The One And The Many
Uranus was in Aquarius from 1995 to 2003. To understand how Uranus would affect us then, it helps to go back in time to when this unique trans-personal planet was discovered.
The Invention of Uranus
The year is 1781, and Uranus has just been discovered! The American Revolution has been underway for 6 years and will come to a resolution in another 2 years. The French Revolution will reach a crisis point in 8 years and see the rise of Napoleon. Serfdom is being abolished all over the world, and in 11 years Denmark will be the first nation to abolish slavery. Science is now a useful and honourable discipline in the Age of Reason. The seeds of the Industrial Revolution are being sown through inventions like James Watts' rotary steam engine in 1782. With the coming technological boom, industry will never be the same.
The themes running through these events are those of science, technology, revolution, humanitarianism and the inherent right to freedom—all fundamental Aquarian and Uranian keywords. Uranus is the guardian angel of groups and the individuals that compose them. After its discovery, Uranus saw the liberation of whole groups of people from slavery and oppression. It stimulated the rise of Capitalism in the western world, enabling the common people to pursue a level of freedom and personal choice in their lives previously reserved for the elite and the rich.
The growth of technology facilitated changes which eventually revolutionized the entire world economic base and the worker's place within it. And the shock waves from this explosion of Uranian energy are still expanding and evolving. It has lead to an unprecedented era in which we have so much leisure time that leisure is now a major industry in itself. Our vision of who we are as a species has expanded. We are now starting to see ourselves, not merely as "us" peering warily at "them," but collectively as a Global Village. The potential in our lives has changed so radically that we can even realistically imagine living on the Moon!
Only in an economically and technologically progressive world could individualism flourish as it has in the western world, particularly in North America. Capitalism, an economic and cultural cornerstone of the western world, places both the opportunity and the responsibility for prosperity squarely in the hands of the independent individual. We are free to pursue our dreams, but it is up to us to make this happen.
This is radically different from the old days when individuals were mere components of a mute, undifferentiated and dependent work force. The masses were expected to pledge service to an elite upper class whose responsibility it was to ensure the survival and prosperity of the system as a whole. However, the individual was neither encouraged nor expected to follow dreams that s/he was assumed not to have in the first place.
This radical change in the role of the individual and specific groups of people began with the world's deliverance from slavery and the feudal system. It continues today with the feminist movement and our quest to bring together our Global Village and treat its citizens equally, with fairness and dignity.
Today, as individuals, we have enormous freedom to pursue our dreams and visions. We have financial, educational and other support systems available to anyone pursuing an upwardly mobile career path. It is now unusual for a person to have only one job (or even one career!) in their lifetime. In fact, a certain amount of diversity is almost mandatory for those who wish to sculpt the optimal résumé.
Costs and Benefits
Have we really come so far? We often joke bitterly about feeling like slaves to our mortgages, RRSPs, the rising cost of living, and taxes, taxes, taxes! In a very real way, we are symbiotically bonded to an economic and political system that all too often pursues only its own collective survival. Its workers become manipulated like so many dispensable pawns on a win-or-lose chess board.
The current surge of technology has ensured that we are willing serfs to this corporate machine so that we can afford the latest and greatest technological toys. And while we live in a society that may espouse many humanitarian ideals (civil rights, social programs, etc.), racism and other forms of prejudice still abound. Clearly, we still have a long way to go.
Now, it is certainly true that our standard of living is far better today than for the masses of 200 years ago, and the modern moral climate has far more tolerance, enlightenment and flexibility than when Uranus was discovered. However, the battle for individual and collective freedom is still being fought.
We often blithely accept or aren't even aware of the ways in which we are still held captive. How free is the individual when s/he must conform to certain standards and trends of fashion, appearance, attitude, beliefs, intelligence, orientation and/or aspirations in order to be accepted, respected and supported?
If you doubt how powerful these ethics are in western culture, try going to work on Bay Street in your blue jeans. Try feeling confident in a singles bar if your body size or appearance is not considered "attractive." Try being a gay or lesbian person who, in many places, is still subject to legal discrimination and vigilante violence. Try surviving in a high-tech world if you have little education or if you are a slow learner. Those whose priorities don't include climbing the corporate ladder may be seen as lazy, dull or incapable. And although religious and philosophical freedom is considered a basic right in the western world, a belief in astrology is often still met with discrimination, ridicule and contempt.
Individuality requires us to continually harmonize individual and group perspectives. In learning the lessons of Uranus, we must constantly adjust the ever precarious and fragile balance between the needs and rights of the individual and those of the group. In the swinging pendulum of social change, we must monitor and respond to the phenomenon whereby the solution becomes yet another problem.
The World Economy
We've experienced a number of sign changes with the outer planets lately. (Note: This article was written in 1996, when Saturn, Uranus, Pluto and Chiron all changed zodiac signs within a year and a half of each other, to be followed by Neptune two years later. It is quite rare to have so many slow-moving planets change signs in so short a time.) Pluto moved into Sagittarius last year (1995), and Saturn entered Aries just last April (1996). Neptune, not far behind Uranus, will enter Aquarius in 1998—only 2 years away. It is therefore a time of considerable energy flux in the world.
The last time Uranus changed signs was 1989 when it entered Capricorn and started to play serious havoc with the world economy (Capricorn). Neptune had been there since 1985, dissolving us into a confused state in which we weren't quite sure what was happening to our economy!
In 1989, Uranus and Neptune also came very close (within 8 degrees) to conjoining each other and will continue within that orb until the end of 1997. (Note: Uranus and Neptune were in exact conjunction in 1993, but remained within an 8-degree orb for several years before and afterwards.) This has been a period of persistent economic hardship and crisis. In 1993, the exact conjunction of Uranus and Neptune occurred at 18 and 19 degrees of Capricorn, arguably marking the lowest point of this economic slump.
We keep hearing that the economy is (finally) beginning to recover, but as long as layoffs and cutbacks persist as the norm, it just sounds like political double-talk to the individual. When Uranus and Neptune separate beyond the 8-degree orb in another year, will we (finally) begin to see this alleged economic recovery filter down to the common folk? Perhaps, but I somehow doubt it will be that straightforward.
I do, however, think it is significant that during the worst of this economic nightmare, Uranus (chaos) and Neptune (dissolution) have been closely aligned in Capricorn (economy). I also think it is meaningful that they have only been aligned primarily while in Capricorn, and that they'll both be in liberating Aquarius by the time they separate from this 8-degree orb. How you will experience this, however, will probably vary widely depending on your circumstances.
I believe we are being challenged to affect a fundamental change in the global system of commerce. We can't survive using the old rules that were designed for a fragmented world. Subsequently, the individual's perspective of the end solution could look very different from what we have been used to.
A Celebration of Uniqueness
Over the next 7 years (1996-2003), as Uranus travels through Aquarius, I believe we will experience a reawakening of how we approach individuality and group involvement. This involves rebalancing the individual and group perspectives, moving out of the old ways and exploring new ones—a process already begun.
Archetypally, Capricorn precedes Aquarius. In Capricorn, we form the societal structure which requires the individual to conform to a consensual reality in order to be included and accepted. However, the real world doesn't always neatly match the structure we try to impose on it. In Aquarius, it is our job to go back and pick up the lost threads of those who have been left out of the primary structure.
A humanitarian, freedom-oriented position is essential for this, since the "outsiders" will never become fully homogenized as "insiders"—nor should they have to sacrifice their uniqueness to do so! Neither should the "insiders" remain cloistered away in their cultural ivory towers, isolated from the wealth of worldviews and perspectives around them.
The highest vibration of Uranus seeks to champion our freedom of expression, not by changing us into clones who all have the same thing to express, but by expanding the boundaries to include those individuals and groups previously left out. This means preserving the freedom to express oneself through culture, nationality, gender, philosophy and other defining qualities that we share with some and not with others.
Aquarius is a celebration of that which makes us unique; the qualities that differentiate us from those around us. This includes acknowledgement of the groups we belong to (nation, race, culture, religion, philosophy, family, peers, etc.) However, ultimately we must also be free to go beyond the bounds of those established circles. Without that freedom, we're stuck in an unchanging, dying Capricornian structure, trying to make the square peg of our souls fit into the round hole of the established Collective.
As Uranus begins its journey through Aquarius, let yourself explore how you celebrate and honour yourself as an individual and as a group participant. How do you distinguish yourself from friends, family, coworkers, neighbours and significant others? What groups do you align yourself with? Do you feel free to share aspects of yourself rooted in one group with people from another group? (For example, how many coworkers know of your interest in astrology?)
Explore how you do or don't express this uniqueness. How often do you stay silent about something you disagree with—or agree with? When you have a strong reaction to a TV news story, do you ever write a letter to those involved to share how you feel? Have you ever let yourself be inspired to take action of some kind? When was the last time you did something daring, risky, even shocking, that liberated a non-conforming part of you? How often do you participate in and support the groups you're involved in (like volunteering in your community)?
Explore, too, your Aquarian humanitarian nature. What stimulates your sense of fairness, goodwill or spirit of human kinship? What evokes your sense of outrage, rebellion or the desire to change the world? What are you doing to encourage or support the formation of the best world you can imagine? Or the best You that you can imagine?
With Uranus in Aquarius, we have the chance to hone our individual and collective edge, cutting through the trappings and encrusted layers that surround us in the name of survival, prosperity and conformity. We must each find our own special voice and speak our highest truth if we are to emerge and progress beyond our current hardships. Let your most humanitarian and unique Uranian voice ring out!
© Wendy Guy, 1996, 2004, 2005. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Transitions Astrology Newsletter, Aries-Taurus 1996 Issue. Photo of many hands together by Perry Grone via Unsplash.com.