Saturday, June 24, 2023

Saturn and Neptune on the wane: related tragedies of our times

Photo by the Hubble Telescope

“In a world pocked by cynicism and pummeled by devastating news, to find joy for oneself and spark it in others, to find hope for oneself and spark it in others, is nothing less than a countercultural act of courage and resistance. This is not a matter of denying reality — it is a matter of discovering a parallel reality where joy and hope are equally valid ways of being.” --Maria Popova, The Marginalian 



A New York Times story entitled “G.O.P. Targets Researchers Who Study Disinformation Ahead of 2024 Election” caught my eye this past week, reminding me all too clearly that we are, indeed, experiencing the end stages of a cantankerous Saturn-Neptune cycle, and the possibility of Popova’s “parallel reality where joy and hope are equally valid ways of being” (see above), seems elusive at best.  

Instead, American politics seems to be held hostage these days in an absurdly dystopian pressure chamber that mirrors the hapless Titan submersible that tragically imploded this past week, killing all five passengers on board. The point of the exploration was to tour the wreck of the Titanic, the mythologized sunken luxury liner that’s been resting in its watery grave at the extremely precarious depth of 2 miles since 1912. Neptune (the deep, deep ocean in this case) erodes structures (Saturn), making this tragedy an almost text-book illustration of the worst the mundane Saturn-Neptune cycle has to offer. Both planets are now in structure-dissolving Pisces, which puts the cycle in its final balsamic phase: it’s enough to make me wonder if the Titan’s safety was deeply compromised from the get-go.  


The ill-fated Titan submersible.

Now the questions and investigations begin: did corruption or neglect on the part of its owners and others contribute to this horrifying tragedy? The vessel experienced close calls before, apparently, and its owners had received warnings about possible problems, so why was it even deemed safe for this ill-fated descent? Where, if anywhere, were fateful corners cutWhatever the answers to these questions end up being, this would-be adventure quickly imploded into a chilling nightmare for those 5 lost souls and their families.  

For the record and according to documented history, the Titanic luxury liner itself struck the fatal iceberg that sank it at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 2012, with Saturn and Neptune not just deeply waning (1882 cycle), but bracketing the chart’s Gemini 8th house with their waning Taurus-Cancer sextile (see Chart 1 below). From the 7th house, this fixed Saturn seems to have represented the highly-celebrated ship’s ill-fated Other, at the same time it disposed Aquarius Uranus, representing the destructive “unmoveable object” on which the ship would run aground. Two fixed bodies simply can’t occupy the same space at the same time.  


The sinking of the Titanic, a 1912 illustration by Willy Stöwer

Chart 1. The Titanic strikes an iceberg, April 14, 1912, 11:40 p.m. ST, No. Atlantic Ocean (see coordinates below). All charts cast with Kepler 8.0, using Equal Houses and True Node, and courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software. 


The exalted Cancer Neptune occupied the Cancer 9th house (it was an ocean voyage) and trined a late Pisces Moon, which may help explain the “mystique” that has always characterized this unfathomable tragedy. Once damaged on the iceberg, the vessel gradually met its demise. According to Wikipedia: 

“Her sinking two hours and forty minutes later at 02:20 (ship's time; 05:18 GMT) on Monday, 15 April, resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 people, making it one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.” 

It’s worth noting that Neptune also tightly t-squared the Aries-Libra Nodal axis in Chart 1, so heavily implicating Mars (as Aries ruler) in the tragedy. Sure enough, Cancer Mars falls in the 8th house of death, very widely conjunct Gemini Pluto, trine Pisces Chiron and inconjunct a steely (icy?) Aquarius Uranus, prepared to wreak havoc and shock the world from the 3rd house. It appears that those navigating this ill-fated ship didn’t pay adequate attention to the icy dangers in their 3rd house “neighborhood.”  

A dominating Sagittarius Jupiter rules the 2nd house of finances here and squares the Pisces Chiron/Moon midpoint falling in the 4th house of the masses (in keeping with sacrificial Pisces, the life boats were largely reserved for upper crust passengers, especially the women, leaving more than 1,000 passengers on the ship when it sank). Reportedly, the ship had been warned of ice more than once that day, but it was traveling too fast to avoid the fatal iceberg when it caught their attention—perhaps signaling both the financial pressure that existed to move on quickly and the reckless impulse to exceed limits (2nd house Sagittarius Jupiter). Again, from Wikipedia:

“The disaster shocked the world and caused widespread outrage over the lack of lifeboats, lax regulations, and the unequal treatment of third-class passengers during the evacuation. Subsequent inquiries recommended sweeping changes to maritime regulations, leading to the establishment in 1914 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) which still governs maritime safety today.” 

And then, this past week, the deep-ocean, Neptunian allure of that disaster has claimed yet another 5 victims on the Titan submersible. Obviously, there was a lot going on in Chart 1 beside the waning Saturn-Neptune cycle, but there’s no denying that this cycle, not to mention the aspects that Saturn and Neptune individually formed to other points in the chart, contributed in a major way to the events of that tragic passage. Which raises an essential point about outer-planetary cycles and their use for interpreting mundane charts: they don’t operate in a vacuum.  



The Titan submersible’s descent 

From the information released so far by the U.S. Coast Guard, it seems that the Titan submersible disaster began with the craft’s descent this past Sunday (June 18th) at 8 a.m. DST., and as Wikipedia has documented, it did so “in the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately 400 nautical miles (740 km) off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.” Thankfully, Wikipedia also provides the coordinates for this location, so I have used them in Chart 2 below.  


Chart 2. The Titan submersible begins its descent to the Titanic wreckage, June 18, 2023, 8 a.m. DST, No. Atlantic Ocean (see coordinates below).  



It’s been documented that communications between the surface and the sub were lost at 9:45 a.m., 1 hour and 45 minutes into that descent, but at this point we can’t really assume that the fatal implosion coincided with that moment, so here we will simply focus on the critical moment of descent.  

Notice first, that late-Pisces Neptune occupies and rules the 8th house of mortality, taxes and inherited money; clearly those issues would become deeply relevant as the Titan and its five victims slipped beneath the waves. If the descent had proceeded safely, the experience could have been blissful and enlightening; instead, with Pisces Saturn lurking dangerously near in the “enemies”-related 7th, the ship’s structural integrity was deeply at risk. Saturn co-rules this Aquarius house with an elevated 10th house Taurus Uranus and yes, the Saturn-Uranus cycle is also in its final waning quarter! 

As is the Jupiter-Uranus cycle, already in balsamic phase and looking to relaunch at 21°+Taurus in April, 2024. In fact, with both Jupiter and Uranus in Taurus and straddling the MC here, we might also view the Titan tragedy as an ill-fated attempt at an entrepreneurial “coup” of some sort. Jupiter widely squares Venus (Leo) and if we really stretch the orbs, it also squares Venus’s 12th house companion, Mars (also in Leo). Considering the proximity of this 12th house conjunction to the Leo ASC, the addition of Leo Pallas into that configuration and Chiron’s trine to the ASC from Mars-disposed Aries, there may be reason to wonder whether the Titan was doomed by dint of questionable power struggles and profit motives. Jupiter also widely squares Pluto in late Capricorn in the 6th and inconjoins the Cancer Moon in the 11th...time will tell!  

Recall that we found a significant relationship between Mars and Uranus (inconjunct) in Chart 1; in Chart 2, these two bodies fall square, from Leo-Taurus. The 12th house is thought to rule gestation, suggesting that, with Mars so close to the Leo ASC, this voyage was an ill-fated birth of sorts. That could be interpreted in several ways—the analogous elevated maternal mortality numbers of our times certainly come to mind—but perhaps over time, this tragedy will at least goad our lawmakers into more firmly-regulating safety standards for privately-held sea vessels  

Considering how many extremely wealthy individuals were involved in both the Titanic and the Titan tragedies (Jupiter was applying to an opposition with Pluto for the Titanic and widely squares Pluto for the Titan), perhaps there’s a lesson here: all the money in the world won’t save us from Mother Nature (Neptune/Ocean) and the inexorable realities of mortality. Deep-pocketed Capricorn Pluto—disposed in Chart 2 by that Neptunian Pisces Saturn—t-squares the Taurus-Scorpio Nodal axis and Jupiter (Taurus), and falls inconjunct both the Sun (Gemini) and the Moon (Cancer). In the end, Life and Death are what they are! 

Casting their fate to the Sea and final thoughts 

There’s something about tragedies at sea that draw us inward to consider the Source of our own lives, how we came to be who we are, and how unavoidable our own “return” to that Source will be one day. I, for one, would not be here if my paternal grandfather hadn’t cast his fate to the Atlantic Ocean and made his way here from Scotland as a young man. Or, if my maternal forebears hadn’t done similar from Scandinavia. I can’t even begin to imagine the depth of character, determination and, at times, desperation it takes to entrust oneself to the Sea in hopes of a better life. Being able to muster the grit and vision for that challenge, I believe, is a gift of the Saturn-Neptune cycle at its best.  

Of course, casting themselves on the Sea’s mercy hasn’t always worked for economic and political refugees: How many thousands of Jewish asylum seekers were refused sanctuary here during the 1940s and were basically turned back over to the Nazi regime? And more recently, how many more boatloads of victimized souls will be lost, attempting to cross the Mediterranean to European shores on unsafe vessels? There’s nothing like desperation to motivate callous rejection, corruption and exploitation, and for all we know, human traffickers and sordid profiteers have always played a role when masses of people have been on the move.  

My guess is that these dynamics of desperation (Saturn) and exploitation (Neptune) have persisted forever. Yet this cycle also offers solutions for these dynamics: compassionate laws and regulations (Saturn) can help protect the vulnerable masses (Neptune). Unfortunately, with this cycle’s deeply waning state in mid-2023, those protections are difficult to access and perhaps even more difficult to enforce. The Sea owes us no compassion; it's up to us to embody Neptune's better angels for each other and for our natural world.

The latter is true because this problem of exploitation extends to the oceans themselves: too often Neptune’s watery domain has been treated like a dumping ground or just another environment to be exploited, and not regarded with the deep regard and respect (Saturn) it is due.  

The loss of the Titan seems to have stirred this concern, in fact. Dr. Michael Guillen, “a scientist, journalist and author who was the first TV correspondent to report from the Titanic,” lived to talk about one of the Titan submersible’s “close calls” and believes that ocean tourism should be suspended.  His thoughts appeared on CNN (edited to retain his words only) after the Titan implosion:  

"Number one, the sea is dangerous. This is not a playground. The ocean is restless and I think of it when I was looking at the North Atlantic waters. They're dark, they're cold; they just want to swallow you up if you make the tiniest little mistake...Second of all, what I took away from my trip down there was that this isn't just a shipwreck. I went down there thinking I'm just going to report on a shipwreck, but what hit me — especially in that moment of prayer, and it came home to me — that people lost their lives. Men, women and children. More than 1,000 of them. This is their final resting place. This is sacred ground... 

...I think we should pause, figure out what happened so we can fix it in the future, but also think of the danger and think of the sacredness of this site. It's not a joyride. It's not a Disneyland destination.” 

“No risk, no reward” is one likely response to sober conclusions such as Dr. Guillen expresses, but with Saturn and Neptune in their deeply waning final phase, the odds could be stacked against rewards. Like the ocean itself, this cycle is not a “joyride” and it’s certainly no “Disneyland.” Reality will not be denied in the end.  Maybe it’s trying to tell us something?


Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and retired 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, U.S. history, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Her articles on these topics have appeared in several key astrology journals over the years, including most recently, the TMA blog. For information about individual chart readings, contact: 

© Raye Robertson 2023. All rights reserved.