England is in a bit of a crisis at the moment. Economically we are in a mess, with huge public spending cuts needing to be made but not, for political reasons, having been made yet. And politically we are in a crisis, because we have no government, and when one does form, it will either be a minority government or a coalition government, of which no-one in the current generation of politicians has any experience. More widely, Scotland has been threatening to break away for some years, and the UK continues to sit on the fence over its involvement in the EU, in a world that is increasingly divided into big power blocks.
If the UK was an individual coming for a reading, he would be telling you that he had been living beyond his means for some years and that it had come to a head; that his business had almost gone under (but not quite); that his marriage was looking shaky; and that he was no longer sure of what direction he wanted to go in. You would take one look at the chart of this gentleman and think “Well, it’s his Uranus Opposition, what would you expect?”
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The Uranus Opposition occurs aged 40-42 in an individual, and corresponds to what has become known as the mid-life crisis (I guess in past centuries, the Saturn return aged 30 was the mid-life crisis, and the Uranus Opposition would have been the gateway to the last part of life.) It is by no means a crisis for everyone, but when Uranus is strong in the Chart (in the case of the UK, it is conjunct the Ascendant), it is going to be significant.
Uranus is the Great Awakener; he comes in with his bolts of lightning that illuminate the landscape in a new way, casting familiar landmarks into shadow and shedding light on previously obscure corners. The old values that we have lived by no longer make any sense: why am I with this person, do I know them any more? Does this job, and the promotion I could get, which were so important for many years, still matter to me?
There are no easy answers, and the crisis has to be lived through. It is like your life has been steadily building for 20 years, with a big shove forward from Saturn aged 30, and suddenly you want to walk away from it all, or it walks away from you. It’s like it happens to you, almost out of the blue, you could not have imagined it, and it can take years afterwards to catch up with yourself, as you go through Pluto square Pluto, Neptune square Neptune and Saturn opposite Saturn: all the outer planets seizing hold of us in the first half of our forties, and setting our life in a very different direction.
England has been without sure foundations since the end of the War. Our identity was bound up with having an Empire and being a world power. The Empire and our money went, but we have still insisted on trying to punch above our weight as our manufacturing industry declined and others overtook us. England is a Capricorn nation. Capricorn’s ambition can mean we get above ourselves, and this is what has happened for so long. The other side of Capricorn is solid realism, knowing your place in the world and feeling secure in it because you have earned it and it expresses who you are.
This is where England needs to be. We can blame the hung Parliament on the political parties by saying none of them quite matched up; that may be true, but we can look at it the other way by saying that England no longer knows what it wants, we are at a crossroads.
And as I say, a big part of the problem is pretending to ourselves we are a world power when we are not. It causes us to humiliate ourselves in front of the Americans with our ‘special relationship’ that is so one-sided, and it alienates us from our natural allies in Europe: being one of a number of wealthy European countries is not good enough for us. We also don't want to deal with the fact that if we were fully aligned with Europe, Germany would be more powerful than us within that alliance.
This is a classic Uranus Opposition problem. You’ve been living in the clouds for years, entranced by the allures of high finance and high status, and Uranus, with his lightning bolt, reveals the earth a long way beneath you, the earth of ordinary, grounded existence where you do not have inflated status, but where you do have self-respect, which is a different thing.
In the case of the UK, our Sun is in an earth sign at the bottom of the chart, on the ground: that is where we need to be. Uranus, who has 2 years to run in opposing natal Uranus, is at present simply exposing the lack of direction, the lack of knowing who we are.
The EU itself is of course also in crisis, caused by Greece’s debt problem threatening to spread, due to the common currency of the Euro. The Euro came into being 1/1/99 at 00:01 hours, and its Angles are all at 29 degrees of the mutable signs, which Uranus is currently exactly transiting (opposite ASC).
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Like Britain, the EU has its Sun at 10 Capricorn, which Uranus and Pluto will be hard aspecting in a couple of years. So there is a big journey just starting. The UK doesn’t know who it is anymore, and Europe is also going to have to define itself more clearly, pushed on for the moment by the Greek crisis.*
These crises are all the true beginnings of what astrologers have seen for years, namely the big changes worldwide that will be brought about by the upcoming Uranus-Pluto square. This is not so much because the aspect is unusually powerful: it is powerful, but not unusually so. It is because of the way it interacts with the charts of so many countries worldwide. An old world is starting to die, and the crises in the UK and in Europe are expressive of that.
Jupiter is currently conjoining Uranus, expanding the possibility of crisis worldwide (e.g. America’s ecological crisis over the BP oil spill, which is bound to affect policy). We are likely to see this sense of crisis continue, and even intensify, over the next 2 months until Uranus changes direction. The crises will ease off, but the point is that they cause us to think and to change: the Greece debt crisis, for example, may have eased, but Europe will be forced into a bigger change about how it runs the Euro.
The word crisis comes from the Greek krisis, which means “turning point in a disease”. This is quite descriptive: it’s like something has been out of balance for a long time – economic policy, environmental policy, political structures – and eventually a point is reached where something gives, revealing the underlying problem but also forcing a change, where the patient either dies or recovers.
* Along with Pluto conjunct Sun in a couple of years time, the UK will also have Neptune conjunct Pluto. Pluto is your source of power and confidence. Neptune 'dissolves', for better or for worse. In 1929/30, Neptune opposed the UK Pluto, heralding the depression and the disempowerment that came with that; in the early 1970s, Neptune squared the UK Pluto, heralding our time as 'the sick man of Europe'. This time, who knows, but it would seem to confirm a dissolution of the unrealistic, 'punching above our weight', attitude.