On December 21, 2020, the largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, will meet at 0 degrees Aquarius, a highly significant event both astronomically and astrologically. This very special reunion of Jupiter and Saturn will be able to be seen all over the world. During the week surrounding December 21st, if the skies are clear, the two planets will be observable low in the southwestern sky for about 45 minutes after sunset, though they will be closest to one another on the solstice.
Alignments between Jupiter and Saturn occur every 20 years, but this conjunction is rare for many reasons. In terms of the astronomy, the last time that they were visible in such close proximity to one another was in March of 1226, almost 800 years ago.
For ancient astrologers who had no telescopes, Saturn was the most distant planet from the Earth visible with the naked eye. They called the meeting of Jupiter and Saturn every 20 years, the “Great Conjunction” and observed that it coincided with major political, social, and generational shifts. Jupiter is associated with expansion and Saturn with contraction. Astrologer Alan Oken called the pair the “cosmic accordion.”
Some say that the Star of Bethlehem was a phenomenon created by a meeting of Jupiter and Saturn, which according to the nativity story in the New Testament, heralded the birth of Christ. Just as BC and AD demarcates a turning point, a Before and an After, I believe that this bright and powerful rendezvous of Jupiter and Saturn will also prove to be a threshold moment for humanity. BC could now also come to mean “Before Covid,” since the pandemic is irrevocably changing our world. (1) Individuals who experience a discrete trauma, such as an assault or any sudden serious loss, often describe that the feeling of life before the shattering event, and the feeling of life subsequently, is no longer the same. As a nation, we felt a version of this after 911.
For the past 200 years, Jupiter and Saturn have been meeting every 20 years in zodiac signs associated with the Earth Element: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn. For the next 200 years, these two planets will meet in signs associated with the Air Element: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius. Thus their meeting on the Solstice at 0 degrees Aquarius marks the end of one long cycle and the beginning of a new cycle, characterized by very different archetypal qualities and themes.* We are witnessing the hard labor as a new world struggles to be born, while simultaneously we are in the midst of a dying process. The world as we knew it is disappearing.
When Jupiter and Saturn mutate from one element to another, this has historically coincided with seismic socio-cultural shifts. In the 1970’s Alvin Toffler wrote a book entitled “Future Shock” His premise was that the world was changing so rapidly that people could not keep up and felt disoriented by the rate of change. Future shock is happening now and will only intensify in the next two decades as Jupiter and Saturn are journeying through the sign of Aquarius.
The polarization that we are witnessing nationally and globally is in part a function of this shift from Earth to Air. There is a bitter clash between those who are threatened and bewildered by the loss of the familiar sociocultural, economic, and political landscape and others who believe that change is desperately needed, long overdue, and are demanding it now. We can anticipate that in the coming decade that there will be widespread political unrest as masses of people unite to protest both change and the status quo.
The element of Earth represents material tangible things, physical resources, and the physical body. Earth represents the customary measurable three-dimensional time and space reality of separated localized objects which behave in accordance with Newtonian physics. The element of Air is represented by Quantum physics, which is diffuse and non-local, where everything is interconnected, everything mysteriously affects everything else, and there is no separation in time and space. The archetype of Aquarius is associated with the mind, the nervous system, ideas, communication, electricity, innovation, technology, the internet, and virtual reality. These next 20 years will carry the energy of the archetype of Aquarius, the archetype most associated with the future and with accelerated speed. We are on the brink of advances in technology that will transform the world as we have known it, and in ways that we cannot even imagine. These warp-speed advances in technology will offer great opportunities but also imperil us, as historically our capacities have far outstripped our wisdom, and the need for wisdom will be ever greater.
Aquarian energy can place value on the good of the collective over the individual which could translate into a world that is more humanitarian, just, and equitable but also has the potential to manifest as a techno-dystopia, a dehumanized society where citizens are constantly surveilled, feel oppressed, controlled and live in fear.
The archetype of the Air element knows no boundaries or separation. Pandemics are associated with the Air element. A pandemic is not a localized phenomenon, it is PAN, it is affecting the entire planet. There is no way to build a wall to contain it. It is invisible and is everywhere. Similarly, the collapse of the biosphere carries the unmistakable message that we are all connected and interdependent. Climate change is a catastrophe that can only be effectively mitigated with global cooperation. The archetype of Aquarius correlates with the possibility that we will recognize our common humanity and come together as a planet or bear the consequences.
Aquarius is also associated with freedom and genius. The brilliant astrologer, Emily Trinkaus, recently stated in her presentation about The Great Conjunction in Aquarius, that the more we take responsibility for ourselves, step out of the victim mentality, and co-create with others the world we wish to bring into being, the greater our degree of freedom.
There is a tsunami of change coming at us, requiring massive adaptation on our part. It’s more important than ever to tend to all of the basic self-care practices that create flexibility, resilience, and are protective, such as eating well prepared whole foods that are organic and non-GMO, getting plenty of fresh air and sunlight, spending time in nature, avoiding toxicity, regular movement, restorative sleep, loving relationships, creating community, doing service, and living with gratitude and wonder.
Astrological signs come in complementary pairs which together create a whole, with each sign represents one side of a polarity. The matching pair for Aquarius is the sign of Leo, a sign that is associated with the heart, warmth, self-expression, creativity, and children. One of the antidotes to dehumanization is to cultivate Leonine heart-centered practices like lovingkindness towards ourselves and each other. Leo invites us to make our unique creative contribution to the world, for the sake of the children. We cannot wait for anyone else to do it; it’s on us.
I recommend that if the skies are clear from now until the 24th, that you go out of your way to behold this rare celestial event. Create a ceremony on the solstice, releasing all that no longer serves you, and honoring your vision for the world that you would like to bring into being.
May you surf these rough seas with grace and ease and may 2021 be a year of blessing, and that you remember to “Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” (2)
Here is a beautiful talk by Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield, entitled “Freedom of the Heart”. Freedom is an Aquarian theme and the Heart a Leonine one. Listening will inspire a sense of spaciousness and freedom and remind you that a peaceful heart is possible no matter how much everything changes.
*As Jupiter and Saturn prepare to change from one element to the next, they do meet once in the upcoming element. So for instance in December 1980, they met in Libra an Air element, and then in May of 2000 returned for one final time in an Earth element, Taurus.
(1) Monique Leurink, a Dutch astrologer