In 2005, a new term was coined to describe “an emerging form of depression or distress caused by environmental change, such as from climate change, natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, and/or other negative or upsetting alterations to one’s surroundings or home.” The term is SOLASTALGIA.
As a resident Houstonian for almost 40 years of my life, I have certainly witnessed the deforestation of its outlying areas and the continual urbanization and over development for commercial, industrial and residential interests. Even new residents have expressed to me in their distress and depression at witnessing the clear cutting of lots for development in their neighborhoods. I can recall my own distress at witnessing the removal of old growth trees along a road I traveled everyday that was being widened and how the changes taking place made me feel as I observed the landscape around me.
“We have room for all these cars,” I was thinking, “but no room for the beauty of nature to exist.”
I would ask myself, “Where are the deer and other animals going to live that were once living in this little patch of trees?” I know it might seem eco-wimpy to the business-minded, but I honestly felt true sadness and a sense of loss, anger, and hopelessness at this thought of displaced wildlife. Where there once was a huge patch for thick forest, there stood a massive shopping center with dozens of stores, restaurants, and other businesses that I never asked for.
Houstonians are now quite familiar with distress of solastalgia, which for some may feel like weather-induced PTSD. We have naturally dealt with hurricanes and flooding many times, but the severity has increased to such a degree that for several years in a row right before Hurricane Harvey, people experienced their houses flooding every year for multiple years.
I realized while teaching first graders in 2019, that whenever a storm started to brew outside, many of my students were unusually fearful. I attributed this to experiencing these successive years of catastrophic flooding.
Lately, I have been more intentionally spending time in the outdoors, working in my garden, talking walks to observe the sunrise or sunset, and making sure I get exposure to sunlight, fresh air, and bare earth. It has been a form of therapy.
As a teacher I worry about the young people I work with and this trend of solastalgia. In big cities such as Houston, kids do not have much access to forests or other prairieland unless their parents take them to one, which involves getting into a car and driving there. Even kids in the suburbs will be hard pressed in our environment to find anything remotely “wild” enough to consider it “natural.” I am sure there are millions of children the world over that have a similar experience. I have seen children in recent years who are terrified by a bug flying past their face on the recess field at school, or those that are terrified of a few ants on the ground. We have become this disconnected from nature.
The gigantic Loblolly Pine Forests that surrounded Houston by may become so rare that children will only be able to enjoy them in photos on their devices. I have half a mind to start organizing trips to nature areas in the form of an afterschool club to allow more kids the opportunity to go to a forest before we run out of them completely.
Truly, if we want to protect nature, we need to understand it. And if we want to understand it, we need to spend time in it for starters. For parents, this means getting our kids off their devices and doing healthier pastimes that get them outdoors.
How will we transform our relationship to the earth? Where can you connect this concept of your relationship to the earth and its climate in your life? Our current 12-14 year olds are the forerunners of the Pluto in Capricorn generation. I wonder how the current generation of 12-14 year olds will work with this despair, this growing mental illness, and how they will transform it. Pluto is the transformational planet and Capricorn is CARDINAL EARTH. For those studying astrology, consider which planets represent our connection to the earth itself? Which signs best describe this connection? Earth signs? (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) With Pluto representing TRANSFORMATION, life, death and rebirth at a deep level, we can imagine that this Pluto in Capricorn generation will do some heavy lifting in terms of transforming our connection to the earth. How will we support them in building a strong connection to nature? We won’t get to a healthy environment by continuing what we have done so far. It is time for new thinking about this issue and how children spend time indoors versus outdoors.
Some have connected SOLASTALGIA to the idea of WETIKO. Read more about it here. Share your comments, please! Have you experienced distress about the environment?
I finally understand why all of my Gen X girlfriends call their Boomer parents narcissists. The gaps between generations and the societal tensions we feel between Millennials, Gen Z’s, Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers are well-explained through understanding the Pluto Generations in astrology.
I have not yet found a more spot-on description of this phenomenon than Daljeet Peterson’s series of articles on this topic. While his series goes more in depth into each generation with many more examples than I will outline here, I will attempt to provide a summary, while pulling from a few other sources.
Pluto’s active principle is transformation and transmutation. Pluto represents a collective soul purpose for a generation according to evolutionary astrologers. Each Pluto generation has come along at the perfect time and with the perfect gifts to transform some aspect of society on a collective level.
While there are some Pluto in Cancer Generation still alive, (born 1913-1938) the youngest of them are nearing their 90’s now. These are the children of the Depression era, the WW2/Korean War era veterans. Cancer as a zodiacal sign, is concerned with nourishment and the security of home. This generation gave us Social Security because they felt the effects on their parents during the devastation of the Depression. I know one such native, born in 1933. His biggest observation about the world that we live in now is how greed-infested and selfish our world has become. As on astrologer noted,
When they’re all gone, family values and domestic security will greatly suffer(as is already happening).
Behind the Pluto in Cancer folks were the Pluto in Leos, the BabyBoomers.
The Pluto in Leo Generation were born 1937-1956, and represent our oldest generation currently alive. Leo as a sign represents the SELF, and so we could say this generation took hold of transforming the self through a flurry of creativity and regeneration. The Pluto in Leos are known to be leaders and to be concerned with following strong leaders, and we see this in the radical changes of the 1960’s, the civil rights movements, and the dramatic changes in music and popular culture. But Leos also can be quite arrogant. Daljeet Peterson states,
“They can be annoyingly arrogant in declaring theirs the “best” generation that produced the best music, the best art, the best movies, the best everything. As a generation raised on Father Knows Best, it’s like they are collectively taunting: “Who’s your daddy now?” They’re also quick to dismiss the creative output of any other generation as sub par. They jumped at the opportunity to shit all over their successors, that “slacker” Generation X that dared try and follow them. And they held similarly dismissive views of the “overly-coddled” Millennials who came after.”
Pluto in Virgo generation (1956-1972), is obsessed with self-help books, New Age enlightenment and living a different, more conscious kind of life than its elder Leos. Pluto in Virgo saw a jump forward in the purification of the body, but also a shift toward eco-consciousness which one could say was a bent toward purification of the earth body. We could also think of Pluto in Virgo in terms of the personal fitness crazes and holistic healthcare industries. In a separate article as part of his series, Peterson aptly describes each generation in turn with many more examples, and as such he describes Gen X’ers as having a chip on our shoulders.
GenXers are a generation with a giant chip on our shoulders. And of course, we have set it up for ourselves this way. Why else would a collective of souls choose to incarnate under the Pluto in Virgo signature? We have all come into this life to learn Virgo-inspired lessons of humility, service, duty, criticism, analysis and improvement. This is our generational cross to bear, so perhaps the “X” designation is symbolically more appropriate than we might think.
This is because in moving from Leo to Virgo we learn the lesson of serving others, not only serving ourselves. Speaking as a cuspy (Pluto in/Pluto in Virgo) representative of the Gen X club, I agree that this shift in consciousness has been a difficult one and has represented part of the “dark night of the soul” that our culture has been experiencing. I think at least from an American perspective, Babyboomers were post-WW2 era “kids” who believed they were the best, and came of age when America was “on top of the world.” Except that, there was on problem, the world was under threat of nuclear war. Peterson calls BabyBoomers the apex predators “on top of the world,” just like the Lion Apex predator symbol.
While books like Silent Spring were beginning to be published in the 60’s, by 1971 books like Diet for a Small Planet were published and movies like Soylent Green were released in 1973, where in the dystopian film the year is 2022 and only the rich can afford to eat healthy food. The Virgo push toward health and purification really hits mass consciousness in a bigger way during the adulthoods of Gen Xers who continued with movements like Earth Day and pushed for recycling and more awareness of the depletion of earth resources. The recycle symbol, for example began to be used in 1970 and has become universally used since then.
Progress forward and we move into the Pluto in Libra generation, (of which this writer is a member). This generation is often thought of as the “lost generation” because many of us were latch key kids, and there were huge spikes in the divorce rate when we were growing up. This generation does “the commitment thing in powerfully re-imagined ways,” as Molly Hall puts it in her article. Libra is all about relationship, as a sign ruled by Venus. This generation was not going to abandon the kids. Even if we divorced, we would attempt to co-parent.
Beyond Libra we have the Pluto in Scorpio Generation, which began in 1983 and lasted until 1995. Pluto is at home in Scorpio and is considered the modern ruler of Scorpio. This Pluto Generation represents the Millennials born during this time, who are comfortable diving deep into anything taboo or secret. Exposing secrets is a well-known Scorpionic trait and here we have Edward Snowden, who was born in 1983, for example. This generation has also famously explored their sexuality and all taboos associated with sexuality. It was a time impacted by the the AIDS epidemic, but these natives also put legs on the acceptance of all forms of sexuality. Times truly began to speed up, continuing to require kids to grow up faster and faster. In 1982 the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released, echoing what was experienced as the “times” we lived in were speeding up faster and faster.
Young adults represent the Pluto in Sagittarius Generation, born between 1995 and 2008, also known as Generation Z, and they have become truth-tellers in the era of FAKE NEWS. All three of my children were born between 1995 and 2005 and I can attest to their dislike for fakeness on social media. This generation was too young to remember 911, unlike Millennials, they do not remember a time before the creation of Homeland Security. I also attribute the popularity of unicorns to this horse-fascinated generation of Sagittarians. They will form the philosophical foundation for what the Pluto in Capricorn generation will recreate in institutions. (See also, Mountain Astrologer’s Pluto in Sag Article, written by a Pluto in Sag native, for a more true to life representation.)
The Pluto in Capricorn Generation began in 2008 and will carry forward until 2024. I began to see how different this generation was when they started arriving in my first grade classroom around 2014. They are markedly different from Pluto in Sag kids in their stubbornnes and refusal to accept the status quo. This generation was born one year after the release of the first iphone and may be known as the Post iPhone generation. They have been challenged by growing up in the midst of the pandemic and school shutdowns. They have seen more mass shootings than any other generation. They have witnessed the effects of the pandemic on mental health, and the dissension and strife in society and our institutions as we have tried to adjust to the demands of the Pandemic. They have also now witnessed the hostile, January 6th Capitol riot/take-over. They are witnessing the devastating effects of climate change at every turn. They are quite intolerant of the antiquated institutions they find themselves subjected to, though I am speaking merely as an observer. Here I am mostly referring to their rejection of our current school system and their unwillingness to cooperate with school authorities. Never before have I seen more students of a younger age throw desks and chairs. I have never seen a group of students more unwilling to cooperate. It has gotten to the point that teachers are required to train in restraint techniques. I predict that when they arrive at adulthood they will promptly make changes to our educational system and perhaps to healthcare, law enforcement, the prison system, and government, since Capricorn is the sign associated with institutions and Pluto is the transformer. It is my opinion that HIGH SCHOOL teachers and college professors SHOULD TAKE NOTE of this Pluto in Capricorn generation, though I am not sure that there is anything that will adequately prepare us for the changes that this group will eventually make.
By the time we make it through the end of Pluto in Capricorn in 2024, we will see the beginning of a generation born with Pluto in Aquarius, and I think this generation will be who we might think of as “The Jetsons.” If I make it to see them arrive into adulthood I will be quite old. Perhaps they will yield a truly technologically- advanced society based on the foundation laid by Pluto in Capricorn, embracing AI and carrying forward in new ways. This could go wrong in many ways of course as one generation’s shortcomings build upon another’s as each generation parents the next one. We are in this together, like one big dysfunctional multi-generational family, trying to over-compensate for each other’s downfalls. Whether we like it or not, folks we are in this together weaving the complex story of humanity and human evolution. There is no “they” and “them”, only the story of “us.”