Monday, November 21, 2016

The Uranus-Neptune cycle & a “Post-Truth” world

Collective energies such as
Uranus and Neptune remind us of Humanity’s primal
connection to, and need for the Cosmos. 

Indeed, to “get” Uranus and Neptune—called by Dane Rudhyar the “twin poles between which all existential wholes oscillate, each alternatively waxing and waning in strength.”[1]—is to begin building our lives around the Cosmos, to consciously play with the dynamics of the Collective (Neptune) and the Individual (Uranus), of Yin and Yang, of Spirit and Matter.

Not surprisingly, the natural cycle of this pair is related to life on a grand level—the “unfoldment of civilizations,” according to Baigent, Campion and Harvey. The current transiting cycle between these two began in February 1993 at 19+Capricorn (see outer wheel, Biwheel #1) and is said by these authors to portend “the foundations for the emergence of a major new model for world socio-economic development.”[2] An in-depth interpretation is beyond the scope of this article, but a brief glance at a biwheel of this chart and the U.S. Sibly chart (Biwheel #1 below) reinforces what we’ve been living these past 23+ years—that conservative-leaning economic globalization has been the new “model” unfolding:

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) U.S. Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT., Philadelphia, PA; (outer wheel) Uranus-Neptune cycle, February 2, 1993, 12:46:43 p.m. ST, Washington, DC.

1993 Jupiter conjuncts (within 8’) the USA Saturn, exalted in the 10th, expanding the reach of US influence and power by downplaying regulation and sound economic structures (Saturn) for the sake of growth (Jupiter).

1993 Sun (Aquarius) inconjoins Sibly Sun (Cancer), linking the 3rd house of the media—importantly social media—with the Sibly 8th house (our propensity to go outside of our own boundaries for resources).

Interchart T-Square: 1993 North Node (Sagittarius) opposes Sibly Mars; this axis squares Sibly Neptune at the Sibly MC. This stressful mutable configuration indicates a “date with destiny” that continues to challenge the illusions (Neptune) we have about ourselves. If Election 2016 taught us anything, it’s that there’s deep nostalgia afloat for the so-called “American Dream” (Neptune).

Instead of a return to the “Dream,” however, since 1993 we’ve seen a series of military adventures (Mars) that have done little to support the American gut feeling that we are somehow “exceptional”—that we’re the ideological “shining City upon a Hill,” for better or worse—(1993 Jupiter was also square 1993 Neptune).

This void evokes an emotional longing that can easily be leveraged by political agendas—we saw it in 2008, with Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” theme (Election Jupiter conjunct 1993 Uranus-Neptune), and in Election 2016, with Pluto conjunct 1993 Uranus-Neptune. Obama’s “audacity of hope” (Jupiter) has morphed into a darker focus on power-over (Pluto). If we can’t “Make America Great Again” by being diplomatic, generous and conciliatory, we’ll try “winning by any means.” 

Clearly, the 1993 Node-Sibly Mars-Neptune t-square also foreshadowed the rise of the “Post-Truth” world we’ve been hearing so much about since at least 2005, the year Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness”—“The quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts.” The will to alter or distort the facts on the ground to achieve an aim makes perfect sense with this mutable Mars-Neptune aspect.

Importantly, this t-square merely previewed the distortions to come as Uranus and Neptune moved into mutual reception (inhabiting each others’ signs of rulership) in 2003. This happened with Uranus’s ingress into Pisces in March, 2003—just in time for the deceptions that led us into the Iraq War.

This Pisces ingress chart is very interesting: among other historical issues, it helps us put the current election into a broader context as well.

Chart #1: Uranus MR Neptune 2003 (Uranus Pisces ingress), March 10, 2003, 4:15:52 p.m. ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Neptune rules: Leo ASC disposed by Sun in Pisces and the T-square it forms with Moon-Saturn (Gemini) opposite Pluto (Sagittarius). Neptune is certainly the “King-maker” here—it accounts for the world’s infatuation with Britain’s growing royal family, but also (more troublingly), the rise and fall of strong-man dictators and terrorism since this time (see this link for a sobering list that fits this time period). Time will tell, but it’s perhaps a chilling note that this ASC is closely conjoined by Trump’s powerful Mars (chart not shown).

Jupiter (Leo) opposes Neptune-Venus (Aquarius); Uranus in Pisces disposes Neptune; Jupiter disposes Pluto in Sagittarius. Unfortunately, this aspect does nothing to dial back the “strong-man” agenda pushed by this chart, which is even further empowered by disposing planet Uranus in the 7th house of enemies. The period from 2003 to the present has been marked by repeated military involvement in the Middle East. This period coincided with the radical (Aquarius) privatizing of the U.S. military, as well, meaning billions upon billions of dollars (Venus) have found their way into corporate hands in the process, making war an even more blatant “bottom line” affair. Jupiter promotes territorial expansion, and opposite Neptune, ideological purposes enable that quest.

Curiously, Obama put the brakes on military interventions with his controversial refusal to put “boots on the ground” in Syria, but Trump how shown signs of reversing that position, along with the Iran nuclear pact. Already, Putin is putting out signals that he will be asking the Trump administration for “help bombing Syria.” Suffice to say here, some prominent foreign policy experts see any Trump moves to use ISIS as an excuse for cooperating with Russia in Syria as being very dangerous. We’ll certainly be seeing more about this after January, if not before.

Throughout this post-2003 period, Russia, led by strongman Vladimir Putin (natal Libra Saturn-Neptune conjunction, sextile Leo Pluto and square Cancer Uranus—see my October 2, 2015 post here) has been patiently reinstating itself as a military superpower by acquiring territories (i.e., Crimea) and threatening to do the same in the Baltic nations. In fact, Putin’s rise to power closely correlates with the entire 1993 Uranus-Neptune cycle to this point—see the above-referenced article for more detail.

As for Putin’s tactics, disinformation and Internet hacking (both highly Neptunian—well-suited to a former head of the KGB) often open the doors, but heavy-handed military intervention seems to follow close behind. It’s hard to say what Russia’s relationship is with Wikileaks, but both entities specialize in Neptunian techniques, and they often appear to work in tandem. “Truthiness” has been an international affair.

It’s official: this is a Post-Truth era

So Colbert’s “truthiness” has now taken hold as “Post-Truth”, the Oxford Dictionaries 2016 Word of the Year and an apt description of our entire post-1993 era.  Oxford based its decision on the almost viral use of this term during the UK Brexit referendum and the U.S. Election 2016, but as we’ve seen, a “post-truth” reality been sneaking up on us for years already. Post-Truth is defined by Oxford as:

“relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

The Washington Post clarifies, with a bit of sarcasm (which seems pretty fitting):

“In this case, the ‘post-‘ prefix doesn't mean ‘after’ so much as it implies an atmosphere in which a notion is irrelevant — but then again, who says you have to take our word for it anymore?

Throughout a grueling presidential campaign in which accusations of lies and alternate realities flowed freely, in every direction, hundreds of fact checks were published about statements from both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Dozens of media outlets found that Trump's relationship with the truth was, well, complicated.
“We concede all politicians lie,” conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote in September. “Nevertheless, Donald Trump is in a class by himself.”

If Election 2016 was a “Post-Truth” phenomenon, it is in large part due to the rise of social media since the Uranus-Neptune mutual reception took hold. Facebook was an early manifestation (founded in 2004); fast-forward to 2016 and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had to admit that his creation influenced the election with an epidemic of unrestrained “fake news.” Trump benefited greatly from the fakery, and he ran the first campaign to use social media outlet Twitter (founded in 2006) to similar disturbing effect. According to NPR, he’s not about to give it up:

An unprecedented feature of Donald Trump's successful campaign for president was his personal use of Twitter and it has continued as Trump meets with advisers and potential members of his cabinet. If this continues into Trump's presidency, the method will be new, but the approach will be in line with a long tradition of presidents going around the so-called filter of the press.

Of course, the “filter” the mainstream press applies to news events involves fact checking—the Saturnian mandate of this First Amendment-based institution, an important player in any democracy’s “checks and balances” on government power. When used honestly, social media can play an important role in that balance of power, without distorting the facts—it certainly enables citizens to organize around a cause, wherever they are.

However, when social media is allowed to become a vehicle for lies, fear-mongering and hateful divisiveness, the purveyors cross lines that produce real damage. The job of fact-checkers was exceedingly difficult—and important—throughout the election, and remains so. No, Trump, you can’t take credit for saving Ford Motor Co. jobs in Kentucky when they were never actually threatened. Hopefully, when CEO Bill Ford Jr. called the president-elect again to say as much, he mentioned the reality that Barack Obama’s 2009 intervention actually did save jobs (thousands of them).

There’s been no statement acknowledging the mistake from Trump, but now, in his latest Tweetstorm, he wants the cast of Hamilton to apologize for exercising their First Amendment rights with VP-elect Mike Pence. How many far-more-destructive pronouncements on Twitter has Trump apologized for?

Conflicts of interest

In another “Post-Truth” manifestation, Trump quickly reversed campaign promises that there would be no conflicts of interest between his businesses and the presidency; no need to rehash the story here, but let’s just say that Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe might as well have been meeting with Trump, Inc. when he met with Trump, daughter Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Saturn has been square a powerful Pisces Neptune pretty much throughout the election; with Saturn a bit debilitated in Sagittarius, it’s no wonder that the erosion of borders (including the border between truth and fiction) has been a constant concern. Neptune washes away structured, rules- and data-based logic (Saturn) with emotion, ideological (often religion-based) sentiment and sensory perception. If a conflict of interest “feels right,” it must “be right?”

Colbert captured this distinction beautifully in 2005 when he framed “truthiness” as a battle between brain-based “facts” and gut-based “truth,” saying ”…anyone can read the news to you; I promise to feel the news at you.”

When contradictions arise between fact-based reporting and those who make it up as they go along, Neptune has a long list of tactics for batting them away: denial, dismissal, doublespeak, euphemisms, distortion, ambiguity, conspiracy thinking, and the very twisted phenomenon of gaslighting. Needless to say, Pluto contributes to the last two tactics, which can be psychologically very abusive, unhinging their victims from a confident sense of self and their connection to the world.

Saying one thing and doing another—hypocrisy—fits here as well, as do many other passive aggressive techniques (Mars-Neptune).

Sorry, Potter…

While the hope of “dreaming” our desires into reality has an important place in human psychology (the positive side of Neptune), unless accompanied by the required effort (Saturn), imagining something does not make it physically so. Harry Potter may be a whiz with his magic wand, but we Muggles are more earthbound. It’s true that the Saturn-Neptune cycle gives us opportunities to “manifest the dream,” but the manifestation part of it takes Saturnian effort on someone’s part.

Children celebrating Christmas wake up to find gifts have “magically appeared” under the holiday tree, but parents (Saturn) know that there was nothing magical about it.

Another Neptunian pitfall takes over when we consider lies and illusions simply the flip-side of truths in some alternate reality (or website), or we begin accepting that objective and subjective realities are somehow reversible. Lying about another person out of self-interested mean-spiritedness is slander; that and defaming a person’s reputation for one’s own personal gain fall under our libel laws: it sure seems that Neptune has undermined our Saturnian laws in this regard.

Trump, in fact, claimed during the campaign that he would like to see stronger libel laws applied to the press. Only, he’s gone to the “flip-side:” his ire is always raised when the press questions his version of reality and insists upon fact-checking! Access to the facts, fact-checking and challenging the Trump administration to answer questions completely and factually will be serious ongoing issues. Neptune will erode our First Amendment if we don't stay focused and attentive. Expect distractions!

The so-called epidemic of “Fake News” this past election—which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally seems to be taking seriously, now that the election is over—violated all this and more by twisting our perceptions and undermining our ability to sort fact from fiction. This violates the intent of the First Amendment, as well, which doesn’t (and shouldn’t) protect slander and libel.

These deliberate distortions are the pathological tools that eventually destroy organisms of all types, even societies: just as the inability to differentiate between helpful and threatening bacteria disables biological immune systems, a similar threat to incoming information weakens a society; in both cases, defensive systems breakdown. These are all Neptunian processes, empowered greatly by the ongoing Uranus-Neptune cycle.

Since the current Saturn-Neptune square first formed in November 2015, the Neptunian Internet has steadily undermined mainstream media’s efforts at journalistic integrity (Saturn), with millions of people now claiming they get their news from social media. As a highly useful technology, the Internet is ruled by Uranus, but it’s proven to be quite susceptible to Neptune’s viral momentum and at times, almost “lynch mob” mentality.

What passes for news is another story, however, but all is not lost: despite Neptune’s tendency to blur and erode the boundaries between them, there are bright lines between truth and fiction that social planet Saturn goes to great pains to protect.

This protection is a matter of survival for societies—especially democratic ones in which the people hold their leaders to a constitutional standard. Earthy Saturn is far more focused on the wellbeing of societies than other-worldly Neptune is. Neptune is the deluge/epidemic/invasive species that swallows and dissolves everything in its path, if there are no Saturnian structures and limits to contain it.

As co-ruler of Aquarius, Saturn sees eye-to-eye with Uranus in many areas, so Saturn’s role in navigating the current Uranus-Neptune cycle—especially in reining in the most damaging manifestations of that duo’s mutual reception—is key.

The threat of dissolution could be real

We’re seeing very troubling instances of an out-of-balance Neptune today: a political administration that denies the reality of climate change (despite copious evidence) and dismisses it as a “Chinese conspiracy” can mean literal death and destruction. Dissolving our connection to scientific fact is like succumbing to a collective dementia, the invasive undermining of a society’s “neural networks.” At stake are the society’s ability to reason and to distinguish between internal (wishful, escapist or simply self-interested thinking), and external reality (measured by scientists from hundreds of fields).

Once this undermining process takes hold, it feeds upon itself (the same dynamic that also gives Neptune rulership over epidemics) and results could be devastating.

Cosmic dance partners

We’ve seen how the 2003-10 Uranus-Neptune mutual reception complicated and intensified Neptune’s tendency toward mind-bending irrationality, but what do we make of Pisces and Aquarius (naturally semi-sextile, a tense aspect, akin to the inconjunct) providing the “twin poles” of that Individual/Collective duality represented in all this?  As we’ve seen above, such frustrating energies are at the heart of this cycle of history for the U.S. (if not the globe), and they will undoubtedly continue to fuel “interesting” times ahead.

When the sparks fly between the Great Awakener (Uranus) and the Great Unifier, (Neptune), what Rudhyar calls “We consciousness” is born. If Aquarius co-ruler Saturn and Pisces co-ruler Jupiter (the social planets) are channeled productively in a given situation, the interplay between the Individual and Collective levels can ultimately benefit societies. Making sure that happens is another, challenging story.  

In their dynamic “dance,” Uranus and Neptune showcase both their glowing, hopeful qualities, and their darker potentials as well; through history, they have inspired periods of soaring artistic expression such as the Renaissance in Europe, and the most pernicious wars and authoritarian regimes (many examples). Together, they traffic in sudden, broad civilization-level change that seems to come out of nowhere until, with the benefit of hindsight, we see that the signs of that change were there for decades.

That quiet, elusive change in societies and civilizations is similar to a fetus developing in the Neptunian waters of the womb, where it gestates unseen (before the onset of ultrasound) for months on end. Collective entities experience repeated periods of development that go largely unnoticed until Uranus shakes things up with some major change.

Neptune’s role in such change is always to quietly prepare the ground over a long period of time, level the structures that might successfully resist that change, render key differences that separate us (or that we feel identify us) irrelevant, and relieve us of our illusions—of grandeur, entitlement, “exceptionalism,” and of immortality. Entities such as civilizations and societies evolve along the same natural life cycles we individuals do, and yes, they have the same “feet of clay.”

When civilizations erode beyond recognition, there is inevitably a death/transformation crisis and a rebirth around a new set of collective values and ideas that new inhabitants choose to embody. People drive these rebirths by channeling the energies of social planets Jupiter and Saturn into rebuilding social institutions and guiding principles. The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) provide the developmental matrix, but the social planets drive what kind of society will evolve within that matrix. Decisions of this magnitude are being made in our name as we speak--as they say, we need to "stay woke" and be prepared to respond. 

Final thoughts

So, we’ve seen that dramatic change can sneak up on us: Neptune has a way of smothering Uranus’s drive for radical change, but when the ground is ready, bam! The nature of the radical change we’ve seen this year, however, also reflects how we've deployed the energies of Jupiter and Saturn since 1993. We're still the very early days of Uranus-Neptune’s 172-year cycle, so it's a good time to remember that what we put into this cosmic system is what we get out!

Jupiter and Saturn enter Capricorn in the next couple years, joining transiting Pluto (Capricorn) on its final return into its Sibly position in 2022. Transiting Neptune (Pisces) will oppose Sibly Neptune (Virgo) at that same time and will be within orb for about a year after. These will be consequential times for American society on many levels (see Oct. 10th, 13th and 16th posts here for more), and the choices we make between now and then will tell the story. Stay tuned!

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: 

© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved. 

[1] Rudhyar, Dane, The Galactic Dimension of Astrology, Aurora Press, NY, NY, 1975, page 46.

[2] Charles Baigent, Nicolas Campion, Charles Harvey, Mundane Astrology: An Introduction to the Astrology of Nations and Groups, Thorsons, London, 1984, page 178.

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