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The Chaos Factor 

click to enlarge BARBARA LANE
  • Barbara Lane

We now have our first tangible result of full digital conditions: a Frankenstein monster of every vile or repressive political stance has been designated president-elect. A national Muslim registry? Really? Rounding up Mexicans?

This has been an exhausting year. It's been agonizing enduring the attacks on women, on darker-skinned people, on Muslims, on veterans. It was enough that this got broadcast on TV and the Internet month after month. Now it's about to become national policy.

We have experienced a shock as individuals and to the collective mind.

This shock is not limited in its effects by partisan viewpoints. Everyone is feeling it, or will be, but only some people are saying what they're experiencing and how they feel.

We all know that change is upon us. We all know it's been a long time since anything radically shifted the trajectory our culture.

Remember that in order to move society in one direction, something must come loose and be movable in any direction. There is no ratchet mechanism that says things must always click toward one particular side of the spectrum. There's the relationship between the manipulators and the manipulated: this is something we must look at carefully. Anyone concerned about fake news on the Internet needs to learn how to fact-check for themselves. There is only so much of your power you can give away and still have any. Figuring out what's true is now a top-level survival skill.

The kind of shock we're experiencing is difficult to understand if we try to perceive it through prior labels or categories, particularly political. The terms we have and try to use—liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, independent—are meaningless now. They are merely used to divide people.

Many other social concepts are also falling apart, everything from notions like gay, straight, career, job, married, single: they lack the seemingly clean lines they used to have. And we all know that time—the most important boundary of all—ain't what it used to be, which means our concept and experience of time is changing.

Three References to Astrology

Let's put an anchor down into the long-range astrology on which I'll base the rest of my analysis. This consists of several main factors and many supporting ones. I will offer you three in this discussion. The common threads involve slow-movers Uranus, Pluto, and Eris, all of which have precedents for revolution.

First let's consider the Uranus-Eris conjunction. This is a ridiculously potent aspect associated with digital conditions, identity chaos and an explosion of self-discovery. The current alignment completes and also resets a cycle that began in 1927-1928, at the dawn of the broadcast era. (Think: the War of the Worlds radio broadcast of 1938 being at the beginning of the most recent cycle.)

Uranus conjunct Eris is at its peak now, and will be so through 2017, with obvious effects building, rippling, and reverberating beyond the end of the decade. My research has the early rumblings of this aspect starting in 2007. You might think this is funny, but my basis chart is that of the introduction of the iPhone. That event was the water line between "there is an Internet" and "we now live at the bottom of a digital ocean, please pass the oxygen."

The most toxic effect of this aspect is that we're being trained by our technology to be chilly little robots. We become like our tools, and our tools are now all robotic devices. The greatest potential is a wave of self-awareness rippling through the culture. On the most intimate, inward level, this is the choice we have. There is not much room for compromise between the two.

Next is Pluto in Capricorn. That's the sensation of the foundation of society crumbling. This commenced in the summer of 2008, and coincided with the revelation of what was quaintly known then as the subprime mortgage crisis, which became the failures of the banks and the Great Recession. Pluto is only halfway through Capricorn. It enters Aquarius beginning in 2023. Between now and then, we're likely to witness an accelerating shock to institutions, some of which will fall.

Last is a series of alignments that involve Pluto and Eris, which happen in 2020 and 2021. First is Saturn conjunct Pluto, then Pluto square Eris, and finally Jupiter conjunct Pluto. There are no words for this, except to say that it's as potent as astrology gets. What we are seeing play out in politics today is merely the warm-up act.

While we're on the astrology, here's one last thought. The United States is now in its Pluto return. The US has its natal Pluto at about 27 degrees of Capricorn. Pluto reaches that degree in February 2022, completing one full 250-year cycle. This has never happened in US history. Because Pluto is in Capricorn within seven degrees of the US Pluto, what we're experiencing now, and everything I've described so far, can be seen as early effects of the Pluto return. This is the great and grand spiritual checkpoint for the American experiment—and we are in it now.

In this time, we decide we are one nation, one people, living on one world, or we see the effects of the fragmentation of American society in structural ways. These might include secession movements and interstate compacts designed to protect against the too-powerful federal system of government.

A Change in Perspective

We are experiencing change, shock and disorientation on an accelerated scale, as described by world events and the astrology you just read about. But there's a weird dissonance: most people's lives are, at this time, moving along more or less normally. Of course, "normally" means verging on insane—the pace, keeping up with communications, money being worth less, a strange social environment, and yes, the pace of existence seeming to leave no time to breathe.

There is a split here; we see and feel the shocks and yet wonder where the change is for us personally. This is a central question. I think that much of the change we're seeing has its epicenter in consciousness, not in the world.

In order to keep our sanity, we'll need to begin describing ideas and events in more descriptive terms rather than labeling them. The ongoing crumbling of context is making it increasingly important that we have new ways to tell the story of our lives.

This will involve a reorientation of perception. What we need to study is the environment more than dwelling on specific people, problems and events.

"The environment" means your surroundings, technology that's in your hands and in the background, the backstory, and all else that is normally invisible or that you don't typically notice. Now that we've had our minds, hearts, souls, careers, and appointment calendars thrust onto the astral plane of the Internet, it's time to use discernment and notice what normally goes unseen in the world around us.

You are part of that background—that which you look through and do not normally see. Your mind, which synthesizes all you experience, tends to be a transparent device. You seem to see through it, more than you actually see it—yet the opposite is true. You take in the sensory data and then assemble it into the reality you experience. This is why your state of mind is the single most important factor in this whole discussion. It's also the most transparent factor because you rarely see the thing itself; you experience the results. Your mind colors and shapes everything you think you feel and see.

Digital technology has pushed our minds outside ourselves, or that's the illusion. Sense organs, our memory structure, our nervous systems, all are now projected outside ourselves, contained on computing devices. We often remember things by looking them up on a computer. We see the world through cameras and hear it through microphones. This is unnerving; one result is the need to cut off from so much input. That extend/cut-off cycle is the digital haze, the sleepwalking through life, that's so reflective of our moment.

When this happens, particularly in younger people who lack the prior reference points and contexts, one result is extreme destabilization. There is literally nothing to cling to, no dependable harbors or moorings, nothing that does not change with disquieting speed, and everything is subject to being pushed to extremes.

Tell Your Own Story, Your Way

Without old-fashioned concepts to fit your experiences into, you need your own way of telling your story, in a way you can relate to others. You must take over the narrative of your life. This will help you navigate your experiences of yourself, your relationships, and your community. More than anything, having an accurate, workable description of your life will help you navigate your purpose. That is to say, navigating your way through time in a meaningful way.

One thing I hear about a lot in my role as an astrologer is a struggle with meaning. Not everyone is blessed with an inner compass pointing them in a dependable direction. Most of the landmarks that one uses as navigational references are also endangered species.

American culture had relatively few rites of passage to begin with: high school graduation, first car, college graduation, embark on career, get married, have children, and so on. These still exist, but in ways that are less significant or  even insignificant for more and more people. The idea of a job is getting difficult to grasp (another influence of the internet). Note to the new administration: the jobs have not gone to Mexico or China. The jobs have gone to robots.

The environment we're in makes it difficult to see where we've been, where we are and where we might go. To do this will take seeing yourself in the context of your environment, which means really, truly paying attention to the invisible background. More than anything, that means your interior reality.

It's getting difficult to describe this elusive thing, interior reality, in an environment where it's been blown inside out. There was a time not long ago when nearly all communications had a reasonable chance of being private. When you would mail someone a letter, it was not copied over on 10 different servers. When you made a phone call, all but actual targets of investigations could be sure that nobody in the government or the phone company recorded it.

Young people today who have grown up going through security checkpoints on the way into high school, having bag and locker searches, and being declared psychiatric cases based on poems written in their diaries have no concept of privacy. Many young people have been subjected to stop-and-frisk tactics of the police on public streets. Most do not remember a time before this happened. Privacy means you can walk down the street or get on a subway train and not be searched.

The loss of privacy translates into not just a loss of interior space but also a loss of the idea that it might exist. Then add the internet, the use of which has trained everyone to blow their minds inside out, sharing every personal thought and private detail as if it's breaking news.

While we've been busy doing this, the magicians of marketing have colonized our minds with their branding, their jingles and most of all, with their concept of who you should be. This has been going on for a long time, though most advertising now has nothing to do with the product and is all about the life you should be living, who you're supposed to be and what you're supposed to want. You might think of all of this as "invisible background," if only because it's so prevalent that it's nearly impossible to see.

We Need to Reclaim Inner Space

My perspective is that the present chaos of the world—and our seeming inability to rein it in—involves the collapse of interior boundaries. This is the effect of something, which I've described in the preceding paragraphs. It's not getting any easier. Those influences are only growing more frantic as they compete for our attention, loyalty and money.

The need to cultivate inner space has never been more important. As in never, ever. How to do that would be the subject of an excellent article series or book; and speaking of books, reading them is an excellent way to start. Devoting yourself to art, music, and writing is also deeply helpful for cultivating inner space.

And then there is sex, the most maligned, co-opted, and misunderstood subject in all of existence. Connecting with sexuality has the power to save our souls like few things. The fact that it's so maligned and misunderstood requires careful handling. It calls for having real information. We also need to develop the language to communicate with one other about our inner reality as we discover it. That transaction—sexual self-discovery combined with learning to relate those experiences to others—can provide some of the best direction you've every had in your life. You can gain access to your "original instructions" and begin to get a more tangible understanding of how to be of use.

With the chaos factor being what it is, we need to explore and master every tool we have available. This takes time, commitment, and patience. In a world with few boundaries, you need a code you can live by. Just keep it flexible.

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