Freedom or tyranny, change or control? Discover the dynamics of Saturn & Uranus
Explore the dynamic 45-year cycle between Saturn and Uranus to discover what structures need to be updated and radically reshaped in 2021 and beyond.
The old world, the world you knew, is feeling the shock of the unexpected. Do we want to keep things under control? Or are we longing for change? This is a fundamental question that arises when Saturn and Uranus come into aspect. It won’t surprise you to know that this push-pull energy entered into effect early in 2020, when we had to give up a certain amount of our individual freedom for collective confinement under the pandemic.
Saturn and Uranus will form an exact waning square on 17 February 2021, and again on 14 June and 24 December. Each time this aspect gets closer the tensions between the two planets will be exacerbated. It will be hard to maintain the status quo as Saturn and Uranus clash. Some structures will inevitably give way. Saturn encourages you to call on past successes, but Uranus brings change that may dismantle their usefulness.
Control vs Freedom
The Saturn-Uranus cycle also pushes back against tyranny and establishes rules for individual freedom. Those who are perceived as tyrants may feel they are simply exercising their right to do what they wish. Why should they be controlled? Often they believe absolutely in what they are doing. If one part of society has taken freedom too far there will be a backlash. This clash can be between individuals or between groups, with both sides convinced they are right. This is not a cycle of compromise, and something will have to give. Social, political and economic systems can all be areas of upheaval and reversal. Energetic eruptions and explosions can come through natural phenomena or via technological mishap and aggression.
Aquarius is a sign that brings in the future, the faraway, the odd and the unexpected.
The outcomes these clashes can lead to change in many directions. Events may curtail freedom and leaders might develop rules for behaviour that bind individuals more closely. A coup d’erat in Argentina established a military dictatorship in late-1976, when Saturn in Leo was square to Uranus in Scorpio, which led to the disappearance of many thousands of young people who were opponents of the regime. As Saturn and Uranus moved towards a conjunction in Sagittarius in the late-80s, the fairness doctrine was rescinded for broadcast television in the United States. This led to new freedoms regarding communication that allowed the circulation of many extreme points of view. The results of that freedom are now abundantly clear.
The glue that holds a society together is weakened during planetary squares like the one between Saturn and Uranus in 2020. Civilisation can be seen as a dialogue between individual will and the common good. During the pandemic, social distancing initially served both the common good and individual safety. Then the impulse for more freedom of movement, a symbol of Uranus, began to break through. These clashing forces will continue to be in play throughout 2021.
Aquarius, technology and the future
Both Saturn and Uranus are associated with Aquarius, the sign of our relationship to the group, the community and the larger world.
Saturn tries to stop disruptive change, to control the movement of the future. It maintains what has worked in the past, and can swallow the new, just as Saturn swallowed his children in mythology. Saturn is in one of its own signs, Aquarius (March — June 2020 and December 2020 — March 2023), which can be a hopeful factor as we gather ideas for the world that will emerge from this crisis. Aquarius is a sign that brings in the future, the faraway, the odd and the unexpected.
Uranus prefers a complete upheaval of the status quo and rarely agrees with Saturn on the direction of things. Uranus takes joy in the shaking up, the shattering, in the sudden shifts in ideas and movements. Uranus is strongly individualistic and can be revolutionary, absolute, and even tyrannical.
Change is already here, and the tense dialogue between these two planets tells us it cannot simply be integrated into a “new normal”. Which of the two planets, Saturn or Uranus, will win out at the end of the yearlong series of squares? One scenario could be a form of super control through new technologies, another could be the embrace of a future that phases out the technology of the past.
If we are lucky the square will stir changes that lead to a new vision of the world. A momentous conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, in December 2020, occurs only weeks before the first exact Saturn square Uranus aspect.
Saturn and Uranus in myth
Uranus was the primordial sky god, in relationship with Gaia, Mother Earth. Their union was passionate, irresistible. Yet Uranus would not let Gaia’s children emerge from her womb. He found them ungainly, an affront to his sensibility. In the eyes of Uranus, Gaia’s children, including the Cyclops, fifty-headed giants and the Titans, were not a joyous creation emerging from their union but somehow wrong, ugly and deformed.
Uranus is strongly individualistic and can be revolutionary, absolute, and even tyrannical.
Gaia eventually asked her children, “Who will rise against this tyranny?” Kronos, (Saturn) the youngest, stood up. “I will do it,” he said. He took the sickle his mother brought up from her entrails and lay hidden under cover of night. When his father came to couple with Gaia he sprang out of hiding and cut off the sky-god’s genitals. From this cutting the world split in two. The severed genitals fell into the ocean, where semen and sperm combined with the seafoam to give birth to the marvellous Aphrodite.
Oppression and conflict gave birth to the Goddess of Love.
Saturn and Uranus have an edgy history. That initial edge was a blade, a sharp, cutting tool. The cutting edge of the sickle was a response to repression and control. Saturn is now in the air sign of Aquarius, and Uranus is in an earth sign, Taurus, waking up the old story between Uranus (the sky as represented by air) and Gaia (the earth).
If you go back to the original myth, Saturn/Kronos was unable to emerge from his mother’s womb until he castrated his father. This violent birth, an act of patricide, seems to repeat in some of the hard angles of the cycle between Saturn and Uranus. It was acted out with extreme force during the period of the French Revolution known as The Terror (1793). The Revolution, which had begun a few years earlier (1789) was now killing its own founders, under the extreme eye of Robespierre.
A final revolt, within days of an exact square between Uranus and Saturn, led to the death of Robespierre in July 1794, finally putting a halt to the incessant blade of the guillotine. At this time, a T-square pattern, one of the most powerful planetary configurations, formed, involving Saturn and Uranus as well as Pluto. This planetary pattern also picked up the formidable fixed star Algol, which has a bad reputation in astrology. A new civilization was born from that terrible time. This eventually lead to the foundation of modern France and changed the trajectory of Europe as a whole.
In the myth, Uranus is filled with his own desire and cannot heed the needs of his consort, Gaia. In much the same way we live in a time today when the push to consume has thrown the planet into imbalance.
Weeding out what’s not working
In astrology, Uranus is connected to technological genius and invention, largely because Uranus came into our awareness around the time of the Industrial Revolution. We are now acutely aware of the opposition between our technological prowess and the needs of Gaia, our mother, the Earth. A kind of reversal is necessary, and the old order will not hold. This specific aspect, a waning square, has to do with pulling up the weeds and sorting out those things that are not working. It includes acknowledging what has outlived its usefulness or been taken too far.
The 45-year cycle: Capitalism, politics and dictators
Andre Barbault the great French astrologer, had one of the clearest visions of the great world cycles. He described this planetary combination, of Saturn and Uranus, as the cycle most linked to capitalism, to imperialism, to the politics of strongmen and dictators. The opposition phase of the cycle and the waning square are often times of challenge to this approach in the world and can bring extreme reactions from its key players. If these reactions go too far the whole system can be upended.
The past three conjunctions of Saturn and Uranus occurred in 1897, 1942 and 1988. 1897 marked the triumph of big business and the consolidation of industrial wealth. It also signalled the beginning of American influence as a world power. 1942 brought the age of dictators and the crux of WWII, and the United States became a superpower.
1988 began the structural collapse of the old Eastern Bloc and the exponential rise of new technology. These cycles never act alone but interface with other planetary influences, so that the period from 1988 to 1994 brought in a completely new interconnected world. The Uranian gift of the new pulsed through our lives as personal computers became more widely available and brought access to the internet.
The Saturn/Uranus aspect in 2021 is the closing square, a time of reflection and elimination, of cutting loose what no longer works.
The current cycle between Saturn and Uranus began with three conjunctions of Saturn and Uranus in Sagittarius in late-1988. The combination of these two planetary forces brought new and creative technological prowess. On a geopolitical level, cracks had begun to appear in the Soviet Empire. Within a short time it seemed the west had been completely victorious in the long struggles of the 20th century.
However, the seeds of challenge are already present at any new beginning. This was also a time when the tensions in the Middle East were reconfigured, the Soviet pulled out of Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq ended their ten-year war. At the same time Al Qaeda was secretly founded. It would grow to be a potent force challenging Western influence. In a totally different domain, the first computer “worm”, the Morris worm was let loose into computer systems, causing considerable damage and signalling a new round for the outlaw energies of Uranus.
Innovation or recklessness?
Uranus can be reckless as well as innovative. In its negative expression, it is often divorced from feeling. Saturn’s first square with Uranus, called a waxing square, can awaken an individual will to power, as well as an appetite for risk. The first square after the conjunction is typically a time of expansion and growth. This was the case in 1999, at the peak of the dot.com bubble. At this time the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which separated investment and commercial banking, was largely repealed. It had been put in place after the crisis of 1929 to control the excesses of the markets. This loosening of control led to the excesses of subprime loans, and markets became even more divorced from reality. The perversity of a system that rewards unbridled risk led to a near collapse of the world economy in 2008.
The four oppositions of Saturn and Uranus from November 2008 through early 2010 brought the Great Recession and a time of economic pain for many. The extremes of the markets hit their limits, as they have again in early 2020 with Saturn and Uranus within four degrees of orb. We can expect a continuing contraction during 2021. The Saturn-Uranus aspect in 2021 is the closing square, a time of reflection and elimination, of cutting loose what no longer works. The economy contracted in the early-1930s under this aspect and again in the mid-1970s. Each of these times brought corrections and structural solutions.
Aspects between Saturn and Uranus reveal fault lines in the system and they can send shockwaves through the structure of your life. These aspects can remind you that complete control is impossible and that a new energy will eventually break through, because that is the dialogue of life. The question then becomes how do we accommodate the new, without being overly bound to the rules? This is one of the dilemmas of the square between Saturn and Uranus. It signals a time when the old system may no longer suffice and your creative ingenuity is called forth to envision a new kind of future. These two planets with their rulership of Aquarius also bring breakthroughs in science, medicine, and the understanding of the origin of life. Necessity is a great teacher and exceptional insights can emerge at the time.
Saturn Square Uranus
The aspect energy will be strong at least one week before and after these exact activation dates:
- 17 February, 7 Taurus/Aquarius
- 14 June, 13 Taurus/Aquarius
- 23 December,11 Taurus/Aquarius