Robert Elstone, the chief of the Australian Stock Market pronounced recently that “volatility is the new norm”. He flagged that investors should expect this to be a one to three year scenario, maybe longer, as a combination of food and energy price rises, massive public debt (in Europe, the US and elsewhere), and other global issues worked themselves along.
His comments echoed the sentiments of economists, business leaders and political watchers the world over. Against a backdrop of regular daily stock market swings of 2, 3 and more percent, and political and sociological gyrations the world over, ‘volatility is the new norm’ has become a catch phrase for the times.
Meanwhile students of astrology, looking on, note the outworking of the major planetary event of this period - the Uranus/Pluto transit. Aspects formed between the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) indicate much, their cycles very often coinciding with generational and societal shifts. In these periods we can witness recurring historical trends that align, uncannily, with archetypal themes connected to the particular planets. For many astrologers, myself included, it is the axial alignments, the 0°conjunction and the 180° opposition, and the intervening 90° square, that are the most significant
The unpredictable, impulsive and freedom seeking Uranus, in dynamic aspect with the intense, compulsive and transformational Pluto, says much about this time. It is the first major aspect (a square) between these two planetary heavyweights, since the 1960's; a time of unparalleled change and upheaval. Revolution and power are core themes. Protest, struggle, uprising, experimentation, confrontation - all expressions of a restless 'spirit', were and are once again playing out on many levels, in many fields. Volatility rules!
A global urge toward Uranian change, powered by Plutonic force, is clearly demonstrating and will continue to be a feature of life upwards until 2020; the transit having first commenced in 2008. The epicenter of the alignment (the period in which the planets are in closest proximity to their 90° square) is the period 2012 -2015…..which is just around the corner! Could things become more unpredictable, more intense?
What a year…..!
Surely we would be hard pressed to find a year more volatile than the one we are about to leave, 2011? From the devastating floods in Queensland, followed almost immediately by Cyclone Yasi (for good measure) and then the Victorian floods, 2011 began ominously. While I don’t draw direct inferences between planetary alignments and the weather (a highly obscure and specialized form of the art), the Uranus/Pluto metaphor is hard to resist with its volatility, unpredictability and devastating show of power.
And though of course not quite an entrée, these great floods did in turn serve as a backdrop to the Japanese tsunami, a truly frightening natural event witnessed, en masse, by the global community. A tsunami is a specifically Neptunian motif, however its cause is subterranean and hence ruled by Pluto, Lord of the Underworld. Interestingly Neptune at that time was within 3 weeks (that is very, very close) to beginning its 13 year cycle in Pisces, its own watery sign. Equally interesting, Uranus was within 12 hours of moving into Aries (where it will reside for 7 years) on that fateful day in March.
As the year has progressed we have witnessed the Arab spring, then summer, then autumn. And as we head into the Northern winter the atmosphere of revolutionary instability (Uranus) and intense and often violent confrontation (Pluto) continues on a scale not seen since the 1960’s. In a most timely and highly symbolic way the violent deaths of two of humanities most infamous ideological warriors, Bin Laden and Gaddafi, reminds us of the potency (and dark poetry) of this transit.
The economic landscape has been, similarly, a roller coaster; a second wave and in many respects a more disturbing financial period than the GFC (which began co-incidentally at the beginning of the transit and as Pluto began its long journey in and through Capricorn). As a reaction to the financial excesses, greed and government and regulatory mismanagement that fuelled the GFC, a global protest movement built up during 2011. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ spread around the world as a demonstration of People (Uranus) / Power (Pluto).
Politically, and especially as far as Australia is concerned, this has been a bitter and contentious year. Out of the political ‘battle’ has come, among other things, a reworked mining tax AND a carbon tax, both dramatically socialist (Uranian) pieces of legislation. Pluto of course ‘rules’ both mining and carbon! That Australia has the Sun in early Capricorn in its national horoscope (courtesy of its 1 January, 1901 birthday) and conjunct Saturn (the ruler of Capricorn), means we as a nation are in the midst of the transit and are particularly attuned to its archetypal vibrations. Equally significant, and highly synchronous, Australia was birthed as a nation bang in the middle of the last Uranus/Pluto opposition (1896-1907)!
As the year has drawn to a close we as individuals, and as a nation, have been both confronted and challenged by demands for same sex marital equality. This is in every respect a classic blend of freedom seeking and human rights (Uranus) juxtaposed by fears, prejudices and repressed subliminal impulses of ‘unnatural’ and ‘forbidden’ sexuality (Pluto). To say there are strong opinions on this is an understatement. The correlation with the liberation movements of the 1960’s which featured, ultimately, social re alignments toward feminist, racial, gay, social and other causes, is obvious. And if history is a guide then gay marriage will become main stream during this transit (as it already is in several countries, states and jurisdictions).
Back to the future……
So what does history, specifically the Uranus/Pluto cycle in regards history, reveal?
Many interesting things!
To cover even part of the complex political, scientific, cultural and artistic detail would require many installments, some of which I’ll look to cover in future posts. The events of the 1960’s are well known and well documented and have been touched on briefly. And we noted that Australia herself became a federated entity during the last opposition. The French Revolutionary period, which took place during the previous opposition in 1787-1798, is perhaps the example par excellence of the rich Uranus/Pluto archetype.
Good historical records are available at least as far back as the 1450-1463 conjunction. And at each point in the cycle (conjunction, opposition and square) core Uranus and Pluto themes (of which there are of course many) demonstrate. Events in one period can be seen unfolding in subsequent points of the cycle.
As an example, the previous square (1928 -1937) featured the ‘Great Depression’, a period of prolonged economic stagnation, triggered by a crisis on the stock market (sound familiar?). At the same time huge political shifts were taking place, with the rise of fascism and socialism at the two extremes. As Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Stalin flexed their muscles in Europe, and Mao waged his revolutionary battles in China, Japan was expanding it’s military influence throughout Asia. Further south Gandhi was pursuing his own unique brand of revolution and opposition to authority.
The depression was also a catalyst to more militant forms of unionism during the 1930’s, in the US and elsewhere, as workers (that is those that had jobs) fought for conditions. The period also gave rise to the folk and protest song movement, led by Woody Guthrie, whose protégé Bob Dylan would redefine and carry forward the tradition at the next cycle in the 1960’s.
Intellectually this period was characterized by a brooding wave of existentialism (Pluto). In science and technology the atom was split (and Pluto was discovered), preparatory to the development of atomic weaponry; radar was also discovered and air mail (Uranus) was first introduced.
During the previous square, in 1873 -1880, synchronous themes were evident. Inventions (a uniquely Uranian principle) during this period included the prototype of the telephone, the light bulb and the phonograph. And Jules Verne published his novel of sky (Uranus) travel – “Around the World in Eighty Days”.
Ominously, the world entered a prolonged economic downturn (again) during this cycle. Triggered by events in Europe and exacerbated by the failure of a major US based investment bank, it would be the worst stock market crash prior to1929. Known at that time as the Great Depression (the title would be taken up at the next square), the impacts spread around the globe. In the US the New York Stock Exchange was forced to close for 10 days, 25% of the country’s railroads went bankrupt and unemployment hit 14%. The slump would last for 6 years. In Britain it became known as the Long Depression, lasting until 1897. Almost 2 decades of stagnation would erode the empires’ role as a world economic leader.
As a final example of coincident themes and happenings, the period of this square also featured a powerful tsunami hitting the north east coast of Japan (death toll 28,000!)
It’s not ALL bad…….
The picture that emerges when considering the Uranus / Pluto cycle is one of revolution and intensity, of innovation and upheaval, of experimentation and decline. For something new to appear seems always to require the sweeping, even washing away, of what was. This is transformation, for good or ill.
Amidst Uranus and Pluto’s universal and cathartic rhythms, positives do abound. Tension spurs creativity. Despite the difficult economic and social environments that were features of the squares in 1873 -1880 and 1928 -1937, these periods produced enduring creative legacies.
From the 1870’s cycle came works by Tolstoy, George Elliot, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, and Thomas Hardy; the music of Verdi, Bizet and Brahms; and the influential impressionist group formed by Monet, which included Cezanne, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas and Mary Cassatt. During this cycle were born many unique innovators, among them Carl Jung, Edgar Cayce, Albert Einstein, Gertrude Stein, Harry Houdini, and Maurice Ravel.
The 1928-1937 cycle, a similarly difficult economic and political period, threw up iconic works by Hemingway, Steinbeck, W. H. Auden, W. Faulkner, T.S. Elliot, James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, Pearl Buck, Daphne Du Maurier and Gertrude Stein; the jazz, swing and big band sounds of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and others; and unique art works by Mondrian, Chagall, Miro, Magritte and Dali. Pioneers and revolutionaries born in this cycle, who rose to great fame (or notoriety) in the next 60’s cycle, included Che Guevara, Andy Warhol, Stanley Kubrick, Mary Quant, Martin Luther King (and his assassin James Earl Ray), and that most iconic of new age men, Neil Armstrong.
Standing on the shoulders of giants…..
Perhaps there is no better example of the way in which these themes re-appear and often carry from period to period within the cycle than as demonstrated in the life of my favorite Piscean, Albert Einstein. Born during the 1873 – 1880 square, he would rise to prominence during the opposition of 1896 – 1907 with his revolutionary (Uranian) theories on the inner workings of matter (Pluto). His ‘leap beyond’ in formulating new scientific laws (of relativity etc) is considered one of the, if not the, greatest intellectual achievement in history.
During the next phase (1928 – 1937), though universally revered, he to a large degree rebelled against the scientific establishment. He grasped, and indeed was a founding father of, its quantum mechanical framework; but the ‘Godless’ principle which it implied and which was embraced by most of his contemporaries clashed with his intuitive and mystical senses.
During this period his philosophic musings became richer and deeper. Among numerous quotes he wrote: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mystery. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. His eyes are closed”
In the next phase (1960 -1972) Einstein would come to be embraced by a new generation. Emblazoned on countless tee-shirts and posters the world over, his image, all wild and fuzzy haired, made of him an instantly recognizable icon. But it was his pacifist and transcendent writings and quotes that would strike a deep and resonant chord with the emerging culture. He was one of them!
As we move through this current phase his influence continues (has perhaps resurfaced?). Einstein truly embodied something the world, this precarious world, could greatly benefit from. His blend of brilliant mind, daring intuition, revolutionary spirit and spiritual sensibility has touched millions. Spurred by a deep transformational urge and a love of both the known and the unknown, he personifies the highest expression of the Uranus/Pluto archetype. And as a man who ever sought to blend heart and mind (and spirit and matter), Einstein is an example for us today of how the higher human nature is meant to unfold in this Aquarian age.
For the scholarly minded here is a table for the Uranus/Pluto cycle. 15° orbs are adopted for the conjunction and opposition phases, and 10° for the squares.
YEARS ASPECT EPICENTRE YEARS ASPECT EPICENTRE
(3° orb) (3° orb)
1450 -1463 Conjunction 1454 -1457 1705 -1716 Conjunction 1709 -1712
1489 -1507 Square 1495 -1499 1749 -1764 Square 1757 -1760
1533 -1545 Opposition 1538 -1541 1787 -1798 Opposition 1791 -1794
1563 -1570 Square 1565 -1568 1816 -1824 Square 1819 -1821
1592 -1602 Conjunction 1596 -1599 1845 -1856 Conjunction 1850 -1852
1620 -1627 Square 1622 -1625 1873 -1880 Square 1875 -1878
1643 -1654 Opposition 1647 -1649 1896 -1907 Opposition 1900 -1903
1674 -1683 Square 1677 -1689 1928 -1937 Square 1931 -1934
1960 -1972 Conjunction 1964 -1967
2008 -2020 Square 2012 -2015