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Posted on September 4, 2004
The Neptune-Pluto Cycle and the Next Seven Years
Astrology has many different ways of looking at the future. In this article, I am limiting myself to methods I have some experience with: outer-planet synodic cycles, sensitive degrees, and transiting aspect configurations. I will showcase ten of the more dramatic charts from October 2004 through June 2006, followed by brief descriptions of the key configurations of 2007-2012.
A journey through time is somewhat like a cross-country road trip. Having a map of the route can give you comfort and a sense of control, even if it doesn't actually get you to your destination. On any trip, there are those crucial moments when more focus is required - like not missing a highway exit when the next one is 40 miles ahead. Or after 200 miles of uneventful, relaxed driving through the desert, you suddenly enter a big city at rush hour. For the most part, the charts I am presenting here capture many of those crucial moments in the timescape - energies most of us will want to be aware of before they are upon us. As always, between and woven into some of the difficult planetary configurations on the road ahead, there are many relaxing, beautiful periods. This article presents a dire picture, but we live in precarious times. It's my belief that readers will be best served by getting a heads up on the potentially more problematic planetary traffic jams.
Although I made an effort to present some of the positive possibilities of the years ahead, you can repeat "growth opportunity" only so many times before it sounds trite. Having said that, I do believe that we are collectively being invited into more rapid spiritual growth. I encourage astrologers who have a different and (I hope) more upbeat vision of 2005-2012 to submit a concise analysis for possible publication, to balance the blind spots of this piece.
The Neptune-Pluto Septile
To understand the upcoming years in greater depth, we first need to give attention to what I believe is the dominant planetary aspect of this decade - the septile (1/7 of a circle) between Neptune and Pluto. This relationship of Neptune and Pluto forms the backdrop for the other aspect patterns.
Every 493 years, Neptune and Pluto conjoin; the last time this happened was in 1891-1892, at about 8° Gemini. Neptune formed several exact septiles (51° 26') with Pluto from 1937 to 1940. (1) These years saw the rise of Hitler and the start of World War II; a climate of despair and chaos characterized this period. Then, these two planets formed a long sextile (60°) - a relatively harmonious aspect - from 1950 to 1956 and reached a maximum separation of 65° in 1965-1966. Pluto subsequently increased its speed relative to Neptune, so they again formed a long sextile from 1976 to 1986. (Most astrologers view the sextile as an aspect where the two planets involved can operate constructively together.) Neptune and Pluto are now in exact septile again, off and on, from 2001 through 2011. (Allowing a 1° orb, the septile period lasts from November 1997 through February 2016.) The smallest angular separation of Pluto and Neptune is 51°03', in January 2007; after this, they will increase their angular separation until they again form a sextile, starting in 2025.
Septiles are very intense aspects that tend to create strong polarization. The 1937-1940 period of exact Neptune-Pluto septiles brought fascism, brutality, and world war. Now, 64 years later, we have the same astrological aspect. Starting with the events of September 11, 2001, we are in another period of global war and blatant propaganda, with extreme polarization on many levels. Just reflect for a moment on the feel of these times, especially the collective fear and paranoia; contrast this with how our day-to-day lives felt back in 1995-1996. The difference is largely due to this Neptune-Pluto septile energy. Outer planets like Neptune and Pluto symbolize what is beyond our personal control; when they are operative, we may find that long-needed changes are brought about, whatever it takes.
The septile aspect is considered by various astrologers to be connected to fated events, breakthrough discoveries, the use of overwhelming force, projection of shadow material, compulsions, and the dispossessed elements of society. In the Feb./March 2003 issue of The Mountain Astrologer, astrologer Edward Gillam presented an excellent overview of this aspect and its corresponding seventh harmonic:
This journey into the dark, the shocking and the chaotic appears to emerge when we examine mundane and natal seventh-harmonic charts ... We should not be surprised if astrologers are not readily attuned to the power of the seventh harmonic. It can be a dark and overwhelming place - full of fears, surprises, taboos, and confrontations with "otherness." The 7H individual is someone who appears to be "living on the edge" as a "disorderer," renegade, or iconoclast, or someone who prods social conscience. The 7H event (typically a shocking human act) appears unannounced and unwelcome but may be a desperate final cry, from the darkest places in the collective psyche, perhaps to "re-balance" power relationships and to acknowledge the rights of disowned and dispossessed peoples. The seventh harmonic, as I have described it, symbolises a powerful, potentially destabilising force that challenges and threatens to undermine our stable, carefully constructed worldview. But, in this way, the seventh harmonic offers a route to the deep transformation of our understanding of the profoundest dimensions of individual and collective experience.(2)
According to astrological researcher Michael Munkasey, the septile is a major astrological aspect and, as such, carries great significance. Among the keywords he uses are:
* acquiring tolerance
* compensation and comparison
* reconciling of disputes
* differences of opinion
* the need to understand alternative points of view
* an inner need for expanding consciousness.(3)
It appears that septile patterns (also known as seventh-harmonic patterns) are associated with terrorism, among other things. Gillam points out that the events of September 11, 2001 were reflected in a septile pattern involving the Sun, Mars, Uranus, and the Descendant at the moment the first jet airplane struck the World Trade Center. Aside from this septile pattern and the ongoing Saturn-Pluto opposition in effect at that time, the 9/11 chart would not be viewed by most astrologers as a very striking chart - certainly not a match for the events of that day. The Sun-Mars-Uranus septile pattern fits the event very well and may fill in some of the blanks.
Mars and Uranus were in septile once again on March 20, 2003, when the United States and its allies started bombing Baghdad. In fact, it was the first waning septile between these two planets since September 11, 2001. (The next waning Mars-Uranus septile will occur on February 28, 2005.)
Ten Important Charts: 2004 - 2006
I chose the following "hot" charts based on two criteria: (1) patterns connected to the Neptune-Pluto septile; (2) impressive configurations in general. Again, I am not suggesting that other moments are less important or less powerful or that terrorism or war will necessarily be linked to the dates I've chosen here. I did not look at any connections between these charts and those of world leaders or countries. These are simply the charts I found most compelling.
This chart has a grand quintile (five planets approximately 72° apart), which is a very creative, solution-producing aspect pattern. The Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Pluto, and Uranus are the planets involved. This period, just before the U.S. presidential election, is a good time to find solutions to longstanding problems. Alternative energy resources need to be developed quickly. This is also a chance for tensions between polarized groups or nations to be diffused, before the more problematic configurations starting in 2005-2006. In this chart, each of the five planets involved is at the midpoint of certain pairs of others. For example, Saturn is at the far midpoint of Uranus/Pluto, and Jupiter is at the near midpoint of Saturn/Pluto. Another feature of this chart is a Mars-Chiron square at 21° of cardinal signs, which may motivate searches for unconventional approaches to problems. Mars activates the October 13 solar eclipse degree (21° Libra). (See David Kesten's sidebar for more on the importance of 21° of cardinal signs in the upcoming months.)
A Moon-Mars conjunction occurs just as both enter Scorpio, near the South Lunar Node, and they both septile Pluto and bi-septile (102° 52') Neptune. The Moon and Mars act as a timing mechanism for the larger issues denoted by the entrenched Neptune-Pluto septile. The quintile pattern mentioned above still persists, but now that the Moon has moved away from mid Taurus, one point is missing from the five-pointed star. Also, Moon-Mars is square Saturn and trine Uranus. The U.S. election is now over and decided, and people on both sides of the political chasm react to the outcome and plan strategies. This is a passionate and impulsive time. There could be more shocking violence in the news - if so, it will motivate remedial action.
In this chart, the Moon, Mercury, and Venus join Neptune and Pluto in a septile pattern just as the Sun enters Sagittarius. Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto are still in a tight quintile pattern; this means that, although intense events and collective challenges are unfolding at this time, creative and long-lasting solutions are available if people can find the courage to confront inflexible attitudes. Significant relationships are subject to change as well, as Venus and Mars move through a volatile zone of the zodiac. (4) Trickster Mercury may pry secrets from Pluto in outspoken Sagittarius, so watch for important leaks to the press.
This chart could have a sharp bite, so we need to be alert. This time, Mars, the Moon, Vesta, and Lilith (Black Moon) join Neptune and Pluto's septile pattern. The Mars-Pluto conjunction is quincunx Saturn (and sextile Juno, to complete a yod); therefore, issues of overpowering force and restraint come to the fore. Explosions are possible, and extreme rage due to frustration is also a danger. Saturn opposes the conjunction of Venus, Mercury, and Chiron. There may be loss of property or a need to think differently about something because of upsetting information. Figurative or literal earthquakes are in the news. Jupiter is approaching its first square to Saturn since the May 2000 conjunction of the two giant planets. Perhaps the economy is also reacting to the U.S. president's new programs.
This chart is an indicator of the year ahead, especially the period through June 20. The very tight Moon-Mars opposition (with both squaring Vesta) shows volatility and perhaps a threat to our sense of security, as well as an abundance of activism. There may be massive demonstrations and much visible dissent around this time. For Washington, D.C., this opposition lands in angular houses; Saturn is on the IC, and the Sun and chart-ruler Venus are in the 12th! You could make a strong case for extreme political gridlock, with anger and hostility on both sides. With Mercury retrograde in Aries also in the 12th opposite Jupiter, lots of America's resources are still tied up overseas or in military projects. Saturn also opposes the Neptune/Pluto midpoint. The coming months have the potential for wars over the resources deemed vital for survival - and even the reinstatement of a military draft. Fast-moving water, due to storms and flooding, may feature prominently in the news.
Venus conjoins this eclipse at 19°06' Aries, which (loosely) opposes Jupiter, squares Saturn, and squares the Neptune/Pluto midpoint, to make a cardinal grand cross of sorts. Important judges or religious leaders may retire or die around this time. The planets in Aries answer to Mars, which is trining Jupiter and approaching conjunction with Neptune in Aquarius. Given Jupiter in Libra and the involvement of Venus, international cooperation and diplomacy could take center stage again in Washington, amidst all the Mars-y energy. There is also a risk of large fires, and things in general are overheated. Saturn is under stress in this chart. An important development in the world economy (sharp inflation?) or trade problems may arise. The path of this eclipse runs through Colombia and Venezuela - watch for a U.S. oil grab in that region; this could take the form of either a military invasion or a U.S.-sponsored coup, since Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has defied the U.S. This chart will be activated again on July 10, 2005, when Mars reaches 19° Aries, the degree of this eclipse.
This chart has two yod patterns. The Mars-Uranus conjunction in Pisces forms a quincunx with the Moon in Leo and Jupiter in Libra. Pluto in Sagittarius is likewise connected to Saturn and the Sun. The two patterns are linked by a Sun-Jupiter sesquiquadrate (135°). Quincunxes feel awkward; the forces involved have to significantly adjust to one another, and no one gets 100% of what they think they need. Mars-Uranus could bring severe electrical storms (and tornadoes) or disruptions in the power grid. If there is another war under way, it will be particularly intense at this time. The yod involving the Sun, Saturn, and Pluto has more to do with economic issues, job losses, and whether we believe our lives are working for us. Do we feel secure? What changes are needed? And can politically difficult compromises be reached?
Pluto septiles Jupiter and Neptune. Mars is in the middle of its retrograde through Taurus (October 1 - December 9); as it opposes the Sun, they both square Neptune in Aquarius. This t-square is precisely at 15° of the fixed signs - powerful degrees related to the four cardinal points, which are angular in Washington, D.C. during the exact Sun-Mars opposition! Saturn at 11° Leo completes a fixed grand cross. This is about goals, ideals, actions and limits, resistance, and ego, dealing with fixed attitudes and unrealistic spending. The government is likely to initiate some kind of tax reform or corporate regulation, but the motives are questionable. Fears about the economy or financial markets could be rampant at this time. Concerns about chemical plants, oil refineries, or natural gas and oil supplies/prices are front and center.
This is a Gemini Full Moon connected to a fixed grand cross involving the Mars-Jupiter opposition squaring the Saturn-Neptune opposition. The Sun-Pluto conjunction septiles Neptune. Hot degree areas here are 8°-11° fixed and 23°-26° mutable. This grand cross highlights the waxing Jupiter-Saturn square at 10°+ Scorpio-Leo. Fast-moving Mars at 8° Taurus activates the cross and semi-squares (45°) the Full Moon. We can hope that the prevailing intense emotion will act as a catalyst for constructive changes, as problems become glaring and the public reacts to them. (Not shown here is another big fixed grand cross on December 26.) Expect major news from the business world - either blatant greed or a lot of complaining from business leaders about government policies. Also, Venus and Chiron are conjunct at 0° Aquarius.
As the Sun enters Cancer, it opposes Pluto and squares the lunar nodes at 0¡ Aries-Libra - and it forms a septile with the Moon in Taurus. Another very tight grand cross occurs at 8°-11° of fixed signs: The Moon opposes Jupiter and squares Saturn, Mars, Juno, and Vesta in Leo and Chiron in Aquarius. Also, Pluto forms a yod with Mercury and Venus while sesquiquadrate Mars and Saturn. This chart covers the June 21 - September 21 period, and it looks extremely intense. I would expect massive social changes and upheaval in the relationships between nations, perhaps due to terrorism or the death/impeachment of key world leaders. We'll need to be strong, positive, and pragmatic to deal effectively with the challenges presented to us this summer. Of course, I may be overstating the danger of these configurations; much more discussion is needed - about this chart, in particular.
Look for more commentary from the astrological community on the outer-planet configurations of 2007-2012 in future issues of TMA. These configurations offer clues about the timing of the changes (and what types of changes) humanity faces. Here is a brief preview of the astrology of that period:
* September 11, 2007: The solar eclipse at 18° 25' Virgo opposes Uranus at 16° 38' Pisces, all activating the degree of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the mid 1960s. Saturn enters Virgo. Pluto is at the degree of the Galactic Center. Look for a major battle in the morality wars, as society deals with issues of drug legalization, genetic tampering, human cloning, Internet controls/taxes, and new technologies that threaten business-as-usual.
* December 2007: A conjunction of the Sun, Mercury, Jupiter, and Pluto near 0° Capricorn opposes Mars retrograde in the first few degrees of Cancer, joined by the Full Moon at 1° 50' Cancer on December 23. This starts the activation of zero degrees of cardinal signs, which are probably the four most sensitive points in the zodiac.(7) Pluto is now at the degree of the 1988 Saturn-Uranus conjunction.
* Late January 2008: Pluto enters Capricorn for the first time in 247 years. The last time Pluto was in Capricorn was during the U.S. revolutionary war. (Pluto was opposite this point, at 0° Cancer, during 1912-1915.) Neptune is still septile Pluto. This is a critical time in the U.S. presidential primary season.
* Mid June 2008: The Full Moon at 27° 50' Sagittarius is conjunct Pluto at 0° Capricorn. Mars at 22° Leo opposes the Chiron-Neptune conjunction along the lunar nodal axis. One possibility, with Chiron-Neptune in Aquarius that year, is the formation of local groups specifically focused on self-reliance and prosperity through alternative approaches to food and energy production.
* November 4, 2008: Election day in the U.S. sees an exact opposition of Saturn and Uranus at 18° 58' Virgo-Pisces (the solar eclipse degree of September 2007). This is the first opposition of the cycle that started with their conjunction in 1988 (at 29° Sagittarius). These two planets were last in opposition during 1965-66, with Saturn in mid Pisces and Uranus in mid Virgo. Environmental issues will be huge in this election, and major reforms could be instituted.
* 2009:The entire year of 2009 features a Chiron-Neptune conjunction in late degrees of Aquarius, exact in February 2010 at 26° Aquarius; this is the first conjunction of these two since September 1945. Jupiter joins Chiron and Neptune in mid December 2009, with an opposing Mars turning retrograde in Leo. Whoever is elected U.S. president in 2008 might now undertake an emergency mobilization of alternative energy production, if the problem has continued to be swept under the rug.
* November 15, 2009: The most powerful configurations are beginning. Saturn squares Pluto at 1° 42' Libra-Capricorn, while the Moon and Venus join Neptune and Pluto in a septile pattern. The Sun septiles Saturn as well. Public fears of terrorism or war are accentuated at this time. This Saturn-Pluto square repeats on January 31, 2010 and again in August 2010. These are key dates in terms of oil shortages, oil price hikes, and international cooperation (or lack thereof). The increased use of coal raises new concerns about air pollution and accelerated global warming.
* June 5-6, 2010: Things really heat up starting in mid May, as Saturn opposes Jupiter and Uranus. Then, Uranus enters Aries and, a few days later, is joined by the Moon and Jupiter at exactly 0° Aries. Meanwhile, Pluto is at 4°+ Capricorn and Saturn is at 28° Virgo, forming a t-square with the Moon, Jupiter, and Uranus. Mars at 29°+ Leo (conjunct Regulus) opposes Neptune and Chiron. This seems to me to have the potential for a major popular movement (at best) or an armed revolt (at worst). The key is to channel all this energy in constructive ways.
* June 26, 2010: The lunar eclipse at 4° + Capricorn conjoins Pluto and activates a grand cross involving the Sun, Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus, the Moon, and Saturn - all within 5° of the four cardinal points. This will be a very important event, for better or worse, with a huge impact on global public opinion.
* July 30-31, 2010: This marks another intense few days. Mars joins Saturn at 0° 49' Libra, opposing the Moon, Jupiter, and Uranus in Aries and squared by Pluto. Again, large masses of people may be affected by so much planetary energy concentrated near the cardinal points. Since cardinal signs are action-related, there may be a lot of people on the move (demonstrators, troops, refugees). The Mars-Saturn conjunction is on the Midheaven in Indonesia, China, and the South China Sea, creating conditions for a crisis in that area.
* August 6-7, 2010: A cardinal grand cross is formed, involving Jupiter-Uranus in Aries, Pluto in Capricorn, the Moon in early Cancer, and Venus joining Mars and Saturn in early Libra. The Sun at 15° Leo makes stressful aspects (45°/135°) to the entire grand cross. We'll need to remain calm and balanced to deal with the relentlessly stressful aspects this summer. The electricity grid may be threatened; unusual Earth or weather changes could be part of the picture.
* December 13, 2010: Conditions will have eased up a bit in terms of the cardinal cross, but on this date there is a tight conjunction of Mercury, Mars, and Pluto at 4° Capricorn septile Neptune-Chiron at 26° + Aquarius. Fanatical thinking or extreme acts are possible.
* April 9, 2011: Uranus is at 0° declination; the last time this happened was in 1968-69. Pluto stations retrograde at 7° 30' Capricorn. The Sun, Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter in Aries oppose Saturn in Libra. Neptune has just moved into Pisces. Spiritual renewal and new ideas challenge outmoded structures. Radical new laws are passed and political movements reach critical mass this year. A growing optimism spreads as the energy of the Neptune-Pluto septile winds down.
* 2012: Uranus squares Pluto at 7° - 8° of cardinal signs. This is the waxing square of the cycle that started in the mid 1960s, with the conjunction of these two planets in mid Virgo. This square is a symbol of innovation competing directly with the entrenched power elite (corporate power may be challenged in a new and positive way, especially in a U.S. election year).
In the coming years, we can step up and apply our minds and hearts to the challenges that arise. With all the cardinal-sign energy in these configurations, we can become active agents of change and make the most of a very precarious situation, choosing to break free of longstanding collective patterns of greed, warfare, and the politics of fear.
References and Notes
1. Using a 1° orb, the Neptune-Pluto septile went in and out of orb from December 1936 through August 1942.
2. Edward Gillam, "The Septile and the Seventh-Harmonic Chart: Images of Terror, Taboo, and Transformation," in TMA, Feb./March 2003, pp. 76, 85. Also see Gordon M. Brown, "Multiplanetary Formations Involving the Septile Series of Aspects," in TMA, April/May 1994, p. 25.
3. Summarized from e-mail correspondence with Michael Munkasey on March 22, 2004.
4. Some astrologers characterize the degree range 15° Libra - 15° Scorpio as the Via Combusta (literally, "the burning path").
5. Global oil production may have peaked as early as 2000, but most estimates I've seen predict a peak between 2004-2010.
6. If you want to do your own online research, you can start with a Google search for "peak oil" or visit www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net or www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/index.html#oil A good book on the subject is The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg. For a possible solution to the energy crunch, see www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/DrMallove.html
7. For more on the importance of the four cardinal points, see Michael Harding and Charles Harvey, Working with Astrology: The Psychology of Midpoints, Harmonics, and Astro*Carto*Graphy, Consider (1998 edition), pp. 438-441.
© 2004 Tem Tarriktar ~ All rights reserved.
Tem Tarriktar is the founder and publisher of The Mountain Astrologer. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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