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Generational Themes

by Bill Sheeran



The way I relate to the subject of generational themes is to consider outer planets in signs, and also major aspect patterns between outer planets, as having a twofold (at least) character. If we think of astrological patterns describing "temporal weather" - the changing quality of time in the unfolding present - then the first step is to look at these patterns as reflecting archetypes or fundamental principles which will find their forms in a multitude of ways depending on which context one cares to observe, and on what scale. There is a constant emergence of "astrologically revealed potential" which percolates through life processes. Context modulates this process of archetypes emerging as archetypal forms.

Thus one might expect the changing phase of Neptune in its cycle (for example) to correspond contemporaneously with emergent qualities relating to diffusion, escapism, fantasy, idealism, illusion, and so on in whatever context one cares to
explore, musical and fashion styles being a good place to start.

However, there is also another dynamic involved. Those "entities" which are born during such periods (i.e. Neptune in a given sign), whether they be individuals, political states, books, or whatever, have lives which extend beyond these periods, and their horoscopes contain such patterns for the full extent of their lives. If we stick with individuals for the sake of simplicity, those who have Pluto in Virgo - who were born when the quality of potential associated with that symbolism was emerging - have a natural psychic resonance with Pluto in Virgo themes. However, a newborn baby is not going to be taking part in the social or cultural circumstances which reflect the planetary symbolism active at the time they were born. Instead, they are agents who carry the potential through time, and give expression to it in due course, as they become mature, or old enough to express their creative energies, access power so as to be able to effect transformation, and so on.

Thus there is what I call a culture lag between the initial emergence of astrologically associated themes, and a flowering of expression of the same principles decades later. In my opinion, this explains why an author might write a book which is very much of its time, but being of its time it is inherently novel and therefore radical. It may have initial impact, and then slide out of view. But years later, when those who were born when it was being written come across it, who share something on a fundamental level with the quality infused within the book, there is a strong resonance with the theme. They "get it", and that writer's work reemerges into popular consciousness. An example might be Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, written when Pluto was in Virgo - I think in 1960 - and when public awareness of environmental issues was less than zero. Rachel Carson herself probably had Pluto in Cancer (the book was about the effects of pesticides on bird populations, food chains and so on). Her prophetic voice found ears when the Pluto in Virgo generation had had time to mature beyond childhood. When those individuals managed to get to positions of power, they started pushing for changes in the legislation relating to environmental pollution and so on. Whether or not I've chosen a good example, the scenario I'm painting should be clear.

There is a whole peer group out there, many of whom till the moment they drop dead will feel the need to engage with themes such as transformation of relationship to the environment, work practices, health issues, and so on. Just as there is a whole peer group who emphasise constantly the need for self-transformation (Pluto in Leo), or put great value on the acquisition of individual power. In that sense, as long as the Pluto in Leo generation is alive, there is a "virtual Pluto in Leo" happening still. Its voice is being heard loud and clear in the present. The lightning flash has long since passed.

Neptune in Scorpio may have coincided with Rock 'n Roll and Elvis the Pelvis. But look at what happened when those in the west born with Neptune in Scorpio were old enough to buy equipment, make noises, and start fashions (i.e. mid 1970s). We got punk, more black leather, silver and chrome, knives and weird hairstyles, some of which were directly mimicking the rockabilly quiffs. The three chord trick re-appeared in noisier form, and the plain people were scared, just as they were in the mid 1950s. Malcolm McClaren started a boutique in the Kings Road, London called Sex, essentially the progenitor of the punk style. From those who used to hang around that shop, the Sex Pistols were born. These two elements of the mid1970s London scene surely give expression to Neptune in Scorpio in the fields of fashion and music. Yet Neptune was in Sagittarius at that time.

One could forcefully argue that this has nothing to do with culture lag, but is instead an argument in favour of the sidereal zodiac. However, while acknowledging that possibility, there is a logic to this concept of a culture lag in terms of expression of astrological patterns that verges on common sense. I know I still give expression to Uranus in Cancer, Neptune in Libra and Pluto in Leo, all of which in real terms died a long time ago.

This way of looking at the issues is a bit simplistic - there are many inter-related factors involved in unravelling the picture. But I do think it is important, especially in mundane or collective level astrology work, to bear in mind this culture lag aspect of astrological dynamics. It is a feature of applied as opposed to pure astrology.

Astrology - and especially applied astrology - is a very complex subject. This is because life, through which astrological potential (having been modulated by context) reveals itself, is similarly multidimensional and very complex.

Copyright 2000 by Bill Sheeran
All Rights Reserved

This article first appeared as a post to the Online ACT (Astrological Conference on Techniques)
Mailing List on 30 Mar, 2000.
It was subsequently published in
The Wholistic Astrologer
, Issue #4, May-July 2000.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BILL SHEERAN is one of Ireland's leading astrologers. He has been a full-time professional since 1986, prior to which he worked as a research microbiologist. Bill edited and produced Réalta, the journal of the Irish Astrological Association, for four years, and has had many articles published in European journals. He has spoken at several conferences, most recently in Italy, Denmark and Spain. Apart from client work, his astrological interests lie in the areas of mundane astrology, and exploring the conceptual and philosophical overlap between astrology and contemporary science, especially the fields of complex dynamical systems theory and chaos. He is also collecting an archive of the life and work of the eminent Irish astrologer Cyril Fagan. Bill can be contacted via e-mail: bsheeran@iol.ie



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