COLUMN: Uranus is Afoot

Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for “lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power,” and earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom — not to mention admission into the Rock and Roll and the Grammy Awards halls of fame. He’s sold 125 million records. And at age 80, he’s still at it. With those credentials, I guess a peek under the astrological hood couldn’t hurt.

Robert Allen Zimmerman was born on May 21, 1941. Even a genuinely fake astrologer can connect the dots here — of course he’s a Gemini. This air sign is about eloquence, intelligence, deep thinking and mobility. It’s ruled by the planet Mercury, and where you find Mercury in the chart is where and how you communicate best. Mercury rules writing. The accolades mentioned above suggest that he has more than succeeded in the eloquence/communication arenas. As for mobility, his infamous “Never Ending Tour” included over 3,000 shows performed continuously since 1988, halted in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this 60-plus-year career, critic Andy Gill points out that it’s the song “Blowin’ in the Wind” with which Dylan’s name is most inextricably linked, and has safeguarded his reputation as a civil libertarian. Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary, No Direction Home, describes the song as an anthem of the civil rights movement of the sixties. Dylan’s protest song was popularized by artists Tom Petty, Bobby Darin, Sam Cooke, Joan Baez and Stevie Wonder — not to mention its most successful adaptation by Peter, Paul and Mary, which reached #2 on Billboard’s pop chart and sold over a million copies by August 1963. 

The song was first published in May 1962, then recorded in July 1962 for inclusion in Dylan’s  album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, released on May 27, 1963. Dylan told journalist Marc Rowland that “the origin of ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ has always been a spiritual, derived from a song called ‘No More Auction Block.’” According to Alan Lomax’s The Folk Songs of North America, the song was sung by former slaves who fled to Nova Scotia after Great Britain abolished slavery in 1833. 

So what can astrology tell us about the timing and lyrics of this enduring folk song? As we saw when we explored Neil Young’s title song “After the Gold Rush,” a strong Neptune transit is central to the process. Neptune rules music, imagination, intuition and dreaming. Where you find Neptune in the chart is where you seek the ideal. It’s fitting that this former spiritual is represented by the planet that symbolizes the spirit world. Not only was a Neptune transit present in May 1962 (when Dylan first published the song), Neptune was trine Jupiter. A trine is a favorable cosmic alignment. What’s more, this trine was with the planet Jupiter, symbol of growth, expansion and good fortune.

We can double down on this astrological bet because Jupiter had just ingressed (entered into) Pisces in April of 1962. Which planet rules the introspective, visionary and musical sign of Pisces? Duh, Neptune! Astrology doesn’t cause creativity. That’s about Bob Dylan’s talent, experience and perseverance. But astrologers will tell you that the historical timing of major achievements (and failures) correlates with these alignments. You get the idea. And speaking of correlations, the release of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album occurs in his natal sign of Gemini, just six days after his birthday (in horoscope parlance, his 22nd solar return).


“Blowin’ In The Wind”

By Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down

Before they call him a man?

How many seas must a white dove sail

Before she sleeps in the sand?

How many times must the cannonballs fly

Before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many years must a mountain exist

Before it is washed to the sea?

How many years can some people exist

Before they’re allowed to be free?

How many times can a man turn his head

And pretend that he just doesn’t see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many times must a man look up

Before he can see the sky?

How many ears must one man have

Before he can hear people cry?

How many deaths will it take ’til he knows

That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.


The most intriguing and powerful lyric in the song, of course, is the refrain: “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” Astrologically speaking, wind is an air sign (hello Gemini). Astronomically speaking, which planets have the strongest winds in the solar system? Hello Neptune, which comes in at #1, with speeds up to 1,500 mph. Our good friend Uranus comes in at #2, with speeds up to 560 mph (these speeds are based on data gathered by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft and ground-based telescopes). 

Potty humor aside, Uranus’ wind symbolizes freedom and sudden change. Air signs (Aquarius, Gemini and Libra) are idealistic and associated with a quest for fairness and equality in society. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered in August 1963. The civil rights movement was not only in the air, but literally very much afoot with its peaceful march on Washington D.C. The chaos, war protests and social revolution to follow by the mid-60s — represented astrologically by three Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in 1966-1967 and known as the “shocking (Uranus) transformation (Pluto)” — was already being foreshadowed.

The mystery and irony of the lyric “the answer is blowin’ in the wind” is that the answer is both universally available and inaccessible at the same time. Dylan asks the right age-old questions. Sadly, we can update the answer to one of them all too accurately: “How many [COVID-19] deaths will it take until we know that too many people have died?” At the time of this writing, there have been 714,281 American deaths and counting. 

Historically, our country celebrates its 245th birthday this year. Astrologically, besides this national solar return, the U.S.A. is also entering the orb of its first Pluto return, which only happens once every 248+/- 3 years (Pluto’s orbit around the Sun takes 248 years). Pluto symbolizes death, rebirth and grinding long-term transformation. The astrology underlying Pluto’s return is complex, and will be intensely challenging over the next three years.

As Mark Twain, Niels Bohr and Yogi Berra have variously said: “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” The U.S. natal chart is strong, blessed with a plethora of beneficial alignments including Sun, Venus and Jupiter. If the country can somehow find a way to unite its deeply fissioned society with a fusion of tolerance, common decency, sensible social reform and simple horse sense, we can achieve a successful transformation and be the better for it. But this outcome is not a given. The fabric of our exceptional democracy is fraying. How we handle these next three years is truly one of the most pressing answers currently blowin’ in the wind.

P.S. Once again, Mercury is retrograde (September 28 – October 18). The frustrations typical of this period derive from miscommunications, misunderstandings, delays (Southwest Airlines anyone?) and technical snafus (anything from a jammed printer to a solar flare induced geomagnetic storm). To limit the angst, work with the Mercury retrograde vibe by focusing on  activities characterized by “re” words: review, revise, renovate, redecorate, restore and refresh…and, as always, regard this column with a grain of salt.

Sources: (1) Weekly Forecast Columns from July 5, July 12, October 4 and October 11 of 2021 by Ray Merriman (2) Learn Astrology Volume One by Marion March and Joan McEvers. (3)  (4) (5) (6) Notes by astrologer Tom Brady.