Monday, November 22, 2021

Perspectives on December's earthy Venus-Pluto dance

Stories have been popping up here and there regarding the momentous Venusian moment we will all witness before the end of this year: mid-morning on December 10th, Venus will begin her dignified, seductively close "tango" with Pluto at their shared degree in the earthy sign of Capricorn. 

As dancers do, these two will draw progressively closer, first cohabiting the same degree on the 10th and then, approximately one full day later, the same minute of that degree. By the 14th they will take a breather, as Venus pulls away into the 26th degree and keeps going, but very gradually over the next five days (14th-19th), she slows down to a complete stop, as if remembering some treasure left behind. 

On December 19th, at the 29th minute of the 26th degree of Capricorn, she turns back to her still near-enough "partner" and begins retracing her path back to him. We might imagine that some primal instinct and memory for the "dance" of Creation has overtaken her in this earthy sign, and we might be correct. Perhaps some memory of a primal Paradise that existed before, as cultural historian Annette Kolodny puts it, the ravages of New World colonization "laid waste the fields of plenty."1 Or,  perhaps Venus is compelled to revisit and redefine relationships that implicate her in this destruction?

Between relishing the bounty of Nature and respecting the demands of a sustainable economy? Between the "blessings" of consumerism (Venus) and its often destructive use of the world's resources? Between human desires and the Faustian bargains we negotiate to satisfy them? Between life-affirming values and greedy compulsions? Between states of relative harmony and balance and the relentless "quicksand" of entropy? Despite the questions, I'm convinced that all of this and perhaps the re-awakening of Feminine power and voice is at stake in this Venus-Pluto "dance." No, we can't possibly come to grips with all this in one Venus retrograde passage, but any progress is good progress!

Artist Audrey Flack, as featured in recent documentary Queen of Hearts.
For instance, at the age of 90, artist Audrey Flack--long ignored and sidelined by the Art world patriarchy--is finally making her entrance into the "official" art history books, an entrance that will perhaps ease the way for generations of powerful women artists. More women in powerful places will hopefully have a knock-on impact on other areas of concern, and so it goes. 

If that weren't enough, perhaps this tango also needs to revisit the lowest, most-heinous expression of any Venus-Pluto relationship: the rape of Nature (and certainly of indigenous rights) that continues to this day across the globe. When the first enslaved Africans reached the shores of what is now Hampton, Virginia (USA) in 1619 (Chart 1 below), Venus conjoined Uranus in late Cancer, with both disposed by a Scorpio Moon opposed to Pluto in Taurus. For its part, Neptune set the stage for rationalizing it all as just "the way things are" with its t-square to the Capricorn-Cancer Nodal axis from early Libra. In other words, both Pluto and Neptune were disposed by that powerful Venus in Cancer, which was then sitting almost exactly opposite the degree where Venus will begin her current-day retrograde "dance" with Pluto in business-oriented Capricorn. 

Perhaps those who try to dismiss the importance of that fateful moment in 1619 for U.S. history  are missing an opportunity to help heal this "original Sin" of our nation, which has scarred us all: Nature and Peoples were both disrupted and tragically exploited by that turn of events, which helped create a western political economy and system (both in the U.S. and across Europe) that continues to build incredible wealth on the backs of non-sustainable resources and workers stuck at the bottom of an often insurmountable, race-based hierarchy.  Let's hope that Venus's station retrograde conjunct Pluto in 2021 will help us at least acknowledge, if not heal this affront to Life itself. 


Chart 1. Enslaved Africans first brought to American continent, August 15, 1619, 12:00 p.m. LMT (noon chart, no exact time known), Hampton, VA. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0 and courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software. 

Once the slave-base for economic relations on this continent was established, the assault on the Commons took off in earnest, making our present global climate change dilemma tragically inevitable. An amazing collection of esssays entitled The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market & State describes the dilemma we find ourselves as a consequence very well:

"The normal workings of The Economy require constant if not expanding appropriations of resources that morally or legally belong to everyone. The Economy requires that all resources be transmuted into tradeable commodities. Enclosure ["the commodification and privatization of shared resources"] is a sublimely insidious process. Somehow an act of dispossession and plunder must be reframed as a lawful, common-sense initiative to advance human progress. For example, the World Trade Organization, which purports to advance human development through free trade, is essentially a system for seizing non-market resources from communities, dispossessing people and exploiting fragile ecosystems with the full sanction of international and domestic law....This process has been critical in the drive to privatize lifeforms, supplant biodiverse lands with crop monocultures, censor and control Internet content, seize groundwater supplies to create proprietary bottled water, appropriate indigenous knowledge and culture, and convert self-reproducing agricultural crops into sterile, proprietary seeds that must be bought again and again."2

Being able to distinguish between resources and the Commons is key here, of course; thankfully, mundane astrology can lend insight. Venus is thought to rule the commodities into which natural resources are transformed, not to mention the ownership and possession of such commodities and the boon to one's wealth, value and status that results. 

As for the natural resources underlying these Venusian results, they are the raw materials derived from the chthonic realm ruled by Neptune and Pluto--water, natural gas, coal, oil, minerals and so on. -- also the resources that have traditionally been ascribed to the Commons. Not so by the corporate world, of course, which does it best to lay claim to (or to "enclose," as ecologists put it) these resources for its own use and profit. 

Interestingly, environmentalist Jacques Paysan points out the active potential of the Commons, or what he calls "commoning." To illustrate, he uses the example of rock climbing:

"There are no property rights or patents. On the contrary: The most accomplished climbers are constantly inventing new routes and inviting everybody to test their skills on them. An important rule in the process is: 'Don’t leave footsteps! Allow future climbers to discover the route in the same condition in which you  discovered it'...the commons is the social relationship: the sport of rock climbing! Not the resource itself, the rock. No climbing, no commons. There is no commons without commoning!"3

Ideally, the big meet-up looming between Venus and Pluto would also help us revisit and reimagine the Beauty and Art of the Commons, the cultural "wealth" nations hold in common in their public museums and other institutions. Perhaps then museums could rise to the challenge of returning the treasures (at times even including human remains) in their collections that were never freely given to them.  Thankfully, some museums have started this important process of repatriation, but there's still a long way to go. 

Last, but certainly not least, perhaps Venus and Pluto in earthy Capricorn can help us to finally settle upon  more sane, life-affirming VALUES in society, especially those values we hold in regards to our commonly held resources. How is it that bottled water companies can get by with paying pennies for billions of gallons of precious water so they can sell it back to us encased in toxic plastic for hundreds of times their cost?

At this point it makes sense to examine the actual chart for the momentous December Venus-Pluto event we've been discussing above, set for Washington, D.C.. See Chart 2 below.

Chart 2. Venus stations Rx, December 19, 2021, 5:35:56 a.m. ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0 and courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.

We've spoken at length already about the potential issues raised by the Venus Rx-Pluto conjunction (Capricorn) here; clearly, the 2nd house placement of these two speaks to the need for a renewed value system, although it's also true that old habits and viewpoints die hard, especially those that support entrenched wealth and power. Note, however, that Saturn (Aquarius) disposes this Capricorn conjunction from the 3rd house, square 6th house Uranus Rx (Taurus)--change is upon us, and it could be controversial. Whatever the case, it's easy to see how the current flurry of legislation, activity and change in regards to the nation's infrastructure will be reflected in all this. Change is likely to be concentrated in transportation and labor markets; I suspect our current supply chain issues (heavily dependent on 3rd and 6th house concerns) are likely to continue being difficult for awhile.

 The probability of change is also reinforced by Jupiter ruling this chart from late Aquarius, widely square Mars, the Nodal axis and the chart's early Sagittarius-Gemini horizon. Jupiter is still retracing its steps after its own retrograde turn this past June at 2+Pisces, so it's technically in a post-retrograde shadow period that guarantees growth and expansion will come at a cost - quite possibly related to the inflationary pressures we're all experiencing in the market place right now. 

If I'm correct in this (today's inflation is undoubtedly being caused by more than one thing), we might start to feel some relief in January when Jupiter reaches that 2+ Pisces point again and emerges from its shadow. I'm not overly confident that a Pisces Jupiter, especially one headed into a cycle conjunction with Neptune come April, will cure all our inflation woes, but the fixed Saturn-Uranus square (co-ruling Aquarius) does suggest that  pragmatic, systemic measures can be taken to stabilize the situation, as well. The more these measures work to "shockproof" the economy, the better. 

Image shot during tragic Waukesha Xmas parade on 11/21.
Mars' aspects and position in all this suggests a "full steam ahead" energy at work that will try to forge through any obstacles, even if the action seems reckless or ill-advised. Horrendously, we've been reminded of similar energy by this past Sunday's news: a driver in a red SUV plowed through a crowd of people celebrating their community Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing at least 5 and injuring scores of people, including at least 15 children.

The news reported the first person being hit at 4:39 p.m., and as Chart 2 below shows, Mars (Scorpio) opposed Uranus (Taurus). This axis fell widely t-square Jupiter (Scorpio-Aquarius) and more tightly square the Saturn/Jupiter (midpoint, Aquarius). The SUV driver reportedly crashed through barricades to get where the he wanted to go, which was apparently straight through the crowd. I suspect this killer's motives will be difficult to pin down (Mars trines Neptune in Pisces), although there's some talk about another crime in that local area may have been part of the story. Thankfully, authorities do not, at this writing, suspect a connection with terrorism (foreign or domestic) or the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.

Even so, as much as I would like to say otherwise, it's difficult to imagine this Mars (likely to be even more reckless once it gets to Sagittarius) serving the higher possibilities of a Venus-Pluto convergence; more likely, it will influence the tone and conditions on the ground within which those two play out their dance. We saw how this works earlier this week, with Mars at approximately 13 Scorpio square Uranus Rx at 12+ Taurus on November 19, the day on which the Scorpio lunar eclipse (discussed towards the end of this November 11th post)  delivered the "not guilty" verdict freeing Kyle Rittenhouse from all charges against him. This was (IMHO) a reckless, potentially provocative moment, for a variety of reasons: when Venus and Pluto converge in December, the square to and disposing of Mars by Jupiter in Chart 2--not to mention Mars's snug relationship with the ASC and So. Node--could prolong and create a 'trend" out of what now feels to many like a threat. 

Unfortunately, the tactics (brandish weapon of choice in a crowded place; provoke an incident; kill and claim to be the victim) and cause of current U.S. right-wing domestic terrorism (toxic, misguided macho "patriotism?") may have received a real boost in that Wisconsin court room, and it's easy to imagine that the Venus-Pluto dance at stake come December can also be exploited to magnetize more resources to that dark project. 

The use and abuse of "dark money" to undermine justice in America is nothing new, but clearly, this problem has been manifesting in more shocking ways lately: which deep pockets, for instance, funded Tucker Carlson's latest provocative attempt to rewrite the facts of the January 6th insurrection and make martyrs out of the insurrectionists? 

And who keeps funding Steve Bannon's campaign to defy and destroy the American election system and rule of law? Time will tell, but we can be assured that the gun industry, as always, will profit mightily from the fear- and panic-mongering. 


In the midst of it all...Pluto returns to Sibly Pluto

I've written at length elsewhere about the OTHER imminent Pluto passage that will make the coming months (and hence this upcoming Venus-Pluto convergence) all the more significant, but it bears repeating here that on February 20, 2022, transiting Pluto will complete its return to U.S. Sibly (radix) Pluto (Capricorn). Issues of national sovereignty, the big "E" Economy (in so far as the FED and Treasury dept. have a say in it) and Wall Street are likely to be prominent during this time, as are the nation's deeply karmic wounds as a slave state, discussed earlier. 

In fact, in the chart for that return, Venus conjoins Mars at 19+Capricorn (Biwheel 1 below) and both widely conjoin Pluto & Sibly Pluto. This will happen during Venus's post-retrograde shadow period, suggesting that there will be renewed interest in our national values by that time, but we've seen how even the key principle of "freedom" can be twisted and manipulated to whatever the goals of power players are. Hopefully this transit can inspire a more sincere period of national Soul searching.

To say this combination of transits is about restoring the Soul of our nation is NOT, I believe, an overstatement. The political divide in this nation has always been about conflicting views of the role of Government, and those views have always heavily concerned the roles of mundane Venus and Pluto: should they be limited to supporting/empowering the corporate sector above all, staying out of its way and providing for the common Defense on one side, or should they help assure that the blessings of our so-called capitalist democracy are realized more equally by all?  It's beyond the scope of this article to get into this any deeper for now, but we will revisit this passage in the near future. 


Biwheel 1. (Inner wheel) U.S. (Sibly) chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (Outer wheel) Sibly Pluto return, February 20, 2022, 5:25 a.m. ST, Washington, DC. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0 and courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software. 


Dates to remember and final thoughts

November 17, 2021 (already passed). Venus enters its pre-retrograde shadow at 11 deg. 05' Capricorn (the earliest degree it will traverse going retrograde come December 19th).

December 19, 2021. Venus stations retrograde at 26 deg. 29' Capricorn.

January 29, 2022. Venus stations direct at 11 deg. 05' Capricorn and enters post-retrograde shadow period. 

February 20, 2022. Transiting Pluto returns to Sibly Pluto position at 27 deg. 33' Capricorn. 

March 6, 2022. Venus leaves Capricorn and ingresses Aquarius.

This timeline maps out a critical period of time during which the issues discussed above are likely to play out--perhaps with a bit more drama and intensity than usual. We can already guess that the power struggle surrounding the January 6 House Committee's investigation will peak in some way; indeed, there could be revelations about who actually financed the insurrection. There's a critical deadline associated with that committee's work in January, so Bannon's efforts to drag things out will probably also become an issue.  

Aside from that, any bill in Congress that even breathes the words "tax the rich" will probably receive the same treatment--they merited an 8.5 hour rant on the part of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy already; we can expect more of that sort of grandstanding. Taxing the rich  equates with the bugaboo of socialism for the GOP (really?!), but Venus and Pluto may just surprise us by supporting long-term investments in child care and education that would add greater value to the Economy over time. How can we compete in tomorrow's geopolitical climate if our education system is widely deficient and higher education is turned into an expensive luxury for the few? It's all woven neatly into this Venus-Pluto tango that will demand our attention over the coming months, so it'll be worth staying tuned in!
Meanwhile I will leave you with the exquisite words of naturalist Andreas Weber, from his so-very timely study, Enlivenment:

"The forms and beings of nature amount to ingenious improvisations for maintaining delicate balances in a complex system. The beauty of living things stems from the fact that they are embodied solutions of individual-existence-in-connection. They are gradients expressive of the perennial paradox between total autonomy and complete fusion that needs to be held in suspense by every living being...As such, the experience of beauty is a necessary ingredient of a commoning process. It explains why most humans experience feelings of belonging and connection with other living beings."4

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, U.S. history, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. She’s published articles on these topics in several key astrology journals over the years, including most recently, the TMA blog. For information about individual chart readings, contact:

© Raye Robertson 2021. All rights reserved.

1 Annette Kolodny, The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters, University of No. Carolina Press. Kindle Edition, p. 26.
2David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, eds. The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State. Levellers Press. Kindle Edition. Location 361/11127.
3 Bollier and Helfrich, Ibid, chapter by Jacques Paysan, entitled "My Rocky Road to the Commons."
4  Weber, Andreas. Enlivenment (Untimely Meditations) (pp. 77-78). MIT Press. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Climate passivity & the astrology of deep imperial tendencies


Historians would mostly concur that the archetypes of power, prosperity and empire-building that have driven Western civilization this many centuries have been largely rooted in the imperial Roman tradition, 

and as a mundane astrologer, I find it hard to argue with this perspective. Themselves derived from the Hellenic tradition, Roman mythologies inform our Western collective consciousness to this day, their "gods" and "goddesses" still regarded as ideals and archetypal models for "how the world works." 

But there's the inevitable dark side of that worldview to acknowledge as well: Rome celebrated the "gods" and their cohorts and minions, and then there were the faceless, expendable masses who were thought to exist merely to keep that upper crust well-fed and pampered. To peel the Emperor's grapes and ingest any poisons before he could suffer them, if you will. 

In the end, for all its splendor, Rome handed down the ultimate archetypal model for a radically unequal, exploitative, slave-based economy, run by a "strong-man" dictator/emperor. Interestingly, there are serious astrological dynamics that link that archetype to other empires that followed; we'll consider a couple key charts here that illustrate this point. 

Louis XIV, the "Sun King"
For instance, even though they had the good sense to reject the Roman-approved "divine right of kings" in the 13th century, the British empire, having been occupied and heavily influenced by Rome in very early days grew out of the Roman model; France certainly put the Roman model to work in its "Sun King" and Napoleonic periods, and Nazi Germany relished and employed Roman iconography in its propaganda, national imagery, strong-man paternalism and love of spectacle. 

Then there's the U.S., of course, founded on a tortured blend of Enlightenment (small "d") democratic and Roman (small "r") republican ideals, a system that has worked well in the best of times, but is now coming back to haunt us big time, with our national chart's Pluto return. 

Rome knew that to sustain an empire, the exploitation and control of resources (Pluto) and the ability to spin a good story and maintain an awe-inspiring "godly" image (Neptune) were key. In fact, that empire's ups and downs were clearly associated with the nearly 500-year Neptune-Pluto cycle--the empire was "born" under a nice Neptune-Pluto sextile in 27 BC, but by the time of the next June, 411 AD conjunction at 23+ Taurus, the empire was on the decline, with Rome having been "sacked" by the invading forces of Alaric and the Visigoths on August 24th the year before. 

Visigoths under Alaric's lead sacked Rome in August, 410 AD.
In fact, on the day Rome was sacked, Saturn was ALSO within orb of Neptune and Pluto in Taurus, while Uranus fell square all three from Aquarius. Jupiter in late Aries trined the Sagittarius No. Node, enabling the military might of the invaders. It was a hard fall for the Roman empire and its "divine" center of power, but the ideology of expansion and conquest were more celebrated than repudiated. By the time the new 411 AD cycle launched, Jupiter had moved into Taurus and fell conjunct the larger Neptune-Pluto stellium. All systems were go for a shift of civilizations. IMHO, we ignore at our peril that such dramatic shifts are possible with significant Neptune-Pluto times. 

To briefly explore the archetype of power that was imprinted on Western consciousness so very long ago and has been echoed in a number of forms ever since, let's consider the empire's "birth" (which began with the reign of Augustus Caesar) alone, and then to see how that influence carried forward, we'll set Chart 1 against the U.S. Sibly chart in Biwheel #1 below.


Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) was not an emperor, but paved the way for the Empire.

When in Rome...

The Roman Empire gave the Western world not just the ultimate model for a slave economy, but also of a "strong-man" autocracy; as noted, it was founded after the reign of Julius Caesar, with the reign of Augustus Caesar , which began on January 16, 27 BC (amazingly, these exact records exist). Of particular note in the chart for this beginning (Chart 1 below) are:  the exact Sun-Pluto opposition, stretched across 26+Capricorn-Cancer and t-square the Libra MC (chart set for approximate dawn); Saturn's wide conjunction to Cancer Pluto and quincunx with Sagittarius Uranus; the t-square to Virgo Neptune Rx formed by the Uranus-So. Node conjunction opposite the No. Node Rx/Jupiter Rx midpoint (Gemini). 

This volatile mutable t-square in combination with the Saturn-Uranus quincunx perhaps portended the conflicts and invasions that gradually overtook and fatally undermined the empire. The t-square may also reflect the relative weakness of Rome's naval power, as compared to its legendary land-based legions, that is. Many of the so-called "barbarian" invasions that weakened the empire over time arrived by sea. Could it be that the Western world's deeply-rooted dread of immigration, which tends to spike during hard times, harks back to this time as well? 

Despite naval weaknesses, however, Mars (Capricorn) trined Neptune (Virgo) and opposed Saturn (Cancer), reflecting the key role the Roman military played in Rome's empire-building. 


Chart 1. Roman Empire (Augustus Caesar named emperor), January 16, 27 BC, 7:00 a.m. (approx. dawn) LMT, Rome, Italy. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.  

As for the "model" Rome provided for future Western empires, consider Biwheel 1 below, between Chart 1 (Roman Empire) and the U.S. Sibly chart.


Biwheel #1. (inner wheel) Roman Empire (Augustus Caesar reign), January 16, 27 BC, 7:00 a.m. (approx. dawn) LMT, Rome, Italy; (outer wheel) U.S. (Sibly) chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software. 

I find it stunning (although not quite SURPRISING) that the Sibly Pluto-to-Part-of-Fortune-Mercury opposition ties in so tightly with the Roman Sun-Pluto opposition, all between Capricorn and Cancer. Mid-to-late cardinal axes have been regarded as prime geopolitical power centers in national charts by generations of mundane astrologers, and having Pluto along one of these axes adds a sense of deep pockets and considerable "clout." Notice that both Roman and U.S. Plutos share this axis (on opposite ends); clearly, both were built around complementary views about wielding power. Develop systems and infrastructures to amass and control the resources (Capricorn) and the People (Moon-disposed Cancer) and the world is your oyster. 

Notice also that the Virgo Neptunes in these foundational charts are closely conjunct; both also form soft aspects with their respective Plutos--Rome, the sextile; U.S., the trine. In both cases, Neptune supported and enabled a mythos of power, glory and importance; for the would-be autocrats dotting both histories, it's enabled delusions of grandeur, heroism and larger-than-life celebrity. After a 2018 state visit to France, Trump was adamant that he had to have a military parade like the one he witnessed there on Bastille Day. 

Sport and spectacle kept Romans in thrall to their emperors.
Such grandiose, Neptunian trappings of power have helped unite people behind their leaders forever; the Egyptians and Babylonians cultivated the "divine" image of leadership well before the Romans, who perhaps took the idea to new levels. The collective tools of elaborate, often gold-encrusted rituals and powerful military  and sporting spectacles have always captivated the public and rendered very HUMAN leaders almost "god"-like in their eyes; unfortunately, many megalomaniacs in history have actually believed their "press."  

I think it's interesting that both charts here feature a balanced distribution of points in cardinal, fixed and mutable signs. Key power/governing energies Pluto and Saturn fall in cardinal signs in both: Rome's Mars in Capricorn exactly opposes Rome Saturn and Sibly Sun in Cancer; this axis squares Sibly Saturn opposite Sibly Chiron (Libra-Aries). Where democratic principles failed to fulfill early U.S. ambitions, military force was often the wounding default (Chiron is disposed by Sibly Mars in Gemini, conjunct Rome's Jupiter). My guess is, the imperial Romans would agree that a nation's desire for expansion and conquest is its own logical justification. 

Indeed, Roman emperors likened themselves to gods on a quest to fulfill their dynastic destinies, the U.S. has certainly had its dynastic families as well (outside of politics, the Caesar archetype is still alive and well and living in Las Vegas). The inevitable brutality of such power "quests" has been mirrored here too, not only abroad, but with our 19th century westward expansion campaigns, fueled by "manifest destiny." Pluto would have been transiting over U.S. Chiron during the 1840s height of those campaigns, in fact, and Neptune was transiting over the Aquarius Sibly Moon; the P.R. promoting those campaigns framed them in almost religious terms.  

The image used to promote "manifest destiny" as wagons rolled westward.

The truth is, the Roman model of power, governance and society has never quite disappeared, despite the imperial "ideal" falling into disrepute; like a buried remnant of an ancient shipwreck, the Roman model keeps washing up on shore at certain high tides (and yes, Neptune's fingerprints are all over this). Strong-man dictatorships are gaining ground in several nations as we speak, even in former Soviet republics like Poland and Hungary that fought so hard for their democracies and independence in the 1989-90 rebellions. 

Turns out, strong-man rule is a convenient fall-back when the work of democracy falls short, especially in response to protracted economic stress and rising corruption: "law-and-order" is far easier than tackling the complex work of equal justice and opportunity for all. Not surprisingly, many of those former Soviet nations have been experiencing their first Saturn returns as democracies. 

Nationalism and autocracy seem to be especially appealing when people in stressed nations fall prey to Neptunian fear, misinformation and the pressures of demographic change. Unfortunately, such fears and misinformation are usually promoted by the would-be autocrats, looking for a foot in the door. Often to their ultimate regret, people in these situations give away their power in exchange for the delusion that a law-and-order "savior" is going to put their interests first. 

Which brings us to one more reason why taking a firm hand with climate change mitigation is so urgent right now: the dysfunction and distress produced in largely agricultural nations or vulnerable island nations by climate warming is causing massive migrations (Neptune) that many fragile democracies on the receiving end simply cannot absorb without producing chaos. This is one of the most difficult dilemmas of our times, in fact, a dilemma the world's wealthier, less climate-challenged nations are constantly pressed to take on by the COP conferences. 

Bangladesh is already being devastated by climate change.
Why is it that wealthier nations have been producing the lion's share of heavy CO2 emissions, but it's the vulnerable, poorer nations like Bangladesh (they emit one-half of one percent of the world's emissions) where people are already paying the price, living in a state of constant flooding and crisis? There's something seriously wrong with this picture, and the only solution is for the wealthier nations to step up and take more responsibility and initiative. 

This seemingly logical demand, however, is receiving a far more tepid response than it deserves. Way back at the UN Climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, wealthier countries pledged to collectively contribute $100 billion per year  to help less-wealthy nations adapt to climate change realities within their borders, yet those contributions have been very slow in coming. Some of the recent sluggishness may be due to the pandemic; however, climate change also exacerbates and enables pandemics, so that justification seems very hollow and short-sighted. 

Indigenous nations protesting for climate justice.
In light of our discussion here today, I wonder, in fact, if perhaps the wealthier nations are simply falling back into that archetypal imperial view that the masses of people around the world exist for their convenience and exploitation, and have no real value in themselves. No one will say this out loud, of course, but could this imperial mindset be the real anchor that's dragging down the world's climate change progress today? The arrogance of Power-writ-large is often wielded passively, as in "let Nature take its course...what can we do?" History attests that the world has stood by watching many times in the course of human atrocities; will this time be the same, or can it finally be different? 

The fact is, if more action doesn't ensue quickly, the passivity we're witnessing today will likely kill and displace millions of people, yet bystanders will feel justified in clucking their tongues and saying "what could we do?" In truth, where there's a will, there's a way, and scores of brilliant scientists, engineers, technology experts and activists are just waiting for the funding and cooperation they need to find that way. In Christ's parable of the good Samaritan, how many people (some quite religious) passed by and ignored the fallen traveler before the compassionate Samaritan came along and cared actively for him, even leaving money with the inn-keeper to meet the traveler's future needs? Perhaps those self-righteous but inert passers-by were also thinking "let Nature take its course?" Nature's not the culprit here, I fear.


And Nature does take its course

Speaking of natural processes, the Sun and Moon formed a lunar eclipse (full moon) on June 4, 410 AD that could have portended Rome's fall to Alaric that same August. The eclipse chart cast for Rome (not shown) placed the Sun-Moon stretched across the 1-7 axis of Self-Enemy, and a Neptune-Pluto-Ceres-Saturn conjunction in Taurus in the 12th of self-undoing and hidden enemies, with Uranus (Aquarius) squaring it all from the 9th of foreign travelers. Jupiter fell sextile that Uranus Rx and square Cancer Venus from 21+ Aries; opportunities for outside forces to pounce were certainly there. 

The presence of Ceres in the beleaguered Taurus stellium perhaps signals one of the least-studied aspects of Rome's fall--the relentless Nature-based issues (including climate extremes and pandemics) that drove desperate waves of migration from the East going westward towards Rome. The New Statesman documents a lot of this in a 2020 article entitled "How pandemics extinguished the Roman Empire: What the fall of Rome teaches us about the twin threats of lethal disease and ecological disaster." . It's a matter of record that between the 2nd and 4th centuries, Rome's empire suffered a mixture of climate shifts (including disastrous cold spells and droughts), pandemic and plague-type disease ; as in today's "globalized" world, rapid contagion was one of the least positive attributes of their expansive domain. Little was known about containing public health crises at that time, contrary to our times. 

In fact, history shows that the balsamic periods (i.e., the last 45 degrees) of Neptune-Pluto cycles can be quite perilous, tumultuous and chaotic--a story we'll explore more deeply another day because mass death and destruction tend to follow these two around. The Huns apparently suffered a major drought at some time before Rome fell in 410; many migrated desperately in the direction of Rome, putting pressure on the Goths as they did. One thing led to another and Rome itself collapsed at the hands of the Visigoths. The empire's unifying center was simply washed away by the relentless debilitating pressures. 

Bottom line, natural causes can overwhelm even the best human intentions and take down even the mightiest of empires--another part of the Roman "model" we might want to pay attention to in today's climate change-challenged world. So what is our human role in all this? Maybe one more look back at the Roman empire is in order: if humans could have intervened to minimize the death and destruction that plagued the world and helped to bring Rome down in 410 AD, shouldn't they have done so? Thankfully, today there are things we and our governments can do to secure the future of humans on this planet; shame on all of us if we don't finally get moving.

Practical needs in focus.
Final thoughts

On this note, let's rack our focus back into the 21st century and consider one last chart--the November 19th lunar eclipse, cast for Washington, D.C.  I suspect this eclipse will help stabilize our public discourse in the coming several months and will focus it around addressing the nation's basic needs. Time will tell, of course, but let's briefly consider Chart 2 below. 

Chart 2. Lunar Eclipse, November 19, 2021, 3:57:18 a.m., Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software. 

Eclipse Sun and Moon stretch across the 2nd-8th houses and fall between 27+Scorpio and Taurus, t-square Aquarius Jupiter. It appears that there's a serious need for an expansive technological approach to concrete, pragmatic problems; perhaps the Biden infrastructure plan which just passed on the strength of a bipartisan vote in Congress will help, but the threats posed by Mars (Scorpio) opposite Uranus Rx (Taurus) require a strong restraining hand (the opposition t-squares Saturn in Aquarius). Rage and vengefulness could threaten to stymie tangible progress, but perhaps the nice Saturn-Ceres trine (Aquarius-Gemini) will help re-focus attention on family and everyday priorities. 

It's possible that this fixed t-square also has something to do with our current supply chain bottleneck; Mercury's Scorpio square to Aquarius Jupiter could be contributing to that as well, but perhaps its trine to Pisces Neptune will loosen things up a bit, especially in regards to sea traffic.  

The Eclipse axis is conjoined by Ceres opposite Vesta (Sagittarius), suggesting that the trend will be for families to slowly re-emerge into community life, especially now that the COVID vaccine has been approved for younger children. With Jupiter squaring these axes, the mood should be mostly positive and optimistic, although with Mercury trine Neptune (Scorpio-Pisces), the potential for harmful or confusing misinformation is still real. 

Venus rules this eclipse from the 3rd house of education, transportation and everday life; she falls sextile Pallas (Pisces), square Chiron Rx (Aries) and trine Uranus Rx (Taurus). Again, the challenges of moving goods right now seem to be paramount, but these aspects suggest that there are deeper dimensions to this bottleneck that elude our attention. Are some of the tie-ups being deliberately created? (Mars sextiles Venus; Venus trines Uranus). We know there are labor shortages involved; are there also geopolitical and/or environmental issues behind some of it?  

Finally, Pluto (Capricorn) sits at the bottom of the chart, conjunct the IC (opposite MC); it trines the Moon (Taurus) and sextiles the Sun (Scorpio), so there's no denying that the grass-roots power brokers will be working overtime during the active life of this eclipse. Will this bode well for Biden's larger "human infrastructure" bill's passage? The Moon-Pluto trine is promising; interestingly, Pluto sextiles and disposes Mercury (Scorpio) as well, and with Pluto ruling Mercury's 2nd house position, the money should be forthcoming. Time will tell, of course, but the heavy lower hemisphere focus of this chart says that the People's needs should be primary. We may not be able to agree on a lot of things, but making progress in basic areas like job education, child care and climate change mitigation might just have a unifying impact. 

We can dream! According to NASA (as cited), this upcoming eclipse is fairly special:

"The partial lunar eclipse, when Earth’s shadow covers 97% of the full moon, will be the longest of the century by far, dwarfing the duration of the longest total lunar eclipse this century, which took place in 2018 and stretched to 1 hour and 43 minutes. The forthcoming eclipse will also be the longest partial lunar eclipse in 580 years, according to the Holcomb Observatory at Butler University, Indiana."



The Nov. 19th eclipse will be gorgeous and visible in all 50 U.S. states.

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, U.S. history, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. She’s published articles on these topics in several key astrology journals over the years, including most recently, the TMA blog. For information about individual chart readings, contact:
© Raye Robertson 2021. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

History echoes loudly: the 1891 Neptune-Pluto cycle's drag on today's imperatives

According to the New York Times, the focus of this week’s virtual 15th United Nations biodiversity conference (CBD) gathering is the threat of “a rapid collapse of species and systems that collectively sustain life on earth.” 

The article breaks down the conference's ambitious international action plan as follows: 

  • “-Create a plan, across the entire land and waters of each country, to make the best decisions about where to conduct activities like farming and mining while also retaining intact areas; -Ensure that wild species are hunted and fished sustainably and safely; -Reduce agricultural runoff, pesticides and plastic pollution; -Use ecosystems to limit climate change by storing planet-warming carbon in nature; -Reduce subsidies and other financial programs that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year, the estimated amount that governments spend supporting fossil fuels and potentially damaging agricultural practices, and -Safeguard at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030.”  

Also emphasized is the reality that the biodiversity and climate change challenges can't be separated: either we come up with solutions to both, or neither effort will succeed. As ecologist Anne Larigauderie put it  

“’The diversity of all of the plants and all of the animals, they actually make the planet function...They ensure that we have oxygen in the air, that we have fertile soils.’”  

But getting to sustainability of this sort is no small task: between the ambitious plan detailed above and the agenda we'll be hearing about later this month during the COP26 Glasgow Conference, it's clear that Humanity really needs to cooperate with the highest impulses of the outer planetary forces that we are subject to beyond anything we've seen in a very long while. It's a very big ask, but a necessary one. Too bad Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) seems committed to blocking everything Biden is trying to do to get with this critical effort. 

The John E. Amos, West Virginia coal-fired power plant.

From Prof. Michael Oppenheimer, for The Conversation:

"President Joe Biden has a goal for all U.S. electricity to come from zero-carbon sources by 2035. To get there, he’s counting on Congress to approve an ambitious package of incentives and penalties designed to encourage utilities to clean up their power sources. That plan, part of the Democrats’ proposed budget package, may be in trouble.

Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has close ties to the coal, oil and gas industries and concerns about the speed of Biden’s planned emissions cuts, will oversee that part of the budget as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Manchin has emphasized using “all energy sources” as “cleanly as possible” and described the idea of eliminating fossil fuels as “very, very disturbing.” He reportedly wants to lessen the proposed incentives and penalties for utilities, known as the Clean Electricity Payment Program, and reward companies for burning natural gas."

IMHO, what's "very, very disturbing" here is Manchin's arrogant assumption that he and his narrow W.Virginia interests should call the shots for our entire nation's energy policy. Radically reducing fossil fuel consumption won't happen overnight, but it must happen, not just for the climate, but for the sake of Life as we know it. West Virginia's priorities simply can't dictate our entire national path forward. 

Unfortunately, obstructionists like Manchin probably feel they're being perfectly reasonable--they believe they have the right to exploit the Earth at will because that's what they've always been taught to believe. By Sunday school; by the business world; by the political world. Only the scientific world has defected from this "Earth as Humanity's exploitable resource" perspective, and that defection has only evolved over the past fifty-odd years into something more like a “Humanity as Earth’s partner in the continued Creation of life” perspective. Can the rest of us embrace this necessary perspective shift under the sway of fossil fuel capitalism and its political champions? According to the American Prospect, the U.S. is the only nation in the world that is not a signatory to the treaty driving the U.N.’s Biodiversity Conference “due to decades of pharma lobbying:” 

“The U.S. will send a delegation, but it will have no official say in decision-making. 

That’s because it is not a signatory. In 2008, as President Barack Obama prepared to take office, activists urged him to endorse the treaty, pointing out that only four nations in the world were not parties to the convention: Andorra, Iraq, Somalia, and the USA. Since then, Andorra, Iraq, and Somalia have joined. The U.S. is the only major nation that remains a non-party to the CBD, which requires Senate ratification. 

‘The United States strongly supports biodiversity conservation, at home and abroad, providing more than $400 million every year to our international partners to conserve and restore nature.  We spend billions annually on nature conservation in the United States,' a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. ‘The Convention remains before the U.S. Senate for its consent to ratification.’” 

Conservation and the broader mission of sustaining biodiversity are related, certainly, but that still doesn’t put the U.S. on the same wavelength as most of the world on this effort. IMHO, if we let industries like Big Pharma and fossil fuels call these shots, even our limited efforts won’t get off the ground. I’m heartened by the outpouring of interest abroad for these dual conferences, and I applaud Biden’s proposed contributions to the effort, but talk is cheap. Clearly, overthrowing capitalism so we can secure a future on this planet is a pipe dream, so we have to move forward within our existing system, and right now, that's just not working. 

IMHO, the saving grace here is that the world does not revolve around America’s political wranglings and crisis of faith in democracy, as much as we might think it does, so maybe any effort we make to look beyond our own crises at the moment is a good effort. As a mundane astrologer, I know that it will be really difficult to shift our perspective in the direction it needs to shift unless we can somehow emerge a bit more enlightened from the toxic Neptune-Pluto immersion-bath our body politic has been drowning in. Emerge we must, however. 

One way to do that might be to cast our focus outside of ourselves in ways both big and small. We’ve done this in the past when faced with border-transcending crises, and it’s worked. We can take our pick of several causes: climate change, the pandemic, humanitarian crises that are enough to tear our hearts out, international supply chain bottlenecks and shortages, and a global showdown with ransomware hackers that keeps our security officials up nights. Even with all the domestic emergencies that must compel our action, we ignore the more all-encompassing collective level at our peril. To strike that balance of local and global will require our leaders to make far more constructive uses of the extraordinary outer planetary energies available to us at this moment.  

I promised in a recent post that we would look back and examine where our current Neptune-Pluto cycle—which feels so disproportionately influential right now—originated, and what that means for today. As we’ll see, a great many of the 20th century’s memorable passages came down to leaders and others born under the 1891 cycle conjunction or in the very early days of its new Gemini phase. So, very near the dawn of the 20th century, which was, in retrospect, the most concentrated 100 years of environmental destruction that Humanity has ever lived through.  

Consider that the discovery of oil and the first U.S. oil “gusher” happened on January 10, 1901 near Beaumont, Texas. The noon chart for that day is startlingly suggestive (Chart 1 below): Jupiter conjoins Venus in fiery Sagittarius and opposes both Neptune and Pluto, still in mid-to-late Gemini; the fossil fuel industry was an early, supremely-lucrative “gift” of that 1891 cycle. Uranus trails behind Jupiter and Venus in earlier Gemini, but opposite Pluto and approaching its 17°+ 2Q cycle point in December, 1901. 


Chart 1. Texas oil gusher/discovery, January 10, 1901, 12:00 p.m. ST (no exact time known), Beaumont, TX. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software. 

Not to be left out of this particular outer-planetary party, Saturn (Capricorn) trined Mars (Virgo), which would soon transit over Sibly Neptune (22°+Virgo), triggering another wave of “Go west, young manmania. The era known as the “Oil age” had begun. From Wikipedia: 

“The Age of Oil,[1] also known as the Oil Age,[2][3] the Petroleum Age,[4][5] or the Oil Boom, refers to the era in human history characterised by an increased use of petroleum in products and as fuel. Though unrefined petroleum has been used for various purposes since ancient times, it was during the 19th century that refinement techniques were developed and gasoline engines were created.” 

Saturn’s placement in its strong, earthy home sign of Capricorn is significant here, too: it would be transiting the Sibly 2nd house (probably engineering the new industry’s infrastructure) and, in a couple years, it would spend some quality time with our Treasury and Finance powers-that-be, Sibly Pluto. That Texas oil well gushed forth with precision cosmic timing. Interestingly, it happened just when the nation’s transportation infrastructure—in particular, rail transportion—was already sufficiently established and connected and prepared to support a new oil industry and the transporting of other goods and people.  

So, it’s easy to see how that period was absolutely key to so many difficult issues today—to consider that connection across time more closely, let’s take a closer look at that moment in 1891 when Neptune and Pluto planted their consequential cosmic seed for the next 492+ years. 

August 1, 1891 

Because nearly five centuries pass between Neptune-Pluto conjunctions, we basically have to accept that our global order’s evolving perspective will be Gemini-tinged for a very long time, no matter where  these two planetary “big guys” transit between cycles. In fact, their 1891 cycle is the second of several Gemini cycles, the first beginning in 1398—the onset of what is generally considered the Renaissance in Europe. From cycle to cycle, this pair moves approximately three degrees forward in its cycle sign—it's mind-boggling to imagine, but this means that Neptune-Pluto's final Gemini cycle (of this series) won’t dawn until the year 5340 when they finally conjoin at 29°+Gemini!  

A complete Neptune-Pluto tour through a sign, encompassing several sub-cycles in that sign, takes roughly 3942 years—a chunk of time that transcends even the life-span of typical earth-bound civilizations, though it’s a blink of an eye in geological and Cosmic terms. Thus, these two planets at the outer reaches of our solar system seem more concerned with transforming the ideological/spiritual “ground” within which civilizations rise and fall than on the individual societies and cultures that develop within them.  

Neptune and Pluto take the long view of life on this Earth plane, in other words, which naturally suggests a more Nature-focused view, akin to planning ahead for the next “seven generations,” as the Iroquois famously counseled. Anymore, we’re realizing that if we don’t plan for the long haul, there will be no long haul for Humanity as we now exist on this planet. 

As for the type of ideological/spiritual “ground” that might be relevant to this planetary cycle, the Persian prophet Zoroaster’s (630-553BC)2 conception of time as linear, with a beginning and an end (an idea formulated sometime near the 579BC Neptune-Pluto conjunction), is one such idea. Among other key developments, it gave rise to 2,000+ years of Western culture’s preoccupation with an impending Apocalypse. The forces that colluded to produce apocalyptic movements during the Middle Ages, and the more recent “Y2K” and “Rapture” manias both hark back to this time.3  

In keeping with their long orbital cycles, Neptune and Pluto are more concerned with transformative, long-term power dynamics (which are often embodied into empires and dynasties) than with any one conservative or liberal regime. From this long view, we can see how seemingly opposed factions actually collude to achieve long-term transformations. 

Neptune and Pluto are also concerned with the ideas that very slowly materialize on the “screen” of our collective consciousness, like a photographic image develops in a bath of chemicals. This amounts to the formation of our consensus reality—a process that involves all astrological energies, but by way of analogy, Neptune and Pluto seem to provide the “chemical bath” in which it all develops. The “big ideas” embraced by cultures and Peoples depend upon this chemistry: for instance, our view of Humanity’s “place” in the universe. This probably explains why shifting our perspective from “Earth as Humanity’s exploitable resource” to “Humanity as Earth’s partner in the continued Creation of life” is no simple feat.  

Still, progress can be slowly made, as happened during the 1398 Gemini cycle (also Neptune-Pluto). The work that Copernicus and Columbus, and later Galilleo and Kepler, did to refute the Roman Church’s model of a geocentric universe was one such weighty idea that finally caught on. The ascendancy of the “big bang” theory during this present Gemini cycle is of the same magnitude. There’s always been tension between scientific observation and abstract/dogmatic theorizing—a Gemini/Sagittarius dilemma--(heavily-influenced these days by Pisces denialism), but technology and scientific exploration tend to overcome resistance once they prove their practical worth. 

Notably, Max Planck’s quantum theory, first formulated in 1900, helped usher in the 1891 Neptune-Pluto cycle, and has demonstrated promising possibilities for uniting science and spirituality, which as an astrologer I find especially encouraging. The cosmological writings of notable physicists and science-minded spiritualists such as Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry remind us of our deep human need for Nature, the Cosmos, and Spirit; hopefully, this trend also informs the evolution of astrology as a discipline going forward. 

Considering all this from the post-1990s Internet age and the Pandora’s box it has pried open into our so-called “Post-Truth” civilization, however, we can see how quantum theory and Heisenberg’s related “uncertainty principle” have also enabled powerful forces to erode and manipulate (Neptune, Pluto) the ability of societies to form consensus about Reality itself.  If a “Big Lie” is repeated often enough, does it magically become true?  

This dilemma is reflected across the globe, of course; as with their rulership of essential resources like oil, natural gas and water, Neptune-Pluto's domain over Humanity’s collective Mind defies national boundaries as well. From the perspective of this Gemini Neptune-Pluto cycle, we can appreciate how vulnerable both the physical and psychological well-being of the collective can be to such mass manipulations. More on all this as we go.


Chart 2. Natal, Neptune-Pluto Conjunction, August 1, 1891, 11:41:13 p.m. ST, Greenwich England. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.  

To reflect this cycle’s global collective nature, I've cast the chart for Greenwich, England. Befitting the dawn of a new era, the “stars” of the new Gemini cycle chart are—at 8°37’ Gemini in Greenwich—rising at the Gemini ASC  and widely conjunct the 12th house No. Node (Gemini). It’s a powerful setting for our cosmic heavyweights, as both Neptune and Pluto tend to extremes of creation and destruction in angular houses.  

In hindsight, this conjunction allows us to more deeply assess the 20th century. Hitler’s regime in Germany was led almost entirely by men who were born with this Neptune-Pluto conjunction either within orb or not too far off. Hitler’s chart features the conjunction in his 8th house; his accomplice Hermann Goering had a 7th house conjunction. War criminal Adolph Eichmann 4 was a bit younger, but had an elevated Neptune in Cancer opposite Capricorn Uranus, with Pluto trailing behind Neptune by 17+ degrees—the actual managing of the Holocaust extermination program came down to him. 

A small sample of 20th century artistry.
On the creative side of the Neptune-Pluto equation, the early 20th century, so totally influenced by this conjunction, witnessed a rich outpouring of brilliant artists and craftspeople who reached their primes in those first decades. We'll consider a few examples ahead: to narrow the scope of this study to something manageable, we'll focus, with some exceptions, on how this conjunction impacted U.S. culture and society, overlaying one chart with the other.  

First, however, some general observations to lay a little groundwork. History confirms that Neptune and Pluto, conjunct in the 1st house of global identity (so pertaining to humanity-writ-large), as we see them here—were definitely setting the stage for a showdown. What followed throughout the 20th century has often resembled a wrestling match with humanity’s repressed Shadow, with a catharsis here and there. While not necessarily negative, extreme Neptune rising can suggest a deluge, or inundation—literal at times, as in flooding and tsunamis, but in Gemini, the “floods” were more likely to be of information, media communications, technology and dualistic phenomena. We've already noted the outpouring of creative brilliance—Neptune and Pluto had something to do with that, as well.  

Neptune also excels at “inundating” people (often en masse) with addiction, codependency and victim consciousness; in its extreme expressions (often facilitated by planets like Mars) it’s capable of unleashing hysteria and mob behavior—overwhelming phenomena that can be all the more pernicious in Gemini because we can rationalize our way into or out of these traps. In fact, humanity has continually expressed both the light and dark sides of rational thinking under this Gemini background influence—doubtlessly magnified since Rene Descartes spoke the ultimate dualistic, Gemini mantra during the 1398 cycle: “I think, therefore I am.” These five simple words have continued to rattle around in our collective mind like Yahtzee dice ever since.  

The Pluto in Gemini mind is intensely curious and inventive, but can tend towards cool, technical detachment, cynicism, “No Exit” thinking and morbid absurdity—the nether limits of rational thinking. Early 20th century movements, such as Existentialism, Nihilism and Dadaism reflected this darker mentality—inflected with bleak humor and the unconscious impulses that Sigmund Freud was so busy dissecting during that time.  

Perhaps you've read Kafka's Metamorphosis?
Angst and paranoia grew like parasites on the sensitive Cancer mass consciousness (Chart 2 Moon at 8°+Cancer) of this era. As one observer puts it, “The First World War, at once, fused the harshly mechanical geometric rationality of technology [Gemini] with the nightmare [Pluto] and irrationality of myth [Neptune].” In literature, Franz Kafka (Pluto at 0°+Gemini, conjunct Chiron and Saturn)5 portrayed life as a tortured no-win situation—a “trial” where guilt is assured because the tools for proving one’s innocence are missing, at best.  

The Surrealist movement in Europe and the U.S. also reflected this collusion of Neptune and Pluto, with its images (in various visual mediums) torn from dreams (Neptune) and the Freudian unconscious (Pluto). British Idealist (Neptune!) philosopher F.H. Bradley ushered in the new cycle with a seminal volume in 1893, entitled “Appearance & Reality.”6 This dichotomy was nothing new, however—political strategist Niccolo Machiavelli appreciated the leverage it provided in the 1500s, under the 1398 Neptune-Pluto Gemini cycle.  

In the current cycle, Bradley proposed a relativistic, even duplicitous (Gemini) view of perceived reality—in a nutshell, things are not always what they seem to the senses to be. Relativism always allows for a flip side, however, and Bradley's view was no exception. Though perception remained a major philosophical issue, mass consciousness was gradually overtaken by a Neptunian loss of boundaries between perception and reality—manipulated (Pluto) to achieve various aims. This cycle normalized thinking about people as "the masses" (a relatively new term in wide use at that time), and it promoted the systematic and propagandistic notion that “perception is reality.”  

In fact, "perception is reality" could be considered the mantra of the 20th century’s mass media pioneers. Perhaps the best known was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward L. Bernays, the “father” of modern-day public relations. Among his hundreds of projects designed to engineer public opinion, Bernays helped popularize bacon for breakfast, smoking as “women’s liberation,” and—for Woodward Wilson’s “Committee on Public Information”— WWI, as a grand effort to “Make the World Safe for Democracy.” Variations of this outworn phrase—and the geopolitical entanglements it masks (often related to resource acquisition)—are still used today.7   


Biwheel 1. Inner Wheel: Natal, U.S. (Sibly) chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA. Source: Nicholas Campion, Book of World Horoscopes (BWH), Bristol, UK: Cinnabar Books, 1996, Chart 370. Outer Wheel: Chart 2, above. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software. 

Neptune and Pluto always seem to evoke tension between Utopian aspirations and Dystopian despair—in Gemini this dualism is enhanced. “Ta Ra Ra Boom-de-Ay,” a phrase coined by a British music hall singer in 1892, perhaps best describes the short period of exuberance and prosperity that followed the Civil War. People had a brief glimpse of Utopia—especially in Britain, where Gilbert & Sullivan released in 1893 a very tongue-in-cheek rendition of it, with their musical play, Utopia, Limited.8  

Meanwhile, on the other side of the “pond,” the U.S. economy ground to a depressed halt that same year, and Dystopia quickly set in. A look at Biwheel 1 above for Neptune-Pluto (hereafter “the 1891 chart”) and the U.S. Sibly chart lends great insight into this period, which economist Benjamin Friedman described as a “Meltdown.”  

The labor upheavals of that period are certainly suggested by the conjunction of the 1891 Neptune-Pluto and Ascendant with the Sibly 6th house Uranus in Gemini. The 1891 cycle launched during the Populist era in the U.S. (roughly 1880-1896), which championed labor concerns and called attention to growing wealth inequality (sound familiar?) This is reflected in the 1891 Cancer Venus (26°+), opposing the Sibly 2nd house Capricorn Pluto (27°+). Friedman reports, in fact, on a chain of events set off by a “severe banking panic…widely known at the time as the Great Depression. By the end of 1893, 500 banks and 15,000 other businesses, including several major railroads, were bankrupt.”9 Ordinary workers would have been impacted even more severely.  

The Industrial Workers of the World union was founded in 1905.
The 1891 Libra Uranus (27°+) formed the third leg of a t-square with the 1891 Venus-Sibly Pluto opposition; from the 11th house and disposed by that Venus, it primed the government to support corporate interests and respond harshly to any labor unrest; notice this Venus also quincunxes Sibly Moon (Aquarius) while 1891 Uranus trines the same point, suggesting that the standard of living of the "masses" did ultimately benefit from the shocking events of the time—opening the door (violently) for the development of a middle class. Several major labor organizations were founded during this time in Europe and America; the most idealistic among them worked for more than just “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work”—they wanted to abolish the wage system entirely.10   

The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 was a federal measure designed to limit monopolies and increasingly outrageous corporate practices. Ironically, it was chiefly used to block strikes, as labor unions were treated as “conspiracies to prevent trade,” outlawed by the Act.11 This was reflected by the 1891 Moon (8°+Cancer), swallowed up in the Sibly chart’s powerful Venus-Jupiter-Sun stellium in Cancer (3-13°+) and square Sibly Saturn (14°+Libra). Frustration gave way to labor strikes, general unrest and violent episodes like the bloody confrontation with Pinkerton forces at Andrew Carnegie’s Pennsylvania steel plant, as the new Gemini cycle began. Unemployment fueled the dark side of Populism—nationalism, hatred of immigrants and anti-Semitism. It also undermined post-Civil War race relations for many years to come.  

A lot of unrest centered on the railroads, and we’ve already seen how critical they were becoming. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland called in the Army to protect Pullman Sleeping Car Co. from striking workers, and seventeen separate industrial “armies” of the unemployed marched on Washington, D.C. Industrialist George Pullman’s “Pullman City”—designed to solve the “problem” of labor unionism by providing controlled living conditions for workers—was a Utopia/Dystopia experiment gone bad. Friedman concludes that the social consequences of economic stagnation were so serious at that time they put democracy itself at risk.12 We’ve seen how this works more than once since then.  

 In the midst of this tumultuous period, the city of Chicago, still rebuilding from the massive fire that destroyed much of it in 187113 (Uranus, Neptune and Mars in fire were the “lantern” kicked over by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow), hosted the Columbian Exposition, a World’s Fair commemorating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyages. It was dedicated on October 21, 1892, with Neptune and Pluto less than 2 degrees apart, trine Saturn and biquintile Uranus in Scorpio: Chicago was coming of age on the world scene, showcasing all the high-tech marvels of the time, including the first-ever giant Ferris wheel.  

The Exposition also showcased the deep class divisions of the time, with its Utopian “White City”—touted as the “ideal” architectural plan for a refined city—and the “Midway,” the lower-class “sideshow” where the masses flocked, Depression or not, to be “thrilled and amused.” Among many others, “escape artist” (Neptune!) Harry Houdini entertained on the Midway. A farmer reportedly told his wife, leaving the fair, that “it paid, even if it did take all the burial money.”14 

Cole Porter (1891-1964)-an extraodinarily brilliant Broadway composer.
Unconventional gender expressions and sexuality were countered against traditional ideas; composer Cole Porter was born on June 9, 1891, less than 2 months before the exact Neptune-Pluto conjunction. Along with George Gershwin and others, his music and lifestyle came to exemplify the wild times of the Roaring Twenties. With a lot of input from Uranus, this Neptune-Pluto summit promoted wild movements of other kinds, as well, pitting traditional, monarchical governments against revolutionary, visionary, and often nationalist experiments.  

Primal tension between “labor” and “management,” and between the “masses” and the “State” was an international phenomenon. It produced local unrest, as noted, and fueled two Russian Bolshevik revolutions abroad (the first one in 1905). In general, the Left/Right ideological divide we experience yet today in politics and governments took firm root at this time. Nicolai Lenin, born in 1870 and considered the father of Soviet-style Communism,  quickly leveraged his natal Uranus-Neptune square (Cancer-Aries) into political power once Neptune and Pluto converged in Gemini. 

As noted earlier, Adolph Hitler, the father of Nazi Fascism, was born in 1889, with the Neptune-Pluto conjunction already in orb. Given his regime’s darkly Plutonian will-to-power, and its horrendous use of technology to that end, it is not surprising to find it placed in the 8th house of his chart.15 Fascism also constituted an extreme manifestation of nationalism—a Neptunian “merging” of the masses with an overly glorified and sentimentalized State, a “big idea” that seems to surface when people are looking for “salvation” from hard times. 

When manipulated by power players, Gemini’s dualism often assures that the Left and the Right check each other’s efforts and together, subvert any meaningful progress; the two-party system in U.S. politics mirrors this dilemma. This Left/Right divide has, on the other hand, fueled the engines of war (both hot and cold) for over a century now, leveraged handily by corporate interests—the one "ideology" that seems to transcend both poles. Gemini’s sleight-of-hand energy has allowed such interests to play both sides in Congress against each other to a number of purposes. The 1891 Neptune-Pluto conjunction trines the Sibly chart’s 10th house Libra Saturn (14°+Libra).  



Chart 3. Natal, J. Edgar Hoover, January 1, 1895, 7:30 a.m. ST, Washington, D.C. Rodden: XX, date in question. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software. 

Another influential 20th century figure born around the 1891 cycle launch was J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director who came to exemplify the darkest days of McCarthyism. He employed “Red-baiting” and the left/right dynamics of the Cold War to pit national security concerns against the civil rights of citizens, thus building his agency’s (and his own) power. He was born in 1895 (Chart 3 above) with Neptune-Pluto conjunct and Jupiter just entering security-oriented Cancer. His Saturn-Mars opposition (5°+Scorpio-0°+Taurus) perhaps accounted for his ruthless streak.  

George Orwell16, author of Animal Farm and 1984, both indictments of what he considered the global trend toward totalitarianism in the 1930s-40s, was born in 1903. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond spy thrillers (surely emblematic of the Cold War era), was born in 1908; both writers were born while the 1891 Gemini cycle was still in its new phase. Orwell’s dark imagination was undoubtedly fueled by his Mercury-Pluto conjunct in Gemini, and his Sun-Neptune conjunct in early Cancer.  

The "Bond" franchise has spanned generations.
Amazingly, Fleming17 had a 5-planet stellium in Cancer (including Neptune), opposed by Uranus in Capricorn. His lucrative (Capricorn) media career was built on the “Commie scare.” In real life, Cold War intelligence and counter-intelligence were flip sides of the espionage “coin:” Neptune and Pluto subversion and paranoia in tension overdrive, playing a dangerous game with MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction).  

All of this was made possible, of course, by scientist Enrico Fermi’s dubious accomplishment of splitting (Gemini!) the atom in 1942.18 Fermi was born in 1901, while Pluto was still in Gemini. And certainly related to all this, technology-based communications media also took off in a big way with the 1891 cycle. A period of intense invention during the 1854-1891 balsamic phase of the 1398 Neptune-Pluto cycle laid the groundwork.  

From 1876-1890, the first telephone, phonograph, microphone, photographic film and paper, and the first Kodak “box” camera were invented. Radio waves were identified as being related to light waves and amazingly, in exactly 1891, wireless telegraphy began. The culmination of this inventiveness came in 1894 with the invention of the Cinemátographe —the first moving picture camera/projector, by French brothers August and Louis Lumiere. The Cinemátographe improved upon Edison’s earlier Kinetoscope by freeing the image from the box.  


Chart 4. Natal, Alfred Hitchcock, August 13, 1899, 3:15 a.m. ST, Boxmoor (Leytonstone), England. Rodden: DD, birth time unconfirmed. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software. 

The Lumiere brothers’ first 50- second film, recording workers leaving their family’s factory on March 19, 1895, is often considered the “birth” of the motion picture medium. Neptune and Pluto were still conjunct—Hollywood, with its “Dream Factory” and power-playing moguls, was their star prodigy not long after. Director Alfred Hitchcock, born in 1899, had Neptune-Pluto widely conjunct in his 11th house of audiences (Chart 4, above). He used his Jupiter-Moon conjunction in Scorpio to spin terrifying, yet cerebral, (disposed by Pluto in Gemini) Freudian thrillers. “Mother” (Moon) loomed large (Jupiter).  

"Mother" turns killer in Hitchcock thriller, Psycho.
Media and the arts have always been key to this cycle’s acceleration of global culture. True to Neptune’s form, international artistic boundaries were increasingly dissolved, as technology developed to make travel and communications easier. Western theater (including the American cinema) was immensely influenced, for instance, by the school of Method Acting taught by the famous Soviet director, Konstantin Stanislavski, who founded his first theater school in 1889, and the famous Moscow Art Theatre in 1898. Again, the analytical force of Gemini was evident: Stanislavski taught actors to break down their character’s motivations and bring their own experiences and emotions to their roles.  

By 1900, technological advances made the mass-reproduction of art works a possibility. Some, like notable social theorist, Walter Benjamin, felt this development fundamentally redefined the nature and function of art. He argued that the authenticity— the “aura”—of an original art object was made irrelevant when everything is infinitely reproducible. Neptune in Gemini planted his trickster seeds for many philosophical debates to come here: did it matter any longer which was “real” and which was “Memorex?” Publishing his seminal essay on these thoughts in 1936, as the world edged close to World War II, Benjamin was undoubtedly aware that this dilemma had been explored to chilling effect in 1932 when Aldous Huxley portrayed the human being as an infinitely reproducible assembly-line product in his Brave New World 

Scientific, rational conformity was the key to this Gemini Neptune-Pluto Utopia/Dystopia. Benjamin claimed that mechanical reproduction would result in the  “liquidation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage”—an apt keyword phrase for Neptune (liquid) and Pluto (death) in Gemini (mechanical duplication)--we can only imagine what he would say about our digital world! 

The "double" took on dark turn with Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.
In fact, the “double”—certainly a Gemini notion—became a well-worn motif in 20th century literature and the arts. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, released in 1886, resonated with the work of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and others, on the “doppelganger” as a “shadow” figure—the dark Plutonian, unconscious “twin” we all carry around within us. This dilemma plays on today in popular culture, in more recent films like Face/Off, Raising Cain and Terminator 2. There are always new “inner demons” to conquer in Hollywood, as in life.  

Neptune and Pluto provided other important considerations for modern psychology and ultimately, for modern astrology. Pluto in Gemini influenced Freud’s analytical approach to dreams and the mind, as a structure with many interacting “parts” (ego, superego, id), subject ultimately to deep instinctual drives. Likewise, Neptune in Gemini supported Carl Jung’s archetypal, or universal, symbol-based view of the human psyche, and what he termed humanity’s “collective unconscious.” Astrological theories have evolved around both views.  

After being defined as a discipline by Henry Carey in 1858,18 the social sciences developed hand-in-hand with psychology as the new Gemini cycle took off. It was given new impetus as Pluto entered Cancer in 1912—a key moment in the evolution of 20th century “mass consciousness.” Neptune was also in Cancer at the time, blurring the fine line between patriotism and nationalism, as tends to happen when Neptune transits water signs. Before the new phase of the Gemini cycle was over, scientific methods, such as experimentation and statistical analysis were being applied to the study of these masses. 

In its clinical, Gemini-style rationality, this development foreshadowed Huxley’s Brave New World, the development of our pervasive media culture, and even darker Neptune-Pluto developments to come.  

On a lighter note, in 1889 (the new Gemini cycle was already in orb) Social Work pioneer Jane Addams (Chart 5, below) co-founded what came to be the world-famous social settlement house, Hull House, in a poor immigrant neighborhood of Chicago. From that base, she and her associates launched a long list of humanitarian “firsts:” the Little Theater in America, the Immigrants’ Protective League, the Juvenile Protective Association (first U.S. juvenile court), and the Institute for Juvenile Research. 


Chart 5. Natal, Jane Addams, September 6, 1860, 3:39 a.m. LMT, Cedarville, Illinois. Rodden: C. Original source unknown. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software. 

Through her efforts, in 1903 Illinois lawmakers passed a serious child labor law and compulsory education law. She helped found the NAACP in 1909, supported international women’s suffrage and was the first woman president of the National Conference of Social Work. She was the first president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919. For her advocacy of internationalism and the peace movement during WWI, in 1931 she was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.20 Clearly, Addams made good use of her compassionate Pisces Neptune (28°+) and service-oriented natal Sun (13°+Virgo), square pioneering Uranus (11°+Gemini).  

Future-oriented Uranus was clearing a path for the upcoming Neptune-Pluto conjunction degree at 8°+Gemini, and amazingly, in 1889, when Addams opened Hull House in 1889 to serve recently arrived immigrants, her progressed Sun (12°+Libra) trined her progressed Moon-Uranus conjunction (9-11°+Gemini). This Moon was less than one degree from Neptune and Pluto’s planned “meeting place” for 1891! She ushered in the pioneering activism of the cycle; her possible fixed Pluto-MC conjunction (9-12°+Taurus), square Jupiter rising (14°+Leo) certainly fit the legacy she built of social transformation.  

Final thoughts 

Gemini tendencies prevailed in Western culture prior to 1891, of course— firmly planted there during the 1398 Neptune-Pluto cycle when 1600s French philosopher/mathematician Rene Descartes separated mind from matter (body), basically enshrining Cartesian dualism as a seminal idea in Western culture. This “split” has driven the development of modern science and technology, the entire Modernist movement in the arts and humanities, not to mention the corporate-friendly, exploitative attitude towards the Earth that informs so much of western life. No wonder we find addressing climate change and biodiversity collapse so daunting.  

Nothing we’ve examined in the history above will solve our current issues, obviously, but it might help us understand where some of the deep resistance to available solutions is coming from. One piece of good news is, Biden is making offshore sites all around the nation available to wind-farm energy producers; the other good news is, there are thousands and thousands of good people across the globe trying to create something better and more sustainable for all of us. I hope they start getting the support they need.  

In the end, the Cosmos is a mirror on the reality we create for ourselves, and that puts us in the driver’s seat. 

Be safe, be well! 



1 Dane Rudhyar, The Galactic Dimension of Astrology: the Sun is also a Star, Aurora Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1982, p. 50.  

2 Bernard Grun, The Timetables of History, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1946, p. 8 

3Norman Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith, Yale University Press, 1993, pp. 77-104.  

4 Birth data: March 19, 1906, 7:30 p.m., ST, Sollingen, Germany. Rated: AA. Source: Kepler 8.0. 

5 Birth data: July 3, 1883, 7:00 a.m., Prague, Czechoslovakia (birth time unconfirmed). Source: Kepler 8.0.

6 “Frances Herbert Bradley,” 

7 “Edward Bernays,”, 10/14/2021. 

8 "Utopia, Limited,”,,_Limited. 10/14/2021. 

9 Benjamin Friedman, “Meltdown: A Case Study,” The Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2005, pp. 66-68. 

10 Industrial Workers of the World, IWW Songs of the Workers, 34th edition (Chicago, 1973), preamble. 

11 1896: Trusts and Anti-Trusts, “Trusts and Monopolies,” 

12 Friedman, p. 66. 

13 The fire broke out in the evening of October 8, 1871: Uranus and the Moon were in Leo, Neptune was in Aries and Mars was in Sagittarius.  

14 PBS American Experience, “People & Events: World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893: The Midway,” 

15 Birth data: April 20, 1889, 6:30 p.m., Branau am Inn, Austria. Source: Kepler 8.0. 

16 Birth data: June 25, 1903, 6:00 a.m., Motihari, India. Birth time unconfirmed. Source: Kepler 8.0. 

17 Birth data: May 28, 1908, noon, London, England. Birth time unknown. Source: Kepler 8.0. 

18 ”Enrico Fermi,”, 10/2/2021. 

19 Grun, p. 422. 

20Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at the University of Chicago, “A Biographic Sketch of Jane Addams,” 10/14/2021. 



Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, U.S. history, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. She’s published articles on these topics in several key astrology journals over the years, including most recently, the TMA blog. For information about individual chart readings, contact:
© Raye Robertson 2021. All rights reserved.