Thursday, April 6, 2017

Reaping, Sowing & Moving On: the 2020 Saturn-Pluto cycle

With Saturn in late Sagittarius, we are now in that precarious final 30 degree phase before a new Saturn-Pluto cycle kicks in. The cycle we’re finishing began on November 7, 1982, and the new one--the one the world seems to be anticipating with increasing dread--begins on January 12, 2020. 

The dread is manifesting in the news in fits and starts: today, I ran across a book describing a new “dark age” of impending doom for American and European democracies, for the unity of Europe, and for humanity in general, what with the demise of the planet and all. 

When the world isn’t ending with a bang in these projections (no “whimpers” expected), the kleptocratic claws of doom are ripping open and grabbing the lion’s share of fresh meat off our economies’ carcasses, while those who have duller teeth and claws lose the little they have to the impending “robot apocalypse.” 

To hear those who follow technology trends, robots are even now poised to swarm into our economies and swoop up any jobs that aren’t nailed down with some uniquely human ability: if a job can be reduced to an algorithm or “app,” it’s fair prey. 

Humanity is getting the old heave-ho, it seems, and the biggest problem economists see with that picture is: how will we continue fueling the engines of commerce for optimum consumption?  We can’t let economic indicators lag; never mind what’s happening to real people in the process.

If we’re going to be consigned to lives of pure, passive consumption, totally stripped of power over our political or economic fates, we may, in fact, be seeing the end of civilization as we know it. Dark times, indeed. 

Except the dystopian doomsday prophets never get things exactly right. The exaggerations totally miss the human tendency to give a hoot about one’s work, and one's communities and societies. Those who feel truly engaged in their working life are usually following a calling, as opposed to simply pulling down a paycheck, and that spirit will always be needed to move us forward. 

This difference matters not just for survival, but for a people’s quality of life, and that won’t be taken lightly. Here’s a utopianbest case scenario: mega-corporations finally figure out that they need us more than we need them?

Astrology teaches that planetary energies and their combinations offer characteristic positive and negative potentials, but there’s no guarantee that what results will be one way or the other—it’s up to the affected individuals and societies to consciously use those energies to some desired effect. So, even if bad things continue to happen far more than we’d like (and they do), human intentions, willpower and actions still mattergreatly

But let's consider this need we still seem to have in certain times for dystopian visions. Maybe we need the existential, edge-of-the-cliff drama to keep us motivated?

Dystopia and the cycle's waning years 

As a genre, Dystopia taps into our deepest, most cynical fears—in other words, into the primal depths of Neptune and Pluto. In these depths linger the fears or preconceptions we’ve absorbed that say humanity is fundamentally flawed and irredeemable, and that we are fated to act against our own self-interest in some cataclysmic way. It’s no accident that the Dystopian genre of literature is so vibrant right now, according to

Dystopian and postapocalyptic fiction has been a staple on the best-seller lists for years. Young-adult series like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” have sold tens of millions of copies and spawned blockbuster film franchises, and prominent literary writers like Cormac McCarthy and David Mitchell have experimented with end-of-the-world scenarios in their novels. But the current obsession with the collapse of civilization seems less like a diverting cultural trend and more like a collective panic attack.

A “collective panic attack” certainly captures the Neptune- and Pluto-infused Great Flood trauma that has colonized our collective Soul forever—can we even begin to imagine how the masses of people felt about being drowned in that ancient cataclysm?  This archetypal trauma never fails to resurface in “end-of-the-world” apocalyptic fervor whenever times get extra tough and complicated. 

This may seem unrelated to the Saturn-Pluto cycle this article sets out to explore, but in fact, nothing happens in this cycle that isn’t powerfully influenced by the “big guys,” Neptune and Pluto.  

Ten precious Syrian children just perished (Pluto) in their own horrific “great flood” of sarin gas (Neptune), while the powers-that-be make excuses and cast blame, instead of taking responsibility (Saturn). This is hideous beyond belief, considering that these children (and so many thousands of others) probably perished at the hands of their own leader (Saturn). 

The need to take responsibility for our fellow travelers on this planet, in organized, compassionate, systemic and just ways—averting that mythic cataclysm, so to speak, and perpetuating civilizations—is simply ingrained in the human spirit. 

With the Saturn-Pluto cycle, we humans take collective potentials--those primal creative/destructive energies--and we give them form, or manifest them on this earth plane. We weave our human societies from them. We don’t always get the job done very well, clearly, but we’re compelled to try.

So, when we begin seeing a massive resurgence of dystopian thinking in the media, it sends the message that something isn’t working in those societies. There’s a breakdown of confidence, a loss of moorings, a free-floating anxiety that begs for expression. 

In fact, this breakdown process reflects the waning years of a Saturn-Pluto cycle—there are corrupt dynamics that need clearing, things have gotten too complicated to comprehend or serve their purpose anymore, no one can be trusted anymore, and so on…and so, our Neptune-Pluto collective “unconscious” takes over and helps with the clearing process. 

Saturn meets Pluto

Many feel (rightly) that we are peering over an evolutionary edge—that would make sense, with a new Saturn-Pluto cycle loomiing ahead of us. It's good to consider Saturn’s role in times like this. It involves using our rational faculties to find structurally-sound ways of building and managing our societies, of designing systems for deploying resources to solve human problems and provide for human needs. 

Saturn is not really about denying ourselves the goodies of life; it’s about us taking responsibility for producing the life we want with the resources we’ve been dealt. It pushes us to develop our skills, deepen our commitment, and to use the tools provided on this earth plane to our own advantage. 

Saturn pushes us to develop sharp Cosmic “street smarts,” to become “worldly-wise” for our own benefit, and to mentor others on their way up. “Giving back” after we’ve gotten ours is a Saturnian gesture—what we’ve learned through life adds to the human race’s store of wisdom over time, and that’s what makes life on earth possible. If each generation had to relearn everything from scratch, where would humanity be? Mundane astrologers wonder where would our societies and civilizations be.

For its part, Pluto breaks down and transforms any outworn realities into recyclable “material” of every kind—a necessary stage in any evolution. Saturn puts it all into action: it makes use of available resources and builds new structures that not only acknowledge what’s gone before, but suit the new times. Since human beings are inevitably Saturn’s agents, however, there are choices made along the way that determine what form those new structures take. 

So when we consider that the Saturn-Pluto cycle launched in late 1982, the one we are now fast completing, was spent largely designing and perpetuating a financial system that pours global economic resources into the hands of those who have, ignoring the needs of those who have less, what we are seeing is a choice that was made of ways to channel these planetary energies. As this financial system took structural hold across world economies (Saturn’s contribution), it—like the mythical “ouroboros”—both created and destroyed societies in its wake. 

The devastations of environmental crisis, war and a massive refugee crisis have spawned the nationalist populism we’re seeing at home and abroad, and that didn’t just happen—these have been choices, too. Choices we appear poised to make again and again and again in this present administration.

All of this may feel fated (those wielding Saturn-Pluto clout like to make it sound that way), but the only thing that’s inevitable with Saturn is that we will reap what we sow, and as with any system, “garbage in” equals “garbage out.”  

A new path ahead?

I would argue that we have an opportunity with the new 2020 cycle to blaze a different path, to create a better, more sustainable system. That may seem counterintuitive with the cycle’s beginning in corporate friendly Capricorn, but there’s more than meets the eye with that initial launch point. 

In fact, Saturn’s role is more constructive than we might think, despite its dour reputation. A lot is at stake in the upcoming new cycle, to say the least, so it’s good to have a clear-eyed assessment of both light and dark possibilities. To start the ball rolling, let’s look at the cycle chart itself, set for Washington, D.C.

Chart #1: Saturn-Pluto cycle, January 12, 2020, 11:44:48 a.m. ST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

T-Square: Cycle Point (Saturn-Pluto, Capricorn) conjoins Mercury, Ceres and Sun; all points square the horizon (Aries ASC-Libra DSC and Juno in Libra). This amazing concentration of Capricorn energy, ranged across the 9th and 10th houses here, speaks to the concentration of developmental power and investment at the top; the 9th house involvement implicates global concerns. 

It’s no surprise that this stellium falls across the Sibly 2nd house (chart not shown) of resources and financial dealings, and spills over into the 3rd house of communications, transport and technological development—with Aquarius Venus ruling our Sibly 6th (Taurus), conjunct Sibly Moon (Aquarius), future jobs will depend upon what is created in these fields.

Earth sign Capricorn has deep natural ties with agriculture through its ruling planet, Saturn; here, we see a strong multiplication of earthy priorities—for the environment and our ability to grow food (Ceres), perhaps, but for trade (Mercury) and for resources hidden within the earth as well. 

Mars rules this Aries chart and from its placement in the 8th house and Sagittarius, it may well set the tone for economic issues in the coming 3+ decades, especially for how we treat the earth’s resources (Sagittarius Mars is disposed by Capricorn Jupiter). The continuing importance of these issues within our geopolitical relations (DSC) and for any hope of peaceful negotiations (Libra Juno) can’t be overstated. 

With Juno, we can expect that women’s rights and empowerment on this planet will be a particular area of focus, but this key asteroid is also implicated in diplomatic issues. Anyone watching today’s news knows that there are many such issues at stake, and they aren’t likely to be resolved any time soon. We’ll see more about Juno’s role in a bit. 

As we can see from the cycle’s initial position at the apex of a t-square, there’s a balancing act that needs to be struck here, and how that rolls out will depend upon how well we handle the 4th house Cancer priorities opposite. This is yet another reason to watch women’s issues, but also the so-called “bread and butter” issues impacting our everyday economic wellbeing and security.

9th house Jupiter (Capricorn) semi-sextiles 8th house Mars (Sagittarius). Set for Washington, this cycle launches from a position of strength—elevated in a Capricorn 10th house. It is also supported by this Capricorn Jupiter, just 5 degrees from the MC. It’s interesting that this somewhat debilitated Jupiter (not operating at its most expansive in Saturn-ruled Capricorn) is called upon to work with, but also to temper the chart’s aggressive Mars in Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius. Likewise, economic growth (Jupiter) will be somewhat muffled by whatever aggressive exploits are in play. 

In fact, a more restrained Jupiter might be an asset over the long-term, given that resource explorations are a probable clear priority here. An ideology of unrestrained and “endless” growth—supported by the “greed is good” 1982 Saturn-Pluto cycle—has gotten our environment into big trouble: Perhaps this Jupiter can help rein in the ambitious excesses that cause the biggest problems, and work with sustainable development priorities in the process. 

11th house Venus (Aquarius) sextiles 1st house Uranus (Taurus) and sextiles Pallas (Sagittarius). Venus and Uranus fall into mutual reception with each other—i.e., each one is placed in a sign ruled by the other. In other words, the priorities of one are tightly linked to how we deploy the other. The Aquarius-Taurus sextile is out-of-sign, of course, but within orb; these priorities may feel a bit “out-of-synch” with each other in practice. 

The causes of justice, peace and wisdom (it feels na├»ve to even talk about these things today) will be implicated here, through Pallas, conjunct the Galactic Center (Sagittarius). The truth may emerge (GC) about many things, and it’s likely that we will have some national soul-searching to do. 

An-earth-focused revolution (Taurus Uranus) that supports technology-driven revenues (Aquarius Venus) is also likely here, but this opening could also manifest in that “robot apocalypse” discussed much earlier. Will anyone developing these technology systems know (or care) when “enough is enough?” Or will we see our society’s tolerance for structural unemployment overwhelmed by this explosion of new automation? 

In fact, this Venus does fall conjunct Sibly Moon (Aquarius), so good things may come to many people, but we have to hope that some consideration will be given to rational (Aquarius) planning for all this. It’s not enough to wash our societal hands of everyone else, saying “there will be winners and losers.” Pallas should chime in here.

If the goal of maximizing revenues is privileged above all, or if high-tech weapons systems are allowed to gobble up the lion’s share of resources, to the detriment of domestic infrastructures, etc., the positive potentials of these nice sextiles could slip away. Will vested corporate interests be handed the reins here, or will a sane public-private partnership of stakeholders be put in charge? Will the health and wellbeing of the earth’s people count for anything?

Robots will be only one of many new technologies we need to channel productively. High-tech industries will undoubtedly claim they can’t do without the coming new generation of robots—and in fact, there could be an upside to these technologies. 

Among other possibilities, robots may help us use carbon-fueled technologies less destructively in the end (i.e., with shared autonomous vehicles, clean power plant management, ocean conservation and rehabilitation, etc.). 

That doesn’t obscure the very real downside potential, however. Those autonomous vehicles will inevitably take jobs away from human drivers, and the technologies that send robot divers into the ocean or out onto the “Pacific garbage patch” for clean-up could also exploit that environment in new, unimagined ways. 

Will we look to robot-powered weapons industries to unleash a new generation of endless war, or will we focus on ways to technologically contain conflict and environmental damage for the future? 

Here’s where we count on the Saturn part of the Saturn-Pluto equation to lay down some regulations and impose some wisdom. With its impersonal destructive/transformative force, Pluto drives the slow evolutionary process of societies—it is up to us to apply a human-scaled, ethical framework around the process via our Saturnian institutions. 

From this we can see why Trump’s transactional approach to institutions like NATO, the UN and other alliances is very troubling. For millions, these provide the only buffer against Pluto’s brutal “survival of the fittest” regime.

Along these same lines, it will be more important than ever that governments take some control of the ethical (Venus, with Saturn co-ruling Aquarius) implications of this entire technical “revolution” before it simply happens to us. An entire generation of workers could be displaced and forever damaged before we come up with a sustainable path forward for human labor. 

As long as raping the earth feathers even one billionaire’s nest and raises stock values by even one micro-point, the arguments for doing things differently just won’t wash. There’s got to be a better, more sustainable way.

For a more thorough, scientifically-grounded look into all that’s at stake here, I strongly recommend Harvard Professor Sheila Jasanoff’s amazing study entitled The Ethics of Invention

Double Quincunx & Yod: Neptune (Pisces) sextiles MC (Capricorn) and quincunxes Juno (Libra); Moon (Leo) sextiles Juno and both points form a yod with Neptune. Neptune appears oddly out of synch with the rest of this chart until we see these interesting back-to-back configurations.  In the 11th house, Neptune forms the apex of the yod with 4th and 6th house Moon-Juno, suggesting that People’s everyday practical realities, especially women’s, will be at the mercy of the cosmic “tides.” 

Neptune’s placement in the 11th suggests that the behavior of power players will be nebulous and hard-to-pin down, at best. Will we know who’s doing what? Lines of accountability could be blurry.
Prevailing ideologies (Neptune) will be challenged to adapt to practical realities (Moon-Juno). 

Environment- and job-friendly (4th and 6th) programs would be ideal and might include: sane family-planning programs (4th house Cancer cusp), worker training programs and small business support (Virgo 6th), etc. 

Neptune’s pace and mutability will make the way forward on these issues very slow and plodding, given to setbacks and distortions, yet feminine energies are well-placed in this chart, so there’s hope for progress. This chart’s Moon is a determined “diva”—ruling not only the 4th house from regal Leo, but the chart’s Cancer North Node (3rd house), as well. It is disposed by the Capricorn Sun and ties into the cycle points themselves in the process. 

Importantly, this “diva” energy forms the apex of the other Neptune configuration—a double quincunx with the chart MC. Adjustments will again be needed to fit the Moon’s more “bread-and-butter” security issues into the agenda of powerful U.S. institutions and goals (MC), and no doubt that agenda will be distorted (Neptune) and obscured to suit the powers-that-be. 

Even so, this determined Moon is no “shrinking violet,” and will have a fighting chance to stand her ground and influence the prevailing ideology (Neptune) in return. 

One possible downside: this Leo Moon could represent a greater acceptance among Americans for authoritarian, even nationalist rule. We already have a family dynasty installed in the White House, so this kind of transformation is no longer a fabulous stretch. 

Unfortunately, from where we are now, it’s not difficult to imagine an American kleptocracy with the lovely Ivanka as figurehead/jewelry salesperson, while shadowy corporate figures pull the levers of power and fill their pockets. If we’re lucky, she won’t be a modern-day Marie Antoinette—“let them eat cake.” But I digress. 

What factors could force us to withdraw from our role in the world and to relinquish democracy in favor of nationalist authoritarianism? The news is filled with possibilities that could unfold badly if we look the other way.

Even steely Uranus has moved into feminine Taurus here—another important sign of change, suggesting that women will take on stronger leadership in this new cycle that is dawning (conjunct ASC). We know who the present administration would like to install; 2020 is starting to look like a very critical election year.

One last observation about the Moon’s placement in this chart. It shines virtually alone at the base, in the depths of this chart, with every other major point except Uranus above the horizon, arranged in a “fan” shape. This dramatic Moon thus anchors all those major energies as though they comprise a vast cloud, floating above the People.

Because there are no oppositions between the Moon and her upper-hemisphere cohorts, however, there’s no direct connection between the People and the various influences in the upper hemisphere. Instead, the Moon’s dispositor, the Capricorn Sun, plays go-between here, radiating the agenda of this Capricorn cycle. 

Note that the affairs of all but the 4th and 11th houses are ruled by upper hemisphere planets. This suggests that collective affairs—including finance (Pluto rules the 8th)—will take a prominent place in our personal lives during this coming cycle, whatever that might mean in practice. 

How this all looks from Europe

A lot has been said over this past year about seismic geopolitical shifts overcoming Europe, or as a review for foreign policy fellow James Kirchick’s new book, The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues & the Coming Dark Age, puts it:

“Once the world’s bastion of liberal, democratic values, Europe is now having to confront demons it thought it had laid to rest. The old pathologies of anti-Semitism, populist nationalism, and territorial aggression are threatening to tear the European postwar consensus apart.”

Clearly, the U.S. is not immune to these concerns—we fought those same old demons in WWII and throughout our 20th century Civil Rights movement, but they’ve resurfaced with a vengeance here, as well. For now, though, let’s examine how the 2020 Saturn-Pluto cycle chart “translates” when we relocate it for the European Union’s capital city, Brussels, Belgium.

Chart #2: Saturn-Pluto cycle, January 12, 2020, 11:44:48 a.m. ST, Brussels, Belgium, Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Uranus (Taurus) is elevated in the 10th, with Venus (Aquarius) in 7th, sextile Pallas (Sagittarius). Revolution is privileged here, and there’s a sense that whatever form it takes (earth-friendly technologies?), it will be driven from 6th house Capricorn planets and 7th house influences, particularly 7th house Venus (Aquarius). These include massive investments (Capricorn) in the labor force and perhaps the military, in response to outside (7th house) forces. 

As looks to be the case in the U.S., the prominent Pallas we see here will echo the concerns for justice and peace—this time, from Europe’s 5th house of core ethical principles (Sagittarius cusp) and sovereignty. With Mars (Sagittarius) in this critical house, Europe will probably find itself vigorously defending its principles, and as we’ve already seen, some Eastern members of the EU will probably be fighting to maintain their borders and identities, apart from Russia. 

It’s possible those sovereign principles will be twisted to some purpose, be subject to distortion or even extortion, with Neptune holding court in the 8th house of finances, etc. More on this below.

Yod: Moon (Leo) sextiles Juno (Libra) and both points form a yod with Neptune (Pisces); Juno squares Sun-Saturn-Pluto-Mercury (Capricorn). The Brussels chart doesn’t share the double quincunx found in the Washington DC version because the MC is different, but both charts share this yod, which here takes a prominent place, spanning the chart’s 1st-3rd and 8th houses. 

We’ve already considered how Neptune could distort relations between members of the EU and outside interference on the part of Russia; here we see some of the mechanics of that interference—prominent female politicians (Moon, Juno) appear to be caught in the mix, possibly to their frustration. 

Two such prominent females are up for election in Europe this spring, in fact—Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Marine Le Pen—so it will be interesting to watch how those elections unfold. This chart reflects conditions roughly 3 years down the road (and the beginning of a long cycle), of course, but it does appear that powerful feminine forces will be a feature then as well.

Considering the discussion earlier about nationalism/authoritarianism and the Leo Moon, it’s possible that Le Pen (French nationalist) will resonate with this point, which is prominently placed in the 1st house of the chart. Even if she is not elected this spring, she may come back for another try around 2020.  

Based on the strong democratic principles Merkel has practiced as Germany’s long-time leader, we might see her as the embattled Juno placement here—squared by so many points, with little straightforward support from any point. The nationalist/authoritarian onslaught appears real, motivated heavily by economics, jobs (6th house Capricorn points) and outside influences. Will she last in office, to see another election closer to 2020?

It should be said that Neptune in the 8th house here isn’t the strongest placement for EU economies. Uncertainty, distortion, extortion and instability aren’t the best economic indicators.

Final thoughts

I purposely stayed away from the U.S. national and the EU’s “economic union” charts here, but making those comparisons with the Saturn-Pluto cycle chart is also worth the exercise. For now, I’ll just point out that the all-important Leo Moon we’ve been discussing in both Saturn-Pluto cycle charts conjoins within minutes the EU’s official chart Ascendant at 17°+Leo (Chart 420A BWH)[1]

Not to overstate the importance of a single placement, but this “happenstance” suggests that an important power transition will happen during the upcoming cycle, if not shortly after its 2020 inception. 

As we saw with the UK’s Brexit vote, the EU as an institution isn’t immune to structural problems and outright mutinies, so we’ll undoubtedly see more on this soon, with the upcoming elections in Europe. 

As for the Saturn-Pluto cycle itself, the dynamics that launch in January, 2020 will be evolving along with us into the 2050s, when Saturn and Pluto meet up in Pisces for the first time in 2+ centuries. A bit hard to imagine from where we are now, so let’s not even try. 

Besides, we have our work cut out for us with the Capricorn cycle coming our way—the highest expression of Capricorn in this cycle would be earthy sustainability, efficient use of resources and a structured approach to solving practical needs. Everyone can thrive under a well-balanced Capricorn if the systems put into place are consciously designed to produce that result. 

What’ll it be?

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. 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.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at:

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved. 

[1]Nicholas Campion, The Book of World Horoscopes, The Wessex Astrologer, Bournemouth, UK., revised/updated 2004 edition, p. 426.