Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli

The upcoming Saturn-Pluto conjunction is a rare and significant event. Starting at around Christmas of 2018, the conjunction will unfold itself throughout the year of 2019, culminating on January 12, 2020. Could it act as broad “Saturn return” for our economical and political system?

Everybody loves New Moons and Full Moons! Why so?

We often get excited about relatively short-term events, like aspects between fast moving planets — by the way, the New and Full Moon are if fact just that, exact aspects of the Moon’s conjunction and opposition with the Sun.

Short-term aspects produce quick events that readily reflect in human psychology — they make us happy, angry, sad, violent or romantic and in love. The very fabric of the Shakespearean drama comes out of those ever-repeating ebbs and flows.

The upcoming Saturn-Pluto conjunction will slowly and grindingly unfold itself throughout the whole of 2019 and will culminate on January 12, 2020. That is a very different kind of astral dynamics. This story will attempt to explore what it may mean in a broader context, especially taking into account recent economical developments and fluctuations within the stock market.

Big cycles bring big changes

Long-term aspects develop slowly and often go relatively unnoticed due to their very broad influence that spans years or decades. Those periods in time — that are rare and seemingly act mostly in a background — often coincide with significant shifts in the society, economy and politics.

Observing macro cycles is generally more difficult and requires an extra amount of patience and perhaps somewhat of an analytical mindset that doesn’t rush to immediate conclusions.

A trained astrologer doesn’t always look for “here and now” aspects, such an astrologer would also analyse the broad historical context and notice how the slower aspects impact the bigger picture. It’s certainly a very different view on the nature of time and the evolution of humanity that is moving through large circles in a spiralling manner.

Having said that, an easier segue would be to briefly touch the topic of Saturn returns and what they mean for an individual human being.

Saturn as a debt collector — an individual perspective

You have certainly heard of the term “Saturn return” that describes a moment in time when Saturns returns to its original position, for example, a position at the moment of your birth. Saturn return is often seen as a debt collector, an astral taxman.

Saturn return marks an end of an approximately 29.5 year cycle and most individuals in this era usually experience two Saturn return, the first one marks the completion of youth and entering the mature phase of life. The second, that happens at around 60 years old, marks the end of active period of life and a move into… well, either a period of “wise” Saturn or dry and rigid Saturn.

Ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles
Wise Saturn was traditionally depicted as an older man with white beard and philosophical inclinations.

Ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles is known for his theory of the four classical elements. He was also a vegetarian and supported the idea of reincarnation.

The point here is that Saturn acts as a universal mechanism that:

  1. Assesses the “work done” during the previous cycle.
  2. If the lessons of that period have been learned and the person is ready to move on, then the person is ready for the more advanced next cycle.
  3. If the person has been repeating same behavioural patterns and effectively got stuck without being able to resolve them, that person isn’t likely to be ready for a next cycle which would otherwise bring unsurmountable challenges. Thus the person is directed to repeat the cycle again and hopefully learn the lessons.

One may conclude that Saturn, in its essence, is actually wise — it acts as a gateway keeper and a cosmic filter and separator.

Saturn-Pluto archetype

Usually when one refers to a planetary return in the context of a personal chart, they mean the return of the planet to its original natal position (the birth moment). Similarly, a return to a conjunction with another planet is a kind of return in its own right — the planet completes its cycle of “relationship” with another planet.

Saturn-Pluto conjunction is not easy to grasp. Pluto is hidden and deeply underground. Saturn relates to time, structure, limits and therefore matter. Saturn is not neccesarily heavy and rigid, it can be as beautiful as the music of Bach.

When combined with Pluto, Saturn energies become super-dense. The filtering aspect of Saturn becomes even more demanding and discerning. This is the time when anything false is likely to get forcefully deconstructed. Pluto resonates with all things absolute, either absolute light or absolute darkness.

Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli an Italian mathematician and an early contributor to accounting
Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli was an Italian mathematician and an early contributor to accounting.

He is often attributed with the invention of the double entry accounting, the standard system of modern precise accounting.

Saturn-Pluto conjunction presents an active challenge to all structures that have been erected during the period that began at the previous conjunction. Saturn-Pluto tests everything for strength and resilience. It shakes things pretty much as an earthquake “tests” buildings of a city. Resilient structures pass, houses of cards don’t.

Lessons from the previous conjunction of 1982

Previous Saturn-Pluto conjunction happened about 38 years ago and lasted for almost two years.

Conjunction Dates Tropical Declinations Parallel
Start Oct 24, 1981 Libra    
Exact Nov 8, 1982 Libra 27° Sat 13S 02’, Plu 3N 40’ None
End Dec 2, 1983 Scorpio    

This period overlaps with a short but severe recession that hit the US between July 1981 and ended in November 1982. The recession has happened about one year into Ronald Reagan’s presidency and thus has been traditionally referred to as the “Reagan recession”.

On October 18, 1981, President Ronald Reagan stated that the economy was in a “slight recession”. In fact, that date nicely matches with October 24 that marked the beginning of Saturn-Pluto conjunction.

Throughout the Reagan recession, the financial industry took a big hit and the FDIC spent in excess of $5 billion bailing out failed banks that were deemed “too big to fail”.

The prime interest rate skyrocketed to 21.5% in June 1982. For comparison, as of December 2018, the rate is 5.5% in the United States.

The peak of the recession happened during November – December 1982 — notice that it also neatly overlaps with exact Saturn-Pluto conjunction on November 8, 1982. The unemployment rate reached 10.8% which was the highest rate since 1930s and the Great Depression.

Even after the recession had been officially reversed, the longer term unemployment rates continued to batter the US and the UK economies.

What is so special about Saturn-Pluto conjunction of 2020 ?

The previous conjunction unfolded through Libra and moved into Scorpio, traditionally ruled by Pluto. The current conjunction that begins around the end of December (if using 10° orb, or slightly later for smaller orbs) is taking place mostly in Capricorn, a Saturnian sign.

Conjunction Dates Tropical Declinations Parallel
Start Dec 22, 2018 Capricorn    
Exact Jan 12, 2020 Capricorn 23° Sat 21S 28’, Plu 22S 10’ 0.70° orb
End Jan 31, 2021 Aquarius & Capricorn    

The fact that Saturn and Pluto are not only conjunct but also parallel with a 0.70° orb at the time of the exact conjunction, means an extra strong conjunction. Remember, parallels act as mini-conjunctions, contra-parallels act as a mini-oppositions.

On Jan 12, 2020, Saturn and Pluto will be at visual distance of less that your thumb as seen when an arm is outstretched towards the sky. That’s very close!

Economical and political impact

It’s obviously hard to predict what will happen this time, if anything — the end of the cycle may wrap up relatively smooth provided sound adjustments have been made and we have arrived to this point well prepared. Remember, any kind of Saturn return isn’t about punishment, it’s about assessment.

If a shakeup will happen though, one may intuit that having both planets in the Saturnian sign of Capricorn could result in a breakup at the level of structures. Meaning that simple redistribution won’t be sufficient as the organisational and governmental institutions need to undergo a more serious revision if they wish to remain relevant.

The economical situation obviously comes to mind as a possible candidate to be tested by this conjunction. We all know that while unemployment is reportedly low (at least on paper) and the economy growth numbers are generally very good:

  • the amount of debt that has been piled up is rather unhealthy;
  • over-investment in emerging disruptive technology sectors may result in a start-up bust where returns on massive investments are equally uncertain;
  • erosion of traditional values of permanent employment and stability of family affects ever larger proportion of the population.

The recent instability of the stock market is one of the ongoing symptoms of deeper systemic problems that the society will have to tackle in order to evolve. Saturn is the ruler of systems, by the way.

God the geometer
Famous “God the geometer”, the frontispiece of Bible moralisée, depicts the Creator of All Systems in the Universe.

The Creator is also an active force of rebalancing that cuts down unneeded excesses to unsure balance and prosperity of its creation.

Is it always gloom and doom?

It certainly doesn’t have to be this way. Astrology doesn’t work like a clockwork and doesn’t follow fixed prescriptive rules of “if-then-therefore” predictions. Sometimes events align with the planetary configuration, other times they don’t. This article essentially raises the question of probability of an event that is dependent on the previous actions of humans that either exaggerate or mitigate the risks. It’s the domain of Saturn to deal with “previous actions”, aka karma.

The next installment: Saturn-Pluto conjunction as a global karmic event

The next Saturn-Pluto conjunction story titled “The timeline of Saturn – Pluto conjunction of years 2019–2020–2021 and its karmic meaning” looks further into the nature of this conjunction and draws some interesting historical parallels to the events of the last 100+ years. Read on…

Astrological chart explorer

How to discover long-term aspects using Time Nomad

Learn how to discover the timing of Saturn – Pluto conjunction using the Chart Event Explorer tool that is an integral part of Time Nomad astrological app.

Chart Event Explorer allows to instantly reveal and explore nearly any astrological event:

  • Planetary aspects and transits
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  • Personal Lunar or Solar returns
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  • Equinoxes and solstices
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  • Aspects to fixed stars