Last month we studied the meaning of those inner and outer crises in the development of the individual which indicate an attempt at reorientation from the narrow framework of social-cultural traditions to the vaster field of broadly human and spirit-energized activities. The metamorphosis of the very purpose, implications and substance of personality is, we said, a usually strenuous and often tragic process requiring a victory over the stubborn will of the ego (and, at the collective level of nation and societies, of the "ruling class") clinging to special privileges and set attitudes of consciousness, feeling and behavior. The first two phases of this process are indicated, astrologically, by a strong focusing of the planets Uranus and Neptune with reference to the natal chart, particularly in terms of these planets' transits over the most important points of the chart.
As an illustration of what such Uranian and Neptunian crises can mean in the life of personalities playing a historical role and thus more particularly attuned to the vast rhythm of human destiny, we discussed briefly the familiar case of Franklin D. Roosevelt. We showed how the tragic crisis brought about by his attack of paralysis in 1921 can be seen as the last phase of a process of spiritual-biological metamorphosis which began when Uranus passed over his natal Venus and Sun in Aquarius, at the time of the prelude to World War I in the spring-summer 1914; then reached a new momentum when Neptune in Leo came by transit to an opposition to these same planets; finally took the form of an acute physical challenge to the ego of F.D.R. as Mars joined Neptune in 1921, exteriorizing completely what had been developing in an inner realm. We added that death — and victory — came as Pluto reached this same point in Leo.
Obviously the Uranian-Neptunian process of reorientation and re-attunement of the ego and of the entire personality does not require such tragic visitations. Still more evident should be the fact that millions of people pass through astrological transits of these planets and experience at such times no extraordinary violent or significant crises. Some men under such planetary aspects reveal their inner genius, accept the challenge of self-renewal and assume the burden of their greater destiny, even while also revealing their deepest weaknesses and to some extent at least their ability to overcome them by "seeing through" the tragic situations they generate; other men are confronted by crises, and unable to meet their challenge collapse or experience breakdown in mind, soul or body.
The majority of human beings, however, neither win great victories, nor experience crucial defeats — temporary or relatively permanent. They are the "lukewarm;" the people who are merely caught into some external storm, and neither understand psychologically, nor really profit spiritually from, the tossing up and down to which they have been subjected. They have been thrown hither and thither by what seems to them purely external events, not realizing that the disturbances, mild or violent as may have been the case, occurred in front of the gates leading to their own greater Self, their own divinity; that, had they been fully aware, they might have thrust themselves with the power of "divine discontent" and the determination to win spiritual victory; that they might indeed have reached the one great spiritual goal: immortality as individual selves and conscious participation in the creative activity of the universal Spirit.
"Change of Life"
Every human being, male or female, comes to a moment in his or her life when some kind of basic change of life becomes inevitable. In most cases, however, the change which occurs at the biological level does not become significant and ego-regenerating at the psychological-spiritual level. And this is the great tragedy: not that a crucial crisis is experienced which ploughs under a large part of the personality, but that no real crisis is experienced, outside perhaps of a disturbing love-affair without great consequences, or with consequences to which no great meaning is attached which would be able to renew the entire implications and purpose of being as an individual.
Indeed, the same thing is true where wars and cataclysms are concerned. The real tragedy for Western humanity in the last thirty years is not that there were wars, destruction on an unparalleled scale, a dreadful surge of violence and cruelty from the tortured depths of man's common humanity; but rather that all these horrors caused so little change in the minds and souls of men. Tragedy which ends in spiritual rebirth is a great and glorious thing. But futile victories which only "preserve" a nevertheless decaying status quo are ghastly and utterly empty failures. They inevitably lead to a new crisis and to deeper disintegration; until God intervenes, compassionately destroys all but a few "seeds" in some planetary "Deluge," and the weary round of life and death begins again from the very bottom, in unconsciousness and darkness to lead eventually once more to some crisis which may be then still more difficult to meet, yet which will have to be met.
Every human being must experience, a change of life, simply because, after any organism has passed the normal mid-point of its life-cycle, a reversal of the tide of organic energy which began at conception must occur. Such a reversal means a natural and organic crisis. Not only the endocrine glands (and particularly those concerned with sexual reproduction) but all nerve centers must be repolarized and reattuned to a new rhythm. Either the body begins actually to "die" (i.e. to crystallize and eventually to disintegrate), or some new source of power — a spiritual one — must be tapped, and the bio-psychic organism must consciously and deliberately be kept alive and creative by this new power.
This biological "change of life," affecting likewise all psychological elements in the personality which are rooted in biological functions, occurs as well in men's as in women's lives. It occurs sooner or later; but the central point of the crisis — which does not mean the obvious glandular change — can be said to be timed to the mid-point of the Uranus' period, which is also the end of the first quarter of Neptune's period. Uranus' revolution lasts around 84 years; Neptune's less than 165 years. This means that Uranus reaches the point or the zodiac opposed to that which it occupied at birth when a person is about 42 years old. Likewise the transiting day-by-day moving Neptune comes to a point in square to Neptune's position in the natal chart also when the native is around 41 or 42.
In the case of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Uranus was located at birth on Virgo 17° (retrograde) and Uranus moved over the eighteenth degree of Pisces during the years 1923 and 1924, when the future President was struggling to regain his physical strength. But in May 1921, three months before his attack, Saturn was stationary on the exact point where the natal Uranus stood. Neptune, at birth, was located at Taurus 13° and it reached Leo 13° on August 14, 1921 — possibly the very day of the attack, or very close to it. Saturn was crossing the probable Ascendant of the natal chart at the very same time.
These aspects of the transiting to the natal Uranus and Neptune obviously have only a generic significance; that is, they are experienced by every human being at the same age. They therefore must not be given any individual significance. When, however, they coincide with an individual configuration — i.e. with a transit affecting the natal chart of only the persons born on a particular day-then, it is probable that these persons will experience a serious crisis in their lives as individuals. President Roosevelt did; and he emerged from the crisis victorious.
Henry Wallace is today in the midst of a Neptunian crisis, as Neptune is reaching by transit his natal Sun and Uranus in the sixth house; and he had a Uranus crisis when Uranus, fom 1942 to 1944, moved over his most important conjunction of Neptune and Pluto, rising in early Gemini and opposed by Jupiter. He gave his speech on "the century of the common man" when Uranus (conjunct Saturn) touched his natal Neptune.
These crises can be said to be later consequences of the normal and "generic" crisis he experienced around 1930-31 when he was 42-43 years old. This latter crisis was, however, also a strongly "individual" crisis, because the transiting Uranus was at the same time opposing his natal Sun, thus releasing the potentialities inherent in his natal Sun-Uranus conjunction in Libra — which, we should add, falls upon the national U.S.A. Saturn. The years 1930-31 were those of the Depression, and there is little doubt that it is during such a period that Wallace began to orient himself positively in the direction of his public destiny.
Every man and woman passing through the period of change centered somewhere in the forties should reorient their lives in the direction of their "larger destiny." The simplest and most general kind of reorientation is the one that leads from the narrower circle of the family to the larger field of service to the community-village, religious or cultural organization, party, nation, humanity-as-a-whole. In the ancient pattern of India's society such a transfer of the center of one's attention and activity was enjoined upon all "twice-born" men; their children having become independent and educated, the fathers then, instead of merely working for their families, were theoretically to dedicate their lives to the service of the community as a whole.
This should be a normal process of transference in a truly organic society; but among emotionally, socially and spiritually frustrated individuals and where the economic struggle for subsistence keeps on unrelenting until old age, this normal change, biological and social, always tends to become a "crisis". When transits of Uranus and Neptune (and other related, perhaps intensifying, factors) affect vital centers in the natal chart of the individual, the crisis may take the form of a serious disruption of moral values, emotional stability, mental integrity and physical health. Childhood or adolescence conflicts, and the results of failures to meet the various challenges of adult life, flare up into being. The repressed depths are aroused. The consciousness of the ego is invaded by feelings of meaninglessness, futility, frustration, guilt, despair. To remain "sane," in the dynamic and creative sense which we are giving to the term in these articles, becomes a difficult problem indeed.
Most people shirk this problem, and begin to die, in a process of slow crystallization and/or disintegration. Then Uranus and Neptune can only take on a negative meaning during the rest of their lives. How unpleasant and disturbing will be this meaning depends mostly upon their economic-social status and the condition of their environment. Some people fail more spectacularly and are pronounced "mentally ill" or "insane."
Timing of "Individual" Crises
By the term "individual crises," we mean here crises which occur at any time in life and which can be seen related to astrological transits, progressions, etc., affecting the natal chart. We mean specifically crises in which the very structure of the ego and the substantial quality of an individual's most basic responses to the challenge of life are at stake. We mean crises that have as an inherent goal the "catharsis" of the ego and the metamorphosis of the warp and woof of personality. It is such crises which may either release the spiritual and creative genius of the individual, or refer to strong upsets in the environment, or at worst tend to destroy "sanity." And true sanity is, we repeat, the ability to meet as an integrated person the confrontations of the social and personal life, and to become a greater person from meeting them; for anything else is at least a small step toward an ever more possible breakdown of personality.
The exact timing of such crises is, fortunately, impossible; "fortunately," because the fear of them would in many cases tend to make them more dangerous. Thus, to say that a transit of Uranus or Neptune over the natal Sun or Moon, or any other focal factor in the birth-chart, will bring about a profound psychological crisis, obviously makes little sense and might cause real harm. Many people, as we stated, never experience focalized crises of personal metamorphosis; moreover, if the Uranus-Neptune impacts come too soon or too late in life, they may not affect directly the ego in the way which we indicated here.
The natal positions of Uranus and Neptune in relation to the Sun constitute obviously a factor of great importance. Uranus moves by transit about 4 1/4 degrees per year. Thus the natal distance between Uranus and the Sun determines the approximate time of what is usually the main Uranus crisis of the life-if it happens at all. If Uranus is a little ahead of the Sun in the zodiac at birth, no conjunction of the transiting Uranus with the natal Sun is likely to happen, or it may refer to the death-crisis. In these cases, the main Uranian crisis may occur when Uranus passes in opposition to the Sun; or it may occur, with somewhat different implications, when progressed Sun comes to the place of the natal Uranus.
For instance, in the case of the psychologist Carl Jung, the natal Sun is on Leo 1° and Uranus on Leo 15°. Thus the transiting Uranus will reach the natal Sun only when Jung would be 81 years old (1956); and his progressed Sun was conjunct to Uranus during his twelfth year, probably referring to the beginning of the crisis of puberty. However, the transiting Uranus opposed Jung's natal Sun during 1912 and 1913, particularly in May 1912 when stationary in a prolonged exact opposition.
Jung was then in his thirty-seventh year, and the most crucial period in his career was coming to a focus. Repudiating some of the basic ideas stressed by Freud, with whom he had been associated, he founded his own school of psychotherapy. We heard from one of his disciples that around that time (when he was 35, perhaps) he had a remarkable experience in which for days he had an over-all intuitional awareness of all that he was later on gradually to develop in his teachings. Uranus came to his Ascendant in 1911, after a "progressed new moon" had established a new cycle of personal development in the Fall 1910. His first outstanding book, The Psychology of the Unconscious, appeared in 1912, and this caused the final break with Freud (1913, it seems) when transiting Neptune reached the Descendant, and soon after a conjunction with the natal Sun (1916-17). The latter aspect coincided with the normal crisis of the years around 42, when the transiting Uranus opposed the natal Uranus, giving to this crisis a truly individual meaning and purpose.
In recent years, Pluto's transit through Leo has been concluding this process of metamorphosis. Its passage over the natal Sun did not correlate with death (we saw that its opposition transit symbolized such a death-crisis in the case of F. D. Roosevelt), but it did connect with strong attacks upon Jung's personal approach and ideology with regard to political-spiritual matters, which apparently had come to a focus when Pluto had crossed his Descendant (1935 to 1938).
Simple transits of Uranus or Neptune are often prepared or made more acute and focal by more complex transits. In Jung's case, we find that the opposition between Uranus and Neptune, strongly in evidence during the first decade of our century, touched the natal conjunction of his Mercury and Venus from 1907 to 1909. Uranus had transited his Mars (ruler of the house of profession) when he had met Freud in 1903 — the whole period of the contact with Freud coinciding with the passage of Neptune through Jung's sixth house, while Uranus moved through the eleventh and twelfth.
Likewise, when conjunctions and oppositions of Uranus and Jupiter (which follow a most significant near-seven Year periodicity), of Uranus and Saturn, or of Neptune and Jupiter or Saturn, fall upon basic centers of the natal charts, they indicate in most cases some challenges to the ego's stability and to a man's sense of participation in his family or social environment. And these two factors — ego-stability and a steady feeling of participation in the environment — are interdependent; both referring to the pair Saturn and Jupiter.