Soft Touch

A major astrological aspect is forming in the skies this summer - but it’s what we call a soft aspect, meaning that it doesn’t push into our consciousness with quite the brute force of a hard aspect. Saturn’s trine to Neptune is a pretty big deal - a cosmic release of tension - although you’ll have to look a closely to see it in action.

This past weekend, the Cancer moon stitched together the Saturn-Neptune trine (Saturn is in Scorpio and Neptune in his home sign of Pisces - both Water signs) even as it elbowed the Uranus-Pluto square. The combination of water with the more explosive Uranus-Pluto aspect synchs perfectly with the flooding in Europe (including the breaking of a dam).

As of today, Saturn-Neptune news includes the story of Ed Snowden, who leaked (Neptune) information about the U.S. government’s surveillance program on its citizens. The trial of Wikileaks source Bradley Manning is also underway. Neptune can signify martyrs, and those who risk exposing the government's truth may well have to pay a very high price for their service. Turkey’s prime minister, upset by recent uprisings, is being Saturnian (or Saturnine) about alcohol (Neptune) in the country, blaming recent problems on its increasing use.

Saturn-Neptune is about changes to the structures of society. Saturn represents the status quo, entrenched interests, and a conservative, slow-moving approach. Neptune represents other worlds and alternative realities, the blurring or dissolving of boundaries. When Saturn and Neptune get together, existing power structures are changed, modified, or dissolved, usually in favor of less rigid boundaries (although Neptune can also be an ideologue and help to replace existing dogma with new).

In 1989, Saturn and Neptune joined together in Capricorn, the sign of government and institutions. That year saw significant transformations in Eastern Europe, including the reunification of Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall. It also signaled the end of Soviet Union, and it was the time of the decidedly less successful protests in China’s Tiananmen Square. The conjunction was the beginning of the cycle that is two-thirds completed with this summer’s trine.

What starts at the beginning of a cycle is modified throughout that cycle and into succeeding ones. With this summer’s aspect, we are inclined to review the changes that have been made in the past 25 years. The idealistic hope that the closing of the Cold War era brought has been replaced by a whole new set of concerns, equally menacing but also vague by comparison to the threat of global nuclear war.

Astrologers and the astrologically inclined should pay close attention to the Saturn-Neptune trine, which began last October and will be exact on June 11 and July 19. A Neptune station on June 7 and the Saturn station on July 8 are also key dates in this compacted Saturn-Neptune period. Significantly, the Uranus-Pluto square on May 20 occurred only one minute of arc away from the Saturn-Neptune conjunction in June of 1989. We are being reminded of past changes as we make our way to the future.

There will be more - much more - Saturn-Neptune news in the coming month. In general, we would expect a trine to be about the easy transition from one condition to another, and generally about the easing of rigidity in the structures of government and business. But in the era of Uranus-Pluto, change doesn’t come easily. Saturn’s sextile to Pluto strengthens the status quo, at least temporarily. Although the Saturn-Neptune trine represents a release, there is still more tension building.