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In order to better understand the current global tensions, we can look at the current opposition of Saturn and Pluto (see A New Global Perspective) and follow its cycle back through history. We can follow the rhythms of a pair of planets (like Saturn and Pluto) by tracking the history of its phases from NEW (at conjunction) to FULL (at opposition) and back again.

The 33-year Cycle

Saturn and Pluto line up every 33 years as Saturn passes between Pluto and the Earth. This, like a New Moon, is a conjunction. Then, halfway through the 33-year cycle, Saturn and Pluto, in their “full” phase, are on opposite sides of the Earth…as they are now.

To uncover the meaning of this cycle, we can calculate the times of the new and full phase for Saturn-Pluto and see if there is any correlation of events with this cycle. Because the Saturn-Pluto conjunction is a repetitive 33-year cycle, the opposition at the halfway point should occur 16.5 years later. Planetary mechanics, however, are complicated by the fact that we don’t measure these cycles from a stationary point in space. We measure them from here on Earth as we fly around the Sun in our own orbit. This can vary the cycle by nearly a year. Also, because we are looking at the long cycles of outer planets, the moving Earth can create the illusion of the conjunction or opposition repeating three times over several months as the Earth moves around the Sun.

The table below lists recent new and full Saturn phases with respect to Pluto (conjunctions and oppositions).

Table of Recent Saturn-Pluto Alignments
Full (opposition)  Sep 30 1834
New (conjunction) Jun 6, 1851 - Feb 9, 1852
Full (opposition) Nov 1 1866
New (conjunction) May 22 1883
Full (opposition) Dec 6 1898
New (conjunction) Oct 4, 1914 - May 19, 1915
Full (opposition) Feb 17, 1931 - Dec 13, 1931
New (conjunction) Aug 10 1947
Full (opposition) Apr 23, 1965 - Feb 19, 1966
New (conjunction) Nov 7 1982
Full (opposition) Aug 5, 2001 – May 25 2002

The 19th Century

Let's follow a couple of threads in this list of dates. Within a year of the 1834 Saturn-Pluto opposition, Great Britain abolished slavery throughout its colonies. In 1850, just prior to the following conjunction, Henry Clay opened the “Great Debate” on the slavery issue in the United States, warning the South against secession. Then, less than a year prior to the next opposition, in 1866, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to U.S. General Grant at Appomattox, thus ending the war against slavery. In the very same year, the United States Congress passed 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

At the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in 1851-1852, other changes were brewing around the world, setting the stage for the Great World War that began at the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in 1914. In 1852, France challenged the claim of Russian guardianship of the Holy Land when it secured privileges from Sultan Abd al-Majid for the Latin churches. The tensions led to the Crimean War in 1853 between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, England and France. The immediate issue that led to the outbreak of the Crimean War was a dispute between Russia and France over Palestinian holy places. Sound familiar?

At the opposition in 1866, The Austro-Prussian War broke out between Prussia, allied with Italy, against Austria and several German states.

At the next conjunction in November 1882, Great Britain invaded and occupied Egypt to protect its interest in the Suez Canal. Again we see territorialism around the Arab lands. Also during this conjunction, Germany, Austria and Italy formed the Triple Alliance. Remember at the previous opposition, Germany was at war with Austria. This confirmed the political alliances for World War I. Additionally, European nations met in Berlin (The Berlin West Africa Conference) to divide Africa amongst themselves in a blatantly imperialistic atmosphere.

Zionism and The Great World War

Next came the opposition of 1898. In the Treaty of Paris, the colonial power of Spain was diminished as it relinquished Cuba. It is interesting to note that Spain lost its hold in the Americas when Simón Bolívar liberated New Granada (now Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador) at a previous Saturn-Pluto conjunction in 1819. With respect to empire expansion, 1898 was also the year that the U.S. took the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam from the Spanish, and England took Hong Kong from the Chinese, signing a 99-year lease. This also marked the beginning of the Boxer Uprising, an anti-foreign movement in China.

Another significant historical thread surfaced at the opposition just prior to the turn of the century. In 1897, the First Zionist Congress was held in Switzerland and the World Zionist Organization was established with the goal of creating a Jewish homeland around Jerusalem. Zionism has had ongoing significance at Saturn-Pluto conjunctions and oppositions leading up to the present day.

The first Saturn-Pluto conjunction of the 20th century was exact on October 4, 1914. Only months before, the assassination of Duke Ferdinand precipitated the outbreak of the Great World War with millions killed. Complicating the developing thread of Zionism and control of the Holy Land, the British promised Arab lands their independence from the Ottoman Empire in return for the Arabs’ support against the Turks and the Germans. The significance of these alliances became apparent at the following opposition.

The 1931 Opposition

In 1931, at the next Saturn-Pluto opposition, Jewish Zionists were angered by England’s loyalty to Palestine, which was created along with Iraq, Iran and Turkey as a fulfillment of England’s promise to the Arabs for their support in World War I. This was also the year of Hitler’s rise to power as the Nazi Party emerged in German national elections. In 1933, Hitler assumed the role of Chancellor of Germany.

In 1931, on the Indian subcontinent, Mahatma Gandhi led a march to sea to make the symbolic gesture of manufacturing salt, which had been outlawed by the British as part of their exercise of political control. Stalin had gained control of the Soviet Union and the Japanese expansion began with their invasion of Manchuria.

Although this article is not considering Saturn-Pluto squares, they are also active in the cycle. Saturn and Pluto were in a square aspect on March 25, 1940. Only 6 months prior to the square, England and France declared war on Germany. Then, in the spring of 1940, Germany took France and soon thereafter started bombing England.

The 1947 Conjunction

The Saturn-Pluto conjunction of August 10, 1947 corresponded with significant events on the world scene. On August 15, within 5 days of the exact conjunction, India and Pakistan were divided and granted independence by Britain. Over 400,000 people were slaughtered during the ensuring mass migrations of Hindus and Moslems into the newly created religious states.

In 1946, the first session of the United Nations was held. Then, in 1947, on the Middle-Eastern front, martial law was declared in Jewish areas of Palestine because of their attacks on the British, who were still helping the Palestinians maintain their homeland. The British withdrew from Palestine. The United Nations adapted a plan to split Palestine into an Arab and Jewish state. Israel was established the following year and Palestine disappeared from the map.

It was also in these post-World War II years that the boundaries of the Cold War became immovable as the Communists and Capitalists squared off. The Iron Curtain was drawn. Mao Tse Tung was reshaping the Chinese political landscape with Communism. And, on August 29, 1947, the United States announced it had achieved plutonium fission suitable for nuclear power.

Recent Events

At the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 1965, we had the explosion of American troops in Vietnam as the Cold War heated up. Vietnam was an East-West clash, here ostensibly between the “Free World” and “Communism.” Back in the United States, an anti-war movement was building and Martin Luther King was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. Continuing with the Mid-East theme, that region was a tinderbox and led to war by 1967.

The Saturn-Pluto conjunction of 1982 didn’t produce events as powerful as the previous 20th century conjunctions of 1914 and 1947, but there were significant developments all over the globe. Israel was again at war, this time invading Lebanon. The Soviet-Afghan War was in full swing. England declared war on Argentina over an old colonial dispute involving the Falkland Islands. And the following year, the U.S. invaded Granada and the Soviets shot down a Korean airliner in a border dispute. There was quite a bit of global tension around territorial issues.

One other oddity of the 1982 conjunction demonstrates how the planetary cycles are symbolically manifested. At the previous conjunction in 1947, Gandhi’s political and social movement resulted in India’s freedom. At this conjunction in 1982, the movie “Gandhi” was released and his story and the story of India's freedom became refreshed in our awareness.

The Current Saturn-Pluto Opposition

This brings us up to date. The current Saturn-Pluto opposition was exact back on August 5, 2001 and, because of retrograde motion, will repeat the alignment again on November 1, 2001 and May 25, 2002. Will the next months bring events of even greater magnitude than the 9/11 attacks and the current war being waged upon the Taliban? Will the current acts of anthrax terrorism subside or are we on the front edge of a larger geopolitical storm? Obviously, time will tell, but astrology certainly helps us see these events in a larger perspective.

Saturn represents the status quo and the structure and stability of national states. Symbolically, Saturn is being opposed by Pluto, which represents inevitable change…change even to those things which apparently do not change. We are experiencing a repetitive cycle of history. Those things that do not change are meeting in a head on collision, an evolutionary tide which changes everything in its path.

In the next article of this series, we will explore at some key dates for the Roman Empire and look at a millennium of European and Arabian expansion and contraction.



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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Other StarIQ articles by Rick Levine:

  • Rick Levine's Blog   8/17/2013
  • Mercury Retrograde: A Modern Look   6/29/2013
  • 2012: Beyond the Mayan Prophecy   11/16/2012
  • 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
  • The New Global Perspective   10/20/2001
  • Ben Affleck Turns 29   8/20/2001
  • Attack on Kepler College: A Modern Inquisition   5/18/2001
  • A Christmas Poem   12/24/2000
  • The Mercury Retrograde Story   11/8/1999
  • ProSig October 1999   10/20/1999
  • Solar Eclipse August 1999   9/1/1999

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