October MMXX | A.W. Clovenhopf


With outer-limit planetary heavyweights all camping out in Capricorn, the feeling for most of 2020 has been one of not being able to address issues on an individual level. There was a feeling every dilemma was interwoven with and complicated by other problems. Coronavirus laid bare the issues of poverty and inequality. Scrawled all over our current predicament, the signatures of Saturn, Pluto and Jupiter. Jupiter wants to make things expansive and do it big; Pluto represents death and destruction. Rebirth occurs eventually, after a good amount of moaning and wailing, and Saturn responds by setting boundaries and limitations.

As Saturn and Pluto conjoined in Capricorn this past January, we were given some cosmic keys to better understand our times. Astrological cycles stand on the shoulders of their former meeting, so we can look to the former Saturn/Pluto conjunction in 1982 for some ideas about our zeitgeist. The US saw the rise of “Reaganomics,” which led to a gutting of the middle class and wealth concentration among the nation’s richest. In addition to the escalation of the Cold War we witnessed the rise of death squads in El Salvador and military aggression in the Middle East, egged on by Western economies and political aims.

Our current era of dwindling support for public institutions, increased drone warfare, and continued meddling in authoritarian policies echoes the pervasive environment of dread and self-preservation heralded by the ‘80s. Whatever was initiated previously continues in orbit to be enhanced and built upon by the next pass. This conjunction points to a new opportunity. Perhaps we will be able to meet the demands of the time and restructure how our communities and nations function to create a legacy (and maintain a climate) worth passing on to future generations.

In mid-September until mid-November Mars is moving retrograde, extending an ongoing, ornery angle with the planets in Capricorn. With any Mars transit, there is a hot-tempered refusal to settle for anything other than winning. An exact square between Mars and Saturn occurred on September 28th (greetings US Presidential debate), a melee followed quickly by a square to Pluto on October 8, in which both outer planets moved slowly and deliberately as they woke from retrograde cycles.

This suggested battles between the individual and the collective. What role should a government play in its citizenry’s lives and vice-versa? What are the limits of free speech and obligations of the speaker? Do you have a right to privacy on the internet? Mars will be asking these questions, challenging us to find answers and forcing us to defend our position into November of 2020. It’s easy to feel unnecessarily defensive or competitive now, so think twice before indulging the petty tyrants in your home, workplace or friend circle.

The issues you’re facing will be addressed by wherever Mars is located in your chart, and whatever houses he rules. Mars is brave enough to face Saturn/Pluto alone, but that does not make it a wise choice. With the commons sundered by isolation and social media echo chambers, finding shared ground is a difficult task. We may have the feeling of screaming at a wall for most of this autumn. In those situations, look back to what you can do personally to be competent, effective and virtuous. Mars has a warrior’s code and behaving with honor, even in the face of difficulty, is a martial challenge worth accepting.

Saturn’s direct movement at the end of September means that the issues our guarded one has been working through (tasking each of us to develop an individual sense of duty and uphold our own values, finding something we can stand for and be willing to build a legacy on, ecological conservation, lessons in patience and humility, all wrapped up in a generally melancholic and isolated emotional state) are starting to make progress and find expression in the world outside of own mental spheres. Any avoidance of personal responsibility will no longer stand. With Saturn, the planet of karma, back in action, we now reap what we have sown.

On a national level, it’s easier to see the negative side of Saturn. A conservative ethos marked by xenophobia, hoarding resources for its own exploits and, like Saturn’s namesake Kronos, perhaps even consuming its future through a dire fear of losing control. This miserly hermit is just one aspect of Saturn. There is also the deeply wise, patient and learned energy of the devotee – an aspect of the Saturn archetype worth considering and cultivating in your own life.

Jupiter, hindered by his odd bedfellows Saturn and Pluto in the chilly sign of Capricorn, also moves direct in September. The greater benefic tries to help, but his hands remain tied. We are left to our own resources. Jupiter loves to expand whatever he touches, but under these skies we may not wish for any more expansion. As an example, Jupiter’s square to Mars on August 4th coincided with the ammonium nitrate blast in Beirut. Jupiter’s direct movement foretells more interactions with Mars are forthcoming on October 18. Knowing the timing is cold comfort, but care may be taken to assure you aren’t adding fuel to the flames at this time.

It can be tempting to believe that individual choices make a difference right now, but the astrology points to a need for systemic change. Coronavirus shortages and hoarding demonstrate a consumerist mindset, where we think we can buy our way out of problems. The planets in Capricorn make it feel impossible to get involved, that the system is too large, too opaque, and too powerful, so we rely on carrying a refillable water bottle and not buying Nike sneakers to feel like we’re doing something. The stabs from Mars indicate that the façade is beginning to crack, slivers of transparency begin to brace us for a better future.

With Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn all moving direct, the doors have creaked open to an epochal shift occurring at the end of this year. Saturn and Jupiter conjoin in Aquarius on December 20, 2020. Jupiter, the planet of hope, dreams, faith, and education, meets up with Saturn, the planet of boundaries, structures, time, and self-discipline. As the conjunction happens in the humanitarian, future-oriented Air sign, Aquarius, we start to see a new way out.

Jupiter and Saturn meet in the sky every 20 years. The alignments occur in an interesting pattern across similar elements—Kepler’s image shows the fire trigon. You can follow the 20 year intervals to see where the conjunctions were occurring between the fire signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Around every 200 years, there is a switch in the element where the conjunction occurs. This is called “The Great Mutation.” Nearing the end of the cycle, the trigon waffles a bit. In 1980, we had the conjunction in the Air sign of Libra, and then we were back to Earth sign of Taurus for the year 2000. For the next 140 years, we are in the element of Air.

What does it suggest for humanity to be out of the Earth element? An age of ideas is upon us. Nearing the end of a cycle, we’ve learned our lessons and begin to move on to a new schoolroom. The materialism so cherished by the Earth triplicity gets out of hand and goes out of favor. People have suffered under the restrictive weight of the economy and now creativity and communication are welcomed back into the public sphere. As we saw with the preview in the 1980’s, we had an explosion in communicative technologies, as Internet Service Providers began to find their way into our households. The dot-com boom of this era landed with a thud during the bust of the 2000s when the conjunction snapped back to the Earth signs of Taurus and the collective mood became properly concerned about the practical outcomes of all these new ideas.

The earth cycle may appear retrospectively as a dreary time for humanity. Creativity and pleasure have been commodified, and the artist is subject to what the market craves. Any slip from a personal brand leads to exile and life is boiled down to a popularity contest. Even the languages of liberation account for instances of “emotional labor” as we equate our very lives and time with economic value. Coronavirus has brought the constantly available economic model to a screeching halt, perhaps waking humanity from our consumerist lethargy.

Earth seeks to stabilize and accumulate, where Air seeks to connect and inquire. We may be facing a new era with multiple pandemics emerging, or an ongoing dodge of the evolving coronavirus. Fresh, clean air is invaluable, and I would expect public policies to be more attentive to the issue of what we are breathing by 2021. The idea of connectivity does not just apply on a biological sphere—technologies such as the cloud, 5G and expanded space flight all suit the upcoming Air theme.

Former conjunctions in Air signs occurred around the 1400s. In Asia and Southeast Asia there were many developments, as the Mongols lost the grip on the empire built during the former Earth cycle. Joan of Arc experienced visions and insights “out of thin air” and led the French to victory at Orleans. The Inca dynasty was founded in Peru. In Italy and Northern Europe there was an artistic renaissance, with new developments in painting, architecture and other disciplines.

Important technological advancements were made as Johannes Guttenberg invented the printing press. The revolution in speed of information as well as accessibility that emerged from this discovery shaped our modern world. I believe we can look forward to similar breakthroughs in the upcoming cycle.

Aside from a flourishing of creativity and education, there is a down side to the Air element. We see this with the rise of colonialism as Europe finds new ways to maneuver the seas via ever faster and more agile caravels. Using the Air as a guide, they spread across the globe bringing disease to the Americas, oppression, slavery, and dehumanization in the name of commerce to the countries they would claim for themselves. The astrological warning: watch that you do not become so wrapped up in your own cleverness that you neglect the humanity of others. As anyone who is or exists in friendship with an air sign dominant personality (hi Gemini, Libra or Aquarius!) you know that the chill, relaxed demeanor can hold a whirling mental tornado at any given time.

The other downside of air is that the enthusiasm for the new may overpower the tried and true. As our time to address the necessity of a changing climate (that pesky Capricorn lineup again!) dwindles, the appeal of more extreme solutions may begin to outweigh common sense restrictions. Geoengineering, expanded surveillance, genetic engineering, and other experiments with potentially risky outcomes may become more difficult to restrain or control. An increasingly automated and hybridized human/technical world will bring us to situations that were unfathomable 50 years ago.

With Saturn and Jupiter moving direct at the end of September, we are entering the next stages of this cycle. The Fall until the Winter Solstice welcomes a time of preparation. Observe yourself and your environment closely. See what is worth keeping for your ascent into the Air cycle, and what can be laid to rest with the earth. Progress will occur, but it doesn’t need to steamroll situations that already function well and equitably. Pushbacks and underhanded manipulations will occur from those in power, but the fanatical adoration for exploitative capitalism is fading. Pluto’s continued movement through Capricorn until 2024 shows us the transition may not be without its pain. Take care of yourself and your loved ones – these are momentous times.