As I contemplate the Grand Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter that will reach exactitude on December 21, I wonder about the very nature of astrology itself, as well as the nature of meaning-making. The fact that astrology works amazes me. Where did it come from? How much of it involves perception, and how much of it involves projection? Ultimately, I see astrology as a key to accessing multidimensional awareness from an ordinary, earthly state of consciousness. The particulars of this Grand Conjunction point to the mysteries at the heart of these questions about astrology, and more importantly, to the mysteries at the heart of what it means to be a meaning-making creature in an infinite and deeply connected cosmos.
I wrote about the archetypal principles involved in this conjunction in my previous post, and about the fact that we have already been experiencing this conjunction for quite a while, even if it has not yet gone exact. Here, I want to focus more on the facts of this particular conjunction and what they may signify, without making any literal predictions. Not only are these two planets, Saturn and Jupiter, forming a conjunction (same celestial longitude or degree of the zodiac), but they will be nearly exactly parallel (same celestial latitude), so they will sit, one on top of the other, forming a “superstar”. This has not occurred for eight hundred years. It is a true astronomical anomaly and calls to mind the “Star of Bethlehem”, which guided the magi to Baby Jesus. Needless to say, such a phenomenon must have knocked the sandals off of the ancients. Such an anomaly in the heavens would naturally stir great fear or great expectation, or both. Not only this, but the conjunction occurs on the Winter Solstice, one of the oldest and most revered of astrological events. Humans’ most important neolithic sites, such as Newgrange in Ireland and Stonehenge in England, were built to align with the sun on the Winter Solstice. People, before the advent of mathematics and technology as we know them, made precise calculations and lugged tons of rocks over the course of multiple generations to build these structures, just so that on one day every year, the sun (if it was not obscured by clouds) would shine through a particular opening. Such long-range and carefully-thought-out efforts provide clues to the inestimable significance of the Winter Solstice for these people.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the shortening of the days and lengthening of nights, with their reversal at the solstice, naturally became a symbol of death and rebirth. It is similar to the lunar cycle, except transposed from the level of the month to the year. Shortening days bring Fall and Winter: trees lose their leaves, the harvest is done, the earth is covered in snow and ice, animals go into hibernation, and human life moves indoors. The lengthening days following Solstice mean the gradual return of life. Countless tales of divine, life-bringing children born around the Winter Solstice include Dionysus, the Norse Baldur, and of course Jesus.
Adding to this, it is noteworthy that the Grand Conjunction is occurring in the first degree of Aquarius, an air sign, after two hundred years of Grand Conjunctions in Earth signs. It marks the beginning of a new chapter. We may be entering a period where perception and ideas become more important than production, and the relationships of individuals to the species and of the species to the planet and other beings become more important than “conquering” nature and harnessing its resources.
This all comes at a time that in many ways feels apocalyptic. So much dead and rotting cultural material has been exposed over the last century, and it has reached a crescendo in recent years. Out with the old and in with the new. As I wrote in my previous post, the “maximum darkness” at the Solstice parallels with the Saturn-Pluto conjunction’s “maximum darkness”. Both symbolize death, destruction, and decay. And now, with this powerful and visible conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, there is a glimmer of hope. However, just as the Solstice only marks the beginning of the light’s return (the wintery months of January and February still lie ahead), the Grand Conjunction will not bring a sudden turnaround to world affairs, though it may indicate a turning of the tide.
This conjunction is the stuff of “folk astrology”. You don’t need to be an astrologer or particularly astrologically literate to be wowed by a “superstar” or to feel the immediate rightness of the symbolism of the Winter Solstice. Contemplating these things connects us to our ancestors, who were attuned to the changes of season and the heavens, and who noticed unusual events in the heavens and registered their meaning directly. We can observe these phenomena and perhaps perceive something of their meaning directly. We can also project all kinds of fantasy upon this conjunction. When I think about this confluence of events, it call to mind great esoteric and prophetic legends, movies about sacred objects from ancient tombs, weird, old wizard-like professors who have learned the secret of this rare event from some dusty old scroll and must take the necessary action at the appointed time. It is too perfect.
Naturally, people are making some bold claims about the importance of this conjunction. That it is the portal to the Fifth Dimension. That it is the beginning of the Aquarian Age. That the shift we are awaiting will occur on cue, and there will be a mass supernova of third eye explosions. Maybe so. I have been having my own vivid experiences of higher dimensions lately. I am skeptical of big global pronouncements, though, only because they never do seem to play out the way that we paint them. Consider the many End Times prophecies over the millennia, Y2K at the turn of the 21st century, or 2012. I would say that such prophecies have indeed come true, or are coming true. They just don’t look like the Hollywood (or Biblical) scenario we like to envision. The world tends to unfold in ways that are both more subtle and stranger than we imagine. That, and we are often so eager to run away from darkness into the light that we concoct florid fantasies of the good times that are just around the corner.
I do see all of this symbolism pointing to something important in humanity’s unfolding story, however. I do think that people may have increased access to higher-dimensional awareness, and that perhaps with this confluence of different factors, we really are experiencing some kind of portal right now. However, December 21st will come and go, and most people will probably still be eating chips and drinking beer on the couch. The chaos and discord of our time will probably continue for a few years. But, as Tony sings in Westside Story:
“Could be, who knows?
There’s something due any day
I will know right away, soon as it shows
It may come cannonballing down through the sky
Gleam in its eye, bright as a rose
This shift has been coming all along, since the planets started moving around the sun. Many astrological alignments prior to our own time have done their part to usher it in, including the cataclysmic Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the 1960s and the illuminating Uranus-Neptune conjunction of the 1990s. Generally, a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction is less significant than these generational outer-planet alignments. But placed in the greater context, something about this approaching Grand Conjunction and its perfect alignment as a “superstar” on the Solstice, occurring at this dark chapter in our history, feels extra meaningful. Astrology truly is music of the spheres, and the upcoming Grand Conjunction on December 21st feels to me like a horn-blast calling to humanity from the depths of the Universe.