I’m slowly learning astrology, because it seems to be the connective glue that joins the quadrivium back to the trivium in the Seven Liberal Arts. I’ve found it useful to think of it as a specialized kind of algebra, in which the positions and aspects of the planets conform to variables, and the variables (instead of taking numbers) take words in particular combinations. Some combinations speak to me more than others (and sometimes perhaps incorrectly), but as I learn the language, I’m finding it helpful to write down my thoughts about what these combinations mean.
Which brings us to today’s ingress — as Saturn enters Capricorn for the next 2 1/2 years.
Saturn The Highest and Most Stable
Marsilio Ficino says (according to the Marini Consort’s album, Secrets of the Heavens)
Saturn is the highest, most exalted, and stable of all the planets. He cannot not easily signify the common lot of the human race; but rather an individual, set apart from others, divine or brutish; blessed or bowed down with extreme misery. However Plato placed the higher part of the soul under the authority of Saturn, that is, in the realm of mind and divine Providence. He refers to the mind which simply contemplates, by the name of Saturn. In his view, life lived under this ruler is golden — that is, precious, shining and eternal. Furthermore, the man who is moved to penetrate, with great precision, all the most secret things, should know that he is not only influenced by Mercury, but also by Saturn. Under Saturn’s leadership, also, are all those who persevere unremittingly, to the very end of study, all other pursuits.
Tonight at least where I am Saturn enters Capricorn at about 12:45 am (Dec. 20, at that point). Saturn will be there for at least two and a half years — ingressing into Aquarius on about 18 December 2020. Saturn is the planetary ruler of both Capricorn and Aquarius (Saturn ingresses into Pisces in March 2023). What does it mean to be a planetary ruler? It means “acting like a king in his own palace, with all of his servants, allies and resources at his beck and call.” So it’s going to be a long six-and-a-quarter years in the signs of the Fish-Goat and the Waterbearer — unless you get some serious clarity about what is true and accurate, now.
Austin Coppock I’m sure will have much more to say about Saturn in Capricorn. This is my first real foray into trying to understand a planet in a particular sign, so I’m sure that I’m going to get some things wrong here. But I’ve been listening and reading carefully to a variety of things, trying to get a sense of this upcoming change. For example,
- Patrick Watson of Big Fat Astro said on Chris Brennan’s Astrology Podcast (in the Saturn in Sag retrospective episode) that Saturn in Capricorn is a time for building prisons.
- In the Rune Soup H1 Astrology of 2018 episode, Austin said that Saturn in Capricorn is akin to winter — a long, slow, cold two-and-a-half year winter.
- In the same episode, AC said many of America’s worst recessions (and some of its lighter ones as well) have begun during Saturn in Capricorn.
My Sense Of Things
this is my own take on this next period, as best as I understand the way Saturn in Capricorn works. First off, the American tax plan that benefits the rich at the expense of the poor will pass; Saturn’s emblem, the cross over the crescent, represents the materialist nature of humanity ruling over the soul. It’s going to be more important to the elite upper classes ‘to have enough’ (money, property, stuff) than to care for their own souls by caring for others. As I think about this, I’m reminded of the 5 of Pentacles from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck — the beggars out in the snow and the dark, and the stained glass window suggesting opulence and light and warmth within. (But the 5 Pentacles is associated with the first 10° of Taurus…)
By the Decans
When I look at the three Tarot cards assigned to Capricorn in the Decans (Austin’s book | My Poetry) , though, I see that we’re going to go through three phases represented by the 2, 3, and 4 of Pentacles — a period of rushing around, trying to balance our expenses and risks against our income and abilities; followed by a plan to collaborate and build anew; followed by a draw-back.
The Hellenistic era assigned three gods to the era of Capricorn, as well — the Headless One, who is spirit entering matter and forgetting his divinity (often associated with Orion, the principal constellation of winter), and taking joy in all the goodness that’s associated with having flesh — sex, food, drugs and celebration; Hygeia the goddess of cleanliness and good health; and Tolma, a goddess of disciplined daring and risk-taking.
We’re thus going to have a brief but outrageous ‘orgy of joy’ in the first part of this winter, as the initial excess of the Saturnian winter solstice season (Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, New Year’s, US tax reform) takes hold; we can contrast this with a certain forgetfulness about making sure the books balance. It well may be a Christmas of wretched excess, but the financial hangover may be terrible. This will be followed by a period of hangover and illness followed by an effort to restore cleanliness and clean-up, followed by a rigid and disciplined effort to correct the books and re-establish the reins of good government.
The Great Winter
Saturn in Capricorn is a season of winter, too, when we can expect things to be particularly cold and difficult. Saturn is associated with the elemental forces of Air (warm and moist) and Earth (cold and dry) — so we can expect unseasonable humidity and warmth, and periods of deep frostiness and arid air. Capricorn itself is earthy, so we may see very little snow, but bone-chilling temperatures… and even the summers may not be so hot as the last few have been.
Winter is a poor season for travel. The travel industry will experience some difficulties, particularly long-distance travel. The Arctic Ocean, which has been increasingly used for long-distance hauling between Asia and Europe through the fabled Northwest Passage, will perhaps not be quite so useful for the next few summers. The image of Capricorn, the fish-goat, represents the god Pan in a shape-shifting moment, leaving the Mediterranean Sea and coming ashore in Egypt — there will be difficulties and slow-downs in ports and harbors and similar places of interchange of goods between one mode of transportation and another. As the sea is the realm of navies and merchants marine, and the sea is rarely safe in winter-time, I would expect a series of storms or accidents in the next three years that make the oceans less safe, and a return to land-based power/travel as a thing of greater safety. Egypt is traditionally the home of Magic, so there will be a growing interest in occult matters carefully studied, as the Saturn the Lord of Contemplation enters the latter parts of the fish-goat’s realm and the transition from sea to land is completed.
Projects in process will be difficult to complete, and it will be difficult to launch new ventures (although easy to plan them). Outdoor work will go very slowly; construction that’s dependent on good weather will be delayed, although foundations (one of Saturn’s bailiwicks) will pour smoothly. Indoor work may be subject to illness and frayed tempers. Solo entrepreneurs engaged in intense or hybridized work of various kinds will achieve their aims much more easily than large organizations, which are subject to the usual slowdowns of winter. New risks will rarely seem a safe bet — a certain conservatism takes hold in these seasons, both in the political and economic spheres.
Winter is a season when risky activities can result in serious death or injury: frostbite and hypothermia, being left out in the cold, starvation from lack of preparation or planning, inadequate clothing or shelter. Obedience to the laws of nature becomes particularly essential; it also becomes difficult in this season to distinguish the laws of nature from the laws of man (see Patrick Watson, new forms of prisons built when Saturn is in Capricorn) — and the punishments become especially harsh. In a house or a country where the astrological weather prevents people from going beyond the walls, the head of household or nation can be either paternalistic and overly-involved in the dependents’ affairs — or a petty tyrant fond of establishing rules and penalties that establish control for the sake of control and command … and there’s a certain selfishness that goes along with this, too. Saturn loves chains, as well, so expect slavery and hierarchy to rear their heads in a variety of visible forms — the corset and the choker and other emblems of constriction and control are likely to make a reappearance in fashion, too. And Black is the New Black. Of course.
Capricorn rules the tenth of the houses, governing career and public honors. There will be a certain desire to avoid promoting people on the part of owners and managers; there will be hiring freezes in effect (see also the great winter).
Relationships between bosses and employees are likely to feel more feudal, more hierarchical, and leaders must take care not to treat underlings with disdain and coldness. The lowly become objectified as tools, usually manipulated to serve the ends assigned them, rather than parts of a larger whole. Large-Scale layoffs in many businesses and even whole industries should be expected. Sharp-minded people who are at the particular heights of their own professions can likely count on promotion, publicity and new roles as leaders — everyone else may be thrown out in the snow.
Restoration of Authority
The story of the three deities of the Decans — the Headless One, Hygeia, and Tolma — tell a story of the triumph of matter over spirit, the necessity of purification for the restoration of good health, and finally the need for bold self-discipline and the re-establishment of authority. Saturn will spend approximately ten months in each of the three Decans of Capricorn. In the first ten months, there will be alternately a riotous display of wealth in the form of food, drink, drugs, and celebration. The second ten months will see the hangover, followed by the necessary purging and purification that brings about the cure. Grave illnesses will be wiped out only by cleanliness, rest and sunshine; and without hard light, hot water and good soap, sickness shall persist. Tolma, the presiding deity of bravery who rules over the third part of Capricorn, will shine a light into the dark places, and root out injustices. A restoration of proper authority may begin; or a new disciplinary structure may be put into place and begin functioning that may not be just — but they will be bold and daring, regardless.
These conditions take place fractally, as well. You may experience an exuberant period at work over the next ten months, where your achievements in the last part of the year are celebrated and feted; then irregularities may be discovered, and some level of rot may be discovered in your business; a new set of policies and protocols will then be implemented. On the level of one’s own body, the good habits of the next ten months with regard to diet, fitness and exercise all lead to a successful cleansing or removal of illness, followed by even better performance as a new leader. In the national political or economic arenas, businesses and governments and agencies will perform particularly well for another ten months; those that have cooked their books improperly will then become ill or sick, and some patients may die that don’t clean up; new regimes will then be installed to enforce the new procedures (at least for a while).
Rather an Individual…
Coming back to Marsilio Ficino’s quotation at the start of this entry, I’m reminded that Saturn rarely signifies all people but more often than not a single individual who is uncommonly blessed or uncommonly miserable. I often think of the short story of Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.” The plotless story tells of a beautiful city in a beautiful countryside, with the most perfect science, the most perfect religion, the most perfect performing and visual arts, the most perfect government and the most perfect forms of philosophy and culture. Yet in a basement somewhere in that city is a wretched, undernourished child who cannot ever be shown any mercy or kindness, or even allowed to see the light of the Sun. Everyone in Omelas of a certain age knows that child is there; everyone knows that the beauty and glory of the city is dependent on that child’s presence there, naked and shivering in chains in the dark.
The story concerns those who learn of the child, who walk away — those who take ship from Omelas and never return, those who walk the road out of the city and travel beyond the borders and never return. LeGuin does not tell us where they go, only that they go and they don’t return. It’s well worth a read, despite my spoilers — it haunts me now, like Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery haunts me even now, decades after I read both of them. And LeGuin is an excellent writer, who tells her own stories better than I tell them. Of course.
There are going to be some remarkable individuals that appear in the next two and a half years. Some of them are going to seem divine, some will seem brutish. Some will be at the very height of their professions; some will be suffering in profound misery. Some will be exalted for the success of their studies to uncover deep mysteries; some will receive accolades for their achievements only attained through prolonged attention and self-discipline.
Why bring up LeGuin’s Omelas, then? Because the child suffering in the cellar, the kings and great minds of Omelas, and those who walk away — all of them are examples of the sort of characters we can expect to see gain some fame or notoriety during Saturn in Capricorn. The king who allows the suffering, the suffering child, the great minds who perform their best work despite the miseries of the imprisoned infant beneath them — those who have pursued their contemplations to the very heights of understanding, forsaking all other pursuits? These are the Saturnine figures we should be on the lookout for… they have much to teach us in the months and years ahead.
Those stories will capture our imaginations in significant ways. Many of these success stories will be hybridized in some way — people belonging to two or more ‘races’ (though race is an artificial concept), or of two nationalities, or who operate in two worlds or spheres of influence — business and politics, music and law, academics and entertainment.
Saturn’s number is three. If we have three apples, there’s one for you and one for me… and now we have to decide what to do about the third apple. Saturn begins the process of counting and accounting. Saturn is stable and orderly, and wants to know where things belong, and who they belong to: this is mine on this side of the boundary; on that side of the boundary, that’s yours.
Three is also the number that one counts to when deciding when to throw the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. It’s also the place where, in a rocket-launch countdown, that you’ve usually passed the point of no return — engines have usually started their ignition sequences, and virtually nothing can shut them down at that point. Saturn declares the bills due when in Capricorn — whether economic, political, social, personal, medical, environmental, or otherwise. Saturn is sometimes described as Airy, while Capricorn is Earthy: we may see difficult results at this time from our decision to pump oil and natural gas out of the Earth, and burn it to join the Air. We may see unexpected interactions between Air and Earth as Saturn balances the accounts.
I end by admitting that I don’t yet think of myself as a competent astrologer, and that I treat this sacred science partly as a language, and partly as a way of conjoining the mathematics of astronomy and geometry, to the grammar and rhetoric and logic of the medieval Trivium. I’ve written quite a lot of poetry about time, from the free Sun and Moon Sonnets, to my e-books on the Mansions of the Moon, the Behenian Stars and the Decans of the Zodiac.
But I’d be cautious about treating any of this essay as failsafe advice. This is part of a process of learning-in-public, and not necessarily touting my credentials as an astrologer. Yet.