- Why are we so obsessed with profitability and business and also with the cult of personality and individualism rather than “character” and the common good?
- Why are so many people turning agnostic or atheist?
- Why is there a lauding of science and a denigration of other modes of knowing?
- Why are we building such ugly houses and buildings?
- Why is morality almost a dirty word, something seen as old-fashioned and like a fairy-tale from a more primitive superstitious past?
I think the result of this is that collectively we are like adolescents, suddenly faced with responsibility for ourselves and let loose in the world. Watching my son and daughter and their peers as adolescents and young adults, it is not an easy time and the social forces and inner dilemmas create a somewhat volatile cocktail.
I am conscious in this regard, that the dilemmas we face have changed scale. We have multi-national organisations operating beyond the scope and jurisdiction of national boundaries and issues like climate change are truly global challenges that require collective co-operation. Similarly, the Internet is beyond the ability of any one country to control or regulate.
So we are being forced to grow up and take collective responsibility for ourselves, like adolescents moving out of home to become independent. From this point of view it is easy to see why there is such a querulous attitude towards God and morality – what adolescent wants their parents around telling them how to behave?
I think, since we are dealing with outer planets, we are fundamentally reassessing our notion of what ‘god’ is. Like most adolescents, we have to first reject that which has come to us from others and rebel. Also like adolescents, we are experimenting to find our collective boundaries and that requires extremities before a balance is found.
It is like the birth of a new collective identity. It is going to be accompanied by some uncomfortable pangs and some big mistakes till we get the hang of this scale of operation and awareness. One phenomenon that I think is part of this collective process is a feeling of inconsequentiality in the face of the size of the collective. Never before have we dealt with such unremitting awareness and media that bombards us with global events. In the face of this, it is easy to fall prey to the fear of being so tiny that our lives have no meaning or impact. I remember first coming across this at nineteen when travelling across the USA. I was struck by the fact that every family we met or stayed with would regale us with endless tales about the fantastic achievements and success of their children. The pressure to succeed, to become a “someone” was very high. In a world without global media, our character determines our reputation within the local community. In a world of global media where we are unlikely to directly encounter the individuals who judge us, even in a society which operates on a larger scale with many people not working in their local environment, job titles, media coverage and “brand” have become substitutes for direct experience of character. We want to believe that it is possible for an individual to be of such stellar importance that they can be significant on a global scale – hence the obsession with celebrity.
At the same time there is an incessant fear of “missing the boat”. We are driven by a collective insatiable need to keep up with the Jones’. Yet this is now on a collective level and there are not only the Jones’ to keep up with but a plethora of international equivalents. In major cities like London and Hong Kong the influx of wealthy people from abroad has pushed the value of houses beyond the means of many local people. Just earning a bit more is not enough; it feels like we have to earn more and more to survive. It is easy to see why this has driven a polarization of wealth far more extreme than previous generations. In the past, if people in our local community were poorer or needy we knew about it and our wealth stuck out to prick our conscience. Now, much of our sense of comparison comes from films and TV and there is much more migration of labour – we are just as likely to interact dislocated from our local community, mixing with people who are similar to us rather than experiencing a breadth of social interaction. It is not that any of the issues have not existed before but that they have not existed on this scale before.
At all my major clients there is a strong sense of operating in a global market and in a market that is so competitive and changing so quickly that there is a fear that if they don’t keep up they will not survive. This pressure leads to cost-cutting and to outsourcing work to the cheapest supplier (often abroad). It also results in the organisations believing that they will only retain the most talented people if they can keep up with their competitors in terms of profits. It is an endless cycle. It is very much a Plutonic cycle. It has kept us going and evolving throughout history, the deep primal urge to survive in the face of danger and competition for resources.
So following on in terms of the Plutonic side of the equation what else are we dealing with collectively and consciously in terms of Pluto? Resources and power are a key factor and oil and fossil fuels in general fall smack bang into this category. It is like we have created hell on earth with smog and carbon dioxide belching out driven by our insatiable greed and lust for more power driving us to oblivion and death of the planet. We are having to come to terms with our own shadow. Open war – the Aries side of the equation still exists but we are increasingly dealing with the Scorpionic, hidden side of war in the form of terrorism and cyber wars (which interweaves Pluto, Uranus and Neptune). It has also moved to an Uranian impersonal level where technology allows us to send unmanned drones in the form of “stealth bombers” to attack people (again this seems to link all three together).
So much for the destructive elements, what are the positive sides of Pluto? Pluto also rules psychology and it struck me the other day how much psychology is seeping into the workplace, into schools (through emotional intelligence) and society in general. Many people have been to therapists (something initially stigmatized but now almost de rigeur). We are more conscious of the psychological dimensions of our collective actions – the trauma caused to those involved in conflict, abuse etc. In Business emotional intelligence is regularly referred to and taught, coaches are omnipresent and sports teams employ psychologists. I have been wondering recently whether the discovery of planets is not a fixed boundary point in our collective consciousness but rather an epicentre so that, for instance, the first world war and the horror it represented was a prompt to our collective consciousness which erupted with the discovery of Pluto in 1930 – so that the two world wars bookended the discovery of Pluto and through Jung the collective awareness of our shadow.
Neptune’s role seems to me to be to do with the media and more particularly our collective unconscious programming. Recently, my wife has been watching crime thrillers through Netflix – the more gore the better from her point of view. With Pluto on her descendant in Capricorn and the grand cross to Mars, Uranus and Jupiter this seems a sensible way to let out some of these energies in her life. On occasion watching these with her, it struck me how easy it is to fall into the trap of unconsciously believing that they present a view of reality, even if you are aware that they are in fact illusion. Somehow, some part of us cannot help taking on unconsciously the feeling that it has some basis in reality. I notice that everyone even discusses TV programmes and films with a feeling that they are part of real life. Our thoughts engage with them discussing whether something was out of character or speculating on whether they really meant to do what they did, ie. we attribute motive and intention to them. It has become a standard joke in our family when someone gets very carried away like this to bring them down to earth by saying “you do realise they’re not real don’t you?” said with heavy irony (we are family united by 17-24 degrees of Cancer so teasing and irony are two of the main modes of daily relating). In a similar way, we use Neptune consciously to manipulate each other through advertising and selling. Whether this is really for our collective benefit remains for us to determine. Certainly, the use of the media to make us aware of tragedy and difficulty in other parts of the world such as the Tsunamis in Sri Lanka and Japan bought the very best of the collective Neptune to bear with a tsunami of support and empathy.
A recent piece of research looked into attitudes towards torture and it’s acceptability in cases where you were dealing with terrorist activity. One in six in the UK felt that torture was acceptable to obtain critical information – closer to the US levels but well above other European countries. The article attributed this rise to the influence of programmes such as Homeland and the fact that scenes of torture had become commonplace. I don’t normally buy a newspaper but my parents were around a few weekends back and there was an article interviewing Tyger Drew-Honey (he of Outnumbered fame) about a documentary he had compered looking into the influence of porn on the current generation’s attitudes towards sex. Since both his parents had worked in the porn industry he was in a unique position to comment. His conclusion was that the porn industry had normalised many aspects of sexual fantasy and aggression to the extent that many young people had completely unrealistic and illusory expectations about sex and in some cases violent and disturbing ones both for them and for their partners.
Much of our and particularly the younger generation’s day to day normalisation comes from the media of social networking, television, film etc. It is like our unconscious programming is being done by the collective rather than by interactions in our immediate environment. Travelling regularly across the world in my work, I notice that shops, restaurants and food, clothing etc. are becoming increasingly uniform or at least global. In many ways, so are attitudes and behaviour. At the same time, on the positive side I notice that, for all the difficulties, there is greater empathy between people from different countries, that we are beginning to merge and to see that we are really all one despite cultural, racial or national differences. Humanitarian aid in the form of organisations like the Red Cross and Medicins sans Frontieres are now global phenomenon. The Media has also given us access to situations of conflict and we all feel involved and hurt by these events, we all feel involved in trying to resolve or transcend these conflicts.
Last week I visited India for the first time to run a workshop and I could not help noticing that the dialogues about personal development and spirituality were remarkably similar to those I have everywhere else in the world where individuals are discussing meditation, yoga, Bhuddism, the I-Ching, personal development etc. There still seems to be a dualism present where this somehow seems to be separated from day to day work but it is nevertheless a similar collective dialogue taking place around the world. The barriers created by entrenched views of formal religion are breaking down to a more common search for transcendence and an intuition of anima mundi and cosmic mind –or at the least a common recognition of our mutual interdependence.
Uranus has given us collective organisation and technology on a global scale, it has meant that large organisations thrive and we organise on a collective scale in a way we were never capable of previously. Yet, it has also given us a world of impersonal interaction where we relate to our phones and through email rather than the people we interact with, where we talk to call centres and feel powerless to influence or be treated as an individual with a human heart. Increasingly businesses have turned our interactions into processes which drive out personal response from the heart or individual consideration. Large chains of housebuilders build standardised housing based on efficient uniform designs which render our environment ugly and impersonal with no individual flair or beauty. We flock on mass to places to beautiful parts of the world only to destroy the very beauty which attracted us – as I learnt recently in visiting Mallorca. We turn large businesses into impersonal generators of wealth based on numbers rather than vehicles for individual human recognition.
At the same time, social networking sites allow us to interact with fellow human beings across the world who share our interests, we are able to organise mass money for worthwhile projects, to bring aid to fellow human beings in remote locations. I can’t help feeling that we are in the process of learning to breakdown the barriers to our recognition that it is all us, that people in different countries and cultures are really no different to us – that as the I-Ching suggests “we are all one in our hearts”. The technology behind the Internet has given us the capability to create a collective mind. How well we use that mind (as with our own mind) lies in our own hands.
One aspect of Uranus is its ability to challenge and breakdown old structures. Our notion of work has changed dramatically; individuals no longer have jobs for life with one organisation where work meant largely physical activity to allow us to survive personally but rather we now think in terms of career and personal development. Work has come to mean work on ourselves and we stay with organisations as long as they provide scope for us to develop and we in turn choose to develop. We have also revolutionised marriage, attitudes to sex, culture and gender. This seems to be part of a process of coming to all of these at a more personal, individual consciousness rather than simply conforming to collective norms. I wonder if we are in the process of rediscovering the value of long term commitment to relationship, tolerance etc. through conscious choice rather than because we have to in order to conform to religious or societal rules? Certainly I don’t think any of us would want to return to the pre-60s, pre Uranus-Pluto in Virgo opposite Saturn-Chiron in Pisces era where births outside marriage were a source of shame to be hidden away and child abuse operated undetected in the Catholic Church for fear of open challenge. Similarly, I don’t think any of us would wish to return to an era where work was hard, brutal and often short and where we could not work we relied on the charity or were sent to the workhouse.
So much for the outer planets, what about the discovery of Chiron and our toddler like steps to establish an independence from Mother Earth (we are off, having taken our first tottering steps away from mum and still very much dependent on her but nevertheless tasting a separation in identity and a sense of independence for the first time). The discovery of Earth – in terms of seeing it independently for the first time in the 1960s seems very much connected to the discovery of the outer planets, in that we are establishing a conscious identity which is more global and less unconsciously identified with mother. We are realising that she has needs of her own and that we are responsible for our impact on her. We are also seeing that she may not always choose to support us, she might get fed up with us and this links us closely into Chiron. Chiron is the wound of incarnation, the pain that comes with consciousness of our separate incarnation. Thus, as we separate our identity from mum, we leave the Garden of Eden and come face to face with our own vulnerability, our responsibility for our own mess and our need to take responsibility for the suffering we cause. At the same time we come face to face with pain, the fact that all life involves suffering. The global dilemmas we now face in terms of pollution, global population expansion, loss of ecosystems etc., are the evolutionary prompts to evolve. We are now playing a collective black hole game and we are increasingly conscious of the mess that we have created and our need to take responsibility for that mess. It is fuelling our growth collectively; how else would we address these collective issues or start to explore our next steps without the painful prompt to grow? Yet, there is a terrible sense of fear and grief at the loss of our innocence and the dawning realisation of our precarious situation and how we have contributed to it and also a grief at the very nature of life; that for life to progress and evolve there must be death and loss, that there has to be pain if we are to grow, species die out, habitats change etc.
Given our move into the Age of Aquarius, this all seems very fitting – that we should be forging a new collective awareness and identity. But, where next? I wonder if there will be a new cycle, perhaps when we colonise the Moon and land on Mars we will begin a new cycle of consciousness relating to these archetypes? Certainly, we will need to draw up new charts once children are born on these planets and anyone from the 1960s onwards who went into space was operating with charts which were no longer geocentric. Could it be that if we finally harness the Sun as our primary source of energy this will dictate a different relationship with it? I think we are in a new phase of collective consciousness, once we are relating to people on the moon or Mars will our understanding of relationships change? Certainly the human race will no longer be synonymous with Earth.
We seem to be at the Epicentre of a major transition. I can’t help feeling that the recent grand cross and grand trine, linked together through Jupiter in Cancer are symbolising or reflecting the epicentre of this shift, in effect a new birth (or perhaps I would like them to and I am projecting on to them?).