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Planning for the Future in the Age of Aquarius
Bear with me.
There’s something deeply unsettling about this moment we’re in right now. On the other side of a global pandemic and a violent insurrection, we’re pulled apart by an anti-queer moral panic and trying to sustain a rise against racism and injustice. The first ever U.S. president to be indicted is leading in the polls for the Republican primary. House Republicans are still threatening to crash the global economy if we don’t let them slash the government programs that are meant to protect our most vulnerable. And once again, more school children are dead, shot by a person wielding an assault rifle that there is no reason to own except to kill as many people as possible.
Meanwhile, the planet is melting.
My brain is a split screen. On one side I’m going about my life, buying plane tickets and trying to get a new job, wondering if I want to stay in New York. If I move, do I need to buy a car? What about my life needs to change so that I can get a pet? Is there a way to turn writing and organizing into a career? Can I write a bestseller some day?
On the other side, the Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling and the global economy crashes. I do not have any money to hide under my mattress. Do people even buy books anymore? Extremist transphobes and christo-fascists win elections because the economy crashed while a Democrat was president and people are too tired to look deeper than that.
How do you plan for the future like this, when it feels like the whole house of cards could blow over at any moment? But then again, how do you not?
It’s not just me. In the last week, in every political Q&A, discord, or slack community I am a part of, someone asked if this is hopeless. Will we ever be able to do anything about guns, if dead children aren’t motivation enough? How do you make policy with people who would rather ban health care for trans kids than the guns that murder them; who want more police and harsher penalties for every crime except the ones they themselves commit? If every election is the most important election of our lifetime, when do we sleep?
If astrology is not your preferred mechanism for organizing the mysteries of the universe, you may not have heard that we are about to experience a generational shift in the movement of the planets. Pluto, which has been sitting in Capricorn since 2008, is about to move into Aquarius for the first time since the end of the 18th century. I’m not an expert in any of this, barely even a dabbler, so I recommend starting here or here if you’re more interested, but Pluto is the planet that rules wealth, power, and secrets - it challenges power, demands transformation. Aquarius is the sign of the collective. The last time Pluto passed through Aquarius, we saw the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the start of the Industrial Revolution. Rebirth and revolution and collective power are once again colliding in the heavens.
Astrology is just one of many ways to organize and interpret the mysteries of the universe. Personally, I believe those mysteries are far beyond our comprehension, and I’m not particularly interested in trying to judge the accuracy of any of the languages or belief systems we’ve come up with. But what I find particularly compelling in this reading of the stars is the reminder that we are not alone on this revolutionary cliff. Pluto oversees societal transformation, its impacts dispersed across decades, its transits define generations. Aquarius rules our humanity, that thing we share with every other person. We are none of us in these stars alone.
There is something particularly unsettling about this moment, a feeling that maybe things are coming to a head, that we are reaching some sort of breaking point. But revolutions are unsettling. The moments that I find myself most gripped by existential panic are my most individual, my preoccupation with my own comfort, my own ambition, my own future. Our current precarity is uncomfortable, and the pain, current and potential, is not distributed with anything remotely like fairness. But we are not alone. Our futures are inextricably linked, and our power is synergistic, feeding on each other and growing the more we use it. If we use it.
It’s not that I think our future is assured, that the heavens guarantee a successful revolution and a more utopian future. For one, even successful revolutions hurt. For another, revolutions are born of trauma, and there is nothing heavenly, ordained, or utilitarian about the pain people are experiencing now as those in power fight to strip us of rights, resources, autonomy and future. Our future is collective, but so is our responsibility to right the wrongs of unequal distribution. Despair tries to absolve us of action. It tells us nothing can ever change so why bother trying. But we owe it to ourselves and each other not to listen. Nothing ever changes until it does.
My split screen brain is not going away. I don’t really want it to - I want to plan for my future, to keep building a life for myself that is both gentle and challenging, that starts with a baseline of contentment but grows and explores in all directions. That allows me to better know myself. But when the other side of that split screen threatens to devolve into the buzzing static of panic and hopeless, I will try to remember that planning for the future in the age of Aquarius is not about me, but about us, our ability to take back power and to use it to build the world we’ve been dreaming of.
I’m a firm believer in action as an antidote for despair, so early this week when I was feeling it, I put together a thread of actions you can take to make a difference. But this weekend I also went out and saw a soccer game with friends, and I spent a few hours this morning pulling up invasive vines in the park with a volunteer group. Taking action doesn’t have to be explicitly political - sunshine and people and helping out are good antidotes too.has this great post about challenging ourselves to do one small community thing, and this one that follows it up with results.
Politics is not about wins and losses, about ads or fundraisers or incessant text messages. Politics is the way we organize ourselves to take care of each other. As we plan for a future that seems more unsettled by the day, let’s plan to keep showing up.