In the previous installment, I discussed the Saturn-Pluto cycle in general and looked at the previous such conjunction in Capricorn: the conjunction of 549 CE associated with the Plague of Justinian that spread through Europe, even as far as the British Isles, during that period. That example should alert us to some possible ramifications of the present conjunction, again in Capricorn, for Capricorn has much to do with hierarchies, particularly of the governmental sort. And, as we have seen, Pluto rules viruses and other rapidly mutating organisms that can cause disease in humans. The 549 AD conjunction had much to do with the dissolving of the remains of the Roman Empire, certainly the weakening of it. As I said in previous installments, William H. McNeil has detailed (in Plagues and Peoples) the influence of microparasites on the well-being and sustainability of human societies, particularly when we join our understanding of microparasites with and understanding of their varied interrelationships with macroparasites such as armies of conquest and, indeed, many long-standing social hierarchies in which elite groups have a parasitic relationship with much larger non-elite groups. In this installment, we will look at the most recent Saturn-Pluto conjunction.

As I said before, transiting (TR) Saturn conjoined (TR) Pluto conjoined on January 12, 2020. Let’s look at some particulars related to that event:

A. The conjunction took place in Capricorn.
B.  More specifically, it took place in the 23rd degree (22+) of Capricorn.
C. Saturn will move – and has, as I write this, already moved, though he will return to Capricorn for a bit before returning – into Aquarius.


A. That the conjunction took place in Capricorn suggests, among other possibilities, that Saturnian elements can influence Plutonic ones, at least for a while. According to astrological tradition, Saturn rules both Capricorn and Aquarius, two signs having much to do with public life. Thus we would expect Saturn to have great influence in this conjunction, though the example of 549 CE surely suggests that Pluto, the outermost planet of the pair, will eventually have his or her say.[1] At first, status quo forces will attempt to control the virus and/or the death-rebirth pattern; after all, TR Saturn rules Capricorn. Watch for government forces to further their restrictive purposes.[2] However, though the current aspect can certainly suggest an empowerment (Pluto) of status quo arrangements (Capricorn), it can also suggest a necessary transformation (Pluto) of hierarchies (Saturn and Capricorn), quite possibly forcing those hierarchies to go through metaphorical or literal death-and-rebirth processes. This remark has particular relevance for hegemonic situations.

All of this sounds dire, and I see it as such, though I hold out the possibility that those hierarchies could transform in helpful ways. We can already see signs of this more positive result, as millions of people have shown great resiliency and commitment as they took upon themselves the necessary disciplines (Saturn) to deal with the virus (Pluto), showing the possibility, in the process, of bringing about a necessary transformation. After all, as various city and state governments announced regulations of all sorts, millions of people voluntarily cooperated, bringing about the results we see, in places like New York (city and state).Though many people have died, we have also seen, despite the interference of some obdurate leaders, a transformation (Pluto) of social forms and social orderings (Saturn), though the processes remain in fledgling form at this time. Saturn-Pluto symbolizes concentrated energy that after small, sometimes hidden, germination, can bring about enormous changes, a statement that obviously applies to viruses, but that also applies to individuals as they, through a multitude of decisions that seem small in themselves, can transform situations that had seemed completely entrenched and immovable. Pluto works through chain-reactions that begin with something very small but that bring about enormous change, a statement that applies to viruses and to powers lurking in the hearts of people. Thus we see a potential transformation not only of our societies and institutions, but also of ourselves.

BTW #1: In your horoscope, look to the house in which the conjunction occurs, along with any aspects to natal planets and/or angles, to understand the effect (so to speak) of the conjunction on you.
BTW #2: If any government, whether of a city, a state, or a nation, attempts to go back to “business as usual” after the conjunction, that government will make the worst mess of things. Pluto insists on change. It sets up the conditions to make transformation possible, and it sets the process in motion with inexorable force. Saturn and Capricorn symbolize, in different ways, traditional structures – the entities that must change.

B. The conjunction took place in the 23rd degree of Capricorn, a degree that has the following for its Sabian symbol (according to Marc Edmund Jones):

Two awards for bravery in war…a symbol of man’s resourcefulness in developing new areas of experience on the practical side of life, and of his genius for dramatizing a broad-minded self-expenditure…The keyword is RECOGNITION. When positive, the degree is the social stewardship which demands a continual self-dedication, and when negative, strutting self-exploitation.   —    M.E. Jones: The Sabian Symbols in Astrology


The degree points to the need for all people, “on the practical side of life,” to act with broadmindedness, and the “when negative” part certainly will encourage many of us to think of a certain Donald Trump. “Recognition” certainly suggests that everyone (for the conjunction has world-wide relevance) must recognize the problem, seeing it accurately in order to participate in solutions. In other words, the symbol points to a demand, not just on Trump or other government officials, but on all of us, to see problems accurately and to respond with a sense of social responsibility “on the practical side of life.” That the conjunction took place in this degree suggests that the symbolism will arise in various ways throughout the phases of the current cycle. Saturn-Pluto can certainly manifest as empowered social responsibility, but it will not do so automatically.

C. After completing his sojourn in Capricorn, Saturn will move into Aquarius, where he will spend over two years. He has arrived there as I write this, but, as noted above, he will soon retrograde back into Capricorn before returning to Aquarius some months down the line.[3] Saturn rules both signs, sharing rulership in Aquarius with Uranus. Thus we find Saturn, ruler of structures and with a close connection to status-quo realities whether considered as idea-structures of quasi-cemented social structures, in a position of strength.

Aquarius has to do with groups, with one-to-many relationships of various kinds, particularly in the public sphere. We can expect some restriction on such social dynamic, and though we can also expect some release of pressure after Saturn turns retrograde in May and returns to Capricorn, he will return to Aquarius later in the year, suggesting a return of the social restrictions we have witnessed with his initial foray into Aquarius. (Note that Saturn’s entry into Aquarius in late March coincided with increased restrictions on such relationships.[4]) Because Saturn will spend another two-plus years in Aquarius, we should consider it a reasonable concern that authority regimes (Saturn) will demand increased restrictions on Aquarian matters (e.g. socially-defined hopes; group involvements; the need for progressive change in the way we work with groups – or, or course, countries). Saturn also has to do with useful action, so it seems that we’ll have to make our social interactions useful, not merely pleasurable.

Human beings at present apparently have a tendency to project Saturn onto authority systems and authority figures. As I have argued in at least two of my astrology books, we end up with restrictive systems of authority at least partly because so many people “negativize” Saturn: thus they relegate him to the unconscious (Saturn functioning as ruler of Tartarus, one of the underworlds) and experience him as a projection. However, recent and current events suggest that people can make conscious use of Saturn through necessary and helpful personal disciplines. In other words, we can withdraw our projections from problematic authority figures as we take on more personal responsibility.[5] Thus we can see some hope arising in the present penumbras; the hope can increase if we can all “own” our own Saturn-capacities by governing our own lives. Thus we can see ourselves as the agents of transformation, we can take responsibility (Saturn) for our relations with others and with society as a whole – and not merely in our periodic visits to voting booths. We can help to build social forms that respond to the need for the transformation (Pluto) of hierarchies; we can move from “strutting self-exploitation,” to a “social stewardship which demands a continual self-dedication.” Perhaps the viral pandemic can serve as a catalyst in this process as people see the inadequacy of governments in such matters.

A final thought: In my book on the Mayan Long Count – The Machine Stops: The Mayan Long Count Through a Western Lens – I suggested that the new Long Count (the 5125 year period that started in 2012) will find humans moving toward smaller, independent societies instead of the huge states, empires, and trans-national corporations characteristic of the previous Long Count. Among the many factors influencing viral spreads, we can certainly number globalization and nation-state rivalries. We can all probably remember our teachers telling us, in schools that developed in lockstep with capitalistic development, about the wonders of trade. Perhaps we took those statements as generally-valid truths, but many purportedly valid truths function as collective deceptions. After all, for many centuries, viruses and other disease organisms have found it convenient to travel along trade routes. Thus the spread of microparasitism; those same routes also had a close connection to macroparasitic patterns.[6]

Next: What About Les Etats Unis?


[1] Pluto seems to transcend gender-distinctions. Perhaps we should use Timothy Leary’s convenient little gender-unifying pronoun: hir.

[2] See Naomi Klein’s writings, particularly The Shock Doctrine and Disaster Capitalism.

[3] Saturn left Capricorn on March 22; he will return to Capricorn on July 1 and re-enter Aquarius on December 17.

[4] Remember, in considering this, that signs have no definite boundaries. As Saturn moved through the final degrees of Capricorn – in, say, late February and early March – we could all discern the need for restriction in these areas.

[5] Relevant reading: Stanley Milgram’s Obedience to Authority.

[6] I have borrowed these terms from William H. McNeill’s Plagues and Peoples.

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