Saturn and Uranus colliding makes me think of plate tectonics, of interaction between something as massed and dimensional as the plates that make up Earth’s crust, drifting, sinking, grinding past each other, sliding apart, producing deformation, causing volcanoes and earthquakes. Saturn, the lithosphere. Uranus, the mechanical strength, the kinematic push for change. If 2020’s astrology had the Saturn/Pluto conjunction as its fulcrum, 2021, with the Saturn/Uranus square as its planetary signature, is a year of continental drifts, changes in density, rattling cages, turning tables, freedom found through discipline and even limitation.
Dissident, radical Uranus entered Taurus in March 2019, forever changing our experience with embodiment, resources, pleasure and materiality. Saturn briefly visited its diurnal domicile of Aquarius last year, re-entering the sign in December, 2020, where the planet of duty and accountability will remain until 2023. In 2021, the primordial sky god and the mighty titan will square off with each other, for a total of three times; however, the shockwave of this collision will propagate at supersonic speed and linger for a long time, imparting momentum to every object and structure standing in its way.
When does Saturn square Uranus in 2021?
Here are the exact dates and degrees of 2021’s Saturn/Uranus square:
- February 17, 7 degrees 13 minutes, with both planets direct;
- June 14, 13 degrees 6 minutes, while Saturn is Retrograde and Uranus direct;
- December 24, 11° degrees 5 minutes, with Saturn direct and Uranus Retrograde.
How are Saturn and Uranus different?
In order to understand the implications of this square, the situations we might have to reckon with while Saturn and Uranus collide, and how to cultivate presence in the midst of this friction, it can help to start by identifying the themes associated with these two planetary archetypes.
As you probably know or have grasped from the introductory paragraph to this post, I work with traditional rulerships. Meaning, I don’t consider Uranus to be the ruler of Aquarius, and I don’t think of Aquarius as an Uranian sign. This means that I don’t think Uranus has the upper hand in this square because of its rulership over the sign of the Water Bearer — rather, Saturn is in a superior position to Uranus, aside from being especially efficient and self-sovereign in the sign it rules. But we’ll get to that later.
Saturn is the gatekeeper. The farthest planet that is actually visible from Earth, it has been known and revered since antiquity. Saturn marks the boundary between what the unaided human eye can see, and the unfathomable outer space. Cold, wintery and moist according to the doctrine of temperaments, Saturn is associated with contraction, deprivation and old age, but also, from a more modern standpoint, with structure, commitments, obligations and accountability.
Discovered in March, 1781, Uranus disrupted the traditional rulership scheme; appearing in the wake of the Industrial Revolution and anticipating the French Revolution by a handful of years, this planet, named after the Greek God of the Sky, came to be associated with disruption, nonconformity, insubordination and abrupt, unexpected change.
In short, Saturn and Uranus couldn’t be any more different than they are — one representing established orders and time-honoured authoritativeness, the other symbolizing rebellion and reformation, when not radical innovation. So, what happens when they clash against one another?
Let’s go back in time and take a look at what was happening in the world at the time of the previous Saturn / Uranus squares.
The Saturn / Uranus square in history
The square between Saturn and Uranus occurs approximately every 22-24 years; for the sake of brevity, I am only going to dwell on the last five decades. A comprehensive list of dates of the Saturn / Uranus square from 1800 to 2100 can be found here.
In the Seventies, Saturn in Leo squared Uranus in Scorpio in October 1975, July 1976 and February and April 1977. As a decade, the 70s have been increasingly portrayed by historians as a “pivot of change” in world history, largely because of the economic upheavals following the end of the postwar economic boom. The decade was also described as one of atomized individualism, and saw the rise of neoliberal economic theory; the tension between United States and the Soviet Union was also creating an increasingly polarized world.
While there doesn’t seem to be a specific connection between the exact dates of the Saturn/Uranus square in the mid-to-late Seventies, it’s worth noting that August 11, 1973 is thought of as the official birth date of hip-hop, which, by 1979, had developed into a well-known, mainstream style of music. The astrological signature of cultural revolution (Uranus) combined with staying power (Saturn) is certainly noticeable in the way Hip Hop grew and developed over the course of the decade.
What follows is a — definitely not comprehensive — list of historical facts that occurred around the dates when the Saturn/Uranus square was perfecting.
October 24, 1975: in Iceland, women went on strike (Uranus) to “demonstrate the indispensable work of women for Iceland’s economy and society” and to “protest wage discrepancy and unfair employment practices“. It was then publicized as Women’s Day Off (Icelandic: Kvennafrídagurinn).
October 30, 1975: in Spain, Juan Carlos I became acting head of state after dictator Francisco Franco fell into a coma. Spain thus began la Transición, a transition from dictatorship to a parliamentary government.
July 2, 1976: North and South Vietnam were formally unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam under communist rule.
July 10, 1976: In Northern Italy, a reactor explosion (Uranus) in a chemical plant in Seveso spread over 30 kg of dioxin and other dangerous chemicals a large area in the neighborhood of Milano; this is still regarded as one of the worst ecological catastrophes to ever occur in the whole country.
July 20, 1976: Viking 1 became the second spacecraft to soft-land on Mars, and the first to complete its mission. (Soviet Union’s Mars 3 was the first to soft-land, in 1971, but it stopped transmitting after a few seconds.)
April 9, 1977: Spain legalizes the Communist Party, which had been outlawed since 1939.
Although, technically, the Saturn/Uranus square was already separating at that time, May 1977 saw the first instalment of the wildly successful and influential Star Wars trilogy.
The same aspect was also effective from June 1999 through May 2000, with Saturn in Taurus squaring Uranus in Aquarius.
Napster was founded in June 1999, one month before the first exact hit of the Saturn/Uranus square, as a pioneering peer-to-peer software that allowed users to freely (Uranus) share digital audio files. Eventually, the service ran into legal difficulties over copyright infringement, and was eventually shut down by court order (Saturn).
November 6, 1999: In Australia, a referendum proposing the replacement of the Queen with a with a President appointed by Parliament to make Australia a republic (Uranus) was defeated (Saturn).
November 19, 1999: China launched the first Shenzhou spacecraft.
December 20, 1999: The sovereignty of Macau, the first European colony in Asia and the last Portuguese colony to revert to local rule, was transferred from the Portuguese Republic to the People’s Republic of China after 442 years of Portuguese settlement. Portugal became the last European nation to formally leave Asia at the end of the millennium.
March 12, 2000: Pope John Paul II apologized for the wrongdoings of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the ages.
Seeing how the previous two Saturn/Uranus squares coincided with cultural resets and the reversal of previously established orders as much as with meaningful change being somehow thwarted, denied or delayed, it’s not an easy task to identify a unifying theme in the historical events that accompanied this transit. At the very least, however, the juxtaposition between that which is time-honoured, substantial, solidified, and the push for innovation and liberation seems to be a constant.
Saturn square Uranus 2021: what to expect
When the monolithic weight of Saturn meets the electrical currents of Uranus, it’s either time to solidify our liberation protocol, allow for structural change, or finding freedom through restriction. Or all three, simultaneously. I find allowing to be a major keyword in this case; in traditional astrology, the square aspect bears the nature of Mars, which means that there can be an element of strife and hostile, stubborn resistance to this planetary convergence.
In his book Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas writes:
“… events that occurred during a longer Uranus-Pluto alignment set in motion powerful forces that later, after that alignment was over, suddenly reached a crisis or breaking point, a critical collapse of structures, precisely when Saturn moved into hard aspect with Uranus. Often this sequence took the form of emancipatory or dissident forces emerging on a wide scale during the earlier Uranus-Pluto alignment, then subsequently producing a violent schism in the body politic. For example, the sustained wave of intensified abolitionist activity and related political and social developments during the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1845–56—the activities of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and John Brown, the Underground Railway, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the founding of the Free Soil and Republican parties that brought the rise of Lincoln—all led to the Civil War, which began in precise coincidence with Saturn’s movement into exact square with Uranus in 1861, immediately after the election of Lincoln. Not only are the characteristic Saturn-Uranus themes of sudden crisis, political breakdown, structural destabilization, and national schism visible here; so also is the peculiar combination of rebellious (Uranus) and repressive (Saturn) impulses that coalesced in the slaveholding Confederate states, which specifically sought and proclaimed freedom (Uranus) from the Union to maintain their systemically oppressive (Saturn) mode of life.Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche
[…] Historical periods in which Saturn and Uranus moved into dynamic aspect were marked by certain distinctive themes that were readily intelligible in terms of the archetypal principles associated with these two planets: the exacerbation of tensions between authority and rebellion, structure and change. Often the two archetypal principles combined and interpenetrated in contradictory ways: repressive revolution, erratically unpredictable authority, and so forth, as evident during the Terror in revolutionary France and the Cultural Revolution in communist China just mentioned. Especially frequent with this cycle were crises and the sudden collapse of structures, crashes and accidents, grim awakenings, and sudden breakdowns, whether political, economic, or psychological.”
We tread on ground that is never still, literally and metaphorically. The landscape of our lives is changing at an unprecedented pace. Just like the release of the pressure that builds up as a consequence of the friction between stuck tectonic plates causes earthquakes, too, the contraction that coincided with the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, and the pressure that ensued, is likely to eventuate in acceleration, displacement, subversion. With the square between Saturn and Uranus bearing down on the pressure points of the architecture of our existence, urgency is likely to ensue.
It’s the way things have always been no longer sounds like a viable option, nor like an appealing prospect. Diamonds are formed under pressure; so are fractures and breaking points. Enough is enough, and even the routes to liberation that are designed with the same hierarchical, draconian logic of the systems we aspire to dismantle no longer cut it.
Still, with Saturn dominating Uranus, due to being in a superior position and in its own domicile, urgency doesn’t necessarily guarantee immediacy. The world might be fast and impatient, but long-lasting change requires Saturnine wisdom and foresight, and, quite possibly, the willingness to dwell in liminal spaces at the intersection between death and possibility.
If you want to know more about the upcoming Saturn / Uranus square and what it might signify for you, my books are open! Visit my store to explore my offerings and book your consultation.
Picture by Tolu Bamwo on Nappy.