Because it perfectly befits the dragged out, purgatorial pace of the present U.S. presidential transition, not to mention the justifiable fears that the final stages of this passage will not go as smoothly as we need them to, this post will revisit the Saturn-Neptune cycle, which is now about to enter its final waning semi-square phase (315°-359.59°)—in other words, the last 45 degrees of the current 1989 cycle, which launched at 11°+Capricorn in March, 1989.
This cycle takes about 35-36 years, so it covers a considerable span of
time within any nation’s history—often quite enough to support ideological
swings or social spasms, and to challenge national systems of government by undermining
(and at times simply dissolving) the political and social institutions they
An apt metaphor for a difficult Saturn-Neptune passage.
Saturn-Neptune is an impactful cycle, clearly, and it can, with the right circumstances and triggers (like our present tough economic times during a pandemic), turn downright revolutionary. It’s a cycle we often underestimate because it tends to mostly operate quietly, beneath our social disruption radars, which promotes passivity, which only deepens the malaise of apathy, and so on. Thankfully, we are jerked into awareness at times by the distractions that the more “in your face” Saturn-Uranus cycle tends to provide.
As it happens, we’ve been experiencing a double dose of waning cycle issues with these two for awhile now: because Uranus and Neptune came together for their much less frequent new cycle as recently as 1993, the Saturn-Uranus and Saturn-Neptune cycles are still roughly in synch: while Saturn-Neptune enters its final semi-square any day now, Saturn-Uranus will enter its final square phase (waning) this coming February.
The Saturn-Uranus cycle is a story for another day—there is a lot to talk about there; for now, however, let’s focus on how the waning Saturn-Neptune cycle is likely to impact the near term ahead. IMHO, it’s better to consciously follow any concerning developments raised by this cycle, instead of just letting them happen to us.
The new Saturn-Neptune cycle begins in February, 2026 at 0°+Aries—a cycle that should be momentous for many reasons, but perhaps chiefly because Neptune will finally have left its home sign Pisces (it first ingresses Aries in March, 2025). As noted, we are fast approaching the final semi-square in this always challenging cycle, a phase that cycles expert André Barbault says:
“…often instills malaise; there is a latent crisis which more or less drags on as if waiting for the renewal at the following conjunction: the end of a complete cycle of history at the point of renewal.”
According to Barbault, the last time this cycle hit its final semi-square phase, the then-USSR started a steep decline, replacing two leaders in succession before settling upon Mikhail Gorbachav, who—in 1989, with the new Saturn-Neptune cycle, was on hand for the rolling dissolution of the USSR and an entirely new phase in Russian history. This is nothing unique for this cycle, either—Barbault maps out its revolutionary potential from the 1773 conjunction in Virgo, which laid the groundwork for Britain’s loss of its American colonies (and our independence), through the five following revolutionary periods that coincided with this cycle and preceded that fateful 1989 cycle. The USSR was born with the 1917 Leo cycle and was laid to rest by the 1989 Capricorn cycle.
So perhaps Putin was alert to the 1989 cycle’s perilous final
semi-square phase approaching when in this past summer he basically endowed himself with a lifelong
hold on Russian leadership--and then followed up with a bill that gave himself total immunity for any prosecutions! The
how the lifetime presidency happened:
Putin also signed bill granting himself lifetime immunity from prosecution.
“The referendum that guaranteed Putin’s tenure — assuming he remains the picture of health that he constantly demonstrates before those who are adoring supporters — actually addressed 205 amendments to the Russian constitution apart from the question of his extended tenure. Among these were popular ones such as marriage as a heterosexual union, indexation guarantees for pensions and a variety of other social benefits. The tenure proposal was buried among the plethora of amendments, rendering it almost impossible for Putin’s extension to be rejected.”
So history bears witness that the Saturn-Neptune cycle tends to undermine, if not entirely wash away institutions that are outworn or dysfunctional; the wake-up call embedded in all this is that Trump’s ongoing efforts to wash away our democracy by disabling our institutions and by trying to pressure GOP Congress people to overthrow his lost presidential election might have—had they succeeded—installed him for life (clearly what he’s angling for). His efforts suggest that keeping up with the Putins is a driving, oligarchic fantasy; what’s even more concerning is that this cycle might have let him get by with it if countervailing forces weren’t also at work.
We are far from out of the Saturn-Neptune “woods,” however. Those who cherish democracy and would like to see it given new life when the new 2026 cycle rolls around will have to keep this in mind if Trump (or another with his mindset) tries to run again in 2024! As we know, when Trump gets fixated on something he wants, everything that stands in the way is imperiled, even if his efforts ultimately fail. One way or another, he’s never failed to let us know who he is and what he’s aiming for—it’s on us if we’re not listening!
Needless to say, the Trump presidency has been one long, waning Saturn-Neptune exercise—Saturn and Neptune occupy distinct power centers in his nativity, with the former conjunct Venus and the latter conjunct his Chiron and Jupiter (chart not shown), so he is naturally attuned to this cycle and manipulates its energies rather deftly.
He said as much when he made that infamous statement, “I could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue, and nothing would happen.” Saturn-Neptune can make accountability a very slippery affair—especially when the chief corrupt player has the power to pardon those who cross legal lines to protect him. Saturn and Neptune were well into their final square phase when he was inaugurated in 2017—and we’ve seen the wholesale denigration of many of our critical institutions and norms—including the presidential pardon power—ever since. Congress, the Justice Department, our national security and intelligence agencies and on and on have felt the impact of a bully bent on destroying any and all checks on his power.
It appears Russia has been very busy in recent years, working to destabilize democracies.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, based on recent news, destructive
attempts to undermine and infiltrate our government infrastructures (Saturn)
have been ongoing for a long time
(alluded to in a July post here), and we aren't the only country that's been under attack. In fact, a number of our security
infrastructures and government departments have been under
serious cyberattack, allegedly by Russian intelligence agencies. They
didn’t get by with interfering
in our election this time around, but the Russians apparently found an even
more subterranean way to bolster Trump’s efforts to undermine our institutions
anyway. Is it any wonder Trump
can’t be bothered to respond to them?
Mustering the institutional will and persistence to effectively combat COVID has also eluded this administration—as if Trump has seen some benefit to dragging our feet, politicizing the crisis and confusing everyone. The most notable substantive action has been the development of vaccines (Neptune), and the administration did its best to confuse that process as well, doing nothing to combat social media campaigns bent on instilling fear in people about getting vaccinated until just recently. No surprise there—our ability as a body politic to agree on the facts has been steadily eroded this past year while the administration and right-wing media outlets have purposely cultivated a delusionary parallel “reality” that nearly half the nation apparently subscribes to.
This effort reached a kind of crescendo before the Christmas break, when a bizarre case of Neptunian subterfuge was reportedly been taking place in the White House between Trump, Michael Flynn, and Sidney Powell, an extreme conspiracy theorist who was deemed too extreme for the Trump legal team, but whom disgraced, convicted and pardoned felon Lt. General Flynn conveniently took on as his lawyer. Flynn and Powell were apparently pushing Trump to overturn the election by declaring martial law, having the military seize voting machines and conduct re-elections (that will benefit him, of course) at gun point.
The whole sordid plot would be dismissed as a bad Banana Republic parody if Trump weren’t apparently taking it so seriously. Last I heard, TX Rep. Louis Gohmert (big Trumpist) has entered a law suit against Mike Pence, claiming that it’s within his power to overturn the election on January 6th, so we haven’t seen the end of conspiracy-fueled efforts to overturn the will of the People yet.
This shouldn’t really be surprising, unfortunately– we’ve also seen the wild conspiracy theories of Q-Anon make their way into the halls of Congress this year in the persons of new Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene (R, GA) and Lauren Boebert (R, CO). There’s a reason both pandemic viruses and conspiracy theories are ruled by Neptune—they’re both deadly contagious and they both lodge themselves within their host organisms (be they individuals, institutions or target audiences) for destructive purposes.
Finally, it’s hard to miss that Trump seems to have simply moved on from the COVID crisis and its economic fallout; this was starkly revealed by his lack of concern for families who lost their unemployment benefits because he threw an 11th hour monkey wrench into the latest COVID aid package negotiations and then went golfing this past weekend. This destructive and petty episode was a particularly good example of toxic Saturn-Neptune—it seems clear that he chose to undermine the ability of lawmakers to get something important done, just to satisfy some cynical power goal.
Some context and the 2026 Saturn-Neptune cycle chart
I wouldn’t normally start talking about a new cycle chart this long before it actually clicks into place, but in the case of the 2026 Saturn-Neptune cycle, it’s worth a look this far in advance, if only because it illustrates some hopeful dynamics we will want to keep in our sites. Most notable, as we’ll see below, are the cyclical index details represented by this chart, which features 9 waxing cycles and 1 waning cycle. The only waning cycle is Saturn-Uranus, which will be moving into its final semi-square phase shortly after the date of this chart—a story for another day.
Before we check out the chart itself, let’s flesh out a bit of context: the year 2026 will be a midterm elections year, following 2 years after the 2024 general election, which is already starting to loom large because Trump is toying with (and fundraising for) the idea of running again, and Biden hasn’t even been inaugurated. Given the urgency of our several national crises, not to mention the pressing global need to roll back environmental destruction now, the years between now and 2026 promise to be extremely critical and consequential. The good news is, the cyclical index “tone” (marked by a return to a majority of waxing cycles) will be lightening up considerably between now and then, so we may have the aggressive, proactive spirit to take on those challenges more fruitfully.
The less good news is that some of the many milestone moments that will transpire astrologically between now and then might only prolong the negative impacts we’ve been seeing from Neptune’s tour of Pisces. This could certainly be the case when Jupiter enters Pisces in 5/2021, during Neptune’s extended exact opposition to Sibly Neptune (Virgo, chart not shown). America’s flirtation with alternate realities and conspiracy-theory-driven subterfuge will probably build towards some kind of crescendo between that time and the time Jupiter conjoins Neptune in March/April 2022 for that cycle, at the same time transiting Pluto will be in return mode to its Sibly position in late Capricorn. Then, compounding the pressure, Saturn ingresses Pisces in March, 2023—where it’s not particularly strong, just when we will need to fortify our institutions and infrastructures.
All of this is likely to make Joe Biden’s already difficult job even more challenging, of course, because it could point to complications with our economy and Wall Street, among other things. The faster and more decisively some major changes that address our grotesque income inequality issues are made, the better; the faster some sane reforms can be made to stop rigging the economy against the working and middle classes, the better. If these things fail to happen, Pluto’s entry into Aquarius in March, 2023 could bring out the proverbial “pitchforks,” but the potential “law and order” backlash by those at the top determined to preserve their hold on power will remain an ever-present danger.
Of course, we may not need to wait for 2023 to see
violence on the streets—Trump’s already promising a
“wild time” in D.C. if Congress doesn’t overturn the election for him on
January 6th. We can probably assume that he won’t call out the
military against those protestors as
he did this past summer against Black Lives Matter protesters.
Despite ruling planet Uranus’s association with democracy and humanitarianism, autocratic regimes have been swept into power under an Aquarius Pluto—revolutionary impulses have long proven susceptible to “law and order”-based manipulations. We saw how that played out across the nation this past summer of Black Lives Matter protests—Trump was more than willing to deploy the military to rein that in, using the few violent episodes that transpired as an excuse. You might recall that it took vigorous push back from the Pentagon and others to rein him in. I fear things might not be drawn back from the brink if he gets a second try at it.
The truth is, even revolutions swept in under the Enlightenment ideals of “Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité,” as in the 1789 French Revolution, can potentially go sideways, morphing into just another brand of tyranny. Our democracy, cultivated and codified under our Constitution during that same period, is not immune to similar toxic transformations.
Democracy has been served over the years by an Aquarius Pluto, however: Pluto spent nearly 21 years in Aquarius in the late 18th century (4/1777-2/1798), promoting the democracy enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, as well as planting the seeds of revolt that finally blossomed in the 1848 Revolutions that swept Europe and changed it forever – a revolutionary wave that Barbault attributes to the 1846 Saturn-Neptune cycle in Aquarius. Pluto laid the groundwork; Saturn-Neptune took over from there!
As noted earlier regarding Pisces-related challenges during the upcoming few years, Saturn will pick up the “baton” in Pisces in 2023, shortly after Jupiter has moved on into Aries (12/2022). This is concerning because the best antidote for a difficult Neptune is a strong Saturn, and Saturn’s strength tends to be somewhat drained and diminished in Neptunian Pisces. Thankfully, Jupiter’s move into Aries could balance out some of the passive obstructionism that’s likely to transpire with Saturn in mutable Pisces, with some cardinal get up and go. Needless to say, Neptune itself, with all its delusionary craziness and passive aggression, will continue dogging our steps until its 2025 exit from Pisces.
The 2026 chart
So now that we have some context within which to consider the following chart, let’s have a look at the Saturn-Neptune cycle chart for 2026 (Chart #1):
Chart #1. Saturn-0-Neptune 2026, February 20, 2026, 9:33:49 a.m.. ST, Washington, DC. Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast, courtesy of Kepler 8.0 Cosmic Patterns software.
Venus (Pisces) rules Taurus ASC and conjoins No. Node, Pallas and Mercury (Pisces); Sun semi-sextiles Saturn-Neptune conjunction (Aries) and Pluto (Aquarius); Sun widely conjoins Pallas-No. Node (Pisces). An 11th house Venus conjunct Mercury-No. Node ruling this chart suggests that idealistic, collaborative dynamics will fuel developments during this cycle. The 10th house Sun in the same sign hopefully denotes a leader who is up to the task of steering that collaborative spirit in just (conjunct Pallas) and harmonious ways. This leader is likely to be in synch with public trends of the time (conjunct No. Node), but the Sun’s semi-sextiles to the outer planets suggest an uncomfortable “wait-and-see” atmosphere, probably signaling important transformations in the works.
This low-grade anxiety could reflect the challenges of climate change, but they could also signal internal tension, especially between leadership and corporate priorities (9th h. Aquarius Pluto, disposed by 1st h. Uranus). This discord probably reflects the 3Q waning status of the Saturn-Uranus cycle in this chart, as well.
The Saturn-Neptune conjunction (Aries) sextiles Uranus (Taurus) and Pluto (Aquarius). This is a generally optimistic set of sextiles, suggesting that opportunities will exist to make economic progress during this cycle, and perhaps even to smooth over some of our more obvious internal dysfunctions (to the extent that a stronger economy can produce that effect). I say this knowing that this Uranus will also dispose and square Sibly Moon (Aquarius) in 2026—it’s not difficult to project that we’ll still be struggling with the fall-out from systemic racism and the economic injustice it engenders. The out-of-sign Uranus-Pluto trine (Taurus-Aquarius) we see here suggests that the moment will be ripe for some progress on those issues.
Jupiter (Rx, Cancer) trines Mercury, t-squares Moon and Ceres (Aries) as it opposes Juno-MC (Capricorn). Feminine energy is quite influential in this chart, suggesting that the wellbeing of the People and the coming generation will be a pressing human and ideological (9th house MC-Juno) issue when this cycle launches. Jupiter is exalted in Cancer, so even though it’s not at its most potent here, being Rx in the 3rd house, it should offer a boost to marginalized People (12th h. Moon) and to the nation’s overall ability to feed its people (Ceres).
This Ceres conjoins Chiron (Aries), so there’s a sense that Jupiter may help people overcome some damage that’s been done. Climate change is likely to be an ever more present reality by then, so it’s quite possible that environmental disasters will be a more present challenge. These challenges could tie into the possibilities discussed above for internal disruptions and unrest.
Notice that Venus (Pisces) rules the 6th house of employment,
while Mercury (conjunct Venus in Pisces) rules the 2nd
house of values and the “small e” economy, and Jupiter (Rx, Cancer) rules
the 8th house of the Wall Street-fueled “Big E” economy. This makes
me wonder if we could possibly be adopting a “universal basic income” for all
at that time: as pie-in-the-sky as this idea may seem now, there have been some
discussions, and even some movement on this idea lately; this might make
sense on a national scale as the job market continues to transform in the
Ideas about UBI are influenced heavily by job market changes.
Mars (Aquarius) sextiles Chiron-Eris-Ceres (Aries) and squares Uranus (Taurus). There’s a sense here that we might flirt with projecting (10th h. Mars) our nation’s inner aggressions outward—Mars rules the 7th house—but Mars’ rulership of the 12th suggests that it’s more likely our aggressions will be sublimated and turned inward (not good for those marginalized people mentioned earlier). It’s also possible these anxieties will simply simmer beneath the surface until some trigger sets them loose—our mass incarceration crisis comes to mind here, with Moon in the 12th. We have a regrettable history of taking out our fears and anxieties on mostly minority populations under the guise of “law and order”—a long story that this cycle may force us to deal with more squarely.
Bottom line, a nation’s aggressive impulses can cause considerable destruction if they aren’t addressed and expressed in some productive, rather than destructive manner. The dynamics in this chart suggest that they could be put to good use, indeed, to fuel a new generation of innovation (Mars in Aquarius), especially if the square to Taurus Uranus is channeled into productive manufacturing and trade programs—Pluto, trine Uranus, rules 7th h. of business partners). This Uranus is disposed by a creative, exalted Pisces Venus, suggesting that a new generation of visionary “imagineers” will be waiting in the wings (Venus rules employment-related 6th h.), ready to tackle an array of challenges ahead.
The sextiles between Mars and Eris-Chiron-Ceres suggest that people will find opportunities to channel their aggressions and woundedness into the challenges ahead: Some may choose to make “good trouble,” as the late Congressman John Lewis so often promoted; some may act out in less idealistic ways—Mars disposes all the Aries points in this chart, including Neptune, which could collude with Mars in questionable, corrupt or fraudulent ways. I suspect (and hope) that these potentials will be crowded out with higher expressions of these same energies, however—on the whole. this chart with its 9 waxing cycles feels more positive and forward looking, not stuck in old grievances and dwelling on rancor and retribution.
Finally, it’s a bit unusual to see a sign ingress coincide almost exactly with a new cycle launch, but it happened earlier this month with the Jupiter-Saturn cycle in Aquarius, and in 2026, we will have a similar situation with Saturn and Neptune. “Embarking on new beginnings” seems like it will be a persistent theme throughout this coming decade. Best case scenario: we’ll see new, enlightened structures within which to reimagine society for a new world (Jupiter-Saturn) and new societies within which humanity can actively express its ideals and manifest its dreams (Saturn-Neptune). All of this will be taking flight during a period of time that should feel energized, bright and uplifting—and perhaps a bit prone to excess—powered by 9 waxing cycles and 1 waning cycle.
Looking forward to the coming years reminds me that there are still things worthy of our love and our enthusiasm. Honor, decency, courage, beauty, and truth; loving kindness, compassion and a sense of duty. Collective efforts toward building a really good society. And a commitment to human dignity. We need each other more urgently every day: as historian Tom Snyder put it so eloquently in the opening quote of this post, “Freedom is not just about ourselves; liberty requires a balance between solitude and solidarity.” This comment and his new book title, Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary, suggest that COVID impressed upon him how much we need to have each others’ backs for anything approximating democracy to work. There are no guarantees—in fact, writing for the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik delivered another stark wake-up call this week:
“The default condition of humankind is not to thrive in broadly egalitarian and stable democratic arrangements that get unsettled only when something happens to unsettle them. The default condition of humankind, traced across thousands of years of history, is some sort of autocracy….The interesting question is not what causes autocracy (not to mention the conspiratorial thinking that feeds it) but what has ever suspended it. We constantly create post-hoc explanations for the ascent of the irrational. The Weimar inflation caused the rise of Hitler, we say; the impoverishment of Tsarism caused the Bolshevik Revolution. In fact, the inflation was over in Germany long before Hitler rose, and Lenin came to power not in anything that resembled a revolution—which had happened already under the leadership of far more pluralistic politicians—but in a coup d’état by a militant minority. Force of personality, opportunity, sheer accident: these were much more decisive than some neat formula of suffering in, autocracy out.”
So, if democracy is to be strengthened and perpetuated into our future, it will be because we consciously engineer our societies to support that goal—that’s the message of our new Jupiter-Saturn cycle in Aquarius, and it’s a message that will be reinforced in 2026 with the upcoming Saturn-Neptune cycle in Aries. First we need healthy institutional structures, built around sound humanistic values; then we need to be set loose to manifest the visions and dreams that will carry us forward.
In between those two cycle launches, we have a massive clean-up and reconstruction project to tackle, and thankfully, the energies of our times will be lightening up gradually so we can meet the challenge.
Here’s to the happiest of New Years—there’s no looking back!
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; see the Publications tab on the home page for her two most recent publications, A Silver Lining in Aquarius: Engineering the Future with the 2020 Jupiter-Saturn cycle, and Pluto’s Sibly Return: Revisiting Paine’s Common Sense for Transformational Times..
For information about individual chart readings, contact: email@example.com.
© Raye Robertson 2020. All rights reserved.
André Barbault, Planetary Cycles: Mundane Astrology, Astrological Association CIO, London, English translation version, 2016, p. 13.
Ibid, pp. 86-103.