Many western astrologers are now talking about the upcoming Saturn-Neptune square which is in less than a 2-degree orb now but will be exact for the first time on November 26, 2015. It is actually coming on strong now as Neptune is retrograding back toward Saturn who is barreling toward him.
As a Neo-Vedic astrologer, I use the outer planets according to certain specific rules; for instance, they are not considered to be primary rulers of the planets as they are in western astrology, and they only become important when closely aligned with angular cusps or the grahas of Vedic astrology. Another big difference in my work versus that of western tropical astrology is that the latter uses a different starting point for the zodiac, and I use the traditional zodiac used by Indians and ancient astrologers, which is known as the sidereal (niryana) zodiac, which is the one that is aligned with the stars. The tropical system was originally based on a seasonal calendar for the northern hemisphere and is aligned to the equinoxes and solstices rather than the constellations. For my work, the sidereal system works best, but I have many tropical astrology friends and colleagues whom I adore and whose work I also admire. So… to each his own!
The two zodiacs are about 24 degrees apart at this time (the sidereal is behind the tropical), so in western tropical terms, Saturn is in Sagittarius squaring Neptune in Pisces, whereas in the sidereal zodiac, Saturn is in Scorpio and Neptune in Aquarius. The square is happening between these two planets in both systems regardless of the zodiac in use, but the interpretation varies slightly as the signs are different, and it is the signs that show us how and where the energy of the planets is manifesting.
Neptune and Saturn square each other approximately every 14-16 years and they do this on and off for 2-3 years each time. The square in astrology is a 90-degree aspect representing internal tension, pressure, and often some conflict between hidden and externalized forces.
One of the best books written on astrological aspects is called Dynamics of Aspect Analysis by western astrologer Bil Tierney, who describes the square as: “a dynamic aspect providing us with much drive and impetus to initiate change. Its frictional nature is best relieved through decisive action demanding direct struggle, aggressive effort, and greater energy expenditure. Squares in general are crisis-oriented, forcing us to act in an explicit manner that allows for purposeful turning points in consciousness. Planets involved in square aspect interact from a somewhat defensive pose and do not easily synthesize. They seem to follow the line of least resistance. The planets tend to block and thwart each other’s basic intentions. But while the urges of the two planets resist smooth, peaceful integration they are also prone to challenge each other’s right of expression…Squares challenge us to act rather than continue to endure the pain and discomfort they generate.”
Neptune will square Saturn on and off through the next few years (due to retrograde cycles) with exact hits on:
- November 26, 2015
- June 17, 2016
- September 10, 2016
- June 18, 2017
The last time Saturn in sidereal Scorpio squared Neptune in Aquarius was in 1693, exactly on January 1. Around this time the Salem Witch Trials were winding down, which was due to a wake-up call of sorts, as the hysteria had begun to subside and public opinion was turned against the trials. This makes sense as Saturn represents truth and Neptune is delusion. In this case, Saturn tends to win over Neptune in Aquarius because Saturn is the traditional ruler of Aquarius (dispositor), so he tends to be the boss, and hopefully this means truth will prevail in the current transit, as well.
The largest earthquake in Italy’s history also happened in early January 1693 around the exact square. There was actually a fore-shock on January 9 a few days after the New Moon of January 6, followed by a 7.4 earthquake (followed by a tsunami) on January 11. The damage covered 2200 square miles, destroyed 70 small towns, and killed 60,000 people. This sort of event is not simply an indication of Saturn squaring Neptune. In events like this, there are many astrological and karmic factors at play, not just one, though this one is quite a significant factor.
In mundane astrology, the square represents the possibility of internal tension that might erupt, and Saturn and Neptune signify seismic and meteorological events. This is especially so when they come together in a tension aspect — Saturn represents earthquakes and natural calamities, and Neptune represents earthquakes, tsunamis and water disasters. Saturn also relates to war, death of leaders, and misery in general. Neptune signifies plots, assassinations, and conspiracies; political instability; mass delusion and mob psychology; and crime and subversion. When they are in a difficult aspect like this, they can bring out some of the most difficult kinds of worldly events.
The last time Saturn and Neptune squared each other was in November 2014 and then again several times in 2015 but it was never an exact aspect in those cases (but within 3 degrees). It is the exact aspect and about 10 days on either side that seems to be the most potent. Other times in the last century times we have seen Neptune square Saturn were from 1997-2000; 1978-1981; 1961-1964; 1943-1945; 1925-1927; and 1909-1911. Some of these periods were times when the world was in great turmoil and transformation. This is because Saturn rules structure, which Neptune likes to dissolve. Saturn and Neptune are by nature at great odds with each other:
- Saturn is the significator of realism and 3D reality, whereas Neptune represents idealism and the spiritual realms beyond 3D.
- Saturn represents the working class, whereas Neptune rules artists, spiritualists and visionaries.
- Saturn signifies depression and Neptune, inflation.
- Saturn works hard, is patient and persevering, but Neptune wants to just rest on his laurels and wait for his dreams to miraculously manifest out of the ethers.
- Saturn represents time, and Neptune escapes time.
- Saturn contracts, and Neptune expands.
- Saturn signifies rules and boundaries, but Neptune wants nothing but Oneness and no rules.
- Saturn represents democracy, and Neptune points to socialism.
- Saturn is solid and trustworthy, but Neptune can be deceptive and delusional.
- Saturn stands for the status quo, which Neptune likes to dissolve.
How and where this square might personally affect us will depend on where we have sidereal Scorpio and Aquarius in our natal charts. It also depends on if we have any significant placements in these signs, including natal planets and the four main angular chart cusps. One might say that in relation to each other, Neptune represents the unconscious and Saturn the conscious. Saturn in sidereal Scorpio is all about transformation, and Neptune in Aquarius represents awakening, so this square for some will be about transforming consciousness.
The tension of this square is happening not just out there in the heavens, but also within. The word “tension” usually has negative connotations, but as a Vedic astrology coach, I also like to think of it as “the play between opposing forces that leads to extension” or “applying a force to something to stretch it,” and thus, productive tension is a great thing that leads to growth and evolution! It’s often just how we choose to look at something that determines how it will affect us, right?
The strongest aspect will be around the 26th November, but also 10 days before and after, and may manifest as confusion, disappointment, unconscious fear, or insecurity; but with awareness, we can bring any of these or other unconscious struggles to light. However, it may not be the best time to get involved in conflicts or make important decisions. With this aspect, there may be an awareness developing related to a life dream that we want to turn into reality, but again it is not time to push it.
Bil Tierny quotes astrologer Sylvia Carrol about squares. She says that they “do not feel unpleasant unless the energy backs up on you. Tension here can feel exhilarating as long as it is flowing and not dammed up.” She recommends appeasing the aspect by “becoming involved with personal efforts that can sensibly accommodate such intense, driving force.” If we constructively navigate this, we open to the promise of great changes ahead. Why not? That’s what it’s all about anyway. When we are conscious and aware and able to mediate the tension of the Saturn-Neptune square, we can truly align with our highest spiritual power (Neptune) and manifest great purpose (Saturn) from that place of alignment.
Some famous persons whose charts have a very close Saturn-Neptune square include Ramakrishna; Marilyn Monroe; Rod Stewart; Miles Davis; Venus Williams; Joan Sutherland; Edwin Hubble; Queen Victoria; Jawaharlal Nehru; Allen Ginsberg; and H. P Lovecraft.