2004: Here, and Not a Moment Too Soon


Just as old years end with the predictable year-in-review, new ones begin with the standard year-to-come prognostications. Especially in the astrology biz, where we astrologers are expected to make show-stopping predictions to fill the tabloid headlines. 'Bush Revealed as Double Agent-for the French!' 'Earthquake Hits Fault Line!' 'Ashton Kutcher Finally Shuts Up!'

Of course, if Ashton doesn't turn out to shut up during 2004 (and Vegas is running 5:1 odds against his potential silence), then all astrology—not just the unfortunate astrologer who dared to predict events subject to someone else's free will—is proven wrong. I guess that's why I'm keeping my mouth shut about whether I think Bush will be elected to another term, here or in France, or about any number of other events possibly on their way.

But astrology does offer some hints about what trends to expect in the coming year. And while there are innumerable astrological characteristics to each and every year, big and small, I'm going to focus my first offering of 2004 on one single feature—the movement of Uranus into Pisces.

Uranus (along with Neptune and Pluto) is a generational planet, which means it moves sufficiently slowly that its passage through a single sign lasts long enough to imprint a several-year-long period with a particular character. Uranus is the forward-thinking, chaos-adoring revolutionary of the solar system. And based upon which sign it's traveling through, those themes and traits and areas of life associated with that sign go through a Uranus-fueled revolution. People who cling to tradition in those areas face an uncomfortably shocking pressure to release the grip, while those who meet innovation with less emotional attachment are greeted with visions of the future.

Beginning in 1996, Uranus traveled through its native sign of Aquarius—the radical planet moving through its most hospitable terrain of socially-aware, technologically-minded intellectual kookiness. The concentrated burst of technological developments during this period should not be underemphasized; for instance, before 1996, few of us had cell phones or e-mail or Internet access, and look at us now! Not to mention the zillion other scientific advances—how about the mapping of the human genome?—which have yet to become fully incorporated into our daily lives, yet undoubtedly will have a profound effect.

Uranus's travels through Aquarius also brought about an increased awareness of the way in which different people—of different races and religions, of different economic class, of different countries around the world—affect each other in a 'global village' social system. While technology bridged geographic distances, the gap between rich and poor continued to grow. Many of us discovered unexpected new allies while, at the same time, realizing that some of our nearest neighbors didn't necessary fit that ally role as we'd once believed.

If the news of Uranus's movement into Pisces sounds familiar to you, then you've got a sharp memory. In fact, Uranus first inched its way into Pisces-land in March 03 (and I wrote about it then), but only for a quick dip in the pool before heading retrograde back into Aquarius for a last hurrah. This phenomenon is partly to blame for that feeling we had from, say, last summer through the end of the year of perpetually being on the verge of something but not quite getting there. The momentary switch back into Uranus-in-Aquarius indicated a necessity for completing unfinished business that, perhaps, we weren't aware of early last year but which makes sense now, in retrospect. And Uranus's return to Pisces on Dec 30 03, where it will stay through 2011, helps to explain why it really feels like this year will bring something substantially new. 2004 marks the beginning of a fresh Uranian generation, in which a different part of our lives will be stimulated by abrupt reform and revolutionary pressure.

We cannot expect all the effects of this 8-year transit of Uranus through Pisces to make themselves known right away, just as a politician's true character doesn't always shine through during his or her first year in office. Yet still, I believe we'll begin to witness certain Uranus-in-Pisces themes taking on increasing importance during 2004 and beyond. Here's what I see ahead:

(1) More hysteria over disease. We already saw this with SARS panic, which began in Spring 03 as Uranus crossed briefly into Pisces and subsided shortly after as Uranus headed retrograde. Then came the 'epidemic' of the flu, an illness that arrives predictably every year and is always a major cause of death among those with weakened immune systems. Nothing new here, although it might have seemed so, considering all the media hype. And now Mad Cow Disease, a totally avoidable condition of our own making. It's simply what happens when you feed cattle the severed parts of their slaughtered cousins to save costs. Of course people freak out when scary new diseases are described with generic symptoms like nausea, sleeplessness and anxiety. Meanwhile, does anyone care to compare the death toll of SARS or Mad Cow with, say, the daily death toll from hunger or unclean water?

(2) And speaking of water, Pisces rules not only the water supply, but also the natural stores of oil and gas. Probably doesn't take an astrologer to remind all of us that, during the remainder of this decade, we will have to face serious issues regarding water, oil and gas. Rising global temperatures bring floods in some areas and droughts in others, while finding enough drinkable water anywhere will become increasingly difficult. Hopefully Uranus's ingenuity can come with a simultaneous solution to both problems. Not to mention the ever-increasing gas-and-oil dilemma—we use more, we have less—that needs solving in the imminent future. And Uranus being a disruptive force, I wouldn't be surprised if one or more major accidents or disasters affect significant water, oil or gas supplies.

(3) War against drugs, or war for pharmaceuticals? Last time Uranus was in Pisces was during Prohibition in the 1920s. Pisces is associated with drugs and alcohol (and all forms of escapism), so we may be in for a major shift involved with these. I expect insane advances in pharmaceutical technology (and huge profits for the drug companies!). Indeed, the computer revolution of the last decade is likely to become inextricably linked with biology, as computer literally become part of our bodies. And we'll continue successfully medicating ourselves to heal even more ailments and ease more anxieties—though, at the same time, we will have to face the hypocrisy of some drugs being legal (and overpriced due to corporate monopolies) and others remaining criminalized (causing otherwise innocent folks to end up in jail).

(4) As Pisces is also a sign linked with romance and fantasy, I expect an upsurge in glamour akin to the last Uranus-in-Pisces transit during the roaring-'20s golden age of movies. Perhaps increasing sophistication in virtual reality and computer animation will create a whole new fantasy form for us to escape into.

(5) Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac, and as such, it represents the collective spiritual unity of all living things. It makes sense that as, for instance, hysteria regarding disease and/or issues with the mass supplies of resources like water affect all of us, we will feel more emotionally and psychically tied to compassion for one another. As the last sign, Pisces also represents endings, and Uranus rules abrupt breaks… so perhaps, as a result of increased sensitivity to each other (and the experience of feeling each other's pain), we will collectively mourn our recent global traumas and together bring new peace. I believe, in coming years, we'll be less able to intellectually separate ourselves from the other citizens of the Earth and instead must face that what is ultimately good for us must be good for all of us.