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Saturn Opposes Pluto 8/2001-5/2002:
Evolving Structures Of Thought, Language, and Communication
By Karen Steen, Astrologer

published August 9, 2001, before the terrorist attacks on America

     On 8/5/2001, Saturn moved into position opposite Pluto in our sky, at 12 degrees Gemini/Sagittarius respectively (tropical).  Saturn retrogrades to oppose Pluto again this fall, then resumes forward motion and completes its final opposition on 5/26/2002 at 17 degrees Gemini/Sagittarius.  Owing to their distance from our Sun and slower orbital speeds, the process of the Saturn/Pluto opposition extends for several months before and after their exact contacts.  Considering this 'orb of influence', the opposition effectively began earlier this year and continues into early 2003. Not until 2035 will these two formidable planets again oppose each other.

     Historically, Saturn/Pluto oppositions have coincided with forceful social, political, and cultural confrontations.  This opposition of Saturn, a social planet, and Pluto, a collective planet, is being evidenced in current sociopolitical events. Especially for those of us with Gemini/Sagittarius or Virgo/Pisces prominent in our birth charts, this opposition is also an opportunity for empowering personal growth in how we perceive and interact with our world.

     Synthesizing keywords for Saturn and Pluto within their current signs of Gemini/Sagittarius,a phrase that describes this current opposition is:

                             Reform structures of cognition, language, and communication
                             to align with an expanding collective experience.

This expanding collective experience corresponds to Pluto's travel through Sagittarius from 1995 – 2008, where it restructures perspective to include a greater reality.  This process applies to all levels of culture, from individual visions of self-actualization to social progress towards a global community; and, it characterizes all planetary transits with Pluto during these years (e.g. Spring 2001 Astro Info)

     This coming year will be intense as we collectively confront central issues of limited capital resources, relatively unlimited scientific and technical potentials, and the reality of a global community. Those of us personally affected by this transit will confront equally central issues in achieving our individual goals. How are our structures of thought/mental assumptions, language/vocabulary, and information/communication inadequate for our expanding collective experience?  What new ways of thinking and communicating are needed to constructively respond to unprecedented challenges?

The Crucible
The challenge of this Saturn/Pluto opposition is essentially that of Pluto in Sagittarius applying to Saturn in Gemini.  As the more distant and slower of the two planets, Pluto exerts its collective theme of expanded vision in Sagittarius onto Saturn/Gemini's structures of thought, language, and communication. For the basic astrology of this analysis, 'Basic Delineations' follows this article and gives the symbolic/empirical associations of Pluto, Sagittarius, Saturn, and Gemini, and historic events of their prior contacts. 

     Pluto's mandate in Sagittarius is to transform perspective as the basis for collective progress; hence, expanded collective vision. Saturn's role in Gemini, while opposing Pluto, is to establish social structures of thought and communication that implement this expanded vision; hence, the vision is made real.  Pluto is acting like a cosmic laser beam here, focusing the immanent future of an intimate and immediately linked global community, with commensurate resources, onto existing social structures of perception, thought, and communication.  Core truths of our expanding global perspective are now infusing the thought and language of our social institutions, common vernacular, and daily lives.  As M. Kelly Hunter eloquently describes in "The Gemini/Sagittarius Polarity:  Ways of Knowing" (The International Astrologer, Vol. XXX, #1), we must reinvent the language and ways in which we think and communicate to reflect our expanding reality.

     Saturn functions creatively when building and maintaining structures for social welfare; it functions destructively when building or defending structures for limited self-interests. Fear of losing what is no longer necessary is the pitfall of Saturn transits. Pluto creatively expresses as evolution and revitalization; when progress is resisted, it destructively expresses as devolution and disintegration. Opting for control rather than renewal is the pitfall of Pluto transits. The Saturn/Pluto opposition requires that we eliminate what is no longer necessary, integrate progressive options and innovations, and commit our resources to a viable future.

     The social structures now being submitted to this evolutionary process are the customs, institutions, and industries associated with Gemini/Sagittarius:

  • Education - institutional reform and emerging models of teaching/learning and cognition/memory
  • Civil, Environmental, and International Law - including international diplomacy and treaties
  • E-commerce - the 'dot com' bust
  • Telecommunications - industry-wide sell-off following recent product glut and market saturation
  • Transportation and travel – hybrid automobiles and the International Space Station
  • Ethics – medical, research, and health care.

     For indications of this transit in your personal life, look to where limitations in resources or opportunities – limitations that developed earlier this spring/summer - are challenging your security and long-term goals.  In this area of your life, fear based, rigid, or outworn ways of thinking and communicating must be confronted.  To assure progress toward your goals, your underlying perceptions and working perspective must be regenerated in line with your guiding truth and vision.  The areas of your birth chart ruled by Gemini and Sagittarius can provide insight into the specific challenge and opportunity for you of this Saturn/Pluto opposition .

The Opportunity
Perception, cognition, language, and communication are now evolving on a fast track, necessitated by pressing circumstances.
  Our effectiveness in answering present challenges depends largely on cooperating with the opportunity indicated by the Saturn/Pluto opposition.

    Our perception - the information we select from the limitless offerings of our senses and intuition - must open beyond habitual patterns.  We can reconstruct our cognitive/thought processes - the organization and meaning we give our perceptions - to include these additional perceptions and their interrelationships. Language – the symbols that mediate our perceived relationship to our environment - must evolve in tandem with our expanding paradigm to make it useable.  Individuals, institutions, and industries can then employ this language in customs, policies, and products. Upon this evolution of perception, cognition, language, and communication, ethics can also evolve as a basis of responsibility in our expanded reality.

    Restructure by eliminating what is no longer needed and integrating a greater reality – such is the nature of Saturn opposing Pluto. Clarify the vision. Hybridize what works best of the old and the new.  Employ perspective, rather than control.  Prioritize, rather than react.  Release, rather than retrench. Consolidate, rather than disperse. And, commit resources anew. Some developments I expect to see in the coming year:

  • New fields of study and educational models that combine established and innovative elements:
              o Quantum mechanics, consciousness studies, and neurobiology
              o Expert mentor/computer augmented learning models
  • Policies to address 'racial profiling' that reflect deepened understanding of both community responsibility and Civil Rights
  • Substantial growth of 'renewable energy' industries, especially wind-based and transportation:
              o Wind farms
              o  Hybrid motor vehicles.
  • Emergence of a stable, accountable e-commerce industry
  • Substantial growth in telecommuting as an alternative to automobile commuting, business travel, and service industry activities
  • Continuing global accords/agreements on health, ecology, warfare, and ethical issues
  • Substantial growth in availability/use of e-mail and telecommunications by thus far under served population groups.

A Final Word...
     Many of the forefront social issues during this Saturn/Pluto opposition presage those we can expect when Pluto travels through Capricorn from 2008-2024.  Historically, Pluto's transit of Capricorn correlates to momentous events and developments.  Its most recent passage through Capricorn was 1762-1778; during that period, both the Industrial Revolution and the American Revolution began. We may regard this next year as a warm-up for pivotal events in the coming decade. 
     If you have birth planets/angles in the middle degrees of Gemini/Sagittarius or Virgo/Pisces, this transit indicates core decisions and developments toward actualizing your fullest potential and most meaningful goals. Your personal satisfaction with life in 5-7 years and beyond will be served by the decisions and growth you make now.
Copyright 2001, Karen Steen.  All rights reserved.

About the Astrologer…
Karen Steen is a full-time consulting and teaching astrologer at Water Bearer Astrology & Consulting, Bellingham, WA.  She has practiced astrology since 1984.  Karen also holds a Master of Nursing in Primary Care from the U of W, 1995, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Louisiana State University, 1976.  Information about Karen's astrology practice and services can be obtained by visiting her web site                                        

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