How redrawing the dividing lines between generations could result in a major shift in demographic power dynamics.
In the previous article, we explored the idea of using astrology as a tool for understanding generations. The astrological model uses the 248-year orbit of the planet Pluto as it transits through the 12 signs of the zodiac, thus outlining a repeating cycle of 12 generations. For example, if you were born between 1983–1995, you are part of the Pluto in Scorpio generation.
As the slowest moving and furthest planet from the Sun, it takes Pluto an average of 20 years to transit through each of the 12 signs of the zodiac. But because the orbit of Pluto is extremely elliptical, it appears to move more quickly through some signs while moving much slower through others. When Pluto is closest to the Sun (perihelion) it speeds through the sign Scorpio in just 11 years. When it is furthest from the Sun (aphelion) it takes 30 years to crawl through the sign Taurus.
So rather than create a tidy cycle of twelve generations, each spanning exactly 20 years, we get an elliptical one that seems to speed up and throttle down over the course of its complete cycle, which spans nearly 2 ½ centuries. This means that at certain points in history, there will be a sense of time speeding up, while at other times there will be a sense of slowing down and settling in.
We are currently living through the “fast times” of Pluto’s orbit. In 1983, Pluto entered the sign Scorpio (which it rules) marking the time of the planet’s swiftest motion. Interestingly, the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released the year prior. So it’s not surprising to learn that the acceleration of Pluto’s orbit has coincided with the sense of “time speeding up” that we all have been collectively experiencing for the last few decades.
We might also anticipate that those people who were born at that time—the Pluto in Scorpio generation (1983–1995)—would embody this sense of acceleration, as well as the characteristic intensity of Pluto in Scorpio. When the planet of deep unconscious urges for evolutionary change (Pluto) moves through the sign of sex, death and rebirth (Scorpio), this is bound to produce a very deep, dark and power-savvy generation. Yeah, I’m talking to you, first-wave Millennials.
“Whatever is born or done at this particular time has the quality of this moment in time.”—Carl Jung
This keen observation by the preeminent psychologist Carl Jung is crucial to our understanding of a generational approach to history. A key component of this statement is “born or done.” That is, not only will those born during a particular time embody the qualities of that moment, but whatever is done will also embody those same qualities. Continuing with the example of Pluto in Scorpio, in 1983, when the planet of biological struggle and mutation (Pluto) entered the sign of sex and death (Scorpio), we witnessed the inital outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. It was also the beginning of a swift shift in tone, from the peace and love hangover of the 70’s, to the “me” generation, best personified in the character Gordon Gecko in the 1987 film Wall Street and encapsulated in his motto: “Greed is good.”
It was a decade of power suits, power ties and power plays. It witnessed the height of the Cold War and a ratcheting up of the arms race, which in turn spurred a wide scale “No Nukes” protest movement. When Pluto moved on into Sagittarius in 1995, the tone and mood would shift again. But everyone born during the period of 1983–1995 will carry this theme throughout their entire lives. This is the imprint that Pluto puts on each generation—a collective soul purpose.
Collective Soul Purpose
This gets to the heart of the astrological approach to generations. As a planetary archetype, Pluto represents the “evolutionary journey of the soul”—to quote the subtitle of Jeffrey Wolf Green’s groundbreaking book, Pluto. It represents a mostly unconscious process that leads our souls to compulsively and habitually approach certain aspects of life in the same way over and over, even if it leads to difficulties, setbacks or cataclysms. These desires of our souls represent our deepest level of emotional security—they are familiar to us and thus comfortable. But successive challenges to these deeply ingrained behaviors over the course of our lifetime (perhaps many lifetimes) provoke in our personalities the need to change and grow, so that the evolution of our souls can continue.
This process is occurring within each one of us as individuals. But it is also unfolding on a collective level. As cohorts of souls who incarnate under similar cosmic conditions, we will necessarily be working through similar karmic issues, as indicated by the sign Pluto was transiting when we were born—our collective soul purpose. Each generation comes into the world together to work on specific issues and solve specific problems. In the process of facilitating the evolution of our own soul as individuals, we participate in a collective journey with our generational comrades. This is the deep, unconscious bond that fosters our profound sense of a generational identity. We’re different from those who came before and those who came after. We’re unique. We’re special. We’re here for a purpose.
But because this process of soul evolution as nurtured by Pluto is mostly unconscious, we have a hard time putting our fingers on exactly what that collective soul purpose is. This is where the astrological model shows its true merit: it gives us a holistic way of understanding the role each generation is born to play within an unfolding cosmic drama that is as old as humanity itself. That’s got to be worth exploring, don’t you think?
New Power Generations
So the Pluto in Scorpio generation (born 1983–1995) has come in with the collective soul purpose of experiencing their limitations, of realizing “that which they are not” and necessarily seeking to overcome this deficiency by forming relationships with that which possesses what they lack, and (through the process of osmosis) absorbing that thing into themselves. It is an exploration of the dynamics of power and powerlessness, thus a “new power generation.”
This is a collective of souls that is extremely deep. They are willing to plunge the depths of their emotions and encounter their own shadows, and willing to explore taboo territories that are beyond the pale of the conventional. A dark, brooding group, they are supremely instinctual, showing a disdain for hypocrisy and possessing a biting tongue and sarcastic wit which they will employ to sardonically call out anything they deem unworthy.
These are the “first-wave” Millennials. They represent the bulk of the people currently protesting against the inequities of the system and its entrenched power dynamics. They intuitively understand the nature of political power dynamics, and they possess a collective will to power that—if properly harnessed—could present an overwhelming force of change. They came into this life prepared for a power struggle, and a mandate to transform themselves, and in the process transform society.
This insight is in sharp contrast to the more common characterization of Millennials as an over-protected, coddled and clueless generation that can’t seem to get out of their own way. It reminds me of a similar mischaracterization of my own Generation X in the 90’s, when we were dismissed as “slackers”—an apathetic and degenerate bunch of ne’er-do-wells who would never amount to anything. Now, three decades later, demographers have had to revise that premature assessment, noting that GenXers have proved to be some of the most hard-working individuals within all of society.
That’s because “under the hood” of this traditional generational model, most of us GenXers are actually the Pluto in Virgo generation (born 1956–1972). We are a collection of souls who have come into this life to learn lessons of service to society, albeit racked with a profound sense of guilt and self-doubt that requires deep self-analysis, but possessing a keen sense of discrimination, a compulsive desire for purification and an ultimate mandate for self-improvement.
But again, this Pluto-inspired process of collective soul evolution occurs mostly at the level of the unconscious. It becomes the job of each generation, over the course of a lifetime, to become increasingly more aware of these unconscious desires, to make them conscious, so they can then be examined, understood, worked on and evolved. When we GenXers were labeled as slackers as young adults, we had yet to come into our own as individuals, and thus as a generation.
But once we got our collective shit together, we started to display the characteristics of Pluto in Virgo: a hard-working, self-effacing group willing to sacrifice for the greater good, committed to continuously improving ourselves, purifying our diets, working to save the environment and facilitating the transition to the new digital age. And doing so humbly, without calling much attention to ourselves, allowing our Pluto in Leo elders to occupy the main stage and take much of the credit. Classic Pluto in Virgo… and classic Pluto in Leo!
Perhaps I should mention the Pluto in Leo generation (born 1937–1956), as I’m sure if you’re a member of this prestigious club, you’re already a little perturbed that I haven’t mentioned you already. That’s because you’re a part of the most attention-seeking generation in the entire cycle. You’ve come into this life as a soul collective that feels it has a special destiny, one that is compulsively driven to creative self-expression, with a passion to perform, the desire to command center stage and the need to bask in the spotlight, ever seeking recognition and admiration from your adoring audience.
And you killed… in music, culture, politics. You’ve been arguably the most creative generation in a century and have made your mark on society. No doubt. But as much as we have loved, admired and praised you, it’s never been enough. You’ve always wanted more, more, more. As one of your greatest artists—George Harrison—confessed, you’re all “I, Me, Mine.” When you came to power in the 1980’s, you morphed from freedom-loving hippies into power-hungry yuppies, perhaps showing your true colors. Since then, you’ve stubbornly refused to leave the stage or give up the limelight, sometimes displaying a level of narcissism that verges on sociopathic.
Of course this is a gross over exaggeration, coming from the overly critical point-of-view of a self-loathing, Pluto in Virgo GenXer. But we know you pretty well. We’ve grown up in your long shadow, sat patiently by while you continued to bogart the mic, hoping you would eventually evolve into your collective role as the wise elders, transitioning from leaders to advisors, sharing the wisdom you’ve gathered as a peer group. But we now realize, you will not “go quietly into that good night.” You will resist elderhood with all your might. Like your most emblematic of comrades—The Rolling Stones—you will still wanna be touring as octogenarians.
I would implore my Pluto in Leo Baby Boomer brethren to recall the famous line of their iconic presidential hero John F. Kennedy, who declared in his inaugural speech: “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” You were handed the torch. You had a brilliant run. Now, for the love of Pete, please pass it on.
The Jan Brady Generation
Those of you born between 1972–1983 may be feeling a little left out. All this talk of Baby Boomers vs. GenXers sounds to you like so much “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.” And you’re right. This is yet another reason why the conventional approach to generational models could benefit from the insights of an astrological perspective: there are too many fuzzy borders between cohorts.
And those who were born adjacent to these fuzzy borders have often felt misidentified. The Pluto in Libra generation (born 1972–1983) likely feels this acutely—for you represent a distinct generation that has been either tacked on to GenX or prematurely ascribed as Millennials. Interestingly, as a cohort that espouses the Libra values of balance, fairness and relationship, you have been all-too-willing to negotiate this dynamic and accept your role as collective cultural mediators.
As a generation that was born in the 70’s and early 80’s, you came of age at a time when your Boomer parents dropped their personas as 60’s radicals and started turning inward to discover themselves by exploring all manner of relationships. But for you this wouldn’t be just another passing phase. For the Pluto in Libra generation, the exploration of all manner of relationships represents your deepest unconscious soul desires. This will be a never-ending, life-long pursuit.
And thank goodness for you all. It’s likley because of your collective values that we now have legalized same-sex marriages and gender equality initiatives. Your quiet presence in society has been instrumental in facilitating these slow but progressive cultural movements. Your insistence on balance and fairness is greatly informing the current political climate of social justice reform. Your astrological symbol is the very scales of justice after all.
But there is a shadow side to your Pluto in Libra archetype. In seeking balance, fairness and equality, you can go too far. There is a natural propensity in the pursuit of the perfect equilibrium: the scales can be tipped too far in one direction, becoming entirely unbalanced. The current trend within the social justice movement towards “defunding” the police, “cancel culture” and broad declarations that “all white people are racist” (itself a paradoxically racist statement) may be early warning signs that your generational scales are tipping dangerously out of whack.
As a generation, you’ve been rock-solid at maintaining the balance and steadying the cultural ship, deftly mediating the invisible social divide between Marsha (your Pluto in Virgo GenXer older siblings) and Cindy (your Pluto in Scorpio Millennial younger siblings). But now, as a generation ascending to your peak power (you are collectively age 37–48), you’re getting the opportunity to flex your muscles and begin to imprint the desires of your collective souls onto the fabric of society, like a beautiful batik. After all, you are the most aesthetically-pleasing of any generation, so we are relying on you, my Pluto in Libra brothers and sisters, to restore a sense of beauty to the culture; to reclaim a sense of balance and harmony; to remind us all of what is truly of value. We need you to become your best Jan… lest you devolve into your worst Karen.
New Kids on the Block
The Pluto in Sagittarius generation (born 1995–2008) likely can relate to the “middle child syndrome” experienced by the Pluto in Libra folks. The oldest of this group (currently age 12–25) have been lumped in as last-wave millennials, while the youngest are ascribed to a generational identity that has yet to be officially christened (so far the lazy default is to refer to them as GenZ). But here again, we can diagnose an error in the approach of the conventional model. The instinct to use the millennium as a generational dividing line is understandable. But the cosmic clock to which our solar system ticks does not conveniently conform to the abstract notions of our Gregorian calendar. It urges us to intuitively observe that a new generation emerged in 1995, as Pluto moved into Sagittarius.
And this might explain why we’ve had such a hard time pinning down the character of so-called Millennials; we are actually looking at two distinct generations. While the first—the Pluto in Scorio generation that is currently aged 25–37—constellate a deep, dark intensity and obsession with power dynamics, their younger Pluto in Sagittarius siblings present a much more optimistic and hopeful mindset, showing signs of possessing a wisdom beyond their years. They are still quite young, so the tendency to show the less developed characteristics of Pluto in Sagittarius— laziness, overindulgence and naiveté—may also be in evidence.
But in general, this is a generation that has incarnated with the collective soul purpose to understand the big picture, to think the big ideas and to know the deepest truths. And we need to support and facilitate these intentions. Some very profound thinkers are likely to be produced by this generation. They will explore all the spiritual dimensions, propose new philosophies, revive and revise religious notions, and endeavor to steward humanity towards the promise of a truly global village.
While the Pluto in Sagittarius generation is poised to articulate this grand new vision and herald in a new era, the generation that succeeds them will bear the responsibility of translating that vision into something concrete. These are our youngest souls, some of them currently in utero, many of them yet to be born. The Pluto in Capricorn generation (born 2008–2024) are coming into this world with the collective soul purpose to rebuild society. They will be hard-working, practical, and patient.
Having been born into an era of recession, setback, limitation and isolation (the characteristics of Pluto in Capricorn that we are all collectively experiencing), they will necessarily need to harness their innate strength of character in order to endure challenging times. They are coming into this world prepared to shoulder a heavy lift, knowing their dogged determination will help them persevere against long odds and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
All these souls are choosing to be born at this time because they—like every other generation—are committed to working out their karma, both as individuals and as a collective. But this generation will be more attuned to the karmic past than any other. The guilt, fear, insecurity and increasing sense of failure that currently plague our era—the converging burdens of an endless war on terror, a potential global economic collapse and the specter of civilization-ending climate crisis, will be imprinted on these young souls for a lifetime. Let’s hope they can muster the archetypal gravitas to preserve civilization. A lot will be riding on their shoulders. We’re all counting on you, kiddos.
We’ve covered a lot of ground here. But hopefully the utility of viewing the generational model through an astrological lens is proving to be a worthwhile endeavor. We can argue that redrawing the dividing lines based on our cosmic clock is a much more intuitive and clear-cut tool than relying on what could be described as arbitrarily-defined generational gerrymandering. And I don’t say that to “dis” conventional demographers and their models. It’s just that there are bound to be disagreements among competing factions, and the efforts of individuals will be forever prone to personal and political biases. It seems much more intuitive to use Nature as our guide, which is essentially what the astrological approach does. It does that by definition: astro (of or relating to celestial objects) and logical (characterized by sound reasoning). Astro-logical.
In subsequent articles we will endeavor to unpack each of the cosmic generations in turn, and further explore how the astrological approach can help us more deeply understand the purpose of each generation. Additionally, we will examine how each successive generation participates in the unfolding of the entire cycle, just as one sign of the zodiac follows the previous, in a profound pattern that reveals deeper truths and hidden meanings.
For instance, we will observe an “elemental” pattern at work: a “fire generation,” followed by an “earth generation,” followed by an “air generation,” followed by a “water generation”. And how generations operate on an alternating current in a yin yang pattern: a projective, outward-moving generation is always followed by a receptive, inward-focused generation. These are profoundly useful insights that can help elevate the study of generations out of the merely mundane and arbitrary and into the divinely-inspired and cosmically purposeful.
I hope I’ve piqued your interest enough to continue on this journey with me. I think we can learn much more about ourselves and our cultural milieu as a whole as we begin to discern a more intelligent path towards greater integration, with society-wide implications.