The planetary bodies in our solar system are engaged in a never-ending series of cycles that while repeating on a regular basis, continually unfold into a totally new experience of their effect on humanity. An opposition of Saturn to Uranus now will have a very different influence than it did 100 years ago because of the way human beings continue to change.
Saturn is now, in mid-October 2008, moving into an alignment with Uranus that will perfect on November 4 just in time for election day in the US. Saturn is the outermost of what we call the “personal” planets – the planets that describe the basic psychological experiences and needs that motivate us as individuals. Uranus is the first of the outer or transpersonal planets which exert their effect on us from outside, creating experiences in our life that demand that we grow and evolve and transform.
In ancient and medieval astrology, and n Vedic astrology still, the outer planets are not considered, For these practitioners, Saturn is the most powerful of the planets – the Lord of Death and Karma, a “malefic” planet that would generally bring about bad things. Modern astrology tends to take a different view of Saturn – one that recognizes his ability to create form and structure, to organize humans into social bodies using customs, morality and rules of law, and to offer up the mundane virtues of discipline, hard work and a desire to achieve something in the physical world. In his guise as the Lord of Time he reminds us that life is fleeting and we’d better do something that will make our lives amount to something.
Uranus was not discovered until 1781 (coincidentally, Pluto at the time was in the sign of Aquarius which is ruled by Uranus). Uranus is the first of the “outer planets” and is associated with experiences that urge us to be free of the shackles of moral responsibility that Saturn enforces – to find our own personal and individual liberty in pursuit of an ideal life. The discovery of Uranus coincided with the spread of these concepts that resulted in revolutions in the New World and in France. These successful revolutions gave rise to a wave of revolutionary (Uranian) fever that spread to Russia, China, France, Peru, Serbia, Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Korea, Spain, Portugal, Greece and the Ottoman Empire over the next 30 years.
There is a dark side to the idealism of Uranus – in mythology, the god Uranus, Lord of the Sky, was horrified at the monstrous children that were the result of his union with Gaia, and banished them all to Tartarus (a form of the Underworld). He became a cruel and despotic tyrant, hated by all of his children. Saturn, one of the offspring of Uranus, conspired with Gaia to castrate Uranus and Saturn then inherited the government of the world.
The two planets are old enemies and fiercely competitive. Where Uranus urges us to seek the perfection of ideals, Saturn reminds us that the world we live in is full of challenge and shattered dreams. Where Uranus wants to break free of restrictions that bind us, Saturn binds us to our responsibilities and social morality. Uranus prefers chaos and the unlimited scope of new ideas and visions – Saturn requires that we crystallize these visions into solid structures that are acceptable to the society in which we live.
This opposition cycle will last longer than most as Saturn and Uranus face off a total of five times between November 2008 and July of 2010. Saturn and Uranus have opposed each other twice in the past 100 years: between 1917 and 1920, and between 1964 and 1967. We can learn a great deal about the effect of the opposition between these two planets by looking back to the past.
Back in the fall of 1917 Saturn in Leo began a series of oppositions to Uranus in Aquarius, and halfway through the cycle Uranus entered Pisces followed by Saturn’s entry into Virgo to mirror the opposition that is beginning in November. World War I was already in progress, having begun in June 1914 with the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in Austria-Hungary by a Serb nationalist, just two months after Pluto entered Cancer in April. Cancer of course is the sign of the homeland, and Pluto’s journey through Cancer witnessed a world war (Pluto) over national boundaries (Cancer) and the subsequent complete redrawing of the world map. These new national boundaries gave rise to cultural sensitivities (Cancer) that fostered the beginnings of World War II as Pluto left Cancer for Gemini.
Putting the Saturn/Uranus opposition in the context of the greater Cancerian dynamic, the most interesting timing coincidences of this period is the Balfour declaration which establishes a home (Pluto in Cancer) in Palestine for the Jewish people and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia just as Uranus and Saturn aligned in opposition. The Old and the New, battling for supremacy. During this period too, women (Cancer) all over the world won the right (Uranus) to vote and to become a part of the political process (Saturn)
It wasn’t until 1920 that Uranus had moved into Pisces and was opposed by Saturn in Virgo. At that time the Russian Civil War had turned the liberation (Uranus) of the Bolshevik revolution into the repressive regime (Saturn) of the Soviet Union. The Irish fought a war of independence (Uranus) that was brutally quashed by the British (Saturn).
In the battle between Saturn and Uranus, it is difficult to predict who will be the winner. Often there is a dialectical process in which a successful Uranian rebellion brings a period of Uranian chaos which is then followed by a Saturnian repression in order to consolidate order, but the old way of doing things has been irrevocably changed.
The next Saturn/Uranus opposition occurred in the spring of 1964, this time with Saturn in Pisces and Uranus in Virgo. This effects of this opposition are inextricably woven in with the conjunction of Uranus to Pluto that occurred at the same time, so the pressure for conformity of Saturn was battling not only with Uranus but also with the powerful climactic urge of Pluto for change and transformation. This was a period of unprecedented cultural rebellion and revolution: so-called “free love” and open marriage, revolutionary ideas in psychology and psychiatry, Black Power and the civil rights movement, Women’s Liberation and the battle for female equality. The Beatles and the British Invasion, and Chubby Checker brought black music into the homes of middle class white folks for the first time.
It is said that the easiest way to tell a liberal from a conservative is to ask them about the 60s. If they say “it was a great time,” they’re a liberal. If they say “it was horrible,” they’re conservative. The liberal mind loves change and easily embraces new ideas (Uranus). The conservative mind abhors change and seeks security and stability (Saturn). This is the underlying dynamic in the opposition between these two planets.
So what is in store for us over the next two years?
The first stage of the opposition is beginning to align at this moment, and in the US election we’re seeing a vivid portrayal of the battle between the new America (Barack Obama) and the old America (John McCain). Saturn represents the voice of the establishment, “the way it has always been done.” Uranus is the innovator – the unusual. The One who does Not Belong.
Over the past couple of years astrologers have looked to this major planetary cycle for clues as to who would win the election, with divided results. Planets give us a weather map, but they do not reveal the future. Who will prevail in this battle? Just because Saturn won over Uranus in Greek mythology (see Part I) doesn’t mean Saturn will always prevail. After all, Uranus is the lanet with more astrological oomph. In fact, the pull between Saturn and Uranus is a continuing process which begins with the radical urge of Uranus to bring change and new ideas puts pressure on Saturn to evolve and transform, resulting in tremendous resistance and fear and a longing for the past (Saturn). When Saturn regains its foothold, the cycle begins again.
The current opposition cycle began with the conjunction of Saturn and Uranus in 1988-1989 which began in Sagittarius and moved into Capricorn. This period witnessed the economic restructuring in the Soviet Union called perestroika which began the radical changes (Uranus) to the Soviet order (Saturn), and Soviet forces (Saturn) withdrew from Afghanistan under pressure from “freedom fighters” there (Uranus), setting the stage for the battle underway at the present time. In Poland, the communist government (Saturn) legitimized the Solidarity trade union movement (Uranus). Neptune became involved in that planetary system in February and March of 1989, resulting in the biggest oil (Neptune) spill in history, and a geomagnetic (Uranus) storm (Neptune) wiped out a huge power grid (Saturn), resulting in the loss of power to six million people.
The opening square occurred in 1999-2000 with Saturn in Taurus and Uranus in Aquarius. At the time Enron traders of energy (Uranus) were circumventing established rules (Saturn) to create artificial energy shortages (Saturn again) and get rich. The murder of young gay teen Matthew Shepard in late 1998 as the square began to form resulted in a battle in Congress over whether to include homosexuality (Uranus) in federal hate crime legislation (Saturn) which failed at that time, and Dr. Kervorkian pushed the legal envelope (Uranus) on physician assisted suicide and was found guilty (Saturn).
Now we are in the opposition phase, where Saturn and Uranus are 180 degrees apart creating a tension that requires balance and assimilation. The opposition will “perfect” in exact alignment on November 4, Election Day in the US. It looks right now as if Barack Obama (Uranus) will be elected president, in which case the Saturn backlash that we’re already seeing at McCain and Palin’s campaign stops will continue to heat up. Sarah Palin’s “Joe Six Pack” and “Hockey Moms” are terrified of the change the Barack Obama represents. He is like an alien to many who grew up in small towns with a homogeneous demographic, and for the Saturnian individual who cherishes stability and security above all else, the concept of Uranian liberation/chaos is horrifying.
On the other hand, for the Uranian individual, for whom personal liberty and social justice is paramount, the Saturnian need for control and pressure to confirm is similarly abhorrent. This is the very battle which will take place over the next few years against the backdrop of Pluto’s entry into Capricorn and the transformation (Pluto) of social and governmental structures (Capricorn).
As an American I am rather focused on the outcome of the US election, but this planetary cycle of course will affect the entire globe. Every European country has experienced a wave of immigration that has been integrating the culture, and there will be a greater desire for human rights (Uranus) that shake the established order. In Britain, there are rumors of a parliamentary coup against Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and I have long thought that Pluto in Capricorn would bring a rebellion that would topple (Pluto) the monarchy (Capricorn) once and for all.
The second exact phase of the opposition cycle will occur on February 5 2009 but Saturn and Uranus will not be more than two degrees apart between November and February, so the effect will remain strong. Events that are put into motion in early November under the first “hit” will continue to unfold over the next few months. Most major planetary cycles have three hits, but this opposition cycle will have five phases, signaling its particular significance for permanent change.
The third phase occurs in September (15th) 2009, but a total eclipse of the Sun in August (22nd) conjunct Saturn will instigate the events of that phase of the cycle. Retrograde Pluto will be stationary (moving very slowly) in September and will change direction to turn direct just a few days before the exact opposition, so this period is likely to be rather intense. Saturn and Uranus are in challenging 30 and 150 degree aspects to Neptune, which will erode any potential for understanding the nature of the events that occur at that time. It will be important then (and don’t worry, I’ll remind you!) to remember that this is a natural evolutionary cycle that requires the letting go of the old in order to bring in something that is more true for us at that current time.
The fourth phase takes place April 26, 2010, again in exact aspect to Neptune. By that time we likely will have integrated the lessons of the Saturn/Uranus opposition and are better prepared to take the steps necessary to move forward. Neptune demands that we become visionaries and transcend boundaries that limit ordinary mortals, and in doing so there is sometimes a dissolving of aspects of our life that limit us (Saturn). Challenging Neptune times require that we pursue a disciplined (Saturn) spiritual practice (Neptune) that enables us to open up our eyes and our mind to a completely new way of being alive on the planet (Uranus). This third and fourth phase will be extremely exciting for those who are able to let go and enjoy the roller coaster ride, and less comfortable for those of us with more fixed natures (like me) who have a high need for control and safety.
The fifth phase on July 26, 2010 occurs at -0- degrees Aries and Libra, within range of a square to Pluto at 3 degrees Capricorn. Normally the late stage of a multi-phase planetary cycle is less difficult than the earlier stages, because we have usually assimilated the necessary planetary energies by that time. The addition of the square from Pluto will create greater urgency and pressure for conflict and war in order to achieve the goal of change and transformation (Pluto) into a new way (Uranus) of living as societies (Saturn) in the world.
This fifth phase of the Saturn/Uranus cycle is actually the harbinger of two Pluto cycles: the square from Saturn to Pluto (visiting three times between November 2009 and August 2010) and the square from Uranus to Pluto which will come within winking distance in July 11 but not perfect until June 2012, continuing through 2015. I’ll cover these other major cycles in separate articles, but you can see that what happens during the Saturn/Uranus opposition will set the stage for the next eight years.
Knowing this information is not useful if we use it to scare ourselves to death. It’s important to view these cycles within a framework of faith and understanding so that we can use the information to our advantage and not become overwhelmed by it. This is a time to examine our own lives and see where our life is not authentic, and where we are not being true to ourselves (Uranus) and where changes need to be made to the structure of our lives (Saturn) as a result. This is the perfect time to cultivate faith in the natural flow of life and to increase our understanding that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. It’s a wonderful time to learn to let go when all of the doors to our desires are closing, but to remain strong in our intention to manifest a life of beauty and adventure that resonates with our deepest Self. This after all is the ultimate challenge of any planetary cycle.