Well, here we are. I mean, look at us! Who would have thought? For all the apprehension and hype that’s been culminating around the astrology of 2020, this past year was truly half the battle, and there’s actually a great deal of difficulty already behind us.
The astrology of 2019 was basically the astrology of 2020, except with a top-note of enthusiasm that allowed us to partially escape or deny the doldrums. Last year’s spirited Jupiter in Sagittarius and its big-believing squares to Neptune created a backdrop of credulousness that made us all a bit more willing to be The Fool embarking on an unknown journey. Even if we were left holding an empty bag, the desire to believe in the impossible made us brave enough to chase the potential we really craved.
But the Saturn/Pluto script we’re currently running has been building like a wave the whole time, and in many cases, it’s already crashed on our shores. Now, as the moment of truth nears, we’re reminded that the only way out is through. And thanks to the more sober perspective of Jupiter in Capricorn, we can manage the hard realities while benefitting from a little bit of softness in an area of our lives that’s been all hard edges for quite some time.
The upside? The gloomy Saturn/Pluto conjunction we’ve all been wringing our hands about culminates right on January 12, which means we have the rest of the year to decompress from all the changes and tap into the hidden opportunities left in their wake.
Here are the big themes of 2020, my loves.
+ The ominous Saturn/Pluto conjunction
January 12 at 22 degrees Capricorn
Make no bones about it: Saturn conjunct Pluto is hard. And grim. And it’s in the sign of Capricorn, which is associated with governments, capitalism, patriarchy, and hierarchy. Historically, conjunctions, squares, and oppositions between Saturn and Pluto have coincided with mass violence, totalitarianism, a splintering into “us versus them,” and reactionary politics (think: the beginning of both World Wars and 9/11). The last time Saturn was conjunct Pluto was in the early 80s, when Cold War anxieties and Reagan-style conservatism was on the rise in the U.S. (for an exhaustive look at the historical footnotes, check out Richard Tarnas’ Cosmos and Psyche).
This time around, it seems to be stoking a worldwide crisis of constitutions and borders that has installed far-right leaders into positions of power and led to some truly frightening punitive measures against vulnerable people. The camps along the U.S. border are one example, but the over-policing of New York City’s subway system is also a microcosmic view of this process. Saturn and Pluto are conjoining right on top of NYC’s Mercury, which represents its transit system in mundane terms. This metaphor of an increasingly militarized state-funded apparatus cracking down on the powerless — and all to protect a system that’s crumbling and rotting from the inside out — is pretty much what’s going on all over the world right now. Things are pretty bleak at the moment, and this mood is consistent with what Saturn/Pluto alignments are supposed to engender. We’re living the “nightmare,” and we’re confronting the depths of hopelessness in order to tap into a deeper resolve that doesn’t wither when the going gets tough. Many of history’s biggest change-makers had no reason to hope that anything would ever get better, and yet they persisted, and yet their efforts mattered.
In our own lives, the Saturn/Pluto crunch, which has been sitting with the South Node for much of 2019, has led us to realize that some things we’ve been unwilling to part with might literally or metaphorically kill us if we don’t make the drastic changes we’ve been avoiding.
Is everything inconsolably terrible then? Not completely. Some of us do our best work under pressure, because that’s how diamonds are formed. Tarnas writes: “Saturn-Pluto alignment periods are also characterized by displays of personal and collective determination, unbending will, courage and sacrifice; by intensely focused, silent, strenuous effort in the face of danger and death; by a deepening capacity for moral discernment born from experience and suffering and by the transformation and forging of enduring structures, whether material, political, or psychological.”
This speaks to the truism that it’s often only possible to really change things in a meaningful way when those things have already hit rock bottom. This has been a process of excavating the root rot to save the whole plant. The severity of this playing out in our own individual lives will vary a lot depending on how it shows up in our charts, and it’s definitely hyperbolic to suggest we’re all due for some sort of personal catastrophe. But many of us can probably relate to a sense of pressure or reformation in an area of our lives — a hardening of sorts that brings out our inner badass. And less dramatically, it could just be a signal that we’ve reached the end of a particular road and must now figure out what the new thing looks like.
+ The rich Jupiter/Pluto conjunctions that follow
April 4 and June 30 at 24 degrees Capricorn; November 12 at 22 degrees Capricorn
After the intensity of the Saturn/Pluto thing peaks in January, we have a year to return to the demolition site in order to recover our valuables and dig for buried gold we weren’t previously aware of.
The series of Jupiter/Pluto conjunctions that occur throughout 2020 are quite literally happening in the wake of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction. All three conjunctions take place within 2 degrees of the initial Saturn/Pluto hit at 22 degrees Capricorn, and the final one sits exactly at 22. This is very much a signal that the wreckage isn’t the whole story. If anything, the initial hardship might be the opening chapter in many a hero’s journey. This isn’t the same as suggesting that “everything happens for a reason.” I kind of hate when people say that, actually. But certain things happen that we never asked for, and they invariably put us on a new course — one we couldn’t have found our way to otherwise.
These conjunctions will feel a lot more constructive than what preceded them. This is a highly resourceful combo that sort of amounts to discovering buried treasure beneath the structure that just collapsed. It’s also a signature of formidable wealth, and with billionaires becoming such a talking point in the leadup to the election, it’ll be interesting to see whether the rich further consolidate their power under this alignment, or whether morality (Jupiter) combined with splintering (Pluto) will fundamentally change the terms of their hegemony. But for all of us, regardless, there’s an opportunity to take back our power and grow into our own influence.
+ Saturn enters Aquarius
March 21 – July 1; for good on December 17
If the rest of us are moving on, Saturn is too. The Ringed One dips its toes into Aquarius for a couple of months this spring before retrograding back into Capricorn. Then, it begins this new chapter in earnest in December.
Both Capricorn and Aquarius are signs of Saturn’s rulership, so this is sort of like the next leg in Saturn’s journey through its home turf. However, its time in Aquarius will be considerably less grim and soul-crushing, if only because it won’t be hanging out with Pluto and the South Node this time. Instead, this shift from the cardinal earth to the fixed air expression of Saturn will find us less hung up on building enduring structures (and knocking down the creaky old buildings), and more focused on solidifying our ideas and giving form to some of our more contrarian takes on the world.
Until the modern planets were discovered a couple hundred years ago, Saturn represented the known limits of our solar system for a really long time. And as a child of Saturn, Aquarius knows what it means to exist on the fringes and contribute to society from the margins (and among the marginalized). We all have unpopular opinions that we’re learning to embrace. Though we might have to deal with some doubt and criticism throughout this process, Saturn’s entry into this terrain will likely ensure that we do our homework versus trotting out a bunch of half-baked, lazy takes. Saturn transits urge us to step into our authority, and some of us will be finding it in ourselves to be thought leaders in some capacity.
Mercury also stations direct in Aquarius on March 9th, almost as a preamble to whatever Saturn’s about to initiate there. Though the bulk of that first Mercury Retrograde takes place in Pisces (throwback to last spring??), there’s something that we’ll be retooling or revisiting in preparation for Saturn’s longer transit through this area of our charts.
+ Jupiter sextile Neptune
February 20, July 27, October 12
This is a much more subtle influence, but I thought it was worth a nod, especially because we just lived through a series of Jupiter/Neptune squares in 2019. This is a softer activation of faith that is less prone to the excess of the squares (and the excess of a dignified Jupiter). Instead, we’re working with a more modest Jupiter and a more communicative sextile dynamic, which means we won’t be as easily hoodwinked by pure potential. Instead, we’re discovering that the pilot light hasn’t been entirely snuffed out by disillusionment. And we’re tending to that flame in small, supportive ways that won’t result in an epic hangover or crisis of hope.
+ The eclipses move into Gemini/Sagittarius
January 10: Lunar eclipse at 20 degrees Cancer
May 5: Nodes enter Gemini/Sagittarius
June 5: Lunar eclipse at 15 degrees Sagittarius
June 21: Solar eclipse at 0 degrees Cancer
July 5: Lunar eclipse at 13 degrees Capricorn
November 30: Lunar eclipse at 8 degrees Gemini
December 14: Solar eclipse at 23 degrees Sagittarius
Many new stories are beginning in 2020, and among them is a new chapter of eclipses. The Cancer/Capricorn narrative is wrapping up, and beginning this summer, the first scripts are getting flipped in the Gemini/Sagittarius axis of our charts.
Eclipses shake up the stagnant corners of our lives, and they speed up the inevitable. Most of all, they tend to keep us guessing, but some general themes we can expect with the North Node in Gemini and South Node in Sagittarius: More curiosity, less dogma. More information to contend with, and perhaps a less confident sense of what it all means. More clever puns, less brash humor. More chatter, less broadcasting. More duality and multiplicity in the way we see the world, and less of a broad, all-encompassing perspective.
+ Venus Retrograde in Gemini
May 13 to June 25
More retrogrades! Excited yet?
This spring, Venus will be retrograde in the chatty, social sign of Gemini. If you’re dredging up memories of the last Venus Retrograde we had in the fall of 2018, know that we probably won’t be dealing in social dynamics quite as heavy as they felt last time. That retrograde took place in Libra and Scorpio, Scorpio being an emotionally charged sign Venus tends to struggle in.
In Gemini, the vibe is a bit breezier, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be all fun and games, either. Instead, we might be reassessing relationships on the basis of whether we find them sufficiently interesting. Venus in Gemini loves connections that feel mentally stimulating, and it favors having a variety of flavors to sample from. We might feel especially stifled by dynamics that have grown stale and predictable, and our boredom, should we identify it as such, might lead to a change of heart as our tastes shift in search of novelty.
This Venus Retrograde also just so happens to take place right around the time the North Node is entering Gemini and kicking off that new series of eclipses here. These two things probably won’t be entirely unrelated. If anything, the retrograde will have us examining and rearranging our values in preparation for the ensuing eclipses of the next year and a half. What we deem important during this time will likely play a role in the nature of the hard left turns we’ll be making.
+ Mars in Aries for…half the year
June 27: Mars enters Aries
September 9: Mars stations retrograde
November 13: Mars stations direct
January 6, 2021: Mars leaves Aries
Yeah, that’s not an exaggeration. Mars is gonna be all fisticuffs for the entire second half of 2020. And normally we would welcome the opportunity to have Mars in its own sign for such a long time, except the entire reason it’s hanging around is on account of the R-word. Retrograde.
We’ll have about a month of good, swift Mars in Aries when it first makes its ingress in June, and then Mars will be in its retrograde shadow beginning in late July. After that, our impatient impulses will have a harder time securing the sort of instant gratification that Mars in Aries likes. During Mars Retrograde, our ability to actualize our intentions is often slowed down, frustrated, and stifled — either by external conditions or our own weakened energy and resolve. It’s a big old stick in our gears, and it can be an angry time, too, as our usual expression of the mads gets subverted and inverted.
Mars will also be squaring Saturn and Pluto throughout a large portion of the retrograde, so this is shaping up to be a long, frustrating, drawn-out power struggle against authorities and limitations. It’s also shaping up to be a rather cruel summer of an election season here in the U.S. I mean, did you think it was going to be peaceful?
What this time can be good for is slowing our roll just enough to bring careful intention back into our steps. Mars in Aries loves to shoot from the hip, but when it’s retrograde, the motivating force behind its impetus gets called into question. Are you just doing things on autopilot, and not because you’ve determined that these are the actions you need to take to reach the goals you care about? Society conditions us to believe that faster is better, but this fall will teach us the value of surrendering our own timelines to the process of review and recalibration. And by the time the year ends, we’ll be just about ready to fire on all four cylinders again.
+ The era-defining Jupiter/Saturn conjunction
December 21 at 0 degrees Aquarius
We had Saturn/Pluto. We had Jupiter/Pluto. And now, get ready for Jupiter/Saturn.
Jupiter and Saturn both enter Aquarius in December, and when they do, they immediately form a major page-turner of a conjunction that will really bring home the sense that we’re now in an entirely new historical era.
Astrologers look to conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn, also known as the Great Conjunction, to identify the bookends of distinct historical chapters. These conjunctions, which take place roughly once every 20 years, represent the nullification of opposing forces as they blend and cancel each other out. Jupiter is expansion and Saturn is contraction, and when they combine, you get the coincidence of new things growing and old things ending.
Often, when this happens, there’s a changing of the guard politically, and this time, it’s happening on a much greater, more abstract level too. Great conjunctions go through larger cycles of occurring in signs of the same element for about 200 years. They’ve been occurring in earth signs since the early 1800s, and this coming one, which takes place right on the threshold of Aquarius AND on the winter solstice, marks the beginning of a new 200-year chapter of air sign conjunctions. Talk about major!
The transition from earth to air may represent the moment humanity decides to be guided less by money and material concerns, and more by ideas and principles. This is really just my wishful thinking talking because it’s purely conjecture, but imagine a new world order that revolves less around greed and more around intellect and exchange. Of course, there’s no telling whether these ideas will be moral and just. But something about the old paradigm is really, finally ending, and all the strife we endured in the leadup to this moment was just to prepare us for the new big thing that wants to emerge. And many times, new big things can’t emerge if we’re still clinging to the past.
Grieve as you need to this year, and buckle in for the speed bumps and discovery that awaits. A year from now won’t look very much like today, and you have some say in defining the next pass into the unknown.