You’ve heard of the so-called “mid-life crisis” – that change-filled and transformative period of life that occurs at various points from the mid 30’s through to the early 50’s. Have you wondered what may be contributing astrologically to your desire to change jobs, have a sea change or even take a younger lover?
In astrology planets carry certain characteristics. Many stem from mythological stories in which the planet (as a God) plays a role. The combination of myth and history helps define a planet’s archetypal role astrologically.
There are 4 planetary cycles* that play out through the age groups of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. The cycles of the outer planets – Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, along with Chiron, herald key evolutionary steps on our journey. These planets move slowly (both Pluto and Chiron have very elliptical orbits), so each planetary mid life phase can last from 18 months to 2 years. The exact age each planet’s mid life phase occurs differs from generation to generation.
Currently, the mid life transit of Pluto square Pluto* occurs first, around the age of 35 (presently relevant for those born between 1967 – 1969). The second and third mid-life transits, which includes Neptune square Neptune* (occurring now for those born 1963 – 1965) and Uranus opposite Uranus* (occurring now for those born 1963 – 1964) currently occur together in the early forties. The final phase, the Chiron return, occurs just as you cross the threshold into your fifties (occurring now for those born 1954 -1955).
All of these mid-life transits can be more fully and personally understood in light of the unique role each outer planet plays in your personal natal horoscope. For some, Uranus is a more prominent planet and the Uranus mid-life phase will have the most effect. For others Pluto is prominent in their birth chart and therefore the Pluto mid-life phase will have the most effect for that person. You can find more about your personal journey through the mid-life phases by having your chart done by an astrologer.
Mid 30’s – ‘Pluto square Pluto’
Around age 35 Pluto makes a square* aspect to its natal (birth) position. Pluto represents the personal journey associated with using and working with your power. Throughout this 18 month phase issues centre on reclaiming your power.
Typical life experiences through this period include challenging interpersonal relationship issues around control – either through sexual or financial manipulation. On the positive side, this time can bring about the long awaited meeting with your soul mate, a child that will have a transformative effect on your life, or a step into a powerful and responsible professional role that may take you into contact with the mass public. Pluto is about deep and highly personal evolution.
Whenever Pluto’s energy rises to prominence in our lives there is a sense of death and rebirth. Mythological images to keep in mind under a Pluto phase (such as the Pluto mid-life period) include the Phoenix rising from the ashes and periodic shedding of the serpent’s skin. A very Australian analogy for a Plutonic experience is that of the raging bushfires that raze through the bush in the summer, burning all in their path. Within 12 months you can see the fresh green shoots of new growth bursting through the blackened carnage. At times strong Plutonic periods can feel similar to this.
Pluto is also known to manifest as the need to step into our shadow side and deal with the parts of ourselves we prefer to keep hidden, even from ourselves. This period of internalisation often accompanies the “death” phase – a necessary step on the way to the rebirth. The ultimate image for Pluto is the emergence of a butterfly from the chrysalis after having gone in as the caterpillar.
A key theme to keep in mind with Pluto is transformation. No matter how challenging or amazing events may be now, internally this mid-life phase demands change and growth at a soul level. This is necessary to allow you to evolve into the person you can be, and in fact need to be, to take the opportunities life presents now. The Pluto mid-life phase offers a chance to work through and release issues that have been grumbling along beneath the surface without conscious awareness.
Pluto is linked to force of will and represents the ultimate expression of our magic. An inner alchemical process occurs within during the Pluto mid-life phase, that allows you to transform fears and inhibitions in a bid to facilitate a more full expression of your personal essence in the world. Pluto’s connection with death can bring about a death of sorts to support this – a relationship or career that has long since served its purpose may be ripped away from you, or you may consciously choose to end something that is no longer serving you.
There will be cathartic endings and beginnings through the Pluto mid-life phase. As with any transit, you can work consciously with what you notice and become aware of, or try to ignore what you need and have life present events that force you to make necessary changes. Other key themes for Pluto include a sense of rawness and a need to rejuvenate & replenish emotional and physical reserves.
Another area of life Pluto is associated with is sex. Often during the Pluto mid-life phase you are able to deal with any unresolved issues that block your experience of sexual intimacy. Changes in sexual habits are likely as you deepen your intimate relationship with yourself. This leads to an ability to more deeply and intimately connect with a partner.
Early 40’s – ‘Neptune square Neptune’
Neptune is a soulful and ethereal planet. Under his touch life takes on a whimsical and at times insubstantial flavour. Neptune’s key theme is dissolution and surrender. Neptune is mythologically known as Poseidon, God of the Sea and through times when Neptune rises to prominence life seems to move to an unknown tidal rhythm that can’t be forced or rushed. At times under Neptune all you can do is let go and let flow – surrender into what is and stop trying to create something from nothing.
Life as you know it may seem to slip away no matter how hard you try to hold onto it. Loss of ego or self confidence can occur and depression, moodiness or the desire to escape from everyday responsibilities can manifest. A positive use of Neptune’s influence is time spent alone in reflection. A modern expression of Neptune’s mid-life phase is the common sea change – where people pack up their busy bustling city lives in search of a more slow and experiential existence either on the coast or in the country. When Neptune’s call for a more sensitive and fluid life is not heard, he can pull you down into a spiral that has you drinking and chasing romantic love (the honeymoon phase) as short-term fillers for the aching hole inside. What Neptune is really asking is that you step out of the hurly-burly hectic life you lead and reconnect with what it is that fills that ache within for you. Then make it a daily or weekly ritual to spend time doing those soul honouring activities.
Neptune is linked to the revisioning of the life dream. It is time now to take stock of the visions of life that you had as a 20 or 30 year old and notice what you have been able to achieve and what you haven’t. Revisioning the dream for the journey forward involves letting go of dreams you may not be able to fulfil. Even if you have fulfilled all your youthful dreams, there may still be a sense of yearning for more meaning. It’s time to dream up a life for the future that is meaningful for where you are now.
Neptune’s journey through our lives involves an eternal search for meaning. Your spiritual life needs attention now – your soul is calling out for a little more space and acknowledgement in your everyday life. Events may challenge your faith and part of the Neptune-mid life phase may be to initiate a greater faith that serves you more fully as a reflection of your life experiences.
Through Neptune’s mid-life phase it may be hard to do a lot. Neptune’s essence is more about ‘being’ than ‘achieving’. Finding the time to slow life down to enjoy the beingness of your experience, to really stop along the way to smell the roses, is a way through Neptune’s mid-life phase. Neptune is associated with creative undertakings – art, singing and writing. Finding more time to create and commune with your muses will allow you to tap into a connection with the divine. Neptune asks that logic take a back seat and impulses, intuitions and hunches be allowed to air themselves in your life. Since life is not about achieving now, taking a step sideways to trek the Himalayas or spending 6 months writing that novel you’ve always thought was in you is a great way of honouring the inspiration Neptune offers.
Early 40’s – ‘Uranus opposite Uranus’
This phase of the mid-life period is arguably the most important, according to fellow Astrologer Greg Clare. Uranus’ orbit around the Sun takes 84 years to complete. This length of time is so close to the average human life span that Uranus transits are often noted as “once in a lifetime” opportunities. Carl Jung likened the cycle of Uranus to the process of individuation – the process of becoming and knowing oneself as an individual and unique being. This mid-way point in Uranus’ cycle that occurs in the early forties then takes on greater meaning as a key marker on the evolutionary journey of the individual during this lifetime.
Uranus’ key word is ‘freedom’. Liberation and the breaking of long held chains are necessary through Uranus’ mid-life phase. Whether you have suppressed yourself and your life for a job, relationship or belief system it is during the period of the Uranus phase of the mid-life transit that it becomes apparent you can no longer hold yourself down. Honest expression of your true, unique and quirky self is the purpose of Uranus’ mid-life phase. It is time to embrace your true self and forget about what others think or how they may perceive you. Astrologers liken this to a conscious awakening of what have previously been unconscious parts of the psyche or persona. A sense of personal philosophy needs to be developed and embraced now.
Uranus is linked physically to the movement of hormones and neurotransmitters throughout the body. These control mood and sexual desire amongst other things. Through the Uranus mid-life transit it is said that there is a biochemical change in the body’s makeup that is behind the stimulus for this greater need for unique self expression. For some this manifests as the desire to have affairs or drastically change life patterns. Again there is a deeper need trying to express itself from the inner soul space during this time. Honour your needs for time, space and freedom as they arise and such drastic measures as total life changes may not be so necessary.
Through Uranus’ mid-life phase one finds a growing desire to overthrow tradition and find a way through whatever events life has brought that is perfect and personalised for you. A favoured quote of mine by Ralph Waldo Emerson sums up the essence of the Uranus mid-life phase: “Do not go where the path may lead: go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”. Uranus is about finding your own life path – to do that one must first know the essence of themselves. Through the Uranus phase of the mid-life transit your stable life may crack open, lighting bolts strike through your world and emotional volcanoes can erupt causing irrevocable but necessary change. Pressure that has built up explodes in a demand for freedom. These changes serve to help you know yourself.
Working with Uranus requires taking notice of where you are feeling restless, hemmed in, or frustrated by life and moving towards changing these circumstances. Autonomy is a key theme through the Uranus mid-life phase and relationships as well as careers will need to give you more time and space to be who you are in your own way. It is time to live life on your own terms.
Early 50’s – ‘Chiron return’
Chiron is a planetoid (a cross between a planet and an asteroid) that was discovered in 1977. Chiron is mythologically a centaur – a half man, half horse creature who was wise in many of the healing arts. It is said that Chiron suffered a wound in a battle that plagued him all his life. Chiron’s story through our lives represents an almost essential wound or pain that we have learnt to live with and around.
Around the ‘Chiron return’, old fears around emotional or physical weakness are given a chance to be worked through and released. Whatever essential wound we carry is also said to represent a key offering we have to make to the human race. Our own journey with our specific pain or hurt makes us good teachers for the experience of what it means to live with such a wound.
There is a theme of sacrifice inherent in the ‘Chiron return’, occurring as it does just as one crosses the threshold into 50 – the reality of one’s mortality becomes apparent. There may be loss of a parent, particular lifestyle or partner. Events in life through this time can vary, however there seems to be a profound sense of healing that runs through all of them. Common themes of Chiron include wounds around mental inferiority, standing out from the crowd and physical challenges. Some of these disabilities may not change but through the passage of the ‘Chiron return’ your approach to them does.
Chiron in Capricorn (People born between November 1951 – January 1955)
The essential Chiron wound of the generation, with Chiron in Capricorn, relates to one’s ability to take on responsibility and authority. There is often a story around the relationship to the father – with father being overtly strict or absent either physically or emotionally. People with this placement can spend much of their life trying to emulate their father (often unconsciously). Capricorn looks to the mountains of life’s challenges and seeks to find a way to surmount them.
With Chiron in Capricorn one may find themselves constantly trying to live up to expectations of others and not taking enough time to consider their own motivations and desires. Chiron in Capricorn can bring a sense of failure regardless of how successful one actually is. There is a sense of never feeling as though one has achieved enough. Sometimes this placement manifests as one who places too much emphasis on material and financial success without looking to their inner world. The pressure to keep up with the Jones’s can be felt strongly by this generation.
The gifts of Chiron in Capricorn include respect for one’s inner vulnerability, a natural sense of authority and dignity, and the ability to foster the growth of others. It is through the period of the ‘Chiron return’ that one has the opportunity to release some of the unrealistic expectations they place on themselves and set a course for life up a mountain that will result in a meaningful achievement for them. Unresolved issues around one’s relationship to the father may also experience a cathartic healing or release during this time.
Chiron in Aquarius (People born between February 1955 – January 1961)
The essential Chiron wound of the generation, with Chiron in Aquarius, relates to the feeling of separateness that often arises with the realisations that one’s belief systems and mental processes are different from others. Groups and specific social policies and parties may prove tempting but all too absorbing for those with Chiron in Aquarius. The need to construct one’s own unique belief model is imperative here.
Wounds can be felt around the failure of life to live up to the utopian ideals one with Chiron in Aquarius can imagine. Those with Chiron in Aquarius have a natural affinity for working within a collective or group environment, but at the same time are reluctant to let themselves go fully into this shared experience. Rebelliousness and anarchy are common when Chiron is in Aquarius. These individuals may at times feel as though their ideas are ignored or not acknowledged. Part of the wound and sense of not belonging, common within this generation, stems from the fact that many of their ideas and concepts are valid and useful but other generations can’t comprehend what these visionaries with Chiron in Aquarius can see.
The gifts of Chiron in Aquarius include the ability to bridge the old and new – to slowly and progressively bring about social change and the ability to be a vehicle for controversial ideas.
*Planetary cycles refers to the relationship between the point in the Zodiac a planet occupied at your birth, and the points on its continued orbit around the Sun at which it makes a mathematical angle to that initial birth placement throughout your life. A ‘return’ is the planetary return to the same part of the Zodiac a planet occupied at your birth – a full cycle around the heavens if you like. A ‘square’ is the forming of a 90 degree angle from where the planet is now, in relation to where it was when you were born. An ‘opposition’ is the forming of a 180 degree angle between where the planet is now in the sky and where it was when you were born.
Sasportas, H. (1990). The Gods of Change: Pain, Crisis, and the Transits of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. USA: Penguin.
Forrest, S. (1999). The Changing Sky: A Practical Guide to Predictive Astrology (2nd Ed.). ACS Publications.
Reinhart, M. (1999). Chiron and the Healing Journey: An Astrological and Psychological Perspective. Penguin.
Website: Gregory Clare – http://www.users.bigpond.com/gregoryclare/