Happy New Year! The midnight chart for 2020 has Mercury, the lord of the year, with five planets (six including Pluto-Yama) in Sagittarius in the fourth house. This Jupiterian flavour is a contrast to the Saturn energy of later in the year - the Grand Conjunction comes in Capricorn in December - which all points to a time of extremes. There's even a mixed-katari yoga with powerful Mars and Venus surrounding the Sagittarius stellium. Neo-Vedic astrologers also note the Moon's partile (exact) conjunction with Neptune-Varuna in the sixth, showing the usual New Year's revelry, but also look into topping up your flu jab in 2020.
The first lunar eclipse of the year lands on January 10th, 19:02 hrs at 25° Gemini/ Punarvasu. It's only an appulse, where the Moon enters the fringe of the Earth's shadow, and really the most partial of obscurations. Still this time of year is for resolutions and this moment draws a line under the past and starts your 2020 program
Mercury, planet of communication, is retrograde three times in 2020: Feb 17th to March 10th, June 18th to July 12th, and October 14th to November 3rd. These times bring second opportunities and may see an old face coming back into your life. Still, it’s best to defer major decisions, especially around signing a deal or making a major purchase – if possible wait until these windows are over before committing.
Venus, planet of love and art, has an extra long stay in its home sign of Taurus in 2020, from March 28th – August 1st. This time also includes a six-week retrograde period from May 13th – June 25th. Venus spends less time retrograde than any other planet, so this is a good opportunity to see a different side of your partner or anybody else you thought held no surprises for you. You have to work harder at your relationships at this point and Venus retrograde may also see your creative work being revised or you finding artistic inspiration from a different source. You may also change your attitude towards a love affair and give someone a second chance.
Mars also spends an extra long time in Pisces in 2020, from June 19th to August 17th and again from October 5th to December 25th. The planet of energy and dynamism is also retrograde between August 16th and November 14th, clearly an uncomfortable move. The general advice is to take things slowly and appreciate that a quick result may not be possible – if you are keeping fit or on a diet, make sure not to rush it. You may have to take a personal project back to the start, but don’t abandon it altogether. One step back to take two steps forward.
Jupiter, planet of wisdom and expansion, is in its own sign until March 30th and from July 1st to November 21st. The Sagittarius house of your chart receives a boost and rewards investment and forward-thinking, which comes as a particular blessing after the weight of Saturn has been in this sign since 2017. Your resolve and faith have been tested, but whatever the specific issue, it has a chance to right itself as you reconnect with a sense of new promise and broader horizons. You still have to work and can’t afford to be cavalier, but Jupiter in its mooltrikona sign is an occasion to celebrate.
The Moon's nodes Rahu and Ketu remain in Gemini and Sagittarius until September 21st when they shift into Taurus- Scorpio. In both axes, Rahu and Ketu are strong by sign, bringing material strength and ambition combined with a capacity to be resilient when letting go from attachments. Their positions also show where eclipses fall in 2020: in particular the ‘eclipse season 2020’ when the solar eclipse on June 21st is surrounded by lunar eclipses on June 5th and July 5th.
The advance notices for 2020 are all about the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Capricorn, and rightly so. 'The Grand Conjunction' is a classic indicator of social, political and economic trends, showing expansion and contraction, bull and bear markets, stick or twist, and the underlying tone for the coming generation. Think of Jupiter-Saturn in Virgo 1981 for the Thatcher-Reagan years or the conjunction in Aries for Bush and Blair. Hmm. The great 'chronocrators’' 20-yearly conjunctions also fall in a given element over long periods of time and we are seeing now a gradual transition to sidereal Earth after a couple of centuries of Jupiter-Saturn in fire. The focus shifts from war, tumult and the white heat of technology to security, natural resources and the environment. Jupiter and Saturn will both be in the same sign from April through June 2020, and from November 21st to the end of the year, though the exact conjunction doesn’t land until December 16th to 18th. Saturn is strong and Jupiter weak in Capricorn, which favours the conservative and tried and trusted route and suggests you do better by grounding your plans and playing a long game. Yet Jupiter is also lifted by Saturn’s strength and can deliver, albeit in a cagier and more calculating way than usual. Don't give up on optimistic Jupiterian qualities - if a good prospect requires faith and confidence, stick with it despite your doubts; just don’t bet the mortgage on it. The effect of such a pivotal, long-range transit may only be felt after the fact.
The previous Jupiter-Saturn in Capricorn was three conjunctions ago in 1961, at the height of the Cold War, just as the Berlin Wall was built. The Wall of course subsequently came down halfway through the next cycle, at the exact Jupiter-Saturn opposition in Gemini and Sagittarius in November 1989. So there is a theme of boundaries and separation versus freedom and unity. What’s happened to Donald Trump’s Mexican Wall?
The other headline event for 2020 is Pluto’s entry into Capricorn on February 25th. Pluto takes 240 years to go round the whole zodiac, on average 20 years in a sign, though actually varying given its highly elliptical orbit. Pluto in Sagittarius since 2006 has given us suicide terrorism, ISIS, social media, a black US President, and child abuse scandals in Hollywood and the Church. Pluto rules near-the-knuckle stuff and in Capricorn will focus on power, administration and mineral wealth. This planet tears down the old and brings it back to life transformed, with no room for sentiment or inefficiency: the end justifies the means.
The previous Pluto in Capricorn was from February 1772 to January 1792, a momentous time for the world with the American, French and Industrial revolutions having huge and long-lasting repercussions. This period in Western astrology is usually given to Uranus's discovery in 1781, fair enough, but Pluto's intense, life-or-death struggle through cardinal earth was right there in the mix. From a UK standpoint, this Pluto in Capricorn period saw the loss of one arm of the British Empire in America with the simultaneous ascent of the Raj in India. Between 1773 and 1793 Parliament passed a series of Regulatory Acts to keep the East India Company out of private profiteering hands. Some chance.
Prior to that, Pluto was in Capricorn from March 1524 to November 1544 while Henry VIII was breaking from Rome and dissolving the monasteries in the 1530s and 40s. Let's see... a colourful English leader with an inbred sense of entitlement moves away from European influence and puts a sacred institution of state’s assets into private hands? Just saying.
Wrapping these two strands together, before 1961 there hadn’t been a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Capricorn since the year 1285. December 31st to be precise. The very next day, January 1st 1286 brought a storm surge out of the North Sea that engulfed the port of Dunwich in Suffolk – at that time the capital of the Kingdom of East Anglia. Not far from this town today, and also close to the seat of the old Anglo-Saxon kings, is a new-built Vedic community based on the principles of Stapathya Veda, offering meditation, yoga and Ayurveda, and pointing the way to the future.
The Grand Conjunction of 1285 is notable especially since Pluto was also in Capricorn at the time. This period gives some precedent for our current mini-era; Edward 1st (‘Hammer of the Scots’) was on the throne in England and as well as joining in the Ninth Crusade, he began a war of conquest over Wales. He colonized the country and imposed English law over Welsh subjects, building a series of castles Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech that still stand today. Edward’s later wars in Scotland came post-1297, during the William Wallace ‘Braveheart’ era, but the whole late Thirteenth Century has a clear theme of frustrated Celtic independence. It was during Edward’s reign also that the English flag, the Cross of St George, was first used as an identifier in battle.
An extraordinary planetary event happens in September 2020 when eight of the nine Vedic planets are strong or in their own sign: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. Even the odd one out, Venus, is in sign-exchange parivatana yoga with Moon on 7th and 9th September and associates with Moon from 12th to 14th. This historic alignment is like a reshuffle or a freshening up of the planetary atmosphere and is worth planning ahead for. It lands before America goes to the polls in November, and with as yet no outstanding candidate to challenge Donald Trump, liberals hope this planetary picture brings a White Knight to oust the vulgar populist. An alternate take is that whoever wins in 2020 carries this positive and evolutionary stellar energy forward with them.
* This fact has a personal resonance for me, since my very first memories, aged eighteen months, are of a family holiday around the cliffs of Dunwich.