Astrologer Dane Rudyar has called Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, “Ambassadors of the Galaxy,” as they inhabit the outer part of the Solar System. Large astrological cycles, and aspects between these “ambassadors,” are thought to influence the evolution of consciousness. Rudyar died in 1985, so he didn’t live to see Pluto’s change of status or other dwarf planetary entities emerging from the remote and frigid darkness of our Sun’s domain.
A cycle of aspects between two planets begins when they form a conjunction. Called synodic cycles, from the Greek word that means “meeting,” these cycles create an unfolding, angular sequence between planets like the phases of the Moon, or partners in a dance who move together and then apart. The orbits of Uranus and Pluto are 83.75 years and 245.33 respectively, and their full synodic cycle takes an average of 128 years due to their retrograde motions.
The current synodic cycle between Uranus and Pluto began in 1962 with a conjunction in Virgo, uniting revolutionary Uranian energy with the Plutonian potential for deep transformation in the sign of the working collective. The conjunction peaked during 1965-1966 while opposed to Saturn in Pisces. The decade of the sixties saw the Civil Rights Act, the Viet Nam war, Flower Power and the resulting peace movement, and the first Moon landing. This period also saw the genesis of the personal computer, a term first used in the New York Times in 1962. Seen in a larger context, the decade of the sixties was a stage in a longer evolutionary process.
Five decades later in 2010, Uranus entered Aries and will transit through the sign of the Ram until 2018. We have reached the next critical stage in the synodic cycle where Uranus, the faster moving planet, has advanced 90 degrees ahead of Pluto. The focus of this pattern is radical change and momentum toward higher awareness. The mechanism is a systemic reconstruction before a higher level re-patterning can occur.
These planets will move in and out of an exact square seven times from 2012–2015 as the two planets shift in their retrograde motions. This 90-degree angle is arguably the most significant and challenging planetary influence of our time, and we should expect to see continued upheaval and extremes. The first two exact squares occurred in June and September of 2012. The third happened on May 20, 2013. The centerpiece square, the fourth of seven, will form on November 1, 2013, and make a T-Square formation with the Moon in Libra. Two days later there will be a Solar Eclipse, further ramping up the volatile energy of the Uranus-Pluto square. Shocking secrets may emerge from the shadow. In April of 2014 number five in the series will occur and form a powerhouse Grand Cross with Mars and Jupiter. This kind of tension sets the stage for dramatic events. The last two in the series will occur December 15, 2014 and March 17, 2015; we’ll continue to monitor developments as they unfold.
As this pattern of squares repeats, we are witnessing political unrest, revolutionary energy, extremes, and catastrophes. As Uranus advanced to within a few degrees of its first square to Pluto, revolutionary movements spread throughout the world, and record-breaking storms battered the country. The Arab Spring is a media term for the wave of revolutionary demonstrations, protests, riots, and civil wars in the Arab world that began in December of 2010. The protests have shared techniques of civil resistance in sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches, and rallies, as well as the effective use of social media to organize, communicate, and raise awareness in the face of state attempts at repression and Internet censorship.
Rulers have been deposed in Tunisia, twice in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria, now a war, and there have been major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan with minor protests in other locations. There were border clashes in Israel in 2011 and protests in Iranian Khuzestan by the Arab minority. Weapons and Tuareg fighters returning from the civil war in Libya stoked a simmering conflict in Mali that is considered “fallout” from the Arab Spring. Sectarian clashes in Lebanon have been labeled as spillover violence from Syria.
Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008, which coincided with the breakdown (Pluto) of global financial structures (Capricorn). Pluto’s prior transit through Capricorn, 1762 through 1778, witnessed the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. The high side of Pluto’s energy is transformation, which at its best offers a complete metamorphosis like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, or a phoenix rising from the ashes of its former self. Astrologer Rick Levine has aptly described Pluto as “a tsunami moving at the speed of a glacier.” Pluto will remain in Capricorn until 2024, and toward the end of the transit, will pass over the natal placement of the US, Pluto at 27 degrees of Capricorn. This is called a Pluto return and happens once in 245 years. Pluto will come within a degree of an exact conjunction in April of 2021, and then turn retrograde. In 2022, there will be three exact “hits” to the US chart. If the intractable divisiveness in American politics continues or worsens, perhaps this will prepare the ground for another American revolution.
The most positive outcomes of these combined energies are constructive evolution, empowered awakening and enlightened freedom. Pluto’s powers of transformation in the sign of structure are combining with the potentially shattering, awakening, and revolutionary force of Uranus. We are living through a major generational upheaval, and we are challenged to examine old structures and patterns that need to be deconstructed. Resistance to this energy builds to a pressure point that can bring an explosive and volcanic release when planetary triggers form.
The last series of squares between Uranus and Pluto was eighty years ago, between 1932 and 1934, with five exact hits. Uranus was also in Aries at that time, and Pluto was in the cardinal sign of Cancer, opposite to Capricorn. Early in the 1930s, we witnessed the Great Depression, political and social upheaval, and the rise of dictators and extremism. Stock markets crashed and unemployment rose sharply. Adolf Hitler cemented his power in January 1933, when he became Chancellor of Germany. Soon afterward the Reichstag fire led to a decree that eliminated many German civil liberties.
What’s radically different now is technology. Since the mid-1990s, the Internet has revolutionized culture and commerce, including the advent of electronic mail, instant messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) “phone calls,” two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web with its discussion forums, blogs, social networking, and online shopping. Facebook and cellular phones have dramatically changed the game as witnessed in Egypt’s revolution and the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Mobilizing and spreading the word are now nearly instantaneous worldwide.
Aquarius energy belongs to the group, and it is a new paradigm of approaching problem solving where power is shared and distributed. Governance and leadership are being redefined. Examples of Aquarian mechanisms (for better or worse depending on one’s view) are Wikileaks and Anonymous. WikiLeaks began in late 2006 as a disclosure portal, initially using the Wikipedia model. Volunteers wrote restricted, or legally threatened, material that had been submitted by ‘whistleblowers.’ It was Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist and journalist, and the de facto editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, who had the idea of creating what software engineer Ben Laurie called an “open-source, democratic intelligence agency.”
Spy agencies and hackers can also use the same technology that has the ability to transmit information easily. Anonymous, a group of so-called “hactivists,” operating behind the scenes through technology, has hacked into high-security, and often high-profile, databases and Internet sites. Anonymous has come to be recognized by the Guy Fawkes mask. The mask is a stylized depiction of the best-known member of the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the House of Lords in London and overthrow the monarchy in 1605. The mask is a stylized portrayal of a white face with an over-sized smile and red cheeks, a wide moustache upturned at both ends, and a thin vertical pointed beard, designed by illustrator David Lloyd. The icon came to represent broader protests after it was used as a major plot element in V for Vendetta, published in 1982, and then in the 2005 film adaptation. After appearing in Internet forums, the mask became a symbol for the Occupy Movements and then for Anonymous. According to Time in 2011, the protesters’ adoption of the mask led to it becoming the top-selling mask on Amazon.com, selling hundreds of thousands a year. This electronic proliferation of a symbol is very Aquarian, the sign ruled by Uranus.
Bradley Manning, now Chelsea, was a soldier who served in Iraq. He released the largest set of restricted documents ever leaked to the public. Denver Nicks, one of Manning’s biographers, writes that “the leaked material, particularly the diplomatic cables, was widely seen as a catalyst for the Arab Spring in 2010, and that Manning was viewed as both a twenty-first-century Tiananmen Square Tank Man, or an embittered traitor.” Tank Man, or the Unknown Protester, is the nickname of an anonymous man who stood in front of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, the morning after the Chinese military suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests by force.
Edward Snowden is a computer specialist who worked for the CIA and the NSA and leaked details of several top-secret United States and British government mass surveillance programs to the press. Daniel Elsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, says Manning and Snowden are heroes and that we need more whistleblowers. Others believe the two are traitors.
The high side of Uranus energy is awakening, shedding light and utopian vision on outworn structures that need to be deconstructed and revisioned. Rogue Uranus energy is like ungrounded electricity, a lightening strike, or a dangerous and unpredictable high-voltage wire. Uranus represents radical change, invention, revolution, and the capacity for idealism; its effect can be shocking and unpredictable. Uranus in the fiery sign of Aries sparks an irrepressible urge for freedom, an irresistible energy that breaks us out of self-imposed prisons. Astrologer Isabel Hickey says Uranus can help us discover the undiscovered. Viewed in a positive light, this action is like spring cleaning, or perhaps moving, where old patterns are disrupted and a whole new structure or way of life replaces one that has been outgrown. If we are awake and paying attention, this feels like positive change. If we have been asleep, or in denial, it can feel like a tornado or volcanic eruption.
Pluto represents destruction, transformation and renewal, and unlike Uranus, its effect is slow and ruthless. Some might argue that Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet status has diminished his role in astrology and his potential for significance. Paradoxically, Pluto now seems to act in the manner of homeopathy where the more diluted solution increases the potency of the medium.
Uranus combined with Pluto forces change, and resistance only makes the explosion bigger. The underlying momentum of the pattern is an evolutionary thrust toward humanitarian change fueled by an intense desire for freedom—Aquarian Age impulses. As Uranus squaring Pluto increasingly reveals information stored in the shadow, we can expect these upheavals to increase, both in number and intensity. Redemption is another of Pluto’s themes. In the wake of what can seem like literal or symbolic death and devastation the intangibles that really matter can be revealed. How we use these energies is up to us.