THE PLANETARY AGES
Marcia Moore & Mark Douglas
Each planet, starting from the Sun and extending outward to Saturn, represents a stage of progressive solidification and individualization. This does not mean that the planets, as physical bodies, become more dense or less dependent upon the attraction of their parent Sun. It is the astrological qualities assigned to them which reflect the hardening or ossification of the aging process.
THE MOON — The Stage of Response
The first, most fluid phase of life is symbolized by the Moon. This lunar period describes the amorphous condition of infancy when the child is a fitful conglomeration of instincts and responses. The Moon makes the infant passively receptive to outside influences even though, with the Sun in the background, they are a distinct individual from the start and never a mere tabula rasa.
The Moon signifies motherhood, and also all life-giving liquids which, like water, have no true shape of their own but can be poured into any available container. Thus, the infant is dependent upon the maternal parent to mold their rudimentary ego. Their earliest sensation is that of being helpless and vulnerable, excruciatingly impressionable, yet unable to act in their own right. The influence of the Moon upon this susceptible creature is of primary importance up to the seventh year of life.
MERCURY — The Stage of Adjustment
Volatile Mercury, the planet of speech and communication, is associated with the early school years when the youngster learns the ABC's of relating to others through the medium of language, the double-edged tool of the objective intelligence. They find that not only can they take orders but they can talk back to people, making their ideas understood and asserting themselves as a mind rather than as a perambulating bundle of clamorous needs and desires. During this stage, they make innumerable connections with the surrounding world, especially through mastery of the arts of reading and writing. The sense of morality is as flexible as the body, and correspondingly small. Despite the fact that they are learning to think logically, to reason and be reasoned with, they are blithely irresponsible. The lightness of foot and capacity for perpetual motion suggest the quivering quality of quicksilver — a common name for the element mercury. The Mercurial period comprises the years between the ages of seven and fourteen when the child receives their basic education and begins to master the intricacies of their environment.
VENUS — The Stage of Evaluation
The Venusian period corresponds to the years between fourteen and twenty-one when the emotional nature begins to ripen. The softness of childhood gives way to the poised assurance of the young adult as the malleability of the Moon and Mercury phases is superseded by a more discriminating appraisal of people and situations. The varied experiences of childhood are weighed, judged, and assimilated to provide a basis for enduring standards of taste and behavior.
This is an age for falling in love, not only with members of the opposite sex, but with art, culture, and esthetic ideals. The adolescent is swayed by crushes, fads, and crazes — all part of a process designed to impart a sense of balance, proportion, and moderation as they learn to regulate their conduct according to social norms. During this time of grace before shouldering the responsibilities of adulthood, the youth develops their capacity for social relationships, finds out where they "fit in," learn to cooperate with others, and prepare for marriage and the partnerships of the mature years.
EARTH — The Stage of Self-confrontation
At twenty-one, an individual comes of age and can, if they will, function as full-fledged citizens of Earth. In the planetary scale, Earth stands midway between extremes of pliability and rigidity. During the Terrene period from twenty-one to twenty-eight, the young adult makes their basic adjustments to the material world. Normally, they become grounded in a particular occupation and sink their roots into the soil of the place where they choose to settle. This is the point at which they seriously endeavor to establish themselves and justify their existence on this planet.
This phase frequently ends with a crisis of reorientation which occurs in the late twenties. After passing through four seven-year periods, an individual arrives a the first great crossroad of their life. They must decide what kind of person they are going to be, and how they will proceed to fulfill whatever promise they have thus far shown. The conclusion of this major life cycle may be painful and difficult. In the natal chart, it is marked by the return of transiting Saturn to its own place (the cycle of Saturn is about twenty-nine years), and also by the completion of the first full circuit of the progressed Moon through the signs.
MARS — The Stage of Accomplishment
When a young adult is about twenty-eight years old, Mars inaugurates a new departure based on the outcome of the previous four-part cycle of personal unfoldment. As character becomes more stabilized, forces are set in motion which affect the remainder of the life span. The individual wields a more percussive influence, acts as a dynamic element in their community, and assert their capacity for leadership.
The years of the Martian period between twenty-eight and thirty-five are physically strenuous. Since maximum effort is expended to initiate new projects and to overcome obstacles, ambition often exceeds financial resources. Although conflicts continue to arise, the stress created by the wear and tear of making a living has not yet eroded the aggressive determination to carve out a niche in life. The individual who has established a place for themselves through the successful completion of the previous phases should by now have gained the momentum to push on boldly and to make the investments and commitments by which they will thereafter be obliged to stand.
JUPITER — The Stage of Purposefulness
If the Mars cycle has been successfully completed, the Jupiterian period lasting from the age of thirty-five to forty-two will see the solid citizen reaping some of the rewards of their efforts. This should be the prime of life, a time for travel, financial and administrative expansion and, sometimes, expansion of girth. A person is now old enough to have profited by experience, and at the same time young enough to enjoy their gains. They are guided by the ideals they have espoused and are apt to be in the process of reformulating their religious faith and of developing a viable philosophy of life.
Having shepherded the growth of their various enterprises, the mature adult should pause to assess their significance. As they view the results of their previous aims and aspirations, they can more meaningfully ask what kind of person they have made of themselves and what their future portends. It is no longer easy for them to change the direction of their life, but by modifying their underlying attitudes and assumptions they can express their deeper beliefs concerning the purpose of their sojourn on Earth.
SATURN — The Stage of Establishment
The Saturnian period lasts from person's forty-second to their forty-ninth year and marks the end of their natural growth. By the time a person has completed their first half-century, they have thoroughly determined the type of human being they are going to be. Their path has become either a rut leading toward the grave or a clearly defined track up the mountain of attainment. By now they should have achieved a measure of self-discipline and be of sound and mature judgment. However, if the previous stages have not been fulfilled, they will find themselves verging on depression and decline.
An individual who has mastered the curriculum laid out by Saturn knows the difference between right and wrong. If they suffer, they should at least have some idea why and for what purpose they must endure the hardships which beset them. This moral and ethical seasoning confers the power to function as an authority in the social system. Presumably, they are fit to govern others because they have proven their ability to govern themselves.
Saturn signifies the completion of the building of a distinctive ego structure. The individual now acts in their own right and impose upon their surroundings the order they have labored to internalize. They are capable of shaping society as originally society shaped them. Through the upholding of accepted laws, they ensure the continuity of the community so that, although eventually they die, civilization endures as a monument to their endeavors.
URANUS — The Stage of Transformation
For the average person, individual development ends with the conclusion of the Saturnian period. The influence of this heavy planet produces a progressive hardening of arteries, brittleness of bones, and all too often a dull conventionality and defensive adherence to tradition. According to the rationale of the celestial scheme, however, there is a way to break through time's tightening tether. For those who have the courage to let the old ways die and to unfold in a higher dimension, Uranus presents the prospect of a forward leap into a radically new state of consciousness.
The concept of extinction is our's alone — nature knows only transformation. Uranus brings the realization that it is not enough to be mature, sober, and reliable. Implicit in every human being there also exists a power which makes it possible to be exceptional and unique. This radiatory energy can be released scientifically to reveal new and unexpected areas of achievement.
If an individual can succeed in invoking the creative potency of their higher self, a second flowering may occur during the period extending from forty-nine to fifty-six years of age. At this time, they may produce their most valuable and original work. Then, at the end of this stage, they arrive at a second major crisis or reorientation analogous to the first crisis at the age of twenty-eight. Transiting Saturn and the progressed Moon have completed another full round of the zodiac, and again there opens out a crossroad of apathy or opportunity.
NEPTUNE — The Stage of Transcendence
The Neptunian period, corresponding to the years from fifty-six to sixty-three, signals a detachment from worldly concupiscence and a deepening concern for spiritual values. This should be a mellowing process providing leisure for meditation upon the significance of work accomplished, and encouraging a mental attitude of letting go. The Neptunian longing for liberation is seldom solaced by the ceremony and dogma of orthodox religious creeds; it is a more mystical aspiration to empty oneself of egotistical cravings, like a river pouring into the sea.
Negatively, this period can mark a descent into slackness and vacuity with a corresponding physical softness and decay. However, the truly mature person will cultivate an attitude of unruffled dispassion, indifferent to the penury or prosperity that may be their lot. By serenely disdaining to be held by Saturn's cramping clutch for security, and by persisting in their search for enlightenment, the nonattached individual may jump beyond their shadow. Then, when at last they arrive at the gates of death, they find immortality waiting to greet him like a beloved friend.
PLUTO — The Stage of Recapitulation
The Plutonian period, from sixty-three to seventy, completes the threescore and ten years of our traditionally allotted life span. It should represent a summing up, just as the seed absorbs the essence of the plant in preparation for its metamorphosis into a new state of being. As the ripening seed undergoes a natural separation from the fruit which bore it, similarly, one's etheric body gradually loosens its connection with the dense physical body so that at the moment of transition it can be detached without undue pain. In this sense, the Neptunian waters serve as an amniotic fluid, easing the passageway of the soul preparing to be born on a subtler plane of existence. Pluto, the deliverer, draws it forth from the womb of earthly experience with the promise of eternal life.
Symbolically, the Sun is pure potency seeking expression through the multifarious manifestations of the material world. Pluto, at the far edge of the system, reduces the solar energy to its most condensed form — the seed. The Sun and Pluto are both impersonal; the alpha and omega of creation. The development, organization, and relinquishment of the individualized ego occur during the intermediary stages of systematic unfoldment.
Beyond the Plutonian period the full spectrum of planetary qualities becomes available. An individual need no longer think in terms of chronological stages. Rather, there should be a steadily growing wholeness of being which transcends the successive births and deaths of the limited personal self.
THE OUTER PLANETS
Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are not time-conditioned but operate as a trinity to transform, dissolve, and renew the form which Saturn so painstakingly defines. In ancient India, a man who had successfully reared his children and provided for the wants of his family would often renounce the world and take up the wandering existence of a seeker of God. This was called "the stage of the Sannyasin" and it covered the time of life associated with the three higher-octave planets.
The outer planets represent energies which have always existed in the cosmos and in humans. Yet, prior to their discovery, few human beings were capable of rising far enough above the self-centered ambitions of Saturn to resonate to their rarefied vibrations. As long as people could not respond to these influences, it was as though they did not exist. Since the recognition of these bodies, however, their qualities have become more evident, not only in the lives of individuals but in the changing order of society.
Uranus, discovered in 1781, is called "the awakener." Its appearance coincided with the Industrial Revolution and also with the "revolution of rising expectations" of the last two centuries. As the planet of democracy, dissent, and freedom of thought and speech, Uranus has been credited by astrologers for the breakthroughs which have occurred in modern communications and for the increasingly widespread distribution of nature's resources. Uranian inventions have stimulated the personal initiative and independence which make individuals today so different from their ancestors.
Since Uranus is the planet of the unexpected, it seldom brings the type of growth
one might predict on the basis of past accomplishment. If a woman at the turn of
the century had been told of the economic development which would occur in the decades ahead, she might have anticipated hiring an extra maid or two. Instead,
she was presented with a modern kitchen. Similarly, people today often assume that progress will give them more living space, when what may occur is an
opportunity to visit the Moon.
The discovery of Neptune in 1846 correlates with the advent of socialism, spiritualism, and theosophy. During this period, the concept that matter is clotted energy and that all animate forms exist within a subtle sea of radiating forces began to permeate the consciousness of the thinkers of the race. The Neptunian capacity to feel what is ineffably common to all things runs directly counter to the Uranian urge for independence, but does not negate it.
The political influence of Neptune has given rise to the communistic ideology with its fanatical insistence upon the subordination of the individual to an omnipotent state. By and large, the Orient is sensitized to the vibrations of Neptune, while the Occident is more Uranian in its general approach to the problems of government. Presumably, the final showdown between Communism (Neptune) and Democracy (Uranus) will also involve a confrontation between East and West. It is, however, a misunderstanding of these planetary principles which causes people to battle in their names, for ideally they should harmonize, like breathing in and breathing out. Collectivism and individualism are reciprocal processes and become dangerous only when out of balance.
The Neptunian proclivity toward mediumship and mysticism can betray a longing to escape the onerous burden of functioning as a separate, self-determining entity. Yet Neptune can also stimulate the aspiration to rise above petty egotism and to sacrifice the self in service to others. Neptune is neither better nor worse than Uranus but acts as its complement, just as Jupiter complements Saturn, Venus complements Mars, and the Moon complements the Sun.
Pluto, discovered in 1930, may eventually reconcile the rugged individualism of Uranus with the commonalty of Neptune. To date, however, its negative qualities have been paramount. Seemingly, this volcanic planet has ripped open a Pandora's box of smoldering hostilities to plague mankind with war and violence. The rise of dictators such as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung and the holocaust of World War II demonstrated Pluto's ability to probe the hidden recesses of human nature and dredge up long-repressed remnants of barbarism. Each planet is capable of greater extremes of good and evil than its predecessors, and Pluto usually goes to the limit in one direction or the other.
Positively, Pluto stands for atomic research and psychoanalysis. These two movements, the one releasing physical forces and the other psychic forces, may yet purge humanity of much of its immaturity and greed. Atomic energy can provide the freedom from want which permits human beings to live at peace with one another, while the wisdom gained from the correct application of psychoanalytic principles may supply the insight to regenerate man from within.
Although the Plutonian Age with its traumas and turbulence has precipitated the death of many cherished institutions, it has compensated by supplying clear proofs of human immortality. In knowing oneself to be an undying soul, at one with all creation, a person may finally mend the split between themselves and the universe and thus eradicate the fundamental cause of their suffering.
The three outer planets refer more to groups than to individuals. They cannot be too closely associated with periods of life but instead reflect states of consciousness which may be achieved at any age. They are indicative of psychological qualities rather than actual events. Thus, it is hard to say what circumstances the position and aspects of Neptune in a horoscope will bring to pass. Yet one may receive an unmistakable impression of a Neptunian type of person, or of one who expresses these traits in a particular department of life.
If a natal chart is dominated by one planet, the individual is likely to come into their own during the period of life to which that planet corresponds. Alternately, that phase will be especially important in their development. Lunar types are inclined to brood over their youth, while Saturnians prosper in later years and often enjoy a robust old age. Uranian, Neptunian, and Plutonian people can transcend temporal considerations and make their mark at any time.
The successive epochs of life marked by the widening circles of the planetary orbits are only approximations. Together they depict the process whereby the outward-streaming energies of the Sun crystallize into ever more complex forms. In contemplation of this comprehensive pattern of creation, the astrologer eventually realizes that their own soul reflects the solar system, and they begin to understand the meaning of the occult axiom, "As above, so below."
Astrology, The Divine Science