Saturn will enter Pisces in March 2023 marking the start of a five year period that blends the archetypes of Saturn, Neptune and Pisces. First we have Saturn joining Neptune in Pisces from 2023 to 2026, then the Saturn Neptune conjunction in Aries from 2025 to 2027. This is a big deal so I’ve been researching the history of Saturn in Pisces to get a feel for what to expect…
Important note: the dates here aren’t precise and Saturn dipped in and out of Pisces during these ranges. Please check your ephemeris for the exact dates!
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 helps us to work hard and achieve our goals and ambitions, and brings patience, discipline, and endurance which are necessary for building structures that last. If we fail the tests of Saturn, it brings fear, defeat and failure, standing for the necessity of the harvest and reaping what we have sown.
The archetype of Pisces (and its ruler Neptune) is the opposite of Saturn. It represents imagination, creativity, spirituality and mysticism, as well as dreams, fantasy, illusions, deception and isolation. It stands for the desire to flow like the ocean, dissolving boundaries and transcending limitations, and as the final sign of the zodiac, represents endings and the seeds of new beginnings.
Obviously, Saturn isn’t happy in Pisces. It’s hard to build structures and establish reality when everything keeps moving and dissolving. However, Pisces is a dual sign so it can manifest in contradictory ways: both transcendent and materialistic. For example, Saturn in Pisces could indicate the building of structures under or over water or to control water, such as tunnels, bridges, and dams. But it could also indicate the collapse of these structures due to flooding or structural weakness.
Other possibilities for Saturn in Pisces, as well as Saturn Neptune alignments, include new religious movements and reforms, ideological political movements such as communism and socialism, the spread of disease and infection, destructive behaviour driven by fear, an increase in drug use and/or its suppression, developments in music, film and the arts, as well as shipping and boats.
Let’s dive in and explore some examples from history…
Starting in ancient Greece, we have the Saturn Neptune conjunction of 594 BCE when Athens was in the middle of an economic crisis and struggling with popular discontent. Interestingly, the conjunction was in Aries so perhaps the problems had something to do with Saturn in Pisces during the previous couple of years. The solution was found by Solon who introduced constitutional, economic and moral reforms, and laid the foundations for Athenian democracy.
Solon made the mistake of discussing his plans to cancel all debts with his friends who then took out massive loans and bought land. Solon complied with his own laws and released his debtors, while his friends never paid back a penny – or drachma!
Saturn was in Pisces from 243 – 241 BCE when Agis IV, the King of Sparta, attempted to introduce idealistic reforms. He felt the Spartan way of life had degenerated, causing inequality, so proposed the cancellation of debts and a new system of land and wealth distribution that divided the homeland into lots for each citizen.
But Agis only managed to gain support from a handful of people, including his wealthy mother and grandmother, who surrendered their property. Others opposed him and the reforms soon unravelled. He was executed by strangulation, and when one of his executioners wept, Agis made a very Saturn in Pisces statement:
“Weep not for me: suffering as I do, unjustly, I am in a happier case than my murderers.”
Fast forward to the 13th century when Saturn was in Pisces from February 1258 to January 1261 and the Mongol Empire was spreading into Europe and threatening the Islamic Empire. Baghdad and Damascus fell, but the death of Mongke Khan brought an end to Mongol unity and led to civil war.
Meanwhile, Thomas Aquinas was busy defining Christian dogma, writing commentaries on scripture and ancient Greek thought. But the religious mood of Europe was becoming more paranoid due to famines and plague, leading to apocalyptic movements such as the flagellants in Italy who believed the final judgement was imminent.
This craziness continued into the next transit from March 1346 to February 1349 when the Black Death spread from Eurasia and peaked in Europe in 1347-51. It devastated the Islamic world and killed 25 million people in Europe in four years.
Meanwhile, Cola di Rienzi led a coup d’état against papal power in Rome in 1347. Dressed in full armour, he led a procession to the Capitol where he addressed the crowd and proposed new laws. The nobles freaked out and fled the city and Rienzi took the title of tribune. But his rule didn’t last long. The pope denounced him as a pagan and heretic, and he ran away to hide in a monastery.
Saturn was next in Pisces from January 1494 to March 1496 as the Renaissance spread through Europe. Artists working at the time include Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Durer, and Hieronymus Bosch, amongst many others. There was also the first recorded outbreak of syphilis in Europe when an epidemic was spread by French troops during their invasion of Italy in 1494.
There was fighting on the sea during the next transit from February 1523 to January 1526 when the Ming army in China defeated many ‘wokou’ raids by Japanese pirates in order to protect trade routes. Meanwhile, Albert, a Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights and Duke of Prussia, made Prussia a secular duchy. He was the first ruler to establish Lutheranism as the official state religion.
In Germany, the peasants were revolting in protest against feudalism and oppression. The revolt was both economic and religious and was often supported by Anabaptist clergy. But they were poorly armed so the revolt failed and nearly 100,000 peasants were killed. Thomas Müntzer, an Anabaptist preacher who led the peasants, was opposed to both Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church. He believed the end of the world was nigh, and for him, it was. He was captured, tortured, and executed for his part in the revolt.
The next transit was from March 1552 to February 1555 when the ‘wokou’ raids by Japanese pirates reached their peak during the Ming dynasty. Meanwhile in France, the Holy Roman Imperial army got into difficulties during the siege of Metz when disease began to spread. They were forced to abandon the siege when half the army died due to typhus, dysentery and scurvy.
Over in England they were having succession problems following the death of Protestant king Edward VI. Lady Jane Grey became queen for nine days but support for the Catholic Mary grew, and Jane was executed in 1554. Mary became queen in 1553 and began to reverse the Reformation and return the country to Catholicism, burning hundreds of religious dissenters at the stake.
Jumping ahead, Saturn was in Pisces from May 1640 to April 1643 when there was a lot of colonising and religious wars going on. In Britain, the rise of Puritanism created divisions and started the English Civil War in 1642 when parliament raised an army against the King. During the conflict, the theatres were closed and they didn’t open again until 1660. The Puritans also banned Christmas!
Over in Ireland there was an uprising of Irish Catholics in Ulster against the Protestant English and Scottish settlers, and thousands were killed. The Irish were fighting for the right to self-government and to reverse the plantations of Ireland, and against the English language which had been imposed on them.
Jumping ahead again, Saturn was in Pisces from February 1729 to January 1732 when there were many religious changes, including the spread of Freemasonry through Europe and America, and the start of the Methodist Church by the Wesley brothers in Oxford. In Britain and the American colonies, the First Great Awakening saw the rise of Christian revivalists and evangelicalism and the born again experience.
In China, the Qing emperor Yongzheng was cracking down on corruption and making reforms in his autocratic style, which led to an era of peace and prosperity. He closed down Christian churches and expelled foreign priests, while encouraging local cultural beliefs and heritage. He reduced slavery, introduced tax holidays, encouraged charity, and prohibited the smoking of madak, a blend of tobacco and opium.
Saturn was next in Pisces from April 1758 to March 1761 when the Enlightenment was flowering with the works of Voltaire, Diderot, Hume, and Rousseau, amongst many others. In Staffordshire in England, the Wedgwood pottery works was founded by Josiah Wedgwood, known for its pale-blue ceramics. And in London, Kew Gardens opened stuffed with botanical treasures plundered from the British Empire’s overseas explorations and conquering.
Things were heating up by the next transit from February 1788 to January 1791 when the French Revolution kicked off in 1789. The feudal system was abolished and the nobility fled, the army was dissolved, the Church was secularised and the King lost his power. All this reorganisation led to economic breakdown and civil disorder but the worst of it came after Saturn left Pisces.
Meanwhile, Classical music was reaching its peak with the works of Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart, who was composing three of his greatest symphonies. William Blake wrote The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, expressing his revolutionary and unified vision of the cosmos. George Washington became the first president of the newly formed United States of America. And in China, the opium trade by foreign powers was growing.
Saturn was next in Pisces from March 1817 to February 1820 when the Industrial revolution was taking off and changing people’s ideas about the purpose of their lives. There were early moves to abolish slavery, and new ideas about democracy, economics and socialism which would take off later in the century.
Things came to a head with the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, England, when the cavalry charged a peaceful crowd who were demanding voting reforms. The government responded by ignoring their demands and passed the Six Acts which restricted the rights of assembly and protest. Percy Shelley wrote a poem about it, The Masque of Anarchy, the same year, but it wasn’t published until much later due to restrictions on the radical press. Here are the final lines:
Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you;
Ye are many – they are few!
This period also saw the rise of Romanticism with the works of Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Austen, Turner, Goya, Constable, and Delacroix. And the first steamship crossed the Atlantic, the SS Savannah, in 26 days.
The next transit was from May 1846 to April 1849 when revolutions were sweeping around Europe, China, Japan and India, bringing an end to the traditional order of those societies. Governments were overthrown by the people through radical political movements, and socialist uprisings demanded equality in response to the industrial revolution and the suffering it caused.
While the second Opium War raged between China and Britain, there was an economic crisis in Europe caused by overproduction and potato blight. Mass starvation and disease spread, and in Ireland, the Great Famine left a million dead, and millions emigrated to America in search of a better life.
Many sought their fortune in the Californian Gold Rush which started in 1848. In politics, the first Marxist party, the Communist League, was formed in London in 1847, and the Communist Manifesto was published by Marx and Engels in 1848, the same year as the first Women’s Rights Convention in New York.
This period also saw the peak of Romanticism with the music of Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner, Brahms, and Verdi, and the rise of gothic novels. The Mormons founded Salt Lake City, and Spiritualism began when the Fox Sisters started a craze for seances and mediums. Many of the Spiritualists were also political activists who got involved with the new ideas of socialism and women’s rights.
The development of these new ideas continued with the next transit from February 1876 to February 1879 when socialism was spreading around Europe. Some resisted and in Germany, Heinrich von Treitschke started an anti-Semitic movement and anti-Socialist laws were passed. In spiritual circles, the Theosophical Society was starting to gain influence; it started in 1875 when Saturn was in Aquarius. But Madame Blavatsky published Isis Unveiled in 1877, detailing her Theosophical beliefs.
At the start of the 20th century, Saturn was in Pisces from April 1905 to March 1908 when many progressive labour movements and socialist parties were formed in England, France and the US. The Bolshevik movement in Russia began under Saturn in Aquarius, as did the failed revolution in January 1905. But this period saw the rise of Rasputin who became influential after working as a healer for the Emperor’s son, Alexei.
Norway became independent of Sweden when the Scandinavian union dissolved, and many liberal reforms were enacted to create growth. There was a Peace Conference at the Hague in 1907, which set a diplomatic precedent amid the international financial panic of the time.
In the US, the Pure Food and Drugs Act was introduced, the first in a series of consumer protection laws to protect people from poisons and other dangerous chemicals and substances. Einstein published his theory of special relativity, and in the arts, Picasso painted the first example of cubism, The Ladies of Avignon, in 1907. Finally, the Cunard liner, the Lusitania, crossed the Atlantic in just five days.
There were three more transits in the 20th century, but this post is already too long. So next time, we’ll explore the recent history of Saturn in Pisces…