the Twentieth Century
This chapter, first written in 1987, was rewritten in 2000, so the 2000 version is given here. The most up-to-date version, going up to 2060, is in Palden's 2014 book Power Points in Time.
We could say that the 20th Century started around 1890 at the Neptune conjunct Pluto in Gemini which took place then, staggered over 15 years with an opposition to Chiron and Uranus in Sagittarius in 1898 and opposition aspects between all of them up to 1908. Let's look at this and other major 20th C power periods, to gain some insights into what can happen now and in future.
What matters most in astrology is the present, but the past can give insights into how things actually happened before, and what we can learn from them, with regards to tackling our future options.
The Industrial Revolution
This began when Pluto was last in Scorpio in the 1740s. At the time, the prospect was, to many, horrendous, and the towns, canals and coal-mines opening up seemed to some to be the last degeneration of humanity into the Slough of Despond.
Nowadays, we can afford to think of this painful phase of history being the beginning of an urban-industrial phase out of which we now are moving, by means both technological and cultural-spiritual. Thus it finds new meaning, presenting us with a foundation for changes we only now are beginning to make in the fundamental nature of human life and reality.
When Pluto was in Aquarius, the French and American revolutions broke out, heralding the end of the old social, class and governmental order, the beginning not only of the republic and the concept of modern (quasi-) democracy, but also so many other new laws, principles, norms, inventions, precedents and impulses which now are normalised, but once were unheard of (for example, the metric measurement system). The machine age was upon us, together with all the experiential benefits and ills it brought.
When Pluto entered Aries, the steam engine emerged, powering new forms of production and travel, making all manner of new possibilities available: by the end of the century worldwide travel was well established, and the appurtenances of urban life, from cocoa to bank loans to widespread literacy, plus the new class system of capitalists, bourgeousie and workers, were all normalised, as if they had always been so.
The last Uranus conjunct Neptune in Capricorn in 1821 was very important as far as social structures went: the dawning industrial world, international trade, new ideas, new forms of imperialism, new laws and a fundamental infrastructural shift took place, facilitating new developments in the then-future. This was a prime time for inventiveness and technological transformation – everything was shifting.
In 1850, there was Uranus conjunct Pluto in Aries (the one following this was in 1965-6 in Virgo): this was the time of das Kapital, the Great Exhibition in London, the rise of Queen Victoria, the large-scale exploration of the American West by whites, of many scientific advances, and of a transition into a world interconnected by trains and steamships. This was a time when the ideology of the industrial-urban world properly took off.
1st October 1892. Around the exact Neptune conjunct Pluto, this chart shows how the faster planets can temporarily enter into a longterm configuration to upstep its power. Note: the astrologers of the time were not aware of Pluto's existence!
These astrological transitions were far out-classed by that which took place in the 1890s: this one is a historical tuming-point par excellence, the true beginning of the modem world, a global village in the making. This time saw the bringing into use of electricity, the invention of the aeroplane, the beginnings of radio and telecommunications, of automation on a large scale – even in war, face-to-face fighting ended, yielding to tanks and big guns. The First World War was a symptom of this massive change, a trying out of new toys and a sweeping away of old ways, a "war to end all wars" (which it wasn't, for that was but the perspective of the time, seen from within the then-known range of perceived possibilities).
Each of these changes represent a change of consciousness too. They each present an opportunity for significant elevations of consciousness, and at each one, new religions, beliefs and ideologies get born: for example, in the 1890s, scientism (faith in science as a cure-all) found new strength, Freudianism opened new territory in understanding the psyche and Darwinism in understanding the natural world, East met West through Theosophy and all that it seeded, unionism and socialism became more widely embraced, and ideas went through a change profound and fundamental in effects. Gemini and Sagittarius were prominent, featured most strongly at the fullmoon of 3 December 1899 – though this played its part in a 15-year long period involving several major outer-planet aspects.
At these turning-points, seeds are planted. They can take time to surface into general consciousness – often the generation born in such a seed-time takes it upon itself to turn such seeds into mainstream movements, to take them from the fringes of society into mainstream. Thus the generation born in the 1890s were at their peak of power 40 years later, in the 1930s-40s: the generation who brought us jazz, motor cars and family holidays for everyone, and the atomic bomb.
The lunar eclipse of 3rd December 1899. An exceptionally strong power-point in time, highlighting the Neptune conjunct Pluto in Gemini and the Saturn-Chiron-Uranus conjunction in Sagittarius, both staggered over the 1890s, but strongly featured here by the intervention of faster planets. This might be regarded as the true chart for the Twentieth Century.
This 15-year configuration included all the four outer planets: a major, magnitude-one line-up. Critical points in this staggered period were brought about by interventions of faster-moving planets. For example, the solar eclipse of 6 June 1891 widely conjuncted the Neptune conjunct Pluto in Gemini, and was in exact square to a Jupiter opposition Saturn (Pisces-Virgo) – forming a powerful T-square. On the lunar eclipse of 3 December 1899, Moon, Neptune and Pluto widely conjuncted in Gemini, while Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Uranus opposed them from Sagittarius, with Jupiter close by in late Scorpio: this was within a single moon-cycle of the turn of the century!
This configuration drew a clear energy-line between the 19th and 20th centuries. It marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire, the large-scale movement of white Americans into the West and of Russians into the East, the dawn of relativity theory. It was even a culmination of longterm evolutionary trends which had started in 580BC, in the Classical period – the evolution of materialistically-based civilisation. A new mega-phase of history started around 1899, which is to last for centuries: the world was from this time opened up, explored and mapped, and global culture was beginning.
From the turn of the century until 1965, history went along on the tracks already established. There were some 'magnitude two' aspects formed, notably in 1907, 1919, 1932-3, 1940-41, 1945, and 1953, which are shown on the astrological calendar in this chapter – though only a few of these dates were blatantly earth-shattering in a way which is commonly remembered for centuries. It sounds strange to pass off the lives of millions of humans like this, for this is a century of intense change and development, but here we are looking at critical turning-points and junctures. With such an overview, the lives of individuals, nations and generations melt in significance: it's all a question of scale and sense of history-making.
The outbreak of war in 1914 came in the aftermath of a Uranus ingress into Aquarius in 1912, a Uranus opposition Neptune in 1907-10 and a Jupiter conjunct Uranus in early 1914. However, the war was precipitated by Pluto entering Cancer in May 1914, Neptune entering Leo in September and a Saturn-Pluto conjunction in October.
The Wall Street Crash, the crux-point of the Depression, took place in the context of four ingresses. Note the involvement of the earth signs, plus the position of Pluto in mid-Cancer: a confrontation with security issues!
WW2 broke out when Pluto entered Leo, with a little ingressional help from Saturn and Jupiter. Neptune entered Libra in 1942, marking the turning-point of the war. Note the involvement of Saturn and Pluto in 1914, 1939, 1956 and 1965, as well as 1992 (Desert Storm), activating the human habit of war.
The making of peace. Alliances switched radically around 1945 – Libra and Gemini were strongly at work. The Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune conjunction took place at autumn equinox in 1945.
1956, the dawn of the high-tech age, and the beginning of many more nuances than meet the eye. A cradle formation of ingressing planets, plus a T-square, changed the tone of the time and moved things forward toward what was to unfold in the 1960s.
1965-66, the birth of a dream: alchemical spirituality, political and ecological awakening, the microchip, the breaking of rules, and cultural revolution East and West.
The planting of seeds of a new order yet to come. No ingresses: this is an energy-configuration. By 1967 Jupiter entered Leo and Saturn entered Aries, and the dream started getting more serious.
The dream surfaces
Then came the mid-sixties. Nowadays it is fashionable to pass off the 1960s as a wild holiday or an eccentric and foolish deviation from the norm, but this need to rationalise it away so is symptomatic of a time when something major really was happening. Here, the Great Unknown impinged strongly on human awareness, and profound new seeds were planted. The generation born at this time is an important one in history.
It was also significant that the Pluto in Leo generation, born 1939-56, was at this time growing into adulthood, ready to receive the dispensation offered: that generation, at the peak of its power between 1990 and 2020, has an historical 'duty' to swing the underlying tide of world consciousness, in the areas of creative expression, technology, deeper conviction and lifestyle. Those born in the 1960s, with Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, a more practical sign, are builders, cleaners of the world, technologists and potential founders of a new order: the Pluto in Leo generation must clear the way for them. The 'generation gap' the latter grew into was an ideational/visionary watershed in history.
The configuration of 1965-6 is best symbolised by three symptomatic symbols, even though much more was going on:
- the development of the microchip, bringing with it the material possibility to revolutionise our relations with the material world (even as far as the eventual ending of physical-mental labour and the work ethic as we know it) – a small, quiet, intricate bit of technology with immense implications, very virgoid;
- 'flower-power', a visionary explosion, mainly induced through use of LSD, but also surfacing in new politics and cultural waves which, while seemingly impractical and way-out (at the time), planted seeds which are still potent and inevitable for the future – the germination of this seed took place at the yod formation in 1979, and made a first step into concrete realism at the Uranus semisquare Pluto in 1986;
- the sexual revolution and 'permissive society' born out of Neptune in Scorpio, starting a weakening of marriage and family as we have known it – a tendency which further developed while Pluto was in Scorpio 1984-96.
Other factors of note include the 'space race', the dawn of genetic engineering, large-scale planning, the rise of the modern dissenting guerrilla and terrorist, and the seeding of the new religious fundamentalism now prominent worldwide.
Social polarisation often characterises these major power-periods in history – a division between those who seek or support change and those who resist it, in every department of life. In the 1890s it involved socialism, early feminism, agnosticism and other social reform movements. In the 1960s many issues surfaced, in education, international relations, in war and peace, around nuclear power and weapons, around ecological issues (Silent Spring), in music, intoxicants, in every field. Progress then made appeared in some respects to go backwards during the 1970s and 1980s, though this was a sign that the changes are so great that they needed time to filter through more slowly and to square with the conservatism and resistance of the world's population and their controllers. The salient question here is whether or not the institutions of society are willing to change in accord with the time, and whether the psyches of all humans are prepared to open up: and this is what the events of the early 1990s are about.
1979-80, the 1960s vision breaks into the open: a major Yod involving all four outer planets. Note the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Libra in December 1980.
Another shift: 1984, Orwell's year. Jupiter conjuncting Neptune on the winter solstice point and a multiple ingress of three outer planets brought a new flavour, one of realism and encounter. The buildup to the Millennium started here.
The dawn of the post-industrial era
Although this was brewing since the 1960s, and was inherent in what had been building up since the beginning of the century (even since the beginning of human history), the post-industrial era moved from being a futuristic concept to a dawning reality, when three outer planets changed signs in 1984 – Pluto into Scorpio, Neptune into Capricorn and Chiron into Gemini. So did the 'new age', which transformed from being a dream of UFO visitations, New Jerusalems and avataric transformations into a harder, more manifest reality, within and without.
What this ingress did was to serve notice that the issues of our time were in their way toward resolution. Unknowing or lack of awareness was no longer an excuse for resisting world change: those who resisted from 1984 onwards did so increasingly by burying their heads in the sand, and encouraged to do so by the Reagan-Thatcher propaganda wave. This reached a head in 1988-89, with Pluto in perihelion (fastest and closest), the Uranus semisquare Pluto and the 1989 Capricorn-Cancer line-up.
Suddenly, ecological issues, women's and minority rights, issues of victimhood, and freedom and democracy were up and out in the public domain – they moved into mainstream, acknowledged awareness, after having been 'underground' or extremist in tone. However, Saturn was strong in this time, obliging concrete fact-facing too – thus, in Tienanmen Square, a democratic movement was quashed, in Russia social changes were hijacked by mafiosi posing as businessmen, and the West was rubbing its hands at the new commercial markets opening up.
The beginning of a process in 1988: Saturn conjuncting Uranus, Jupiter opposing Pluto – the 1989 Capricorn-Cancer line-up was hotting up.
The strong Capricorn and Scorpio flavour emphasised nitty-gritties, things we would ideally prefer to skip over. The potential for major structural changes met up with the power of established military-business lobbies, and the melting of national borders met up with narrower forms of nationalism. This gave a message that the old order will hang on until the time when the new order is ready and worked up for the change, giving appearances of going through change when in fact pouring new wine into old bottles. The changes involved are more fundamental, more gradual, yet more thorough and momentous than we previously understood.
A UFO visitation doesn't automatically make everything groovy on earth: we have to make things groovy, with our own hands, hearts, tongues, feet and brains. Paradoxically, this involves receiving the new order into being, rather than creating it. We have all the solutions available to us, spiritually, socially and technologically, or close at hand: but we yet have to generate the overall global will and capacity to apply them. Saturn , Uranus and Neptune conjuncting in Capricorn between 1989 and 1993 implied structural change yet, more than anything, it involved human institutions, laws and conventions, and it involved humans and human values too. Strange evasions of the real issues took place: potentially liberating inventions such as Internet were developed, yet their liberating implications are constrained by the uses we humans put them to. Thus, by 1999, the corporate-governmental world took increasing control of Internet, and its power to transform has been diluted.
One of the peaks of the Capricorn-Cancer process: newmoon on 28th December 1989.
The multiple conjunction in Capricorn implied a major change in our institutions and laws, a radical expansion of our social-cultural limits. Changes have happened, yet denial and resistance have been strong too, creating ever more complex outcomes and postponing fundamental changes. In the first edition of this book (1987) I wrote:
"What is affected is laws, money, legislative and executive institutions, traditions and all the stabilising structures of our society: the father archetype, even God Himself (as an image of ultimate authority and paternity) is in for a shake-up. We are likely to see a fundamentally new strain of decision-makers and executives appear suddenly, as if by quirk of fate, and the established ways by which we organise things will prove to be inadequate for our current needs...
The salient question, however, is whether institutions and structures can be loosened up sufficiently to be able to channel the new energies coming through humanity and history, or whether they have to be swept away because they are blocking it. What might prove to be the case is that, if key people in power use their position to stimulate rather than resist or slow change, their position as a positive force in human life might be reaffirmed: after all, institutional structures, by nature, are supposed to exist to serve the people, rather than have people serve them. Institutions exist to focus and channel inter-human agreement and coexistence: if they prevent it, social life-force must by nature break them apart.
"Watch what happens when Uranus enters Capricorn in 1988. Neptune, which entered Capricorn in 1984, has already been eating away at many areas of life previously considered safe and secure, but Uranus works more radically, and is by nature more diametrically opposed to Capricornian ways than Neptune. The presence of both in this sign bodes well for Capricorn: it implies a complete and fundamental enlivening of the Capricorn archetype, for structures can be built to be flexible, while still stabilising society. Or, they can be rigid, and overcome by self-created disruption and destruction. Saturnine viewpoints claim to be rational and sensible, but they actually have to stand the test of real life, like anything, and in the final analysis, workability is the key: 'rationality' has the danger of being the rationality of a self-protecting minority in power, losing its grip on reality.
"The movement of Pluto to mid-Scorpio implies the most intense phase of the honesty process Pluto is forcing us through at present. The chips are down, and everyone knows what the deal is (or they are turning the other way, deliberately). This is encounter, a wrenching from the past, a death of obsolete forms, to whatever degree lands up being necessary in order to teach us and clear the way for what comes next. Pluto is here (astrologically, at least), the saving grace in the equation. What is now becoming an everyday occurrence of secrets exposed, 'insider trading' and corruption revealed, leaks, lies and jilted interpretations, is a sign of Pluto at work: there comes a point where excuses will no longer hold.
"Interesting also is the Jupiter conjunct Chiron in Cancer in 1989-90, offering a beneficent slant: an appropriate dose of caring and the urge to protect, nurture and promote welfare is what these planets suggest. This can also be somewhat xenophobic – in other words that I'll care for you if you do it my way – but here, with all its pros and cons, we see an up-welling of the mother principle in the group psyche of humanity, contraposed to the father-principle of Capricorn, which at this time will be going through a major shake-up and reassessment. Traditionally, Cancer represents the people, and Capricorn represents the state and institutions.
"The main issue is around the latter, but the former enters in a positive mode, through Jupiter and Chiron. There comes a point where rationalistic argument, institutional enquiries, constitutions and even armies will no longer be able to stand up against the basic feelings of ordinary people: true choices are made in the heart and guts, not in the head. Cancer is coming into its power, with some help from Scorpio: deeper sensitivities and plain simple human matters are focusing and likely to express themselves more forcefully than they have in recent decades.
"Yet this transition, reaching its peak at the Uranus conjunct Neptune in 1992-3, is but a beginning. Possibly a beginning to a new order which itself lays the foundation for a greater new order which develops over future generations – possibly brought through by those born with Pluto in Scorpio, around 2030-50. As with the dispensation of the 1960s, this dispensation will take some decades to work through into visible form and positive outcomes."
Astrologers did anticipate more concrete events from the Uranus-Neptune conjunction than seemed to take place. Yet with an aspect like this, blitzing headlines aren't to be expected – it concerned underlying trends, which were soon visible during the later 1990s. A creeping systemic malaise, covered up with well-hyped positive, progressive technological and economic changes – the extension of the modern system worldwide and the elimination of all alternative systems, together with the growth of Internet, corporate power and genetic engineering, all of which had insidious sides to them.
Then, in 1996-98 came a shift: Neptune and Pluto shifted into Aquarius and Sagittarius, and Uranus had entered Aquarius in 1995-96. The emphasis shifted from structures to people and public opinion, and people began to string together seemingly disparate issues, such that, by 1999, many people saw the problem as a unified mega-issue rather than a collection of single issues.
However, the onus also turned to 'the people' through the Aquarian energies now operating, and public weaknesses started showing. Criticism and blame of leaders failed to transform into a full realisation that the public itself holds the power. Democratic issues are worried over at great length, yet public apathy and inertia is now perhaps one of the main factors blocking change. Populism and well-drilled propaganda still held great power at the turn of the Millennium, featuring a comfortable global schizophrenia: the desire for change as long as it doesn't change anything in my life.
We come to a key point here. It isn't astrological factors which change the world – it is people. Configurations and ingresses can come and go, but what counts is what people do with these available energies. We stand very close to a fundamental breakthrough point in human history, and we have done so since at least the mid-1960s, but we've kept the brakes on too.
The next major astrological event-horizon is around 2012-15, when Uranus (Aries) squares Pluto (Capricorn) – expect more institutional-structural sparks. This is the square following the conjunction of 1965-66 and the semisquare of 1988. Noteworthy also is the ingress of Neptune through Pisces (2011-2025). Note also the unfolding longterm consequences of the major 1965-66, 1989 and 1993 conjunctions – many major world events take place after power-periods, when such consequences reach critical points by dint of the weaknesses inherent in them.
However, fundamental change is happening. We might judge that it could have happened faster or more easily, but it is coming round the back door. Nature has noted that upfront acknowledgement of our weaknesses is not easy for humans, so it's eroding us from behind and underneath. We might believe that fundamental change might come as a shock, disaster or major, visible turn-around – an amplified version of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. But it probably won't come like that. It is coming surreptitiously, and it gets accentuated by small yet potent events.
One such event was the death of Princess Diana in 1997 – objectively, a very small event involving just one person. Yet it had the capacity to turn the hearts of millions who, logically, had no great cause to be upset. It put a stiff-upper-lip nation like Britain into a protracted collective altered state, leaking all over the world for reasons which baffled most people. Why? It was the symbolism of it. We are well hardened to disasters and threats – yet we get caught in our socially-vulnerable spots by small, potently-symbolic events which have enormous transformative impact. This is a symptom of our underlying sensitivity. We all know something is going on.
The Aquarius-Leo Age
There are many misunderstandings about this. First of all, it is not clear when it begins – estimates range from 1550 to 2300. If we are astronomically diligent, the beginning of the age is yet to happen in the 23rd Century: thus all the excitement about the Aquarian Age is a very Piscean phenomenon! The dawn of the Aquarian Age has little basis except inasmuch as it was proclaimed in a famous 1960s musical called Hair. There is, however, a chance that we could regard the whole 20th century as a watershed period between the ages: time will only tell. Believe what you want to believe – we have all done so for the duration of the Piscean Age!
As with ingresses of planets into signs, the astrological ages, 2,160 years long, represent major shifts of theme and viewpoint on a global-historic scale. While there is indeed a spiritual dispensation at the beginning of each age, this does not automatically imply a major global consciousness-breakthrough of the kind which is expected by some new-age believers. It simply implies a change of themes preoccupying humanity on a longterm time-scale.
The visions of the next age are already seen, ranging from angelic, spiritual scenarios to the drones and mutants of science-fiction: what we create in future generations (our future lives) is very much our mass choice. The ambitious imaginal expectations concerning the Aquarian Age, generated over the last few decades, are very Piscean, and it could be that the new age is a phenomenon of the end of the Piscean age, not the beginning of the Aquarian age. There have been many times in history when we have believed that we are on the edge of a new age.
Since this cycle of 25,000 years is related to the gradual precession of the equinox points backwards through the stellar constellations, shifting the constellations away from the signs by one sign per 2160 years, one degree every 72 years, we need to look at both of the equinox points, not just one. Thus, since around the time of Christ (although the date of this cuspal change is also debatable), we have been experiencing a Pisces-Virgo age, and now we are moving toward an Aquarius-Leo age. Pisces-Virgo is about the power of beliefs (Pisces), and their relationship with facts (Virgo). This has been an age of cosmologies (Pisces) and systems (Virgo), which reached an interesting peak in the 1960s, when Pisces-Virgo were strongly featured by the major line-up of the time.
The age of Aquarius-Leo is thus both about social solidarity, new social forms, rationality and collectivism (Aquarius), and about individualism and personal creativity and significance (Leo). In other words, we need to explore what are currently seen as the advantages of collective cooperation without losing the significance of the individual: the collective needs to serve the individual as much as the individual serves the collective.
This was an important principle which such Aquarian ideas as socialism, or modern communal philosophies, have tended to miss out, since they have obliged the individual to be but a cog in society. To participate wholeheartedly in a collective social adventure, an individual has to feel personal significance: social cohesion cannot be applied through rules, bureaucracies and ideologies, for it must come from the heart of every individual human, as a freely-inspired impulse without coercion.
A confusion (Pisces) has arisen between the notion of a 'new age', and the notion of the Aquarius-Leo age. The notion of the new age is derived from the observation that humanity stands at a stage of critical mass in its evolution – a stage where the evolution of consciousness, together with the population explosion, technological changes and overkill, planetary issues and so many other areas of life have reached a globally crucial stage, which has never been reached before.
Everyone is involved now; and every species too, even in the remotest corners of Earth. We now have the capacity to devastate everything. We are now reaching a point in population growth where something has to happen to prevent a historical lemming phenomenon. We are reaching into space, without exactly knowing what we want to do with that privilege. We are collectively reaching a major Saturnine adulthood initiation, in which all of the experiences we have gathered through history (or many lives) are coalescing into a set of conclusions which are likely to force a fundamental shift of consciousness and orientation.
Thus it is necessary to separate the 'new age' from the Aquarius-Leo age: these are separate, albeit generally synchronous phenomena (give or take a century or two!). The critical mass or planetary abyss we find ourselves in relates to the evolutionary curve of human history and its potential quantum change. There is nothing extra special about the Pisces-Aquarius cusp to make it inherently the biggest change-point in human history since the discovery of the use of fire or the beginning of agriculture.
Our planet is going into labour, and we as the most intelligent and conscious physical beings living on/in her are, whether we like it or not, being handed stewardship of a planet and ecosphere which we ourselves have harmed. Any aware person sees this, and sees at least some of the implications of it in that microsphere of life each of us knows and works with.
This quantum leap, still future tense but increasingly present tense, is an evolutionary factor unconnected with a dawning of an Aquarius-Leo age. It could equally happen at roughly any other time. But it seems that we as a race are ready to make this change – a change from being products of our planetary origins and history to being co-creators of a world in a universe, driven by our own divine wisdom. We have manifested a situation where, if we do not end such strange behaviours as war, exploitation and institutionalised insanity, we shall quite clearly end everything or make life intolerable. God will not save us unless we save ourselves! We have set up an immense conundrum which cannot be resolved by the normal, established means at our disposal: logic, negotiation, money, technology, prayer, reform, revolution, sex, religion or anything we have done before.
This planetary initiation involves a turning in the deepest seat of consciousness. Within race-memory we have stored up enough experience of life and its options that we have now, I believe, virtually exhausted what is possible within our current paradigm of consciousness – despite our steady modern stream of entertaining gizmos and thrills. Precipitated by a major personal crunch, many people are coming to the point where there seems to be no way forward within the framework they have created to live in. When a person reaches this point of total compromised paradox, a tunnel-experience ensues, in which deep despair digs up new soul-factors, and an eventual breakthrough comes when we are arm-twisted by breakdown and pressure. This deep turning happens only once, fundamentally, for further such experiences tend to be reaffirmations of this turning.
Since you are reading a book such as this, you will presumably have gone through some such turning, at some stage of your life (or perhaps you are in it!). Thus you will have personal experience of it. You have made the turning in advance of the mainstream of humanity, and you are a pioneer on the new frontier. The human race as a whole is on the edge of such a turning: a lot of energy is about to be released. How can there be loneliness when there is a human family to belong to? How can there be unemployment when there is so much to get on with to make the human world an acceptable, even rewarding, place to live in?
We have already changed the face of our planet and the heart of humanity to a degree where it is no longer possible to change things back to acceptable levels of balance. We have caused mutation, mass psychological changes, extinction of species, changes in the composition of air and oceans and soil, and a human rootlessness no longer bound by local community traditions, to the extent that nature and humanity have forgotten what things were like before. We can only change forward, and if this means that old species and scenarios die, and new ones arise to take their place, then this must presumably be so.
The genetic pool of humanity is radically changing, and the ecosphere too: nature and human nature are so fundamentally imbalanced (in the old sense of balance) that we must create an entirely new balance. As with a gardener in an artificial garden environment with its own human-creates balances – dependent on the creative intervention of the gardener – we must evolve a vision of the kind of world we are seeking to create, and then create it and sustain it dynamically.
We are no longer being watched over and protected by our gods, the fairies or any other force: we have to consult our conscience and sensibilities, make our own deeper decisions, and do it. Nature responds to the phosphate or caesium we dump in the sea, developing ever-new ways of working with it: we thus have to choose what inputs we make into our ecosphere (and psycho-sphere), to allow nature to respond in ways which are life-enhancing.
Similar things must go on in the world of humans: decision-makers need to look at the new psycho-social facts we create whenever laws and innovations are made or inventions are marketed. People need to be brought into the decision-making process, and social constitutions need to evolve such that a true social feedback-system works effectively, as appropriate to each group, tribe and nation, and the world as a whole.
Hence the arrival of Chiron into our consciousness. Chiron offers us opportunities to create miracles: to work with the known world in ways derived from deep down, from the unknown. Chiron arrived synchronously with the growth of grass-roots movements of a new order. And the riddle we must solve in every detail and every corner of the world is soluble only through miraculous means, through a concentration of energy, work and intent which is so intense and open to possibilities that a way through is found. This means crises: crises of the kind we are growing used to now.
In a crisis, everything comes to a crunch. It becomes too much to handle. It's all too complex and fraught, and no one understands what is going on. We are forced to accept that we are out of control. We are faced with death. It feels like eternity, as if it is never going to end. Yet in this space, there is hope: for a new mode of consciousness dawns when the old one breaks down. People are capable of super-human feats and wisdom when there is a total crisis going on – war stories demonstrate this. Another element of totally alert, totally capable awareness comes into play.
When catharsis breaks loose, it seems like hell, but the calm and the light are very close: this can be seen in any therapy room, in any decent argument which clears the air. Catharsis is deep-level processing of blocked energy, in the heart, gut and root-centre, and sometimes in the soul. Mind is suspended. Inner conflagration generates heat and pain, and a molecular reaction takes place, fundamentally reprogramming things from within. At the end, peace and rest, healing and enlightenment. That is, if the person catharting is willing and ready to break through and get to the other side. In the horrors we see in our world today, we see signs of catharsis. This is our choice. As a race.
After doing therapy and experiencing catharsis myself, I found a great faith dawning within me, concerning the future: one goes through fundamental change when one is cleansed throughout by the fire of pain. And in terms of time, it is fast – though the buildup of energy-intensity can take a long time, and ego fights hardest at the last moment, breakthrough does come.
The choice lies in our responses, individually and collectively, to the waves of shock arising annually in our time. It lies in our willingness and capacity to create global catharsis in a creative way, to precipitate change by choice. It's like stopping smoking: a matter of choosing temporary crisis to aid a long-term end. And the most major blockage to progress seems to be the question of trust: in ourselves and our capacities, and in others and the human race. Love and trust, as Jesus taught at the beginning of the Pisces-Virgo age, is the way through. We all need to come to this conclusion, not because someone said so, but because we, individually, know that it works and has no substitute or half-measures or conditions.
We are not just passive recipients of history. We have been so, but we can no longer afford to do this. Astrology is not just a way of passively understanding what is happening to us: it is a means of moving into the stream of time and energy through conscious experiencing and active expression. Hence the emphasis in this book on experiencing things for yourself. It follows that, from this, since we can identify the forces at work, we can also work with these forces.
In other words, when we say Pluto is in Sagittarius, we need to do something about it. This is about honesty, facing up to things, being prepared to avoid avoidance, and generosity toward our fellow beings. When you and I go through personal transformations, we contribute to the group psyche, to swinging the energy just a little bit more each time. There comes a point where individual changes become infectious, where the energy reaches a crossover point from uphill slog to downhill momentum: this is the 'Hundredth Monkey effect'.
In astrology, we can consciously work the energies we can identify. We can do it through meditations and imagings, through self-transformation of our way of being, through healing our dealings with others, through invoking the powers of change we can identify, and through aware work in the world, in whatever area of life we are best working in, to channel our experience to others – or to allow this flow to take place by taking our self-interest out of the way.
Astrologers of old were not only counsellors and time-tellers: they were magical workers, consciously engaging with the forces they identified. The nexus of this is the raising of awareness. Changes naturally arise as a result. This implies working proactively to remove blockages to the flow, working to develop skills and competences such that the divine spark can manifest through our actions of thought, word and deed. It's a challenge to clarify our awareness amidst the busy confusions and demands of daily life.
Astrologers of the present day have a similar role – and this is why it is vital for any practising astrologer to work in personal growth and service beyond the call of minimal duty – for astrology alone does not transform us or the world. The spirit behind astrology and within us is the essence of this role. Astrology is a framework in which to manifest this spirit – as one of many paths of growth.
This implies a major revolution in astrology – which is itself going through great changes. I shall leave you with this thought, for each of us needs to bring about this possibility in our own way, in whatever activities best express our essential spirit, in the locality and domain where we function and live. Our inner self and wisdom is the guide. We do not need to think too much about the future – we need to be aware of its possibilities though – for it is in the immediately-present moment where the core of this work lies. It starts now. It is time to quit holding back. There is great and growing support for forward steps on the evolutionary path, and fear and reservation are becoming increasingly difficult to support.
Future generations will look back at this phase of history in the way we look back at the past – fascinated, but wondering how on earth we got ourselves into this mess. Yet knowing that it was a stage on a path toward something else. We now have the capacity to create history more than we ever have done, and the future is ours. When the creative potential in humanity is truly unleashed, all things will be possible to deal with. The tide can be turned in our lifetimes and that of our children. The future is an open door.
When a major power period or point in time is approaching, it is impossible to see beyond it, for so many unknowns come into the equation. So we just have to work with what we've got. But there are also astrological grounds for hope, in the future. Let's stay alive and grow to see it.