|Beatles fans in the 1960s. Uranus conjunct Pluto. Neptune in Scorpio.|
"Madness," wrote Friedrich Nietzsche, "is the exception in individuals, but the rule in groups."
That would explain why psychopaths rise to the top then. The rest of us mill around being all reasonable, when really the way to succeed in a group is to appeal directly to the irrational, to the emotional, to the instinctive. Just look at politicians, or brands.
But what is our collective madness right now? And is there any point in trying to grasp it rationally when we know this is a group feeling that each of us individually feels to a greater or lesser extent, which each of us floats into and out of. The spirit of these times is all around us, and it's a feeling we all participate in, not a rational debate. And this zeitgeist, like a shapeshifting spirit, changes shape and form depending on the cultural context in which it finds itself. In Tahrir Square or at Wimbledon, in Shanghai or Red Square, the energy manifests differently. But it is never rational...
In astrology, we talk about the transpersonal planets – Uranus, Neptune, Pluto; the social planets – Jupiter and Saturn; and the personal planets – Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars.
So it is the planets from Saturn through Pluto that rule our collective behaviour, influencing eras and generations. It's the patterns between these outer planets that create the zeitgeist.
Right now, we have Uranus in Aries. There is no doubt that we can see the effect on the collective has been revolutionary. Uranus is the planet of revolution and change, the rebel. Aries is the sign of action and the individual. Aries is, in fact, the least collective sign of all. It's the most personal. Aries, generally speaking, is the least aware of other people as full individuals. All experience for Aries has to be direct in order to be understood. So Uranus went into Aries in 2O1O and will leave in 2O18. By now you should have some inkling of how this is working for you.
With these heavy planets in this favourable sextile pattern, this is where change is happening. Pluto went into Capricorn in 2008; Neptune into Pisces in 2011. There's still more than a decade to go with this energy.
Now, we have a doubly collective base underpinning this very personal group rebellion. Yes, that is an intentional oxymoron.
|Lamartine speaking to the people of Paris in 1848 by Felix Phillipoteaux.|
Uranus in Aries, Neptune in Pisces, Pluto in Aries
Currently - and for around two more years - Saturn, Capricorn's planet, is in Scorpio, Pluto's sign, so they are in mutual reception. Capricorn and Saturn are about learning lessons. Saturn is the strict, disciplinarian teacher. Scorpio can be vengeful and relentless. Go figure. Capricorn is government. Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are already paying the price for their Uranian rebellion. (Mannning in particular is very Uranian indeed with his tight natal Sun-Uranus-Saturn-Mercury conjunction.)
Revenge is in the air right now.
Pisces goes beyond even Capricorn, into the primordial chaos after the end and before the beginning. We have a square between youth and old age, between Pluto and Uranus, and in between we have Neptune, in his own sign, stirring up the soup of the collective, stirring up our emotions, our idealism, our imagination.
Occupy and the Arab Spring have been about imagining a better future. As I wrote a while ago now, they echo 1848, called the Year of Revolution, the Springtime of the People, which also took place as Neptune was in the last degrees of Aquarius, and moved into Pisces – and Uranus was in Aries. The revolutions disintegrated, old power institutions seemed to reassert themselves within a few years. In France, the crucible of that year, the Second Empire was declared in 1852, putting an end to the democracy that was established in 1848. It seemed as if everything would revert back to the way it had been – except in Denmark, where the reforms stayed.
That may sound negative, but the long-term ripples of that year of revolution spread the ideas of liberalism, socialism and universal suffrage. That year was the turning point in giving the people of Europe, and eventually the world, a stronger voice in government.
It's not easy: Pluto in Capricorn will resist this revolution until Uranus moves into Taurus in five years. Then constructive change can and must take place as the two earth signs work together. Pluto is the planet of transformation and regeneration: where Pluto transits, he demands total rebirth. Since Capricorn is the sign of government and large international corporations and institutions, this is where he is working. There is a battle on though, and the outcome is uncertain.
The gods are not always kind. Pluto could end by giving even more power to those institutions. For example, the vaunted reformation of international banking has yet to take place. In fact, the banks are now even more profitable; creepily rising like undead vampires. We need global institutions to re-imagine paradigms now. The very people who talk about "blue-sky thinking" and "thinking outside the box" need to stop thinking and start imagining and intuiting - maybe.
It's not until 2O26 that Pluto and Uranus actually come into harmonious aspect – and by then they will be in air signs, the thinking signs. Neptune will be in Aries by then, envisioning a new beginning, and all three planets will be talking constructively.
But what about our current madness? How does this zeitgeist affect our individual sanity?
That is a question for your own chart.
Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink: Thinking Without Thinking is essentially a defence of intuition, a good read for the fiery or watery of mind, or for those air signs who just don't understand how other people are reach their conclusions.