Uranus-Neptune Cycles in History - Historical Ephemeris

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600 BCE - CE 2200

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3. Groupthink, awareness and Uranus-Neptune cycles




Uranus and Neptune have relatively regular cycles – their orbits around the Sun are close-to-circular, so the complexities brought along by eccentric Pluto do not apply here. Successive conjunctions of Uranus and Neptune roll along every 170-172 years, and there's a certain consistency to their positioning too. Each conjunction occurs roughly half a sign (16-18°) further along the zodiac, which means that, usually, each sign receives two conjunctions, covering a two-cycle period lasting 240-245 years. This is close to the zodiacal cycle of Pluto at 250 years, almost half the length of a Neptune-Pluto cycle of 495 years and roughly twice the average length of Uranus-Pluto cycles.

All three planets' mutual cycles coincided between -578 and -576. This was a fundamentally formative period across the world. Many important ways of thought were laid down, affecting us to this day. It was an exceptionally tight sequence of conjunctions: Neptune conjunct Pluto in 578 (8° Taurus), Uranus conjunct Pluto in 577-76 (10-11° Taurus) and Uranus conjunct Neptune in 576-75 (14-15° Taurus). Very elegant, very remarkable.

The -570s must have been an amazing time – though no one knew of these outer planets at the time and, therefore, people will not have consciously felt or been able to identify these influences. This said, pieces of evidence hint inconclusively that the ancients indeed did know of the existence of these planets – just as they knew that the Earth orbited the Sun. Yet there is no notable evidence from written history that the ancients of the -570s objectively knew that this decade would be so crucial to human history. No one at that time had heard of Greek rationalism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucian philosophy, the Old Testament or the Grail legends, yet these sprang out of the decades which followed, unfolding their stories therefrom.


Hidden history

Astrological energies do not cause events to happen in a direct and deterministic way. Historical events are but symptoms of motions and rumblings within the individual and collective psyches of local and world society. Astrological energies generate ever-varying, yet quite specific kinds of 'energy-weather' – time-holograms of possibility, with their themes, nuances and parameters. Humans respond variously to the vibrational atmospheres and prompts of the time. Human response is the incalculable Factor-X in astro-history.

Though certain things might be expected to occur during aspects or configurations, there is no guarantee that they will do so, or that predictable, habitual human responses might prevail. Historical events often come about with a large dose of fluke and a tenuous thread of intention. An empire can start from an argument between a prince and his mistress, one rainy day. The Wright Brothers won the race to fly because most other aviators had died in accidents!

All this makes it difficult reliably to prognosticate precisely how things will pan out when we look into the future, yet a study of how things have panned out in the past helps enormously. Nothing in astrology indicates how humanity will respond to time's energy-pressures: astrology shows only what is feasible, encouraged and allowed by the underlying swell of the time-energies it studies – often more in retrospect than in advance.


Gods of the sky and sea

Here Uranus and Neptune step in. The Uranus-Neptune conjunction of 1993 was expected by some astrologers to bring noticeable, definitive, even disastrous events – such as financial market dramas or systemic collapses. Yet, if anything, the time passed off with no greater blockbuster events than most years, and less than some.

Did this transit have hardly any effect? No. Uranus-Neptune energies work surreptitiously. They influence awareness and the inner movies playing within the world psyche. Thus, if we seek definitive events, we can miss a lot. Outer-planet astrology identifies background, underlying forces, so we need to look for signs and symbols of these.

Dramatic front-of-stage events connected with the 1993 conjunction started in 1986 with Chernobyl. Then, in 1989, Saturn, Jupiter and Chiron activated the impending conjunction, and the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain fell, Russia radically changed and China nearly transformed itself (but then backed off – this change will presumably come surreptitiously instead, by 'accident'). In the early 90s we had Gulf War Two, Bosnia, Rwanda and South Africa, and the upswinging 'tiger economies'. All these manifested powerful undercurrents, but what was their real meaning? The meaning lies several layers further down.

This conjunction operated in the wider context of the Neptune-Pluto conjunction of 1892, which had launched us into the electronic global village, and the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1965-66, in which Twentieth Century issues reached a critical point. Ideas and radical shifts of world-view, bubbling under since the 1890s, broke into the public domain.

The 1993 Uranus-Neptune conjunction slotted a further something into place – the beginnings of a genuinely global mindset, a background shift of perspective and identification, a fundamental and surreptitious break with tradition – particularly on the female side. A new level of world interdependence and integration had taken hold, finding new life on Internet, moving from the background to the foreground of public awareness. This was not primarily visionary or idealistic – more a pragmatic mass subconscious response to the growing 'post-modern' situation, to our new global reality and its experienced facts and side-effects.

Those who believe in a secretive, centralised conspiracy controlling world affairs overlook one big factor: not even the world's greatest power-holders have a sure grasp on everything – especially when contexts shift. They managed to stop and tame erupting social revolutions around 1968, yet it was touch-and-go. They managed to head off rising public feelings of freedom and empowerment after 1989, yet they can never control what goes on secretly, within the social unconscious, in response to the events of the time.

By 1993, public ignorance of the major issues at stake worldwide had disappeared. Life continued more or less as normal, as if people were savouring its hardships and artificial consumptive freedoms. We found ever-new and intricate ways of complicating, avoiding and delaying an acceptance of our true planetary situation. People sought radical changes without things changing radically. Yet, deep down, beliefs, values and understandings were eroding, losing power, creating a blank slate for whatever is next to unfold. This syndrome is typical of a Uranus-Neptune period: powerful issues ferment underneath, without necessarily emerging in drastic forms and events.

-576-5

Ura CONJ Nep

Tau

-492-88

Ura OPPN Nep

Tau Sco

-404

Ura CONJ Nep

Gem

-321-17

Ura OPPN Nep

Gem Sag

-233-32

Ura CONJ Nep

Gem

-150-46

Ura OPPN Nep

Gem Sag

-62-61

Ura CONJ Nep

Can

+22-26

Ura OPPN Nep

Can Cap

+110-11

Ura CONJ Nep

Can

+193-97

Ura OPPN Nep

Can/Leo Cap/Aqu

+281-82

Ura CONJ Nep

Leo

+365-68

Ura OPPN Nep

Leo Aqu

+452-53

Ura CONJ Nep

Leo

+535-39

Ura OPPN Nep

Leo Aqu

+623-24

Ura CONJ Nep

Vir

+707-10

Ura OPPN Nep

Vir Pis

+794

Ura CONJ Nep

Vir

+878-81

Ura OPPN Nep

Vir/Lib Pis/Ari

+965

Ura CONJ Nep

Lib

1049-52

Ura OPPN Nep

Lib Ari

1136

Ura CONJ Nep

Lib

1220-23

Ura OPPN Nep

Sco Tau

1307

Ura CONJ Nep

Sco

1391-95

Ura OPPN Nep

Sco Tau

1478-79

Ura CONJ Nep

Sco

1563-66

Ura OPPN Nep

Sag Gem

1650

Ura CONJ Nep

Sag

1735-38

Ura OPPN Nep

Sag/Cap Gem/Can

1821

Ura CONJ Nep

Cap

1906-10

Ura OPPN Nep

Cap Can

1993

Ura CONJ Nep

Cap

2078-81

Ura OPPN Nep

Cap Can

2165

Ura CONJ Nep

Aqu

Uranus-Neptune conjunctions and oppositions

These 170-year cycles seem to affect the way we feel about our slot in history, and how we see the world from there. Between the Uranus-Neptune conjunctions of 1821 and 1993 we saw the rise of the Victorian-colonial world-view, which then melted into the Twentieth Century world-view. The latter arose out of the former, yet they fundamentally differed both in terms of perception/experience and presented reality.

The depth-attitudinal watershed between them started in 1892 with the Neptune-Pluto conjunction and completed itself with the 1906-1910 Uranus-Neptune opposition. Our planet has changed drastically during this Uranus-Neptune cycle, and this opposition period marked a cruxpoint.

During the preceding cycle, 1650-1821, in Europe, we saw the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment and the seed-sowing of modern life and values. The cycle of 1478-1650 encompassed the Renaissance and Reformation, a struggle of ideas, initiatives, outbreaks and insecurities as Europe birthed a new civilisation-paradigm. The conjunctions of 1307, 1136 and 965 neatly circumscribe the late, high and early medieval periods, and those of 794, 623-4 and 452 outline distinct stages in Dark Ages Europe.


China

There is a fascinating relationship between Chinese dynasties and Uranus-Neptune cycles. Dynasties loosely represent cultural-social periods in Chinese history. Their rises, peaks and falls have an astrological timeliness to them.

The Qin, the first classical Chinese dynasty, who established a unified imperial Chinese system from -221, probably started hatching their plot around the conjunction of -233, just twelve years earlier. The Early Han soon took over, stabilising Chinese institutions. They reached their zenith around the next conjunction of -62. Things deteriorated after some decades and went into free-fall.

Then the Later Han rose to power on the opposition of +22-26. Though they survived until 220, their legitimacy subsided at the following opposition of 194-97. During the complex period which followed, the linkages continued.

Then the Tang reunified China in 618-24, on a conjunction. They declined on the opposition of 878-81, after 1½ cycles. China fell apart, and was reunited by the Song around the conjunction of 965, and divided between the Chin and the Song around the conjunction of 1136.

The Ming broke the pattern. Yet their era, from 1368 to 1644, properly lifted off at the major configuration of the 1390s, when Uranus opposed both Neptune and Pluto. The Qing (Manchus) replaced the Ming in 1644 on another major configuration – this time Uranus conjuncting Neptune, opposing Pluto. The Qing fell in 1911 just after the opposition. Also, the Communist Party was seriously challenged (over Tienanmen Square) on the run-up to the 1993 conjunction. Russian history, though shorter, has a similar connection with Uranus-Neptune cycles.

The most recent cycle

The 1821-1993 cycle began in the context of the American and French revolutions, Napoleonic wars and early industrial revolution. On the 1821 conjunction in Capricorn the first public railways opened. The Romantics were the first environmental protesters. In England, new industrial cities mushroomed – a boom time accompanied by environmental and social devastation.

Colonialism and industry were now big business. On the sextile in 1853-56 the Victorian age was in full swing, and urban-rational-industrial values – and trains and telegraphs – were settling in. Darwin wrote his ideologically-defining Origin of Species.

The square of 1868-70 saw the opening up of Japan (the Meiji Restoration), the French Third Republic and empire, and the unification of Germany. This was the rather pompous peak of the Victorian era, the steam age. Escalating competition for world dominance became a 'mission to civilise', a scramble for Africa and a seriously large-scale worldwide venture on the trine of 1880-83. USA and Russia were becoming great powers too.

The opposition of 1906-1910 brought Einstein's Theory of Relativity, the first Russian Revolution, and an intense transition into the twentieth century world-view. Dominated by USA and USSR, the century was to buzz with airplanes, cars, telephones and movies, isolating people into busy, complex, torn lives.

At the waning trine of 1939-43 all hell broke loose – humanity was wrenched around by warfare, with its sweeping changes and force. On the square of 1954-56 colonial empires fell, and Elvis Presley, TV and nuclear power rose – the high-tech age crept in. The sextile of 1966-67 added extra energy to the Uranus-Pluto conjunction and the radical, longterm-oriented contextual shift of that time.

Between 1821 and 1993, worldwide, human awareness made perhaps its biggest leap ever, with ever more people making it. To understand what's really happening underneath, look at protest movements, which express humanity's conscience and heartfelt responses to presented realities.

Around the opposition of 1906-10, protest movements fought mainly for social, political and economic causes, yet by the 1990s they concerned environmental, lifestyle, racial and technological causes in the richer world, and nationalist, ethnic and political issues in the 'developing' world.


Truths and illusions

Our world-view is made up of truths, half-truths and untruths, discussed, believed and quietly felt, en masse. Individuals and subgroups in the public eye embody tendencies within the collective psyche, all vying and jostling for airspace and influence. Though subgroup tensions have grown much more complex, mass-consciousness is nevertheless being welded into a more globally-unified wholeness, interlinked by travel, communications and media.

In the next Uranus-Neptune cycle, 1993-2165, we are challenged to build a genuine, globally-consensual, planetary world-view, embracing our differences and variety. And the scenario following the opposition of 2080 is likely to sharply contrast that which we are now evolving as the cycle begins.

Uranus-Neptune frequencies resonate through groupthink – through the underlying assumptions, conventions, hidden agendas and values of our world. Groupthink perpetually changes, and it's the stuff of collective life. It's what lies behind what people believe is going on. Uranus and Neptune seem to drive this along. Imagination, aspiration and genius pull from the front, and lies, avoidances and fears drag it back – and somewhere in the middle there is the median point of real human evolution.

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The Historical Ephemeris © Copyright Palden Jenkins 1993-99


The Historical Ephemeris
by Palden Jenkins
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