WE LIVE IN DANGEROUS TIMES: THE SATURN-PLUTO SQUARE
Talk given by Phoebe Wyss to the Brighton and Hove Astrology Circle 11.3.2010
The summer of 2010 is marked by an unusual number of dramatic outer planet aspects - Saturn opposite Uranus, Saturn squaring Pluto and Jupiter/Uranus squaring Pluto and opposing Saturn. The outer planets are always on the verge of veering out of control, whether they manifest collectively as a mob carrying out a massacre, or as telluric forces splitting the earth open during a quake Or within us as powerful surges from the unconscious, that drive us to act irrationally. In vain we may struggle to keep control, as Gordon Brown is struggling to keep the runaway train of the economy on the track, while Pluto, soon in league with Uranus and Jupiter, is threatening to derail it.! This summer one of those Jeckyl and Hyde times when we are being forced to give our Hyde space and come to terms with him.
The present Saturn-Pluto aspect is the waning square of a cycle that started in 1982.
This square has three exactitudes which fall on 16.11.2009, 31.1.2010 and 21.8.2010. Altogether it is in orb from Oct 09 to September 10, with the exception of mid April to mid July this year. And all three exactitudes fall in the cardinal signs Libra and Capricorn, though during the summer Saturn will move back into Virgo and oppose Uranus in Pisces.
I will concentrate on Saturn and Pluto, keeping, however, an eye on Uranus, who is part of the picture. The energy of this Saturn/Pluto square is cardinal. Now the early degrees of the cardinal signs correspond to the cardinal compass directions, and the solstice and equinox points as well to sunrise, midday, sunset and midnight. These points are like anchors in time and space, and they are also turning points of change. Therefore these major aspects close to the cardinal points mean there will be a strong impetus to take action for change this summer, because cardinal energy has to move and be used for projects and exertion, or when there’s opposition, for fight. It’s like a head of steam is built up at cardinal times that needs to be discharged. But this natural letting off steam is being blocked by the square between Pluto and Saturn, which is soon to become a cardinal T-square when joined by Uranus and Jupiter later in the summer. So the strong impulse towards taking action is dammed up and an explosive tension results.
And now Saturn is retrograding out of cardinal Libra into mutable Virgo. It’s as if the first green shoots of spring that were about to break through are delayed by a return to winter. What will happen to those proclamations of change, those new ways of thinking and new values of the politicians? As Saturn is our builder- the ruler of Capricorn - he must be enlisted to get all building works off the ground, but as he is retrograde now his attention is on the unfinished business of the past rather than new projects. So the cardinal thrust of change is being capped.
In mutable signs the energy instead of being concentrated ready for action is dispersed so things crumble and disintegrate ready to be cleared away - a process accentuated by Saturn’s opposition next month to Uranus in mutable Pisces. Uranus brings the unexpected and sudden revolt, so the best laid plans and strategies of the politicians can go awry this summer. Breakdown and breakthrough is on Uranus’ agenda, which is all grist to Pluto’s mill. He’s waiting there in Capricorn rubbing his hands. So when Saturn returns to cardinal Libra and the last exactitude with Pluto in August, he will have been chastened and weakened by Uranus.
I see the planets as representatives of the sign archetypes in which they rule. Thus Saturn carries the Capricorn and Pluto the Scorpio archetype. The twelve astrological archetypes are fields of meaning that contain clusters of ideas, associations, images, behaviour patterns and life themes. As, in the course of their time cycles, they become prominent, their subject matter manifests in us and around us on all levels, and it is fascinating to observe the forms their expression takes in daily life.
The words in the fields in the diagram below are pointers to the essences of Saturn and Pluto, which are beyond language mind and feeling. But taken together they give an impression and can define the quality of Saturn/Pluto times in life.
The merging of the two fields shown in the diagram explains why from last autumn onwards there’s been an escalation of violence in the world – massacres, increased suicide bombings, daily army funerals in Wootton Bassett. And the home news has been full of murders, rapes, incest and cases of cruel abuse, because Saturn/ Pluto leads our repressed urges to erupt, and people can live out their worst fantasies – it’s a time of catharsis. It’s also a time of fear and threat. For example there have been news items about sex offenders on the loose, and psychopaths who perform psychotic killings at large in the community, because there are not are not enough prison places for them.
The tense Pluto/Saturn square, and the explosive Saturn/Uranus opposition falling together have resulted in three terrible earthquakes in the last two months in Haiti, Chile and now in Turkey, which I believe is unprecedented. The solid surface of the earth (Saturn) is cracking under the stress of these powerful cosmic forces, so the magma (Pluto) wells up from below The quakes are necessary to relieve telluric pressure, and their aftermath is giving thousands of people an extreme Saturn/Pluto hard time. Their experience of suffering from injuries, bereavement, homelessness, hunger and disease is within the human collective and thus felt on a deeper level by all of us. We are lucky in this country to get away with a hard winter – which is also no coincidence, because when Saturn and Pluto combine as at present, hard winters can be expected, bringing extra heating costs that many can’t afford, and ice and snow hindering travel and mobility.
It is also typical of the Saturn-Pluto square that we should be at war. We are committed to a hopeless war in Afghanistan we cannot win, with heavy loss of life, and our leaders see no way out. Gordon Brown may talk about moral reasons being in Afghanistan but the truth is his hands (and feet) are tied by agreements with Americans and thus he is bound with chains of necessity.
Another manifestation of Saturn/Pluto is the corruption and fraud that is being uncovered in the corridors of power. Scandal in high places is one of the themes of Pluto in Capricorn, which, by the way, reinforces the Saturn/Pluto square as the same archetypes are involved, making it especially powerful this time. If something is rotten in the state, it will be exposed. So we have had the expenses scandal, the Lord Ashcroft scandal, the bank bonuses scandal. We discover that top ministers in the government have been complicit in the torture of terror suspects (torture and sexual abuse being the most unpleasant faces of Saturn/Pluto.) But, if there has been a cover up on any level, now is the time when the truth will out. So beware - your dark secrets could be revealed!
The waning square of Saturn and Pluto is also about retribution - old crimes of the past are exposed and perpetrators are punished. Thus murderers are being arrested now decades after committing their crimes. We heard before Christmas that a Nazi war criminal, who has been pursued all these years, is now going on trial (By the way, the war tribunal in which the leading Nazis were tried and sentenced after World War II happened during the 1947 conjunction of Saturn and Pluto.) Our government has apologised under it the Barnado children who were exported to Australia and the colonies where they suffered a harsh life of labour and abuse, deprived of family love. The Australian government has also apologised recently to the hundreds of half-caste children who they separated from their aborigine families during this time.
Saturn /Pluto suits totalitarian states. It gives great power to the few and who can use it cruelly for their victims’ disempowerment and exploitation. Under the first exactitude of the present square last autumn, far right neo-Nazi groups were in the news. They were clashing in street battles with anti-fascist and Muslim protestors. Racial and homophobic attacks are rife at this time. Issues of race are revived that were in the foreground, for example, during the rise of Nazism when Pluto was in Cancer in the 1930’s.
Our state, if not totalitarian like the communist countries of the past, is a harsh social system that is on track to become harsher as public services such as the National Health will be cut by 30% in the next two years, in spite of what the politicians are saying. This is insider information! We find ourselves locked into a society controlled by greedy self-interested bankers and corporate entrepreneurs who have insidious powers over our politicians that are invisible. Today people are driven to work inhumanly long hours, out of fear of losing their jobs, for the profit of the rich, to support an unsustainable society built on their illusion of continuous growth. Pluto is utterly amoral and is also associated with great power and great riches.
This is the dark face of Saturn/Pluto whose times are times of the slave driver and the slave, times of exploitation and surveillance. Under the title ‘CCTV in the Sky’ it was reported recently that the police plan to use military-style unmanned spy drones for the routine monitoring of anti social behaviour, which would be a threatening expansion of covert state surveillance.
Let’s review the events accompanying the major stages in Saturn’s 34-year cycle to Pluto through 20th century history.
1. The 1914-1915 conjunction was exact in the summer and autumn of 1914 when war was declared, and heralded the horrors of trench warfare. A 34-year cycle began in which the nations struggled for supremacy and the lions’ share of trade and world resources.
2. The 1922-23 waxing square: Stalin seized power and began exterminating his enemies and creating slave camps in Siberia.
3. The 1931-33 opposition: The great stockmarket crash, the pressures of unemployment, people starve in America and Germany. 7 million Ukranians starve under Stalin. Hitler seizes power and the rise of the Nazis begins. Japan invades Manchuria. Totalitarian regimes prosper.
4. The 1939-41 waning square was exact in August-September 1939 when World War II was declared. It favoured the Nazis who triumphed at the beginning of the war. A time of fear (gas masks) and financial austerity (ration books). The extermination of the Jews was conceived and the development of atomic bombs began. The waning square brought the nemesis of a cycle of competition and conquest.
5. The conjunction of 1947-48: The world faces the grim aftermath of war, suffering exceptionally severe winters, with ruined cities to rebuild, and the facts of the concentration camps and the nuclear holocaust in Japan to be faced. The iron curtain comes down; there is the Berlin blockade. And India is partitioned to create Pakistan, resulting in the death of thousands of refugees, and the state of Israel is created. The new cycle of Saturn to Pluto will be marked by cold war, and escalating violence in the middle East due to the events under the conjunction.
6. The 1955-56 waxing square: the cold war, Kruschev’s threats, the nuclear threat is strong, the CND marches. Russian totalitarianism dominates the east European block. The 1955 the Hungarian revolt is put down by force and all dissent crushed.
7. The 1965-66 opposition saw Israel’s six days’ war, and events that would lead to the Vietnam war. Otherwise, as Uranus was part of the equation it was about social revolution, the pill, and sex, drugs and rock ’n roll.
8. The 1973-75 waning square saw the Americans defeated in Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, the oil embargo by OPEC and the resulting global economic recession.
9. By the 1982-83 conjunction in Libra the tensions of the cold war had escalated with the nuclear arms race. Reagan’s star war technology was envisioned. We narrowly escaped nuclear Armageddon when a Soviet military officer averted world war. It was a time of border tension and hostilities – (Saturn and Pluto in Libra were trying to balance hostilities and threat), Israel invaded Lebanon. There was Greenham common, the Falklands war, the rise of the Republican right wing in the US, and of the conservatives under Thatcher in the UK. (Thatcher with Saturn in Scorpio on her AC was Pluto-Saturn person!) But also the reality of a nuclear winter scenario was brought home to the politicians when the fuel rods failed in a nuclear power plant in the USSR, and there was a nuclear power disaster in Argentina. A new cycle of Saturn to Pluto begins in which the big financial institutions, the world trade organisation, and concerns like Lockheed Martin extend their power globally.
10. With the 1992-93 square the global economy teeters and we go into recession. There is war in the Balkans, and dangerous tensions between India and Pakistan.
11. The 2001-03 opposition between Saturn in Gemini and Pluto in Sagittarius brings the twin towers atrocity. (Gemini the twin towers, Sagittarius the highjacked aircraft bringing death). George Bush (born under 1946 conjunction) comes to power in the US and Tony Blair in the UK and begin their sinister association. Following 9/11 there is limitation of civil liberties, and security is stepped up on flights, the oppressive power of the establishment is more strongly felt with increased control and surveillance. It is reported that on the same day that the news of the attack on the twin towers was received Donald Rumsfeld gave orders to his aides to set about planning the invasion of Iraq. Saturn-Pluto times as we have seen can bring large-scale violence and destruction. And they are also times when populations are brainwashed to think in terms of black and white, good and evil, friend and foe. Bush’s axis of evil speech which I believe was written in readiness for 9/11 used the human weakness of projecting our repressed negative traits onto those we see as our enemies – the communists, the Muslim terrorists etc - for a manipulative political purpose.
12. And now during the waning square of 2009-10: We are engaged in a hopeless resources and morale sapping war in Afghanistan, with a surge of troops taking place this Spring – not a good time astrologically, proving that Obama unlike Reagan does not have a pet astrologer! Meanwhile Iran and North Korea have become nuclear threats (Pluto). Iran, we hear, will not tolerate the US missile shield (Saturn) in the Gulf to protect oil installations and deter an attack on Israel. The summer months of 2010 could see increased suicide bomb attacks – maybe a terrorist dirty bomb, as Iran could now be in a position to supply terrorists with nuclear materials. Or a cyber attack could paralyse the internet, which would cause our social infrastructure to collapse. We can expect flare-ups in hotspots such as the India/Pakistan border, Gaza, and Northern Ireland. Or perhaps the violence will merely play out in the human collective fantasy through the millions of violent computer games people are playing all over the word, which in a Saturn/Pluto way are addictive because they give the player a semblance of control in a brutal, illogical, chaotic world.
Whichever way the election in May turns out for us in the UK, the next government, elected under the Saturn-Pluto square will face enormous pressure. Pluto has magnified our national debt into a bottomless black hole in the economy. And countries can go bankrupt not just banks - for example Greece is teetering. But perhaps the biggest pressure for radical change is the climate crisis. A recent statement by the Met office said, ‘The world has just 10 years to bring greenhouse gas emissions under control before the damage they cause becomes irreversible.’ But the Copenhagen talks, held shortly after the first exactitude of the Saturn/Pluto square failed miserably. We all realise we need to act and to act now to reduce emissions, but it seems our hands are tied - by Saturn and Pluto of course.
So where is the brightness in this picture of gloom and doom? And what helpful advice can astrology give for the coming summer of crisis? As Saturn moves in June into orb with Uranus and Jupiter who then enter Aries, and an explosively tense T-square is formed, it will be important in public life and in our personal life to keep our cool. We must disengage from our passions when frustration and anger is triggered in our relationships, and find a place in ourselves from where we can dispassionately observe the manifestations of this very powerful configuration of archetypes. Perhaps, instead of ‘We Live in Dangerous Times’ this talk should be called ‘We Live in Interesting Times’ as the Chinese say.
As there will be tremendous pressure for change and tremendous resistance, our attempts to get things done will be blocked and then we must be patient and not freak out as the odds will be against us. Instead of getting drawn into conflict because things are not moving, we should maintain our integrity, and quietly pursue our path whether we make progress or not. And if extreme things happen we will have to get ourselves back into balance first before we deal with the situation.
People with personal planets in the early degrees of the cardinal signs are in the pressure cooker. So if they are clinging to some security structure and it’s not working out, things will come to a head this summer. There may be pressure to make impossible decisions. Uranus will be pushing them to break radically with the past, and change their situation dramatically, while Saturn will bring circumstances that make this very difficult to carry out. And Pluto will put them under psychological pressure, forcing them to look inside and deal with what is coming up. Someone said, ‘There is no misery like being trapped in your own brain. The more I think about my problems the more tied up in knots I become.’ So if their mental or physical health is affected, they will be put under pressure to look inside and do some inner work in order to find the inner strength and certainty needed to deal with this hard test.
Because basically this is a metaphysical crisis. Like our planet, we individually are being put under pressure to become more sustainable. This requires us to expand our sense of self to accept and integrate our rejected shadow side instead of projecting it on the people we hate. Pluto, when strong, brings to the fore the human habit of projecting the ‘evil’ in us onto those we see as our enemies, and fighting it in others (the Jews, the commies, the Muslims) instead of dealing with the darkness in our own psyche.
So Saturn-Pluto times can bring out the worst in human nature, but these times, so austere, are when we see the human spirit rising to the challenge, and showing great courage, stamina, determination and moral courage, as well as the will to sacrifice, and the power to make a titanic effort as is being shown by the hundreds of rescue and aid workers struggling at present to deal with the aftermath of the earthquakes.
Melanie Reinhart has called Pluto the planet of void, depth and uncompromising necessity, and Saturn the power of manifestation, the planet of hard conditions and hard bargains. During a Saturn/Pluto time new forms emerge from the underworld of the collective unconscious and old forms get broken down on a deep psychic level. So Melanie sees these times as times for re-centering ourselves as there is a powerful pulling together of energy inwards. And in times of acute stress in the outer world this inner centering becomes even more urgent. Perhaps that’s the higher soul purpose of dangerous times – to put us under so much pressure in the pressure cooker that we wake up and move up spiritually to a new level.
And then we must prepare ourselves for the arrival of Uranus to create a T-square with Saturn and Pluto. Uranus is the planet of awakening; it frees us by unlocking or severing a stuck situation, but it does this by removing one of the main props so our security edifices become shaky or collapse. So we can, for example, expect the social stress this summer of many more people losing their jobs, as drastic cuts will have to be made in institutions and businesses, bringing a further collapse of old ways of living and old ways of thinking. But there will also be the flash of new ideas and alternative perspectives coming through, though we will need to be alert in order to catch. When Uranus arrives on the spring equinox point of 0 degrees Aries at the end of May and remains stationary there until mid August we can access an invigorating current of pure fresh energy that can inspire us and return our zest for life’.
Although this summer could be painful and frustrating on the material and personality levels, on the soul level it is a very valuable time of purification, of cleaning out and aligning with the purposes of the life force. This applies to the human race as a whole. The world this summer will be under an intense pressure for change. And it is good so. Economic expansion and the greedy grabbing the world’s resources cannot continue to be the programme for the rich countries at the expense of the poor. We cannot afford to go on in our nationalistic self-serving ways. A revolution in our values must occur for us to move away from the dominator culture of winners over losers, and power over weakness, and finally recognise that we are one planet and one species, and we sink or swim together.