The examples given in this chapter are outdated. For an updated and improved version, get Palden's 2014 book Power Points in Time.
The slower planets move in their own time-spectrum, and feature energy-flows, historic trends and high- and low-points which affect decades and centuries, not days, weeks or single years. Here we shall look at how they work, examining the deeper background issues of history which the faster planets then take up and act out in the shorter-term.
There are two main kinds of historical change: that which takes place within the realm of the known, and that which works within the realm of the unknown. Western cultures of the last millenium have had a strong tendency to overlay their own realities on the natural order of things, building civilisations which function in the realm of the known, seeking to exclude the unknown or contain it within manageable limits. At times of change, these limits are pushed out or break open, and a new social-psychological hybrid, mutation or transformation comes about. Often these changes are initially resisted: today we live in a time when this is very much the case, and a matter of historical habit.
To create a civilisation which moves in accord with nature and with wider global and universal dynamics, we need to incorporate the energy-impulses of the outer planets consciously into our culture. We need to adapt our relationship with the known such that it responds to the unknown, and we need to take the fear and superstition out of our relationship with the unknown. This means opening the channels between the worlds of Jupiter-Saturn and Chiron-Uranus-Neptune-Pluto. This is a major challenge for today – and you, dear reader, are part of facing it! Individuals who are consciously growing admit the outermost planets into their lives: the challenge is now to make this a wider social phenomenon, taking it beyond the private domain.
Revolutions and major social changes have usually been carried through without consciously invoking deeper forces, even though such changes frequently express them. In reaction to the religious ethics of each ancien régime to be overthrown, humanistic movements (such as Marxism, social democracy, Maoism, capitalism, etc), while opening new possibilities for humans, have also tended to close the doors between humanity and cosmos.
Put another way, such structural changes have often not been accompanied by significant public changes of consciousness. Thus, lands where revolution has been at work have often landed up with big bureaucracies and new czars which have not provided the kind of change originally dreamed of (USA and USSR, India, China, plus many third world countries provide examples). Humans alone cannot transform the nature of life: we need also to bring the power of nature and the wider cosmos into the realm of the known, for the intelligence inherent in the cosmic flow infinitely surpasses that within the political/humanistic ideologies and philosophies of people and society.
To bring about Heaven on Earth, or some approximation of it, we need to allow Heaven into our lives, and in doing so, we shall be further guided in moving forward. This we could call a 'goddess approach'. Today, for example, we perhaps need to prove that nuclear waste can psychically be rendered harmless, through penetrating the fundamental intelligence which gives nuclear products their radioactive properties – this is a seemingly ridiculous proposition when seen from within the realm of our current stock of known possibilities. Yet this is possibly the only true solution available to us, when all is said and done, and this one problem has arisen perhaps to stimulate us to do something about it! Necessity is the mother of invention.
In astrology it is often said that a planet is discovered only when human consciousness is ready to take it in. Thus Uranus was discovered in 1781 (13 March), Neptune was discovered in 1846 (23 September) and Pluto in 1930 (announced 13 March). These dates illustrate how furtively these planets work, for each of these periods of history marked a major turning-point: Uranus came just before the American and French Revolutions, and as the early industrial revolution gathered momentum; Neptune came along just as Karl Marx was publishing the first Marxist ideas, and as the first oriental and psychic impulses were coming through in western consciousness – both of these symbolising the deeper effects of a new global-industrial order; Pluto came at the dawn of totalitarian dictatorships, massmedia-power and techno-globalism, at the lift-off period of the modern electronic age.
In 1977 (10 October), Chiron was discovered. This arrived at the lift-off time of ideas born in the 1960s. However, the full implications of a new consciousness can take decades to see, and it will be a while before we understand the change it symbolises – yet any perceptive person knows that since around 1977, something has been different. Chiron is the link between the two worlds – the known and the unknown, the tonal and the nagual: the time is now coming for demonstrating this.
Evolution of consciousness
Here we are entering into a larger-scale realm of astrology: the study of history and its movements. The danger with astro-historical analysis is that we can read varying significances into many things if we want to, to find proof for our theories – unless a full historical picture is given, to overcome the weaknesses in historical knowledge which most people have. Acts of Parliament, the accessions of monarchs, battles fought or specific events matter less here than overall trends, except inasmuch as single events can be symbolic of something larger. Thus we have a challenge ahead of us: to rewrite history looking at the underlying trends running through time, and to rewrite it as a history of the evolution of consciousness and the human condition, where events, heroes and world changes serve as symbolic expressions of these group-psychic changes, but they do not crowd out a deeper understanding of such changes and the processes behind them. This is the history (or herstory) of all people, of the group psyche and of humanity as one being, as a child of the planet Earth. If this area of study interests you, then visit a sibling website to this one, the Historical Ephemeris.
We are now in a time of immense (r)evolutionary changes of consciousness – changes which are greater than we currently realise – and our present time, far from being historically boring, is a valuable time for us to live in, observe and be a part of. Not least because we as individuals each consciously or unconsciously channel the energies of the outer planets ourselves, and are moving into active rather than victimised relationship with them as we grow and transform ourselves. We are the creators of the future, and we need perhaps to set a new historical precedent by consciously choosing our future going to be, through our individual acts and choices, through our conscious participation in history-making: politicians, popes, generals, experts and managers can no longer do it for us in a way which is truly satisfactory. In our time, social intent and change-inducing contributions by individuals to society and to organic structural changes, as appropriate to each situation, locality and people, are crucial issues.
Manifestation: Jupiter and Saturn
The outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, move in tune with cycles and waves of motion within the collective unconscious. Their effects on us are only occasionally mediated through officially-planned events or agendas instigated by visionary leaders. Their dynamics are customarily brought to us by artists, agitators and dream-weavers, by figureheads of change, by social movements and issues which stir and wobble the status quo in so many ways. Jupiter and Saturn work within the realm of the known, on a social-institutional level, through the agreements, norms and laws with which we work, through cycles of prosperity, politics and visible social policy and events. In a transformative sense, these two bring through deeper impulses through their relations with the outer planets, and the cycles of aspects they form to them.
Jupiter, on a 12 year cycle, regularly conjuncts with the outer planets every 13-20 years, and encourages people to move forward into the area of life suggested by that outer planet and the sign it is in. Jupiter precipitates things and brings things to a head – whatever is lurking around to emerge into the conscious public domain. For example, the entry of Neptune into Capricorn in January 1984 brought with it an impulse to ground and realise the visions and spiritual experiences which 13 years of its sojourn in Sagittarius had stimulated during the 1970s: seeds of a new spirituality emerged in the 1970s, which then demanded integration into hard reality during Neptune's passage through Capricorn, up to 1997-98.
Hapwise, Jupiter moved into Capricorn on exactly the same day as Neptune (rare!), bringing a boost to this deep ethical surge, bringing a burst of activity where many new ventures, businesses and openings were started to manifest this deep impulse. From 1984 on, also, the perception that things were falling apart (Neptune in Capricorn) took root in the collective psyche, giving rise to a "Let's do it now before it's too late" syndrome characterising that time – to fight this in customary style, the world manifested characters such as Ronnie Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and trends such as the leveraging of capitalism into new and dizzy, cocaine-driven heights of profitability. Neptune in Capricorn made money-making into a cult.
Jupiter in this case brought the Neptunian flavour into a more concrete form, which the later Saturn-Neptune conjunction of 1989 tested, weeded out and institutionalised. Capitalism made a successful take-over of other alternative systems (not only state socialism) – though not without some warning signals for itself. In the Soviet bloc this change was quite conscious, in the form of Gorbachev's invocation of perestroika (restructuring), though his intentions of reform of state socialism were hijacked by a full-scale capitalist take-over. China, meanwhile, remained officially socialist and unofficially became capitalist. Overall, this time brought a test of the grounding of dreams by real-life.
The Saturn-Uranus conjunction in 1988 (also around the opening cusp of Capricorn) scissored the future from the past, putting an end to various by then obsolete ideas – such as the Cold War and all that it implied. However, this time was characterised, in classic Capricornian fashion, with a feeling that everything was perfectly normal even though it wasn't.
The Uranus conjunct Pluto in Virgo of 1965-66 was grounded in a similar way by an opposition from Saturn conjunct Chiron in Pisces: the immense technological changes (Virgo) of the time, which gave birth to the microchip, genetic engineering and a new high-tech age were counterbalanced by a paradoxically grounded spiritual burst from the two Piscean planets. Put another way, the techno-developments and their Orwellian dangers were historically counterbalanced by a visionary burst which put historical qualifiers on these otherwise sci-fi developments.
Also, the consciousness revolution of the time (Virgo is a sign of self-improvement) was both counterbalanced and assisted by many of the sobering hard realities of the day (such as Vietnam, emergent globalisation and the mass media). The seeds of the new dispensation, the emergence of a new vision and the spiritual imperative which is still today working itself through, were grounded in definite, reachable forms too – sex-and-drugs-and-rock'n'roll, new diets and lifestyles – which ordinary people could relate to and utilise as practical solutions in their own lives, as a gateway to further things. The 'permissive society' arose at that time in connection with Neptune's passage through Scorpio, and the headiness of the mid-60s was supplemented by Jupiter in Gemini in 1966.
The cycle of Jupiter's relationship with Saturn is also worth watching. It is 20 years in length. They also create a mutational cycle where, once every 60 years, they conjunct at roughly the same place in the zodiac – traditional Chinese astrology is built on this 60-year cycle. In addition, successive 20 year conjunctions occur in signs of one element, the element changing (on a 'great mutation') every so often. Jupiter conjuncted Saturn in Capricorn in 1842, in Virgo in 1862, in Taurus in 1881, in Capricorn in 1901, in Virgo in 1921, in Taurus in 1940, in Capricorn in 1961, in Libra in 1981, and in late Taurus in 2000. The Libran conjunction in 1981 was a harbinger of future conjunctions in the air signs in the 21st century.
The Jupiter-Saturn cycle is a cycle affecting organisations and institutions, socio-economic forms and current-affairs issues, money markets, technology and engineering, tangible energy and resources, production and consumption, manifest cultural changes and values, formal education and international diplomatic/financial relations. Note however that conjunctions mark beginnings, and in themselves represent watersheds: they might not necessarily bring immediate manifest developments except in symbolic form. The action happens throughout the cycle, with interesting crunch-points at the squares and opposition.
Thus there was a conjunction in 1961, waxing square in 1965, opposition in 1970, waning square in 1975-76, a conjunction in 1981, square in 1986, opposition in 89-90, square in 1995 and a conjunction in 2000. Think about the progression of events in recent decades, and you'll see this cycle at work. When one of these cyclical turning-points involves an outer planet too – as was the case in March 1986, with Chiron interceding and forming a T-square from Gemini to Saturn in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Pisces – interesting developments can follow along which unfold during the remainder of the cycle. In the case of Soviet/Russian history, we had Solidarinosz in Poland in 1981, Gorbachev and perestroika in 1986, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Yeltsin and Chechnya in 1995 and the arrival of president Putin in 2000.
Worth noting also are the seven year cycles connected with Saturn : it takes seven years or multiples thereof for a thought-form to be grounded into normal reality, to move from plan to actuality. This is more connected with the motion of Saturn than with its cycle with Jupiter. The movement of each of these through the signs brings through strong movements in the social realm. It is particularly worth observing changes occurring around the times when Jupiter and Saturn cross the quarter points and cross-quarter points in the zodiac.
There is a difference between a sign change (ingress) and a major aspect involving the outer planets. When there is a sign-change, there is a change of theme and orientation in group awareness, in which old issues lapse, and new issues arise. In the case of aspects, these themes work through in the form of substantive changes or events. With ingresses, what earlier was important to people moves on to new themes and underlying preoccupations, which float around in the collective psyche and public domain, often symptomised in the headlines of newspapers, and awaiting activation in the form of precipitate events or public decisions.
A recent change of this kind occurred in 1984, when Pluto entered Scorpio, Neptune entered Capricorn and Chiron entered Gemini (note the sextile and two quincunxes). Another occurred in 1956 when Uranus entered Leo, Neptune entered Scorpio and Pluto Virgo (square, sextile, semisextile). At these points in modern history, future possibilities gradually percolate through to become current realities – and this percolation process can become highlighted in poignant events which make a headline out of an otherwise surreptitious trend. Such synchronisms of outer-planet ingresses are not usual. They symbolise major shifts of theme and archetype which are active at any time in the collective psyche. If only we were more aware of this, and consciously participated in it!
When an important outer-to-outer planet aspect forms, definite unconscious or semi-conscious dynamics are set in motion in the group psyche, producing true transformations and breakthroughs (or breakdowns and failures, depending on our collective choice). These are times when dispensations are filtered through from deep down (or high up!) which lay the seeds of immense subsequent changes, even if they take years, decades or even millennia to emerge fully. To go a long way back, the last time Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were engaged together in a very major mutual conjunction was 580 BCE, at the time when Buddha, Lao Tzu, Pythagoras and Aristotle were about to arrive on the scene, and at the height of the Celtic culture in Europe: this could be regarded as the beginning of the end of the old magical-matrifocal world, and the beginning of a new, objectivised-patriarchal consciousness, which laid the foundations of our modern civilisation and whatever it itself is leading toward.
In 1395-96 there was a Uranus opposition to Neptune conjunct Pluto, which brought the end of the medieval period and the seed point of the European Renaissance. With delayed-action effect, this brought the ending of religion and the rise of materialism as the dominant force defining civilisation. At this time, European exploration, capitalism and scientific enquiry had their roots, and the old ways of the medieval era, deadened by the Black Death, took a nose-dive. A more recent example of such major changes was the Neptune conjunct Pluto in Gemini, opposed by Chiron and Uranus from Sagittarius, between 1892 and 1907 (in history, a short period) – about this, more later. Each of these changes represents a historical watershed of immense cultural, infrastructural and historical proportions. You will find more about this in the Historical Ephemeris.
Uranus moves round the zodiac in 84 years, Neptune in 165 years and Pluto in 250 years. Uranus conjuncts Neptune every 171 years, Neptune conjuncts Pluto roughly every 495 years, and Uranus conjuncts Pluto either in 111 or 143 years (variable because of Pluto's eccentric orbit).
Chiron is on a cycle of 51 years – eccentric to the extent that exactly reliable figures over a very long period are difficult to give. Chiron is closest to the sun (perihelion) when at 8 Libra (1945 and 1995-6), and furthest (aphelion) when at 8 Aries (1920 and 1970).
Pluto is in perihelion at 12 Scorpio (in 1988) and at aphelion at 12 Taurus (1865-6). Chiron comes inside the orbit of Saturn at perihelion, and outside the orbit of Uranus at aphelion (note the symbolism – Chiron acts as a link between conscious and unconscious). Pluto comes inside the orbit of Neptune when at perihelion (1978-2000, closest in 1988) – and it swings far away from any other planet when as aphelion.
Pluto is a bringer of the inevitable, and manifests through destruction of the old and through forced, even manic, emergence of the new. When Pluto was discovered in 1930, the good old days of 19th C steam-driven expansion were killed, and the heavy extremes of the 20th C came forth in economic depression, totalitarianism and major technological, electricity-driven change. Pluto turns the pages of history, sometimes disastrously, ripping us out of the past and thrusting us into a daunting future – though only because the seeds of it have already unconsciously been set up, and because the time has now come. Cracks become chasms, and the inevitable emerges. Unless some new further-out planet is discovered, Pluto has the last word on historical change.
Chiron is a bringer of resolution. When in any sign, Chiron catalyses paradoxes and throws up issues in definite forms, which create situation of great compromise and dilemma, demanding resolution. It also brings solutions, if humanity is willing to think laterally and grasp them. Often old solutions no longer work, and concealment of the issues fails: an impasse develops where it seems there seem to be hundreds of questions and no answers – though to some the solution can be blindingly clear, yet threatening to the status quo. Then, appearing seemingly out of the blue, either from a grassroots level or through a stroke of leadership genius, a solution emerges, in a very challenging way. It appropriately and miraculously answers definite questions and offers simple, basic yet big solutions. This can be difficult for society to handle, slow as it is to adapt: unfortunately we have a dangerous tendency to create wars, disasters and civil strife as unconsciously-driven ways of bringing these changes through – this we must change.
The arrival of Chiron into consciousness in 1977 happened at a time when grassroots solutions to current major questions in the world suddenly became publicly visible and poignantly appropriate. Even though the ideals and dreams behind them had been around for some years, definite movements developed which offered the world real chances to break through on a variety of deadlocked situations: feminism, the green movement, the third world/local movements, alternative healing, the self-help, community action and peace movements, plus many other local variants. These offered more holistic solutions than the world had previously encountered. Chiron precipitates issues in such a way that bridges must be built, linkages made and activities initiated to make for workable transition into whatever 'new order' is needed at the time.
Note the involvement of Chiron in the Uranus opposition Pluto (1898-1901) which marked a watershed not only of the centuries, but in many other areas. This brought the beginning of a transference of world dominance from Britain to the growing USA (symbolised in the British setback of the Boer War), a nail in the coffin of the czarist Russian state (the Russo-Japanese war), and the rise of American big-corporate capital. Chiron in Aquarius was instrumental in both of the near-revolutions of 1905 in Russia and China, and in the near major wars of 1955-56. It was involved also in the immediate post-war healing process around 1945, when Neptune, Jupiter and Chiron conjuncted in Libra (the founding of the United Nations), and also in the happenings of the mid-1960s (Chiron conjunct Saturn, in opposition to Uranus conjunct Pluto), as well as in the line-up of 1988-89 (Chiron conjunct Jupiter opposing a conjunction of Saturn, Neptune and, more widely, Uranus).
Note also the yod formed by Chiron to the three other outer planets in 1979-82, an important sub-stratum to the changes of the late-1980s, and an emergence-period of the awareness-seeds planted in the1960s. Owing to the acceleration of Chiron when it swings past Libra, it forms far more aspects, and is far more actively and precipitately involved in historical developments than when it is around Aries.
The motions of Chiron through the signs:
Cancer (1938-41, 1988-90) protectionism, crowds, identity/tribalism, welfare, nationalism;
Leo (1941-43, 1991-93) self-interest, dominion, self/national expression, leadership, heroes;
Virgo (1943-44, 1993-95) healing wounds, divisions, work on what has been spoiled, reorganisation, rebuilding;
Uranus is a bringer of uplift and shake-ups. It reveals new avenues forward, and breaks us off from the past. This can be shocking, yet it takes a load off the world's historic shoulders by offering a new mutation or vector in the group psyche. New ideas and ideologies come forward, which bring radical gales of change to history. Often these outbreaks do not necessarily last in form (for example, the French revolution blew itself out in a decade, and 1960s flower-power wilted), but they do plant seeds for a new order, based on new perspectives, innovations and total situations, suddenly different from before.
Uranus conjures up new visions and possibilities, the shapes of which might pass (like the Beatles) but the effects of which unfold for decades or more afterwards. Uranus is a true bringer of revolution, of overthrow of the old, in whatever manner is needed, so abruptly that established ways cannot adapt, and simply have to yield. However, obversely, human responses to Uranian influences can also generate ever-new ways of resisting change – one example being that the aristocratic refugees of the French Revolution and other radical changes of the time became the avid slave-owners of the American South in the 19th C.
Uranus moves around the zodiac at a regular pace, spending seven years in each sign, marking out a regular pulse of reorientation with regards to the different issues the zodiac signs symbolise. While Uranus brings through what land up being key positive changes, often from the upstarts and crazies, the radicals, eccentrics and deviants of the world, its passage through the signs can equally well demonstrate the different ways in which established systems resist change, repress movements and discourage innovation.
Uranus marks out seven-year generations of people who each are stirred up and face or seek change in their own ways, according to the sign involved. It shows the source of insecurity in a generation, the area of life where earthquakes are happening and new cosmic intrusions are entering. Uranus opens up questions and will not let them rest.
Uranus was involved (with Chiron) in a strong opposition to Pluto in 1901, and a conjunction to Pluto in 1965-66 (opposition Chiron). These times represent fierce breakthroughs of consciousness (both in mutable signs) and of life-forms: humanity took to the air on the opposition (the Wright Brothers), and reached the Moon two years after the conjunction.
Uranus last opposed Neptune in 1907-08, and conjuncted it in 1993, both times in Capricorn, putting great pressure on all rigidities and structures, making life at the top very trying! Note the rise of Hitler when Uranus entered Aries in 1927, the rise of the modern welfare state when Uranus hit Cancer in 1949, and the rise of the global village, Japan, Islamic radicalism and the influence of the non-white world (through colonial independence and OPEC) when it entered Libra in 1969 – a sudden re-balancing effect. Uranus in Capricorn brought new and looser structures, particularly through computerisation and capitalist liberalisation and free-marketeering.
The motions of Uranus through the signs
Sagittarius (1898-1904, 1981-88) radical changes of perspective, new cosmologies, crises in international relations, leaky boundaries, legal and educational crises, new freedom movements;
Capricorn (1904-12, 1988-95) governmental/structural/institutional instability or restructuring, revolt or radical reform, cutting off from tradition, precipitated grounding of visions through financial/practical imperatives;
Aquarius (1912-19, 1995-2002) inventions and wild ideas, independence, social movements, ideological-cultural issues, opening of the new, sudden new developments with longterm implications;
Pisces (1919-27, 2002-10) awakening and emergence, chaos and derailments, intrusion of unknowns, omens of times to come, eruptions from the unconscious, escapism, spiritual-visionary impulses;
Aries (1927-34, 2010-2017) new heroes, initiatives and mutations, militarism/activism, competitiveness, daring steps, futurism;
Taurus (1934-41, 2017-2025) following through on what has been started, building, bulldozing, excess, xenophobia, dogged resistance to change, creativity;
Gemini (1858-65, 1941-49) new ideas, discoveries, alliances, shifts/reversals, contradictions, social mobility;
Cancer (1865-72, 1949-56) security issues, welfare, shifts in national interest, conservatism, preservation or disruption of order, families;
Leo (1872-78, 1956-62) self-determination, independence, power-struggles and liberation struggles, rock'n'roll, hedonism, dominance;
Libra (1884-91, 1969-75) radical relationship-changes, detente or power-swings, sudden oscillations, innovative arts, new values, conventionality/radicalism;
Scorpio (1891-98, 1981-88) crunches, revelations, therapy, unravelling of secrets, business instability, march of progress, seediness, squalor, alternatives, quests.
Neptune spends around 13 years in each sign, marking out distinctive periods in which life-as-dream manifests through different cultural beliefs and reality bubbles. Neptune reveals both the illusions a sub-generation can fall into, and its own particular way of elevating itself and reaching its peak of awareness.
Neptune is a bringer of light, of new awareness – and of new glamours and falsities. It dissolves old forms into mist, making them surreptitiously invalid, void and outdated. Things become unworkable or irrelevant – or, alternatively, new possibilities emerge in a background sense, suddenly rendering old ways pointless. All that is structured and fixed becomes questionable and hazy, and in the space created, new possibilities have an opportunity to grow, spontaneously, out of the dreams, fantasies or paranoias of the people. When Neptune was discovered, new cosmologies emerged (such as Marxism, Darwinism, Theosophy, Spiritualism) and the urban-industrial-imperial era was in full swing, with its dubious mission-to-civilise and high regard of itself. That was over a century ago, and our realities and perceptions have changed vastly ever since.
The sojourn of Neptune in Capricorn (1984-98) takes things back to the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, and to all the changes which they brought: the old order had collapsed, and new forms needed building to meet the new realities of the day. This was the beginning of the modern concept of democracy and the lift-off point of the industrial revolution. On the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of 1821 steam railways were born, and on that of 1993, Internet was born – both being technological breakthroughs with enormous social and global effects. Both conjunctions were in Capricorn. Both brought the beginnings of immense reorganisations of society, without the full knowledge and comprehension of the world's people.
Neptune was opposed by Uranus in 1907-9, a time of shattered dreams for some, and of new promise for others, as the 1905 revolutions failed and the Great War loomed under the blind eye of the old 19th Century order. Neptune figured strongly in both world wars, yet in the 1960s it acted as a safety valve for the powerful oppositions of that time: a dream was fetched from the depths of the group psyche (Neptune in Scorpio), which is becoming increasingly manifest by the time Neptune is in mid-aquarius around 2004 (in square to where it was in Scorpio). Neptune figured strongly in the multiple line-up in 1989-93, except at this time Pluto acted as the safety-valve.
The motions of Neptune through the signs
- Neptune entered Gemini in 1888, in a time when new ideas were rampant, from scientific discoveries to early socialism, spiritualism and magical philosophies. It was a time of designs, travel and communications, ending with radio and flight;
- it entered Cancer in 1901, and many known realities took a beating – by relativity theory and crowds of people – it was no longer safe to hold on to the past, for massive shifts at home (alienation and the end of the extended family) and in nationhood (the arising of new political forces) made making the ways of the past outdated;
- something had to break, which it did when Neptune entered Leo in 1914, and a heroic struggle for dominion and mastery broke out (which should properly end when Neptune passes through Aquarius in 1998-2012). Neptune in Leo gave birth to superhero dictators and film superstars, commercialism, glorification of personality and selfhood;
- Neptune moved into Virgo in 1930, a time of both economic collapse and faith in science and industry, work, technology and economy, Keynesianism, assembly lines, war and the atomic bomb – a triumph of materialism and loss of sanity;
- the context shifted when Neptune entered Libra in 1941-2, where the fortunes of WW2 changed, new alliances formed, and relationship (or lack of it) and coexistence became the issue. The British Empire started dissolving, the EEC was born and the fear-based Cold War was initiated, both USA and USSR rose toward their peaks, and China went through revolution;
- the rise of the 'good life' brought with it a plunge into the new, which started as Neptune entered Scorpio in 1956, giving birth to the 'permissive society', drug-use, nuclear power, and the rampant energy of exploratory change blowing through the 1960s, shuddering and deep, an unconscious questing for death and resurrection, with some honest truths put in for good measure. Outer space was conquered and inner space was opened up;
- Neptune entered Sagittarius in 1970, revealing new perspectives, an outburst of religious beliefs, a new internationalism through travel and media expansion, a belief in progress, science, expansion and wealth – despite strong signs that the opposite was going on underneath. Knowledge and outlook changed radically;
- in 1984 Neptune entered Capricorn, leading to a combination of tottery institutions and governments with growing undercurrents of revolt, change from beneath, glamours of authority being undermined by rude incompetences. Financial dealings, technology and profiteering achieved cult status, and opportunities for major institutional changes arose, often through derailment – yet pervasive changes were happening underneath from technological and economic developments which, in the end, are not to act as first intended;
- Neptune enters Aquarius in 1998, leading to a new atmosphere where people matter more, or aspire to. Public opinion (both its compassion and fickleness and cruelty), mass-movements and crowd or tribal behaviour are big issues. Anti-hero mentality and social powerlessness. The arising of need for true community action and world solidarity challenge the masses to face up to questions of freedom, self-interest and nationalism. Also, the insidious aspects of technology. Potentially significant reforms, social vision, hope and planned reconstruction can begin, with a bigger vision behind it.
- Neptune moves into Pisces 2012-2026, which might provide a meaningful, deep opportunity for holistic shift of global ideas and a breakthrough of understanding. Emphasis on service and participation. Religious-spiritual movements or undercurrents, or overblown imaginings. Loosening of the ice. Change through chaos. Potential for paranoia, false proections on others or release of fear. Whether this implies a new spiritual order on Earth, or a sci-fi techno-dream or a chaotic disaster depends largely on us, and what we do with the presented situation.
Pluto's eccentric orbit makes it take on a variable role in history. In the decades around the late-1980s its role was strong, since it moved at its fastest and closest to the Sun (perihelion), in its home sign Scorpio. Its previous perihelion was in 1741 (at the very beginning of the industrial revolution), and the one before that was in 1493 (Columbus). Each period has seen significant uprooting of peoples and deep historic shifts.
Neptune-Pluto conjunctions, every nearly-500 years, demonstrate a basic longterm cycle of history. The Neptune-Pluto conjunction of 1891-92 marked the watershed not only of the Victorian era into that of the Twentieth Century – it marked also the end of a bigger, deeper era which began at the very start of the Renaissance at the previous Neptune-Pluto conjunction of 1398-99. It marks also the beginning of a cycle which goes through to 2386 – a long way from now, and impossible at this time to conceive.
The 1891 conjunction, followed by the oppositions from Uranus to Pluto in 1901-02 and Neptune in 1906-10 marked a watershed which defined not only the Twentieth Century but also a 500-year future. In this context, the 20th C has been but a beginning of something far greater than we can currently see. However, it's a reasonable guess that this cycle concerns issues around global integration, followed by contact and integration with other worlds. At this point, you might think the author is losing his marbles, but you would also have thought the same if he had described Las Vegas to you in the year 1400!
While the Uranus opposition Pluto of 1901 laid the tracks for the 20th Century (flight and electricity), its meaning became fulfilled at the Uranus conjunct Pluto of 1965-6, by which time electronics and flight had become more commonplace. Something new started in the 1960s, at the conjunction: even though it has looked as if everything has been progressing as normal since then, our civilisation awaits and is unwittingly gestating a deeply profound change. Since the 1960s world climate has shifted, population has grown immensely, nature and humanity have mutated considerably, and global oneness has become visible. Life on Earth can now be destroyed in a variety of ways, and yet nature is balancing this with increased awareness and activism in in ecology, human relations, psychology and spirituality. Concepts, outlooks and realities are transforming faster now than ever before, and we are amidst a quantum leap in human evolution, without being fully aware of it.
The motions of Pluto through the signs
Pluto entered Gemini in 1882, preceding Neptune, inciting a barrage of new ideas (eg. creation vs evolution, psychology, socialism), electrical technologies, giant steamships, the telegraph and later the aeroplane. All was buzzing, and innovations cropped up everywhere, not as yet creating wholesale changes, but laying the ground for the changes of the 20th Century;
- then in 1912, Pluto entered Cancer, and the big plunge broke out. Security and the mother principle were violently beaten, and people were being ripped out of slumber by the shock of the modern age. Patriotism and controlled mob rule became common, and all manner of human-social sensitivities were trodden on. The nuclear (instead of the extended) family became a norm, and the nuclear bomb became a possibility, to be unleashed after Pluto entered Leo.
- all hell broke loose when Pluto ingressed into Leo in 1938-9, and it is said that humanity went through two centuries-worth of consciousness-evolution in five years of war, through plain horror. Yet nature counterbalances everything: LSD, the awakener of the 1960s, was discovered at the same time as the first nuclear explosion, and a new generation of souls were born with an opportunity to create and manifest a profound dream. The world rushed through changes, and became a very different place by 1956, when Pluto entered Virgo.
- Pluto in Virgo brought new distinctions, gave birth to widespread computer use and the nuclear age, to the jumbo jet and Mick Jagger, to a new spirit of self-examination and introspection, and eventually to a global vision of a new Earth – the implications of all of these are still unfolding. A time of protest and generation-confrontation, the world made an enormous longterm transition at this time (with the help of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction).
- Pluto entered Libra in 1971, when the previously-colonised world became assertive, and previous imperial masters were equalised. Marriage shook severely, and relationship of all kinds went through a painful historical spasm – yet the Libran tendency to enjoy life now and face the music later prevailed. A time of painful contradictions, creativity and productivity, and shifting societies;
- Pluto was in Scorpio 1984-1995, bringing a crunch-period of hard realities and sophisticated social control, with a relentlessly power-driven undertone. Secrets were revealed, yet cover-ups and evasions grew as swathes of people were co-opted into a tightened, globalised reward-punishment system. Pluto in Scorpio brings a death of the old, an emergence of inevitable, pre-ordained realities, and the hard grating of a more heartless side to humanity and existence. AIDS, arising from the Neptune in Scorpio period, brought a new shadow worldwide. (The new emerges when Pluto enters Aquarius – last in 1780, next around 2026 – yet the seed for it is laid in Scorpio). The historical cycle which began with the French and American Revolutions is now dead;
- Pluto in Sagittarius (1995-2008) implies enormous shifts in belief-systems and world-view, obsession with expansionism, forward-moving attitudes, redeemers as heroes, reform, excess, fanaticism-v-reason, internationalism, aid, generalities, running-with-the-ball.
- Pluto in Capricorn (2008-2024) implies restructuring, clash of tradition/habit and change, transformation of law, land-use, technology, organisations, money – and a new radicalism and conservatism.
This quantum leap is related to a cycle of evolution which moves far further than Pluto cycles, which themselves are like the second-hand on the clock of human history. Above all, it is not deterministically-driven: it is not inevitable that humanity responds fully to astrological energies, and consciousness-changes result from mass decisions, not from a clockwork, pre-timed plan – if such were the case, we would have broken through into a higher universal consciousness long ago. But the timing of the smaller-scale, century-by-century changes which facilitate this evolution, is marked by the major antics of the outer planets, focused into daily life by the inner planets and Earth-Moon. The clock ticks on. At every turn we are presented with choices: for the universe has it that we should be creatures of free will and creative potential.
Yet we have a mysterious way of ignoring our options, and avoiding the fundamental question: what are we alive for, and what sort of world are we actually seeking to create? 'World' is a collective dream, yet until we realise it is so, it takes on a very concrete, hard, rough form. When we grasp that it all is of the nature and dynamics of dreamstuff, the real reality begins, for we need to dream a garden, a world of fulfilment, freedom, creation, peace and enlightenment (of some sort or another), and we need to dream it collectively, without unquestioningly following the ideologies of advanced thinkers or social leaders.
The answers are simple. So simple yet enormous that it seems we cannot address ourselves to them. But we are getting there in our time: in the end there is nothing more we can do in our lifetimes than welcome the changes we need to make, be open to totally new situations, and be unafraid of insecurity and fear. We now stand in the learning process, in a possible graduation period, and the choice is ours.