SATURN/URANUS IN SAGITTARIUS
1987, originally published in the magazine Welcome to Planet Earth
For the past 16 years, the sign Sagittarius has been emphasized in the heavens. This emphasis is about to end. What we still need to absorb from the current situation must be accomplished within the next two years, 1987 and 1988. That which we crystallize during this brief time will serve as the conceptual seed pattern for those material forms to be built during the next emphasized sign, Capricorn.
Uranus, the planet of sudden and revolutionary change, has been in the philosophical sign of Sagittarius since November, 1981. Saturn, the planet of form and discipline, has been there since November, 1985. These two planets were preceded by Neptune, the planet of mystery, of the invisible, of that which lies beyond physical form. Neptune journeyed through Sagittarius between 1970 and 1984. Those were the years when the gurus from the mysterious East came to America, years when the words “spirit” and “spirituality” gradually infiltrated, began to resonate within.
During these Sagittarian years we are being invited to open our minds, wide; to stretch our capacity for understanding way beyond what we were taught in schools. In almost every area of knowledge foundations are being shattered, repatterned; and old disciplines, long buried, are being unearthed and revalued. Metaphysical bookstores bulge with new materials. A whole new kind of university has taken shape, which has an entirely different core curricula and whose classrooms are the living rooms and YWCAs of cities and small towns all over America. Local and traveling teachers offer workshops, lectures, intensives, books, pamphlets, studio and video tapes.
And now, especially during the past several years, Jane Roberts famous spirit entity “Seth” has been joined with others with names like “Ramtha” and “Lazarus” and “Bartholemew.” What used to be a special and unique method of transmitting knowledge is becoming commonplace. More and more “channels” are opening up, each claiming to link heaven and earth by taking temporary residence in and speaking through the mouths of otherwise ordinary human beings. In all cases that I know of, these entities claim to be speaking Truth which we should know about. Truth which, since we are earthbound and time bound, we presumably cannot get hold of without being told by these extraterrestrial sources.
I am as entranced as anyone by the information coming in through some of these channels. And like others, I tend to put my faith in a channel more readily than I do in another merely human being. But let us notice here, our usual longing for another quick fix, another hero or guru, some source outside to pin our hopes on. And let us remember that while it tends to be dramatic in presentation, and often extraordinary in the information received, channeling is still subject to the same distortions, the same pretenses, the same outright lies, as any other form of communication. How do we know who is really a channel, who is just faking? How can we prove that what anybody, even a real “channel,” says is true? How, in these airy metaphysical realms, do we evaluate any statement at all?
These questions are not easily answered. The usual ways of assessing truth are scientific. Science is designed to deal with “the facts,” what can be decided through some kind of experimental or experiential test. The kind of truth coming in now is not scientific, but metaphysical, and therefore not decidable through the methods of science.
Scientific truth comes under the aegis of the sign Gemini. The sign opposite to Gemini is Sagittarius, currently emphasized in the heavens. Inside the realm of Sagittarius, we are all channels, not necessarily by receiving the utterances of some spirit entity, but directly, through intuition.
Intuition, a God-like ability and always surprising when it comes, is a specifically Sagittarian gift, our capacity to suddenly see and grasp an idea whole, and to know, without having to prove it, whether or not that idea is true.
The Intuitive Mind
The mind we have been trained to use in schools is left-brained. It assumes that the source of all knowledge lies in sensation, so-called bits of data picked up through the five outer senses. Intuitive knowledge, on the other hand, channels ideas that appear to come in from nowhere. Intuition has its source in a mysterious and invisible dimension, beyond the ordinary world of the five outer senses. Working without logic, in non-linear fashion, intuition is wholistic, right-brained, unpredictable.
Unlike ordinary methods of knowing, intuition is not something to strive for, not something for which Ph.D.s are given. Indeed, the more years one spends in school, the less likely one will be able to even remember, much less use and value, his or her intuition. Intuition is a gift — a gift from a dimension beyond this one, in which ideas circle the globe, waiting for us to simply open and receive them. (In this context then, anybody who opens to this larger world can be called a “channel,” with or without the spirit entity as transmitter.)
One and the same idea can be grasped by many individuals, often at the same time. When this occurs in science, and it often does, we call it serendipity. Remember Darwin and Wallace, who simultaneously discovered the current theory of evolution. At the other extreme, when serendipity occurs in fashion design, we call it a fad. In both cases, ideas are gained through the intuitive mode of learning. They are not really ours; they come to us, yes, we are sometimes so gifted. But to assume that because we “have” an idea we therefore own it, is to misunderstand both the creative process and the mysterious and essentially impersonal world from within which it arises.
Since the emphasized sign is Sagittarius, what is emerging through intuition now is philosophical, a new paradigm, or world-view, a changed conceptual framework for interpreting the universe and our place in it. The word “paradigm,” more and more in common use, is vital to our understanding of the changes that are taking place now. It is a word that first entered the vernacular via the philosophy of science through Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 book, Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Then, as Uranus entered Sagittarius in 1981, this word was given more popular formulation by Marilyn Ferguson in her book, The Aquarian Conspiracy. Six years later, we are beginning to use this word with ease. However, it is still widely misunderstood.
The Meaning of the Word “Paradigm”
To begin to understand what a paradigm is, think how it is to have a set of glasses on, with a certain prescription. You do not normally notice your glasses themselves, though you could, if you wanted to. Those glasses are a constant, always there, and therefore not worth looking at. You look through them; they function as a set of parameters for interpreting the world around you.
You were not born with these glasses on; rather, they are part and parcel of what our culture teaches you as a child. According to Jean Piaget, preeminent developmental psychologist and genetic epistemologist, by the time the child is 12 years old, s/he has grasped the world as his or her culture sees it. S/he has built a model of that world inside his or her head, and can now operate with the world in absentia, using the abstract model, manipulating ideas according to the rules of formal logic.
By the time we are 12 years old, says Piaget, we have incorporated the paradigm of our 20th century scientific culture. By this time, our minds are split from our bodies; they function independently, no longer interacting directly with reality. Instead, they interact with a mental map of reality, our expectations of what that reality should be, based upon our experience of what it has been in the past. Piaget seems to think this is a good thing. And certainly it is the normal thing. Unfortunately, if we take our maps that seriously, if we insert them between ourselves and the world around us, then we assume the world doesn’t change; worse, we grow frightened and confused when it does.
From One Paradigm to Another
Our conditioning takes place during the formative years. By the time we are 12 years old our glasses are on us, intact, permanent, and, Piaget assumes, inviolate. Only we don’t know it. We consider this left-brain thinking “rational,” “objective,” because it is logical, and operates according to irrational assumptions we picked up without thinking from the moment we were born.
Those glasses are not on our faces at all, not observable; they exist inside our heads, where we do not see them; they are our paradigm, and since they have the same prescription as everybody else’s glasses, we call ourselves normal, sane. On the other hand, according to the radical British psychiatrist R.D. Laing, our scientific culture is insane, and therefore those who go mad are the only sane ones around.
Before Laing, madness was a dirty word, and those who went mad were shunned. (In polite society the term was “nervous breakdown.”) Now we are New Age, and with Laing, we advocate change, radical change, and call it “transformation.” We are taking off the old set of glasses, the old prescription with which we viewed the world, and seek to create a new paradigm, one that will overcome the limitations of the old.
The business of the transits of first, Neptune, and now Uranus and Saturn, through the sign of Sagittarius is to create this new paradigm. And this work, remember, is almost finished. Briefly, in early 1988, and then finally, by December of 1988, both Uranus and Saturn will have entered Capricorn: Whatever new conception of the world we have by that time envisioned will stand for hundreds of years. (It will take hundreds of years before Neptune, Uranus and Saturn all transit again through Sagittarius close upon one another’s heels.)
To create this new paradigm we must, first, really let go of the old one. And to do that we must become consciously aware of its deep structural characteristics. This is difficult to do. We need to focus on the obvious, on what we take for granted, on what is so plain, so evident, that we aren’t likely to notice it. The structural features of the old paradigm run along unrecognized. They effect, at deep levels, everything we see and do and say. Until we make a point of noticing them, they seem to be a part of our very nature, or essence. This deep structure interprets the world for us; it functions as a set of blinkers, limiting us to only certain ways of perceiving. If our beliefs could be said to be like drops of water in a river, then, in order for the structure of our beliefs to change, the riverbed itself must shift its course.
To let go of the old paradigm we must “change our minds.” Not just our conscious minds, but our unconscious minds as well. Not just particular beliefs must change, one by one, piecemeal; the entire context within which our beliefs are embedded must also be dissolved. As the philosophers Michael Polanyi and Ludwig Wittgenstein first noted more than three decades ago, our beliefs nest together — not so much the way logical systems do, as the way families do.
Like families, our beliefs resonate together, they resemble one another in all sorts of ways, some of them obvious, others uncanny. Again, like families, our beliefs stick together, or they feud, but both agreement and disagreement must be seen as occurring within a larger, more common ground.
The underlying rules which define what is considered agreement and disagreement are the same no matter who wins or loses. We have to inhabit the same world in order to even begin to argue about what exists inside it. For example, only dualists argue about which of two opposing positions is better. Another person might see both positions as positive and negative poles defining the endpoints of a single line. This person lives in a world larger than the one the dualist lives in. The dualist inhabits one paradigm, the other person inhabits another, more spacious paradigm. Likewise, no matter how seemingly opposed our ideologies, we can still argue with Mr. Gorbachev. But we cannot approach the Australian bushman with the same concerns and expect to be understood. The world the bushman inhabits is natural, it has no room for ideology.
Our beliefs co-exist together with other, less conceptual, mental stuff: values, attitudes, criteria of all kinds; priorities, wishes, hunches, ways of going about learning and remembering — all these must be noticed, called into question, subject to conscious review. This complex and confusing situation functions as the substratum, or web, within which all our beliefs settle into place. As we dig down to find the elements of this deeper context for beliefs, as we start to pull on its edges, to lift it out of its long held place, we discover just how all pervasive it has been, how limiting.
Let me give you an example of what I call an element of the deeper context for beliefs, what I will call “the dogmatic attitude.” I choose this particular example because it is so all-pervasive, so little-noticed, and so pernicious. The dogmatic attitude still dominates the political world of nation-states and their governments. It is an attitude which encourages patriotism, and makes cannon fodder of those willing to die for their country’s beliefs. At last count, I read that there were over 40 nations at war in the fall of 1986. That’s about one-third of all the nations on earth. I don’t remember who said that all wars are religious wars, but I believe it.
The dogmatic attitude, once transformed and revisioned by the new paradigm emerging now, will encourage the kind of atmosphere necessary to bring about peaceful co-existence on our small and endangered planet.
The Dogmatic Attitude and Its Variations
Within the old paradigm, beliefs are held dogmatically, as if they are absolute, unchanging, totally and unwaveringly True. For anyone still thinking this way, his or her beliefs are thought to be the only ones that are true. I realize that what I say here may seem extreme; after all, most people don’t really seem all that dogmatic in their attitude. Indeed, people think about their ideas in many different ways.
I agree. There are, in principle, as many different ways to hold an idea as there are people to hold them. In practice, however, there are a number of categories into which most people’s attitudes toward truth do fall. And there is a seldom noticed underlying thread which links all these categories together: the dogmatic attitude. In all cases, the underlying feeling is, at the very least: “My beliefs must be true — or as nearly true as I can muster; if they weren’t, if I believed otherwise, then of course I wouldn’t hold these beliefs, I would hold the ones I knew to be true!”
For some people, the dogmatic attitude towards their beliefs is held with extreme rigidity. There is no reasoning with these people, no give and take of ideas, no compromise. Nor is there any wild speculation, any experimental thinking, any imaginative leap! To even entertain the possibility that their beliefs might not be true constitutes a fundamental threat to their core identity.
In the opposite camp are those who have no idea what to believe. These people are often so confused by the welter of conflicting beliefs other people hold that they are liable to be pushed around by anyone who feels more strongly than they do. Since confused people usually long for certainty, they make easy prey for the first Eastern guru or TV evangelist who comes along. Or, they hop from one to another, “into” this ism or that, alternating confusion and discipleship in yawningly predictable fashion. The line between the certainty of the true believer and the chaos he or she fears is often very fine.
Another, probably larger, category includes those people who are neither rigid nor confused. Rather, they don’t think. They don’t know what they believe. Or, maybe, they believe what their parents believed. And theirs before them. Actually, they’ve never stopped to consider it. They go along day by day just like they always have, each day just like the next, no thought, no thought. Scratch an unthinking person however, put him or her into a situation of crisis and uncertainty, where s/he is forced to define his or her beliefs, and you will find the dogmatic attitude at work. Even normally unthinking people do not feel comfortable until they have “made up their minds” one way or another.
But the vast majority of people are in none of the above categories. Instead, they have beliefs that they qualify as “just my opinion, of course” and they will remind you that what you say is just your opinion, too. Even so, I’d wager that these people hold to their particular opinions quite strongly, even dogmatically. In their view, they certainly are better than the ones they had when they were younger, and better than those of their mother-in-law, or the neighbor down the street, or those of the opposing political party. Unlike true believers, these people are by no means willing to die for their current beliefs; even so, they still assume some beliefs are really and certainly true, whether or not they are fortunate enough to have already discovered them.
The sophisticated version of this latter category is known as “skepticism.” Usually highly educated skeptics pride themselves in considering all views openmindedly, while remaining detached from any of them in particular. They are, they say, “objective,” “impartial” — but, I notice, decidedly partial to their contempt for “true believers” who think they have found the truth and go around so passionately preaching it. Skepticism is the official dogma of the press, the rest of the media, and most professionals of all kinds. In practice, however, their so-called “objectivity” is impossible: We always have some set of glasses on.
Surprisingly, the word “skeptic” means “one who searches” — presumably, for the truth. Given this definition, many so-called “skeptics” are more likely cynics, in that they confine themselves to sniffing out beliefs to destroy with their superior logic. My own teacher, an academic philosopher and true skeptic, pointed out the meaning of the word to me. He said that, as a skeptic, he is looking for the truth, though he knows he may never find it. For him, the search itself is the goal, spurred on by the idea of one big truth at the top of all the smaller ones. My teacher seeks what I call The Big Daddy Truth, the one that, if it could only be grasped, would make all the rest of them make sense. And even if not attainable, he says, it is at the very least an honored, heuristic ideal.
Skepticism is the official dogma of scientists, and Sir Karl Popper, a contemporary philosopher of science, has taken it as far as it can go — so far, in fact, that very few of his colleagues want to follow him. As Bertrand Russell himself once remarked: “Skepticism is logically consistent but psychologically impossible.”
Popper argues that, in principle, we cannot ever recognize truth, even if, in practice, we were some day lucky enough to bump into it. Scientific theories cannot be proved true, he says. In order to prove truth, each test of a theory must have positive results; and since we can never be certain that the next test of any particular theory will be positive, we are always in doubt as to whether or not the theory is true. However, he adds, we only need one negative test result to prove a theory false. Science then, according to Popper, proceeds literally by trial and error. This is the meaning of the title of his book, Conjectures and Refutations.
If true believers limit themselves through the tunnel vision caused by their fanatical adherence to their particular beliefs, then skeptics limit themselves in the opposite way. They so value objectivity that they refuse to get their feet wet; they are so busy looking and analyzing that they don’t really experience anything with their whole beings. One way or another, both true believers and skeptics exaggerate the value of left-brain thinking and do not acknowledge the legitimate function of the other side — the side that feels — of the brain.
Whether beliefs are held with rigidity or skepticism; whether people are confused or just plain blank; whether they would call a belief “just my opinion,” or bet their very life on it, or hold it at arm’s length — all of these, no matter how they seem to differ, they are all in unconscious agreement as to the nature of Truth. Truth, for all of them, is dogmatic, i.e., one, absolute. Their differences lie in whether or not they think they have found it — or even, whether or not they think they can find it.
The Mind-Body Split
This assumption is part and parcel of a kind of Cartesian schizophrenia, where “I think, therefore I am,” therefore only my thinking is me. Where mind is separated from body, real felt experience is defined in favor of abstract maps and models. Here, the mind floats free, ungrounded, lost. It misses the sureness that arises from being able to really feel one’s own actual lived experience. The more the mind misses its own lost half, the more it latches onto its beliefs — fanatically, dogmatically, as an anchor, as if they can substitute for life. Without the security that comes from grounding ourselves in the ever-changing present moment of our own body’s vitality, we end up with the goal of certainty in knowledge as a substitute. And the less secure we feel, the more uncertain we are.
The dogmatic attitude co-exists with the mind-body split. Both are deep structural characteristics of the scientific paradigm. They are rooted in the same deep and usually unconscious feelings; they lean on each other; they stand — and they fall — together.
What is most important: Not only does this deep structure of the old paradigm blind us to aspects of reality that lie outside its purview, it also functions more perniciously to provide the breeding ground for war. Governments which are run according to the “true beliefs” of a particular ideology justify death and suffering for any number of their citizens. Generals who pore over maps in war command rooms and refer to murder through body counts may be thinking creatures, but they have left their feelings behind.
“Truth” in Old and New Paradigms
I examined in detail one element of the context for beliefs within the old paradigm because I think it important that we who so glibly call ourselves New Age realize just how many traces of the old paradigm still remain within us. To the extent that we still think dogmatically, we have not yet turned the searchlight on the complex and intricate mass of mostly unconscious attitudes that serve as the underpinnings for the old paradigm within us. In our search for peace on earth we need to realize to a much fuller extent than is usually recognized that peace does begin with us, and that this peace is hard-won and involves a dynamic and continual investigation and uprooting of our own deepest assumptions.
The new paradigm is one in which thinking and holding of ideas will occur non-dogmatically. If dogmatism divides the world into us and them, and meanwhile attempts to force conformity, then the new paradigm must integrate us and them into one whole and yet allow and encourage our natural diversity. If the old paradigm considers maps, dissection, analysis and objectivity to be the only hallmarks of right thinking, then the new paradigm must seek to balance these with vision, imagery, symbolism, metaphor, wholistic understanding, and participatory compassion.
The old paradigm version of truth is linear: “Truth” is ideally viewed as a statement, or set of statements, which can be formulated in language. Before, we carved it on clay tablets; now, we run it out as lines on a page. The new paradigm, on the other hand, views truth as various and multidimensional. Here, the image of the crystal is coming into use as the clearest metaphor we have for talking about his new way of viewing truth.
As the crystal has many facets, each of which reflects reality brilliantly, and in its own way, so does the new paradigm recognize many different kinds of truth, all of them valid from their own perspective.
As crystals are single, and yet composed of a diversity of angles of view, so does the new paradigm admit each of us as an utterly unique individual, a species unto ourselves, and yet harmonized with this whole.
An even better metaphor, of course, to express the same new paradigm understanding of unity-in-diversity, is the symbol system of the language of astrology. It is for this reason that many of us study astrology: We know of no better instrument to help heal the planet. Astrology, as a universal language, can be spoken everywhere on earth. We all live and die under the same sky. We all share the same archetypal patterns, and the orderly processes by which they transform slowly, round and round, bathing us all in glory.
Saturn/Uranus in Sagittarius: A Balance of Forces
During these seven years of Uranus in Sagittarius, we are opening, wide, stretching to receive Ideas from the greater beyond. Hungry for more, more, we go to workshops and lectures and intensives, we read books and articles and newsletters, and the rest of the time we are “heavy into” New Age conversation. Inundated by the brilliant reflections from the manifold facets of the crystal, we make ourselves drunk with new knowledge. This opening is centrifugal force: it expands out from the center indefinitely, and like all strong forces, it requires a balance.
This balance is found in Saturn, now, during the two and a half years that it also travels through Sagittarius. As Uranus pushes the frontiers of understanding out beyond the previously known world, so at the same time does Saturn now function as centripetal energy, pulling us towards the center. We are being asked to see the various facets of the crystal in relation to one another, to find their coherence, their structure, their commonality. Rather than simply being “into” this or that Idea, we are now looking to bring Ideas together, to integrate and formalize their relations. We are beginning to refine the way we speak of Ideas, creating a common language within which the whole can be viewed. We are being asked, moreover, to decide which among the profusion of new Ideas are really valuable, really what they claim to be; which of them are worth further pursuing; which really are facets of the crystal and not just lumps of coal. And yet, those lumps of coal must be integrated too, they reflect our shadow-side, and must be transformed into allies.
The intuitive spontaneity of Uranus is now seeking balance through the intuitive discipline of Saturn. Throughout 1987, and then briefly again, from June through October of 1988, these two planets will be operating in tandem, conjunct, in the late degrees of Sagittarius. This is the time when the new paradigm can crystallize out into conscious awareness, the time when we can learn to see it whole. Just in time. Just before these two planets enter Capricorn, again conjunct, and along with Neptune begin to alter existing structures throughout the material world.
From late 1988 onwards through 1995, as Capricorn takes hold, all organizations, corporations, established human groupings and institutions of all kinds — including the warring nation-states of the so-called “civilized” world — will be altered, fundamentally. And the possibilities for this alteration will be found within the new paradigm as we learn to integrate it into our consciousness now, during these next two years. Our task is awesome, and we are responsible — we who chose to be alive on the planet during this brief and shining moment of glorious opportunity.
The Generations Responsible
Lest some readers feel left out, I want to begin this section on generations with a reminder: Not only particular generations respond to Saturn/Uranus in Sagittarius. So does any individual who has personal planets (Sun, Moon, Venus, Mercury, Mars) and/or social planets (Jupiter/Saturn) in mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces). This means that almost all of us have some touchstone into this window of opportunity.
Uranus was in Gemini during the founding of the United States of America — opposite Sagittarius, where Uranus is today. It has often been said that those who came of age during the ‘60s as “hippies” are souls who reincarnated from that earlier revolutionary time, when a whole new type of government institution was introduced to the European tradition. This link between the hippies and the founding mothers and fathers is borne out astrologically: Uranus was once again in Gemini between 1942 and 1949, the years when the original hippies were born. Therefore, I would say that the current Uranus in Gemini generation — now between 38 and 45 years old — will be those who are most responsive to the current placement of Uranus in Sagittarius, since it is directly opposite to the placement of Uranus during the years of their birth.
With the opposition comes perspective, fulfillment. This is the one and only opportunity the Uranus in Gemini generation will have to objectively see and begin to fulfill the meaning of the revolutionary seed planted in them at birth. As Wavy Gravy (of Electric Kool Aid Acid Test fame) put it a few years ago: “The ‘60s were but a prelude to the ‘80s.” Yes. Our childish rebellion then was prelude to the more mature revolution in consciousness being enacted now.
How appropriate, how synchronous, that we should be reaching this perspective now, in the years of our prime, with enough experience under our belts to provide the wisdom necessary to complete our historic task.
The current Uranus in Gemini generation is charged with the task of radicalizing (the word “radical” means “to the root”), of returning to the original democratic principles upon which this country was founded. And this time with a different set of assumptions about the status of beliefs in the mind. This time with the image of the crystal as central. This time the extraordinary diversity of beliefs that characterize melting pot America can meet with real acceptance, not just tolerance. This time we will glory in our diversity, and realize that, like any ecosystem, it is the diversity of its members that creates the richness necessary for real stability.
Focusing in on a more narrow segment of this same population, those born during the two years between May of 1942 and May of 1944 have the primary responsibility for the emergence of the new paradigm. These people, now 44 to 45 years old, were born during the last conjunction between Saturn and Uranus, when it was in Gemini, the sign directly opposite to and therefore complementary to Sagittarius, where that conjunction sits now. These are the souls charged with the mission of both channeling the new Ideas (Uranus) and then anchoring them into established reality (Saturn). As a particular sub-grouping of the entire generation of those born between 1942 and 1949 who all have Uranus in Gemini, those born during the first two years of that signature are the ones who must create the bridge between the old (Saturn) and the new (Uranus).
Two other generations are especially responsive to the energies discussed here: 1) those born between November 1948 and April 1949, who have Saturn in Virgo square Uranus in Gemini. These, like those born between 1942 and 1944, are a subgroup of the hippies, those born with the seven-year Uranus in Gemini signature. 2) Those born between October 1956 and January 1959, who have Saturn in Sagittarius in their natal charts, who are 27 to 30 years old now, just undergoing their Saturn returns.
These generations and subgenerations all constitute a pool of people, each of whom, if s/he tunes in to the full potential of his or her generational signature, has the capacity to function as a seed person helping to germinate and bring to fruition the new paradigm for consciousness. A paradigm of unity-in-diversity, where the structure is clear, crystalline, brilliant, many-faceted. A paradigm that creates the inner conditions necessary for our evolution into a truly peace-full planet.