This is the continuation to
"Television, Man," the June 25 Planet Waves Weekly essay on Chiron in Aquarius. You are invited to subscribe to Planet Waves Weekly here.
IMAGINE YOU'RE SITTING IN A RESTAURANT with a group of your
friends, and a discussion about a potentially sensitive subject comes up. A
few of your friends express their views, and you decide to take a turn,
something you don't usually do. You speak your mind and the room goes chilly.
There are stares in your direction. Your stomach turns; you've crossed the
line of social appropriateness.
It's like a nightmare: you've revealed
yourself and been rejected for it. In a single moment you realize that in
order to maintain your social relationships from this point onward, you would
have to ignore the difference in values and suppress your views and, in
reality, yourself. If you were to be open about them, you would basically be
unacceptable. Suddenly you feel very alone in the world. Could it be that
these people were not your friends at all? What is a friend? And could it be
that you really need to invest more energy into actually expressing who you
are, rather than in conforming to what other people think for their
If you look closely at our world, it's easy to see a
thousand ways in which we put up with such compromises every day. Generally,
in our era of history, we deal with just about everything by suppressing it.
Either that, or distracting ourselves with all our fabulous means of
entertainment. Most entertainment is passive and antisocial; in the U.S. most
bars play the music so loud you cannot hear your own voice, much less someone
else's; people walking down the street wearing an MP3 player are not going to
be available to meet new people, say hello or even make eye contact. The
examples go on.
Suppression is really depression and a lot of people
are depressed. Many are resorting to coping through antidepressants; it seems
like the best most people can hope to do in life is cope and it seems that we
are in a "whatever it takes" phase of history. These drugs are showing up in
the water supply, and they are also making an impact on our social relations,
though it's extremely difficult to point to what it is -- it exists as a kind
of psychic climate change.
There are so many factors influencing us to
bury our real personalities and the real issues we have on our heart and mind
that they are too numerous to count. At the same time there has been another
trend, which is toward the spiritual or opening-up practices that are
available to exist as private experiences; things we do alone rather than
together, or where social relationships are discouraged in the name of
To say that Western culture has grown more superficial than
ever seems a ridiculous statement because it has been so superficial and
appearance-oriented for so long.
Do we really need an astrology
newsletter to inform us of how uncomfortable this is? Or to point it out? Or
to say that this is killing us?
Or is it obvious, if we look, and more
accurately, feel? Do we need to be told how much pain our society and the
people in it are in? Do we need to be reminded that it's not necessary to
struggle alone, and that all of our problems have already been solved by
someone else in the past -- if only we will seek the solution?
just be that there is a widespread sentiment of this kind that is rarely put
into language. It could be the thing you want to say at dinner but are afraid
will be like a mouse squirming around the salad bowl. It could be that many
people are so thoroughly dissatisfied with their social relations and that
there is an ocean of energy waiting to burst up to the surface. Of course,
it's been so long since anything like this has happened that most people aware
of the phenomenon's possibility generally count the notion as wishful
Enter Chiron in Aquarius
A messenger and
provocateur is on his way. Between Feb. 21, 2005 and Feb. 8, 2011, the world
and all the people in it will take the trip of Chiron in Aquarius. The effect
will be an exposition or even explosion of the themes and issues of Aquarius
-- in particular, the tension between the individual and the group, which is
well beyond its rightful bursting point today.
This will occur during a
time when the historical process is being accelerated exponentially by the
tightening spiral of time, as we speed toward the 2012 centerpoint of history.
Chiron in Aquarius will be our constant companion along the way to the very
doorstep of 2012, and will be one of the most palpable tone-setting transits
of the era. It will provide us with tools, opportunities and challenges that
speed collective evolution precisely because of the collective nature of
Aquarius. Chiron in Aquarius will give us a way to approach the
One of the primary questions of this transit is, "What do we
mean by We?" For most people, We means me and my posse, me and my family, me
and my fellow devoted Visio employees, Pepsi drinkers of the world, or us
way-cool England fans. For whom does We mean all of us here? All of us
who drink water? All of us who breathe air? For whom does We mean all of us
who must raise children on the Earth? Aquarius is the territory known as the
Commons: the space we all share; what we have in common.
social issues that will emerge in this era demanding collective attention
promise to redefine We in larger, more meaningful and more inclusive ways. We
will come to believe there is such a thing as We. Maybe we'll even start
to capitalize We just like we capitalize I.
Aquarius is the meeting point of I and We. This can be
extremely uncomfortable, self conscious territory, particularly if we're aware
of the conditions that are placed upon individuality in order to have the
privilege of saying We: the rules and regulations of being able to identify
with a collective of any kind, that great privilege.
The world is
organized for the most part into various kinds of cliques. Cliques always
require us to be defined by a group, and within such an arrangement the
individual is only as good as the rest of the group says he or she is. Chiron
in Aquarius, as I feel its approach, promises to blow this issue open. People
go to enormous lengths to be accepted. But the pain and struggle of this is
One recent example, a kind of Chiron in Aquarius
forerunner, comes to mind. There were recently several studies in Scandinavian
countries that associated breast implants with increased incidence of suicide.
At the moment such a story can sink beneath the surface of awareness and seem
to have no implications. Under Chiron in Aquarius it could become an issue
that gets a lot of attention, seen for how deeply it reaches into the problems
of our society, seen in relationship to many associated problems in our
One of those problems is clearly loneliness. For all the
people in the world, you would think that loneliness would be the rarest
problem on the planet. Everywhere you go, you find more people. Yet loneliness
only seems to be increasing in incidence and intensity as the factors that
alienate us pick up power. We are, in reality, unable to be perfect enough
people to meet the standards of cliques, advertising, and the expectations we
have been raised with. This is deeply isolating. What exactly are the barriers
between people? Are we even aware of them? The events of 2005 through 2011
will have a lot to offer in the way of insights and quite possibly solutions.
Once a problem is identified, a solution is never far away.
Chiron typically alert us to what is already happening, and raise the matter
for discussion. They don't necessarily create new situations but rather drop a
lens in front of perception and allow us to focus on a particular pattern.
That focus thrusts it into the environment of awareness. Then we have to deal.
As I discussed a couple of weeks ago, Chiron is now in Capricorn, the sign of
corporations and government, a transit which began within days of the Enron
bankruptcy and weeks of the Sept. 11 attacks. On Thursday this week, Enron's
former CEO, Kenny Lay, met Chiron in the form of federal prosecutors and a
grand jury. Obviously what was happening with Enron fraud was going on for
years, out of sight. Then as Chiron transited into Capricorn it plunged into
awareness [see Planet Waves "Living with the Truth"].
What we are
living through today is a vast setup. It is difficult to imagine the
combination of media overload, personality-altering drugs, hyper-emphasis on
glamour and appearance, fundamentalist religion and a general climate of
"who gives a shit" in the face of the most serious issues we've ever
witnessed, being more over-the-top. Add a really thick layer of denial, which
seems necessary to get through the day. Then, suddenly, drop a lump of pure
sodium into the water. We will soon find out the temperature at which Prozac
An Energy Condenser
A sign represents a
quality of energy that generally works in the background (unconsciously or
latently). A planet brings the energy into focus like a condenser, in its own
particular style, embodying that energy. Chiron, being the opposite of
denial, happens to be exceedingly focussed and in your face. The shock of
Chiron in Aquarius will be all the more stunning given that we are currently
living through Neptune in Aquarius: drugs, delusion and denial in the sign of
collective reality. For a while, both processes will unfold at once, yet
heading for the guaranteed to be infamous Chiron-Neptune conjunction of late
Aquarius of February 2010.
Aquarius is the sign of the tribe:
collective values, social concerns and society itself. Society is made of
individuals, and often individuals must compromise their values, beliefs,
conduct and behavior for the sake of the collective. And sometimes this goes
way too far, to the point where there is next to no individuality left, or
where it's so rare it seems strange.
Chiron will point out how wounded
by tribal thinking we have become. Since tribes in the modern sense rarely
accept a person for who he or she already is, the result is an injury to
individuality. And there is also an injury to our ability to trust groups at
all. Particularly the group known as society.
For all the talk of
freedom that we're hearing thrown around by politicians, we live in a time
when it's exceptionally scary, illegal or immoral to simply be yourself. We
grow accustomed to news reports of increased clampdowns on civil liberties,
and somehow accept that we're supposed to be safer. Okay, it's not the
scariest of times in this respect (the McCarthy era, the last time Chiron was
in Capricorn, was a good bit more frightening). But there is a particular
urgency about our moment in time, be it personal, political or ecological. And
we have yet to see the current cycle of Chiron in Capricorn come to its
culmination. We have yet to see the natural result of the way things have been
going the past three years.
Meanwhile, individual freedom these days
basically represents the power to purchase goods on credit -- often to impress
others so we can be part of their group. This is a sham of awesome complexity.
Aquarius being the sign of collective resources and values, we may see a
consumer debt crisis as interest rates spike. Millions of people will be cut
off from the drug of consumerism and what is called conspicuous consumption.
Something will need to take its place; that energy will need to go somewhere.
And this will be a Chiron in Aquarius process.
Chiron's main action, as
I understand it, is to raise awareness. Chiron does this any number of ways,
from crisis to revelation to discovery, but one thing is clear: by the time
Chiron has come and gone from any particular corner of our charts, we are
paying attention to that aspect of life. And by the time it's come and gone
from a sign, a lot of people in society are getting the message of what is
happening in that aspect of life.
Here are some examples. Take these
and magnify them by a few million and imagine that they represent much larger
social movements that we can all feel and see:
<> A person who
has adhered to a particular form of Christianity gets sick of hearing about
how Islamic people are Satan's army and should be killed. The result is a
crisis of faith that leads to a deeper devotion to the affairs of his or her
soul, and to seeking out real community instead of one based on false
ideologies. Many people in their congregation suddenly begin to have this
feeling and express their deep concerns to one another.
Someone who has always noticed how plastic people are wakes up one morning
feeling like their life has been a kind of fraud. He or she wakes up feeling
like a fake person and experiences a kind of personality collapse. He seeks
someone to share the experience with and finds that he knows nobody. He's left
to rebuild his life starting with the question, "Who am I?"
famous television talk show host realizes that she's been manipulating and
lying to people for years. She sets up a special live edition of the program
and comes clean on the air, admitting to her own mistakes and criticizing
television for its superficial and ignorant treatment of just about
everything, particularly people's most intimate subject matter. This leads to
many people in the viewing audience having a revelation about the impact of
TV, and a wave of talk show hosts admitting their misgivings about what they
<> Someone who has used the Internet to meet people, rather
than doing so in person, meets and soon after marries a person who turns out
to be a total fraud; everything about their life, as stated, turned out to be
in some way false, including their name, their age and their personal history.
Suddenly the whole Internet community begins to seem like it has no basis in
<> Someone who has taken antidepressants for some time
realizes they are not dealing with their problems, and that the drugs are
completely masking over who they are. In addition, some serious psychological
conditions are discovered with a little research to be caused by the drug.
Additional research reveals a support project for people who are attempting to
withdraw from this drug, and through getting involved with this, the person
meets many new people and begins a new phase of life.
well-loved national television newscaster discovers the secret file in his
producer's desk about an important issue and discovers he's been lying to his
viewers for years. He makes a public resignation in protest.
temporary collapse of the Internet forces people to come out of their houses
and actually start meeting people, or to pick up the telephone and start
calling people they have not talked to in years.
<> George Bush
obviously loses the November presidential election, but when the votes come in
they somehow add up to victory. But there were no paper ballots so there is no
way to have a recount. People mobilized behind a candidate and succeeded, but
ultimately failed to make a change.
<> A military draft becomes
an extremely hot point of controversy amongst a group of friends who realize
they have nothing in common, except for the fact that some people are opposed
to the draft and the war, and others are in support of the war. The issue
personalizes the war for millions of people and there is, for the first time
within numerous communities, a real discussion about the issues surrounding
Of Blackouts, Subway Strikes and Personal
In other aspects of consciousness, we may suddenly be
confronted with how cold the world has become. It's not that the "big world"
was ever so warm, but people have always had their ways of making the world a
smaller and friendlier place. Extended families and villages certainly allowed
us to have the feeling of kinship in a way that is very rare today, where
people in the Western world have many modern conveniences and privileges that
basically rob them of contact with other people.
Despite this, there
are many examples familiar to everyone of how crisis brings people together.
When I was growing up in New York City, I remember the big blackout of 1977,
and then a transit strike when I was in high school. The city changed; its
true nature seemed to come out. People who had never spoken to one another
were suddenly friends. During the transit strike, people who would never
imagine picking up a hitchhiker or getting into a stranger's car were jumping
along for a ride, or picking up anyone who needed to get into
This is often how people in urban communities respond when
there is some kind of collective crisis we all agree is there. Suddenly the
conditioning not to trust people or the desire to be alone in your air
conditioned car give way to something more important, more beautiful, more
real. The farce of society melts. We no longer need to pretend we don't give a
damn about one another or think that everyone is a potential
The odd thing is how those old social expectations, those
crystallized patterns, can come back as soon as the electricity returns or the
trains start running again; the sleep of society comes over just about
everyone and we go back into our little worlds. Then we may remember with
nostalgia that friendly night when everyone shared their stuff and we lived
like a tribe that had some common interest, or the time you jumped into
someone's car on the entrance ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge.
in Aquarius, crises that lead to awareness of who we are are likely to have a
relentless quality -- just like the political and corporate crises of Chiron
in Capricorn. What is missing under the current setup is our ability to define
"we" in a tangible enough way to do something about it together. However what
is clear is that we lack the social skills to do too many important things
together, particularly outside the context of work and having a
It may be that we have not yet fully appreciated -- within
ourselves -- the role of the individual in the world. Closer to the heart, we
may not have had the revelation that our personal actions matter, and that we
can join forces with other people who share our values.
problems we see may feel bigger than anything we can define as "we" can ever
make a dent in, much less solve. The world as we see it is too
One last thing -- right now, it's not cool to care. It is very
cool not to care. You are considered more intelligent, or more psychologically
healthy by your therapist, or more acceptable to your partner, if you don't
take on what you can't really affect, and what is not really your business. At
the moment the individual ego is the most important thing in the world. Maybe
it will be replaced by the wego.
In its highest state, Aquarius is
about a meeting of individuals who recognize themselves as such. It is driven
by social responsibility and a devotion to service. Aquarius has a natural
sense of humanity and as such is deeply humanitarian.
Aquarius is a fixed sign. Though it's often associated
with rebellious people and inventions, its fixed nature is undeniable, both as
a fact of astrology and as an energetic process. Saturn is traditionally the
planet that runs Aquarius. If Aquarius is responsible for change, it happens
through persistence, methodical work and clear ideas: all these are fixed
attributes, attributes of dedication and stability.
Aquarius is about the creation and perpetuation of systems. These systems
include political structures which, in our day, are distinctly resistant to
change; ideologies that dictate mass consciousness in total violation of
common sense (certain forms of religion with which we are becoming intimately
familiar); and aspects of culture, such as marketing, that are designed to
steal our identities and blur the line between the group and the
Once an Aquarian process or pattern takes root, it is very
difficult to get rid of. The Internet is a good example. Through the era of
Uranus in Aquarius (1997-2003), the Internet went from something largely
confined to the academic and military communities to a household product, and
a network on which the entire economy depends. It went from a kind of
curiosity that people had heard of, to an entertainment novelty, to something
we depend upon from minute to minute. The Internet is a good example of the
fixity of Aquarius and also of what you could call change through
Though it is difficult to see it now unless you really
question your own life, we live in times when the human personality has become
caught in exceedingly crystallized patterns and behaviors. Many people would
rather die than change. Many others opt for drugs that stabilize their
personalities rather than go through any kind of metamorphosis. The intended
use of antidepressants -- as a therapy aid or temporary holdover until therapy
works -- is a true rarity. They are used by people to cope, and we live in a
society where the rule is basically cope or die. You can hardly blame people
for using these chemicals, but that does not remove the effects of doing
Those effects must be felt individually before change can occur.
However, under the current environment, individual process rarely shifts to
the collective. There is a notion of the "integrity of one" that many people
have adopted, consciously or not. There is a notion that desperation is a
private matter that has become deeply pervasive. Imagine, though, if
individual crisis, process and change suddenly shifts to a collective
Imagine individual change occurring so frequently and with such
intensity that it feels like a storm gathering in society. Imagine a kind of
widespread identity crisis coming to a head, and rippling through society.
Imagine world events impacting people in such a way as to ignite and
accelerate the process.
Note that Chiron is reaching the slowest point
in its orbit, taking more years in each successive sign. With planets, slow
means powerful. At the point where Chiron reached perihelion in 1996, it moved
through Libra in just 18 months. After gradually slowing down through the next
few signs, it spends four years in Capricorn. As it reaches Aquarius and
Pisces, then Aries and Taurus, it will take between six and nine years to move
through a sign. At its current point Chiron is well beyond the orbit of Saturn
and functioning as an outer planet. Contrary to the myth that "outer planets
have generational effects" and thus you can't really feel them, Chiron in
particular shows up vividly in the senses and leaves a trail of documentation
behind it. Yet the generational effects and the transpersonal feeling of the
Chiron in Aquarius era will be undeniable.
I'd like to end this discussion this week with a few
images of what might be, if we get the message of Chiron in Aquarius -- a
message which we can begin to get now.
<> One person amongst a
group of people who have been friends for years notices that everyone is on
mood-altering drugs. She dares to say something about what this might mean at
a dinner party and a real discussion happens. That night, the group commits to
supporting one another through getting off of these drugs, and being present
for the changes in one another's lives.
<> A group of employees
at a small technology firm that is about to go public manages to get financing
to secure a controlling interest in the company. The company is thus able to
stay in private hands and can act in more socially conscious ways without
being sued by shareholders.
<> Several couples who realize that
they are neither spending enough time with their children or with one another
pool their resources to solve the problem. It begins with a simple day care
schedule that includes creating one free weekend each month for each couple.
This has the effect of everyone spending more time with their own children.
Several people who are neighbors experiment with a larger household so that
work can be saved and free time increased.
<> As a result, these
people recognize the need for developing deeper relating skills. They do this,
and their lives solidly orient around human contact rather than things and
entertainment. They write a book that becomes a national bestseller and begins
a clearly visible trend in improving relationships.
friends who work in the high-tech industry and have identified serious
problems with accessibility decide to create a technology cooperative. They
make up a budget and realize how inexpensive it will be, because the real
costs are in programming and consulting, and they have the experience. They
invest in the equipment and begin offering free Internet services to the
community, including a community radio station that broadcasts both locally
and around the world.
<> Members of a religious congregation
decide they've had enough of what they're hearing, and create a Sunday morning
community gathering and resource with food, discussion, meditation and a group
problem solving session. This is basically a meeting of neighbors where people
announce their problems and anyone who can offer assistance or solution comes
In our moment of history we are rather unaccustomed to
thinking in terms of collective solutions. We are trained to solve our
problems in isolation, and that creates more isolation, which is the problem
we are really trying to solve. In this light, we can be thankful for the
problems that make us aware that there are other people living on the same
planet as we are, that we face similar circumstances, and, as Aunt Josie was
always fond of saying, that many hands make light work. ++