Mundane astrology is the branch of the field that focuses on
world events. The term is derived from the Latin mundo, meaning “world”, and it’s probably a rather unfortunate term
– after all, how excited can you get over something that calls itself
“mundane”? Yet following the correlations between celestial cycles and worldly
events in politics, social trends, and economics is actually a matter of
fascination for many astrologers and those interested in astrology.
The Holy Grail for mundane astrologers is a demonstrable
link between something that happens in the sky and a predictable manifestation
on Earth. Such links often prove elusive, especially as the sky and Earth are
always in motion, with many overlapping cycles occurring simultaneously, and no
two moments in time are ever really alike. Add in innovation and changing
conditions on this planet, and it gets very tricky indeed to sort out the
relationship between the celestial and terrestrial realms. Even the most
convincing retrospective analysis tends to run into trouble when the astrologer
applies knowledge of the past to the future.
Yet while the task is daunting, it isn’t impossible. One
approach, favored by Richard Tarnas in his book Cosmos and Psyche (2006, reviewed on this site), is to emphasize
the overall archetypal flavor of events. While recognizing that worldly events
will always be novel, we can still identify reliable patterns of meaning that
relate to astrological phenomena. We wouldn’t expect the Neptune-Pluto
conjunction (meeting) in the 1890s to be all that much like the one in the
1390s, because the world had changed quite a bit in 500 years. Yet there are
some similarities if we look at the types
of challenges and opportunities that were present at both conjunctions.
Working with larger archetypal patterns, many mundane
astrologers look at a variety of cosmic cycles and cast their net wide to catch
the flavor of the associated events. In Brother
Pluto, Sister Eris, Thomas Canfield takes a somewhat different approach, focusing
instead on the ongoing cycle of only two planets, Pluto and Eris (technically dwarf planets, from an astronomical
perspective), and examining their cycle in great detail. Pluto is known as the
planet of deep transformation, and as lord of the underworld he is associated
with death and rebirth. Eris is mythological figure associated with discord.
The two together represent a kind of meaningful disharmony.
The book is very well written, and Canfield is quite
accomplished as an historian. His descriptions of the complexities of things
like The Hundred Years War is illuminating even before we get to the astrology.
At the core of the book, however, is the author’s tenacious hold on the
Pluto/Eris cycle and its association with times of upheaval and change.
Canfield uses the analogy of a crime scene to describe his detective work, and
indeed he makes for quite a forensic astrologer.
All planets (and other objects orbiting the Sun) have a
cyclical relationship with each other. From the perspective of the Earth, they
meet at some point in the zodiac, like the hands of a clock at noon. After
their meeting, the faster-moving planet begins to pull ahead of the
slower-moving one, just as the minute hand gradually leaving the hour hand
behind until they meet again at a later point.
Some cycles are quite fast – the Moon and Sun meet every
month, for example – while other cycles like Pluto and Eris are extraordinarily
long. It is these longer cycles that are generally held to have the most
powerful mundane effects. When planets get into an angular relationship with
each other, the cycle is triggered and events unfold according to archetypal
patterns. The book extends beyond the cycle itself, to include some cases of
Pluto and Eris affecting individuals on the world stage (for example, Kaiser
Wilhelm had Eris conjunct his Neptune when he began the expansion of the German
Brother Pluto, Sister
Eris traces the cycle of the two ‘suspects’ through 800 years of history.
There are some advantages to this detailed analysis, including an ability to
see the different effects of different points in the cycle and the ability to
observe a variety of manifestations of the two planets interacting with each
other. One certainly gets a sense of the power of the Pluto/Eris cycle, as the
relentless transformative process of Pluto meets the chaotic mischief of Eris.
The book is largely a history of wars and other events that we might well label
If we can learn from history, we can perhaps avoid the more
difficult manifestations of Pluto and Eris. With awareness of the challenges
that this cycle provides and the pitfalls we have succumbed to in the past, we
may be able to come to a more positive – or at least less destructive –
experience of the Pluto/Eris cycle. Perhaps as a result of steeping himself so
deeply in the history of these two cosmic troublemakers, Canfield is not so
Whether Canfield has convincingly made his case against (or
is it for?) Pluto and Eris is up to the individual reader. Certainly, the book
is an enjoyable, if somewhat gruesome, read. The impossibility of factoring out
other astrological cycles and the ongoing history of unpleasant events in our
collective history always make any book on mundane astrology at risk for
appearing either too selective or too inclusive, but Brother Pluto, Sister Eris
certainly makes a solid argument. General astrology buffs will enjoy the book
for its introduction to these two planets in relationship to each other, while
astrological researchers will have a great time adding to and analyzing
The post Brother Pluto, Sister Eris: Aspects Between the Dwarf Planets Through 800 Years of History appeared first on Astrology News Service.