I considered titling this essay “The Occupy Movement: An Astrological Perspective.” I’m happier calling it an “uprising,” however, because it is not yet a mass movement. Whether or not it will become one remains to be seen. The very question of what might happen if Occupy did grow into a mass movement is difficult to know for many reasons. Social rebellions are not invariably improved or more successful if they achieve broad popularity or acceptance. Such growth moves any cutural revolt away from the fringe of the disaffected and back toward the center of the social bell curve, where the movement is often diluted, more easily coopted, and almost always deflected away from its original ideals and goals.
For now, though, Occupy is pocket anarchy, springing from what is probably a viral base. It is sporadic and discontinuous, a sudden and largely unexpected upwelling of profound discontent, as well as the beginnings of large-scale civil disobedience. This expression of outrage, which is so far quite peaceful and symbolic, may demonstrate momentum and perseverance, in which case it could become a mass movement, but it also might peter out, morph into something different, or spawn other diverse uprisings.
I don’t intend in this essay to discuss the background and motivations of the protestors. If you don’t know about Occupy, that’s what Google is for.
My intention is to illuminate Occupy through the lens of astrology, primarily by giving it a context in time. What is the meaning and the role of the Occupy uprising in this most amazing of periods in our history, specifically over the decade to come? What does it represent in the overall scheme of what is unfolding and might come to pass?
There was a time during the darkly tragi-comic days of George W. Bush’s first administration when my daily internet reading included numerous political blogs. That mostly ended for me following the 2004 Presidential election.
While I have long understood that politics---especially national politics---is an enterprise marked by significant and sometimes shocking corruption, I continued for a long time to hold, if not the full belief, at least the marginal hope, that some reform of the rulership system in America might be possible through political activism of normal means---namely, the ballot box. Well, so much for that illusion. Chalk it up to the deep-seated roots of my idealistic and more naïve youth, now long past.
Such fantasy orientations die hard in some of us.
My conclusion after Bush was “elected” for a second term was that politics was not merely corrupt, but hopelessly and---with precious few exceptions---entirely corrupt. The issue for me wasn’t the various illegalities of the election process (meaning whether or not the 2000 or 2004 presidential elections were “stolen”), but instead my horror at the fact that half or thereabouts of the voting electorate in America chose to cast ballots for George W. Bush---and not just once, but twice.
As monumentally inept and foolish as the Democrats’ candidate John Kerry was, I had to question how Bush got any more than about 20-30% of the vote. I mean, I grant Bush a certain percentage of votes among the stay-the-course crowd, hard-core Republicans, and those business types or libertarians for whom anyone-but-a-Democrat is tattooed on their foreheads.
But half? No way, unless two facts were true---first, that politics wasn’t partially corrupt, but totally corrupt, and, second, that the American electorate was---how to put it?---hopelessly deranged, as stupid as rocks, and deserving of every negative repercussion it was going to get. From that point on, I stopped reading political blogs.
I haven’t voted since in a national or state election, in part because the only candidates who stand a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving high office are necessarily dutiful servants of the American Empire, maintainers of the status quo, and obedient lap dogs for the Powers That Be. Such as Barack Obama.
This article is not a rant about politics, however. So, let me get back to my story…
During the period 2000-2004, when I did spend a considerable time each day reading political blogs, one repeating feature struck me as outstanding and almost cringingly insensible. Time and again, these blogs---written usually by people fervently committed to political and civic activism---posed the question, “Why are there no demonstrations against what’s happening? Why are people not taking to the streets, as they did in the 1930s and 1960s? What the hell is wrong with the American public?”
The authors of these blogs were both consistent and insistent in decrying what they clearly considered the apathy of the populace.
My reaction to these questions and accusations from politicos was that they had their heads up their asses. They seemed to me lost in their own narrow view of life, because they clearly did not get it. In particular, what they didn’t understand were the seasonal shifts and tidal flows of our collective lives and consciousness, as revealed (to me at least) by astrology.
They didn’t seem to know anything about that old Biblical verse and Pete Seeger/Byrds’ song (sing it with me now): “To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time to every purpose under heaven.”
Those first four years of the 21st century were characterized by a long Saturn-Pluto alignment, the archetype for which is hard-edged, aggressive conservatism, with a focus on revenge against real or imaginary enemies from outside, not aimed at the less visible enemies within. We were collectively awash in the circle-the-wagons theme of jingoistic and military “patriotism” after 9-11.
Those who didn’t support vengeance through violence against those who supposedly “hated our great American way of life” were pansies and pinkos, and anyone who had the temerity to publicly suggest that perhaps WE were a significant part of the problem (such as University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill) was shouted down, ostracized, threatened, and reviled.
And so we focused on those crazy Muslim radicals and happily invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in hugely expensive military excursions to little avail except our own eventual bankruptcy (both financial and moral).
Meanwhile, the bankers in this country were busy picking our pockets, looting the Treasury, setting up the destruction of the economy, and enriching themselves through massive, unconscionable, and largely criminal financial chicanery. But we didn’t collectively care about any of that, because the gravy train of a looney-tunes economy hadn’t yet hit the wall, gone bust, and rolled over belly up. All we wanted was the payback of kicking some serious Islamic butt to show those America-haters who was boss.
Apparently, the political bloggers mentioned above knew nothing about such flows in the archetype field and were busy pointedly taking out their own frustrations with the great unwashed masses of the American public by accusing us of not caring, which is another feature of a Saturn-Pluto time: opinions that are much too black-and-white, cut-and-dried, and simply harsh beyond any real comprehension of the facts.
Saturn-Pluto was then joined by Saturn-Uranus, and the result of that was a right triangle configuration between all three outer planets---Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto---called a T-square in astrology. This alignment, whose effective period was from early 2008 through summer 2011, indicated that the archetype current in the collective had reached the first phase of a two-step dance (the second phase being an extremely rare seven-pass square between Uranus and Pluto from mid-2012 until late 2015) that would shape the archetypal current through which we allmove for a decade and a half, from 2008 through 2022.
The first stage---the three-planet T-square---indicated two simultaneous developments: first, the end of economic continuity and beginnings of the breakdown of all large institutions of culture in commerce, government, and society; and second, a collective reaction to those discontinuities (crises) that was primarily one of denial, in a kind of Mad-MagazineAlfred-E.-Newman attitude of “What, Me Worry?”
And so, during the entire first decade of the 21st century, the propaganda continually put out by the Ruling Elites was “Everything is fine,” and when it became clear that everything wasn’t fine, the fall-back position of“Don’t worry, because everything that’s happening is cyclic, predictable, and routine, and---trust us---the good times will naturally return.” Over the broad spectrum of the population bell curve, some ordinary Americans believed those lies while others didn’t, but the vast majority went along, since mass denial was the archetypal order of the day.
The denial maintained by The Powers That Be and reflected in the collective came to a peak about 2010 and began to lose momentum. The entire period came to a final close astrologically in August, 2011, as the outer-planet T-square passed into history.
With the end of the first period of denial, however, we have not moved directly into the second period, which will be an extended period of economic and cultural breakdown in cascading waves, accompanied by the brave new world of social upheavals and revolutions to necessarily find ways to pick up the pieces and re-form both commerce and society.
No, that second phase of the two-step dance does not officially (meaning symbolically) begin until June of 2012.
So, during the nine months from September 2011 through May 2012, we are betwixt and between, moving steadily away from denial and toward the reckoning with breakdown and revolution. This is a time not of “limbo,” but rather of increasing anxiety in a kind of free-floating way, not necessarily provoked by specific events (although events will occur, no doubt, that are seized upon, acting as triggers), but instead reflective of a collective outrage at repercussions from the cumulative total of depredations and insane policies put in place over past decades.
Among certain segments of the public, the common outrage amounts to a welling-up of the long-suffering frustrations that accompanied our lemmings-tothe-sea acquiescence to decisions made by the Ruling Elites.
This is the astrological context out of which the Occupy uprising has emerged, quite suddenly and improbably, seemingly out of nowhere.
Well, not out of nowhere at all, actually. In truth, the uprising is perfectly timed, right on schedule, to confirm the end of denial and the shocking return to awareness that will increasingly be an element in the collective flow. No, this is not “critical mass” yet---that doesn’t initially occur until June 2012, and then amplifies, morphs, and shifts over the three years that will follow, until it reaches tidal wave proportions around the globe by 2016.
What’s important about the Occupy uprising is not whether it achieves the goal of punishing or even restraining the rampant criminality of Wall Street, since that would require a wholesale purge of the Ruling Elites, both among those powerful individuals visible to us (such as politicians and CEOs) and many others exerting influence invisibly from behind the scenes.
Despite the intentions of the protestors, such long-overdue reforms are now functionally impossible. The orderly “political process” has neither the power nor the will to initiate, legislate, or enforce any such sweeping reforms, not as long as the megalithic institutions of commerce and society remain intact.
What the Occupy uprising can do, however, is to act as a harbinger by galvanizing a dawning awareness in the larger populace that breakdown and collapse are indeed coming, right around the corner. This is the function of the electric cattle prod, to awaken by shock.
Many people have known for years that civilization was heading toward a cliff, and that the collapse of our unsustainable and quite wrong-headedcivilization was inevitable, a question only of when, not if. But that certainty, which has been building slowly and sporadically since the beginning of the 20th century, and which accelerated dramatically over the past decade, has always before stayed on the fringes of the bell curve, where it was easily dismissed as little more than feverish dystopian fantasies held by malcontents (who happen to include some of the brightest and most conscientious scientists, philosophers, artists, business people, social commentators, and even military men of the past century).
When these voices were raised in protest, their warnings were until now drowned out by the general cacophony of the larger culture. What defines the Occupy uprising for me as belonging---so far---primarily to the Limbo Period from September 2011 through May 2012 (rather than as part of what will come later, after the critical mass point of June 2012 and beyond, all the way to 2015) are the qualities of civil obedience and respect for authority.
There is, as far as I know, hardly any civil disobedience at all in the viral Occupy phenomenon yet. Everything about the protests carries the tacit assumption (intentional or not)---or at least the hope---that a public appeal to authority in government and/or corporate boardrooms might effect some reform or redress of grievances.
This is a complete fiction. A hopeless fantasy.
I’m not castigating the protesters or accusing anyone in particular of naivete. People are joining the protests in part because this is the first collective opportunity that has materialized to vent frustration with the status quo policies created by those in power. People suffered in silence up until recently; now there is a doorway to express that kind of prescient 1976 Paddy Chayevsky Network venting of “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
That step feels good to a lot of people, so they doing it. But will it succeed in its current form to effect meaningful changes in any substantive way? I think not.
What will be required to truly shake up things is the abandonment of civil obedience and the radical shift toward civil disobedience. The only activities that will provoke real change are those that accelerate collapse by breaking out of passive acceptance through overt challenges to the fetters of “lawfulness.”
By and large, the Occupy protesters are not currently breaking any laws or risking significant personal harm. By contrast and for example, refusal to pay taxes (and thus risk incarceration) would be a real (rather than symbolic) protest. Simple gathering in public spaces to bitch does not qualify. All the First Amendment blather aside, such protest is only an initial baby step---necessary, perhaps, but ineffective.
I don’t claim to know how all this will play out, but the astrology clearly implies both the necessity and inevitability of civil disobedience on a massive scale (probably implemented from the ground up by individual actions).
People in great numbers will have to get smashed over the head and dragged off to prison (not just relatively polite or uneventful overnights in jail), and the astrology of Uranus in Aries square Pluto in Capricorn suggests strongly that this is on the way. In some respects, the upwelling of civil disobedience may be similar to the labor union struggles of the 1930s---where walkouts and picket lines contained either the implicit threat of violence or resulted in actual violence (from either side), and where those who ran the institutions called on government/military/police repression to maintain control.
Occupy---and other rebellions of more provocative civil disobedience likely to follow soon---represents the end of the de facto marginalization of those who know that radical change is not only necessary but inevitable, and that such change will very shortly be upon us. This is the beginning of a broader awareness that the jig is up, that we’ve burned the candle at both ends, and that the way we live on this planet must change if humanity is to survive.
Headlong pursuit of wealth and convenience made possible by 200 years of industry and technology fueled by cheap energy, and---in the longer view---made possible by 10,000 years of hierarchical civilization since the onset of agriculture, during which we became the dominant species on this planet, more and more divorced from nature and violently divided amongst ourselves---all this is coming to a close.
The deranged adolescence that has gripped civilization since its very beginnings has sowed terrible seeds, and we began to reap the whirlwind in the 20th century through the tragic expression of international war.
Now in the 21st century, the very underpinnings of culture itself---starting with economics, finance, and commerce, but stretching out to include every other apparatus of how we conduct our shared affairs---is beginning to come apart at the seams. If we do not awaken from our dreams of domination into greater maturity, more cooperation, and deeper humility, humanity is in for a very hard time ahead.
We are still a very long way from that realization in any fundamental fashion or common understanding, and the Occupy uprising---with its narrow focus on economic inequality, however urgent that may seem---is definitely not the vehicle for promoting such an encompassing view. Far from it. But it is one of the first indications of the decade of profound change that lies ahead of us, which is, in itself, only the first step toward correction of our disturbed adolescence and collective unconsciousness.
I, for one, am very glad to see it.
© 2012 by Bill Herbst, all rights reserved
Bill Herbst resides in Olympia, Washington. To learn about his telephone sessions with clients, go to his web site at , and click on the link in the upper right corner for Sessions FAQ.
I've authored two books, published many articles, and written more than 100 essays on astrology, spirituality, politics, and culture. Some of my writing, including newsletter commentaries, is available on this site.
I've been a contributing author to the journal The Mountain Astrologer throughout its history. I even did a stint as an Associate Editor from 2002-2004. TMA's publisher Tem Tarriktar was kind enough to publish a long interview with me in the January 2009 issue. (Many thanks to all the good foks at TMA for their longstanding friendship and support.)
In 2005, I left Minnesota, leaving behind many dear beloveds and a longstanding clientele, to move halfway across the continent to Olympia, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest. Then, after suffering the stroke in November, 2007, I moved to Florence, a very small town on the Oregon coast. I now live half a mile from the Pacific Ocean overlooking the Siuslaw River and the biggest sand dune I ever saw. Large flocks of blackbirds, seagulls, and Canada geese forage daily in my back yard.