Saturn-Pluto Opposition - Dealing with the Standoff

by Guru Rattana, Ph.D. - Issue #43, May 15, 2002

Saturn and Pluto are the most feared and revered planets in the sky. Saturn produces the most outer challenges in our lives. Pluto produces the deepest inner challenges. When one or both of these planets aspect (or interact) with planets in our natal chart, we experience tangible events, compelling lessons, and strong emotions, that impact the direction of our lives. When the two planets form a hard aspect to each other (conjunction, square, opposition - explained below), humankind is challenged collectively in the areas of politics, economics and infrastructure (communication and transportation). We are challenged personally in areas of values, life direction and inner transformation.

When Saturn's accountability confronts Pluto's transformation head on (opposition), we can be sure that things will no longer be the same as before. The world will be a different place. Business will not go on as usual, and our personal lives will be permanently altered. The Saturn-Pluto opposition weeds out excess, greed and illusions. What survives is solid, IF we are willing to honestly, and with integrity, undergo the fire of transformation. This pertains to both collective institutions and our personal lives.

General Outline of this Period

Saturn and Pluto oppose each other in the sky three times: August 5, 2001, November 2, 2001 and May 28, 2002. Because of the phenomenon of retrograde (apparent backward movement of the planets indicated by going back in degrees instead of forward), the interaction between planets takes place three times.

The basic themes up for review in our personal and collective lives arise around the first opposition. (July and August 2001). The last opposition (May 2002) reveals the full nature of shifts that are taking place in our consciousness, and demands that we take action that will determine the direction of our lives for the next 8-9 years.

The first transit opens up a new arena or chapter in our lives. We discover new energies that need to be acknowledged or expressed. New circumstances appear that change our life, or shift our reality in some way. The second round, a retrograde passage, facilitates internal adjustments to the new situation. We understand at deeper levels what is happening and begin an internal consolidation of the new situation. Unresolved feelings often surface during the retrograde period. We may feel that action forward is being blocked by forces and circumstances beyond our control.

Although we feel more stress during the first and second direct oppositions, the entire period is one in which the forces of nature oblige us to transform. During this time, there is a gradual unfoldment of events, development of the story line, and expansion of consciousness. However, it is not until the third chapter, when the planet (or planets) are in direct motion again and make their final pass, that breakthroughs occur, and we can move forward in our new situation. At last we can act from our new sense of identity. We can incorporate our expanded wisdom into our daily life. We can consummate new relationships. We can make the critical turn in our new life direction.

We experience the opposition most intensely during the month before and after the direct alignments. This time around, this is between April and June 2002. In February and March this year the pressure let up, as the planets scattered in the sky. The atmosphere at the end of May will be particularly volatile because the nodes of the Moon line up with Saturn and Pluto, and there is a Lunar Eclipse May 26th.

To better understand what is happening and how to deal with it, we will dissect the components of this major planetary alignment.

Planetary Cycles

CONJUNCTION is the term used to indicate that two planets join in the sky at the same degree in the same sign. The conjunction of two planets initiates a cycle within which the energies of the two planets will interact. Astrology divides each cycle into various phases. The four quarter-cycle phases are the most dramatic. They are each set off by the fourth-harmonic or "hard" aspects:

  1. CONJUNCTION indicates that planets are in the same sign and degree. The conjunction initiates a new phase, a new beginning or a new chapter in worldly affairs and in our personal lives. During this time we decide our course of action, plant our seeds and begin to water our garden.
  2. WAXING SQUARE indicates that the planets form the first of two squares or 90° angle. "The waxing square begins the most energetic phase of the cycle, the period of greatest productivity and manifestation".(1) The energy of squares is like being hit broadside. Action is required. Either we take action or the Universe takes it for us.
  3. OPPOSITION indicates that the two planets are directly opposite each other in the sky in complementary or opposing Zodiac signs. "The opposition corresponds to the peak of the cycle. It is a time of greatest conflict and it marks the high point of expansion".(2) Oppositions force us to decide what we really value. They starkly show us both our worst side and our best side. We can demonstrate both our intense fear and anger, and our ability to care for and love one another and ourselves.
  4. WANING SQUARE indicates that the planets are again squared off at 90° and on their return to the same position in another Zodiac position in the sky. "The waning square corresponds to the realization that the cycle has served its purpose, and it is time to begin preparation for a new cycle. This can be a time of great reward and contentment, or great stress, depending upon how one has handled the circumstances surrounding the opposition".(3)
The Current Saturn-Pluto Cycle: 1982-2020

The Saturn-Pluto cycle lasts between 33 and 38 years. The most current cycle began with the 1982 Saturn-Pluto conjunction. The seeds of U.S. economic revival were probably started at this time by Regan anti-inflation, tax-reduction policies.(4) The rapid expansion and prosperity of the 90's was driven by explosive growth and technological and telecommunication innovation, upon which the foundation of a whole new world economy and communication system was built. During the expansive period between the conjunction and the opposition, there was the perception that technological advances would continue to fuel never-ending prosperity. However, "all economic boons eventually reach a peak, and the momentum of progress recedes".(5)

The current Saturn-Pluto opposition coincides with the end of the technological boom, a terrorist attack, and stock market collapse. Saturn in Gemini, opposing Pluto has the signature of a classic case of bankruptcies, an economic slow-down, and naked accountability in the field of communications, transportation and corporate finances.

The period between the opposition and the waning square (in this case the next 8-9 years of the Saturn-Pluto cycle) is "typically a stressful one in terms of world economies and financial markets".(6) Historically, "the American economy and stock market top out during - or close to - the time when Saturn opposes Pluto",

Period and Process, Not an Event

Both Saturn and Pluto are slow moving planets, so the changes that they create are gradual and long term. We are dealing with a period of time in which an inevitable process of transformation is occurring. Saturn stays in one Zodiac sign for two years. Pluto stays in the same sign from 18 to 30 years. (Pluto's orbit is elliptical). Although we present the 3 exact oppositions as events, what we are really dealing with is a phase or period of time where specific and compelling themes are highlighted. These themes correspond to the signs of the two planets: Gemini for the Saturn issues and Sagittarius for the Pluto issues.

During the period before, between and after the oppositions, we are given lots of hints along the way that we must change both our ways of doing and being. We don't have to, and shouldn't make reckless decisions, but we do have to open our eyes and ears, take off the blinders, avoid the street marked "Past", and choose the street marked "Future."

We are obliged to make life-changing decisions during this time. The energy is supporting us in doing so. If we look closely, opportunities are opening up to manifest some of our long held dreams. Some of our now almost worn out prayers are being answered. There is no free lunch, but we will be rewarded if we do our inner and outer work. Pluto controls the price tag. Saturn allows our intentions into manifestation if we passed our maturity tests.

Arena of Influence

The ORB of influence is the astrological term used to measure, in terms of degrees, the impact of an astrological event. Planets in our natal planet are impacted up to 8° on either side. It is difficult to define the exact number of degrees before or after an event, which create an impact. Some astrologers work with "tight" orbs of only 3-4°. Others consider that orbs as wide as 8-10° create impacts. The closer the more impact. The effects build up before hand, and continue often long after the event. Robert Hand suggests that the impact of the Pluto-Saturn opposition is effective at least one year before August 2000 (the first exact aspect), and one year after May 2003 (the last aspect.)

The Outer Planets

To better appreciate the nature of our current personal and planetary crises, it is useful to understand the difference in nature between the inner and outer planets, and how the energies that they represent impact our lives.

The INNER or PERSONAL PLANETS - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - represent individual, human issues. Inner planet issues emerge from our conscious ego and our personal unconscious. They oblige us to own and give appropriate expression to our own needs and drives. They oblige us to discover things about ourselves that can be uncomfortable and challenging, but we can identify with these issues if we are honest, take responsibility for them if we are willing, and handle them if we have the courage and will to do so. The human issues of Saturn, for example, - discipline, self-sufficiency, loneliness or defensiveness - require work and stamina but mastery is within our reach.(7)

Touchstones for inner planet growth include adult behavior, emotional maturity and wise action.

The OUTER or IMPERSONAL PLANETS - Uranus, Neptune and Pluto - represent the collective unconscious and psychological inheritance. The issues they impose upon us belong to the collective. We must learn to deal with them, because the collective is made up of individuals of which we are one, but these issues seem bigger than life and never seem to go away. Our task is further complicated by the fact that these planets work on us through the unconscious. "They are not energies which the ego can harness and manipulate and control. They simply don't operate like that. You can always try controlling a transit of Uranus, Neptune or Pluto, but I wish you luck".(8).

The issues presented by the outer planets erupt from the collective unconscious. The outer planets introduce us to the unknown. They stretch our consciousness beyond ourselves, and confront us with the mysteries of life, fate, destiny, and forces much larger than our individual life. They shatter our limited view of reality. Attempts by the ego to manage or control outer planet challenges are totally inappropriate. If we attempt to pit our will against these cosmic giants, we only create more problems for ourselves.(9)

The outer planets embody energies that are beyond our individual control. Outer Planet transits expand and alter our consciousness. Classic outer planet crises come in the form of serious illness, death of loved ones, break up of relationships and marriages, vocational change of direction, and religious or spiritual upheavals. When the above are reflections of inner planet activity, the events create the need for conscious internal change. When these events "coincide with outer planet movements, (they) are reflections, rather than causes. They correspond to some profound internal change, which can't be understood or lived until an outer event occurs that completely changes one's life patterns".(10) In other words, we undergo transformations over which we have no conscious control. I have talked to people lately who say that they no longer feel like a slave to certain addictive behaviors, and they don't react to certain things that used to bother them. Something has been cleansed from inside, and they have not been a conscious participant in the process.

How to Deal with Outer Planet Challenges

Because the outer planets command internal transformation, our attitude toward change is critical. If we resist change, the energy must be expressed in events. If we are willing to do our inner work and develop a relationship with the energies that demand expression, we can avoid major catastrophes, and even maintain a creative edge on the situation. The outer planets offer gifts of deeper levels of experience. We can either permit these experiences to change us, or be involuntarily changed by them.

The outer planets pull us into experiences that we don't consciously create and often don't like. It appears that we are victims of blind fate. The only way to deal with these energies is to become more conscious of them. When coming face-to-face with powers that make us feel helpless, a natural reaction is to turn to old ways of doing things. We try to find security in structures, and religious and philosophical belief systems, created by the collective. However, the rules of the collective consciousness are totally ineffectual. The more we identify with and attach ourselves to the collective, the more we resist the necessary transformations imposed by the outer planets, and the more pain we will create.

"This is part of the reason why outer planets are often painful and disagreeable. One must find completely different values and standards to deal with them, and that means separating from the comforting shelter of conventional codes. These codes are as much inner as outer, and don't just mean rules about sexual behavior. Inner conventional codes tell us it's right or wrong to feel certain things or want certain things, whether this is acted out or not".(11)

If you watch your mind and emotions, you can identify how inner conventional codes control you. They express themselves as guilt, unworthiness, embarrassment, low self-esteem, and an endless string of "shoulds". We have to train ourselves to self-extricate from the need for outside approval, and learn to take our own stand, based on what we feel we want and need in our lives.

Saturn Territory and Issues

Saturn wields power through fear. Saturn's territory includes politics, government, and basic structures and institutions. The negative side of Saturn is stubborn, conservative, and resists change. Saturn energy underpins all order and structures in the physical world and the principles of mechanical law. The laws of cause and effect can appear as fate and negative karma, if we do not play by the rules of physical existence. Saturn represents the laws that we are subject to while in a physical body on Planet Earth. Saturn creates lawful and orderly systems, not to make life tedious, but to make it work for the collective, and keep us aligned with the infinite.

Saturn requires accountability for all previous actions. Saturn challenges both the planet it aspects, and imposes constraints in the area that it transits, i.e. Saturn is currently challenging Pluto in Sagittarius and imposing constraints in Gemini territory - in communication, commerce, transportation systems and lower education. Saturn in Gemini deals with the mundane, and presents us with breakdowns in our own backyard and neighborhood.

Saturn represents the "defensive aspect of the ego, which tries to preserve its autonomy and its separateness". Saturn is the self-protective voice that warns us against being too dependent upon others or too vulnerable. "Saturn is concerned with building forms to contain chaotic energies".(12) Saturn copes with life by building structures that foster permanency and self-sufficiency. Saturn is the stick; Jupiter is the carrot. Saturn is our defense system. Saturn does not feel comfortable with emotional hysteria or wild fantasies.

Pluto Territory and Issues

Pluto manipulates through the fear of power. Pluto territory includes collective finances, debt, bankruptcy, destruction and death.

Pluto drives organic transformation in the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Pluto represents inevitable change. Pluto embodies the cycle of nature, which will have its way and cannot be stopped.

Firstly, ideas, people, institutions and relationships are birthed. Next, we experience a period of growth, reach a level of stability and apparent permanence. Then things start to go wrong, not work and decay. We try to hold onto the status quo, but the relentless force, totally out of our control, cannot be stopped. The more tenacious our grip, the more ruthless the waves of change beat upon our helpless shores. At the end of the cycle, the storms gradually subside. Finally, new patterns are born and new life comes into being. The easier we let go, the more benign the birth of the new.

Pluto represents the dark feminine, and the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Pluto is "the life force in living things. It is nature itself, or the life force in nature, that will survive; and in order to survive, of necessity, it must go through permutations, changes, death processes, that break down forms when they have reached their sell-by date, and then generate new forms".(13) Pluto is both destructive and nurturing. The inevitability of the regeneration process can seem like fate, but it can also deliver us to our destiny.

It is critical to our emotional sanity to understand Pluto. During Pluto transits we can succumb to fear, disconnect from our feelings, and unwisely disassociate from reality, because we feel overwhelmed internally and overpowered by external events or situations. The most unconscious ways to deal with Pluto energies are to become obsessive, enter into power battles, try to manipulate situations or others, or in someway set oneself up to be victimized.

Pluto brings up deep questions that create anxiety. Life feels dangerous because nothing is permanent. One feels an impending sense of danger, and cannot relax because of the inevitability of change. The gift of Pluto is that we are driven to understand and become one with, the most intimate face of reality and our soul. Pluto drives us inward to a place where we know life in the most profound way. This place is not the light of the third eye, but it is the womb of the Mother. Maybe we won't feel totally at peace, but we will feel real, alive and passionate about life.

Our peace comes from acceptance of what it takes to survive, and from acquiring the grit to survive the multi- metamorphoses that our personal journey requires. We realize that whatever we build will die sometime, but we can welcome the cycle as an opportunity to evolve, realize greater levels of our potential, and take satisfaction in our personal struggle to find our own truth. Self-empowerment is the trophy offered, if we are willing to embrace the grit and grim of our own inner work.

How Pluto Impacts Us

Some people have configurations of Pluto in their natal chart, which determine that the death-rebirth process is ongoing. They have to learn to live with this process, develop a relationship with it, and incorporate it into their state of being. Those who have some link between Pluto and their Ascendant, Moon, Sun or Mercury, will have "a sense of the Plutonian dimension of life. It requires humans to accept something at work in life greater than themselves. You can't manage Pluto without that acceptance".(14) Those who do not have this configuration may be unfamiliar with Pluto's demands, when transits such as the current Saturn-Pluto opposition occur. They may experience freak-outs and surprises that they are not equipped to handle. Whether natally or by transit, Pluto commands our attention. In order not to feel swallowed up by this awesome force, we must expand our consciousness so that we can forge a relationship with it.

Pluto introduces us to chaos. We get scared when we see life around us breaking down and shifting, at a rate of speed that we cannot control. Panic can set in at an individual and collective level. To maintain our sanity we must know that destruction is the first stage in the movement to create structures that will better serve us.

The extreme reaction to Pluto, and the change that it demands, is to "make an effort to keep anything out because of a deep fear or because you are simply not ready to deal with certain things, then you pull all the way over to one side. The further you pull, the more extreme you get, and the more you lose the place in the middle where you could actually contain opposites. It is very mysterious how this works. You then take on the face of the opponent and begin to behave exactly as the opponent does, all the while accusing them of doing the very thing that you yourself are doing. You and they are doing the same. The issues and ideas polarize between two camps, or two people, or two groups, or two collectives that have something secretly very much in common. But neither can bear to stay in the place of the middle and live with the thing in common".(15) When you polarize against an opposite, you wind up being unconsciously taken over by it.

Pluto also introduces us to the Dark Mother, who erupts in rage when issues and energies like sexuality are not consciously dealt with. (Witness the Catholic Church sex scandals.) Pluto symbolizes "the dark side of human nature, the depths of the unredeemed and uncivilized shadow ... the dross which society has rejected, yet which still has tremendous vitality and potential".(16) Pluto represents instinctual power and the power of the unconscious. "There is always the problem with Pluto, that the person who is meant to learn to work with the power must first be a victim of power for a time. Otherwise he cannot use it responsibly".(17)

Pluto "embodies the power of nature to survive, and to endure death and destruction without ever losing her creative potency ... Pluto also embodies the black heart of nature, which resists any attempt at cultivation and civilization, and wreaks revenge on any injury done her, even if it's in the name of progress or development ... Pluto embodies ... the revengeful powers of instinctual life which will not tolerate violation by an arrogant ego".(18)

Pluto doesn't just alter something. It wipes out the whole thing and starts over.

Pluto-Saturn: Inevitable Shift

"The Saturn-Pluto combination represents crises that come about as the normal, lawful, and predictable manifestations of Saturn, are challenged by the need for deep and fundamental changes in the system, which are indicated by Pluto ... Saturn-Pluto change is likely to impose some kind of restriction on our freedom of movement, or upon our resources". (19) The bottom line is that an existing order is being destroyed and a new one is being created. Polarization of ideas, ideologies, life styles, cultures and interests is inevitable. Collective themes are recessions, depressions, war, and ideological and religious conflicts.

Pluto-Saturn encounters are no laughing matter, command our attention and demand serious thought. The problems we face cannot not be solved at that level. Only on higher ground can resolution be forged. Pluto and Saturn work together to organize an inevitable shift, which is essentially out of our control. How we choose to deal with these energies will determine whether we participate in a self-destructive process or a cleansing transformation. In other words, we WILL be transformed. Whether we like the outcome or not depends on our attitude. We can minimize the damage if we embrace, or at least minimize, our resistance to the process. We maximize our pain if we set ourselves up to be a victim of forces greater than us.

Plutonian energies can indeed feel intimidating and overwhelming. Our gut reaction can be to pull into Saturn and try to defend ourselves. It is wise to remember that, what we believe and what we value always determine our choices, and the consequences of our actions. The constriction of Saturn can be used wisely to shift us away from excessive materialism. The fire of Sagittarius in Pluto could propel us toward inner enlightenment, and a new way of doing and being.

The Saturn-Pluto Power Struggle

Saturn and Pluto create the necessity for endings. The primordial instinct for transformation is both compulsive and obsessive. It can take the form of a revolutionary saboteur who risks his life to topple entrenched structures and values, or a fanatical reactionary who tries to repress or stamp out movements and ideals of change.

Saturn interacting with the outer planets manifests our unconscious in the world in a very literal fashion. We see our anger and fears in the form of political conflicts, wars and economic disturbances. The nature of the problems also reflect the sign Saturn is in at the time. Saturn in Gemini manifests breakdowns in communication, transportation and education.

Pluto's urges can seem uncivilized and primordial because they are. Saturn will try to control our primitive desires and emotions, but control only makes the situation worse. We must embrace, integrate and embody our wild, passionate instincts, or they will wreak havoc in our lives.

Classic power struggles are expressions of Saturn-Pluto energies. Pluto uses deep emotions and sexual energies to break down Saturn's defenses. Saturn will try to limit and control these urges, because it is afraid of their intensity and power. Saturn attempts to defend itself with "hyper-rationality, coldness, criticism, rejection and a wet-blanket atmosphere".(20) Eventually, "Pluto gradually erodes some of Saturn's rigidity and Saturn helps to civilize Pluto".

The basic problem in dealing with Saturn-Pluto stand-offs is the reluctance we have in dealing with these energies. Working with them requires naked honesty about our fears, needs and desires. We have to overcome our embarrassment, of not being totally civil and gentle at all times. We have to be willing to feel uncomfortable, and be willing to deepen our relationship with the unknown. The gift is, that we can achieve a profound sense of intimacy with ourselves, our partner and the Universe, if we can forgo conventional, collective rules, and build our life and relationships on our deep personal values and simple universal truths.


Oppositions in astrology indicate that two heavenly bodies are 180° apart, which is the maximum degree of polarization possible. The two bodies "stand like two opponents facing off against each other and, as a result, define themselves and each other in the process". Oppositions can generate complete hostility. Although oppositions are challenging and present us with difficult situations, which we are obliged to deal with, their ultimate goal is to forge a synthesis of energies, after our inevitable transformation has taken place.

Both oppositions and squares (90° apart) oblige us to take action. The more thoughtful we are, the better results we can expect. The more skillful we are in crafting our strategies, the more constructive will be the outcomes. The wiser we are in choosing and implementing our actions, the more satisfied we will feel when the ordeal is over.

Oppositions polarize two extreme positions, making it difficult to identify middle ground. Surrendering to Pluto feels like destruction, yet standing with Saturn prevents freedom and joy. If we simply look for a compromise, we will not find it. Each of the six astrological polarities are complements to each other. The synthesis of complementary energies is achieved only on higher ground.

This opposition plays out as many dark forces battling each other. It is hard to distinguish between the good and the bad guys. We seem to be trapped in a lose-lose scenario, as the righteous, law and order side and the fanatical, subversive side position themselves to fight to the end. "Truth is the first casualty in the war between Gemini and Sagittarius, buried beneath endless debate and bitter divisiveness".(22) One of the most basic truths is that we are all one and share this special planet. The bridge between Gemini's intellectual extremes and Pluto's dogmatic obsessions can be built, when we get in touch with our shared humanity, common goals and interests.


Gemini and Sagittarius both seek movement and thrive on mental stimulation, but their field of operation is very different. Gemini operates in the immediate environment, concerns itself with mundane affairs and daily errands. Sagittarius operates in the world at large, concerns itself with philosophical matters, global diplomacy, international travel, and higher education and comparative religion.

Both Gemini and Sagittarius prod us to think, reason and search, to understand the events that have transformed our world. Both urge us to use our ingenuity to come up with solutions. Both remind us to find meaning in our personal lives.

The Gemini-Sagittarius polarity brings issues of morality, intellectual polarization, and ideological conflicts to the fore. We self-righteously fight over belief systems, and wonder why the other side clings so tenaciously to such a limiting point of view. In opposition they invite us to examine how our limited perspective is preventing us from seeing the big picture.

The solution is always embedded in the problem. Gemini and Sagittarius both "need to know; to learn, reason and remember; to gather knowledge, process it, and communicate it far and wide".(23) Global communication allows us to share our common humanity, and to build bridges between people we will never even meet.

Although Gemini and Sagittarius are both mental signs, they thrive on fun and adventure. They are also both happy and enthusiastic signs. I feel that together they offer us common ground in the heart.

Pluto in Sagittarius (1995-2008)

The ruling signs of the outer planets, Pluto, Aquarius and Neptune, set the tone of the times. Pluto in Scorpio (1982-1991) was somber, deep and introspective. There was both an anxiety and a comfort in hiding our deepest fears. Pluto in Sagittarius forces the cat (or the demon) out of the bag. Clinton sex scandals, the Catholic Church child abuse scandals, and Enron corporate greed are public property. Sagittarius provides no rug under which our dark side can be swept. Sagittarius is optimistic, youthful, and believes that anything is possible. (That is until Saturn calls its bluff and demands strict accountability and realism).

Pluto in Sagittarius directs Pluto's intense transformative process to the areas of law, spirituality, and globalization. The reality, that we as planetary citizens are all in this mess or creation together, is becoming more and more obvious, and less and less possible to avoid. Of course, we can try to avoid international trade realities, and stop looking at the "Made in China and many other countries" labels on our clothes, stuffed animals, kitchenware and a multitude of other consumer items, but it is impossible to avoid the threat of global terrorism, on our own territory and in our own mailboxes.

Pluto is in the process of requiring that we take a more profound look at the realities and consequences of globalization. To activists, globalization means centralized and corrupt power, disregard for cultural diversity and individual rights, greedy multinational corporations that operate for their own benefit and devastate ecologies, and a uniformly imposed McDonalds's/Coca-Cola culture everywhere on the planet. For those in charge of the international economic system, globalization is a necessity, the most efficient means or organizing the world economy and distributing resources, and the best way to deal with global problems like pollution and disease.(24) If we want to work toward a peaceful world, neither of these two opposing views can unilaterally prevail. Reality, common ground and the heart become the final arbitrators.

Personal Responsibility

Pluto best represents what Jung calls the collective unconscious: the deep strata of the human psyche that is common to all of us. Saturn represents the collective consciousness, the structures and rules created by society so that we can live with each other.

Our individual microcosm meets the global macrocosm in Carl Jung's statement "if there is something wrong with society, then there is something wrong with the individual, and if there is something wrong with the individual then there is something wrong with me".(25) The issues played out on the world stage are a reflection of the issues reverberating in the collective unconscious. The only way to impact the collective unconscious is to shift our personal consciousness.

To shift our personal consciousness, we have to sort out our belief systems. Our beliefs not only determine how we perceive reality; they determine how we create reality. We absorb beliefs through the collective unconscious. The most effective way to shift beliefs is through direct experience. The ultimate message of Pluto in Sagittarius is that the solution is spiritual. Our direct spiritual experiences of the Divine create the openings in our minds and hearts to identify, search for and find common ground.

How do we deal with upheavals in the collective unconscious? Jung "seems to suggest that when something is due to erupt in the collective, the only safety and sanity to be found is in the firm sense of your individuality. Otherwise, there is no way in which the eruption can be channeled without you becoming a victim of the collective. Then you are blindly carried along with it, and because it is blind and undirected by consciousness, it doesn't reason politely and set up careful standards to assess who should pay and who shouldn't".(26)

Collective economic, political and ideological disruptions cannot be dealt with by laws and legal structures, cannot be stopped by military might, cannot be prevented by religious ideals and cannot be stopped by political parties. Jung argues that the only way to avoid the repetition of collective phenomena, such as Nazi Germany, is to identify how "the battle is being fought within ourselves",(27) and deal with the shadow-realm in our own psyche. The more we are able to confront and accommodate the collective unconscious in our personal unconsciousness, the more whole we become and the more we live our own life, versus being a collective puppet.

How change occurs in both our personal and collective lives depends upon our ability to accommodate change. If we are flexible, change is less painful, and can even be exciting and fun. If we are rigid, locked into our beliefs and ways, change can be traumatic and frightening. The quality and state of our consciousness determines whether we attract beneficent or confrontational expressions of the same energies.

The state of consciousness of individuals determines how collectives express (and repress) themselves. Those of us who watch from afar (in front of the nightly news if you have the guts), and are aghast at both the seriousness and insanity of the situation, can pray that we are witnessing the end of an unjust and unworkable political-economic system, and not the end of life on Earth. We can stack the cards towards the former by working from within, to facilitate a shift in consciousness. Saturn's imposed standstill gives us time to rethink our goals, redefine our values and reposition our journey. During this time we can fine-tune our immediate concerns to facilitate our long-term goals. We can let go of old attitudes in order to facilitate a rebirth. We can shift our way of being, and live each moment in the reality of love, not fear.

In sum, until the individuals who make up a collective (YOU AND ME!), face and own the energies of the outer planets, we will continue to act them out collectively in wars, and project them onto others through our thoughts and ideologies. The bottom line is that, if we are sincerely interested creating a peaceful world, we have to create peace in our own minds, bodies and hearts.

Polarities at Work: Opposing Houses and Signs

The nature of oppositions in our personal life situations can be more concretely understood by examining the polarities of the twelve Zodiac signs, and of the 12 houses of an astrological chart, each of which is assigned a sign. There are 6 pairs of opposing signs and houses. The first 6 signs and houses correspond to phases in our personal growth. The second 6 signs and houses introduce us to the world outside ourselves. In the process of expanding our reality, they lift us out of the issues of the first six phases of our life. They challenge us to maintain our individuality while interacting with the world, and they broaden our perspective of life.

These six pairs of polarities are always dancing with each other. When we have planets opposing each other in our natal chart, they challenge us our whole lives. During periods such as the current Saturn-Pluto opposition, they are clearly in action and confront us in a very direct manner. Discomfort is one sign that we are being prodded, to take advantage of the energies to create changes, that lead to a higher expression and synthesis of these energies. Our inner and outer strategies at this time will determine the tone and results of the next 8-9 years of this cycle.

These 6 polarities summarize the basic categories of issues, conflicts and crises, that we are facing in our personal lives. The "driven compulsiveness of Pluto battling the rigid constrains of Saturn"(28) is creating confusion, stress and upheavals, in at least one of these areas of our lives.

Below I explain the six polarities, identify the major issues, outline strategies for change, and summarize the results we can expect, if we do the inner and outer work required for resolution and synthesis.

ARIES/LIBRA, 1st/7th Houses Identity and Relationships

Our first life challenge is to establish a sense of self, define our personal identity and enjoy our individuality. Taking action from our own instincts and intuition is a requirement for survival, and for healthy relationships. In fact, all forms of partnership challenge us to be honest to ourselves, interact with personal integrity, and maintain healthy boundaries. If we are able to establish a firm relationship with ourselves, we can manifest partnerships that can be as intimate as the merging of two souls. If we cannot, we will confront each other, create conflicts, and even become mortal enemies.

Issue:Abandonment and enmity

Strategy for Change: Develop a relationship with yourself. Define, be and do yourself. Do your own thing.

Results: Self-esteem and self-love. Ability to attract and establish sustaining relationships

TAURUS/SCORPIO, 2nd/8th Houses Prosperity and Manifesting

Our second challenge in life is to take care of ourselves and to meet our basic needs. What we value determines what we want to manifest for ourselves. Our definition of our self-worth determines what we actually manifest for ourselves. Taurus introduces us to the concept of attachment, physical pleasures and possessions, the idea of earning money, and the generation of resources and possessions that allow us to experience comfort and security.

Scorpio (associated with Pluto) makes sure that we are not too attached to our possessions. In the emotional underworld of Scorpio, everything can be taken away. Scorpio teaches us to manifest in a very different way. We manifest through partnerships, as opposed to earning a living on our own. If we can learn to cooperate and be open to the transformations that cooperation requires, we can manifest through attraction.

Issue: Neediness, lack of resources

Strategy for Change: Take responsibility for taking care of and providing for yourself. Do not compromise your personal values to get what you want and need.

Results: Prosperity and physical security

GEMINI/SAGITTARIUS, 3rd/9th Houses Experience and Knowledge

Gemini and the 3rd House present us with our third life challenge - to learn how to interact and communicate with others in ways that facilitate understanding, cooperation and exchange of information. We are interested in learning about the world, exploring the unknown and gathering information that helps us navigate life. Gemini opens us up to an infinity of experiences, but we can get caught in the maze of overextended living if we do not learn to discriminate what is important and what is not. Sagittarius teaches Gemini to make wise choices by following his own intuition. Sagittarius introduces Gemini to universal laws, spiritual truths and the path home to the heart. Sagittarius pulls Gemini out of his confused rational mind into the clarity of spiritual connection.

Issue: Ignorance, naïveté

Strategy for Change: Expand your perspective

Results: Knowledge and Wisdom, can follow own inner guidance

CANCER/CAPRICORN, 4th/10th Houses Foundation and Self-Mastery

Cancer and the 4th House present us with the life tasks of creating a home and family, and establishing a sense of personal inner security. Cancer challenges us to create an inner world where we feel emotionally stable. Emotional self-sufficiency is a required foundation to climb the ladder of worldly success and receive recognition in the 10th House of Capricorn. Our ability to nurture ourselves, and feel secure in our home environment, allows us to internalize and process our emotions. As our internal power fuels our external ambitions and insures their realization, we achieve a sense of self-mastery that far outweighs any public applause.

Issue: Victimization, betrayal and insecurity

Strategy for Change: Get to work to clean up and claim your inner and outer homes and environments. When you have securely established your inner foundation, take initiatives related to your career.

Results: Self-Mastery, internal and external recognition

LEO/AQUARIUS, 5th/11th Houses Creativity and Contribution

Leo and the 5th House present us with opportunities to enjoy our own personal self-expression and creativity. We realize that the more we are ourselves, the more fun life is. We have to have our self-esteem firmly in place to enter Aquarius and the 11th house, which opens up our playing field to include the world. We are challenged, to work and cooperate with others in groups, to make a difference in the world. The revolutionary Aquarian spirit assures us that progress and evolutionary change is possible, if we pursue humanitarian alternatives with like-minded collaborators.

Issue: Alienation, feel left out

Strategy for Change: Explore and indulge in your own creativity genius. Your creativity is your engine for change. Offer your gifts to the world.

Results: Community and contribution.

VIRGO/PISCES, 6th/12th Houses Service and Oneness

Virgo and the 6th House challenge us to find work that is of service. The trick is that, to stay healthy, we have to surrender to the often tedious work routines, and find an attitude that delivers us from the bored/victim mentality. Pisces and the 12th House offer us the means to surrender our limited ego driven interpretations of work, and let go into the oneness with the Divine. Pisces shifts our reality so that we connect with the ultimate meaning of existence.

Issue: Health and Separation from Body and God

Strategy for Change: Exercise, health programs and meditation. Give up control, surrender to the Infinite. See God everywhere.

Results: Satisfaction achieved in daily offering service to mundane expressions of God.

Our Personal Dramas

Preparing to write this issue, an idea came to me on how the Pluto-Saturn opposition is playing out in our personal lives. So far I have found that it is valid for everyone I have tested it on. So here it is. Feel free to change it around to help you interpret your current life challenges.

The first thing to keep in mind is that everyone is impacted by this intense planetary alignment. If we have natal planets in or near or even 5° to 8° of the same degrees of the oppositions, then we are impacted even more. The first opposition was in 11° Gemini and Sagittarius. The second opposition, November 2, 2001 was in 13°, same signs. The third opposition, May 28, will be in 16°, same signs. I personally have Uranus in 11°. Gemini opposing my Moon in 11° Sagittarius, so the impact was and has been very direct!

Given the nature of Saturn and Pluto, and the fact that these energies guarantee that we WILL learn our lessons (Saturn), and we WILL be transformed in the process (Pluto), it is easy to fall prey to a grim prognoses of the situation. Granted the situation may feel very grim while we are in the mill. However, if we submit to the chiseling of Saturn, and the fire of Pluto, we can be the beneficiaries of satisfying gifts.

Remember, Pluto confronts us with the inevitability of transformation. If we embrace it, allow it, and work with it, it will be easier. We might not like the intensity of the confrontational process and probably won't, but being aware that a part of us is dying, so that a more expanded version of Self can be born, removes some of the fear and resistance. We know it doesn't feel good in the moment, but we know we are going to feel happier and more complete when it is all over.

I experienced a lot of heaviness as Pluto went back and forth over my moon for about 1½ years, but the relief was fabulous once Pluto moved on to 13° and beyond. I am more aware of my inner reality, and it's more peaceful and contained than before the "Pluto attack." Actually a lot of the time I like Pluto because it is so real and never tolerates superficiality.

Also keep in mind that Saturn creates change through constriction and consolidation. One dimension of Saturn energy holds on and refuses to let go. However, another dimension of Saturn energy creates forms from ideas. If we are patient, Saturn energy allows us to manifest our dreams, create institutions, build structures, and establish relationships. I don't think we realize the extent to which Saturn energy is responsible for answering our prayers.

My Theory

Our internal psyche (Pluto) is being transformed, and our external structures (Saturn) are being revamped. We need to look at the relationship between the two and how they impact each other. The Sagittarius Pluto House will be more internal. The Gemini Saturn House will be more external. In either case the two are vitally linked.

So here is my theory - Wherever 10-17° (could be a wide an orb as 5-8° either side) Sagittarius falls in our birth chart is where Pluto is facing us off with inevitable internal transformation. This will be in any of the 12 houses listed above. If you have your birth chart, you can check it out. If you don't, I'm sure you already know the area(s) of your life where the mirror of reality is forcing you to take a close look at what you are doing, thinking, or feeling, that does not work, and to restructure your behavior, belief system and/or emotionally programming. (The three usually go together.)

The opposite House is where we may be tempted to hold on to the status quo. This is where Gemini is in 10-17° Gemini. (I have chosen 1° on either side of the direct oppositions. Impacts will certainly be felt beyond these degrees.) However, we may notice that the status quo no longer gives us satisfaction. If Gemini is in our 10th house, our career may seem boring and stressful and, whether we admit it or not, we would opt for a change if we had the opportunity.

If Gemini falls in our 11th house, our current community may no longer offer us opportunities to serve, and we may be looking to build new alliances and communities that we feel more attuned with. If Gemini is in our 12th house, our spiritual or religious belief systems may not offer us a direct experience of the Divine, and we may be searching for a more direct route. If Gemini is in our 7th house, old relationships may be falling away, and the possibilities to build new and more satisfying partnerships may be opening up.

Dealing with the Inevitable

The basic rules of the Saturn-Pluto game is that there are no safe havens, there are no escape routes and desperation measures do not work.

If we are willing to let go of the structures, situations, relationships, and beliefs, that in the past provided us with security, the Saturn energy can be used to build and consolidate new ones. My interpretation of the Saturn-Pluto opposition is that we are at choice only to the extent that we can determine the amount of emotional trauma that we experience. Pluto energy is absolutely resolute in forcing internal and external transformation in our lives. Pluto faces Saturn eye to eye. What we have clung to in the past will crumble in one way or another. The good news is that something can replace it, if we let it and cooperate to build a new future for ourselves.

If we succumb to fear and resist change, and there is certainly a lot of resistance and fear to fuel our victim programming, we can attract the negative Saturn consequences. If Saturn falls in our 6th house, we are at choice to build a new career focused on service. If we refuse to surrender to the Divine Will of the 12th house, we open ourselves up to illness and health challenges. If Saturn falls in our 10th house, resistance to new career opportunities might lead us to being laid off, so we are forced to forge a new path up the mountain of destiny. If Saturn falls in our 7th House, clinging to relationships that we have outgrown may close the door on more satisfying partnerships. If either Saturn and Pluto fall in our 3rd or 9th houses, falling back on fundamentalism and relying on external authorities should be avoided. Searching for a freedom in a more universally open and tolerant spiritual path will serve us well.

If you are enduring relationship challenges, make sure you examine your relationship with yourself. If you are having financial challenges (2nd and 8th), examine your willingness to take care of yourself emotionally, so that you can attract the situations and resources that satisfy your needs. What deep programming is in charge that keeps prosperity and creative partnerships at bay? If you feel stagnant, depressed and angry, do something where you can express your uniqueness, and have the kind of fun that warms your heart from the inside. (5th-11th) Then find a like-minded group where you can offer your contribution to make this world, or neighborhood (the same thing), a better place.

Pluto's Vision

Pluto offers a vision of oneness with nature and the Universe, that holds the possibility of expanding our experience of life to encompass universal consciousness. Pluto awakens us to a unified vision of the Universe. This "lost knowledge," surfaces with a new costume when social structures begin to break down, and when Pluto goes through its own sign of Scorpio (1983-1991).(29) This perennial wisdom reminds us of the nature of life itself. It transcends religious dogmas and political ideologies, and penetrates to the very core of existence.

The dark side of Pluto as manifested in dogmatic, controlling fundamentalism, will try to extinguish this eternal nurturing side of Pluto. This war between limited truth (Gemini) and eternal truth, will play itself out while Pluto is in Sagittarius. The most perverse expression of Pluto in Sagittarius is fanatic fundamentalism, defending itself and trying to destroy everyone else with suicide terrorism.

Saturn-Pluto conjunctions (1982-83) initiate "the death of society's gods and the gradual re-emergence of that ancient vision of life".(30) "Pluto destroys or breaks down or heralds the end of certain kinds of forms, and reveals a more eternal or more profound vision beneath".(31) Pluto reintroduces us to the interconnectedness of all life.

The Name of the Game is Consciousness

The issue in our face is consciousness. Can we actually experience our interconnectedness with all life and act from this reality? Are we willing to do our inner work, and come to terms with our personal and collective issues as they manifest inside ourselves, so that we can create inner freedom, peace and joy?

The energies of light on the planet offer us unprecedented opportunities for spiritual awakening. However, outmoded ways of being and doing are not going to magically disappear, although Pluto transits seem to wipe out some of our neuroses. Our greatest service at this time, is to use the intense energetic acceleration to become conscious of what is happening in our own psyche and body. Our job is to train ourselves to leave outmoded thought patterns and beliefs behind, reeducate our minds to focus on our experience of the Divine, and align our bodies with physical sensations of the ecstasy of aliveness. Can we hold the experience of bliss within our physical form? Can we live in integrity with the energies and qualities of love, peace and forgiveness?

Planetary Alignments in May

The planetary alignments during the month of May facilitate and oblige our conscious evolution. Mercury is Retrograde from May 15 through June 8th. (From our vantage point on Earth it appears to move backwards.) This is a time to slow down, relax and allow. It is an appropriate time to be in retreat, to review our progress, and to evaluate our goals and plans. It is not a good time to initiate new projects. But we can certainly prepare and plan. Wait until after June 8th to launch new ventures. We can set our intentions and it is good to do so before Saturday May 25.

May 26, at 4:51am PST, there is a lunar eclipse or darkening of the Full Moon. During the Lunar Eclipse, the Earth blocks the reflected light of the Sun. The perceived effect is a shadow over the Full Moon. Lunar Eclipses bring up shadow issues that hide in the unconscious. The Lunar Eclipse happening within 12 hours of the Saturn-Pluto direct opposition intensifies the energies dramatically. The evening of Saturday May 25 and Sunday morning May 26 is an important time to be in retreat or meditation. Simply tune into the energies, be in a state of allowing, and be present.

The June 10 Solar Eclipse brings us to the doorway of resolution. The Solar Eclipse - with the Earth, Moon and Sun in alignment - provides the light to look at what we have been processing over the last months, and to integrate ourselves into wholeness. After June 10th we will feel more settled and we can confidently move forward.

Many Cycles Happening at Once

We must keep in mind that many cycles operate simultaneously. The Saturn-Uranus cycle is in a trine or favorable time (120° aspect) between August 2002 and June 2003. We are still in the first phase of the Jupiter-Saturn cycle, which commenced in May 2000. One cycle does not negate another. They operate simultaneously, which means that our future depends very much on how we play our cards. The Saturn-Pluto opposition imposes fundamental changes, and initiates shifts, that must be understood as long-term cycles.

Being in the early phase of Jupiter-Saturn, and the last half of the Pluto-Saturn cycles, favors new institutions over old ones, especially over old ones that refuse to submit to the fires of transformation. The first quarter of the Jupiter-Saturn cycle creates an opening for positive resolution.

Fortunately, both Uranus and Neptune interact with Saturn in 2002 in a trine (120° favorable, flowing, friendly aspect). Saturn in Gemini trines Uranus in Aquarius on August 21 and December 16th at 25°. Aquarian detachment and appreciation of differences offers opportunities for breakthroughs in communication and understanding, and the building of common ground.

The future lies in our own minds and hearts. The promises of peace, light and love, the possibilities of technological breakthroughs in medicine, longevity and ecology, creating a better life for all, and the establishment of world peace, can only happen when our consciousness of love makes it feasible to create these new realities.

Align with the Divine

The best advice I can give during this time is to:

  1. stay connected to the Divine,
  2. stay tuned because the results aren't in yet,
  3. and stay centered in your own body and feelings so you can receive messages.

If you are currently practicing a meditation, continue with it. If you aren't, use your intuition to choose one that soothes you. I also recommend Brainwave Meditation from Lesson 22 of my free Kundalini Yoga course which, after several months of practice, I now call Divine Connection Meditation. It powerfully aligns you with the energies and dimension of spirit. It is easier to trust the unknown when you feel connected to IT.

References and Footnotes

"The Outer planets and Their Cycles: The Astrology of the Collective", Liz Greene, CRCS Publications, Reno Nevada, 1983.

"A Crisis of Power: Saturn and Pluto Face Off", Robert Hand, The Mountain Astrologer, Issue #98, August/September 2001, pp. 9-22.

"The Impact of the Saturn-Pluto Opposition on the World Economy", Raymond A. Merriman, The Mountain Astrologer, Issue #100, December 2001/January 2002, pp. 13-19..

"Globalization in the 21st Century", Jeanne Mozier, The Mountain Astrologer, Issue #100, December 2001/January 2002, pp. 20-28.

"An Interview with Liz Greene, Part One: Living with Pluto", by Nicholas Campion, The Mountain Astrologer, Issue #100, December 2001/January 2002, pp. 29-38.

"An Interview with Liz Greene, Part Two: The Lens of Astrology", by Nicholas Campion, The Mountain Astrologer, Issue #101, February/March, pp. 35-44.

"The Astrology of 2002: Preview and Perspective," by Courtney Roberts Conrad, The Mountain Astrologer, Issue #101, February/March, pp. 17-23.

1. Merriman, p. 14.
2. Merriman, p. 14.
3. Merriman, p. 14,
4. Merriman, p. 16.
5. Merriman, p. 17.
6. Merriman, p. 17.
7. Outer, p. 34.
8. Outer, p. 14.
9. Outer, p. 34.
10. Outer, p. 35.
11. Outer, p. 39.
12. Outer, p. 43.
13. Outer, p.
14. Greene, Part One, p.31-2.
15. Greene, Part Two, p. 43.
16. Outer, p. 141.
17. Outer, p. 141.
18. Outer, p. 149.
19. Hand, p. 13.
20. Outer, p. 140.
21. Hand, p. 9.
22. Conrad, p. 18.
23. Conrad, p. 21.
24. Mozier, p. 21.
25. Outer, p. 11.
26. Outer, p. 11.
27. Outer, p. 11.
28. Conrad, p. 18.
29. Outer, p. 24.
30. Outer, p. 25.
31. Outer, p. 29.
32. New Millennium Being, Issue #17.


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