Where Are We Now?


“We have discussed the various upcoming dynamic or hard-aspect alignments of the outer-planet cycles. There still remain the trines and sextiles of these cycles. Of these, by far the most significant is the century-long Neptune-Pluto sextile, which began in the mid-twentieth century and will continue until near the middle of the twenty-first. This long sextile takes place once each five-hundred-year Neptune-Pluton cycle, beginning about a half-century after the conjunction. Its unusual duration results from Pluto’s eccentric 24year orbit, which twice each Neptune-Pluto cycle brings it close to and, briefly even inside Neptune’s orbit—the first time as a sextile, the second as a trine.

Historically, such sustained sextile or trine alignments of Neptune and Pluto have coincided with long epochs in which a certain profound evolution of consciousness appears to be propelled and sustained in a gradual, harmoniously UR manner, moving beneath and through the fluctuations and crises that might occur at a more immediate empirical level. The grand trine of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in the 1760s and 1770s, which coincided with the peak of the Enlightenment, the birth of Romanticism, and the beginning of the American Revolution, occurred as part of the most recent much longer Neptune-Pluto trine of the eighteenth century. These century-long epochs generally seem to impel the collective experience of a more confluent relationship between nature and spirit, between evolutionary and instinctual forces (Pluto) and the spiritual resources and idealistic aspirations of the pervading cultural vision (Neptune). The archetypal dynamics involved characteristically provide, at an almost subterranean level in the collective psyche, a sustained stabilizing impulse.


This particular energy of alignment has special significance: first, because it involves Neptune and Pluto, the two outermost planets; and second, because it lasts longer than any other planetary alignment. “The current sextile is also historically noteworthy because of its role in the larger cyclical movements of all three outermost planets, since it coincided with the first Uranus-Pluto and Uranus Neptune conjunctions to occur after the Neptune-Pluto conjunction of the 1880-1905 period. From a long-term historical perspective, therefor we are living today at the moment when all three of these cycles, the largest planetary cycles known to us, have just completed their conjunctions in succession, marking the full initiation of the corresponding archetypal dynamics for the next several centuries.


If we consider, then, the unfolding cycles of the three outermost planets taking into account the current alignment between Neptune and Pluto, the number of years since the most recent Neptune-Pluto conjunction a century ago, and completion of the subsequent Uranus-Pluto and Uranus-Neptune conjunctions of the 1960s and 1990s, respectively, our present moment in history is most comparable, astronomically, to the period exactly five hundred years ago with which we began the book: the era that brought forth the birth of the modem self during the decades surrounding the year 1500. This too was an epoch of extraordinary turbulence and uncertainty, and also of great cultural creativity and dynamism. It was the moment of the High Renaissance of Leonardo and Michelangelo, Erasmus and Thomas More, in the immediate aftermath of Pico Della Mirandola’s new vision of human possibility in the Oratio and Ficinos Plaonic Academy in Florence—a period shaped by the rapid spread of a powerful. New medium of universal communication, the printed book; the first expeditions a vast new world that, at enormous human and ecological cost, led to the opening of the global community to itself; and the immense spiritual and cosmological transformations, still unfolding, represented by Luther’s start of the Reformation and Copernicus’s conceiving of the heliocentric hypothesis.

Our postmodern age of ceaseless flux and irresolvable complexity, for all its metaphysical disorientation, and despite the collective entrancement produced by the mass media and corporate marketing, has nevertheless brought forth new conditions and possibilities that could prove invaluable for our future. As a result of the many extraordinary changes—cultural, psychological, spiritual—that have unfolded in the past half-century, the collective psyche has undergone a pervasive and in certain respects deeply benign transformation that cannot easily be measured and yet, for all its subtlety, is no less pregnant with historical significance. The rapid dissemination during this era of a fundamental new openness to the perspectives and realities of different cultures, eras, religions, races, classes genders, sexual orientations, age groups, even different species and forms of life has been an essential characteristic of our time. It is perhaps not too much to say that, in this first decade of the new millennium, humanity has entered into a condition that is in some sense more globally united and interconnected, more sensitized to the experiences and suffering of others, in certain respects more spiritually awakened, more conscious of alternative future possibilities and ideals, more capable of collective healing and compassion, and, aided by technological advances in communications media, more able to think, feel, and respond together in a spiritually evolved manner to the world’s swiftly changing realities than has ever before been possible.”


Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, 2006


Pages 481, 482, 483