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an Article by Edward Gillam
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This research is the work of Edward Gillam. Please reply to him by email with your comments. If you wish to refer to this work, please acknowledge his ideas in your piece. Thanks!
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THE NEPTUNE-PLUTO SEPTILE (2001-2011)
The period 2001-2011 in the new millennium will be characterized by an on-going septile formed between Neptune and Pluto. This seventh harmonic aspect relationship, between the two most distant planets in the solar system, has received little attention in astrological journals and publications to date.
This is remarkable for two reasons. Firstly, the original septile contact between Neptune and Pluto, following their conjunction in 1891-2, formed in the period 1937-1941. This was a dramatic period of history in western Europe and Asia and presaged the engagement of the United States and Japan in the Second World War.
Secondly, the curious astronomy of Neptune and Pluto creates the circumstances in which a second septile can form. Typically, the faster moving planet - in this case, Neptune - would move away from the slower planet - Pluto - once an aspect in the 360 degree circle had formed and dissolved.
In this article, the astronomical relationship of Neptune and Pluto will be described. The symbolic qualities of this relationship will also be explored. The nature of the septile aspect in astrology will be discussed and its manifestation in the Neptune-Pluto cycle will examined. Lastly, some thoughts will be given to the period 2001-2011; some of the crises and opportunities that may occur in this time will be tentatively explored.
Neptune and Pluto are the two most distant major bodies in our solar system.1 Neptune lies at an average 30.06 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun; Pluto lies at an average 39.53 AU from the Sun (within a range of 30 AU to 50 AU). Pluto has an extremely elliptical orbit - shown by the vast range of difference in its distance from the Sun - which brings it within the orbit of Neptune for brief periods of time.
It is relatively well known that Pluto was its closest approach to Sun in 1989, and within the orbit of Neptune during 1979-1999. This period, which coincides with the dramatic social, cultural, political and economic changes in recent times, has now passed and Pluto has moved back beyond the orbit of Neptune and towards aphelion.
During its perihelion, Pluto appears to accelerate through the zodiac from our earth-bound perspective. Hence, for example, its journey through Scorpio, when it is at perihelion, takes much less time than its journey through Taurus. From an astrological point of view, at a point during the waxing first sextile during the Neptune/Pluto synod, Pluto appears to approach Neptune to form and reform their septile over a number of years. After this period, as Pluto moves outside the orbit of Neptune, this latter planet appears to begin to move more swiftly and draw away from its distant partner.
The Neptune-Pluto synod is the most infrequently occurring outer planet conjunction in our solar system. It recurs approximately every 492 years; the last conjunction occurred during 1891-2 at 8 and 9 degrees of Gemini.2 The synodic conjunction is the seed moment and the qualities described by the synodic horoscope set the tone for the complete synodic cycle.
Meece describes the 'Horoscope of Modern Humanity' in association with this last synodic conjunction of Neptune and Pluto.3 He describes this horoscope as 'the chart for the age we live in' and associates its symbolism with bureaucracy, scientism, authoritarianism, media violence and a sense of rootlessness and transience.
Charles Harvey writes that Neptune and Pluto "...have to do with the deep unconscious/superconscious of the collective, to an opening up to higher transcendent collective ideas and ideals."4 Hence, at key points in the Neptune-Pluto cycle, these ideas and ideals will find their expression in human society. It is specifically noted by Charles Harvey that the 1891-2 synod seems to manifested as a move towards global culture.
The previous Neptune-Pluto synod occurred in 1399. It is interesting to note that the first septile occurred during the period 1445-1449; the second septile formed during 1495-1526. This second period coincides with the high Renaissance. It should also be noted that the period 1506-1509 was characterized, astrologically, by an intense period of seventh harmonic activity involving Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
The septile - 1/7 of the circle or 51.43 degrees - is a little used and poorly understood aspect in astrology. It is usually ignored in most texts, except those dealing specifically with harmonics, and does not form a typical part of the delineation of horoscopes. However, some evidence suggests that increasing our awareness of the septile and seventh harmonic symbolism, may help to develop our understanding of the darker, more primitive elements of the individual and collective psyche.
Most of the work on septiles has been undertaken by John Addey, Charles Harvey, Mike Harding and David Hamblin. In general, septile symbolism is associated with inspiration, visionary experiences, and connection with divinity. "is related to the inflowing of inspiration, of some kind of 'higher vision' which comes from perceiving the unity....It is traditionally associated with religious and mystical experience, and with sacrifice to some higher ideal."5
This 'traditional' interpretation of septile imagery is drawn from the work of John Addey who identified powerful seventh harmonic relationships in the charts of romantic composers. However, Hamblin points out that much seventh harmonic imagery, described in the key texts, also seems to be connected with ninth harmonic symbolism. Or rather, much of which is ascribed to seven is more correctly ascribed to nine.6
Hamblin's theory is that seven is "...a number not of man's rational and constructive abilities, but of his wild, fertile and unpredictable imagination....It is a number of man's highest flights of creative imagination, and of his lowest depts of destructive illusion."7 I feel that this gets closer to the meaning of seventh harmonic symbolism. Seven may not only be the number of iconoclastic imagination, but the number of the darkest potential in our hearts.
Hamblin's point of view is tentatively supported by Charles Harvey's discussion of the period 1937-1941. This coincided with the first Neptune-Pluto septile in the current synod. This is clearly a dark period in European history, marked by the consolidation of fascism in Germany, Italy and Spain, declarations of war, the deployment of Blitzkrieg warfare and an arms race. This seems a long way from the mystical interpretation of seven with its 'inflowing of inspiration' and a 'kind of higher vision'.
The period is marked by the preparation for war, attempts to forestall or prevent war, declarations of war, bitter fighting, drawing and re-drawing of alliances and national borders. It is a period where certainties were thrown into disarray. This gives us the image of seven as 'chaos' - the intrusion of disorder, malevolence and destruction into ordered (or relatively well-ordered) societies.
The following synopsis of the historical events of the period 1937-1941, during which the first Neptune-Pluto septile formed, gives some idea of the quality of events leading up to, and including, the first years of the Second World War. The dates represent the months in which the septile was exact.
Close approach Jan-Feb 1937: during 1937 Japan at war with China;
Spanish Civil War continues.
Dec 1937: US economy faltering - Roosevelt introduces final provisions of New Deal.
March 1938: German soldiers march into Austria and unite it with Germany.
Nov 1938: at the end September of the Munich Agreement is signed and further attempts to appease Germany.
April-May 1939: German annexation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939.
Oct 1939: Germany invades Poland in September 1939; 'Phoney War' to early 1940; Russo-Finnish War - late 1939.
Summer of 1940: mainland Europe falls to German Forces; Luftwaffe attacks RAF bases; Italians at war in north Africa.
Close approach July-August 1941: Finland at war with Soviet Union; end 1941 - Japan at war with US, Britain and Commonwealth countries8
This record does not claim to be a definitive account of the historical events in the period of the exact Neptune-Pluto septile. It is designed to give a sense of the movement towards war and the intensification of conflict. It is suggested that the septile is a symbol for the unleashing of destructive forces within Europe and Asia. This represented the culmination of a series of historical and economic events that occurred throughout the first decades of the twentieth century.
The over-riding quality of this period may be characterized as 'ideological confrontation'. This is a generalization from historical circumstances and events. However, it seems relatively clear that the period 1937-1941 was the culmination of a time of growing polarization between fascist and communist, fascist and liberal, liberal and communist, east and west, with shifting alliances formed between each element according to changing balances in power.
The septile between Neptune and Pluto may represent the unleashing of ideological differences in an escalating confrontation between political systems, economies and ultimately between military forces. This sanguine view sounds pessimistic and doomsaying. However, we cannot ignore the potential for this degree of antagonism between peoples in our own times. Witness India-Pakistan, the former Yugoslavia, China-Taiwan, Iran-Iraq, Iraq and the West and post-colonial Africa.
The coming septile may represent the release, or the resolution, of long-held, bitter grudges that result in religious and political wars and schisms. The situation in the former Yugoslavia reveals the appalling consequences of religious and political differences fought out in battlefields. Vigilance and pro-activity, perhaps on behalf of the United Nations, may help resolve differences before conflict breaks out with negotiation and compromise.
Most astrologers will say that modern times - post World War II - have been characterized by the long-term Neptune-Pluto sextile.9 However, as noted, the first decade of the new millenium will actually be described, from the point of view of the two outermost planets in our solar system, by a Neptune-Pluto septile. (Dates of the aspect formation can be found below.)
Based on historical and astrological evidence we may speculate that this time will be one of severe ideological struggle. Although the division of Europe into eastern and western blocs has been removed, Chinese communism is still a potent ideological force for millions of people. However, perhaps the ideological struggle there will be more about internal political reform and the on-going development of market forces within the Chinese economy.
Charles Harvey also notes that great advances in science, technology and medicine were made at the time of the first septile in atomic energy, plastics and antibiotics. It is not difficult to predict that the coming decade may see an acceleration of knowledge in many areas especially genetics, artificial intelligence, communications and materials science.
Each of these potential developments, and the unforeseen changes that may occur in this period, have their 'pros and cons'. The issue of genetic modification of food is an example of the debate and struggle that may ensue if science and technology move ahead of, or run counter to, public opinion. One consequence of the rapid development of knowledge may be an intensification of the ideological, ethical, scientific, technical and commercial struggle that accompanies 'progress'.
It is important not to overlook the spiritual potential of this septile: the Neptune-Pluto synod speaks of spiritual regeneration or transformation. Perhaps we will be witness to, or participants in, a revolution in spiritual thought and practice. Established churches in the United Kingdom face a crisis in membership; active worshippers are falling to a critical low in mainstream denominations. This lack of interest in established religion may presage a spiritual renaissance when people experiment with modern, dynamic and fulfilling alternatives.10
We must bear in mind that the astrological dynamics of the coming decade do not replicate the astrological potential of the period 1937-1941. We have experienced, in the sixties and the early nineties, two of the most outstanding outer planet conjunctions for many decades: Uranus-Pluto and Uranus-Neptune respectively. It is likely that the energies manifested during these times will fundamentally alter the potentiality of the coming septile.
It may be important to note that the middle sixties saw an explosion in 'psychedelic consciousness' and a willingness to explore alternative views of reality and culture. The generation that pioneered this movement is now reaching the pinnacle of influence in their adult lives; their choices and decisions may help to spread a more accommodating and peaceful vision of human society and its potential for good.
Meece, and many others, have speculated that the period during the late 20th century and early 21st century will become known as a new Renaissance. Our historical age, marked as it is by conflict, may also be characterized by tremendous artistic, creative, technical and scientific advance. To an extent this is already true (at least in so far as we can judge!).
However, it is useful to note that the period of the first septile following the last synod - 1445-1449 - saw the development (if not the invention) of moveable printing type in the West. This lead to the printing of the Guttenburg Bible in the mid-1450s. This technical development is paralleled in our own time by the development of computers and the rise of the Internet.
It is not unrealistic to speculate that during the coming decade, printed material will be usurped by electronic files as the principle means of disseminating information. Although the demise of 'paper' has been predicted for decades, this coming period may be the last stand of the printing press as the tool for reproducing written information. Certainly, by the next conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, occurring in air signs, this issue ought to have been settled.
During the early 1990s, the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of 1993 was preceded by a Uranus-Pluto septile. The first contact occurred in April-May 1989, with the major focus of septile energy during 1990 and 1991. Arguably the septile energy remained strong throughout 1992. This period, of course, coincides with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Soviet bloc, the Velvet Revolution in the then Czechoslovakia, the break up of the former Yugoslavia and the Gulf War.
Although socially, politically, economically and astrologically there were many forces at work in this period, it is interesting to note that the time, characterized by strong septile forces between outer planets, correlated with a period of dissolution and far-reaching social change. Armed conflict was also a feature of this period, especially in the former Yugoslavia and the Gulf War.
The first decade of the new millenium will be characterized, astrologically, by the re-formation of a septile between Neptune and Pluto. This seventh harmonic aspect first formed during the period 1937-1941. The Neptune-Pluto cycle has been correlated with far-reaching, epochal changes in social, political, cultural and economic systems.
It has been noted that septile energy, in its mundane expression, can be associated with social conflict, dissolution, disorder and disturbing events. However, as astrologers, we have a role in fostering the highest expressions of combinations of energies; in this case, perhaps encouraging and promoting spiritual transformation and regeneration on Earth.
Liz Greene sounds a note of caution to those who wish to interpret the potential meaning and manifestation of the 1892 Neptune/Pluto synod, especially in terms of its spiritual significance: "The religious conflicts of the latter part of the 20th century, involving not only Christianity but also Islam, are deep and challenging....(T)hose born after the last World War cannot recall a time when they did not exist. For this reason it is difficult to make objective observations about an aspect (the Neptune-Pluto conjunction) which is so deeply embedded in our psychic reality."11
In spite of this warning, we might hope that the coming decade is blessed with spiritual endeavors that repair and rebuild trust between peoples and nations. Astrology is nothing if it is not used to work towards these goals.
1. All astronomical details are taken from J Mitton. (1992) The Penguin Dictionary of Astronomy. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books.
2. All astrological details are taken from M Baigent, N Campion and C Harvey. (1992) Mundane Astrology: An Introduction to the Astrology of Nations and Groups. London, Aquarian Press.
3. The Horoscope of Modern Humanity: set for the solar eclipse occurring on 26 April 1892 for local sidereal time 7:00:37. A Neptune-Pluto conjunction occurred within days of this eclipse. E Alan Meece. (1997) Horoscope for the New Millenium. St Paul, Llewellyn Publications.
4. Baigent, Campion and Harvey. (1992) p. 178.
5. Baigent, Campion and Harvey. (1992) p. 158.
6. See D. Hamblin. (1987) Harmonic Charts: Understanding and Using the Principle of Harmonics in Astrological Interpretation. London, Aquarian Press. p. 64.
7. Hamblin. (1987) p. 65.
8. It may be noted that during 1940-41 Iraq formed an alliance with the Axis powers - Germany, Italy and Japan - in an effort to end British influence in the country. The British army defeated Iraq in 1941 and restored control over the nation.
9. Baigent, Campion and Harvey. (1992) p. 178.
10. Baigent, Campion and Harvey. (1992) p. 159.
11. Greene. (1996) p. 444.
Dates of Neptune septile Pluto (2001-2011) and Neptune and Pluto ingresses (calculated with Astrolog ver. 5.41c software). All dates are approximately correct but cannot be considered exact due to the difficulties in precisely calculating outer planet ingresses etc.
25-12-2001; 11- 1-2002; 11-12-2002; 30- 1-2003; 05-12-2003; 09- 2-2004; 01-12-2004; 14- 2-2005; 30-11-2005; 19- 2-2006; 02-12-2006; 21- 2-2007; 05-12-2007; 25- 1-2008 (Pluto enters Capricorn); 22- 2-2008; 13- 6-2008 (Pluto enters Sagittarius); 26-11-2008 (Pluto enters Capricorn); 09-12-2008; 19- 2-2009; 16-12-2009; 15- 2-2010; 29-12-2010; 06- 2-2011; 04- 4-2011 (Neptune enters Pisces); 05- 8-2011 (Neptune enters Aquarius); 03- 2-2012 (Neptune enters Pisces).
Baigent, M, Campion, N and Harvey, C. (1992) Mundane Astrology: An Introduction to the Astrology of Nations and Groups. London, Aquarian Press.
Greene, L. (1996) The Astrological Neptune and the Quest for Redemption. York Beach, Weiser.
Hamblin, D. (1987) Harmonic Charts: Understanding and Using the Principle of Harmonics in Astrological Interpretation. London, Aquarian Press.
Meece, E Alan. (1997) Horoscope for the New Millenium. St Paul, Llewellyn Publications.
Mitton, J. (1992) The Penguin Dictionary of Astronomy. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books.
This research is the work of Edward Gillam. Please reply to me by email with your comments. If you wish to refer to this work, please acknowledge my ideas in your piece. Thanks!
If you've enjoyed what you've read, you may like to visit my homepage.