Dec. 23, 2020 (EcoSophia.net) -- Over the last year, and especially over the last month, I’ve fielded a flurry of questions about the astrological meaning of the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn that took place on Monday.
I’ve been intrigued to note that quite a few of those questions have come from people who admit they don’t know much about astrology but have a sense, however vague, that this conjunction matters. As it happens, they’re quite correct. The conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn have a special role in astrology, and this one was of particular importance. As I’ll discuss shortly, it marks the end of one era in world history and the beginning of another.
Let’s start with some basics. Astrology is an empirical science based on more than 5,000 years of recorded correlations between planetary motion and events on earth. We don’t know why it works. (Try getting funding for the necessary studies.) One of its branches -- the technical name is mundane astrology -- predicts political and cultural events. That’s the kind of astrology I practice. Most work with mundane astrology uses ingress charts -- charts drawn up for capital cities for each solstice and equinox -- but there are also larger cycles that mundane astrologers track.
One of those went through an important phase change Monday. No, it wasn’t the age of Aquarius; that began in 1879, according to the interpretation I use, and will last until 4039 AD. (In case you’re wondering why it hasn’t turned out to be an age of peace and love and brotherhood, the people who came up with that interpretation got it from smoking too much pot, not from the heavens.) The celestial odometer that rolled over on Monday is defined by the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn -- the process, as an older mythic language put it, by which Saturn gives “all the measures of the whole creation” to Jupiter.
Jupiter and Saturn conjoin every 20 years. Those conjunctions are located almost exactly 120° from each other, forming what astrologers call the Grand Trigon. (Yes, I know that sounds like something from a science fiction novel. Astrologers got there first.) Since ancient times each sign of the zodiac is linked to one of the four traditional elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire -- scientists, who think they no longer believe in the four elements, call those “solids,” “liquids,” “gases,” and “energy” these days -- and for a little less than two centuries at a stretch, every conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn happens in signs of the same element, with a little wobbling back and forth when you get close to the dividing line.
Beginning with the conjunction of 1842, all the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn were in Earth signs until 1980-1, when a rare triple conjunction happened in Libra, an Air sign. In 2000 they conjoined in an Earth sign one last time. Monday’s conjunction in the Air sign Aquarius marked the beginning of a series of Air conjunctions, which will last until the Grand Trigon passes into the Water sign Scorpio on Oct. 31, 2219. Astrologically, in other words, we have just passed from a 178-year-long era of Earth into a 199-year-long era of Air.
What does that mean? Since astrology is an empirical science, let’s glance back to 1226, the last time the Grand Trigon shifted from Earth to Air. That’s the chart above. In the 1226 Grand Mutation the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was early in Aquarius, just as it was on Monday. As we’ll see, though, most of the other planetary positions were different. Most of all, notice Mars up there at the top of the chart. He’s in his rulership in Scorpio, and thus very strong; he’s in aspect with six of the other eight planets in the chart -- and five of those six aspects are negative aspects, which predict serious trouble. It was an accurate prediction: among the entertaining events that took place during the astrological era that began in 1226 were the Black Death, the Mongol invasions, and the Hundred Years War.
Before any of my readers dive under the bed, let me reiterate one thing: these patterns in the 1226 chart do not appear on the 2020 chart. I’ve mentioned them here because I’ve seen people ask what is, after all, the logical first question about this year’s Grand Mutation -- what happened the last time this occurred? -- and I don’t want anyone to jump to the wrong conclusion. Mars in Scorpio in hostile aspect to a flurry of other planets in a Grand Mutation chart gives fair warning that mass death is on its way, but we don’t have that in the current chart.
The 2020 chart does have certain things in common with 1226. To begin with, of course, there’s the Grand Trigon passing from Earth to Air, and the conjunction early in Aquarius in both charts. The Earth era that ran from 1027 to 1226 was a period of savage ideological warfare (you’ve probably heard of the Crusades); that guttered out after 1226. In the same way, the period from 1842 to 2020 was a period of savage ideological warfare (you’ve probably heard of the Second World War and the Cold War); we can expect that to gutter out, too, as the new Air era gets under way. Wars will still happen -- we’ll get to that -- but the obsession with going to war against a world that refuses to convert to some ideology or other will wind down.
What replaced it the last time was a time of great cultural creativity. The period from 1226 to 1425 was the golden age of medieval philosophy, the age of the troubadors, and of a flowering of secular music and poetry and of mysticism. During those years a set of Welsh and Breton folktales about a mostly forgotten dark age king turned into the Arthurian legends. The Arabic, Persian, and Chinese spheres went through cultural flowerings of their own during the same period. In at least some parts of the world, we can expect something similar this time around, too.
The other significant parallel between 1226 and 2020 is a trine between the Sun and Uranus, which is especially important in both cases because Uranus is the dispositor of the conjunction -- that is, he rules the sign in which Jupiter and Saturn are located when they conjoin. The Sun in mundane charts denotes government; Uranus is the planet of technology and change -- it’s no accident that the discovery of Uranus in 1781 was followed by the most dramatic two centuries of technological innovation in human history. Sun trine Uranus predicts that government and technological change will be mutually supportive during the period ahead.
There’s a wrinkle, though. In 1226 Uranus was in Scorpio, the sign of his exaltation -- in astrology, a planet in its exaltation is unusually strong and beneficent. He was also retrograde -- that is, appearing to move backward from the perspective of the Earth; a retrograde planet in astrology predicts a return to older conditions. Sun trine an exalted, retrograde Uranus predicts the recovery of older, better technologies and cultural traits. (You’ve probably heard of the Renaissance.) The period from 1226 to 1425 was also an era of breathtaking technological innovation, in which printing, firearms, the magnetic compass, advances in sailing technology, and many other innovations strengthened central governments and set the stage for worldshaking changes in the eras to come.
In the 2020 chart, however, Uranus isn’t exalted. He’s in his fall in Taurus, and a planet in its fall is unusually weak and displays its most destructive influences. He is also retrograde, as he was in 1226, but because he’s in his fall we can expect not a new Renaissance, but a forced retreat to older technologies and cultural traits. Technological regress is as much a product of Uranian influence as technological progress; so, unfortunately, are disasters caused by technologies. In both cases, governments will be strengthened, because they alone have the resources to deal with disasters caused by badly managed technologies and the consequences of technological regress. Since Uranus is the dispositor of the conjunction, we’ll probably have to deal with a lot of both.
That’s about all we can learn from the 1226 chart about our future. (It has plenty more to say about conditions during the era it inaugurated, but that’s another matter.) To go on, let’s turn to the chart that launched the era that has just ended, the Grand Mutation chart for 1842, which is above. It’s a very unusual chart. Mars dominated the 1226 chart, but the Moon dominates this chart to an even greater extent. She is in her rulership in Cancer, thus very strong; what’s more, she stands alone on one side of the chart, with all the other planets clumped up together on the other side of the chart. This formation gives great strength to the planet standing by itself.
The Moon in mundane astrology represents the people. Before 1842, as in every previous age since the rise of cities, the vast majority of human beings were ruled by monarchs. In 2020 almost nobody is, and the forms of democratic governance have become so mandatory that even a straightforward hereditary monarchy like North Korea has to pretend to be a Democratic People’s Republic. This unprecedented state of affairs is shown in advance in the 1842 chart, partly by the extraordinary strength of the Moon, partly by her opposition with the Sun, the planet of kings, which is in his detriment (that is, very weak) in Aquarius.
Consider also the glorification of change for its own sake (usually labeled “progress”) that has been such a massive cultural fact over the last 178 years. Change in society is ruled by the Moon, the fastest-moving object in the heavens as seen from Earth, and an era dominated by the Moon will see just such an obsession. Interestingly, the dispositor of this chart is Saturn, lord of limits; notice the way that the struggle between Moon and Saturn, change and conservatism, has defined the politics of the last 178 years.
There’s much more to be said about this chart as it applies to the era that’s over, and much of it was said in advance by astrologer Richard Morrison, who published a set of predictions in 1842 titled Zadkiel’s Legacy; he scored quite a range of direct hits (and, let it be said, some serious flops; he thought he could predict earthquakes using astrology, and he was wrong.) Since our concern here is with the era that has just begun, let’s move to the 2020 chart below.
The first thing to notice from this chart is that no one planet has the kind of dominant position that Mars had in 1226 or the Moon had in 1842. This is normal in mundane charts, and gives us our first guideline for the era to come: it will be a period much closer to history as usual than the era of mass death that began in 1226 or the era of frantic change that began in 1842. With the Moon much less prominent, change for its own sake will likely be less unthinkingly valued, and democratic governments will be rather less widespread by the time the era ends.
In this chart, two planets -- Mars and Neptune -- are in their rulerships. One -- Uranus -- is in his fall, and he is the only retrograde planet. The two planets in rulerships show that war, ruled by Mars, and religion, ruled by Neptune, will be major influences over the next 199 years. Since Mars has only one aspect, a weak sesquisquare with Venus, the wars to come will not be the kind of all-consuming frenzy that “the calamitous fourteenth century” (to quote Barbara Tuchman) featured. Mass death from plague or nuclear war? That’s not what the heavens say.
Meanwhile Neptune has no aspects at all and is simply purring away on his own. In 1226, Neptune was afflicted by an opposition with Mars, and that unfolded over the 199 years that followed as violent persecution of dissident religious groups. (You’ve probably heard of the Inquisition.) This time we don’t have that. The Moon and Neptune are in a remarkably similar configuration in the two charts -- the Moon separating from conjunction with Neptune, a little out of orb -- so it seems likely that the same sort of cultural upsurge of creativity and mysticism can be expected. Since Neptune is much stronger in this chart, and not afflicted by hostile aspects, the flowering to come won’t be rendered bittersweet by persecution.
On the other hand technology, ruled by Uranus, is going to suffer. As already noted, governments will gain strength because they alone have the resources to deal with the impacts of technological regress and technologically driven disasters. With Mercury trine Uranus, the crises to come will also drive a range of clever innovations as people figure out how to cope with the consequences of decaying technological infrastructure and the like. With the Sun trine Uranus, expect governments to have a fair amount of success in patching technological systems and putting workarounds into place. Even so, it’s going to be a rough road.
Note that the Sun is square the Moon. Neither of the two luminaries is strong in this chart: the Sun is peregrine (that is, in a part of the zodiac that gives him no strength) and the Moon gets only mild strength in Pisces, the sign of her mixed triplicity. Both get help from other planets -- the Sun from a conjunction with Mercury and the trine with Uranus already discussed, the Moon from a sextile with the Grand Mutation itself. Expect the next 199 years to be an era of turmoil, as centralized governments committed to crisis management in an era of technological regress have to contend with constant pushback and hostility from the population. Time is on the side of the Moon, but that only matters over the long run.
The Moon’s aspects with Jupiter and Saturn, though, have other lessons to teach. Moon sextile Jupiter is an indication of improved economic conditions. Moon sextile Saturn predicts good times for farm country and for rural populations. That may be a function of the technological problems predicted by Uranus; unemployment and underemployment driven by technology have been major economic realities for close to two centuries now, and it’s quite plausible that technological regress will lead to an improved job market as people have to be hired to do jobs in place of machines. Still, that’s a guess. Less speculative is the role of these benign conditions on politics. Prosperity will strengthen the hand of the people against the state, as it usually does.
Notice also Mercury’s position in this chart; in mundane charts, he governs communication and the media. He’s even weaker than the Sun, being peregrine in Capricorn and combust (that is, too close to the Sun). In 1842 he was better dignified, moving from a conjunction with the Sun to a conjunction with Neptune, the planet of mass phenomena. Notice how this predicts the way the press, and later mass media in general, became independent of central government but subservient to the lowest common denominator of the mass mind. That relative independence from the political sphere will not continue. Control over the media will revert to governments (Sun conjunct Mercury), and the media will become one of the main instruments used by them in their struggle with their own restive populations. Weak as Mercury is, this may do them less good than they expect.
Off by itself on one end of the line of planets, finally, is Venus, the planet of art and culture. She was in very dubious shape in 1842, weakly dignified in materialistic Capricorn and afflicted by an opposition with the dominant Moon, predicting the collapse of artistic standards and public taste in an age of schlock. In the 2020 chart she is peregrine and thus weak, but her only afflictions are two minor negative aspects with Mars and Uranus; in other words, wars and disasters will have their usual effects on the arts but the latter will be otherwise unhindered. The kneejerk hostility of artists toward the general public that afflicted the arts from 1842 to 2020 will be a thing of the past, though, and Venus in idealistic Sagittarius -- where she was in 1663, the dawn of the Fire era that ended in 1842, which saw the creation of so much good art, music, and literature -- bodes well for the creative arts.
One more chart is worth a glance here -- the chart for the Grand Mutation in 2219, the end of the astrological era that began on Monday and the beginning of the following era of history:
Notice that the Moon is very active in this chart, though weaker and far less dominant than she was in 1842. She is again in a square with the Sun, as in 2020, and this time square the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction rather than sextile it. Mars is the dispositor of the chart, and he is exalted in Capricorn, expressing his dynamic energy in constructive labor rather than war. Neptune is exalted in Gemini, though retrograde; five of the other seven planets are peregrine, with very limited strength. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn all challenge Uranus with hostile aspects -- the Water era that begins in 2219 and ends 179 years later will be very hard on technology -- while an opposition between Venus and Neptune, the arts and religion, will be resolved to some extent by popular support of both (Moon trine Venus and sextile Neptune).
Does this sound like history as usual? That’s exactly what it should sound like. The era that ended on Monday was obsessed with fantasies of universal change, but that’s another expression of that dominant Moon. Most of history consists of long periods of relatively sedate change in no particular direction, and the disasters that happen from time to time -- as of course they do -- are followed, not by utopia or oblivion, but by periods of recovery as people put their lives back together. We’ve just been through a very unusual period of world history, but it’s over, and once its last echoes finish dying away, we can expect something like a reversion to the mean.
What’s that you say? You want to know how all this will affect the particular corner of the world where you live? That requires a chart for the conjunction for your location. You can get that at any number of free online sites; enter the place, correct the time for your time zone, and you’re good to go. (Doublecheck your work by making sure the Moon is in the same place, 27° 52’ Pisces.) Raphael’s book Mundane Astrology or H.S. Green’s Mundane or National Astrology, both of which are readily available, will tell you what the planets mean in each house.
The point of this post, after all, is not to hand down infallible truths from on high. It’s to alert you to a useful art that might help you judge the shape of the future. Yes, I post detailed forecasts for paid subscribers on my Patreon and SubscribeStar accounts, and you’re welcome to tune in there if you like, but I’d be happier if more people cast and discussed their own mundane astrology forecasts -- and happier still if more people shook off unhelpful daydreams about the future and started preparing for the kind of future we’re likely to get.
One other thing. If you’re upset by any of the predictions made above, please remember that astrology is not in the business of catering to anyone’s sense of entitlement or handing out warm fuzzy daydreams. I’m not happy about the indications that democratic governments will be much less common in the era ahead -- I’m quite fond of civil liberties myself -- but that’s what the heavens show. (I’m sure nobody was especially cheered by those Mars aspects in 1226, either.) One of the great lessons of astrology, a lesson many of us badly need to learn, is that the universe is not a vending machine. We don’t create our own reality; we have some influence over it, but far more often than not, the deciding vote is not cast by us. Keep that in mind, gauge the unyielding aspects of the future before it hits, and you have a much better chance of accomplishing something with the time you have on this small and lovely planet.
John Michael Greer is a widely read author, blogger, and astrologer whose work focuses on the overlaps between ecology, spirituality, and the future of industrial society. He served twelve years as Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America, and remains active in that order as well as several other branches of Druid nature spirituality. He currently lives in East Providence, Rhode Island, with his wife Sara.