The alignments of
Jupiter & Saturn
This series of posts focuses on three basic questions about the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn:
- What is their meaning? (see below)
- How are they reflected in a person's life? We look at how they are reflected in the lives of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Emperor Hirohito.
- How do they speak about the life of a nation and about world history? We focus on the United States and Japan in 1940-41.
In this post:
Every 20 years, the greatest planets in the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, meet in the sky for their conjunction. Sometimes they have a single exact conjunction and they stay within 5 degrees of each other for about 2 months. More rarely, they have 3 exact conjunctions - a triple conjunction - during a timeframe of about 6 months.
What is the pattern of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions through time? What is the meaning of a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction? How is the triple conjunction different from the single conjunction?
The meaning of Jupiter and Saturn as a pair
System and organisation
"Always, function stands as the opposite, but even more as the complement, of the concept of structure. Structure refers to Saturn; function to Jupiter. The former is static and relatively permanent; the latter, dynamic and unfolding." Dane Rudhyar
This outstanding formulation of the metaphysical meaning of Jupiter and Saturn is the key to understanding how Jupiter - the organiser of functions - and Saturn - the lord of form and structure - work together. At any level of complexity, from subatomic particles to galaxies, from an individual to a multinational organisation, from a small village to a federation of states, Jupiter and Saturn are the two cosmological principles that establish an organisation or system and hold it together, as a unified whole.
Establishment and government
And yet we want to suggest that the word establishment is perhaps the most basic, almost literal interpretation of Jupiter and Saturn. First of all, based on their astronomical qualities as the two greatest planets in the solar system, the following keywords seem to be the most obvious:
Furthermore, the mythological perspective confirms that the main topic of this planetary pair is indeed power, and more specifically political power. The main story between Zeus and Kronos - Jupiter and Saturn's counterparts in greek mythology - is as follows:
"Cronus, Cronos, or Kronos was the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus. " (Wikipedia).
What is at stake between these two giant planets is clear: it's about rising in power, about staying in power and about loosing power. Simply put, it's about power games. In other words, it's about the Establishment: the existing power structure in society, the dominant groups in society and their institutions. Again, the two keywords are structure and function: what we call "the Establishment" is not a simple thing, it's all the structures and functions of power in society.
Last but not least, the core concepts and ideas related to government are all primarily related to Jupiter and Saturn: monarchy, empire, state, nation, federalism, nationalism, separatism, separation of powers... However, one could argue that some specifically modern concepts and ideas are primarily related to the other two giant planets Uranus and Neptune: liberalism and democracy with Uranus; communism and internationalism with Neptune.
In any form of society, from the most archaic to the most modern, we can look at its dominant groups and institutions as manifestations of the Jupiter-Saturn duality or polarity:
- In a modern democracy, it's the ruling party versus the opposition.
- In a traditional monarchy, it's the King versus the Prince(s), or the King versus the nobility.
- In an empire, it's the Emperor versus the Kings of the kingdoms that are part of the empire
- In an organisation, it's about the Leader and its Leadership Team.
- In society, it's the relationship between the older generations, and the younger generations.
- And at the level of the world it's about the power games between those nations that have the highest influence on a global scale, the so-called great powers and those that have a lower but increasing influence, the so-called rising powers. And that's precisely the object of study of World History.
The meaning of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions
If we remain focused on the 2 pairs of keywords for the Jupiter-Saturn duo - system, organisation, establishment and government - we can suggest that the cycle of Jupiter and Saturn corresponds to the growth of any system, organisation, dominant group within a society (establishment) or government.
The inception of a new cycle of organisation
That's why Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions often coincide with the beginning of major political, religious or social phenomena:
- Rise and fall of empires: as an example, the conjunction of 1940-1941 marked the beginning of a cycle that led to the fall of the Japanese Empire, and the rise of the United States to the status of super power. See our post about the United States and Japan on the threshold of Word War II.
- New religions: as an example, the founder of the Reformed Church, Martin Luther, was born in 1483 during a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction and he began to organise his new church after the Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune conjunction of 1524.
The conjunction being the beginning of the cycle, the chart for the conjunction can be interpreted as representing the potential that will unfold during the next 20-year cycle of growth of the organisation. If we focus the interpretation on the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, all the other planets can be interpreted as adding their particular significations into the cycle of growth, creating a whole palette of nuances:
- With Uranus, new ideas are a key element of bringing the organisation forward, promoting science, liberalism and innovation.
- With Neptune, it's more about using the magnetism of big dreams (like Martin Luther King) to feed the collective imagination.
- With Mars, Jupiter-Saturn is very much like the series Game of Thrones: it's about showing your muscles, conflict, aggression, struggle and war.
- With Venus, it's pretty much the opposite: it's about using relationships, diplomacy, celebration, artistic expression, but also charm and seduction to take forward the project of the organisation.
- And with Mercury, it means that conversations, discussions, debates and convincing speeches play an important role.
The triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
During the past 1000 years there were only 7 triple conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn. Such a rare astronomical phenomenon deserves all our attention.
A five months interlude between two cycles
The sequence of a triple conjunction can be broken down into the following stages:
- The first conjunction marks the end of the previous Jupiter-Saturn cycle.
- The third conjunction marks the beginning of the next Jupiter-Saturn cycle.
- In between the two, there is roughly a five-month timeframe when something mysterious happens:
- "time stands still" during the full month of September: at this point, both planets are standing almost still on the degree of their retrograde station.
- October-November-December: during this 3-month timeframe both planets are in retrograde motion. At some point they make their second conjunction, their opposition to the Sun, and their synod (heliocentric conjunction).
- "time stands still" for about a week in January, when both planets have reached their direct station, standing almost still for a number of days.
An opportunity to revise and renew any system or organisation
Retrograde motion can be interpreted as a moment for redirecting inwards the topics or energies related to the planet's signification. Dane Rudhyar suggests that a retrograde planet turns its energy towards the unconscious. The retrograde season represents an opportunity for contacting new unconscious material, and for the personal and the collective unconscious to manifest itself. In other words, it's an opportunity for new meaning to emerge, a moment when the present can be actualised to move into the future or the unknown. It's like opening the window of our consciousness, creating a unique opportunity for a new vision to emerge.
In a nutshell:
- Jupiter stationary is about stepping back to meditate about our unquestioned assumptions about how functions of people and organisation are defined and understood.
- Saturn stationary is about reflecting about our unconscious beliefs organisational structures, norms and rules.
- Jupiter retrograde is about reorganising functions, roles, job titles and mission statements.
- Saturn retrograde is about reorganising structures, boundaries, rules, laws and responsibilities.
A triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is when the retrograde seasons of Jupiter and Saturn coincide. It's a unique opportunity to for a quantum leap in any system or organisation.
Correlations with the history of modern artefacts
The birth of Gutenberg's moveable type printing press
The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of July 1444 was exceptional for two reasons:
- it occurred at the end of a triple conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, which can be correlated to the birth of Gutenberg's moveable type printing press, as described in our post about the history of computers.
- it was exactly conjunct Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, described as "the impetuous and blazing Great World Teacher, knowledge-holder of ancient hermetic wisdom" (Nick Anthony Fiorenza, An Introduction to Astronomical Astrology, page 32). This astronomical event is extremely rare, and may occur approximately every 800 years.
Correlations with world history
Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions were used by traditional astrology to understand history. To learn more about this topic we recommend Benjamin Dykes' Astrology of the World second volume. Modern astrology has added Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, which leads it to consider a much more complex approach to history through multiple cycles: Jupiter-Uranus, Saturn-Pluto, Uranus-Neptune, Uranus-Pluto. The most comprehensive book based on this modern approach is Richard Tarnas' Cosmos and Psyche. Nick Anthony Fiorenza's astronomical approach is based on a much wider set of bodies, such as dwarf planets Eris, Haumea, Makemake; centaurs Chiron, Pholus, Nessus and Chariklo; and asteroids Ceres, Juno, Vesta and Pallas. See his article The 2020 ”Societal Reset” & “The Great Transformation“ 2020-2030.