Featured Image: The Astrologer. Wood cut by Hans Holbein. circa 1523-1525.
So if you are into astrology at all, you probably have heard that this is an extremely significant Capricorn season. The lineup in Capricorn this month includes: The Sun, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto along with the Lunar South Node. We also have an annular Solar eclipse happening at 4 degrees Capricorn.
But the real star of the show is the Saturn/Pluto conjunction–the momentous transit that astrologers have been talking about for the past few years. It is finally peaking on January 12th, 2020. We have all been feeling the effects of this transit for some years now, and after it peaks in January, it’s effects will still continue for some years.
Astrologically, this particular Saturn/Pluto conjunction is significant because:
- it is taking place in Saturn’s own sign of Capricorn. The last time that happened was in 1518.
- it is somewhat punctuated by an eclipse
- it takes place while the Lunar South Node is in Capricorn
- it takes place very close to the South Nodes of Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto, who are regularly parked in Capricorn.
- it coincides with the United State’s Pluto return, scheduled to peak in 2021/22 at 27 degrees Capricorn.
To fully appreciate the significance of all this Capricorn energy, here is the chart for the exact moment of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, including all the South Nodes that will be in Capricorn during this time.
The philosopher and historian Richard Tarnas has analyzed the significance of the Saturn/Pluto cycle extensively in his book Cosmos and Psyche. In it, he writes that the quadrature aspects between Saturn and Pluto are:
challenging historical periods marked by a pervasive quality of intense contraction: eras of international crisis and conflict, empowerment of reactionary forces and totalitarian impulses, organized violence and oppression, all sometimes marked by lasting traumatic effects. An atmosphere of gravity and tension tended to accompany these three to four year periods, as did a wide-spread sense of epochal closure: ‘the end of an era,’ “the end of innocence,’ the destruction of an earlier mode of life that in retrospect may seem to have been marked by widespread indulgence, decadence, naivete, denial, and inflation. Profound transformation was a dominant theme…but here the transformation was through contraction, conservative reaction, crisis and termination. (1)
Tarnas maintains that Saturn/Pluto hard aspects typically coincide with historical periods of conservative empowerment, repressive political structures justified by the “need for vital security,” the alignment of right-wing forces in government with fundamentalist forces and an increase in genocide or mass killings. He goes on to give examples: both the First World War and the Second World War began under hard aspect alignments of Saturn and Pluto, as well as the September 11th destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001. He also provides numerous other examples throughout history dating back to the opposition of 1097-99 which witnessed the First Crusade of Christians in Europe against Muslims in the Middle East and the conjunction of 1348-51 which coincided with the Black Death (bubonic plague) in Europe.
Turn on the news at any time these days and you can see that our current Saturn/Pluto transit is full of these themes, including a rapid and dramatic increase in fascist political movements, widespread corporate and political corruption, mass gun shootings in the USA and unprecedented environmental destruction taking place across the world.
Polarization and “othering” is also a common characteristic of Saturn/Pluto quadrature aspects. Tarnas published his book in 2006 but his description of Saturn/Pluto polarization sounds like it was taken straight from the headlines of today’s Trump Era. Whether it is republicans versus democrats, white people versus people of color, Christians versus atheists, misogynists versus feminists or carnivores versus vegans, polarization and black-and-white thinking is rampant right now. And no matter which side you are on, you are likely to unconsciously fall sway to the Saturn/Pluto tendency of “interpreting the world exclusively as a war between good and evil, perceiving and uncompromisingly enforcing simplistic dichotomies, seeing others as morally or mortally dangerous threats, and identifying particular individuals or states as evil enemies.” (2)
But before we start to despair, Tarnas reminds us that these periods were also characterized by “displays of personal and collective determination, unbending will, courage and sacrifice by intensely focused, silent, strenuous effort in the face of danger and death; by a deepening capacity for moral discernment born from experience and suffering; and by the transformation and forging of enduring structure, whether material, political, or psychological.” (3) Currently this spirit is seen in the masses of people who have been marching in protest against the government’s lack of action on climate change, gun control, women’s reproductive rights and equality for marginalized groups based on race and gender identity. It is seen in the spirit of the refugees who are fleeing war torn countries in a desperate effort to save their children, in the hearts of indigenous people defending their water sources and in the courage of the fire fighters trying to save lives in Australia. And this spirit is there for you, too, in whatever personal challenges you face under this transit.
An Evolutionary Astrology Analysis of the Saturn/Pluto Conjunction of January 12th, 2020
Why is the Saturn/Pluto conjunction so important in Evolutionary Astrology? Evolutionary Astrologers who follow the Jeffrey Wolf Green (JWG) method view this transit as a game-changer for humanity as a whole–one that affects the collective evolution of the human species. Let me walk you through some of the symbolism happening. First, here’s an explanation of some terms used in Evolutionary Astrology.
Pluto In modern astrology, some of the things that Pluto signifies are transformation, power-struggles, loss, destruction, revelation of hidden things, death and re-birth. However, in Evolutionary Astrology Pluto represents the soul itself and the evolution of the soul. Since Pluto is a generational planet, it also speaks about collective soul evolution, or the evolution of humanity as a group.
Saturn Saturn in modern and traditional astrology is generally associated with difficulty, challenges, obstacles, responsibility, maturity, wisdom, authority figures, scarcity, lack, and death. Saturn also relates to karma. In Evolutionary Astrology however, Saturn refers to the structure of consciousness. It also represents our conditioning–how our thoughts and behavior are determined by the particular culture we live in and its conventions.
Capricorn Keywords: Earth sign, representing material life. The Earth itself. Work and Career. Big business. Social institutions. Authority figures. Government. Socio-Economic Systems. The geographic and environmental systems of Earth (and with Pluto in this sign, especially subterranean systems like volcanoes, earthquakes and plate tectonics.) In Evolutionary Astrology, Capricorn is also associated with the Patriarchy: male-dominated societies with socioeconomic and political systems that are organized and fueled by misogynistic, hetero-normative, classist, racist and species-ist ideologies.
Conjunction A meeting of two planets within the same Zodiac sign, signifying the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. Evolutionary astrology interprets aspects based on their phasal relationships. A balsamic conjunction (usually an applying conjunction, but not always) signifies a very busy time characterized by much upheaval as a cycle comes to a rapid close. A new phase conjunction (usually a separating conjunction, but not always) signifies a new cycle is taking off with much enthusiasm and experimentation.
South Node of a planet Collectively, it refers to past life experience, in particular, the negative habit patterns that need to be released in order for evolution and growth to occur.
North Node of a planet Collectively shows our destiny or the path to the future. It suggests the new habit patterns that need to be developed in order for evolution to occur.
The Nodes of Pluto Like the Lunar Nodes, all planets have a North and South Node, indicated by the points in space where the planet’s motion intersects with the ecliptic or apparent path of the Sun. The South Node of a planet refers to its past, the planet itself signifies its current condition, while the North Node signifies what it is evolving towards. Pluto recently conjoined its own South Node in 2018, and the effects of this are still in play. We can read this as: we are currently (Pluto) transforming a collective past problem (South Node of Pluto).
Cancer/Capricorn axis In Evolutionary astrology, this zodiac axis is associated with (among other things) gender role assignment and often indicates that the native has recently switched their sex and gender role from their previous lifetime. Cancer is associated with the feminine while Capricorn is associated with the masculine. Note that everyone can contain both feminine and masculine traits, regardless of sex and regardless of gender identity.
Important Side Note: A Word about Patriarchy, Matriarchy and Natural Law:
Jeffrey Wolf Green was one of the first astrologers to incorporate sociological principles into his astrological method instead of simply just psychological ones. The books that he wrote indicate that he was familiar with both psychological and sociological research that was popular during the time he was teaching, especially research informed by feminist theory.
As a result, astrologers who follow his method spend a lot of time talking about the effects of patriarchy on societies and individuals. In particular, JWG astrologers often refer to a time period they call “The transition from the Matriarchy to the Patriarchy” which allegedly occurred around the year 6,600 BC to about 5,600 BC, during the Age of Cancer and the sub-age of Capricorn.
JWG taught that during this time period, human societies and cultures became increasingly male-dominated and patriarchal in structure and began to veer away from “Natural Law” and more toward “Human Law.” Evolutionary Astrologers define Natural Law as universal truths that are inherent within Nature, whereas Human Law is viewed as an artificial construct of the human intellect and may or may not reflect reality. When humanity began to sway more toward patriarchy and Human Law, there was a growth in ideologies that de-valued the feminine and all things related to it (such as Nature and the Earth itself), accompanied by the willful destruction of the feminine. Patriarchal values affected all socioeconomic and political systems and grew into the monstrously destructive system we are immersed in today which is killing all life on the planet, including ourselves.
However, back in my university days, Anthropology students were taught that technically, there is no evidence that a true Matriarchy existed anywhere on Earth at any time period. There is no evidence of a society where women completely ran the show, had all the power over the political and socio-economic systems, and handed that power down through the generations in matrilineal lineages. That has never been the case. However, the ancient and historical record is peppered with evidence of societies that contained numerous cultural elements that valued the feminine and were far less patriarchal than today’s western mono-culture. So whenever I hear JWG astrologers speaking about “The Matriarchy,” I re-translate the word in my head to mean matriarchally-inclined cultures rather than an actual matriarchal society. These were cultures where women were valued and allotted significant amounts of power, agency and positions of authority; where socio-economic systems were based more on equality than hierarchy; and where Nature and all of its species were revered and respected instead of dominated, abused and destroyed.
Today, the South Node of Pluto is at 20 degrees Capricorn. Pluto’s nodes spend about 2,000 years in each sign. The South Node of Pluto entered Capricorn around the year 500 and will stay there until the year 2500. So every person alive on the planet today has Pluto’s South Node in Capricorn. According to JWG, this means that humanity has a collective past life memory of the transition to Patriarchy. Somewhere in the recesses of our souls, we remember a time when the feminine was valued at least as much as the masculine, and we remember when that started to shift. The abuse and the destruction that resulted is a wound that all souls on the planet unconsciously resonate with and long to heal.
Putting the Terms All Together to Interpret the Saturn/Pluto conjunction:
The conjunction between Saturn and Pluto (on top of their respective South Nodes) indicates a kind of cataclysmic clash of the titans as patriarchal elements in government, finance, and culture escalate and attempt to dominate. As they all compete with each other for power using whatever means possible, the entire system loses it functionality, starts to teeter and threatens to crash. Due to Pluto’s tendency to unearth things, corrupt traditions and toxic practices boil up to the surface now where they are publicly exposed and transformed.
Saturn conjoining Pluto and both of them conjoining Pluto’s South Node in Capricorn states that we have reached the limit of the Patriarchy now. We have hit the wall (Saturn) and now things must change (Pluto). We are currently reaping environmental Karma (Saturn) which is showing us that we must act more responsibly (Saturn) toward the Earth (Capricorn). The situation is extremely dire (Saturn/Pluto = destruction, death) but renewal is possible (Pluto, new phase conjunction) if we act more mature (Saturn) and are willing to understand our limits (Saturn) and transform (Pluto) our outdated and destructive conditioned thinking patterns (Saturn and Saturn’s South Node). The direction we need to take for the future (North Nodes of Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto) is one that values the feminine again (The North Nodes in Cancer). We must begin to adopt ideologies and technologies and systems that are nurturing and supportive (Cancer) to all life on earth.
What does the Saturn/Pluto conjunction mean for you?
We can see how this transit is manifesting on the world stage by simply looking at the headlines in the news regarding politics, economics, the environment, the #MeToo and the LGBTQ rights movements, the dire plight of immigrants and refugees and fires destroying the Amazon and Australia among other things. But what does this transit mean for you, personally in your own life?
You have already been feeling the effects of this powerful transit for the past few years. And you will continue to feel the effects of this transit long after it has peaked in January of 2020. If you have not been feeling personally challenged by it, then you likely know at least a dozen other people who have been. For some (but not everyone) the personal effects of this transit can be extreme: grief, loss, betrayal, abandonment, power-struggles and a complete transformation of a part of your life that feels akin to a death/re-birth experience. However, the transformations that ensue are necessary as old ways die out to make way for new, healthier ways.
If your natal astrology chart has a lot of planets in Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn), then this transit has likely been turning your life upside down for a number of years already. For more info on how this transit can affect cardinal planets in your natal chart, check out my previous article on Saturn/Pluto in hard aspect to your natal planets.
If you have been feeling anxious or feeling a sense of doom like “the end” is near and if it seems like things are getting crazy and that the world has collectively lost its mind, then you are feeling this transit. But take heart, the “end” that you are sensing is not necessarily The End of The World. Is the death real? As I write this, the Amazon and Australia are burning uncontrollably. So yes. There is much literal death taking place on earth. But part of what you are feeling is the end of a cosmic cycle. We are witnessing and feeling the death of outmoded ways of thinking and destructive patriarchal practices on Earth. The Patriarchy senses it is collapsing and so it fights back with everything it has. Attacking women’s reproductive rights and withholding their health care. Immigrant children in cages. Corporate entities poisoning and killing the environment and all its creatures. Millions of people are ill and homeless while politicians further remove access to mental health care and food stamps. All signs of an insane system imploding in upon itself.
Will the Patriarchy die completely? Don’t bank on it. But it will transform a great deal. That process has already begun. Millions of people across the globe have woken up to the fact that a new way of life is not only necessary but is possible and that we can change our systems on earth to healthier, safer ones for everyone. This type of thinking will gather in strength and really burst forth when Pluto enters Aquarius in 2024. We will see all kinds of innovations and experiments in creating new economic, social and political systems. We will also witness a breaking down of the old, giant hegemonic mono-systems into smaller, local systems. This might include the re-arranging of political geographic boundaries and the breakup of nation states too. In Evolutionary Astrology, Aquarius is related to trauma, so the transitions that will be taking place will not likely happen in an easy way. However, the more we plan ahead and the more steps we take now, the smoother the transition can be.
Steps you can take to help bring in a more positive manifestation of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction
- Be brave and accept that collective Karma (Saturn) is due to be paid now. We have all been unwitting contributors to harmful and destructive systems on Earth. The effects of that are being demonstrated now in a way that cannot be ignored. Even if you feel you didn’t personally contribute to the downfall of the economy, the government or the environment, you are still responsible now for healing the mess. So do what you can, however small, to help things get better. You don’t have to be a 100% perfect vegan, or live a perfect zero-waste lifestyle to make a difference. Just do whatever you can, imperfectly. For some simple and practical ideas about what you can do to deal with climate change and help heal the world, check out this great interview.
- Be willing to accept that a particular area of your life MUST transform in a major way. If the old systems are breaking down, and we are all part of these old systems, that means a part of life we take for granted will be breaking down in order to be re-built in a healthier way. This will be inconvenient for some and downright painful for others, especially when it affects their livelihood. Trust that the change is ultimately for the good, even if it feels challenging.
- Expect a few life lessons about responsibility and maturity (South Node in Capricorn). We can all expect a few hard truths to come flying at us these days. They might not be pleasant, but if you roll with them they will help you face the future (North Node) from a stronger position.
- Give up short-term reward for long-term gain. Be willing to give up some of your creature comforts and conveniences in order to sustain the planet in the long term. For example, yes, it takes extra time and effort to give up single use plastic and opt for more sustainable lifestyles. And yes, it is worth it.
- Let go of the Capricornian craving for status, respect and approval from your peers, from authority figures and from society in general. When everyone around you is crazy because they have bought into a crazy system, why on earth would you want their approval? Accept that the old system is dying. Learn to evaluate yourself and your life using a totally new perspective.
- Be willing to examine and change your conscious thought patterns and throw off old conditioning. It is time to break free from habitual thinking that no longer serves you or the human collective. How do you know which thought patterns need to change? Easy–simply ask yourself: who gets your goat? Which progressive movement out there literally gets your (Saturn) goat and secretly irks you? Is it feminists? Liberals? People of Color? Immigrants? Millennials? Climate Scientists? Trans People? Vegans? People who believe in homeopathic medicine? Whatever progressive group currently irks you is a mirror–a sign of where you are perhaps stuck in the old toxic Capricorn conditioning.
- Value the feminine in yourself and in others. Even people identified as male have a feminine side too. With all the North Nodes pointed at the feminine sign of Cancer, the heavens are literally telling us to adopt Cancer-like attitudes: valuing the feminine and the maternal. Promote things that are nurturing to others, that encourage growth, and that provide emotional security. Also, learn to value “yin” energies such as receptivity, passive reflection and bonding.
- Lose the expression “It’s just business. It’s nothing personal.” Or “It’s just politics. It’s nothing personal.” Kill that sentiment dead. In order to survive what will happen on planet Earth in the future, we all have to get personal. Very very personal. With all this Cap energy in the skies, we are all hell bent on achieving our career goals, but with the north nodes of many planets in Cancer, the message is clear: don’t forget to prioritize family over work and learn to treat your colleagues and clients more like family.
- Be willing to let go of some traditions. Just because you have always done it that way does not make it right, safe or healthy. For instance, traditionally we have relied on conspicuous consumption and factory farms. Under this Saturn/Pluto transit, it has been revealed how harmful these practices are and that they promote death for the entire planet. If you want a secure future (North Node in Cancer), you must be willing to alter some of the toxic traditions of the past (South Node in Capricorn).
- Let go of your notions about hierarchy and experiment with systems that are more consensual or equal. Hierarchical thinking invades everything we do, including our scientific models. However, hierarchy is an ideology of the Patriarchy and does not necessarily reflect how systems operate in nature (reality).
- Value children and babies (Cancer north node) Create a world that is safe and healthy for them. The word “children” and “cages” should never be considered in the same sentence.
- Plant seeds and grow things. Nurture animals and other species and their habitats. Understand that all species on earth exist in their own right and do not exist for the pleasure and consumption of human beings. (The sign of Cancer nurtures all living things.)
- Clean up and protect water systems. (Cancer is a water sign.)
- Honor the wisdom of the cycles in nature and the body. Let go of your mental intellect occasionally in order to re-unite with the wisdom inherent in nature and the physical body. Develop your intuition instead of stunting your view of reality by only subscribing to mental concepts and scientific fundamentalism.
- Honor your feelings, and the need to heal them. Can’t say this enough. We live in a traumatized world. Traumatized people who are dead to their own emotions can wreak havoc on everyone and everything around them. One of the most radical things you can do for the planet is to heal yourself, body, mind and spirit.
Take heart: these are healing mindsets and activities that we can all participate in. In fact, if you are alive on the planet today it means you were actually born to do this. That is why you are here. So stay brave and stay true and do what you can to bring in the amazing changes that will helps sustain life on this dear planet of ours. See you in 2020.
(1) Tarnas, Richard. Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. Plume, 2016, New York (209).
(2) ibid (234).
(3) ibid (210)
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