Are the sixties, the decade of flower power and protests really over? According to Priscilla Costello, speaker at the latest Astrological Society of Connecticut meeting, the same cosmic influences that visited an expanding personal consciousness on a generation have swung around again.
What Priscilla talked about was the cosmic dance of the outer planets, Uranus, Pluto and Saturn, During the late sixties Uranus was conjunct Pluto and Saturn was opposite Uranus. Now in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century we are facing similar influences, with Uranus square Pluto and Saturn opposite Uranus. Pricilla’s observations started me thinking, wondering if we are in for a redux of those turbulent times. What follows is my attempt to match significant historical and astrological events of those and present times.
Saturn, Uranus and Pluto are our archetypes involving broad social issues. Uranus, the archetype of the rebel, wants to upend the apple cart and change the status quo. Looking backward, the sixties was all about changing the status quo. Betty Friedan writes of June 30, 1966 the day of an exact conjunction of Pluto and Uranus:
The government sought to pacify us and convened the Third National Conference of the Commissions on the Status of Women at the Washington Hilton in late June 1966. The omens were not good. That week President Johnson and Lady Bird invited a few of us to tea at the White House. The President said he wanted to appoint talented women, but the problem was “finding these women.” It was a weekend of lip service.
We learned that we weren’t allowed to pass resolutions at the conference. So on its final day, June 30, as dignitaries yammered at the podium, I joined other furious women at the two front lunch tables, passing along notes written on napkins. We were putting together the National Organization for Women under the noses of the people who wanted to put us off. I wrote on one napkin that NOW had “to take the actions needed to bring women into the mainstream of American society, now … in fully equal partnership with men.”
It was no coincidence that Uranus and Pluto were in the sign of Virgo, the virgin, the archetype that is beholden to no man.
But more was churning in the American psyche. The undeclared war in Southeast Asia was a source of resentment for the teenage “baby boomers”.
Well come on all of you big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again,
He got himself in a terrible jam,
Way down yonder in Vietnam,
Put down your books and pick up a gun,
We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun
And its 1,2,3 what are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn,
The next stop is Vietnam,
And its 5,6,7 open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
WHOOPEE we’re all gonna die . . .
Well come on wall street don’t be slow,
Why man this is war go go go,
There’s plenty good money to be made,
By supplying the army with the tools of the trade,
Just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb
They drop it on the Vietcong.
The children of World War II veterans, this was the first generation of Americans that grew up under the budding materialism of the post war era. After the war, Rosie the Riveter and her generation were shuffled off to brand new suburbs to bear this new Pluto in Leo generation, while the men took the jobs that the women held during the war. The children of the WWII vets were the first generation to experience mass market advertising, television, and an explosion of toys produced specifically for them. Even as they performed “duck and cover” drills in the event of nuclear war, another dark side of American life shadowed them in the form of a skyrocketing divorce rate. Clearly the capitalism and materialism of their parents failed to satisfy the adults in their life or provide a sense of security that these children needed. It was no wonder then that these young people grew up with a cynicism far beyond their years, and many were just not willing to adopt the values that made their parents so very unhappy. The draft was a touchstone; a symbol of the power elite sending off young citizens to a horrific war that seemed to serve no purpose other than to fill the pockets of the Military-Industrial Complex. So when generation hit the college campuses en masse, fueled with an unprecedented amount of government aid in the form of student loans, rather than fulfilling their parent’s desire to get an education they sought the answers to a more meaningful life. Social change seemed to hold the answers. Students protested everything on their campuses on issues ranging on the war to a woman’s place in society.
During the late sixties when Saturn opposed Uranus, it was Saturn, the planet of the status quo, that was in Pisces while Uranus was in Virgo.
Saturn opposing Uranus is all about the breakdown of structures and to average Americans of the time, the student protests were a sure sign that America was going to hell in hand basket, that the “end times” were near for American Society. But as American youth recognized, the status quo needed some very big changes.
On November 8, 1966 at an exact opposition of Saturn and Uranus”
Edward William Brooke, III (born October 26, 1919), is an American politician and was the first African American to be elected by popular vote to the United States Senate when he was elected as a Republican from Massachusetts in 1966, defeating his Democratic opponent, Endicott Peabody, 60.7%–38.7%. He was also the first African American elected to the Senate since the 19th century, and would remain the only person of African heritage sent to the Senate in the 20th century until Democrat Carol Moseley Braun in 1993, and would remain the last Republican Senator from Massachusetts until the 2010 election of Scott Brown.
But not only did this election result demonstrate the breakdown of the status quo, but also paved the way to recognition of the poor economic plight of African Americans. Edward Brooke was appointed by President Johnson to the President’s Commission on Civil Disorders formed to to investigate the causes of the 1967 race riots in the United States and to provide recommendations for the future.
The Commission’s final report, the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders or Kerner Report was released on February 29, 1968 after seven months of investigation. The report became an instant best-seller, and over two million Americans bought copies of the 426-page document. Its finding was that the riots resulted from black frustration at lack of economic opportunity.Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., pronounced the report a “physician’s warning of approaching death, with a prescription for life.”
The report berated federal and state governments for failed housing, education and social-service policies. The report also aimed some of its sharpest criticism at the mainstream media. “The press has too long basked in a white world looking out of it, if at all, with white men’s eyes and white perspective.”
By his second year in the Senate, Brooke had taken his place as a leading advocate against discrimination in housing and on behalf of affordable housing. With fellow Senate Banking Committee Member, Walter Mondale the Minnesota Democrat, he co-authored the 1968 Fair Housing Act which President Johnson signed into law on April 11, one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.. Dissatisfied with the weakened enforcement provisions that emerged from the legislative process, Brooke repeatedly proposed stronger provisions during his Senate career. In 1969, Congress enacted the “Brooke Amendment” to the federal publicly assisted housing program which limited the tenants’ out-of-pocket rent expenditure to 25 percent of his or her income. By the 1990s, the percentage had gradually increased, but the principle of limiting the housing ‘burden’ of very-low income renters survives in statute, as of 2008.
During the late sixties when Saturn opposed Uranus, it was Saturn, the planet of the status quo, that was in Pisces while Uranus was in Virgo. Thus the government response was a typical Piscean one, let’s give our resources to the least fortunate. Lyndon Johnson declared a “War on Poverty” in 1964, with a series of initiatives, many of which survive today, enacted very close to the first Saturn/Uranus exact opposition on April 1, 1965, but it took the civil unrest of the later part of the decade to drive home the point of the need for social change. It was an age of Liberalism that wasn’t seen before and hasn’t been seen since.
Yet this Liberalism came with a price. It was an age of polarizations, children versus parents, whites versus blacks, women versus men. Yet, even as the Saturn/Uranian conjunction weakened, the force of the Uranus/Pluto conjunction continued its grip upon the nation.
In a January 1967 article written for the Chicago Defender, Martin Luther King, Jr. openly expressed support for the antiwar movement on moral grounds. Reverend King expanded on his views in April at the Riverside Church in New York, asserting that the war was draining much-needed resources from domestic programs. He also voiced concern about the percentage of African American casualties in relation to the total population. King’s statements rallied African American activists to the antiwar cause and established a new dimension to the moral objections of the movement.
But widespread opposition within the government did not appear until 1968. Exacerbating the situation was the presidential election of that year, in which Johnson faced a strong challenge from peace candidates Eugene McCarthy, Robert Kennedy, and George McGovern, all Democrats, as well as his eventual successor, Richard M. Nixon. On 25 March Johnson learned that his closest advisors now opposed the war; six days later, he withdrew from the race.
Lyndon Johnson was a proponent of social change, helping to steer programs designed to help the poor and minorities through the corridors of government. However, in the face of opposition to a war he felt was vital to the security of the nation and the world, he could not continue, and thus America lost one champion for social justice on the home front.
In 1968, America lost two more leaders, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, Jr., both voices of social change. It is perhaps no accident that on those two grim days, Pluto made malefic aspects to the planet of communication, Mercury.
In the middle of August 1969, 400,000 young people gathered on Max Yasgur’s farm, in an event that was originally envisioned for 20,000, the Woodstock Music Festival. It was a show of force and solidarity of a generation that showed up on faith because most did not have tickets. They were not turned away. That close to half a million people co-existed for 4 days peacefully with a lack of just about every amenity possible was a demonstration in and of itself that this generation lived its ideals even if the outside world mistakenly believed those ideals were about having a good time.
As this decade slipped into the next at a fever pitch, a shocking event changed the nature of public response. As Uranus and Pluto came to 9 degree separation, about to dissolve their dramatic dance, and Uranus was part of Yod involving the Moon in Aries, and Neptune, National Guard troops shot into a peaceful anti-war demonstration at Kent State University killing 4 students, American citizens exercising their rights to free speech.
Death, previously distant, was now close at hand. New groups-Nobel science laureates, State Department officers, the American Civil Liberties Union-all openly called for withdrawal. Congress began threatening the Nixon administration with challenges to presidential authority. When the New York Times published the first installment of the Pentagon Papers on 13 June 1971, Americans became aware of the true nature of the war. Stories of drug trafficking, political assassinations, and indiscriminate bombings led many to believe that military and intelligence services had lost all accountability. Antiwar sentiment, previously tainted with an air of anti-Americanism, became instead a normal reaction against zealous excess. Dissent dominated America; the antiwar cause had become institutionalized. By January 1973, when Nixon announced the effective end of U.S. involvement, he did so in response to a mandate unequaled in modern times.
Even though dissent was now institutionalized, the shots that rang out at Kent State had a chilling effect on public dissent. It was as if the threat of death silenced this generation.
Next Installment: Fast Forward—Saturn/Uranus and Pluto in the New Millenium.