(Originally published in The Mountain Astrologer, 1993?)
by Bruce Scofield
Pluto and Saturn just simultaneously sideswiped my Ascendant. Things got so crazy I had to leave a message on my answering machine ("I'm somewhere else, sorry") and not go near the phone. Along with my regular full-time astrology business I've been doing work on basements (preparing and cleaning them for future use by Plutonian females). I had to format a complex book with 48 maps and 60 photos on computer (I had to first learn a publishing program and use a mouse). I found a dead mouse in a trap in my basement workshop that had voluntarily crawled in to die. I scraped a floor with a scraper (thankfully it wasn't with my fingernails) to get out the gunk. I built an airlock for a cat to go in and out of the basement. I repacked my front wheel bearings and changed the brake calipers. And I dealt with a host of unprecedented personal and social dilemmas too embarrassing to mention. Fortunately, David Letterman is now on at a decent time for the over-forty crowd. On the positive side I've accomplished a lot and set a new personal hiking record: 28 miles covered and 4 major summits bagged in a 30 hour hike with a backpack. Now this is real Saturn/Pluto stuff. A positive attitude, a sense of humor and a strong body is my prescription for handling these energies.
How about that January jam of planets in Capricorn? The focus of the inner planet conjunction during early January is around 9 to 12 degrees of the sign. By the 10th they're closing in on Uranus and Neptune and the Moon joins them. Since the New York City chart has the Sun near there (incorporation of the five boroughs on January 1) we should expect some developments. Over the years I've noticed major events and happenings in that city when those degrees were bombarded.
As a consulting astrologer I do plenty of relationship analysis for my clients. My take on relationships is that there's more socio-biological factors at work than most people care to admit. I come from the position that we are all domesticated primates and great rationalizers. Romantic love is bio-chemical. Hah! I hear the groans already. Well, what would you expect from (1) a guy, with (2) Saturn rising and (3) Moon and Venus in air signs. However, it is precisely those factors that give me the detachment to look at these touchy, feely parts of life both inside me and outside me. I could go on and on about my philosophy of love (hint: we are all trying to merge with our parents) but I thought I'd get into the hot stuff right away. So here they are, the top three sex-attracting aspects between natal charts.
(1) Moon to Mars. A person's Mars on another's Moon means that the Moon person's most basic instincts are aroused. Now when this occurs between people of the same sex, the result is often competition, but between those of the opposite sex, the result is (all other things being equal) that the Moon person goes into heat pretty quickly. You will see combination this all the time in the hottest relationships. Use an orb of about 15 degrees for conjunction and opposition, 9 for square and trine and about 4 for sextile and quintile. The square aspect is particularly troublesome and you may want to avoid a relationship where there are many squares, unless you like getting spanked or worse. Although it seems to me that the Moon person is the one that gets aroused first, the Mars person also gets turned on.
(2) Mars to Ascendant. Actually, this may be just as hot as the above, again all things being equal. When someone's Mars is conjunct another's Ascendant, the experience of physical contact is intense. As with the Mars/Moon combination described above, odors drive the individuals into ecstatic frenzy. Muscles move involuntarily, sweat and other bodily fluids are copious. Mars penetrates the boundaries of self symbolized by the Ascendant. I'm getting turned on just thinking about this combination. Like Moon/Mars, try to avoid the squares, they generate too much friction.
(3) Mars to Venus. This passionate combination is the meeting of opposites. Venus, the passive, reacts to Mars, the aggressive. Venus is excited by Mars and is driven to adulation, confessions of love and poetry. The driving force behind all of this is a sophisticated kind of lust. Mars is softened and learns to be delicate with his hard edges. The two throw themselves at each other to merge in sexual ecstasy. Squares between these two are not as harsh as the other combinations, but they are symbolic of some big problems, none the less.
The above combinations are all you need to know if you are out looking for love. They are the essentials of what my editor, Tem, calls "Street Synastry." If a couple has at least one of the three happening between them, they'll have some fire between them. All three and its a rush for the bedroom. Its this bio-chemical fire that holds people together long enough to get to really know each other, or to make a baby (which is the real evolutionary goal of relationships). I won't go into my sociological analysis of marriage right now, but I am suggesting that mating instincts, in part ruled by Mars, are what's really behind love and romance. So now you know what to look for.
Drugs, of course, are ruled by Neptune. Like all drugs, they trick the body into believing something is happening that may not be happening. They work in subtle ways, usually fooling one receptor or another. We take drugs to mask pain of all kinds, including psychological pain. Societies prefer that we take drugs that do not threaten the social order. In the Anglo world, alcohol is OK for that reason, but marijuana is not because it often allows the user to perceive the patterns that hold us in our places. God forbid we should become conscious.
Each drug corresponds with a planet or planetary combination. Alcohol is ruled by Saturn and it is used frequently by those with strong Saturns or Capricorn placements. These people are so inhibited and uptight that they need a strong dis-inhibitor to make them feel human again. Pot smokers usually have a strong Mercury/Neptune aspect and therefore a strong imagination. These people like to smoke marijuana because it allows their minds to do more remote-expansive perception. They are basically paranoid individuals who need to make connections between things. A more advanced pot type is the psychedelic user (LSD, mescaline, mushrooms, Ecstasy). These are either brave souls who seek to explore inner space, or passive hedonists who eventually burn out. Speed (cocaine, methedrine, nicotine and coffee) users will typically have a strong Gemini component. They are nervous and wired and find these drugs either speed up their response time or calm them down enough to think clearly. Chocolate eaters typically have strong Venus placements, often in Earth signs. Incense inhalers are very sensitive and are mostly born under Pisces. I'm not sure what distinguishes beef-eaters from the rest of us. Serious astro-drug users will elect times to ingest their favorite mind-altering substances.
Rock and Roll
Music is seems to be in a weird state these days. Nothing really earth shaking like Elvis or the Beatles is happening and I haven't heard of any major technological innovations on the level of the electric guitar, or sound recording. One would think that the Uranus/Neptune conjunction would be making its mischief and magic in the world of music as elsewhere.
A few years ago American Astrology ran an article of mine on music and the Saturn/Neptune cycle (I think it was called something like "Music of the Spheres"). In it I pointed out that during the past 300 years many major innovations in music occurred either within a year of the conjunction or opposition of these two bodies. Also, many major personalities in music were born or died on them, or did their best work during them. For example, Mozart was born and then died on the opposition, about 36 years apart.
In the 20th century an interesting pattern in music has occurred at the conjunctions of these planets. In 1917 the red light district in New Orleans was shut down and a horde of musicians were dispersed up the River to St. Louis and Chicago, and east to New York and other big cities where they collectively gave birth to jazz as we have come to know it. Most jazz historians do consider 1917 to be the birth of jazz. At the next conjunction, in 1953 and 1954, Rock and Roll began with Bill Haley, the Crew Cuts, and a number of more important black artists (Hank Ballard, Chuck Berry, etc.) who had been developing the form for a few years prior but had been held back due to the prejudice of the music industry. With the very acceptable white Elvis, this music form was unleashed to the world in 55 and 56.
In my article I pointed out that if one divides the Saturn/Neptune cycle into quarters, developments in both the 1917 jazz phase and the 1953 Rock phase follow the same pattern. The conjunction sets the keynote and basic form (see above), the opening square brings out the great standard setters (Louis Armstrong/The Beatles), the opposition brings the completion of the form and a crisis in direction (big band swing/Doors, Hendrix, Beatle break-up, rock star deaths, etc.) and the closing square a return to basics with a considerable advance in sophistication (BeBop/New Wave). By the time the next conjunction occurs, the form has run its course and can only elaborate on what has already been established. For example, jazz has had its great performers since 1953, but there has really been no significant departures from the basic styles set out before that time (with the exception of the fusion movement which attempts to combine jazz with ideas from rock music).
When Saturn and Neptune conjoined in 1989 I looked (in vain) for the emergence of a genuinely new musical form. Right around the time of one of the exact conjunctions Newsweek ran an article about the many deaths and retirements of the worlds great symphony conductors. Rap music was in the news and all over MTV and New Age music in all the bookstores. Obviously something was happening, but what was it?
Today, a few years later and in the middle of the Uranus/Neptune conjunction, I'm beginning to piece things together. First of all, it seems to me that over the past few years, there's been a lot more fusing of styles than ever before. A trend for several years now, what's called "World Music" is exactly that, a blend of music from all over the globe. Sitars, wood flutes and synthesizers all playing in one groove. Some of this passes for New
Age music. But on the pop scene we've also got acts like Johnny Clegg, a white guy from South Africa, and his black band Savuka doing a kind of Afro-pop that's unique. Then there's the Pogues doing dirty Irish stuff with rock instruments. Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead searches the world for original sounds while Xochimoki, a duo from New Mexico, attempts to recreate what ancient Aztec and Maya music sounded like on the original instruments.
Perhaps one of the very best groups on the circuit today that mixes styles is Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Bela plays various natural and unnatural banjos, Victor is the world's greatest electric bass player this year in all the polls, and "Future Man" plays a bizarre guitar-looking instrument that is actually a high-tech drumming device. These guys recently played top jazz, rock, and country venues in New York City with rave reviews from each. The distinctions are blurring. If only musicians had administrative abilities, they'd probably do a lot better at solving the world's problems than politicians.
Another trend is the resurgence of acoustic folk music, what's being called "unplugged" by the MTV generation. Solo guitarists who write and sing their own material, both old and new, are making a major comeback in the pop scene, and they are better than ever. It seems to me that first Saturn, then Uranus and Neptune in Capricorn has brought out of the closet all the traditions; the traditions of music throughout the world, and the older, pre-electric traditions of music in the Anglo world. Even alternative grunge music, for example Seattle bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth (or Amherst's Dinosaur Jr.) who became big business during the Saturn/Neptune conjunction, were not really breaking new ground. Their music is a throwback to the 1960's garage bands. They were reacting to the fakeness of the music industry but have now become a part of it. Another instance of the conflict between Capricorn and Saturn/Uranus/Neptune. Rap music is also another example of minimalism and a return to roots.
Finally, what seems to be happening to me is that both jazz and rock,
both great afro-American contributions to the history of music, are reaching
maturity. For years now, many rock players have been reaching levels of
sophistication that put them on a par with jazz players. Jazz players have
learned restraint from rock players but have continued to push the limits
of their instruments. In short, many rock and jazz players are simply high
caliber musicians, as good as the best classical players (when you consider
the inherent differences in the two types of music). Twentieth century
music is now a living tradition equal in complexity and sophistication
to traditional Western classical music. If Beethoven were living today,
he'd be playing synthesizer and doing world music, not sitting in some
stuffy conservatory trying to push a dead form into unnatural positions.
This may be the meaning of Saturn/Neptune and Uranus in Capricorn for the
world of music.