Excerpted from "Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View," published by Viking. Copyright 2006 by Richard Tarnas.
Any discussion of future alignments, whether for world transits or personal transits, presents extraordinary challenges and responsibilities to the astrological researcher. Because we have seen how similar planetary configurations in the past have coincided with specific archetypal phenomena with considerable consistency, and because we can mathematically determine the upcoming alignments with great precision, one might say that, in a sense, we know something about the future. But in another sense, we do not know. I believe that the extent to which we have embraced this epistemological humility is more or less the measure of the potential value or harmfulness of our analysis. The difference between concrete prediction and archetypal prediction is something like the difference between fate and free will. Stated more precisely: It is the difference between, on the one hand, an inevitably constraining and likely misconceived assertion of a pregiven future, and on the other, the potential empowerment of a co-creative self, consciously participating in an archetypally structured unfolding of life in an open universe. It could well be said that the entire modern and postmodern development of human autonomy and critical self-awareness has prepared us to be better able to walk the tightrope presented to us by the contemporary archetypal astrological perspective and evidence—in particular, by the knowledge of the outer planets’ existence and their corresponding archetypal principles, by the retrospective knowledge of the historical correlations, and by the foreknowledge of future planetary alignments.
For example, the already approaching Uranus-Pluto square alignment that will extend through 2020 points to the possibility of a significant cyclical development of the cultural impulses and archetypal dynamics that emerged during the 1960s. Characteristic themes we have observed for this cycle in past centuries include heightened impulses for radical social change and cultural creativity, accelerated technological and scientific advance, the empowerment of progressive and reformist political movements, intensified feminist, civil rights, and countercultural activity, increased drive for freedom and autonomy at both the individual and collective level, a pressure towards radicalization in many spheres of action and ideas, intensified ecological activism, an awakening of the instincts and nature in many senses, large demographic shifts, and the activation of mass energies and mass movements of various kinds. Generally speaking, Uranus-Pluto eras have tended to bring forth the catalyzing of powerful forces in many forms, the awakening of a will to power that can be both creative and destructive, and a tangible intensification and acceleration of human experience.
All of these specific themes have been strongly in evidence during past Uranus-Pluto alignments with considerable consistency. Yet as to which of them will be visible during these next fifteen years, we of course cannot know. If we consider feminism, for example—from Mary Wollstonecraft and the women of the French Revolution through the Seneca Falls women’s rights convention in 1848 and the suffragettes of the early 1900s to the women’s liberation awakening of the 1960s—the Uranus-Pluto cycle has been highly consistent in its correlations. The developing diachronic pattern suggests that with this next dynamic alignment of Uranus-Pluto another period of both the spontaneous empowerment of women and an intensified striving for equality and self-sovereignty is on the immediate horizon. Because the alignment is a square, the potential for stress and struggle in that process is high, but considering the clear sequence of past correlations, it seems to me altogether likely that another feminist propulsion will infuse itself into the culture and that women will emerge from the next decade and a half with considerably more political and economic power than now. Yet one can never be certain how these archetypal forces will become concretely embodied, only that they will tend to do so in a way that is consistent with their character and grounded in the developing cultural context.