Planet Waves by Eric Francis Born in the Sixties
IF YOU WERE born in the 1960s and look up some of your planets in an astrology book, you're likely to read that people of your generation are restless, rebellious and idealistic. You may read that they are motivated by service to others, and have an unusual, practical spirituality. They are said to have fast minds, technological savvy and, most important, an egalitarian spirit. Obviously, you can't sum up an entire generation in one interpretation, or even a few, but we can use a combination of astrology, biography, and cultural history to catch a glimpse of what's moving beneath the surface of ordinary perception.
Sixties babies have powerful astrological charts, which point to unusual gifts and the potential for a mission in life that is directly associated with the time in which they were born. In my experience as an astrologer, what the books are saying is true. The problems appear when we begin to recognize to whom these ideals of service, devotion and the mental and technological skills are devoted. Most of them are being poured into the corporate culture's drive for wealth and control, not the good of the community. And most Sixties people I know struggle with this, because they want their energy to go to the real community, not TV land.
When astrology books sum up the Sixties or people born in those years, they're usually talking about a rare conjunction between two outer planets, Uranus and Pluto, an event that peaked in 1965 and 1966, and which had effects that ripple through time between about 1959 and the early 1970s. The Uranus-Pluto conjunction has occurred just twice in American history, with the previous time being in approximately 1850. But besides happening in the modern world, there was something very different about the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the Sixties, which was the presence of an as-yet undiscovered planet, Chiron.
Uranus and Pluto were together in Virgo. Across the sky in Pisces was Chiron, though nobody would know this until 1977, when it was discovered. These are all slow-moving, distant planets, so the pattern held for much of a decade. The basic energy was one of opposition, but also the balancing of a polarity. This quality of opposition/balancing is crucial to understanding the historical threshold of the Sixties, and the charts of people born there -- and also vital to understanding what is happening today, since, astrologically, our current year relates more directly to the Sixties than any other time since.
This is a big subject, and I'm going to deal with it in three articles, one that sets the groundwork (bookmark and save, for reference), and next month's, which will look at the lives of several people born in the Sixties to give some illustrations of how these energies can express themselves, and how the lives of Sixties people are changing rather profoundly at the moment. The third, as of now, examines the Sixties themselves and what became of that social experiment in peace, love and understanding that seems to have failed so miserably.
When we talk about Sixties astrology, we're dealing for the most part with three planets and two signs. Pluto is the planet associated with the evolution of the soul, what some psychologists call the "processing of shadow material." Pluto is dense, unrelenting and takes no prisoners. Uranus is all about invention, revolution, sudden and shocking changes, and a spirit of freedom; it should be called Prometheus, whose spirit is that of awakening.
When we look at the Sixties, we can see how these two energies were present in a powerful mix. And they were together in Virgo, an extremely grounded, intelligent energy field associated with both mental clarity, intense thought, and, because it is an earthy sign representing the Earth herself, the wisdom of nature. The birth of the environmental movement (initiated with the book Silent Spring, published in 1962) is a perfect expression of this blend of energies. The book was an incredibly difficult application of mental process for its author, Rachel Carson, and it had to do something she was not accustomed to in her prior writing about nature: arguing an air-tight case. The book was responsible for the banning of the pesticide DDT, and for calling attention to the issues of pesticides in general, plus PCBs and dioxins.
Chiron, the third planet involved, is about the onset of extremely focussed awareness, a specific kind of transformation we now call healing, and the mental attitude that it's necessary to be different. But difference, Chiron-style, can work very well within established patterns of living (both Uranus and Pluto, conversely, like to blow the past and the established present away). Chiron brings the holistic principle into astrology in a conscious way. It was always there (astrology is inherently holistic), but Chiron's message is to actually live in an integrated way (rather than disintegrated, or out-of-integrity). Chiron needs to focus energy and awareness. Pisces is inherently vague, mystical, compassionate, dreamy and difficult to grasp; Chiron pulls Piscean energy into a kind of psychic laser. Combine this with what was already happening over in Virgo and you have some potent concentrations of energy.
Getting the picture?
But there is one last energy to bring onto the stage, which is Saturn. In 1965 and 1966, Saturn came through Pisces, made several conjunctions to Chiron and several oppositions to Uranus and Pluto. Seriously, can you imagine such a thing? The structured, orderly and highly dependable quality of Saturn passed through, and became part of, the grand opposition involving Chiron, Uranus and Pluto. There was a call to responsibility, and also major test for all things Saturnian: government, parents, and institutions of all kinds. In those years, there was a Saturn-Pluto opposition, the most recent before the one unfolding now. Put it all together and you get truly astonishing changes, a time in history which stands out in comparison to what happened for centuries before.
People who missed the Sixties may have seen pictures that seem awfully groovy, with everyone sitting around on campus wearing granny glasses, smoking reefer and strumming guitars. The Sixties have been memorialized as a kind of embarrassing cartoon, and fashion and guitar riffs from that era are being remanufactured and sold as 'new' up to this day. But the groovy image says nothing about the enormous strides in music, consciousness, art, social issues, science, philosophy and politics that were made by highly-energetic, forward-thinking people during those years. The era was quite literally a time of mass-renaissance of the human spirit following long decades that were the cultural equivalent of novocaine.
It is worth noting that in the post-World War Two years, a subculture called the Beat movement cleared the way, culturally, for everything that happened in the years that followed. There are many direct relationships, as the Beats passed the flame of ethos to the leaders-in-conscience of the Sixties. Dylan says he, like everyone, was profoundly influenced by Jack Kerouac's On The Road. And ever notice how The Beatles, who were among the ideological pioneers of the Sixties, spell their name? As John once explained, the band had a beat, and there were the Beats.
But the brighter the light (Uranus and Chiron) the darker the shadow (Saturn and Pluto). In the midst of the sweeping changes of the Sixties, something called the Vietnam War was raging on. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and more than 50,000 Americans died in combat alone, and millions more were sprayed with dioxin in what, collectively, is officially rated as the grandest botch in US history -- so far. Wars are always mean and costly, but this one happened to accomplish nothing, for all its death. In the end, it was protesting college students who took over foreign policy and ended the decades-long massacre. This is more meaningful than we may recognize today. Young men refused to go to war. Guys quite literally, because they didn't go, you don't have to.
Progress even reached the most stagnant, prudish layers of society. Sex, for instance, was turned on its head by the advent of the birth control pill in 1960. In 1962, there was Vatican II, which turned the altar around and put the Catholic mass into English. Neither of these two changes represent complete processes, but they were a beginning. The Sixties were, in their essence, a beginning, and that is one major key to understanding them. We can see the beginning marked by the conjunction of Uranus to Pluto, which is a new cycle beginning, much like a New Moon begins the month. The energy of Chiron opposing this conjunction puts all of these experiences in the context of relationship, because that is the nature of an opposition. Many, many relationships changed in those years. Most of the changes did not go far enough.
But what of people born in those years? If astrology is a valid method of looking at the world, we would expect to see some commonality between a time period and the people who were born there. While the historical era passed down the stream of time, and many of its great leaders -- from Jimi Hendrix to Martin Luther King -- died or were murdered, people born with this astrology in their charts have taken history with them into the future. And this is the future.
If you were born in this era, or near it (I would say any time between 1959 and 1973, but particularly between 1963 and 1969), can you feel an unusual wave of energy coming into your life at the present time? Can you feel the calling for revolution and social progress burning in your heart? Do you feel motivated to do what seemed impossible in the past?
In the current years (2001 and 2002) we are experiencing the Saturn-Pluto opposition across Gemini and Sagittarius, exact for the third time May 25. This astrology, the peaking of the Saturn-Pluto cycle, stands alone as extremely influential in both personal lives and in history. Yet for people born in the mid-Sixties, there is a direct link. The current Saturn-Pluto opposition meets the Sixties grand opposition (Saturn, Chiron, Uranus and Pluto) at an exact right-angle, called a square, which is the least subtle aspect. A square in any event, and in this case, a grand squre by transit, compells personal changes, growth and maturity.
Even people who believe in coincidences may suspect that this is no coincidence. The two eras intersect mathematically in a way that sends a wave of awakening through the lives of everyone born in that zone, and activating the chart of everything that happened then. Whether we see this express itself in the outer world any time soon or not, the most noticeable place this astrology will manifest is in the lives of people who are getting jolted, energized and awakened today.
This is a call to conscience and action. It is a call to take up the moment, and live and be who we are.
Our callings are likely to grow louder and more difficult to ignore. Our sense of responsibility for the world is likely to feel more meaningful, and the impracticality of taking care of the planet is likely to matter less. The hippies moved on and, for the most part, joined the very institutions they were fighting after their years of glory passed into the back pages of planetary tables.
But if you were born in the Sixties, you carry the codes, and there is a job left to be completed, as you can tell when you click on CNN or open up any newspaper. Pay attention: there's news in the wind.++
With research and thinking by Denice Taylor & the University of the Universe class. Thanks to my astrology teacher and friend Dave Arner who originally pointed me to some of these ideas.
Credit: T. A. Rector, B. Wolpa, M. Hanna. Planet Waves logo by Eric, and Via Keller.