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.