The End Of Relationships As We Know It: the Post Pluto/Saturn Conjunction World
On January 12th during the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto I was in New York at the closing of an exhibition of drawings I had up at Soloway Gallery. There was a small crowd in a candlelit environment discussing the historical, philosophical, astrological and practical ideas surrounding the work. We drank wine and smoked cigarettes on the back porch. Surprisingly, despite the absolute monumental and titanic proportions that both planets signify the evening felt exceedingly Venusian and charged with a particular energy of connectedness and ease, as if it were a subtle and special moment in history outside of the flow of time; instantly nostalgic, not needing back-casting Vaseline to lace it with dreamy haze.
As I returned home the consultation appointments came pouring in and I experienced the busiest two months of my entire practice with a central theme running through like a consistent thread: sudden long-term relationship collapse.
Saturn is everything in our life that has gravity, all that is grave, that with gravitas, laws, limits, boundaries, histories, structures, obligations, that which endures, that which fortifies, that which limits, blocks and contains. Mortality, time.
Pluto is everything we do not know about yet, that which is around the corner, in the shadow, the unprecedented, the dark passage, the ominous, that which swipes us off our feet and swipes our world away from us and sends us on an initiatory underworld journey in which we emerge different from how we had been before, so in that sense change and transformation and power, but especially fear, fear of the unknown, fear of the dark, and so mystery, investigation, manipulation, obsession. If Saturn is gravity then Pluto is super gravity, the black hole, being pulled beyond the event horizon. Special Relativity had to be written as the discovery of what we now call black holes didn’t fit into General Relativity.
As Saturn passed across Pluto it was as if everything foundational and everything we could rely on and every structure we have built up in our lives got sucked through such a shadow of super gravity and as it got deposited into maybe, maybe not the same world as it had come from we are left to investigate it and figure out what got warped and where it might have been permanently altered. The experience was like an amoeba asexually splitting, two cells peeling apart, one containing your past and another containing your future, and suddenly we found ourselves standing between the two. The former drowning in nostalgia and sentiment, yet stagnant, inert, and the latter filled with potential and excitement, but mostly un-authored, yet to be designed.
This seemed to reflect into the future and Saturn’s upcoming activity between the rulerships he spans, Capricorn and Aquarius, which he would soon cross and also finalize a transition from Earth to Air epochs in his conjunction cycle with Jupiter in December 2020. Across levels this was about passing from the known into the unknown. With Saturn and Pluto it was about passing into the shadows and through the depths of fear in a very real way, it being an earth sign, and then into the unknowns of the New, entering hypothetical and conceptual Aquarius. The loss of how it has always been, through a dark and powerful transition into a stimulating era of fresh ideas and new, scary structures.
With a couple months distance we can very much feel the impact of this conjunction and zodiacal transition on the world stage, but earlier in the narrative it seemed to begin at home. My practice flooded with cases of marriages coming apart, homes dividing, re-negotiating relationship status, opening or closing or staying or going, in general a total shift of all parameters of partnership to accommodate big developments that just stepped from the shadows into the frame. In many cases there were no solutions, just moving through the pull of the black hole and seeing what was on the other side. People decided to remain roommates but divorce, or live separately but stay together, or any other possible combination of things to move with the in-ignorable pressure of their situation. Many had fallen in love with someone else. For many, as the conjunction occurred in building and height climbing Capricorn, it involved their career.
At first I was surprised, and then I began to understand that for many of us the long term partner is the most concrete bond within our lives and historical narratives and it would of course be this for many that such an intense conjunction to Saturn would apply to. When a parent and child spend quality time together we say they are bonding, this is the bonds of Venus, enjoying life together and connecting. When we make vows or especially promise to negate activity to prove our devotion to someone, i.e. monogamy or analogue, this is certainly Saturn operating. It is here that Pluto for many threw some classic shade.
The transition to Aquarius for Saturn and an Air Epoch for us all adds another dimension. The Earth Epoch spanning 1802—2020 with conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn, both very present in marriages— Jupiter the feast and Saturn the ‘I Do’— frame a period of human culture but also an era of relationship structuring. What was it like to be married in 1642 or 1719? Marriages then were much less likely to be for love, and many less people held relationships out of wedlock. The idea of dating didn’t come about until the 1920s. 'Boyfriend' could have meant a woman’s lover, especially illicit lover by 1909, and 'girlfriend' was first used in 1863, as a woman’s childhood female friend and wasn’t used as someone you dated until the Roaring 20s.
As we move again from epoch to epoch once more how we form lasting bonds and interrelate with one another shifts dramatically, but what changes? Likely the consolidation around house holding, sharing property, and pooling funds becomes less primary as connecting on more social, cultural and intellectual exchange are preferred. Clearly this is already the case, although the instinct up until now is to go from moving in together to buying a home, to building financially together. Not that this will altogether cease, as we still have physical bodies which live in the material world and require shelter, but what is at the crux of this functioning will sidestep into new and more innovative forms that have yet to be fully drafted.
On the macro level we see now through the social distancing reactions to pandemic crisis our inter-relations getting restructured and shuffled heavily before our very eyes. We are re-assessing what it means to be in the world together on more level than one, romantically, foundationally, cooperatively and otherwise. For those who are finding these issues currently most acute, know that it is part of a larger cultural realization beside just a personal one, and find, perhaps, solace or sagacity in contemplating what this all means for the world. A world becoming rapidly much more future oriented than past.