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by Christopher Scott


This is Part I in a series of articles exploring the astrological and societal significance of  the discovery of the Outer Planets in our Solar System. First published in Shadowplay #17 - Spring 1988


In 1791, a planet (Uranus) that is visible to the naked eye was discovered. Why?

The answer appears to be that human nature was evolving beyond the limits that had existed. Ancient astrology had gone so far in the predictions of exoteric events for an individual that a person's life from birth could be mapped with a surprising degree of accuracy, even up until the time and manner of death (for further reading see Liz Greene's Astrology of Fate).

The human condition was predictable, and that was its condition - hidebound and straightjacketed. For the ordinary individual, life existed "out there"; even the god/desses and spirits were seen as external events except by a small band of adepts and initiates of both the Pagan and post-Pagan eras. The subconscious and unconscious were not accepted as parts of the human psyche, but seen as external, mystical events.

@#147;Before the birth of a God/ess there are always portents, and surrounding the birth, major events that affect both king and commoner.@#148;

Two hundred years before the remarkable discovery of this planet, the Renaissance flowered in Europe. The art forms and sciences of classical Greece were expanded into new dimensions. The tyranny of Aristotlean philosophy was questioned and the majority of its tenets found to be no longer workable. The techniques of perspective were invented in the Fine Arts, and Music developed the Science of Harmony and some new musical instruments also.

Central, organized religion lost much of its power, and the middle class started to rise with economic and then political power.

During the period 1600 to the discovery of Saturn, Europe entered the Age of the Baroque. Ideas and forms in the Fine Arts and Music were modified and some of the older forms died out completely. Politics became a Science under the tutelege of Machiavelli and one of the greatest changes in the external world happened when fences divided land boundaries (refer Christopher Hill@#146;s The World Turned Upside Down).

Around the time of the discovery (or birth) of this new planet, events occurred which shook the lives of all strata of society, being the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era. In the Arts, Mastercraftsmen broke away from Royal patronage and worked as individuals. Richardson wrote the first @#147;novel@#148;; prose literature had arrived, and a Scottish engineer developed the steam engine.

At first, the new planet was named after its discoverer, William Herschel. However, due to the system of cosmic nonclemature it was decided to name the new planet Uranus, after the father of Saturn, as it was a planet outside the orbit of Saturn and thus closer to the darkness of the void.

Astrologers studied the historical events that happened around the @#147;birth@#148; of this planet and because of the major inventions and the pulse of individuation, it was given the rulership of the fixed air sign, Aquarius. Astrologers would also argue that Uranus hasn@#146;t fully been integrated into the human psyche, as can be seen by the neuroses of present civilization and the body/mind split which is so evident in society.

In Roman mythology (borrowed from the Greek), uranus was castrated by his son, Saturn, who then flung the genitals into the Mediterranean and the Goddess, Venus, was born from the sperm and blood.

After the discovery of this planet, Europe entered the Victorian age, a period when Western humanity attempted to disassociate from its sexuality; in other words, the @#147;collective@#148; endeavoured to castrate itself - a legacy that we are still trying to work through in the 1980@#146;s.

The suffragettes and consequent movements to liberate women emerged into society, which led to the rebirth of the Goddess; in astrological terms, the re-integration of the collective and the individual. This has been accelerated by the discovery of two further planets in our solar system which are invisible to the naked eye - Neptune and Pluto.

It seems to me that the discovery of a visible object within the tropical Zodiac as late as 1781 reinforces the concept that we @#147;will not@#148; see things clearly until the mental conditions within us are in harmony with the physical world. The ancient astrologers of Babylon and Egypt could not see this object; those of Greece and Rome probably didn@#146;t want to see it.

However, with the emergence of @#147;individual@#148; consciousness, this planet became visible. Uranus symbolizes the Truth and Mythos of the individual and when a person looks deeply at this planet, their own Truth (both light and dark) will confront them.

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