Friday, March 30, 2012

Uranus-Pluto Part 7 of 8: the Rise of China and the US Political Crisis

Uranus-Pluto, the US and China.

I’ll come back now to the US and what I think may be a looming political crisis.

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So the US is a couple of years behind Europe with the Uranus-Pluto square, as our Suns tend to be around 9 or 10 of the cardinals, whereas the US is at 13 degrees. So we are in the middle of our crisis now, an economic crisis that has political roots, in the sense of Europe having attempted monetary union without the necessary political union.

The US Uranus-Pluto is still a couple of years off peaking, but I think we had a strong indicator of what it could be about when America had its credit rating downgraded for the first time ever last year because the politicians couldn’t agree on a budget. The credit agencies weren’t saying we don’t trust your economy, they were saying we don’t trust your politicians to run the economy.

America had been there before many times with its budget, and under Clinton parts of the government had to shut down for a while because there was no money available to run them because Congress couldn’t agree on a budget.

But this time it was different. It happened during a major world economic crisis, and the difficulty in running America had only got worse since Clinton’s time. It was the outcome, if you like, of Uranus and Pluto hard aspecting the US MC, the standing of the US in the world. Pluto was finishing with the MC, Uranus was still active. But it was also a run-in to the Uranus-Pluto hard transit to the Sun in a couple of years.

I think the roots of the problem go back to the founding of the USA, and what I think of as a bit of a paranoid element in their system of government which is now being exposed. That paranoid element is their fear of dictatorships, arising out of their experience of being ruled from 3000 miles away. The early Americans set up such a strong system of checks and balances to stop their President becoming a dictator that it can be very hard for him to actually do his job.

I think this is expressed by the Sun in square to Saturn in the chart. It gives a fear of authority, which in a way was appropriate at the time, but a whole system that is founded on that is out of balance and will sooner or later be exposed by Pluto.

So you have this slightly crazy situation which occurs regularly where you have a President of one political persuasion, and one or both houses of Congress will be of the opposite persuasion. So to get any legislation through an incredible amount of horse-trading has to be done. There’s this saying that there are 2 things that you don’t want to know how they are made: laws and sausages. And in the 2nd half of a President’s 2nd term, you usually get a lame-duck President, who is unable to get any major legislation through. That is ¼ of the time he is President.

To function, the American system relies on each party being to some extent bi-partisan, willing to go along with the other party. But in recent decades the right-wing of the republican party seems to have become ever-more determined not to deal with the Democrats. Under Clinton, they seemed to be trying to make it as difficult as possible, even impossible, for him to be President. Going for him over a tawdry affair, while the whole world mocked.

And it happened again with Obama last summer. The House of representatives is now controlled by the Republicans, and they are again pushing their far-right agenda, and as under Clinton, they are prepared to bring America to its knees in order to get their way.

So what is interesting about this is that, in effect, a kind of dictatorship has been created, a dictatorship of the far right. In fleeing from dictatorship, another kind has been created.
The reason it is different now is because for the first time it has affected America’s economic standing, and this is as Uranus-Pluto comes up to hard-aspect its Sun-Saturn. In 2014 Uranus and Pluto will hard-aspect both the Sun and Saturn.

So that is extremely intense. America will be needing to re-examine its relationship with power and authority and leadership. If you have a leader, you have to give them the power to lead, and America doesn’t want to do that. President Kennedy famously bemoaned his lack of power compared to his opposite number in the USSR, Khrushchev.

America has never trusted its leaders – Sun square Saturn – and they have responded by being untrustworthy. That is why the US is so prone to conspiracy theories about dark government plots. Of course, some of them are probably for real, but a lot of them are fantasy, wish-fulfillment, they’re childish. When the US had 9/11, a large part of the population immediately assumed, and still assume, that it was a government plot. When we had our July bombings in the UK, the common assumption wasn’t that the government had done it.

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In the UK we have Sun in Capricorn square to Uranus. So we love authority and tradition – Capricorn – but we also rebel against it – Uranus. We look up to the Royal Family – Capricorn – but we also believe that no man is better than another – Uranus. We are contradictory, but I don’t think we have that same disempowerment around authority that the US has. For better or for worse, UK leaders are usually in a position to lead. They have to bring their party with them, and that can be hard enough, without having to persuade their opponents as well.

So a likely scenario in a couple of years, as Uranus-Pluto aspects the US Sun-Saturn, is that we will see a Democratic President blocked by Congress to such an extent that the country is yet again ungovernable, but it’s going to be a bigger crisis than before in some way or other. It may be a crisis in that people finally get sick of it and turn against the Tea Party. Or it may be a budget impasse with much bigger consequences for America’s world standing.

Whichever way, the problem seems to be rooted in this unease with authority – Sun square Saturn – that is self-fulfilling. And America is going to have to deal with that, at least to some extent. In a way, America is going to have to grow up.

When you have Sun square Saturn, it can be hard to feel at ease, you always have something to prove, and I think that also lies behind America’s great economic and military power, along with the expansiveness of natal Jupiter conjunct Sun. In a way this transit is telling America to become more at ease with itself. Sun square Saturn can achieve a lot, but it can also be very superficial, for it only values what can be measured, if you like it is the Protestant work ethic. In the US’ case, it could also be seen as the tension you get on the Capricorn-Cancer axis, with the Sun in Cancer and Saturn ruling Capricorn. Any axis has issues to work through, and with Capricorn-Cancer it is the values of the world vs the values of family and home, it is like Germany and Greece.
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Another factor for America under this transit is the rise of China.

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We’re not certain of the exact time for this chart, but it’s not far off, and we can see that China is currently in the thick of the Uranus-Pluto transit. Economically, I think the transit has been about China going from strength to strength. So far it has just been Pluto, which did an exact square last year. It has been about China, in literally the last few years coming from an economy smaller than the UK’s to being the world’s second largest economy. It has been an empowerment for China.

And I think it’s also an illustrative case of why it can be hard to attach human values to Pluto transits. Is what is happening in China a good thing or not? It’s awful in some ways and good in others. But even those are just my value judgements, which are not part of Pluto’s world. Pluto is an empowerment rather than a death and maybe rebirth for China, because it has already created a sound base for economic growth. But that doesn’t make that economic growth a good or a bad thing.

Politically it may be interesting, for this chart has the Moon in Aquarius, and the progressed MC is about to enter Aquarius. And the natal Sun is square to Aquarius’ ruler, Uranus.

I think the Moon in Aquarius expresses the name ‘The People’s Republic’, the idealism under which the communist regime was founded. But Aquarius is also democracy, as is its ruler Uranus. So we have these 4 potentially democratic influences: Moon in Aquarius, Natal Sun square Uranus, Prog MC moving into Aquarius and transiting Uranus hard aspecting the Sun and sextiling the Moon. So politically there could be a lot of change in the coming few years.

But back to the USA. The Chinese Sun at 7 Libra conjoins the US Saturn and squares its Sun.

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So the newly empowered Chinese Sun is impacting on that American insecurity, it’s drive to be top dog – because Saturn likes to be pre-eminent. The Chinese Sun is also conjunct the US MC, its place in the world. So China is like a tank in the US front garden. What seems to characterise China’s rise is it seems to keep happening faster than we thought. China’s economy is now about 1/3 the size of the US economy. In 6 years time, as Uranus-Pluto finally start to put some distance between each other, we may be talking about an economy well over half the size of the US’s and closing fast.

America has got used to being the undisputed No 1 and to having its own way. The Uranus-Pluto transit will be signalling the beginning of the end of that period and a difficult adjustment for a country which, with Sun square Saturn, values itself one-sidedly in terms of its wealth and position.

Of course, all countries do that. But when you have Sun square Saturn, you can feel you are nothing without that position. So it is going to be a very difficult adjustment for America, and with Sun in Cancer, it is possible it may turn inwards. And this at the same time as its hallowed democratic system comes under pressure for change. So it’s like a change in the character of America that I think we will slowly see.

The Chinese Sun conjuncts the US Saturn and squares its Sun, while the Chinese Saturn squares the US Asc. A pronounced Saturn is what you look for in long-term relationships, it is the planet that binds and gives strong foundations. Mars and Venus are just there to start you off. And the US and China have the same Moon. So there is similarity there. But the Chinese Sun activates the US Saturn, the place where it doesn’t feel at ease with itself. The US tends to need an enemy to feel at ease, it has the Sun and Mars in the 7th, it projects its unease onto foreign peoples, whether it’s the USSR or Islamic terrorists. It’s that paranoid element again. So China would seem to be well-placed to take up this role for the US, and this demonization could be an outcome of Uranus-Pluto. At the same time, the US needs China economically, so it can’t afford to demonise her. But the US will still want to. It’ll be interesting to see how this one develops.

I think if we were to boil this Uranus-Pluto transit down to one issue, it would be the rise of China and the shift in the balance of power worldwide. This rise has already been indirectly responsible for the western debt crisis. The Chinese were saving lots of money due to their booming economy and lent it at low interest rates to the west, who borrowed too much and got into difficulties. Along with China, India and Brazil are also rising – just a few days ago, Brazil announced its economy had overtaken the UK economy as the 6th largest in the world. So the shift in the balance of power is not just China. It is a long-term trend, but this Uranus-Pluto seems to be a sort of tipping point, a change in the world order. And we still have 3 years of crossings to go.

The US has shown itself to be very sensitive to Uranus-Pluto. In 1878 there was an opening square with Uranus at 25 Leo and Pluto at 25 Taurus. It impacted the US Moon at 27 Aquarius. This saw the end of post civil war reconstruction and the start of the Jim Crow Laws in the South, which segregated black people and gave them an inferior status. So this was a disempowerment – Pluto – and a separation – Uranus for a large minority of the people –the Moon.

The opposition of 1901 at about 15 Gemini Sag runs along the US Asc/Desc, just like Saturn Pluto did at 9/11, and it also involved foreign affairs: the Descendant is foreign partners, and Sagittarius concerns foreign places. In this case it was the outcome of the Spanish-American War of 1898, in which America seized Spanish possessions in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and it led to the globally oriented American foreign policy that continues to the present day. So it was a turning outwards and an empowerment of US foreign policy.

Then there was the closing square of 1932-34 at 20 to 23 degrees of the cardinal signs. Uranus and Pluto were moving in on the US natal Pluto in the 2nd house at 27 Capricorn. Pluto is where we feel our power lies, even what we feel our survival depends upon, and in the 2nd house that is wealth. This was the time of the Great Depression and the New Deal.

The conjunction of the mid sixties was in middish Virgo, square to the US Asc and conjunct it’s Neptune. This was a time of protest and the enactment of civil rights legislation: that is the 9th House – the Law – and Neptune, rights for black people.

And now we have the square of 2012-15, which impacts on the Sun, the leader, and there is the first black President, political deadlock and the first ever credit downgrade.

A theme running through Uranus-Pluto and the USA is the changing fortunes of black people.

The conjunction of 1850 at 29 Aries was square the US natal Pluto. Pluto if you like is the shadow, and slavery and wealth were closely tied together in the US. Note Pluto in the 2nd House. Slavery was already a hugely divisive issue, and 1850 saw the Compromise of 1850, a series of bills which sorted the issue of slavery in the states recently taken from Mexico. It’s hard to untangle it all, but slavery was nevertheless centre stage and civil war was already a possibility.

Then there were the Jim Crow Laws of the opening square of 1878, the civil rights bills of the next conjunction of the 1960s, and the first black president under the current opening square.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Uranus-Pluto Part 6 of 8: the Nature of Collective Transits (2)

Loss of individual consciousness under collective transits; scapegoating; why countries go through Uranus-Pluto change; out-of-control events as a sign of deeper change.

So I’ll be wanting to say something about the Arab Spring and about the USA and China. But firstly I want to circle back and talk more about collective transits and the individual, and ask what in essence the world is experiencing when there is a Uranus-Pluto square.

This square is something that every country will experience, probably more if their chart is transited by it, and it’s also something that we experience individually – not necessarily in the sense of personal transits, but in the sense of our aerials into the collective, a sort of impact on us personally that the stirring collective has, and that can draw us into it uncritically if our hold on individualised consciousness isn’t very strong.

Martin Heidegger

A classic case of this was under the last Uranus-Pluto square when intellectuals in Nazi Germany were drawn into the party, for example the existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger. The intellect as rational mind is treated as the highest faculty, as the decisive faculty, in our culture, but these outer planet transits seem to show this is not the case, it is something else, probably authenticity in a Plutonian sense, or self-knowledge, that is decisive.

I’d say an example of this sort of loss of individual consciousness under the present square would be the tendency to blame all our woes on the bankers. I’m not saying they don’t have a lot to answer for, but our economic difficulties have been brought about by a complex of conditions including, for example, lack of government regulation and general infatuation with the good times. And when there are difficulties, the collective tries to find a scapegoat, a simple answer, and the scapegoat may well be to some extent culpable, a good scapegoat usually is. But I think blaming it all on the bankers is a good example.

Above is the man we have all (in the UK) learned to despise. Fred Goodwin, the ex-head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, was stripped of his knighthood a few weeks ago, and he probably deserved to be, but that’s missing the point: the judgement that he deserved it covers up a collective ritual of revenge and blame, it means that we don’t have to face our own part in the economic difficulties. This is what collectives do, they blame somebody else, it’s childish, and we all get caught up in it to some extent. It’s the same with America and Osama bin Laden, judging him as evil and killing him was a means for Americans to avoid looking at their own part in 9/11, the foreign policy and business practices that led to it.
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9/11 was a Saturn-Pluto event for America, but killing bin Laden was a Uranus-Pluto event, triggered by an exact Mars-Jupiter conjunction in Aries, which makes it a great story of daring super-warriors. Pluto, planet of collective death and revenge, was just about to rise over the eastern horizon. Uranus was opposing the US MC, and Pluto was still within range of squaring it, and being the MC it concerned the US’ reputation and standing on the world stage.

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So the collective stirs under these transits, but what is it in principle that it goes through when Uranus squares Pluto? These transits work both ways. Uranus affects Pluto and Pluto affects Uranus, and they join together to create something more than the sum of their parts. Pluto empowers Uranus, and Uranus awakens and radicalises Pluto.

Pluto, being the outermost planet, is in a way the main one, and setting him as the main context for change is probably a good way of looking at it. And this brings us back to earlier in the talk and the example of the Euro and Greece.

Pluto is the life-force, the underlying energy that keeps us living and unfolding. And you get Pluto change whenever the form can no longer support that need to keep living. The resilience to Pluto-change of a system or an institution often depends on how well thought-out it was in the first place, how well it took into consideration the nature of the institution and the nature of the people running it, and therefore how much room it gave for further development. When it runs out of room, then you need a new basis, a death and a re-birth, you can no longer tweak it. Because you are dealing with a collective situation, there is no guarantee that what replaces it will be well-thought out: it may just be a collective reflex that seems for now to provide a way of carrying on.

I think Nazi Germany, which arose under the last Uranus-Pluto square, is an example of this, a reflex collective response to a very difficult economic situation and the humiliation of that and World War I, a response that seemed for a while to give the country its pride back, but in a very narrow way that could only lead eventually to trouble.

So going back to the Euro, it only had a short life, about 10 years, before it ran into trouble, as many had foreseen it would, because it hadn’t been properly thought through in its enacting. Politics got in the way. Because it is facing a major Pluto transit, it will change in a big way, that much is guaranteed. But what we don’t know is how much consciousness will be brought to that change. Will the replacement be properly thought through? Or will it be every country for itself? Or will it be somewhere in between, some countries leaving in a chaotic way after being crushed by the demands of the central powers of Europe, and those remaining creating a new constitution?

I think in a way it is easier to make mundane predictions than personal predictions, because collectives leave themselves less options. And sometimes it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen. But other times you just don’t know. All you know, from the astrology, is the shape of the change, the principles behind it. I think with Europe we just don’t know. I think the Euro will continue because it is almost a survival issue for Europe, and Pluto gives us the power to survive. But in what form is at present I think unknowable. I don’t think the future is writ out there and with the right astrological tools you can predict it. I think often it really could go in a number of directions.

I think an example of a well-thought through institution, that has therefore had a longer life, is the US system of government. That was hammered out in the late 1700s, with all sorts of checks and balances that took human nature into account, and it has therefore survived a long time. But no system or institution can take the whole of human nature into account, we cannot be reduced to rules and laws, and sooner or later therefore that system no longer provides the basis for life and Pluto will come along and change it. I think that is what is starting to happen now with the US system of government, but I will come to that a bit later.

We need also to bring Uranus into the equation. On his own he demands new life, new forms, and when a system is not outworn, new possibilities within the system emerge. But when the system is outworn, Uranus speeds up the process and presents possibilities that you wouldn’t have thought of. That can make him revolutionary. But again, because we are talking collectively, those new possibilities may not be thought through and considered, they may just be collective reflexes.

Uranus is an archaic god who hated his children and had them imprisoned within the earth. And you could say this is Uranus in its unconscious form. He concerns the opposite of the awakening and the progress that we often associate him with. Instead of promoting new possibilities – his children – he stifles them. It’s as if the vital spark that is Uranus, if we don’t want it, if it is threatening in some way, then it turns into its opposite, it actively stifles new life. On an individual level, it could drive us crazy or depressed. On a collective level, it can lead to fundamentalism and repression.

There may be examples of this over time in the Arab Spring. Uranus-Pluto if you like caused these revolutions, but there is a strong element of Islamic fundamentalism in many of these countries which may eventually be politically dominant. The point about fundamentalism in whatever form is that it stifles new life, whether it takes an Islamic or scientific materialist form. It is saying this is the only way. It creates a seemingly secure but actually false foundation, because nothing is ever the only way. Pluto in his negative form is this false foundation, and Uranus is the stifling of anything that opposes it.

So with Uranus-Pluto on a collective level there is this intense pressure for change on any system whose foundations have run their course. The obvious sign with these 2 planets often seems to be crisis, which is Uranian, revealing the underlying problem, which is Pluto. At least that is one way of putting it.

Another way of putting it is that events start going out of control. This is often a sure sign that the outer planets are getting active. Normally the world is governed by Saturn, life is regulated, and we need Saturn for life to function. But then events happen that can’t be controlled. Under Uranus-Neptune, the Soviet Union could no longer control its satellite countries, and there was a series of revolutions. Under the present transit, the loss of control began with the collapsing of the banks in late 2008. Soon after that were the debt crises in Europe, that are still with us. There was the exploding nuclear reactor in Japan and the Deepwater Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. There will always be events that are out of control, but more so when the outer planets are activated. They point to the need for change and they often are that change. Sometimes they are symbolic, like the zombie parades you were getting last year, the gates of hell, Pluto’s world, opening. This picture above is from Brighton last year.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Uranus-Pluto Part 5 of 8; the Nature of Collective Transits and the World Soul

So we have this Uranus square Pluto transit that is affecting the whole world. It is probably going to be most noticeable when the chart of a country interacts strongly with that transit, as it does for all the major powers at different times. But it’s not just about the interaction with charts. We have seen that with the Arab Spring, the series of rebellions against secular authoritarian government that have spread across the Middle East and beyond. We are also seeing the same sort of change in Burma and Russia. It is a like a virus that is spreading across the world. Symbolically Uranus is a planet of protest inasmuch as it is creative, it wants to create new forms and it needs the freedom to do that. The sign of Aries brings a martial quality and a visionary quality to that, and the square from Pluto empowers that protest – empowers in the sense that Pluto brings a life or death quality, for the protesters it becomes an issue of their survival as free human beings rather than mere subjects, that is where the empowerment comes from.

So you have this power from below, Pluto, meeting this power from above, Uranus in a dynamic way. And it seems to be affecting the whole world at the same time, which is remarkable. In the Middle East it is understandable that a spirit of change should spread, because those countries have cultural connections. But why Russia and Burma as well? And why riots in England? And occupy camps across much of the western world?

(Incidentally, I think the Occupy camps may be more Neptune-Chiron than they are Uranus-Pluto. The flavour is more about people being victims of a bad system and wanting the politicians to fix it, but without giving any clear message as to what or how, and eventually and inevitably they get moved on from their camps. I’m not saying there isn’t genuine feeling and grievance there, for there is, but maybe in cultures that have been wealthy and stable for so long, the harsher survival issues that bring in the power of Pluto are not there so much. This is in contrast to people across the Arab world, where you see no lack of vigour and revolutionary motive. The Occupy camps you could say are short of what you’d expect from Uranus-Pluto, especially with Uranus in Aries.)

These mundane transits are I think quite different to personal transits. A personal transit is about you and your stuff, your own need to live more creatively or imaginatively or authentically depending on which outer planet is involved.

But with a mundane transit a whole collective is involved. We get affected personally by the collective change, but the mundane transits seem to indicate that humans collectively are also a living organism. Otherwise why would the spirit of rebellion have spread like it has done across the world?

The mundane transits seem to point to the ancient idea of the anima mundi, the world soul. This is how Plato put it:

Therefore, we may consequently state that: this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence ... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.

It’s an idea that you find repeatedly in history. In modern times we have had Jung’s collective unconscious and James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis. Plato lived around 400 BC. Five Hundred years later the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who was one of the Stoic philosophers, put it like this:

Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things that exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the structure of the web.

The philosopher Friedrich Schelling published a treatise entitled ‘On the world soul’ in 1798.

More recently, we have James Lovelock: Evolution is a tightly coupled dance, with life and the material environment as partners. From the dance emerges the entity Gaia.

And: The Gaia hypothesis proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.

So I think that a consideration of mundane transits kind of points us strongly towards the idea of a world soul. Because it’s not just humans that are affected by these transits. You tend to get earthquakes and volcanoes associated with these transits as well. On the last day of Uranus in Pisces in 2011, there was an earthquake followed by a tsunami off Japan. The next day, Uranus’ first in Aries, a nuclear reactor exploded in Japan as a result of the earthquake.

So the whole world, at all levels, is going through this Uranus-Pluto transit. And the type of change will depend on the type of consciousness, if you like, involved. For the earth as matter, you’re probably going to get the odd volcano and tectonic shift. 2 plates that have maybe been pushing up against each other for thousands of years will suddenly shift, causing an earthquake.

That, if you like, is Uranus-Pluto at its least refined level. At its most refined level you have an individual human making some sort of major and considered choice about their life, maybe after years of struggle and uncertainty.

And somewhere below that, as it were, you have collective humanity going through its changes, being swept along by new currents that have been a long time coming.

When I say below that I don’t mean that as a put down, any more than I’m trying to put the earth down for merely having volcanoes. I think it’s just that you have to be realistic about what you can expect from collectives, however intelligent the individuals in it may be.

And however intelligent we think we may be, we rest on a base of collective consciousness, and that can take over at times of crisis. Individualised human consciousness is a fragile thing. Our default consciousness is collective.
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When 2 outer planets make a hard aspect, which happens probably every 20 years or so, then the collective is activated, it goes through a change, and consciousness in the individual human sense isn’t necessarily part of that.

I think that what is happening in the Eurozone over Greece is a good example of the difference between an outer planet transit to an individual and to a collective.

Greece borrowed too much money when borrowing was cheap and economies were growing. Now it cannot afford to pay the money back. It has 2 options: either default and leave the Eurozone or be bailed out at the cost of punishing austerity measures.

Greece is choosing the latter route, and it is destroying the country. The austerity conditions that the EU and the IMF are imposing are cruel, and everyone knows they are not likely to work: the hope is that in about 8 years Greece will have a slightly less unmanageable debt. But the austerity measures are contributing to the economy shrinking, making it even harder to pay back the debt. Ministers have been leaving the government in protest at the measures, and the public order minister has said that the people cannot take any more.

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And you can see how Uranus-Pluto has been hitting the Greek chart via the Moon and the Ascendant. The Moon is the people of a country, and the natal conjunction to Pluto is descriptive of how the modern party came about through popular uprising, through a power struggle. The people remain sensitive to power issues, and at present feel they are being trampled on by Germany. Libra gives a sense of what is just and unjust, and the applying square to Saturn in Cancer shows a people who can easily feel uncared for, undernourished.

The Pluto transit to the Moon has finished its exact crossings, and it has brought the people low, made them subject to the harsh austerity measures of foreign powers. Uranus made its first exact opposition last year, and will do so again this summer. Popular uprisings seem like a certainty.

So you can see how the transits have worked, and how Pluto addressed what could be called an inauthentic situation, one that did not have a proper foundation.

But what strikes me about the situation, not just in Greece but in the Eurozone’s response, is the blindness of it and the lack of choice available. I think it is a good example of the difference between a collective outer planet transit and a personal one.

There is cruelty towards Greece going on. It’s people are being made to suffer in a way that isn’t going to help. Yet it doesn’t seem to me like there is some nasty regime out there determined to make Greece suffer.

The Greek people have been portraying Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany, as a Nazi, stomping on Greece. But she is prevented from bailing out Greece further by the German people, who have had enough. It’s understandable that the German people should feel that way, for where does it all end? Italy is next in the line-up for needing to be bailed out.

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It is interesting that Angela Merkel has said that she does not want to see any countries being forced out of the Euro. She is a Cancerian, she is mother Merkel looking after Europe. But she also has Sun conjunct Uranus, and she grew up in East Germany. She grew up in a divided country, and now again she is faced with division, with splitting, and she doesn’t want to go there. So her Sun-Uranus in Cancer, her childhood and her leadership all have this common theme.

But back to this collective mentality. What characterises it is lack of choice and lack of creativity. Either Greece stays in the Euro by making punitive cuts or it leaves and goes bankrupt. Either way there will probably also be a breakdown of social order. And this suffering is caused not by an evil regime but by the blindness and limited choice that governs collectives.

If Greece were an individual person with the same chart undergoing the same transits, there would be far more choice involved. The person may decide, for example, that their financial problems were caused by wanting to keep up with the Jones’ at the expense of his or her underlying values. That on its own wouldn’t solve the financial problem, but at least there would be hope for a different, more meaningful life. And that can make all the difference. The individual person, and Greece, will probably pick themselves up financially in the long run. But there would still be a big difference: the individual can learn from his or her experience, whereas countries don’t tend to learn, at least not for very long. Of course, some people can behave just like collectives: they don’t see any choices, and they don’t learn. The attempts by Pluto and Uranus to creatively move them on are likely often to be destructive.

So with these big transits that affect the world, I tend not to expect too much while hoping that the worst doesn’t happen. The worst did happen under the last Uranus-Pluto square in the early 1930s. Germany, strangely enough, was in a similar position to where Greece is now, broke and having to make huge war repayments, just like Greece is having to pay off unmanageable loans now.

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What is fascinating is that Germany’s natal Moon, the people, was at 19 Capricorn, which the Uranus-Pluto square of the time was hard aspecting as Germany disintegrated and the Nazis rose to power. So astrologically it is very similar to Greece now. Fortunately Greece is a small country. But the people feel that Europe and particularly Germany is oppressing them, and the natal Moon-Pluto may not look very pretty a few years down the line.

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And if you compare the charts of modern Germany and Greece, you can see the opposing Saturns. The Greek Saturn is in Cancer, what matters to them is that the people are looked after. The German Saturn is in Capricorn, what matters to them is that the correct rules and fiscal prudence are observed. It’s like 2 different languages. From a German point of view Saturn in Cancer looks like an irresponsible South European country. From a Greek point of view Saturn in Capricorn seems heartless.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Uranus-Pluto Part 4 of 8: Uranus and the Euro

So time for something on the nature of the change that Uranus brings about. I think the basic principle with Uranus is creativity. He is not as far out as Pluto, so though his change can be far-reaching, it’s less likely to be as fundamental as Pluto change. In recent years Uranus transits have followed soon after Pluto transits as these 2 planets have been approaching a square, so that you could get some major creative change from a Uranus transit, but the ground for it would have been prepared by Pluto.

Pluto as god of the underworld in a way pulls us down to what is authentic, what is real. Uranus is a sky god and he opens up possibilities. He points to an aspect of life that is quite mysterious. It’s like you put two elements together and out of that a 3rd element arises that is more than just the sum of the first 2. It’s the same as a person being born. They share the characteristics of both their parents, but there’s something else there that you couldn’t have predicted that is unique to them. Where it came from you can’t say. And it’s the same with people generally. Someone does something and you think you know why they did it, but when you talk to them it’s always different, there’s some reasoning or other factor going on that you wouldn’t have thought of. So Uranus is this uniqueness, this wouldn’t-have-thought-it-ness, this pointer to the fact that we are alive and not mechanical. As I said earlier, he is the difference between inanimate matter and matter that is alive. By the way, I don’t mean dead matter, I don’t think matter is dead, I just mean not alive in the biological sense.

So Uranus reminds us that people and collectives are alive. Saturn’s Laws and Rules can be useful, but we can’t be reduced to those laws or to any theory. There’s always something that’s going to happen that is outside of those laws. Not necessarily wilfully, but because there is life there. Life cannot be defined and people cannot be defined. Uranus’ creativity and his disruptiveness when life gets too defined point to this.
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In the same way his creativity cannot be defined. That is why he is said to be unpredictable. Life is always trying to re-arrange itself into some new form. And I think the issue of value and authenticity comes in again. A Uranus change, that isn’t just the disruption brought about by resistance, is in the direction of something that we value, that gives life meaning. Like Pluto, he is a god of necessity, because life is not life unless it is continually re-inventing itself, you can’t get away from it without suffering and inauthenticity.

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So let’s try and apply him to the Euro. In the chart for the Maastricht Treaty, Uranus rules the Sun, and he is conjunct the planet of wealth, Venus, as well as the 3rd outer planet, Neptune. So he is powerful in the chart, giving the necessary creativity to bring this complex project to fruition 8 years later.

But then when we get to the launch of the Euro, Uranus is not very powerful in the chart, and nor is Pluto. They are sextile each other, and that is it. They are weak. And look at the Angles, the worst possible Angles for the beginning of a project, the final degree of the mutables. A great chart for ending something, but the worst kind of chart for starting something. The Iraq War was like this: it had mutable Angles, and the Sun in the last degree of Pisces. It was a mess that took America a long time to extricate itself from. And the chart for the Euro also suggests a mess that Europe will take a long time to extricate itself from. Not only are the angles as mutable as they could get, but the life force of Pluto, and the creativity of Uranus, which informed the original decision to create the Euro, are hardly present. It’s like they got it right to start with, but somewhere along the road they lost their way.

And now we have Pluto by transit conjoining the Euro Sun and Uranus squaring it. Uranus has actually been hard aspecting The Euro chart for a few years now because he was on the Angles a couple of years ago. He’s going to be intensifying over the next few months as he moves up to almost square the Sun.

I’d say there is both creativity and resistance going on. Creativity in the sense that Europe has gone OK, we’ll go for the greater political union that is necessary for the union to work.
And resistance in the sense that Europe is hanging onto Greece under the old paradigm, doing its best to insist on certain budgetary measures while leaving Greece sovereign to make its own economic decisions. We know that doesn’t work.

So if Europe really is serious about greater political union, then Uranus will be injecting creativity into that project, both this year and next year, when the square is exact. If Europe doesn’t really mean it, then Uranus and Pluto will expose that. Each country has a lot of soul-searching to do that is going to take some years.

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If we look at the 3 largest economies, Germany, France and the UK, they all have Uranus and Pluto hard aspecting their Suns in the coming years. The Sun is the leadership but also the inner goals of the country, who it wants to be. That is the soul-searching. So I think that is very clear.

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The next 2 largest economies, Spain and Italy, both have debt problems hanging over them, which are overshadowed by Greece just now, but they will inevitably return when the next repayments are due. And what we see there is not Uranus-Pluto hard aspecting the Suns.

In Italy we see Neptune opposing the MC, and in Spain Neptune concluding a square to the Sun. This suggests something more like dissolution. Deciding who they want to be is maybe a luxury for them, it sounds more like being carried along by events.

Spain will also have Uranus-Pluto hard-aspecting its Moon, the people, which Greece is in the thick of:

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There’s the people of Greece, the Moon, at 4 Libra, conjunct natal Pluto. I’ll be saying more about Greece a bit later, but you can see the potential for suffering, for disempowerment, in that. And it could be that the Spanish people, where there is Moon square Pluto, also have a very hard time coming up in the next few years.

So if we go back to the charts of the Euro and France, Germany and the UK, then Uranus is going to be making the old paradigm increasingly unstable over the next few years. Uranus is always trying to breathe in new life, and the effect of that on a situation that has outlived its use is disruption, breaking apart. It’s like the shell of an egg when a bird is ready to hatch, the new life breaks it apart.

And what we have of course is not just Pluto and Uranus separately, but together. They do overlap in some ways, but the main emphasis, to use the egg analogy, is Pluto as the growing life within the shell, and Pluto growth is often unseen, at least in its early stages. And Uranus as the breaking of the shell and opening up a new way of life for the chick.

So together Uranus and Pluto offer a more complete model for change. You have both the Plutonian push and dissolution and the Uranian creativity operating in tandem. And because they are square they are dynamic and more able to overcome resistance.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Uranus-Pluto Part 3 of 8: Saturn Activating the Outer Planets; Pluto, Existentialism and the Euro

Uranus and Pluto are always there, always having an influence. But we particularly notice them when our life, or a situation, has run the course of a particular phase and can go no further. We may not realise that phase has run its course, and the forces for change may come as a big surprise.

The financial crisis of 2008 onwards was like this. Uranus and Pluto had both been activated: Pluto had just entered the sign of Capricorn, and Uranus was being opposed by Saturn. Suddenly in late 2008, as Pluto re-entered Capricorn and Saturn exactly opposed Uranus, banks started collapsing as it were out of nowhere. Some people had seen it coming, but many major and influential people in the financial world were taken by surprise, they could not believe it.

And that was not even Uranus square Pluto, it was just the precursor. Although I think you could say that because Saturn was involved, through dispositing Pluto as well as its opposition to Uranus, the effects were more obvious. Saturn is a planet of manifestation, he connects the outer planets to this world. This was why the Uranus-Neptune conjunction was so dramatic in its early stages, around 1989-90, when the Berlin Wall fell: it was because Saturn was conjoining these 2 planets. Similarly 9/11 was dramatic because you had Saturn opposing Pluto.

When you have just 2 outer planets hard aspecting, as we do now, then there is certainly deep underlying change going on, but it is hard to see. There is an atmosphere of crisis, but it drags on, you can see events could occur that would dramatically change things, but they’re not, and you don’t know whether they will or not. It will be years before we can look back and see what this was about. It’s rather like the later stages of the Uranus-Neptune conjunction, the mid 90s, and the deep cultural change that occurred as the internet started and globalisation developed. It was gradual, and you had to look back to see it properly.

So it’s possible that the main drama of Uranus-Pluto is almost over before it has begun. That was the case with Uranus-Neptune. The first exact conjunction was in 1993, by which time the Cold War had ended, Eastern Europe had had its revolutions, and the New World Order, with America as the lone superpower, was in place.

Uranus-Neptune, incidentally, you can see as capitalism vs communism. As ever, you can argue about which planet is which, but I think usually it is Neptune that is communism and Uranus capitalism.

In the case of Uranus-Pluto, Saturn was hard aspecting them in 2010 and 2011, and they were dramatic years, financially for the west, politically for the Arab world. But it’s perfectly possible that the next few months will see dramas resolve – Syria will topple, Israel will take out Iran’s nuclear capability, Greece and maybe Italy will default, and the next few years may just see a deeper and gradual working through of the seismic shift that has already occurred. Or not. You never know.

Incidentally, I’ve always been quite optimistic about where the world economy is going under Pluto in Capricorn, even as it squares Uranus, because the Ingress chart seems to me quite favourable. When I say optimistic, I mean in the sense of a return to growth. I remain pessimistic about the bigger picture of waste of resources and the environment, and I’m not sure this Uranus-Pluto is going to address that, as we seem able for now to drag ever more resources from the earth.

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You can ignore the Angles, it’s incidental that I’ve set it for London. But Pluto is in a stellium with the 2 benefics, Venus and Jupiter, and trine to its dispositor, Saturn. It’s opposite Mars, but it is wide, out of sign and separating. So certainly we are looking at a sort of profound re-adjustment, the Saturn and Capricorn influence is in the case of the west saying we need to cut our suit to fit our cloth, we can’t keep overspending and we have to go through a hangover. But it doesn’t suggest collapse to me, it’s not apocalyptic. It doesn’t mean Europe may not unravel to some extent, but that doesn’t have to be disastrous.

So I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. As I said at the beginning, I could start listing off events and charts associated with Uranus-Pluto, historically and currently. But I think what’s of real interest is the nature of the change that these planets bring about, or reflect, or synchronise with, or however you like to put it. So I’m going to be weaving in and out of this as I use national charts as illustrations.

So what we’ve got is these 2 powerful planets for change making a hard aspect, a challenging aspect. The function of Pluto I think needs more definition than just moving life on to the next stage, and I think another way of putting it is authenticity. A particular way of being or situation ceases to be an expression of who we are, of a free choice made according to our values. I’ve pinched this, by the way, from existentialism. I think there is quite a lot of common ground between what existentialism calls authenticity and what we would see as the function of Pluto transits. The opposite of authenticity is sometimes called ‘bad faith’ with oneself, and Pluto addresses this.

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I think the Euro is a good example of this process. The creation of the Euro was initially authentic: it was a choice made by European governments with the value of a politically and economically united Europe behind it. Of course, being political institutions making the choice, we could argue about how much freedom was involved, but that was what those collectives, in their own way, decided.

13 years on and the values according to which that choice was made, of a united Europe, are being betrayed by events. The Euro is currently fragmenting, rather than uniting Europe, with Greece being destroyed as a nation, and probably eventually having to leave the Euro. Italy and Spain have the same potential fate. So the Euro as an institution is no longer authentic, it does not support the values on which it was founded.

The Euro was officially launched on 1st January 1999, with the Sun at 10 degrees Capricorn. Pluto will come to within 1 degree of the Euro Sun this summer, and Uranus will come to within 2 degrees of squaring it. So there will be intensifying pressure for change in the coming months.

Europe has 2 choices: it can either change its values, and try to create a new situation based around those new values. Or it can try to remould its institutions in accordance with its original values. That is what it seems to be trying to do with its current idea of European Fiscal Union, agreed last December. It may not work, the Euro could still unravel over questions of surrender of sovereignty. Germany is the most influential country, and will play a central role in any decisions in a tighter political union. One aspect of a surrender of sovereignty will be, to some extent, a surrender to German decision-making on your national budget.

So there is another value here for individual countries to consider, a value that made the Euro unstable in the first place: it is the value of national self-determination versus the value of political union. Pluto is asking Europe to address those conflicting values.

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I think the chart for the EEC, what we now call the EU, shows this tension. The Moon is the member countries, it’s in Taurus, wealth creation, and it’s in the 8th house of shared endeavour. 8th House sharing is Pluto sharing, it’s the house of the bedroom, it’s intimate. So that’s financial union, and the opposition to Neptune also suggests a dissolution of boundaries. But then you have Moon square Uranus, the tendency to split apart. And the Sun is the leadership, and it’s in harmony with the member countries, the trine to the Moon, those countries elected the Commission that runs the EU. But then you’ve got Sun inconjunct Uranus. Inconjunctions aren’t resolvable, they are about reaching a compromise, so this is what it’ll probably always be, an uncomfortable compromise between union and independence.

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Above is the chart for the Treaty of Rome, the initial agreement, the founding vision of the EU or EEC. The chart for the EEC is the organisation itself. There’s the Uranian tension again between the Moon and Uranus. And of course the Sun and Angles are all currently under pressure from Uranus and Pluto. As it’s a chart for the vision, it does suggest that the underlying values also need to change, it’s not just about radical organisational change.

The reason Europe has come to this pass is because it attempted monetary Union without the necessary political union that would give it the control over individual economies that is needed to run a currency. Of course, many people could see that this was what would happen, and it has happened. But that doesn’t mean the original decision wasn’t authentic. That decision occurred with the Maastricht Treaty on 7 Feb 1992. That was when European leaders formally agreed to create a common currency by 1 Jan 1999, which is when the Euro was launched.

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On 7 Feb 1992, the Sun was in Aquarius in an applying square to Pluto in Scorpio. This strong involvement of Pluto points to the attempt by Europe to put itself behind what it valued, and the power that comes with that – that is why Pluto is associated with power: when you act on what you most value, you bring your whole being with you, you are integrated and therefore powerful.

But just because you are acting in this authentic manner doesn’t mean you have the wisdom to act in a way that will actually support your values. Or that it will even be possible. And perhaps that is the square from the Sun to Pluto in the chart for the Maastricht Treaty. It is dynamic and powerful, but also challenging, suggesting actions that can eventually lead to disempowerment and inauthenticity as well.

So that is Pluto, a god of necessity, the necessity for anything living to move on to the next stage. And where people and collectives of people are concerned, the need to move on to a stage that is a fuller expression of who we are, of our underlying values. When you’re doing that, then life has meaning. And that connects to something that Jung said, that at bottom all psychological difficulties come down to a search for a life that has meaning. Existentialism is big on meaning as well, and I think Pluto transits have a lot to do with that sort of search.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Uranus-Pluto Part 2 of 8: the Nature of Neptune and Uranus

First, a comment from an astrologer, Elizabeth Hansen, agreeing with my argument in my last post against Pluto being 'evolutionary':

I find very little in history to indicate that there is any real advantage (ie. progress made on a great chain of being) bestowed by "expanded consciousness". Many (especially astrological types) seem to find solace in that rationale to obviate the pain of deadly undertows brought about by Pluto transits. It seems to be another neat, pat answer to the age old question, as yet unresolved as far as I can see, why is there pain, loss, suffering in life.

This is the 2nd in a series of posts based around a talk I recently gave on Uranus-Pluto. I began by looking at the nature of the outer planets, in the sense of asking what aspects of our personalities do they correspond to? I've looked at Pluto. On to Neptune and Uranus...

And then there’s Neptune, and like Pluto I’d been wondering which bit of us he is, and I decided that he is like the cinema screen within us that creates an image of a world for the life energy of Pluto to play itself out on.

The world that we experience, even the people around us, are not literally there. It’s a construction of our brains, and you can see that when the brain stops working properly. There’s a book about this, The Man who mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks.

He is a neuroscientist, and he tells the stories of all these different people with brain damage or dysfunctions, so that for example one person can only see the right half of anything. He eats his food with his right hand, and eats the right half of the food on his plate, then pulls his plate round to the right and eats the right half of whatever’s left. Or the person who experiences the general category of something but not the specific, so he can tell you that something is a playing card but not that it is the Jack of Hearts. Or someone who has the opposite problem, he can tell you it’s the Jack of Hearts but not that it’s a playing card.

And so on. It’s probably 25 years since I read this book, but it had the effect of taking the idea that reality is a construct out of the realms of a head game and turned it into something real, it left me kind of a bit stunned.

So I think this is Neptune’s realm, the sort of primordial imagination that creates a coherent world out there from sensory experience. Left and right, up and down, 3 dimensions, self and other, time, colour and so on are all manufactured for us, and in the same way for all of us because we have the same brains, so it appears like objective reality. But really I think it’s this sort of bodge that works well enough for life to be possible.

Like Pluto, Neptune is invisible to the naked eye, and like Pluto his psychological function is beyond our conscious control, we take it as something that is just there: our desire to live, and the world within which we do that living. But they are both outer planet creations.

Neptune’s influence extends beyond creation of the world to the stories and myths which make sense of the world and our place in it, though clearly there’s an overlap with Jupiter the story-teller here. But the basic myths that tell us where we came from seem to come from somewhere else, the ones that work aren’t concocted by the conscious mind. You could say that astrology is ruled by Neptune inasmuch as it is a myth about how the universe works. So I think that’ll do on Neptune, because he’s not central to this talk.
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And then there’s the 3rd outer planet, Uranus, and it took me the longest to work out which bit of us he is, and actually it was my partner Vajramala, whose not an astrologer, who suggested that Uranus is the vital spark. I thought yes, that’s it, it’s obvious. In a car engine, Pluto would be the pistons and the petrol in them, driving the car forward. And Uranus would be the spark from the battery, firing however many times a second, that catalyses the whole process.

In the context of the Big Bang, our modern Creation Myth, the Big Bang itself was Pluto, this enormous power coming from a tiny seed. Neptune was the image of a 3-d universe that sprang into being. But Uranus was what made the Big Bang happen.

It all came from this singularity, this point with no dimensions or time or anything we can comprehend, and Uranus if you like was God saying let there be light. I couldn’t resist this one, you’ve got to have it if you’re taking about Uranus:

In terms of life, Uranus is the planet that says this piece of matter is alive rather than inanimate. Uranus is the lightning that changed the primordial soup of organic molecules into something living, something unthought of that hadn’t been there before.

Uranus is causeless, like Pluto and Neptune he is just there, and he is this catalyst that lights the blue touchpaper. He’s the inspirations that just come, a new idea, the sudden realisation that you want to do something or don’t want to. Uranus seems to indicate that life isn’t just this natural progress from stage to stage that Pluto embodies: he tells us that life is also creative, that in moving on something new is brought into being that you couldn’t have thought of before. Pluto is god of the underworld, he works if you like with earth and water, there isn’t much fire and air underground. So he is that grounded, instinctual solid force, there’s something of Saturn in him, and after he was discovered he did take on some of Saturn’s attributes, such as death.

And Uranus is the opposite of Pluto, he is a sky god, with the expanded, electrical possibilities that provides. Pluto and the sign he rules, Scorpio, tends to be grounded and authentic and true to itself, but that can be narrow and conservative as well. Whereas Uranus and the sign he rules, Aquarius, is full of brilliant progressive new ideas, but it can be ungrounded, divorced from nature and human nature.

If you like Pluto keeps life moving, keeps it pushing on, and within it there’s a mysterious blueprint for unfoldment. But Uranus provides that extra shove, that new possibility at the moment something new needs to emerge, if you like he gets the bud to start unfolding. You can see how Uranus and Pluto can work well together despite being opposites.

And when it’s time for something to change, and there’s maybe resistance, they both as it were attack the old paradigm in different ways: Pluto pulls the energy away, the life force withdraws. And Uranus keeps firing his electricity, keeps opening up new possibilities, and that is experienced as uncomfortable and disruptive.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Uranus-Pluto Part 1 of 8: the Nature of Pluto

I gave a talk on Uranus-Pluto, the big transit currently affecting the world, a few days ago at my local astrology group in Exeter. There was quite a lot of material, and the next few posts, or maybe 4 or 5 posts, will cover it. Hang on for the ride!

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.

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