December 21, 2020
One thing I’ve concluded from witnessing and experiencing this year: you don’t have to like 2020, but you have to respect it. It has been as mythic and karmic as it has been painful and confronting. And after tracking it astrologically, major event after major event, hurdle after hurdle, one has to at least marvel at the planetary agenda that we were handed. Now that we have finally made it to the end, the sky does not disappoint. The divine watchmaker has timed it beautifully; the cosmic playwright has written in one final plot twist, the pièce de resistance of this unforgiving Emperor Year: A Great Conjunction on the day of the Winter Solstice.
Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions are historical events. They usher in social, cultural and political change that defines eras, if not epochs. This one, which perfects on Monday, puts us at the confluence, and the inauguration, of three: one that will last for the next 20 years, one that will see us through the end of the 22nd century, and one that won’t come again for another 800 years. For the rest of our lifetimes and far beyond, Jupiter and Saturn will meet only in air signs (the realms of the mind, ideas and information), beginning here and now in the first degree of Aquarius.
We are living in a Tale of Two Saturns: one the ruler of traditional Capricorn (where the planet has been for the past three years), and one the co-ruler of progressive Aquarius, where it will be until 2023. Aquarius gives birth to visionaries, to truth tellers, to revolutionaries and to humanitarians. It speaks to our concepts of time and place, and how we see ourselves within those frameworks. Jupiter speaks to possibility and Saturn to limits. A future commentator might one day describe this pivotal time in history much like the writer Charles Dickens (Sun in Aquarius) wrote about the era of revolution that defined the last quarter of the 18th century: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…” Because, for all the impassioned Enlightenment ideals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (the US has an Aquarius south node), and “liberté, egalité, fraternité” (the 1st Republic of France had Pluto in Aquarius), the slave ships and the guillotine told of a much darker reality.
John Lennon, who was born under an exact Jupiter-Saturn conjunction (in Taurus), square to an Aquarius Moon, believed in the possibility of a kinder, gentler world; a utopia that could be achieved if only we put our cynicism aside and “Imagine.” He was eventually crushed under the burden of that conjunction and the fame and responsibility that it brought him, and met his Saturnian end far too soon. But nevertheless, born with rebellion in his blood, he dared to envision the future. That future is still a dream to this day, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause, or that we should stop imagining. For, as the poet Carl Sandburg (who also had the Moon in Aquarius) reminds us, ”Nothing happens unless first we dream”.
In Ancient Rome, the days leading up to and following the Winter Solstice were the feast days of the Saturnalia, when roles and rules were inverted and wild disorder prevailed. It was a time of revelry and liberation—a suspended reality, hearkening back to the Golden Age of Saturn, the Edenic time of plenty that characterized his reign, before Jupiter supplanted him. It was also a festival of light in the darkest days of the year, a dedication to Sol Invictus, the Invincible Sun. What would the citizens of that bygone empire say to those of us in this modern one? Perhaps, beware the idea of Golden Ages of yesteryear–they are tantalizing, but illusory…Utopian dreams often fail in the Saturnian light of reality…Celebration is necessary to the human spirit, but it cannot go on forever…And, when you elect the Lord of Misrule, remember he is only a mock king and a clown, and often ends up effigized once his time is up. Real leadership is hard work and responsibility. But, I would imagine, they would also tell us not to let past, or present, realities conquer our hopes and dreams of a better world, and a more humane and egalitarian way of living. Saturn reminds us of the importance of proper stewardship; Jupiter gives winds to our sails, and Aquarius offers the vision, and the courage to break the mold. Old generations die, new generations are born, the earth abides, and the Sun also rises.
Now, as these mighty planets change signs and the earth changes seasons, we stand before Janus, Roman god of doorways, time and beginnings (for whom January is named). With his two faces, one looking forward and one looking back, he represents the past and the future, the dark solstice and the light, the twin pillars of the earth. He is the gatekeeper of every new age, and through him all things must progress. His archetypal cognate, the Greek Hecate, triple-headed goddess of the crossroads, who presides over all transitions, moves into Aquarius on December 29.
This Aquarian time, this era of air, is an opportunity to cleanse what William Blake called the doors of perception, and open ourselves up to our greatest potential. Blake, a man truly ahead of his time, had Saturn in Aquarius, and operated on a wavelength that connected him to other iconoclasts like Aldous Huxley (Aquarius MC) and Jim Morrison (Aquarius Rising). Meditate (if you like) on the idea of doorways, passages, bridges and crossroads—both literal and metaphorical. These liminal spaces contain deep wisdom and symbolism. What is closing and what is opening? What do they lead to and what are they inviting in? Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (Pluto in Aquarius) said, “a prophet is someone who can see into the present.” We may not all be the boundary-pushers that these figures were, but we all have Aquarius somewhere in our charts, and therefore, we are all prophets in some way. That sector of our life is where we will be birthing a new reality, so dream big (says Jupiter), but dream smart (says Saturn). The time has come, to open the door, and break on through to the other side.