“The Dust Bowl (1931-1939)was a series of dust storms in the central U.S. caused by a massive drought and decades of bad farming techniques. During the Dust Bowl, swirling black stormclouds (some 800 ft. high)appeared for days triggering thunder and lightning, and making the sky appear black, at times all the way to Chicago. This disaster left about 500,000 people mainly from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas homeless. Many took Route 66 to California to seek migrant farming work. One of the worst days of the Dust Bowl was April 14, 1935, a day called as, “Black Sunday.” On this day, “black blizzards” occurred throughout the dust bowl region, causing extensive damage, turning day to night, at times making it hard to see beyond five feet away.”
Taken from an American high school class hand-out, this description gives some idea of the terrible events that unfolded in 1935 in America’s mid-west. The story is both fascinating and timely because it involves a chapter on why people flooded west in the hope of enriching themselves. It involves another on the out and out exploitation of the land using high-levels of mechanization. It involves a chapter on the effect of tilling such soil and leaving it open to soil erosion at unprecedented levels. It contains a chapter on the poverty of those who lost everything and concludes with another on immigration, and how the State of California welcomed the “Okies” who fled the terrors of the Dust Bowl.
It is appropriate to turn immediately to what was happening in the skies at this time and if we look at the chart for Black Sunday, 14th April, 1935, we will not be surprised.
Looking at a few key points to this chart gives us clues and pointers that by now should be becoming familiar. Let’s start with Pluto in Cancer. Jeff Green: “Pluto in […] Cancer demonstrates that an evolutionary cycle is closing and that a new cycle is underway. Individuals with Pluto in Cancer have been attempting and desiring to learn the evolutionary lesson of security rather than deriving emotional security from any external factor, such as parents, job, lover, etc., these individuals have been learning to create and supply their own emotional security from within themselves“. (Pluto, Volume 1, p85). All under the age of 20 in Oklahoma in 1935 would have Pluto in Cancer in their natal chart (Pluto entered the sign of Cancer in 1915).
He continues: These individuals can alternate by seeking out places and people whom they unconsciously expect to fulfill their displaced emotional needs in a childlike way, or they can seek out environments and others whom they can dominate and control in order to have their unresolved emotional issues fulfilled… (Pluto, Volume 1. p89).
The Polarity point is Capricorn. The evolutionary intent is one of self-determination, learning how to accept responsibility for one’s actions leading to emotional maturity, learning how to walk upon one’s own two feet, and learning how to integrate or establish one’s own personal authority or individuality in the context of society or culture. These lessons can, and must, occur through the individual’s work or career. (Pluto, Volume 1. p94).
When the storm struck, The Sun was square Pluto, who himself was conjunct the South Node in Cancer. In this, the dreams of all those families (emotions, past, a lost sense of home) who moved out West to better themselves, as Green puts it, by “seeking out places […] they unconsciously expect to fulfill their displaced emotional needs”. Neither is it surprising to find Saturn in Pisces (finding structure in the sea ruled by Neptune, dreams, illusions) in exact square to Chiron in Gemini (reality check, what is this place?).
The second keynote to this chart is that Uranus is in the first degree of Taurus. You may now understand why I choose to write about the American Dust Bowl at this present time.
For we forget.
Uranus, who rules Aquarius (Fixed Air), is here represented by those winds that took up the freshly plowed earth (Taurus, fixed Earth, now not so fixed) and scattered it over the States of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas, leaving half a million homeless in the process. Uranus also squares the Nodal Axis.
We can see the pattern very clearly here, and it is extraordinary to me that the present US administration would dare to take the US out of the Paris Climate Accords, having such a powerful example of man-made climate disaster in its own recent history.
Poverty through the Great Depression led many to migrate to seek better conditions. The scenes of horsedrawn wagons racing ahead to find the “best land” as shown in historian Simon Schama’s extraordinary documentary “The American Future: Episode 1 – American Plenty” dramatically underscores the pulling power of the Eldorado of the Oregon Way, that drew so many took to seek riches that would prove not only illusory but lead them to their ruin. The profligate and reckless damage done to the lands by so uprooting grasses whose roots bound the soils so preventing erosion was, in the end, to uproot so many dreams.
Many of those who did not lose their lives in the storms would migrate further West and set up in California. Whilst some would go on to make their fortunes in those fertile lands, the shadow of lack of water remains ever present. Lake Mead, which was created by the Hoover Dam project is currently 141 feet below the full pool hight of 1229 feet. The dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers and cost over one hundred lives. Yet even today, despite such sacrifice and ingenuity, much of the Eastern US is either abnormally dry or experiencing varying levels of drought.
The astrology here reminds us how powerful Pluto is in the evolution of our combined destinies. The only thing fated in this chart is the series of events that would, in the end, push a society over the edge, to ignore all prudence. John Wesley Powell, who wrote “The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons” about the Geographic Expedition of 1869 repeatedly stated that the Colorado River was not strong enough in its own right to support mass development (irrigation) of the Colorado basin.
When John Wesley Powell talked about this at an irrigation summit in Los Angeles in 1893, he was apparently booed off-stage. William Ellsworth Smythe, 1861-1922, and author of The Conquest of Arid America is recorded as saying the following “When Uncle Sam puts his hand to a task, we know it will be done… When he stretches his hand towards the desert and says ‘Let there be water’ we know that the stream will obey his command“. There is an arrogance to this which I find quite extraordinary.
The astrology simply asks us for greater awareness. We are all on an evolutionary path and Pluto outlines to each of us the great contours of that journey. Each generation has its lessons to learn. My own generation, Pluto in Virgo, is in a process of waking up to what we have created (Pluto in Leo) and it is our Virgoan principles that are asking us to step up and become more self-aware, more critical of ourselves and of the world we have built. This is, of course, the journey that will continue in Libra, as we reach out into our communities, understanding that we are on a joint adventure and that the well-being of our societies is a collective thing in which we must all take part, for and with each other, not me before you. This might be one interpretation of the Uranian shadow, the temptation of extreme individuality at the expense of the collective.
In no way do I seek to criticize those who sought wealth and betterment of fortune in the arid Mid-West. They had their evolutionary lessons to learn in confronting the wilderness they unwittingly helped to create. If criticism is due, it must be directed to those who now seek to ignore — or perhaps worse, actively refute — the lessons of history. We have more records of the past than we rightly know what to do with. And we have all the astrology we need to shine its penetrating light upon those events. This is part of our opening. It is my hope that this brief article contributes in its own small way, to our collective awakening.
As a post scriptum, I highly recommend viewing “The American Future: Episode 1: American Plenty” by Simon Schama. You can find it on Amazon prime for a few dollars. His work is of the highest quality, his insight breathtaking. The film is worth the price of the archive footage alone. I thank him for his witnessing.
Photo: This file was provided to Wikimedia Commons by the National Archives and Records Administration as part of a cooperation project. The National Archives and Records Administration provides images depicting American and global history which are public domain or licensed under a free license.