Signs of the Times

Most people at some time or other have glanced at the astrology columns in newspapers and magazines even if it is just to satisfy themselves that it has absolutely no relevance to their lives. The popular concept that it is all made up during the tea break by a rookie journalist is one that still persists despite the fact that astrological superstars such as Jonathan Cainer can now command vast salaries.

As an astrologer myself, I can sympathize with the most frequent argument that it is simply impossible to divide the entire population of the planet into 12 and predict the course of their day, week or month ahead. Anyone who has made a serious study of astrology will dismiss "Sun Sign" astrology as the dumbing down of their art. Serious astrology is based on the date, time and place of the subject's birth. A horoscope is constructed solely for that individual and an analysis of the client's character attitude, hopes and fears plus future predictions can then be explored.

The natal horoscope is made up of 10 planets and is simply a map of where they were at the moment of birth. The astrological signs they occupy and the links, or "aspects" they make with each other, are the tools the astrologer uses to read the chart. The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars are the Inner planets. These move fairly quickly through the zodiac and are representations of basic human characteristics. The outer planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are slower moving and more abstract in their meaning. The links the outer planets make with the inner planets will help the astrologer interpret the attitude of the client to work, family, love, responsibility, religion, creativity - in fact everything that goes to make that person an individual.

But there is a case for astrology of the collective. Because the outer planets move so slowly, vast numbers of people have these in the same sign. When you remove them from the individual chart, generational patterns being to emerge. A perfect example is the long sojourn of Pluto in the sign of Leo. From 1938 to 1957, give or take a few months at either end of this stretch, this distant and powerful planet was resident in the astrological sign that is deemed to stand for the self above all else.

Leos are always described as proud and glamorous, creative, fun-loving and warm hearted but in need of constant attention and adoration to function at their vest. They are playful and not always keen to accept that life also involves more mundane chores and responsibilities. In astrological terms, Pluto symbolises transformation at a very profound level. The Plutonian process is one of forcing to the surface moral and psychological complexes that impede individual development. That which is considered dirty or disgusting and those emotions that we find hard to own up to such as jealousy, rage or a desire for power are all grist to Pluto's mill. The idea is that these issues cannot be resolved until we are prepared to bring them into the open, examine them honestly and then let them go, thereby robbing them of their power to hurt or shock us. When this process is over, the individual emerges stronger, wiser and with a better handle on the use of their own personal power, hopefully to the good.

It doesn't require an astrologer to recognise that the generation of people born at this time has made a huge social and political impact on the world today. These are the baby boomers that grew up in the shadow of possible nuclear annihilation and attempted to reshape the environment accordingly. This is the love generation whose sexual idealism was dismissed as pie in the sky by their elders and betters. These same people are now refusing to slip quietly into old and middle age with the pipe, slippers and perms of their parents.

After all, the oldest of them reached their 20s in time to experiment with sex, drugs, direct political action and the sort of new age and environmental concepts that are virtually taken for granted now. They refused to accept the ethos of the previous generation (1913-1939--Pluto in Cancer) that the will of the individual was secondary to that of the collective. Responsibility to the home, family and ultimately the church and state was taken as the norm by the majority then. Duty was a word that ceased to have any meaning when the baby boomers reached maturity - unless it was to themselves.

And that really is the point. It may have seemed to their elders that all this emphasis on self-gratification and navel-gazing was hedonistic pleasure-seeking, pure and simple. Their children rejected the values of pot-war austerity and insisted with typical Leo optimism that life could and should be more fun for everyone. However, one person can't change the world, they can only change themselves. But by changing themselves, each individual contributes to the gradual transformation of the world. The fundamental need of Leo to express his or her own unique value and individuality combined with the Plutonian pressure to mutate dross into gold caused a social explosion in the 1960s and 1970s which still has repercussions now in the 21st century.

Clearly not every person born at this time spent their youth high on LSD, making love to several partners simultaneously and collectively dropping out in India or hijacking airliners. But there was a sea change in how we looked at our place in society. The rights of women to choose paths other than that of motherhood, the questioning of racist and oppressive attitudes to minorities and the concept of individual freedom of expression all entered the mainstream as the Pluto in Leo generation grew up. Music, theatre, art, fashion and design were all imbued with a sense that the only way forward was to cut through the layers of hypocrisy and tell it like it really is, often with a great sense of fun but sometimes relying on shock value for its impact.

Subsequent generations are now making their own contribution but Leo is a fixed sign and won't let go of a good thing without putting up a terrific fight. The baby boomers are still dominating the media and politics and, what's more, continue to dress, act and think in a way that horrifies other generations both before and after. Their refusal to fade quietly into the background is one of the qualities that make them so special even now.

There have always been people whose impact and influence have elevated them during their lifetime and beyond but arguably, the gift the Pluto in Leo generation gave to humanity was that anyone and everyone, regardless of background or status could rise above their circumstances. They showed that by challenging the status quo even in a small way they could overturn moribund conventions and give a glimpse of a brighter more beautiful future. It's up to the Pluto in Virgo generation and beyond to carry on the crusade.