Africa and the Berlin Conference

The Berlin Conference on Africa of 1884 and 1885 is little known in the West, but it was of supreme importance for determining the shape of the modern continent of Africa.

The scramble among European powers to have colonies in Africa had gone on for some time and there   was   no order.  King Leopold II, from Belgium, had established a private colony, the Belgium Congo, in Central Africa.  His brutal rule is described in Adam Hochschild’s book King Leopold’s Ghost, published at the end of the last century, but other European powers also wanted colonies in that continent, even if they were not as brutal as King Leopold. That book estimates that about 10 million died  in the Congo under Leopold’s rule, before the country of Belgium took over. The countries of Britain, France, Germany, Portugal all had colonies on that continent.  We tend to forget now, in the Twenty-First Century, that once almost every country in Africa  was a colony of a European power.  If you take a look at an atlas produced before World War II, you will see such names as French West Africa, French  Equatorial Africa, Portuguese West Africa (also known as Angola), Portuguese East Africa (aka Mozambique), German West Africa, Rhodesia (colony of Britain) and of course the Belgian Congo. South Africa was a colony of Great Britain, and finally gained independence in 1934, though it was run by the British colonists and their descendants until 1994 when the African National Congress, founded in 1912, took power. Algeria was a colony of France until 1962, and people of France remember the bitter battles in that country as it rebelled against the mother country.  A movie which was made in 1966, available on YouTube that is called called The Battle of Algiers, shows this revolution.

At  the time the conference was called, Germany was a young nation, formed a dozen years earlier.  Some suggest that the recent birth of Germany made it unstable and was the reason it was involved in the two world wars.  Germany has always had a strong nationalist movement, preaching racial purity and  touting the 1000-year German heritage, that was displayed   before World War II and in the current influx of refugees to Germany (the people are open but the politicians are closed).  But Germany as an idea had long existed as the heart of Europe, even though there was no actual country of Germany.  The recently published book Europe by Bendan Simms  argues of the importance of Germany to Europe over the last 500 years, a period that we  have argued in this blog is a basic measure of the history of civilization.  And now Germany is the central pillar of the European Union.  Just ask a Greek citizen how she feels about Germany now.


State of Germany

Here is a chart of the incorporation of Germany on January 18, 1871, even though the German Empire  had existed as a legal entity for a couple of weeks.  In this chart we see a Sun-Mercury conjunction opposite Uranus, suggesting that a revolutionary country has been born, and Mars square Saturn, indicating a problem dealing with their violence and military power.


Africa is Divided

The scramble for African  colonies by European nations caused conflict between the European nations (no notice was paid to the feelings of the African natives to their colonisation, of course) and  so in 1884 German Chancellor Otto Von Bismark called a meeting of the various European powers in Berlin to discuss the matter.  The conference itself took place  between November 15, 1994  and February 26, 1885.   An editorial cartoon at the time sums up the situation:  it shows Bismark dividing up a cake labeled “Africa” while diplomats from various countries await their portion.  This treaty was a disaster for Africa, and the effects of it are still felt in that continent.  There were a total of 14 nations involved in the conference, including Russia and the United States, but the countries named above were the most important.  A large majority of Africa at the  time was  under local control, but after the conference the continent was split up into many countries with no thought to the original groupings of people.  This led to many of the problems of Africa subsequent to de-colonization which started after the end of World War II — that the counties did not  reflect the people on the ground.


Start of the Berlin Conference

Here are two charts for this important conference that few people are aware of.  The first chart is  for the start of the conference, November 11, 1884. You can see that the Neptune-Pluto conjunction is approaching, it will be exact in another five year, but it is   still 10 degrees from exact.    This conjunction is a once in every 500 year event, and indicated the start of modernism and the Twentieth Century.  But more important are the two oppositions with these planets, Mercury opposite Pluto  and Sun opposite Neptune, both short lasting oppositions.  The Sun opposite Neptune indicates that on that day (Sun) there was delusion, that things could not be seen clearly.  The Mercury opposite Pluto suggests the harsh, Plutonian conditions that were discussed  in this conference.  This was not a good omen for a positive outcome.


End of the Berlin Conference

The second chart is set shortly before the end of the conference, when the final positions were been hammered out.  We see that Sun is now conjunct Mars, opposite Jupiter and both are square Pluto in a T-square with Pluto at the apex.  This suggests much violence (Sun-Mars-Jupiter) and repression (Pluto) as an legacy of this conference.

So this conference, that was started in delusion ended in the potential for violence and repression.  And there, in a nutshell, is the history of the continent of Africa in the century following this conference in Berlin right before the beginning of the Twentieth Century.


There is much discussion these days about generations of human beings.  There is the Greatest generation, those who served in World War II, a possible Silent generation, those who were too young for World War II but too old for the next generation, they may have served in the Korean War and  were forgotten about.  And then the Baby-Boom generation, those who were born between 1946 an 1965, then Generation-X, then Generation Y, then the Millennials, thought now maybe they are the same as Generation Y.  There are some problems:  I don’t know many who would consider president Obama, who was born in 1960, a baby-boomer.  And what about Dylan, the Beatles, Joan Baez, they are all born before the Baby-Boom generation but so influential in that generation?

So I’d like to introduce the astrological ways of separating generations. It mostly fits into the traditional pattern, except that Obama is not in the Baby-Boom generation and Dylan, the Beatles, Baez are. And this also allows us to name generations  that haven’t been named yet.  This system is based on the sign Pluto was in when the person  was born.  Note that Pluto moves slowly, and when it first enters a sign it will then back out and re-enter, perhaps several times.

In the charts below, I have chosen to show the last entrance of Pluto into a new sign.  I am suggesting that Pluto was in and out of this sign or the preceding sign for two years before  the chart shown.   People born in these two year periods can be seen as relating to both the previous generation, which they were the last of, or the next generation, of which they are the oldest.  They can be thought of either relating to both generations or not feeling a member of either.

The generations are delimited by Pluto in various signs of the Zodiac, but there are as well “sub-generations” that are delimited by the transits of Neptune and occasionally Uranus through signs.  We can see this specifically with the Pluto in Cancer generation.  Pluto took a long time to go through the sign of Cancer, from the start of the First World War to the start of the Second World War, because Pluto was near its aphelion (the farthest point from the sun in its orbit) during this time.  (Pluto has the most eccentric orbit of the major astrological planets and so its speed varies widely during its 250 year orbit.)  But this long period is conveniently divided into two sub-generations by Neptune being in Leo at the first part of this period and then Neptune going into Virgo.  The Pluto in Cancer, Neptune in Leo generation is referred to as the Greatest Generation because these are the people who served in World Word Two or in the home front.  Neptune went into Virgo about 1930, and so by the end of the war these people were 15.  The people with Pluto in Cancer and Neptune in Virgo are referred to as the Silent Generation, those who were too young to serve during World War Two and too old to serve in the Vietnam War, they were in the Korean War and have never had a member as President. These people in 1953 were anywhere from 23 to 15.


Lost Generation

Let’s start with the first generation people alive may have known as grandparents, the Pluto in Gemini generation. This is the generation referred to as “Lost” in the book title Generations by Neill Howe and William Strauss.  There were thus two significant sub-generations of the Pluto in Gemini folks, those born between 1884 and 1900 and the sub-generation born between 1900 and 1914. The first of these sub-generations, which goes by the name “Lost Generation”, are those that served in World War I.  This war had terrible effects on the generation that served in it, there was so much death and destruction, and that of course changed the outlook for their whole generation.  Some of this change and alienation is reflected by those poets that survived the war. The Pluto in Gemini, Neptune in Cancer people are the oldest members of those who served in World War Two.


Neptune in Cancer

After this came the Pluto in Cancer generation which was talked about above were it introduced the idea of sub-generations. This generation lasted  until Pluto went into the next sign, Leo, in 1938. These folks make up the so-called Greatest Generation (name of a book by Tom Brokaw that made it famous) that served either in World War II or at home during the War, and the Silent generation, that sort of got lost from history, sandwiched between the Greatest and the Baby Boomers.


Greatest Generation


Silent Generation

Pluto in Leo

Pluto in Leo

There are two types of Baby-Boomers, those born with Neptune in Virgo, from 1938 to 1943, and those born with Neptune in Libra, which was essentially the rest of this generation, those born after World War II until Pluto  went into Virgo and Neptune went into Scorpio, which happened at about the same time, 1956 to 1958.  Now the term “Baby-Boomer”  refers to those born in the crush of people born after the men got back from World War II, and so  by that definition (which is what demographers use) there could not have been a”baby boom” while the men were away at war, and of course times were a bit depressing what with the previous depression and the world wide war.  So the term can only refers to those born  after the war; I am maintaining that the generation of like-minded people started earlier.  But we are stuck with the Baby Boom term so that is what is used.  We can see  another example of sub-generation with these folks because there is a difference between those with Pluto in Leo and Uranus in Gemini – early Boomers who can remember listening to radio drama (and so had to use that forgotten item the imagination) – and those with Pluto in Leo but Uranus in Cancer – later Boomers who grew up only with the comforting presence of television.


Baby Boom Generation

The next generation is the well known Generation X, which started when Pluto moved into Virgo, much different than Leo, and, at almost the same time, Neptune moved into Scorpio.  With two outer planets changing sign at the same time,  this generation was bound to  be much different from the preceding one.


Generation X

There was a common description of the difference between the Boomers and Generation-X back when they were the last generation to come of age.  It was said that the Baby-Boom generation made messes, they were only concerned about themselves – the “Me” generation — and the people in Generation X had to come along and clean up the messes made by the Boomers.  This fits well with out knowledge of signs, Leo being the sign of the Lion, the King, and when you are the King other people don’t matter and you tend to overlook details, and Virgos who are notorious for their dislike of messes, and thus feel compelled to clean up the messes made by Leos, or in this case the previous generation.  I saw this description in a newsmagazine at the time, with no reference to astrology whatsoever.

Most of the Pluto in Virgo people have Uranus in Virgo also, but some at the  beginning of the generation have Uranus in Leo and some at the very end have Uranus in Libra.  Uranus and Pluto were conjunct in the middle of Virgo in the Sixties, and in fact that conjunction is the signature of the Sixties, as we have mentioned previously.  Thus the early Generation X (made famous as the title of a book by Douglas Coupland) and the late Generation X will be slightly different.


Generation Y

The generation born when Pluto went into Libra at about 1971 we are calling the same as Generation Y (obviously the next generation after generation X in alphabetic order!) and are differentiating them from the Millennials.  This  was a short generation because Pluto was near  to the Sun in those year and thus travelling fast.  This generation only lasted for a dozen years, until the year of 1984, which has many  connotations because of George Orwell’s novel.  Perhaps this generation is feeling a little neglected also, since there are so few of them and they don’t get the notoriety of Generation X, and are sometimes grouped with the Millennials.  The people in Generation Y are now thirty to forty five.  From the symbolism of Libra, we would consider these  people interested in relationships and  connections with other people.


Millennial Generation

Next we have the generation with Pluto in Scorpio, which is already notorious because of the associations with Scorpio, the sign ruled by Pluto.  In early Christianity each of the twelve apostles was  associated with one of the twelve signs (as  are the twelve tribes of Israel. Zodiac symbolism occurs all through the Bible).  The apostle Judas,  who is not well regarded by many (something to do with silver, I believe), was associated with the sign Scorpio.   This  generation, which was even shorter than the previous, is now called Millennials because they were the first group of people to come of age in the new millennium.  Just from the sign associations, one would expect intense, if not altogether pleasant things from this generation.  Perhaps because both Pluto was in Libra and Pluto was in Scorpio for such a small time that both are considered Millennials, but I  believe they are two separate generations.


Pluto in Sagitatius Generation

But Pluto keeps moving on, and thus there are more generation.  We have the Pluto in Sagittarius generation,  also a short one, that still doesn’t have a name.  These people were born between 1995  an 2008  and so are now just reaching the age where that can buy alcohol.   These are the people now in the school system,  the youngest being seven.  These people grew up, not with the television, but with the World wide Web  and smartphones.  They are having a strong influence on society, even though they don’t have a generation name.  Some have suggested Generation Z, but this alphabetical naming is getting old, and besides what do you do after using the letter Z.


Pluto in Capricorn Generation

Finally, as of now, we have the Pluto in Capricorn generation, who are at most seven years old.  These people for the most part haven’t hit the school system. Pluto’s entry into Capricorn, as shown before corresponded to the start of the Great Recession.  People of this generation grew up only knowing the Great Recession or “the New Normal”  This is bound to effect their behavior as they grow older, in ways we haven’t begun to think of yet.   And I guess it is too soon to think of a name for them, especially since we have exhausted the alphabet.

The Generation with Pluto in Gemini started in 1884;  at about the same time we had two other sign ingresses, Uranus into Libra in 1885 and Neptune into Gemini 1888.  This marked a big change with all three other planets changing signs at about the same time.  We will see something similar in 2025.  There was the once in 500 year conjunction of Neptune and Pluto in Gemini in the mid 1890, which marked a early forerunner of the changes that will happen in this century.  About this time — 2025 — Pluto will move into Aquarius, marking the end of the current Pluto in Capricorn generation, and the start of a new one which will be totally different, as indicated in the link above.