“May you live in interesting times.”—Traditional Chinese Proverb/Curse
As an astrologer, it’s not surprising that I’ve fielded a lot of questions in recent months about my astrological perspective on the events of 2020 and the unprecedented times we now find ourselves living through, with the crushing confluence of the COVID19 pandemic, the BLM protests, the widespread social unrest and our increasingly polarized political climate.
Like many astrologers, I’d been eyeing the approach of 2020 with some trepidation, as this year was set to bear witness to some significant planetary configurations that have historically portended dark and challenging times—namely, the cyclical conjunction of Saturn and Pluto, which occurs every 30-40 years.
The planets Saturn and Pluto are considered “The Heavies” of the zodiac, and their cyclical alignments have historically been linked with war, famine, terrorism and disease. In fact, the last conjunction of Pluto and Saturn was in 1982, which corresponded with the beginning of the AIDS crisis. At that time Pluto was about to enter Scorpio—the sign of sex and death. And in 2001, Saturn and Pluto were in opposition—another challenging aspect—at the exact same time as the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Pluto was then in Sagittarius, which is the sign of (among other things) fanatical religious ideas.
In 2020, Pluto is in the sign Capricorn, which symbolizes the very structure of society itself. It rules all large-scale systems—political systems, medical systems, financial systems. Pluto actually entered Capricorn in 2008—exactly concurrent with the beginning of the financial crisis. This really set the stage for the current crisis we find ourselves in today.
Saturn then entered into Capricorn in late-2017. Saturn actually rules Capricorn and thus shares many of its archetypal characteristics, including a penchant for conservatism, a reactionary impulse to return to traditional values and tendency towards heavy-handed law & order authoritarianism—all things that have been on the rise worldwide over the last few years. But it wasn’t until January of 2020 when Saturn came around and conjoined Pluto when the situation turned bleak.
So essentially, we are dealing with this constellation of these three archetypal complexes: Saturn, Pluto and Capricorn. Now in order to explain what I mean by a “constellation of archetypal complexes,” I’ve created some visuals to help illustrate what we’re talking about here.
So here we have a visual representation of these 3 archetypal complexes: Saturn, Pluto and Capricorn. Let’s start by taking a closer look at the planet Saturn. If we consider Saturn as an archetypal complex, we can see all of the qualities associated with it.
Saturn is known as the Lord of Karma, Father Time and the ultimate task-master. Saturn is indeed the “get ‘er done” planet. It’s the great builder of the zodiac, it needs to work, to create structure, and define limits and boundaries. It is only comfortable with material reality.
Saturn likes to act as the authority, it is the planet of law & order and of judgement. It implies a sense of gravitas, of maturity and real value. It’s truly old school, preferring tradition over the new and unproven.
This makes Saturn very practical and frugal. It’s disciplined and conservative. It’s process-oriented and very patient. Saturn can play the long game.
But Saturn can also be very insecure, and carries with it a sense of guilt. It is the planet of depression and sadness, often showing us its dark, heavy and oppressive side. It can indicate pain and hardship, defeat and failure. In always seeking the hard truth it often exposes our deepest flaws, which can be quite sobering, leading to a sense of disappointment and despair.
Saturn is the bottom-line, buck-stops-here archetype, which is why it is often associated with endings, including the ultimate ending—death.
So we can see how Saturn is indeed one of the heavies of the zodiac. And perhaps the only planet heavier is actually Pluto. Which is why the tone and tenor of the current times is so heavy. Saturn is merging its heavy depressing energy with Pluto’s dark and destructive energy.
Now if we take a closer look at Pluto as an archetypal complex, we see that Pluto is the planet of power. But it’s a very dark, aggressive and instinctual kind of power. It’s compulsive, it’s unconscious and it can be extreme and destructive. At its core, Pluto symbolizes the energy of transmutation–it feels compelled to transform everything it touches. It represents the evolutionary urge to instigate any necessary changes for growth and development, which is why it is associated with the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
So when we consider the merging of these two heavy-duty archetypes—Saturn and Pluto—we begin to understand why their cyclical conjunctions often portend such times of crisis as the one we are currently experiencing.
Now when 2020 began with the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in January, there was already another archetypal factor emerging on the scene. That’s because the planet Jupiter is also moving through Capricorn this year. So now we must add a 3rd planetary archetype to the mix.
Jupiter’s archetypal complex stands in sharp contrast to that of Saturn. In fact, Jupiter is in many ways the polar opposite of Saturn. Where Saturn seeks to restrict and compress, Jupiter seeks to expand and grow. Where Saturn is pessimistic, Jupiter is the ultimate optimist. Where Saturn is judgemental, Jupiter is tolerant and forgiving.
But like all the archetypes, Jupiter has it’s negative or shadow side. It can be overindulgent, wasteful, fanatical—-taking things to excess.
But in general, Jupiter expands and enlivens everything it touches. So when it meets up with Pluto’s dark and volcanic energy, things can go both ways. Pluto might utilize Jupiter’s expansive potential to bring about the big sweeping changes it sees as necessary for evolution. On the other hand, Jupiter’s over exuberance might serve to feed Pluto’s compulsive and violent urges, causing widespread violence and upheaval.
If we examine the period during which Jupiter was moving into conjunction with Pluto, from mid-February until the exact conjunction in April, we see this as the time that coronavirus was spreading like wildfire across the globe. This was no longer a Chinese or Asian problem: it was global. Hence, we see the influence of Jupiter spreading and growing the Plutonian epidemic.
So the merging of Jupiter and Pluto energies is also key to the astrology of 2020. And unlike Saturn, which will make only one “direct hit” with Pluto in this cycle, Jupiter will conjunct Pluto three times this year. It happened again on June 29th. And it seems to be coinciding with another increase in COVID cases after the perhaps premature optimism (Jupiter) of opening up local economies too soon. Time will tell, but it is likely that Jupiter’s dance with Pluto over the next few months will see big swings in the number of reported cases and likely deaths from COVID19. Jupiter will make its final conjunction with Pluto on November 12, right around the time of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections. Huge (Jupiter) catastrophe (Pluto)? Stay tuned.
We can also consider how Jupiter is functioning within the qualities of Capricorn. Think of how much the role of government agencies and the health care systems (Capricorn) had been expanded (Juptier) during the COVID19 crisis. Also consider the massive swelling (Jupiter) of the nation’s debt (Saturn/Capricorn) which could have disastrous (Pluto) economic consequences down the road.
So, when we can get this bird’s eye view on this constellation of archetypes that are operational during this unprecedented year of 2020, we can see how such an astrological perspective can be helpful in understanding and assessing the unfolding situation, and also get some perspective on the bigger picture.
It’s a rare occurrence when all three of these planets are in such a powerful alignment. But this is the cyclical nature of history, periodically testing humanity to respond to the call of duty (Saturn), to expand (Jupiter) beyond our petty differences and collectively transform (Pluto) our society (Capricorn) to create a better and brighter future (Jupiter). Failure to answer the call could lead to a total destruction (Pluto) of the entire fabric of our society (Saturn/Capricorn). It all depends upon which sides of these archetypes we collectively choose to embrace.
I’m reminded of the ancient Chinese proverb/curse: “May you live in interesting times.”