Below: The first in a series
about Saturn and Pluto
Saturn and Pluto are sextile in the sky now, stirring up long-standing issues for people born with Saturn-Pluto aspects. The angle formed by the transiting planets doesn’t have to be the same as the natal angle in order to have an impact. Scorpio and Capricorn are fairly compatible. Yet, there’s such a thing as being too compatible, in situations where the less desirable qualities of one planet reinforce the less desirable qualities of the other.
The Saturn-Pluto Vibe
Like a tuning fork, those born with a Saturn-Pluto aspect are resonating with the current square between Saturn and Pluto.
When an outer planet aspect forms in the sky, it seems to stir up many people with those planets combined in the birth chart. Even when the transit doesn’t affect major chart placements, they sense and respond to the energies, and many of them come into their own during this period. The most recent series of Saturn-Pluto oppositions, in 2001-2, was no exception. Months in advance of the first opposition, I was inundated with clients—both the astrologically sophisticated and the clueless—with natal Saturn-Pluto aspects. Exposure to so many of them in a short time led me to examine them as a group and write this.
For over 30 years, I’ve observed people born under various Saturn-Pluto aspects. Hundreds of them shared their stories when I was a social worker early in my astrological studies and later when I was an astrologer/therapist. Others who cannot afford private sessions write to my Dell Horoscope advice column. I would say I know these deeply private individuals as well as they allow themselves to be known.
In our quest to be non-fatalistic and user-friendly, we modern astrologers bend over backward to find the most positive spin on every natal aspect and transit. However, peering at aspects between Pluto and Saturn can darken the view through even the rosiest of glasses. Both planets may signal tough life circumstances, losses, obstacles, and challenges that test endurance and character to the limits. When they act in tandem, the image of being between a rock and a hard place comes to mind.
Understanding Saturn-Pluto aspects by
matching keywords for the pair
A Pluto-Saturn Preparedness Kit
Donna Cunningham has a series at her skywriter blog about the current Pluto-Saturn square and how to use it. If you haven't seen it, visit it here: a-pluto-saturn-preparedness-kit
When Pluto and Saturn are in hard aspect and prominent, rather than learn from their errors, these individual tend instead over time to crystallize them, trying harder and harder with the same behaviors to get a different result. This is especially true when Saturn and Pluto are in fixed signs, like the 1946-8 conjunction in Leo and the 1956-8 square from Leo to Scorpio. They become increasingly rigid and afraid of change even when
Isolates due to mistrust
Broods on resentments, bitterness
Unresolved, buried bereavement
Seeks control of others' resources
Subverts, seduces to gain power
Erects wall out of fear
Realistic to pessimistic
Sinks into depression,
Sorrow, due to crucial losses
Ambitious, even ruthless
Knows how to go thru channels
With two outer planets in aspect, we must not draw conclusions about their character or the events in their lives on the basis of a single factor, but only on how it’s interwoven into the birth chart. For a Saturn-Pluto aspect to have a profound impact, it must be in high focus. If it isn’t strongly
woven into the chart, the descriptions in this chapter are less likely to apply. When Pluto and Saturn are in hard aspect and prominent, rather than learn from their errors, these people tend instead over time to crystallize them, trying harder and harder with the same behaviors to get a different result. Those who have soft aspects Saturn and Pluto (trine, sextile) that aren’t strongly featured in the chart in other ways wouldn’t experience the hardest manifestations of this combination.
To make the picture more complicated, several of the Saturn-Pluto aspects we’ll look at took place during eras when another outer planet combination was also in effect—like Uranus aspects to Neptune or Pluto. In those instances, the aspect that was more prominent is likely to be more obvious in the person’s life, while the other will be less conscious or visible.
Keys to Pluto and Saturn in Combination
As we’ll see later, the type of aspect makes a difference, as so do sign placements. Still, it’s useful to note a few common issues shared by people who have this combination prominent in their charts. The keyword lists on this page mix and match some of the qualities and concerns of Pluto and Saturn, to get a sense of how they fit together. Merging the less desirable qualities of Saturn with the less desirable qualities of Pluto, you begin to see what a difficult combination this pair might make. Like all the planetary energies, there are both positive and negative applications for both planets, so we’ll consider a spectrum of possible expressions.
In trying to fathom any given aspect, I begin by considering whether they’re a likely match or not—how akin to one another are they, and how well suited? Do they frustrate or support each other’s aims and needs? Mercury and Jupiter are compatible enough, even in the square or opposition, for they both like to explore the mental realm. Mars and Saturn are poorly suited to one another, because Mars wants action, while Saturn urges caution. In an odd way, Pluto and Saturn are similar enough in their modus operandi and their preoccupations that they might be seen as compatible, just as the signs they rule, Scorpio and Capricorn are fairly compatible. Yet, there’s such a thing as being too compatible, in situations where the less desirable qualities of one planet reinforce the less desirable qualities of the other.
Unfortunately, I’d say that the primary trait Plutonians and Saturnians have in common is fear—fear of loss or harm coming to themselves or their loved ones. For the most part, they grew up afraid, either due to harsh conditions in their surroundings or to parents who were haunted by fear. The fearfulness and the lack of security and safety in their young lives led them to develop certain defenses to make certain their adult lives were safer, and yet those defenses tended to recreate the very conditions they want to defend against. It’s an old metaphysical teaching that what you fear, you create. Another relevant axiom is, what you resist, persists.
About the Author: Donna Cunningham is an internationally-respected author of books, articles, and columns about astrology, flower essences and other metaphysical topics. Her insights reflect her dual background in astrology and psychotherapy.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place:
What the Saturn-Pluto
Both Plutonians and Saturnians are also Survivors—they exist in survival mode much of the time, and they have the strength to endure conditions and losses that would crush the average person. While this strength is admirable, there’s also a tendency for either type—and especially for those who have Pluto and Saturn in aspect—to endure a situation or hang on to a person for far longer than is reasonable to do so. Sometimes being a “quitter” is a lot smarter and more self-preserving than stubbornly hanging in there with someone or something that is never going to change for the better.
And, yes, as you see from the second half of the table, many positive qualities also arise from Pluto and Saturn in combination. Sometimes the hardships and difficult experiences themselves create an incredible strength and self-discipline, such that the person tackles some very difficult life tasks that would daunt anyone who hadn’t already survived hardship.
it’s obvious that it’s needed. Watching Saturn-Pluto natives, you may not understand that fear is behind their behavior, for they act tough and fearless as a defense and they’re also gifted at controlling not only themselves but everything and everyone around them. Don’t let it fool you—the ones I am talking about are on permanent Red Alert.
The material on this page is excerpted with permission from Donna Cunningham's eBook, titled
Aspects between the Outer Planets: The Outer Planets and Inner Life, v.3