Before all else, know that we are always in deep and energetic transformation. Always. Not just at the end of a millennium, but in the middle of it and at the start of it—always. These constant transformations do not depend on our particular way of counting of time: a millennium doesn't really exist, except in human calendars.
What does exist are celestial wheels within wheels, the universal bodies of the ancient Zodiac, the planets of Pluto and Neptune and Uranus. Layered like a wedding cake, the Sun and moon, the planets Venus and Mars, color, modify, define, and express each other with their influences on Earth and its inhabitants. Some wheels of life are turning just now, some already have turned, some will begin to turn at any moment. These forces in concert were called many things—Diving Providence, Fate, and Astrological Ages. All these names denote a kind of order, a dependable system which we don't quite fully understand but that we know is present. In Summoning the Fates, I explore these forces in great detail. This article will only touch lightly on the most obvious features of destiny.
A significant change we had in recent history that is still powerfully influencing our times and lives happened in 1962. The sub-age of Aquarius arrived. Not the Great Age of Aquarius the popular song announced, but its little sister, a sort of sentinel or forerunner. This sub-age will last 179 years. (How is a sub-age counted? A great year takes 25,820 years, or approximately 26,000 years, to travel through all the zodiac signs. This is the precession of the equinoxes. If you divide 26,000 by twelve you get the Ages of the Earth. These are huge blocks of time lasting a couple thousand years. Divide one age by twelve and you get a sub-age, 179 years, a number more within our grasp.)
This new sub-age of Aquarius is potent; it heralds the values and feelings of the coming Great Age that will arrive in the twenty-fourth century. This sub-age, these precious 179 years, is a window of opportunity—you can smell it, you can play with it, you can seed with it the big one. Aquarius is all about communication, electronics, new inventions, quick changes, a holistic understanding of the world, a humanitarian point of view coming into focus.
The new Aquarian consciousness jumped out at us first from popular music. The Beatles synthesized black R&B into rock and reached the world with it. Truly Aquarian, the entire message of the Beatles was passionate, loving humanism.
Characters like the spinster Eleanor Rigby had never been portrayed in songs before—all the lonely people, The Nowhere Man, The Taxman; those were all recognizable people with very human concerns. And the Beatles spoke about love, not mystical but human, the kind where we get jealous, admit to hurting each other, and make up. The kind where we want to stay together "'til we're sixty four." At the time, this all seemed very, very far away. Four young men were given license to be playful, to sport long hair, they clowned around, they lived in a "Yellow Submarine," and got high like the rest of the young world.
And the Beatles brought in wisdom way beyond their years. "The love you take is equal to the love you make" was an awesome phrase to hear, when we hadn't heard anything honest or informative about love in ages. Through music we started feeling and acting different. Some of us lived plugged into the music. And that's how the future started, Virginia.
The second big wheel that overlaps our times is Pluto. This planet defies generations and their concerns. As Pluto moves through the zodiac it brings in the consciousness of each particular sign. Why? It’s a mystery how the most recently discovered planet, this long distant relative in our galaxy, has such power over us.
Pluto was in Leo from roughly 1939 to 1957. (It's important to note that the ages don't begin on the dime; their edges sort or overlap one another. Their effect is cumulative on the generations who live through them, who become the repositories of the many layers of influence they bring.) This brought the prevalent values about power and domination to center stage, made them public. Pluto brings in the dark side, stirs up the manure around power, exposes the depths. Historically, terrible dictators have ruled under this time, and violence was seen as "teaching a lesson." As we reached the sub-age of Aquarius, this changed into the need to redirect and humanize power, introduce love into it, make power into "Flower Power." Favorite slogans of the sub-age of Aquarius were "Power to the people," "Stop the War," "War is unhealthily for children and other living creatures." It was still about power, but good Aquarius power.
This was followed by Pluto in Virgo (approximately 1957 to 1972). Virgo is the only female human sign in the zodiac. Virgo likes to improve health, and be kind to women and children. My favorite time. The Women's Movement, fueled by the abortion rights and health movements, came into being. It brought with it lifestyle changes: herbal teas and vegetarianism, meditation and inner reflection, science, healing, culture, and getting along as the crowd did in Woodstock, where a huge number of people existed together without fighting. Virgo highlights femaleness, mediation, mellowness, analysis, the sciences, health, and food. Fighting is not one of her passions.
Women demanded to be equal partners in everything, from culture to spiritual life. We reclaimed the dignity of women, the strength of women, and the higher status of women. In the public eye, there had been very little discussion of women: TV shows had only male characters who supposedly represented all of humanity. Females were thrown in just to support the male characters. Actresses played only young chicks, old hags, or victims.
But under the influence of Virgo, the fact that there was one female role to every ten male roles was criticized for the first time. The lack of representation in the houses of power, Congress and the Senate, was also noted for the first time, and derided. The force was with women. This consciousness, as all others, stayed after the Plutonian visit, as a kind of residue, a layer of insight. This is the reason that feminism today is still part of the fabric of our lives. We synthesized it from our times.
Meanwhile the sub-age of Aquarius deepened, incorporating this new Virgo conscience with political analysis and female-highlighted awareness, repairing the lack of female visibility. Television grew up. Talk shows started to become more popular; a staged showdown between a chauvinist pig and a tennis star named Billie Jean King. King rose to archetype status when she shopped the cocky guy, whose name is forgotten in the annals of the sport. In mythic televised, Billie Jean King, in her white shirts and splendid athletic body, was carried into the court on a litter borne by clad, Chippendales-type of men. That was a crowning ceremony for all women. We were empowered ritualistically, once and for all.
Today we take it for granted that there are anchorwomen on the news, female reporters, female representatives, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who represents the United States to the world, enjoying the equal status with prime ministers and kings. I remember a time when we had to write letters to TV stations pleading them not to call women's events at the Olympic Games "girls' events." We wrote: "The athletes at the Olympics all seem to be older than twelve years old. If you call them girls' events, then call the men's events 'boys' events'." This worked because Aquarius had already pried open the minds of the public, and then Virgo could slip in with her fair corrections. The TV station staff never replied, but we noticed that the media began using the dreaded work "woman" more often.
A Plutonian visit lasts from ten to fifteen years. These smaller universal waves we do catch because we live through them. The bigger ages elude us because we don't get to see when they begin; our existence is much too short to witness their reality. In the Great Ages we're just "staffing" the times. But my generation is lucky because we did feel the stirrings of the sub-age of Aquarius which heralded the future. Because communication is Aquarius's main strength, the media, especially television, started taking up public education, confrontation, town hall mythos. Thinkers, writers, actors, celebrities, and regular folks shared their stories. Expressions of disagreement became acceptable in public forums.
The next Plutonian age was in Libra (roughly 1972 to 1984). In this time women went to the courts and fought for justice, became lawyers themselves, fought for equal opportunity in employment and for equal pay. We had a female Supreme Court appointee, even from the conservative Reagan presidency. Secretaries stopped making coffee; women created their own networking system and mentored each other as equals. Civil rights became law; women started winning in court. Gender and racial equality were discussed as legitimate concerns. The great Aquarian personality Oprah Winfrey ascended her throne in public consciousness. With full humanitarian sensibility and the generosity of a Leo she embraces the entire world. Oprah is the new measure of standard for female behavior. She's teaching the world to be fair, to be honest, to heal, to read.
The most recently completed Plutonian visit was in Scorpio (around 1984 to 1995). This Zodiac sign looks at death and suffering, sexuality and its shadows. Scorpio exposes that which is hidden, and a lot of shadows came to light in this time. The notion of family was liberated; we discovered that the isolated nuclear family was not such a good idea after all. Remember the televised freak shows? The very bottom layers of society had vast public access, confessing to their crimes (I killed my mother and sister), lust (I cheated on my husband with his brother), perversion (I had sex with my daughter or son), abuse (I molested my little boy or girl).
The freak show, it seemed, would never end. Mrs. Bobbitt cut off her husband's penis, and the world shook. This was truly a Scorpio moment. Suddenly women had teeth and knives and guns. The flood of exposes was overwhelming. Church fathers who abused altar boys, bishops who had children—everybody was suing everybody else, airing the dirty linen in public, confessing, weeping. And many were going to jail. Justice was raining down like never before.
The final shutdown was the O.J. Simpson trial. His case had everything—an aging arrogant athlete with sagging charm, a beautiful young ex-wife, her face bashed in. The returning abused wife, the little children who inherited the mess. It had black female jurors nursing a deep wound from the racist LAPD that was just waiting to be vented.
But it was the Aquarian sub-age, and the whole world was watching. Scorpio stirred up the media with this ongoing true-life soap opera. It was a daily show. Women watched. We knew. There will be no one who will defend us. Women, we are on our own.
Life is complex. If you didn't finish Libra business when you were supposed to, it spilled over into Scorpio and then all hell broke loose. With Scorpio, psychotherapy was elevated into religious ritual, our language finally and permanently taking on its concepts and terminology. We all talk about "denial" when something is real but we say it's not. We talk about our "inner child" and our "inner wild woman," all kinds of inner beings housed within us—it's crowded in there!
Repressed memories, false repressed memories, and the power of sexuality came home to roost. Rape trials finally convicted rapists; mothers fought against hazings; drunk drivers were put away. Scorpio was a long road for the collective consciousness to travel, but we made it and came out the other end. Its lessons are still reverberating in our society and culture. The Scorpion prurient taste hasn't gone away; in fact, we have become addicted to exposés. We want more. The tabloids have ascended to legitimate status, and scoop respected publications when it comes to gossip.
Something had to be done. How do we pull out of this spin into darkness? It took a triple female sacrifice: Jon-Benet Ramsey, the young nymph; Diana, Princess of Wales, the Maiden; and Mother Teresa, the all-compassionate Crone.
Jon-Benet's gruesome death was "unsolved," representing how vulnerable we are. Diana's accidental death was blamed on aggressive paparazzi and the tabloids that pay them too well. When Diana died, we realized how short life is, and we faced our own mortality. Mother Theresa was a pragmatist who chose to save humanity. The ultimate servant of God—no man has ever done what she has. Her death told us, "Be compassionate, every one is of use to God."
All three deaths disturbed our collective soul deeply. All three women were us, somehow. We emptied the cup of grief to the bottom. And with the message of compassion we arrived in the Plutonian Sagittarius (about 1993 to 2008). This is the half-horse/half-man image. Good Chiron, the wounded healer and centaur. Animal rights (think the Animal Planet network and scandalous PETA campaigns) came to the forefront, replacing the gossip shows.
Sagittarius likes women, sexuality that is robust but not violent. This phase in our history was peppered with medical discoveries. Discoveries were made during this time that will help in the future defeat the dreaded virus, AIDS, herpes, the common cold, cancer, and other beasts we have not been able to shake. Human interests were highlighted once again.
We are now entering Plutonian Capricorn (roughly 2008 to 2012). This sign highlights the Earth, structures, and institutions, and also spasms, as in birth and even orgasms. This age will usher in the first new institutions of the twenty-first century, which will replace old models. Business will be rearranged, life will be less centralized. The Information Age—a code name for Aquarius—will totally bloom in Capricorn.
Our work will be connected from all points of the globe. Business will take place where you are; bosses online only, parents working while rocking the baby. All those Plutonian visits will be finally finished here in Capricorn. Pollution will decrease as we use Earth-friendly energy sources, such as solar energy, wind power, and the energy of ocean waves. Capricorn will be a time of serous studies and less partying than in Sagittarius. Humanity will mature, incorporating all the past lessons, synthesizing all Plutonian visits. The body, as Earth herself, will be honored. Health consciousness will reach a kind of old-fashioned mode, with reality widespread knowledge of good health habits and exercise, and healthy foods being sold on the streets, memories from our Virgo past.
A new conservatism may also emerge here, which will closely resemble the hippie rebels of the past. Few of the original "Flower Children" will be around to see it come full circle, but if we do, we shall lift our medical marijuana joints in the air to celebrate.
With each age, the best policy is to follow the spirit of the times. We are entering into Plutonian Capricorn. And even beyond that, the wheels within the wheels are turning. "All things must pass" said the inscription to the Fates. Our species is weathering the changes, and we are discovering that we are made of stars and that our destination is life returning.