Collective shifts & Narcissism

Trying to trace the development of consciousness or cultural trends through astrology is complicated by the fact that what has affected the West in terms of outlook and lifestyle has not been mirrored in other societies. China, Middle East, Africa and Asia have in large part stayed closer to their historical attitudes. They may be changing now because of the incursion of Western media and the internet, but the old family and religious ties still have a strong grip.

What is below is more thinking-in-process than anything too conclusive.

Narcissism has been widely spoken off as the prevailing trend in the US and West in the 20th Century (Erich Fromm, Christopher Lasch). People have become greedy and vain. Narcissistic traits include self-love and self-indulgence, over-reaction to criticism, prejudice, bigotry, vanity based on an inflated and unrealistic sense of self. Narcissism is the opposite of humanism; narrow self-love blocks out a broader awareness of the interdependency of all mankind. Lasch saw the echo of such qualities in “the fascination with fame and celebrity, the fear of competition, the inability to suspend disbelief, the shallowness and transitory quality of personal relations, the horror of death.”

Donald Trump, in one sense, is the ‘logical’ conclusion to this trend. Though to a greater or lesser degree all leaders are and always have been wildly narcissistic. As indeed are snowflake children and University students so precious they insist on ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings’. They should try taking a course in Jacobean drama.

Individualism took hold in the west partly because of the breakdown of the extended family; and a shift away from religious belief, though that’s probably less true of the US than Europe. Freud and the rise of the psychoanalytic culture, which certainly has a firm grip on the US, is also a factor. Not that Freud would have approved of selfies or the Kardashians, but he focussed attention on the individual and pulled apart family dynamics.

In Eastern cultures there is much less focus on the individual. Identity tends to reside in the family or in religious beliefs. There is much wrong with the old patriarchal, enmeshed family set ups, and proscriptive and dictatorial religious beliefs dependent on a guru (alive or dead). But there’s clearly a downside to making personal identity the be all and end all.

Increased wealth and leisure are also a reason in the west for the proliferation of psychological conditions and unease. If you’re facing starvation, you don’t have time or energy to be neurotic. In the old days, the wide extended family with wise elders and the certainty of religious beliefs provided a cushion. Nowadays in the west, people struggle to find meaning and security in anything bar money, and entertainment to fill the empty hours, often living vicariously through the lives of celebrities.

The recent rise of racist and populist ideas is, in one sense, an urge to re-establish identity. It is unpalatable for all manner of reasons, but it also answers a human need for belonging, to be surrounded by those like-us, given that we’ve lost the old connections (a family substitute).

The liberal tendency to be all-inclusive and support minorities, sexual and ethnic, all demanding rights (though not always offering duties), is also contributing to a backlash. In a different sense the EU tried to do the same, tying together all manner of differing national identities in an idealistic hope of creating a new cohesion. The great brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind is a great theory but it runs counter to the human need for roots.

Where does the astrology come in? These are just stray thoughts. The mid 19th Century triple conjunction in late Aries/Taurus of Saturn Uranus Pluto threw up Marx (religion is the opiate of the masses), a very young Freud, and Nietzsche (God is dead) kicked off one massive change. Neptune Pluto in Gemini late 19th Century spawned the yellow press, as well as the telephone, and sound and picture recording which revolutionized the leisure industries. Pluto lingering in Cancer for an unconscionable time from 1914 to 1938 certainly destroyed the old family culture in Europe. The triple conjunction in the late 1980s/early 1990s of Saturn Neptune Uranus in Capricorn arguably led to widescale migration in the (very long) aftermath and produced the internet.

Pluto in Capricorn (2008 to 2024) has historically been associated with strong leaders, especially in Russia and the Middle East. Also a flourishing of civilized culture and the arts, which seems to have got lost this time round. We’ve lived recently through Uranus square Pluto, giving rise to rebellions various, a kicking against authority and underdogs demanding recognition. We’re now out of that and heading for Saturn Pluto in Capricorn by 2018/19 which will swing the other way, repressive financially as well as for beliefs away from the mainstream.

Then by 2024 Pluto moves into Aquarius, with Neptune shifting into Aries by 2025 and Uranus into Gemini by 2026, which will see a considerable shift.

History and progress, in my view, goes in pendulum swings rather than a straight line or getting stuck in one rut. So what we’re heading into is a reaction against where we have been and isn’t where we’ll be on the far side.

4 thoughts on “Collective shifts & Narcissism

  1. I thought this was an excellent read. Being Aquarius but with Leo rising, I have always had that battle between the love for humanity and the desire for adoration as an individual.
    But even I find the depth to which people will go just to be noticed now, quite disturbing.
    I hope the pendulum will swing the other way…it will won’t it? Please say yes!

    • I’m fighting your fight too Alexis 🙂

      I do hope the pendulum does swing back the other way as well. Watching people crave attention to such an ugly degree of narcissism, and even ourselves who feel we want to be recognized as individuals, is like we are all gorging on stupid amounts of food and drink to feed this primal, crazy hunger of ours – only we know something is wrong, because this gorging is not bringing any soul nurturing or satisfaction to us on a deeper level but the narcissists just keep on going. There is no cut off point, that the act of gorging in and of itself is what is bringing immediate satisfaction to them. Or something like that anyway :D!

  2. Thanks for this, Marjorie. Really enjoyed reading it. I do agree with the you that history and progress do go in zag-zag pendulum swings but I do believe we slowly, and I mean snail pace slowly, evolve over eons of time, to another higher level on our path to become more conscious and to become better individuals but more importantly more connected with each other.

    For all the opportunities that come to us in the West and this sense of self-indulging our ‘unique identities’, we are by far a pretty lonely and isolated lot who feel incredibly fractured from both family and society at large. We’re a pretty sad bunch considering the material wealth we have at our fingertips. Our previous ‘traditional and patriarchal family’ set ups didn’t work, and many families are still repeating awful patterns generation after generation ingrained from such a time, but I think deep down we also know trying to find solace as individual identities can be very disconnecting.

    Sigh. Why can’t we grow up and keep that childhood absence of judgment and loving ability to just accept each other as we are? Why do we have to learn all these ugly ways of perceiving the world around us and shoving everybody into certain boxes, just to make our environment and ourselves feel safe? Even Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton were once adorable little cutie pies with the incredible capacity to dream themselves into amazing adult human beings. I know. Very hard to believe, isn’t it? 😀

  3. Thanks for this, it’s thought-provoking. I’m excited to read your future notes about collective trends and outer planets. I tend to think of Pluto transits through signs as provoking crisis in whatever the sign rules. Pluto in Libra led to crises around justice, far left movements, marriage/the women’s movement; Pluto in Scorpio (my generation) was marked by the AIDS crisis (sexuality and death being hallmarks of Scorpio); Pluto in Sag coincided with the simultaneous rise of the evangelical Christian rightwing movement in the US (the Oklahoma City bombing occurred when it was at 0 degrees in 1995), and extremist Islamic movements/attacks. The great recession, currency, and banking crisis, of course, appeared in 2008 just as Pluto went into Capricorn, the sign of business and banking.

    The logical conclusion I draw from this is that Pluto’s transition into Aquarius in 2024 will coincide with some kind of crisis around technology, the internet, electronics/telecommunications. Or perhaps something about the social contract (?), non-familial groups (?).

    I would love to hear your thoughts on what you expect from Pluto in Aquarius. Also, of course, I realize Pluto’s transits are never made in isolation. Neptune in Aries and Uranus in Gemini by 2026 makes me hopeful that Pluto’s early run through Aquarius will be more harmonious and supportive than Pluto’s harshly challenged time in Capricorn has been so far.

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