Astrological Musings

Part I: Setting the Stage

Marianne’s question yesterday about whether any astrologers had predicted the turn to the right the country would take (I couldn’t find any articles to this effect) started me thinking about the rise of the religious right that started to take hold during the Reagan administration. It’s useful to begin this discussion by reviewing the dialectical process of transformation: First there is a change in the culture (the thesis), followed by a reaction to that change (antithesis) and the resolution that results (synthesis).

In recent history, perhaps we can trace the current religious right back to the cultural upheavals of the 1960s during the conjunction of Uranus and Pluto that occurred in Virgo. I can’t improve on the way Palden Jenkins describes the combination of Uranus Pluto on his fantastic Historical Ephemeris site:

Uranus and Pluto do not automatically signify forward change. They bend the bars and blow holes in the walls, leaving us to respond to the acute options presented. One sector of society might take one path, and another sector might take another. It’s not always ‘the people’ who lead and the saturnine authorities which resist – ‘revolution from above’ happens too, as Mao Tsedong attempted in the 1960s Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Uranus and Pluto have their own characteristic styles of creating resistance and conservatism. They can push people up against their fears, exacerbating resistance to change by threatening insecurity or disaster. Uranus’ resistances include the diversion of social energies. Two examples are the starting of the Napoleonic wars and of WW1, both of which captured nascent popular energies which became dangerous to the established order. Yet when one plays with such forces, they can backfire. Uranus can hijack new initiatives by forms of trickery too, as in the revolutions of 1848, when European bourgeoisies filched the restless energies of factory workers to strengthen their own power.

Pluto’s resisting patterns include outright oppression and escalation of social control. Two relatively recent examples were the stamping out of protest and the illegalisation of LSD around 1968-70 [followed by CIA mind control experiments using that drug in the early 1960s] or, worse, the Nazi takeover in Germany in 1933 (during a Uranus-Pluto square). Here, suppression of minorities disguised the subtle control and coercion of majorities. Another Plutonine example is the use of abject fear and destruction – a recent example being the use of defoliants and napalm in Vietnam in the late 1960s.

Genghiz Khan, master of medieval blitzkrieg, set the Mongols on the rampage around the 1201 Uranus-Pluto conjunction (in Cancer). By the square of 1236-39 they threatened Eurasia, and by the opposition of 1283-86 they ruled much of it. The zenith of the neo-Mongol terror-merchant Timurlenk, reputed for his piles of skulls, occurred later during the major configuration of the 1390s (mentioned in an earlier article), with Uranus and Pluto in opposition. Terror indeed.

There’s a hidden twist and kick-back: these forces are, after all, uncontrollable. The energy of revolutions can often turn to chaos, leading to the re-creation in new form of what was destroyed: Louis XVI’s execution in 1793 turned into the emperorship of Napoleon by 1799, and Czar Nicholas’ death in 1917 lead to the rise of Stalin in 1924. The historical lesson here is that, if forces of change are blocked, they turn savage, leading to excess and consequent reaction, giving power to historical figures with the spunk to take advantage of a situation. Yet such power-holders usually embody something in the collective psyche which craves authoritarian control, even if demanding the opposite.

The influences of Uranus and Pluto are not simple and clear-cut. During the Uranus-Pluto square of 1933-34, a pressing need to reactivate sagging economies after the worldwide crash of 1929 led in Germany to Hitler’s rise (he was seen at first as a reformer and national saviour) and in USA to Roosevelt’s New Deal (an enlightened move which actually gave background military-business interests an insidious leg-up). Similarly, in the mid-1960s conjunction, there was a mixed outpouring in pop music of both light (“All you need is love”) and dark energies (“I am the god of hell-fire…”), bringing very confused archetypes into the public domain.

The social and cultural change that occurred in the 1960s, while thrilling and exhilarating to those who embraced it, was shockingly frightening to those who resisted the force of change. Free love and sexual expression, the explosion of mind-altering drugs, the rise of Black Power and women’s rights. Nothing was the same and everything was different, and this cultural upheaval planted the seeds for the conservative reaction that came later. We can trace this reaction through the evolution of the Saturn/Jupiter cycle in which we find ourselves today.

The dance between Saturn and Jupiter acts out the idea of action/reaction. Jupiter takes action: it’s expansive, dynamic, hopeful. Jupiter is willing to step out and make changes; however, Jupiter can be somewhat reckless and overconfident which is where Saturn steps in. Saturn acts as the reaction agent, setting boundaries and limitations to confine the impulses of Jupiter. Saturn therefore represents the conservative impulse. Saturn and Jupiter were conjunct in Capricorn in 1961, coinciding with the inauguration of President Kennedy. One could say Kennedy was the first truly liberal president in the US since FDR, and his election was the catalyst for a new wave in politics, fashion, and the culture in general. That was the year of the birth of the civil rights movement, when the Freedom Riders rode through Mississippi protesting the treatment of black Americans.

Jupiter made its opening (waxing) square to Saturn in July of 1965 and the first combat troops were sent to Vietnam, marking the beginning of the end of the expansive idealism (Jupiter) of the early 1960s. The waxing square presents a challenge, and as the repressive forces of Saturn moved in Jupiter erupted in a violent effort to continue the expansion of the previous years. Uranus and Pluto were in tight conjunction that year and police attacked civil rights demonstrators in Selma, after which President Johnson signed into law the civil rights bill which was later expanded to include rights for women. A tornado outbreak in April (when Mars was conjunct Uranus) brought fifty-seven tornadoes to the midwest, a vivid symbolism for the upheaval of Uranus and Pluto, and the Watts riots erupted during the Long Hot Summer.

A conjunction of Jupiter to Uranus and the entry of Saturn into Taurus in 1969 brought a tremendous surge of creative energy in the form of several powerful cultural events that marked the culmination and implosion of the social change of the 1960s: Woodstock festival and the Moon landing, followed shortly by the Manson murders and the violent Altamont festival. Saturn is the most conservative of planets, since it strives to maintain order and preserve form. In Taurus, the sign of stability and resistance to change, Saturn stubbornly holds to the status quo. That resistance creates more tension when opposed by the desire of Jupiter for expansion, and the oppression becomes more severe. 1970 continued the slaughter of the 1960s ideals as the counterculture imploded following the Kent State murders and the death of Janis Joplin.

In the background, the backlash was beginning.

(more tomorrow).

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