Anyone who takes an interest in astrology will be aware that we are now experiencing the much heralded conjunction of Pluto, Saturn and Jupiter in the sign of Capricorn. Jupiter was the last to join the conjunction, entering Capricorn in December 2019. Since then, the three planets have been moving closer and closer together and this comes to a head on November 13th, 2020, when they will be lined up within 5 degrees of one another. (This means that they appear to be lined up one behind the other when viewed from the Earth.) The conjunction of these three planets, in the sign of Capricorn, is an extremely rare occurrence. The last time Saturn, Pluto and Jupiter were together in Capricorn was in 1285, at the time of the Crusades. Before that, the previous time they lined up was in 1894 BCE!

When I mentioned this to a friend, he told me that 1894 BCE might have been around the time of the birth of the civilisation of Babylon. Intrigued, I went to Wikipedia and looked up "Babylon" and went straight to a sentence which said: "Babylonia - A small Amorite-ruled state which emerged in 1894 BCE" Wow! Is it possible that in November 2020 western civilisation may be completing a great cycle of time that began nearly 4,000 years ago in Babylon?
Babylon does not get good press in the Bible, but it was here that some of the earliest known sets of laws were created - rules for regulating trade and settling disputes. In those ancient times, the idea of establishing rules to better manage human behaviour was a precursor for the development of the Judaic, Christian and Islamic civilisations that emerged from the Middle East.

I think that the wheel has NOW turned full circle and we are living in a time when a new kind of civilisation can emerge, better aligned with the humanitarian values of the Age of Aquarius. (Sometime around the Millennium we entered into the Age of Aquarius, which will last for the next 2,000 years. The archetype associated with Aquarius is that of Prometheus the Fire Bringer - the spirit of social evolution and revolution and the guardian of the human race.) Right now, in 2020, we have an exceptional line-up of planets pointing towards the potential for humanity to make a giant shift of consciousness - equal to that which was birthed back in 1894BC.

So what is the meaning of this transit and what is being asked of us? This is where astrology is so valuable. If you want to understand the challenge that confronts the human race, first of all, you need to understand the sign of Capricorn; and then you need to connect with the archetypes of Pluto, Saturn and Jupiter.

In Western astrology, Capricorn is the 10th sign of the zodiac and it belongs to the element of Earth. The focus of Capricorn is all about living here on planet Earth, with the emphasis on practical, human concerns and the challenges of making a good life, stable and secure. Capricorn is associated with worldly ambition and achievement; intention, responsibility, hard work and discipline that leads to the manifestation of tangible material results. In Brennan terms, I associate Capricorn with the wounds and the gifts of the Rigid characterology.

One of the main themes of Capricorn is the need for structure. In the body, Capricorn represents the skeleton, the underlying framework on which the body is built. Out in the world, Capricorn is associated with work like engineering, architecture, carpentry and construction. In the bigger picture, Capricorn has to do with the frameworks that underpin the functioning of society - the law, politics, banking, trade and all the infrastructure of civilisation.
In 2008, Pluto entered the sign of Capricorn in the year that rocked the world with the disastrous global financial crash. Since then we have seen a series of upheavals during Pluto's slow journey through Capricorn, exposing the decay eating into the foundations of 21st century civilisation.

Pluto is the Lord of the Dead. In astrology, Pluto is one of the most feared of all the planets for when Pluto is active in the horoscope it often heralds a time of death and destruction. Pluto is not only about death - this archetype is also associated with healing, transformation and re-birth. But there is nothing frivolous about Pluto, it represents the most fundamental challenges of living and dying - the primal root of things and the raw power of the life force. In ancient mythology, Pluto was the Lord of the Underworld - the gloomy place where the souls of the dead were sent. In psychological terms, the underworld represents the unconscious where we find the gut level, basic instincts of survival and procreation. As healers, we know the immense value of body-wisdom and a different kind of consciousness, which we can access through cellular awareness.

The unconscious is the place of the dream world and it is also home to aspects of the psyche that have been repressed. This includes taboo emotions such as murderous rage, cruelty, unbridled sexuality and greed. But along with the extremes of uncontrolled behaviour we also repress other aspects of our authentic nature - often including our gifts and talents. These are our 'disowned' energies - aspects of self that we learned to conceal because they seem to meet with disapproval. We refer to this as 'the shadow'. One of the key aspects of self that we repress is our vulnerability.

Vulnerability is met with disapproval in many cultures. A child, particularly a boy child, learns to feel ashamed of tears or any other behaviour deemed a weakness. And yet our softer feelings are closest to the sacred human heart and human beings are often at their most radiant and loveable when they express their vulnerability.
What, then, is the connection between Pluto and these lost aspects of soul?

In astrology, the archetype of Pluto is about power, the raw energy that drives the life of the body and the immense power we can access when our instincts go into action. In essence, Pluto presents that miraculous gift from Spirit - the primal upwelling of the life force. (For Brennan healers, Pluto symbolizes the Tan T'ien, an immensely powerful centre of energy located in the pelvic cradle.) The dimension of the Hara lies beneath the aura and the concerns of the personality where there is no judgement, no good or bad, just immense creative potential for living.

Pluto helps us with boundaries, and knowing how to stand in our own individual power is exactly the aspect of self that we need to support the expression of our vulnerability. Perhaps the greatest expression of what it is to be human is when we can feel our tenderness and vulnerability at the same time as being in touch with our personal power. But to be able to span the two extremes of vulnerability and power requires mastery - a lifetime of learning how to hold both. So what we often find, in human behaviour, is that the expression of Pluto becomes distorted into a mission to avoid feelings of weakness by seeking 'power over' other people, a quest for dominance. Whether it is expressed through outright bullying or through secret manipulations the negative expression of Pluto is about seeking to gain control in abusive and dysfunctional ways. When Pluto is 'active' in a horoscope it always raises issues around power struggles and that which has been hidden from consciousness in the world of the shadow.

Since 2008, Pluto has been travelling through Capricorn, digging down into the shadowy workings of society, exposing a range of abuses of power that appear to be built into the very foundations of our civilisation. Over the years we have become aware of the rise of the oligarchy, a world dominated by the influence of wealth and power. We have seen the secret exchanges of world leaders exposed by whistle-blowers so that many, including some of our most cherished democracies, look more and more like plutocracies. We have seen the flourishing of the arms trade alongside war-mongering, the rise of extreme terrorism and appalling acts of cruelty committed in the name of fanatical religious or political dogma. We have also seen the exposures of sexual abuse in the 'Me Too' movement and growing concerns about rape and the prevalence of abuse in marriage. We have learned of sex trafficking and modern slavery. We see sexual abuse happening everywhere including paedophilia in powerful institutions such as the Catholic church and alongside the revelations on the internet, we dimly see the shadowy world of the Dark Web. We have seen ongoing struggles with racial abuse and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. And we see the onslaught of corporate power hell-bent on exploiting our environment and trampling on vulnerable indigenous people, animals and nature in the name of profit.

So here we are in 2020, with the rotten underbelly of our civilisation exposed and an unprecedented line-up of planets in Capricorn. As an astrologer, I have been watching this conjunction building for a number of years; seeing the potential for profound, even cataclysmic social change and casting around for political movements that might initiate some kind of revolutionary shake-up.

Coronavirus - COVID-19. I did not see this coming! This year the planet Mars has also been moving through Capricorn, joining with the big three. I was only seeing Mars in his role as the God of War, overlooking the fact that Mars also rules infection, fever and plague.

The virus brings tragedy on a grand scale and nothing can diminish the grief of losing a beloved family member or friend. But alongside his role as the Lord of Death, Pluto is also associated with healing, transformation and re-birth. In a time of suffering and confusion, it is also possible to see the virus as an agent of change; the hope that in this great disturbance we may find a doorway to a different way of being, social and political renewal.

And there is more - from a spiritual view, the planets bring a message that goes beyond politics and speaks to the journey of the human soul, the evolution of consciousness.

The very highest expression of Capricorn goes beyond worldly ambition and material success. The planet that 'rules' Capricorn is Saturn, (for Brennan healers - I associate Saturn with the profound energy of the dimension of the Hara Capricorn is like a field emanating from the Hara Line.) Saturn and Capricorn bring unshakeable strength and commitment of intention to fulfil life's purpose.

Saturn is known as Rex Mundi, the Lord of the World. He is also the Bringer of Old Age and Capricorn comes into its own in the second half of life. The gift of Capricorn is wisdom born of experience - maturity and authority that emerge through the passage of time. As the years go by a person will inevitably encounter suffering and periods when life seems hard as well as joyful times when they are able to harvest the fruits of their hard work. The effect of passing through the sunshine and the storms of life is that an older person develops powers of endurance, patience, loyalty, responsibility and a way of understanding how things work, that a young person simply cannot know.

This is the gift of Capricorn, the benign wisdom of the Elder. Whatever storms life brings this person remains unshakeable, even in the face of death and disaster they stand strong and offer protection and leadership to those who are lost. Not everyone achieves this state simply by virtue of being old. But a true Elder has learned how to embody states of consciousness that transcend everyday thinking. Such a person has developed the ability to stand in Hara with an energy field like an oak tree of light - rooted deep into the Earth and reaching up to the stars.
So Capricorn teaches us to learn to be still and only to act when an authentic impulse arises; to be sure that our actions are in harmony with nature and in keeping with the needs of all including future generations. Capricorn is also the sign of the Cornucopia, the Horn of Plenty, bringing the abundance that comes to us when we know how to listen to Wisdom that has nothing to do with greed.

There are many people speaking of the virus as the hand of destiny bringing a halt to the frantic treadmill of 21st-century life. What else could have brought the entire world to a standstill in this way, demanding exactly that which Capricorn requires, patience, stillness, space and time for reflection?

And if the gift of Capricorn is the strength of an oak, what is the essence and the gift of Pluto? In the first place, we cannot ignore the awareness that Pluto often comes to us as the Angel of Death.

The saddest moment of my life was being with my father as he stood at the end of my mother's death bed singing her a little song of farewell. Unbearable. And yet, in that very moment, as the tears poured down my face, I felt my mother's spirit expanding out of her body like a supernova, filling the house, a golden cloud of joy, bursting with love for us, the ones she now left behind. And all of us, my siblings and my father entered into something of an altered state, wandering through the house, crying, speaking, silent, singing, touching, separate, together. Not every death is like that, my father's was not. Sometimes there is just silence. But every encounter with death is transformative and even in our grief, it brings us into the presence of Love.

Like Capricorn, Pluto slows down time, almost to a halt. If we can tolerate it, and sometimes even if we can't, each moment expands so that we descend into the dark, sinking down to levels of consciousness we never normally reach. Pluto rules birth, as well as death, and woman who have been through childbirth speak of how time slows right down until we can breathe through the pain to access those necessary instincts that will bring about the birth. The essence of Pluto requires us to go beyond the safety and comfort of our familiar daily existence and for most of us, this makes us afraid. But heroic Peter Pan says, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” When we have no choice, when the beloved is dying or when this baby must be born then we enter into a place which is also wonderful, the place of mystery, the infinite beauty of the void - the place from which we all come and to which we will return.

Whenever a person experiences this state of being, alchemy occurs and they returned changed, transformed. Perhaps some youthful hope has died, something we longed for has been lost but something new is born. Through these difficult journeys, old shadows are released and new awareness emerges into the light, liberated from the memories and beliefs that have been blocking us. Pluto opens a pathway to a profound depth of connection with the source of our creative personal power, which is why I associate Pluto with the Tan T'ien.

In mythology, the hero Perseus took the sword of Pallas Athena and cut off the head of Medusa, the Gorgon who had snakes for hair and a gaze that turned a person to stone. Perseus seized the head and fled from the scene but as he glanced back into the cave of the Gorgons he witnessed a moment of transformation. Out from of the cadaver of Medusa came Pegasus the winged horse, who struggled free and flew up into the sky. Pegasus, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, represents the liberated creativity of the life force that is also the gift of Pluto.

So much of life is beyond our control; we cannot avoid suffering, we cannot avoid death, we cannot halt the advance of the Coronavirus. But perhaps the greatest gift of Pluto, Lord of Death and Capricorn, the Lord of the World, is that they teach us how to live, no matter what is occurring.

Now that the virus has struck, can we learn from experience and use this time to transform our societies and change the way we run our world? Can we create a society grounded in the wisdom of Capricorn - reverence for the Earth, respect for the laws of Nature, accountability to future generations and support for the well-being of all?

And can we come to know Pluto - learn how to access that raw instinctual energy at the root of our being - our legitimate personal power. Even in the face of death can we know the power of transformation, the rising of the Phoenix, the creative energy that is our gift from Spirit - the life force that is ours, and ours alone?

Inside every one of us, there is a great star - our Core Star, a huge radiant source of life and love. The Core Star brings our unique essence through into the manifest world. In living, we can become conscious of that which stands between us and our great light, of that which we hold in shadow. One day, this life or another, each of us will master the Earth wisdom of Capricorn, each one of us will embody the tremendous depth and power of Pluto and we will know how to live from that place. The archetypes of the planets are Divine, living beings and they also live in each of us. The only thing we are asked to do is to turn to the planets and say "Yes". And even if you think you are not able to do that they will still find you and show you how.

I feel the need to include this addendum because in this article I have not spoken about the transits of Saturn and Jupiter who play an equally important role in what is unfolding this year. My next article will focus on Saturn and Jupiter but I feel the need to add something here.

Jupiter is the principle of expansion and it seems that it was when Jupiter entered Capricorn in December 2019 that the coronavirus first emerged and started to spread across the globe. (Another little cosmic joke - in January a large asteroid named Asteroid Wuhan also entered Capricorn and will remain alongside the big three all year!)

In the last few weeks, on March 22nd, Saturn has actually left Capricorn and entered the first degrees of the sign of Aquarius. However, between April 24th and May 14th, all three planets, first Pluto then Saturn then Jupiter, will slow right down and turn retrograde, (appear to travel backwards). This means they will be retrograde all through the summer - from May until late September - and a retrograde period like this will sometimes give the feeling that everything is completely stuck. The best way to get through a period of powerful retrogrades is to use it as a time for deep reflection and coming to terms with what is occurring, without pushing for everything to immediately return to the way it was.

Then in mid-September, we will feel the change coming as the planets start turning direct and move into their closest conjunction in November, just in time for the American presidential election! Immediately after that - the faster planets, Jupiter and Saturn will move swiftly on coming to the end of their journey through Capricorn, (Pluto has not finished, it will not leave Capricorn until 2024). On the day of the Winter Solstice, Jupiter and Saturn become exactly conjunct at 0° of Aquarius. Aquarius is a very different energy - humanitarian, idealistic, revolutionary and far-seeing. The Jupiter Saturn conjunction in Aquarius has the potential to initiate the creative visioning of a completely different future for the human race.

© Rebekah Hirsch 12th April 2020