With the intensity and acceleration of events in the Western World and around the globe, it is easy to lose perspective on the longer-term processes that are happening in humanity and also in our own personal lives. Sometimes, we have little choice but to react, react, react and react more as if we cannot do anything else or even find (or create) time to go inward to see the larger picture, thereby gaining insight into where we are going as a collective and just as important, who we are and our role moving forward in reality.
One powerful way to gain that insight is to turn our eyes up to the celestial sphere that is always there guiding us as a great teacher/educator, elder, organizer, storyteller, healer and initiator among many other roles. Combined with Earth, our regular seasons and biology the Sun, other stars, the Moon and planets are always there in the background, evoking-invoking powerful effects on a physical, psychological and spiritual level. All of this creates a system that we are intimately a part of. It provides a nest from which billions of experiences can emerge, ever-evolving and ever-involving.
Taking a slice (or slices) of that system to see what it can tell about us humans can help us get part of the overall picture of what is taking place now and the intent of future potentials. In the system of shamanic astrology, we can look at the patterning of the planets, stars and Moon in relation to the seasons of the Earth to inform us about what is going on and who we are. It is a system created to show us the totality of all that we are, honoring our journey by recognizing the patterning within and without.
Middle-World Planets: Structure, Systems and Amplification
One of the more well-known planetary patterns we can see with the naked eye is that of the planets Jupiter and Saturn coming together every 20 years. We are approaching the time on Earth where this will be happening again, only this time the pair of gas giants will be joined by the dwarf planet Pluto, the planetary symbol of the underworld. To understand what all of that means, let’s look at what Saturn and Jupiter symbolize but especially their relationship with each other from the perspective of seeing them from Earth.
Both Jupiter and Saturn symbolize “middle world” or “terrestrial world” processes and tend to balance out each other in all of that. The terrestrial world in shamanic astrology relates to much of the mundane things in our lives, including community, work, resources, money, relationships, mechanical processes, systems, structure, goals, culture, creative visions and growth/constructive expansion. It represents “This World” or the “Real World/Reality”. The Lunar Nodes are included in that definition, but I’ll be focusing on Saturn and Jupiter for the purposes of this article.
In our Western World culture, the terrestrial world factors into our lives the most by far (in comparison to the Celestial and Under Worlds), at least on a conscious level. In our culture, most of us have been conditioned to only look at “cause and effect”, consumerism and other capitalistic ideas around money, following the course laid out to us by our teachers and parents and leaders, including relationships, managing our money and career/job path and many times our choice of religion/spiritual path. However, our souls are waking up to other ways to live life in the real world and the changes were seeded a few generations ago. Jupiter and Saturn are playing important roles in this emerging age.
The ringed-planet is one that has been viewed by astrologers and religions as something akin to evil, representing the devil in some circles. Astrologers themselves saw it in the middle ages, the renaissance period and after as a “malefic” planet or something bad (it has its roots in the Greco-Roman period).
Prior to that, many millennia ago Saturn was called by other names before Cronos in Greece. In ancient Greece and Rome, Saturn was corrupted and exiled and Jupiter-Zeus took the helm. The essence of this Saturn deity was actually one who helped bring about knowledge of civilization itself after the ice ages. Saturn was the one god who walked the earth and taught astronomy, agriculture, law, systems, mathematics, and architecture and all of this included the first larger-scale building of cities centuries later. Saturn was said to “rule” during the “Golden Age” of humanity.
It was also during this time that there were more societies that were built around matriarchies and matrilineal-descent structures for families.
This Golden Age is the essence of what Saturn is about astrologically, but because of what happened to Saturn as a god, there are still major remnants of the judgmental version of Saturn that cropped up in the last 2000+ years, which is the major force in the Saturn Complex (or Scapegoat Complex in Jungian terms). The Saturn Complex is especially acute in natural hierarchical relationships such as parent-child, teacher-student and employer-employee relationships.
From a Shamanic Astrology viewpoint, Saturn represents, for cycles/transits: taking responsibility for your path, owning up to one’s obligations, getting real, investing in one’s future, shedding the skin of unviable structures in one’s life and making decisions or otherwise making commitments and growth through limits and boundaries. It also means coming to terms of what doesn’t work in one’s life and making necessary changes. Saturn cycles are about maturation here in the terrestrial or real world.
The largest planet in the solar system is also one of the planets that has been viewed as a “good” or “benefic” planet. Mythologically, it this deity Jupiter-Zeus ruled the other gods and goddesses. In shamanic astrology, we don’t see the planets or signs or good or bad. These planets and signs are who they are with light and shadow sides to them, just as in all people.
In shamanic astrology, Jupiter represents in cycles/transits/initiations as an expansive agent. It tends to make everything bigger (whatever it touches on a person’s chart or in a collective cycle). Jupiter can bring renewal of vision, truth, knowledge, enthusiasm, spiritual quest and bring about abundant opportunities. Now that may sound like a “positive” thing. But if a person is experiencing something in their life where they are depressed, Jupiter can expand that feeling, depending upon the area of one’s chart it aspects (conjunction primarily).
To prepare for a Jupiter transit, it helps to open up one’s life to potential opportunities rather than rigidly holding onto things that do not work or our toxic. “Letting go” is an important step on one’s spiritual path, usually, and so it goes with Jupiter. This planet can act like an engine that is being put into higher gears and acceleration of one’s life tends to take place.
The 20-Year Pattern
Saturn takes close to 30 years to return back to where it was located spatially in the sky and Jupiter takes nearly 12 years to do the same. Together, they repeat a relationship seen in the night sky together every 20 years. This means after Jupiter passes Saturn in orbit, it takes another 20 years to “catch up” and meet Saturn again. Of course, this happens in different places in the night sky but they can repeat after longer periods of time. This relationship and especially when Saturn and Jupiter come together create a potent sauce for shifts in the economy, social relationships, conflicts, political changes and systems in general that we live. Jupiter can also act as amplifier to what Saturn brings in, especially in terms of the cultural, economic, structural and social seeds planted for the future of the collective.
As mentioned earlier, Saturn and Jupiter are coming together in 2020-21 (joined by Pluto), but it isn’t just that these two come together on one day in an exact conjunction, then leave. But they tend to be together in the sky for months or sometimes an entire year or more as it will be during the next Presidential Election cycle in the US.
2000-2001 / 1980-1981
The last time Saturn and Jupiter were in conjunction was in the years 2000-01 (in the sign of Taurus) with some nearness between the planets in 1999. In 2000, Saturn and Jupiter generally stayed within 15 degrees of each other including 1 conjunction in May of that year. This was a time when the “dot com” digital economy reached its peak and then the bubble burst helping add to other forces complicit in the coming recession.
Former Texas governor George W Bush was elected as President after controversy with the “hanging chads” and the recount in the state of Florida. The administration he brought forth shifted the structure of US Government to take a more aggressive stance in the Middle East, which seeded the conditions for the Islamic State to rise. Bush and his administration picked up the kind of “hawkish” philosophy after the Reagan-Bush Sr years that started in 1980-1981, which was also a time with Saturn and Jupiter were in conjunction in the sign of Libra (and even Pluto was involved that time).
Also in 2000, Russia elected Vladimir Putin, setting the stage for are-worked version of Russia that still exists today with Putin finding ways to remain in power since then. Russia became more aggressive as well over the next decade and a half taking over parts of Ukraine and Georgia and preventing every attempt at undermining his rule. He was after resources, just US, in his way, with some level of vanity in his own image as well.
My thoughts on what the conjunction in Taurus in 2000-01 was an attempt to gain more control and security of what those in power perceived as America’s lifestyle. In attempting to assert or maintain control in that region was to control the comforts of those in power not willing to shift to new ways, a stubbornness to the addiction of what comforts and pleasures oil brought to them and the US. With Putin, it was his comfort with the type of government that he served before communism fell and his desire to bring back a version of that while he is in power. Receiving the bounty of the Earth is a priority for Taurus. The US and Russia were attempting to provide the structure for it to remain so for both world powers, then amplified by Jupiter.
Those seeds were planted in 1980-81, as mentioned before, with the neo-conservative movement and Reagan as President. His administration helped pave the way for Bush Jr as well as the staging set for Putin to come to power. Saturn and Jupiter were in Libra at that time and even joined by Pluto. Over Reagan’s 8 years, he helped thaw out the Cold War with Russia, improving relations in his last term in office. Libra is about relationships and one can see how the relationship between Russia and the US reached another height in tension in the early 80s, then there was a building of genuine friendship later between Reagan and Gorbachev, even through the vast philosophical and political differences.
Pluto’s position in the 1980-81 period with Saturn and Jupiter helped the world open up to the nightmare relations between Russia and the US, thus opening the doors of opportunity for improved relations (Libra) between the 2 superpowers.
It also ushered in a new, painful era on relations with terrorism and how it can create opportunities to work together to understand its root causes. One can trace many of the terrorist organizations (not all of course) directly to Cold War games with sovereign nations, economies while lacking cultural respect and having blind idealism toward those economies and nations.
2020-21 / 1960-61
The upcoming Jupiter-Saturn conjunction can be seen forming to some degree in the night sky right now, especially over the July-September period when Jupiter and Saturn are easy enough to spot in the southern and southwestern skies after sunset. The two planets will vary from anywhere from 60-70 degrees apart (essentially 2 signs apart). Jupiter is in the sign of Libra, but the constellation of the Priestess and near the star Spica, an easy star to see. Saturn is in between 2 constellations (Scorpion and the Archer) tracing a line back and forth across the Galactic Center (that is where Jupiter will be for much of 2019).
From a practical standpoint, one can view these two large planets over a period time as a teaching tool to educate ourselves to learn about the night sky. We are seeing, in slow motion, the forming of an important moment, repeating a pattern that is many, many millions of years old. Even with all of the chaos we read about almost daily, we can look up to see the patterning of the cosmos and know that there is order to all of this madness on the ground.
To help us understand more about the upcoming 2020-21 triple conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto in Capricorn/Aquarius, we can look back nearly 60 years to the last time Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction in Capricorn with some bleeding into Aquarius as well. That was 1960-61 during a highly contentious election year in the US and nearing a critical stage in the Cold War. It was in November of 1960, when Jupiter moved to within 10 degrees of Saturn in Capricorn, just after Kennedy was elected President.
In January of 1961, about one month before the exact Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Capricorn, the outgoing President Eisenhower made the famous speech about the military-industrial complex . 2020-21 marks 2 full Saturn Returns (each Saturn Return is 29.5 years) and 5 full Jupiter Returns (each Jupiter Return takes place about every 12 years). When one experiences the combined Jupiter/Saturn Returns at age 58-60, it is one of the most important phases in our lifetime. It is a time for completing the old and beginning anew based on what was built before or sometimes even scrapping our old identity and truly embracing and investing in our new story. It is a powerful time of maturation and making the big decisions that will set the stage for the next 30 years.
In the case of the US and the World, it is a point of critical mass and one where we as a global community but also here inside the United States have an opportunity to choose the direction of our future, more so than we did in recent General Elections. It will be a bed for increasing tensions as we continue to uncover the shadow of our governmental, economic and social structure as the truth is laid bare for all to see. That shadow will be amplified in 2020 and the pressure to make earth-shaking changes will not go away, but instead increase as there is an intent with this triple conjunction to re-organize or rebuild our structure so we can embrace this yet-to-be-known new identity as a human collective and family. We will not be able to avoid or resist the great changes that are coming, but instead have an incredible chance to uncover the essence of ourselves, give ourselves permission to grieve over who we once were as a collective and increase compassion for all of us.
We will be shedding our ‘skin’ in a way we haven’t done in a very long time and it will be a period of transformation that is expanded by Jupiter’s presence. Saturn and Jupiter are also assisting the United States in facing its coming Pluto Return (which doesn’t officially happen until 2022, but for all intents and purposes, we will begin to see about it in 2020-21). Pluto symbolizes death/rebirth, transformation, facing of fears and feeling our feelings and experiencing things beyond our control. While our imagination can run wild with those Plutonian qualities as to how the US will experience the Pluto Return, it is certain that those living in the US will be initiated in the Underworld (whether or not we are in a personal underworld cycle or not).
But the Underworld is a place where the raw and primal treasures of life reside like the deep, dark soils swimming with minerals and water. Without it, our life force would fade away and we wouldn’t be able to experience powerful transformations that occur in our lives as gifts like the phoenix of myth.
I’m imagining that some will ask if I can predict what will take place then, perhaps. If one can get a sense of the unpredictability and volatility that is happening now, one may be able to see that it really can’t be predicted exactly what will indeed take place in 2020. In the kind of astrology I work with, the intent of it to empower all of us to make informed decisions. With all of the powerful planetary alignments that have taken place in the last 7 years, the creation of a world appears to be underway, but with lots of growing pains. What we are experiencing now is most certainly the next octave of the cultural, political and social-economic changes that took place in the 1960s.
So, as we gaze up to see Saturn and Jupiter, we can imagine those two lights coming together in 2020. It is in December of 2020 that the two middle world planets will get so close to each visibly, that they almost merge. I can only estimate the closeness of the 2 planets with software, so it won’t be until 2020 that we’ll know how close. But certainly, less than a degree (or width of a finger at arm’s length) is expected. Look for them between the constellations of the Archer and Goat-Fish (what astronomers call Capricornus) at that time. Thousands of astrologers and astronomers will be writing about it in the coming months and years, so be prepared for it to be the subject of great discussion.