I think this talk was titled ‘Uranus-Pluto: the story so far’ when I first said I’d do it, but as I wrote it out it ended up more on the theme of the nature of Uranus-Pluto, with world events almost like an illustration, instead of being the main thing. So that’s how this is going to go. I will be talking about Europe and Greece and the Euro, and the Arab Spring, and US politics and China, and the UK, and we’ll be looking at their charts. But before I could do any of that I found myself looking at the outer planets themselves and what they mean and what they mean when they transit.
So this talk, and certainly the first half, will be more of a sort of meditation on the nature of Uranus and Pluto – and a bit of Neptune as well, just for completion. With world events weaving in and out as illustrations.
Because it’s easy to go, you know, Uranus-Pluto means big radical change, and it often IS big radical change, and I could probably spend the whole talk showing examples of that happening round the world along with the charts. And chuck in a few predictions just to round it off.
But I found myself more interested in the nature of this change, wherever it is happening. And what is the difference between a collective change and a personal change when there is an outer planet transit? And what is an outer planet? That is where I had to start, because I didn’t necessarily know what an outer planet is. It’s like which bit of your personality is Uranus? You know that Mercury, for example, is your mind, Venus is how you relate to people and so on.
It was about a year ago I started thinking about this, having spent about 5 years blogging on astrology and relating world events to the planets. I wanted to know which bits of our personalities, both individual and collective, the outer planets were. I knew what they did, sort of, and the gods they embody – which apparently is a modern thing. Some traditional astrologers don’t like it, incidentally, if you talk about the planets as gods, but I think it’s a great contribution of modern astrology.
The planets are gods, they are living archetypes. They are also symbols in the original Greek sense of two things that are thrown together, syn together and ballein to throw, so that one in a sense IS the other, Venus in a sense is not just a hot lump of rock but IS the nature of the way we relate. A symbol is much more than something that stands for something else, which is the modern meaning. In a sense it IS the other thing, there is a shared sense of life to them, by exploring one – the movement of a rock – you explore the other. I suppose it’s kind of 3 fold with astrology, you have the lump of rock, you have the Greek or Roman god and you have the aspect of the personality. But I think that’s a whole other subject.
Anyway, I thought I’ll work this one out for myself, and I’ll do it by writing about it, because that’s what usually gets me thinking about something.
Of course, the outer planets aren’t ever going to be bits of us in the way that the inner planets are, because they are invisible to the naked eye; they are not part of our conscious endowment. So they are not something we can be aware of in the same way. If you like, they are not part of our sense of ‘me’. The inner planets together constitute that sense of ‘me’, of self.
The outer planets point to the fact that we are much more than our conscious selves. The outer planets are like the ocean, and we are like this island floating on it, and susceptible to its currents and its weather patterns. In fact there’s lots of islands, 7 billion of them, because in a way we share the collective planets. There’s different currents in different places, but they all eventually join up.
And the different countries, the different collectives join up as well, all connected by the same water.
So we need to dialogue with these planets. They give us humility and wisdom, while in a way we give them a vessel through which they can be expressed. It’s a sort of deal with the gods.
But though they are not part of us in an inner planet sense, they are still part of us, or we are part of them, we are part of their ocean. So what are they?
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I think we can see Pluto as the life-force. It’s that powerful energy that makes us want to go on living that we can easily take for granted, it’s a sort of given. It can take a Pluto transit for us to realise that we don’t control the power switch.
Battersea Power Station
A classic way in which Pluto transits occur is that you start to notice that you don’t have the same energy for something that you had previously, the life has started to go from that activity, and it’s beyond your control. It may be that you start to feel this about your whole life, like you don’t want to go on living in the way you have been.
And this is happening because it’s time for something more authentic, something more balanced. Or it may not be a balancing thing: it may be that you have reached a natural conclusion. You’ve been teaching yoga for 15 years, or your children have just left home, and it’s time for a new stage of life. You can usually see these sorts of transits almost like clockwork in the charts of mothers, you can often predict when their kids are going to leave home.
So that’s what Pluto does: he’s not just the life energy, he is also that tendency within life to move on to the next stage. Pluto as life energy, or life force, is much more powerful than we realise. Pluto connects us to something collective, something primordial. So it’s not necessarily pretty, but there can be an almost superhuman power there when something is important enough, like survival. But it’s not blind, because for humans there has to be meaning as well if we’re going to draw on Pluto’s power. It’s often precisely because a particular way of living no longer holds meaning for us that the energy drains away. And that’ll bring us onto Neptune and the mythological imagination, but there’s more on Pluto first.
It’s because Pluto moves us, or a situation, or a country onto the next stage that he is sometimes called evolutionary. The word evolve in the 1640s meant to unfold, open out, or expand, and it comes from the Latin ex volvare meaning to roll out. By 1832 it had come to mean “to develop by natural processes to a higher state.”
So there’s a bit of a difference there, and it’s obviously connects with the idea of biological evolution being a progress towards ever superior states, with humanity, and probably men, at the very top. And above that you get God. It’s an expansion on the medieval idea of the Great Chain of Being, except it goes from the bottom up instead of the top down.
The Medieval Great Chain of Being
So I don’t think that Pluto is evolutionary in this sense, though he can be. In the case of an individual person’s life, ideally he is evolutionary, in the sense of his transits and influence leading to greater consciousness. But I don’t think that in principle Pluto is evolutionary. Pluto is simply life, in an individual or collective sense, moving on to another stage. And I think it’s often best to leave it at that. Because if you drag in evolution, then that can be a matter of opinion as to whether or not a change is a good thing, it’s placing our ideas of value on a natural process.
And I think that applies particularly to Pluto in the collective. And if you look at history, I think it’s hard to make an argument that nations evolve in a sustained way. If you look at the last Uranus square Pluto, for example, in the early 1930s, what came out of that was the Great Depression, fascist regimes and then the second world war.
So that’s Pluto. He is the life force and its tendency to always be growing and renewing itself. It’s quite a mysterious thing.