The ongoing battle for the hearts and minds of humanity now approaches a crunch point in human history. I’ll start with a little astrology to flesh out this thought, though you don’t have to understand it to get what I’m referring to: it’s visible in the underlying messages and impressions that current events convey.
This year (23rd March to 11th June 2023, to be precise) and next year (21st January to 1st Sept, and finally from 20th November 2024 onwards) the planet Pluto moves into Aquarius. It will then chug slowly through Aquarius until 2043-44, for twenty years. It has been in Capricorn since 2008-9, the time of the banking crisis and a deeply historic tilt in the world’s power and wealth away from the rich West or Global North, toward the majority world, the East and the Global South.
Why doesn’t Pluto move into Aquarius just once? The reason is this. Though the planets all orbit the Sun in roughly constant orbits, and in the same direction, we see them from a moving viewing platform, Earth. This leads to a two-steps-forward, one-step-back motion of these planets as seen from Earth, rather like moving trains where a faster train, overtaking a slower train, makes the slower train look as if it is going backwards. It isn’t – it’s just their relative motion.
So Earth, orbiting faster than planets further out in our solar system, makes them seem to go backwards, or retrograde, for periods. Hence the multiple dates given above. This year Pluto enters Aquarius, stops and retreats back into Capricorn, then it edges a bit further during 2024, again backing out slightly, until finally it stays in Aquarius from November 2024.
Pluto takes 250ish years to orbit the Sun. It deals with historic-scale stuff. It’s in the same position now as it was at the time of the American declaration of independence in 1776 (which is one reason why USA has a major constitutional problem right now). This was also the buildup to the French Revolution of 1789-92. It last entered Aquarius in 1778 and left it in 1798, after the French Revolution had turned bad and the progressive dictator Napoleon took over. The industrial revolution, with its dark, satanic mills, was also lifting off.
These weren’t just big events: they marked the beginning of a long cycle of development and dominance of Western culture – an age of urbanisation, industrialisation, mass movements, voters and consumers – that, by now, has hit the sandbanks.
Meanwhile, during this time, the world’s population swelled from one to eight billion. Paradoxically, as the crowds grew, with it came the breakdown of families and communities. And, guess what, an underlying theme of Aquarius is human collectivities, our individual involvements in them and our feelings of belongingness. Our sense of identity hangs around the social groupings we identify with.
Together with Uranus (85ish years) and Neptune (165ish years), Pluto tends to influence underlying, history-spanning issues – the rises, transitions and declines of megatrends, nations and peoples. Except during rare moments when we see current events in a more historic perspective, we tend to ignore such critical tilts in the drift of history. But these moments do hit us. The fall of the Berlin Wall was not just an isolated dramatic event – it marked the end of a chapter and the start of a new one, a key tipping point in the tilting of wealth and power from North to South and from West to the East.
We all thought it was about the capitalist and socialist worlds. Yes, it was, but it was also a power shift from the urban-industrial-materialistic North to the South, itself part of a still larger process, levelling up the Global South and levelling down the Global North. And this, wait for it, is a preparation for something even larger, which will be relevant by the latter half of this century – the eventual global integration of humanity into one planetary people.
Out of necessity: the big issues before us are global, and humanity’s divisions and inter-tribal frictions, though still relevant, are getting in the way. In this context, the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, or the rivalry between China and America, are already rather obsolete as a way of solving our world’s current main pressing problems.
Pluto has been dragging through Capricorn for 16 years, and this also marks the end of a 35ish year Capricornian period, beginning in the 1980s-90s when Uranus and Neptune chugged through Capricorn. The transition to Aquarius marks a shift of focus. We’re emerging from a time of the Megamachine – finance, technology, institutions, corporations, regimes, oligarchies, laws and regulations – to a time of people and crowds, of very human and societal issues. It concerns the collective wisdom and madnesses of people in our millions.
Classic symptoms of this shift are the people scenes we’ve witnessed in the Turkiye-Syria earthquakes and the Ukrainian war. Two aspects of the Aquarian dilemma present themselves: in Ukraine we’ve seen the power of social solidarity in response to man-made threat, and in Syria and Turkiye we’ve seen social disintegration and helplessness, decreed by the full force of nature. Both provided suggestive images for the future, prompts that draw our attention to a basic hard fact of public and social life.
That is: we hang together or we hang separately. The choice is ours.
It’s that simple. What matters more: shared interest or self-interest? Global or national-regional-local priorities? Where do we as sovereign individuals stand amidst an eight billion strong throng? Covid-19 and its lockdowns flagged up these issues for all to see, starting a process which will escalate over the coming decades.
The image of People-against-the-Megamachine has been symbolised in the many uprisings and protests of the last few decades, recently in Belarus, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Peru, Sudan, China and other places, and in the Arab revolutions. These were based not on high-faluting philosophies or beliefs: they were straight expressions of human need and preference. While Pluto was in Capricorn, the People lost.
But this is changing – and that change could be a mixed blessing, not only for those at the top of the Megamachine. This concerns the dynamics of public sentiment, opinion and collective action, which sometimes is inspired, sometimes brutal and unfair. We’ve seen a lot of polarisation in recent years – the opposite dynamic to what is needed right now. For in the 21st Century, together we stand and divided we fall.
Here we come to the battle for the hearts and minds of humanity. I’m not talking here about Russia against NATO, Iran against Saudi Arabia, Palestinians against Israelis or people on the streets against the army, or any other divisively oppositional scenarios that the media do love to exaggerate. It’s not about goodbuys and badguys, Us and Them, or right and wrong – though these, on a certain level, are nevertheless relevant. It goes much deeper.
It’s all to do with a deep-rooted condition that emerged millennia ago, a fundamental perception of threat – threat against which we must fight and defend ourselves. It is rooted in a belief that They, over there, are different from Us, and that We are more important, right and good than They are.
It’s a mindset, a projection, a mega-meme rooted largely in past pain and in fear. It’s a set of pre-programmed, knee-jerk reactions that can easily be manipulated by anyone with a neat narrative to spread around, if it hooks into a lurking public feeling bubbling up from underneath. It rests on a feeling of victimhood, which that lot, the badguys over there, are to blame for.
Israelis call this hasbarah – repeatedly accusing the other side of intentions and crimes that our side is itself doing. It provides cover and justification for many bad things to happen. It’s often aimed at the wrong targets too: Palestinians often say, “Why are Israelis having it out with us, when it was the Europeans who gave them such a hard time?“.
In any rivalry or conflict, both parties play a part in the same game. This doesn’t make them equal or relieve the primary perpetrator or the stronger party of its own responsibility. But both sides are in the same game. They see badness in the other side, believing that they themselves are not like that. But the trouble is that, at least to some extent, our side of the argument is always flawed. As Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount: “Thou hypocrite, first cast the plank out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote of dust from thy brother’s eye“.
Brits and Germans, though neighbours and of the same blood, still live under the lurking shadow of two world wars. It came up over the supply of tanks to Ukraine. The Brits were enthusiastic because we have a winners’ mentality and almost desperately want to keep it that way, to prove that we aren’t as small and insignificant as we actually are. Such victors’ bravado conveniently obscures the war crimes we committed in WW2 such as the systematic bombing of German cities – which, when the Russians are doing the same in Ukraine, we find to be abhorrent. Meanwhile, the Germans were understandably reluctant to enter another war, for historic reasons – some would say guilt, others would say a sense of responsibility.
These shadows from the past cloud our responses to real-life situations now. They are cover-ups and avoidances. International relations are riddled with this stuff.
Dig deeper down and, in Ukraine, we’re faced with a dilemma. Most people would prefer to avoid war but we don’t usually do the necessary work in advance to stop it happening. There is a current risk of civil war in USA, and not many people are doing anything about that – Reds and Blues simply think the other side is plain wrong, and that’s that.
Sting once sang, ‘The Russians love their children too‘, yet today we Brits, and NATO, are busy killing those very children, conveniently using Ukrainians as our proxies, and feeling somehow glad when lots of Russians die. Even so, there is good reason to support the Ukrainians in their plight. However, we didn’t pay attention to proper peace-building processes in the 1990s. We failed to see that NATO and EU encroachment on Russian security space would cause trouble – even though some observers, including me, raised this matter back then.
Many of us are thus caught in a dilemma: on the whole we support peace, but in this situation we support Ukrainians in fighting a war. This is problematic, but it highlights a key issue: if we wish to avoid wars, we all need to unsubscribe from the habit of projecting threat on the other side. And that lies at the core of the battle for the hearts and minds of humanity.
The underlying problem here is, to quote Mahatma Gandhi, ‘An eye for an eye turns the whole world blind‘. The end-product of most conflicts is not resolution of the issues at hand, but damage, devastation and consequences cascading from it – such as food shortages and economic disruption, in the case of the current war. Often I quote Bertrand Russell here: ‘War is not about who is right, it’s about who is left‘.
Cities can be rebuilt and battlefields can become farmland again, but the damage to people is worse and deeper. Dead people can’t be brought back, and the living bear the scars of trauma, shock, hardship, atrocity and the sheer ugliness and pain of conflict. It lasts generations, even after the memory fades.
I’m not naively suggesting that everyone ought to just declare peace and go home – it just doesn’t work like that. Conflicts have their reasons, they can be complex, and both sides have a point. Conflicts end when both sides accept that there is no gain in carrying on. Half of all conflicts end simply because of weariness.
The main issue here is mindsets: are we against other people and their leaders, or are we all in the same boat? This same issue concerns the world’s ecological and climatic crisis. We won’t succeed with the 21st Century by continuing our ongoing war against nature, animals, enemies, competitors – and ourselves.
We’re stuck in a vortex of competitiveness, attack and defence. In our personal lives, the same mentality is cloaked in neatly ‘civilised’ ways like dressing up, pursuing careers, buying houses, insuring ourselves against risk or even, in my case, ‘fighting cancer’. It’s a mentality of us-against-the-world.
Yet it is destroying the world, making humanity even more unhappy and threatened. It’s a self-destructive momentum where, the rarer and more exhausted anything becomes, the higher its price and profitability – our economic system leads inexorably toward extinction. As natural environments are cleared and communities die off, young generations grow up without knowing they had even existed.
The emergent paradigm of the 21st Century is different. By necessity it’s one of cooperation, arising from the bottom-line observation that we are all in the same boat whether or not we like it, and we sink or swim together. This is a pragmatic, sensible, economic solution, no longer idealistic. This is being presented to us in the current drift of events. There is mighty resistance to this paradigm shift, taking the form of social and political polarisation, exceptionalism, populism and fear of being overcome by change.
In many countries we fear being flooded by migrants, whom we believe will change our societies and take away our privileges and comforts. Well, we did it to native Americans, Africans and Aboriginals, so, as Aussies would say, fair dinkum.
Such resistance can take softer forms in which we favour change as long as it doesn’t affect us. Or we make a big fuss over anything we might lose – the plenteous food and consumables, or the perceived right to assert our personal freedoms whatever the cost to others. We forget that only some of us have such privileges, while the rest pay the full price.
There’s more to this Aquarian question. It concerns social control and the capacity of masses of people to control ourselves. In the digital era new forms of social control have crept up on us while we have studiously avoided getting our heads round it.
The trouble here is that railing against people at the top is only half of the issue, and it’s rather an avoidance and escape. Collectively we permit them to do what they do by failing to stop it. The real issue here is social solidarity, vigilance and the behavioural changes we need to make if we really do believe in freedom and social-economic justice.
This issue arose in the Arab revolutions and in many uprisings since then. People come out onto the streets to protest over issues they face but, if or when the regime falls, people are often not organised to handle what follows. Or repression from above or intervention from outside squash, corrupt or divide the movement for change.
So this goes deep. Inevitably, the need for self-preservation can override the urge to sacrifice ourselves for the general good. Revolutionaries still need to pay their bills if they want a home or to support their family, unless they retreat to the jungle or escape the country, thereby marginalising themselves.
Meeting up with disillusioned young revolutionaries from Egypt and Syria twelve years ago, I found myself telling them my story. The uprising I was a part of, like theirs, didn’t succeed, and it led to a decade of pain and self-examination for its participants. Since then, to the extent I could, and with others, I’ve tried contributing toward a deeper, psycho-spiritual and behavioural change.
Standing on the top of a mountain at age 22, I made a commitment to give my life to helping the world tip into irreversible positive change. I had realised that a mass change of perception and consciousness is the key. Well, the world hasn’t tipped – yet. Now, near the end of my life, I’ve had to let go of that ‘in my lifetime’ bit, though I still believe we’ll get there. But I must still own up to a bottom-line truth: this is a belief, not a foregone conclusion, whatever I might hope for.
Yet in my life I’ve had multiple demonstrations that the new paradigm works – recently readers of this blog have shown that their remote healing efforts do indeed work. Or, larger-scale, I’ve been involved with circles of people where we have worked on a world issue, such as forest fires or the Bosnia war and, shortly afterwards, a fundamental change to such situations actually occurred. While we cannot definitely prove ‘we did that’, it nevertheless is the case that we did the consciousness work and the fires were doused and the war came to an end. Though it doesn’t happen every time.
It all boils down to a simple rule: together we stand and divided we fall. When people work together, acting with one mind, miracles can arise. A miracle is an event that no one thought possible until it happened. It’s one-mindedness that is crucial here.
Here’s the punchline. The pressure of crises, together with the Aquarian themes mentioned above, point to a likely existential crunchpoint, a time when our very existence on Earth comes into question – not just theoretically, but, like, now, this week. Even presidents and billionaires will share in such a fate. There is a possibility that such a sitation could catalyse a deep realisation, an emotionally-powered thought that, above all, and whatever it takes, we must survive and we must get through. Or we’ve all had it. Even if some people survive, it will not be a happy outcome for them.
That, ladies and gentlemen, represents a potential for a breakthrough and a miracle that no one thought possible: a global one-mindedness in which everyone everywhere – or at least, enough people – have one shared thought, and they think and feel it powerfully.
Which leads us to the bottom line. Whatever our disagreements, it is not a case of who is right and who is wrong, who will win and who will lose. For in the end we all lose. Or we all win. That’s the formula.
In the last year I’ve had some crunches and battles in my own life – with cancer, with my ex-partner’s departure and with a few other issues, and in West Africa I’ve been caught between two parties battling each other and killing people in the process. A big lesson I’ve been re-learning is that true victory lies in everybody winning together. It’s a neat notion that’s not difficult to subscribe to, but carrying it out in real-life terms is another matter, and it’s taking all I’ve got to do that.
Because we do hang together, or we hang separately. That’s the way things are. So the battle for humanity’s minds and hearts goes really deep. It’s a button-presser, confronting all of us. It involves making friends with and profoundly understanding even the people that we don’t like or agree with. That’s how we’ll get through the 21st Century.
In my own life and in yours too, this is the issue. Events are shepherding us painfully in that direction. I can’t say I’ve succeeded with this in my own life but I still have thunder in my heart, running up that road, running up that hill. It’s quite a struggle, but then, that’s one reason we’re all here, isn’t it?
With love, Paldywan Kenobi.
If, like me, you have sufficient madness to be into astrology, try this chapter about the outer planets in history, from my 1987 book Living in Time.
If you’re seriously mad, try my Historical Ephemeris, an astrological resource about the way planetary motions influence the tides of history.
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