Astrological groundrules 3:
The Outer Planets
Each planet has a quality of energy of its own. These qualities are expressed through a filtration process brought about by the successive zodiacal signs, such that the qualities go through a cycle of modulations reflecting the pattern and sequence of the zodiac. The quality of each planet acts on the nuance of each sign, in its own way.
Here is an outline of the planets' influences, moving from the outermost, slowest planet inwards, from Pluto to Jupiter. These suggestions do not categorically define or close the possibilities of a planet's influence. They are intended to help you tune into the essence of something which, in the end, is inadequately described in words.
Pluto has a cycle of 250 years, and it spends 12-36 years in each sign (currently fast in Scorpio and slow in Taurus). In its effect on history, Pluto forces through changes in reality which are an inevitable consequence of what has already been done and decided. Its passage through the signs creates generations of people with fundamentally different starting-points from which they work, It shows what each generation is obsessed with creating and avoiding, and the fundamental standpoint it is committed to.
Pluto works under the surface, bulldozing obsolete or inappropriate clutter and putting a strong spotlight on the issues suggested by the sign it is in at any time. Its actions are final and difficult to avoid – if its regenerative energies are blocked, they turn to destruction and subversion. It is sweeping, uncontrollable, at times ruthless, fundamental and deep in its capacity to move things. It concerns truth and lies, breakthrough or oppression, social control and the the underground, shadowy or corrupting activities this can bring.
Pluto either exposes or reinforces underlying patterns, secrets or possibilities, depending on human response to its pressures. It can bring abrasion, showdowns, purges and pogroms, cruelty, 'cleansing'. If change is solidly blocked, Pluto brings corrupting influences, degeneration and breakdown, seeking to create breakthrough and regeneration by background means.
Pluto can either breach resistance or stimulate reactionaries and conservatives to find evermore painful ways of blocking it by force. Through this process, changes sooner or later come through. For Pluto's end-game is transformation, ongoing death-rebirth of all forms, arising from the deeper choices humanity makes, or omits to make.
Neptune's cycle is 165 years, and it spends around 13 years in each sign. Neptune concerns awareness and consciousness – how people experience and see life in their time and context. In its movements it seeks to create contextual shifts and changes in value and attitude, in relation to the succession of themes in the zodiac.
At times it brings reality-flips or the derailment and subsidence of safe knowns, or it opens the curtains on new scenarios and possibilities. It concerns visions and illusions in every age-group – what guides and inspires them, and what they are blind to, what they misconstrue. It dissolves the past and the normal, sending them into a slow skid and evaporation which creeps up from behind.
Yet it brings the visionary dreams which draw us forward, challenging us to manifest them. It can bring chaos, confusion and unknowing, slippage, gridlock and backlogs. Yet it can unblock calcified or sclerotic energy-channels, eroding obstacles, overflowing and circumventing barriers. It can bring directionlessness and clarity in the same situation, offering people a choice of how to see things. It speaks through poetry, music and religion, elucidating our relationship with the unfathomable.
Neptune renders the old obsolete, clears the way and creates open space for new developments. If blocked, these energies go stagnant and rot – social energies become depleted and hopeless. Yet this inevitably leads to new stirrings, starting from an utterly new perspective.
Uranus' cycle is 84 years, and it spends around seven years in each sign. Uranus makes people restless, seeking change – or building new ways of avoiding and hijacking it. Its travels through the zodiac can bring reversals, shocks, diversions, inversions, shake-ups.
It is the twister, keeping us on our toes, stirring us up when things get stuck. It often works through exacerbating opposition or polarised situations, driving toward rebellion or revolution – or extreme suppression. It turns up the heat with collective manias and wildfire-preoccupations, fanaticism, evangelism and crusading, or simple escalation of social tensions. It tries to pop the bubble, energising, disturbing and dislocating and causing sudden eruptions.
Yet it also brings innovations and precedents, a scissors action on the past, generating futuristic or radical options, ideologies and departures from the norm. Uranian characters are radicals, stirrers, innovators, dissenters, and bringers of change, whether from above or below.
Uranus cuts down the old, through it can also push the old into fighting back, by deflecting attention onto tangential issues. It brings zany, rash or exploratory ventures, new inspirations and unexpected factors into situations – especially when reality seems to have been taped up.
Chiron's cycle is 51 years, and it spends 1-8 years in each sign, varying (currently fast in Libra and slow in Aries). Chiron seeks to make the impossible manifest. So far, the three outer planets above have worked with deeper human urges, psychology and dynamics, but Chiron plays with the interface between the improbable and the manifest. It creates paradoxical, compromising, confronting or opportunity-rich situations, provoking a choice whether to respond by default pattern or a new, resolving and healing way.
This concerns how we see things, yet it is directly connected into problems before us. To create a miracle (an unlikely magic outcome) a thoroughly impossible situation must precede it, to provoke the intensity of situation needed to catalyse new solutions. Chiron characters are mavericks, gifted people, facilitators, catalytic actors, prophets, healers, problem-solvers and people with a 'magic touch'.
The choice offered is to be on-the-pulse or weighed down and hemmed in by complications. Chiron turns apparent problems into solutions, with but a shift of seeing. It makes practical use of the unconscious, through dowsing, greenfingers, healing touch, intuition and channelling, reconfiguration and the arising of hidden gifts. And if things don't move, they lapse into gridlock and mutually-reinforced brittle rigidity.
Saturn's cycle is 28 years, spending just over two years in each sign. With Saturn we enter a denser realm concerning structure, application and form. It has a solidifying influence, involving engineering, practicalities, law, governance, responsibility and order. In society, control, seniority, lineage and authority are its expressions. It stabilises things and adheres to tradition and established means.
Policy-making, bureaucracy, control- and organisation-systems, foundations, institutions. By constricting subtler energies it squeezes them into definite shape, held down and committed to. It influences conservatism both in its moderating and its blocking aspects. Yet it is necessary: it affects contracts, arrangements, procedures and protocols by which masses of people coordinate their activities.
It works through threat of failure, downturn, difficulty and deficiency. It engenders discipline through respect or fear. Yet it draws deeper energies into tangible from, over time, creating a history from which we all draw. Saturn prompts us to get organised – or create consequential difficulty for ourselves.
Jupiter's cycle is 12 years, and it spends roughly one year in each sign. Jupiter moves things into motion, fired by hope and promise. It precipitates events, growth and progress, investing energy to create outcomes. It influences upswings, expansionism, rapid development, imperialism.
It rests on belief and the deep wish to imprint history with momentous contributions. It energises business and enterprise, borrowing-lending, trading and gambling, philanthropy and magnanimity, and it influences our understanding of life through learning, culture, wider ideas and broadening of horizons. Jupiter gives societies the urge to move forward, make things better and invest energy in the future.
Jupiter and Saturn, from the viewpoint of centuries, move quite fast – Jupiter makes a cycle of the zodiac in 12 years, and Saturn in 28 years (7 and 3 cycles in a longish lifetime of 85 years). Thus, in our overview of many centuries, these two planets do not feature strongly, except when they interrelate with the slower planets, upping their tempo when they meet in major interplanetary configurations.
Orbital Periods (in years)
Chiron has a cycle of 51 years, playing a valid connecting role in interfacing deeper with more manifest energies and changes in history. Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, with cycles outstretching the generations, work under the surface, with deeper, unplanned issues, in the minds and back rooms of humanity, and often from within subcultures within any civilisation.
Both Chiron and Pluto have eccentric orbits – they swing closer to and further from the Sun during the course of a full orbit. This means that they speed up and slow down in their movements through the zodiac signs. Currently, Pluto spends 12 years in Scorpio and 36 years in Taurus ( and a range of durations in between in other signs), and Chiron spends one year in Libra and eight years in Aries. This creates some unusual patterns of aspects with the other planets, which orbit the Sun in a roughly regular, near-circular pattern.
The Historical Ephemeris
by Palden Jenkins
Astro-historical tables for 2,500 years