IN LIGHT OF THE URANUS/NEPTUNE CYCLE
This article appeared previously in 'To Sow" (Spring 1995)
- THE 19th CENTURY
In the 19th century astrology had almost died out in Western Europe, like all other esoteric symbol systems. To truly understand the climate of the Western world and the climate in which astrology started to become an object of study once again, the planetary patterns themselves are of great value. Especially in this connection the planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto symbolize greater cycles of time. What we need to keep in mind in this connection is that
- URANUS symbolizes the principle of renewal: breaking through worn-out patterns.
- NEPTUNE is the principle of the spiritual impulse in the human being,
- PLUTO symbolizes our deepest essential truth.
Planets orbit the Sun in calculable tracks at different speeds. Naturally, because these planets have different speeds from one another, it is logical that the planets meet up with each other from time to time, and after meeting up with one another - since one of them is moving faster than the other - they will separate again. In ancient history it was known that when there was such a meeting 'in space' between two planets ( from our point of view that is) an important new phase was to be born. Such meetings, called conjunctions astrologically and astronomically, marked an important point in time. One could say that when two planets conjoined a new timeframe would come into being. its quality depending on the qualities of the planets at their present stage of evolution. This new timeframe would end when these two planets conjoined again to start another new cycle.
From these astrological principles, the history of astrology and the spiritual impulse in the human being becomes extraordinarily fascinating. Neptune and Pluto for instance are the most distant planets, and conjoin once every 500 years approximately. If we combine the principles of these planets as mentioned earlier, we could speak of an energy that has something to do with truth (Pluto) with regard to the spiritual impulse (Neptune) in the human being. And so each time when these two planets conjoin, a new phase starts where the undermining of the falsities of the past begin and new truths (and hopefully truer truths) emerge. Esoterically this particular cycle is considered as being the one where new spiritual teachings emerge, initiated by Masters at the beginning (or born at the beginning) of such a conjunction. It is fascinating to note that amongst many others Krishnamurti, Dane Rudhyar and Paramahansa Yogananda were born during such a conjunction at the end of the 19th century.
So this means that at the end of the previous century a new 500 year cycle was born, almost invisible at the back of all other outer manifestations in the world.
A second cycle of importance is the cycle of Uranus and Neptune. If Uranus means renewal and Neptune means the spiritual impulse, it is logical to conclude that a new spiritual impulse is born each time these two planets conjoin. History proves this to be correct. The cycle of Uranus and Neptune lasts for about 172 years. A few years ago, in 1993, we had such an impulse at work in the world, because it was then that Uranus and Neptune were conjunct again. It was and is the main energy behind all the new spiritual impulses of this day and age, the 'new age', or the 'Aquarian Age' energies of today.
The last time that this happened was in 1821. And there our story about the rebirth of astrology in the modern western world gets started, the modern western world being the only world where symbolic thinking had dried up entirely.
The story of this history now will start to become rather 'unprovable' in material terms ('Neptunian", in astrological language), it being purely astrological. In fact, there are various incidents known that happened roundabout 1821 in western history that certainly had to do with a new (Uranus) spiritual impulse (Neptune).
For instance the Astrological Journal published in 1993 that in 1821 a book was published with the title 'The new (Uranus) Christianity' (Neptune), which would later become the foundation stone for Socialism (sic!). What was spiritual in origin became completely fascinated with materiality at the end of the last Uranus/Neptune cycle!
In that same year Mary Baker Eddy was born, who later founded the Christian (Neptune) Science (Uranus) movement. This was the first movement of that period to focus on spiritual healing with a foundation of a renewed interpretation of the Bible, and it gained enormous ground in the United States. The Western world was ready for a new impulse in its spiritual tenets.
However, it is my (Neptunian) suspicion, that invisibly so, another new impulse was born at that time, which had at its goal the breaking up (and opening up) of the entire western mind in the centuries thereafter.
One of the things to remember in this connection is that Uranus was discovered already in 1821, but Neptune was not. So literally Neptune was still invisible at that time. Well, what I suspect (and in fact gleaned from the Secret Doctrine) was that a certain spiritual brotherhood, situated somewhere in Tibet or the Trans-Himalayas, or even in the invisible layers of our collective psyche, outside of matter, or both, decided that the time had come to reorient the Western world towards the ancient old gnosis of humanity again that had been lost over here in the course of the centuries. Such attempts had been tried from time to time but had failed. So I suspect, that behind all the outer manifestations of the Uranus/Neptune conjunction of 1821, this invisible impulse was happening at the same time and was in fact the most important impulse of this conjunction. It was as if spiritual impulses first have to be acted out in the invisible world, before they can be reenacted upon the material world.
The cycle of Uranus/Neptune that we are now discussing, started in 1821, and ended in 1993. In between there are 3 other marking points:
- a) the first square in 1865
- b) the opposition from 1906-1909, and
- c) the last square in 1954.
Within ten years after the first invisible impulse in 1821 a woman was born that would play an important role in this connection, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. She was the one who would start the Theosophical Society in 1875 (within ten years of the first square) under the directives of Tibetan Masters. The Theosophical movement had as its goal the reorientation of the western world towards the ancient wisdom of old again, but in the climate of the very small thinking of the western world of that time, the movement was forced to operate essentially esoterically, though in the form of an exoteric society.
It was this movement that was the birthing ground of the renewed study of astrology, which in Europe was started by Alan Leo in England at the turn of the century.
THE 20th CENTURY
In 1906 (opposition of Uranus/Neptune) Alan Leo was busy traveling through Europe (Germany, Holland) and joined up with freemasons mostly to restart the study and publication of astrology.
It is interesting to note that in America a parallel pattern occurred. Also there it was the freemasonry movement that gave astrology its new impulse again early on in this century.
An important link between Europe and America was laid by Dane Rudhyar who emigrated within ten years of this opposition to America, where he soon would meet with theosophy and Alice Bailey. In Holland the spiritual fecundation of theosophy and freemasonry led to an entirely new way of trying to reunite the ancient wisdom, theosophical principles, and astrology, and a whole new set of planets were even invented for it (Persephone, Demeter, Hermes). This all occurred from the time of the Uranus/Neptune opposition onwards and was promoted by Holland's first astrological society, which still exists today (WvA).
This society however did not succeed where Dane Rudhyar did in his reformulation of astrology. At the time of World War II and thereafter a more and more scientific and materialistic tendency was apparent in astrology, that also sprung from the Uranus/Neptune opposition, where industrialism (Uranus) and God (Neptune) were becoming at odds with one another so to speak. On the outer front God and Neptune were disappearing from the original impulses of 1821 altogether and it peaked round about 1954 (the last square, and also the first square since the opposition). A whole new critical and atheistical generation was born around that time.
Astrology's main aim in the decennia thereafter was to become scientific (Uranus) and acceptable to the material world in a sense. The Dutch spiritual impulse of the 1906-1909 opposition failed bitterly, but at the same time did form an invisible strong core at the back of the mainstream.
In this light it is not hard to see why it took so long for Rudhyar's ideas to become accepted. It wasn't until the end of the previous Uranus/Neptune cycle that his ideas could be seen for what they were worth. But at the same time, he had impregnated American astrology with these ideas more succesfully than anywhere else in the world.
With the conjunction of Uranus and Neptune in 1993, the phase of 1906/1909 where Neptune and Uranus, Spirit and Industrial techniques (and in a sense God and astrology) were so far distant (opposite) from one another has ended. A new phase has just started. I personally feel that the impulses which were born in 1821 invisibly so, now are bearing visible fruit, and Neptune has been discovered meantime. On the other hand, we can also see an enormous new wave in computerizing/ mentalizing the world in a manner which does not exactly feel very sound (virtual realities, people attuned to computer images instead of life itself, loosing touch with the Earth, etc) but it is an (un-) natural enough freaky kind of consequence of that which again has happened on the inside planes first.
To some extent it is likely that it will not be until the first quarter of Uranus and Neptune, like 1865 in the last century, where the new spiritual impulses will take real shape in the outer world. This would be analogous to the First Quarter Moon phase, where the subjective impulses of the New Moon pass the Earth's orbit to go outward and become visible objectively.
The main point though is that as astrologers, we are only just now learning to see how conditioned we have been by the previous Uranus opposite Neptune and last -atheistic - square, in our denial of all that is beyond matter and our denial of the primary source of matter beyond matter. Plus we are only just now learning to readjust to this new cycle that started in 1993, in which we have found, it is hoped once again, ourselves (Uranus) reunited with Neptune. Thank God.
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