Welcome to the Mountain AstrologerSubscribe to the Mountain AstrologerRead the beginner's series from the Mountain AstrologerGet back issues of the Mountain AstrologerRead highlighted articles from the Mountain AstrologerUse our article index from you library of the Mountain AstrologerContact us at the Mountain AstrologerSee our special offer from the Mountain Astrologer
  EDITOR'S CHOICE ARTICLES Aug/Sept 2001 Issue  

A Crisis of Power: Saturn and Pluto Face Off
by Robert Hand

If you live in New York City or on the West Coast of the United States, you may be reading this article by candlelight because of electric power shortages. What you won’t hear about in the media is that an astrological configuration – occurring about every 35 years – perfectly symbolizes the breakdown of the power grid.

On August 5 and November 2, 2001 and on May 26, 2002, the planets Saturn and Pluto oppose each other – this time, from Gemini to Sagittarius.(1) This is the dominant configuration of the outer planets for the upcoming twelve months and will affect not only world events but also those of us with horoscope factors that are transited by this aspect. In this article, we will look at the effects on world affairs. (The orb of influence of this aspect is difficult to define, but it seems effective for at least a year on either side of the dates when the aspect is exact, i.e., August 2000 to May 2003.)

The Fundamental Meaning of the Saturn-Pluto Opposition

First of all, this is an opposition, which is an aspect of 180 degrees between two bodies. It represents the maximum degree of polarization between the energies of any two bodies that enter into it. They stand like two opponents facing off against each other and, as a result, define themselves and each other in the process. The medieval astrologers referred to the opposition as the aspect of perfect or complete hostility.(2) They regarded it as the worst possible aspect between two bodies. In modern astrology, it has become customary to take the fulminations of medieval astrologers a little less seriously. We are more inclined to describe an opposition as difficult or challenging rather than bad or evil. Or, putting it another way, we describe the opposition and square as aspects that clearly require thought, skill, and wisdom to bring about a useful and constructive outcome. And even when oppositions do not seem to come out well, this is often more apparent than real (although the difficulties that oppositions can signify are real enough).

In many astrological schools, it has also become common to refer to the opposition as a 7th-house aspect, meaning that the fundamental nature of the opposition can be understood by comprehending the 7th house and its relationship to the 1st house. There is considerable merit in this idea, although it is a bit limited and may be the wrong way around. But let’s stay with it for the moment. What does the 7th-house/1st-house relationship tell us about an opposition?

The 7th house is described as signifying "open enemies" or, as I prefer to say, "opponents," persons who have openly declared their "opposition" to you or to something you are doing. This house also signifies all manner of partnership, including marriage. Relating marriage and open enemies may seem like some kind of joke, but what these have in common with partnership is quite important: They represent two ways that two people can face each other and deal with each other directly as individuals, without anything else intervening. The result can be either conflict – where the two sides do not come together – or partnership – where they do. Or this can be a marriage where two people become, or strive to become, as close to a single entity as two separate people can get.

Now, all these are certainly elements of the opposition aspect. But the main difference between the 1st-/7th-house relationship and the opposition aspect is that the benign manifestations of the 1st-/7th-house symbolism are much more easily found in one’s experience than are the benign manifestations of the opposition. In other words, partnership and marriage are more often achieved through the 7th house than similar kinds of harmony are attained though oppositions.

Table 1: House Polarities

1st/7th Self Other as partner or opponent
2nd/8th One’s own possessions and attachments Loss of possessions; broken attachments; partner’s possessions; death
3rd/9th Lower mind; everyday environments; short journeys Higher mind; unfamiliar environments; long journeys
4th/10th Home; inner world; one parent Career; outer world; the other parent
5th/11th Personal self-expression
Expression through the group
6th/12th Work; service; short-term illnesses Complete subordination of self; confinements; long-term illnesses

As I said above, I also believe that there is more to the opposition than the 1st-/7th-house relationship. Simply put, all of the houses in the chart that oppose each other exhibit different facets of the opposition relationship. Table 1 above shows the meanings of opposite houses. I have particularly chosen meanings that most clearly reveal the opposed quality of the houses; I will not attempt to give exhaustive descriptions of the houses.

See how each of the first six houses makes a kind of polarity with the second six houses: Each of the second group serves to lift one out of the issues of the first group, to challenge them or even negate them. If we understood the natures of the polarities of all six pairs of opposed houses, then we would completely understand the nature of the opposition aspect. I believe that a similar analysis of all other aspect relationships of the houses would help us to understand the natures of those aspects as well. But this would not be a simple task, because the meanings of the houses, as they have come down to us, reflect a wide variety of traditions based on different philosophies and rationales.

The planets Saturn and Pluto are easier to describe. However, I want to say that the descriptions given here are also not exhaustive. I intend to stress basic ideas that can be associated with each planet, so that the basis of what I am going to say will be most clear. I realize that I could do much more to expand the symbolism of each planet and go more deeply into its esoteric and philosophical dimensions. For the purposes of this article, however, that won’t be necessary.

Pluto vs. Saturn

Let’s start with Pluto. This is a planetary energy that many astrologers regard with some dread. I think this is partly due to its modern association with Scorpio and thereby the 8th house as well. I am strongly influenced by traditional astrology, so I do not consider Pluto to rule Scorpio - or any other sign, for that matter. I use only the traditional planets as sign rulers. I do think that there is some affinity between Pluto and Scorpio, but affinity is not the basis of traditional sign rulership. Traditional sign rulership has more to do with how the signs reinforce, positively or negatively, the essence of a planet – hence, the term "essential dignity."

Pluto is about power, but not just any kind of power. It is the power of the transformations that result as things come into being and pass away. To say that Pluto rules change is true but too weak. To say that it rules power is also true but too broad. Pluto is specifically powerful, often indicating seemingly inevitable change and transformation. The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote a work traditionally entitled De generatio et corruptio, which means "On Generation and Corruption." This is very close to the heart of Pluto, with one major difference: In Pluto’s case, it would be more accurate to say "On Corruption and Regeneration," because that is usually the sequence that we see in connection with Pluto. Things pass away and then something new comes into being. We have times when things seem to reach a level of stability and permanence; then there is a period of decay, when they begin to break down and go wrong. We may desperately try to hold on to the status quo, but we seem to be up against a relentless force that will not be stopped. The harder we try to hold on, the more ruthless the energy of change becomes, and change gets out of control. After a while, the rate of breakdown slows, and things come together into a new pattern. It also seems to be true that the more easily we let go of the things that want to pass away, the more readily and rapidly the new patterns come into being. I have often described the basic pattern of Pluto as "Death and Resurrection." (It is oddly appropriate that I should be writing this on the weekend of Easter 2001, because the story of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection is a classic Plutonian cycle.)

So, we come to Saturn. The planet Saturn is not usually considered a force for change. It is often seen as resisting change – as being conservative, stubborn, even reactionary. These are qualities of Saturn, to be sure, but that is not the complete story. Saturn has to do with our experience of what underlies all order and structure. It is the principle of mechanical law, the order of the physical world. In this, Saturn is different from Jupiter, which is more about the kinds of laws that are created and negotiated among human beings. In the ancient world, particularly in religious philosophy, Saturn was associated with the laws that one becomes subject to as a result of incarnating in the physical universe. Saturn had, therefore, a strong connection with the kind of fate that was the result of physical law – predetermined fate. Using the language that is more popular with modern astrologers, Saturn has a strong connection with karma – the operation of cause and effect.

From this, it is clear that Saturn does have its own kind of energy for change (here, Saturn is again obviously being considered in relation to Jupiter): Saturn rules changes that have to do with shrinkage or getting smaller or changes that involve hardening. Jupiter is about expansive change – growth – and often represents things becoming less hard and more flexible, at least up to a point. The Saturnian kind of change just described is particularly relevant to the historical and mundane manifestations that come with Saturn-Pluto combinations. I will call this kind of Saturn-Pluto change the "shrinking transformation."

What we have here are major metamorphic changes represented by Pluto coming into open conflict with the lawful and orderly systems represented by Saturn. There are at least two possible ways of reading this combination. First, the Saturn-Pluto combination represents crises that come about as the normal, lawful, and predictable manifestations of Saturn are challenged by the need for deep and fundamental changes in the system, which are indicated by Pluto. It is as though we were driving down a well-defined road with a clear objective, and either something that we did not anticipate is forcing us onto another road or the road itself is being transformed. Second, Saturn-Pluto change is likely to impose some kind of restriction on our freedom of movement or upon our resources. This is our "shrinking transformation." As of this writing, we have begun to see changes of this kind. I will discuss these later in this article.

What we have to look forward to may become more evident when we examine the historical record of Saturn-Pluto aspects in the 20th century, leading up to this trio of oppositions in the early 21st century.

The Recent History of Saturn-Pluto

For the purposes of this article, I will concentrate on the aspects that are multiples of 90 degrees (see Table 2 below). These include the conjunction (0°), the squares (90° and 270°), and the opposition (180°). The sextile (60°) and the trine (120°) are not unimportant, but they are subtler in effect and do not usually designate crisis periods. When dealing with the cycle of Saturn and Pluto this way, we are treating it in a manner similar to the phases of the Moon.

Table 2: One Hundred Years of Saturn-Pluto Aspects

Aspect Saturn Pluto
October 4, 1914 2°14' Cancer 2°14' Cancer
November 1, 1914 2°04' Cancer 2°04' Cancer
May 19, 1915 0°54' Cancer 0°54' Cancer
October 9, 1922 90° 11°13' Libra 11°13' Cancer
February 17, 1931 180° 19°04' Capricorn 19°04' Cancer
July 8, 1931 180° 20°18' Capricorn 20°18' Cancer
December 13, 1931 180° 21°41' Capricorn 21°41' Cancer
March 26, 1940 270° 0°41' Taurus 0°41' Leo
August 11, 1947 13°07' Leo 13°07' Leo
December 27, 1955 90° 28°26' Scorpio 28°26' Leo
July 2, 1956 90° 26°48' Scorpio 26°48' Leo
October 7, 1956 90° 29°43' Scorpio 29°43' Leo
April 23, 1965 180° 13°55' Pisces 13°55' Virgo
August 17, 1965 180° 15°19' Pisces 15°19' Virgo
February 20, 1966 180° 17°35' Pisces 17°35' Virgo
May 28, 1974 270° 4°08' Cancer 4°08' Libra
November 8, 1982 27°36' Libra 27°36' Libra
March 20, 1993 90° 25°23' Aquarius 25°23' Scorpio
October 9, 1993 90° 23°56' Aquarius 23°56' Scorpio
January 2, 1994 90° 27°07' Aquarius 27°07' Scorpio
August 5, 2001 180° 12°37' Gemini 12°37' Sagittarius
November 2, 2001 180° 13°49' Gemini 13°49' Sagittarius
May 26, 2002 180° 16°36' Gemini 16°36' Sagittarius
November 15, 2009 270° 1°42' Libra 1°42' Capricorn
January 31, 2010 270° 4°21' Libra 4°21' Capricorn
August 21, 2010 270° 2°56' Libra 2°56' Capricorn

Saturn Conjunct Pluto (3 passes): October 4, 1914 to May 19, 1915.
This is the first conjunction of the 20th century. It occurred just after the beginning of the First World War, but in August 1914, when the War began, Mars passed both Saturn and Pluto by square. As we shall see, this situation was similar to the interactions of these three planets at the beginning of World War II.

The First World War was the breakdown of what had become the normal political arrangement of the 19th century. Empires that had existed for hundreds of years were overthrown, and likewise royal dynasties. New nations also came into existence. This is clearly a Saturn-Pluto crisis, involving the destruction of an existing order and the creation of a new one.

Saturn Square Pluto (1 pass): October 9, 1922. This aspect was not accompanied by anything very remarkable except, perhaps, for one thing: There was a brief period of economic recession in the United States just after the end of World War I, right before this square. However, the situation was much more serious in Europe, with rampant inflation in Germany and social unrest in Italy that led to the rise of Mussolini. Here again, the symbolism of massive restructuring is evident in the history of the time; with the postwar economic woes, we have a clear instance of the "shrinking transformation" mode of the Saturn-Pluto combination.

Saturn Opposition Pluto (3 passes): February 17, 1931 to December 13, 1931. This opposition occurred during the early period of the Great Depression, when conditions were already very bad and rapidly deteriorating even further. This was a worldwide phenomenon and one of the factors that led to the triumph of Adolf Hitler and Nazism in Germany. Again, we see major structural changes and one of the most dramatic examples of a "shrinking transformation."

Saturn Square Pluto (1 pass): March 26, 1940. This square occurred just after the beginning of World War II in Europe. However, right before September 1939, when the War actually began, Saturn came within a few minutes of arc to the square before turning retrograde, and Mars made a triple pass in opposition to Pluto and square to Saturn, during the same period.

World War II, like World War I before it, involved yet another massive restructuring of major historical patterns. It was, in many respects, the completion of what had begun in World War I. The result of these changes was to lead us into the next phase, which was the replacement of strife and tension between wholly European powers with strife and tension between two nations that were not part of the old European group – the U.S. and the USSR.

Saturn Conjunct Pluto (1 pass): August 11, 1947. A new Saturn-Pluto cycle began. Around this conjunction, the process described in the previous paragraph was completed. The Cold War began on a grand scale. There was also a worldwide recession just before this combination. This was also the period when the modern "intelligence" apparatus, such as the CIA, came into being. (Editor’s note: Also, at this time, UFO sightings captured the public imagination.)

Saturn Square Pluto (3 passes): December 27, 1955 to October 7, 1956. This was the middle of the Eisenhower era in the U.S. The Cold War raged fairly intensely, but the economy in this country was quite prosperous. However, in the Middle East, Egypt’s President Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, which had been controlled up to that time by the British and the French. In October 1956, the Israelis invaded Egypt, and the French and the British bombed the Suez Canal. This event was the "Suez Crisis." Also, in October 1956, the Hungarians rose up against the Russian-supported Communist regime in an effort to install a more liberal, nationalist government. This revolt was put down with great ferocity in November by Russian tanks. Here again, we see the struggle between the forces of long-term change and the powers that would keep things running in a more or less predictable manner. In the case of the Suez Crisis, the forces of the old order (France and Great Britain) were overthrown; whereas, in Hungary, the forces for change were defeated by the Communists.

Saturn Opposition Pluto (3 passes): April 23, 1965 to February 20, 1966. This combination was made more intense by the fact that Pluto conjoined Uranus much of the time while it was opposing Saturn. This three-planet configuration is a sign of revolutionary upheaval. There was no significant economic crisis, but this summer was extremely turbulent in the U.S., with race riots in the major cities. This was also the beginning of the most polarized portion of the 1960s, involving the New Left, the Generation Gap, and the entire ideological conflict between certain elements of the generation that fought in World War II and the generation called the "baby boomers." The Vietnam War "escalation" became significant during this time. Here, we see the principle of Saturn-Pluto as the transformation of basic societal structure or laws. After the aspect reached perfection in February, the "Six-Day War" broke out in June 1967, when Israel defeated virtually all of the surrounding Arab nations and took over the territory that it now holds on the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The tensions that led to this war were well established during the period of the Saturn-Pluto opposition.

Saturn Square Pluto (1 pass): May 28, 1974. In the fall after this aspect came the Yom Kippur War between Israel and the Arabs; this led to the Arab Oil Embargo and the resulting economic crisis in the U.S. – the first major energy shortage. The economy of the time was characterized by the term "stagflation." Prices continued to rise, but there was little of the economic vitality that normally characterizes periods of inflation.

Saturn Conjunct Pluto (1 pass): November 8, 1982. This was one of the less severe Saturn-Pluto crisis periods; it consisted mainly of economic stagnation just before the economic boom of the late 1980s. It was mainly a period of brutal but regional wars. The Iran-Iraq War raged throughout this period, with severe loss of life on both sides. The USSR had in Afghanistan what many people regard as its Vietnam War. The disillusionment that resulted from this war was one of the factors that led to the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late ‘80s. Both these wars lasted considerably after this aspect and began somewhat before this aspect.

Saturn Square Pluto (3 passes): March 20, 1993 to January 2, 1994. This was right after Bill Clinton was elected president. The depressed U.S. economy was a major issue during his campaign. During the period of this aspect, the economy was still in trouble. The war nearest in time was the Gulf War, but that took place back in the first Bush administration and cannot plausibly be linked to this aspect, although it did involve the Middle East and oil. Yugoslavia’s breakup occurred during this time – further evidence of the Balkan connection with Saturn-Pluto.

The New Saturn-Pluto Face-Off

This brings us to the present group of aspects, where Saturn opposes Pluto from August 5, 2001 to May 26, 2002.

So, what can we expect in the upcoming year, based on our experience of these aspects in the 20th century? Looking at the times of the aspects, we can see three major themes that seem to correspond with these configurations. Several of these patterns have coincided with recessions or depressions – the one in 1931 was especially harsh. Those that did not come with recessions coincided with wars, ranging from extremely severe (World Wars I and II) to less so (Vietnam) to the kinds of strife that border on war but also have the qualities of civil unrest (Suez Crisis, Hungary, the urban riots of 1965—66 in the U.S.). And since World War II, there has been a marked tendency for these Saturn-Pluto aspects to coincide more or less with unrest in the Middle East, especially involving oil. It is hard to know whether there is something intrinsically "Saturn-Pluto" about the Middle East situation and, possibly, oil. Or is it just that Saturn-Pluto indicates stress that manifests wherever there is some kind of chronic historical situation? I suspect that it is the latter case, but at the same time, I also believe that the Middle East and the oil situation will continue to manifest Saturn-Pluto energy until the underlying historical stresses are resolved.

In this regard, the attempts by the international community to regulate fossil fuel emissions by treaty are indeed attempts to relieve the underlying stresses in the Middle East, if indirectly. Lessening our dependence upon fossil fuels, especially oil, will not solve the Arab-Israeli problem, but it will lessen the dependence of the rest of the world upon peace in that region. Given that the ("Dubya") Bush administration has so far not seen fit to support these treaties, we have to conclude that the underlying stresses that make the Mideast a "Saturn-Pluto" hot spot will not be mitigated in the near future. We have an administration dominated by American oil men. We have the Middle East in turmoil, and we have Saturn-Pluto oppositions in our near future. Maybe this is not the best time to have the influence of Big Oil in the White House.

Although the first of the Saturn-Pluto oppositions is still a few months away, as of this writing (April 2001), phenomena are already present that are characteristic of several of the previous combinations of these two planets.

1. Economic Recession. We have the threat of recession. Stock markets are declining. The NASDAQ market has fallen from its peak in 2000 by a percentage that rivals the decline in the Dow-Jones Industrial Average from 1929 to 1932. There has been a large increase in the price of energy, so the economic future does not look too rosy, even though an actual recession has not been officially declared. (Recessions tend not to be officially declared until they are too obvious to ignore.) In California and elsewhere, deregulation of utilities has brought about tremendous increases in the costs of electricity and natural gas. In the Washington, D.C. area where I live, the price of natural gas has tripled in the course of a single heating season; in California, the supply of electricity has become unreliable as well as incredibly expensive.

2. War. It remains to be seen whether a major war will break out during this Saturn-Pluto period. However, we have ongoing warlike activity in the Balkans, just as we did in the period leading up to World War I. In fact, the Balkans have figured heavily in several of the Saturn-Pluto times (see Table 2). In 1914, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo immediately led to war. In 1947, the Communist takeovers of the Balkan states were proceeding apace. In 1956, there was the revolt in Hungary, and we have our current situation in the Balkans. I think, however, that the Balkans, like the Middle East, reflect long-term underlying historical tensions that surface whenever hard Saturn-Pluto aspects occur.

Also, in this time leading up to the Saturn-Pluto opposition, there is increasing unrest about globalization. As of this writing, the Western Hemisphere "Summit" in Quebec City has been accompanied by considerable rioting and demonstrations. Demonstrations have become characteristic in Europe and America whenever governments meet to discuss globalization. Given the Saturn-Pluto dynamic, I do not see this trend diminishing.

3. The Middle East and Oil. The price of oil has risen sharply because of concerted action among the largely Arabic oil-exporting nations. And severe conflict has been brewing between the Israelis and the Palestinians for some time. It does not look as though this will end soon. Also, something new has arisen in the Middle East: the difficulties with Afghanistan and terrorism either supported by or harbored by the Taliban. The level of paranoia and fear associated with Afghanistan is getting quite high. And I have no doubt that some of this is justified.

The aspects have not yet even begun, but we are already seeing some of the "classic" Saturn-Pluto effects that have been corroborated by the history of the last hundred years. There is obviously a cause for concern. How long are the effects going to last? And how severe will they be? These are not easy questions to answer. Historically, we can see that these aspects have coincided with events ranging from extreme crises (the two World Wars) to incidents that, though important, are harder to distinguish from the normal "noise" of the 20th century.

Still, the effects of other configurations have contributed to the outcomes of the Saturn-Pluto aspects. During World Wars I and II, Mars made hard contacts to Saturn and Pluto, then just forming their aspects, in the months when war actually broke out. In 1965-66, the Saturn-Pluto combination, as we have seen, was made more complicated by the nearly simultaneous Uranus conjunct Pluto. This gives us reason to hope that the effects of the Saturn-Pluto opposition may not be quite so severe this time, because these upcoming oppositions do not have such difficult major outer-planet configurations occurring near them in time. The outer-planet configuration closest in time is the Jupiter-Pluto opposition in early May 2001. This is a stressful aspect but not as troublesome as some configurations that have accompanied other Saturn-Pluto aspects.

The last major outer-planet configuration was the Saturn-Uranus square of 1999 and 2000. Although this aspect is in the past, it may have contributed to the manifestations of crisis that we have seen in this period before Saturn has actually opposed Pluto.

What Next?

As I have just indicated, we are already seeing some effects of Saturn-Pluto in the intensifying turmoil of the economy and the Middle East/oil situation. The question is: How severe is the level of conflict going to become? And will there be civil unrest or even war? Will the U.S. be involved? I am sure that war will break out somewhere during this time. Conflict in the Balkans will surely erupt again, because the major issues have not been resolved.(3) The Middle East is also still very hot and could explode into more severe unrest or war at any point.

In the April/May 2001 issue of The Mountain Astrologer, Jim Shawvan used an array of methods to argue very cogently that the trends in President Bush’s chart seem to indicate war or, at least, that Bush would be in a bellicose frame of mind. (read Jim's article here.) (4) The chart of Bush’s inauguration (January 20, 2001, 12:02 p.m. EST, Washington, D.C.) has Mars in its rulership in Scorpio in the 7th house squaring Mercury conjunct Uranus in the 10th. This is certainly an indication of warlike activity. But as I have mentioned elsewhere (in an article on StarIQ), there is no 9th-house involvement in this configuration that would point toward foreign conflict.(5) This aspect pattern is just as consistent with fierce opposition to the administration from within the nation. This does not of itself mean that there will be no war, however, because the 7th-house involvement alone is enough to raise the possibility.

Shawvan has done an excellent job of showing the indications based on Bush’s chart. So, I would like to look at some of the relevant mundane charts for the Saturn-Pluto period, to see whether they reveal anything more. Specifically, I will be using the tropical ingresses of the Sun into the cardinal signs, with each chart erected for Washington, D.C.

There is considerable disagreement among traditional authorities about the use of ingresses. Some maintain that the Aries Ingress can be used for the entire year and that the other cardinal ingresses serve only to reinforce the indications of the Aries Ingress. Others maintain that the rising sign of the Aries Ingress is the critical factor. If the rising sign of the Aries Ingress is a cardinal sign (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn), then one should use the Aries Ingress for the first half of the year and the Libra Ingress for the second half of the year. If the rising sign of the Aries Ingress is fixed (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius), then the Aries Ingress is to be used for the entire year. If the rising sign is mutable (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces), then all four cardinal ingress charts should be erected for their respective quarters. Frankly, at this stage of the research, I cannot say that I really know what the correct procedure should be.

Also, some modern authorities have questioned the usefulness of ingress charts because, it is maintained, they do not show enough variation from capital to capital.(6)This objection has been raised most strongly by Europeans, because their capital cities are quite close to each other. I have found that, at least in weather forecasting, the ingress charts do have considerable value, and my work thus far in historical events shows them to be useful there, too. We will look for Mars either closely conjunct an angle, preferably the Ascendant or Midheaven, or in close square to the Ascendant. Mars in an angular house (1st, 4th, 7th, 10th) may also be a strong indication.

The Cardinal Ingresses in 2001

The Aries Ingress for 2001 occurred on March 20 at 8:31 a.m. EST. This chart, like all the charts in this article, is erected for Washington, D.C., using Whole-Sign houses. Taurus is rising, and Saturn is quite close to the Ascendant (see Chart 1). The Saturn effect is evident in the obvious mood of conservatism in the U.S. government.

This chart has a Taurus Ascendant, which is a fixed sign. According to one school, as exemplified by Masha Allah in de Revolutionibus ("On the Revolutions"),(7) this Aries Ingress should describe the entire year. That may be true, but we will look at the other cardinal ingresses as well. Almost all medieval authorities agree, however, that, in an Aries Ingress, one should determine which planet is the "Lord of the Year." According to Masha Allah and others, this is a planet that is strong by house position and/or has some strength in the Ascending sign.(8) The Lord of the Year is supposed to indicate the general state of the people.

In this chart, the rulers of the Ascendant are Venus, which is cadent and in detriment, and the Moon (Taurus is the sign of its exaltation), which has no dignity where it is located. I believe that Saturn in the 1st house near the Ascendant has to be taken as the Lord of the Year. Abu Mashar, in the Flores ("Flowers"), states that if there is a planet near the Ascendant, it is the Lord of the Year.(9) Saturn can indicate many things, but by itself it is not a war planet.

Masha Allah also asks us to look at the "Lord of the King" (which, for the U.S., means the presidency). This is simply the ruler of the Midheaven. In this chart, the Midheaven is in Aquarius, which is traditionally ruled by Saturn. This means that Saturn is both the Lord of the Year and the Lord of the King.

We next look at the dignity of Saturn. In this chart, it has only one point of dignity: It is in a decan, or ten-degree segment, ruled by itself.(10) This is considered a very minor dignity and indicates more pretension than substance.(11) This placement could indicate that the people are not especially well-off, but it is not a war placement. It is a much stronger indication of recession and hard times.

The Cancer Ingress of 2001 takes place on June 21, 2001 at 3:38 a.m. EDT. This chart has a highly elevated Uranus square the Ascendant (see Chart 2). Also, the Moon is void of course in the 2nd house, which is an unfavorable indication for the economy. Saturn is beginning to get close to the opposition of Pluto, and these two are in the 2nd and 8th houses, respectively. This is also not a great signal for the economy. But aside from the disruptive effects of Uranus square the Ascendant, there are no strong indications of war here either. (We do not determine the Lord of the Year or Lord of the King here, because that is only done for the Aries Ingress.) Still, Uranus square the Ascendant certainly suggests that the government may be in a turbulent state.

The Libra Ingress takes place on September 22, 2001 at 7:05 p.m. EDT. Mars is the most elevated and angular planet in this chart, because it is in its own exaltation and rules the 1st house (see Chart 3). This points to the government becoming more belligerent around this time. This is certainly a warlike configuration, but if the Aries Ingress chart does indeed rule the entire year with its Taurus Ascendant, then the Aries Ingress would need to confirm the warlike indications of this chart. As we saw above, the Aries Ingress chart is not especially warlike; however, if each quarter chart really does stand on its own, this one is fairly bellicose.

The Capricorn Ingress takes place on December 21, 2001 at 2:22 p.m. EST. In the Washington chart, the only Mars activity is shown by Mars in the 11th house square Saturn in the 2nd, which opposes Pluto in the 8th (see Chart 4). This is another indication that the economy is in trouble. It is does not relate strongly to war, except that Mars rules the 7th house of open enemies.

The 2002 Aries Ingress

The Aries Ingress of 2002 takes place on March 20, 2002 at 2:17 p.m. EST. Again, we have a fixed sign rising; according to Masha Allah, this means that this chart should rule for the entire year (see Chart 5). This chart is a source of some concern. Mars is in detriment in the 10th house squaring the Ascendant and Neptune on the Descendant. Mars – by its house placement, at least – qualifies as the Lord of the Year, but its being in detriment might disqualify it. (Determining the Lord of the Year is not an exact science.) It certainly suggests a belligerent administration whose attitude toward open enemies (Neptune on the Descendant) is neither clear nor especially wholesome. The Lord of the King (Venus) is also in detriment in Aries in the 9th house of foreign affairs. Of course, Mars in Taurus and Venus in Aries are also in mutual reception. The problem here is that two planets in their own detriments do a rather poor job of mutual reception. Based upon my own experience, such a mutual reception does have an effect, but it is quite weak. Having an occupant of the 10th house in detriment and square Neptune on the Descendant and having the ruler of the 10th house in detriment in the 9th does not bode well for the conduct of the administration in many regards, and it is an especially unpleasant signification when considering war. This by itself does not indicate the inevitability of war, but if there were conflict, it is unlikely that it would be handled well.

This chart is of great enough concern, however, that I think we should look at its Astro*Carto*Graphy map. Here, we see that the Mars-Midheaven line does not actually go through Washington, D.C., because Mars is not on the Midheaven in Washington – Mars is square the Ascendant there! The point square the Ascendant is also known as the Nonagesimal and is often regarded as significant. However, the Neptune setting line goes fairly close to D.C. through Virginia and North Carolina. So, we need to find where else these planet lines go, to see what other places our actions might be linked to. The Mars-IC line goes through China (which is a bit ominous), and the Neptune rising line goes off the coast of China. This is worrisome, because these planets affect the U.S. Here again, we do not have an inevitable indication of war or a lower-level conflict, but with such a map and from the point of view of these significations, it is possible that the country involved would be China. In this quarter of 2002, it is also possible that we may have more misunderstandings with China that bring the threat of war, without actually bringing war itself.

The major aspect pattern of the chart is Mercury in Pisces in the 8th house making a t-square with the Moon conjunct Saturn in the 11th opposed Pluto in the 5th. This combination again speaks to trouble in the markets (5th house), difficulties with financing (8th house), and adversity in 11th-house matters as well. In modern mundane astrology, about the only thing that we associate with the 11th house is the Congress and legislatures in general; of course, that may be an area of stress in the period beginning in March 2002. But ancient astrology considered the 11th a house of financial and other kinds of gain. The house locations of the planets involved in this t-square suggest again that there will be continuing difficulties in the financial arena, but Congress may be forced to take action. These are not war configurations in and of themselves.

I have checked out the remaining ingress charts for the period after the Saturn-Pluto oppositions and find none, over the next year or so afterward, that suggest war.

I would like to be able to give a definitive judgment about the likelihood or unlikelihood of war, but I cannot. I don’t think that astrology is capable of that. Jim Shawvan’s article certainly indicates that Bush is receiving many warlike transits and that there are other indications of conflict as well.(12) I also want to say that war, or at least an elevated level of conflict, is generally characteristic of Saturn-Pluto hard aspects, so on these grounds, we cannot rule out the possibility of war. Based on the ingress charts during the Saturn-Pluto oppositions, the most likely periods for war or elevated conflict are the quarter beginning with Libra in 2001 and the quarter beginning with Aries in 2002. These are the only ingress charts that show Mars especially active during that time.

What we can say, based on what we already know, is that we are entering a period of time when the free-wheeling prosperity of the last several years is at an end – for a while, at least. There will be a much greater sense of struggle to "get along." As we can see from history, all of this is vintage Saturn-Pluto.

References and Notes

1. In the sidereal zodiac, the signs involved are Taurus-Scorpio.

2. Among others, see Guido Bonatti, Liber Astronomiae, Chapter XIII, as translated by Robert Zoller, Berkeley Springs, WV: Golden Hind Press, 1994, p. 5.

3. What has happened is that some of the players who have been considered "bad guys" (in our simplistic ways of thinking about these things) have become "good guys." I refer to the Serbians now that they have overthrown Milosevic. And some of the "good guys" have become "bad guys." Here, I refer to the ethnic Albanians who now seem to be trying to carve a greater Albania out of Serbia and Macedonia. Roles may be reassigned, but the conflicts remain.

4. Jim Shawvan, "The Red Planet and the White House: Mars in the Presidency of George W. Bush, in The Mountain Astrologer, April/May 2001.

5. See Robert Hand’s column, "Astrology by Hand Week 39," www.StarIQ.com/Main/Articles/P0002301.htm

6. See C.E.O. Carter, An Introduction to Political Astrology, London: L.N. Fowler (no copyright date given), p. 44.

7. There is at present no English translation of this work available. I am working from a Latin translation of the text, and any references in English are my own translations. ARHAT plans to produce an English translation of the entire work at some future time. For further information, contact ARHAT at: www.robhand.com

8. For those who are interested, here is the entire text. Note that all of the references are to signs counted from the Ascending sign, not modern-style houses. This is a Whole-Sign house system of measuring.

"Understand that the strongest of the planets is that planet which is in the Ascendant not remote from the angle, nor cadent, or [a planet] which is in the Midheaven. But in the West or in the Angle of the Earth that [power] which I have described to you will be lower in strength by a quarter part. And the eleventh sign is below the West and the Angle of the Earth, and the ninth sign is below the 11th, and the fifth sign is below the 9th, and the third sign is below the fifth. If the lord of the Ascendant is in the Horoscopus, namely, 3 degrees before or after its cusp, and it is not cadent and it is not remote from the angle of the Ascendant, it will not be necessary for us to look at another planet with it. It is likewise if the lord of the exaltation of the sign of the Ascendant is in the degrees of its exaltation. However, if the lord of the triplicity [of the Ascendant] is in the Ascendant, it will have a third part of the strength of the [domicile] lord of the Ascendant. Also, the lord of the bound has a fifth part of the strength [of the lord of the Ascendant]. (This [must be considered] according to the quantity of their strength in the signs.) And the lord of the hour has a seventh part. Also understand that this happens when they are in the Ascendant or Midheaven. However, if they are in the West or in the Angle of the Earth, their strength is diminished; likewise, if they are in the eleventh, ninth, or fifth house the strength is diminished [even] more."

9. Likewise not available in English. I am again using a Latin text. "And if you find a planet in the Ascendant, you should not look for another planet from among those which are in the other places of the planets." (Translation by the author.)

10. This is using the traditional scheme of decan rulers that start with Mars ruling the first ten degree of Aries, with the next rulers going in the Chaldean Order from Mars (i.e., Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter), then going back to Mars, etc.

11. Ibn Ezra has the following: "A planet in its face is like a person with [fine] ornaments and clothing." The word "face" here is another word for decan. See Ibn Ezra, The Beginning of Wisdom, trans. Meira Epstein, Orleans, MA: ARHAT Publications, 1998, p. 136.

12. Although I believe that the Scorpionic America chart for the Articles of Confederation that Jim used has considerable historical merit, I cannot say, based on my own experience, whether it is a useful chart for indicating foreign conflict. More work is needed in that area.

© 2001 Robert Hand - all rights reserved

Robert Hand has been a student of astrology since 1960 and a full-time professional astrologer since 1972. His books include Planets in Composite, Planets in Transit, Planets in Youth, Horoscope Symbols, Essays on Astrology, and a short text on astrological sect, called Night and Day. He has explored heliocentric, sidereal, Uranian/cosmobiological, and in mundo techniques, and he uses a synthesis of these, along with more usual techniques, in his practice. He has a B.A. in history from Brandeis University and did graduate work in the history of science at Princeton. In 1976, he began writing astrological programs for microcomputers, and in 1979, he founded Astro-Graphics Services, Inc. (now Astrolabe, Inc.) and Astrolabe Software, to make the benefits of computers available to astrologers. Currently, he is involved with ARHAT (Archive for the Retrieval of Historical Astrological Texts) Media, Inc., a company that publishes translations of ancient and medieval texts. He and his wife, Elyse Karin, also have an active astrological consulting practice in the Washington, D.C. area. Hand has served as chairman of the National Council for Geocosmic Research and has won numerous awards from various astrological organizations for his work. He may be contacted through the ARHAT Web site or by e-mail at info@robhand.com


© 2007 The Mountain Astrologer. All rights reserved.