Saturn and Pluto are quite a pair when they come conjunct or form oppositions. Of events occurring under their oppositions, people often say, “This changes everything.” The latest example was their opposition in 2001 which coincided with the attack by Islamic fundamentalists September 11, 2001, known simply as 911.
Saturn is the ultimate conservative, striving to strengthen existing structures and discipline any attempts to break old rules. Pluto reveals the hidden behind the physically obvious in our reality. That hidden contains the seed of the new and/or the agent of the end—the worn out, the no longer relevant, or the corruption that is destined to end the old. Saturn is the Great Preserver, Pluto the Great Transformer.
We need both by turns. We need Saturn’s influence to build and maintain social and economic structures that make viable societies possible. And we need Pluto’s termination of what has outlasted its usefulness, and its seed of the new. But from our human perspective, ending the old and birthing the new is often fraught with fear and turmoil, for we are creatures of habit and routine.
Their opposition is famous for breaking old thought and behavior patterns. Their opposition prior to 911 is what we now call The Sixties, which seeded changes so revolutionary, it set off cultural conflicts in the USA that have yet to be resolved, for some Americans still resist equal rights for African Americans and women, and go on trying to impose Saturnian restrictions on sexual freedoms.
Until Pluto was discovered in 1930, Saturn was symbolized as the Keeper of Time and feared as the bringer of endings, the death of whomever or whatever could not endure. With Pluto’s discovery and its orbital pattern mapped by astronomers, astrologers looked back centuries to find what types of events coincided with Pluto’s cycles and aspects. This investigation found that Pluto was—by some strange coincidence—aptly named for the god who rules the underworld, that invisible realm from which we all come into this life and into which we all disappear when we depart. Thus Pluto usurped some of Saturn’s time-keeping functions. Saturn punctuates periods of roughly 30 years; Pluto periods of roughly 250 years. When they conjoin, a new beginning and thus also ending time cycle is instigated. When they oppose, the cycle climaxes.
Pluto completes four orbits of the Sun each millennium. Saturn goes round the Sun three times a century. They come conjunct every 33.8 years, or three times a century, and form oppositions in the same rhythm.
Physically, these two planets are very different. Saturn is the second largest planet in our Solar System, Jupiter being the largest. Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun. Pluto is the most distant from the Sun and the smallest planet, smaller even than the Earth’s Moon. It’s so small that astronomers recently declared it a “Dwarf Planet.” Astrologers, being concerned with its effects and influences, do not care whether it is declared a planet or a dwarf, what matters is what we can expect, based on its past history, when it reaches certain points in its cycle.
For millennia humans have been stargazing in an attempt to predict the future, and prediction is based on past experience with what manifested under various planetary cycles and angles. Mars harmoniously aspected brought pioneering efforts; adversely aspected Mars brought conflicts. Of course even as we consider a given aspect to Mars, we must keep in mind the other planets and their aspects, for none acts alone. Our Solar System is a community, with each acting upon and being acted upon by the others.
And so it is with Saturn and Pluto: they do not interact alone but within the larger Solar System community. In 1931, Saturn in Capricorn came opposite Pluto while both were square Uranus in Aries to coincide with the great depression of that decade. In 1965, Uranus was conjunct Pluto in Virgo when Saturn in Pisces moved opposite both to bring social upheavals and cultural changes. The similarities of both periods under Saturn-Pluto oppositions were qualified by the different Zodiacal Signs they were in and the different qualifier of Uranus at both times. On 911, Saturn was in Gemini and Pluto in Sagittarius with both square the Sun in Virgo, while another telling opposition was formed by Venus in Leo and Uranus in Aquarius.
Each Saturn-Pluto opposition occurs within a unique Solar System context with the other planets arranged differently than any previous Saturn-Pluto opposition. As Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “History repeats but does not rhyme.”
Under the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 1834 President Andrew Jackson removed government funds from the Second Bank of the United States, effectively destroying the USA’s second central bank. This enraged wealthy bankers and their friends in Congress, who hauled Jackson before Congress and declared him censured. When Jackson was reelected, bankers retaliated by constricting credit, throwing the nation into the great depression of the 1840s. (Can you imagine how the fur would fly if President Barrack Obama disbanded today’s central bank, the Federal Reserve?)
Saturn has to do with economic structures and Pluto with money, debt and credit, so it’s not surprising that their oppositions impact monetary systems and the economy. Stock markets crashed following 911, much the way they crashed after Jackson’s actions in 1834. The whole economy sunk into what we now call The Great Depression under the opposition of the 1930s.
Billions of tax dollars are funneled into the pockets of contractors involved in the USA’s mighty military-industrial complex, and the opposition of 1965 rocked that Saturnian structure when massive protest marches brought the Vietnam War to an end and ended the draft, the government’s ability to force poor and middle class kids to fight future wars. Henceforth, the US military would be manned by volunteers only.
Another astrological factor that must be taken into consideration is how past Saturn-Pluto oppositions have made transit-to-natal aspects to the USA’s natal chart for July 4, 1776. When the opposition does not form difficult angles to key points in the USA’s nativity, the effects are minimal, as in 1801 and1866. But when the opposition hits those key points, dramatic changes occur.
In 1834, the opposition fell conjunct and opposite the USA’s Saturn, which squares the USA’s Sun. In 1931, the opposition was conjunct and opposite the USA’s Sun and Mercury. In 1965, it was conjunct and opposite natal Neptune square natal Mars. And in 2001, it was conjunct and opposite natal Uranus and Mars, and square natal Neptune and transiting Sun.
Since the swash of this last planetary configuration is still very much with us, let’s inspect the transit-to-natal pattern for that infamous day when Islamic attackers hijacked airliners and crashed them into the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
Notice that Transiting Saturn is midway between the USA’s Mars and Uranus, opposed by Pluto in Sagittarius, forming a T square to the Sun, which is conjunct the USA’s Neptune. While the opposition hits the USA’s war-making Mars and Uranus, T square the USA’s Neptune suggests confusion, perhaps even delusion or deception, but mixed with inspiration. Sun conjunct the USA’s Neptune spells romance but with the danger of delusion or deception indicated by the T square. Many people do not believe the official government version of how this attack unfolded, and some are convinced the government was somehow behind the attack, knew it was coming and/or was complicit in carrying it out. But with Jupiter conjunct the US Sun, an outburst of patriotic fervor swept the country, and stock markets crashed under the T square to US Neptune, and square from Jupiter to US Saturn in Libra, plus T Mars opposite the USA’s money planets Venus and Jupiter in Cancer. The American public (Moon) was caught between Uranus and Venus this day, too, indicating love sparks combined with unprecedented surprises and shocks. Let’s not forget that T Neptune was conjunct the US Pluto this day, too, and that Pluto opposes the US Mercury in the third house of business. On the day of this attack, all other airliners were grounded, and all business stopped while everyone huddled in front of TV sets to follow every tidbit of news about it. “This changes everything” was a phrase on the lips of millions that day.
And indeed it did change life in the USA. You can’t travel by airliner today without being subjected to an invasive search. Polls show that most Americans expect more such attacks. A pall of suspicion has fallen upon the country and peaceful Islamic citizens have been attacked by the simple-minded who equate individual Muslims terrorists with all Muslims everywhere.
This atmosphere of fear and distrust colors the future as we move into a long period under a Uranus-Pluto square, indicating major, long-lasting changes are in store, with the distinct possibility of another major war.
What mitigates against a third world war, however, is the new paradigm for conquest: Debt. The American Empire is built not on military conquest but on selling loans to developing countries and thus entrapping them in debt. The new centurions are not dressed in armor and waving swords, they’re dressed in three-piece suits and waving briefcases.
This does not mean there are not likely to be wars for military-industrial profit in our future. Military adventures that keep taxpayer money flowing to corporations which contract with the Pentagon have become part of the US and world economy. Real wealth is not increased by this military activity, for most of the tangible things manufactured are destroyed in wars or become obsolete. But when human beings invent a new weapon, there are those who can’t resist playing with it. Unnamed aircraft called drones have demonstrated that death and destruction can be unleashed against enemies without sending a single foot soldier into battle. Today’s most devastating warriors act far from the horrors of war, and sleep at home with wife and kids—more evidence that the most recent Saturn-Pluto opposition and concurrent attack of 911 changed even how future wars are likely to be fought, i.e., in cyberspace in concert with drones delivering bombs with supposedly pinpoint precision.
Did 911 change things beyond the USA? Let’s inspect the Saturn-Pluto opposition’s impact on India and China.
The T square formed by the Sun, Saturn and Pluto falls harmlessly within India’s nativity. No major impact is indicated. India’s Venus is caught between T Venus opposite T Uranus, and India’s Venus is part of a cluster in Leo including Sun, Saturn, Pluto and Mercury, square Jupiter in Scorpio, but how detrimental is a square from Jupiter to Venus? The Saturn Pluto opposition trines and sextitles India’s Venus. India’s prosperity has continued since 911.
The Sun-Saturn-Pluto T square of 911 hits China’s Saturn, indicating China’s economy and society were more directly impacted than India’s. However, this hard angle is softened by a trine from T Pluto the China’s Mars-Pluto conjunction in Leo, which also forms a helpful sextile to T Saturn. So, even though China’s Mars-Pluto is also opposed by T Uranus this day, the trine and sextile balance out Uranus’ full negative potential.
Both China and India have suffered sabotaging attacks from Muslim rebels and both have shown signs that “This changes everything,” but neither has been in the crosshairs of terrorists the way the USA has been, and their economies have continued to expand dramatically. In fact, the major problems experienced by both have arisen from this dramatic economic expansion, as more and more Western corporations and money have moved from West to East. Both are undergoing massive economic transformations, which in turn are changing their landscapes and infrastructures, their cultures and social routines.
Economic and cultural changes have manifested elsewhere in the world, too, of course, and not all have weathered the financial crash of 2008 as well as the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China. Among the Plutonian transformations has been a shifting of wealth from former colonial empire countries in Europe and the USA into countries that were former colonies.
Shifts of wealth have occurred before. During the 1500s, following the Saturn-Pluto opposition from Taurus to Scorpio, tons of gold and silver were taken from the Americas and shipped to Spain and spread throughout Europe. Following a Saturn-Pluto opposition from Cancer to Capricorn in 1769, the newly formed USA became a magnet for capital.
We will have the next conjunction of Saturn and Pluto on January 12, 2020, at 23 Capricorn, conjunct the USA’s natal Pluto opposite natal Mercury. This one will be conjunct China’s natal Jupiter and applying to a trine to China’s Sun. launching the next major transformation, due to climax after the following conjunction in 2035-36 with Saturn in Leo and Pluto in Aquarius.