Uranus symbol (left) and Pluto symbol (right); graphics by by Anne Nordhaus-Bike
These planets' cycle of squares represents our timetable for the transformations required to fulfill our spiritual destiny, both as individuals and as a planet. Also, their mix of direct and retrograde motion throughout the cycle indicates how we can make these transformations successfully.
From mid-1960s to now: explosive start coming up for review
As explained in an earlier article, "Uranus and Pluto 2012: Mid'60s come of age, demand "report card,'" the Uranus-Pluto squares are occurring from June 24, 2012 through March 16, 2015:
Uranus Square Pluto, 2012 - 2015; diagram by Anne Nordhaus-Bike
The current Uranus-Pluto pattern began decades ago, when these two planets came together in Virgo in the mid-1960s. Now, Uranus has moved forward to Aries, a brash fire sign concerned with energy, drive, and identity. Pluto, meanwhile, has reached Capricorn, a sober earth sign focused on maturity, ambition, and tangible results. They will remain in these signs throughout all seven squares.
Through 2015, the dramatic changes seeded in the mid-1960s will come up for review as Uranus and Pluto repeatedly square each other. The square formation tends to bring clashes and turmoil (especially on the inner plane) in order to raise awareness and motivate us to make difficult yet beneficial changes.
The Uranus-Pluto squares give us humanity's timetable for transformation through 2015; chart by Anne Nordhaus-Bike
Uranus in Aries is asking us to examine who we really are (Aries), to accept our genius and uniqueness (Uranus), and to reclaim our freedom so we can express ourselves fully and aspire to become our best selves. Pluto in Capricorn is asking us to examine our true power (Pluto), our spiritual evolution, and our inner depths so we can embrace truth and re-invent all structures (Capricorn)--especially large organizations--to serve the highest good.
Planetary motion: push-pull energies dominate until 2015
During this series of squares, either Uranus or Pluto will be retrograde each time (except for the final square in 2015):
Throughout the Uranus-Pluto squares, one of these planets will be retrograde each time (except for the final square in 2015); chart by Anne Nordhaus-Bike
When a planet moves in direct motion, we can observe it (directly, for the closer planets, or via telescope, for the distant ones) moving forward through the sky. Its energies feel straightforward, and we find it easier to understand and express its qualities.
When a planet is retrograde, it appears to move backward through the sky, as seen from our vantage point on Earth; although it is not actually moving in reverse, this period of apparent backward motion tends to disrupt the planet's energies on the outer plane. If we resist this situation, we can experience intense frustration, but if we flow with the process we can experience a retrograde planet's energies on the inner plane via reflection, solitude, prayer, and meditation.
With either Uranus or Pluto retrograde until the final square in 2015, we are experiencing an outer-inner, push-pull quality. For example, the first square arrived June 24 while Pluto was retrograde, indicating Uranus in Aries wanted to rush forward to create quick change on the material plane while Pluto retrograde was pulling our evolutionary quest inward to explore Pluto's energy of destruction, evolution, surrender, and hidden power.
On September 19, Uranus will be retrograde and Pluto will be direct. In this case, we can benefit from going deeply within to explore Uranus's energy of sudden change, revolution, awakening, and genius and to contemplate our unique identity (Uranus in Aries), how we use our will, and the ways in which we pioneer or strike out on our own. As we learn new Uranus data, we can apply it to making necessary outward changes (Pluto) to structures, hierarchies, and large organizations (Capricorn).
This push-pull pattern will continue through the end of 2014, suggesting that we have significant inner work to accomplish between now and then. In March 2015, both Uranus and Pluto will be moving in direct motion when they make their final square, which indicates that the insights we receive and the inner changes we make through late 2014 will prepare us to move forward fully with any adjustments required in our outer world.
Second square spotlights cycle's roots in Virgo
As the earlier Uranus-Pluto article noted, these planets' current cycle began on October 9, 1965, when they reached the same degree in Virgo, creating a relationship called a conjunction. They formed two more exact conjunctions in April and June 1966.
Virgo astrological symbol; graphic by Anne Nordhaus-Bike
These planets' explosive fusion demanded change and began a new era centered around Virgo themes of health, purity, independence, pets, service, jobs, daily routine, practicality, food, and the connections between mind and body. Many developments since the mid-1960s have expressed Virgo's changeable, "end of a season" energy by helping us clear out the old to make way for the new.
Several changes have addressed this health-conscious sign's earthy preoccupation with the body. On the material plane, we have seen obsession (Pluto) and fads or sudden changes (Uranus) in diet, exercise, food, and the medical industry. On the spiritual plane, we have seen great evolution (Pluto) in human understanding of the links among mind, body, and spirit as well as tremendous interest in meditation and alternate (Uranus) approaches to health and wellness.
When the second Uranus-Pluto square occurs on September 19, the Sun will be in Virgo, which will shine a light on all things associated with this sign and bring our attention to what we seeded in the mid-1960s. It also will push us to evaluate what has worked, what has become oppressive (Pluto), and what must change (Uranus) to fulfill the ideals of purity and perfection we aspired to in the mid-1960s.
Balance harshness with caring, compassion
The Sun's placement in Virgo will give us the sharp eye for details and deep analytical skills needed to see clearly, while Uranus retrograde in Aries inspires us with courage to go within and face our truth and Pluto in Capricorn gives us the strength to make difficult, long-term changes built on integrity. These signs can be harsh, however: Virgo's ability to spot flaws can become relentless self-criticism and even chronic self-hatred, Aries's swift action can be self-absorbed and heedless of having to consider others' needs, and Capricorn's persistence and ambition can become joyless workaholism and even cynical materialism.
To counter these tendencies, draw on emotions, intuition, and deep spiritual values to support holistic, balanced change. The first Uranus-Pluto square on June 24 occurred when the Sun was in Cancer, a watery, sensitive, emotional sign associated with mothers, women, and children. We can use these qualities to set a caring tone for the entire Uranus-Pluto process: remember Cancer's nurturing qualities and take extremely good care of yourself during this challenging time. Also, be sure to extend compassion not only to yourself but to others, who are enduring their share of challenges at this time.
Cancer's association with food also reminds us to restore balance in all areas related to health and nourishment. Virgo's influence has helped many people realize the importance of pure food and drink and a healthy body, but in excess this energy has produced a culture of criticism and judgment, an era of "food police" and petty moralizing that rates foods as "good" or "bad," and a tendency to idealize impossible standards of beauty and austere obsession with exercise.
That makes this a powerful time to evaluate our relationship to food and exercise and heal any judgment or other negativity so we can restore reverence for the human body as the earthly temple for the eternal soul. Virgo's emphasis on details and desire for perfection can make us forget the true purpose of health: to enable us to feel happy and well in order to pursue our spiritual evolution and assist others through service (Virgo).
Support mental health
Despite being an earth sign, Virgo is strongly mentally focused because of its ruler, airy Mercury. As a result, this second Uranus-Pluto square offers a good time to assess our mental health. Ubiquitous technology, widespread noise pollution, loss of open space and connection to nature, and a 24/7 culture have placed extreme pressure on the human nervous system. A poor economy has added to this pressure, forcing many people to overwork without proper rest or vacation just to survive.
Given these challenges, many people already are experiencing classic Virgo symptoms of imbalance via chronic worry and stress; these are increasing the Virgo tendency to perfectionism, self-criticism, and martyrdom. Without relief, those affected may experience a racing mind, insomnia, self-neglect, and serious illness. These conditions may lead to depression, dependence on medication to get through the day, or even addictions of all kinds in a desperate attempt to cope. Yet the same nervous sensitivity that causes us to feel stresses acutely can help us gain the clarity we need to recognize imbalance and take steps toward healing.
Restore balance by recalling ideals
As you experience the Sun's journey through Virgo this year (which continues through September 22) as well as the September 19 Uranus-Pluto square, take time to notice what happens and how it affects you. Also notice how you feel and what you need to assure your comfort during this difficult time. You may find it helpful to spend time alone in nature to help nurture yourself and reconnect with the Earth's life-giving essence.
Uranus symbol (left) and Pluto symbol (right); graphics by Anne Nordhaus-Bike
Use Virgo's sharp analysis to see all that's gone wrong. Then ask yourself what you need to improve your situation. How can you achieve balance in your diet as well as your thoughts and environment? What can you eliminate to help restore health?
Then remember Virgo's ideals and imagine how you might achieve them. For example, how do you define perfect health? What can you do now to begin moving toward that ideal? How does purity fit into your life? How can you cleanse and purify all aspects of your life to support perfect health and balance?
As you undergo this deep and healing process, may the hope of renewal remain in your heart, and may the social ideals seeded so long ago begin to flower at a higher, more caring level.