When considering two planets in relationship to one another, there’s always one that moves faster than the other. So the faster planet passes by the slower planet occasionally in its orbit—sort of like a runner passing another person who’s walking on a track. At the point where the two planets “meet” in the sky, they form a conjunction, which is a metaphorical New Moon moment. It’s the beginning of a cycle. Then the faster moving planet moves ahead, and first will form a waxing square, then will oppose the slower planet, and finally will form a waning square.
The year 2021 is playing out against the astrological backdrop of Saturn and Uranus and their cosmic dance, which takes about 43-47 years to complete. Saturn in air sign Aquarius will form three exact squares with Uranus in earth sign Taurus over the course of the year ahead. It’s the waning square of this current cycle, which began in 1987-1988, reached waxing square in 1999, and culminated in the opposition in 2008-2010. This year’s waning square between them is similar to a Last Quarter Moon—the phase of reflection, as we look back to digest and assimilate what has been experienced during the earlier portions of the cycle. Things break down, having served their purpose and run their course. And for some, that impending sense of change triggers an instinctive and extreme resistance, as we saw unfold on the steps of the Capitol on January 6.
Saturn represents the limits of traditional knowledge; Uranus represents pioneering breakthroughs. Saturn contracts and makes us defend against the new; Uranus radicalizes and makes us rebel against the old. Conservative and liberal forces are at odds when these two planets come together, which erupt in both creative reform and cultural upheaval. There are important natural customs that ground us in our history and our connection to the earth. Not all technological advancements are good.
This dance between the two planets help us open new pathways forward, but the challenge is integrating valuable principles that have proven to be bedrock foundation in our humanity. Technology is a useful tool, but when it impacts the health of our environment, minds, and bodies, we must balance rapid advancement with the wisdom of the old ways. Some inventions should be questioned. Astrologer Charles Harvey describes the entire Saturn-Uranus cycle as “the remorseless building up and breaking down of ideas, nations, cultures, and civilization.” And ‘remorseless’ is the key word. Saturn and Uranus are severe in their natures. Their cycle represents the ebb and flow of rapid advancement and strict control, where the old gives way to the new, and then the new becomes old and restrictive, starting the whole cycle again. We experience a reorientation to reality because tensions snap and our state of being changes.
The current cycle we’re in right now all began with the conjunction of Saturn and Uranus in 1987-88. This is when events occur that suddenly disrupt the status quo, the point when the lightning strike of rebellion and inspiration comes down to earth in tangible form. Uranus is the “Prometheus” figure in astrology, bringing ingenuity and invention to humanity. The old is shaken up, often out of tension, necessity, or experimentation–and the “new” manifests in reality as a wave of futuristic uprisings.
The internet is the major seed planted around 1987-1988, with dial-up access to the internet starting to take shape. The Genome Project was inaugurated, beginning the mapping of human genetics and introducing genetic coding to the manufacturing industry. In order to encourage the market after Wall Street’s “Black Monday” crash, the economy was deregulated, supporting globalization. Iraq and Iran ended their 8-year war. The Cold War ended with Reagan and Gorbachev banning nuclear weapons in Europe, and the Soviet Union collapsed. The Berlin Wall came down. Gorbachev began repealing rigid cultural codes, and started to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. There was a massacre in China’s Tiananmen Square, killing 2,000 pro-democracy demonstrators. Yasser Arafat declared Pakistan’s independence and accepted Israel’s right to exist in peace, giving up on his goal to restore all of the area to Palestinian control. The U.S opened up talks with Palestine, creating tension between Israel and the West. Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, marking the overthrow of apartheid. Prozac hit the market. Stephen Hawking published A Brief History of Time.
Then we reach the waxing square, around 1999-2000. This is the first “crisis” moment, although this pairing of planets is always a bit explosive and unexpected during their interactions in history! The first square in the cycle is a challenge—what was planted with hope and optimism at the beginning faces pressure to prove itself. There were wars in Kosovo and Chechnya, both caused by the breakup of the Soviet empire, resulting in mass murder and genocide. With growing tensions between the U.S. and the Middle East, Osama Bin Laden set up his base of operations for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Bill Clinton placed sanctions against its Taliban militia. The dangers of GMOs are revealed, with biotech giant Monsanto sued for rushing genetically engineered seeds to the marketplace without properly testing them for safety. The controversy over the ethics of cloning took center stage. Napster, MySpace, and Bluetooth are released. And the “dotcom” crash occurred because of the lack of oversight in Big Tech and the deregulation of the global market.
The opposition, or dramatic climax, occurred between 2008-2010, where we reach full manifestation of what began at the conjunction. The original seed that was planted in 1987-1988 had its roots in individual freedom from oppression, and an open market for technology and trade. The internal tension comes to light at the opposition, where the positive and negative outcomes are revealed. The sub-prime loan debacle started to hit the fan around 2008, the ultimate result of deregulation, with Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Freddie Mac, and Bear Stearns beginning to tank. Lehman Brothers goes bankrupt, marking the largest corporate failure in the history of the country. This sparks a global panic and a costly bailout of the world’s most powerful banks. China revealed they own over $1 trillion in U.S. debt. Failure to Yield is released, a report by a Union of Concerned Scientists expert on his 20-year study showing that genetically engineered crops have failed to significantly increase crop yields. The documentary Food, Inc. is released, unveiling the impact of GMO crops on the country’s farmers, and the corruption of animal rights by the corporate controlled food industry. The nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan is hit by an earthquake and tsunami, causing radioactive material to flow into the ocean. Violence erupted in China at the Beijing Olympics, protesting the repression in Tibet. War wages in Afghanistan, with the U.S. sending more and more troops in to fight the growing Taliban. Barack Obama was elected, the first black president in U.S. history. The ‘Arab Spring’ was set off in late 2010 in Tunisia, a major human rights protest and uprising that moved like a wave to Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain.
And here we are, 6 days after an insurrection at the Capitol. A violent mob, incited by the current president and fueled by an internet-fueled disinformation conspiracy theory, attacked the government in an attempt to overthrow elected officials. We started this cycle with the Berlin Wall coming down, with democracy and the free sharing of ideas literally tearing down boundaries. And now it seems like we’re on the brink of civil war in the United States, with the values of democracy lost in a crowd of red hats declaring themselves “patriots.” Propaganda is an ugly distortion of free speech, and it has certainly come to bite this country in the ass.
It’s just the beginning of this waning square, which will take about 2 years to play out. But in astrological terms, the waning square is reflective. It’s a time to get wiser, to learn from the past, to release the structures that no longer function, and to amend the ones that make us stronger. We dismantle and improve. 2021 is a year of revision, where technological advances may help us correct our course. This is where we improve the outcome of our future.
Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive. – Theodore Roosevelt