An Alignment for Our Times: 2010
by Bill Streett article link
1/13/04 | Astrology for the Soul
The beginning of the next decade has received much attention by futurists, metaphysicians, and historians of ancient civilizations. This brief but important period of time is considered by many to signal either a leap of human evolution, an exponential increase in creativity, or a time of dramatic societal change. Arguably, this time period is receiving more attention than the beginning of the millennium a few years ago as we began the new century.
Astrology also suggests that this brief time period will be an important one, as a dramatic alignment between Saturn, Pluto, and Uranus constellates at this time. Specifically, Saturn, Pluto, and Uranus form what is called a “T-Square” in which the three planets form an isosceles right triangle. Although forming an exact T-Square in the year 2010, the alignment will certainly be potent in its manifestations for a year or two on either side of 2010.
Throughout history, when Saturn, Pluto, and Uranus form hard alignments(1) such as a T-Square, a time of socio-economic and political destabilization, tension, and contraction arise. Any hard alignment involving these planets suggests a period of stress where growth and evolution is demanded yet hard to achieve. On one hand, the alignment represents a stalemate between opposing forces, and, on the other, the alignment represents a time where pressure, hardship, and frustration ultimately give birth to something radically new. Out of this alignment arises a new order, where the old order disintegrates and gives rise to new social, economic, and political visions and movements.
A cursory look at the planetary archetypes involved can explain why these times tend to be so challenging and destabilizing. Saturn symbolizes tradition, order, and limits; for all intents and purposes, Saturn represents the establishment at any given point in time. In many ways, Uranus is in complete contrast to Saturn’s order and tradition. Uranus symbolizes humanitarian progress and freedoms relative to Saturn’s restrictions and traditions. Archetypally, Uranus ushers in new changes, a heightened renewal of creativity, new reforms, and new ideals to aspire to. A person aligned with the archetype of Uranus tends to be more visionary, more idealistic, and unbound from the limits, traditions, social expectations and conservative sensibility that defines the person more attuned with the archetypal Saturn.
Arguably Pluto is the most difficult archetype to define, particularly in a limited space. Writing about Pluto is applying a rational process to a symbol that is almost wholly irrational. In a simplistic way, Pluto represents the primal, primitive survival instincts that drive and compel individual and social evolution onward. What can be expressed is that Pluto is an analogous to a will to power, which often implies a ‘power over’ or dominion over something or someone. Seen more as a process versus a steady state, Pluto symbolizes powerful times of transformation and change that occur at a fundamental level. Both terrifying and cathartic, Plutonic events are the eruption of processes that have long been gestating underground and hidden from collective consciousness.
When these planetary symbols come together in hard aspect, they are “forced to negotiate their differences” and the cross talk between these archetypes is not always polite nor productive. During these times, the socio-political dimensions of the collective approach conflict, if not crisis and breakdown. During these critical junctures in time, prevailing modes of economic and political discourse are pushed far-from-equilibrium and mounting tensions that have been ignored or repressed due to limitations of the current socio-political paradigm reach a breaking point. Simultaneously, new alternatives that range from enlightened progress to regressive barbarism rise to cope with the ensuing crises and difficulties of the time. During the period of the alignment, the problems and crises are often exaggerated or rendered more intense; real progress, forward momentum, or breakthroughs toward the challenges presented manifest after the alignment subsides.
Twice in the twentieth century have all three planets aligned in hard aspect: once in the early 1930s and again in the middle part of the 1960s. Certainly, these times were crucial in constructing the socio-political makeup of the decades that followed and were arguably the most dynamic and tumultuous years of the previous century. A look at the dynamics of these years will help to understand the themes and possibilities that lay ahead in 2010.
Late 1930-1932: Saturn-Uranus-Pluto T-Square
This T-Square in the Cardinal Signs of Capricorn, Aries, and Cancer was the symbol of economic breakdown in the Western economies. Astrologically speaking, we have an instance of the quality of dearth or scarcity associated with Saturn being ignited, empowered, and intensified by the outer planets of Uranus and Pluto. In the United States and Europe, unemployment rates reached their highest levels of the century and many people in industrialized countries experienced the bare subsistence levels typically associated with the Third World. The Great Depression effected all countries; only communist Soviet Union was able to increase industrial production levels at this time.
However, this T-Square symbol of Uranus, Saturn, and Pluto is a complex one, and one would be negligent not to broaden the scope of perspective to include how Pluto and Uranus were each adding their own archetypal dimension to the time at hand. Although the Crash in 1929 and subsequent Depression were sudden, many factors were at work years before the Depression to bring it into manifestation. The industrial boom of the 1920s helped to mask large and looming difficulties in industrialized economies. Moreover, throughout the 1920s, national economies tried to return to pre-World War One strategies that were hopelessly insufficient. Thus, although unexpected, the Depression was the result of many hidden variables that erupted at once. It is the nature of the archetype of Pluto to lay dormant for many years only to manifest in great power, not unlike a volcano or an earthquake.
The beginning of the decade also saw the emergence of the darker aspects of the collective psyche in the appearance of fascist governments, and in particular, Nazism. The scapegoating, lust for political dominance, paranoid obsession with total dictatorial control, and manipulation of mass consciousness through propaganda seen in the Third Reich are all manifestations of the lower qualities of Pluto. With Saturn and Uranus aspecting Pluto at this time, the ‘return of repressed’ elements from the shadow of the unconscious reared its ugly head.
The workings of Uranus can be observed through the quality of accelerated change of the period, as Uranus is always associated with sudden change and reversals. Certainly, the unexpected decline in the world economic situation is the most apparent corollary with this quality of Uranus. However, the acceleration of changing conditions is also noted in socio-political conditions of the day, most notably in Germany. During the time period of the T-Square, the Nazi party rose from a tiny minority with little over ten seats in the German Reichstag to becoming the majority party of the German political system—an extraordinary, sudden twist of events in European history.
1964-mid 1967: Saturn opposition to Uranus and Pluto
If the 1930s alignment brought out the face of Saturn dealing with scarcity and lack, the 1960s opposition brought out the side of Saturn dealing with convention, established values, and tradition. The period of the early 1960s saw a rise in new and unconventional ways of being in all facets of society, however, it was the mid-1960s where the real struggle between old and new, authority and youth, convention and progress came to a head. To the establishment, the wave of rising countercultural tendencies of the late 1950s and early 1960s was not going to influence and permeate cultural values without a showdown and standoff. In nearly every cultural and political arena, the mid-1960s witnessed the old guard of tradition tensely poised against the new vanguard of countercultural and progressive sympathies.
As Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X pushed the frontier of civil rights, race riots erupted all over the United States. In South Africa, as the government tightened its segregationist apartheid policies, resistance led by Mandela and others grew stronger. With American forces in Viet Nam intensifying, protests and civil unrest arose against a war deemed unexplainable and unviable by the majority of the American public. As self-expression and intolerance of communism increased inside the Eastern Bloc, the Soviet regime enforced harsher and stricter controls against dissention.
The greatest demonstration of tension between social and political opposites was not in the West but in China. With his hope of eradicating a rising tide against communism, Mao Tse-Tung initiated his great Cultural Revolution—a veritable civil war in which China’s political and social history and future were at stake. Mao’s enemies were not so much a political party or group but rather values, including his list of four olds: old customs, old habits, old culture, and old thinking. Anything associated with capitalist sympathies and traditional Chinese culture was to be annihilated, and Mao’s Red Guard was happy to oblige his extremism.
During the mid-1960s, progressive idealism and entrenched traditions were in heightened dialectical tension—and the main astrological alignment of the times perfectly mirrored the standoffs across the globe. Saturn, representing order, tradition, authority, fear of change, and restrictions was symbolically and literally opposite Uranus and Pluto, representing change, disorder, youthful idealism, rebellion, liberation of the oppressed and suppressed, and self-expression.
The above examples demonstrate that when Uranus, Pluto, and Saturn form hard alignments, an era of socio-political destabilization and heightened cultural tensions manifest. During the early 1930s, an age of economic scarcity pressured the rise of new governments and new economic policies across the globe. In the mid-1960s, ideological tensions reached their peak surrounding issues of war, race, politics, self-expression, and economics. These alignments represent global pressure cookers wherein crucial socio-political issues smelt.
Out of this crucible, new ideologies, governments, policies, reforms, and social movements are born—and often the offspring of these alignments are a mixed blessing. After the crises of the Saturn, Pluto, and Uranus alignment of the early 1930s, the Nazi regime established its legacy of hatred, terror, and tyrannical cruelty, and much of Europe embraced fascism and totalitarian control as an answer to the economic woes of the early part of the decade. However, the destabilization and catastrophes of the early 1930s also spawned innovation, reform, and progressive humanitarianism. FDR’s “New Deal”—albeit controversial—reformed business, labor, and the American Presidency to a greater degree than any presidential policy since. Sweden—hit as hard as any nation during the worldwide depression of the time—established the very model of social democratic government and initiated public and political reforms that were way ahead of its time.
The Saturn, Pluto, Uranus Alignment of 2010
Given historical precedence and the archetypal dynamics involved, The Saturn, Pluto, and Uranus T-Square of 2010 should coincide with a period of great socio-political upheaval and destabilization, if not crisis. This alignment is arguably one of the most important astrological signatures of the first half of this century, certainly of the first three decades. This T-Square symbolically represents a turning point in which economic, cultural, and political difficulties of the last decades come to a head and demand resolution.
Out of this alchemical vessel of 2010 should arise significantly original and unprecedented social and political movements and reform. Certainly, there is a hope that what will emerge out the tensions of this time will produce greater freedoms, tolerance, peace, and prosperity. However, to remain true to past patterns, we can only say that what will materialize we be both progressive and regressive, tolerant and fascist, peaceful and oppositional—polarities that grow stronger.
If astrology is to grant anything to collective knowledge, it is the visionary capacity to see through the contingencies of history and see into forces and energies that inform and are in dialogue with our collective evolution. Whatever the period surrounding 2010 may bring—environmental catastrophe, financial collapse, political reformation and counter-reformation (or any combination thereof)—it is best not to see the events as an isolated crisis. Rather, astrology suggests that the events around 2010 should be seen upon a continuum in which tension and problems of the era demand and create growth and evolution. Thus, the astrological paradigm is not the province of Cassandras who intuit gloom and doom but is a way of seeing that potential greatness and maturity doesn’t come without growing pains and birth pangs.
(1) “hard alignments” for this article refer to the opposition and the 90-degree alignment, or square.
Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved
Astrology for the Soul home page