On 21st December, 2020, at 16h.48m.37s., Jupiter will “conjoin” Saturn at 00 degrees 28 minutes of Aquarius. Jupiter will pass in front of Saturn, as they travel in their individual orbits around the Sun to give an impression that they are one planet from our perspective on Earth. Their orbits are separated by many millions of miles, and they travel at different speeds (Jupiter travelling around the Sun once every 12 years or so, and Saturn every 28-30 years), but approximately once every 20 years we see them from Earth passing one in front of the other as Jupiter catches up with Saturn and passes it. This year is particularly interesting since, for the first time since the conjunction of March 4th, 1226, the distance between them as they pass by one another is much less, and it is this “closeness” which will give us a spectacularly bright effect.
Jupiter is the largest of the two planets, and 12 times brighter than Saturn. It is nearer to Earth, so we will see it with Saturn behind. There will still be millions of miles between them, so they will notcollide, but the result of this rare double planet alignment, called a “Great Conjunction”, will be avery large, very bright star in the sky. This star will be visible, if the weather is reasonably clear, justafter sunset, looking to the South West, along the horizon, from 16th to 25th December. Becausetheir orbits have not coincided so closely for 800 years, astronomers and astrologers alike are hailingthis as a significant event. The next such conjunction will be March 15th, 2080, and then not againuntil 2400 will we see such a bright star.
It was realised in the 17th century that the earliest of these conjunctions occurred in the year 7BCE. In that year, Jupiter and Saturn passed each other three times, due to a phenomenon called “retrograde motion” (caused by the turning of the Earth on its axis as it travels through space, and our observation of the planets “apparently” moving backwards) on May 29th that year, again on October 1st (retrograde) and finally on December 5th, just before the new year of 6BCE, the year of Herod’s death. Soon after their three exact conjunctions, in 6BCE, and while the two planets were still in technical conjunction (that is, still fairly near to each other, but diverging), Mars was seen to join them. This created a “nova” or “new star”, and it is thought that it was this which drew the three Kings towards Bethlehem. This “Triple Conjunction”, (or “stellium” as we now call it), identified by Johannes Kepler in approximately 1603, came to be known as the “Star of Bethlehem”. When looking at history, and empirical knowledge, there are always anomalies, but it has come to be accepted that it was this Star, seen in the East, which caused such a stir that the Magi set off to see what it was all about. If we are to believe history, it was all about the birth of Christ. It is widely reported that the nativity took place in 5BCE, and since religious scholars agree that the date must have been sometime before 4BCE – the year that Herod died – this seems likely.
The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7BCE happened under the sign of Pisces, and Christ’s birth heralded in what is called the “Age of Pisces”. Astrologers interpret the energy of Pisces as being compassionate, creative, healing and religious/spiritual in nature, and, indeed, Jesus of Nazareth was known as a healer.
Conjunctions of two planets or of a planet with a particular point in an astrology chart are interpreted as being the beginning of a new cycle, and so any major conjunction is considered as heralding or bringing in something new, the sowing of seeds for new growth with new conditions for the new cycle.
And thus it was in the era of the Star of Bethlehem, when a compassionate healer was born.
What is particularly significant about the conjunction of 21st December 2020 is that it occurs under the sign of Aquarius. It is announcing a shift in energy, a change of elemental governance into the element of Air. Over the past thousands of years the passage of these two giants of the sky – who before the invention of the telescope and our exploration of planets beyond the boundary of Saturn, until then the furthest most planet to be visible with the naked eye – had meandered gently through the elements of Water (Pisces), then Fire (Sagittarius), then Earth (Taurus), and are now dancing backwards and forwards into the element of Air, which brings with it a totally different energy. The shift of the planetary conjunction from one element to another was identified as a Great Mutation. It is such a phenomena that we are experiencing this December. The planets will only pass each other once (no apparent retrograde movements creating more than one passing) but their conjunction will be happening not in Earth, (materialism, finance, administration), as per the past several conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn, but in the element of Air, and to be exact, in the sign of Aquarius.
All the air signs in astrology – Gemini, Libra, Aquarius – are to do with mental processing, thriving on information, facts, learning, communication, and specifically in the sign of Aquarius, technology. Aquarius is also a humanitarian sign – having the good of the collective always in mind. Can we hope then, that the December conjunction will pave the way for more global togetherness, global friendships rather than competition, a pulling together for the benefit of mankind as a whole? Are we entering an epoch of greater learning, increased technological understanding (development and increased use) of robotics perhaps?)? Jupiter used always to be written at the top of any (herbal) prescription in the 17th Century in order to invoke the benefic God to assist in healing the patient. Will we be seeing major medical advances? We already seeing results of the energy which is building up around us in the form of the development of new, quicker, vaccination processes. Jupiter also governs law, and Saturn governs structure, the manifestation of ideas. Will we be witness to changes in our legal structure, changes in how medicines are administered and controlled? Will we develop an architectural style that will reflect this new era? Whatever it is, we are at the dawn of a new era in mankind’s development based on advances in many areas of life. Historically, mutations have brought significant socio-political change, often created by changes in the reigns of Monarchs. Will Charles finally become King, or will it be William who steps up?
The astrological chart of the moment gives a picture of responsibility and protection (Cancer Ascendant, Sun in Capricorn), of compassion and caring (Moon in Pisces, Midheaven in Pisces supporting the Cancer Ascendant), creativity (Moon in Pisces, Midheaven in Pisces, Neptuneexhalted in Pisces and unaspected), dynamism (Mars in Aries square Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus trine Sun), and promises a new order (Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, Uranus in Taurus trine Sun in Capricorn, and Moon sextile to the Jupiter Saturn conjunction.
What we can expect is that our society will transform. When going through any period of major change, there is a transitional period which is not always comfortable or easy or quick. So, we who are living through this era – an era that may perhaps become known as the beginning of the true “Age of Aquarius”, can only act as the observers and recorders of our time. What is interesting, is that it is all happening, once more, around Christmas time.
Recommended reading: The Star of the Magi, by Courtney Roberts, ISBN-13 978-1-564 14-962-6
Article: Astrological Journal Nov/Dec 2020: Generational shifts and the Jupiter-Saturn Mutation, by J. Lee Lehman, Ph.D.