|Lesson Five: The Outer Planets|
I want to look at the outer planets this evening. We need to approach them with caution, since they are of an altogether different order to the seven traditional planets and it is important that, as astrologers, we always keep this in mind. If Saturn describes our ego boundary, then these planets lie outside the orbit, or control, of the ego. What's your understanding of the ego? How would you define it?
Audience: The individual.
Clare: Yes, the ego can be described as the adapted part of ourselves with which we are identified, the part of ourselves which has learned how to function in the world. We are not born with an ego structure; it is something we develop. It gives us a sense of identity, personal control and relative autonomy, represented by the planet Saturn. Saturn is about being contained within a safe boundary, and a good strong ego structure keeps us safe. The outer planets are beyond the control of our ego and each, in its own way, threatens our ego boundaries and our sense of being in control.
Audience: Are you saying that, no matter what we do, the outer planets are beyond our control, no matter how hard we try? That we can control the planets out to Saturn but not the outer planets?
Clare: Yes, we can certainly try to control them, but it is not going to work because they are, by their nature, outside our personal control. For instance, we can all get to know and learn how to use our own Mars so that it serves us and, in that sense, it is brought under the control of the ego. Equally, once we understand the function of Jupiter in our own charts, what we have faith in and what gives us a sense of meaning, this can be harnessed and developed under our ego control. When it comes to the outer planets and to Chiron, however, we need to find a way not of controlling but of negotiating with them if they are to function positively in our lives. I hope this will become clearer as we develop these ideas further.
Uranus, Neptune and Pluto have always existed in the solar system, but their sequential discoveries in 1781, 1846 and 1930 reflect an extraordinary expansion of human awareness and a growing realisation that there are collective forces at work which subsume our small contained worlds of individual, family, community, society and country. Of course, this is nothing new, because unexpected and unexplained events and phenomena have always existed, but as long as Saturn formed the boundary of the old world, the principles now associated with these three planets were projected onto supernatural forces, both divine and diabolic, originating entirely beyond the human sphere. From an astrological perspective, however, whatever is discovered 'out there' in the solar system is also ready to be discovered 'in here' - within each human psyche. The discovery of the outer planets has dramatically expanded our collective awareness and our collective responsibilities, in ways which I think we are still struggling to understand and integrate. Nick Campion writes:
One of the first clues to their astrological interpretation is the fact that the metals uranium, neptunium and plutonium, which were named after the three outer planets, are all highly toxic, poisonous, radioactive and naturally unstable. With the development of sub-atomic physics, their immense power and energy has already been harnessed in ways which profoundly affect us all. Now that this Pandora's box has been opened, we are faced with the increasingly urgent question of how to integrate these principles positively on a psychological level. If we identify with these collective forces, they have a habit of overwhelming our personal ego boundaries and functioning as autonomous forces. This can be immensely powerful and creative, to the extent that our lives are consciously devoted to serving the collective but, as Jung often pointed out, we need a strong enough ego structure to be able to contain this process. Does this make any sense to you?
Audience: But if we believe in the growth and evolution of consciousness, then surely they have very positive functions as well?
Clare: Yes, they also represent immensely positive developments which appear to describe a genuine evolution of consciousness. The secret seems to be for each of us to find the right relationship to the outer planets. If we allow ourselves to become their passive victims, or alternatively try to harness their influence for our own personal gain, then we are likely to become inflated and start to believe that we are omniscient (Uranus), omnipresent (Neptune) or omnipotent (Pluto), and that is too big for us, insofar as we are ordinary mortals. It is no coincidence that these three planets also rule mental breakdowns, insanity, self-delusion, messiah complexes, addiction to suffering and megalomania. We need an ego structure which is strong enough to 'suffer the gods', as Jung so beautifully expressed it. As you can see, I am on a mission when it comes to the outer planets! This is one of the main reasons why I prefer to use the traditional planetary rulerships of the signs - because they lie within the boundary of Saturn, which helps us to stay grounded and relatively safe in the face of these great forces.
Each of the outer planets describes particular types of mass movements which threaten to swallow up our individuality.
The zodiac signs in which the outer planets fall will describe the specific evolutionary potential of the period into which we are born. Uranus takes about seven years to pass through one sign of the zodiac. Neptune takes about fourteen years, and the elliptical Pluto takes from fifteen to thirty years. Each succeeding generation faces new challenges which were not relevant to previous generations. Indeed, as each generation grapples with the particular themes described by the signs in which the outer planets fall, it seems that subsequent generations are able to take for granted any increased awareness achieved by previous generations. The table below indicates the signs occupied by the outer planets over the last hundred years or so.
Although the outer planets primarily describe collective, generational, themes, when they make aspects to the personal and social planets the individuals concerned will be personally affected by collective, ancestral and archetypal themes and will, during their lives, act as carriers of, or channels for, these planetary principles. And as we will see next term, they are also of personal significance according to the astrological houses in which they occur and when they fall on an angle in an individual's birth chart.
* Planet retrograde, moves back into previous sign
Copyright ©2005 by Clare Martin.
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