Saturn Square Pluto: the last quarter

Saturn.2At the end of this month Saturn will enter Libra and immediately square Pluto in Capricorn. To get some sense of what this might bring it may be helpful to look at it as a part of a larger cycle. All planets have cycles in which they go around the zodiac and return to their original place but pairs of planets also have cycles which begin with a conjunction, then as the faster planet moves away form all the possible aspects to the slower one until it catches up with it again and starts a new cycle. This is the same relationship as that between the Sun and Moon. On the new moon, the Moon conjuncts the Sun, waxes to full, then wanes till the next conjunction.

Any pair of planets has this relationship. A combination of the two qualities is born with the conjunction. The first quarter shows the vigorous growth of youth. In the second quarter the cycle comes to it’s maturity and reaches it’s full potential in the opposition. In the third quarter, it begins to weaken and in the last quarter the energy of that cycle decays and dies. Then a new cycle is born in next conjunction.

What kind of energy does Saturn/Pluto bring? This combination is somewhat subversive. Both planets are concerned with power and control but tend to exercise this behind the scenes. Saturn, lord of form, is security conscious, conservative and favours the status quo. Pluto as an agent of transformation destroys forms but covertly and not immediately. Pluto rules over powerful unconscious feeling which Saturn tends to avoid. Together they hold great power, can be ruthless, like secrecy and carry an undercurrent of violence which can dramatically erupt. Terrorism belongs to this combination. On the positive side there tremendous strength and courage as well as depth, seriousness and a compassion that comes from a profound understanding of suffering.

The length of the Pluto/Saturn cycle varies due to Pluto’s erratic orbit  but is usually between 32 -34 years. the square that is developing now is the second square of the cycle which began around 1982 and is the start of the final quarter. When Pluto/Saturn transits are strong, social and political conservatism tends to dominate society. This was very marked in the early 80s when there was a strong reaction against the progressive attitudes and social changes of the 60s and 70s. Ronald Reagan in the US and Margaret Thatcher in Britain embodied the conservative mood. Other governments in the developed world moved sharply to the right. The conjunction first happened in the late degrees of Libra but mostly played out in Scorpio which Pluto rules and where the transformational impulse is the strongest.

The current Pluto/Saturn cycle

To illustrate the point I am will follow the thread of the relationship of business and politics as an example. During the first quarter, political conservatism and its free market ideology quickly became the dominant paradigm. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 was seen as the validation of capitalism as not only the best but only possible economic system. The wisdom of the Market was undisputed. At the same time a different kind of conservatism was affecting the Islamic world with a desire to return to the fundamentals of their religion and to reject what was seen as the West’s economic imperialism. America was the Great Satan that had to be destroyed. There is something very Saturn/Pluto about the legalistic and rather joyless interpretation of Islam that the fundamentalists embraced. The first Pluto/Saturn square coincided with the first attempt by Al Qaida to bomb the World Trade Center.

In the second quarter the conservative tide continued to increase. Despite a Democrat president in the US, business continued as usual. Nor did a Labour victory alter anything in the UK. New Labour was very business friendly and more Thatcherite than Thatcher.

As the two planets moved to opposition, the election of George W. Bush was the ultimate victory of corporate governance. Business was in charge, often to the detriment of society as a whole. The opposition marked the turning point. In typical Saturn/Pluto fashion, the subversive forces working in the dark exploded in the horror and tragedy of 9/11. The symbolic significance of the target is obvious. This was a temple of capitalism and it was laid to waste.

The consequences of this event are still playing out and some of the worst aspects of Pluto/Saturn emerged in the first waning quarter—an illegal war, detention without charge, torture, and an erosion of civil liberties, followed by economic collapse which calls into question the basic tenant of conservative faith—that the Market could and should regulate itself.

As we move into the final phase what can we expect? Firstly, a clean-up of the debris—this is what the last quarter of any cycle is about. But there is cause for optimism. Saturn is exalted in Libra and is at it’s best—just, even-handed and wise. The strength and courage of Pluto/Saturn will support the move to make necessary changes however painful they may be. 2010 during which the square will be operating is a critical year. The next cycle starts in 2019 when the two planets are conjunct in Capricorn, implying yet more political and economic change By then the more destructive aspects of our economic system may have been eliminated and something that is, hopefully, more sustainable will in place.

Pluto and its moon Charon. Source: NASA
Pluto and its moon Charon. source: NASA