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"It's coming from so far away, it's hard to say for sure,
Whether what I hear is music or the wind through an open door.
There's a fire high in the open sky, where the sea meets the shore,
And a long distance loneliness is rolling out over the desert floor…"
—Jackson Browne, The Fuse

Harbingers of Change

On September 11, 2001, an event of great historic magnitude occurred as the United States was attacked with its own technology by a network of terrorists. The attack struck at icons of the Western world, successfully hitting symbols of both capitalism and militarism in one day, along with thousands of innocent civilians. News flew over the airwaves and within the day billions of people all around the world knew that something really big had happened. The United States of America was not safe. The home of the free, land of the brave, protectors of individual liberty, and bastion of capitalism was under attack. War was immediately declared and the military began to mobilize. But where do the soldiers get sent? And who do they fight? This is, certainly, a "new kind of war."

Events of great magnitude change the course of history, but the consequences can take time to unfold. In the last century, broadcast media has speeded up the cascading course of history by creating global immediacy around events of great magnitude. For example, in the year 411 A.D., the Visigoths burned and pillaged Rome. The event went by unnoticed in most of the world, yet today it is considered the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire. In 532 A.D., Emperor Justinian attempted to re-conquer the Roman Empire. He was responsible for massacring 30,000 spectators in a stadium in Constantinople to put down a tax revolt. 30,000 dead in one afternoon! But without radio or TV to carry the news around the world, this terror was only known within a small geographical area. Today it is different. News runs around the planet at the very speed of light as if the news itself was alive.

Cycles of History

We are taught that history repeats itself, yet the primary tool used to teach history in school is the time line. Is there value in learning about historical cycles? What can they tell us? Can understanding larger patterns of history actually help us avoid falling into the same traps again and again? Until now, this line of inquiry was irrelevant, for we lacked the global feedback mechanisms to allow mass self-consciousness to develop. Now, with the Internet added to the mix of electronic media, even national boundaries and multinational corporate interests cannot keep individuals all over the planet from freely communicating with each other. This really is War and Peace in the Global Village.

If history is really cyclical, then shouldn't we plot historical events on time circles rather than lines? This idea is not as crazy as it might sound. In fact, that's exactly what astrologers do! Serious astrologers study cycles by observing the relationship between events on Earth and the repetitive revolutions of the planets around the Sun. In fact, throughout the ages astrologers have been called upon by those who shape history to give their cosmic perspective in times of crisis. Emperors, kings and presidents have called upon their astrologers to look at the current events in light of the larger planetary cycles so they might know when best to initiate action, war or when to retreat.

Pluto and Historical Cycles

From the viewpoint of astrologers, the rhythms of the outer planets are cultural and generational, for their cycles can extend over many generations. Pluto, the slowest moving of the planets, completes only four cycles around the sun each millennium. Astrologers look to Pluto to understand the deepest and most evolutionary changes, including the rise and fall of empires and civilizations. The nearly 250-year cycle of Pluto can be measured against the movement of other planets. In this way, we can observe the cyclic nature of events that tie together into fabrics of larger meaning.

Enter Father Time

Planets are like hands on the clock of our solar system. Pluto may be the slowest hand on the clock, but Saturn, is the slowest hand that we can see with our naked eyes. It is a nearly 30-year cycle that is often symbolic of the generational aspect of life. Individually, Saturn is connected to responsibility, maturity and authority.

Prior to modern technology, Saturn was the end of the line. To the ancient Greeks, Saturn was Kronos, the great keeper of time. Kronos had a symbolic connection with all that is real. The word "chronic" comes from Kronos, and something that is chronic is not only real, but it has settled in over a long period of time. Even to the pre-telescopic Romans, Saturn was considered "the law." But then, two millennia ago, the Christians changed Saturn to the Grim Reaper…and what we got at the end usually wasn't good. Saturn was what you got at the end of life: a judgment resulting in Heaven or Hell. Beyond Saturn, there was nothing but the fixed sphere of the stars. Now, however, with the discovery of Pluto, in some strange way Saturn has found a friend. Together they are symbolic of events that represent irrevocable change.

The Saturn-Pluto Beat

Saturn and Pluto, in their respective orbits, perform a cosmic dance of apparent alignment. Over a period of about 33 years, they slowly come together in the sky. For a brief cosmic moment, they touch the same zodiacal degree. Every 33 years there is a Saturn-Pluto conjunction. Three times a century. Like a waltz. One, two, three. One two, three. Counting the centuries like quarter notes. In the 20th Century, Saturn and Pluto conjoined in 1914, 1947 and 1982.

Halfway through this Saturn-Pluto conjunction cycle, the Earth comes between the two planets, now stretched out 180 degrees on opposite sides of our solar system. The tension of Saturn pulling one way and Pluto pulling the other may not be measurable with our scientific instruments, but history records the stress as events shape our lives. Like the conjunction, the Saturn-Pluto opposition occurs approximately every 33 years, three times a century, on the off beat from the conjunctions. The most recent Saturn-Pluto oppositions were in 1898, 1931 and 1965. And now, from August 2001 through May 2002.


Author's Note: The next article in this series examines the Saturn-Pluto events of 1898, 1914, 1931, 1947, 1965, 1982 and how they have shaped the current global situation. More-->



Rick Levine is Co-founder of He has been involved in the technology sector for 30 years. As a Founding Trustee of Kepler College, he is interested in the education of astrologers. As a frequent lecturer at astrology conferences, he teaches about the important relationships between science, astrology and our spiritual traditions. He writes the Daily Horoscope Column for, which is published on,,,, and more. He co-authors (with Jeff Jawer)

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For more information about Rick Levine, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Rick Levine:

  • Opa Retreat - Marco Island, Florida -- April 22-25, 2004   2/7/2004
  • Winter Solstice Poem   12/19/2003
  • The Gift of the Magi   12/24/2001
  • Astrological Christmas Carols   12/20/2001
  • Solstice 2001   12/17/2001
  • Recent Saturn-Pluto Cycles   11/10/2001
  • Ben Affleck Turns 29   8/20/2001
  • Attack on Kepler College: A Modern Inquisition   5/18/2001
  • A Christmas Poem   12/24/2000
  • Mercury Retrograde: A Modern Look   11/9/1999
  • The Mercury Retrograde Story   11/8/1999
  • ProSig October 1999   10/20/1999
  • Solar Eclipse August 1999   9/1/1999

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