There were several aspects that define the decade that is call the Twenties in the United States. This decade also had a meaning in Europe, which had recently been ravaged by the Great War and was slowly recovering. In Germany the Weimar Republic was an attempt to have a functioning democracy in that country after the previous regime was so tarnished by World War I. England and France were also recovering from the effects of the War, and Russia just saw a new Communist government take the reigns of power after the previous one had been overthrown by the Communists and a civil war between the Red and White Russians — supported by Western Powers England, France, and the United States — had been won. As is often the case after a major war, new governments and new ways of life take over. There had also been a major influenza epidemic that had swept the world in the closing years of the previous decade, killing millions, and that of course also changed the world.
Even though the United States had witnessed little of the war, and then only from a great distance, they also had many changes, often self-induced. The Prohibition of Alcohol took place on January 17, 1920, designed to coordinate with the beginning of a new decade. America was also coming off a previous period that had seen the passage of the Espionage and Sedition Acts under Woodrow Wilson, which allowed such dissents as Eugene Debs to be jailed. It is noteworthy that this same act is being currently used by President Obama to jail whistleblowers. There was a great fear of foreigners after World War I, and a distrust of the Russians (the country was not recognized until 1933), which led to much fear of communist/alien/anarchist presence in the country.
But in the United States the “Return to Normalcy” (the phrase of the first president of the new decade, Warren Gamallel Harding) continued until the stock market crash of 1929. The decade of the Thirties was to be much different, not only in the United States, but throughout the world.
The first aspect of note is a trine between Uranus and Pluto that lasted from 1920 to 1923. This affected the entire world, not just America, and indicates the changes that took place after the end of World War I and the influenza epidemic. The US had three important aspects to its natal chart, which had different effects (or rather symbolized different things) but their combinations was the profound changes that took place in America during the Twenties. This trine is shown above in a third harmonic graphical ephemeris.
In Germany, which had been ruled by the Hohenzollern family since the Eleventh Century (long before Germany existed as a country) which included their leader during World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm II, the rulership came to an end with the Germany Revolution after the War. This was followed by what is called the Weimar Republic. This was Germany’s first attempt at democracy, and it was a period of great interest in such things as astrology and “New Age” ideas. This of course came to an end with the rise of Adolf Hitler in 1933.
One aspect, that has been mentioned before is transiting Neptune opposite the Moon of the United States. The peak of this was 1926-29. Since Neptune moves so slowly, this was the first time that this aspect has happened since the planet was discovered. Neptune Moon can be read as the people are deluded, which can refer to the stock market mania that swept the country during the Twenties, and it could speak to the great interest in sports during the Twenties, witness Babe Ruth and Red Grange in baseball and football, respectively; and that golf became a middle-class sport. After the horrible war people just wanted to forget the past decade and have fun. But the most obvious association is Prohibition that took place, in the United States and some other countries, during this decade. While other countries, such as Canada, gave up Prohibition earlier than the United States, the US maintained it until 1933 when the Depression, marking the next decade, was fully ensconced.
It is still debated whether drinking increased or not in the Twenties, especially later into the decade when the corruptness of the Prohibition agents was revealed. But one of the things that caused Prohibition to be repealed is that many school children were showing up to school drunk; these were children who did not drink before. There was much deceit involved in getting alcohol, not only in bootleggers and speakeasies, but also in the large demand for sacramental wine, only (of course) used for religious purposes, and also in doctors recommendations for alcohol, only (of course) for medical reasons. The nation became, because of Prohibition, a less law-abiding country, with many people willing to look the other way. Unfortunately, this attitude did not change after Prohibition was repealed, because once those attitudes take root it is hard to turn them off.
The transit of Uranus over the IC of the United States, and thus opposite the Midheaven, is a bit harder to describe. The peak of this was 1926-28. The IC — Imum Coeli or Bottom of the Sky — is the most hidden point of the chart, the foundation or base of the country. Transits over that point represent deep seated changes. I’ve notice that transits over the IC start earlier and last longer than more obvious changes. Transits over the IC seem to represents changes in how the country see itself. With this transit the people of the country began to feel comfortable with credit. Before this decade, most people were uncomfortable with buying on time. Starting with the Twenties, people bought consumer items with credit and paid them off over time. This allowed the middle class, which was growing in this decade, to purchase more of the items they needed for their lifestyle, a trend that has really never stopped since that time, though the Great Depression and the Second World War put a damper on things for a period. The United States recently went through a similar aspect, and the results have been described as the “New Normal.”
The overriding aspect of this decade was Pluto conjunct the Sun of the US, lasting the whole decade but with a peak 1923-27. One of the meanings given for Pluto is organized crime, and the Twenties was certainly a highpoint for crime, when, because of Prohibition, organized crime really took off and gained a foothold in America that of course did not lessen once Prohibition was repealed in 1933. This is something lawmakers seem not to know, or forget as soon as the current crisis passes, but a failed policy often (always?) has unintended consequences and even though the failed policy can be ended, the unintended consequences often will not go away. That is certainly something that current lawmakers would be well to understand.
Probably one of the most vivid image of the Twenties is the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, where seven people (but not the intended target) were killed in Chicago in February of 1929, but that was only symptomatic of gangland killings that took place in the Twenties as businessmen attempted to protect their turf since the courts were unavailable to them. The story of Al Capone is still popular since he epitomize the rise of gangsters in that era.
A more far-reaching symbol for Pluto is transformation, and this happened to the country, if not to its government. Pluto also represents large-scale enterprises. During the whole decade a series of Republicans served in the Presidency, and one Secretary of the Treasury served the whole period, Andrew Mellon, the third richest person in the United States. During this decade the cult of the market grew strong, sort of a preview of what would happen in our own time after another Republican was elected President, and worship of the stock market reached new heights.
In the decade of the Twenties, America was transformed from a rural country to an urban country. This was the decade in which a majority of the people started living in cities and no longer were farm dwellers. As more people were in cities, automobiles really became popular. There were many manufacturers of automobiles, especially General Motors, and they gave competition to Ford, who had ruled the roost since the introduction of the Model T before the Great War. In the late Twenties Ford introduced the Model A to compete with the other manufacturers and it proved to be a great success, becoming one of the more popular models of the period. By this time the infrastructure for automobiles — roads, gas stations, mechanics — had been developed and so America became a driving society.
There was also a sexual revolution in the decade, despite what people want to think of the Sixties. Margaret Sanger had popularize birth control and founded the Planned Parenthood Federation, though it was initially called something else. Women started smoking, something that had been relatively unknown in decades before, and drinking openly. The image of the flapper is well know, and women began to bob their hair, something that had previously been connected to prostitutes.
This decade was also the time that movies started to talk. The first talking movie is considered to be The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson and released in 1927. This sounded the death knell for silent movies, and made the cinema even more entrancing. This movie was a full 90 minutes long, similar to what is found today. Also in the Twenties commercial radio got started with news, entertainment, live performances and, of course, sports. Just as the Fifties was the decade of television, the Twenties was the decade of radio.