The Revolution Will Be Televised: Uranus Square Pluto
It appears that the revolution will in fact, be televised. Read on and I’ll explain…
The feeling of revolution is infusing our cultural experience these days. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement, from the Tea Party to the right-wing extremist calls for violent retaliation against perceived oppression, everywhere we look we can find angry folks who “just don’t want to take it anymore.” And astrologically, these folks are right on time. For we’re now in the thick of one of the major planetary cycles of our times – the Uranus square Pluto configuration.
When two planets are square – meaning they form a 90° angle with each other in the sky – they are enacting a dramatic play of dynamic developmental tension. We can readily see this drama unfold on the world stage. Perhaps no one has done a more thorough and eloquent job of tracking these kinds of cyclic resonance patterns than Richard Tarnas, in his groundbreaking work Cosmos & Psyche, from which I’m drawing inspiration here.
This week, an opportunity presented itself to look closely at the current field of planetary energies infusing our day-to-day lives by way of the new TV series Revolution, produced by J.J. Abrams, of Lost fame. In a laughably clear reference to the planetary energies of Uranus square Pluto, even this fledgling TV show’s title is aptly named. For revolution is indeed at hand. You might have noticed…
The planet responsible for this rebellious cultural brushstroke (which we’ll see coloring our lives for the next few years) is Uranus.
Associated with revolution and revolutionaries, Uranus is also the planet we link with radicals, freedom, emancipation, liberation, independence, innovation and change. Uranus is always out there in the sky doing its thing, just as all the planets are. But we’re seeing an increase in Uranian types of events in the world right now because of the tense relationship Uranus is currently in with Pluto. The planets’ constantly changing relationship to each other (measured by the geometric patterns they form, such as the 90° angle, or square) alerts us to times when some of them take center stage. For example, you may remember all of the excitement earlier this year around the Transit of Venus. Venus took center stage then, and now has stepped back into her usual routine, as Uranus and Pluto step back into the spotlight. Starting to make sense?
So right now, we’re seeing a dynamic interplay of the energies of Uranus and Pluto in the world, expressed through the tense energy of the square. During the next couple of years we’ll see more Uranus, and more Pluto. We’ll see Uranian-Plutonians, and Plutonian-Uranians. What does that mean in English? I’ll get to that… But before I do, I just want to point out that the way the energies relate to each other isn’t just a one-way street. The forces represented by Uranus for example, will “liberate” the forces represented by Pluto (for instance violence, or deep unconscious truths). And the forces represented by Pluto will “intensify” our Uranian impulses towards freedom and rebellion.
So in English, this is a time in which we’ll see sudden change expressed with ferocity. Shocking insights may lead to dramatic restructuring. Innovation is carried forth with unmatched intensity. And these are some of the good potentials! Unfortunately our world is full of darkness as well as light, and we’ll also see outlaws compelled to commit acts of violence in rebellion against perceived constraints; we’ll see rebellion that uses violence to achieve its ends; we’ll see people compelled to change in ways that are destructive and overwhelming. That’s a lot of crazy activity, eh?
So what does all of this have to do with the new TV show Revolution? Quite a lot, as we’ll see.
With only 3 episodes having aired so far, Revolution is already set up to be a big player for NBC this year. 24 million viewers watched the pilot, and the ratings didn’t slip for the second episode (aptly titled “Chained Heat” – an expression of the restrictive, controlling potentials of Plutonian energy, and to the potentially explosive energy that boils under the surface when we repress things). All signs point to success for this new show, which is birthed through a collaboration between 2 colossally successful TV and movie veterans: J.J. Abrams (of Lost, Fringe and a gazillion other successful ventures) and Eric Kripke, from the long-running series Supernatural. I won’t go into great detail about their charts here, but for you astro buffs out there, I’ll just mention that Kripke has a Mercury-Uranus opposition (thus the show’s title, and the overwhelming presence of the Uranian archetype in the show’s story line). And J.J. Abrams, the show’s producer, has Uranus and Pluto in exact conjunction, square Mars (thus the proliferation of extreme violence in the midst of his visionary, futuristic, and often apocalyptic tales). These two are a match made in heaven for working together on Revolution.
Kripke’s Mercury trines Abram’s Sun, both creating a significant and potentially beneficial relationship between them, and coloring their interactions with the flavor of Mercury. Mercury then also figures in the telling of this tale they’re creating, which is likely to take a twisting and circuitous route to its end. We can see Mercury’s influence even from the start of the show, which centrally injects relationships between siblings (Mercury’s domain) into the story line. One plot line follows two very different brothers, one “wholesome,” and one rebellious. Another follows a sister in search of her brother, which beings the first hero’s quest in the show.
Mythologically, Mercury was the one god who had free reign to travel between the underworld (Pluto’s dominion) and the heavens, thus his role as messenger to the gods. Mercury rules over travelers, especially in the underworld and on short journeys, and the show starts with a sister traveling on foot in search of her brother, who has asthma (Mercury rules the lungs and breathing). One traveler on this journey has a secret message to deliver to another. And the travelers we meet at the start of this show can be thought of as passing through the underworld, or hell-realm of their experience, where they face the real threat of death on a daily basis in a post-apocalyptic world.
The fact that Abrams and Kripke are the pivotal forces birthing this story into the public sphere is a great example of something Tarnas points out. Which is that historically we see folks with specific planetary combinations acting out those exact dynamics outwardly during periods in which the same planets are activated. I’ll explain. For instance, here we see Abrams born when Uranus and Pluto were in exact conjunction, in the mid 60’s, which you might recall, was crazy-important in world history – ripe with revolution and change on so many levels. So Abrams has this energy in his birth chart, and he’ll work with it and express it over the course of his entire life. Now, in 2012, the planets Uranus and Pluto are “activated” collectively (for everyone) due to their tense square relationship. So it’s like a time-bomb just went off in Abrams’ chart, and it is now a key time for him to interact with that dynamic in his chart, and express it in the world. Exciting stuff.
Before we take a closer look at Revolution, let’s unpack the following quote from Tarnas and look at the ways this TV series is already shaping up to be an important cultural artifact of the current planetary energies. Tarnas writes:
“The Promethean principle associated with the planet Uranus appears to act by suddenly liberating or awakening that which it touches, with unexpected, innovative, disruptive, and emancipatory consequences, while the Plutonic-Dionysian principle appears to act by compelling, empowering, and intensifying what it touches, with profoundly transformative and sometimes overwhelming, destructive consequences.”
Phew, that was all one sentence! Let’s break it down a little. Uranus has been called the “Great Awakener” because of its association with liberation and insight. When this archetype is strong in our culture (like it is in 2012), we see big shifts, and often exponential leaps forward. In contrast, while a Saturn transit creates the feeling of hardship, or plodding along, step-by-step, Uranus give the experience of jumping ahead with lightning speed. But Uranian leaps are jarring, and often shocking. Get the feeling of an explosion, or a lighting strike in your body. This is change at its most fundamental level, without any comforts, or help adapting to what is new, or letting go of what’s lost. Uranus is change itself. When its energy strikes, it is sudden and leaves things forever altered. We can spend a whole lifetime adjusting to one single Uranian event in our lives (check out the documentary Acts of God about people who have survived lightning strikes).
Looking now at Pluto, we’re thinking about titanic intensity, depth, and often destruction, death and uncomfortable (think “heart-wrenching”) transformation. Right now in our culture, we’re seeing these two planetary forces and the dynamics they relate to acting on each other. And the cultural stories we’ll eventually tell about this time period will be forever infused with this energy. Revolution (just like any cultural artifact) allows us to explore how these energies dance with and inform each other in creative ways.
Revolution opens with the dramatic and mysterious global collapse of the entire electricity grid. All electricity on the planet seems to have gone dead and no one can figure out how to get it going again. Two characters in the opening scenes seem to have knowledge about the events transpiring, but it isn’t revealed exactly what they know just yet (Abrams is the master of mysteries that are drawn out over many seasons). It is this apocalyptic setting in which the story is grounded and begins to unfold. Without even going deeper, we’re already staring Uranus and Pluto in the eye, with the electric grid (Uranus), suddenly (Uranus) collapsing (Pluto) in a dramatic and destructive (Pluto) event that leaves the world forever altered.
Since planetary cycles repeat over time, references can be seen in world events that relate to similar previous cycles. In Revolution we have a story that revolves around the collapse of the electricity grid. This is a direct reference to Uranus, which relates to electricity, but it’s also a reference to earlier Uranus cycles, including the Industrial Revolution of 1712, when Pluto was conjunct Uranus, which set up the foundation for later inventing, building and creating the electricity grid.
The actual birth of the electric grid, took place in 1882, while Uranus was trine Neptune, another cycle in which Uranunian energy is prominent, by way of increasing the proliferation of human invention and ingenuity into the greater culture. Neptune is also important in the natal chart (or horoscope) for Revolution, which has Neptune in Pisces at the midheaven, prominently coloring its role and mission in the public eye. (1) I could say more about this, and should, but let’s table that for a future article and instead keep the focus on Pluto and Uranus.
The graphic artists in charge of Revolution’s image must have had great fun coming up with the logo, and with the show’s transition screens (the fade-outs and fade-ins between commercials). First the last “o” in the logo is the universal symbol for the on button of a computer. This nod to Uranian human genius points to the fact that we’re in the middle of a cycle in which we need to review and more deeply engage with our relationship to technology. We’ll likely see many new advances on this front, with new inventions, lots of technological innovations and new gadgets. But it’s also a time to deeply assess the impacts of these advances in our culture. Pluto’s presence here suggests that it’s time to examine the psychological impacts of technology on our lives, and to face deeper truths that we’ve been repressing. Computers are Uranus’ domain. They’ve changed our lives, arguably for the better. But they’ve also made a lot of us frantically busy, with less time for rest and play than ever. Even though the promise behind these “wonderful” devices has always been the promise of greater ease and efficiency, they’ve actually done the opposite, making our lives more complicated and complex. Information now travels across the world at lightning speed, but many people say that we’re suffering from a declining amount of face-to-face human connection. Generations of folks who have grown up with cell phones and smart phones now seem to have a hard time not looking at them (instead of at the people they’re with) in social situations and interactions.
Revolution addresses some of these issues in its first episode, through a not-so-indirect commentary infused into the plot by way of the complete absence of cell phones and computers. In Revolution, people are forced to “return to the land” and to learn how to relate to each other without the use of technology. This plot device shows the promise of being well-explored in future episodes, with varying commentaries on the theme. In the third episode for instance, the sudden and mysterious powering up of a defunct cell phone is portrayed as an almost holy moment…
Revealing yet another dimension of Uranus, during the transitions between commercials, the logo for the show flickers, imitating the movement of electricity. At first only the word “evolution” appears, with the “R” following shortly after. This clever graphic reveals the marriage between the two words. Through its association with insights, breakthroughs, and science, Uranus is symbolic of evolution. Uranus represents the idea that we are on a path of growth, or at least that evolution and growth are an innate part of the human experience. We all have the opportunity to respond to change with free will, but the events that catalyze those changes will happen with or without our permission. We can adapt, we can grow, we can allow the change. Or we can resist, repress, and refuse to change. Unfortunately the latter strategy never seems to work for very long. If we examine long periods of history, change and freedom emerge victorious in the end. Revolution is evolution, and vice versa.
Getting back to the story, the voice-over at the beginning of each episode explains that “after the government collapsed, the militias took over.” Here we see the dark potential of Pluto in Capricorn in square with Uranus in Aries, during which we will experience both the breaking down of controlling regimes and the replacing of those same regimes with new structures, which may or may not actually act with less of a controlling nature...
And remember how we tend to see the combining and switching of the roles associated with the planetary forces? That’s happening in spades in Revolution, so you can really get a good feel for how that works. For instance, renegade (Uranus) militias (Aries) try to assert control (Pluto in Capricorn) over the masses after the government (Pluto in Capricorn) collapses (Pluto square Uranus). In response, a resistance (Uranus) arises. And that resistance uses the American flag as its symbol (a nod to the old power structure – Pluto in Capricorn), but arms themselves (Uranus in Aries) in defense, and consider themselves the rebel faction (Uranus in Aries). And the militias themselves, though now asserting their authority with violent force (Pluto square Uranus), would have been considered outlaws (Uranus) in the old regime. Acting like equal opportunity lovers, the archetypes dance freely between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”
In a fun play on words, in the second episode Miles starts to refer to the flag-toting rebels as “deluded, bleeding heart…” and another character finishes his sentence with the word “patriots.” Of course we know the last word of this sentence is usually filled in with the word “liberals.” The writers for Revolution are playing with the archetypes too, in an innovative way (Uranus) that will engage the greater culture through edgy dialogue that instigates and provokes. So not only do we see this really interesting, and pleasantly unpredictable blending of the two main archetypal fields, but the show itself and the way it’s being written and presented, also expresses the nature of the archetypes at play.
Remember Sarah Palin? She presents another great example of how planetary archetypes can swap sides. Palin’s big time in the public eye happened during the height of the last Saturn opposite Uranus (and square Pluto) transit. Palin represents on one side, the conservative (Saturn) faction. But she’s also an extremist (a blending of Uranus and Pluto). And she’s an outsider in many ways (Uranus). Though popular with a large audience, the media in general considers her a joke, as well they should. Calling herself a “maverick,” Palin invoked the Uranus archetype, but filtered that “revolutionary” spirit through her conservative (Saturn) values. The right wing “Tea Party” movement had a similar quality, invoking old symbols (Saturn) of revolution (Uranus) in order to further their conservative (Saturn) agenda.
These themes also show up in Revolution, since one of the main characters, Miles, seems to be playing both sides of the archetypal field. When we’re introduced to his character, he’s somewhat of an outlaw, existing in a self-created exile of sorts, deliberately seeking to be “left alone.” When the Uranus archetype is strong in an individual, they often feel like they don’t fit in, or feel at odds with the status quo. In response they might seek a self-imposed kind of exile (though often in the company of other exiles or outsiders). But at the end of the second episode, a preview of episode three poses the question, “which side of the revolution is Miles really on?” We’re then shown that Miles actually used to be part of the group that made up the armed militia. Sometimes we find ourselves on one side of the planetary equation only to switch to the other side. What this says about our current times is that the battle lines might be drawn, but things can rapidly change at any time. We’ll see conservatives acting like revolutionaries, and we’ll also see revolutionaries acting like dogmatic, controlling regimes. Revolution is set up to dramatize these kinds of stories for us in interesting ways…
Speaking to a hot topic in the U.S. at the time of its airing, Revolution tells the story of a fascist militia which outlaws the possession of guns, with the penalty for resistance being death. This is interesting when we consider that the topic of gun control became a big issue in the summer of 2012 with at least two sensational incidents of renegade shooters killing innocent people. These events set off a strong public reaction against the ownership and easy availability of guns in the U.S. This debate is heated, as it presses up against one of the oldest “freedoms” this country has wrestled with – the right to defend one’s property with the use of force. There are no easy answers here, but with Pluto in Capricorn (the old, dominant, controlling structures) squaring Uranus in Aries (the rebel desire for the freedom to aggressively defend), you can bet that we’ll see more sparks fly over this issue in the next 3 years. Revolution is tapped into the collective on this one, so it will be interesting to see how the writers wrestle with this issue as the show unfolds.
The armed militia in Revolution is an example of one dark possibility we face over the next few years, which is that of fascist and violent controlling structures that emerge in response to some rebellious or freedom-driven, change-seeking group or groups. The show tries to present a complex description of the ways in which a fascist regime might arise. In Revolution, military personnel become vigilantes, taking justice into their own hands in response to gross criminal violence. But at some point, things get out of hand, and the human hunger for power and control turns into a monster. Which of course gives Revolution the material for many seasons of dramatic conflict.
We’ve seen these themes express in our culture via the many violent threats which have been made against our current government. In August of 2012, a Virginia Republican committee newsletter called for armed revolution if President Obama is re-elected in November. These are not idle threats, and we’re likely to see more of them as the election heats up. Hold on to your seats on this one. And do your best to stay out of the line of fire, both metaphorically and literally. We’re all likely to be triggered in some way on these issues, which strike at the heart of some of our country’s core philosophies and ideals. Do your best to maintain some kind of center, and resist the temptation to fly off the handle when your own anger flares up. Learn some conflict management techniques, and use them. And you’ll come out of these transits with a few less war wounds than some of your peers.
As Jupiter goes retrograde beginning October 5, it’s time to revisit some of our core beliefs, both as individuals, and as a country, and figure out what overarching vision is really important to us. The election will naturally trigger this process. But we may not get a really clear picture of what forward movement looks like until Jupiter goes direct again, January 30, 2013. Elections are always tense times, but this one will probably stand out historically as especially dramatic.
Getting back to Uranus… Revolution opens with the story of a small group of (mostly related) people on a mission to rescue one of their family members from the armed militia. One character on the journey has been given a secret mission to safely deliver small device into safe hands. That device, which looks both futuristic (Uranus) and ancient (Saturn/Capricorn) and is made of stone (Saturn/Capricorn) but lit from the inside (Uranus), appears to have the power to start up electric devices. This is pivotal and important, because the main mystery the show hinges on is why the power went out, and why folks are unable to get it turned back on. And of course, the militia is actively trying to figure out how to get the power back on before anyone else does, so that they can control everyone with greater efficiency and force.
But there is something interesting here about the device itself. It is small, but seems to hold the promise of a huge amount of power. Human ingenuity has lead to technology which constantly gets smaller and smaller, rather than bigger and bigger. This drive towards smaller and smaller devices means that they can be “hand held.” And so this device speaks to the potential for the power of electricity, to be in the control of – literally in the hands of – the people, which is a really wonderful expression of the potential of the Uranus transit through the sign of Aries (which will last through 2019).
In the horoscope for the pilot episode, Saturn in Capricorn is in the 6th house. We see this expressed in the plot through the issue of slavery, which is brought up in the second episode. No one really likes to be told what to do, but the energy of Uranus is especially adverse to anything that hints of control or bossing around. We can think of Uranus in Aries as the perfect symbol of the freedom fighter, with an agenda to end slavery for all humanity. In Revolution the armed militia brutally enslaves people for forced labor. The militia is depicted as violent, brutal and irrational (dark Pluto). We witness their disdain for human life, and their desire for control at any price. One of our main heroines in the show is especially attuned to the plight of those enslaved and becomes inspired to fight for their freedom.
Government collapse, violent torturous militias, and hand-held electricity for the people, Oh My! We’re in for a bumpy ride in Revolution, just as we’re in for a bumpy ride in real life. As this show helps us work out and express some of our greatest collective fears, we’re also reminded of the promise of human adaptation and ingenuity. And hopefully through conflict, we’ll be inspired to change and grow in positive ways that one day turn us back towards a collective focus of healing the planet and loving one another. Until then, hold onto your seats, learn to go with the flow and ride the waves of change with as much grace and safety as you can muster.