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The Process of General Unfoldment: Outer Planetary Cycles

By A. Leo, Jr.

Understanding the significance of General Unfoldment requires stepping back and observing the entire lifespan as an ongoing process of accomplishments and challenges. In martial arts, this can be compared to being out of the range of a boxer, but within the range of a kicker. Kicks generally aren’t as fast (or as immediate) as punches, but they pack much more power and move you with that force.

General Unfoldment is a view of the Callings of Life

When you view your life from this point of view, you will be in a better position to perceive your calling and your true life purpose. This viewpoint can also reveal the way we get caught up in life altering decisions that are traps.

Golden Handcuffs

It has been said that dentists have the highest rate of suicide. I do not know if this is true, but the story makes a point that is relevant for all of us: Many people decide that they want to become a dentist early on, in high school or maybe in college. They are lured to this type of career because of the moneymaking potential. They work hard and do what is necessary to survive the challenges that befall all students on this path. They make it through school, and soon they are earning six figure incomes.

The Awakening

Then, one day, at some point in their forties, they discover that they are tired of digging around in people’s mouths all day for a living. They want to stop. The glitter and glamour of wealth and success has faded and been replaced by daily grind they find they truly abhor.

 But the responsibilities of keeping a spouse and children happy and well-fed keeps them caught in the cycle they have chosen for themselves. The dentist is now shackled by “golden handcuffs.” With no other way out, they take drastic measures to end the drudgery.

 Freedom to Become What We are Capable of Being

 The point of this story is not that dentistry is good or bad. The profession itself is a noble one. The issue is whether or not one can pursue the passions that emerge at different ages without being shackled. The issue is one of utilizing our freedom to become what we are capable of being.

General Unfoldment is Granted to All Living Things

This process of General Unfoldment is provided not only to all humans, but to all living things, because we live in a world defined by time and space. Plants with an annual cycle are born, flower, and die. Think of the bloom of the rose. Similar patterns exist virtually everywhere in nature. And, each of the points of a being’s unfoldment represents a place where we can, and sometimes have to, make major changes in the direction of our life path.

 Here are some of the major turning points in the process of General Unfoldment that affect all human beings:

 Jupiter Cycles: Times of Expansion and Building

 The Jupiter cycle completes itself every twelve years. This is the classic pattern that includes puberty near age 12, the time of the first Jupiter return, entering adulthood between the next Jupiter opposition at age 18 and the next Jupiter return at age 24. Each Jupiter return, and demi-return (one half of a cycle, or 6 years) signals a place where we can “jump the tracks” and change our path. Jupiter permits us to build and grow with regard to the area of our life affected by its transit. If we are asleep, if we are not aware of the opportunities that emerge at each of these junctions, then they will pass us by. Jupiter represents the “brass ring” that will be lost to us if we do not reach out and grab it. Extending the martial arts metaphor, Jupiter gives us the spinning, flying back kicks that look so elegant in the movies. Jupiter gives us the flash of the swordplay a la Erroll Flynn. And, Jupiter does this in a small way every three years, a slightly larger way every six, and the largest, most significant way every twelve years.

 Saturn Cycles: Time to Remove the Unnecessary

 (Saturn? Said repeatedly in the tone of “redrum” from The Shining by Stephen King. Just in case you don’t know the story, a young child in the story keeps repeating a word he saw in a dream: “Redrum.” Redrum, it turns out, was the word murder that he saw, backwards, in a mirror) Saturn has been described as “The Devil” by some. Saturn is also known as Kronos, the ancient god that became known as “Father Time.” The patriarch of the aged and of authority figures, Saturn teaches us how to build what we need by getting us to take responsibility for removing what is unnecessary.

Saturn is about the Power of Simplicity

With a cycle of about 28 or 29 years, Saturn is associated with a stripping away process about every seven years, a redefinition of where one stands every fourteen, and a profound cleansing about every 28 to 30 years. Saturn is the ultra simple, but ultra powerful, lightning fast side kick that devastates the opponent with sheer power but no flash.

Saturn is our Backbone

Demonized by many in the past, (chanting “Saturn, Saturn….”) Saturn can actually be a most beneficial planet. By the cleansing and rebuilding action it produces, we are eventually left with the essentials. Here we find the keys to becoming what we are most capable of becoming. Saturn is our skeletal system and especially our backbone, literally and figuratively.

 Shifting Gears as Life Unfolds

 So, most people experience a major shift of the gears by the time of the first Saturn return at about age 28 to 30. At this point, many marry, divorce, have a child or lose a parent, or some other major shift that requires us to step fully into whatever responsibility is there for us to take on. Once the first Saturn return is completed, we can honestly say we are adults, with all the attendant liability and accountability that implies.

 Midlife Crises and the Chance to Start a New Life

 Another Jupiter return at 36 often signals career changes for some. Virtually everyone will enter “mid-life crisis” at about age 42, when Jupiter opposes its natal place, Saturn opposes its natal place, Uranus opposes its natal place, and Neptune squares its natal place. Since we are at “kicking range” this process is not precise: it doesn’t start exactly on the 42nd birthday nor is it over by the 43rd. But this is the period when many start second careers. Singers become actors. Actors become lawyers. Mathematicians become bombers. And, sometimes, stymied writers finally get the venue they’ve sought for their entire life.

 Last Call

A second Saturn return happens at 56, and if a person hasn’t yet “decided what they want to do when they grow up” then they’d better do it now. By age 84, the time of the Uranus return and the third Saturn return, most are near to the end of life, and certainly past their prime.

Everybody goes through some variant of this pattern.

General Unfoldment is the Essential Background to Strategic Astrology

Any plan to use astrology strategically must take into account this pattern general unfoldment first. Failure to account for one’s place in the cycle of life can be disastrous. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the very young write astounding novels that show the profound insight of age, and sometimes people in their 70’s run marathons. But, at least be aware of where, or perhaps better said when, you are….

 Next: Annual Patterns.

 © A. Leo, Jr., 2003


Copyright © 2004 Grand Trines
Last modified: 08/18/05