The Conjunction Cycle of Saturn and Pluto
If you can understand the meaning of planetary cycles, then you can understand the unfolding of history. From the monthly revolution of the Moon around the Earth, and the Earth’s yearly orbit of the Sun, to the combined cycles of the outer planets in relation to each other, each cycle reflects a precise idea or gestalt, which it brings into being. Each cycle has a unique meaning. Some cycles have a repetitive quality. For example, Pluto and Neptune conjoin every 492 years, always (in recent millennia) in Gemini. Neptune and Uranus, which conjoin every 172 years, conjoin about twice in the same sign, then twice in the next sign, so the last conjunction in 1993 was in late Capricorn, and the conjunction before that in 1821 was in early Capricorn. Saturn and Jupiter conjoin every twenty years, but these conjunctions repeat as a series in the same element every 800 years. A conjunction cycle in the Air element begins in December 2020 and will last 200 years.
Other cycles march through different signs of the zodiac, which gives them a specific meaning-variation each time. The Saturn/Pluto cycle has this quality, and historically it has taken place in Libra (1982), Leo (1947) and Cancer (1914). Because Pluto has an exceeding eccentric orbit, the conjunctions take place at rather irregular intervals – the next one is in 2020 in Capricorn.
Construction and Destruction
Whilst Saturn reflects structures in society, Pluto has its roots back to the beginning of time when energy was transformed into matter. Pluto stores the primordial energy of light in matter, which is why, when Pluto’s power is liberated, so much energy is released. Pluto was discovered in 1929 when Man learned to split the atom, and the principle of the atomic bomb is rooted in this discovery. Saturn and Pluto are diametrically opposing principles, because one seeks to construct and store energy and the other to deconstruct and release energy. That is why the Saturn/Pluto cycle is linked to the creation and destruction of nations and societies.
Birth and Death of States
The Thirty Years’ War in Europe started and ended with a Saturn/Pluto conjunction, the first in Taurus in 1618 and the last in Gemini in 1648. This period shook up all major nation states in Europe. The clearest recent historical expression of the conjunction phase of this cycle was the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, when the conjunction was in Leo. After the holocaust, Jewish survivors joined Zionist pioneers in Palestine and carved out their own state, which immediately resulted in war with Arab states. In the creation of Israel all the elements of Saturn/Pluto are represented – the roots going back to biblical times, the destruction of their people, and the resurrection of their nation.
India and Pakistan came into existence as separate states under this conjunction, which was precisely at 13 degrees Leo in August 1947 when they gained independence. The conjunction was still dominant as China struggled to establish itself as a Communist state in a period of civil war after World War II. The essence of this planetary combination is to eliminate outdated political structures – like colonial India for example – and replace them with new, which are born after great struggles. One to two million people died under the India-Pakistan partition and many more millions died in the Chinese civil war.
The Opposition Phase
Whilst the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto represents difficult births, the different phases of the whole cycle show similarly disruptive events, during which authority is challenged by the destruction of a key element in society. For example, at the time of the Saturn-Pluto opposition in 1898, the Spanish-American war was triggered by the destruction of the battleship Maine (Note 1) in Havana harbor, Cuba, with the loss of about 300 American sailors. Nobody really knew the cause of this explosion, but it resulted in a declaration of war against Spain, which completely ended the status of Spain as a colonial power, and considerably increased the worldwide reach of the United States.
The opposition in 1898 took place with Saturn at 11 Sagittarius and Pluto at 12 Gemini, exactly on the Ascendant/Descendant of the USA. 102 years later – on September 11, 2001 – the opposition had reversed itself with Pluto at 12 Sagittarius and Saturn at 14 Gemini. The iconic destruction of the World Trade Center at this time shook the foundations of American power, evoking an atmosphere of anxiety and a diffuse war on terror, which has since been part of a destabilizing process in the Middle East. (Note 2)
Currently the Saturn-Pluto cycle lasts about 37 years, and the most noticeable phases of the cycle are the conjunction, outgoing square, opposition and incoming square. The last square was from 2009-2010 at about 4 Libra-Capricorn which, apart from coinciding with the Haiti earthquake, was the period when revelations about the Greek economy began to destabilize the EU. The Saturn-Pluto square of 1993 coincided with the break-up of Yugoslavia with subsequent ethnic cleansing and the creation of new Balkan countries.
Effect in Personal Horoscope
If you have Pluto-Saturn aspects in your own chart, you will almost certainly be caught up in the social consequences of the aftermath of these aspects. The Leo conjunction in 1947 was famous for new theories of training and discipline for children, with all the conflict with authorities that subsequently ensued. The conjunction of Saturn-Pluto in the last degrees of Libra in 1982-1983 – which was the time when Pershing missiles in the West were arrayed against SS20 Soviet missiles in Eastern Europe in the last gasps of the cold war – is almost certainly a time when changing relationship structures affected the upbringing of many children. Saturn-Pluto invariably brings confrontation with authoritarian ideologies, evoking in the child a special ability to deal with power issues. Anyone with hard variations of this aspects will feel periods of powerlessness against some kind of faceless authority.
The 2020 Conjunction
After 1914, 1947 and 1982 the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto is about to take place once again, and this time it happens in January 2020 at 22 degrees Capricorn. The conjunction happens only once but in many ways it is a triple conjunction of Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn with an intense focus on 20 – 25 degrees Capricorn which is particularly intense until the end of 2020. This is a very rare occurrence, because, seen from another point of view, the Great Air Mutation of Jupiter and Saturn at 0 degrees Aquarius in December of that year is going to be conjoining Pluto. Bearing this in mind there are historic upheavals on the way, similar to but perhaps stronger than the earlier conjunctions in the 20th century. So where will these upheavals take place?
One obvious process is the detachment of the United Kingdom from the EU. Scotland could also have a referendum and break away from the Union. When England and Scotland were politically joined at 0.00 on 11th May 1707, Mars was at 20 Cancer (square Neptune 22 Aries) so there could be disruption as Pluto opposes this point, followed by Saturn then Jupiter. It is interesting to see that the progressed Sun for this chart enters 0 Aries in 2020, soon to be followed by the progressed Moon, which is obviously suggestive of independence, There could also be trouble in Northern Ireland, whose EU border with the South would have to be re-established, which is not going to be popular with northern Catholics, and here too there could be disruption. At the separation of Southern Ireland from Britain on 7th December 1922 at 15.28 the Moon was at 23 Cancer, so popular disturbances are again a possibility.
It is also possible that the rise in populism in Europe could destabilize the European Union so much that it disintegrated, but perhaps it was the UK referendum in June 2016 that was the biggest shock for Europe. It is equally likely that it closes ranks and consolidates, because the horoscope for Europe – The Single European Act at 0.00 hrs. on 1st November 1993 in Brussels – is an incredibly robust horoscope with the Moon in Taurus exactly opposing Mars/Pluto in Scorpio. It doesn’t get stronger than that. At Brexit the MC/IC axis conjoined this opposition, and that was when the real trauma came.
The Arab World
Saudi Arabia may not be so lucky. There are two sensitive horoscopes for this country and it is worth looking at the first, which shows the unifying of the country with the capture of Riyadh:
Saudi Arabia: Jan 15 1902 3.45 Riyadh (AS 10.40 SG)
With Saturn at 19 Capricorn and the Sun and Jupiter 23 and 24 degrees respectively, this will be a Saturn return for the country. In fact the formal declaration of independence for Saudi Arabia was on 23rd September 1932 (at 9.23 in Riyadh) when there was a Saturn/Pluto opposition at 28 Capricorn and 23 Cancer respectively, so this chart too is activated. It seems likely that the monarchy will collapse at this time (Sun) and that the Saudi role as guardian of Islam will change. The Kaaba Stone itself (Saturn/Jupiter in Capricorn?) which all Muslims are supposed to visit in Mecca once in a lifetime may be affected. Saudi supremacy will probably change forever at this time, and the land is likely to be consumed by popular discontent over the next three years as transiting Neptune conjoins the Moon at 25 Pisces.
The Pluto Return for the United States
Russia may well handle the 2020 conjunctions without too much upheaval – their time will come in 2024 – 2025 with the Saturn/Neptune conjunction at 0 Aries. However, the USA is not going to be so fortunate.
USA (Sibley chart) July 4, 1776 17.11 Philadelphia (AS 12.21 SG)
2020 is the year of a Pluto return, and the triple conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto activates USA’s Pluto at 27 Capricorn opposing Mercury at 24 Cancer, which is perhaps the most secretive part of this country’s horoscope, representing dark money, faceless corporations and the national bent for conspiracy theories. President Trump himself has Saturn at 23 Cancer and Venus at 25 Cancer, and his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner has the Sun at 20 Capricorn and Mercury at 26, both square Pluto at 24 Libra. His chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, has the nodal axis at 25 Capricorn/Cancer conjoining Uranus and square Neptune. In other words the main advisors to Trump all have planetary combinations which key in to the secretive aspect of the US chart and which will be profoundly affected by the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, which is going to make the next US election on November 3rd, 2020 very interesting indeed. It is almost certain that an atmosphere of paranoia will be whipped up at this time.
It does seem likely that the Pluto return in USA’s horoscope will mark a major economic restructuring, and that a lot of financial scandals will be unearthed at this time. Huge economic interests will be in play, but as major new cycles in time begin at this time, this could be the beginning of a new era, and many capitalist structures could be demolished. It is very likely that the Trump administration is a lightning rod for the destabilizing influences which will turn US political life upside down. As a result, financial edifices will fall and government influences will change altogether.
Before the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in Aquarius takes place government will get more autocratic and repressive, with strongly ideological laws oppressing democracy. Government will use the anxiety evoked by the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn with Pluto to increase surveillance and control. In 2021 and onwards, there will be new social forces in play, but like nothing we have seen before. Social media will of course use their power to mobilize, but opposing realities will clash, as people choose the news that suits their psychological make-up. People power will replace bankrupted governments, and it will take some getting used to.
Adrian Duncan 15th March 2017.
1. Destruction on battleship Maine: 15 Feb 1898 at 21.40 Havana. (AS 19.23 LI)
2. Destruction of World Trade Center: 11 Sep 2001 at 8.48 New York (AS 14.48 LI)