Uranus and Pluto aligned in the 1960s and Now
by Deike Begg
"We are living in what the Greeks called the Kairos - the right time - for a metamorphosis of the gods, i.e., of the fundamental principles and symbols."
So Jung wrote in 1958 in The Undiscovered Self*, addressing the anxieties of the time. The same quote could equally apply to today's world conditions. Perhaps we are in a constant state of metamorphosis that from time to time reaches a certain peak, an unbearable pressure point, when the centre ceases to hold. But what is certain is that once again we are facing what appear to be apocalyptic changes
When Jung wrote the above we were not far from approaching the famous 60s Uranus/Pluto conjunctions in Virgo. Now we are in the midst of the uber-challenging squares between these two galactic ambassadors. Reinhold Ebertin calls this contact "The process of transformation; the collapse of the old order of things and the construction of the new; revolution."**
At least in the 60s we had a tremendous amount of fun. It was a time of 'letting it all hang out', a time that was 'a'changing'. Old rules were overthrown without installing fresh ones. It was a time of great excitement, too. We were aware that something quite extraordinary was in the air. I was too young to be interested in the politics of that period, but I later learned that we probably just about avoided a nuclear war.
I experienced the Uranus/Pluto conjunction first hand, and quite consciously. In 1961 I had come to London from Hamburg, Germany, a fine, elegant and vibrant merchant city. So I was quite shocked to find London a filthy, grey and almost backward place in comparison. The country seemed poor, the fashion dull, the hairstyles boring and formal. I experienced the last of the famous London smogs, thick, green and muddy. It was dangerous to go out of doors when the 'pea soup' had descended. That muddy slime got into everything: up your nose and into your lungs, into your hair and clothes. But then the smokeless fuel act came in putting an end to this type of pollution. Previous to this I remember walking through the streets of London afraid to breathe. Maybe with the clean air that was soon to follow the Age of Aquarius was on its way.
And then things began to change on other fronts, too, and with some speed. I was in a relationship then with my future husband, Johnny (John Burch, d.2005), a modern jazz pianist, who had his own band; his drummer was Ginger Baker and his bass player Jack Bruce, who later formed The Cream. Eric Clapton was around a lot, too, before he became famous. And there were others who also later made a name for themselves, who were in his band, like saxophonists Dick Heckstall-Smith, Graham Bond, Tommy Whittle and Don Rendell, and trumpeter Chris Pine. Johnny wrote music for Georgie Fame, and Buddy Greco would play some of his work. And he would regularly play down Ronnie Scott's, where he would accompany Roland Kirk and other well-known musicians from the States. We were touring up and down the country, festival after festival, concert after concert. Sometimes six or seven of us piled into a car meant for four.
The audiences were hugely appreciative and often went crazy in true Dionysian mode. At the time it all seemed pretty normal, even if they knew that they were some kind of pioneering group. It was simply what they did, and I felt immensely privileged that I was always asked along. And we all met on Mondays in Soho's Archer Street, simply standing around and exchanging information. But it was always about jazz; nothing else seemed to be of the slightest interest. Everyone knew everyone else. This was a dedicated group of musicians, who were relatively poor, but immensely passionate about what they were doing. Looking back, it was this group that gave birth to British modern Jazz.
I was working for music publishers in Soho, and I remember the day when Mary Quant first made an appearance and Twiggy also emerged, a truly 'Uranian' type (known in the medical world as women with boyish figures and men with hips like women). Carnaby Street was around the corner from my office, but it was then only a long street with sort of sheds, a backstreet where you didn't really want to venture alone, and certainly not at night. And then, of course, there came the Beatles, who first made an impact in my hometown, Hamburg, at the Star Club. When I saw them for the first time on TV I felt as if something truly tremendous was happening. The air seemed full of fresh promise; a turning point in history that one could feel in one's bones.
They say that if you remember the sixties you weren't there. Well, I do remember the sixties, very much so, and I was very much right there in the middle of it. I bought my first Mary Quant dress for my first Christmas party at the publishers. I wore it for years, just reducing the length bit by bit as skirts became shorter. But we also wore kaftans and other long flowing dresses, and, indeed, we did wear flowers in our long loose-hanging hair.
The 60s also saw some exceptionally extreme weather. Apart from the choking smog of '62 there was a the big freeze in '63, when snow fell for 36 hours; and the heat wave of 66/67. On a personal level 1966 was also a turning point. I got married to Johnny, passed my driving test and gave birth to my first child. On the eve of her birth, Johnny was playing on the Humphrey Littleton's Jazz programme a tune he had specially composed for his forthcoming child. I don't think it was possible then to know the sex of the child in advance of its birth, so he called the composition "What'll it be?"
I had no knowledge of astrology at the time, but I guess that having Sun and Moon in Aquarius in the 7th house might have had something to do with finding myself, quite synchronistically, on the London jazz scene soon after my arrival from Germany, when I was walking through Soho with a friend and heard jazz music coming out of a basement. I insisted on going in, a decision that changed my life forever, because we immediately became acquainted with a group of musicians.
Statistically a lot of jazz musicians are born in winter, especially in Capricorn, and Johnny was a Capricorn, with Moon in Sagittarius and Venus in Aquarius. Modern jazz comes under the rulership of Aquarius and Uranus. The 60s were the years when jazz, as we know it today, made its proper appearance in Britain. Ronnie Scott's was just a large basement room in Gerrard Street, with one unisex loo, and a little oven for heating hamburgers. But it would be packed night after night, and has long since moved to a far grander and larger venue in Frith Street - a stone's throw from its birth place - going stronger than ever now. And it is still bringing musicians over from the States, which was Ronnie's original idea for opening a club in the first place.
The whole feeling of those tight Uranus/Pluto years, mainly 1962-1968, was one of constant change and speed. Looking back, the collective astrological aspects could be viewed as typical of Uranus conjunct Pluto. But I think today's squares between these two seems to have quite a different agenda and feel about it. The 60s saw a collective liberation: people became sexually much freer; they started living together rather than get married, and the stigma of having a child out of wedlock more or less disappeared. The trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover opened the way to greater freedom of expression in print, and over in California the Human Potential Movement was given birth to by such notable giants as Abraham Maslow, Fritz Perls, Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts among others.
We are in a different place now, at least in the modern Western world. We are facing altogether different issues, and what we see happening across the world is hugely disturbing. In the 60s we were shouting "make love, not war", an invocation that is needed even more today. But Uranus and Pluto are cold bedfellows, especially taking into consideration their sign placements.
For Uranus in Aries Ebertin gives us: Sudden outbursts of energy, restlessness, fanatical fight for ideas, blind zeal, violence, dreamy enthusiasts and utopians.
For Pluto in Capricorn he has this to say: Concentrated energy, resoluteness, an almost fanatical concentration on certain aims, technical abilities and interests.
Certainly, when we put those two together, we can see in it our obsession with the various gadgets that most people, including children, now own and use. Uranus surely has a great hand in all this, not to mention the much bigger issue of drones and nuclear technology etc. Another development I have observed is that children spend a great deal of time on computers and Xboxes, designing and building with Lego Designer, Minecraft etc. Groups of children are linking up via their computers and xBoxes across borders and continents, playing games in the edifices they have dreamed up and 'built'. These 'games' are far more than play. Skills are thus developed that we can't yet imagine what they might be for further down the line. This is only one of the signs of changing planetary influences on today's children that conditions their brains in special ways for a future where these skills will be highly valued and maybe even necessary for the survival of the species. Under Uranus/Pluto Sociological Correspondence, Ebertin lists: pioneers, reformers, explorers, people who are very much out of the ordinary or who are endowed with universal genius.
The planets are evolving, too. They are the gods or the greater lives that are the ambassadors of perhaps even greater ones. After an outer planet has gone through a particular sign, it changes, maybe not noticeably so, maybe not affecting us personally in a dramatic way, but with hindsight we can see that our astrological interpretations have also undergone certain changes. With the addition of archetypal psychology to our astrological toolkit we opened up an entirely new way of considering the horoscope. This means that the children born during these tumultuous times, just as those born in the 60s, will come in with a specific signature. They will have revolutionary changes in their DNA, and they might just know how to bring about a benign revolution. The truth is that we don't know, but we do know that all previously 'solid' institutions have come under the microscope and have been found wanting. While the sixties saw the sexual liberation, the present decade witnesses exposure of prolific sexual child abuse that's been going on for decades. Just as we are witnessing all the other abuses and excesses that are the result of a too liberal society, where anything goes, where everyone is out for him/herself - the 'me' generation. As Fritz Perls said, "I do my thing and you do yours, and if by chance we meet that that's great," or words to that effect.
Perhaps the Labours of Hercules could help us gain more insight into what the Uranus/Pluto squares might promise. The eighth Labour, Scorpio, has to do with the destruction of the Lernean Hydra. Hercules has been charged with rescuing the land from a monster hydra that has made its home in a cave, blocking three crystal springs that are meant to nourish and cleanse the land. Instead, the land has turned into a stinking swamp. The hydra has 9 heads, but one is immortal.
As words of advice the Teacher counsels Hercules before he sets out:
"We rise by kneeling; we conquer by surrendering; we gain by giving up. Go forth, O son of God and son of man, and conquer."
Hercules arrives at the river where diabolical hydra lives and provokes it to come out of the cave by shooting at it with arrows dipped in burning pitch. He cuts off one head after another, only for two more to grow back. Then he remembers what his Teacher had counseled, "we rise by kneeling."He then falls to his knees and grasps the monster with his bare hands and lifts it high above his head and holds it there. Suspended thus the hydra loses its power, ....the purifying air and light might have their due effect. The monster strong in darkness and in sloughy mud, soon lost its power when the rays of the sun and the touch of the wind fell on it. One by one the heads died off, and then he saw the eternal head, the one that would not die. When that, too, had finally lost all its strength, Hercules bludgeoned it to 'death', and, still hissing, he buried it under a rock. The waters began to flow freely, cleansing and nourishing the whole land. The Teacher, when Hercules reported back, said, "The Light that shines at Gate the eighth is now blended with your own."
The Herculean Labour of Aquarius is that of the cleansing of the Augean Stables. Hercules was directed by higher forces to go to the kingdom of Augeas, who had not cleaned his stables for many years. The stench was overwhelming. And as there was so much dung everywhere, especially on the fields, nothing could grow there. The country was blighted by pestilence and there was tremendous suffering of the people, with many dead due to the sickness of the land.
Hercules offers to cleanse the stables and the land without reward. But the King is suspicious and declares:
"I don't trust those who offer to do something for nothing. You want to trick me into losing my throne. I have never heard of men to serve without seeking reward. Even so, if you can do what you say in a single day I will reward you richly just the same. But if you fail you shall lose your life."
Hercules then diverts the two rivers, Alpheus and Peneus, and directs their combined rushing torrents through the dung-filled stables, sweeping away the accumulated filth. By the end of the day the task is completed and the land is cleansed and the air clear of stink and stench. But Augeas still thinks that Hercules was up to some trickery and won't keep to the bargain and banishes Hercules from his kingdom. Hercules returns to his Teacher who says this to him:
"A server of the world you have become. You have gone on by going back; you have come to the House of Light by yet another path; you have spent your light that the light of others might shine. The jewel that the eleventh labour gives is yours forever more."
Does this ring a bell in regard to what is happening in our world today? Abusers of power one after another are emerging from their stinking secret caves. Will it be the light of consciousness that will finally bring salvation. Both Labours speak of the land having all but died, and both bring the solution.I leave it up to the readers to reach their own conclusions as these myths have many versions. But surely as the battle between Uranus and Pluto rages on for some time yet, the analogies seem, at least in part if not in their entirety, quite apt.
Deike Begg D.F.Astrol.S
Deike was involved with the AA, serving on its Council for many years. She was a frequent speaker at AA Conferences and lectured widely. She held three AA positions at one time: London Meetings Organiser, Information Officer and Secretary to the Council. She has a private practice in London. Her website is at www.deikebegg.com
She is author of: Rebirthing - Freedom from Your Past; Synchronicity - The Promise of Coincidence; and with husband Ean Begg: On the Trail of Merlin; In search of the Holy Grail and the Precious Blood
*Routledge & Kegan Paul,1958
**The Combination of Stellar Influences, AFA, 1972
All references for the Labours of Hercules are taken from Alice Bailey's book of the same title, Lucis Publishing Company. It was first published in The Beacon in 1957.