The Pluto – Uranus Cycle – Transformation And Awakening
The Eastern Aphorism, “May you live in Interesting Times,” is most appropriate for the Pluto-Uranus combination. When the highly chaotic disturbance of Uranus is intensified by Pluto, you can be sure that cultures are rocked to their foundations, often going through an intense period of transformation and reorganization.
A most interesting pattern develops when reviewing the conjunctions and oppositions of Uranus and Pluto. The ideas and movements which challenge the establishment during Pluto-Uranus conjunctions are successfully established and integrated during the subsequent Pluto-Uranus opposition. One can see that ideas which manifest during the Pluto-Uranus conjunctions are cooked in the collective oven for fifty to eighty years–the normal time between a conjunction and opposition–and are established as structure in the subsequent Pluto-Uranus opposition.
Before looking at the specific examples of this pattern, let’s fully explore the general patterns of Uranus amd Pluto.
Although there are many faces of Uranus, it’s highest aspiration is liberation and transcendance from anything which confines, oppresses, and limits. In culture and thre arts, Uranus is the creative, divine spark which ushers in radically new forms of self expression. In politics, Uranus is the freedom fighter battling the current establishment, which, in its eyes, is always oppressive. In science and technology, Uranus manifests as the invention which allows societys new freedom and liberation from previous confinements.
Pluto is the raw, unmitigated power which pulses vitality into the veins of every living thing. Pluto manifests as the hunger to procreate, the need for survival, and the will to power. As Uranus often represents the lofty idealism and quest for transcending limitations, Pluto is the engine which makes life run–or bettter yet–is the exhaust and waste from that engine which ultimately allows the human to achieve the perfection that Uranus represents. Messy and unrefined, it is only through the bowels of life that ideas, visions, and future-orientation can be properly metabolized.
The Pluto – Uranus Cycle
To anthropomorphize these figures, Uranus is the person who wishes that his ideals, visions, and wisdom about the unfoldment of his or her future could simply manifest magically without the deep transformations, intense confrontations, and painful nature of becoming in manifest reality that Pluto represents.
So, Uranus would be deeply frightened of having to let go of himself or herself as “potential” and become actualized as something less than that “potential.”
Pluto is the person who enjoys the biological, the raw feeling life that powerful experiences through manipulation, domination, control and direct experience of one’s own vitality can bring about. And yet, Pluto does not want to have the striking light of consciousness that Uranus represents thrown on the consequences and ramifications for its desire for power, control, and domination.
Unlike the relationship between Uranus and Saturn, which is directly antagonistic and dynamic, the relationship between Pluto and Uranus is guarded and fearful, wishing the other would go away so that each could “have it’s cake and eat it too.”
In the individual and collective psyche, Uranus and Pluto have set up separate territories, with Uranus the ruler of his castles in the air and Pluto the master of ceremonies of the three ring circus of the taboo, the profane, and the powerfully carnal.
When the two planets come into aspect, Pluto intensifies and grounds Uranus’s quest for liberation. That is, Pluto is the reality principle which gives the archetype of Uranus the needed push to become substantial. Equally Uranus awakens us to biological nature and needs; Uranus makes us conscious of our evolutionary connection to the earth and cosmos. Any societal conventions which repress our “Pluto” reality will surely be agitated and be made quite conscious at this time.
We can see how dangerous this combination is. This combination, at its essence, is counter-cultural. As culture is the mediating ground between our instinctual desires and our highest aspirations, culture, by default, represses the essential nature of Pluto and Uranus. When these two planets join forces, cultural structures are challenged and often transformed.
Conjunction and opposition of Uranus and Pluto
During a conjunction and opposition of these two planets, the separate kingdoms of Pluto and Uranus, having established boundaries due to fear and respect for each other’s differing intentions, fuse together and act in unison, each enhancing each other’s archetypal energy.
Viewing the patterns of Pluto-Uranus conjunctions and oppositions, one can consistently trace a pattern of counter-cultural awakenings during the conjunction and a subsequent integration of the ideas and movements of that awakening during the subsequent and following opposition.
During the Pluto-Uranus conjunction of 1711-12 the ideas that sparked the revolutions of democracy in the latter half of that century would begin to emerge in Europe. This was the very beginning of the Age of Enlightenment, when a group of like-minded, intellectually curious and rebellious individuals began to question the hitherto unchallenged socio-political landscape that had been in place for many centuries. The belief in a Monarch ruling by divine right, wielding power arbitrarily came under scrutiny at this time. Also under fire was the irrational dogmatism and seeming supersition of the Church which conflicted with the new deification of Reason as sole God of the Western landscape.
The philosophes John Jacques Rousseau and Denis Diderot, born during the conjunction, had a tremendous impact on the French Revolutionaries. It was Rousseau’s idea of the “noble(Uranus) savage(Pluto)” and social contracts which became the rallying cry as the French populace stormed the Bastille during the subsequent Pluto-Uranus opposition.
During the same conjunction, Voltaire, fresh from his learnings at a Jesuit college, began to write of democratic ideals which would subsequently land him in prison. Equally as important and signifying the rising tide of consciousness, Witch hunts and trials abruptly came to end in both England and the Continent at this time.
It was during the subsequent Pluto-Uranus opposition of the late 1780’s and 1790‘s that the ideas which emerged earlier that century were made reality in the form of the French and American Revolutions. The implementation of the reasonable idea of the inalienable rights of individual freedom was not a reasonable affair; bloody, unconscious, and destructive, the aftermath of the French Revolution represents the almost inevitable ruin and uprooting which must occur to usher forth ideals of the magnitude which the Revolutions at this time symbolized.
During the Pluto-Uranus conjunction of the late 1840‘s and early 1850’s, revolutions ran rampant throughout Europe. Every capitial city except London and St. Petersburg experienced some form of rebellion at this time. Equally as significant, this conjunction coincided with the publication of Marx’s Communist Manifesto in 1848 and the establishment of the Women’s Movement in Seneca Falls, New York.
The subsequent Pluto-Uranus opposition recapitulated the first cycle of the Enlightenment when ideas would ultimately manifest in concrete form. Marx’s writings would inspire a mass movement during the Pluto-Uranus opposition of the late 1890‘s and early 1900’s. In 1898, the tiny Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, led by an exiled Lenin, would launch a major revolution in Tsarist Russia by 1905. At the same time, Women’s Suffrage became fully recognized in the English speaking world.
The Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the 1960’s follows the pattern of tremendous cultural upheaval, rebellion, and destabilization. Author Richard Tarnas describes the general tenor of this meeting of Pluto and Uranus: The rebellion against structures of all kinds, the intense intellectual adventurousness and restlessness of the era, the radical consciousness transformation, the titanic technological advances into the space age, the general atmosphere of revolutions on all fronts.1
More specifically, the sixties is remembered as the birth of ecological awareness; activism and expanded freedoms for women and minorities in Western countries; radical explorations of consciousness; the emergence of entrepreneurialism; sexual exploration, permissiveness, and freedom (as evidenced by the marketing of the contraceptive pill); celebration of the individual personality and human potentials; revolution.
There are many that say that the experiment that was the ’60’s failed because it was not able to make any lasting societal contributions. However, if the pattern of Pluto-Uranus conjunctions holds true, the sixties must be looked upon as a time in which the seeds for enduring structures will be planted in the following opposition, in this case during the 2040’s.
By looking at what was seriously challenged in the sixties, we can get a good indication of what shall be transformed in the 2040‘s. It is more than likely that serious ecological damage that will occur prior to the 2040’s will create, out of necessity, societal structures with a sustainable focus. By this I mean more than the once-a-week recycling effort but a major overhaul in value systems and cultural structures.
The explorations of inner consciousness as witnessed in the preoccupation with psychedelics and meditation in the 1960’s will have a profound resurgence in the 2040’s. This is not to say that psychedelics will become popular again, but the main motivating factor behind ingestion of mind altering substances–freedom to do with one’s consciousness as he or she wants and to explore the structures of consciousness–will become a rallying cry at this time.
Most importantly, the profound push for women’s rights will have a renewal at this time, albeit with a slightly different emphasis. In the 2040’s, the emphasis will not be on women’s assimilation into a patriarchical, male-dominated system, but the resurgence of the archetypal feminine and feminine ways of being: nurturance, caring, community, mythological and magical modes of consciousness.
Is there an inevitability that the push for new structures at this time will renew the bloodshed, terror, and extremism that the previous Pluto-Uranus cycles have displayed? I’m inclined to say yes, because the paradox that the synthesis between Uranus and Pluto seems to represent is that for the unfoldment of higher potentials to be actualized, a period of death and rebirth in which old structures collapse in an unconscious manner–often going against the very ideals which are trying to manifest–appears to be interwoven in the cycle.
1 Tarnas, Richard. 1995. Prometheus the Awakener: An Essay on the Archetypal Meaning of the Planet Uranus. Spring Publications.