Tree stump in the smoke-filled East SF Bay Hills during the Camp Fire; Fall 2018

Saturn-Pluto: The Birth Contraction of 2018—2021

Saturn-Pluto periods of time, such as the present alignment from 2018 through 2021, can represent a transformation of the status quo or the existing state of affairs. However, it’s crucial to remember that archetypes display many different and even contradictory meanings all at once. History shows that Saturn and Pluto coming together can also represent the empowerment (Pluto) of that which would either regress or hold back changes (Saturn). Reactionary and regressive cultural and social developments form a strong correlation throughout history because of the intense fear that can accompany these two planets in combination.

glyph for Saturn


Glyph for Pluto

Pluto expresses that everything wants to live. Pluto at its best is totally alive! There is a vibrancy and courage and vitality that a well-integrated Pluto can express like nothing else. When Pluto meets Saturn, it meets its limits. The question will come up: how can this striving to “survive” or to “persist” orient to Saturn’s demands? Saturn’s rules, its problem-making, its demand that we go at the “right” pace and not too fast…but not too slow. Saturn wants to channelize or diffract Pluto’s raw intensity that would just gush out everywhere, and blindly grab whatever is needed to sustain or expand its current energy level or throughput. And so it becomes a birthing process, where Saturn pushes Pluto to evolve in a particular way—Pluto may be evolution, but Saturn can be a guide. Saturn will consistently ask us what’s really possible here, given the current circumstances shaped by history, by our ancestors’ decisions and lives?

Highlighting Differences

Given all of these possibilities, how could we constructively engage with Saturn-Pluto as a world transit? World transits have collective impact and yet it takes individuals to form collectives. Each of us in our individual lives will face parts of this massive birth contraction of 2018 to 2021—which is one of the more generative ways I can think of this time period’s potentials—and it will be different for each of us. We’re all situated differently within larger social structures, within our personal and various collective-level karmas. Awareness of these very differences are heightened during Saturn-Pluto periods of time.

So you might try to engage the depth and power of the Saturn-Pluto alignment by deliberately working with its tendency to exaggerate differences. You might seek out the perspectives and points of view of those who are from a culture or community that has fewer opportunities, material resources and more difficult circumstances than your own, including those who suffer stigma. It could actually be quite the revelation just to seek out who lives on the margins in relation to your own position, whatever your relative freedoms and advantages. Prevailing social norms make those “below” us on the hierarchy less visible than those “above” us, and in this way we could use Saturn-Pluto to constructively bring to the surface (Saturn) that which is hidden or repressed from awareness (Pluto).

all color images by Joshua Halpern :::

Sacred Curiosity and the Wisdom of the Heart

Saturn-Pluto may give us greater access to appreciating the radical differences between ourselves and others—but appreciation is not automatic. One tip to prevent us from dismissing different experiences or collapsing them into our story about the world is to summon up a genuine and respectful curiosity. And a willingness to admit that we know less than we think we do!

A practice that could help this along is to bring your awareness to your heart, and to keep re-focusing awareness on your heart as you explore the perspectives and experiences of those who seem to be so different from you. Both feelings of disgust and compassion could become stronger and it is helpful to consider that your emotional response says more about you than it does about others. Trying to just allow your feelings, however taboo they may be, and trying to connect with the part of you that can allow emotion to flow through will help them move. Is it possible to be curious about what you are feeling? Curious and gentle?

You may notice a whole raft of judgments arising, too—which is why it’s helpful to connect with the heart. The heart carries a more accepting mode of consciousness. The point of this exploration isn’t to figure out “who is right” and “who is wrong.” It’s more to notice: there is more than one way of experiencing the exact same events. There is more than one culture, more than one society, more than one system of beliefs, more than a single lineage or ancestry giving birth to our present moment. It seems that no rigid ideology can guard us from harming others—only a commitment to ever-increasing awareness of Self in relation to Other (and vice versa) can reduce that possibility—and indeed, lead us to transform what needs healing within the status quo, within the existing state of our affairs.