When I was growing up, a post-WWII cliché was making the rounds, wherein a child asks a parent, “What did you do in the war, Daddy?” The kid is curious about the role her dad played in the big wide world. She is already familiar with his personal identity, and wants to know more about his collective identity.
How will we answer our grandchildren if they ask, What did you do during the Cardinal Cross years, Grandma?
The big drama of our epoch features no single war, but battles being fought on a thousand fronts. Astrologers refer to the conflict upon us as the Uranus-Pluto square, a several-years-long turning point in human evolution, during which culture wars are vying for prominence with environmental, military and financial wars. I often wonder how future generations will view this period of history, whose stewards are those of us alive right now. Will today’s little babies someday ask, “Were you part of the 99% or the 1%?” Will future generations wonder, about their ancestors, What did they do when the polar ice caps were melting away?
Our world is crackling with threats to the existing order. You can almost hear the creaking of outmoded institutions and values, bending and buckling as their replacements struggle to emerge. It is a war between the old and the new.
Where will we choose to put our energy? Will we be on the side of the forces of rebirth, or will we be the old guy staring out his picture window waiting with a shotgun for change to come through the door?
Follow the Money
In the USA, whose chart is being hit especially hard by the Cardinal Cross, the battle has been and will continue to be between moneyed interests (Pluto) and the forces of individual rights (Uranus). It is a quintessentially American battle, and during the Pluto in Capricorn (financial hierarchies) years, 2008-23, it is getting played out over and over again, with many variations and layers of subtlety. The Cardinal Cross formed by the confluence of the nation’s natal aspects and the transit will peak in 2014-15 (1).
Given that Neptune (stagecraft) in Pisces (dissemblance) is still in orb of the US Moon (2), knowing who’s on what side is not always as simple as seems.
For example, just after the Full Moon in May the American airwaves were full of talk about Obama’s having finally declared his support for same-sex marriage. This was unprecedented coming from a US president, and at first blush it seemed a coup for the forces of Uranus. But if what we want is to understand the multiple plot strands being played out under the aegis of the Cardinal Cross we need look deeper.
With Neptune (fluctuations) conjunct US Moon (public feeling), the mood of the nation about social issues like marriage equality has been erratic and emotionally charged. So have policymakers’ statements on the subject, given that these guys groom their public statements to match which way the winds of public opinion are blowing. But underneath the vicissitudes lie some rock-solid constants.
In a nation whose chart features Pluto (power) in the 2nd house (money) opposed to Mercury (the media), the unchanging law is Follow The Money.
Fly in the Champagne
Compare, for example, the issue of marriage equality with the campaign for a humane minimum wage. As journalist David Sirota has pointed out, in these hard-scrabble times the polls show the public supports a minimum wage increase as much as it supports marriage rights; but it is the latter that has recently won support from cynical One-Percenters.
Better late than never. Human rights advocates everywhere are justifiably relieved to hear that Obama’s views have at last “evolved”, and to hear that a handful of right-wing public figures have apparently followed his lead. But when I heard that the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, had chosen this moment to voice his support for same-sex marriage, it felt like finding a dead fly in my champagne.
What meaning are we to draw from the fact that Mr Blankfein has used this shift in the wind to rebrand himself as a human rights hero? One level of its meaning that we are unlikely to hear debated on television: A hot-button social issue, now vetted for mass acceptance by Obama, is being used to draw voters’ attention away from the economic status quo.
As late May’s Eclipse segued into June’s, we began reading of Wall Street financiers pumping money into marriage equality. Getting far less attention was the fact that, at the same time, the Big Money guys were doing everything they could to tank New York’s minimum wage initiative. The latter is unthinkable to this crowd, as it could result in a tiny decrease in corporate profits. Jumping on the bandwagon of social issues, by contrast, doesn’t cost them a dime.
I think few of us would argue that the overweening emphasis on financial profit over other, non-financial values has grown so wildly out of proportion in American society as to endanger our core integrity as a group.
Why should we care about group values? Because the integrity of the collective is an aspect of our own integrity: we are part of the system. This is so even if we are ideologically estranged from the system; even if we extravagantly condemn it; even if we live off the grid. The collective we are a part of is part of us as well. We humans we are hybrids. We are individuals, and we are members of our society.
In the astrological schema, the planets whose orbits immediately surround the Sun comprise the microcosmic layer of our beings; our character traits, for example, which we see as uniquely ours. By contrast, the distant planets (Chiron, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) describe the mysterious purposes of the macrocosm: the qualities of group realities greater than ourselves. Both layers together describe our role in this life.
In the view of the great astrologer, Dane Rudhyar, self-actualization means taking responsibility for more than just the personal self. He taught that the mastery of the natal chart hinges upon becoming conscious of both the personal and transpersonal aspects of the self, and integrating the two.
When we deal with the cyclic movements of the planets beyond Saturn we are no longer taking in consideration the development of individuals in themselves, but rather of individuals as participants in the larger rhythms of human society and of the evolution of the earth and the biosphere.
— D. Rudhyar, 1968
I believe that we are each driven by a curiosity about the personal level, which, as we mature spiritually, segues into a curiosity about the second level. Like the child who begins to grasp that her parent has an identity beyond being her dad, we start to wonder about the meaning of our life in relationship to the era we incarnated into. And there can be no doubt that this era we incarnated into is a worthy subject of wonder.
(1) Discussed in my new book, At the Crossroads.