Britain On The Rack Of The Uranus-Pluto Square

Friday February 8th 2013
James Bond and the Queen
Corridors of power under a Neptune transit.

For a month or so last summer what it meant to be British in the 21st century seemed so clear – in an eccentric sort of way. There were James Bond and the Queen and Mr Bean cavorting about, and various sporty types and dancing nurses and Voldemort, and Boris Johnson on a zip wire. Somehow it all made sense…

That was the 2012 summer Olympics in London and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Two successful festivals that turned out to be displays of national identity, imagination and power. For a while even the unemployment figures looked OK.

But we all knew it was a respite from the underlying story, which is of a country in transition. Neptune, the glamour planet, was transiting the UK’s natal Pluto, just as it is now. I’m not dismissing those festivals, nor the glamourous Royal Wedding of the previous year – imagination is our bread and butter here and it’s likely what will get us out of this mess. But the mess is real, and cannot be wished away.

Give us circuses, but give us bread too.

I have had to split this lengthy article in two as it just became unwieldy. Here is part one.

So let’s look at the chart.

I’ve chosen the UK chart for 1801, because it works and it is the most commonly used. The country has, of course, recently experienced Saturn crossing the Ascendant and transiting the first house of the horoscope. The resonances with the previous such transit in the early 1980s were so clear that I actually managed to predict a Royal Wedding, click here for the link.

Back in 1981, Chancellor Geoffrey Howe made a famous budget speech as Saturn hit 7° Libra, the UK ascendant. His policy was to deflate the economy even though Britain was in the midst of a recession. Sound familiar? Our current chancellor George Osborne made a similar speech when Saturn hit 7° Libra a couple of years ago.

There is still debate about whether Howe’s budget actually worked. It certainly sent unemployment through the roof, and various industries were killed stone dead. Some argue those were mercy killings.  His Chancellorship also saw the deregulation of the City of London, which, arguably, eventually led to the financial scandals we have been experiencing now.

Of course, there are big differences too, between now and then. For a start, interest rates were around 13% and the UK was coming out of the 1970s, a decade of labour unrest and economic decline.

There was a Tory government with a slim majority, transformed in 1982 by the Falklands War (tr Mars-Saturn-Pluto in the first house) into a thumping majority. In 1984, with Saturn and Pluto in Scorpio and the UK second house of money, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher negotiated the famous “rebate” from the European Economic Community – which later became the European Union.

Today, we are in the bust after a “boom”. We have a coalition government with a narrow mandate, and our most important trading partner, European Union has changed almost beyond recognition, growing to include 27 states instead of just 12, and spawning a currency.

Now, Saturn has gone into the second house of income again, and we’re trying to negotiate a rebate from the EU again, or at least cut the EU budget. Saturn in the second is certainly two and a half years of economic austerity ahead. But for some of that time, Saturn is sextiling the UK Sun and transiting Pluto in Capricorn, the sign of the establishment and of institutions, including banking.

This Saturn-Pluto sextile is an important and powerful aspect, and it’s there right up until the autumn. The two planets support each other because they are in mutual reception, that is in each others signs. This makes them stronger and more unified in their action. It does suggest the potential for constructive transformation of our leadership. Although, it’s important not to get too Pollyanna about Pluto transits. They can be very tough.

Every time a planet passes the midpoint of this sextile, or the opposite house to it, the energy is triggered. For the UK, this opposite house is the 9th one of religion.

Justin Welby
New Archbishop Justin Welby:
transiting Jupiter in H9.

We are one of the few countries in the world to have a kind of in-house religion, the Church of England. And  just as Jupiter, the guru, hovers on the cusp of the 9th house, the new Archbishop of Canterbury is ordained. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles relationships with the secular powers. It looks as if he may be walking straight into trouble from the rulers (Sun conj tr Pluto) and from conservatives (Saturn in Scorpio).

The relationship between Church and State in Britain may well become disentangled. Currently, the state has too much power over the Church and the Church has too much power in the State. Bishops sit by right in the house of lords and the majority of state schools are still nominally church schools. On the other hand, the Prime Minister appoints the Archbishop. (Hang on a minute, didn’t they go to the same school.)

The Uranus-Pluto Square
Astrologically, the most important transit to hit the UK chart is the Uranus-Pluto square, which sits right on the angles. Pluto on the IC and Uranus on the Descendant.

  • Last time Pluto was in this position, this particular chart had not even been born. It was about the time some colonists on the other side of Atlantic were getting tremendously cross about taxes on tea and salt and stuff. We all know how that ended. But at the same time, Britannia was slowly grabbing India, the future Jewel in the Crown. In other words, extending her territory massively: Pluto in the fourth.
  • Last time Uranus was in this position in Aries was 1929/30 – and we all know where that went too.
  • Last time these two planets squared up was between 1932 and 1934 – Uranus was in Aries but Pluto was at the top of the chart in Cancer. (In fact the head of state, George V, was at death’s door for those years, as you might expect from Pluto transiting the 10th. Hades wears the helmet of invisibility and indeed, the king was rarely seen.) The government was a coalition just as it is today: Uranus in the 7th = strange bedfellows.

This time, Pluto is on the IC and, of course, just past conjuncting the UK Sun. This conjunction will occur again in July and November. There’s no doubt, the country is going through a major transformation, just how it will turn out is uncertain, but we can see what will be affected.

Suffragette poster

In any national chart, the Sun is the country’s leadership, and here it’s in powerful Capricorn but hidden in the fourth house. The power comes from the owners of the land, and actually traditionally, the fourth house represents the people. “An Englishman’s home is his castle.”

(It’s interesting that this 1801 chart was born at the beginning of the century which saw a gradual  enfranchisement of the populace. In 1801, you had to a landowning male to vote. By 1928, the only requirements were citizenship and having reached the age of 21. The previous chart has the Sun on the MC – power securely in the hands of an elite.)

In this chart the Sun rules the 11th house, which represents Parliament. So real power does lie with parliament. The questions on many lips is: does parliament represent the people? And does it wield power usefully? Under both Thatcher and Blair, parliament was reduced to a shouty showcase, while the real decisions were simply made at 10 Downing Street and handed out as diktats.

The political class have been subjected to close scrutiny in the past few years, and it’s not come out well. The Leveson enquiry and the MPs expenses scandal uncorked a stench of complacent petty corruption and gave it an airing. (Thanks Pluto for poking a stick in Westmisnter sewers.)

The present government comes from a wafer-thin sliver of society, which cannot, with the best will in the world, represent the people. There is the will for change – that is why a coalition was voted in – but the system is unable to deliver it. That’s partly because it is hard to know how to change.

Then, of course, there is the question of the Royal Family. Currently in favour with the populace; surely also represented by the Capricorn Sun, which speaks of very old, established power. Does Pluto’s contact to the UK Sun signify the end of this Queen’s rule? (Just to note for future ref. In the UK chart, the Capricorn Sun in the 4th house, and Saturn in the 11th house and Leo, the royal sign, are in mutual reception.)

Pluto transiting the IC points to a change in the shape of the land – a redrawing of borders, a possible new geography. If we count the previous time of this transit (which I’m not sure we should), we see the loss of America and the gaining of huge territories around the globe. In 2014, Scotland will hold a referendum on independence. But there are other parts of the Union that could surprise us. For example, trouble is kicking off again in Northern Ireland. Britain might dearly love to see a united Ireland, but the Unionist will never allow it – or will they?

Taboo-busting Uranus transiting the seventh house of
partnerships is bound to mean
a legalisation of gay marriage.

But Pluto’s square to Uranus points us unerringly to where there will certainly be change – and that is in UK partnerships. Uranus in the seventh house is traditionally a transit of divorce, or a whirlwind romance. Gay marriage is bound to be legalised during this transit, since Uranus rules convention-breaking and the seventh house rules marriage. But bi-lateral relationships of all kinds are going to be shaken or at least stirred. I’ve noted already that Uranus in the seventh does seem to go with coalition government.

The relationship with the EU has always been an uneasy one. Even Europhiles are now pointing to Norway as an example of how to be European but outside the EU.  Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on this after the next parliament (2015).

sex pistols
Vicious and Rotten: Punk was a Pluto
transit through the first
house for the UK.

Currently this is a mid-life crisis for Britain’s partnership with Europe, since the Uranus Half-Return approaches and is already in sign. When Britain joined the community in 1973, Uranus was in Libra, transiting Britain’s first house. This was also the last time Pluto was on an angle: it was just 3° from the UK Ascendant. (The 1970s were a first house Pluto transit for the UK.)

The seventh house also rules open enemies. I leave you to speculate on what Uranus through the seventh might mean, but simply point out that in September 1939, when Britain declared war on Germany, Uranus was well into the 8th house. The planet on the Descendant – 20 minutes from exact – was Jupiter.

More to come on the UK.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    with pluto transiting 10th house of uk chart, together with the other hard aspects, could also mean a monumental fall from grace – so to speak – especially with aspects from 7th house, and one which will be laid bear to the world especially if working from an underhanded position which seems to be the politics of the day! It would seem that the usa is also included in similar aspects as the uk, this could end up being one monumental humiliation for both countries! With pluto being associated with control it fits perfectly with those in positions of power being out of controll and being set up for a fall.