The Whole Picture: A Case Against Clickbait Astrology
I started to see this meme pop up over the last few weeks. Honestly, I don’t like text posts. My Capricorn Venus/Neptune conjunction holds aesthetic as something sacred, and Instagram is an image platform: the challenge is to pair an impactful image with valuable information. In my opinion. However, this particular text post was sent to me by a number of people asking for clarification. I gave it the benefit of the doubt, assuming someone had done some research before posting it and simply tried to emphasize that this is an example of Planet-Sign astrology which paints an incomplete picture at best. You need to look at the aspects, the flow of the chart, the trajectory of the energies involved in order to fully understand the situation. And I maintain this assessment: no matter what popular iOS apps would have us think, you can never examine an event in history (or a person, or a company, etc) by a single planet in a sign. You always need the full horoscope to assess the whole picture.
This meme is the astrological equivalent of the news stories that drive me insane. We’re given soundbites and cherry-picked information in order to evoke the exact emotion an outlet wants us to feel. They understand that most people will take this at face value, accept that published information must be true and not only shape their entire understanding around that single article, but accept the fear, insult, or outrage formulated as their own. In a clickbait economy, you don’t need to be thorough, you need to be impactful. This meme is no different.
Except that it’s wrong.
After seeing a source I previously thought very credible repost this image, I thought I should draw up the charts myself and compare them to the charts of our current situation. I wanted to illustrate the importance of the full picture, especially as it relates to these outer-planetary cycles throughout history. And I found that while some of the information is technically correct, some of it is glaringly false, likely concocted to feed into the fear and uncertainty we feel right now.
Let’s start at the beginning.
“The last time Saturn was in Aquarius was during the Rodney King Riots.”
Technically correct. When the riots began just after the mayor’s address on April 30, 1992 (roughly 5PM), Saturn was at 17 degrees of Aquarius. Saturn in Aquarius deals with themes of innovation, new ideas, renewal and humanitarianism. And while some of these concepts definitely apply to the driving force of this unrest, it’s a shaky fit. However, Lilith was within orb of a conjunction with Saturn casting her shadow on the planet’s idealism and preying on its vulnerabilities. Lilith is an indicator of what we feel we don’t deserve, the desires oppression keeps us from fulfilling, and Lilith in Aquarius is a particular type of revolutionary. This placement also squares Pluto, the King of the Underworld, adding an air of distrust in our authorities and an appetite for destruction. But these aren’t even the most impactful aspects in the chart — this chart is an absolute mess of aspects, everything trine or square something else, often at the same time. There’s tension and harmony everywhere you look in nearly equal measure. This is echoed by the chart’s Libra ascendant, an indicator that we’re examining a moment in time directly impacting our relationships with others, our understanding of harmony and balance as a whole.
What immediately catches my eye is the chart’s Capricorn placements. The North Node is at 2 degrees of Capricorn, a direct inversion of the nodal axis we’ve dealt with for the last few years. In 1992, we were asked to rebuild structures of security and status while leaning away from private comforts. At the same time Uranus and Neptune, both retrograde, were conjunct in Capricorn, creating confusion and erratic energy around the existing structures in place. Neptune creates distrust and obscures whatever it touches in a far-reaching fog, and while Uranus can open us to new ideas and ways of creating, in retrograde it becomes a force of uncontrolled chaos. Let’s also examine this particular chart’s Imum Coeli at 10 degrees of Capricorn: in evolutionary astrology, the IC represents the point at which your soul begins its development, the most private point of personal understanding and nurturing growth. If astrology is a journey from individuation to integration, the IC is the point at which you best understand your own spiritual core and begin to reach towards others. In the chart of an event, this can be interpreted as the underlying motivation, the boiling point we have reached, likely on an unconscious level. At roughly 5PM on April 30, 1992, this was our breaking point: the authorities we looked to for understanding had failed us, the structures in place became a prison for the wrong people, and we felt the influence of a number of outer-planetary cycles coming to a head. It was a perfect storm of rigidity and revolution — but we can point just as directly to Uranus, Neptune, and the Nodal axis as we can to Saturn in Aquarius.
Capricorn is a sign that ultimately speaks to authority, status, and structure, so naturally when we look for the breakdown of an establishment or system, we can expect that sign to factor in. And as such, Pluto in Capricorn becomes the textbook illustration.
“The last time Pluto was in Capricorn was during the American Revolution.”
Also technically true. Calculated for the first recognized battle of the American Revolution, the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, we can see that Pluto was indeed at 26 degrees of Capricorn. Pluto is a sort of shadow force in astrology, hiding things from view and boiling things over. It can represent the darkness that rules us, staying true to its name as the King of the Underworld, but it can also act as a sort of magnifying glass allowing us to see things under a very critical lens. In order to determine how it acts in a particular instance, we need to examine what happens around it. In the case of the American Revolution, we can see a Grand Earth Trine shaped around Pluto: Jupiter and Venus at 21 and 24 degrees of Taurus form the triangle’s second point, while Neptune in retrograde at 20 degrees of Virgo forms the third. Trines are something of a double-edged sword: on one hand, they represent a phenomenal harmony of energies, an easy flow from one planet’s energy into the next that brings motion and balance to a chart. In this case, Jupiter and Venus — our two benefics — represent the expansive harmony we stood to gain by standing firmly in our principles and prioritizing our security and home interests; Neptune retrograde in Virgo represents the clearing of a fog that kept us from reaching towards the future we envisioned for ourselves; Pluto in Capricorn turns that critical lens on the systems in power and asks the authorities to answer for their actions. The downside of a trine of this magnitude, however, is that these energies can become so easy that they’re taken for granted. Once the urgency has passed, it falls below the radar and becomes difficult to see the direction of the flow.
Which brings me to another Plutonian aspect in this particular chart: Pluto quincunx Mars in Leo. Quincunx aspects can be tricky to unravel, indicating areas of extreme brittleness and fragility, sometimes representing complete breakdowns in understanding and vision. In this case the aspect is the trigger point of our temper, the catalyst that causes us to snap. It’s the breakdown of vision between establishment and self interest, rallying us to express freedom at all costs. Let’s not forget that Mars, quite literally, is the God of War, here in Leo representing creative drive and personal expression asking us to go to battle for these principles against the long-established powers that be.
But rather than looking at Pluto’s role in the American Revolution (which is not dissimilar from its placement in American’s own natal chart, in which the Planet-Sign astrology takes on a very different meaning), I think it’s more important to discuss its role in current events.
We’ve all heard about the Saturn Return. In fact, many of you reading this are likely experiencing your first (or second) right now. When a planet returns to the place it was in your natal chart, it begins a new cycle of planetary influence in your life. Perhaps thankfully, none of us will ever need to worry about our Pluto Return — Pluto takes roughly 248 years to transit the zodiac and initiate the reset of its respective areas of influence. America is now experiencing its Pluto return (which will be exact in April of 2022 and will feature heavily in its 2022/2023 retrograde cycles) which can be expected to accompany extreme shifts in power and systemic authority. However, at the time of writing [June 2020], Jupiter is transiting the Revolution chart’s Pluto. Jupiter is the Greater Benefic, a force for good, but we’ve all seen good intentions go bad. Jupiter becomes the well-meaning parent aggravating a sore spot, pushing for growth but achieving alienation. And with Mercury currently in its retrograde shadow in emotional Cancer, we’re in no place to articulate our discomfort in any helpful capacity.
“Neptune was in Pisces when Rome fell.”
And with this statement, we reach the first glaring error in this meme. It’s generally agreed that Rome fell to Germanic invaders in September of 476CE. If we draw up the chart accordingly, we can see that Neptune was in Libra. I chose an electional date of September 9th which I feel represents the astrology of the time very well and Neptune is among the least interesting planets in play — as a representation of ideals, spirituality, intimacy, and escape, it instantly struck me as odd that someone would use Neptune as an indicator of the fall of an empire. That’s malefic territory: Mars, Saturn, and a side of Pluto. Sure enough, we can find Saturn and Pluto nearing a conjunction in Leo, a conflict of self-interest and expression to a point where we disassemble our own structures. Mars ends up creating a bulk of this chart’s tension in the form of a T-square: Mars conjunct the North Node in Gemini opposite Uranus in Sagittarius, all squaring Venus in Virgo. Mars, our ambitions, drive, and warring instinct burns up the purpose of the era — to open up to new ideas and create new relationships — a tension emphasized by Venus, our relationship ruler, at odds with this aspect in the sign of her own exile where her voice is weakest. If we needed confirmation we need only look at Uranus, the harbinger of revolution, stationed in the sign of foreign influence and globalism. This is the fall of an empire: a refusal to make way for new ideas.
I’d like to take a moment to remind you that this is our current nodal axis as well, though the empire’s fall took place much closer to the end of the transit. Things tend to gear up at a cycle’s end.
Neptune was in Pisces about 95 years before the Fall of Rome, however. If we look at the Empire’s history, we see that in 380, Emperor Theodosius I issued the Nicene Creed and established Rome as an exclusively Christian empire. This is the kind of action one can expect from Neptune in Pisces: an emphasis on empathy, neighborly love and understanding, and personal outreach. Neptune is often thought of as an elevation of Venus and at its best, Neptune allows love to flow without boundaries. We see great strides in artistic expression, poetry, and spirituality. The last cycle of Neptune in Pisces fell during the Enlightenment and ushered in a great age of Romanticism that lasted well beyond the planet’s 14 years in the sign. And good news! — if we examine the other planetary placements of the age, the upcoming astrology looks much more like the Enlightenment than it does the Fall of Rome.
“We have all 3 right now.”
Also technically correct, but it bears mentioning that this meme popped up during Saturn’s preview in Aquarius. Its annual retrograde of 2020 took it back into Capricorn, turning its eye back to the authority and structure of its own sign, asking us to finish what we started before welcoming anything new into our lives. This structural reform will likely continue to heat up until these outer-planetary cycles are well and truly over: Pluto moves into Aquarius in 2023, and Uranus (another of our major players this year which this meme mysteriously glosses over) moves out of economically-minded Taurus and joins the Air Brigade in Gemini in 2026. But this is another complete picture that must be viewed as a whole. Hopefully, you’ve seen how Planet-Sign astrology does not help us prepare for (or analyze) the energies of a time, and there’s always more to the story than we’re told. Astrology is a language, and we cannot tell a story in two words. It takes a full interpretation of planets in their signs as well as the aspects they make to each other and the points they fall between. Mundane astrology, the study of astrological energies in the world at large, requires not only an innate understanding of history and a passion for sifting through facts and figures, but also the ability to shift concepts from the personal scale onto a world stage. Most astrologers simply lack the time and incentive to study this field. With all the Air in the air right now, we could benefit greatly from independent research and investigation. I encourage you to explore the concepts for yourself and form your own conclusions; I’ve studied astrology intensely for over a decade and my knowledge is by no means complete. I devote hours every day to reading texts, articles, blog posts, books about astrological concepts and their application, and I still feel unqualified to speak as an authority. But someone needs to. And in light of the astrology we’re heading towards, we need to emphasize personal accountability, independent thought, and the importance of research and knowledge. If any of you would like a list of suggested reading for your own astrological research, feel free to comment below or contact me with your areas of interest. And please, if you find this information valuable, I ask that you share this with friends who might also benefit from it. Astrology is an incredible tool for understanding and growth, two things we need more than ever, but this shift to accountability and wisdom starts on a personal level: that means more than sharing a meme, it means engaging with the information and refusing to take things at face value. Look below the surface, draw your own connections, and maintain an open dialogue.
This post first appeared on the author’s personal blog, ThatAstrologer.com, in June of 2020.