defining generations through outer planets
Boomer, Millennial, Gen X, Y, Z, Indigo or Rainbow Child? What year were you born? Where do you belong? What year is the cut-off? Does my birth bracket even define my true leanings? “We are all One” and boundaries belong to the patriarchy, you unenlightened enemy to progress. Not defining your pronoun boundaries suggests you are culturally insensitive and part of the problem. Where is it wrong or right to collectively define a wall? Why is it so darn confusing? Can astrology help us understand why different generations are so weird?...


What year were you born in? Where do you belong? What year is the cut-off? Does my birth bracket even define my true leanings? “We are all One” and boundaries belong to the patriarchy, you unenlightened enemy to progress. Not defining your pronoun boundaries suggests you are culturally insensitive and part of the problem. Vote or Die. Choose a side. Know where you stand.

Should it always need to feel like Us vs. Them? Ignorance is privilege, but I can’t possibly try to know about everything. How do I know what to prioritize? Does my generation define what is considered essential, or am I supposed to listen to my elders? My elders or someone else’s elders? Fine, maybe I’m “technically” a Godforsaken Millennial, but I’ve also ascended, so define me as a Rainbow Child. I’m tired of drawing lines in sand, but sometimes I want to draw them in concrete. Where is it wrong or right to collectively define a wall? Why is it so darn confusing?


Astrology, our beautifully precise system of cosmic clocks, has a clearer way to define the lines. Pseudoscience or not, the regular orbital patterns of planets can be measured to have clear* cyclical beginnings and endings. These can be labeled and tracked. There’s nothing necessarily unscientific about the measurement part of it. If you replaced the woo-woo zodiac sign name labels with colors instead, would that calm you down? Interpretation of these signs or color-coding may seem subjective, but is it entirely pointless?

Can we learn from it, or does putting things in time-based boxes only create more problems and misunderstanding? Do people in the same box have to agree? Can we really define generations? We certainly try to. But deciding what to define a generation by is the real question. And, incidentally, the present collective astrology is really emphasizing a need to deconstruct and take a closer look at this issue now. Maybe, just maybe, astrology can help us understand it all better.


Older astrological systems were based upon what could be seen by the naked eye, making Saturn the “boss man”, the slowest and furthest away visible planet. Ever have the feeling of thinking you’ve gotten away with ignoring something and then, seemingly out of nowhere, delayed consequences or pressures to suddenly decide something hit? And you find that the heavy decision on the thing you thought didn’t matter now feels like it impacts the longer term or is marking a milestone life moment? Yikes.

Check your astrology at these moments, and you’ll likely find Saturn’s involvement. Since everyone has the capacity to personally observe the planet, Saturnian moments fall under the domain of personal responsibility for one’s personal actions, even when others are inevitably involved. Saturn, bringer of limitation pressure, spends roughly 2.5 years in a sign. Individual zodiac signs describe the attitude or themes (this is the “color-coding” I alluded to) involved with the pressure.

Remember that every season or time of year has a common thread to the kind of weather-based experiences occurring at that time, irrespective of climate change or geographic variability. There’s still a universal understanding of what “winter” or “summer” might mean. Zodiac signs are directly based on seasonality.

So, people born within the same 2.5 year period, when Saturn is in a particular sign or season of the zodiac, will often share the feeling of this burden at the same time in a similar way. Looking at a personal birth chart can show further detail and unique specifics. On a wider level of recognizing stylistic patterns of experience among individuals, Saturn can show us where people might experience lessons in a similar way, even if the details of the major events have personal differences.


At around age 28 or 29 (call it 30 because we like rounded numbers), everyone will experience what astrologers call a “Saturn Return”, the first in-your-face taste of what that distinct Saturnian-flavored pressure is. It all changes after 30, man. Well, subjective opinion about what happens or not, turning 30, for everyone, is the completion of the first cycling of Saturn relative to a person’s moment of birth. Whether or not it is accompanied by a glaringly literal feeling of aging, this period marks a major point of a human’s maturation process.

The need to independently decide on an important longer-term choice or experience a life-changing event that elicits a sense of more defined personal identity often happens for the first time. Observing Saturn can tell us about this. And you’re likely to experience a similar kind of initiatory adulthood bond with classmates (who often share this Saturnian coming of age by being born within the same 2.5 year period). But aren’t generation brackets much bigger than 2.5 years?


How should we be defining larger collective periods and the people within them? Do we just go with the rounded year numbers like the “Roarin’ ‘20s”? Should we sync it to an influential leader in power like the “Mao Era”? Is it better when leaders associate with obvious surface trends like fashion, as in the “Victorian Era”? Is the collective most affected and therefore best described in terms of what’s under the surface, like a drug or vice, as with “Prohibition Era”?

What about spiritual influences like during the “Great Awakening”? Or technological advancement like the “Information Age”? Are those too indefinite? Do nation-specific terms apply to the rest of the world? Were any collective feelings internationally shared at the same times but just called by different names? Is everything relative, fluid, and variable?


Who is on the sidelines with a wider perspective? We now know that our solar system includes some even slower, further away planets beyond Saturn: namely, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. We can’t see them with our eyes, but we can accurately use technology to track them (and HEAR THEM SING!). How much attention should we give to things that exist beyond physical sight? Pathogens, for one, seem invisible without microscopes but also seem to make a very real impact.

Those bound to older systems of astrology developed when these outer planets were unknown still don’t use these “newer” planets, even though we know they exist. Is it better to commit to upholding traditions as they are taught? How can celestial objects so big and slow possibly tell us anything meaningful about something so specific as an individual? We don’t need them. Maybe we can’t personally or individually control what we can’t see, but things too big or too small, hidden from surface sight, still influence our choices. We not only have but regularly use technology to see beyond physical limitations. These data observations are generally accepted within the mainstream. So, is it time to expand our planetary horizons?

As globalization is proving more and more that values or bonds can be shared by individuals from different cultural or nation-specific historic backgrounds, maybe we need to think beyond country leaders for defining periods. What about places without full accessibility to hip, new technology? Are they still part of the “Information Age”? Though we love to say, “Time doesn’t exist”, my timeless beauties, time also doesn’t discriminate based on race, gender, class, or ability. So, if we use timing and planets to demarcate potential universal generational trends, which of the three major planets on the outskirts of our solar system should have more authority?


Let’s start with the facts. Because we know the number of years it takes for planets to make a full orbit and can measure how long planets spend in each of the 12 signs of the zodiac, we can make a pencil mark at the beginning and end of one of the slower planet’s sojourns within a sign. We can then examine that time range and see how these periods might define the appearance of larger collective trends that seemingly line up to those ranges. Think of the signs as representing a gradient of seasons.

  • Uranus has an 84-year elliptical orbit, so it spends about 7 years in a sign.
  • Neptune has a 164-year elliptical orbit, so it spends about 14 years in a sign.
  • Pluto has a 248-year quite elliptical orbit, so it spends anywhere from 12-31 years in a sign, with the exact measurement relative to each sign

Huh? This means that groups of people born within the same 7-year period, no matter what their Sun sign is (I’m a Leo, I’m a Virgo, I’m a Scorpio – it doesn’t matter), will all share Uranus in the same sign. Groups within specific 14-year periods will all have Neptune in the same sign. And, depending on the sign Pluto is in at the time, groups born within at least 12 years of each other and up to 31 years will all collectively share Pluto in a particular sign. Let’s move on to interpret these number grouping patterns.


This is where it gets hairy. We might think of the word “generation” as being associated with family structures and offspring. But, given that lifespan and fertility periods might not seem very standardized across the board anymore, let’s once again see if planet-in-sign demarcations help us understand collective opinions and trends. Let’s start by getting a sense of what the three outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, might represent.

You can infer interpretive meaning from the physical appearance and characteristics of the planets, the mythic names attached to them, even the way each was discovered. Weirdly enough, each path ends up pointing in the same direction. I’m not here to convince you what a planet does or doesn’t mean. To understand the larger point, just work with the suggested meanings and test them out in your own time.

Click here for the second part of our exploration of using Outer Planets in astrology to define generations and understand their differences. This section will give real-world examples and details that explain what the current placements for Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto mean. How do these planets behave in concrete terms, how do they affect generational groups, and what does that mean for the young folk and our future?

* For the purposes of this article, as I am a Western astrologer, my sign-relative measurements and data will use the Tropical system. Any astrological territorial mapping system (e.g., Tropical or Sidereal) can be used to define the zodiacal sign boundaries against which the planets are seen to orbit. Whether you identify as a Gemini in Western astrology, or a Taurus in Vedic astrology doesn’t matter for the time being. There’s always an infinite rabbit hole of pedantic matter to debate in any niche subject. It’s the same sky, the same orbital path length, the same planets. You can effectively bake the same cake whether you are measuring in grams or cups. If this footnote goes over your head but you still like astrology, don’t worry about it. For others, even though you might lose sleep over the Tropical vs. Sidereal debate, just pay attention to the bigger argument, and apply it to your system later.