The 1940-1941 triple Jupiter-Saturn conjunction

Japan and the United States on the threshold of World War II

The triple Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of August 1940 to February 1941, can be regarded as a turning point in the histories of the United States and Japan and a key milestone in a long-term process which led to the fall of the Japanese Empire, and the rise of the United States to the status of superpower.

We explore the zeitgeist of that 6-month period, when both the United States and Japan were preparing for entry into World War II. This leads us to notice some extremely rare planetary configurations, such as a Venus-Mars conjunction during a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction.

In this post:

Preliminary remark: transits on the birth chart of a head of state speak about history

Planetary transits on FDR's and Hirohito's birth charts can be interpreted from two different perspectives:

  • as transits on the birth chart of individuals who happen to be the heads of state of Japan and the United States: from this perspective, transits should speak about the events in their personal lives;
  • as transits on the charts that, at that moment in time, represent the nations of Japan and the United States: from this other perspective of mundane astrology the transits speak about the events in the lives of the nations themselves.

Since both FDR and Hirohito were born with remarkable Jupiter-Saturn alignments (conjunctions in this case), we can expect the 1940-1941 conjunctions to coincide with important events in their biographies and, most importantly, in the histories of Japan and the United States.

Timeline of historical events related to the U.S. entry into WWII

From the first conjunction until the third conjunction, we can highlight the following events:

    • August 8, 1940: first Jupiter-Saturn conjunction at 20° sidereal Aries / 14° tropical Taurus
    • September 2, 1940: Roosevelt openly defied the Neutrality Acts by reaching the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, which, in exchange for military base rights in the British Caribbean Islands, gave 50 WWI American destroyers to Britain. (Wikipedia)
    • September 16, 1940: Roosevelt approves the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, the first peacetime conscription in United States history. The size of the army would increase from 189,000 men at the end of 1939 to 1.4 million men in mid-1941. (Wikipedia)
    • September 22, 1940: Japan enters French Indochina
    • September 26, 1940: The United States embargoed scrap metal shipments to Japan and closed the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping.
    • September 27, 1940: Japan, Germany and Italy sign the Tripartite Pact forming the Axis Powers.
    • October 20, 1940: second Jupiter-Saturn conjunction at 18° sidereal Aries / 12° tropical Taurus
    • November 5, 1940: US presidential election.
    • December 29, 1940: Roosevelt makes a radio broadcast that would be remembered as the Arsenal of Democracy speech
    • January 6, 1941: Roosevelt makes his State of the Union address which would become famous as the Four Freedoms speech
    • January 20, 1941: US president inauguration
    • February 15, 1941: third Jupiter-Saturn conjunction at 15° sidereal Aries / 9° tropical Taurus

Significance in Roosevelt's and Hirohito's birth charts

Coming back to the two great heads of states whose destinies we've been following with our Jupiter-Saturn lens, we can notice that the triple Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of 1940-1941 is highly significant both for FDR and Hirohito because it hit key elements of their birth charts :

    • For FDR, it transited over his natal Jupiter-Saturn conjunction
    • For Hirohito, it hit his natal Sun-Venus conjunction

A once in a lifetime set of transits for FDR

More specifically for Roosevelt, this triple conjunction stands out as a unique moment in his whole life. The US presidential election of 1940 and the presidential inauguration of 1941 coincide with the second and third Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions. We can notice the following transits:

    • a few days after his third inauguration, in late January 1941, he had his second Saturn return.
    • a few weeks later, in April 1941, he had his fifth Jupiter return. Twelve years earlier, in 1929, during his fourth Jupiter return he had become Governor of New York.

FDR's third inauguration as president happened during a once in a lifetime combination of transits. Saturn's cycle is approximately 30 years and Jupiter's cycle is about 12 years.

    • 2 x 30 = 60
    • 5 x 12 = 60

For everybody, their 60th birthday is a very unique moment in their life, not only because it's the time of their 2nd Saturn return, but also because it coincides with their 5th Jupiter return, within a few months. Now, for those people born with a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, we can be sure it's going to be one of the most important periods in their life. This is what happened to FDR in 1941 (1).

The historical context of the 1940 U.S. presidential election

In 1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt manages to run for a third term. Germany having invaded western Europe, and because he was positioned as the only democrat who could defeat the republican candidate, it was relatively easy for FDR to make his way at the July 1940 Democratic Convention.

The election was contested in the shadow of World War II in Europe. By the time of the election, in November 1940, Germany had already annexed Austria (1938), invaded Czechoslovakia (March 1939), Poland (September 1939), Denmark and Norway (April 1940), defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (May-June 1940).

The United States had adopted a non-interventionist foreign policy from 1932 to 1938, but by 1940 President F.D. Roosevelt had already moved toward strong support of the Allies in their wars against Germany and Japan. By 1940, re-armament was in high gear, partly to expand and re-equip the Army and Navy and partly to become the "Arsenal of Democracy" for Britain and other countries. In July 1940, Roosevelt appointed two interventionist Republican leaders, Henry L. Stimson and Frank Knox, as Secretaries of War and the Navy, respectively. Both parties gave support to his plans for a rapid build-up of the American military, but the isolationists warned that Roosevelt would get the nation into an unnecessary war with Germany. (Wikipedia)

While President Roosevelt was already preparing the country for war prior to the election, candidate Roosevelt was acutely aware of a still strong but declining isolationist and non-interventionism sentiment, promised there would be no involvement in foreign wars if he were re-elected. (Wikipedia)

Jupiter and Saturn transits on FDR's birth chart for the day of the US presidential election, November 5th, 1940
Jupiter and Saturn transits on FDR's birth chart for his third inauguration, on January 20, 1941

A key configuration in the sky: the Jupiter-Saturn opposition to the Sun

Let's now look at the chart for the days of the Jupiter and Saturn oppositions to the Sun:

    • Venus is applying to a conjunction with Mars
    • Mercury is retrograde and in mutual reception with Mars

Mercury and Mars are the dominant archetypes. The U.S. presidential election was on November 5, under an almost identical planetary configuration.

Jupiter-Saturn opposition to the Sun, November 3, 1940

The chart for the US presidential election of November 5, 1940

A look at the chart for the day of the presidential election provides some additional insights:

    • Mars and Venus are conjunct by sign in sidereal Virgo, and Venus is applying to Mars (the exact conjunction will occur one month later, at about 14° sidereal Libra, in opposition to the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction)
    • Jupiter and Saturn are conjunct within 1 degree, they are both retrograde and Jupiter is separating from Saturn
    • the Sun is at 18° sidereal Libra, separating from an opposition to Jupiter-Saturn

With those two conjunctions of polar opposites Venus-Mars and Jupiter-Saturn, one could hardly imagine an even more polarised presidential election.

The chain of dispositing planets end in a mutual reception of Mercury and Mars. This would suggest that the dominant archetypes in the chart for this presidential election are Mercury and Mars, which correlates very well with the debates (Mercury) about war (Mars) during the presidential campaign.

During the campaign, Roosevelt's republican opponent, Wendell Willkie "accused Roosevelt of leaving the nation unprepared for war, but Roosevelt's military buildup and transformation of the nation into the "Arsenal of Democracy" removed the "unpreparedness" charge as a major issue. Willkie then reversed his approach and charged Roosevelt with secretly planning to take the nation into World War II. This accusation did cut into Roosevelt's support. In response, Roosevelt, in a pledge that he would later regret, promised that he would "not send American boys into any foreign wars." The United Kingdom actively intervened throughout the election against isolationism." (Wikipedia)

Transits on FDR's birth chart for November 5, 1940, day of the US presidential election

An extremely rare alignement: the Venus-Mars conjunction during the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction

We can't omit to mention the Venus-Mars conjunction that occurred one month later on December 3 1940, when Jupiter and Saturn were conjunct within 2 degrees. Having both conjunctions coinciding is already extremely rare, but this one is simply mind blowing:

    • the Venus-Mars conjunction is in almost exact opposition to the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction!

This configuration certainly does not happen every 100 years, maybe only every 1000 years?

Venus is the final dispositor of the dispositor chain, therefore Venus is the dominant archetype.

However, with this two conjunctions of the traditional benefic planets (Venus and Jupiter) with the traditional malefic planets (Mars and Saturn), we could hardly imagine a more polarized chart.

Given the fact that the attack of Pearl Harbor occurred almost exactly one year later, we would like to speculate that this is when the countdown starts for the entry of Japan and the United States into World War II. Again, this is astrological speculation to the fullest, but speculation is not always wrong! ;-)

Chart for December 3, 1940: Venus-Mars conjunction in opposition to the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction

Two famous speeches that made history

The Arsenal of Democracy radio broadcast of 29 December 1940 was one of the most famous of Roosevelt's fireside chats. Compared to the chart for the presidential election, the chart for this day is remarkable:

  • Mars and Venus are both in sidereal Scorpio (their exact conjunction occurred in early December, at about 14° sidereal Libra)
  • Mars and Venus are in aversion to all the other planets
  • Venus is in its detriment, and within 2 degrees of Antares, "the rival to Ares" or "the opponent of Mars", the star that marks the heart of the Scorpio constellation.
  • Mars is the final dispositor of the dispositor chain, and is therefore the dominant archetype in the chart.

This is arguably a very strong placement for Mars, and a very weak one for Venus.

During the 1940 presidential campaign, in response to Willkie's warning that Roosevelt would drag the country into another European war, Roosevelt had promised to keep the country out of the war.

In striking contrast to his promise made only a month earlier, "The speech reflected the American approach to entry into World War II. It marked the decline of the isolationist and non-interventionist doctrine that had dominated interwar U.S. foreign policy since the United States' involvement in World War I. (...) "Roosevelt promised to help the United Kingdom fight Nazi Germany by giving them military supplies while the United States stayed out of the actual fighting" (...) " (Wikipedia)

The main theme of the speech is dominated by Mars (war, agression, threat, military), and Jupiter-Saturn (defense, nation, government). And the overall message is mostly about facing reality (Saturn). But it's also about having having the courage to do so and to take action (Mars) while maintaining hope and purpose (Jupiter).

The third paragraph of his speech is quite evocative: We met the issue of 1933 with courage and realism. We face this new crisis, this new threat to the security of our nation, with the same courage and realism. Never before since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock has our American civilization been in such danger as now. For on September 27th, 1940 -- this year -- by an agreement signed in Berlin, three powerful nations, two in Europe and one in Asia, joined themselves together in the threat that if the United States of America interfered with or blocked the expansion program of these three nations -- a program aimed at world control -- they would unite in ultimate action against the United States.

chart for the day of FDR's "Arsenal of Democracy" speech, December 29, 1940

One week later, Roosevelt delivered his 1941 State of the Union address, which became famous as the Four Freedoms speech. "Roosevelt's hope was to provide a rationale for why the United States should abandon the isolationist policies that emerged from World War I. (...) Furthermore, the speech established what would become the ideological basis for America's involvement in World War II, all framed in terms of individual rights and liberties that are the hallmark of American politics." (Wikipedia)

The chart for January 6, 1941, the day of the Four Freedoms speech, is very similar to the chart for the Arsenal of Democracy speech. The only planet that has changed signs is the Moon, which had joined Jupiter and Saturn in sidereal Aries. In this chart Mars is also the final dispositor and therefore the dominant archetype.

Here's a short excerpt of the speech: The happiness of future generations of Americans may well depend upon how effective and how immediate we can make our aid felt. No one can tell the exact character of the emergency situations that we may be called upon to meet. The Nation’s hands must not be tied when the Nation’s life is in danger. Yes, and we must all prepare–all of us prepare–to make the sacrifices that the emergency– almost as serious as war itself–demands. Whatever stands in the way of speed and efficiency in defense–in defense preparations of any kind–must give way to the national need.

The US presidential inauguration of 1941

By January 20, 1941 both Jupiter and Saturn had passed their direct stations,

and Jupiter was applying to its third exact conjunction with Saturn, which occurred less than a month later.


Could we interpret Venus' transit as auspicious to this presidential term, and as an indicator of potential victory?

Transits on FDR's birth chart for January 20, 1941, day of his third inauguration as president of the United States

The 1941 Jupiter-Saturn conjunction on FDR's birth chart: engaging into a new cycle

The third and last of this series of three exact conjunctions happened on February 15, 1941 at 15° sidereal Aries. It marks the end of a long retrograde season for both Jupiter and Saturn, lasting about four months.

On FDR's birth chart, this third Jupiter-Saturn conjunction has some interesting transits:

    • Jupiter and Saturn are less than 3 degrees from his natal Saturn
    • Venus is exactly on the midpoint of his natal Sun-Venus conjunction
    • Mars is transiting FDR's 4th house and in exact opposition to his natal Mars in his 10th house, within a few minutes of arc.

Could we interpret this Mars transit as a significator of war on the United States? Franklin D. Roosevelt is the President of the United States. His chart can be considered to represent the United States as long as he is President.

The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of February 15, 1941 on FDR's birth chart

The 1940-1941 Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions for Hirohito: preparing for war

The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction approaches Emperor Hirohito's Sun-Venus conjunction:

    • On August 8, 1940, the first conjunction was at 20° Aries, five degrees past Hirohito's Sun-Venus.
    • On October 20, 1940, the second conjunction was 3 degrees past Hirohito's Sun-Venus, while both Jupiter and Saturn were retrograde.
    • On February 15, 1941, the third conjunction was at 15° Aries, within minutes of his natal Sun-Venus conjunction.
    • about a week earlier Mars had entered his Sagittarius 1st whole sign house, and had just crossed his Ascendant a few days before the conjunction.
    • By March 15, 1941 Mars will transit over Hirohito's natal Jupiter and natal Saturn (both in sidereal Sagittarius).

Those transits clearly resonate with the upcoming war against the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In fact, the preparations for war were already taking place:

    • September 22, 1940: Japan entered French Indochina
    • September 26, 1940: The United States embargoed scrap metal shipments to Japan and closed the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping.
    • September 27, 1940: "ostensibly under Hirohito's leadership, Japan was a contracting partner of the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy forming the Axis Powers." (Wikipedia)

More specifically, the planning for the attack on Pearl Harbor had begun in very early 1941 (Wikipedia).

The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of February 15, 1941 on Emperor Hirohito's birth chart

After the great conjunction: the countdown before the war

Here's an outline of the series of events during the 6 months before the start of the war:

    • July 24, 1941: Japan occupied key airfields in French Indochina.
    • July 26, 1941: the United States froze Japanese assets
    • August 1, 1941: the U.S. established an embargo on oil and gasoline exports to Japan. The oil embargo was an especially strong response because oil was Japan's most crucial import, and more than 80% of Japan's oil at the time came from the United States.
    • August 14, 1941: the United Kingdom and the United States sign the Atlantic Charter
    • September 4, 1941, the Japanese Cabinet met to consider war plans prepared by Imperial General Headquarters.
    • October 16: Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe found himself more and more isolated and gave his resignation. His statement about Hirohito's position: "Thus, gradually, he began to lean toward war. And the next time I met him, he leaned even more toward. In short, I felt the Emperor was telling me: my prime minister does not understand military matters, I know much more. In short, the Emperor had absorbed the view of the army and navy high commands.[22]" (Wikipedia)
    • October 17: the Emperor nominates as new Prime Minister the hard-line General Hideki Tōjō.
    • November 2, the decision for war against the United States was presented for approval to Hirohito by General Tōjō.
    • November 3, chief of staff of the navy, Osami Nagano explained in detail the plan of the attack on Pearl Harbor to the Emperor.
    • On November 25 Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of War noted in his diary that he had discussed with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt the severe likelihood that Japan was about to launch a surprise attack, and that the question had been "how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves". (Wikipedia)
    • On the following day, November 26, 1941, US Secretary of State Cordell Hull presented the Japanese ambassador with the Hull note, which as one of its conditions demanded the complete withdrawal of all Japanese troops from French Indochina and China. Japanese Prime Minister Tojo Hideki said to his cabinet, "this is an ultimatum".
    • On December 1, an Imperial Conference sanctioned the "War against the United States, United Kingdom and the Kingdom of the Netherlands".
    • On December 8 (December 7 in Hawaii), 1941, in simultaneous attacks, Japanese forces struck at the Hong Kong Garrison, the US Fleet in Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines and began the invasion of Malaya.

Closing remark: Mars's retrograde season and the attack on Pearl Harbor

A comprehensive astrological perspective on the beginning of the war between Japan and the U.S. would require a separate post. We would simply like to note that, without surprise, the end of Mars's retrograde season correlates with war, especially when it hits an important point in a nation's chart.

It's important to keep in mind that the retrograde season of Mars is relatively frequent, occurring every 26 months (2 years and 2 months). And Mars 2-year cycle means that it's going to make important transits on any birth chart every few months. However, in 1941 there was a Mars retrograde that resulted in a triple Mars transit on Hirohito's IC:

    • On August 1st, 1941, Mars crosses Hirohito's IC at 21° sidereal Pisces
    • On September 6 1941, Mars was on the very last degree of sidereal Pisces, and about to enter its domicile in sidereal Aries
    • On September 7, Mars turns retrograde at 29° Pisces
    • On October 15, retrograde Mars transits again on Hirohito's IC
    • On November 10, Mars reached its direct station at 17° Pisces
    • On December 6, Mars crosses for the third time Hirohito's IC
    • The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred the next day.

Is this pure coincidence? This is not a unique example for this correlation. The German invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1939 occurred only one week after Mars had turned direct, following the Mars retrograde season of June-August 1939.

(1) Barack Obama, born during the 1961 Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, will have this same once in a lifetime transit in 2020.