Jessica Murray's America in Transition

Saturn-Pluto Square: The Big Squeeze

by Jessica Murray on February 1, 2010

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This month two major transits are pumping their energies through the American psyche. One of them is the exact Neptune-Chiron conjunction that reaches exactitude February 16-17. The other, the Saturn and Pluto square, is fresh from its second exactitude on January 31, and dominates the sky as February begins.

Can you feel the squeeze?

Saturn and Pluto

Don’t think you’re the only one feeling stressed out. All squares involve tension; and these two planets, Saturn and Pluto, threaten us by definition: they threaten our own individual status quo, as well as that of society at large. Tension is part and parcel of the cosmic geometry right now, and it’s there for a reason.

The clash between Saturn and Pluto is designed to force change, and it’s doing so on every level. Whatever our beliefs about what’s going on in the world, every one of us is swept up in the energy. Non-human creatures—free, as they are, of our denial mechanisms—are even more aware of it. (1) One example of this awareness strikes me as particularly poignant: whales are beaching themselves in greater numbers than ever before. (2)

Saturn (karma) and Pluto (life-or-death issues) are pushing to the fore questions of raw survival. All sentient beings know that the period we are entering will be like nothing the Earth has ever known. There have been mass migrations before, but never with an Earth anywhere near this populous. There have been world-altering telluric shifts before, but never with humans on the scene to cause them, to observe them, and—if we wake up in time—to correct them.

The horrendous earthquake in Haiti occurred when Saturn was stationary in the sky just before the Lunar Eclipse in Capricorn—the sign of concrete and scaffolding, including the Earth’s own scaffolding: tectonic plates. The energies of 2012 are upon us already, and building.

For those denizens of Earth who view their sojourn here as a school for the soul, the planets are squeezing out of us all vestiges of denial about the learning curve we face. After all the denial is all squeezed out, what remains will be a bold readiness; an eagerness to come into our own.

By contrast, for that part of the population (3) which chooses to stay in denial, the transits are exacerbating fear and its accompanying self-protections.


From every side of the ideological spectrum, there is a sense of betrayal (Pluto) in the air. There is mass disillusionment in one sector of the population: among those Democratic voters who thought they would see decades’ worth of wrongs magically righted by a smart new president. From the other sector, that of the Obama-bashers, we are hearing surge after surge of wacky vitriol.

It is getting harder and harder to deny the sense that the American system is breaking down; and the more stubbornly this is denied, the more extreme the culture-war hyperbole becomes. Take Virginia Foxxe’s (R.-North Carolina) observation that Americans had more to fear from the passage of health-care reform “than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.” Or Michele Bachmann’s (R.- Minnesota) recent statement: “I find it interesting that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat President, Jimmy Carter… I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”

The only period we can compare this one to, in terms of wacked-out polarization, is the mid-60s, when the same extreme planets confronted each other in similarly extreme ways: Uranus conjoined Pluto and they both opposed Saturn. But it is much crazier now. The apocalyptic imagery of the 2012 years has raised the stakes.

How crazy has the national conversation become? We’ve got leaders who actively promote denial about climate change (e.g. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who said, “We are cooling, we are not warming”); we’ve got a pop culture that unapologetically celebrates artificiality (e.g. the Miss California Pageant itself paid for winner Carrie Prejean’s breast implants); we’ve got a news industry with an ever-more-bizarre sense of priorities (20 straight days devoted to Tiger Woods’ affairs).


The Pluto-Uranus-Saturn T-square, zeroing in on the US Sun cluster, constitutes a warning to the American group mind to shake off its follies and smarten up, fast.

Governmental systems (Capricorn) are being turned inside out (Pluto) so we can see what’s been really going on. From the scandalous crimes of Wall Street to the petty crimes of politicians in heat, America is being hit by revelations that fly in the face of its self-image. People’s belief in their country as an ethical standard-bearer is being undermined by the month.


The tendency to recoil from unfamiliar scenarios

To the rest of the world, the US public seems unaccountably naïve about how their country works. The tendency of poor Americans to vote against their own interest, for example, strikes many international observers as very odd. Moreover, the habit of social conservatives to rally round, and instantly forgive, any number of their divorced (e.g. Ronald Reagan) or adulterous (e.g. Marc Sanford) or drug-addicted (e.g. Limbaugh) heroes—who have been caught sinning in the ways they themselves define sinful—also seems very odd.

But the spine of the transit system, Saturn (the past) opposite Uranus (the future), can help us understand these phenomena from the point of view of a human universal: the tendency to recoil from unfamiliar scenarios. When we consider the strong emotions behind the rhetoric of these old-school patriots—such as their fear that people of scary sexual persuasions and unfamiliar skin colors will “undermine our way of life”—we can perceive a yearning for the imagined stability of a bygone era. All of us, regardless of our ideologies, understand this one.

The problem here is that these transits have no patience for nostalgic yearnings. Not if they interfere with growth.

New American Revolution

When you consider the entrance of Uranus—the planet of revolution—into Aries, and combine it with the power of Pluto to dismantle rotting structures, you can see why astrologers talk about the years ahead in such radical terms. Our job is to imagine change that is both radical enough to match the transits, and conscious enough to support humanity.

Do we dare ask ourselves what a real revolution, post-millennial-style, would look like? What if we were to defy, for example, the assumption that world peace is impossible?

To creatively use the energies upon us, we must go through two steps:

1. We have to get out of denial;

2. We have to allow into our imaginations change so big that it constitutes a paradigm shift.

To apply step #1 to the idea of manifesting world peace, the first thing well-intentioned Americans have to do is look at where we have been kidding ourselves about it.

Despite the clear wishes of a populace who hoped they were voting for a peace candidate, Obama’s election has not stopped the US war machine but enhanced it. The military budget is now the highest in the country’s history. How does the presence of all this Pentagon money jibe with shutting down homeless shelters, state parks and colleges? If the money exists for death-dealing purposes, it clearly exists for life-enhancing purposes. It is only the strictures of conventional mentality (Saturn) that keep so many Americans from seeing a con game behind this scenario.

But Uranus and Pluto are more powerful than Saturn.


A tiny shift in consciousness

It would take nothing more, and nothing less, than a tiny, iconoclastic shift of consciousness for a populace to see this discontinuity with new eyes. Just as a hairline crack in a rock bed can turn into an earthquake, a very slight movement of the collective mind could, at this fraught point in American history, decide to say NO to pumping all its tax money into the upkeep of military bases all over the world. And to insist that this money go instead to health care, housing and education; to the shoring up of deteriorating infrastructures; to the preparation of coastal areas against rising water levels; to solar panels on every rooftop.

Such a change is only a mindset away. The country’s thinking could light up like dry straw ignites to a spark when the Cross begins to peak. (4)


1 Consider the extinction rates of butterflies and bees, which many believe to be linked to the use of cell phones and other radiation-emitting human gadgets; as well as the mass migrations of mammals. This data reminds us how sensitive non-human creatures are to the crisis upon the Earth. A recent report estimates that plants and animals will have to move an average of a quarter mile a year to keep up with global warming. Less mobile creatures will have to adapt or die.

2 The scientists have found no explanation for it, but it seems likely that we are seeing the whales’ feedback about the health of the seas; which is a measure of the health of the Earth. These gentle behemoths, far more knowing than conventional biologists give them credit for, appear to be martyring themselves to get us to see what’s happening to the one element which overwhelmingly dominates our planet: water.

3 As well as those parts of ourselves. There is not just one being inside our skin; each of us contains many facets, some bolder than others.

4 One way of determining the peak of the Cardinal Cross years is to look at the square between Uranus and Pluto, which is the longest-running piece of the Cross and involves the two most powerful and slowest-moving planets. It is exact seven times between 2012 and 2016.

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