The sky tells the story of the times for those who know how to read it. Like the three wise men of the bible, for whom the stars indicated the birth of a new born king in Bethlehem, astrologers use the movements of the planets to guide and interpret human life. On its slow dance around the heavens, the planet Pluto pens the opening chapter of the bigger story.
Pluto is the planet of transformation, death and rebirth. It takes 248 years to move through all the signs of the zodiac, and consequently, its transit through a sign shapes the collective cultural and political matrix for an entire generation. When it moved through Scorpio, the sign of its rulership, from 1983 to 1995, the taboo topic of death and dying was finally brought out of the closet of collective repression and denial. The work of conscious dying advocate Elizabeth Kubler Ross, who has the Sun aligned with Pluto in her birth chart, entered the mainstream consciousness, as did Sogyal Rinpoche’s influential book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
Sex, that other subject so beloved of Scorpio, also went public then in both its higher and lower aspects. Sex became spiritual, sacred, tantric, and conscious as opposed to mundane and profane, and books, workshops and videos on the topic suddenly proliferated, including here in Byron Bay. At the same time, AIDS joined sex and the Grim Reaper in terrible embrace, again transforming mainstream attitudes and sexual practices. Sex or ‘free love’ was no longer so free and easy, especially in the gay community, and “If it’s not on, it’s not on”, condoms that was, became the new slogan for the times.
Mark Matousek’s book, Sex, Death and Enlightenment, released in 1996, provides an apt thematic link from the Pluto in Scorpio era to Pluto’s next port of call in Sagittarius from Nov 1995 to Jan 2008. The quest for spiritual enlightenment is a classic higher Sagittarian concern, [spiritual masters Osho and Guru Maharaji who have many devotees in the shire are both Sagittarians], and this period brought an end to spiritual searching for many a seeker. Many ‘grokked’ it that to seek enlightenment is like jumping from one wave of experience to another in search of water. There is no path to that which always is, in other words.
Sagittarius is linked with religion and philosophy more generally, and Pluto certainly brought out the shadow side of religion throughout its residence in the sign. Fanatical fundamentalist zealots from Islam, Christianity and Judaism inspired an atheistic backlash, [see the books The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens], as true believers engaged in holy wars of word and deed. This reached an unholy climax when the born again US President George W Bush, fuelled by a sense of righteous wrath, initiated a War on Terror to avenge the deadly terrorist attack by Osama Bin Laden, who was himself avenging the desecration of the Islamic holy land by troops of the foreign infidel. Pity neither took to heart Mahatma Gandhi’s wise words before acting: “An eye for an eye and the whole world is blind”, or the poet W H Auden’s: “Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return.”
Sagittarius is also associated with positive thinking, optimism, gambling, [think iconic Sagittarian Kerry Packer], and an attitude of “irrational exuberance”, to quote the phrase that former US Treasury chief Alan Greenspan used to describe the behaviour of the stock market during this period. Indeed I would argue the market was the true ruling god of the era judging by the near universal worship it inspired in the Western world. Such worship reached its peak in the excesses of the debt-fuelled real estate boom and casino capitalism that characterized the era.
Soon after Pluto entered the down to earth sign of Capricorn in early 2008, the bubble burst. Capricorn is a sign of discipline, rules and restraint. The message from the sky is that it’s time to tighten regulation of the market, minimize debt, live within our means, and return to the traditional values of prudence and thrift. Personal responsibility and self-reliance are prime virtues now, and will remain so until Pluto leaves Capricorn in 2024. Until then, everything old is new again. It’s back to the future you could say, a future in which a house may come to be viewed primarily as a home again, rather than an investment property.
Another way to grasp this momentous shift in the zeitgeist is to consider the qualities of the ruling planets of the signs involved. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter the planet of expansion, prosperity consciousness, and good luck, whereas Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, the planet of contraction, boundaries and self-discipline. Jupiter asks how do you know what is enough until you’ve had more than enough; Saturn responds, less is more, enough is enough. Jupiter is the pundit/celebrity/master-of-the-universe/finance guru, while Saturn is the wise elder/guardian/statesman/lord of karma. Jupiter is the salesman/developer who believes in lifestyle, while Saturn is the true conservative, a conservationist who thinks seven generations ahead when making decisions about the use of land, water, and other finite resources. Jupiter claims you can have it all, and that attaining success is all a matter of faith, trust and gratitude. Saturn says you’ve got to work long and hard to achieve success, and that as time and money are inherently limited, you simply can’t have it all. To try to do so is bound to end in failure or ill-health, and most probably both.
Capricorn is the sign of government, big business, and the economy. It is concerned above all with material security – putting food on the table, a roof overhead, and protecting home and country from perceived threats. Hence, the potency of border protection, food security, and affordable housing as current and future political issues.
Note, Australia as a political entity is a Capricorn country, born on the 1-1-1901. [Yes, countries have birth charts too.] And further that Pluto is going to conjoin the Sun in the Federation chart of Australia through 2012-2013, with January, July and November 2013 being times of peak influence. In astrological terms, as a once in 248 year occurrence, this is very significant indeed. Pluto was the ruler of the underworld in Greek mythology and is given rulership over minerals in the ground. For Australia, sitting on vast reserves of buried treasure, these years are set to be the biggest and best of the long running mining boom. Certainly, a bonanza for the multi-national mining corporations digging up the quarry, but will the Australian people as a whole get their fair share of the wealth generated?
Democracy is said to be rule by the people, and plutocracy rule by the rich. The key questions now are: who really runs the country, and for whose benefit? The people, through their representatives in parliament and direct collective actions, or the mega-wealthy corporate plutocrats who dominate the economy? Watch this space.