“The Times They Are a Changin:” A Look Back at the 1960s and Forward to a New Decade

We are living in unusually turbulent times, resembling a combination of the early 1930s, when the country suffered a banking crisis/economic depression, and the 1960s, with political and social unrest across the globe.  In Tunisia, a street vendor set himself on fire and sparked a popular uprising that ousted a president who had been in power for 23 years.  Considered to be among the most stable of Middle Eastern regimes, Tunisia is the first uprising in the Arab world.  Egypt, Jordan, or Algeria may be next.  This is a sign of the times.

In 2010, there were riots in Greece, Thailand, China, India, Burma, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Algiers, and mass demonstrations in Egypt, Yemen, Oman, and Libya.  In November, 2010, 50,000 people took to the streets in London in protest against the government’s austerity measures in the aftermath of big bank bailouts.  There will likely be multiple examples before the decade is over.

In astrology, the planetary archetype that is associated with popular uprisings or revolution and a drive for freedom is Uranus.  It is also associated with creative genius and invention.  Pluto is the planetary archetype that is linked to power and sexuality, death and rebirth.  When the two planets are aligned, as they were throughout the decade of the 1960s and as they are now for this decade, Pluto compels and intensifies Uranus and the impulse towards freedom and rebellion, and Uranus liberates or unleashes the basic drives, i.e., sexuality, and instincts (Id), also fire in the belly, which is Pluto.  What we get then is an eruption of impulses toward freedom and liberation manifesting as political, scientific, and sexual revolutions, mass movements of all kinds and of the left and the right, an accelerated pace of change, technological advancements, and heightened cultural creativity, accompanied by drama and turmoil.

A figure from Greek mythology who closely fits the planetary archetype of Uranus is the titan, Prometheus.  Prometheus is a liberator and champion of humanity.  He steals fire from heaven, in defiance of Zeus or the powers that be, in order to enlighten and liberate humankind.  He’s an archetypal hero and in times of crisis, the hero appears.  In the ‘60s, during the Vietnam War, one of these was Daniel Ellsberg.  Today, we have Bradley Manning and Julian Assange of Wikileaks exposing the deceits and war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Assange was born the same year that Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971.

Among the parallels with the 1960s are the issue of civil rights, where the struggles of today feature the gay and Latino communities; self-immolation as protest in Tunisia, preceded by those against the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1968, the government of South Vietnam in 1963, and the U.S. Pentagon in 1965; the empowerment of youth who turned out in large numbers for the Obama campaign in 2008, and the UK student protests of 2010.  There is Obama himself, whose election to the presidency was an achievement resulting from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, during the previous Uranus Pluto alignment.

Reagan in 1980, and Bush (43) in 2000, rose to the presidency during a planetary alignment that empowered conservatism.  That is not the case going forward from 2012 to 2020.  What this means is that both the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections will be against a backdrop of a widespread demand for a radically new era, and within a climate of social unrest or rebellion.  If Obama wins re-election in 2012, unless he has a “road to Damascus” epiphany and/or he is compelled by events to change course, we will have a president with a moderate’s sensibility whose instincts are to preserve the existing power structures and institutions when the spirit of the times impels progressive and radical institutional, social, and political change.

In these times when our country’s “leaders” are either unaware of or act in contradiction to the “forces that are shaping history,” what can the people do?  C. G. Jung declared that we as individuals “may tip the scales of history.”

To have ‘no real contact with the forces that are shaping the future’ (Fred Hoyle, Of Men and Galaxies, p. 65) would be to fail the ‘kairos’ of transition.  To come to terms with this ‘kairos’ would mean discovering a connection between past and future.  For us, individuals, makeweights that may tip the scales of history, our task is to discover the psychic connection between the past and future, otherwise the unconscious figures within us who are as well the archaic past will shape the historical future perhaps disastrously.  Thus the ‘kairos,’ this unique moment of transition in world history, becomes a transition within the microcosm, within us each individually, as we struggle with the psychological connections between past and future, old and new…

James Hillman, Senex & Puer, p. 31

Comments are closed.