Martin Luther King & Selma ~ Viewed through the Astrological Lens
Last night I went to see the new movie ‘Selma’, the story of Dr Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights for Black Americans in the 1960’s. It’s an outstanding portrayal, challenging at times yet inspiring too – testament of how far we’ve come as human beings, and how far we have yet to travel in terms of conscious evolution. Martin Luther King’s courage is without question. He is a hero of our times and the movie gave a more balanced picture of the cost to his personal life, and the roles of black women in the civil rights movement. The hero has a thousand faces and a thousand compatriots.
‘Selma’ takes us back in time and yet reflects current issues. Does anything really change we might ask? Astrology can provide insights into these movements towards change as it reflects the cycles and rhythms of our lives both personally and in humanity as a whole. Currently we are in a period of dynamic change that ignited first in the mid 1960’s with the Uranus/Pluto conjunction, then in 2012 with phase two, the first of seven Uranus/Pluto squares. Throughout history the Uranus/Pluto cycle (which lasts between 110-150 years) marks periods of revolution and resistance, revelation and the potential of enlightenment, chaos and attempts to control. The current stage of the cycle that began in the 60’s reaches a level of culmination in March.
If we look first to the social themes of the mid-sixties: the civil rights & feminist movements, the birth of environmentalism, Vietnam demonstrations and the flower power movement, sexual liberation through the Pill, we can see the opening of this current Uranus/Pluto cycle. It’s a movement towards freedom and authority for the individual (the people) and away from ‘the authorities’, our established structures of government, systems of finance, education and commerce with its focus on materialism and outmoded values.
The energies of Pluto and Uranus can be viewed also through the lens of the elements: Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, currently in the sign of Capricorn being cold, dark earth and Sky God Uranus, in Aries, as bright, light fire. It’s the archetypal meeting of dark and light, earth and heaven, feminine and masculine, the square aspect being an inner tension between the two seeming opposites. Personally, it’s an inner calling to authenticity through the transformation of old ways of being (relationship with self, job, relationships and so on) and their forms. It’s a movement away from personal safety zones and into a life on the edge of infinite potential. Just as lightning electrifies and energises the earth, Uranus’s lightning bolts of insight are highlighting (perhaps shattering) existing life structures and igniting new potentials. We are asked to make way for dynamic change both personally and globally, internally and externally. The process can be chaotic, yet ultimately enlivening. After all Pluto is the Great Transformer, ruling the inevitable and choiceless processes of change that rule our lives. We have no choice but to go through this, just as we have no choice about death. The choice point is how we go through this. This is where Uranus points - to direct and passionate engagement of new potentials, with clear perspective on life as a great adventure or dragging our feet in the futile attempt to control or manage (Pluto in Capricorn) the inevitable processes of change. Uranus represents the divine spark within the individual challenging the ‘norm’, Pluto as the power to manifest new life structures through practical action i.e. to manifest that spark in bright new form. It’s not about change for change sake, or chasing the new in an escape from old structures; it’s about awakening our existing life to its full potential.
Human beings tend to resist monumental change, both as a society and as individuals. We like things to be normal. We tend to like change when we are its instigators and have a sense of control. But as for real change? Isn’t it true many of us resist it? And yet we have a dynamic opportunity now to engage real opportunities for awakening, to engage them consciously and act on them. The other potential is that opportunity accumulates behind our resistance to change, until the dam bursts and we get washed away in the ensuing chaos. To support conscious understanding of this process we need to recognise and act from one unavoidable truth: change is the nature of Life.
If we look at evolution between the 60’s and now, we can see growth in consciousness, environmental values and spirituality have crept in, yet mainly to the extent that they are kept comfortable and personal. We can see many women have a level of power of self-determination, yet the integration of feminine values into society is much slower. Civil rights movements, environmental and social justice campaigners are still marching. The wider social implications of the Uranus/Pluto conjunction and the 60’s movements are yet to dawn. It is a matter of both inner and external shifts. Perhaps we have yet to make substantial inner changes in beliefs, attitudes and perspective? Perhaps we are afraid to really shift the edge of our comfort zones externally? Certainly the inner and external shifts walk hand in hand. And they are closer now than forty years ago.
Dr. King’s movement was based on non-violent demonstration yet it inevitably brought a violent confrontation out from the underworld of the American psyche. Eventually however shock and horror at the violence against the Selma Marchers brought both black and white protestors together from all over the US in a march for justice. Perhaps for the first time Black and White Americans walked side by side on that final march? Here we can see a step forward, a level of integration that led to President Linden Johnson’s action to change the law. Clearly that violent confrontation is still erupting; recent events in Ferguson show the level of pain still emerging from that inner split in the US psyche. What can we make of this? Has anything changed really? The journey through Pluto’s underworld had to be taken and still does. In the 60’s the right to freedom of individuality represented by Uranus became manifest – to some degree. Yet there are deep questions still to be answered. There is still a way to go. It’s a process. One we take individually and together.
Now we move towards March and the final Uranus/Pluto square, there are questions we may ask ourselves. What journey are you taking towards conscious presence in your life, and where is it taking you? Where is the underworld calling you and what is its price? What is the choiceless choice in your life? Where is the light of awakening authenticity shining bright? These are worthy questions that will bear fruit when asked with intention. Each small change made by awakening individuals builds a growing tide. Whatever the process of change in your life now, the words of Martin Luther King still echo through the decades ‘Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase’.