"It's coming from so far away, it's hard to say for sure,
Whether what I hear is music or the wind through an open door.
There's a fire high in the open sky, where the sea meets the shore,
And a long distance loneliness is rolling out over the desert floor…"
—Jackson Browne, The Fuse—
Harbingers of Change
On September 11, 2001, an event of great historic magnitude
occurred as the United States was attacked with its own technology by
a network of terrorists. The attack struck at icons of the Western world,
successfully hitting symbols of both capitalism and militarism in one
day, along with thousands of innocent civilians. News flew over the
airwaves and within the day billions of people all around the world
knew that something really big had happened. The United States of America
was not safe. The home of the free, land of the brave, protectors of
individual liberty, and bastion of capitalism was under attack. War
was immediately declared and the military began to mobilize. But where
do the soldiers get sent? And who do they fight? This is, certainly,
a "new kind of war."
Events of great magnitude change the course of history,
but the consequences can take time to unfold. In the last century, broadcast
media has speeded up the cascading course of history by creating global
immediacy around events of great magnitude. For example, in the year
411 A.D., the Visigoths burned and pillaged Rome. The event went by
unnoticed in most of the world, yet today it is considered the beginning
of the fall of the Roman Empire. In 532 A.D., Emperor Justinian attempted
to re-conquer the Roman Empire. He was responsible for massacring 30,000
spectators in a stadium in Constantinople to put down a tax revolt.
30,000 dead in one afternoon! But without radio or TV to carry the news
around the world, this terror was only known within a small geographical
area. Today it is different. News runs around the planet at the very
speed of light as if the news itself was alive.
Cycles of History
We are taught that history repeats itself, yet the primary
tool used to teach history in school is the time line. Is there value
in learning about historical cycles? What can they tell us? Can understanding
larger patterns of history actually help us avoid falling into the same
traps again and again? Until now, this line of inquiry was irrelevant,
for we lacked the global feedback mechanisms to allow mass self-consciousness
to develop. Now, with the Internet added to the mix of electronic media,
even national boundaries and multinational corporate interests cannot
keep individuals all over the planet from freely communicating with
each other. This really is War and Peace in the Global Village.
If history is really cyclical, then shouldn't we plot
historical events on time circles rather than lines? This idea is not
as crazy as it might sound. In fact, that's exactly what astrologers
do! Serious astrologers study cycles by observing the relationship between
events on Earth and the repetitive revolutions of the planets around
the Sun. In fact, throughout the ages astrologers have been called upon
by those who shape history to give their cosmic perspective in times
of crisis. Emperors, kings and presidents have called upon their astrologers
to look at the current events in light of the larger planetary cycles
so they might know when best to initiate action, war or when to retreat.
Pluto and Historical Cycles
From the viewpoint of astrologers, the rhythms of the
outer planets are cultural and generational, for their cycles can extend
over many generations. Pluto, the slowest moving of the planets, completes
only four cycles around the sun each millennium. Astrologers look to
Pluto to understand the deepest and most evolutionary changes, including
the rise and fall of empires and civilizations. The nearly 250-year
cycle of Pluto can be measured against the movement of other planets.
In this way, we can observe the cyclic nature of events that tie together
into fabrics of larger meaning.
Enter Father Time
Planets are like hands on the clock of our solar system. Pluto may be
the slowest hand on the clock, but Saturn, is the slowest hand that
we can see with our naked eyes. It is a nearly 30-year cycle that is
often symbolic of the generational aspect of life. Individually, Saturn
is connected to responsibility, maturity and authority.
Prior to modern technology, Saturn was the end of the line. To the ancient
Greeks, Saturn was Kronos, the great keeper of time. Kronos had a symbolic
connection with all that is real. The word "chronic" comes from Kronos,
and something that is chronic is not only real, but it has settled in
over a long period of time. Even to the pre-telescopic Romans, Saturn
was considered "the law." But then, two millennia ago, the Christians
changed Saturn to the Grim Reaper…and what we got at the end usually
wasn't good. Saturn was what you got at the end of life: a judgment
resulting in Heaven or Hell. Beyond Saturn, there was nothing but the
fixed sphere of the stars. Now, however, with the discovery of Pluto,
in some strange way Saturn has found a friend. Together they are symbolic
of events that represent irrevocable change.
The Saturn-Pluto Beat
Saturn and Pluto, in their respective orbits, perform a cosmic dance
of apparent alignment. Over a period of about 33 years, they slowly
come together in the sky. For a brief cosmic moment, they touch the
same zodiacal degree. Every 33 years there is a Saturn-Pluto conjunction.
Three times a century. Like a waltz. One, two, three. One two, three.
Counting the centuries like quarter notes. In the 20th Century, Saturn
and Pluto conjoined in 1914, 1947 and 1982.
Halfway through this Saturn-Pluto conjunction cycle, the Earth comes
between the two planets, now stretched out 180 degrees on opposite sides
of our solar system. The tension of Saturn pulling one way and Pluto
pulling the other may not be measurable with our scientific instruments,
but history records the stress as events shape our lives. Like the conjunction,
the Saturn-Pluto opposition occurs approximately every 33 years, three
times a century, on the off beat from the conjunctions. The most recent
Saturn-Pluto oppositions were in 1898, 1931 and 1965. And now, from August 2001 through May 2002.
The next article in this series examines the Saturn-Pluto
events of 1898, 1914, 1931, 1947, 1965, 1982 and how they have
shaped the current global situation. More-->