Several years back as the culture became obsessed with social media and promoting our personal “brands,” I was reminded of the novel 1984 and the video screen that was the involuntary part of private life in that dystopian society.
In 1984, the video screen instructs our protagonist Winston Smith to do his exercises and serves as a private government in absentia.
Orwell’s novel was based on a reality that existed during his times and continues to exist – propaganda and media manipulation. That the themes of 1984 continue to describe the present was both shocking and fascinating since we should understand the doings of manipulators after WWII. But what this dystopian novel presents is the effect, not the cause, of society turning authoritarian.
Now that Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto have lined up in Capricorn, I wonder if maybe it happened the same way in the fictional 1984. Family and community were somehow disrupted and in a search for a strong leaders (religious, idealistic, political), the power grabbers stepped up to the plate.
Was Winston Smith a victim as I saw him while first reading in 1983? Maybe; maybe he was born into it or tried to set culture on a different course. Or maybe not; maybe he watched it grow and decided to ignore it or even support it.
In one of life’s many synchronicities, I was killing time waiting for a return call over a moribund device when I flipped open and old astrology book of charts. There in front of me was the chart of George Orwell born June 25, 1903, sun/moon/Neptune in Cancer and Saturn in Aquarius.
Cancer is a cardinal water sign associated with mothering, family, nurturing, personal emotions, the stomach, the feelings and sensitivity. While not all with Cancer energy have a traditional family, the underlying desire is for emotional belonging. As Cancer is ruled by the moon and reflects off of others, the moodiness associated with Cancer is most likely due to the excessive reactions to the changing emotional atmosphere around them.
To have sun, Neptune and moon in this sign signifies not just hyper-sensitivity, but a longing for one’s true family, a place called home, really home. English but born in what was “British India,” Orwell and his mother returned to his England when he was a child but as an adult joined the Imperial Police and was stationed in Burma. According to a Wikipedia article, Orwell had a “romantic idea of the East.”
While Cancer’s main motivation is to belong, Saturn in Aquarius indicates difficulties with social groups, a difficulty connecting with the group ideals and an inability to detach. This round of Saturn in Aquarius brought “social distancing” in relation to illness. In Orwell’s life, social distancing was part and parcel of the system of occupation.
Clearly Orwell didn’t like it.
Although Orwell’s Saturn was in Aquarius, it was part of a grand air trine (Saturn in Aquarius, Mars in Libra, Mercury/Pluto in Gemini) which needs the air of society in order to breathe. Air needs people, ideas, activities and stimulation. Air is also very good with words and communicating, for better or worse. I imagine Orwell was a chatterbox; and very, very curious.
Sun conjunct Neptune in any sign makes one a channel for the energies of the times and highly inspired. Without good boundaries, however, this placement can make one lose a sense of self. Orwell clearly was able to use this aspect creatively leaving a legacy and guide for future generations.
The Crime of Connection
While the society depicted in 1984 is totalitarian, what gets Winston Smith into trouble is not any of his work editing historical documents, refusal to listen to the video screen or any kind of political protest. What gets him into trouble is falling in love.
Until he falls in love, Winston Smith lives his solitary life in his tightly-controlled society without much complaint. It’s connecting emotionally to another human being that unravels his world.
The first act of authoritarianism is to break the emotional connections between people. If you join a cult, the first request will be to break with those you know who won’t join.
Saturn in Aquarius kept people apart in Orwell’s time due to occupation and social class. Saturn in Aquarius in 1932-1934 brought genocide and the splitting of nations. In 1962-1964, it brought social unrest where the “socially distant” classes demanded the same rights as the dominant class. In 1991-1993 it brought a non-physical connection through technology. In late March 2020, Saturn again went into Aquarius and brought with it an open request for physical distancing.
The inability to feel the feelings and experiences of others is what allows us to continue with behavior that is destructive to others. If you absolutely knew that your coffee beans were picked by child slave labor, would you drink it? The supply chain is long and far so what some people give for others to get is largely unseen.
Social disconnection creates desensitization.
Family to Corporation
Astrology has helped me understand the patterns that led to the current rise of authoritarianism. At the beginning of WWI, Pluto entered Cancer, the sign of family, and destroyed the traditional extended family and clan systems.
Now Pluto is in the opposite sign of Capricorn and in the place of family and community we have government and/or corporation. In spring 2020, the US shut down business and sent people a check. Even those who profess the greatest love of capitalism would feel the need to accept a check if all other work was prohibited.
In the early 20th century, we traded family and community for government and corporation all over the world and in different ways. Corporations run on the profit principle so can only help people in ways that keep them solvent. Government ideally protects public interest although not necessarily in the ways the public wants.
With Saturn in Aquarius social distancing, the connections we create through corporations and governments is being severed.
How are we now going to connect with others if not through family, community, corporation or government?
If Pluto in Cancer started the cycle, then we are half-way through. Maybe in its 124-year trek back to Cancer we will create new support systems that are based on emotional connections.