Commuters on a Train — Cyril Power[/caption]
I grew up in a country where it was unusual, on public transport, to see people reading anything other than a smudged newspaper. I moved to London, where inside the bright-lit tube trains, a colourful collage of hundreds of paper covers made a journey gayer and more interesting. Tired people would bury their minds between the paper covers of novels and magazines. Who was reading Harry Potter? Or Tolstoi? Or The New Scientist?
Today, when you ride a train or a bus or a plane, everyone escapes through the magic windows of their smart phones. In dreary rush hour, the bright colours on the tiny screens light up the faces of workers. It’s the same everywhere — and in that country where no one read, people now watch moving images through the magic window instead.
The transition from paper to magic window, or in some countries nothing straight to magic window with no intervening period of book reading, has been rapid. It’s taken barely a decade.
In fact, the iPhone was launched just one Jupiter-cycle ago on June 29, 2007 — last time the great expander was in the sign of publishing, Sagittarius.
The iPhone has an interesting chart. Beauty and practicality, in the forms of Venus and Saturn, join together in Leo, the sign of performance. And these two are in exact opposition to Neptune, the planet of illusion and magic in the sign of technology Aquarius.
Indeed, Neptune and Uranus, Aquarius’ modern ruler, were in a dance throughout the first decade of this century. First both were in Aquarius, then, when Uranus moved into Pisces, they were in mutual reception. So for years they worked together changing our relatioinship with technology — and creating this magic window into a Neptunian realm.
When Uranus went into Aries 2010, the two planets started dancing to different beats. The Age of the Selfie began. Uranus (technology) in Aries, a sign which rules the head, of course. During the years Uranus has been in Aries each of us asserted our own direct relationship with the internet through our smartphones.
The following year we entered this extraordinary decade of Neptune in Pisces. When we look into our smartphones — we enter the world of Neptunian glamour and illusion, magic and deception. Today, more and more people have this at their fingertips. In a crowded public space, like a commuter train, this escape through the looking glass makes modern life bearable. We can forget our fellow passengers while we swim in Neptune’s realm by watching a video of dolphins or cats or The Magic Flute.
As Uranus prepares for his final departure from Aries in March, the age of the selfie is ending. Uranus is taking us somewhere else — and one thing is clear — podcasts and audio books are starting to gain real traction — perhaps unsurprising, since we associate Taurus, where Uranus will be for the next seven years or so, with the voice. Audiobooks sales have doubled in the last five years according to The Bookseller magazine. But this is just the beginning: during the coming decade we’ll get used to the idea of books being heard as much as read.
Meanwhile, the mirror that is Neptune becomes vast in Pisces. Collectively we dive into that alluring watery place — and some of us have trouble coming back to the stony shores of real life. We are lost in the huge worlds created inside our heads by the magic of the smartphone. We travel to distant galaxies, inside the minds of mermaids, to the farthest shores of imagination as we commute home on the packed train. Within each small person, there are worlds more strange and more beautiful than this one.
Can reality ever measure up to such seductive fantasy? That is the challenge of Neptune in Pisces.
I look around the tube train now, and those books and magazines have gone. People around me could be reading or listening or watching anything. Even though I sit right opposite them I don’t know. With Neptune in Pisces we are in a collective world that separates us from the real, lived collective experience. An extraordinary paradox.
I originally wrote this article for my Phenomena column in Infinity Astrological Magazine.