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Astrology on Current Events in Popular Culture with Bill Streett

The Astrology of
the Reagan Era


by Bill Streett 6/08/04

Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved

The recent passing of Ronald Reagan has afforded as much the opportunity to eulogize the former president as it has allowed the entire world to reflect upon the events that defined the Reagan era. Reagan’s messages and ideology were characterized by a remarkable simplicity; his was a universe of black and whites with little room for ambiguity. From Nancy Reagan’s straightforward campaign of “Just say no” to Reagan’s recurrent castigation of the communists as the epitome of all that is evil, the world was delivered to the American public in stark contrasts with easy choices.

This essay is not an astrological analysis of the complexities and contradictions of Reagan the individual but rather Reagan in context of greater historical movements that shaped and defined that latter half of the twentieth century. Astrology, perhaps as much as any other methodology, undermines the “great man” theory of history—the belief that single individuals wield so much influence as to contour the times in which they live. Rather, astrology suggests that leaders reflect and act in response to historical cycles and dynamics much greater than any one individual. Reagan did not define the 1980’s and the changing values of America, but he did come to symbolize and reflect the growing conservatism of the Western psyche during the era.


The Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the 1960’s


Little known to most, in Reagan’s early years the actor was a diehard liberal Democrat. As the policies of Franklin Roosevelt assisted members of his immediate family in getting jobs, Reagan was grateful for the economic reforms brought about by FDR’s “New Deal.” However, with his marriage to Nancy Davis, his prominent role with the General Electric Corporation, and with the assumption that the communist infiltration in Hollywood threatened American values, Reagan’s political affinities began to shift radically to the right in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. By 1967, Reagan was elected governor of California under the Republican ticket.

Reagan represented the conservative reaction to the tumultuous and chaotic decade of the 1960’s. Given an orb of fifteen degrees, a conjunction between Uranus and Pluto framed the entire decade and symbolized the new horizons, progressive freedoms, and experimentalism of the era. Looking at the archetypal dynamics involved, we observe the intense and powerful energies of Pluto compelling the destabilizing, consciousness-raising, and rebellious expressions associated with Uranus. Similarly, Uranus’s awakening and liberating influence was stimulating the chaotic, transformative energies of Pluto. The mind-expanding, creative, and disruptive energies of the era were not only a testament to the hard-won freedoms and idealism of the youth of the decade but a reflection of the cyclical and archetypal dynamics involved.

Important alignments between Uranus and Pluto correlate with times of mass rebelliousness against tradition and the established order. Rather than be complacent with the security of the status quo, a Uranus-Pluto alignment compels societies to search for alternatives, grope for new horizons, and demand new freedoms of expression. The destabilizing influence of the combination is typically as exciting and awakening as it is disruptive and chaotic—it truly is “rock’n’roll” energy, for heads roll if the sociopolitical establishment is not rocked to its very foundations.

The previous major alignment involving Uranus and Pluto, an opposition between the two planets occurring in the first decade of the twentieth century, also demonstrated the mass rebelliousness of this planetary combination. Around 1900, the United States experienced political possibilities that have never been equaled before or since. Matching the melting pot diversity of its population, social and political movements arose that threatened the status quo and idle rich. Anarchism, socialism, and labor movements ascended to challenge politics as usual. The United States at the turn of the century was rife with change, political cataclysm, and social unrest.

As governor of California in the 1960’s, Reagan saw the political unrest and radicalism around him as a threat to the American way of life in the same vein as communism. America was being split apart by issues such as Vietnam and race relations, and Reagan embodied the countervailing views and ideologies of the establishment. Nowhere was this split between the new radicalism and the old conservatism felt more acutely than in Reagan’s own family. Like the United States in microcosm, Reagan’s immediate family was torn by ideology, ethics, and lifestyle choice. Reagan’s youngest children, Patty and Ron jr., came of age during the 1960’s and embraced many of the new values that emerged during the era, moves that would estrange the children from their father for many years.


The Saturn-Pluto Conjunction of the early 1980’s


“Newsweek” magazine called Reagan’s victory over incumbent President Carter in 1980 a “counter-revolution,” a return to values that were more readily embraced in the simpler times before the tumultuous and freedom-loving 1960’s.1 Considered by many to be the most conservative president since Herbert Hoover, Reagan and his mystique held the promise of returning America to a time of more old-fashioned and conformist values.

Why such a turnabout and about face? Astrology suggests a correlation. As the radical 1960’s was characterized by a Uranus-Pluto conjunction, the early 1980’s was epitomized by a conjunction between Saturn and Pluto. With Pluto being the constant, Saturn and Uranus represent very different aspects of the collective psyche. If Uranus expresses the new, the radical, and the experimental, Saturn correlates with the desire for stasis, stability, and tradition. If Uranus brings creative innovation and chaotic rebellion, Saturn represents repressive crystallization of Uranus’s revolutions. Thus, the early 1980’s represented a foundational and all-pervasive drive against the radical expressions of the 1960’s. In a little over a decade, the zeitgeist was changing dramatically and Reagan’s presidency reflected those dynamics.

With Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan as leaders of the free world, a hardening of the collective psyche was occurring—a hardening that embraced traditionalism and shunned the openness and rebelliousness of the preceding years. This was the height of the Cold War that began during the previous Saturn-Pluto conjunction of 1946-1948. Pluto forming alignment with Saturn applies a tremendous force on the defensiveness, fearfulness, and rigidity of Saturn’s archetypal characteristics. The build-up in arms with the “Star Wars” program is indicative of this energy. In our own time, we see the Saturn-Pluto gestalt with the creation of the Homeland Security program under the opposition of Saturn and Pluto in 2001-2003.

We can also see the Saturn-Pluto dynamic at work in the sense of overwhelming threat or destructive force. The Saturn-Pluto combination is perhaps the combination for projecting the collective shadow unto other nations and groups. We can certainly see this as the Cold War began (and as Saturn and Pluto formed a conjunction), as the Soviet influence began to gain power and the Red Scare in the United States formerly began. In Reagan’s time, and at the height of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction of the 1980’s, Reagan castigated the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire,” the tremendous threat to national security and the American way of life. As Saturn and Pluto would form an opposition to each other in the early parts of this decade, George W. Bush would once again recapitulate the need to cast the collective shadow, as the “Axis of Evil”—Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Korea—rose as the perceived threat to American refuge.


The Triple Conjunction of Uranus-Neptune-Saturn in 1989


Reagan’s first term as president was characterized by a large build-up of strategic defense against the Soviet Union. At this time, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were at their most tense and most polarized. Although it cannot be marked by one single event or point in time, a tremendous and epochal shift occurred between Reagan’s first and second terms as president. Dynamics between the Soviet Union and the United States began to reverse in sudden and dramatic ways.

The “how” and “why” of the decline of the Cold War is enigmatic even to political insiders. With any objectivity, one would say that the collapse of the Cold War was due to Reagan’s persistent pressure on arms negotiations, the rise of Gorbachev, and the economic instability of the Soviet Union. However, the vision of astrology helps to illuminate dynamics that otherwise would remain hidden. As the early 1980’s were defined by the archetypal dynamics of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction, in the late 1980’s, a new astrological alignment formed with radically different dimensions and expressions. By the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a rare and highly significant conjunction formed between the planets of Uranus, Saturn, and Neptune.

If we deconstruct the archetypes involved, we have energies of “old”—Saturn—and “new”—Uranus—joined by Neptune. Whether applied individually or collectively, Neptune dissolves structures not unlike a metaphysical solvent. Neptune blurs distinctions, melts that which was once solid, and softens that which was distinct and hard. In a way which was unimaginable to analysts of the day but mirrored by an extraordinary triple conjunction of planets, the forty-five year Cold War was over almost overnight, signified most powerfully by the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

The ways in which analysts have described the collapse of Cold War dynamics is strikingly resonant with the Neptunian dimension and its ability to liquefy that which seems permanent. Pundits and reporters covering the events ending the Cold War have used words like “thawing” or “dissolving.” Even the “Velvet Revolution,” describing the rather yielding way in which the Eastern Bloc nations fell, is characteristic of the Neptunian dimension. Thus, not unlike a great wave of dissolution, the triple conjunction of Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn at the end of the 1980’s stood in dramatic counterpoint (and disengaged) the Saturn-Pluto conjunction at the beginning of the decade.


Conclusion


Was Reagan a leader that restored traditional values to America and was responsible for loosening Soviet-American relations, or was he more representative of a man caught between eras, dynamics, and historical maneuverings much greater than himself? Certainly, we cannot disengage the fine interplay between fate and free will, but one would be remiss not to see Reagan—or any prominent leader—as a person in context, responding to the shifting energies of the times. Astrology suggests that Reagan was a politician challenged and moved by large currents of changing zeitgeists. Reactive to the 1960’s, symbolic of the early 1980’s, and an instrument of change toward the end of his political career, Reagan can be seen as man as defined by his times as much as a leader who changed the course of history.

1 “Newsweek,” November 17th 1980 issue.