The Twenties in the United States was very active, both in the world and astrologically. There were three significant transits to the chart of the United States during this period, but there is one I want to draw your attention to, and that is the transit of Neptune opposite the Moon of the United States. One theme I have mentioned for Moon Neptune is denial, illusion, and that was certainly the case in the speculative binge on the stock market that was taking place in the Twenties. We know how that turned out. While we have drawn attention to meanings of Neptune in another entries there is another one I want to draw your attention to this time: drugs. In general, Neptune is said to rules dugs. Also oil, but that is certainly a drug, as many people including George W. Bush have pointed out. But Neptune rules drugs in general, a change of consciousness. But there are several groups of drugs, and I have the different types ruled by the three outer planets. Uranus rules stimulants, such as caffeine, cocaine, amphetamine, nicotine, in other words uppers. Neptune rules depressants, such as alcohol, opiates, barbiturates, in other words downers. And Pluto rules psychedelics, such as cannabis, LSD, ecstasy.
Neptune opposite the Moon of the United States is a good symbol for the attitudes toward alcohol that were happening in this country. On one hand this was a national extension of the earlier prohibition laws that had been passed at a state level. On the other hand there was a widespread flouting of the law by people from poor to rich and increased drinking of harder liquor, since if you’re going to smuggle contraband you might as well smuggle something concentrated.
In 1846 Maine became the first state in the nation to pass a law outlawing the sale of any beverages containing alcohol. The main proponent of this law was the mayor of Portland, Neal Dow. Five years later this law was strengthened. A few years after that the law had spread to many more states. This was the beginning of Prohibition of alcohol, thought it took another 70 years to make it the law of the land. Many groups worked to bring prohibition to the national level.
If we look at a chart of transits to the United States in 1846 we see that Neptune, the planet of drugs, is squarely upon the Moon. The fact that Saturn is also there certainly helps matter, since Saturn represents limits and constriction, which is certainly well in keeping with the Prohibitionist mindset. Often the discovery of a planet – especially Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto – is linked to events that were happening in the world at that time. This was certainly true of Neptune, which was discovered in 1846 just as prohibition was become the law of at least one state.
Drinking was indeed excessive in antebellum United States, as compared to the standard of today. Farmers on the frontier found it was easier to transport corn to the East coast as whiskey than as ears of corn. Hard apple cider was also very popular. While I don’t have the exact figures at hand, the level of drinking was several times higher per person than it is now. And young people were part of the crowd that was drinking. One can well see why prohibition societies grew up.
When I saw that Neptune was coming to a conjunction with the US Moon once again, the first time since 1846, the year the planet was discovered, I realized that something would happen in regards to prohibition. Since I could see the trends I did not think that prohibition would make a comeback.
It all started with the legalization of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington, after almost happening in California (two years previously) and in Oregon that year of 2012. Then the South American country of Uruguay legalized also. But even more impressive, all kinds of officials are coming out saying that the drug war, which got started with the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, is badly conceived and counterproductive. Majorities of the American public agree that marijuana should be legalized and that it will be in a few years.
This is hardly a new idea; one could mention the book Licit and Illicit Drugs by Edward M. Beecher published by that extremely radical organization Consumers Union back in 1972 or the first book by Andrew Weil The Natural Mind, also published in 1972. Other books with the same ideas, such as Marijuana Reconsidered by Lester Grinspoon (1971), also come out in this period, as many authors were reacting to the drug use of the Sixties.
We are also seeing a renaissance of interest in psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, psilocybin, MMDA (ecstasy) for the use in psychotherapy, end-of-life, increased spirituality, among other uses. Many of these “new” findings recapitulate the findings of fifty years earlier, before the inevitable backlash. To someone who has followed the tangled course of the War on Drugs this change of attitude is nothing short of amazing.