Unprecedented changes are taking place around the world and they’re set to continue over the next couple of years. The Saturn Pluto conjunction was just the start. Now Uranus is joining the fray and the world is being turned upside down. In this post, we’ll look at the archetypes and history of Saturn Uranus alignments to get a sense of how they work, and in the next post we’ll explore possible events going forward and how to deal with the energies.
The Saturn Uranus cycle takes about 45 years, with each cycle building on the events of the last. Each alignment within the cycle lasts about 2 years, with an orb of influence fading in and out at either end. For more on how this works read: Astrological Cycles & the Collective
The most obvious synchronicities of historical events happen at the beginning of the cycle at the conjunction, and then at each hard angle with the squares and the opposition at the peak.
The current Saturn Uranus square is in alignment between 2020 and 2023. The exact aspects between the planets happen in February, June and December 2021, and it’s close again in October 2022 but not exact. This alignment is the final or waning square of the cycle that began in 1988 and ends in 2032.
The Saturn Archetype
The Saturn archetype represents the reality principle and includes our experience of restriction, limitation, structure, boundaries, physical manifestation and time. It’s associated with security and stability, organisation, control, judgement and the law. As well as authority, responsibility, wisdom, tradition and the past, maturity, old age, and death.
Saturn energy is slow, heavy and dense, bringing repression, defeat, failure and endings. But also increased patience, effort, endurance, and concentration, all necessary for building structures that last. As the Lord of Karma, Saturn also represents necessity, harvest, and reaping what you sow. More: Saturn Keywords
Saturn is linked to Kronos, the Titan who castrated Ouranos, and then swallowed his own children. But to the Romans, Saturn ruled over a Golden Age of abundance. For more read: Planet Myths: The Story Behind Saturn
The Uranus Archetype
The Uranus archetype represents the need for freedom and change, and the desire for originality and independence from tradition and the status quo. It’s associated with sudden and unexpected breakdowns and/or breakthroughs, flashes of insight and awakenings, rebellion and revolution.
Uranus energy is unpredictable and electrifying, speeding things up and creating excitement and restlessness. As the Higher octave of Mercury, Uranus stands for the Universal Mind and the Cosmic Trickster. It stimulates innovation and invention in science, aviation, and space travel, as well as individuality, brilliance and genius, and the drive for reform and liberation. But it can also be disruptive, eccentric and defiant. More: Uranus Keywords
Uranus is associated with Ouranos, the sky god and father of Kronos, and with Prometheus, the Titan who stole the fire of the gods to give to mankind and got himself chained to a rock for his trouble. For more read: Planet Myths: The Story Behind Uranus
Saturn Uranus Alignments
From the description of the archetypes we can see that Saturn and Uranus don’t get on. They represent energies that appear to be opposed but they both rule Aquarius in modern astrology (but not in traditional astrology). Alignments between these two represent a collision or meeting between the old and the new – times when change becomes unavoidable.
Uranus pushes for freedom and revolution, stirring up chaos and uncertainty, while Saturn seeks to maintain stability through order and control. This can produce extreme tension and crisis within the individual and society. How this plays out depends on which planet has the upper hand: Saturn can bring stability and order, as well as oppression and limitation; and Uranus can disrupt, as well as awaken and liberate.
Saturn Uranus alignments coincide with periods of revolution and political upheaval. There may be sudden breakthroughs and/or breakdowns that lead to the reform of society. Long-term problems are revealed, sometimes through the sudden collapse of systems that need reform and structural change. New structures can be found for revolutionary ideas, and technological innovation brings the potential for progress and the disruption of the status quo.
Common manifestations during these alignments include:
- Sudden financial and economic collapse
- Revolutions, protests, and civil unrest
- Terrorism and radicalisation
- Industrial accidents, and incidents involving aircraft
- Technological breakthroughs and/or disruption
- Political and social breakthroughs to a new order
- Gaining of rights and freedom (or loss)
With the harmonious alignments (trine and sextile) it’s easier to find a balance between the old and the new, and you’re less likely to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The hard alignments can be more challenging and Uranus sometimes goes too far in demanding change that breaks the system.
But equally if Saturn tries to repress the need for change, then Uranus can trigger explosions and violent shocks to the system. There can be unexpected and disproportionate reactions to events, as well as the breakdown of law and order, and situations that get out of control in devastating ways.
The energies of Saturn and Uranus often combine in unpredictable ways. Social reforms may start out with good intentions but can become distorted into ideologies that become authoritarian or totalitarian. There may be a revolutionary uprising followed by a backlash and repression. Or it goes the other way, with authoritarian control that triggers an uprising and resistance, or a mixture of the two.
In Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas explores the history of Saturn Uranus alignments and says these periods saw:
“the exacerbation of tensions between authority and rebellion, order and freedom, structure and change. Often the two archetypal principles combined and interpenetrated in contradictory ways: repressive revolution, erratically unpredictable authority, and so forth, as evident during the Terror in revolutionary France and the Cultural Revolution in communist China.”
Often the two archetypes get mashed together to produce uncomfortable combinations and contradictory impulses. For example, during the American civil war:
“the slaveholding Confederate states…sought and proclaimed freedom (Uranus) from the Union to maintain their systemically oppressive (Saturn) mode of life.”
Or you end up with revolutionary structures that become repressive and dictatorial, such as in the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the Khymer Rouge regime in Cambodia. These ideologies use propaganda to proclaim freedom and liberation while keeping tight control on the citizens’ behaviour and thinking.
Waking up to the reality of the system you live in could be described as a “grim awakening”, in Tarnas’ words – something many people may be feeling now as we enter another period of collapse and disruption.
The current cycle started in 1988 with the conjunction in Sagittarius and ends with the conjunction in Gemini in 2032. Some notable events from 1988, plus a few from the surrounding years:
- Black Monday stock market crash in 1987
- Disarmament talks between US and USSR brought an end to the Cold War
- Singing revolution brought independence to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
- Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989
- Lots of riots, police shootings, and massacres around the world, including the 8888 uprising in Burma where thousands were killed
- Tiananmen Square protests were suppressed in China in 1989
- Al-Qaeda was formed by Osama bin Laden
- Hijack of Kuwait Airways Flight 422, the world’s longest skyjacking
- Iran Air Flight 655 was ‘accidentally’ shot down by the US
- Another aircraft lost its roof in midair
- One of the worst air show disasters in history at Ramstein Air Base in Germany when 3 jets collided and one crashed into the crowd
- Lockerbie disaster when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over the town in Scotland
- Chernobyl disaster when the nuclear reactor core exploded (in 1986 out of orb, but the aftermath lingered)
- PEPCON disaster, explosion at industrial solid-fuel rocket plant in Nevada
- Piper Alpha oil platform in the North Sea exploded
- Ocean Odyssey drilling rig in the North Sea had a blowout and fire
- A massive telescope collapsed in Green Bank, West Virginia
- NASA resumed Space Shuttle flights with the Discovery
- US Air Force revealed the stealth aircraft Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk
- The first prototype B-2 Spirit stealth bomber was unveiled
- The world’s first high-speed tilting train service started in Italy
- Spread of the first well-known internet virus, the Morris Worm
- The first transatlantic telephone cable to use optical fibres was completed for internet use
- The first open election in a decade in Pakistan elected Benazir Bhutto, the first woman PM of an Islam-dominated state
That alignment was pretty paradigmatic for Saturn Uranus. For context, here are some examples from previous alignments – the dates in brackets are when the exact transits occurred:
Opposition 1917-21 (1918-20) – Spanish flu pandemic, end of First World War, Bolshevik Revolution and Russian civil war, formation of the League of Nations in 1920, first woman in UK parliament, and women won the right to vote in US.
Square 1928-33 (1929-32) – also with Saturn Pluto opposition and Uranus Pluto square (similar to what we’re experiencing now). Wall Street crash in 1929 led to the Great Depression and record levels of unemployment, which triggered the New Deal in 1933. Establishment of the Third Reich and rise of Hitler in 1933 when Saturn entered Aquarius.
Conjunction 1940-43 (1941-42) – also with Saturn Pluto square. Start of a new cycle that saw the rise of the US and Russia, and the end of the British empire, plus the start of globalism. Stalin became Soviet premier in 1941. Pearl Harbour attack triggered US to enter Second World War, and in 1942 the Nazi’s implemented their ‘final solution’ in the Holocaust. The UN was drafted by Roosevelt in 1941 and declared in 1942, although it didn’t officially start until 1945.
Opposition 1963-68 (1964-67) – also with Uranus Pluto conjunction and Saturn Pluto opposition. Vietnam war and mass protests, rise of civil rights movement and women’s liberation, lots of riots and civil unrest, counterculture revolution. UN condemned apartheid in South Africa and imposed sanctions. Mao started Cultural Revolution in China leading to death of millions. Soviet Luna 9 probe landed on the Moon.
Square 1974-78 (1975-77) – in Cambodia Pol Pot led the Khymer Rouge in a socialist revolution that killed millions. Worst airplane disaster in history in Tenerife. First soft landing on Mars.
Conjunction 1986-90 (1988) – see above
Square 1998-2001 (1999-2000) – also with Saturn Pluto opposition. World Trade Centre collapsed when two hijacked planes flew into the buildings, leading to the introduction of the Patriot Act in US, and the so-called War on Terror. Millennium bug scare that turned out to be a big nothing burger.
Opposition 2007-12 (2008-10) – also with Saturn Pluto square. Peak of the cycle that started in 1988. Credit Crunch economic crash. Obama elected as first black president of US. Tories returned to power in UK and began 10 years of austerity and underfunding of NHS and social care – now exacerbating the COVID-19 crisis.
Interesting aside: the trine alignment between Saturn and Uranus in 2016-18 coincided with the election of Trump as president in the US, and the Brexit referendum in the UK that led to Britain leaving the EU.
Square 2020-23 (2021-22) – also with Saturn Pluto conjunction. Now!
Conjunction 2031-33 (2032) – end of the current cycle and start of a new one.