Saturn enters Aquarius March 21, 2020 and will remain until July 1, when he retrogrades into Capricorn. He will re-enter Aquarius for good on December 16, until March 7, 2023.
Saturn represents the totality of the known universe, as we humans are able to perceive it. In traditional cosmology, Saturn rules the outermost ring of the planetary spheres enclosing the Earth – his sphere represents the border between the spheres and the fixed stars, where the mythic, eternal Forms reside that are even more eternal than the personal gods. This is the reason Saturn is the master of boundaries, walls, and locks; beyond his sphere we simply cannot go. He represents the limit of our experience and understanding.
When Saturn enters a sign, all things, people, and places ruled by that sign will be tested by Saturn. If you are familiar with the term “stress test,” this is exactly Saturn’s modus operandi as he passes through the signs. Saturn puts under pressure all matters relating to Aquarius; “if they die, they die,” he seems to say. Whatever survives is sufficiently tough and passes Saturn’s test. We can assume that all Aquarian matters will be “stress tested” by Saturn. This applies for the Aquarian areas of life discussed in this article, as well as the areas of life ruled by Aquarius in our natal chart.
Solve et Coagula
The medieval alchemical motto, “solve et coagula” means “dissolve and coagulate.” The first step, dissolution, loosens material bonds and transforms rigid matter into finer, lighter stuff. Once the Materia Prima, as it is called, is reduced to its smallest component parts, we move on to the coagulation phase, where we rebuild anew, this time using purified and spiritualized Materia. The result is the Philosopher’s Stone or Elixir of Life, a substance with legendary healing and transformative powers.
The alchemical process is analogous to Saturn’s passage through Capricorn and Aquarius. March 21, Saturn moves into his diurnal sign, Aquarius, having just exited his nocturnal home, Capricorn. As a diurnal planet, Saturn is more at home in Aquarius than Capricorn. It is also said that Aquarius, a hot and moist sign, provides a necessary counterbalance to Saturn’s extreme cold and dry nature. We can think of Saturn in Capricorn as extremely yin; commencing the “solve” phase, while Saturn in Aquarius is yang and focuses on building new edifices, or “coagula.” Saturn in Capricorn asks “what must I let go?” and Saturn in Aquarius asks “what can I rebuild?”
History supports this ancient alchemical wisdom. The last transition of Saturn in Capricorn into Aquarius saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of socialist rule in the former Soviet bloc, and, after Saturn entered Aquarius in 1991, dissolution of the USSR. Saturn in Aquarius forced the world to grapple with this new phase and create a whole new world order after the end of the Cold War. Saturn transiting his own signs during this five-year span promises massive dissolution, followed by opportunity for growth.
The Humane Signs
The limits of the human body will certainly be tested; Aquarius is one of the so-called human signs of the zodiac (these are the air signs, and sometimes Virgo is included as well), and any intense astrological activity in these signs will impact people in an immediate and direct way. One such impact, of course, is to the body, which is why Saturn in the air signs often signifies things happening to large numbers of people. The current COVID-19 epidemic is one example. The current epidemic is so serious and widespread because Saturn is entering an air sign as we pass through a Great Conjunction era where Jupiter and Saturn conjoin in air signs every twenty years (for more details on this, see my June/July article in The Mountain Astrologer, and my December 2019 newsletter). Saturn’s entry into Aquarius activates this 240-year cycle, because the upcoming Jupiter-Saturn conjunction will take place at 0 degrees Aquarius, and Saturn will transit this degree immediately upon entering the sign as a kind of preview. The last set of Great Conjunctions in air signs brought us the plague, which, like COVID-19, was also spread via the breath, underscoring the breath/air sign connection. Just as the Black Death resulted in massive societal changes in Europe, we can expect this transit of Saturn to have socially transformative effects on our world.
Now is our opportunity to build a solid foundation of the humanities – the classical seven were grammar, logic/dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astrology, and music. To these were later added the other fields of study we know as the humanities – literature, history, anthropology, etc. Near the end of the last Great Conjunction in air era, following the Great Plague, the European Renaissance created an explosion of learning, as well as a love of the greatness of the human spirit not seen since antiquity. The intellectual seeds we plant now may not germinate for another two centuries, but they will undoubtedly do so. The air signs also rule engineering and the sciences; we now have an unparalleled opportunity to use STEM to improve the lives of people worldwide, and we can expect major advancement in these fields during Saturn’s passage through Aquarius and beyond.
Saturn in Aquarius will also test our humanitarianism. We will now grapple with the meaning of humanity: who counts as a full human being, and what rights are theirs? Saturn will test our vision and hope for the future. Are we, as a group, positioned to make it come true? The tools for major change become available now, and it is up to us to seize them. Again, we have a chance to build something good from the ashes.
The Great Conjunction
Saturn’s conjunction with Jupiter every 20 years, the Great Conjunction, marks the beginning of a new era. The years containing the Great Conjunction mark moments of rapid and global change. As I have written in my monthly newsletters (December 2019-March 2020), the defining moment of early 2020 is the assembly of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto in a single sign, followed by a long period of gradual separation. The intense planetary activity in Capricorn represents the apex of Saturn in Capricorn dissolution – a total loss of all we have taken for granted. Jupiter and Saturn’s conjunction in Aquarius represents the moment of coagulation, a rare chance to use old debris to build something more representative of our highest goals. For those who can see it, the moment of opportunity is already here, awaiting discovery.
Saturn in his diurnal sign offers a bracing gust of cold mountain air metaphorically and literally. It is said that in his own sign, he brings the coldest winters (there is the theme of solidification again). He will be a morning star, rising before the Sun, until mid-July, bringing a rainy, cold, and even snowy second quarter of 2020, a trend that will reappear at year’s end as the Great Conjunction draws closer.
As of the time of this writing, it is hard to believe that hope lurks at the bottom of Pandora’s box, yet it is there. In fact, I am confident that it will make its presence known quite soon, once the initial feeling of shock and loss passes. We are poised on the threshold of a new era, and must let go graciously of all the Capricorn stellium has taken away.