When Uranus transits itself, we are dealing with life cycles that occur in everyone's chart at relatively the same chronological ages. I'm not going to interpret each and every possible Uranus/Uranus cycle, but there are four that stand out in my mind: the first square, the opposition, the second square, and the Uranus Return.
The main thrust of these cycles revolves around confronting all things Uranian, especially on internal levels. These can be periods when we receive wake-up calls telling us to follow our path of freedom. Maybe we find ourselves rebelling against self-identifying labels that we've bought into in order to conform and be accepted by society. We've usually taken the saferoute rather than risk social rejection. During any one of these cycles, we may suddenly feel that those images are false and misleading. Our true self wants to break out in some fashion and make its individuality known. The environment is ready to provide a few shake-ups to match our altered, inner rhythms. Something's gotta give!
Technically, this is a transpersonal transit (Outer Planet to Outer Planet); therefore, a lot of it won't be under our conscious direction. This enables Uranus to introduce a wider range of unfamiliar experiences that we normally would not attempt to magnetize in our day-to-day situations. The Cosmos, working through our environment, will usually orchestrate how the message of liberation will be heard. People entering our lives shake us up in ways that help to bring greater self-expression. Situations force us to show our true colors. We may marvel at how alive and well we can feel, if we freely experiment with this rushing energy and don't waste time trying to resist the educational nature of such mind-altering change.
First Uranus Square Uranus (Ages 18-21)
The first Uranus/Uranus square is notable because it coincides with a time when most young people feel they have reached true adult status -- finally! -- not just in the eyes of their parents, but also in the eyes of society. Of course, nobody really gets to claim adulthood until after the first Saturn Return (ages 28-30); that is, if they pass the life exams given at that time. However, anyone who's almost twenty-one certainly doesn't want to hear that. This planet takes a little less than seven years to pass through a sign; therefore its first major tensional pattern happens after high school.
During this square phase, we envision that we'll have autonomy and be able to break free of parental rule, especially during our twenties. Any system that seems authoritarian is rejected. We assume that we now can do whatever we please, determine our own life approach as we see fit, experiment with jobs without feeling firmly committed to them (it's a restless period anyway), and basically keep all options open-ended. We also can and do formulate a few aspirations as we explore the structure of adult society.
We may even embrace the unknown with a sense of excitement. All future prospects become very attractive and compelling (or maybe nerve-racking, if we started off on the wrong foot with this transit).
To get the most out of this thrusting phase of Uranus, we will need to be as educated as we can be, because this planet thrives on mental stimulation. We need to realize that our society is more willing to open the doors of opportunity for those possessing valuable knowledge. People who have had inadequate schooling may not feel this to be a liberating, freedom-oriented period, but instead one where stability and economic survival become paramount, making circumstances feel more Saturnian. Indeed, Saturn squares our Saturn around the time of our first Uranus square. Our direction feels uncertain during this Uranus/Uranus phase, and we are not too sure how many "adult" values we want to adopt (such a double Uranus influence could suggest emphasized rebellion and defiance).
This is a cycle that can start off as difficult for those who already had a tough time with authority during the mid-teen angst and resentment generated by Saturn opposing Saturn (a rebel period also fed by transiting Uranus sextile itself). However, with both Uranus and Saturn simultaneously squaring their natal positions, clashes with family or community values can erupt. Our urge to break away from our past then becomes too undisciplined to be handled in a productive manner. Some of us learn the hard way that there are many parental substitutes in the world who do not love us, but who are willing and able to stop us in our tracks when we run wild. In actuality, the number of those who get in trouble with the law during this cycle is relatively low. Still, for those criminally inclined, this becomes a vulnerable period.
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Breaking society's rules of conduct can have serious legal consequences (Saturn square Saturn makes sure of that).
As we reach our mid-twenties, transiting Uranus trines Uranus -- a time when we may have the clarity we need to foster a workable life vision. At least the transiting Uranus square gives us the guts to leave behind our childhood and the nest our parents have created, and launch into a bigger and sometimes anxiety-inducing world, where we can learn more about who we really are as individuals.
Uranus Opposing Uranus (Mid-Life Crisis)
This cycle occurs as early as our late thirties. It is one of the hallmarks of our infamous "mid-life crisis" phase and one that most astrologers show a keen interest in exploring. This transit describes those facets of our mid-life years that are marked by an urgent restlessness to bring something or someone fresh into our stable but monotonous life patterns.
Up until then, we may have played out an orderly social role that now feels too tightly defined and wrong for us. We need space to breathe again while recovering lost parts of our individuality. We may even try to revive the youthful gusto for adventurous living we may have felt during our Uranus/Uranus square -- which is not always a smart idea. The daily grind with all of its mounting responsibilities has taken over how we have shaped our identity, and now we sense that it's time for some sort of internal revolution. A reordering of very personal priorities is due.
We first need to define where we seem to be the most trapped. This transit could be a timely turning-point of self-awakening, during which we can feel a resurgence of the spirit of experimentation. It can symbolize a second adolescence phase, where our freedom-craving, rule-breaking ways turn some of us into "teenagers" who thumb our nose at the conventions of "proper" adult conduct. Some of us may be tempted to pull out and wear our bell-bottomed pants again, once we lose about twenty pounds! We feel a strong urge to let adventure have its way with us, an adventure that defies logic at times and that allows us to be a bit wild and crazy (less so if our natal Saturn has a dominant presence in our chart, or if we are loaded with earth placements and/or much natal fixity).
Usually, other people help to set this spark-flying cycle in motion. Their changing situations become catalysts for how we repattern our lives. Maybe a spouse wants to leave us, something we dread. Perhaps, after a destabilizing divorce, we realize we have gladly outgrown much of what our marriage was based upon, and yet it took our partner's unrest and pressing urge to break loose to get the ball of freedom rolling. Within time, we realize that we are becoming our true selves without that union. This is not something easily embraced, but that's why this transit's called an opposition: we oppose it until we've had time to adjust to the new life forces entering our world.
On the other hand, sometimes those of us committed to the single life have an unforeseen change of heart and suddenly leap into a relationship (even marriage) with a very special individual whom we never dreamed of meeting. During this unpredictable period, wallflowers may blossom, sexual hot-shots fizzle out, and, in general, reversals of status occur that surprise everyone. If not due to another person, then the environment at large forces change upon us in ways that accelerate our growth.
While this period is usually called a "crisis," it's really a turning point that allows us a greater range of self-expression as we move into the second half of our lives. The double dose of Uranus symbolism means that the courage to push forward is needed, even when mixed feelings split us apart in ways that make us crazy and unhinged for the moment.
Second Uranus Square Uranus (Ages 59-65)
The theme of breaking away from the yoke of authority is here repeated, except we're not restless teens anymore, innocently eager to explore the adult world of freedom. We now know that the adult world has built-in limitations as part of its fundamental reality, and most of us have accepted that. Who or what is to take on the role of the authority we oppose at this point is less clearly defined.
Age sixty-five rings a bell, because this is, legally (at least in America) when workers can begin their retirement years and collect their Social Security checks. Retirement could be acknowledged as a time of shock for many of us, even though we may have claimed to look forward to it. At best, it's a time to manifest idealistic plans by which we expect to live out the remainder of our lives. However, such ideals often do not match up with reality at this time, something which generates the full tension of the square.
This period should be freedom oriented, giving well-deserved breaks from routine, as well as allowing us to pursue new areas and cover fresh territory with a greater sense of leisure. Unfortunately, few in this culture are prepared for such a dose of "freedom". Instead, some of us may feel cut-off from the accustomed rhythms of society due to the abrupt change in our daily pattern. Obviously, those of us who have long ago made alterations by which we became "free agents" on a professional basis are less apt to feel that the rug's been pulled out from under us because, technically, we do not have to prepare to retire at this time. No company is formally terminating our services.
However, for the majority who have followed the standard straight-and-narrow path toward success within established parameters, this period can sometimes mark a time of inner chaos and even alienation. It all depends on the extent of our inner discoveries during our Uranus opposing Uranus phase. The more self-knowing we have become, the more hopeful this square phase. Otherwise, disorientation can take place along with anger and bitterness, as we feel we're being "put out to pasture" against our will. Many can feel impotent under these conditions (like the fate that awaited mythological Uranus). Feeling non-effectual on the social level, we can withdraw altogether and resign ourselves to an unsatisfying final chapter of life.
Astrologers are not accustomed to thinking of this dynamic Uranus phase in such bleak terms. However, this can be how a sudden change of social status impacts some of us at this time.
Still, even for those of us depressed or distressed, much understanding of the meaning of our total life process can flash before our eyes. This can be an insightful time for all undergoing this cycle. Much depends on what we are becoming awakened to. Our environment also offers outlets to us that can get us out of our doldrums if we are willing to do a little exploring.
Uranus Return (Ages 82-84)
Until recently, the Uranus Return was an astrological oddity, in that only a small percentage of people ever lived long enough to experience it. Most were probably recluses by then, so astrologers never got to know directly what was really going on during this life cycle. In the past several decades, however, it's become obvious that many folks are living longer and with greater vitality even at advanced ages; they are not necessarily confined to their homes as once was the case. A few can even be found having a blast with the slot machines in Atlantic City. (Heck, even aging Leos just wanna have fun!)
This is good news for Uranus, which always has an easier time working with live-wires who are ready for anything than those dead-beats who aren't. The biggest obstacle at this juncture, however, is our darn old physical body (as Saturn now claims complete control, almost with a vengeance, over the body's decline and eventual demise). Assuming we will live this long, what can we expect? Believe it or not, there is still room for both excitement (within reason) and further self-discovery (even if we never do make it to to the gambling casinos).
The Uranus Return seems to mark a symbolic climax for our soul's development. We have officially completed our assignment on Earth regarding our mundane "contract" with society and the roles we felt somewhat roped into playing (for whatever circumstantial reasons). A lot of people become very bitter about the roles they've had to play long before they reach age eighty-four (perhaps the bad feelings kick in around the retirement years).
By our mid-eighties, there's not much more we can extract and use from our social environment that will help us to grow further. Now our challenge lies in how we embark on our inner journey in consciousness, something that will require a greater detachment from direct involvement with worldly matters. Our physical body also shows signs of wanting to withdraw from the frenetic stimuli of our outer surroundings.
However, even if we are to be confined to our home, thank goodness we still have the world at our fingertips via our TV's remote control or the Internet. We certainly won't have to suffer the isolation that some of us did as elderly shut-ins in dreary past lives. Electronic and digital media stimulation will be our constant companion if we wish. Uranus will make sure our brain remains active and still eager for new mental excitement. It does boggle the mind, however, to think of those Pluto-in-Leo oldsters who'll still be rocking and bopping during their Uranus Return to their scratchy Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane albums, assuming their hearing isn't totally shot by then!
Ideally, we'd get the most out of this life cycle if we didn't have to concern ourselves with mundane responsibilities, some of which have now become either burdensome or uninteresting to us. We wish to be free of these tedious tasks and instead give our mind permission to explore whatever interests it. For some of us, this can mean a time of mental disorientation (we've also had Neptune opposing Neptune just before our Uranus Return). I suspect that a way to prevent this is to remain constantly flexible, adaptable, and unshockable. After all, we've witnessed a lot about society during almost a century of living.
With the right amount of detachment (not to be confused with withdrawal), we can learn to de-emphasize our emotional reactions to all that's constantly happening beyond our control around us. Curiosity about life will keep us sharp and alert. It is clear by now that we are only in the world, not of it!
This article is excerpted from the book:
Alive and Well with Uranus,
by Bil Tierney. ©1999.
About The Author
Bil Tierney has been involved with astrology for over thirty-two years. As a full-time professional, he has lectured and given workshops at major astrological conferences throughout the United States and in Canada since the mid-1970s. Books he has written are: Dynamics of Aspect Analysis, Twelve Faces of Saturn, Alive and Well With Neptune, Alive and Well With Pluto, and Alive and Well with Uranus. Bil currently limits his practice to working with clients, lecturing, occasionally tutoring, and writing articles and books.