Uranus and Neptune, 22 Degrees Later

We're now 13 years past the conjunctions of Uranus and Neptune back in 1993. What is the significance of this influence for us today? Or a question that's even more misleading, what did this conjunction mean (in the past tense)? If you remember that the conjunction was only the opening act of a cycle that lasts until the year 2165, the immensity of this cycle starts to sink in. This is a story that none of us will read the final chapter of, unless we plan on living over two centuries. The conjunction is only the first chapter, the statement of the theme, but without much awareness of what that entails and how it will unfold. And considering that we are dealing with planets that normally work fairly unconsciously, the glaring blind spot is even larger. In a sense, the fact that this cycle is still a mystery is an indication that it's unfolding just the way it should. After all, we are only 22 degrees into this story.

It's been interesting trying to recreate the mood of 13 years ago. I've surrounded myself with old articles and charts, my memories of a tumultuous year of my life and a little brown bottle with the name "Conjunction Combo" on the label. It's a flower essence-like remedy I made during the conjunctions that preserves their energies. It's been refreshing to savor those old, high energy vibrations again, so jarring at the time but almost second nature after all these years. (I have more info on this remedy on my web site.)

As I started running off charts to look at, I came to two main conclusions. The first is that you really can't leave out Pluto if you are going to make much sense of these astrological trends. The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) operate as a committee, personally at the level of the unconscious or (less often) in higher spiritual states, while on the larger global scene, they represent grand historical and social evolutionary trends. The cycles among these outer planets have been the background for a century of total overhaul as the world has jerked unevenly into modernity. In addition to the Uranus-Neptune cycle, I'm referring to the 500 year long cycle of Neptune and Pluto which began with their conjunction in 1891-2 (think 8 degrees of Gemini) and the 140 year long cycle of Uranus and Pluto that started in 1965-6 (16-17 Virgo). The other observation concerns how these cycles relate to the positions of these planets at the times they were discovered. These "discovery positions" are important zodiacal markers for us, because they embody the moment of first awareness of powerful drives and instincts in the psyche, drives that we must now understand and integrate. As with the more typical astrological cycles we consider, these cycles of discovering a planet and its influences on us are an ongoing process, not a one time "aha!" moment. It seems that a major theme of the Uranus-Neptune cycle is learning how Neptune -- perhaps the most slippery of all the planets in our charts -- operates in our lives at a new, unsuspected level.

Let me briefly mention these discovery degrees. Uranus was accidentally found on the evening of 1781-3-13 at 24Gm27. Neptune was found on the night of 1846-9-23 at 25Aq52 after a brief search in an area of the sky predicted mathematically. Note the tight trine between these positions. The situation for Pluto's discovery in 1930 is somewhat complicated. It was first noticed on Feb 18 in a series of photographs that were taken in late January. However, the discovery wasn't announced until Mar 13, the anniversary of when Uranus was sighted as well as the birthday of the astronomer who started the search for Pluto. Using the February date, Pluto was at 17Cn45.

The conjunction of Uranus and Neptune in 1993 was a 3 contact affair stretching from Feb 2 to Aug 19 to Oct 24 of that year. The zodiacal position of these contacts was 18-19 degrees of Capricorn. Broadly speaking, Uranus is the Higher Mind and Neptune is the Higher Heart. Behind these cliché phrases are the realization that Uranus stimulates the third eye chakra, the source of intuition and insight, while Neptune opens the heart center of compassion and oneness. How odd for these two to meet in Capricorn, especially since this was their first conjunction that humanity has experienced consciously. (The 1821 conjunction was before Neptune was discovered.) Capricorn is generally concerned with the physical plane and material issues, practically the antithesis of the "spiritual" interests of these two planets. In hindsight, Uranus and Neptune were dismantling and dissolving the foundations of our "reality" of that time, opening us up to a more intuitive point of view that forced us to look at all parts of our lives from a new perspective. It was a time of great change and stress, as people saw their foundations wash away and tried to hold on. Halfway through this 9 month period of the conjunction, I was using the phrase "spiritual battle fatigue" in some of my writings. There was a curious phenomenon of "time shifts", where every 8 hours or so it seemed our perceptions of our world changed once more. Obviously, this was a time of a powerful initiation for some people, a time for acknowledging our higher natures. It is interesting that 18 Capricorn is directly opposite Pluto's discovery point and trine the Uranus-Pluto conjunction. This marks the conjunction as an attempt to look at Pluto in a new light as well. Curiously, Jupiter was at 14 degrees of Libra on Feb 2 (in a Grand Trine with the Sun and Moon), a degree that shows up in the charts for the 2001 World Trade Center bombings. The first attempt on these buildings in 1993 was 3 weeks after the Feb 2 contact.

Uranus and Neptune finally slipped out of orb around 1998 and the cycle has been in limbo for the last few years. Ignoring some "minor aspects" that I doubt most people are going to notice much, the first aspect to reveal more of this cycle's meaning will likely be the semisextile (30 degrees apart) in 2009 and 2010. The contact on 2009-6-10 is a most spectacular chart. Neptune is sandwiched between Chiron and Jupiter, all at 26 degrees of Aquarius, less than a degree from Neptune's discovery point. In fact, these three planets will be moving back and forth over the discovery position all year long. The focal point in the chart is obviously on this Neptune return, as though it's time to discover this slippery character all over again. Of course, Uranus is simultaneously squaring its own discovery degree this year. This square is a crisis point on the mental-intuitive level, a time when people are more likely to see "what is", free from their typical beliefs, blind spots and various -isms. Which doesn't mean they'll necessarily like what they see. Keep in mind that Pluto moves from Sagittarius to Capricorn in 2008. All this adds up to an interesting political campaign in 2008, as the terms of the debate will be shifting rapidly. The political and religious ideologies of the last decade will be much harder to sell when we start obsessing about more "practical" issues instead. As we focus on making the world work in a more sustainable fashion, the infighting that is paralyzing society will seem less important.

The next aspect in this cycle to watch out for is the semisquare (45 degrees) of Uranus and Neptune in the 2018-2020 timeframe. The semisquare is generally the first crisis point of a planetary cycle, the time when the dimly glimpsed influence at the conjunction bumps into obstructions and contrary forces. This period is a speed bump in the emergence of the new awareness when the ideal must bend to practicality. Neptune is at 13 to 18 degrees of its home sign of Pisces, trine Pluto's discovery degree and opposite the Uranus-Pluto conjunction. Uranus is going back and forth over the Aries-Taurus border, as though the gung-ho Aries spirit is downshifting to a slower Taurus pace. At one of these contacts, Uranus is right on the Chiron discovery degree (3Ta08 on 1977-11-1), the next big addition to our astrological world.

The last aspect I'll mention is the series of sextiles (60 degrees) in 2025-2027. In fact, all three of the outer planets are not only aspecting each other repeatedly, but changing signs as well. Pluto is moving into Aquarius, Neptune into Aries and Uranus into Gemini. This is likely to be a decade or so of incredible growth and progress on many levels at once, both personal and collective. Neptune is not only in sextile to Uranus, but its sextile to Pluto has been going off and on since 1950, an olympic record for aspects. It's almost as though all the trends and changes since 1892 finally bloom into full manifestation. At least if we do our "personal homework" in the meantime. Sextiles don't come with a guarantee -- you need to earn good results, although the bar is not set too high (as with a square, for instance). Given the powerful influences welling up in the unconscious, things could go terribly wrong if we are unprepared. At its best, however, we are looking at a modern renaissance.

Given the fogginess associated with all things Neptunian, it's dangerous to pull out your crystal ball and say what it all means. However, one theme that keeps coming up for me the last 13 years involves the power of symbols in the psyche to change the way we experience reality itself. This includes our astrological symbols as well. Up until the discovery of the outer planets, when the known world ended with Saturn, the world was a structured, rigid place. Perhaps the culmination was Newtonian science and its clockwork universe ruled by rationality. We are now seeing intuition, feeling and the wisdom of the body vying to be taken seriously once again as equal pillars of how we create our realities and as a critique of the limits of the intellect. Even our science looks like fantasy for the most part. As this expanded belief system starts taking hold in humanity, Neptune's magic slowly manifests these beliefs in the world we live in. Can we handle this much creative power in a wise, conscious and compassionate manner? What meaning will we create for this cycle, for ourselves and for generations to come?

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2006 issue of Partile.