from that second high and we’re gonna get that… We’re in that second high period, I think. But from that second high, then I think we do go even lower to the final bottom, 2022, give or take one year, then I think we’re stable. So that’s the cycles part of it. That’s the astrology part of it, and I didn’t anticipate it would happen quite this fast that we’d get beyond 20%, but we are. It’s happening now. And I don’t think it’s gonna be done until we get to 2021, 2022, 2023.
TH: And for those of you who don’t know, right now, we’re in the beginning of the Saturn-Uranus square. Saturn has just entered Aquarius, and Uranus is in Taurus, and Saturn’s applying to square Uranus as we speak. And that square will just tighten up and then over the next couple of years, repeat. So that’s the cycle.
RM: It’s interesting too, Tony, as you look at that Saturn-Uranus coming up, it’s following the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in early Aquarius. Then they’re both gonna square Uranus. And you go back to the dot.com bubble burst, and it was the opposite. You had Jupiter-Uranus in Taurus, square Saturn in a… Or was it the other way… Let me get this right now. Uranus was in Aquarius then, and Jupiter and Saturn were in Taurus. Now, the reverse.
TH: Yeah, yeah. Interesting stuff, interesting stuff, yeah. It’s hard to imagine how we could be… People have talked about the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius coming in December of this year, of 2020, as heralding…
RM: On the solstice.
TH: As heralding a new dawn of an information age, and I’m like, “How could it be even more?” It just feels like we’re so in it, but I guess we’ll see how it increases then.
RM: Well, I think what’s happening then is when Jupiter and Saturn go into Aquarius, which breaks the earth cycle, you always get an earth cycle, then an air, then an earth again, then you’re finally into the air cycle. And so I think what we’re looking at is a movement away from the earth element emphasis, which is materialism, power, control, and we’re moving more into giving greater value again to information and knowledge. Somebody asked me, other day, “Well, do you think it might be wisdom?” And that’s an interesting intellectual conversation to have.
I think you need knowledge as a prelude to wisdom, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee wisdom, obviously. And I’m not so sure that the air signs are gonna be wisdom. I think when we get to the air signs moving toward water signs where you get the knowledge applied with compassion, then I think you get the wisdom. But I think we’re a little bit off for that.
TH: Yeah, definitely. Well, in the March 30th newsletter, and this is part of your weekly newsletters, you make a great point about the fear associated with the end of planetary cycles and then the hope represented by new ingresses. So, as one cycle comes to an end, and then it starts a new cycle. This is important because you point out that we’re in one of those moments right now. Can you say more about that and tell our listeners about the specifics of this particular transition?
RM: The whole idea of the end of a cycle comes from my studies of markets. When we talk about market cycles we’re talking about low to low, not the highs. The highs could be anywhere between those lows and that’s called the crest. So, you have periodicities that are in pretty tight orbs where markets make bottoms. You get ’em 18 weeks apart, you get ’em four years apart, you get ’em 18 years apart.
So when you get to the end of a market cycle, if the market’s coming down, the end of a cycle is always bearish. And beginning a new cycle is not bearish, it’s bullish, although it could be slowly bullish, but it is bullish, you don’t take out the bottom.
So I thought, “Why doesn’t that apply also to astrology, because planets move in cycles too?” And that was the gist of that article, because between March 20th and April 4th, we had four major conjunctions involving, well, Mars to each of the outer planets, and Jupiter to Pluto.
So March 20th you had Mars-Jupiter conjunct, March 23rd you had Mars-Pluto conjunct, March 31st, Mars-Saturn conjunct. And of course, last weekend you had Jupiter conjunct Pluto. That’s a lot of conjunctions in a short amount of time involving the outer planets, and Mars is the trigger. And plus you had Jupiter-Pluto, which is a major cycle, and is one of the outer planets, two of the outer planets.
So my thought was, as we’re going into the end of these planetary cycles, that could also be a time of fear, anxiety, hysteria, panic. And which of course is what we’re going through, especially since we don’t know what the result is gonna be. So I had this idea, “Well, it looks like the markets will bottom around that time,” because all those cycles were due then anyway, that you and I just talked about. The pre-presidential election cycle, the 50-week cycle, the 16-and-a-half-month cycle, they were all due as these planets were ending their cycles or planetary cycles.
So planetary cycles begin, I believe, with a conjunction. It’s sort of like a waxing-waning thing. When you’re waning, going towards the conjunction, things are becoming more and more obsolete, less and less applicable, useful. But there’s new ideas being generated that once we get past the conjunction and they start waxing, they start going into a growth cycle, you see these new realities starting to develop.
So, my thought was the stock market would bottom then and start a rally, which it has now, it’s been up what, over, close to… As of today, it’s over 4000 points from the low we had on March 23rd. And we’re starting to see the rate of incidence of COVID-19 starting to stabilize. They’ve been parabolically going up, now, they’re starting to stabilize. In some states are even starting to show some declining rates of incidences. I don’t know how long that’s gonna last, but that fits with the idea that we’re coming out of hysteria and we’re starting to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
And of course, like probably most astrologers, maybe yourself too, I’m a little worried that as we get better and better news out there, as we go into mid-May and see all those retrograde planets coming up that we might get a little complacent and relapse.
TH: Yeah, in the newsletter you wrote, “The retrogrades of mid-May indicate a temptation by our leaders to claim victory too soon. And if we don’t continue with the reforms to protect one another that we’ve begun to take seriously, and which are beginning to show positive results, we could be in danger of a relapse.” And this is because, I’m assuming you’re saying this because we’ve only had the first of the Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions and we’ve got two more, June 30th and November 12th, the last one being right after the US election.
So what do you think this longer Jupiter-Pluto cycle seems to be asking of us this year? You were saying if we don’t take the reforms, if we loosen up too much, we might be in danger of a relapse. So are you suggesting that we maybe be a bit more prudent, with all of that?
RM: That’s always the message of Pluto. When you have a hard Pluto aspect in the heavens, which affect the whole world or to your own chart, you’re not gonna get out unscathed thinking that, “I beat it.” You don’t beat Pluto. Pluto beats you.
But you don’t beat Pluto until you submit. Until you surrender. Once you surrender and say, “Okay, I’m powerless over this. I really have to change things because I can’t go back the way that things were because they’re not gonna be the way that they were.” Once you adapt to that, once you accept it, once you surrender to that and make that reform in your own behavior, then you get the healing power of Pluto.
And the same thing goes with the world, we’re under this Jupiter-Pluto, which is extreme measures. We’re under extreme measures, were all quarantined and staying at home and have all kinds of anxieties involving economics. But the point is that once we accept and adapt to this, we can get the economy going again, we can get our lives going again. Certainly as astrologers, it’s actually a positive time for our economics, I think, ’cause people need us at this time, they need the kind of understanding that we have. They don’t have it available anywhere else, we deal in time.
So the idea that, what’s the purpose or what’s the lesson behind this Jupiter-Pluto, I think it’s… I think we wanna be careful not to be going to our Jupiter optimism too quickly because Pluto’s not done, okay? If we do go into optimism too quickly, I think Jupiter is gonna hit us right back again. And don’t forget, when we get to the fall, the next flu season, Mars is gonna be up there squaring those planets now. Right now, it’s a conjunction.
I don’t think the square- it’s a waxing square. I don’t look at the waxing square as being quite as challenging as a conjunction. A waning square, I would. To me, a waxing square is like the pain of birth. You’re already waxing, you’re going forward, but you got a crisis here you gotta solve to continue the forward march. Whereas a waning square I think is more terminal, okay?
So I’m not quite so afraid of this waxing square, but I do think we could have a relapse during that time next winter, next flu season, if we don’t continue these practices of changing our behavior, changing the way we interact with each other, which really comes down to caring for each other, protecting each other, working with each other cooperatively as a human family, if you will, to overcome this threat to our health and to heal us. Heal us individually and heal us as societies.
If we can continue these practices that lead to the healing, we will be okay, I think we’ll come out of this. It may take about a year and that’s when they’re expecting the vaccines and all that to come out, which I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.
But that is gonna come out, I believe the vaccines will come out within a year. But more important than that is to register the lessons that we’re learning from this transformation that’s been demanded of us in our behavior toward one another. And really, our behavior towards how we handle our dealings with the Earth itself.
TH: Definitely. And it’s such an intense year for the convergence of all these cycles layered on top of each other. And then going back to what we were talking about earlier with the end of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in Earth, which have been… We’ve talked about that a lot, I think our listeners are pretty familiar with that at this point. But if you’re not, the short version is we’re coming out of a roughly 200-year cycle where we’re gonna see a whole series now of just air conjunctions.
And so, it really is a sea change and this pandemic could serve as a catalyst for deeper structural changes because we’ve all… Not all of us, but a lot of us, the majority of us maybe, have been asked to stop and stay in place and change how we’re… At least change the speed of how we’re interacting with the world if nothing else, and some of us in even deeper ways. And of course, some people are in deep states of crisis where they have lost their job and don’t know when they’re gonna be able to work again.
But even for those people, if there is an opportunity, if we wanna say that there is one, it could be that that does present an opportunity to make a deeper change.
RM: Absolutely. Well, that’s the lesson of… Not only did three planets conjunct Capricorn, but two of them involving Pluto. We talked about Jupiter-Saturn, but there’s a Jupiter-Pluto which you’ve also mentioned, and the Saturn-Pluto, and in Capricorn. So we’re talking… And this, we could, this, I think, all astrologers were able to forecast.
This will be a year of structural changes, okay? Changes in the economy, changes in government, changes in central bank policy. There’s a lot of demands on reforming all these structural things and the old ways of behavior and dealing with structures and limitations, if you will, and boundaries, they’re not working.
We gotta create new boundaries, we gotta break down those old boundaries and create new boundaries that actually, I think, are more Capricornian, protective, safeguards for the future, and hopefully we learn the lessons from this so we don’t have these types of consequences again from our complacency.
TH: Definitely. Well, a very common question I’ve been getting and I know you’ve been getting too because you mentioned it in the newsletter is clients calling up and saying, “When is this gonna end?” So, do you wanna say just a few words about how you respond to that question? One of the things you said in the newsletter is, “I don’t know.”
RM: I don’t know exactly when it’s gonna end. I have… As a market timer using astrology, I have these periods of time where I think the energies, the planetary energies, if you will, are most intense. And one of them was March 20th to the 31st, maybe even until today, April 7th. That’s when all those conjunctions were happening. And I did think that’s the height of hysteria of panic and that’s gonna change. It doesn’t mean that the cases of Coronavirus or deaths from it stop, I don’t think that’s gonna happen. But this is it, the panic time.
Now, the next time that comes up is when Venus, Jupiter and Saturn go retrograde, May 10th to the 14th. And I think it was back in 1998, 2000 that I began to talk about the importance of retrogrades, that they’re not just like an aspect that comes and goes quickly, they actually highlight that planetary energy for up to one or two degrees, which in the case of Saturn, Uranus and Pluto and Neptune, that can last for a few weeks. And so, here’s three of them at once. And Venus retrograde has a very important and consistent correlation to market lows or highs, long-term lows or highs. You might remember the, I’m digressing here just a second.
But the bottom on March 9th, 2008, the bottom of the Great Recession, was Venus retrograde. And the top we had, and the last Venus retrograde was the top we had in October of 2018, after which the Federal Reserve Board started raising rates and the market crashed. We had a mini-panic then, which was a prelude to what we’re going through now. So, that was the last Venus retrograde.
So Venus retrograde has a pretty good legacy for timing important changes in the markets, and usually as a result of central bank or economic and sometimes political changes involving fiscal policy, monetary policy, how we handle the money. And so, I’m thinking the same thing’s gonna happen. There’s gonna be something happening in May where the politicians may say, “Okay, it’s okay to go back to work.”
People can start going back to work, they can relax a little bit. And if people relax too much with Venus retrograde, especially Jupiter and Saturn retrograde, my concern is the virus is still out there, it’s not totally controlled. It’s okay to go back to work if you’re not going to expose other people or put yourself in an exposing situation, but we have to continue these measures, whether it’s wearing face masks, whether it’s a sanitary, wiping our hands with sanitary tissues.
We have to continue these things, because we get too lax, especially with the warm weather, it will seem like we’re overcoming it. And then when we get Mars in the Aries hitting that square again, it comes back. That’s my concern, that it comes back. And that really pushes the economy down into that bottom I’m looking for in 2021, 2022 period.
So when people ask me, “When’s it gonna end?” So, I have three places I’m looking at, one is right now, but I don’t think it’s ending, I just think the rate of increase is ending now. May, it’s gonna seem like it’s ending. The next one is the second Jupiter-Pluto passage, Tony, when… Late June, because then you got three other planetary stations. You got Mercury going retrograde, Neptune going retrograde, Venus going direct. That’s important.
I think by that time, once we get past that, we’ll know whether or not we have to cancel large gatherings in the fall, for instance, like the ISAR conference. We’ll know what to plan for the fall, at least, but we’re gonna have a testing period that I believe in mid-May through late June. And so, I may not even know after then, but my suspicion is that it looks like it’s getting better by the end of June, but it could come back again in the fall.
TH: Yeah, which is awkward timing if you’re planning those fall events based on the information at the end of June, and then it kind of does sneak back in. But we’ll just do what we can. It’s not hard to imagine, as you were describing that, that after being so pent up that people just wanna get out there and that some people are careless. It’s also not to imagine some other people being especially careful. So I think probably we could predict some mix of that.
RM: Well, think of yourself, as an astrologer. I mean, we’re part of the astrology community and your listeners are part of the astrology community. Wouldn’t you be kind of excited to hear what 120 of the top astrologers of the world are thinking now that we’ve gone through this? An opportunity to get together and share these ideas in person?
RM: I think we really want that and I think we’re gonna be very excited about that. And I don’t think, personally, I don’t… I think we’re gonna be okay at that point to do that. That’s my hope, of course. And the relapse that I’m seeing, the coming back, but I don’t think that’s gonna be more until we get to late October or November, and that period. So I think we got a little window of time there, especially given that Jupiter will be direct at that time, Sun will be trine Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto. Mars is retrograde, but it’s in its ruling sign. So I think there’s a window of time there that we have a chance of convening still.
TH: And it’s just the beginning of the Mars retrograde. And I like how you pointed out that the Mars retrograde means that that square, even if it’s a bit lighter as you’re hoping relative to the conjunction, that period will last longer. Mars will be in Aries longer because of the retrograde. So that’s important to point out. I also loved how you pointed out when you said, “You don’t beat Pluto until you surrender,” ’cause we were just teaching Pluto in a course we did on the outer planets. And we were using Howard Sasportas’ book The Gods of Change, where he tells the Hydra myth.
Where in order for Hercules to beat the Hydra, the first thing he has to do is kneel down. So he has to sort of bow down in the muck of the mess of Pluto before he can ultimately defeat the Hydra. And that’s just such a great image for what we need to do now.
RM: Well, consider also what Pluto’s doing to some very significant charts in our world economy and government. I’m one who believes that the United States chart is July 2nd, when the vote was completed. Which would be when Moon was conjunct Pluto in Capricorn. Where, I mean, Pluto returned, but it’s also Pluto on our Moon on July 2nd chart. So, it’s hitting the US chart, it’s hitting Donald Trump’s chart, it’s opposed his Venus and Saturn. It’s hitting the Federal Reserve Board chart, it’s Jupiter opposite Mars and Neptune. It’s hitting Jerome Powell’s chart. It’s hitting the chart of China, it’s hitting China’s stock exchange, it’s hitting the New York Stock Exchange. We all got planets between 22…
TH: Starting to see a pattern!
RM: All between 22 and 27 degrees. And even the first stock market of the world, that Karen Hamaker-Zondag talks about, the modern day stock exchange, it has Jupiter 25 of Aries. So all these charts 22, 27 degrees of the cardinal signs are getting hit by Pluto. So something big is happening, and we’re just in the beginning part of that and we’re feeling the health part of it, but there’s an economic transformation that’s gotta take place here too.
TH: And it’s not just in the United States, it’s across…
RM: Worldwide. It’s all over. Yeah. This is true.
TH: Well, thanks so much for joining me today, Ray, it’s been a pleasure. I hope to have you back on the show again soon.
RM: Okay, thank you, Tony. Pleasure being with you.