“ ‘I know what you’re thinking about,’ said Tweedledum:
‘but it isn’t so, nohow.’
‘Contrariwise,’ continued Tweedledee, ‘if it was so, it might be;
and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’”
Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)
Of all the outer planet cycles that make our solar system such a lively place, the Saturn-Neptune cycle is perhaps the most puzzling—and worrisome, as there always seems to be a crisis of some kind brewing. Like our “Looking Glass” heroes above, Saturn and Neptune represent quite contrary impulses—one likes to separate (as in the “real” from the “imaginary”) and one likes to confuse the differences between such categories (is it “real,” or is it “Memorex?”). Saturn contains and limits; Neptune undermines and erodes all limits. The only thing Tweedledum and Tweedledee can agree upon is their perpetual battle—as laid down for them in the nursery rhyme Alice remembers:
“Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.”
In Through the Looking Glass, the Tweedle brothers dutifully accommodate Alice’s imagining by living out the rhyme once again: the “spoilt rattle” appears, they agree to have a battle, Alice reluctantly helps dress them for battle (one sword between them, a saucepan for a helmet), but there’s little enthusiasm for the fight:
“We must have a bit of a fight, but I don’t care about going on long,” said Tweedledum. “What’s the time now?”
Tweedledee looked at his watch, and said “Half-past four.”
“Let’s fight till six, and then have dinner,” said Tweedledum.
In fact, the Saturn-Neptune cycle is all about manifesting a vision—nursery rhyme visions, included. Since the present cycle began in November 1989, the visions have been largely dark—like Dee and Dum, they always seem to end with the “monstrous crow” of death swooping in. Waves of near-apocalyptic anxiety (a specialty) have come and gone, with peaks leading up to “Y2K,” (which went off with a whimper, instead of a bang), post-9/11 and now.
The monstrous crow and the “flat world” order
The fact is, the Saturn-Neptune cycle is manifesting fearsome effects around the world: the final quarter of any outer planet cycle involves “reaping what’s been sown” earlier in the cycle, so it shouldn’t surprise us that we’re seeing the consequences of trends set in place around the time of Saturn-Neptune’s conjunction at 11+ Capricorn in 1989. One such development is economic globalization—what economist Thomas L. Friedman dubbed the “flattening” of the earth. International trade dates back over two millennia, but so-called “free trade” (trade free of barriers, as noted) is a post-WWII phenomenon.
First conceived as part of a long-term vision for the post-war “financial order,” the evolution of that “flat” world order and today’s globalized economy has been marked by a series of major Saturn-Neptune milestones:
- The 1944-45 Saturn-Neptune waning square (the final square in their August 1917 cycle begun at 4°+Leo). First exact at 1°+Cancer-Libra on July 2, 1944, this transit was perfectly timed for the opening of the Bretton Woods Conference in New Hampshire, at which the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (precursor to today’s World Bank) were created (chart below).
- The 1952-53 Saturn-Neptune conjunction kicking off this mid-century cycle (first exact on November 21, 1952 at 22°+Libra) squared both Uranus (Cancer) and Mars (Capricorn), reflecting the lingering, never-quite-resolved conflict in Korea and the absurd dynamics of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War (speaking of “Tweedledee and Tweedledum!”). Throughout the 1950s and 60s (the lead up to the Vietnam conflict), the U.S. exercised its post-WWII “superpower” status by expanding its international reach, fixing its sights on overseas resources and paving the way for much later military/trade agreements. Obama’s back-burnered Trans-Pacific Partnership (perhaps yet to pass once the current Saturn-Neptune confusion clears up) may have its genesis during this period.
- The 1971 Saturn-Neptune square (first exact on June 26th with Saturn at 00°52”Gemini and Neptune Rx 00°52 Sagittarius) coincided with two major trends related to globalization: 1) the rise of Milton Friedman’s economic theories (specifically, “shareholder hegemony”): “…because shareholders owned the corporation, the only social responsibility of business was to increase its profits;” 2) the publication of the controversial Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers by military analyst Daniel Ellsberg.
Even though the American public had been led to see the “spread of Communism” in a decidedly Neptunian light, as a contagious disease about to become a pandemic, the appearance/reality disconnect proved toxic to official ambitions. The brutal reality (Saturn) was delivered to people on television news every evening, cutting through the Neptunian illusions. In fact, the waxing square phase begun in 1971 laid the groundwork for a lot of today’s geopolitical turmoil: the Vietnam conflict was just winding down when the 1973 Oil Embargo ensued, sowing the seeds for the long-term resource-related turmoil that continues to haunt us in the Middle East.
- The 1979-80 Saturn-Neptune square (first exact on September 14 at 17°+Virgo-Sagittarius) was the major aspect that dominated that election year, undermining Jimmy Carter’s presidency (Neptune transited his Jupiter) and sinking his bid for reelection in the quicksand of the Iran hostage crisis (a relationship that has resurfaced powerfully under today’s Saturn-Neptune transit). As it turned out, Ronald Reagan’s resulting landslide victory in 1980 was right on cue for the cause of globalization: his anti-regulation and anti-labor policies strengthened the conservative cause of market liberalization (the fewer restrictions the better) that Republicans are hoping to perpetuate with Election 2016.
- The 1989 Saturn-Neptune cycle (first exact on March 3 at 11°+Capricorn). This new cycle, in close concert with the 1988 Saturn-Uranus cycle, has brought us the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama—a period during which the interwoven trends of Middle East “regime changes” and the “flattening” of the global economy proceeded in tandem. Obviously, the government-managed economies of the Communist world were an obstacle to globalization in the late 1980s, and this cycle addressed that with startling speed.
On November 9th that year, with Saturn-Neptune still conjunct and accompanied in Capricorn by Venus and Uranus, all opposite Jupiter in Cancer, citizen efforts to dismantle the Berlin Wall were rewarded—the barrier between East and West Berlin was officially dissolved and the reunification process began. As Michael Moore reminds us so eloquently in his new film, Where to Invade Next, the Wall didn’t fall by a top-level edict, however; it fell because ordinary citizens began bringing their hammers and chisels, literally chipping away at it.
This new Saturn-Neptune conjunction set conditions in motion for other mind-boggling developments—most notably, the wave of protests across Eastern Europe that precipitated the December 26, 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union (chart below)—in many ways, a function of the world economy globalizing around them, threatening to leave them behind. Uranus’s transit through Capricorn (integral to the Wall’s fall) was certainly a factor, especially since it was transiting within orb of its coming new cycle with Neptune (exact on February 2, 1993, at 19°+Capricorn). Amazingly, all these major developments unfolded with the planets of social change planted firmly in this Capricorn “power sector.”
Importantly—the sensitive 2nd decanate Capricorn Zodiac sector also opposes the U.S. Sibly Sun and George W. Bush’s Sun (both at 13°+Cancer), so Saturn-Neptune’s conjunction opposite that point not only laid the groundwork for the September 11, 2001 terrorist event, but also facilitated the enhanced Executive powers (Sibly Sun = the Chief Executive) adopted under the G.W. Bush administration.
Executive powers have since that time been powerfully challenged by Pluto’s transiting opposition (allowing a 5° orb, from January 2012) and will remain so through at least October 2018. The Supreme Court’s “stay” of Obama’s Clean Power Plan over his alleged “executive overreach” (and the general lack of cooperation he has experienced) are certainly related.
More generally, though, the growing tendency of Americans to blame government for all their ills, forgetting that we are supposed to be the government, is also key. The next president will inherit this Plutonian challenge to his/her leadership and this toxic view of government; for better or worse, our international reputation and stature in the world (also Sibly Sun) are in Pluto’s hands right now; the right use of power is critically important.
Dissolving barriers, climbing on the roller coaster ride
Long story short, at this point in the 1989 Saturn-Neptune cycle, globalization’s mandate for dissolving regulations pertaining to finance, the environment and labor —so-called “trade barriers”— has basically reinvented local (Saturn) economies around a global (Neptune) economic model that the so-called “99%” find so toxic today. It’s not surprising that the U.S. Stock Market’s current roller coaster ride is fueled by dread over the Chinese economy (if their markets sneeze, we get the flu—clearly, their recently-found capitalism has its own “epidemic” potential) and the ever-shifting price of Big Oil, to which currency values and investor confidence are pegged.
Neptune’s rulership of flowing substances cuts to the heart of this dilemma and, as nebulous as the logic behind oil prices is, we can only imagine what is actually happening behind the scenes to perpetuate the economic/geopolitical turmoil. When we stare into Saturn-Neptune’s “Looking Glass,” the way forward is anything but clear, but there are guiding questions: What vision do we wish to manifest? Which structures and institutions have outlived their usefulness and deserve to be broken up and dissolved? What would those same institutions look like if they were rebuilt for the good of all?
Dum, or Dee?
As it always does, the current Saturn-Neptune cycle pushes for accountability in the midst of confusion, smokescreens and passive-aggressive power plays. Individuals—and countries—are either part of the problem, or part of the solution (Dum, or Dee?), but figuring out which is which is always a challenge. When nothing makes sense, perhaps it matters that we’re in this “nursery rhyme” together?
“’And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.”
Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved.