THE END OF AN EPOCH: THE CURRENT JUPITER-SATURN OPPOSITION
What is this fluttering expectation in the air, this breathlessness? Is it rampant 2012 fever or the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, predicted by the Golden Dawn to actually happen in 2010?1 Or is it because we are experiencing the final opposition between Jupiter and Saturn before the grand conjunction shifts elements from earth to air? Or may be all of these things, because we live in momentous times.
The Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions, that occur every twenty years, have always been seen by astrologers as events of great magnitude initiating dynastic change. Modern history confirms this view: Napoleon died under the 1821 conjunction, Abraham Lincoln took office in 1861, Queen Victoria died under the 1901 conjunction, Hitler became leader of the national socialist party in 1921, Kennedy became president under the 1961 conjunction, Reagan and Thatcher took office in 1981, and George Bush became president in 2000, the year of the grand conjunction in Taurus.
When mapped, the progress of the grand conjunctions through the zodiac describes a series of equilateral triangles (Fig 1). Every sixty years a triangle is completed, and the conjunction returns to start, shifting however nine degrees anticlockwise in respect to its predecessors, thus creating a cycle of 800 years (Fig 2). Every two hundred years the triangles change element. From 1226-1425 they occurred in air signs, 1425-1603 in water, 1603-1802 in fire and from 1802 to 2000 in earth.
If we add the oppositions to the geometry of the conjunctions, a six-pointed star or hexagram is formed (Fig. 3). In May 2010 the final opposition stage in the current sixty-year cycle will be reached with Jupiter in Pisces opposing Saturn in Virgo, and the last line in the current hexagram will be drawn.
So the series of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in earth, which began in 1802 (interspersed with oppositions between Saturn in earth and Jupiter in water), is nearing its end, and we stand on the brink of a mutation. In March 2011 a second exactitude of the current opposition will occur with Jupiter in Aries and Saturn in Libra, heralding the coming shift into air and fire – the elements that will determine the quality of the Jupiter-Saturn cycle over the next 200 years. (In 1980-1 we were given a foretaste of the new air quality when a maverick conjunction occurred in airy Libra, out of line with the other earth conjunctions of the series).
An element shift in the Jupiter-Saturn sky geometry marks the beginning of a new epoch with a new time quality. Saturn could be known as Father Time because his orbit, like a scythe, cuts up the sky into sections. In his book The Matrix of Creation2 Richard Heath makes a case for the numerical factors of Saturn’s cycle being used as the basis for ancient calendars. He points out that Saturn undergoes 28 retrograde loops during his 29-year cycle, so 28 is a Saturn number, and reflected in the 28 mansions of the moon - the Nashastras - as well as in the 56 Aubrey holes at Stonehenge, which Heath believes measure two 28-year Saturn cycles, calibrating with intervals of two months. He suggests that the myth of Jupiter deposing Saturn refers to the replacement of Saturn based calendars by calendars derived from the Jupiter numbers of 12 and 60. Ancient measuring units such as the megalithic yard are also derived from the numerical factors of Jupiter’s orbit, thus in a very concrete sense Saturn and Jupiter are lords of time and space.3 So I suggest that, when every two hundred years an element shift occurs, we gain a new perspective on time and space, and the way human consciousness perceives reality changes.
Johannes Kepler, who made a detailed study of the moving geometry of the sky, represented the periods of the planets by geometric figures with values based on the fundamental divisions of the circle into four, six and twelve sections measuring 90º, 60º and 30º. He created a model that relateed the five Platonic solids to the planetary orbits (Fig. 4) whereby the cube occupied the space between the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter, and the tetrahedron between Jupiter and Mars. Since then many mind-boggling mathematical relationships have been discovered between the planets’ cycles, sizes and distances from each other as well as their speed and axis inclinations, and even their rates of spin. These findings point to the presence of intelligent design in the universe. They prove that, rather than evolving randomly, the sun together with the planets and their moons form one unified, living system of the greatest order and elegance4.
That numbers and shapes have a qualitative as well as a quantitative dimension is neglected in modern times. But for Plato the five solids (Fig. 5) corresponded to the elements earth, water, air, fire and ether, which, as Jung pointed out5 have psychological significance and refer to our experience of our physical body, our feelings and our mental and intuitive powers. The tetrahedron or pyramid – the three dimensional form of the two-dimensional triangle, which is basic to the Saturn-Jupiter cycle – corresponds to fire and stands for human aspiration towards higher consciousness. In occult circles the three points of the triangle are related to perception, knowledge and higher understanding, and seen as corresponding to our two physical eyes and the intuitive third eye above them. All six points of the hexagram or star tetrahedron can be enclosed by a circle or globe (Fig. 6). Thus there is an easy flow of energy between the points, which explains the harmonious quality of the trine and sextile aspects in astrology aspects that point to ways in which we can evolve our consciousness.
The hexagram is a powerful magical symbol, and was used together with the pentagram by Aleister Crowley for example. In magical practices geometrical shapes are employed to evoke and then acquire the power of the energies they represent. A simple example is sitting in a circle, which evokes the power of the circle, serving to unify and harmonise a group of people. In a similar way a pyramid or triangle can be used to increase the power of the third eye, schooling the intuitive faculty to tune into transcendent states of consciousness.
There is an ancient spiritual practice, popularly revived in our times by Drunvalo Melchizedek, which involves visualising revolving a star tetrahedron (to acquire the powers of Jupiter and Saturn?) And meditators at the White Eagle Lodge also use the six-pointed star as a meditation aid. It is a basic shape in Tibetan mandalas such as the Shri Yantra (Fig. 6). Meditating on the balanced symmetry of the upwards and downwards pointing triangles in this figure harmonises the hemispheres of the brain, and creates subtle alignments that order our internal atoms and molecules.
So what has all this to do with the Jupiter-Saturn cycle? Well, I suggest that the power we attribute to the planets may derive not from the planets themselves but from the geometrical shapes created by their cycles. Also when Jupiter and Saturn draw the magic sky hexagon, a shape of great power, this is a sign that the ancient gods Zeus and Chronos are alive, well and still doing their thing. It confirms that divine harmony and order lie behind the surface crudity and disjointedness of human life. We remember that in Mesopotamia Saturn/Chronos presided over creation, and was thereafter responsible for keeping order in the universe. So we can say he is the source of the intelligent design that created a cosmos out of primeval chaos through numerical order.
Chaos is a concept describing the universe before number, when existence consisted of a soup of particles and waves. Then with the creation of matter Saturn/Chronos brought time as well as space into existence, because time can only exist where there is something material that moves and changes. It is therefore fitting that Saturn, as prime organiser and director, is associated in astrology with regulation, structure and necessity. Saturn restricts through setting boundaries – the laws of nature for example, and the laws of society necessary for stability and security.
Jupiter on the other hand is the lord of growth, and rules the evolutionary spiral that expands according to the ratio of the golden section. So Jupiter inspires us to fulfil our potential by becoming more – more rich, more powerful but also more intelligent and spiritual, and to share our gifts. The name Zeus comes from Djeu meaning to brighten or enlighten by bringing in light, and Ptolemy says Zeus rules the fertilising winds that set ideas in motion as the wind broadcasts seeds.
In unison Jupiter and Saturn create the balancing of the opposite principles as a necessary condition for life. As physical planets they balance our climate via the gravitational effects of their alignments on the sunspot cycle. Also Jupiter has been earth’s protector over aeons of evolution, deflecting away harmful comets and asteroids that would otherwise have collided with us. On the level of the body, where Jupiter and Saturn correspond to the posterior and anterior pituitary glands, which have directing, and protecting functions, they work together to regulate our hormone levels.
In astrology they rule over the last four transpersonal signs in the zodiac – Sagittarius to Pisces – which are relevant to our collective life in society. Jupiter represents hope, faith, optimism, and Saturn fear, doubt and pessimism, thus they stand for opposite attitudes. The time quality during their cycles oscillates between the extremes of enthusiastic expansion and grasping opportunity (full speed ahead), and sober acceptance of restrictions and control dictated by necessity (batten down the hatches).
When they are in conjunction their opposing attitudes merge, and Jupiter can provide a counterbalance to the narrow security consciousness of Saturn, while Saturn can sanely ground Jupiter’s visions. Then we are able to plan realistically for a future of measured growth. During their opposition, however, the two attitudes split apart. Opposite camps are formed and horns are locked, blocking progress. Then big ideas are shipwrecked on the rocks of hard facts, and optimistic plans for the betterment of life end in stalemate on the conference table. Thus, under the present opposition, we are advised to ratchet down our hopes in many areas and bide our time till well into 2011.
So how will the quality of the times change as we move away from two hundred years of conjunctions in earth into the new epoch of conjunctions in air? In general element earth is more congenial to Saturn than Jupiter, as it’s solid, stable, functional and easily formed and ordered. So in the past two centuries our main concerns have been material. We have learned to use earth’s resources to create material prosperity on a scale never known before. The last two hundred years have seen the rise and predominance of capitalism, whose roots go back to Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, written shortly before the first conjunction of the earth series in Taurus in 1802. At this time the modern banking system was also established, and Dalton proposed the atomic theory of matter, creating a philosophical basis for 19th and 20th century scientific materialism.
By the time of the grand conjunction in 1842 in Capricorn, we were well into the machine era. This period saw the rapid growth of industry and the expansion of the collieries to provide coal to fuel the new machines. Then during the next grand conjunction in Capricorn in 1901 oil was then discovered in Texas which has provided the basis of 20th century wealth and prosperity. But the US stock market also crashed in that year. After the conjunction in Taurus in 1941, a time of insane material destruction resulting from the greed of nations competing for territory and resources, sixty years of peace in Europe and prosperity followed. Capitalism finally triumphed over communism – an earthy materialist political philosophy – and the Berlin wall came down during the last Jupiter-Saturn opposition in 1989-90. Finally, following the last conjunction in earth in Taurus in May 2000, capitalism reached its peak with the banks enjoying untrammelled power and global markets expanding. But then came the crash, global recession and capitalism is now in dire crisis. Perhaps the shift from earth to air will witness its demise.
And what happened eight hundred years ago when the grand conjunction last mutated from earth into air? A conjunction in 1206 in Taurus was followed by one in 1226 in Aquarius, and the shift was accompanied by a rapid growth in trade and an expansion of urban life. The Hanseatic League was formed, and at the first opposition in 1215 the Magna Carta was signed. At this time the building of the great cathedrals started, which brought people together and favoured community life with the guilds being formed. The Templars were active creating institutions for the poor and elderly, and founding schools and hospitals. They believed in social equality, and the rights of women were observed in their communities. Also the first universities were being founded at this time in Paris, Oxford and Cambridge, and learning was being furthered in the monasteries throughout Europe – all of which demonstrates an emphasis on air values rather than on earthy materialism.
As a male element, air is more in tune with Jupiter than Saturn, who has had the edge on Jupiter for the last two hundred years. Air is a light, fast element that rises and expands away from the physical plane, but in earth as gravity kicks in Jupiter is slowed down. So may be Jupiter will now have the edge on Saturn. I suggest that in the coming two centuries the human mind will focus less on the material world and more on the realm of ideas. We will seek to master the world through understanding it rather than through trying to possess it.
This trend is already observable. Our minds are linking up via the internet and the mobile phone. A vast amount of information is now instantly available, which will affect the expression of human creativity, as the power of air is the power to convert experience into information and information into creative ideas. Air is also a leveller, just as the law is a leveller, and an ideal of balanced one to one relationships, and balanced relationships in society as well as between nations, could lead to more equality in the world and a greater emphasis on community values.
With the age of Aquarius also dawning, we could become inspired by the highest expression of the grand conjunction in air, and work towards establishing the cosmic laws of justice, balance and harmony in human relationships and in our social structures. Then justice, human rights and equality before the law would manifest more boldly. The world is waiting to change, the tipping point is approaching, and our breathlessness at this moment in time could be due to the realisation that everything hangs in the balance.
1 The Astrological Journal Vol. 52 Number 2 The Golden Dawn’s Esoteric Zodiac by Ed Gillam 2 Richard Heath The Matrix of Creation Bluestone Press 2002 3 See also Keith Critchlow Time Stands Still Gordon Fraser 1979 4 See also John Martineau The Little Book of Coincidence Wooden Books 2001 5 C.G.Jung Psychological Types Routledge &Kegan Paul 1970