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UK's Identity Crisis & Opportunity
Written & published: April/May/June 2007
The UK is having an identity crisis.
This is not news, of course, however astrology gives a particular view of the process in operation within the national psyche, a view that is otherwise hard to grasp.
Transiting Pluto is currently 11 degrees away from a conjunction with the UK's Sun, symbolising the national identity. But this transit starts sooner than we think.
It doesn't happen in 2011 or 2012. It is arguably already here.
But before getting into the time-scale - or perhaps it should be called space-scale - we need to first clarify the astrological symbolism of identity.
Who are we?
Identity is multi-layered. There is the outer, projected self, which is usually glorified or at least promoted for its positive qualities. There is the layer beneath that persona, usually considered less positive and therefore held back from public display, but no less real. And then there is the deeper, inner, core identity, the authentic self. All these are represented by the Sun, and all of these pertain as much to a nation as to an individual.
The national identity crisis currently has several strands, but one of the biggest and most threatening is the government's desire for a National Identity Register, which is a database of information about the UK's citizens. The 'tip of the iceberg' is ID cards, but the database itself is the heart of the project, undeniably the most costly part and arguably the most sinister.
As Pluto sweeps towards the nation's Sun, there is the danger of a light going out, or at least darkening. Fortunately, there is also the prospect of a flame being rekindled, reinvigorated, renewed. Pluto transits are often said to have two parts: Act I, and Act II. The first is an ending, a loss, a bereavement whether literal or metaphorical. The second is a new lease of life, a new hope, a new vigour.
We could be facing the death of the United Kingdom as it currently is, and the resurgence of the constituent nations and parts: Scotland, Wales, England, and Northern Ireland. But we could also be facing the resurrection of the Union in a different form, a radical and wholesale rearrangement of the relationships between the constituent parts.
There is also, of course, the union with or withdrawal from the European Union - will the UK, or parts thereof, withdraw? Or go in the other direction and adopt the Euro? There must be other possibilities perhaps not yet foreseen, and there is also the - seemingly at present rather remote, but nevertheless not able to be ruled out - possibility of a formal union with the USA. Certainly the 'special relationship' is due for drastic reform.
What all of these things have in common is 'who are we?'. The search for meaningful answers to the questions 'where are we going?', 'what role do we want to play, and can we play?' and 'how can we develop our potential in future?' is going to be intensely important for the next decade in the whole of the United Kingdom.
In terms of activities, constitutional reform of the House of Lords, the Prime Minister's powers, the monarchy, the electoral system, and the question of the written/unwritten constitution itself, are all likely to come under intense scrutiny and be radically altered. Old systems might be completely thrown away, and care will need to be taken not to throw out the baby with the bathwater - it's a very real danger. New system might be forced in, rather than appropriately considered, tried and tested. It's a tricky time.
National detox & self-esteem
On a psychological level, it could be a very paranoid time. Fears must be faced, and the use and abuse of national power is up for review. Hiding away from that review process won't be possible; Pluto transits require a an unflinching gaze on what's really going on behind the scenes, scrutinising the darkest secrets and confronting the 'unspeakables'.
The reward for this 'national detox' is renewed confidence and a rebirth of an authentic sense of national selfhood, not based on former glories or hubristic tendencies, but on solid appraisal of real strengths. The national self-esteem problems that have dogged the UK for generations can finally be sloughed off, replaced by a solid sense of purpose and balanced self-worth.
There's a first time for everything
The UK as an entity in itself has never before experienced a Pluto conjunction of the Sun. It has, however, experienced an opposition and two squares (besides other aspects). Below are the years of exactitude, so please remember several years either side would need to be examined for the more-than-cursory at the past that we are conducting here:-
Normally deciding the orb for an aspect is done by degrees of the Zodiac. But Mapped Transits grant us another perspective.
Most astrologers with their eye on the UK chart aren't expecting transiting Pluto to be within orb of the conjunction with the UK's IC and Sun until it moves within one degree of them in January 2012 and March 2012 respectively. Some astrologers widen the orb to two or three degrees, but even a three degree orb translates into just a year earlier: March 2011.
Taking a geographical perspective doesn't override the Zodiac method, it adds to it. It shows us that the UK will experience an exact aspect of transiting Pluto conjunct the IC from January 2009 onwards - much sooner than we think.
From the UK's perspective, Pluto will reach the western tip of Northern Ireland at this time and then slowly move across the country eastwards. This map gives the key dates of exact alignments with the capital cities, Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and London.
The months are given as a range because Pluto will move across the lined areas forwards and backwards, in direct and retrograde motion, during those periods, so it will be exactly aligned with them more than once within the dates shown.
Using a one degree orb, by the time most astrologers consider Pluto to be exactly conjunct the UK's IC, Zodiacally-speaking, it will have been right through most of the nation already, geographically-speaking. This could be considered an argument for astrologers to use wider orbs.
Using the same example of the UK's IC, but widening the orb to 3 degrees - considered an upper limit by many astrologers - transiting Pluto would move within orb of the nation's IC right at the end of January 2011. But again, by that time Pluto will have, geographically-speaking, moved across Northern Ireland, Cornwall, Wales and much of Scotland. In fact, it will have reached Cardiff and Edinburgh, the capital cities of Wales and Scotland respectively.
Since the UK won the contest to host the 2012 Olympic games, parts of London have started to be regenerated in preparation. This is another symbol of these Pluto transits being 'within orb' already, rather than only within orb in a few years' time.
Prime Minister & the Royal Prerogative
During Tony Blair's time in government his all-too-frequent use - or misuse - of the Royal Prerogative has come under fire. The powers of the monarch is a suitably Pluto-Sun issue. The idea that the monarch, as a divine symbol at the centre of the nation, being all-powerful and answerable to no-one but 'God' is a theme of this transit. As Pluto metaphorically sweeps across the UK, there is a chance for the scrutiny of this practice to develop into radical change. In a sense, the Prime Minister has been behaving like an unruly and sometimes petulant child, using the Divine Right of Kings to rule, rather than serve or even govern. Astrologically, it's now time for this to be altered for the better.
The nation's children and young adults are also likely to continue to come under increasingly intense focus during this transit. Their power, and the nation's mis/use of power in relation to them are the issues ready for review. Smacking children, the repetitive cycles of violence between adults and children and between children and other children, targeting children with uhealthy food and drinks which then impacts on their behaviour and personality, advertising unhealthy products and modelling unhealthy behaviour to children and young people, sexual abuse and emotional victimisation of and by children, and so on, are all building into a critical mass of radical change in society.
The image of the Divine Child is also relevant, although not often discussed in the UK. The Divine Child has a relationship to the monarchy, and to religions such as Christianity etc, but it also has psychological relevance as a symbol and metaphor. It is said that to heal the adult, heal the child within the adult. The Divine Child is an integral part of this process. It is the part of us that retains self-esteem and authenticity, long past the point when the outer personality and the world around us have lost both of those things in the social search for applause, approval, and validation.
On some profound level, the UK is searching for this aspect of human nature. It's in Pluto's nature to dig deep, excavate, uncover that which has been hidden, lain dormant, and unretrieved. The nation is undertaking a process whereby its childlike spirit can be resurrected and reborn, giving birth to new sources of creativity, previously untapped talents, and a wellspring of joie-de-vivre.
Instead of shaky projections of the self, resting on insecure foundations and giving rise to arrogance, machismo and an obsession with celebrity and appearances of talent - even copying other people's talents - rather than an expression of the real self and genuine abilities, the UK has an opportunity to find something more substantial on which to re-build itself from the ground up.
Spirit of the nation
During Pluto transits if we choose not to re-build, often the foundations will crumble and we fall apart; the old 'ego' feels like it is being pulverized and annihilated, powerless and frail. In reality, something new is trying to be born, but often the 'false self' resists the surrender to the process instituted by the Self.
The old out-of-balance masculine hierarchies must give way to a more inclusive way of living. Playing 'King of the Castle' won't work anymore, although those tendencies are likely to temporarily flare up so that they can be released. The choice will be to cling to those old reaction patterns, or let them go and let real power come.
Rather than holding on to what is dying, grasping the opportunity to reconstitute the nation's sense of identity and authority, founded on a realistic appraisal of strengths, weaknesses, past events and future potentials, is the wiser course of action. Something may darken for a while, but the light can return brighter than before.
The results can be a renewed vigour and thirst for life, a heartfelt sense of identity that is truly unshakeable, a radiant vitality that reaches out to life and a generosity of spirit that seeks to give and share, having no need or wish to self-aggrandise or relate to other nations as mere satellites within its orbit.
In context - other transits
The Pluto transit to the UK's IC and Sun do not happen in isolation, of course. There are other major transits that occur synchronously, among them are:-
Tony Blair, Menzies Campbell, David Cameron, European Union, USA, War on Terror, Uranus in Pisces & Neptune in Aquarius, & more
Euro Currency, NHS, BBC,
USA economy, Ofcom, Concorde,
W Edwards Deming, European Central Bank, Anita Roddick, & more
Health, emotional intelligence, zodiac elements, understanding change, Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani, Germaine Greer, & more