Country Branding Syria and Dreams of Obama

Virgo 2013

Poor Barack. As if he didn’t have enough problems at home. Apart from yet another mass shooting, he now has Syria to deal with, not to mention Russia. Whatever he does, it will be wrong. I was contemplating this problem astrologically and then I watched a TED video which was part of TED Auckland 2013 – Kiwi ideas worth spreading. They had some interesting speakers, among them the former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark. She spoke about the need for more women in leadership and how they need support. Interesting to hear what is really needed from someone who should know. Helen is currently Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. But I digress. I don’t want to talk about that, even though I agree with her.

This woke me up
The talk that got me really fired up, was the one from Brian Sweeney who is the New York-based Chairman of SweeneyVesty, a global corporate communications company founded in Wellington. Brian talked about Nation Branding. That’s right – image, PR and logos for countries! I didn’t realise it was a ‘proper’ thing – it is even part of academia. Wikipedia (yes sorry – I know it’s becoming a dirty word) states:

Nation branding aims to measure, build and manage the reputation of countries (closely related to place branding). The branding and image of a nation-state “and the successful transference of this image to its exports – is just as important as what they actually produce and sell.” Nation branding is still a developing field in which scholars continue their search for a unified theoretical framework. Many governments have resource dedicated to Nation Branding. Their aim is to improve their country’s standing, as the image and reputation of a nation can dramatically influence its success in attracting tourism receipts and investment capital; in exports; in attracting a talented and creative workforce and in its cultural and political influence in the world.


Image from – some great images here!

At last! I thought. A real straight job that I could not only do but enjoy! And I could even provide a “unified theoretical framework” – if only anyone would listen to an astrologer.

I told you so!
Two of my previous posts touched on Nation Branding even though I didn’t have a name for it then. One was about the New Zealand flag – a subject close to Brian Sweeney’s heart. In the Pisces 2010 post I asked “Can you brand a country?” The other was about “Your country calling” – Capricorn 2009 – which talked more about roles of countries, but the same archetypes would be used for any branding.

Brian’s brainchild is the website, his personal campaign for Nation Branding New Zealand. He says:
“Globally, most people do not think of New Zealand and Innovation in the same sentence. This site aims to put them together, wrapped in the Edge metaphor which positions New Zealand’s role to be “world-changers”.  “World Class” is good but it is a model pursued by lots of people in lots of countries and many out-perform us. As the filmmaker Gaylene Preston said a few years back, “We need a better set of myths.””

Clearly then, I am not most people! Innovation is one of the things I mentioned. The dominion horoscope for New Zealand shows this strongly. In fact a lot of what I said aligns with Brian’s ideas. We are on the same page, but astrology could provide a better set of myths! Just ask.


Dreaming lion – Photo from Scott Collis – dreamstime.

Back to the dream
After making all these links and getting excited about branding a nation (doesn’t take much to get me going!), I had a vivid dream about Obama. (No – not that sort!) As you do in a dream, I had no trouble meeting him. We had a nice chat wherein I explained the following.

“Barack – I know you are committed to being of service to your country (private thought – 6th house Sun), but you will always have to serve under a bigger morphic field – that of the USA.” (Even in the dream I thought this would be great for this Virgo (service) post – yes I know – I’m a sad case!)

He seemed interested.

“Even though you are doing your best”, I continued, “there are forces bigger than you at work. The US is a Cancerian country (born on the 4th July) so you will always have to worry about protection. You have to protect those Syrian children and you have to put Syria on the naughty step!”

“And the UK is Capricorn”, I went on – “they are going to worry about the rules, not protection.”

Amazingly (even in the dream), he continued to listen.

“And NZ …” (private thought – he won’t want to know about NZ!)…

Change of scene

Barack in a private room having a snooze. His aide goes in and asks him something about me and comes back. To my surprise he says “OK sign this. We’ll work out your exact rate later but between 1500 and 4000 – and four days a week.” “Dollars?” I mumbled.

“Yes, yes” he said and seeing my confusion – “a day” he said.

I left and said to myself


Later I thought (still in the dream) – what the hell am I going to do four days a week and where do I have to be and if I am giving this strategic advice to heads of state shouldn’t I be getting more?!!


Morning tea! Photo Karlien Du Plessis – dreamstime

Awakening thoughts
A president really does have to serve under a culture that is stronger than anything he can do. Not that I think that what we do at a personal level can’t make a difference – particularly if you happen to be a president. But the level of consciousness affects everything. The Cancerian theme is very strong in the US. This is what I wrote about the US in that earlier post: “Three archetypes are relevant : Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. The calling includes words like patriotism, protection, judgement, vision, rules, regulations and responsibility. Their calling on the world stage is to put forth a vision and try to act in an advisory capacity. They could also be judges, but this too often comes out as the “we know best” syndrome. It is good to see that diplomacy is on their list again when dealing with other countries, as I believe they could set a vision for this. The protection idea needs to extend to a global perspective, not just one for the US. They do have something to offer in this area.”

Barack is trying to extend protection globally by (among other things) talking of the children suffering from the use of chemical weapons. But the US is not yet ready to do this. Protection at home is still felt to be an issue. So he can’t get this message across.

We all have to cope with living in a particular culture – country charts are useful for analysing that culture and for examining how you may experience a country.

So what about Syria and Russia? – I hear you ask.
Russia is tricky – astrologically as well! To look at a country’s calling or its mission or its branding we need a start date and for Russia there are many. Should we take when Gorbachev resigned or when the Russian flag was raised? Or Boris Yeltsin’s public announcement of the Minsk declaration which declared Russia’s independence in 1991? It would need a lot more research to see what works. But the archetype most people feel with Russia is Pluto-Scorpio. The biggest question for a large part of the world in the issue of Syria giving up their chemical weapons is: Can we trust Russia? The downside of the secretive, power-loving Scorpio archetype. Scorpio-Pluto can take the lead. But is Russia’s level of consciousness sufficient to be able to use this archetype in a pure way?


Cartoon by Gary Clement – National Post

Syria does however have a start date we can use. The French agreed to transfer all the mandate powers to the Syrian government on January 1st 1944. This makes them a Capricorn country. Leadership themes in this horoscope are Capricorn, Pluto and Neptune. They are suffering not only from a negative expression of these astrological archetypes, but they are also right in the midst of the perils of being born on January the 1st which I wrote about in January this year where I mention Syria.

This is a double Pluto whammy for Syria with Uranus as a side dish. Pluto hit them on January 2nd and August 11th this year and will do it again on October 29th. This is not auguring well. Assad will not give up his power and it is now clear that in August chemical weapons were used. The last date in this group is October 29th. Watch this space – but I am not hopeful that it will be positive. Syria’s leaders could be a powerful force for transformation but the first step would have to be to use the Capricorn energy positively and take responsibility instead of blaming everyone else.

Uranus, which represents rebelliousness (on both sides), hit Syria on April 13th this year and will do so two more times, once this year on November 3rd and January 29th next year. The Prime Minister narrowly escaped death in April, and on the 13th April nerve gas was used. This too is not a good sign. Again watch this space – but you don’t need astrology to see that the rebels and the government are not likely to back down.

Let’s face it – Syria could definitely do with something to help ‘improve their country’s standing, image and reputation’. If I was branding the leadership I would use Capricorn, Pluto and Neptune – responsible, transforming, and creative! What a pity these are not being put to good use. Instead we are getting authoritative, deadly and full of deception. Or maybe delusional? Can they take a leap of consciousness and live up to their possible potential? Below in the website links is a wonderful suggestion for a solution.

branding country

A suggested logo for Syria – interesting nation branding project by Kinan Mansour at

Well – at least I can direct my own marketing now – it makes it easier when you have a small target group and know what to call yourself! Anyone want to introduce me to a world leader?

Faye Blake-Cossar

Interesting Websites of the Month

All the lectures from TED Auckland are on YouTube including Helen Clark and Brian Sweeney. The one from Robert Oliver about food also offers a great business model.

This is a wonderful post by Nick Oakley-Smith on How do you solve a problem like Syria?

One of the world experts on Nation Brands is Simon Anholt, although he insists that branding a nation is impossible! There is an article by him: Beyond the Nation Brand: The Role of Image and Identity in International Relations

If you are interested in what Australia should be doing re its image, here is a Part 1 of a 3-part video presentation – it gives an example of how Simon uses this information. It is very amusing as well as informative.

This Month’s Quote

“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.” George Bernard Shaw

Notes for Astrologers

I used Barack Obama and Helen Clark as examples in my vocation book – they both have 6th house Suns.

Barack Obama: 4 August 1961, 19:24 Honolulu, Hawaii.
Helen Clark: 26 February 1950,19:30 Hamilton, New Zealand.

New Zealand became a dominion at midnight, 26 September 1907. The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Neptune, Ceres and Venus all make aspects with Uranus.

NZ horoscope

Image from

I use the Sibly chart for the USA: 4 July 1776, 17:10 Philadelphia, PA. I refer here to aspects with the Sun as I do for Syria.

Syria independence details from The Book of World Horoscopes by Nicholas Campion: 1st January 1944, 0:00, Damascus, Syria. The Pluto-Uranus square is transiting Syria’s Sun.

The United Kingdom chart I use is January 1st 1801, 0:00, Westminster. The Sun is also affected by the Pluto-Uranus square of course.

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