Remember when people used to say that “young folks these days” are apathetic and politically disengaged, or at least compared to their older counterparts? That they don’t take to the streets and protest anymore? Was the last time you heard that pre-2011?
For what it’s worth, the new normal of popular revolution and political upheaval was arguably ushered in around the time that Uranus, the planet of radical reinvention, revolution, and major upsets, began its tour through warrior sign Aries in 2011 (at first, briefly, from May-August 2010, and then for good beginning in March 2011). It was around this time that we saw the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street protests, and the arrival of Tea Party candidates to the midterm elections. The heat in the kitchen has hardly eased up in the years since, and in fact culminated in a record-breaking Inauguration Day protest this year.
On its own, the Uranus archetype takes the form of a restless change agent, but, much like a political activist, it operates in a manner that’s context-dependent: inspiring the higher mind in periods of relative calm, and lobbing bombs when pushed to the brink. Aries is a sign that only ever exists on the brink.
You may have heard Uranus referred to as the higher octave of Mercury. Both of these planets certainly operate in a temperamental (and often tricky, underhanded) manner. Mercury may govern everyday intelligence and communication — the emails we send — but Uranus has to do with the part of the human intellect that was capable of inventing email in the first place. Its discovery in 1781 was associated with major scientific advancement (I mean, it literally redefined the known limits of our solar system), and it’s since been associated with technological innovation and disruption (and not only in the Silicon Valley sense of the word).
Uranus spends 7 or more years in each sign (ever heard of the term “7-year itch?”), and 84 years completing an entire cycle. If you’re familiar with the Strauss-Howe generational theory of the “fourth turning,” you probably have an intuitive sense of how this has historically played out. American history has been marked by a series of crises separated by roughly 80-year intervals: the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and…now. Steve Bannon, for one, is super keen on this theory and all of its implied potential. Do you feel weird about this yet?
Of course, it doesn’t pay to dwell solely on the scary and negative implications of any astrological configuration. Archetypal patterns are never inherently good or bad — they’re usually a combination of both, but mostly depending on who you talk to. Since we’re here, though, we may as well acknowledge that the last time Uranus was in Aries (1927-1935), Hitler rose to power in Germany alongside a number of other authoritarian strongmen. This was certainly a manifestation of the lower Aries qualities of militarism, aggression, and “might makes right,” and we’re seeing resonances of these themes emerge again on the world stage.
But Uranus in Aries isn’t all “brownshirts and uprisings.” It’s also a revolution of the self — whatever that may happen to mean to you.
Okay, real quick: story time. Back in the summer of 2009, a number of months before Uranus made its initial ingress into Aries, I met the most Uranian individual to ever possibly walk this Earth. He was an Aquarius, but he invented his own zodiac sign that he assigned to himself (and no, it wasn’t Ophiuchus). He wore brightly colored felt clothing that he fashioned himself, and he lived in a house that stood out like a sore thumb thanks to a highly idiosyncratic paint job and a fence that he decorated with quirky philosophical musings. He had invented his own proprietary metaphysical doctrine (an electromagnetic one!) for dealing with various threats; he was more than likely a paranoid schizophrenic, but there was a profundity to his ideas when received in a not-strictly-literal sense. It was through conversations had with him and another good friend that I began to articulate this vague concept of “individual anarchy:” of the gradual shift away from hierarchy and toward a world where everyone is capable of assuming a self-determined stance. Somehow, I wound up watching The Lion King with some friends the same day, and I couldn’t help but see it as a metaphor for this concept I was grappling with: of the death of traditional authority (Mufasa), followed by the individual (Simba) assuming this mantle in his stead after a period of exile and self-discovery. Of course, it wasn’t lost on me that Leo (the sign of the lion, the “king,” and monarchy in every sense) is the polar opposite of Aquarius (the sign of democracy and the collective, ruled by Uranus in modern astrology). This was certainly an imperfect allegory, especially if you’re inclined to argue that The Lion King is really just a story about nepotism and inherited nobility.
Anyway, it’s funny to remember all of this now, at a time when the independent worker is eclipsing the corporate cog, and solo online entrepreneurship is establishing itself as a viable economy in its own right. Most of the people who have taken their career prospects into their own hands (how’s your personal brand these days?) did so out of necessity, what with the economy and the erosion of traditional employer benefits. But what could possibly signify Uranus (technological revolution) in Aries (the self; the individual) better than this?
As a brief aside, it’s worth mentioning that the development of the Mars expedition into a real and imminent possibility speaks to this in a huge way also. Mars is the ruler of Aries, and Aries is a pioneer, going where no man has ever gone before.
So where will we go next, considering that this astrological chapter is almost at an end? Uranus is due to move into Taurus at this time next year. Besides a decidedly more incremental approach to change, a likely bet is that money stuff and possessions will serve as the seat of this particular drama. When Uranus was last in Taurus from 1935-1941, the U.S. was deep into the Great Depression, a period that saw plenty of instability around Taurean themes like wealth, currency, and security (and actually, the implementation of the social safety net in the form of the New Deal, which was enacted between 1933-1938). Will our modern-day dance with these themes deliver global currency craziness, a less dysfunctional social safety net, or perhaps both? Perhaps (and probably) both.
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