22-May-2015, 21:34 UT/GMT
|Explanations of the symbols|
|Chart of the moment|
Uranus is ringed like Saturn, but rotates on a horizontal axis.
Uranus was discovered in 1781, by William Herschel, an organist and amateur astronomer living in Bath. Herschel discovered something completely unexpected - the existence of a planet lying outside the orbit of Saturn. Unlike all the other planets, with their horizontal equators rotating around vertical axes, Uranus has a more or less vertical equator rotating around a horizontal axis - so it spins virtually 90º 'off centre' from the rest of the planets. Uranus breaks the rules - it is 'different', 'unusual', 'unexpected', 'eccentric' and 'shocking' - all keywords for its astrological interpretation.
The second clue to the interpretation of Uranus is that its discovery was only possible because of scientific advances, and it was the development of the telescope that enabled this particular discovery and revealed a much larger cosmos than anyone had hitherto suspected. This discovery destroyed at a stroke the old world, the safe, contained solar system bounded by Saturn. The unexpected doubling of the size of the solar system created a kind of intellectual vertigo, a 'dizziness of freedom', a new faith in science and in the unlimited potential of the future. Since 1781 we have been living in a new world order, and the subsequent discoveries of Neptune and Pluto have expanded our solar system - and potentially our consciousness - even further.
Uranus is not personified in alchemical texts, but as the "starry heavens" he is equated with the mundus archetypus, the Platonic world of Divine Ideas. This engraving, from Opus medico-chymicum by Johann Daniel Mylius (1618), portrays Divine Intelligence as radiant light descending through the realm of Ideas and the three classes of angelic hierarchies toward the world of form.
The new planet was originally named after King George III, the politically inept king who suffered a breakdown in 1788 and eventually became violently insane. The planet was subsequently named after Uranus, the distant god of the starry heavens, but has increasingly come to be associated with the myth of Prometheus.  It was Prometheus who stole fire from the gods for the benefit of mankind, and who was cruelly punished for his act of hubris. The relevance of this myth is that Prometheus had no respect for tradition or for authority and broke the established rules in the interests of human advancement. Prometheus symbolises the creative spark that leads to cultural and technological breakthrough, the enhancement of human autonomy, sudden enlightenment, and intellectual and spiritual awakening. This sacrilegious act gave humans new powers that were previously the preserve of the gods, and the punishment for the crime of hubris or godlike inflation is often swift and terrible. As Richard Tarnas has shown, it is not unusual for brilliant innovators and scientists who contribute significantly to our collective advancement to suffer dreadfully on a personal level.
The word 'synchronous' refers to events occurring at the same time that are not causally related. Since the outer planets are collective in their nature, we can learn a great deal about their meaning by examining the nature of the various mass movements that were occurring around the time of their discoveries. As far as Uranus is concerned, the following passage, written by a non-astrologer historian, illustrates this point:
The old order was being challenged by a completely new kind of radical, secular thinking which triggered many mass movements whose general theme was a utopian vision of creating a better future for all humanity. It was this kind of thinking which led not only to the French Revolution, but also to the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. At the same time, the industrial and scientific revolutions were under way, driven by scientific developments and a new faith that science could provide all the answers. Slogans, short, sharp messages designed to arrest our attention, are particularly Uranian phenomena - such as 'equality, freedom, brotherhood' or 'government of the people, by the people for the people'. More ominously, 'All pigs are equal, but some are more equal than others' from George Orwell's Animal Farm. This phrase illustrates that ideologies have their dark sides too, such as mass social manipulation by an elite few masquerading as the 'people's representatives'.
[At this moment, two events occur. One of the student's mobile phones starts to ring, and at the same time a stranger unexpectedly enters the room. She tells us she is looking for a video, which she extracts from the television in the room and then leaves.]
Audience: What was that all about?
Clare: We have just experienced an example of 'metalog', a phenomenon which occurs all the time when we are working with astrology. Basically, metalog means 'that which is being discussed is also arising'. It is an expression of the magical world which begins to come alive for us as we start thinking and living with an astrological awareness. Whenever we start discussing a particular planetary principle, we are also evoking that force as a living reality. Astrology is a living tradition, not something static or sterile. When we observe metalog in action we are making a connection to another dimension of reality which is not normally available to us until we have the language to understand it. Astrology is one of these languages.
Let me explain. First of all, a mobile phone started ringing and a woman simultaneously entered the room. Both of these events were unexpected, and it is always the unexpected which happens when Uranus is evoked. Now, all technology, including mobile phones, videos and televisions, is ruled by Uranus. It is almost as if the principle of Uranus itself is seeking to communicate with us now that we have evoked it. This is something which happens all the time and which you will gradually get used to. Later on, when we start talking about Neptune, we will all lose it a bit and things will become fuzzy and rather confused. I was also thinking about the incident last week, when we were talking about Saturn. Do you remember the man who wanted to come into the room before the end of the class? We barred him from entering, since we had our space and time boundaries and were entitled to keep him out until the end of our class. In that case the boundaries remained intact. In this case, however, the Uranian energy broke straight into the room ignoring the rules and regulations, which is typical of the planet Uranus!
There are many examples of the way Uranus functions. Town planning and architecture in England in the 1960s, for example, was driven by ideals of creating a better life for the ordinary people. Throughout the country the old slums were cleared away and, often in spite of strong resistance, people were re-housed in new tower blocks. The utopian vision was that the lot of ordinary people would be improved if they were living high in the sky in a kind of clean symmetry, rather than in the dirty, crowded, chaotic slums. Ordinary human emotions were never considered, and the vision began to crumble as the old sense of community was destroyed and the tower blocks gradually came to be associated with new levels of social isolation, crime and intimidation which had never existed before.
There is often a fanatical and brutal edge to Uranian ideals which can cause great misery and unhappiness if ordinary human emotions are not taken into consideration. The population control measures in China are an example of draconian rules designed for the benefit of the country as a whole which ride roughshod over ordinary human concerns. However rational and logical it may be for China to restrict its population growth, it is unlikely that the Chinese couple restricted to having one child only would agree that this planet of liberation and opportunity has set them free. Hunger strikes and the more recent phenomena of suicide bombers are examples of the shocking and uncompromising way that individuals sacrifice themselves, or are sacrificed to, political causes.
Uranus rules social and political engineering, such as positive discrimination, and although this may well be beneficial to some extent, it also has a darker face too. The practice of eugenics, the creation of a perfect master race and the elimination of anyone who does not fit the current arbitrary criteria of perfection, as implemented by the Nazis against the Jews, is an example of collective Uranian insanity.
Uranus in the birth chart
Uranus is the principle of rebellion, ideology, alienation, eccentricity, deviation from the norm, perversity, intellectual clarity and brilliance, scientific invention, idealism, brainwaves, breakthrough and magnetism. Uranus is restless, disruptive and shocking, cut off from ordinary human emotions. Uranus rules scientists, astronomers, radiographers, inventors, revolutionaries, anarchists, politicians and in the mundane world, television stations, electricity, radio waves, computers, new technology, laser beams, magnetic fields, telepathy and satellites.
Uranus gives us access to intuitive flashes of knowledge or revelation that come from outside our conscious awareness. In the birth chart, Uranus gives us detachment and perspective. It describes how and where we are intellectually idealistic, and seek to break down the old order and create a more perfect world for the benefit of all. On the other hand, if we identify with Uranus we can become dominated by an ideology or by what we believe to be an 'ultimate truth' which is used to justify our actions. Uranus rules both genius and insanity. Like electricity, it is not safe unless it is earthed.
Audience: Uranus sounds like an extremely aggressive planet.
Clare: It is certainly aggressive to the extent that the concerns, values and lives of ordinary people are ignored in the interests of cultural, political and universal advancement. In this sense it is not so much aggressive as ruthless, and Uranus in our own charts describes how and where we ourselves can be ruthless and cut off from human emotions.
The sign in which Uranus is placed describes in what way an entire group of people born within a seven year period will rebel and react against the norm. What is interesting about this is that when we rebel and react against something, then it has us in its grip and we are not free of it. We can become dominated and alienated by a kind of 'group think' to the extent that we lose our individuality. For example we might say 'I am a communist', rather than 'I am an individual with communist ideals'. I don't know if that makes sense to you.
Audience: So Uranus takes us over and makes us behave in a rebellious way?
Clare: Yes, that's exactly the point. It can become such a powerful force in our lives that we can even be prepared to die for a particular ideal or vision. The principle becomes more important than our own personal survival. We can be gripped by a collective ideology which will destroy us. Although it is not appropriate to judge whether this is a good or a bad thing, nevertheless there is no doubt that on an ordinary personal level this will cause tremendous suffering.
Audience: What happens if our personal planets make aspects to the outer planets? Is there any hope for us then?
Clare: Whether or not we have personal planets in aspect to Uranus, we all have Uranus somewhere in our charts so to some extent we will inevitably get caught up in the collective thinking of our generation. The question is whether the collective thinking takes us over to the extent that we lose our individuality.
Audience: But I always thought that Uranus was the planet of individuality.
Clare: This is a very common misunderstanding until we learn that there is nothing individual about the outer planets or about the mass movements associated with them. It is important to differentiate between 'individuality' and 'deviation or alienation from the norm'. Uranians, who would be people with several planets in Aquarius or the planet Uranus angular or strongly aspected in their birth chart, tend to have a vision or a way of thinking which deviates from the norm, and as a result they often feel like misfits or aliens in some way. A perfectly understandable reaction is to cut off and adopt the attitude that 'I don't want to belong anyway', which is not the same thing at all as individuality, but a wounded response to being excluded or singled out as 'odd' in some way. Everyone born within a particular seven-year period will be part of a collective ideology or 'group think' which challenges the meaning of the sign it is in and, in the process, brings new ideas and new ideologies and breakthroughs relating to that particular sign.
Aspects to Uranus
Have a look at the charts of the two case studies we will be using this term. Both David and Sally have Uranus-Sun aspects. The Uranus-Sun aspect is autocratic, describing people who refuse to conform or to tow the line. Uranus-Sun individuals are not group players, except on their own terms. This is a high-voltage, magnetic contact, often found in the charts of individuals who are ahead of their time, intellectually brilliant, inventive, radical, reactionary, detached and non-conformist.
With her Uranus-Venus aspect, Sally will value (Venus) her freedom and autonomy (Uranus). She may be prone to sudden, unexpected (Uranus) attractions (Venus), and to unconventional (Uranus) relationships (Venus). Sally will value (Venus) friendship, equality and truthfulness (Uranus), both in herself and in others. She may also be attracted to (Venus) art and music (Venus) that is shocking or arresting (Uranus) in some way. How would you interpret a Uranus-Moon contact?
Audience: Could this be an unusual or unpredictable or unstable mother?
Clare: Yes, it could describe a woman who is ambivalent (Uranus) about motherhood (Moon), or someone who has had inconsistent (Uranus) mothering (Moon). It can also describe scientific involvement (Uranus) in the process of conception (Moon), such as in vitro fertilisation. It can also describe a woman (Moon) ahead of her time (Uranus), such as Marie Curie or Mary Wollstonecraft. There may have been many early disruptions (Uranus) in the family (Moon), or being cut off from or separated from (Uranus) one's family (Moon) in some way. There is a strong need (Moon) for freedom and space (Uranus), a need (Moon) to rebel and to shock (Uranus). It can also indicate someone who is cut off from (Uranus) their feelings (Moon).
Copyright ©2005 by Clare Martin.
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