Many astrologers anticipated the dramatic and gnarly aspects of 2020 in advance, but astrology is not like looking into a crystal ball. Astrology is a language of symbols, so what astrologers can see ahead of time is the symbolism pointing toward a variety of possibilities. We can see archetypal themes, energies, and influences that will be active within a particular timeframe, but it is usually not possible or productive to try to predict exact specifics regarding concrete manifestations. Instead of trying to predict the future, I find astrology to be most helpful in the moment or in retrospect, as a tool par excellence for making sense of what is happening, and for strengthening faith that there is a divine order and intelligence behind the scenes. This gives me solace in times of difficulty… So now that we have a clue about what we are dealing with in 2020, I have drafted my ideas for how some of the aspects this year might portray the global issues we are facing. This is definitely a work in progress (originally posted on 4/16/2020).
When Jupiter entered Capricorn, it joined Saturn, Pluto, and the South node — three challenging influences already in Capricorn. This created a cluster of big and formidable forces clumped together. When in Capricorn Jupiter takes on the flavor of that sign, which is diametrically opposed to Jupiter’s own nature. And in this sign Jupiter is also under Saturn’s stern rule. So in this case Jupiter does not have as much power to bestow its usual beneficence, but it still confers expansion upon everything it touches.
- Dec 26, 2019: Solar Eclipse conjunct Jupiter in Capricorn
- January 10, 2020: Lunar Eclipse opposite Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn
These two eclipses set the stage for at least 6 months. Where eclipses fall in a chart, they are known to usher in phases of volatile changes. In this instance, the eclipses activated the challenging and complex placements bunched together in Capricorn (Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, the South node, and Mars to join as a trigger). Over the course of 2020 we will see their joint magnitude unfold. The eclipses offer somber foreshadowing.
The Rising Action
- January 12, 2020: Saturn conjunct Pluto in Capricorn
Two “dark” forces converge. Nothing in astrology is actually dark, but what is constellated above can reflect back to us what may appear dark from the ego’s limited perspective (Example: from the earth’s point of view the pandemic has caused less fuel consumption and less pollution). Historically, the configuration of Saturn and Pluto in aspect to one another was associated with international war, genocide, plagues, or other tragedies and in response a reactionary impulse towards more authoritarianism (this is well documented in Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas). Pluto empowers, intensifies, and magnifies what it comes into contact with, so in this case it is intensifying the Saturn themes of contraction and oppression. The conjunction between two planets launches a new beginning in their cycle together. A plausible hopeful outcome of these two planetary archetypes joining together is a transformation (Pluto) of old, toxic structures, systems, and authorities (Saturn) that reign and cause destruction, but that’s the long game. For the time being we are still in the middle of watching the birth of this aspect unfold, so all we can do is be present with what it is stirring up for each of us. Saturn rules fear, isolation, and deprivation; and Pluto rules viruses, epidemics, disasters, and death, but also rebirth, regeneration, and rejuvenation. The pandemic is bringing up different struggles for different people. For the lucky ones, the worst case scenarios will only be confronted in our minds. But one of the features for everyone, in one sense or another, is fear — whether it is fear of disease, of being alone, of losing a loved one, or of enduring a financial crisis, food insecurity, or a loss of personal rights and freedom. (Sometimes I think the things we are most afraid of happening in the future are actually things we have already experienced on some level / in some dimension in the past, and we have residual trauma from it). Pluto, being an outer planet, elevates the issues to a societal level, revealing problems we are confronting together as a whole. Hopefully this collective crisis will act as a reset button and help us work towards creating a more sustainable future.
- February 3 — March 4, 2020 and March 16 — April 11, 2020: Mercury in Pisces
- February 16 — March 9, 2020: Mercury Retrograde
- April 3, 2020: Mercury conjunct Neptune
Mercury rules the flow of information and communication. While Mercury is in Pisces, retrograde, and with Neptune, information may be emotionally driven, contradictory, mystical, creative, and therefore up for interpretation — as opposed to clear, precise, and accurate. Mercury in Pisces is great at “painting a picture” of reality, so it can present on the one hand ideals and higher realities, or on the other hand confusion, vagueness, and blurriness. Outright deceit can enter the picture.
First Act where Mars is a Trigger for the Loaded Guns
- February 16, 2020: Mars enters Capricorn
Once entering Capricorn, a robust Mars begins almost 3 months of co-presence (being in the same sign) with a commanding Saturn. The two traditional malefics hanging out in the same sign, and a sign in which they both have extra strength, is daunting, because together they join forces and become even more powerful. Mars, the warrior, brings danger and struggle; while Saturn, the hermit, brings restriction and isolation. Mars and Saturn will first be together in Capricorn and then together in Aquarius, both signs where Saturn rules. So Saturn themes win out: caution, guardedness, anxiety, limitations, going inward, scarcity etc. Even though Mars is potent in Capricorn, his actions are frustrated unless they are in the service of Saturn’s agenda... Having to stay within the structure of one’s own home is a literal manifestation of Saturn’s rule.
- February 26, 2020: Mars conjunct South node
- March 20, 2020: Mars conjunct Jupiter
- March 23, 2020: Mars conjunct Pluto
- March 31, 2020: Mars conjunct Saturn
Volatile Mars moves down a corridor of conjunctions, igniting everything it touches. First it passes the South node, pressuring us to let go of attachments; then Jupiter, making everything bigger (or at least appear bigger); then Pluto, compelling us to face the specter of death; and finally it reaches Saturn, helping us to take practical (and somewhat miserable) steps in order to cope/survive. After March is over we will have come through one of the most concentrated months of the year, in terms of the severity of dramatic aspects packed within a short period of time. I’m not saying I think everything will magically get better after March, but we will have passed a milestone by the end of it.
- March 30, 2020: Mars enters Aquarius
This shift presents us with the opportunity to perceive how we are all in this together. What touches one of us touches all of us.
A Key Player
- April 4, June 30, and November 12, 2020: Three passes of Jupiter conjunct Pluto in Capricorn
This repeated aspect reveals the character of the predicament we find ourselves in. Pluto correlates with the intense upheaval that is happening within the world, societies, families, and individuals — propelled by serpentine forces hidden beneath the surface. Pluto reveals to us the destruction that is probable if we do not transmute unconscious shadow forces into instruments that serve humanity and the earth as a whole. During this year (roughly) of Jupiter conjunct Pluto, Jupiter expands all of these situations represented by Pluto. And on the darker side, this aspect could also be described as a magnification of the wealth that buys power, and a fortification of plutocracy under the guise of democracy. I suppose the forces of light and dark are always co-existing simultaneously. On the spiritual level, Pluto requires and inspires us to surrender to a higher power. And usually there is a benevolent or healing aspect to Jupiter’s influence. Jupiter, though not as Jupiterian while in Capricorn, is still Jupiter, and still has the potential to bring a spirit of generosity, friendship, harmony, and resources to the table (a small stimulus check from the government is inadequate yet unprecedented). Though we are isolated from one another in obvious outer senses (due to the dominant Saturnian influences discussed earlier), we still have the power to work together for the common and individual good. Jupiter’s participation reminds us of that, and Pluto’s energy of intensification could potentially empower Jupiter’s benevolence in this configuration.
Like all three-part aspects, the first meeting of Jupiter conjunct Pluto on 4/4 introduces the issues at hand, the second retrograde meeting on 6/30 stirs up the issues to be revisited and reviewed, and the last meeting on 11/12 has the potential to offer a resolution. I am hoping that by the time the third pass in November rolls around, more of the truth (Jupiter) will be revealed and more of the unanswered questions about what all was transpiring underneath the surface (Pluto) this year, will be more apparent.
- May 6, 2020: The Nodes of the Moon shift out of Cancer/Capricorn
The global crisis reached a crescendo when Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and the South node (the dragon’s tail) were all in Capricorn. With the Nodes of the Moon shifting into new signs, the dragon’s head and tail will no longer be accentuating all those forces in Capricorn at once. I imagine this will correlate with a degree of relief.
For the first time since mid February, Mars is no longer co-present in a sign with Saturn. This initiates a phase of respite during which we are no longer undergoing the first wave knocking us over (spurring us to panic-hoarding, etc) as we try to adjust to a shocking new lifestyle. At this point we are no longer reacting to the first terror of Mars triggers. Now we are settling in but wondering how this fragile situation is going to unfold from here… While in Pisces, Mars won’t be making hard aspects to the other challenging planets, except its conjunction to Neptune on June 13, 2020. On the negative end, Mars and Neptune together could describe rash autocratic moves (Mars) by those in power, amidst a swirl of confusion and illusion (Neptune). On the high end, we have strong motivation (Mars) to come together with a sense of unity and oneness (Neptune) to champion (Mars) for justice. While we experience Pisces, tuning into the suffering of the collective is inevitable and painful, but a much needed feature of this emotional and empathic water sign…
Regarding health, Pisces and Neptune both have something to do with the “soup” we are all in together — the invisible sea of germs we are swimming in — and Mars rules contagious and infectious diseases. Does that mean there will be a more extensive spread of the virus stealthily infecting people during this time? In normal circumstances the flow of germs makes us stronger in the long run as our immune systems build in strength through exposure. Perhaps the process of communities acquiring natural immunity during this time will gain momentum, if that is possible.
- March 22 — July 1, 2020: Saturn dips into Aquarius, initiating Saturn square Uranus
Saturn leaves Capricorn for a few months, creating a little more distance between Saturn and Pluto. While these two planets take a break from sharing the same sign, many are experiencing a decreased level of alarm related to the pandemic (sensibly or not, we will find out later) and the dark Saturn-Pluto themes of fear and confinement. At the same time we are getting a taste of what the next couple of years may be like. For most of 2021 and 2022 we will be embroiled in another powerful planetary alignment: Saturn in Aquarius square Uranus in Taurus. This transit could be described as the status quo power structures (Saturn) poised in a tug of war (square) with the voices for radical change (Uranus) to confront and uproot racial injustice, economic injustice, environmental injustice, and all other forms of systemic institutionalized oppression and bondage. We are seeing a strong uprising against the horrific brutalities that commonly occur against people of color (George Floyd being a last straw). And this is just the beginning, virus or not. I am finding myself grieving deeply about the pain my beloved brothers and sisters of color have endured for centuries. Mercifully this is now once again becoming too flagrant for white people to ignore. Along with the grief, my heart is also rejoicing as I watch the ubiquitous inequities come to light more visibly for white people to see. Seeds of real change are being planted now correlating with this transit. It is a square, so no surprise, change and reform will not happen without great struggle...
On a side note, Aquarius rules modern technology. The last time Saturn was in Aquarius the internet was born. And now as Saturn enters Aquarius we are in this sudden (sudden thanks to the square to Uranus) phase of life where many have no choice but to conduct their work and socializing primarily online. Though I hope this isn’t the new normal, I do appreciate that this form of communication was never before available during earlier times in history. Once Saturn re-enters Aquarius in December 2020, it will spend the next two and a half years in Aquarius. With Jupiter by Saturn’s side for the better part of 2021, we can expect a proliferation (Jupiter) of new technology (Aquarius) built into the structure (Saturn) of our existence. (For instance, I have heard there are plans for 800,000 more cell towers, 1 million more antennas, and 50,000 satellites continuously radiating from the sky covering every corner of the earth in order to support all the wireless devices in use. How will this impact the health of all creatures?)
- April 25 — October 4, 2020: Pluto Retrograde
- May 11 — September 29, 2020: Saturn Retrograde
- May 14 — September 12, 2020: Jupiter Retrograde
Retrograde periods give us time to digest and integrate the past in order to facilitate new problem-solving innovations that help us move beyond obstacles. Just as the planets appear to go backwards from our perspective on earth, certain matters in our lives also do not move forward as readily. I am wondering if this will work in our favor during the pandemic, offering us intervals of relative respite with reports of positive cases and deaths slowing down. Will we be able to ease up on restrictions and caution, or will there be a false sense of security? Additionally, Mercury will be retrograde twice more this year: June 18 — July 12 and October 13 — November 3, 2020, and Venus will be retrograde (signifying the many economic and relationship impacts we are facing) May 13 — June 25, 2020. If things fail to move forward at the regular pace, especially during the Mercury retrograde periods, will we feel a sense of interminableness in this new tenor of life? It seems we have been conditioned to dread Mercury retrograde, but we desperately need our retrograde times. We need time to learn from our mistakes. We need time to catch up, time for reflection, time to reframe the past, and time to revision the future.
Second Act in which Mars is a Trigger and Saturn Inches Closer to Pluto Again
- June 27, 2020 — Jan 7, 2021: Mars in Aries
Mars is in Aries for an unusually long time, because its entire retrograde period takes place within the sign of Aries. While Mars is in Aries we can expect the Saturn-Pluto themes of disease and darkness to heat up again. Mars will again be in hard aspect to these heavy-hitter planets, and again be acting as a trigger of the crisis that began early in the year. While in Aries, Mars is again extra potent, but now no longer in service to (i.e. ruled by) Saturn as it was when in Capricorn. Saturn is all about fear, caution, and isolation. Mars is more about fighting for rights and asserting oneself regardless of the consequences. Saturn was in charge earlier in the year, but not so this time around. During this second act, both Saturn and Mars are strong and fighting out disparate agendas. The exact squares and potential peak points of stress are:
The timeframe of these repeated squares will likely correspond with a second wave of the pandemic crisis in some form. But the experience will be different, because it will reflect the advantage of a learning curve already integrated, leaving us more prepared and able to pass though it with more skills, hopefully! First Mars will meet Chiron in mid July. This could reveal our vulnerability and how we have been wounded. Then the first phase of squares begins. After that Mars goes retrograde (September 9 — November 13, 2020) to begin a review process. While retrograde Mars is not able to push forth its agenda as immediately, so that may offer less outward intensity during that time but more internal strife as we grapple with processing volatile emotions and instincts. Also, the South node will not be involved this time, meaning one less challenging point for Mars to trigger. On the other hand, the Mars retrograde creates an extra long period of stressful aspects of intense conflict. This phase of the crisis will be prolonged in comparison with the initial phase of Mars triggers that occurred during the conjunctions in Capricorn in February and March. The conjunction is sometimes the most shocking part of an aspect cycle, because it poses a new problem and brings it to the fore for the first time. In contrast, the square represents turning a corner within the cycle, albeit with struggle and great effort. The months of Mars squares listed above will likely correlate with significant peak points of struggle in passing through the stages of this pandemic life experience and eventually getting to the other side of it.
- July 2 — December 17, 2020: Saturn returns to Capricorn
- September — October 2020: Saturn is within 3º of Pluto
Because Saturn retrogrades backwards, completes its dip into Aquarius, and re-enters Capricorn, it again comes into close proximity with Pluto. Although these two planets will not make another exact conjunction during this cycle (other than in January 2020), Saturn will be awfully close to Pluto during September and October 2020. This will also coincide with the Mars triggers mentioned in the previous section. During this period, Mars will be in Aries, in the middle of its three-part square aspect to Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto. As mentioned, it is reasonable to prepare for another iteration of the dark archetypal conglomeration of Saturn-Pluto themes — widespread power struggles and affliction of the masses in some form — until Saturn gains more distance from Pluto, and until Mars is finished setting things off. Since Saturn will not quite reach Pluto this time, I am hoping the Saturn-Pluto themes will not peak as intensely as they did in the beginning of the year.
- December 17, 2020: Saturn enters Aquarius
- December 19, 2020: Jupiter enters Aquarius
- December 21, 2020: Jupiter conjunct Saturn at 0º Aquarius at the Solstice
- January 21, 2021: Mars conjunct Uranus
By the end of December 2020 we will be entering the beginning of a new 20 year cycle initiated by an exact Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius. Jupiter will no longer be in a sign incompatible with itself. Both Jupiter and Saturn will no longer be sharing a sign with Pluto. And Mars will almost be done (but not completely until the end of January 2021. See the dates in the Second Act section) with its long process of triggering and then re-triggering the challenging planetary placements of 2020. 2020 draws to a close with Jupiter conjunct Saturn right on the winter solstice. This will mark the beginning of the end of the fearsome Saturn-Pluto conjunction, which will hopefully also translate as the beginning of the end of pandemic life…
With Saturn and Jupiter both leaving the conservative earth sign of Capricorn, entering the nonconformist air sign of Aquarius, and meeting at 0º, there is a feeling of inspiration, at least in some small way, reminiscent of “The Age of Aquarius” and all that is associated with it. In the best case scenario this will strengthen an alternative vision for healing, freedom, and justice and encourage new Aquarian seeds of reform to be planted. I long for the time when we are fully on the path towards living in a spirit of brotherhood, sisterhood, and with a sense of the unity of all life. I know there is a growing mass of us with this kind of vision in our hearts and commitment to continue working towards it, so that gives me hope…
2021 begins with a bang, as the Saturn square Uranus transit that only just began in the spring of 2020 takes hold for a two year journey. The archetype of fighting for change within an old rotting system is the general theme of this transit, but it will have some interesting twists. Saturn, the planet that represents the old structures, is in Aquarius, a sign that rules reformation and revolution. At the same time, Uranus, the planet that represents radical change, is in Taurus, a fixed earth sign known to be resistant to change. On top of that, Saturn is fortified by the presence of benevolent Jupiter working under Saturn’s rule in Aquarius for much of 2021. And Uranus is vitalized by a somewhat awkward yet ever bellicose Mars in Taurus for a couple of months. So this longer term volatile aspect between Saturn and Uranus kicks off with not just those two planets pitted against one another, but instead four planets involved in the fight. I am eager to see how this is going to play out.
Talking about the Age of Aquarius, if you need a laugh as much as I do, I recommend watching this: https://youtu.be/fdsCGm4bP3E (The Age of Aquarius scene from The 40-Year-Old Virgin)
(art: The Carousel of Time by RC DeWinter)