Saturn In Aquarius 2020 – 2023: Fireside Chats & New Social Contracts

Saturn In Aquarius 2020 – 2023: Fireside Chats & New Social Contracts

Saturn’s initial dip into Aquarius: March 21, 2020 – July 1, 2020
Saturn returns to Capricorn: July 1 – December 17
Saturn in Aquarius playing for keeps: December 17, 2020 – March 7, 2023


I’m not suggesting that things are going to feel easy anytime soon, but in a way, Saturn entering Aquarius represents the collective sigh of “okay, now what?” that follows the systematic dysfunction of the gritty pileup we’ve been witnessing in Capricorn. “How do we pick up the pieces and build a new machine that doesn’t rely on the same rules — and isn’t made with the same materials — that got us here in the first place?”

Before I get too much further into this, I want to first acknowledge that I’m not immune to bias, and some of this may invariably reflect the potential that I see in this transit. This isn’t a prognosis of who will win the election in November either, though I hope with all my heart that we’ll have moral, compassionate leaders we won’t have to fight every step of the way in order to rebuild our society. Having said that, this potential is supported by some of the things we’ve witnessed historically during Saturn in Aquarius periods, and there’s always plan B — the plan we usually have to turn to anyway — which is doing our best to create the social change we desire with or without the government’s support.

By no means is 2020 done serving us challenging astrology, but Saturn in Aquarius will generally offer some measure of relief, particularly to those of us who have been pummeled by the copresence of Saturn, Pluto, Jupiter, and the South Node in Capricorn. Though the last few days of March will be a rough ride on account of Mars, Jupiter and Pluto pretty much conjoining all at once (only for Mars and Saturn to collide right in Aquarius’ foyer on the 31st), by the time Saturn retrogrades back into Capricorn this summer, the South Node will already be in Sagittarius by then, which means it’ll be purging things in a new area that actually has purging material to spare. It’s not great, but it is better.

Speaking of “not great, but better,” this might actually be a pretty good summation of what Saturn does when it transitions from Capricorn to Aquarius. 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. This shift from the cardinal earth to the fixed air expression of Saturn will find us less hung up on knocking down the creaky old edifices and more focused on solidifying our ideas via an architectural plan that is sound conceptually.

Historically (or at least throughout the last century), Saturn in Capricorn > Aquarius periods have lined up with hardship and oppressive structures reaching a critical breaking point, at which point hard-won rights and/or a new social order have been put in place: the Great Depression, a decent chunk of the Civil Rights movement (including the infamous March on Washington), the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Connecting Over Long Distances

So far, I’m really liking the concept of the fireside chat as an emblem of Saturn in Aquarius. Saturn’s job is to create order and structure, and when it’s in Aquarius, it can do so extremely effectively — not merely because it’s in its home sign, but because planets in Aquarius tend to perform via distancing. You can gain emotional distance from a touchy topic and have cooler heads prevail, and you can counterintuitively bond with someone by giving them a little space to miss you. You can be the edgelord of the solar system (Saturn), defining what was once known as the outer limits of the visible sky and finding kinship with all things marginal and remote. And yes, you can practice social distancing for the benefit of the greater good — how incredibly Aquarian is that?

As an air sign, Aquarius also implicates the intellect and how it travels over airwaves. Saturn has to do with authority and how it governs. Of course there’s some dark potential here — namely, the creep of digital surveillance, which we can spend an entire article discussing. But let’s examine one of the more constructive manifestations we’ve seen of this. 

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt revolutionized presidential PR through a series of intimate radio addresses, known as “fireside chats,” that made Americans across the country feel as though he was right there in their living rooms with them, reassuring them about his plans to fix the country. Even though his voice had to travel at a great distance, he managed to make it feel a lot shorter, and he won the public’s confidence as a result — not just because he addressed them with a sense of familiarity, but also because he calmly communicated the logic behind his ideas. His first fireside chat took place on March 12, 1933, when Saturn was in Aquarius, and he outlined the New Deal to the public shortly after.

The last time Saturn was in Aquarius (between 1991 and 1994), the internet became a public domain that anyone could access via the world wide web. Now, as the public internet experiences its first Saturn Return (with the first exact-ish hit happening this spring), it’s being asked to step up to a degree it never really has before. In case anyone ever really doubted it before, the internet is not just a public good — it’s a vital lifeline, and it’s giving us each the tools to individually offer our fireside counsel to everyone else who’s currently stranded in a place of fear, uncertainty, and loneliness.


Stitching A New Social Fabric

One of the defining features of Saturn’s transit through Aquarius, at least in 2020 and 2021, will be its squares to Uranus. And this will be in effect pretty much as soon as Saturn makes its initial ingress, while holding hands with Mars. What’s interesting to note is that when Uranus first entered Taurus in 2018, it also announced itself with an immediate square to Mars in Aquarius. Mars and Uranus in hard aspect to each other suggests a sudden break with the past; with the addition of Saturn this time, we’re disrupting business as usual via a hard slam on the brakes.

I read this Slate article recently that made a case for why we can’t expect to go home again after this, and it made me think of this upcoming series of Saturn/Uranus squares:

“Small disruptions create small societal shifts; big ones change things for good. The O.J. Simpson trial helped tank the popularity of daytime soap operas. The New York transit strike of 1980 is credited with prompting several long-term changes in the city, including bus and bike lanes, dollar vans, and women wearing sneakers to work. The 1918 flu pandemic prompted the development of national health care in Europe.”

“People might stick with the disruptions to their lives, too: More deliveries taking the place of personal trips. More cooking, and less eating out. More driving in solitude—or, optimistically, biking—and less reliance on Uber, Lyft, and transit. Therapy, yoga, and medical advice online. More video games; less live entertainment. The social fabric that breaks might not be repaired.”

Of course this doesn’t mean the end of face-to-face interaction — we’re too human for that (for now I guess; check back after the cyborg revolution). But if Saturn wants to establish and Uranus wants to flip the whole damn table, it seems reasonable to anticipate that we’ll be getting used to some new norms over the next year or so, however jarring they may be at the onset.

Hopefully, this departure from “business as usual” will result in restorative changes to our social fabric. The last time Uranus was in Taurus, Saturn was also in Aquarius simultaneously for a brief period. They weren’t square by degree, but certain themes from then may ripple across the pond. Among other things, the New Deal was in the midst of being enacted.


The Great Conjunction

Jupiter and Saturn both slide into 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. 

These transitions usually involve some overlap, by the way. We actually did get the first air-sign conjunction in the early ’80s, and we got a whole internet boom in the 20 years since. The Taurus Great Conjunction that occurred in 2000 represented the last breath of the earth period, complete with all the glitz and indulgence that a Venus-ruled earth sign might bestow upon a planet that’s awakening to the unique perversities of late capitalism.

The transition from earth to air may represent the moment humanity decides to be guided less by money and material concerns (perhaps the real end of the “Industrial Age”?), and more by ideas and principles. There’s no guarantee that these ideas will be moral and just, of course. But something about the old paradigm is really, finally ending, and it’s often true that big endings bring big pain. We are living in that moment right now.

Even though I’ve mostly spent this whole article talking about large, societal shifts, we’re all going to have our own way of showing up for this moment. Take heart in knowing that you, too, have a sphere of influence around you that makes your individual participation impactful. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and that this too will eventually pass. And most importantly, we have some say in how much stronger our communities will be once it does.