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Astrology of Sustainability
Now you can understand how astrologers comprehend environmental issues of the 21st century. In this ground-breaking work, traditional astrological methods for assessing outer planet cycles, then the full integration of the meanings of the upcoming Neptune and Pluto cycles through 2065, are studied in depth.
Now you can understand how astrologers comprehend environmental issues of the 21st century. In this ground-breaking work, traditional astrological methods for assessing outer planet cycles, then the full integration of the meanings of the upcoming Neptune and Pluto cycles through 2065, are studied in depth. A full history is presented with over seventy complete examples of how the Aries Ingress charts and the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction series were developed to appreciate both short-term and long-term trends. This work does not require prior knowledge of either classical or mundane astrology (however, experience in these areas would be helpful). Discover how the astrological events of 2012 are not as important as future configurations, although it is so important that the configurations are understood now.
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Table of Contents:
A Word to the Modern Astrologer: Welcome!
Table of Figures and Charts
1. An Introduction to Classical and Not-so-Classical Mundane
2. A Primer of Environmental Science and Concepts
3. The Dance of Neptune and Pluto
4. Incarnation in Matter: Pluto in the Earth Signs
5. The Limits to Growth: Pluto in the Air Signs
6. The Universal Solvent: Pluto in the Water Signs
7. The Long Twilight Struggle: Pluto in the Fire Signs
8. Pluto from Sagittarius to Pisces
9. Summary, Suggestions and Conclusions
Appendix A. Glossary
Appendix B. Table of Essential Dignities
Appendix C. Further Readings in Environmental Issues
Appendix D. Lilly's Rules for Shipwrecks
Astrology tells the story of the unfolding of the universe, writ on the canvas of the sky. As a story, it is less about truth than about meaning. Because how can a story be true from all points of view? In Greek, Indian, or Celtic mythology, witness how many versions of the story of a hero or heroine, a goddess or god are contradictory – different family trees, different adventures. Each different interpretation gives us the chance to relate to the story in a personal way. Each version or retelling gives us a different perspective – a different meaning. One of the most difficult of perspectives is to walk through life with the sense that one's own existence has no meaning, value or purpose. It is when we are imbued with a belief that “we” matter – whether the “we” is an individual, a tribe, or a nation – then the most amazing acts of courage, compassion and sacrifice are possible.
This book is about a major story of our time: the awareness that we must either reintegrate ourselves with the natural world and its rules, or perish as a species. I will not say this must be done by our generation: but it must be done soon. I will not say that famine and wars will result if we fail: but they could. I will also not say that there is no hope: because we simply don't know the detailed shape of the problems that we face.
In our present era, those people who use astrology at all, tend to use it as only a tool for self-understanding or spiritual development. Historically, astrology was so much larger. In the ancient days, the astrology of princes bridged the march across many lifetimes – because a prince was not successful unless his dynasty was. Astrology was not just a tool for a single life, but for generations – or even, if one dared to peek, the stretch back to the Creation itself. The ancient tools for this examination remain, and the skills for their use only need teaching, demonstrating, and honing.
If we are to understand the challenges of our day from an astrological perspective, we must first understand the tools that we can bring to examine our situation, not just in the Now, but within the patterns of unfolding that may exceed a single human lifespan. Much of this book is the process of explaining and demonstrating the tools, both within their historical development, and in application now.
This multidimensional work blending history, ecology and astrology together, is designed to develop your level of proficiency in all three. In the end, I hope you will look at our times much differently than when you started. From that standpoint, this is a very radical book, because it challenges many assumptions.
As we develop sophistication using the tools of mundane astrology, the ability to ask more difficult questions will also develop. The story will become more complex, more nuanced. As that happens, we can then turn the perspective around from the collective, and return to the question that is the most important for all of us individually: how do we fit into this story? Be prepared for a few surprises!
When I first conceptualized this book, I hadn't actually planned to go through the process of explicating Pluto through the elements. I was originally going to go from the earth signs directly to what is now Chapter 8. What had engaged me from the start was the crucial issue of the earth signs and political issues related to Planet Earth, which includes the question of sustainability. Then, I became intrigued by another question, which is the transition between signs. This issue of transition and sequencing is a topic that I believe has never been properly discussed in detail. Instead, it has been treated as the transitional sentences between The Important Stuff, namely, the signs themselves. But as I examined past transits of Pluto in Capricorn in my own quest for understanding, I found I could not place walls up between the signs, and pretend that history started and stopped when it reached these barriers.
Watching the transition between Pluto in Sagittarius and Pluto in Capricorn reminded me of what Frank Herbert wrote in Dune, “A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.” Astrologers have been refining themes for the Pluto sign periods almost from the point of its discovery. It is an interesting exercise to peruse some of the early writings on Pluto, which don't at all resemble our modern concepts. I am reminded of the performances that my old colleague in NCGR, Michael Lutin, presented as Pluto moved through each sign. Michael's characterizations - funny, tacky, haunting, disturbing – all pointed to how astrologers found it easy to characterize many of the likely qualities as the garbage disposal, Pluto, would progressively grind its way through a sign, “transforming” it. While many of the books on Pluto have emphasized its spiritual qualities, and the positive results, still, many astrology students are terrified of Pluto transits in a way fundamentally different from any other kind of transit.
Each transition has qualities of both signs – emphasized by the fact that a single-pass transition from sign to sign is next to impossible. This in turn brought up a question: when does Pluto in a new sign “start?” Does it start with the first entry, or the final entry after all the retrogrades? And what does one do with the retrogradation back into the “old” sign? Is there a language for these transitions?
The next question that bothered me was: when Pluto changes signs, does it just exchange its old marbles for new marbles, and go on its way? That is, after all, pretty much how we see it in natal consultation. The Sun moves into Aries, and at least once the Sun is past the first degree, that's it: bring on the Aries! The time in between is so ephemeral, so numinous, that we can't wait to skip over it to do new things. But perhaps the image is more like a paradigm shift, where a new idea or theory becomes dominant, but the old paradigm hangs out for a while, impeding the acceptance of the new idea, and slowing the transition.
Life flows; it is messy. Pluto went into Cancer, and bang! World War I started. Pluto went into Leo, and bang! World War II started. But there was no such major calamity when Pluto went to Virgo, although personally I would nominate Sputnik as the great harbinger of the change. And when Pluto went into Libra? What major world event then? Pluto had the audacity to go into Scorpio during Ronald Reagan's first term, thereby not marking the Reagan revolution. And when Pluto went into Sagittarius? Doesn't it seem a little trivial to attribute that to a Republican majority Congress going after Bill Clinton for adultery, not to mention the beginning of the criminal trial of O.J. Simpson? These were not culture-spanning, earth-shaking events!
As we witnessed the transition to Capricorn, the world economy tanked. But the visible symptoms of this occurred after Pluto touched Capricorn, and had retrograded back into Sagittarius, so how do we score this?
If we are to understand that one of the Pluto processes is to take a sign-complex to its extreme, then we can use this to develop a theory about transitions. For example, as Pluto passed into Sagittarius, one of the obvious readings for the period was religious extremism. The logic? Sagittarius is a Jupiter-ruled sign, and it has a long association with organized (hierarchical) religions. Given the up-tick in matters relating to fundamentalism of all sorts during the period of Pluto in Scorpio, it was an easy call to predict that matters would only become even more extreme. And there was evidence of this: not three weeks before the beginning of Pluto in Sagittarius in 1995, John Salvi opened fire at a Planned Parenthood Clinic and killed two people. Within a month after the Ingress, the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult in Japan staged a fatal nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway.
As the Pluto in Scorpio period progressed and AIDS became a global epidemic, some astrologers predicted a cure for AIDS once Pluto went into Sagittarius, using the logic that AIDS, being sexually transmitted, was therefore to be classified as a blight of Pluto in Scorpio, and therefore curable when Pluto changed signs. It is true that drug cocktails to treat the symptoms did improve the subjective experience of AIDS sufferers enormously, although we are still left with the disease.
These observations lead me to propose the following ideas, which we shall elaborate and extend in the following chapters:
Issues relating to the next sign of Pluto often begin to become obvious well before the sign change. This is really nothing different than the observation by many that the effects of the new solar return are often visible at least a month before the solar return actually occurs.
There is a classical definition of the beginning of a cycle which addresses the issue of when to start counting, and we shall address that theory in Chapter 1, and then continue to test it through Chapters 4-8.
There is a substantial amount of “clean-up” of the “messes” of the old sign that happens in the new sign - far more than most astrologers have factored.
The more you think about this idea of transition, the more it makes sense. If the function of Pluto in a sign is to push the limits of what that sign could be, how could reining in the extremes also be a part of the same function? If the function of Saturn in a sign is to bring about restructuring of the affairs of a sign, how could we expect that the breakdown, the restrictions, and the restructuring could be complete in less than three years? Suppose, for example, that Saturn is squaring my natal Sun position, and an eye problem manifests. And suppose, given the square aspect, that the operation is not entirely successful. If that's the case, I could well still be coping with that eye problem when Saturn goes in to the next sign. In that case, the next sign is acting to clean up the problem generated by the prior sign. If, as we saw with Pluto in Sagittarius, it takes years to set up the conditions that created the financial collapse from derivatives, how could we expect the effects to suddenly be over with the moment when Pluto entered Capricorn? In fact, a major portion of Pluto in Capricorn's agenda is cleaning up after Pluto in Sagittarius, just as a major portion of Pluto in Aquarius's job will be cleaning up after Pluto in Capricorn.
It was easy to see that a crash was coming when Pluto went into Capricorn. Back sometime in 1981-1982, I was teaching a class on astrology in which I predicted that the Social Security System would fail in 2008. Why did I make that prediction? Superficially, the answer is easy: I looked in an ephemeris and saw that Pluto was entering Capricorn that year. But why did I predict what I did? That's more complicated. My background as an ecologist/botanist had me interested in matters of overpopulation, and I was reading about the demographic impact of the Pluto in Leo generation (i.e., Baby Boomers) beginning to retire around this time – so the astrology fit the demographics.
But my prediction wasn't quite right – even if it was tantalizing. What I lacked then was sufficient knowledge of economic cycles - and experience with them – to even envision a crash of that magnitude. Because, more than anything else, astrologers can only predict what they can imagine as being possible. In Chapter 1, we shall see how astrologers missed the beginning of World War II, not because the traditional techniques failed, but largely because astrologers, as typical citizens of their own countries, shared the same reluctance to see the possibility of war as their non-astrological peers.
But more than economics or Social Security, the main signification that I could not get out of my mind is that Capricorn is Earth – and that means the world, materialism, and ecology. Humans have often made a career out of believing themselves different from and superior to the natural world. And yet, this has hardly been the dominant viewpoint throughout history. Most traditional cultures see themselves as embedded within their environment, not superior beings with the god-given right to subdue their environment. Among astrologers, this issue has most passionately been addressed by Richard Tarnas, as well as Patrick Curry. Using Greek terminology, Tarnas has contrasted the Apollonian and the Dionysian viewpoints, where the Apollonian perspective matches well with the rationalistic outer world, “arrow of time” perspective of the Enlightenment, whereas the Dionysian perspective is the cyclic, chaotic, inner-driven principle of many traditional societies. The same line was drawn dramatically in the television sci-fi series Babylon 5 as the conflict between the Apollonian Vorlons and the Dionysian Shadows. This clash of positions has the advantage of being much less value-laden than good vs. evil dichotomies – even if a number of the religiously-based versions of the conflict have labeled the Dionysian position as evil.
And by the way, if you are a bit disturbed by the equation of cyclic and chaotic, consider the source. Both of these concepts, at first so superficially opposed, actually emerge from the realm of the nonhuman. The Apollonian perspective arises from the rational mind imposing rules on its playground – most prominently, the rule of cause and effect.
By contrast, the Dionysian world is seething with pulses of life. But it has an underlying rhythm in cyclic time. The drumbeat provides a structure, but the dance allows for improvisation. Again, to use my Babylon 5 example, the Shadows periodically come out and knock over all the anthills, so to speak – but they do it periodically. There is still a rhythm under the chaos. In the universe of the Lord of the Rings, Sauron was merely the last of the great Dark Lords – periodically a new one would appear, and the dark side would wax strong again. In the Star Wars universe, there were two Sith (dark) lords – a master and an apprentice. Periodically, the apprentice would kill the master, or the master would die by another means. A new age begins, but it maintains the form, because a new apprentice must be found. It is fascinating how frequently the Dionysian path is branded evil by the Apollonian. This form is really a flavor of dualism, because it is never clear that one path is truly stronger than the other. In The Ultimate Asteroid Book, I discussed the Mesoamerican dualistic mythology of Quezalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca; Babylonian mythology was similarly dualistic with its paired antagonistic gods of Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu. Egyptian mythology has Seth and Osiris.
Walk with Pluto, and you will discover that you are walking on the dark side. Not necessarily evil – that is the branding of the Apollonian mind. But Pluto is literally so far out in the solar system, that the Apollonian light of the Sun truly is a distant star. Pluto, and the other Plutinos (the bodies in the same band as Pluto, outside the orbit of Neptune) rule matters complex, deep, old, and impersonal. These are matters too large for the human mind to comprehend rationally. These issues can be dangerous for people to encounter, especially unprepared. In this book, we shall take up some of the dynamics of this process in Chapter 3.
The theme of Earth will not be denied while Pluto is in Capricorn, even as there will also be cleaning up of the excesses of Pluto in Sagittarius. Simultaneously reading the data emerging from the studies of ecologists and the environmental movement, then seeing the concern of astrologers for the events of the 2010's and beyond, I could not help but see a convergence.
As these issues about this convergence developed, I realized that my dual background put me in a perfect position to bring these ideas to the astrological community. My science training is an asset, because it allowed me to conceive of a book which could address the ecological issues ahead using language from both disciplines. And the final part of this mix was my background in classical astrology, which allowed me to reformulate the question of astrological prediction in the mundane sphere – and therefore show how ancient ideas could apply to modern problems.
The structure of this book addresses several different techniques and applications:
Chapter 1 presents the history of mundane prediction techniques, with an emphasis on the use of the Aries Ingress, both individually, and as a system for predictions for the effects of the longer Jupiter-Saturn and Mars-Saturn cycles.
Chapter 2 presents a primer on ecological and environmental concepts, so that the reader will have the language necessary to consider ecological matters in greater detail through the subsequent chapters.
Chapter 3 presents the dance of Neptune and Pluto. What many astrologers have missed about these two bodies is that their orbits make them a pair – and Uranus isn't far away in this slow cosmic dance.
Chapters 4-7 present Pluto through the elements. Much of the content of these chapters relates to environmental issues as they developed through the last pass of Pluto through each of these elements, emphasizing the point that each element contributes to the fate of Spaceship Earth.
Chapter 8 features the last two passes of Pluto through Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces, to examine more closely this issue of sign transition. We also get a chance to focus more clearly on the immediate patterns, and how previous passes through the same sign can provide ideas for what we can expect this time.
Chapter 9 wraps up what we can learn from these methods.