During the summer of 1851, an extremely rare conjunction of planets took place in the first 3 degrees of Taurus. On the very day that Mars joined Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto there, Harriet Beecher Stowe published the first in her popular series of articles that, a year later, became her nation-changing novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. That same year, Melville's classic tale of excessive ambition, Moby Dick, was also published.
In a single year these two literary firebrands stamped the world with the two primary themes that were to define the second half of the 19th century in America: The abolition of slavery and, less directly in Melville's case, the extreme rise of industrial capitalism.
While Mars and Saturn certainly play a role in understanding these themes and their place in this moment of history, it is the Uranus-Pluto cycle that speaks most directly. Uranus is connected with technology and social concerns. Pluto represents deeply hidden power and wealth. Whereas Uranus corresponds with sudden, explosive change, Pluto is akin to the compressed magma under a volcano, hidden from sight yet roiling with an unfathomable energy. Pluto's intense potency requires a catalyst to encourage its cathartic release and allow its hidden power to become incorporated on the surface. Uranus's sudden, electrifying strike often provides that catalyst. Like the coming eruptions of war and avarice hinted at by Uncle Tom and Moby Dick, Uranus and Pluto acting together give us a sense of an erupting volcano that forever transforms the face of the planet and even the fate of humanity itself.
As Uranus and Pluto come into significant alignment certain themes repeat themselves with impressive regularity. A prominent example in recent centuries is the emergence of industrial revolutions. Like the Uranus-Pluto trine (120º) of the 1760s/70s that kicked off the First Industrial Revolution, the Uranus-Pluto sextile (60º) of the early 1870s kicked off the Second Industrial Revolution. The following sextile almost 80 years later, the end of World War II, marks the beginning of the Third Industrial Revolution.
This is appropriate to the astrological symbolism: Uranus is specifically correlated with cultural revolutions along with new technologies and their dissemination throughout society. Pluto correlates with the deep underground power sources that fuel these technologies, be they coal, oil, or steam (or venture capital). The sextile and trine alignments typically give functional form to whatever is aligned, so that, in this case, the power inherent in the Plutonic energy is harnessed and utilized by the newly architected Uranian inventions.
Today, we are on the cusp of entering just such a period. The Uranus-Pluto trine of 2024-2030 will no doubt bring into the forefront new technologies that revolutionize travel, commerce, and energy, creating what is thought to become a Fourth Industrial Revolution.
To help us grasp the Uranus-Pluto cycle and our current place in it, we will take a brief overview of the prior cycle that started in 1851, the year that Stowe and Melville left their mark on America's literary legacy.
Events during the conjunction began the earnest build up to the Civil War. Race and class were major issues of the day as the endurance of American democracy was in doubt. After the war was won by the North, the dominance of Northern industry and expansion into the American West became major themes during the Uranus-Pluto sextile of the 1870s.
A massive railroad worker's strike during the Uranus-Pluto square (90º) of 1877 shook the country, while Europe grappled with its Great Eastern Crisis. While the railroad strike was put down by force, it planted seeds that would bear fruit during the Uranus-Pluto trine to come. This trine period of the early 1880s saw unprecedented economic growth as a new industry based in rail, steel, and oil rapidly emerged. The transcontinental railroad revolutionized travel across the country, giving birth to a new class of ultra-wealthy ultra-elite that would hold enormous power through the rest of the 19th century.
However, in accordance with the simultaneous Saturn-Uranus square, an alignment that consistently corresponds to periods of great wealth disparity, most of the gains from these years was hoarded by industrialists. It's not hard to imagine the robber barons of the Gilded Age consumed by avarice for industrial conquest, like Melville's Ahab in pursuit of the white whale at any cost. These "captains of industry" thought themselves above morality, beset by the belief that their wealth made them a special class of human, justified in a theory of social Darwinism similar to that of the enslavers of the 1850s. But in 1901, during the Uranus-Pluto opposition (180º), these industrialists had to give way to the power of Teddy Roosevelt's government. The Uranus-Pluto power baton was passed from the corporate trusts to the public trust, as Teddy wielded the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to smash the monopolies and give competitive capitalism a chance at raising economic standards for everyone.
After the horrendous destruction of the First World War (Saturn-Pluto conjunct), the world entered the prosperity and "anything goes" attitudes of the Roaring Twenties as Uranus and Pluto were again trine (120º). Like other Uranus-Pluto trines, it was a brief economic boom and golden period, and — like the rail system during the previous trine, and the steam engine during the trine before that — a new technology, the automobile, was again transforming personal travel. But just a short decade later the excesses of capital came crashing down with the Great Depression, opening a power vacuum filled by the Nazis in Germany during the Uranus-Pluto square (90º) of the 1930s. Their revolution against the burgeoning democracies of Europe was couched in a vision of an Aryan utopia similar to the one espoused by the American enslavers of the 1850s and the social Darwinists of the Gilded Age. World War set in again (Saturn-Pluto square), the second burst of the volcano that would wipe out and redefine industry, human rights, and geopolitical power.
The war ended as Uranus and Pluto entered sextile (60º) in 1945. The governmental policies enacted out of the Great Depression and World War II in the U.S. shored up the economic and civil foundations of the country. FDR's reforms of government led to further civil enhancements in the 1950s and 1960s, which brings us to the next Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1965, another volcanic decade defined by a revolutionary counterculture.
We have traced an entire Uranus-Pluto cycle through history. From 1851 to 1965 we see a world dramatically transformed by innovations in politics, technology, and human rights. During each of the major alignments between Uranus and Pluto, major disruptive events occur that drive this deep societal change. While the conjunction, opposition, and square alignments tend to lean more destructive, the 60º sextile and 120º trine alignments correlate with periods of economic robustness and dissemination of transformative technologies and culture.
As we approach this next trine period, seemingly futuristic technologies are already beginning to show up, setting the stage for the next Industrial Revolution. As we head back to the Moon, disseminate hyper advanced A.I., and move forward with nuclear fusion, we will be bringing our social and environmental causes with us. The political landscape leans progressive, with unexpected changes in world leadership and an emergence of a cultural renaissance. The world of the late 2020s will look as different to us today as 2022 would look to us in 2019.