It’s a serious business when Pluto passes through a sign, for Pluto is where we look to for survival, a level that we don’t have to worry about too much in our present western culture, and that we are therefore not very aware of. Personally, I haven’t had to live in a situation where my survival is under threat, whether through food shortage or war etc, so I don’t know how I would behave in such a situation. I do sense that there is a very different ‘me’ that would take over, and not necessarily one that the civilised ‘me’ would like very much. I don’t doubt that I, or most of us civilised astrologers, would kill without too much problem in certain survival situations. Even though we might be appalled afterwards.
What I have noticed in many of the younger generation is their lack of survival instinct, their lack of a sense that you do need to generate some sort of reliable income to keep the food coming in and a roof over your head, that you will have to put up with some discomfort along the way, and that you need to apply yourself consistently to certain things over a long period if you want to get good at anything and do more than just get by.
Much of this started, I think, with the Pluto in Libra generation (born 1971-84). Libra is the most civilised of the signs, and the most removed, therefore, from Pluto’s realm. As a generation they are in for a necessary shock as Pluto passes through Capricorn, squaring their generational Pluto placement in Libra, giving them the lesson of earthly limitation and the lesson that much of what is worth having needs to be earned. I'm sure they also have their strengths, what has anyone out there observed? Urbanity is one of them, as you'd expect.
A schoolteacher friend of mine confirms my observation. I said well how come if these kids are so self-indulgent that exam pass rates are going up (in the UK), and he said it’s better teaching, the kids get spoon-fed how to pass the exams. Another friend says that this generation is known in the US, perhaps a bit unkindly, as 'The slacker generation.' I sometimes think that my generation has got it about right: we haven’t got the same level of narrow, hard ‘need to survive’ that our parents had (who grew up through the Great Depression followed by World War II), but at the same time some of it has rubbed off on us, so that we don’t have either the self-indulgence, the lack of Saturn, of a later generation that has only known plenty.
Mind you, the Pluto in Leo generation (which I just missed) also knows how to sit back and enjoy itself – many of them were born during or soon after the War, so I don’t blame them – with the result that, “Baby boomers are also financially far more insecure than their parents because they have enjoyed spending their money more than saving it.” (Observer, 10/6/7)
The baby boomers were the generation born after World War II, when there was a temporary increase in the birth rate, the result of many couples making up for the wartime lack of conjugal 8th House quality time. With Pluto in Leo, play and enjoyment are a serious business, and a necessary generational corrective to the Pluto in Cancer generation, whose survival lay in fighting for their homeland (Cancer). As Leos, they were the Me generation, who were not going to be herded into wars like Vietnam, and who stood up for their rights as individuals.
Leo is the child of the Zodiac, so growing old is a problem (unlike Capricorn, who has a problem being young). The quote two paragraphs above was from a study on the baby-boomers – the Pluto in Leo generation – by a guy called George Moschis at Georgia State University. He says: “The blunt facts are these: boomers are not as financially well-off as their parents; boomers are in worse health then previous generations were at the same age; and are terrified of a future spent in a poor environment, struggling with deteriorating physical health. In addition, boomers no longer believe the world is a safe place and are angst-ridden about the personal safety of themselves and their loved ones.”
It continues: “Moschis has spent the past 20 years surveying thousands of people in middle age and later life. The finding that surprised him most was the fear that the middle-aged generation admitted overwhelmed all others: fear of ageing. “Boomers are the generation most terrified of getting old,” he says. “They defy ageing more than any other generation in human history and are obsessed with the way it affects their physical appearance. They will do anything they can to keep their youthful good looks. Middle age is a period of crisis for them, because they genuinely think that they are still young. Ageing, for them, is not simply a matter of getting wrinkles and gaining a few extra pounds. It is a social and psychological process that defies the conviction they have formed in their own minds that old age will not begin for them until they reach their eighties.”
So there you have it, Pluto in Leo and its problems with getting old. Which makes it really interesting that we are about to enter Pluto in Capricorn. Pluto brings out both the best and worst of a sign, and one thing we can be sure about is that during this period, the Plutos in Leo are going to have to face their problems around ageing. And many of them, Leo at its best and most graceful, will also show us how in spirit you can get younger as you age. Because you learn that life is about change, and that everything needs to be approached with a fresh and open mind: so if life teaches you this, why shouldn’t you get better at it as you get older, rather than worse?
As for Pluto in Virgo (1956-71), they are the generation that will soon be in power. Virgo is associated with technology, as well as the cycles of nature. Virgo is therefore associated with environmentalism, the movement against the destruction of nature by technology. So it is very fitting that this generation will probably be the one that seriously addresses the environmental issue. And it is a survival (Pluto) issue. Technology (Virgo) will be part of the answer. But it will also be part of the problem, because we are in the habit of looking of looking for technological solutions to everything. So there's an interesting contradiction. I think it will be particularly the Uranus-Pluto in Virgo generation, with its power, its originality and inventiveness, its political radicalism and opposition to outdated authority (also a Pluto in Cap issue) that we will see at the forefront. People like Obama in the US, and David Cameron in the UK.