Born in the 60s
The Uranus-Pluto Generation
by Darby Costello
During the late 1980s students who had been born in the mid-sixties began arriving at the CPA. I had been looking forward to meeting this group with their potent Uranus-Pluto conjunction with Neptune in Scorpio. This configuration had begun to intrigue me since I was now beginning to come across it in the charts of people who came to consult me. They were either in the middle of their Saturn return or approaching it and although over the years I had seen thousands of people through their Saturn returns and remembered my own with its tensions and crystalisations, this generation was expressing a very different order of tensions and developments. There was another reason this group intrigued me; they were born in the sixties, and those were the years when my generation was young, and having a most extraordinary time.
One Sunday, standing around with some students after a seminar, we began talking about the sixties. I was regaling them with tales of that time, when we suddenly realised that the six people I was talking to had all been born in the sixties and they all had the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in opposition to Chiron. It emerged that they were born over a five year span, with Saturn in Aquarius, Pisces and Aries. One of the group said that he had the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in the tenth opposite the Saturn-Chiron conjunction in the fourth and both squared Sun in Gemini in the eighth house. He thought it ironic that sex had become so dangerous for his generation, as they had been born into a decade of such sexual freedom. He also said, “You had something to rebel against – your generation spoke out continually. There is so much wrong today, but I think we are afraid to speak out for some reason – though we feel the weight of the world’s sorrow very much.”
We spoke for a long time and his words gave me a sudden insight into how generations interweave with each other in surprising and mysterious ways. For a moment it was clear how the outer planets describe images, thoughts and notions which are absorbed in infancy and later projected onto the world and made real, while new people are being born taking in these new images and carrrying them forward in time. This generation, born in the sixties, all had Neptune in Scorpio and Pluto in Virgo and except for the first and last years, they all had Uranus in Virgo too. The conjunction of Uranus and Pluto was in the middle four years of the decade. I began to note the different shared perspections expressed by people born in the different time zones of the decade. I felt especially touched by the people born during this ten year period as they were born during the time when my generation was young, and awakening to life in a most powerful and unexpected way.
The sixties were a time of great awakening. The generation coming of age during that decade shared a vision and a sexual freedom that was unique and unprecedented. This was at least partly because of two little pills that had been designed in Virgoan research laboratories in Switzerland, LSD and the birth control pill. Neptune was in Scorpio and sex, drugs and rock and roll seemed to offer a path to heaven on earth. It is ironic that the generation born during the sixties was born in a time when youth was freer to find physical, mental and spiritual satisfaction than all of the generations before them.
Pluto had been moving back and forth between Leo and Virgo for the last few years of the fifties, but by mid 1958 it ffinally settled in Virgo. Uranus joined it properly in 1962 and they worked the same field for the next eight years. Strictly speaking Uranus and Pluto were not conjunct until 1964. They stayed close together in Virgo for the next four years. Through those four years, Chiron, as yet to be discovered, was opposing from Pisces. By 1968 most of the western world had been touched by the change in consciousness that had risen like a wave through millions of young people, with their psychedelic vision, their sexual freedom and their experimental way of life.
This psychedelic generation grew up, made careers, had children, and in spite of all that early freedom, became as deeply embedded in the world as any people do with time working through them. Today they are mostly in their fifties, moving towards their second lunar and Saturn returns. Though Saturn has inevitably done its grinding work many of them still carry some of the sense of wonder that was awaken in them as a group through their late teens and early twenties. The children born into that decade of radically changing consciousness are now all into their thirties, a few years past their first lunar and Saturn returns. They are now deepening into the world and taking up their responsibilities, each in their own way, and what they share, through the Uranus-Pluto conjunction is unique in the last 2500 years. These two planets have only been conjoined thirty times in this span of time, and never before in Virgo.
This generation was born into a time when sex was fun, food was good, and water and sunlight were free and healthy. During their years of sexual awakening they had to contend with a sexually transmitted killer disease; though food continues to be plentiful in the western world, diseases such as anorexia and bulemia were taking their toll and food scares were becoming more and more common. Drinking water began to come out of bottles instead of taps and the heat and light of the sun were
becoming suspect as they filtered through our weakening ozone layer. No matter how much this generation wishes to live private lives out of the social mainstream, they are confronted with collective issues every time they make a private decision. Their Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo with Neptune in Scorpio demands that they pay attention to a thousand small details and potential dangers. The trick – and Virgo is Mercury ruled – is to find where and how to pay attention so that day to day life is not swamped in ridiculous and petty discontents and there is no time for realising the depths of spiritual satisfaction that any life requires.
In whichever house Uranus and Pluto fall, there is something to be done – something to be discovered, uncovered and perhaps recovered. This is the house where a pattern of order was broken in one’s early life. The rituals and habits of ordinary development were disrupted, perhaps destroyed. One is later drawn, even driven, to experiment with new ideas, methods and rituals, to address the sense of fragmentation in the affairs of this house. Yet it is frightening to experiment because there is a powerful, albeit unconscious memory, associated with experimentation in the affairs of the house concerned. When Virgo is on the cusp of a particular house we enter that house with a Virgoan and logical approach. When Uranus and Pluto are there, logic is turned on its head at each fresh approach. Because there was distress and disturbance in the things associated with that house in childhood, it feels threatening (Pluto) to experiment (Uranus) – but it is necessary if one is to feel the excitement of life and reach the depths in oneself that nourish mind and soul. As Saturn describes the work that must be done to keep your personal life in balance, Pluto speaks of where you must abandon yourself for the sake of your generation’s task. There may be some choice around Saturn; there seems to be none around Pluto.
In observing clients and students, and the growing body of friends who were born into this decade, I became increasingly aware of a number of different territories. There is the group born before the stage was set – articulating the transition between the old consciousness and the new. Then there are the people born between 1964 and 1968, when the Uranus-Pluto conjunction was most powerful. And then there are those born at the end of the decade, making a bridge to the next development, with Uranus in Libra and Chiron in Aries.
Though each group is interesting in its own right, for the purposes of this article I will say something only about the middle group; those with the tight conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in Virgo. We can better understand the interface of their personal and collective lives if we divide them into three groups:
The first group has Saturn in Aquarius. Many of them have Saturn quincunx the conjunction and squared to Neptune in Scorpio.
The second group has Saturn in Pisces. Many of them have Saturn conjunct Chiron and opposing the Uranus-Pluto conjunction.
And the third group has Saturn in Aries; nearly half of them with Saturn in a yod configuration with the Virgo-Scorpio sextile.
As they make their way through their years of fashioning the world, each group has a different responsibility, a different area of mastery, a different kind of structural “imperfection” to contend with. Describing and helping to understand this responsibility is the task of each astrologer whether he or she shares these configurations or not. Working towards understanding one’s responsibilities, both personal and collective is a large part of achieving satisfaction and certainly part of the road to peace.
The first group, with Saturn in Aquarius, is socially idealistic and they have to work, not only to keep their own ideals, but also to facilitate idealism in others. Those with their Saturns squared to Neptune in Scorpio often experience, when young, psychological entanglement with the disappointed idealism of their fathers. Children with this aspect are attuned to where father was let down by his own authority figures and so could not live up to his own ideal of himself. Most of the people I know with this aspect also have a memory of magic around their fathers – whether this is drowned or enhanced by other considerations is dependent on how the aspect is integrated into the rest of the chart.
Saturn square Neptune demands spiritual rigour – you can’t leave the world completely, to develop your soul, nor can you give in to the world completely, and forget your soul. Those with the Scorpio-Aquarius square need to live up to their own social idealism while longing for profound emotional experience. In trying to bridge the two realms they often find themselves dangling at the end of a rope, perilously close to the abyss But when the bridge holds they bring soul food right into the world and are deeply nourished in soul and mind. Uranus, as dispositor of Saturn in Aquarius, is in Mercury ruled Virgo. With this combination of planets and rulers, mistrust and humour are appropriate companions on life’s journey, and cynicism is one’s greatest spiritual danger.
This group must regularly work what they must ‘give to Caesar and to God.’ Neptune’s spiritual longing and Saturn’s worldly demands never melt into something comfortable for any length of time, just as one’s father never quite lived up to his child’s or his own ideal, for any length of time. Thus do our souls struggle with the weaknesses of the personal and collective bodies through which we incarnate.
With Saturn quincunx the Mercury ruled Uranus-Pluto conjunction one is continually nagged by the need to fix something. What needs fixing and who one decides should fix it depends on house positions and other interweaving aspects. The things that need adjusting and fixing cannot be done automatically or in a routine way. They require energy and audacity. But they can seem like distractions to finding oneself. These things, seen out of the corner of one’s eye, keep one aware that the world is always out of one’s control. This can be experienced as a constant torment, or as a call to attention that comes out of nowhere and demands renewed awareness whenever one gets too lost in ideas and ideals. The details of how it operates depend on the whole chart and what sort of soul is inhabiting the chart.
Those born with Saturn in Pisces conjoined to Chiron in Pisces opposite the Virgo conjunction were born into the years where traditional authority was showing its weaknesses more and more. In the landscape of my memory it is tempting to say that the only people we listened to were the poets and musicians who spoke and sang to us – and most of them turned out to be less than holy. Saturn was conjoined to Chiron in Pisces – everything was falling apart and no one really knew what was going on. For we who were young, it was exciting. For those born into this atmosphere, it is a spiritual problem that filters into all sorts of small and personal areas of their lives.
To find authentic authority in oneself, one must generally find it in others first, in early childhood. We begin by imitating and later work out what is appropriate to our own personalities through the various Saturn stages. If, in those early years, one’s authority figures were lost or confused, absent or indeed lying and betraying, it is difficult later on to find authority in oneself. Wherever the opposition falls in the chart, these people must confront inaccurate, imprecise, ill-founded, ill-advised words and action. They do this from a stand that is mutability itself – with their Saturn conjoined to Chiron in Pisces, how can they be sure they are right about what they see? They must act and fail, and act again. Ultimately their guide and authority is Piscean compassion – a compassion grown through the waters of hurt feelings and bouts of helplessness. A difficult client with this configuration said to me, “I’m all about hopeless causes.” I asked if he was referring to himself or others. Being a Scorpio he looked enigmatic and said, “What do you think?” I found myself caught right in the middle of the opposition, flung back and forth between irritation and confusion on several levels at once. In the end I said, rather enigmatically, “Of course”, and we slid into another gear. I felt strongly how the Neptune in Scorpio with its mysterious conclusions probably often acts as a release for the opposition.
Many of the men and women I know with this configuration are part of that dedicated band of ‘eco warriors’ that now live everywhere around the world as guardians of various ecological systems. A client with the opposition across the third/ninth houses and Moon in Sagittarius squaring it from the sixth was in this country to raise money for the tribal lands he was trying to keep ecologically balanced. “It is my job”, he said, “to willingly bother everyone around me all the time so that every detail I see of misuse of the environment will becomes someone’s personal task.” I asked him if he often felt hopeless and he said, “Every day, but it hurts more to stop trying than it does to keep failing, and sometimes I actually succeed for a time.”
The pain this aspect describes is never wholly personal – it calls for action without the comfort of a consistent sense of hope. Those who cannot take action themselves, act as catalysts for those around them. Even those who experience themselves as helpless and obsessed fulfil their generational task. They make others aware of where things just aren’t right.
The last group born with Saturn in Aries has a fight on its hands, each according to his or her own Mars position. In childhood they experienced their father’s battle for autonomy in the face of his own obstacles, and they generally found him too harsh or not directive enough in helping them foster their own self-discipline. Those who have Saturn at the apex of a yod to Neptune in Scorpio and Uranus and Pluto in Virgo have their own personal struggle for authoritative action at odds with their need for deep emotional and mental satisfaction. Though each of their stories are unique, they generally share a struggle for self-reliance in the face of emotional demands and economic or physical unpredictabilities, according to the houses involved. When personal planets are connected to any of the points of the yod, fate comes through the planets involved. Looking in Lois Rodden’s database I noticed an intriguing mix of pop stars, adventurous princes and porno stars.
My clients from this group are, alas, usually more conventional. However, many of them are no less courageous. Saturn in Aries always points to a struggle with developing an energy flow that serves oneself and one’s work. With this yod it can seem as though one should act when one can’t and be passive when one is full of energy. And then fate comes along and offers potential triumph if one will throw one’s energy into the battle and simply do the work. Doing the work requires bearing failure
of course, and this seems to be the key for this yod. Those who were part of the protests and revolutions of the late sixties remember both the frustrations and the vibrant energy of the time. Those born during that time carry the need to fight for something and win. Those who risk failure do fail, but they also know triumph. Depending on the personal planets involved triumph and failure may be intensely personal. But because of the outer planets involved even the most private acts of courage have an effect on the world outside ones private sphere.
Years ago I was close to a couple whose five children were all born in the sixties. One of them had Saturn in Aries in the fourth, quincunx Uranus-Pluto in the ninth and Neptune in Scorpio in the eleventh. Mars was in Leo in the seventh and all his personal planets
were connected to the configuration in various ways. Though he was a sunny child, with several planets in Leo, I used to look at that Saturn in Aries in the fourth and wonder if he would look back on his childhood as an unhappy time. There were moments when I would find him sitting alone, looking upset,
while all the other children were leaping about in the field. His father certainly loved him, but he found this tendency to withdrawal hard to deal with as he hid his own tender skin even from himself. He would try to tease his son out of these moments, but the teasing often ended in more hurt. When the boy was eight his parents divorced. He rarely saw his father again as his mother moved them to a different town, and later a different country. I lost track of them but heard from him recently. He had not had an easy life up to now. He told me he’d been full of resentment around his father, blaming him for the “loss
of my childhood”. Then he’d married and had his own children. When he left his wife, he still blamed his father, for “making me that way”. Now he’d begun asking real questions. “I sound like I’m looking for God, but it’s more than that – I’m trying to see what is fate and where the pattern can be worked with. It must be possible to do something that is my own decision. It so often feels like fate just takes over. I am searching for my own will.”
The conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, while Neptune was moving through Scorpio, signalled a call to plunge through and past the current rites and rituals of many aspects of daily life. A new approach to the earth, to our bodies, to work and service, and to the connection between mind and matter was demanded. It sprang out of a hunger for depth, for intimate union that broke through the rituals and rules of social life at that time. We, who were young then, felt the touch of this breakthrough in many aspects of our lives and, being an articulate generation, we sang and chanted our visions and our demands. The generation born during that time felt the call in the waters of their earth bodies. As adults, there are those who play it out in quiet and personal ways and there are those who leap into the fray working for transformation and regeneration of all sorts of systems on the earth. It depends on how other planets interweave with these transpersonals as to whether one’s participation is public or private, but everyone is part of it. As progressions and transits touch these planets, new clues are given as to what is demanded and what is offered. The trick is to keep paying attention with this Mercury ruled field in hidden water worlds. The trick is to keep one’s tool box up to date and be willing to be surprised.
Printed in APOLLON, April 2000