To the fledgling astrologer, the signs of the outer planets can be somewhat boggling, because they speak of more than just the personal life. Rather, they address the culture and the time in which a person lives, how that era affects a person individually, as well as how one might play a role in ushering the energy of his or her generation. Yet, it wasn't until I read Liz Greene's book, The Outer Planets and Their Cycles, that I actually got my first meaty bite of how to integrate the signs of the outer planets into the psyche of the chart.
Insert1 For those of you who have not read the book, I strongly recommend that you do. If I could be so bold as to sum it up, Greene essentially affirms that the outer planets pertain to Jung's idea of the collective unconscious, and that energy from this domain is always bursting through to consciousness. Where, what, and how this energy expresses itself is shown by the outer planets' placements. Those individuals with prominent outer-planet placements will act as ambassadors of this energy, and all individuals born with the same outer-planet signature will share a vision, however unconscious that vision and the urge to express it might be.
For clues as to how certain outer-planet signatures may manifest, we can always gather information from history, because the cycles do repeat. Understanding the outer planets' roles from such a wide perspective seems imperative to understanding the psyche of the individual, because you cannot separate a person from the culture or era of which she or he is a part. Greene postulates that when the outer planets move into a sign, we will feel energy related to that sign breaking into consciousness via our cultural trends, whether they are political, musical, economic, or whatever. The effects are immediate, and can be readily seen if you look around you.
Take, for example, the current placement of Pluto in Sagittarius. It brought the Sagittarian issue of justice strongly to our attention with the pervasive O.J. Simpson trial in the United States and the disturbing trial in Canada of Paul Bernardo, accused of serial rape and murder. The crimes, which occurred while Pluto was still in Scorpio, were indeed Scorpionic.
While this information is certainly useful, we can't assess what an era might be like by looking at the current influences alone. Just as we cannot look at individuals without examining their social and cultural experience, we cannot look at what a time period might bring unless we also look at the individuals who are the main players. So who are the main players? If we all carry an outer-planet vision that demands expression, then whose vision is currently dominant and how is this determined?
I feel, and I will leave this to you to explore, that the strongest vision of mainstream society is always that of the generation born 30-50 years ago. This should come as no shock, because obviously this is the group with the most political and economic clout. They are the majority of homeowners and voters, and have begun their own families. They are the fresh blood in public office and the golden-haired managers and entrepreneurs of the business community. Basically, they are in a position to alter "the mainstream" and their outer-planet energy will take advantage of this opportunity to push forward its vision. This is not necessarily a conscious effort, but something similar to the tendency of water to travel to the lowest ground.
One of the reasons for the 30-to-50-year delay in the outer planets' expression is that it takes a while, as we all know, to get a handle on the civilized expression of outer-planet energy. The raw basic drives and urges of the outer planets demand self-awareness and the life experience that is typically unavailable in youth. Perhaps this might make one think that the energy is strongest in youth and, therefore, more likely to be dominant, but the youthful expression of outer-planet energy is less likely to be embraced by the masses because it is volatile and extreme. Therefore, it is only beginning to seep into the culture.
Another reason for the delay is that it isn't until between the ages of 30 and 50 that we get strong outer-planet activation as Uranus opposes and Neptune and Pluto square their placements in a person's natal chart. It's as though any dormant outer-planet signatures get a rousing wake-up call, and the generation's vision, or the dilemma that spurs it, starts rumbling through society like never before.
If this 30-to-50-year lag is taken as true, then there is a changing of the guards currently happening between the generation born with Pluto in Leo and the generation with Pluto in Virgo. Pluto initially moved into Virgo (although it briefly retrograded back to Leo for some time) in 1956, and it moved completely out of Virgo in 1972. So the pioneers of the Pluto-in-Virgo group are in their early forties, and it is apparent that for some time, things have been moving culturally in a Virgo-like direction.
During the 1970s through the 1990s, as the Pluto-in-Leo generation impacted the culture, Leo's symbol of the ego abounded in the form of executive homes and expensive toys like cars, boats, and cottages. Designer labels were in, and everything seemed "for show" with the aptly named "Me Generation." People sculpting and showcasing their bodies became one of the many Leonine trends, with personal trainers and flashy workout suits, and we all puffed up our presence with shoulder pads and big Leonine hair.
This all began changing in the late 1980s when the Pluto-in-Virgo generation started acquiring more influence. People began questioning the reasoning behind working themselves silly to pay for a big home that they didn't have time to enjoy. Corporations began downsizing, and both governments and businesses in Canada started tossing around the catch phrase "grassroots". Economic pressures have caused everyone to tighten their belts and eliminate unnecessary spending, with books like Your Money or Your Life and Simplify Your Life gaining popularity as society in general embraces Virgo's cultural influences. In addition, there is more widespread acceptance of health care from a preventative angle rather than from solely a crisis-management approach. These are all Virgo things.
While this is interesting, it is also old hat. Astrological theory, like any other, is very clear in retrospect, but what about the coming years? What can we expect as future trends? In my opinion, we are entering a very interesting time, because rising up through the ranks of the Pluto-in-Virgo group are those who were born when Uranus conjoined Pluto. (If we consider a 7? orb, these individuals were born between 1962 and 1968.) This group has a tremendous urge to demolish the old ways and is extremely comfortable, if not actually elated, with chaos and change. Having this signature in my own chart, I have seen its power both personally and socially.
Recently I was reminded of these Uranus-Pluto tendencies when I unexpectedly recalled an event from my university years, where I lived in residence. Because of the age of the other students, our house was populated with 40 individuals who had Uranus conjoined Pluto. As a group, we seemed rather ordinary, but in my first and second year, as both Saturn and Uranus moved into Sagittarius and began squaring Virgo, a series of revolutions shook the house.
First, the all-male student government of the house was overthrown by its first ever "female king" and a previous policy of "no girls allowed on the third floor" had to be amended to accommodate the new government. Next, the house had a mutiny of sorts and ousted its don, a move that was unprecedented in the history of the university. From my perspective now, these things are small peanuts, but at the time of their occurrence, a fervor gripped the house, the likes of which I had never seen.
There were secret meetings, hidden agendas, spies, decoys, hidden tape recordings, and petitions, as well as a nervous excited sense of purpose from all the students. It was as though everyone in the house was at war with the past and everything it stood for. The energy carried a momentum that no one individual could quell. Looking at it now, it is clear to see that the outer-planet energy of the group had been ignited and was flexing its muscles. We, as students, channeled it through the only means to power that we had -- we took control and altered our little house. I believe there is an element of foreshadowing in those events.
Soon this Uranus-Pluto group will have some formidable clout in society and again this outer-planet signature will stir in the interest of self-expression. We are already seeing signs of it where I reside in Ontario, Canada. Our current provincial government was voted in on a landslide with the promise of a "Common Sense Revolution." Now if that's not a Uranus-in-Virgo phrase, I don't know what is.
This party, after having been in power only one year, radically changed policy in Ontario and is executing its campaign promises one by one, with harsh Virgo-like coolness and precision. I think that North America is in for a lot of this behavior in the coming years.
As Pluto in Sagittarius begins to activate the Uranus-Pluto conjunction, there will be a demolition of old ways with the purpose of instituting something much more logical. However, with Pluto being involved alongside Uranus, the methods by which this change occurs could be chaotic and cataclysmic. With the outer-planet signature situated in Virgo, we may make decisions based on reasoning, possibly devoid of Piscean compassion.
While this might straighten up many problems in our society, the solutions may take a heartless Mr. Spock tone, ignoring the human component while diligently working toward the objectives at hand. In its efforts to transform things, Virgo will leave no stone unturned nor any sacred cows, for as we know, Virgo is not afraid to do the dirty work.
Personally, I think we will see many people dropping out of life's rat race. More people will be doing their work in the most realistic way. There will be less inclination toward the hour-long commute to the big office and more tendency to utilize Uranian technology -- such as faxes, modems, and the Internet -- to render more free time and hopefully less hassles. We are already seeing the flourishing of casual office wear and flex-time as corporations strive to more realistically accommodate employee lifestyles and preferences.
Because Virgo is an earth sign, there will be continued interest in environmental issues, with a serious focus on eliminating packaging, waste, and pollutants. We will also see recycling become more and more fashionable in its many forms, such as secondhand shops, garage sales, antiques, and so on. New will be out, old will be in.
Of course, the Uranus-Pluto-Virgo emergence has to be blended with the current energies, which, in 1998, when Neptune joined Uranus in Aquarius, became entirely Sagittarian and Aquarian. This is an interesting blend of Virgo get-down-to-business energy with the mental and idealistic energies of Aquarius and Sagittarius. The Aquarian energy definitely has a for-the-good-of-all-people slant. This adds fuel to the Uranian portion of the Uranus-Pluto partnership, because of the Aquarian affiliation to Uranus. The Sagittarian energy should create strong philosophical ideals upon which Virgo can build.
There is, however, an inherent difference in viewpoint between Sagittarius and Virgo, which must first be worked out. The Sag energy is inclined to theorize, philosophize, and dream of a utopian arrangement, and this push toward such a perfect solution could prove overwhelming for Virgo types. Their meticulous nature could have them pondering alternative approaches and the best methods to reach the extremely high Sagittarian expectations, creating the possibility that nothing will be accomplished at all. This might foster a society focused on busy-work and details, essentially procrastinating while dreaming of a perfect world. In its best expression Sagittarius and Aquarius sets the objectives, which will be morally sound and humanitarian, and Virgo moves diligently and realistically toward those ends.
With the Uranus-Pluto revolutionaries poised for battle, we can expect change and lots of it. Hopefully, it will be less compulsive than I witnessed in my earlier years, but I'm not holding my breath. In fact, there is only one thing that I do know, and that is, as a society we won't be coasting through this time on old agendas and worn-out solutions. We will be stripping ideas and governments to the bare bones, and whether this is fruitful or not, we will just have to wait and see.
1. Liz Greene, The Outer Planets and Their Cycles, Reno, NV: CRCS Publications, 1983.
©1997 Crystal Eves - all rights reserved.
This article was first published in The Mountain Astrologer Magazine, Feb./March 1997 issue.
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About The Author
Crystal Eves is a full-time astrologer and writer in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. She pens a weekly column entitled "Cosmic Comics, " consults privately, and teaches classes. She began studying astrology at the age of 14 and has been in private practice for the last ten years. Crystal can he reached at 350 Harry Walker Parkway, Unit #17, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, L3Y 8L3, or by phone at (905) 895-0985.