Celestial Systematics

by Bruce Carley         * Site Map *

If it is understood that all living beings consist of spiritual energies that are closely associated with the energies of the universe, the idea seems worthy of consideration that subtle vibrations from other planets in the solar system may influence or synchronize in some way with the inner natures of living beings on Earth. The fact that invisible vibrations from these planets reach Earth is shown by the fact that visible light coming from them is easily detectable and measurable on Earth through modern equipment. Astrology is essentially an art of interpreting complex, archetypal energies interacting systematically, energies which ultimately are inadequately conveyed in words and may need to be apprehended intuitively to be fully grasped. As an art of interpretation, the field is entirely subjective and inevitably boils down to an assortment of personal perspectives. The strictest empirical thinkers and group-thinking cynics may deny proudly the very conceivability of such notions; nevertheless, certain astrological principles are readily observable in operation and can have practical value for insightfully understanding the universal, archetypal experience of life, a fact which stares some of us in the face every day. Indeed, such principles may illustrate a straightforward, cosmic plan for the gradual development of one's character in a spiritual sense, thus allowing each of us to gain a more complete understanding of what we might do to make our physical lives worthwhile. This writer has meditated extensively on the seeming nature of the various metaphysical energies involved in the cycles of life in an effort to clarify understandings on this complex subject, and the results of such efforts are summarized in this writing as another contribution to the world's vast archives of philosophical thought. Naturally, only consistent, open-minded observation will substantiate or refute the validity of any of these suppositions.

Planes of Consciousness

Just as there are twelve harmonically fundamental steps within every octave of a musical scale, so would there seem to be twelve such degrees of vibratory frequency within every type of manifestation in nature, including twelve sequential planes of consciousness that comprise a sublime octave of psychic essence, correlating with the annual cycle of the Earth around the sun. It is supposed that all of us in our spiritual journeys through many lifetimes pass sequentially through the archetypal experiences of each of these psychic frequencies, living them as many times as may be necessary for all twelve of the corresponding lessons of life to be incorporated into our spiritual natures. In this way, we supposedly evolve gradually toward a comprehensive spiritual enlightenment and oneness with the divine force that created us. Each plane of consciousness is seemingly inclined to be of a certain distinct type of character that is unique to that particular plane, manifesting as an inherent function of its peculiar frequency. It is noteworthy that each plane of consciousness seems effectively to overcome the weaknesses of the plane directly behind it, building upon that preceding principle while at the same time adding a new dimension that contrasts sharply with it. Learning to recognize the expression in people's natures of the dominant traits of character that are associated with the various sun signs is not difficult with practice.

The twelve divisions or thirty-degree sections of the ecliptic would seem to represent a continuum of frequencies analogous to a rainbow, rather than a set of distinct units; however, twelve is the preferred number for dividing the ecliptic into recognized segments, for reasons relating to mathematical parallels to music and other natural phenomena which manifest harmonically according to a periodicity of vibrations arranged in octaves of twelve chromatic increments each. After all, everything in nature manifests as a function of vibrations occurring within some range on a hypothetically infinite musical keyboard. For example, a specific hue of visible light vibrates to a frequency that is precisely 41 octaves above middle C, although we perceive this frequency through vision rather than through hearing; and because of its harmonic attunement with that musical note, this particular hue would seem to relate directly to the tone of character peculiar to musical passages playing in the key of C. However one may describe the unique character of this or any other musical key, the point to note is that each key relates harmonically with a specific hue of light, and with specific frequencies in every other type of manifestation in nature, including the essence of soul, a phenomenon that would seem to correlate with a range of frequencies beyond the scope of modern science. Thus, it is supposed that twelve harmonically incremental planes of psychic consciousness intervene sequentially between the earthly realm and the cosmic, each plane having its own inherent dispositional tendencies and distinct modes of expression.

Geomagnetism, Harmonics, and Space-Time

Each of the twelve divisions or zones along the ecliptic would seem to have its own peculiar character and corresponding effect on all living beings on Earth as a function of the fact that any celestial influence within the solar system is always interacting with the Earth's magnetic field from an angle and seasonal bearing that are not shared by any other point along the ecliptic. In other words, each point in the zodiac, when transited by a celestial body, may contribute to the Earth's magnetic field its own unique quality or degree of electromagnetic energy by means of its unique combination of a particular angle in relation to the Earth's poles, with a specific direction of movement (north or south) by the transiting object. The magnetic condition of the Earth then may infuse itself into the psychic consciousness of every living cell and organism within the sphere of its influence. As the celestial objects in the solar system emit and reflect natural energies from various points along the ecliptic, they would seem in effect to be stressing at that time the specific "notes" of a certain spiritual octave that correspond to those points. So perhaps we can shed new light on Carl Jung's assertion that "Whatever is born, or done, in this moment of time, has the qualities of this moment in time."

Furthermore, what is "born or done in this moment" may tend to retain in perpetuity an attunement with the "qualities of this moment in time," as a function of those workings of physics which had not been understood adequately until Einstein gave us some background in relativity. The concept of the space-time continuum in fact may provide a sound, scientific framework for understanding the mechanics involved in the subtle workings of the "oldest science." Modern physics indicates that the past and future as perceived by our everyday realization are illusions of our accustomed three-dimensional perspective and in fact are happening perpetually in the present moment, from a point of view embracing a multi-dimensional space-time continuum. In other words, every event in what we commonly perceive as "the past" is actually happening "now" at a certain point along the continuum of space-time, although the limitations of our worldly realization ordinarily prevent us from perceiving it as such. In essence, time and space as we commonly perceive them exist only in the subjective duration of our conscious awareness as it encounters the three-dimensional limitations of the dense, material world. From a cosmic point of view, or from the perspective of energy waves traveling at the speed of light, time does not exist, and there is only an infinity of "now."

It would seem to follow that a manifest phenomenon which had originated at a certain point in time - such as one's very life which had begun at birth - necessarily retains at all times a full attunement with the magnetism that infuses it continually at its initial "now," which, from a cosmic point of view, is always happening in the present moment. Indeed, metaphysical philosophies speak of a certain expanded, cosmic consciousness that pervades the universe and all life forms and that transcends time and space, embracing all seeming past and future as present. If one's birth occurs at a moment when the vital and metabolic processes that are linked respectively to the sun and the moon are at certain phases in their respective cycles, then the distinct qualities of magnetism infusing one's being at that initiating moment may be retained over time and habitually expressed throughout one's life as a function of a perpetual attunement with the particular vital and metabolic conditions that are always happening "now" at the initial moment at which one's life is perpetually finding its origin. Abstract as it may seem, this model may explain why every event may inherit the character of its time, or why certain frequencies of consciousness may remain with us throughout life as dominant traits, constituting one's basic nature and karmic pattern.

To explain such complex mechanics in terms of classic cause and effect may not be possible, but that does not make these concepts permanently irreconcilable with science, which itself is constantly evolving to embrace new paradigms. Astrology's paradigm postulates that the Earth and the surrounding cosmos share a common region of space-time, and that therefore, a specific event happening within the solar system is also occurring on Earth, within our consciousness, at the same moment: As above, so below. From this perspective, planetary and earthly events happen simultaneously and reflect upon one another meaningfully, yet synchronistically rather than causally. Time is seen as being filled with content meaningfully rather than haphazardly, and any event's beginning, course, and eventual outcome are seen as meaningfully interconnected by the peculiar qualities inherent in particular moments in time.

Planet Energies and Sign Affinities

The metaphysical influences of the sun and moon as propounded by astrologers are opposite and complimentary, and could be summarized briefly as follows: The dynamic radiation of the sun vitalizes life and relates in metaphysical thought to active motivation and conscious will, channeling the "spirit of the season" according to the nature of the zone which it is transiting; thus, the sun at any given point in time may lend to an organism or event a conscious vitality and pervasive demeanor with the distinct, characteristic tendencies of the zone from which it is exerting its natural influence - in effect, the spirit of that sign. In contrast, the subtle magnetism of the moon regulates growth and relates in metaphysical thought to reactive emotion and subconscious instinct, channeling the "mood of the day" according to the nature of the zone which it is transiting; thus, the moon at any given time may lend to an organism or event a subconscious, metabolic habit and emotional predisposition with the distinct character of that zone - in effect, the mood which passively reflects the spirit of that sign.

One's sun sign would seem to characterize the framework of one's conscious demeanor, one's basic sense of self, or the archetype with which one fundamentally identifies on a conscious level, thus having a considerable bearing on one's worldly leadership and primary karmic mission. Conversely, one's moon sign would seem to describe the depths of one's subconscious, emotional disposition - the private sentiments or deep-seated quirks of temperament that strongly color one's nature, lending it depth and fullness. The position of the sun at birth would seem to be the more significant influence on the developing character of a human being for reasons relating to the advanced consciousness and will of intelligent organisms - as compared with the primarily instinctive, metabolic nature of scallops and wheat stalks, whose developing tendencies would seem to correlate more directly with the cycles of the moon.

The energy of each celestial body purportedly relates especially well to the nature of a particular zone of the ecliptic in which that energy or archetypal principle finds relatively easy attunement and therefore is expressed most freely, with the least inhibition or interference by inharmonious principles. That zone is regarded as the plane of dignity for that planet or luminary, the sign whose nature figuratively amounts more or less to the personification of that sphere's energetic principle, and which the sphere therefore is said to "rule." Each plane of consciousness is thus associated with a symbolic godlike figure (e.g. Mercury, Venus) who may portray the character of that plane by the archetype embodied in its mythology. Each plane is represented also by a unique pictorial emblem (e.g. crab, lion) that originally was intended to encapsulate symbolically the personality traits or principles of character inherent in that particular vibration. At least some of these emblems are believed to have originated in the temples of ancient Chaldea.

Since opposing planes are considered to be complementary polarities (as with opposing musical keys), the sign directly opposite a sphere's sign of dignity is considered its sign of detriment, the zone in which the expression of that sphere's archetypal character is more limited or held in check by competing principles than anywhere else in the zodiac. Thus, while the natural vibration of the moon is considered most free to express itself fully when it is transiting the zone of Cancer (which it figuratively "rules"), this same sphere is regarded as considerably restricted or curtailed in the expression of its inherent principle when it is exerting its natural frequencies from the opposing zone of Capricorn, its purported position of detriment.

Each celestial body is said also to have its zone of "exaltation" elsewhere in the zodiac, a sign or domain in which the sphere's natural influence tends to be most constructively refined, revered, and channeled as a force for noble, beneficial purposes becoming of its best potential. Whereas the concept of "dignity" relates to ease or fullness of expression through coinciding principles, "exaltation" is about maximum fulfillment, beneficial usefulness, and merit, as determined by an interaction between different vibrations. The sign directly opposite a sphere's exalted position is seen as representing its "fall," the one domain in which the sphere's archetypal principle tends to be especially vulnerable to being disturbed, demonized, or misapplied for coarse or ignoble purposes conducive to its inherent weaknesses of character. Thus, the archetypal principle behind the magnetism of the moon is considered to be most constructively guided and beneficial when this sphere is transiting the zone of Taurus, where it is considered exalted, whereas this same lunar archetype is regarded as most vulnerable and potentially damaging when the moon is exerting its natural influence from the opposite zone of Scorpio, where it is considered to be in its "fall."

A Sequence of Character Types

Each plane of consciousness seemingly entails a certain natural ability and karmic mission that are unique to that plane, and these various gifts and missions appear to be arranged sequentially according to systematic alternations of temperament types and modes of energy expression. The three so-called "fire signs" are considered fiery in temperament, as they seemingly are inclined to manifest their energies in ways that are impulsively energetic, relating to morale and enthusiasm. The three "earth signs" are considered as manifesting their energies in ways that are complacently practical, relating to matters of solid fact, sense, and discretion. "Air signs" are regarded as manifesting in ways that are mentally alert, relating to intellect and acuity. "Water signs" are regarded as manifesting in ways that are emotionally sensitive, relating to intuition and spirituality. The "modality" correlating with a particular plane of consciousness refers to one of three modes (movable, fixed, or mutable) by which the energy of its particular temperament type is directed, and each sign thus represents a unique combination of a particular temperament type (or "element") with a particular mode or quality of its expression.

Each of the four "movable" (or "cardinal") signs represents some form of prominent initiative or determination to approach goals instrumentally, as these signs seemingly tend to express their energies in ways that are acutely pronounced and influential. Each of the four "fixed" signs represents some form of self-sufficient independence with great reserves of strength and resistance to external interference, as these signs seemingly tend to manifest their energies in ways that are steady and consistent. Each of the four "mutable" signs represents some form of common understanding or style of relating, as these signs seemingly express their energies in ways that are adaptable and perpetually shifting. Clashes between conflicting movable, fixed, or mutable vibrations would seem to be conducive, respectively, to high-stakes battles, impassive standoffs, and caustic exchanges.

Each season of the year would seem to represent an annual process that is initiated by a movable vibration, orchestrated by a fixed vibration, and refined to complete expression by a mutable vibration. In other words, the processes of spring awakening, summer ripening, autumn acclimating, and winter deepening each involve and relate to the vibratory essences of three consecutive signs, each with a different quality of energy. Each of the twelve character types accordingly seems to correlate symbolically with a certain stage of life or seasonal growth, from the resurrection of rebirth in the early spring, through the culmination of worldly ego at summer's end, to the transition of so-called death in winter, and beyond. The twelfth and most complex essence is purported to represent and to correlate with the timeless, egoless consciousness of having left behind the worldly self to merge with the infinity of nature between lifetimes. The core essence of each plane of consciousness perhaps could be crystallized in a nutshell more or less as follows, keeping in mind that words may be ultimately inadequate for describing cosmic complexities:

Aries enterprise pioneers prospects boldly, with impulsive drive and decisive execution. The essence of this fiery, movable vibration is one of moral initiative.

Taurus entrenchment remains immovable in the face of immense pressure, and resists being shifted. The essence of this earthy, fixed vibration is one of practical strength.

Gemini versatility perceives and relates with informed acuity and alertness. The essence of this airy, mutable vibration is one of intellectual character.

Cancer tenderness cares personally and suffers situations with a full range of deep emotion. The essence of this watery, movable vibration is one of spiritual initiative.

Leo dignity displays images with stately pride, promotes personal esteem, and resists being humbled. The essence of this fiery, fixed vibration is one of moral strength.

Virgo precision attends comprehensively to detail and analyzes objective fact. The essence of this earthy, mutable vibration is one of practical character.

Libra indulgence considers all viewpoints exhaustively in pursuit of fair judgment. The essence of this airy, movable vibration is one of intellectual initiative.

Scorpio integrity upholds principles with unswerving confidence and passion, and resists being compromised. The essence of this watery, fixed vibration is one of spiritual strength.

Sagittarius valor crusades wholeheartedly in free-spirited quests of truth and honor. The essence of this fiery, mutable vibration is one of moral character.

Capricorn discretion pursues worldly goals with reserved diplomacy and stable endurance over time. The essence of this earthy, movable vibration is one of practical initiative.

Aquarius originality forgets accustomed attachment, experiments with broad novelty, and resists being indoctrinated. The essence of this airy, fixed vibration is one of intellectual strength.

Pisces attunement apprehends the scope of archetypal experience, transcends particularity, and interprets realization. The essence of this watery, mutable vibration is one of spiritual character.

The Sign of the Mystic

The short descriptions presented above for each of the twelve zodiac sign essences are of course much too succinct to do real justice to any of them, though the brief summaries may encapsulate them generally. Most of the twelve essences perhaps could be portrayed more or less completely in a few more sentences; however, the nature of Pisces is considerably more complex and difficult to grasp intuitively than any of the others and would seem therefore to require that much more elaboration in any description of it. The next three paragraphs represent the best effort of this writer (born February 28, 1967) to summarize the characteristics and values of the twelfth sign in a way that does it more justice than it commonly receives.

Pisces is the sign of transcendental insight and all-encompassing complexity, the essence of which is characterized first and foremost by attunement with transcendental planes of awareness. Although this sign is noted for a humble, placid disposition, its essential nature is anything but commonplace and is difficult to understand compared with the other eleven signs. Indeed, one born under this complex influence often lives with a continuous sense of being misunderstood by others or mistaken for any of the other types at any given moment; after all, this essence is deep and encompasses the essences of all the other signs. It may encompass multiple if not contradictory traits at once, shifting from one attunement to another, transcending dichotomies, and easily eluding all the convenient categories and labels of conventional thought. Consequently, it tends to be easy for the native of this essence to identify with and to understand compassionately those who are different from the conventional mainstream, with little if any shock or judgmental condemnation directed toward misguided souls who have lost their way. With often a deep interest in and understanding of mystical or transcendental subjects, and relatively little interest in mundane or commonplace matters, the Piscean tends to think independently of commonly accustomed, cultural paradigms and to comprehend the nature of reality in extraordinary ways.

The Piscean is uncommonly sensitive and finely tuned to subtle vibrations and tends to absorb the emotional climate of the surroundings. This sensitivity often takes the form of an uncanny perceptiveness and a pronounced intuitive sense of the subtleties of others' personalities, as well as a marked creative or artistic tendency and an unshakeable, child-like outlook and sense of the magical. Accordingly, Pisces tends to be drawn to retreat from disagreeable scenes and to escape from the unpleasantness of the everyday world. Often there is considerable aversion to competition, callousness, tedious discipline, superficial communication, nagging criticism, bureaucratic impersonality, and many law-oriented practices.

The Piscean tends to have a considerable need for privacy and may defend privacy to a degree that others may not understand. With generally a strong dislike of being a focus of attention or critical scrutiny, and an aversion to any hint of snooping, prying, surveilling, interrogating, or otherwise compromising the sanctity of personal space, Pisces tends to be evasive and secretive about plans until after they have been carried out and frequently has a strong urge to be alone or to get away from others. Similarly, the Piscean tends to have a pronounced need for freedom in all forms, also to a degree that others may not understand. With a typically informal, casual demeanor and approach to all things, Pisces needs to remain unencumbered by formality or by physical or mental constraint, including restriction by commitments of a socially binding nature (e.g. marriage), or by conventional societal structures oriented around worldly values or narrowly defined roles. The Piscean needs and demands complete freedom of expression, unhindered by any form of censorship, shallow etiquette, or narrow expectations of conformity, and is ready in turn to respect the individual rights and life-styles of others, with a pronounced attitude of live-and-let-live.

The contents of the above summary were extracted solely from descriptions of the sign as put forth by astrologers. If they seem uncannily autobiographical as well, that is simply a reflection of astrology's inherent merit. This "oldest science" does not deserve its usual dismissive treatment as a pseudo-science, though of course its concepts can be abused. The dominant traits of the other eleven sun signs as described in astrology texts are even easier to observe expressing themselves prominently in the personalities of those born under them, and the descriptions prove uncannily accurate more often than not, in this writer's observation.

In regard to why a particular soul may need to live under the influence of a particular plane of consciousness in any given lifetime, the thoughts outlined below seem to make intuitive sense. If some of the capacities noted for the various signs seem remarkably basic, one perhaps should keep in mind that the world is full of people who are not necessarily able to live by some of life's most basic virtues. Some people are bigoted and lack Gemini's sharp awareness of how the world works. Some lack the self-esteem of Leo, or the Virgo habit of attending to detail without missing a comma. It would appear that these archetypal energies are available for the benefit of any soul who may happen to need them in any given lifetime:

Through the Aries vibration, the soul strengthens the impulse to affirm life, to fight for the swift gratification of need, and to act decisively.

Through the Taurus vibration, the soul grows in the capacity to remain composed and steadfast in the face of provocation.

Through the Gemini vibration, the soul grows in intellectual awareness of the surrounding world and in the ability to reason soundly and fluently.

Through the Cancer vibration, the soul becomes intimately familiar with the depth and range of personal, subjective experience.

Through the Leo vibration, the soul develops the capacity to maintain a healthy self-regard, a sense of dignity, and a noble reputation.

Through the Virgo vibration, the soul gains refinement of intellect and skill and grows in the facility of serving with courtesy and modesty.

Through the Libra vibration, the soul develops the ability to consider in exhaustive detail all sides of an issue before drawing conclusions.

Through the Scorpio vibration, the soul grows in the capacity to remain poised and passionately loyal to integrity in the face of attempted compromise.

Through the Sagittarius vibration, the soul develops a transparent sense of honor and a free-spirited eagerness to crusade for ideologies.

Through the Capricorn vibration, the soul grows in the capacity to pursue long-term goals with calculated discretion, stability, and endurance over time.

Through the Aquarius vibration, the soul grows in the capacity to maintain individuality, to think originally and inventively, and to tolerate diversity.

Through the Pisces vibration, the soul grows in the ability to understand and to empathize with archetypal experiences, to transcend the limitations of ego, and to forgive transgressions and failings.

The Pisces vibration is about humility, compassion, and forgiveness, which seems simple enough, so why again should Pisces be considered the most complex of the twelve essences represented in the zodiac? It may be worth considering that although many souls incarnated on Earth are able to be humble and compassionate to some degree, the vast majority have yet to develop this essence of deep understanding and forgiveness to its full potential, such as Jesus exemplified. If we often have trouble forgiving and extending compassion to those who have wronged us in acutely painful or devastating ways, this difficulty may reflect the fact that the ability to do so is the most involved capacity which every soul ultimately is challenged to develop. No one ever said it would be easy to do so, in which case we would not need to be here on Earth in the first place. Not only did Jesus ostensibly forgive those who hated and persecuted him, he also instructed us that we must learn to do the same, difficult as it may be, if we are eventually to master our lives.

The ability to avoid condemnation of an evildoer and instead to have compassion for him would seem generally to distinguish the evolved or enlightened soul from the unevolved; yet it is only the first step in the right direction if we are ultimately to attune with the divine spirit, to develop the healing art, and to move on to more sublime planes of existence. On the other hand, we probably have the potential to master this complex essence over the course of a lifetime or two, without being crowned with thorns or nailed to a cross. The key to this development would seem to be the gradual refinement of that deep awareness of archetypal experience which is particularly inherent in the Piscean nature - that ability to look upon the worst of miscreants with uncommonly insightful understanding and to perceive in earnest, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." It is probably no coincidence that Christianity in its earliest years was symbolized by a fish, the Piscean emblem; after all, true Christianity is about personal, spiritual development by way of humility, compassion, and forgiveness of wrongdoing, even to such degrees as the majority of people are as yet incapable of embracing. Far from entailing loyalty to any church or sect, it is about mastery of the final principle of the zodiac.

Transits of Outer Planets

The slow-moving outer planets are considered to represent deeply rooted, psychic energies that affect entire generations gradually over time, and major aspects (or specific angles) involving these planets are seen as indicating periods when their energies combine and interact, yielding various forms of psychological transformation and inclinations of mind. Transiting Saturn is regarded as representing a constricting energy of consolidation that tends to manifest in terms of concrete form and functional structure, whereas the planets beyond Saturn are seen as representing various subtle and deeply psychic energies that transcend worldly ego and defy conscious direction or control.

The mentalities that dominate and shape mainstream societies over time as mass movements are said to correlate synchronistically with the long-enduring sign transits of the outer planets; for example, Neptune's passage through Scorpio (1956 to 1970) occurred concurrently with the pervasive turbulence and counter-culture mentality of the civil rights movement, a theme consistent with the nature of Scorpio as described in most astrology texts. Similarly, the transits of these outer planets in aspect to prominent points within natal charts (such as the position of one's natal sun) are said to correlate with periods of major shift in one's life, times when new influxes of energy are transforming one's nature or outlook gradually in profound ways. Conjunctions are considered to represent merged energies that correlate with fundamental renewals, whereas oppositions are viewed as polarized energies that correlate with crises of imbalance, calling for efforts to balance opposing forces. Square (90-degree) aspects are seen as representing energies at cross purposes that correlate with crises of conflict, calling for creative adjustments.

The 84-year cycle of Uranus is said to correlate with a complete cycle of recurring themes in the focused visions, active issues, and novel ideas for groundbreaking innovation that are being entertained experimentally in collective consciousness, and by individuals synchronistically across the world. The sign transited by Uranus in any given year is said to describe the orientation and character of such brainstorms and the nature of ongoing changes in fashionable thought, behavior, and life-style that are arising globally at that particular time. For example, Uranus's ingress into Aquarius in 1995 is thought to be connected with the sudden appearance in mainstream society of the internet technology which suddenly transformed the world into a high-speed, global community with easy access to vast amounts of information. When forming aspects to significant points within natal charts, the transits of Uranus are said to correlate with periods in one's life that are characterized by sudden inspirations or unconventional ideas that jolt one abruptly into getting beyond narrow, accustomed mind-sets and experimenting with broad, alternative possibilities.

Neptune's 164-year cycle is said to correlate with a complete cycle of recurring themes in the subtle, psychic spirit behind the overarching character of the times. Whereas Uranus is associated with fanciful ideas of the mind, Neptune seems to relate to the deeply impressive, vivid experiences, dreams, and yearnings of the soul, making its influence that much more significant in defining the true spirit of the times. The sign transited by this "zeitgeist" in any given year is said to describe the nature of the ways in which populations are becoming well attuned with refreshed intuitive understandings, and of the fantasies and role models which communities collectively have come to idealize on a sentimental level and to revere instinctively as glamorous or romantic. Coincidentally or not, Neptune's initial entrance into Aries in its last cycle occurred within hours of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter which ultimately marked a distinct transition from one era in history to another. The fact that Neptune will transit Pisces from 2012 to 2025 may represent another reason for noting the descriptions of that sign, as presented above. In aspects to significant points in natal charts, the transits of Neptune are said to correlate with periods in which worldly or ego-based impediments to one's spiritual awareness are dissolved gradually, releasing one's psychic nature into a more universal consciousness, and bringing a more complete or refined attunement with sublime vibrations along with a broadened, more compassionate understanding in regard to the archetypal experiences of life.

In a nutshell: The Saturn sign supposedly relates to the types of worldly constructs the conventional mainstream is serious about getting back into functional, working order, that is, in what areas people feel they must realistically and objectively get their acts together to accomplish something concretely practical and constructive; the Uranus sign supposedly relates to what sorts of ideas are under intensive intellectual focus in terms of technological innovation or cultural novelty; the Neptune sign, to what dimensions of life are deeply inciting the collective imagination and are perceived as glamorous, idealized, and representative of the beauty and spirit of the time. It is thus speculated that a generation fancies an idea according to the concurrent transit of Uranus, but vividly feels and lives an ideal according to the transit of Neptune. To illustrate, "Uranus in Virgo" could be understood generally as signifying a time of novel ideas, concepts, and inventions (Uranus) relating to matters of frugality and efficiency (Virgo); similarly, "Neptune in Capricorn" could be understood generally as signifying a time of vivid dreams, attunements, and yearnings (Neptune) relating to matters of ambition and career (Capricorn). Although it is an oversimplification, one may enhance one's general grasp of the twelve astrological principles as they relate to planetary transits by thinking of them more or less as domains of: heroic action and enterprise (Aries), industrial productivity and finance (Taurus), intellectual sharpness and fluency (Gemini), domestic and emotional security (Cancer), dignity and stately grandeur (Leo), frugality, efficiency, and technical precision (Virgo), fairness, balance, and judicial impartiality (Libra), self-exploration, defiance of limitation, and the surmounting of injustice (Scorpio), hopeful aspiration and free-spirited adventure (Sagittarius), worldly ambition, convention, and tradition (Capricorn), democracy, tolerance, and global community (Aquarius), and compassion, mystical awareness, and transcendence of ego (Pisces).

The influence of Pluto in transit as expounded by modern astrologers seems exaggerated, in view of Pluto's extremely irregular orbit, vast distance, and miniscule size (with a fifth of the moon's mass and a diameter of New York to Houston). The idea of Pluto even qualifying as a planet seems to have been a major error of recent times. On the other hand, many astrologers have cautioned against underestimating this tiny sphere, the purported effect of which is sometimes considered analogous to the power of the atom. Purportedly, the sign transited by Pluto describes the orientation of the current upheaval or "crisis of the times" which ultimately is transforming history permanently in some way, drastically overhauling any relevant mind-sets which have become harmfully outworn. In aspects to significant points in natal charts, the transits of Pluto purportedly correlate with periods in which finalizing catharsis and regenerative power are brought to a person's nature at the innermost psychic level, confronting the person with the deepest implications of his or her thoughts and actions. When the relevant psychological baggage is thus brought to the surface of the person's awareness to be addressed and purged with intensity and depth, the end result is said to be a profound and permanent regeneration of part of the person's being from outworn or superficial dimensions, and an empowering of genuine, inner substance. (On the other hand, Pluto indeed may be little more than an icy dwarf orbiting the sun within the Kuiper Belt.)

Recent History and the Celestial Zeitgeist

The eras and movements of recent history as described in connection with the transits of Neptune may or may not seem applicable across all cultures, but they do seem generally to hold true at least in the United States, and for purposes of conveying a generalized sense of each principle, this particular part of the world is as workable as any. Other cultures may have their analogous versions of these same eras whether or not they realize the correlation. Those of us who are familiar with the purported characters of the zodiac signs will recognize the flavor of each era described below as relating aptly to astrology's description of the corresponding sign which Neptune is transiting:

Neptune in Aquarius: the Reform Era (12-17-1834 to 4-26-1847). The culture idealizes innovative initiatives to expand and to reform numerous institutions and facilities on a large scale, notably transportation and communication. The ambition to expand territory leads to a questionable war which forces renewed consideration of moral questions.

Neptune in Pisces: the Transcendental Era (12-6-1848 to 4-13-1861). The culture idealizes spiritual nourishment in the form of art, literature, and principles of humanity, all of which flourish prominently during this period. Many philosophical writings of far-reaching influence are published. Utopian communities and temperance movements are attempted, and efforts are made to promote more humane treatment of convicts and the insane. The growing antislavery movement is an ever-present source of controversy which eventually leads two sections of a nation to separate, one of them heading downstream toward imminent destruction.

Neptune in Aries: the Pioneering Era (2-3-1862 to 6-8-1874). Starting with a monumental crisis of rebirth, the culture idealizes new beginnings of opportunity, as former slaves gain their freedom while settlers move west in unprecedented numbers. Reconstruction begins with bold initiatives to uphold civil rights, but it ultimately fails because of incompetent leadership and wavering convictions.

Neptune in Taurus: the Industrial Era (4-7-1875 to 8-16-1887). The culture idealizes pragmatic self-sufficiency and rugged autonomy, even to the point of lawless abandon in frontier areas, as industry comes of age on an imposing scale. Native tribes and wildlife are dispossessed as never before. Corruption and moral apathy run rampant amidst a general lull in literature and the arts. The most influential figures of the Gilded Age are not politicians, but business tycoons.

Neptune in Gemini: the Restless Era (3-21-1889 to 7-19-1901). The culture idealizes clever inventions and other mechanisms to further the appeal of industry, as electricity, telephones, and horseless carriages contribute to a sudden quickening of the general pace of life. With the frontier gone and immigrants arriving in large numbers, some areas become crowded and complicated, yet the political climate is complacent and characterized by shallowness and imperialism.

Neptune in Cancer: the Progressive Era (5-21-1902 to 7-19-1915). The culture idealizes personal security in both home and workplace, as large-scale efforts get under way to rake up the muck of slums, sweatshops, exploited labor, and shabby conditions in general. More than anything else, this movement is a drive to make business and government less domineering, less impersonal, less monopolizing, and more personally responsive toward people as human beings and as citizens.

Neptune in Leo: the Roaring Era (5-2-1916 to 9-21-1928). The culture idealizes prosperity, luxury, lavish partying, and lofty dismissiveness toward outcast classes of people. Film, radio, art deco, and jazz lend renewed glamor to stage dramatics, celebrity consciousness, and formal elegance. Intolerance runs rampant, as exemplified by the Red Scare and the considerable public power of the Ku Klux Klan.

Neptune in Virgo: the Depression Era (7-24-1929 to 10-3-1942). The culture idealizes purity, resource management, discrimination, and personal sacrifice. In the midst of economic depression and scarcity, people expect of each other efficiency and dedication to duty. Many New Deal measures and other political activities around the world seek the security of society at considerable expense to individual liberties and privacy. The war effort also involves a spirit of sacrifice, and some regimes resort to extreme measures in pursuit of their own twisted concepts of purity.

Neptune in Libra: the Pleasantville Era (8-2-1943 to 12-24-1955). The culture idealizes superficial, familial pleasantness and balanced living, as exemplified by the suburban, middle-class neighborhood with its two-car garages, white picket fences, white-collar work orientations, and general climate of sameness and complacency. Behind the surface blandness, the mentality of "us versus them" prevails on a global scale in connection with the perpetual stalemate between communism and western democracy, leading to massive buildups of formidable military arsenals. The popular music of this period is typically jazzy and mellow.

Neptune in Scorpio: the Turbulent Era (8-6-1957 to 1-4-1970). The culture idealizes psychological self-exploration and defiance of perceived limitation. Masses of people entertain dreams of a great society and rally in support of overcoming oppression, while the passion for defying the conventions of the day is mainstream. Recreational drugs are often glamorized, while traditional standards of sexual behavior undergo a major transformation. Popular music takes the form of Rock-and-Roll, while the superpower nations invest their every resource in efforts to outsmart and to outspy one another. The landing of the Eagle on the Moon is a particularly dramatic event in this race to defy the limitations of the physical world.

Neptune in Sagittarius: the Hedonist Era (11-6-1970 to 1-18-1984). The culture idealizes free-spirited optimism and provocative questioning, as embodied in the New-Age philosophies, idealistic aspirations, and hedonistic excesses that are typical of this period. Political disenchantment takes hold on a large scale, dampening earlier dreams of societal justice, while many forms of entertainment thrive adventurously on the edge without undue concern about offending. Staying high in body and spirit is of great importance to many people. Physical fitness, positive thinking, educational experimentation, women's liberation, and religious fanaticism are prominent themes of the time.

Neptune in Capricorn: the Corporate Era (11-21-1984 to 1-28-1998). The culture idealizes conventionalism and material ambition in a pronounced way, emphasizing performance and achievement. Ruthless corporate competitiveness runs rampant. Many small businesses are overtaken by large corporations, while "family values" and similar conservative themes take hold prominently in mainstream thought. "Political correctness" emerges as an ethos of cautious discretion related to pragmatic self-advancement. Many educational resources and forms of entertainment are dumbed down and reconstituted in contrived ways, as directed by the profiteering dictates of commercial enterprises.

Neptune in Aquarius: the Extremist Era (11-27-1998 to 4-3-2011). The culture idealizes radical measures and high-tech innovations of global reach. Internet technology and use are expanded and improved in numerous ways. In other respects, this period seems to be characterized by an amnesia-like loss of traditional bearings and a contrary-minded resistance to all forms of wisdom, conventional or deep. Terrorists and neoconservatives alike are neurotic and dysfunctional in their black-and-white approaches to problems, yet both are perpetuated by widespread public support. Alternative styles of living are mainstream, if still controversial. Political correctness by now seems to be more about cross-cultural tolerance than pragmatic discretion. Regardless of the true extent or implication of global warming, this concept generates large-scale public concern at exactly the time when themes of global change are predictably inciting the collective imagination.

Neptune in Pisces (2-3-2012 to 3-30-2025). At the time of this writing, we have not yet entered the modern era of Neptune in Pisces, but we are due for a large-scale renewal in connection with human rights and transcendental thinking. It is predicted that mystical philosophy, civil liberties, personal privacy, freedom of self-expression, artistic creativity, renunciation of status, and compassion for the outcast will be idealized; whereas conventional paradigms, authoritarian orientations, harsh punishments, mindless conformity, ego-stroking, and many police practices will fall into anti-glamor as never before. The characteristics and values associated with this sign are outlined in greater detail elsewhere in this article.

Working With Karma

The zodiac is also known as the karmic wheel because of its relation to the principle of karma, that universal mechanism by which all of our thoughts and acts are said to generate their impersonal compensation in automatic reaction to the degree of selfless enlightenment manifesting in our consciousness. A punitive repercussion in the cosmic realm would appear always to be an opportunity for some form of growth, never an end in itself; in other words, true justice is reconciliation, not vindication. For analogy, whenever we throw a ball into the air, by natural law it must come down, and there is nothing personal about its subsequent fall to the ground. When we realize and regret a mind-set or act that has put us harmonically at odds with the cosmic consciousness, resolve not to repeat it, and compensate in a way that costs us some degree of effort or some form of sacrifice, we would seem to be restoring our harmony with the universe such that nature ceases to react insistently upon us. Karma thus enables us supposedly to evolve as spiritual beings over many lifetimes, and each plane of consciousness as arranged in the zodiac would appear to be, in effect, a karmic compensation of its predecessor.

Just as darkness is an absence of light, evil is probably best regarded as a relative failure to manifest some form of constructive energy which would have been more in accordance with natural conditions. Rather than recognizing evil as an actual presence in itself, the universal force would seem to note simply the degree to which we maintain an attunement with various qualities or forms of illumination. People who wrestle with life's hardships and work successfully through each of their issues without ever losing touch with their humanity would seem to be developing a more complete understanding than those who have not faced temptation in the first place. Ultimately, the only way of fostering a solid, enduring enlightenment is by visiting darkness for a time and working through its challenges, for it is only through living at times without the benefit of enlightenment that we come to appreciate enlightenment and to understand with thorough familiarity the various dimensions of suffering involved in the core experience of life. One of the most glaring problems with western religion is its frequent ascription of personal ego to the consciousness of God, who is often conceived as actively decreeing punishments and forgiving sins with the wrathful and pleasurable sentiments of a personal authority figure. It seems more fitting to think of God as an ultimate, sublime spirit encompassing all dimensions of consciousness in a way that completely transcends ego.

When people realize their inherent interconnectedness and relation to the infinite, they eschew vengeful notions and develop the broad attitude of humanity which ultimately is the only important guide in understanding or evaluating anything. People afflicted with misfortunes of their own making never cease to be integral parts of the spiritual collective, and we cannot afford to stop empathizing with the frailties that are shaping their growth. Even the most vicious criminals always remain our human kin, a basic fact which people over the centuries have been remarkably reluctant to embrace. We protect ourselves from developing a disdain toward those who have succumbed to life's pitfalls when we recognize that all people wrestle with temptations in order to learn archetypal lessons, and that only divine guidance has prevented us from falling into a similar predicament. The attitude of "There, but for the grace of God, go I" would seem to be a singular key that attunes us with God's perspective and builds gradually through experience a confident relationship with the divine which cannot be fostered through any system of assuming faith blindly.

The vanity of worldly individuality would seem to be the most common obstacle to spiritual growth, for unlike other vices, false pride relates directly to one's fundamental sense of identity. To paraphrase an eastern philosophy, indulging the base desires of worldly selfhood fosters a bondage of the consciousness to mortal matter which entangles us in a net of suffering and misunderstanding, whereas those who recognize worldly identity as an illusion and transcend the illusion of self by attuning with cosmic dimensions of being would seem to be extinguishing the flames of earthly craving and freeing themselves gradually from the clutches of the material world. Following such extinction of the coarse passion and vanity which constitute the illusionary self of the mortal domain, one may find true peace and illumination and ultimately may become a master of all that has bearing on one's affairs.

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Feedback Form. Comments about the foregoing paragraphs are welcome and appreciated.

For easy calculation of planetary positions for any given time, Halloran's Astrology for Windows is a useful tool.

More Astrology Links:

Astrology's Paradigm: its main axoims and implications"
Astrological Influences of the Outer Planets in the 20th Century

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Depths of the Arcane. A collection of deep, speculative thoughts on an assortment of topics relating to the psychic realm and its implications.

The Gospel of Life As I See It. My most deeply cherished principles, attitudes, and values are encapsulated in a nutshell on this page. This set of principles is what I stand for above all else and would hope to be remembered for above all else after my time on Earth expires.

Musical Inspirations:

From 2001 to 2003, I composed and rendered with quality sound fonts the following short pieces of music, listed here with titles followed by subtitles:

Expiration: Somber nostalgia and departure from Earth
Relativity: Timeless voyage through the dimensions
Absolution: Healing magnanimity at the end of the tunnel
Prophecy: Sinister wonders at the edge of the abyss
Nirvana: Wistful prayers and a magical reunion
Psychic Journey - 15-minute suite combining all five above

Xerophilia: Arid abandon closing in from below
Transgression: Creepy infringement upon cosmic harmony
Ordination: Imperative remedy under divine command
Concoction: Brainstorming trip on an unworldly brew
Zeitgeist: Archetypal heritage in timely transit

The Creeps - 18-minute suite combining the last five above

(c) 2003 by Bruce Carley. These music files may be shared privately, but please do not post or alter them in any way.

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(c) 2004 by Bruce Carley. The text of this article may be shared freely in its entirety if it is left unaltered.