Astrology offers a macro-view of the energies effecting humanity, both in the present and in the past. In the UpToUs series, I’ve explored several times the similarities and differences between today’s activism and that of the 1960s (the main piece in which I offered my thoughts is here, and you can also view the many astute reader comments on the subject here.) In this final article, we’ll take a look at the astrology of these two periods, which gives a new kind of insight into what may be going on, and of the work yet to be done. There are countless interrelated planetary influences, of course, so to keep things simple I’ve chosen to focus on two wide-reaching ones which seem relevant to the topic of these articles: the Uranus/Pluto square, which I will compare to the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of the 1960s; and the United States’ Pluto return.
This year’s Democratic National Convention, with its masses of protesters angry at a “rigged system” and “the death of democracy,” came on the heels of the square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn, which was in play most intensely between 2012-2015. The timing parallels the infamous Chicago DNC of 1968, remembered for its anti-war protests and police violence, which occurred shortly after the Uranus/Pluto conjunction in Virgo from 1965-1966. 1968 was also the year that Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated; the aftershocks of the current Uranus/Pluto aspect seem to be in the form of the comparably anonymous deaths of African-Americans by the police. So what is the interplay here, and what does it say about where we may be headed next?
Virgo is a sign ruled by Mercury, and often associated with the “mental” aspects of existence: thoughts, ideas, and cognitive processes are comfortable there, but there can be a challenge in Virgo when it comes to integrating a concept into the “hard” reality we live in. The 60s were an era of awakened mentality generated by the conjunction. Concepts like non-violent confrontation, sexual freedom, and equal rights for all assumed greater prominence in the public consciousness, and the music and art of the era served as both instigators of, and outlets for, new systems of belief. The revolutionary quality of Uranus merged with the evolutionary force of Pluto and led to an upheaval in the mental realm.
However, a deeper structure intended to oppress the masses still existed, both in the form of the political establishment and the personal subconscious—this is why, in my opinion, when immediate, spontaneous change didn’t happen, so many activists gave up on the dream. They didn’t take the spirit of the revolution with them as they got corporate jobs, raised their kids, and planned for their retirement. As the conjunction dissipated, the new ideas it generated floated further and further away from the realm of the concrete, and were filed into back corners of the mind under categories like “idealism” and “hippie-era nonsense.”
There is no blame in any of this—actually, it is all part of the cosmic process. What we see now is a new arrangement in the sky that was always coming and could never have been arrived at without the first part of the cycle.
In our current era, Pluto is making its way through Capricorn, unrelentingly taking down the political and economic structures that have held us captive since essentially the birth of the US. Uranus is in Aries, applying its innovative nature to our sense of self and personal identity and encouraging our use of technology to express and develop that self. (Uranus is also conjunct Eris, causing a shattering of our collective sense of self through technology—read more about that here, or many other places on Planet Waves.)
What the two planets did in the mental realm of Virgo, they are now doing to us on both an individual and a societal level, and because of the 60s, we have a cognitive grasp on what is happening and can put it to use more consciously. It is important to remember that we are connected through energy and information, so one doesn’t have to have lived through the conjunction to utilize its results.
When Uranus and Pluto squared each other over the past few years, we felt the tension between our yearning for individual liberation and the structural oppression of the masses come to a head. Occupy Wall Street, the legalization of gay marriage, and the Black Lives Matter movement are all illustrations of attempts to step into personal power and remove the systems that are squandering our agency.
In the square’s immediate aftermath, there is a sense of an outflow of those efforts: Bernie Sanders’ insurgent campaign took the “revolution” concept into the mainstream, while Donald Trump’s unexpected rise demonstrates that the thirst for acknowledgement and freedom from the establishment is strong in the conservative population as well. On both sides of the aisle, the political powers that be look like people in a building during an earthquake—they keep finding rafts and beams to cling to, but ultimately, the entire edifice is going down.
This leads us to the even longer-term occurrence of the United States’ Pluto return. Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008; the last time it was there was in the late 1700s, during the American Revolution. Much has already been written about the significance of this astrology (see Eric’s take on Pluto in Capricorn here), but I would like to mention it because there is a direct connection between this transit and pretty much all of today’s activist efforts.
When Pluto last visited Capricorn, colonists living in America united to overthrow the British Empire’s monarchist rule and formed the first democratic government. Today, that democracy is mostly artificial, hijacked by a more subtle form of oppression that can be summed up as oligarchy. The system in which Americans currently live has developed in various ways as Pluto has made its journey around the zodiac, and is now being subject to Pluto’s evolutionary evaluation: essentially, that which is conducive to life will remain, and that which is not will be eliminated.
In the July 4th episode of Planet Waves TV, Eric discusses the USA’s loaded 8thhouse (it’s Cancer, opposite Capricorn, and contains Venus, Jupiter, the Sun, Mercury, and others); he describes it as an inheritance. It feels to me like an inheritance of responsibility that Pluto is demanding that we as a society now embrace as our own. It is an inheritance of all of this country’s original sins: slavery, the slaughter of the Native Americans, sexually repressive Puritanism, and our dauntless embrace of capitalism, which is now manifesting as the depletion of natural resources and the destruction of the environment.
Look at the prominent activist movements that we see today. Black Lives Matter. Indigenous Rights. LGBTQ rights. Occupy and its offspring. Environmentalism, especially clean energy and anti-fracking. They are mirrors of America’s inception. Our current structure – the one Pluto is plowing through – is a manifestation of the destructive behavior and belief systems upon which this country was founded. That structure will fall—Pluto all but guarantees that. Now we are being called to create a new one, this time one that is affirming of all life and of the Earth.
Some might say that we are stepping up to the task. Others say it’s too little too late, and predict that we will witness a dystopia we cannot yet imagine in Pluto’s wake. Eric reminded me that 9/11 took place during New York City’s Pluto return—for sure, evolution is not always gentle. The United States has imposed two centuries of oppression and bloodshed onto its own people, as well as on the rest of the world. Much of the damage is irreversible. The symmetry of the astrology has a feeling that is both beautiful and tragic: everyone knows that empires crumble. America wouldn’t be the first, and if humanity survives, it won’t be the last.
But whatever the ultimate outcome, there are those who feel they can do nothing other than follow the call of their own hearts. I believe many of the people I met on the UpToUs Caravan fall into that category. Are they doing it perfectly, making no mistakes along the way? No. Is there a need for structure, sustainability, maturity? Yes. But those things can only develop with time—and they could never develop at all without the nucleus of passion and deep responsibility that I sense at the center of the project.
In the weeks following the Caravan, UpToUs has changed the mission statement on its website. It now reads “Up to Us is a movement dedicated to bringing peace to disruption. To organize, activate, and educate our communities on how to become compassionate, loving, engaged leaders whom are willing to stand up in the face of adversity to demand dynamic change.”
Many Caravan participants, including Shailene and some of the other organizers, have been in North Dakota since the beginning of August, protesting drilling for the Dakota Access Pipeline on lands belonging to the Lakota Sioux Native Americans. Tribes from all over the country have begun to show up to Standing Rock Reservation in solidarity with the Sioux; some protesters were arrested earlier in the month. The drilling is currently postponed until September 9th, when a US District Court judge will make a decision about whether to halt it while a lawsuit is carried out. UpToUs and other activist organizations have made statements declaring their intention to remain on the land until the plans for the pipeline are abandoned.
There is a lot to report on this; maybe I will be able to visit and bring you back a story in a couple of weeks. There is a spirit on the reservation captured beautifully in this video, and The Guardian put together a beautiful compilation of images featuring the individuals who are gathered there. For now, it remains clear that the UpToUs activists have not lost their drive, but unclear how they intend to organize moving forward.
There are more questions than there are answers, both regarding the small group I have highlighted in this series, and the progressive fight as a whole. Pluto’s direction is almost always too deep for us to grasp, especially as its being carried out—we are arrogant if we think we can comprehend such a large and deep force.
Yet, there is also the undeniable force called Love, which continues to shine its light despite the darkness of humanity’s current situation.
I will leave you with a video from the final evening of the DNC that captures the power of love. The narrator of the video shows a police line and says he heard that “there’s about to be a clash,” but then lets us know that “no, these are the oneness people, these are the nice hippies.” The UpToUs crew comes through, singing and drumming, and “totally changes the environment.” Everyone sits down in the street. At the end, the narrator says “look at the sad anarchists, who were trying to start a riot; they’re all leaving now.”
Watch this if you want to experience a heartswell. This is what the mainstream media doesn’t show. Moreover, this is humanity in action, demonstrating its own potential, heeding its own call. Although we can’t know the outcome, we can choose for ourselves if there is something worth fighting for.
We can choose to hold each other tight, and continue to pull back the veil.