A Planetary Triptych: Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn
Triptych is derived from the Greek, trip (three) tych (layered) and usually applies to paintings, such as the weirdly wonderful ‘Garden of Earthly Delights‘ by Hieronymus Bosch. In this blog….some of my thoughts on the weird and wonderful planetary triptych, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn.
Committed to Capricorn since 2008, Pluto is the slowest moving planet in this triptych and Jupiter in sign of fall, the fastest. Even when in Capricorn, the sign of seasonal purgatory, the role of Jupiter is to ‘big things up’. In Capricorn, Jupiter has come down from the mountain top and is singularly focused on the affairs of this world, here he busies himself with money, power, ambition and even with the occasional “dodgy deal”.
(Note: At the time of the first Watergate break-in on 28 May 1972, Jupiter was in this notoriously ambitious sign. This event set off a chain reaction which eventually resulted in the resignation (pending impeachment) of President Richard Nixon, a Jupiter in Capricorn native himself.)
Yet, Jupiter is the glue that binds society together and normally in pleasurable ways: national holidays, sports events, religious ceremonies, holidays, schools and universities, shared philosophies etc.. and even when in sign of fall, Jupiter binds us, only now it is with the fear of contagion and death. The big picture currently revolves around the acceptance or denial of personal responsibility, keeping ourselves and others covid free (or not, depending on where you stand). We are also under threat of a new financial crisis. It is worth remembering, that at the start of the financial melt-down in 2008 Jupiter and Pluto were in Capricorn, and now as then, the language of crisis, doom and gloom is out there as we once again find ourselves contemplating the fall into an economic abyss. I think there is an affinity between Saturn, Pluto and the sign Capricorn, since all demand introspection, all are willing to let go of non essentials, and able to focus on identifying the necessary in order to reboot the system. But Jupiter in this sign of shrinkage, must find life hard. Its like a three person tango at a dance macabre.
Saturn is enamoured with Pluto’s power, and will attempt to control, channel and use (or abuse) that power. Saturn represents the boundary between the known and the unknown and it is his job to lead us through the vale of shadows towards a new consensus reality – whatever form that might take. It is into this maelstrom that Jupiter is thrust. Pluto is the bugbear and his slow movement through this mid-winter sign is starting to get tedious.
Pluto was discovered in the year that Sigmund Freud published ‘Civilizations and its Discontents’, a book sandwiched between the chaos of the 1914 Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Cancer and the emergence of Hitler and National Socialism. The carnage of First World War and the pending disaster that would be the Second, made Freud acutely aware that what we call ‘civilization’ is really only a thin veneer which at best offers us meagre protection from our own and other’s barbaric urges. Freud saw the individual as being caught up in an eternal battle between two forces, the desire to live (Eros) and the desire to die (Thanatos).
Pluto represents extreme concentrated power that can take humanity to the brink and beyond. Pluto is able to initiate a confrontation with the shadow, both on an individual and on a collective level. If we are to expand the collective field of consciousness then we must deal with whatever Pluto reveals and when viewed from a purely mundane perspective Saturn/Pluto times feel heavy and the hard aspects in particular tear us away from the known and the dark night of the soul descends. The Saturn/Pluto conjunctions hammer messages home.. and ….I ask myself, what might we learn from the past?
Saturn/Pluto in Cancer: Late Summer – 1914
At the end of the ‘picnic perfect’ summer of 1914 three quarters of a million young British men and boys looking for adventure and the chance to fight for the glory of King and Country, signed up to serve in the British army. Their naive patriotism was brutally squashed in rat infested trenches, they were mowed down in their hundreds of thousands on Flanders Fields. Saturn/Pluto in Cancer decimated whole communities, as lads who had grown up together perished alongside their childhood mates in so called ‘Pals’ battalions. The poster on the left by artist Harry Ryle Hopps – is one of many commissioned by the US government to create an imperative for American men to join the fray. I think you will agree that it resonates with Pluto both on a mythical and a negative stereotypical level. Save the girl! Stop the invasion of our homeland and the decimation of our values. Beat the barbaric ‘hun’ The death toll of this sabre-rattling ? An estimated 40 million souls.
In Europe the dialogue of fear that appeared in the aftermath of World War Two – centered around a growing distrust of the Soviet Union and would eventually manifest as the Cold War. When planets come together, what we see is both an end and a new beginning. The conjunction is the ouroboros made manifest. The 1947 conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in Leo – was square Jupiter in Scorpio. There is an argument out there, that views the Second World War as the last great battle of the First. In terms of world karma, I can see a case for that argument. Saturn/Pluto conjunctions throw very, very, very long shadows – and saddle future generations with the consequences of the choices that were made under them. Out of this particular conjunction three new nations arose, India, Pakistan and Israel and the bitter struggle of the Palestinian people began. Interestingly – at this time George Orwell was putting the finishing touches to his last novel, the dystopian ‘1984’ – a book that continues to define our nightmares of the totalitarian state.
The Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto conjunctions in Libra – 1980/1981
When it comes to emotionally galvanizing , influencing or manipulating the collective – it is noteworthy that during Saturn/Pluto season a similar meme appears. The poster on the left, hung on many a wall and was circulated during the Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto conjunctions in 1980/1981. The artwork by Bob Light and John Houston was first published in the Christmas edition of the “Socialist Worker” in December 1980, at the time of the first of the three Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions in Libra. The image was reprinted early in 1981 as a poster and was widely circulated as an anti-war message (Saturn finally encountering Pluto on November 8th 1982). At the time – I was already living in Amsterdam, and there really was enormous anxiety here. We felt the presence of a nuclear cloud hanging over our heads as American Pershing II nuclear missiles were placed in Western Europe. People were genuinely afraid of Reagan and Thatcher and the nuclear arms race.
2020: And so the wheel turns…
Clearly then, while history does not repeat itself … it definitely hums a recognizable tune. Interestingly, in terms of human evolution, this series of Capricorn conjunctions seems to be finding expression in a much more individual, personal way than in 1914, 1947 or 1982. Many of us have seen covid as an opportunity to step back, to reflect and to re-center ourselves. This has to be a good thing. For surely history must have taught us something. In the build up to 2020, I was already asking myself .. Who and What will Fear serve this time round ? Who will power intoxicate ? To speak in Orwellian terms ‘whose boot will stamp on whose face?’ What karma might we be creating NOW and saddling future generations with ? Yet, even as I write this, I hear a little voice inside me saying ‘and this too will pass’.
Personally, I think the single most important lesson we can learn from Saturn/Pluto and Jupiter in Capricorn, involves the very greatest responsibility, namely that we as individuals, be mindful of what is happening in the collective and observe who (or what) pushes which button, triggers what fears or anxieties in our own psyche? We need to identify our own biases. In Saturn/Pluto season we must question, stay well informed, get out of our personal echo chamber, keep a watchful eye on ourselves, look at things from different perspectives. Jupiter in Capricorn can narrow our vision and make us judgmental or unquestioning, or he can offer us hard earned wisdom. At this point we can not be naive.
We can get wise up with Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto in fact, we can collectively, become more conscious. Surely this is what the cosmos demands of us?