The world has lifted its gaze to the heavens to drink in the union of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius. Fittingly, Aquarius bears ample symbolism involving the relationship between humans and the divine. Saturn as the ruler of Aquarius tends the boundary between the incarnate and the numinous, as Saturn is the most distant visible planet guarding the threshold between the wandering planets with the celestial fire of the fixed stars. Perhaps the most common constellational myth associated with Aquarius is Ganymedes, the princely shepherd who was snatched away from earth by the eagle of Zeus to serve the nectar of immortality to the deities above. Other ancient attributions include Cecrops, an earthly king who poured watery libations to the gods and was said to have taught literary and burial arts; as well as Aristaios, who was similarly shown making libations to Zeus and was known for not only introducing a multitude of arts and crafts to humanity, but also rites summoning winds that would temper the heat brought by the rising of Sirius. As the sign of the new cycle between Jupiter and Saturn, Aquarius points towards the importance of tending to your relationship with sources of spirit, gathering useful arts and innovative ideas to mediate the myriad issues in need of addressing between humans within the world they are part of.
The great conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius on December 21, 2020 has announced a new chapter in the story of our world. Befitting its dazzling visual appearance following sunset on the solstice, the astrological implications of Jupiter and Saturn uniting at 00°29′ Aquarius are extraordinary. The tight unity between Jupiter and Saturn in the sky reflects how in astrology it is binding us to an era of air. The synodic cycle between Jupiter and Saturn lasts for twenty years, yet sits within larger triplicity cycles of forming conjunctions in the same element (fire, earth, air, water) that last for over two centuries each. After their 2020 solstice union, there will only be conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn in tropical air signs until December 21, 2159 when they will unite in Scorpio, followed by two more grand conjunctions in tropical air signs in 2179 and 2199 (resulting in 2219 marking full entrance into the next era of water).
Astrologers from the eighth/ninth century such as Masha’allah and Abu Ma’shar made famous the theory that while each twenty year cycle between Jupiter and Saturn signified important changes in political rulership, larger shifts in dynasties and other cultural orders such as religious movements occurred during the transmutation between triplicity elements. Just like the war between Zeus and the Olympians against Cronus and the Titans in myth tells the story of a new order overcoming an old order, so have the conjunctions between the star of Zeus and the star of Cronus signaled the toppling of old ruling orders by the ascension of new powers. Since the world today is no longer arranged into the same kind of royal dynasties as it was in the courts of empire that ancient astrologers served, the changes wrought by Jupiter and Saturn initiating us into an era of air needs to be applied to our current cultures and power dynamics.
The brilliant union of Jupiter and Saturn upon the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere, the darkest night of the year that kindles the return of the Sun, and on the Summer Solstice in the southern hemisphere when the Sun reaches the zenith of its light, could not have had a more dramatic setting. As it also came at the end of a year that brought a global pandemic and shutdowns of economies and travel around the world, the striking solstice star of Jupiter and Saturn has served as a sign of hope for many. Yet it doesn’t mean that everything will be changing overnight, nor that everything is going to get much better nor much worse. It does mean that traversing a period known as a “great mutation” will be taking us into an extended period of collective volatility and reshaping. It also means the strategies sourced in understanding from the previous era of earth will no longer be as effective, that things will not be returning to the way they were before, and that we must reorient and adjust in alignment with the radical reordering brought by the era of air.
When Saturn and Jupiter meet, we experience a mixing of the darkness, death, and decomposition of Saturn with the fertile growth, generous abundance, and expansive visioning of Jupiter. We can feel our skin ready to shed as we move into molting a new identity from our inner multiplicity. There can be a great release of our past, grieving what can no longer be and welcoming what is ready to emerge. On the larger and slower scale of cyclical time governed by Saturn, there will also be a need to let go of the old era of earth that is passing away. The first conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter in the past cycle of earth was in 1802 in Virgo, and after a final conjunction in a fire sign in 1821, the Saturn and Jupiter cycle fully moved into the era of earth during three conjunctions in Taurus that stretched from August 1840 until February 1841.
During the past era of earth, colonizing empires fueled by the industrial revolution created vast economic systems that brought stability for some and oppression for others. Immense technological achievements were made out of resources from the earth, and monstrous wars were fought over land that brought the world to the brink of destruction. Nuclear weaponry was developed that could wipe humanity off the face of the earth. We have much to grieve related to losses on our earth today, from the extinction of animal species to the eradication of forests and wilderness. As we have been ending the earth era and transitioning toward the air era, the impact of air pollution on troubling climatic changes on earth has gained increasing amounts of attention.
In astrology the earth element is the most dense, the most stable, and the most resistant to change. For those fortunate to live in places where they could develop into their full potential, the past earth era contained the possibility of achieving stable lifestyles and legacies that could be passed on to future generations. In contrast, the element of air in astrology brings volatile change, dispersal and redistribution of resources, and accelerated exchanges of communication. Flexibility rather than stability is essential to air as it is always changing, spreading and elevating. The winds of change brought by the air era are only beginning to blow, as Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius signifies a gathering of clouds on the horizon whose storms will reshape our cultural landscape in ways we can hardly imagine. The winds of the air era will erode the structures built up across the earth era, transporting seeds of new ideas across vast distances to take root in new locations.
During the past era of earth the meaning of “horse power” shifted from being purely about the ancient skills of horsemanship that helped cultivate human civilization, to referring to the speed of motorized inventions fueled by earthy resources. In the era of air, the gravity of earth will be exchanged for the boundless nature of air that connects all of us within the encircling atmosphere we breathe, opening awareness to vaster realms of inner and outer space to explore. While human skills like horsemanship have been utilized in the past for ploughing fields, in the new era of airy terrain we will be cultivating the realm of thought and lightning quick communication. New relational skills will be needed as wings spring from the sides of our earthbound horses like the divine Pegasus, who in myth created springs of watery inspiration wherever it struck its hoof upon earth. As Aquarius is the living image of the Water Bearer, by tending our relationship with revelatory muses and the diverse sources of inspiration within the interconnected fields of nature, we may gather ideas to cultivate and share from flowing springs of imagination.
Yet as we deepen into relationship with the winged horses we may ride into flights of soaring thought and ingenuity, the material concerns of living upon earth, the crises of people lacking food and shelter, and the need to collectively change our relationships within Nature will not be disappearing into thin air. Aquarius and the other signs of air are the human signs of the zodiac, and so humanitarian concerns and the impacts of human civilizations will take precedence as Jupiter and Saturn continue to unite within them during the next two centuries.
Our conception of four elemental roots goes back to the ancient writing of Empedocles, commonly believed to have lived from 494 BC to 434 BC. Interestingly, the span of Empedocles’ lifetime involved a previous transition of an earth era slowly shifting into an era of air over time, as the first apparent conjunction in a tropical air sign was in 462 BC, breaking up a sequence of conjunctions in earth signs that began in 581 BC (following the 462 BC conjunction in Libra there were two more conjunctions in earth, followed by two more air conjunctions in 402 BC and 383 BC, followed by a final earth conjunction in 363 BC).
In the famous fragment that introduced the elements as personified divinities, Empedocles wrote:
Hear first the four roots of all things:
Dazzling Zeus, life-bearing Hera, Aidoneus, and
Nestis who moistens the springs of mortals with her tears.
If unfamiliar, Aidoneus is another name for Hades while Nestis is another name for Persephone. While there have been arguments for ages over which deity should be connected with which element, Peter Kingsley in Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic declared Zeus to be connected with the element called aither by Empedocles, Hera with earth, Hades with fire, and Persephone with water. While there have also been debates over possible differences between aither and the Greek aer we connect with air in English, Kingsley also emphatically argued that aither was used by 6th and 5th century BC writers to describe both the upper and lower regions of air, “a continuum extending from the earth’s surface to the stars or beyond.” In contrast, Kingsley revealed that aer was used to describe an aspect of aither through the forms of clouds or obscure mists. In fact, Kingsley noted the significance of the Homeric epithet for Zeus: cloud-gatherer.
The way our perception can become clouded, obscured by the mists of our illusions about reality is a key aspect of the era of air that needs our awareness. The union of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius is especially important due to it being the airy home of Saturn, lending reception to their conjunction and giving it the direct expression of Saturn. Saturn has long been known as a guardian at the border between time and the timeless, the most distant visible planet from earth at the boundary between the wandering planets and the realm of fixed stars and the heavenly divine. In Aquarius, Saturn’s role of defining boundaries will be applied to matters of thought, highlighting the importance of how we utilize our perception and cultivate critical thinking skills. There is great personal potential available through the use of the Internet and other technological innovations, yet the control tactics of Saturn can also be utilized to manipulate information and persuasively influence the mindsets of people through control of the information presented to them. As information and messages circulate freely, it will be up to each of us to discern the differences between conspiracy theories, false propaganda, and true insight.
There are significant differences in meaning between Jupiter and Saturn but they do find common ground when seeking higher status in society, claiming greater authority and power, and accumulating greater wealth. While the era of earth could be said to be more suited for hierarchical power structures, and a conjunction in Aquarius could correlate with formations of communities that are rooted in interdependent alliances between members, the shift in triplicity eras will not bring an immediate downfall of present power structures nor resolve the myriad issues of societal oppression that gained increased exposure during the past year. Some power structures ill suited for the collective changes will collapse, but others will be seeking to accumulate even greater amounts of power and control especially through airy technological innovations. As a result, there will be an increasing need to find and create alternative platforms and communal spaces to mutually support one another outside the parameters of the power structures that have been stockpiling personal information from social media and search engines for profit and persuasion.
Gaining clarity for what you do not value, and forming community centered around what you do identify with are processes associated with Aquarius as it involves both the rejection and limits of Saturn as well as the design of new forms that can harbor community. Yet when forming alternative communities set against mainstream doctrine, the fixed nature of Aquarius can lead to the crystallization of new dogma that becomes righteously projected on others. The same groups forming as a counter to consensus culture can then insist on conformity to group codes amongst members, threatening to outcast those who refuse to conform to the conditioning of the group. Aquarius involves fragmentation and fracturing amongst other significations, and so as many people continue to splinter off into groups engaged in polarized conflicts with other groups, it will be up to each of us as individuals to hold the tension of differing perspectives with a willingness to question as well as listen to others. Conversations can involve debate while respecting the dignity of the other, and in fact fixated opinions obscured by bias are more likely to shift within spaces that continue to circulate communication rather than shut it down with self righteousness.
Aquarius has strong associations with not only those who become exiled due to nonconformity with consensus values, but also those who willingly separate themselves from the conditioning of dominant cultures so that they can live more freely on their own terms, cultivating ideas and creative expressions in spaces removed from the contamination of groupthink and cultural bias. Saturn’s rulership of Aquarius places it in opposition to the Sun’s rulership of Leo, pointing toward increased attention being given to those on the margins or outskirts from centers of ruling power. Decentralization of power will be an important Aquarian theme during the new cycle, as well as shedding and decomposing ways you have been conditioned to think that are out of alignment with your essential self. The perspective and insight of the outsider will be necessary, with important figures likely emerging from seclusion or exile at important times to deliver pivotal messages.
Air is expansive and has a sense of freedom. It delights in curiosity and storytelling, finding pleasure when listening to revelatory new perspectives and the latest gossip. It can feel coldly rational and objective sometimes, at other times playful and jovial. It’s abstract and uplifts when blowing through our world with ideals and inspiration. Yet the circulating quality of air that tends towards instability must be reconciled with the fixed nature of Aquarius that endures with obstinacy and creates change that has a long lasting impact. With Saturn in its home of Aquarius from now until 7 March 2023, we need to work with the side of Saturn that draws from its deep powers of contemplation as we will need to be continually adapting to foundational reshaping taking place around the world. Fortunately, the co-presence of Jupiter in Aquarius for much of 2021 can help in envisioning strategies to stabilize our course as we navigate through the collective volatility that will be rippling through the year.
Jupiter in Aquarius
The movement of Jupiter from its fall in Capricorn into Aquarius pleases the star of Zeus, yet it’s co-presence with Saturn means it will need to remain in dialogue with Saturn. Due to the great conjunction occurring within the airy home of Saturn, Jupiter will be lending its cohering support to all things signified by Saturn. Jupiter in Aquarius will add its expansive vision to the construction, deconstruction, and maintenance of boundaries and structures governed by Saturn. The legendary 15th century philosopher, priest, and astrologer Marsilio Ficino noted that Jupiter can be utilized in remediating the melancholic impact of Saturn, writing in Three Books on Life that when ancient sages “feared that Saturn would oppress them on account of their sedulous zeal for philosophizing,” they would make daily use of Jovial sounds, songs of Jupiter, while living in the open air. Jupiter will temper the austere side of Saturn and amplify our potential for finding inventive solutions and embracing expansive visions in the face of the tumultuous collective change we will experience in 2021.
Jupiter will move all the way through Aquarius by the middle of May 2021, entering its sea faring home of Pisces on May 13. After Jupiter stations retrograde in Pisces on June 20, it will return to Aquarius on July 28, 2021. Jupiter will make its final trek through Aquarius from the end of July until returning to Pisces on December 28, 2021. The airy climate of Aquarius thus serves as a transitional space wherein Jupiter moves away from its fall in Capricorn, where it experiences challenging zodiacal terrain, en route to returning to its empowered home of Pisces. We can envision Jupiter as gathering clouds of concepts and insights while in Aquarius that will bring forth an outpouring of imaginative results once in Pisces, where the star of Zeus expresses itself with its full strength. With the slow and steady support of Saturn in Aquarius, we may discover that the ideas and work we develop while Jupiter is in Aquarius will deepen in growth once Jupiter enters Pisces.
Jupiter is comfortable in Aquarius as both Jupiter and Aquarius are diurnal in nature and Jupiter also has triplicity dignity in all of the air signs. As a participating ruler of the air triplicity, Jupiter will have the wind at its back as it sets sail through Aquarius. Air signs in astrology are further associated with the jovial sanguine temperament which is harmonious with the nature of Jupiter. The warming and moistening nature of air in astrology is in accord with the fertile and uplifting nature of Jupiter, giving Jupiter in Aquarius support when seeking cohesion in social connections and synthesizing insight. The flexible, unifying, and mobile qualities of air will amplify Jupiter’s potential for gathering information and developing lines of thought; since Jupiter will be in Aquarius along with Saturn, it’s co-presence with Saturn will accentuate our capacity for concentrated focus, reflecting upon and redefining our mental frameworks, and conceiving ideas and forms that will have longterm consequences. Fitting for the innumerable aspects of global societies in need of repair in 2021, the combination of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius will be helpful for diagnosing the emerging issues and finding solutions.
The first century Roman poet Marcus Manilius in Astronomica described Aquarius with images evoking the ancient Mesopotamian divinity Enki or Ea, the divine artisan and lord of freshwaters within the earth who helped cultivate the growth of human civilization through teaching irrigation that controls rivers through the formation of canals. Manilius described a Waterman pouring forth streams from his urn, bestowing skills such as “how to divine springs under the ground and conduct them above, to transform the flow of water so as to spray the very stars, to mock the sea with man-made shores at the bidding of luxury, to construct different types of artificial lakes and rivers, and to support aloft for domestic use streams that come from afar . . .” With Jupiter in Aquarius, nourishment and expansive growth will come through irrigating channels of communication to allow for refreshened perspectives from unorthodox sources on the periphery of the usual cultural authorities. Across global societies, the combination of Jupiter with Saturn in Aquarius can be helpful in restructuring information systems and designing innovations across disciplines so that resources can be disseminated more widely, bringing benevolent attention to communities that have been marginalized by dominant cultures.
Yet we must be cautious that the channels of communication we construct and maintain with Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius do not keep us rigidly stuck in one perspective and cut off from diverse viewpoints. Joy Usher in Tiny Universe wrote that “Saturn’s ownership of Aquarius [indoctrinates] by repeatedly telling someone that something is true (creating its own reality), whilst at the same time blocking out or preventing any ‘counter truth’ which might destabilize the original information.” By sustaining an open mind and holding the tension of multiple perspectives, we can utilize the capacity Jupiter possesses in Aquarius for taking in a broad perspective with the objectivity needed to see issues from multiple sides. Other times we will need to draw upon the skill of Jupiter in Aquarius for going it alone, detaching or exiting from the influence of those with viewpoints clearly misaligned with what we need to create and develop. With Jupiter in Aquarius we can help pierce through the obscuring mists of misinformation through dialectic dialogue and scrutinizing questions that expose false beliefs and allow for new questions to emerge that will deepen inquiry.
Like an eagle of Zeus, Jupiter in Aquarius can encircle targets of focus from far above in a realm of contemplation removed from the turbulence of overly subjective emotions. With a degree of detachment its eagle eye can penetrate into the underlying dynamics of issues, clarifying what needs support, alteration, or generating. It’s not that Jupiter in Aquarius is cut off from emotional involvement, however. In fact, Jupiter in Aquarius can become deeply emotional and passionate when engaged with the people, community, issues, and concepts it cares about, so much so it will make sacrifices for causes it believes in. The fixed nature of Aquarius provides Jupiter with ample supplies of persistence that will allow Jupiter to persevere through challenges and sustain its capacity for fostering stability and visioning next steps over long periods of time. As a result, not only is Jupiter in Aquarius well suited for helping us endure the extended period of dealing with the repercussions from the global pandemic that will be coming, it can also support us in cultivating mutually supportive communities that will help us navigate through the unknown difficulties on the horizon.
Due to the pleasure Jupiter in Aquarius finds when breaking free from the status quo, we will be able to utilize the transit of Jupiter through Aquarius for discovering inspiration and resolution from unusual sources and philosophies existing beyond the boundaries of mainstream thought and belief. As a bridge between the known and the unknown, Jupiter in Aquarius will facilitate deep dives into the unexplored aspects of your interests. The nonlinear side of Jupiter in Aquarius can attune to resonant frequencies across barriers of time and space, synthesizing insight together from diverse time periods and cultures. Jupiter in Aquarius will support movements within the arts and humanities that appear leading-edge yet also have roots in lineages from the past, supplying a solid foundation from which groundbreaking inventions may spring. We can expect an invigorating influx of innovative ideas and trends across the diverse fields of the humanities, arts and sciences as Jupiter makes its passage through Aquarius.
A small sampling of well known figures born with Jupiter in Aquarius includes Malala Yousafzai, Michelangelo, Albert Einstein, Immanuel Kant, Alan Watts, Allen Ginsburg, Jean Jacque Rousseau, Michel Foucault, Thomas Paine, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, William Burroughs, Walt Whitman, Richard Tarnas, Gustave Dore, Wassily Kandinsky, Madame Blavatsky, Marie Curie, Agatha Christie, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Alex Jones, Ann Coulter, Jeremy Corbin, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Turner, Rachel Maddow, Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Meryl Streep, Marilyn Monroe, Bill Murray, Ricky Gervais, Jerry Lewis, Groucho Marx, Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy, Mel Brooks, Martin Short, John Steinbeck, David Foster Wallace, HP Lovecraft, Chuck Berry, Etta James, Tom Verlaine, and Tom Waits.
Lightning in the Mist
The meaning of the great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius needs to also take account of the fact that Jupiter and Saturn are applying toward a waning square aspect with Uranus in Taurus. Although Jupiter will only form one exact square aspect with Uranus on January 17, there will be a drawn out sequence of three square aspects between Saturn and Uranus that will be exact on February 17 at 7º14′ Aquarius and Taurus, for a second time at 13º07′ on June 14, and for a final time on December 24, 2021 at 11º06′ Aquarius and Taurus. The last quarter square aspects between Saturn and Jupiter with Uranus means that both Saturn and Jupiter have made it three-fourths of the way through their synodic cycles with Uranus (Saturn and Uranus have a cycle that lasts about forty five and a half years, while Jupiter and Uranus have a cycle that lasts between thirteen and fourteen years). The tension between them will demand reorientation through questioning the direction we have been following on personal and societal levels. While the implications of these catalyzing aspects are massive on a global scale and will involve conflicts between those seeking world power, they will also be decisively important in our individual lives.
As I previously wrote in March 2020 in my article on Saturn in Aquarius, although I had long wondered what the depth of discord signified by Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto coming together during 2020 would be like, the aspect that gave me the most pause was that we would be transitioning from a conjunction of Saturn and Pluto into a waning square between Saturn and Uranus, with Jupiter moving through conjunctions with Pluto and Saturn into a waning square with Uranus. This tumultuous sequence suggests that the exposure of societal toxicity and shadowy material during the alignments between Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto could lead to explosive conflicts and the shattering collapses of societal structures once the alignment between Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus becomes activated. Like any period of breakdown involving Uranus, however, the increased volatility also means that important breakthroughs will also be possible.
I’ve long found meaning in the way Dane Rudhyar described the relationships between Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. Rudhyar viewed Jupiter as the soulful function of our purpose within the form of our Saturn structure, as Jupiter receives, manages, and initiates within the boundaries of Saturn. Rudhyar described Jupiter as helping us to integrate what the external world has to offer that will contribute to our inner structure, just as Jupiter needs the protective structure of Saturn in order to operate from within. As a result, while Jupiter expands us, the contraction of Saturn in response tends to keep our growth confined to the current framework that for most has been heavily conditioned by surrounding culture.
In Uranus – Master of Transformations Dane Rudhyar described how Uranus can radically change the structures of Saturn, unlike Jupiter which modifies within the structures of Saturn. Rudhyar wrote that Uranus “pierces through” the walls of Saturn, allowing our consciousness within the shells of Saturn to “behold vistas of the beyond,” creating “channels through which the ‘flashes of intuition,’ the ‘inspiration of genius,’ may suddenly reveal themselves.” As a result, the shattering impact of Uranus can give Jupiter space to expand our sense of meaning and vision beyond the former constraints of Saturn. As Rudhyar imagined, “where the walls of consciousness are strong, the Jupiterian urge opens the gates, that caravans loaded with Uranian gifts from the farther lands may enter.” Yet the influence of Saturn is still needed to structure and manifest these far-flung insights into forms that can be understood and utilized by those surrounding us in our collective cultures.
Thus the sudden leaps of illumination and inspiration that Jupiter and Uranus constellate can break us free from the conditioning of culture that have repressed or limited our capacity to embody our essential purpose and potential. Yet the breakthroughs of Jupiter and Uranus can be extremely disruptive to the ways we have formed our security and identity around the attachments that their lightning strikes dislodge. There can be potential to dissociate or split off our awakened potential rather than find ways to begin integrating it into our life, risking the volatility to present forms of stability that integration will incite. If we choose to accept the awakening, we must realize and embrace a more expansive whole that holds within it our radically shifting perceptions, experimenting with how to live from our fresh emergence rather than remain in the old status quo. Rather than live from the side of Saturn that conforms to group dynamics for security, we need to work with Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus in ways that allow us to shed whatever we have built up over time that no longer authentically aligns with us.
However, the integration possible on personal levels will much more difficult to achieve on societal levels. Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche described periods of Saturn and Uranus as involving “the exacerbation of tensions between authority and rebellion, order and freedom, structure and change” as well as “repressive revolution,” “erratically unpredictable authority,” “sudden collapse of structures,” and “grim awakenings.” André Barbault in Planetary Cycles: Mundane Astrology described the Saturn Uranus cycle as inciting “a thirst for conquest, extremist aspirations, ventures that go to the limits, authoritarian power” among other themes when they conjoin and initiate a new cycle. Breaking down their forty-five or so year cycle, Barbault defined their 1805-52 cycle as being about territorialism and the United States, their 1852-97 cycle involving the movement “from capitalism to imperialism,” their 1897-1942 cycle involving the movement “from imperialism to fascism,” their 1942-88 cycle involving “the Americanization of the world,” and their present cycle from 1988 to 2032 involving “globalization.”
The current Saturn Uranus cycle began in 1988 at the end of Sagittarius, with Saturn and Uranus forming conjunctions on February 13 at 29º55′, June 26 at 28º47′, and October 18 at 27º49′ Sagittarius. At the beginning of the new cycle between Saturn and Uranus the Cold War came to an end, the Soviet Union was torn apart, and the Berlin Wall came down, with the demolition of the Berlin Wall completed in November 1991 with Saturn in Aquarius. The meaning of the United States emerging as the world superpower at the beginning of the present Saturn Uranus cycle was clear to Barbault:
“The US became the only world superpower. Its authority was omnipresent and it had a decisive weight in international life until this unilateralism is contested. There is no doubt that American imperialism has reached the summit of its historic superiority with this present cycle 1988 – 2032. Neo-capitalism, hand in hand with the technological revolution, brought about by computer science and crowned by the advent of the Internet.”
— André Barbault in Planetary Cycles: Mundane Astrology
Notably, there were significant economic crises and disruptions during the waning square aspect between Saturn and Uranus in their previous two cycles. The years 1930 to 1931 brought the Great Depression and economic instability around the world, while the years that Saturn formed a waning square with Uranus from 1975 to 1976 brought inflation and stalled economic growth. Oftentimes the waning square between Saturn and Uranus brings challenges and tests emanating from the tension of their opposition- in the present cycle, this involved a long sequence of four oppositions from November 2008 into the beginning of 2010, a time period often described as the Great Recession.
The years surrounding 2010 are especially important to consider, as there was not only an opposition between Saturn and Uranus but also an opposition between Saturn and Jupiter as well as a conjunction between Jupiter and Uranus. Relative to the environmental and economic issues related to the era of earth we are leaving, both the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico occurred during this time. Within these years the present cycle between Jupiter and Uranus began, with the first conjunction at 0°18′ Aries on 8 June 2010, the second conjunction at 28°43′ Pisces on 19 September 2010, and their third conjunction at 27°02′ Pisces on 4 January 2011.
The waning square phases between Jupiter and Saturn with Uranus we are entering in 2021 involves the beginning of the decomposition of the previous cycles, a time in which we must question and confront the societal beliefs and structures we have developed, reorienting toward what needs to be released and what needs to be built to address whatever the present collective crises expose as no longer working. There will be a need for courage, for drawing from the depths of inner reservoirs in order to mediate the numerous polarized conflicts erupting that involve large collective forces careening seemingly out of control. When focusing on our personal lives and those we can impact on an individual level, however, the immense shifts signified by the alignments between Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus stress the importance of claiming your inner authority to productively change the elements of your life you are able to manage. Community and nurturing mutually supportive relationships will be vital, as will be the need to construct flexible networks of support that can reach out to those in need.
The study of past triplicity cycles reveals that empires tend to fall during the transition from earth to air, with an influx of new communication networks that redistribute resources arriving in a climate of instability during which empires of consolidated material security are broken up (the conquests of Alexander the Great, the fall of the Roman empire, and the conquests of Genghis Khan are some past examples of the transition to the air era). As a result, the volatile aspects between Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus that will shape 2021 will be part of a much larger sweep of change around the world. If interested in researching past triplicity eras, it’s important to realize that there is a major difference in defining triplicity eras depending upon whether or not you are using the apparent conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the visible sky that I have been writing about in this article, versus whether you are using their “mean” conjunction cycle based upon the average length of each planetary cycle (click here for an article by Benjamin Dykes on this). Tracking the mean cycle is what gives an orderly succession of eras, whereas tracking the visible conjunctions gives a disordered succession.
Thus although the first visible conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn in tropical air signs occurred in 1980 and 1981, the first mean conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn was in Gemini on November 4, 2000. As a result, in 1980 and 1981 there was a foreshadowing of the new air era that also involved Jupiter and Saturn ending cycles with Pluto similar to how they did so again in 2020. The difference is that Jupiter and Saturn formed their conjunction first in the beginning of the 1980s, with Jupiter then beginning a new cycle with Pluto in Libra in 1981 followed by Saturn beginning a new cycle with Pluto in Libra in 1982. There is therefore a compelling link between the transition to the air era with Pluto, as in 2020 we experienced the beginning of the new cycle between Saturn and Pluto in January followed by Jupiter beginning a new cycle with Pluto before finally coming together with Saturn. Moreover, the first mean conjunction in Gemini in 2000 aligned with the true locations of Jupiter opposing Pluto and Saturn being within fifteen degrees of its opposition with Pluto.
There are horrific aspects of death and oppression that constellate when Saturn and Pluto align, yet the constructive side of their unions bring opportunities to explore one’s shadow amidst the exposure of societal toxicity. Within the decomposition brought by Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto coming together during 2020 we have had opportunities to discover vital aspects of ourselves to resurrect that had been buried. Though the union of Jupiter and Saturn does not mean we are entering the Age of Aquarius as defined by the precession of the equinoxes, there is a Plutonic link between the period we are in with the ideas that C.G. Jung developed about navigating the transition between the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius. In The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus: Daimons, Gods, and the Planetary Journey, Liz Greene wrote that Jung felt that “the Saturn-ruled Aion of Aquarius . . . would initially be a true nigredo within the collective psyche as human beings faced the profound and necessary confrontation with the problem of their own evil.”
We can use astrological symbolism to conjecture that the era of air will open a multitude of new perspectives, ideals, and worlds, and that the collective movement will be more flexible, elevated, and expansive than the era of earth rooted in more solid, heavy, durable, and stable matters. Yet the gravity of the moment, the collective burden of resources being so unequally distributed, the excessive wealth and power controlled by a scant minority, the overconsumption of natural resources by humans, and many other earthly concerns will all be more important than ever. From the vastly larger perspective of time opened by considering triplicity eras, it’s even more clear that everything we do this year matters. Our actions now are not only about what this transition means for us, but also for what it will mean for our ancestors who follow us and will look back upon us as their ancestral source.
As we are the ones responsible for what happens at the beginning of this massive transition, we will not be able to know the full implications of how our actions will reverberate across the next two centuries. We can know that the way we form relationship with the soul of the world around us matters, as will the way we form community with the humans and other-than-humans in our interconnected environments.
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