Saturday, April 18, 2020

Saturn & Mars stoke rebellion: responsibility = oppression?

We have a scenario evolving in my home state of Michigan that is echoing and enabling the “total” power-grab Trump has attempted from his Coronavirus bully pulpit.

It's also recklessly defying COVID-19 precautions at a time when Michigan's death toll (3rd highest in the nation) is still rising rapidly. Fueled by right-wing media outlets that routinely leverage Michigan’s already racially-fraught “upstate/downstate” geographical divisions, a large crowd of mostly unmasked protestors descended upon Michigan’s capitol this past Wednesday, breaking all the guidelines for social distancing and claiming that Governor Whitmer’s COVID-19-related shutdown orders constitute “executive overreach” and an undue assault on their “freedom.” The event resembled a MAGA rally on steroids, dotted with gun-toting individuals and Nazi flags. In light of Trump's tweet on Friday to "Liberate Michigan," I guess we know where this is coming from.

Indeed, the minute Trump starting banging his “re-open the economy” drum, his mostly young white male Michigander followers considered themselves unleashed and free to defy our governor’s emergency authority (given to her twice by our Republican-heavy legislature) to issue the shutdown orders she has. It was no surprise to see the white supremacist groups out in force, either—the fact that mostly African-American Detroit is hurting big time would be more cause for them to cheer, than to cooperate. As if COVID-19 is just an African-American problem.

Many commenters gave lip service to “understanding” the situation faced by COVID sufferers, but I didn’t hear any acknowledgements that they understand their role in making things better for everyone.  

Indeed, they probably endangered a few lives with their defiance: Governor Whitmer pointed to several dangerous violations she witnessed from her office windows, not to mention serious errors in judgment, like blocking entrance to a hospital and handing candy out to kids, bare-handed! 

What was that Trump said about Mutiny on the Bounty? What happened in Michigan (and other states, I understand) was a far better example of Trump’s point. Under the guise of “freedom,” these protests are designed to push Trump’s agenda of grabbing power from those who are doing the responsible things that we all need them to do. summarized Trump’s call to arms nicely:

“’Tell the Democrat Governors that Mutiny On The Bounty was one of my all time favorite movies,’ the president wrote. ‘A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!’
Presumably, Trump was responding to two announcements on Monday from several Democratic governors in the Northeast and on the West Coast. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that he and the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island were working together to ‘plan a safe and coordinated reopening’ of their states’ businesses and systems following weeks of pandemic-related shutdowns. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a similar pact between himself and the governors of California and Oregon.
Trump’s tweet is fairly obviously an attempt to attach the rebellious and conspiratorial concept of a ‘mutiny’ to these governors’ coordinated efforts; he insisted the same day in two additional tweets that only the federal government and the president are allowed to ‘open up the states’ (which is not true). And at a press conference on Monday, he falsely insisted that he has the ‘ultimate authority’ to override individual states’ protective measures against the pandemic.”

Again, he doesn’t have that “ultimate authority,” but he appears to be hoping that the toxic combination of his temper tantrums at the podium and the predictable response of his defiant gun-toting followers will give him what he wants. Like dealing with a toddler in a grocery store…Mom has her hands full trying to say “no.” 

So it’s pretty obvious that we’re talking about the repressive Mars-Saturn conjunction that happens to be influencing things out there from early Aquarius even as we speak, and because there’s a lot at stake in how the governors handle this “mutiny” going forward, this dynamic is worth a closer look in this post.

Trump accused the governors of mutiny when he's the one stoking rebellion!
As you might have noticed, we discussed Saturn’s ingress into Aquarius on March 21st in the April 2nd post here, but that post was focused more on the relationship between Saturn and Aquarius ruler Uranus than about Saturn’s then somewhat wide, out-of-sign Mars conjunction (Capricorn). Recent events, however, point to why that applying conjunction was a “canary in the coal mine” that deserved more attention.  

Because the cosmic wheels keep turning and Mars tends to be more in a hurry than the outer planets are, it has since closed that wide orb, and on March 31st Mars exactly conjoined Saturn at 00°+Aquarius, so basically “warming up” the degree at which Saturn and Jupiter will kick-off their new cycle in this coming December.  Mars has since moved beyond that conjunction, but its influence is clearly still being felt—it’s still within square orb of Uranus (Taurus), for instance, which has clearly contributed to our current rebellious situation. More on this below when we consider the chart for this Mars-Saturn conjunction in Chart #4. 

History speaks

Before we get to that current conjunction chart, however, it’s worth recalling that the comings and goings of Mars and Saturn have always played a role in geopolitically tense times. Thanks to the work of João Medeiros, as published in the Astrological Journal[1], we can also appreciate how Saturn ingresses into new signs during tense  Mars-Saturn aspects can reflect especially fraught times—a situation that is certainly echoed today. 

In an article from the Nov/Dec 2018 edition of the Journal, Medeiros singles out the Saturn ingresses of August  24, 1914, March 15, 1929 and July 6, 1939 as examples for how these ingresses signaled warnings for World War I, the 1929 Wall Street Crash/Great Depression and World War II, respectively. These “hard ingresses,” as he calls them, vary according to the actual aspects and signs in play, but the commonalities between them seem to be more key than the differences. Medeiros dwells solely on Mars and Saturn in this study; I’ve added aspects with Uranus and Pluto into the mix because they also seem to play key roles in the charts he references. 

The Table below offers some details:

Table 1. Key Planetary aspects in "hard Saturn ingress" charts in history.
Aug 24, 1914
March 15, 1929
July 6, 1939
sq: Lib-Can
opp: Cancer-Capricorn
sq: Aqu-Tau
tr: Lib-Aqu
sq: Cancer-Aries
NA (sq formed shortly after)
sq: Capricorn-Aries
NA (con. 5/1942)
con: Can-Can
NA (opp later that year)
sq: Tau-Leo
sq: Lib-Can
NA (con. April 1929)
opp: Aqu-Leo
Traditional orbs apply to all aspects. “NA” = does not apply.  

Given that information, let’s quickly consider the chart for our 2020 “hard ingress” of Saturn into Aquarius. 

Chart #1. Saturn enters Aquarius 2020, March 21, 2020, 11:58:20 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Following the model in Table 1, here’s the key aspect breakdown:

March 21, 2020
Con: wide, becomes exact on Mar. 31st
NA: square forms by March 31st
Square: Aqu-Tau
Con: wide, out of sign, Aqu-Cap
Con: Cap

So, given the historical precedents for similar stressful aspect combinations, especially in Cardinal and/or Fixed signs, should we be even more concerned than we already are about today’s complex trends and events? 

The short answer is that we can’t downplay the seriousness of the situation that has taken shape around us: over 2 million positive cases have been confirmed worldwide, and over 36,000 people have died in the U.S. alone, and none of it will get better without a show of national cooperation that we haven’t seen since World War II.

Cooperation brought us through WWII--will it bring us through COVID-19?
In the face of that serious need, a piece on this morning warns that a “backlash” is coming in the wake of the “Big Government” interventions we’ve had to accept to flatten the virus curve. The writer argues that our usual ideological divide over such things hasn’t really gone away:

“Very often, after some cataclysmic external event, politics responds in ways that scramble normal divisions and create the impression—as in that recent 96-0 Senate vote [on the aide packages]—that familiar ideological dynamics have been suspended.
Almost always, this is an illusion. Ideology hasn’t been suspended. It has been forcibly suppressed—in ways that inevitably will come roaring back, sometimes in highly toxic ways.”

This potential for backlash was certainly seen in the Michigan protest this past week (with another one scheduled next week), and we can expect that it will be seen in other protests, if not worse, before we’re out of the COVID-19 woods. For that matter, the backlash may be felt at the ballot box in November—both for and against Trump. Unfortunately, we can’t count on valiant efforts being rewarded as they should be, but what choices have our local leaders had? 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY) insists widespread testing requires federal assistance.
Notice that Trump didn’t want to be the one to shutdown the country from sea-to-shining-sea—that’s the kind of dirty work he was happy to duck, handing it over to the governors. Let the governors be the ones who suffer the blowback, while he stands by, obstructing their attempts to secure critical supplies, signing stimulus checks and stoking divisions that benefit him. 

Yes, unfortunately, there’s a toxic, no-win brew of conditions afoot, and since Saturn ingress charts tend to influence the entire 2-1/2 years or so that the planet spends in the new sign (thanks to Medeiros for raising this point), we could be feeling this one for awhile. 

In a nutshell, it seems that this political moment has shifted from being about problem-solving to being about consolidating power and proving who’s in control. We should have been shocked out of our chairs this past week by Trump’s pronouncement that he has “total authority” over the states, and that he was going to “authorize” them to re-open their economies, as if it’s up to him to say one way or another. 

He’s been forced to back down from that position since, thankfully, but in the meantime, he’s found more passive means of control, through these state-based outbreaks that (conveniently) stand in for absent MAGA rallies. Is anyone surprised? "Divide and conquer” is a classic Mars-Saturn mantra and he has a lot of practice at deploying that tactic. IMHO, the governors would be wise to find some productive use for those Mars-happy testosterone-fueled energies that are feeling so repressed these days. Let's hope things don't get out of hand, with volatile Uranus in the picture!

To better understand this situation, let’s consider the Mars-Saturn conjunction chart for March 31st.  Again, these two are no longer technically conjunct (within an 8° orb), however while they were, they seeded attitudes and actions among receptive players in society, and these “seedlings” will endure for some time. As we’ll see, the conjunction triggered heavier outer-planetary dynamics that will be playing out for some time to come. 
Let’s consider Chart #2 below.

Chart #2: Saturn-Mars conjunction. March 31, 2020, 2:46:31 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Mars-Saturn (Aquarius)-Pluto-Pallas-Jupiter (Capricorn) conjoin in 6th house; Mars-Saturn inconjoins Moon-No. Node (Cancer) and squares Uranus-MC (Taurus). It should be no surprise that the 6th house of health, workers and public service would be involved here, and the presence of the traditional “malefics,” Mars and Saturn, reflects the difficult situation we’re in as a nation, with the highest death rates in the world and the greatest number of unemployed workers since the 1930s. 

Saturn’s heavy influence in home sign Capricorn (disposing the other Capricorn points, as well) suggests that people are experiencing the frustration of waiting for everything to happen—for stimulus checks, for unemployment systems to work smoothly, for a release from quarantine and/or lockdown orders, and so on. Needless to say, this frustration works on people’s patience and with Mars involved, people will find ways to vent. 

The 6th house is also home to the Military (public service), and points to the issue of law enforcement and its role in enforcing the various lockdown orders across the country. This can become heavy-handed, of course, so there’s a delicate balancing act. Even so, if orders can’t be enforced, what good are they, right? Clearly, this is another reason why willing cooperation is a much better idea than attempting to resist. 

Food banks are serving more people than ever right now.
The flip side of this, of course, is that some individuals always seem to fall through the social safety net in crisis situations  (inconjuncts to Moon). If government and local communities have one job during this time it’s to make sure such people are identified and assisted: no one should go hungry or homeless because of this emergency. As the shutdown is eased gradually, hopefully these volatile situations will be addressed before they get out of control. 

Mars-Saturn square Uranus-MC (Taurus). These aspects carry the same theme forward: what can we do to relieve stressful situations before they become overblown crises? 9th house Uranus co-rules the Aquarian 7th house with Saturn here, so we need to be mindful of international tensions that could boil over into conflict, as well. It’s hard to envision our attention being yanked from this domestic emergency to international affairs at this time, but Mars rules the Aries 9th house from the 6th, conjunct Saturn, so we can’t rule out high-profile military actions (Mars squares MC). 

With all this, could Trump feel empowered to declare martial law in his efforts to take “total authority” over our COVID response? I doubt it, but the energies are lined up in support of drastic action if the need is truly there; Mars-Saturn trines Sibly Uranus (Gemini), reinforcing that the military could be involved before we get through this emergency. We could be seeing this already with how the Army Corps of Engineers has been building field hospitals around the country: let’s hope we won’t need them to do much more!

The Army Corps helped convert NY's Javits Ctr. into a field hospital.
Mars-Saturn (Aquarius) inconjoin No. Node-Moon (Cancer) and semi-sextile So. Node (Capricorn). The inconjuncts to the Moon (Cancer) speak to the difficulties that the People are suffering with the virus lockdown, but these aspects also speak to our healthcare heroes, and the trend we’ve embraced of appreciating these heroes for their amazing, often dangerous commitment to patient care. The news reports that these workers are contracting the illness and even dying in alarming numbers—and most reports agree that the biggest danger to healthcare workers lies in the persistent shortage of protective gear and the ridiculous bottlenecks in equipment supply chains that have dogged their steps.  

These are problems that have solutions, but inconjuncts reflect “disconnects”—in this case, they fit the disparity between what Trump claims his administration is doing and what’s actually being accomplished. These disparities become more apparent and frustrating by the day, yet there’s scant accountability at the top. 

Federal authorities have seized PPE shipments the states have ordered.
More often federal agencies swoop in to “redirect” equipment the states have ordered for the federal stockpile (Kushner claims this stockpile is “theirs”); obviously, this hijacking of states’ efforts (is it just “Blue” states that get treated this way?)  is not helping, but to hear Trump, the federal response has been a “10.” For whom?
Mercury conjoins Neptune (Pisces), straddling 8th house cusp. Interestingly, these Pisces points form no major aspects with any other planets in the chart, yet they’re wielding tremendous influence. Aside from representing the tragic pandemic itself (Neptune rules infectious diseases, suppressed immunity and unfortunately, in the 8th house, it points to the mortality figures). 

On a lighter note, Neptune also rules the compassionate response demanded by all this. Both Neptune and Mercury also inconjoin the ASC (Leo), reflecting the distorted information and flat out misinformation being conveyed via official communications and some media outlets these days. Creating confusion in the public is clearly a power play. 

MI Gov. Gretchen Whitmer does frequent COVID-19 response updates.
Sometimes the confusion is produced by even the most well-meaning officials, of course: our Michigan Governor’s shutdown orders have been criticized for banning the sale of some items and not others, for instance, and her reluctance to allow the sale of garden-related items has been controversial and a bit baffling. Not a reason to “lock her up” as the protestors were suggesting, however: she’s doing everything her advisers tell her is necessary to save lives, and we appreciate her efforts! 

Those who are willfully confusing and distorting the truth—from stimulus check scam artists to the White House—are the true culprits here. 

Sun widely conjoins Chiron (Aries) and both square Moon (Cancer). The Sun-Moon square is wide, of course, but the tension between the White House (leader=Sun) and the people at large (Moon) is palpable, nevertheless. The surprising results from that controversial Wisconsin primary in which people were forced to choose between their health and their voting rights may be a good indicator that Trump’s response to this crisis is not resonating well with many. 

Chiron is an indicator of the collective wounding impact of this crisis, of course, and it will be a while before we will appreciate its full magnitude. Every person lost to the virus inflicts a deep wound on those left behind, of course, and collectively, we will be left with some heavy realities to process. The death toll, not to mention the fear and dread it produces will change us as a society, and it’s hard to fathom how that will look. Our collective identity (Sun) may be forever changed, a probable consequence that is confirmed by setting this chart next to our Sibly radix chart. 

Let’s take a quick look at that biwheel, below. We’ve already discussed a very similar biwheel in the last post here, but the identity issue is worth quick consideration.

The biwheel

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) USA (Sibly), July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (outer wheel) Saturn-Mars conjunction, March 31, 2020, 2:46:31 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C.. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Saturn-Mars (S-M) Sun squares Sibly Sun (Aries-Cancer); S-M Chiron squares S-M Moon-No. Node (Cancer) and Sibly Jupiter-Venus (Aries-Cancer). Our collective identity is an issue with all these aspects—Sibly Jupiter rules that chart (Sagittarius ASC), as well as signifying the strength of our financial/trade alliances (7th house), and it makes perfect sense that hard economic times will impact the expansive national persona. In fact, that persona has always been at least partially maintained by the aura of liberty and equality we cultivated with our revolutionary history, so the repressive Saturn-Mars in right-wing leaning Aquarius resonates as being “foreign"--even threatening. Judging from this past week’s protest in Michigan, you would think that the 3rd Reich's Panzer tanks had assaulted upper Michigan! A Nazi flag was even seen (video, unavailable)  -- what exactly were they protesting?! 

Governors are doing the work of the federal government for this?
Freedom and prosperity are firmly linked in the American psyche, no doubt, so painting a Hitler mustache on Michigan’s Gov. Whitmer may be code for “we’re hurting here, we don’t trust anyone but ourselves to solve this, and we’re scared stiff these hard times won’t go away any time soon.” Understandable—they should make sure their needs don’t go ignored—but IMHO, they also need to trust that the governor (yes, a woman and a Democrat) has everyone’s best interests at heart.  And they need to take the guidelines seriously, for their own sakes!  

It’s also true that if the hard times decline into long-term economic devastation (as with a depression), these times will be deeply wounding (Chiron) to We the People (Moon), and that will only lead to more confused rebellion and backlash. In fact, the more unified we are in our response to this threat, the sooner the economic carnage can end, but that requires cooperation from the top, too!

There may be some good news in this chart, as well. I’m cautiously optimistic that the S-M No. Node conjoined S-M Moon and Sibly Venus-Jupiter signals a more benevolent, protective economic trend. What shape that may take is anyone’s guess at the moment. 

It’s also the case here, however, that the S-M Mars-Saturn conjunction, not to mention Pluto-Pallas-Jupiter (Capricorn) are transiting the Sibly 2nd house of economic affairs, resources and national values, so the pressure on our economy is far from over. We discussed these 2nd house dynamics at length in the last post here (in the context of the new Jupiter-Pluto cycle), so I won’t repeat it all here. Clearly, we’ll be revisiting these issues in the coming weeks and months, as the new Jupiter-Saturn cycle launches in that same house. Stay tuned! 

Final thoughts

Just when we thought things couldn't get more dicey, Trump announced this past week that he would stop U.S. funding from flowing to the World Health Organization, at a time when the agency is trying to address a global pandemic!  Thankfully, humanitarians like Bill and Melinda Gates have since stepped in to make up some of the gap, but the inhumanity of Trump's move is just more stunning evidence that to Trump, this is all about him, not the world's people, or even the American people. 

Unfortunately, this dreariness is baked into our astrological and physical realities these days. Even so, we’ve all heard and seen (or perhaps lived) inspiring examples of people turning cosmic lemons into lemonade, and we seriously hope this resilience isn't further undermined and politicized.  Clearly, a lot will be determined by how well our economy—and economies around the world, for that matter—bounce back. We’re still living in a global economy, and there are many theories afloat about how that will look post-pandemic

On that note, I highly recommend that those focused on economic recovery check out the series of short articles collected by Foreign Policy magazine, under the title “How the Economy Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic.”   The articles are written by a Who’s Who of economic experts from all over the globe, and their insights are more clear and common-sensical than anything else we’re hearing these days. 

I will leave you with three short passages that in my judgment resonate strongly with our astrological times – from Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel prize winning economist and professor of Economics at Columbia University, Gita Gopinath, chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, and from Adam Tooze, history professor and director of the European Institute at Columbia University:

“The economic system we construct after this pandemic will have to be less shortsighted, more resilient, and more sensitive to the fact that economic globalization has far outpaced political globalization. So long as this is the case, countries will have to strive for a better balance between taking advantage of globalization and a necessary degree of self-reliance.” –Joseph Stiglitz
Gopinath, for his part, cautions nations against stoking fear in the public to achieve that more insulated self-reliance:

“The real risk, however, is that this organic and self-interested shift away from globalization by people and firms will be compounded by some policymakers who exploit fears over open borders. They could impose protectionist restrictions on trade under the guise of self-sufficiency and restrict the movement of people under the pretext of public health. It is now in the hands of global leaders to avert this outcome and to retain the spirit of international unity that has collectively sustained us for more than 50 years.”—Gita Gopinath
The dangers of succumbing to fear-based solutions when envisioning post-COVID-19 life seems to be the common thread in most of the articles in this series, a danger that certainly accords with the heavy Saturn-Pluto-Mars energies we’re confronting. Adam Tooze has the final word here:

“If the response by businesses and households is risk-aversion and a flight to safety, it will compound the forces of stagnation. If the public response to the debts accumulated by the crisis is austerity, that will make matters worse. It makes sense to call instead for a more active, more visionary government to lead the way out of the crisis. But the question, of course, is what form that will take and which political forces will control it.” –Adam Tooze
Perhaps the upcoming Jupiter-Saturn cycle will begin to support  a “visionary” solution that works for all? More on this cycle soon! 

Stay safe, everyone, be well, and if you can, get tested! As always, our deep thanks go out to those on the front lines of this COVID-19 fight! 

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 2020. All rights reserved. 


[1]“Saturn Wars,” The Astrological Journal, Vol. 60, No. 6, November/December 2018 edition, pp. 40-45.

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