Living with Pluto / Part 2
Interview with Liz Greene, by Nicholas Campion
The original article appeared in the American astrological magazine "The Mountain Astrologer" (Dec/Jan 2002). The edition is still available on their website www.mountainastrologer.com
Nick Campion: Since the Second World War, our entire astrological experience of Pluto has been coloured by its long sextile with Neptune; a few years ago, Neptune and Pluto moved into Aquarius and Sagittarius, respectively. At that time, at the AA Conference in 1997, you pointed out that Pluto in Sagittarius had also coincided with the beginning of Romanticism in the mid 18th century, and in Relating, you talk about each beginning of a new era bringing forth its heroes. You mentioned Goethe, Swedenborg, and others as the heroes produced by that period. Do you have any idea who the heroes of this day and age might be, or what they might be like?
Liz Greene: Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
Nick Campion: Yes.
Liz Greene: You think I'm joking?
Nick Campion: No. You've just put your finger on something there: the amazing fascination for dark mysteries and the occult on television, from Buffy to The X-Files and a host of copies.
Liz Greene: There is a lot of wisdom in Buffy. The Plutonian realm which is portrayed in the series is something mainly evil, which is a very narrow perspective. But it is the way the Plutonian realm interweaves with ordinary life that makes the programme so original. It's one way of trying to work with this kind of stuff. There is an acceptance of the fact that it is part of life. So we have the absurd juxtaposition of vampires erupting in an American high school gymnasium, yet that is in fact what Pluto does. It isn't something "other" that you need to dig up - it is everywhere. Like fairy tales once did, these kinds of programmes serve some purpose psychically. That's why people watch them: They present the inner patterns in a way that is digestible, interesting, and amusing - and you don't realise that they are providing resolutions at the same time that they are entertaining. They are the modern equivalent of fairy tales. Modern heroes, though - I haven't seen any lately.
Nick Campion: It is difficult, isn't it, because we live in an anti-heroic age.
Liz Greene: Definitely. I don't think our heroes at the moment are going to be recognisable as such, not with Neptune-Uranus in Aquarius. We don't like heroes; they are politically incorrect. We have to find them in films and in television and in novels.
Nick Campion: So, what happened to the Pluto-in-Leo "Me" generation? Is there something there that says that "I can be a hero too, and therefore I am not going to recognise your heroism"?
Liz Greene: No, I think they are the ones who are creating series like The X-Files and Buffy. They are all Pluto-in-Leo people. The Pluto-in-Leo generation group's way of participation in that survival of nature, that determination that life continues despite all odds, is to confirm the individual's creative power. They are still doing it. They are doing it differently from Pluto-in-Virgo, Pluto-in-Libra, Pluto-in-Scorpio people. The generation groups, as Pluto goes through the signs, describe or are a signature for the way the survival instinct - that piece of raw nature in the individual - enacts itself when the chips are down and the individual personality is no longer relevant or is being overwhelmed. Then, you will see Pluto come out.
Nick Campion: Do you have any thoughts about how the Uranus-Pluto generation is turning out? They were the ones who were born during the hippie era, and I remember the period of disillusionment in the 1970s, when everybody was saying: "The hippie era came to nothing." But, of course, the hippies had children.
Liz Greene: Yes.
Nick Campion: And those children are all now in their forties. Punks are now becoming grandparents. I guess we characterise them as the "computer generation."
Liz Greene: They are in their late thirties. They haven't had their Uranus opposition yet. Yes, they are the computer generation, but I think they are also very much involved with one of the big themes in the '60s - trying to get back to nature, natural products, natural cycles, and harmony with the Earth. It wasn't so much anti-technology as it was anti-industrialisation, and that theme is certainly coming out of this Uranus-Pluto group. All the awareness that is now beginning to come out about what you eat, and the organic food movement, is actually coming from this generation. This seems very much to be what they are achieving in worldly terms, and they are not finished yet. They haven't even really come into the positions of authority that one would expect in the late forties- early fifties, when people start getting the big posts in government. We have yet to see what more they can do.
Nick Campion: And following behind them are the kids who are now 20, who were born with the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Libra, who I guess are amongst the protesters who follow the World Trade Organisation and the IMF conferences around.
Liz Greene: Yes.
Nick Campion: The Saturn-Pluto cycle is also related very much to the independence of India and Israel in the 1940s: Two ancient cultures, the Hindus and the Jews, had their statehood restored. Would you perceive in Saturn-Pluto individuals a similar archaic influence coming through?
Liz Greene: I think they carry a long past behind them, or there is an awareness of a long past. Historical awareness is something that isn't an ingredient in everyone's worldview. Some people manage very nicely without it. Saturn-Pluto does seem to reflect a consciousness of this much longer history which goes back through cycles, through deaths and rebirths and metamorphoses, into the past. Part of its potential great strength is that there is an instinctive knowledge of the relevance of history and the fact that whatever you build historically will one day die.
Nick Campion: That idea, that whatever you build sometime will die, points to the concept of the rise and fall of cultures in line with the astrological ages. In Relating, you write about the Age of Aquarius, how God is - the gods are - now within us, no longer outside us, and science is an Aquarian manifestation. It would seem to me that you could be described as a humanist in the sense that we are now at the centre of things. Also, there's a cultural relativism, implicit perhaps in all New Age thought, claiming that every age has its version of the truth and none is necessarily superior to any other.
Liz Greene: I don't think that the astrological ages are any more real in that sense than anything else. But there do seem to be turning points in terms of how human beings define the highest good, or whatever they prefer to call God, and the ways in which they enact those perceptions. So I don't think that one age is "better" than another in the sense of having more truth. In the ancient world, the gods were perceived as being "elsewhere," and they intervened in human life. We are having a hard time defining the gods in that way now. That may not necessarily imply a greater awareness of the truth. It just seems to be what we perceive as reality now. There is a fragmenting and breaking down of the attribution of divinity to something "out there" to which we pray. That breakdown seems to be causing a lot of trouble, anxiety, and threat, and the response is the constellating of the opposite: rigid fundamentalism. It is a Promethean vision in which human beings are the alpha and omega - everything lies within us.
Whether that is true or not is the wrong question. It seems to be what we are living with, and we are going to be with it for a long time to come. We will undoubtedly make an absolute hash of it for a long time, because it breeds enormous arrogance. With every shift in the perception of deity, we lose something. We gain some new perception, and we lose something very precious. It seems to be more a question of "Can we retain what's of value from past perceptions, while allowing a new one to come in?" rather than drawing a line and saying, "We'll throw this old one out." Christianity tried to throw out the pagan worldview in a very ruthless way and, I think, paid a terrible price for the exclusion of what was of value in the previous worldview. We are in the same position now.
Nick Campion: So, when you write in Astrology for Lovers that, as individuals, we are constantly growing into something, do you think that human society is growing into something? From what you have just been saying, I gather that you feel quite neutral about that growing-into-something, and the something into which we are growing is not necessarily better than what we have come from.
Liz Greene: It could be better, but I don't think there is some dictate that says it is definitely going to be. If it is, that may have more to do with our potential rather than with some grand design of evolution. But it is a bit like a human life. By the time you get to a certain age, your experiences have begun to become cyclical, and you start recognising that you have been in that sitting room before. That could actually produce something better in terms of wisdom or in terms of navigating things better or handling them more creatively. Or it may just make people bitter and more destructive, because they get frenzied when they realise they have been there before. I think there is the potential for genuine evolution, but I don't think it's a given, and I am not at all convinced it is a plan. It is something that we could actually do ourselves, if we are intelligent enough to manage it.
Nick Campion: I was struck by your attack on New Age gurus in Neptune. I just found it interesting that the outside world classifies all astrologers as members of the New Age and therefore slightly wacky, but here was an astrologer actually criticising the excesses of the gurus.
Liz Greene: I have always liked John Cooper Powys's line: "The devil is any god who begins to exact obedience." Any authority can become the devil, whether it is "New Age spiritual," in the form of a guru; or orthodox religious, in the form of the Pope; or scientific, in the form of a high-powered academic; or political, when we start giving away our capacity to discriminate.
"Truth" is an awful word because it really depends on the beholder. If we give away the necessity of struggling individually to find what we understand to be true, we are being very stupid. I didn't really make an attack on gurus as such. You can turn your doctor into a guru. You can turn your government into a guru, which is what the Russians did in the Soviet era and what a lot of people are doing with the British government now. You can turn anything into a guru if you want to be a child who needs a parent who has all the answers. I don't think that has anything to do with the "New Age." I think it has to do with something in human beings which would rather not put in all that hard work. We are fundamentally lazy creatures, and dependence on gurus is just one manifestation of our laziness.
Nick Campion: There was something else you said about the Age of Aquarius in one of the seminars in The Outer Planets and their Cycles. Somebody asked you when the Age of Aquarius was going to begin, and you said: "For all I know, the Age of Aquarius began last Tuesday," which I thought summed up the ridiculousness of some people's need for absolute certainty.
Liz Greene: Yes, quite.
Nick Campion: The member of the audience, by the way, responded: "I can't help feeling disappointed by what you are saying."
Liz Greene: Yes, I get that a lot. Someone is always very disappointed if I don't give an exact answer. Oh, dear!
Nick Campion: You could also be a candidate for gurudom.
Liz Greene: For many people, yes. I get clients who try to make me into one, and I despair, because I know from the outset that if someone is coming for a chart with that kind of mentality, whatever I give them, they are going to be disappointed because it won't be The Answer. In fact, I try to avoid clients who come with that package, because I don't want it.
Nick Campion: Can you tell beforehand?
Liz Greene: Usually, yes. It's a certain tone. If I ask on the phone, "Why do you want your chart done?" I can pretty quickly spot it. Sometimes it's okay, but much of the time, if someone is looking for a guru, they are not really looking for anything that astrology can usefully provide. They are looking for a parent/deity who will make them safe and give them the answers that will allow them not to be afraid any more. While I have a lot of compassion for that state - we all go through it one way or another - it isn't the business of astrology to address it. The insights astrology offers go the other way. All of them really point to: "Get on with it. Get a life and work at it." These insights don't provide cosmic answers. I think any astrologer who uses astrology to provide answers of that kind is probably not doing their job very realistically.
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© 2001 Nicholas Campion - all rights reserved
Nick Campion is Past President of the Astrological Association of Great Britain. He has been a student of astrology since the early 1970s and has taught the subject since 1980 - for London's Camden Institute, the Faculty of Astrological Studies, and most recently, for Kepler College. He is also currently a graduate student in the Study of Religions Department at Bath Spa University College, England. Nick is the winner of the 1992 Marc Edmund Jones Award, the 1994 Prix Georges Antares, and the 1999 Spica Award for Professional Excellence. His books include Mundane Astrology and The Book of World Horoscopes. Information about these books is available on his Web site: www.nickcampion.com
 Liz Greene, Relating: An Astrological Guide to Living with Others on a Small Planet, London: Coventure, 1977, p. 164.
 Ibid., pp. 224-225.
 Liz Greene, Astrology for Lovers, London: Unwin, 1986, p. 119.
 Liz Greene, The Astrological Neptune and the Quest for Redemption, York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1996, pp. 244-254.
 Liz Greene, The Outer Planets, p. 172.