Saturday, March 18, 2017

Pluto in Aquarius: the Robots are Coming

Aquarius is the sign most associated with Science. Practical, detailed Virgo is good for technology and for fixing computers. But detached, inventive, progressive Aquarius is good for dreaming these things up in the first place.

And it’s that detachment that is also the curse of Aquarius. The Aquarian Age that we are entering is an age of inhumanity in the name of the evolution of humanity. An age of mental brilliance and emotional disconnect.

Aquarians have strong feelings – all signs have strong feelings – but for Aquarius those feelings lag behind, or they are transpersonal: the classic Aquarian who wishes to benefit all humanity, but is absent at home.

Aquarius is the water bearer, and one of their tasks is to get to know that water, to become one with it. And the other task is to incorporate the opposite sign of Leo, the sign of individuality. Aquarians are classically the misfits, and this is often the shadow of Leo, coming out in rebellious form. And they want everyone to have an equal voice, this is one of their passions, but it can also mean everyone becoming the same, the shadow of Leo again.

There is another, shorter Aquarian Age we are entering in 5 years, that of Pluto in Aquarius. And there is a lot in the news about the coming age of automation, the age of the robots, the age of artificial intelligence.

The stereotypical robot sums up Aquarius at its worst. Pure intelligence, without a heart. A kind of pinnacle of human ‘evolution’, where we are replaced by something more intelligent. The masses of humanity, no longer needed, confined to a scrapheap of sameness.

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Pluto empowers the sign that he is in. We see the best and worst of that sign. At present, Pluto is in the sign of Capricorn – the empowerment of big business and of government (hidden surveillance – Pluto), and what looks like a return to protectionism, the walls of Capricorn. And, at the start of this transit in 2008, the return of a sense of proportion and of balancing the books to the financial system.

Under Pluto in Aquarius, everything is pointing to an empowerment of automation. Pluto was last in Aquarius in the late 1700s, as the Industrial Revolution was beginning. That revolution was characterised by greater productivity through the use of machines, operated by people doing repetitive work.
It had an alienating effect on the workers. The coming age of Pluto in Aquarius will see that process taken a step further, with a step change in the type of work that machines can do, eg driving trucks, the most common job in the US. The service industries, to which we have retreated, will also be increasingly taken over. Insurance, for example, will be quoted for and arranged automatically. Accountants and solicitors are also under threat.

In the past, new jobs have arisen as machines have taken over the old. This may no longer be the case, such is the pace of ‘progress’. The sign of Aquarius, perhaps more than any other sign, considers the question of what it is to be human. Humanity, in an age (in the West, at any rate) where people are increasingly unemployed, will have to invent new – or old – ways of making life meaningful.

Some people will feel they have been consigned to the scrapheap, without useful work, and without value to society. Others may feel that society is becoming liberated from work as an end in itself. But then how do you control (Pluto) the masses (Aquarius), no longer kept docile by work? So big questions.

Human workers will be needed less and less, while wealth creation and ownership will increasingly be in the hands of a few people: the greater inequality we have seen in recent times will continue to grow as Pluto finishes his time in hierarchical Capricorn. But there is likely to be rebellion under egalitarian Pluto in Aquarius.

And then there is the very big question, which is already being asked, but which is likely to become for real: can machines become intelligent in the way that we are, can they exponentially surpass us and make us redundant? The 'technological singularity'. Robots have always been futuristic: Pluto in Aquarius is the time when we start to catch up with the future.

The current head of Microsoft said we do not need to fear AI. Bill Gates promptly stepped in and said we do. I don’t think anyone really knows yet. But again, it will become clearer under Pluto in Aquarius.

Will our machines become conscious? There are already within academia discussions on the ethics of how we treat robots. In a traditional, pre-science sense, everything is conscious. It changes our relationship to the world, and how we see it, it changes everything, if we treat the world as alive. And it responds in kind. Maybe our dark imaginings about robots are rooted in the (unfounded) belief that the world is a ‘thing’, indifferent to us and dead. A hideous demonization of the universe. And maybe if we remember it is alive, and treat robots accordingly, they will respond in kind.

But what is this drive to create artificial intelligence? It seems to me to be a strange thing to want to do, and to define the whole future of humanity according to its realisation. Isn’t our own intelligence enough? Isn’t addressing our own stupidity difficult enough? It’s as though we are trying to fill a hole in ourselves, a hole that wasn’t there before we narrowed ourselves down, as we became distanced from the natural world.

Humans are splendid beings, and Aquarius stands for that human splendour. Can’t we learn to appreciate that, become that, instead? Again, Aquarius is both: human and inhuman, this polarity.

And it’s not just humans and robots. People are beginning to be implanted with technology, and no doubt biological elements will be introduced into machines. The dividing line between humans and their machines will begin to blur, and we will see so-called enhanced human beings arise, enhanced both mentally and physically. And it will again raise the Aquarian issue of what it means to be human. And an answer to this Aquarian question is, I think, to be found in the opposite sign of Leo, which rules the heart. Aquarius can think it is our brilliant minds that make us human, but it is not that, it is our hearts.

Prometheus is an Aquarian figure. He stole fire from the gods, against Zeus' wishes, and suffered eternal torment for it. He was benevolent but hubristic. It is the perennial message of human hubris, thinking in our brilliance that we are gods, that we know what is what, and we forget how to listen, and everything goes tits up.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Brexit: a Descent to the Underworld

The newspapers are saying that Brexit will probably be triggered tomorrow, Tuesday the 14th. We don’t know what time. But Uranus will be 3 days off an exact conjunction with Eris. This signature represents the fracturing of the old western system that we are seeing, whether through Trump’s Presidency in the USA, or the rise of anti-EU and anti-globalisation forces in Europe.

Brexit Triggered
The Moon will be conjunct Jupiter in Libra, a very good time for beginning negotiations. The Sun will be in late Pisces – the last mutable sign, and a good place for bringing about an ending.

So there are favourable things in the chart, but also difficulties. Venus opposite the Moon, in its fall, and Moon in an applying square to Pluto. This suggests difficult negotiations, a struggle for power. But also the people (the Moon) reclaiming their power (Pluto): the fact is, many people felt disempowered by the EU, even though many didn’t.

UK Chart 1801
The UK is coming up to a Mars return, and Mars rules the 7th house of foreign affairs. Venus is passing through the 7th, and is soon to join the natal North Node in Aries in the 7th. So there is this combination of assertion (Mars) and diplomacy (Venus). These 2 planets are in mutual reception, they are in each others’ signs. So this makes for a great mixture: the UK achieving a favourable outcome, getting what she wants, and maintaining good relations.

And then there is the Sun in an applying square to Saturn: this is also difficult, it suggests obstacles, but it also suggests determination to achieve our goals.

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So there is a mixed picture. It is easy to see that it is going to be difficult. But there are also favourable signs.

In 6 weeks, Pluto will station almost exactly opposite the UK Moon, and then go backwards. This is the descent into the Underworld, the Night Journey. And it will happen again next year around the same time.

However many favourable signs there may be in the Brexit chart, this thing is going to be hard. It’s going to be hard in one way this year, in that we won’t really know who we will be dealing with until the autumn, when Germany, as well as France, will have had their elections. And the outcomes are likely to change the game, they will be another blow against the EU-as-is. The next 6 months will be a phoney Brexit, as we try to get on with the job, but there will be an element of play-acting, and plenty of posturing. This will be painful.

And then next year, when Pluto turns retrograde again, the negotiations will be real, and there will be bullets to be bitten, but also the seed of something new to be grasped within that darkness. Post-Brexit Britain will start to become a reality towards the autumn of next year, the shape will become clear, as Pluto turns direct. But there will still be another year of negotiations, as Saturn completes his journey over the UK Sun, Moon and Angles.

The astrology is so striking: Pluto at the end of his transits to the Sun, Moon and Angles, describing the deep and painful journey of identity that we are going through. And Saturn coming in this autumn, just as phoney Brexit ends, to describe the 2 years hard negotiation that will be needed.

It will be difficult, it really is a soul journey for the country. But we are going to do it, that seems very clear. And that painful division in the country between pro- and anti-EU, which has been there for many years, and only recently came to a head, that division will start to become a thing of the past.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Uranus-Eris, Pluto and the re-shaping of the UK

For the first time the Unionists do not have an overall majority in Northern Ireland. Scotland is threatening another independence referendum. And the government is about to trigger Brexit. All as Uranus-Eris conjoin, squaring the UK Moon at 19 Cancer, the sense of homeland. Events that pre-figure the radical dissolution and re-shaping of the UK.

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Pluto, of course, is opposing the UK Moon, at the end of his long journey over the UK Sun and Angles. This is the deeper transformation that Uranus and Eris are currently triggering. Pluto last hard-aspected the UK Sun, Moon and Angles 40ish years ago when the UK joined the EU. So there is a symmetry.

And Pluto reaches deep, he is changing our sense of identity, as he did 40 years ago. So that touches deep, primordial, even survival emotions. That is why Brexit has been so huge, and why it has been so painful for so many people. It's not about rights and wrongs, facts and lies and arguments. They are all secondary. It's about identity. And if some people feel they are mainly European, and others feel they are mainly British, that is just how it is.

 PS I'm going to be looking at all this on a day event I'm co-running on May 13th in Devon with Moira Lake and Kate Hubert. Please let me know if you're interested.

The Myth of Objective Existence

The myth of ‘objective existence’. The oppressive idea that what is really real is behind, and separate from, what we perceive, visible only to specialists. In this way we are kept docile. We no longer take our perceptions seriously.

‘If we believe that perceptions ARE existence, that esse est percipi, as Berkeley put it, then we will be far more likely to experience dreams and visions, and recognise them as such’ (James Audlin, The Circle of Life)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why the Universe isn't Gradually Unravelling

I was watching a BBC programme about entropy, the idea that the universe gets more disordered over time. As one scientist put it, in non-technical language it means things are getting worse. And I thought what a strange way of looking at the world.

I learned about entropy at school, but it wasn’t until more recently that I felt able to question accepted scientific theories. They are so battened down by proofs and equations and authority that it doesn’t seem like one can question them. This is probably the biggest fundamentalism of our age, every bit as rigid as the Islamists or Christians can get. And of course, if you are in it, you can’t see it.

The guy who came up with entropy, Ludwig Boltzmann, suffered from depression and eventually killed himself. I wonder if there is a connection. And what kind of culture is it that thinks things can only get worse? The eventual fate of the universe, according to this kind of thinking, is ‘Heat Death’, a vast cold empty nothingness.

My experience is NOT that things unravel over time. Our particular culture is making things worse, but that is particular to us. Just look at life, in its abundance and beauty and complexity. It has been there a long time. We are the babes of creation, the ones who do not know who they are and are making a mess. But our elder brothers and sisters, all the animals and plants – they don’t make things worse, they don’t make things gradually unravel, because they know how to live. They know about balance.

So, here is a big question: my experience is that the world does not unravel over time. But accepted scientific theory says it does. Which should I go with, and do I even have the right to think in this sort of way? And almost as a matter of principle I say we need to go with our experience, because if we can’t do that, then what do we have? It is part of the disempowerment, the brainwashing of our complex culture, that needs people to be productive and to conform, that we have learned not to trust our own experience anymore.

Another example is the Sun going around the Earth. That is something we experience every day, it is a basic part of being human to see this happening. And yet we are told it is not so, that it is the other way round, and we believe that, because we are told it. This, in my view, is degenerate, we have lost our power as humans. Humans that have that power are seen as ‘primitive’.

And the other big question is what kind of culture sees things as inevitably getting worse?

According to Buddhism, everything is Mind. Not mind in a narrow sense, more in the sense of the primordial imagination (in astrology, Neptune) that throws up the world around us. The world is produced by the imagination, life imagines the world into being, and it is real, but not ‘objective’ in the way that science would have us believe. Nor is it a solipsistic fantasy. It is something else, ineffable, that takes a lifetime of contemplating.

So the world is a product of the imagination, and that is what keeps it buoyant and creative, it has that force of life behind it. That is why, left to its own devices, the world does not unravel.

But we have become unmoored from that imaginative link to creation. We think the world is material and separate from us: that is a basic assumption behind the scientific method. So the world around us is no longer being maintained by the forces of our imagination, it has been unmoored, and that is why it is gradually falling apart over time. Hence the theory of entropy.

‘Primitive’ cultures understand this link. That is why, some, for example, participate in the rising of the sun every day, in the belief that if they ceased to do so, the sun would cease to rise. We are a literal-minded culture, and think that people must be primitive indeed to think like this. But welcoming the Sun every day is based on a profound truth, it really does make a difference to the nature of the world.

Anything said or done in a heartfelt way affects the world, contributes to its aliveness, stops it unravelling. This is how prayer and magic work. This is a form of cause and effect that is outside the scientific remit, but it is the most important form of all. Contributing to the world – saving the world, even, as if we could possibly know how – is not just a matter of direct action, though that has its place. It is also about inner work, of heartfelt intention, of prayer. And that connects us to the deeper soul of the world. It is that thing beyond us, that is vastly bigger than us, that makes the difference.