by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Although the ancients seemed to be aware of the outer three planets (see diagram in Chapter 7 The Epic of Creation in Zecharia Sitchin’s The Twelfth Planet), they did not use the three in chart delineation. They used only the seven bodies: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These are the “seven spirits before the throne”, “Seven Candlesticks” (lights), “Seven Angels” (heavenly bodies) of the Bible, all of which could be seen from our earthly vantage point. The inner planets pertain specifically to our practical, everyday, visible (conscious) experience. But there is always more to experience than what is visible. Recently we have “discovered” three outer planets: Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. There may be more, but this is quite enough for us to handle at this point in our development. For who knows how long the outer three planets have been located within our system – they were just not visible to us. For example, electricity existed and operated without our knowledge long before humanity “discovered” it. We did not invent electricity, we just discovered it.
Metaphor: That which is invisible or unknown resides in our unconscious. Once discovered, it becomes visible, which translates to “known”, and must now be included in our conscious experience.
Also, starting with Jupiter, the outer planets have much larger (longer) planetary orbits. Due to the length of time these planets occupy a sign, they seem to affect humanity as a collective. Whereas the first five planets seem to be directly connected with the development of the emerging individual personality, the outer planets are more culturally oriented, have more race or generation impact, governing more of the affairs and progression of the world in general. As we explore the planets further out in space, we deal less with the personal and more with the abstract. There is a beautiful grand design, a mandala in space, evidencing will and purpose in creation – and not the random evolutionary coincidence that science promotes.
The Cultural Planets
Jupiter and Saturn refer to our cultural conditioning, overall philosophy and sense of responsibility. Jupiter’s orbit of one sign per year (and the complete circle of the zodiac in 11.86 years) affects the masses. Jupiter refers primarily to the environmental and cultural philosophic overview of one year’s worth of human evolution, the principle of expansion or enlargement coupled with ritualistic or codified religious practices. Jupiter is the principle of expansion, but is contained within (orbital positions) Saturn’s principle of contraction or organization. To achieve more abstract, less rigid spirituality, we must pass outside the boundary and structure of Saturn. Jupiter’s contribution to evolutionary progress is quick by comparison with the orbits of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto). Yet Jupiter’s contribution systematically develops the culture’s evolving philosophical skills in response to the evolution indicated by the slower moving bodies, Saturn through Pluto. Each outer planet contains within its orbit (influence) the rest of the planetary system. Each influence acts as a theme or general influence to all contained within its circle, by sign progression and by aspect, particularly to the other outer planets. In aspecting, the outer planet sets the stage and the inner planet carries through the action.
Saturn, with its incredible ring system, is the most distant planet we can see with the unassisted eye. It signifies the limits of our physical reality, or at least our perception of limit to physical reality. Once space probes gave a closer view, the rings around Saturn appeared as far more structured and complex than originally thought. Scientists described one of the Saturn ring structures as a “braid” of loose rocks. Braided rocks? To the ancients, Saturn represented the outer limits of the working solar system, the “Ring Pass Not” of occult literature. Metaphorically, we look at Saturn as our structural limits…how far we can expand ourselves within our own self concept, as individuals and as a collective. It is our testing ground, what we can accomplish in a mundane, physical way or application.
In order to reach into the more abstract qualities represented by the balance of our own solar system and the cosmos itself, you must prove your worthiness, that you have learned what’s necessary. You are not allowed to pass into a greater frame of consciousness until you show that you know what you are doing with your primary lessons. Saturn is the planet of testing – but not in terms of some petty god sitting on a cloud making up idiotic tests. It is a process to determine your progress. You say, “I’ve mastered this.” Saturn says, “Oh yeah, prove it to me!” This is how you determine if you have truly learned what you thought you did – or if you have only whitewashed a problem, and the problem still exists. Saturn allows us a learning time of 29.46 years per zodiac orbit, or 2 1/2 years per sign.
Saturn is the wall you run into time after time as you learn and re-learn life’s lessons. It is Father Time and all the lessons we must learn about time and timing. Structure is Saturn’s domain – organization, responsibility, duty and obligation, boundaries, traditional behaviors and expectations. Saturn represents personal growth through the fulfillment of earthly obligations. Saturn’s milieu is the urge for self-discipline, the ability to solidify, crystallize or codify into usable form the essence of experience. It is the path one must take to evolve…and the price to be paid. As our outer boundary, Saturn is the giver of form and the sense of achievement with all its ramifications. Saturn can show its effects through the more positive expression of structure. Saturn’s lessons tend to be painful since Saturn rules reality. Try to recognize that, although many consider this world we live in to be “maya” or “illusion”. We are here, living on and in it, and we have to deal with it. Until our level of consciousness and understanding exceeds the demands of this lifetime, this will continue to be our experience. We may use our creativity and evolution to build something better. But until we have that capacity, this is reality and we had better consciously deal with it. We do not learn our lessons by avoiding them. Saturn is the Lord of Karma. As you sow, so shall you reap, whether you set it in motion through action or non-action, whether you were aware of what you were doing, or unaware – both work. Saturn is teacher, the lessons to learn, the name and qualities of the teacher, the restrictions felt. The people of Saturn’s sign and house position test you or act as teacher. Their job is to make that particular lesson more realistic, crystallized, defined, and clear. Saturn is the policeman – the long arm of the law. Saturn is maturity and old age, the process of aging.
The Generational Planets
Bode’s Law There is order to the universe. According to an astronomical principle known as Bode’s Law, the planets and their orbits are distributed in a mathematical proportion outward from the Sun. Simply put, planets are located at measurable proportional distances from the Sun, but with one pair of exceptions. Counting the distance from the Earth to the Sun as 1 Astronomical Unit (AU):
- Mercury is .4 AU,
- Venus .7 AU,
- Earth/Moon 1 AU,
- Mars 1.6 AU,
- Asteroid Belt (?missing planet?) 2.8 AU,
- Jupiter 5.2 AU,
- Saturn 10 AU,
- Uranus 19.6 AU,
- next two planets 38.8 AU and 77.2 AU.
Neptune is far too close at 30.07 AU and Pluto at 39.52 is approximately where Neptune should be. Why? Please read Alan Oken’s As Above, So Below pages 243-4.
Uranus takes 84.01 years to complete one cycle through the zodiac, a little over the average U.S. resident’s normal life span. It takes seven years to traverse a sign. How does this affect us by generation?
- A typical generation is equal to about twenty years. At seven years per sign, Uranus squares its own natal position in three signs or about 21 years. Generation gap? Stresses produced by progressive thinking as humanity collectively moves forward?
- In 42 years, Uranus opposes itself. Grandchildren? Another cultural generation gap?
Do you suppose you’ve stumbled across one of the reasons that there is such a gap?
- This happens again at 63, and then the Uranus return close to age 84. More cultural gaps?
Remember that this gap in consciousness is normal for the progression of the human race. Uranus rules lighting, earthquakes, explosions and surprises – its job is to provoke, prod, and destroy outdated structure, to look forward and to enlighten. Uranus makes screaming headlines. Saturn’s job is to structure. Saturn rules from the past – our knowns. Uranus pushes us toward the future, the new. If Uranus precedes Saturn, existing structures are blown up and then Saturn comes along to bring order out of chaos – explosion followed by structure. What if Saturn precedes Uranus? Structure, then explosion? Might this take a lot longer for the possibility of structure? Does this sound like what’s been going on recently? By sign progression, Uranus systematically kicks open the doors of our future, in general through the sign, in particular by outer planet aspects to inner planets. Because Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are outside Saturn’s orbit, they are not bound by Saturn’s rules. Each planet successively takes us deeper, wider, and farther. Uranus awakens us, Neptune lures us, and Pluto changes us. For a more personal application, look to house position and individual aspect.
Neptune takes 164.79 years per zodiacal orbit or 13.7 years per sign – thus resulting in approximately fourteen years of the world’s population born with this common principle. Considering how well we cooperate internationally, this must be buried deep within our consciousness. I like to picture Neptune as the old representation of the donkey with a stick dangling a carrot before its nose. Neptune dangles the enticing carrot of a better life, relationship, or possibility before the nose of humanity, and we shuffle forward attempting to reach the prize, which unfortunately remains slightly out of reach. If we could not dream, hope, or believe, life with its harsh realities could be too hard to take. Neptune is our capacity to reach out for something more, something greater than we are. The cosmos opens, infinite possibilities emerge, we hope for more, and have faith in more. When positive, Neptune inspires and uplifts, bestowing the gift of the mystic and the artist, and the vision of the future. When negative, Neptune deludes, confuses, and lies. Remember, positive and negative are a combination of choice of application and perception – one man’s meat is another man’s poison. By sign progression, Neptune lures us toward a better vision, in general through the sign, in particular by outer planet aspect. For a more personal application, look to house position and individual aspect.
Pluto is the only known planet in our solar system with a planetary orbit inclined 17˚ to the Ecliptic. All the planets, except Pluto, orbit in approximately the same plane along the ecliptic. I read a recent description of the eccentricity of Pluto’s orbit as three-dimensional compared to the orbits of the other planets. All our planetary orbits are not quite circular in nature (elliptical), causing basic equality of travel through the signs – again, except Pluto. Pluto takes 248.6 years for its zodiacal orbit. That equates to 20.7 years average per sign, mean motion. In reality, Pluto travels from twelve to thirty years per sign. Also, because of its eccentricity, Pluto at times crosses inside Neptune’s orbit for twenty years (generational?), actually traveling closer to the Sun and the inner planets than Neptune. Most recently this occurred 1979-99. Pluto rules the underground – that which lives or is buried beneath the surface. Translated into human terms, it rules the unconscious, psychological in nature. Pluto acts like a rotor-rooter churning up what has been buried, digging it up, bringing it to the surface (visibility / consciousness), forcing us to face our personal cans of worms, collectively and individually. Pluto rules the extremes in human nature, annihilation, transformation, and regeneration. Consciousness forces healing. Generationally, we must unearth that which needs purging in human consciousness, and this is not necessarily pretty. By sign progression, Pluto systematically purges the human unconscious, in general through the sign, in particular by outer planet aspect. For a more personal application, look to house position and individual aspect.
As I initially taught this material, two more small planets had just been discovered (August, 2001) outside Pluto’s orbit in the Kuiper Belt, the inner section of the Oort Cloud at the outer boundary of our solar system. Are they planets, escaped moons, asteroids, or comets in the making? New bodies represent more energies to learn.
You may see the affects of the outer planets on world evolution by watching the sign ingress of the three outer planets. Start with the discovery charts:
- Uranus March 3, 1781 in England; geocentric Uranus was at 24 Gemini 23.
- Neptune September 23, 1846 in Germany; geocentric Neptune 25 Aquarius 53.
- Pluto February 18, 1930 at Lowell Observatory, geocentric Pluto 17 Cancer 46.
- Neptune and Pluto were each retrograde at discovery.
These “discoveries” are when the unconscious became conscious. Watch them as they progress through the signs – consciously, visibly. Look at the progression of each planet through the signs:
- Examine Uranus for invention and breakthroughs, revolution (U.S. and French).
- Examine Neptune as inspiration (photography, music and film, even music).
- Examine Pluto as the psychologist / psychiatrist, unearthing of powerful forces.
These time the unfolding processes that affect evolution.
But how do we determine the core principle and unfolding of each process? Look to the planting of the seed itself.
- The seed moment concept is the conjunction between the bodies.
- The balance of the naturally occurring aspects work on the seed that was planted at the conjunction.
- In any conjunction, the outer planet anchors the concept and the inner planet carries out the action and informs the outer planet. Both the inner and the outer planets are changed by the common (aspect) experience.
Generationally by epoch:
- Neptune / Pluto synodic cycle 492.828 years: two cycles of Pluto, three cycles of Neptune – half a millennia. Study the world’s migration patterns, mass movement.
- Uranus / Pluto synodic cycle 127.28 years (last two conjunctions were 145 years apart).
Two cycles of Uranus, 1/2 cycle of Pluto = seven generations.
- Uranus / Neptune synodic cycle 171.4 years, one cycle of Neptune, two cycles of Uranus – about eight generations.
Now add the cultural factor to the generational factor (synodic cycles given where available):
Jupiter takes twelve years, so its factor starts with twelve years and then adds the time it takes to catch up to each planet, brief moments in the time patterns discussed, but each a necessary part of the evolutionary process.
- Jupiter conjuncts Saturn 19.86 years at an advance of 243˚.
- Each 198 years, 265 days, conjunctions occur in a sign of the same element (repeat or continuing lesson?).
- Every 800-960 years, the conjunction returns in Sagittarius, called the Grand Climactic conjunction which marked supreme epochs in the history of mankind. Hmmm, another study?
- The ancients considered the natal Saturn / Jupiter conjunction a “fresh start” lifetime.
What about other repeatable patterns?
- Jupiter to Uranus just under fourteen years (puberty?)
- Jupiter to Neptune just under thirteen years (puberty?)
- Jupiter to Pluto (remember Pluto’s orbit is very eccentric, time may distort) twelve to thirteen years (puberty?)
Saturn takes 29 1/2 years to orbit, plus the time it takes to catch up to each outer planet:
- Saturn / Uranus synodic cycle 45.36 years – 2+ generations.
- Saturn to Neptune about 36 years (third Jupiter return).
- Saturn to Pluto (remember Pluto’s orbit is very eccentric (twelve to thirty years depending on the sign, so orbital time will distort). About 32-38 years (close to the Jupiter return cycle).
We are watching the global and societal evolutionary patterns by sign and conjunction only.
Weather, politics, economics, social and cultural evolution, warfare, health and disease, famines, renaissance, migration…circles within circles. We are currently governed by these conjunctions (heliocentric positions – very close to geocentric):
- Neptune / Pluto 1/1/1892 at 8 Gemini (intellect and reason).
Next about 2390 AD at 12 Gemini
- Uranus / Neptune 4/21/1993 at 19 Capricorn (business and responsibility).
Next about 2165 AD at 7 Aquarius
- Uranus / Pluto 1/8/1966 at 17 Virgo (work and service).
Next about 2110 probably in early Aquarius.
- Saturn / Pluto 12/24/1982 27 Libra 16 (relating and cooperation).
Next 1/2020 in Capricorn (recently past at this re-write).
- Saturn / Neptune 7/18/1989 at 11 Capricorn 5 (business and responsibility).
Next 12/2025 in Aries (coming up soon).
- Saturn / Uranus 6/9/1988 at 28 Sagittarius 55 (philosophy and expansion).
Next 7/2032 in Gemini (about ten years away).
Polaris Another, even more major cycle is at work. It is outside our solar system, invisible unless someone points it out to you, but nevertheless effective. At present, Polaris, the North Star, is our Earth’s pole star (one of four pole stars in our roughly 26,000 year cycle). Our north pole (picture it as a soda straw) is moving to its best alignment with Polaris in 2095 AD, off perfect alignment by only 26’30” (the tilt of the Earth on its axis), less than 1/2 a degree. Our pole will then slowly recede from the alignment as it begins to move toward the next Pole Star which will be Alpha Cephei, thousands of years in the future. In 1990 Polaris was listed at 28 Gemini 25, moving approximately +8.2’ every ten years. The closest we can move to an exact alignment (conjunct) is 26’30”. Zodiacally, 00 Cancer appears to be the conjunction point, less 26’30”, so the critical position in 2095 is 29 Gemini 33’30”. Declination is about 89˚ North.
The 1990 position was so close – only 1˚8’30” off, and inching closer every day. Only one period during a 6,500-year quadrature (four Pole Stars in the pattern) draws in the strongest influence of each pole star. We are currently within that period. As the alignment perfects itself, the influence will grow stronger. In 2000, our alignment with Polaris moved 8.2’ closer, placing us within the one-degree orb used by astrologers for fixed star alignments. The energy influence promised by Polaris is being directly funneled into Earth’s “soda straw” North Pole now. Do you suppose energy, magnetism, vibration, or cosmic influence by Polaris may have anything to do with the:
- depletion of the ozone layer near the poles?…
- or the distortion of the Aurora Borealis (the northern lights)?…
- or the warming of Earth’s South Pole and the breakup of the large ice mass recently reported in 1998?
Few modern astrologers are aware of this 6500-year-alignment, however, this is the most significant one to watch. Check out Vivian Robeson’s Fixed Stars.
For many years, I got frequent calls from newspapers, clients, friends and other astrologers about the “new alignment of the planets” such as the “harmonic convergence”, and other similar questions. These are relatively minor in comparison to the current 6500-year alignment with our Pole Star. At the time I wrote the original article, the expected May 5, 2000 AD alignment with the seven inner planets in Taurus had been the topic of discussion. (May 3rd was the key date). The conjunction that occurred in May 1959 BC was far tighter, and we survived that one. Stelliums (three or more planets in a sign) are not all that rare. Random examples follow (this is an incomplete sample list):
- June 22, 1881 / seven Taurus
- June 6, 1883 / five Gemini
- May 6-8, 1940 / five Taurus (WW II)
- May 22-June 10, & 12-14, 1942 / five Gemini (WW II)
- July 31-August 2, 1943 / five Leo (WW II)
- August 15-16,1947 / six Leo
- August 5-6, 1948 / five Leo
- September 23-27, 1952 / five Libra
- June 30-July 2, 1954 / five Cancer
- February 4-5, 1962 / seven Aquarius
- February 8-9, 1986 / five Aquarius
- August 25-26, 1987 / five Virgo
- April 30-May 5, 2001 / six & seven Taurus
- January 24-26, 2001 / five Aquarius
- May 23-25, 2001 / five Gemini
I remember in the early 1980’s when the astrological world was buzzing with several planets at 17˚ (of any sign). It was supposed to produce some phenomenal result – nothing happened that I could determine. I could look at 17˚ as a numerologist. I could look up symbolic degrees in various reference texts (multiple signs). I would not, however, predict dire or earth-shattering events, especially if such astronomical phenomena occurred with any regularity.
Astrologers traditionally use material that has been handed down from antiquity, material that has proved or disproved its worthiness over the ages. New research, provable by additional research and researchers is what brings new reading material – not broadcasting sensationalism or ego-stroking.
Aspecting Here are some basic guidelines to aspecting any planets or points, natal or progressing:
- Angular planets are more powerful with external activity.
- Succedent planets affect principles, morals, values, ethics and resources.
- Cadent planets operate internally, affecting the individual psychologically; adaptation.
- Intercepted planets are delayed and not as strong in action, but are not denied.
- Retrograde planets are more internalized and less outwardly observable, with specific areas chosen to be worked on or finalized.
- Stationary planets are changing their minds and application to / from internalized or externalized energy.
- Unaspected planets act as mavericks and demonstrate a Uranus-like characteristic.
- Elevated planets (9th / 10th house) spread (or leak) influence down over the entire chart.
- Good aspects and bad aspects do not cancel each other out: both operate. At times they operate at the same time, producing confusion, and other times they alternate. The human condition can be paradoxical and contradictory.
- Women handle feminine energies more easily than men. Men handle masculine energies more easily than women.
- Read positive planetary and sign keywords for positive aspects (trine, sextile) and negative planetary and sign keywords for negative aspects (square, opposition). Conjunctions may operate either positively or negatively.
- The conjunction is a uniting of energy. Are the united energies compatible?
- The square is challenge, problem, obstacle, internal conflict, argument, a chip on one’s shoulder.
- The opposition pulls apart, or is a tug of war, with another person or circumstance enacting one of the roles. You can see the problem or stress clearly, even though the difficulty continues. You are pitting one part of yourself against another, or using other(s) to play out the opposing role so you may observe and resolve the dilemma.
- Sextiles and trines offer a freer flow of energy, considered excellent for success in an aspect. The trine requires little effort on the part of the individual and may actually be a “lazy” part of the person’s makeup. The sextile requires some effort to manifest the good, and may be more observable, deliberate and controllable.
Transits, Progressions, Directions to/from Saturn
Saturn (reality check) appears to be the stronger planet in an aspect unless seriously debilitated. To begin, read Saturn as strongest and utilize its most constructive possibility to get the most value out of any planet it is aspecting. Read Saturn as discipline, hard work, duty, obligation, conscientiousness, and responsibility in its positive connotation before looking at its negative connotation.
- Saturn squares and oppositions create stresses. Oppositions can separate. Squares not necessarily deny, but can make achievement difficult (think brick wall).
- When defining the square and opposition, use negative Saturn keywords and try to show how to overcome them.
- Defining the trine and sextile, use positive Saturn keywords, but caution about possible negative drifting or some difficulty in achievement.
- Saturn conjunctions can be used beneficially or as a stress indicator:
- Conjunct Sun can give father or authority problems, similar to Saturn in Leo.
- Conjunct Moon can give mother or domestic/family problems, similar to Saturn in Cancer.
The push / pull theory can be confusing at first. The key is to organize or structure the growth potential. Also, an aspect from Saturn will have a different effect than an aspect to Saturn.
- Natal planets / points are degrees of sensitivity – receivers of activation.
- Moving planets / points (progressions, directions, transits) are the activating principles themselves – senders.
- Transiting Venus conjunct natal Saturn will lighten natal Saturn’s load.
- Transiting Saturn conjunct natal Venus can be a heavy load for natal Venus, or someone from the past comes into the current experience.
- Watch all aspects within one degree applying, whether direct or retrograde. Events do occur from retrograde planet connections.
- Stations on a natal point or planet indicate significant events of longer duration.
- Events indicated by aspects will usually occur within 15’ applying or 5’ separating regardless of timing method used.
- If the aspect does not actually touch the point, there will usually be no actual experience. There can be activity, threat, or pressure, but it probably will not manifest in actual experience. I wish I could say “always”.
Progressions tend to show the unfoldment and development of the individual. Timing is by individual movement of each planet or point. Progressions of outer planets are watched for:
- The year a promised natal aspect is completed.
- The planet changes house or sign.
- A Progressed-to-Progressed aspect.
- The planet changes direction: retrograde, station or direct, (can be stationary for many years by progression).
Directions (Symbolic, Radix or Solar Arc) appear to be event- or result-oriented. Aspect direct to natal only. Do not aspect direct to direct because the natal aspects are being carried forward.
- Timing: 1˚ = 1 year 5’ = 1 month 1’ = 6 days.
Transits including Eclipses can be either or both developmental and event-oriented, usually because some new facet or person is being introduced into the experience.
- Transits of Saturn to a single point in a chart (any aspect) last about eight to nine months if that point activates by Saturn’s three-pass direct/retrograde/direct pattern. Occasionally, Saturn will pass quickly over a point once with the effect being about three weeks in duration. Note: 29 years prior, Saturn made similar activations, and can do so in the future.
- Timing of outer transits to natal Saturn depends upon the activating planet and the number of times it transits Saturn’s position.
- Transiting Uranus usually takes ten months to complete the three-pass pattern.
- Transiting Neptune and/or Pluto can take between ten months and two years, as each planet is capable of a three-pass or a five-pass hit to any planet or point in the chart.
Solar Eclipses cause major activations by conjunction, square and opposition, but do not usually produce a negative effect by sextile or trine. I use a 5˚ orb on either side of the eclipse point, equating to before or after in timing of effect. Close aspects are stronger and occur close to the date of the eclipse. Wider aspects are weaker or more distant in time. I divide up the 5˚ eclipse orb as 1˚ equals one week from eclipse date and I time before and after the eclipse date itself. Example: 1˚ to exact = one week before or after the eclipse. 4˚ of orb, four weeks before or after eclipse. Works for me! Period of overall general effect is until the next Solar Eclipse, usually about 5-1/2 months, during which elongated time other transits can re-trigger the current eclipse point, especially Mars.
Initially I did not pay much attention to the Lunar Eclipses, but live and learn. I had repeatedly seen the Solar Eclipses make life-changing effects. After a rude awakening on a chart, I conducted a more thorough investigation and now also place similar values and timing on the Lunar Eclipses as well. Lunar Eclipses should not be under-estimated. I am aware of wider time influences used by other Astrologers, but have not seen them work consistently in the charts.
Saturn: Devil or Teacher
Derivative House System teaching experiment: Every planet has a 1st house, 2nd house, etc. status. To check natal Saturn’s overall responsibility mechanism, set an equal house chart with natal Saturn as the Ascendant. Drop the nine other natal planets into the houses. You can add the angles and Nodes if you choose. Read as Saturn’s development cycle. Did you learn anything of value to help you understand natal Saturn?
Article derived from original mini-workshop notes 2000 Marilyn J. Muir
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.