Many of you may have spent the last week watching the astrology documentary Changing of the Gods – a ten-part series about archetypal astrology through history that focuses on the alignments of Uranus and Pluto. It was inspired and based on the book by Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, which is essential reading for anyone interested in astrology.
I can’t say the same for Changing of the Gods, although I enjoyed the series and made lots of notes and even learned a few things! The graphics are great and they did a fantastic job showing how these alignments manifest in similar patterns through history. But I doubt the series would convince anyone who wasn’t already on board with the whole astrology thing.
My feeling by the end was: this is just a history documentary with a tiny bit of astrology tacked on. It raises more questions than it answers, which is probably inevitable considering our current puny understanding of reality. And to be fair, this is the whole point of Cosmos and Psyche: the need for a new cosmology. Perhaps my questions are answered in the final episode (A Conscious Cosmos: Energy, Matter and Meaning) which I haven’t seen (only the first 9 were free).
Update: I’ve now seen the final episode and my questions were answered. It may be the best episode of the series, covering what our new cosmology may look like, and touching on the Saturn Uranus alignment and what we’ve got coming up. However, it still suffers from the same problems outlined below…
Overall, I would recommend Changing of the Gods, with some reservations, and give the series 4 stars. It loses a star thanks to its partisan position – you can’t avoid the ‘liberal/progressive’ politics of the filmmakers. Some of the recent history is presented without context so it comes across as politically naïve. It misses the ‘conspiratorial’ angle which would allow for a more nuanced take on events.
The series also gives the impression that we’re about to experience a breakthrough into a wonderful future where all our problems will be solved courtesy of the ‘moral arc of the universe.’ For example, in the introduction to episode 9, Kat Merritt mentions the chaos we’ve seen in the last few years and asks what the universe says about “the better world we’re about to step into.”
This assumption of progress is typical of the ‘western’ perspective on reality – a fantasy of the ‘rational’ ego that can’t cope when it loses. I explored this problem in the Collective Context post of the Mystic Warrior series here. The myth of progress causes serious problems because it makes us complacent. We assume things will get better so when a solution is offered that looks good, we assume that it is.
For example, episode 3 presents the Green New Deal as wonderful. There’s no realistic look at how it actually works (or doesn’t work) and the environmental and humanitarian problems it’s going to cause around the world. It’s another plutocratic scheme to siphon off more wealth from the rest of us, dressed up as a shiny, hopeful, progressive panacea – a polished turd.
To be fair, counter-revolutions by the ‘elites’ does get a mention. In part 2, Thomas Linzey talks about problems with the US constitution and how it limits the power of the people, making it easier for corporations to rise and conquer all. He explains that “the system is all about exploitation” and that it works like a hungry ghost, consuming and destroying everything in its path.
That sounds closer to the truth. We clearly have a long way to go before we can manifest the energies of Uranus and Pluto without getting ourselves in a right old pickle!
Changing of the Gods says it’s a revolutionary series for a revolutionary time and it presents the Uranus Pluto alignment as a current event. This is misleading. The square alignment was in place while the film was in production but it faded out by 2020, so the series is already a little out of date. However, it does a good job of updating the history of these alignments from Richard Tarnas’ book.
Uranus Pluto alignments coincide with periods of revolution, scientific and technological innovation, social and economic justice, women’s rights and black liberation movements, and new paradigms that transform how we see ourselves. This is not what we’re experiencing now – Saturn Uranus is a different kind of disruption. The next Uranus Pluto alignment will be the trine in 2026-28, followed by the opposition in the 2040s. More on that here: Uranus Pluto and the Cycle of Revolution and Freedom
Each episode in the series covers a different area of the manifestation of these alignments, including politics, civil rights and othering, the sexual revolution, drugs, technological disruption and scientific paradigms. There’s a lot of detail and information and some great interviews with knowledgeable people.
I particularly enjoyed the contributions of Luisah Teish, a Yoruba priestess, who talks about the or-i-shas, the gods and goddesses of the Yoruba tradition of West Africa. She describes the or-i-shas as archetypes that aren’t just psychological concepts, but active energies in the universe. We give these energies images so we can relate to them through our imagination.
In Yoruba, the goddess Oya is like Uranus. She is lightning, earthquakes and change, and you can’t control her – you can only control your response. Pluto is the god Ogun, the wild man of the woods, who is untamed but also a master toolmaker, used to create civilisation. His energy has to be tamed by the priestess otherwise his tools can become weapons.
Episode 4 looks at the history of the women’s rights movement and our need to honour the divine feminine. Luisah Teish tells the story of Oshun, the goddess of love and sweet water, sensuality and compassion, and how important she is. Here’s the clip with fantastic artwork:
Our ecological crisis is a crisis of cosmology, so we need to transform our worldview to solve the problem. The transformation of our cosmology would change how we see ourselves and how we fit into the universe. This process has been ongoing for centuries, with the shift from religion to science bringing us to our current predicament.
But it’s not a simple fix. In episode 9 Richard Tarnas describes how this would require an initiatory humbling to dissolve the ego and our superiority complex that makes us think we can control nature – and reality. It would also mean a confrontation with deluded ideas, such as the myth of progress.
Astrologers really should know better. History doesn’t go in a straight line – it goes in cycles. We only imposed the idea of a forward march of progress, a straight line rising to the stars, relatively recently. The idea that we can keep progressing indefinitely without consequence is absurd, and a few technological tweaks aren’t going to save us from ourselves. Without a radical transformation of our values and consciousness we will destroy ourselves.
I also have some doubts about Pluto being evolutionary, or perhaps we don’t understand what evolution is for or how it works. Our ‘western’ perspective is so skewed and limited by materialism we’re too stupid to understand anything – the downside of the kali yuga, I guess.
Anyone still believing the myth of progress is going to have a hard time in the coming years as the ‘West’ implodes from self-inflicted wounds. Our karma is catching up with us. Nemesis will answer our hubris.
Nobody wants to hear this. We want to believe things will keep getting better. But there’s only one way for us to transform this situation and that involves going through some kind of dark night, a confrontation with the shadow of our own evil, and an integration of the opposites. You don’t do that by starting wars.
“The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”
Martin Luther King may’ve been right, but the future isn’t guaranteed. If you think you can sit on your arse and wait for the next Uranus Pluto alignment to sort out all our problems, you’re going to be disappointed. Contrary to the message of Changing of the Gods, things are going to get worse before they get better.
As Pluto enters Aquarius, every individual will need to change. And that means you!