Bryan Stuppy Psychotherapist/Astrologer
2020 Saturn Pluto Conjunction
“Ours is an age between worldviews, creative yet disoriented, a transitional era when the old cultural vision no longer holds and the new has not yet been constellated. Yet we are not without signs of what the new might look like.”
(Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, p. 26)
“I have become convinced, after the most painstaking investigation and critical assessment of which I am capable, that there does in fact exist a highly significant indeed--a pervasive-- correspondence between planetary movements and human affairs and that the modern assumption to the contrary has been erroneous.”
(Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, p. 69)
Abstract: There is growing awareness about how the cyclic patterns of planets in our solar system help shape human culture. Increasing knowledge of these patterns has been growing as archetypal cosmic knowledge advances and especially as computer technology is used to more clearly see these archetypal patterns. Furthermore, the internet has brought to human fingertips instant access to thousands of years of past human knowledge and thousands of years of past and future astrological planetary configurations. Just as our human species have used our knowledge about the sun rising in the morning and setting at night, and have used our knowledge of the seasons to help shape how we intelligently respond to universal forces for human cultural evolution, it is time to put much more time and effort into analyzing upcoming planetary configurations with the conscious intent of using this knowledge to make decisions about both our individual and collective progressive evolution and wellbeing. This paper explores the upcoming conjunction between the planets Saturn and Pluto in 2020 as a means to utilize this new human conscious awareness to become actively involved with the ongoing evolution of human culture and the evolution of the cosmos.
Today the plumbers put a new boiler in my condo for my radiant floor heating. I am preparing for the cold that will come in a few months. I am using astrology to prepare for the future. I am using my knowledge of the cycles of the sun to make decisions about my future. We can do the same type of planning for the evolution of human culture by integrating our growing archetypal astrological knowledge into how we approach the future.
In his book, “Cosmos and Psyche”, Richard Tarnas presents exhaustive evidence connecting world events to the corresponding geometrical alignment of planets. One example he presents is the astrological conjunction of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto which occurred circa 575BC and the explosion in various aspects of global human culture which happened at the same time. (Tarnas, 2006, p. 409) The earliest reference to this unprecedented astrological event I have encountered is one made by the great 20th Century astrologer Dane Rudhyar. (Rudhyar, 1969, p.74) In 1969 he refers to the 6th century BC period of this triple conjunction as the beginning of “a completely new phase of the human mind”.
I also want to briefly review the planetary cycles which were in play in 1969 when Rudhyar published these words. 1969 was an epic year in human history. It saw humans landing on the moon and Woodstock. In some ways, 1969 was the culmination of the explosive 60’s. It saw the sweeping away of much of patriarchal ideas of the past “establishment”, seeding the potential of explosive change for the future. On the day of the moon landing, July 20 1969 Jupiter was in exact conjunction with Uranus. Furthermore, Pluto was also in an 8 degree conjunction with Uranus and Jupiter. As I write this, Jupiter is approaching a t-square configuration with Uranus and Pluto. It seems the gods are giving us a signal to move into action with the seeds planted in the 60’s.
The period surrounding the 6th century BC was named the “Axial Age” by Karl Jaspers in 1949. Jaspers explores the significance of this period in his book “The Origin and Goal of History” written in 1949. We now know that this extraordinary period in human history coincided with the only known conjunction of these outer planets. Today the profound significance that humans have conscious awareness of the simultaneous episodes of this triple planetary conjunction with the Axial Age will be overlooked by humans to the immanent detriment of our species and planet. Consider for a moment the potential which could have been generated if there was a collective consciousness of the possibilities inherent in this triple conjunction in the years prior to the Axial Age. We now have the opportunity to begin to integrate this conscious knowledge in how we approach our individual and collective decisions. In my view humans can now use this growing consciousness to help shape the future of human culture.
Jaspers spends several pages in his book speculating on how this “Axial Age” could have erupted across the earth with no apparent communications between the events. The best answer presented in this book for how this “Age” could have arisen is given by Alfred Weber who said that it was spread by “charioteers” and “horsemen” across the earth. Jaspers is not convinced that this is a sufficient answer to the question (Jaspers, 1953, p. 16) Since the dominant intellectual paradigm of which Jaspers was a part, and which continues today, rejects astrology as “the gold standard for superstition”, bringing astrology in as a possible reason for the Axial Age was out of the question. Of course, no one, not even the most knowledgeable astrologers at the time knew that these planets came into triple conjunction in the 6th century BC when Jaspers wrote his book. With computer technology we now know there was a conjunction of the three outer planets in 6th century BC and that the archetypes erupted across the earth. This is only a viable reason if astrology is valid.
In 1969, in his book “Birth Patterns for a New Humanity” Rudhyar further extrapolates on the meaning for humans of the outer planets. The outer planets are Uranus, discovered in 1781, Neptune, discovered in 1846 and Pluto, discovered in 1930. Since these planets were discovered astrologers have examined closely how the energies of these planets manifest in both individual and collective events. Astrologers are mostly agreed on the archetypal meanings of these planets. Uranus manifests as lightning, quick, radical change to something new; rebellion and revolution; shattering the traditions set by Saturn. Neptune is about dissolution of traditions and boundaries and also the formation of dreams and imagination; spiritual manifestations. Pluto manifests as intense, deep, inner volcanic power of transformation; destruction, death and rebirth. In “Birth Patterns” Rudhyar calls the outer planets “ambassadors to the galaxy”. (Rudhyar, 1969, p. 37).
The 6th century BC is the only time we know of that Uranus, Neptune and Pluto came into a planetary conjunction. During this Axial Age there was an explosion of human culture. Buddha appeared in India with his spiritual path, Socrates and Plato transformed Western philosophy, Hebrew sages were developing ideas which would lead to our current Judeo Christian religion. These widespread seemingly unconnected global cultural and spiritual manifestations spontaneously erupted on different parts of the earth, with no convincing means of communication between the events. We now know that these events occurred just at the one and only time in history these three planets joined together as one in their planetary cycles. Conscious awareness of this connection can give us a tool to advance human culture.
Planetary cycles refer to the process of planets circling the sun. Each planet moves at different speeds and therefore takes different lengths of time to circle the sun. As two planets come into different geometric angles to each other they manifest different levels of influence on earth. When two planets are aligned one on top of the other this is 0-degree alignment or a conjunction. The energy of a conjunction can be described as an intensification of the power of both planets. When the two planets come into a 90-degree alignment, this is called a square. The energy of a square can be described as a tension between the energies of the two archetypes which is looking for a resolution. When the planets come into a 180-degree alignment, this is called what is called the “full moon” alignment. This alignment is called an opposition. The energy of an opposition can be described as a flower blooming; the flowering of the seed phase indicated by the previous conjunction. As the planets continue the cycle there is another square at 270 degrees which manifests a similar energy as the first square, although with subtle yet significant differences. Rudhyar says the first square manifests as a “crisis in action” in which active implementation of the ideas and forms launched during the conjunction or “seed” phase need to be accomplished. The second square period is considered by Rudhyar to a time in which the ideas and forms which have been created during this cycle are integrated into consciousness. (Rudhyar, 1969, p. 32)
These geometric configurations of the 0-degree conjunction, 90 degree square, 180-degree opposition and 270-degree square are known as “quadrature” or “hard” alignments. When planets come together in these and other configurations definite human events can be seen to happen. This is the essence of this advance in human knowledge and culture. We can now use this knowledge to engage in human decisions about future events. This paper is an attempt to encourage more people to use this knowledge to help shape future human culture.
There will be an important conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in 2020. The two planets form an exact conjunction for the first time in this cycle at 8:04 AM, Mountain Time, US, on January 12, 2020. Dr. Tarnas uses a 15% orb of influence indicating when related events will start manifesting. Saturn and Pluto will reach 15% orb first at 9:12AM Mountain Time, January 21, 2018. He also uses a wide “penumbral” orb of 20% where events could manifest on a less intense scale which occurs 1:03AM December 1, 2017. This is only a year from now.
Dr. Tarnas describes events manifesting in global culture during Saturn/Pluto hard alignments as “intense contraction” as opposed to the “revolutionary upheaval” that erupts during Uranus/Pluto hard aspects. (Tarnas, p. 209). Close examination of past history demonstrates these are potential times of devastating wars and the rise of conservative political parties tending to restrict freedoms in the name of security. These periods also seem to generate a break from life as it was in the past. Examples are the start of World War I and II and 9/11.
For thousands of years’ astrologers have noted the various characteristics of people and events that occur during different planetary configurations. From these observations, astrologers have sculpted an archetypal theme for all the planets that is virtually universally accepted as valid by astrologers. The archetypal story of Saturn is of a hard, constrictive and restrictive force. Saturn is structure, skeleton and bones, the senex, the old man who embodies “self-control, tact and caution…. frustration, lack of humor, hard work, self-denial.” (Green, p. 10) Saturn is involved with limits, with setting limits, with setting boundaries, with boundaries that are not expanding but are contracting. Saturn is all about the passage of time, with aging, with death. Saturn stops puts limits on our ego. When we go around the obstacle he thwarts us again. Instead of encountering the fresh wind of an achievement Saturn serves us a failure. Saturn injects us with fear not courage. Saturn also manifests discipline, self-discipline, reality, and clear assessment of situations so that sensible action can be taken.
The Pluto archetype is about death and rebirth and in particular the deep volcanic interior dark power of transformation. Pluto’s realm is Hades and the underworld. Pluto is about the depths and taboo. It is also about the riches of the deep mines of the earth. A dark manifestation of Pluto is rape. The rape of the world trade center comes to mind. In the Demeter myth, Pluto rises from hell, abducts Demeter’s daughter Persephone and rapes her. This theme of rape emerges during Pluto individual and world transits.
Pluto is associated with the Greek gods Hades and Dionysus, elemental power, depth and intensity, compulsion, that which compels. Transits of Pluto have this power to force change from the depths of the unconscious and erupt into conscious life. Pluto is always disturbing, but, it is recommended a person not cling to ideas or things because Pluto will strip these things from us regardless if we cling desperately or open our arms and let them go freely. There is also a sense of the emergence of a completely new situation as was the case after the Saturn Pluto transits of World War I, World War II and 9/11.
“Pluto empowers, intensifies everything it touches, sometimes to overwhelming and catastrophic extremes, with the primordial instincts, libidinal and aggressive, destructive and regenerative, volcanic and cathartic, eliminative, transformative, ever-evolving, with the biological processes of birth, sex and death, the cycle of death and rebirth, with upheaval, breakdown, decay, and fertilization; violent purgatorial discharge of pent-up energies, purifying fire; situations of life and death extremes, power struggles; all that is titanic, potent and massive. Pluto represents the underground and underworld in all its senses: elemental, geologic, instinctual, political, social, sexual, urban, criminal, mythological, demonic. It is the dark mysterious, taboo, and often terrifying reality that lurks beneath the surface of things, beneath the ego, societal conventions, and the veneer of civilization, beneath the surface of the earth, that is periodically unleashed with destructive and transformative force. Pluto impels, burns, consumes, transfigures, resurrects. In mythic and religious terms, it is associated with all myths of descent and transformation, and with all deities of destruction and regeneration, death and rebirth: Dionysus, Hades and Persephone, Pan, Medusa, Lilith, Innana, Isis and Osiris, the volcano goddess Pele, Quetzalcoatl, the Serpent power, Kundalini, Shiva, Kali, Shakti.” (Tarnas, p.99)
Jeff Green has another perspective on Pluto. Instead of using the terms transformation and death and rebirth, he uses the term “evolution”. Pluto is about the evolution of soul—about the evolution of our individual and collective soul. (Green, The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul, p. xxiii)
On 9/11 the United States was attacked by men flying airplanes into The World Trade Center and the Pentagon with 3000 people dead and triggering a US invasion of Iraq. At this particular time in history the planet Saturn was within 2 degrees of exact opposition to the planet Pluto. (Tarnas, p. 210) Like all of history this event has gradually drifted out of our consciousness. Yet it was a defining moment in American and global culture. In my view, the world we know since 9/11 is distinctly different than it was before 9/11. A similar description can be pointed to with WWI, WWII, and the beginning of the Cold War. Each of these events, and others, were also marked as a point in history where the geometrical alignment of the planets Saturn and Pluto were close to either a 0-degree conjunction, a 180-degree opposition or a 90 degree square; 9/11 (opposition), WWI (conjunction) WWII (square), beginning of the Cold War (opposition). For me, this conscious knowledge of how archetypal planetary cycles definitively and directly intertwine with human cultural evolution is part of the foundation of the future worldview Dr. Tarnas is reaching for in the quote at the beginning of this article. Humans, as a species can use this knowledge to positively engage in our own cultural evolution.
Dr. Tarnas notes in “Cosmos and Psyche” published in 2006, that “virtually every astrologer in the country” connected 9/11 with the Saturn Pluto opposition. (p. 210) Astrologers provided relatively clear warnings before 9/11 about possible tragic events occurring in the future based on examination of current and past planetary configurations and events. This knowledge was not used by our species to affect the events. He points out that Robert Hand published an article “A Crisis of Power: The Saturn and Pluto Faceoff” in the Mountain Astrologer Magazine August/September 2001. This article was written before 9/11 discussing possible manifestations in world events that could occur during the approximately 2-year period of the Saturn Pluto opposition (180 degrees). Hand makes the following statement at the conclusion of this article:
“I would like to be able to give a definitive judgment about the likelihood or unlikelihood of war, but I cannot. I don’t think that astrology is capable of that. Jim Shawvan’s article certainly indicates that Bush is receiving many warlike transits and that there are other indications of conflict as well. (12) I also want to say that war, or at least an elevated level of conflict, is generally characteristic of Saturn-Pluto hard aspects, so on these grounds, we cannot rule out the possibility of war. Based on the ingress charts during the Saturn-Pluto oppositions, the most likely periods for war or elevated conflict are the quarter beginning with Libra in 2001 and the quarter beginning with Aries in 2002. These are the only ingress charts that show Mars especially active during that time.” (Hand 2001)
Hand’s statement that “likely periods for war or elevated conflict are the quarter beginning with Libra in 2001 and the quarter beginning with Aires in 2002” is quite striking. The US was attacked on 11 September 2001. In response, the United States began air attacks on Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, which was 16 days after the sun had entered the sign of Libra. (Wikipedia, September 11 Attacks, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks) Hand also examines the possible economic impacts of the Saturn Pluto opposition and says, “We have the threat of recession.” A week after Wall Street reopened after 9/11 the market had its biggest weekly loss in history, over 14%.
Jim Sawvan wrote an article for The Mountain Astrologer for the April/May 2001 issue titled “The Red Planet and The White House: Mars in the Presidency of George W. Bush”. Sawvan concluded “Although we cannot say whether these indicators point to terrorist attacks, an attempted assassination, or a more conventional war, they do seem likely to bring at least one major violent event affecting the U.S. and its president – and perhaps an entire new scenario of violence, which could last for quite a while.” Astonishingly, this foresight was deadly accurate. The real tragedy is that even now; few people are aware of these forecasts. I believe that we can get this information to more people all over the earth and that as more people become aware we can use this advancing knowledge to create a more positive and less destructive future.
I think the most striking warning came from Robert Zoller. Dr. Tarnas refers to Dr. Zoller in “Cosmos and Psyche” in the section of his book in which he meticulously analyses historical periods and events that coincide with the hard or dynamic planetary alignments (conjunction, opposition and squares) of Saturn and Pluto. Robert Zoller is a medieval astrologer with the New Library London. In September 2000, Dr. Zoller wrote:
“I again draw attention to the increasing threat of Islamic Terrorism and that it will be felt on the U.S. mainland. The greatest period of danger is in September 2001. I am not looking at any other form of terrorism though also anticipate others. I am looking at terrorism that is rooted in Islamic Fundamentalism and directed at everyday citizens going about their daily business and our own cities. The destruction and loss of life will shock us all. I repeat my warning now for the third time that unless the US remains vigilant it will be caught unprepared and will be rocked to its very core. It will be an act of war but unlike any in our history. Our culture and way of lives are at risk. For the third time I say this we have had our wake up call.” (Luke Andrews and New Library London, 2001)
This brings us to the question of human cultural evolution. Are we evolving into a better culture? Do we learn from our mistakes and apply this knowledge to make better decisions? There seems to be clear evidence of this despite contrary viewpoints. Dr. Tarnas has noted several trends over progressive planetary alignments which demonstrate a positive evolution. He cites the progress with women’s rights. He notes how during the Uranus Pluto opposition during the 1790’s Mary Wollstonecraft wrote her book “The Rights of Women”. Subsequently, women won the right to vote in the early 20th Century. (YouTube, Video, 2012). There were further advances with women’s rights during the Uranus Pluto conjunction of the 1960’s with the formation of NOW, and “women’s liberation” movement. This has continued to progressively evolve and we have now have the first woman nominated by a major US political party to be president.
There is also progress on the legalization of drugs. During the 60’s marijuana use rose significantly and there was some consciousness that having marijuana illegal but much more harmful alcohol legal was nonsense. Today recreational marijuana is legal in several states, including, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Washington DC. Also, marijuana is legal for medicinal use in over 20 states.
Also there is gay rights. Gay rights erupted during the 60’s Uranus Pluto conjunction. Today, during the Uranus Pluto square, gay marriage is now legal and gays and transgender individuals can openly join the armed services.
Will this progressive cultural evolution manifest with upcoming Saturn Pluto alignments? Dr. Tarnas notes that during the Saturn Pluto conjunction of the early 1980’s the Unites States and the U.S.S.R. were on the verge of war but were able to pull back from the brink in time. However, with 9/11 and the next Saturn Pluto opposition the tragedy of the World Trade Center attacks and subsequently the Iraq war erupted. It appears to be an ebb and flow of progress and regression. I believe it is related to the consciousness of humans. As more and more people become aware and conscious human cultural evolution will rise to new positive levels.
There has also been tremendous progress in civil rights. The 60’s erupted with black’s rising up against the white establishment. Progress was made when voting rights laws were passed during this time. Race problems are erupting again now during the Uranus Pluto square. The problems now involve police murdering people of color. There is a shift in perspective because the police problem is not totally related to the color of skin of the police. The problem that is surfacing is a problem where police are not trained to treat people fairly. There is a problem imbedded in many police departments where the culture is one of protecting their own whether their police comrades have acted unlawfully or in a racist manner. I think this problem can progressively be solved to by a gradual transformation of police culture in which police can ultimately become a healing part of the culture rather than a destructive part of the culture. There is hope that this progressive cultural evolution will continue to be demonstrated with the continuing Saturn Pluto cycles.
Our species has learned a lot. We have gained considerable knowledge about the planets and how they are likely to manifest in human affairs. We are becoming more and more conscious. As the material in this article demonstrates, many people were very clear about what kind of events were likely to happen when Saturn and Pluto formed an opposition in 2001. We cannot know or predict exactly what events are likely to erupt when Saturn conjuncts Pluto in 2020. However, based on events that have happened during the past quadrature alignments we can see get a sense of some possible global manifestations. If we use this consciousness and see possible events in their early phases we can use this conscious awareness to actively become part of the process to guide human culture towards higher ends. We were unable to use this knowledge to prevent the catastrophes that ultimately occurred at 9/11 or any of the other historical catastrophes in past history. What is different now? What is different is that we can see the pattern and now use this knowledge in a way humans have never used knowledge before.
I must give credit to Rick Tarnas and his book Cosmos and Psyche. The perspective on the human position in the Cosmos has been shifted by this book more than at anytime in the past 500 years since we learned the sun does not circle the earth but the earth circles the sun. What is different is that we are learning more about how we fit into the cosmos and how the planets affect human events. Can this ever-mounting advancement of human cultural knowledge be used by our human species to culturally evolve into a positive rather than destructive force on earth? Now that we are more conscious can’t we begin to build a global culture that embodies all of the positive knowledge and attributes we have wrested from existence thus far?
If more people are conscious and begin to use this awareness to help them make decisions, I believe, that we can as a species mitigate some of these disasters before they happen. I believe we can sculpt a more positive future and impact in a favorable way ongoing human cultural evolution. This is not just about individual psychological transformation. It is about the transformation of human culture. The Saturn Pluto conjunction in the heavens will take place in a few years and we now know that this celestial event has the potential to manifest into noticeable suffering and destruction on earth. Now we are conscious of it. A growing number of people know about it. I believe that there will be a growing cadre of aware humans who will begin to shape a culture that uses this evolving cultural knowledge to structure a positive future.
Hand, R. (2001). A Crisis of Power: Saturn and Pluto Face Off. The Mountain Astrologer, August/September 2001.
Green, J. (1985). Pluto: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul. St. Paul, Mn.: Llewellyn Publications.
Japers, K. (1953): The Origin and Goal of History: New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Rudhyar, D. (1969). Birth Patterns for a New Humanity: The Netherlands: Servire-Wassenaar.
Rudhyar, D. (1936). Astrology of Personality. The Netherlands: Servire-Wassenaar.
Tarnas, R. (2006). Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. Penguin Press, Inc., New York, New York.
Sawvan, J. (2001). The Red Planet and the White House: Mars and the Presidency of George W. Bush. The Mountain Astrologer, April/May 2001
Andrews, L. (2001). Prediction and 11 September, 2001. New Library London. http://new- library.com/info/articles/prediction-and-11th-september-2001+35.html
Wikipedia, September 11 Attacks, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks
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