“We need to ground ourselves in the cosmic point of view and refer back to it frequently, as best we can.” – Jessica Murray

plutoIt’s hard to know how to respond to the catastrophe unfolding in Japan — the tens of thousands killed and injured by the earthquake and tsunami, and the six nuclear reactors that have been destabilized and are now in potential “meltdown” mode.

Feeling overwhelmed by it all, I turned to, what else, astrology. Many astrologers are speculating about the planetary “causes” of these events (I’m not convinced that the planets “cause” events here on Earth as much as mirror them). But what’s more interesting to me is how astrology can reveal the deeper meaning of these events by illuminating the broader context of these times. And, most importantly, help us understand what’s being asked of us as participants in this greater collective drama. How can we as individuals respond consciously and effectively? What are the lessons we need to be learning?

To find the wisdom I was looking for, I realized it was time to listen to Jessica Murray’s lecture on the Uranus-Pluto square — The Longest Arm of the Cross. Jessica Murray, one of my astro-superheroes, is offering a series of lectures on the astrology of now — 2012 and the Cosmic Crossroads — and all of the ones I’ve listened to have been extremely helpful. This one was no exception.

The square between Uranus and Pluto, which is in effect from 2010-2016 and will be exact seven times over the next few years, is the most long-term influence of the Cardinal Grand Cross. While there is much to say about the Cardinal Cross, here’s how I summarized it in a post last summer, when the Cross was first heating up: Will humanity — will each of us — take back our power in time to save ourselves and our home planet? (Welcome to Eclipse Season)

Uranus the Great Awakener rules humanity, revolution, liberation and technology, and Uranus’s entry into Aries — which coincided with the Japan earthquake — signals a new 84-year cycle in relation to these themes, a rebirth.

Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, rules death and rebirth, the dismantling and destruction of what has become stagnant and decayed, clearing the way for new growth. Pluto in Capricorn, from 2008-2024, signifies the breakdown of systems and structures, including governments and economies. Civilization in its current form is killing us, and we have reached the critical crossroads when we need to either change or die.

Uranus’s move into Aries activated the square to Pluto, and the explosive energies of the Cardinal Cross. The event is resonant of Chiron’s first entry into Pisces last spring, which coincided with the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, setting off the worst eco-disaster of our lifetimes. Perhaps, until now.

As Jessica Murray points out in her lecture, Capricorn rules borders and boundaries, and Pluto in Capricorn erodes those imagined boundaries between “us” and “them,” between the “First World” and “Third World,” between the “haves” and “have-nots.”

Just as we can’t ignore the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe as an isolated, local event, the threat of “nuclear meltdown” in Japan makes that disaster a global issue. Like the ocean, radiation knows no boundaries, and cannot be contained. (For some practical advice, see How to Survive Nuclear Fallout.)

What these two crises have in common, in addition to the grief, suffering, despair, fear and overwhelm they engender, is that they both result from humans’ misuse and abuse of energy and technology. The Gulf of Mexico disaster was an extreme wake-up call about the dangers of drilling for oil, and now we’re having to face the dangers of nuclear power. Needless to say, those dangers weren’t exactly invisible before, but now they’re unignorable.

The good news is that Uranus in Aries signals the potential for a dramatic turn-around, for radical changes to happen much more quickly than we can even imagine. The human ingenuity that split the atom and created machines that drill for oil thousands of feet below sea level now needs to be applied to cleaning up radioactive waste (see, for example, Paul Stamets’ work with mushrooms), creating sustainable forms of power (see Nassim Harramein’s Resonance Project), and transitioning from a suicidal to a sustainable society.

And little old you, and little old me? Uranus in Aries says: in this time, each and every one of us is a leader, here to contribute to the collective in our own unique way. We can best respond to the global crises by having the courage to step into the truth of who we are and step up to the part we came here to play to the best of our ability.

We need to resist the temptation toward cynicism, apathy and paralysis. On a soul level, we all chose to be here, right now, to participate in this massive transition, and we’re just getting started.

– Emily Trinkaus