Earlier this year it was announced that Britain's oldest person had died at the astonishingly grand age of 114 years! Ethel Lang was the last person living in the UK who was born during the reign of Queen Victoria. Born on 27th May 1900, Ethel - and others of past generations - are a fascinating astrological study. Every generation has a different planetary signature depending upon the positions of certain major planets during a particular year, decade, or even century. The outer planets - Uranus, Neptune and Pluto - move so slowly, their influence covers a long period of time and a large group of people.
Ethel's natal chart is very interesting as her generational planets are situated in signs of the zodiac that we astrologers don't see in people's charts today. She was born with both Neptune and Pluto in the sign of Gemini, and Pluto was also in opposition to Uranus. During the mid-sixties Pluto was in conjunction with Uranus, and the babies being born right now are under the influence of Pluto square Uranus. The generations born when these two major planets are in hard aspect to each other have an underlying urge to transform their environment. They initiate rapid change in a big - and possibly traumatic - way, often through social upheaval which indirectly impacts the personal circumstances of individuals. Political and social rebellion, as well as revolutionary scientific ideas are hallmarks of these Uranus Pluto connections. So, won't it be interesting to see what develops from this in the future when today's Uranus square Pluto babies become adults!
There are particular aspects which occur between major planets at certain intervals. For example, Jupiter and Saturn form a conjunction to each other every 20 years. Uranus and Neptune are in conjunction every 170 years, and so on. Another way in which the major planets influence generations is by the aspects made from a major planet to itself at certain stages in an individual's life. For example, Jupiter moves through the entire zodiac circle every 12 years, so when we reach the ages of 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, etc, it will be back where it started in the year we were born. This phenomenon is called the Jupiter Return. With Saturn, we don't experience our First Return phase until we are around the age of 29. As far as Uranus is concerned, we have to live until around the age of 84 for a First Return to take place.
However, it's not only major planet Returns which are relevant as we gradually move through life. The Return is a conjunction made by the planet to itself, but there are other aspects being made too. For example, when you are approximately 21 - 22 years old, you will experience a square aspect from transiting Uranus to your natal Uranus. This planetary influence brings the need to break away from adolescence and become a fully-fledged, independent adult. Maybe this is the origin of the traditional 21st birthday celebration and being given the 'key to the door'. It was a symbol of freedom, becoming a person in your own right, and your parents respecting you as an equal.
However, when transiting Uranus is in opposition to your natal Uranus, it's a different story. This happens around the age of 42 and again the main theme is freedom, doing your own thing, living how you want to live - but this time it can cause untold damage. This is The Mid-life Crisis. Also, around the same age transiting Neptune will be in a square to your natal Neptune. Again, this turns people against responsibility, and reality becomes dimmed by fantasy. Everything we have in our lives somehow seems to be without purpose. Life feels 'unreal' - we don't know who we are anymore.
A lot of people in their early forties go through some kind of sudden urge to become the person they've always wanted to be. What they have spent years building up - marriage, children, career, and social reputation - is no longer satisfying. They want more excitement, and affairs are often the method they choose to channel their need for thrills. Some won't even want a partner at all and will decide to completely give up on their marriage. Others might stay with their family but ditch their career instead. Of course, once this planetary influence has passed, there may be many regrets.
Once you're in your mid-fifties, you'll move from the rough seas of your early forties, and find yourself drifting in calmer waters. Around the the age of 55, both Uranus and Neptune will be in a positive trine aspect to their natal positions. These planetary influences can also bring the decision to make certain changes in your life - but in a pleasant, harmonious way. You might choose to take early retirement in order to spend more time with your family or on your hobbies. You'll also learn what you need to make your life really fulfilling. Many people who give up their career during their mid-fifties choose instead to do voluntary work. These planetary influences bring tremendous compassion and a sense of philanthropy. Whatever age or stage you're at, astrology will set the scene throughout your cycle of life.