Tension and conflict between old and new systems, paradigms and ways of being/doing, as well as between technology and organic or ‘natural’ modalities, are likely to erupt onto the surface on February 17 as we move towards the astrological aspect likely to define 2021: a fixed square between Saturn and Uranus.
This is the first of three such cosmic events – the second and third passes will take place on 14 June and 24 December. Make no mistake – this transit is quite a big deal: squares between Saturn and Uranus only happen every 45 years, and their effects can be quite longlasting – sometimes being felt up to three years later. Marjorie Orr describes them as potentially good for social reform, helping to bring about much-needed hegemonic changes. Usually, there is a desire to preserve the best of the old and to integrate these into the new. However, in practice, these transitions can often feel ‘jolting’ and ‘jarring’, creating sudden states of tension that slowly give way to a much-needed release of the outdated and outworn.
Think of these transits as collective gasping in-breaths of shock, followed by slow sighing exhalations of relief when things don’t devolve into complete chaos after all.
In general, fixed squares tend to be quite tense and ‘sparky’ because neither side (or sign) is willing to give way to the other that easily, leadign to stubborn stand-offs and clashes of will. In the short term, this can make compromise – and smooth progress – difficult. It can often feel a little scary and can sometimes lead to crises or states of catastrophe thinking. So don’t be surprised if you feel quite a bit of inner conflict, or experience major tension, either in your body, or in your relationship with the world around you around the two weeks on either side of these squares. Much, of course, depends on where these planetary titans are positioned in your natal chart.
If you have any placements at around 7-12 degrees of the fixed signs, then the 2021 Saturn-Uranus squares are likely to impact you more strongly than other people.
In general though, Saturn-Uranus squares tend to highlight the chasm between generations, systems or paradigms – Saturn representing the ‘old’, the past and the establishment/status quo; and Uranus, the ‘new’, the future and innovation. Saturn likes the safety of rules and regulations and tends to be quite conservative and responsible, while Uranus is the freedom-loving, non-conformist revolutionary who hates restrictions, but can also end up ebelling to the point of anarchy and perversion.
Both are outer planets, with their large orbits and longer timeframe cycles, tend to express themselves through wider social, economic and political trends (although if they are your natal chart ruler, then of course, they will work on a more personal level for you). Think climate change, or political/social/economic reform – none of these systems or ways of thinking/living are easy to alter, because they are so embedded into the way we live, and of course, there is never any guarantee that the new has been well-thought-through and can actually improve on the old.
In and of itself, this aspect is likely to highlight the tension which always exists between ideal vs reality. However, what’s rather ironic about this particular set of squares is that conservative Saturn is positioned in the more idealistic and modernising sign – Aquarius – while Uranus, the revolutionary, is in Taurus – a sign that’s stubborn, hates change and is very rooted in tried and tested ways of doing things. “Why reinvent the wheel?” would be a good motto. So this could add some extra complexity to things.
For example, Uranian progress should not come at all costs – here, Saturnian caution and pragmatism help us to stop and consider the consequences of potential changes and then mitigate or pace them out so that they are not quite so devastating. Think of AI and algorhithms, for example, and the impact this is already having on people’s livelihoods, their ability to get jobs, loans, travel visas, social welfare claims, health insurance through automatic online screening – something that is touched on in HBO’s latest offering: Persona in relation to employment screening. Or of social media, and the need for more accountability/regulation of tech companies (Saturn in Aquarius) with regards to the unforeseen social and political havoc (Uranus) that machine learning, and poorly thought-through algorhithms are causing – all in the name of power and profit. These are just some of the ledger of harms highlighted by the Center for Humane Technology, all of which create tension and polarisation – a hallmark characteristic of destablising squares such as this one.
Each word of moral outrage added to a tweet increases the rate of retweets by 17%. It takes very little effort to tip the emotional balance within social media spaces, catalyzing and accelerating further polarization.Emotion shapes the diffusion of moralized content in social networks, Brady, Wills, et al
And, when it comes to ‘defi’ and the cryptocurrency market, which until recently, has developed quite organically and outside of established norms or regulations (very Uranus in Taurus) – Saturnian caution helps to highlight the need for greater security (cold wallets etc) and consumer protection (insurance and regulations to protect retail investors from con-artists and predatory behaviour from larger players like exchanges and whales) so that this type of fintech becomes viable and safe enough for widespread adoption. And of course, ways to prevent criminals and terrorist organisations from using it to hide their transactions/assets from law enforcement (although you could argue that blockchain technology already means that transparency is ‘baked-in’ to the system. More on this topic in my astro-insights blog article on Bitcoin).
Other areas where this is likely to play out are in areas such as climate change, food production, diet and food consumption; as well as science and politics, where the tension between public safety restrictions/forms of state control vs individual freedoms has already begun to rear its ugly head as a result of COVID-19. Here, the Taurus-Aquarius pairing highlight the tension between the natural and organic, on one hand, and the artificial, technological or manmade, on the other.
Orr also points out the potential with Saturn-Uranus squares to create unnecessary chaos and conflict because ‘both planets will, in their negative aspects, lay waste rather than give way.‘ Think of Donald Trump, for example.
Fortunately, both Saturn and Uranus have a lot in common. Both co-rule Aquarius, the sign of altruism and diversity, which should help to keep the focus firmly on improving the future direction of travel for all of humanity. In other words, there should be agreement on the WHAT/OUTCOME/DESTINATION, even if the HOW part is hotly debated. Both are also very centred around the welfare of the group/the many, as opposed to the individual/the few, which should encourage those involved to set aside ego differences and selfish interests for the good of the whole.
As I wrote in my blog piece about Joe Biden’s inauguration, Aquarius is the sign of personal detachment and agape-style love – the ‘charity’ spoken about in Corinthians 13, which is faithful, kind and ‘rejoices in the truth’. It is also the sign of the many, as opposed to the few, which I think we can already see playing out in the general recognition of how elites have exploited and used fear, shame and guilt to control the populace for thousands of years, reflectign that Cancer-Capricorn axis of parent-child.
Overall, I think the best way to navigate this particular transit is to accept that change is inevitable, and to keep your eyes on the bigger picture, rather than get caught up in sweating the minutiae of precisely how this will occur. Focusing on finding workable solutions, rather than getting stuck in unhelpful ideological binaries like ‘modern’ vs ‘ancient’ (or apocalyptic nightmares that only serve to paralyse and discourage); whilst also remaining open to compromise and collaboration, should also help to move things forward.