Historical Notes On The Great Conjunction

Doorway To The New Renaissance.

We call the coming together of Jupiter and Saturn, ‘The Great Conjunction’ because looking back through time its historical cycles offer extraordinary symbolism of change, new life, loss, and wisdom.  I hope these pages offer you insight and excitement to realize what an extraordinary moment is upon us.  

Why does the Great Conjunction have meaning?

The Great Conjunction takes place every 20 years, opening a generational period. It was associated with the rise and fall of kings and emperors. It is always a turning point, and the sign in which it takes place flavors the upcoming 20 years. 

This Great Conjunction on December 21, the Solstice, is the moment Jupiter and Saturn unite at 00 degrees of Aquarius. It hasn’t happened in Aquarius since 1405, which was the beginning of the Renaissance.  AND it’s the closest the two planets have been since 1226, when the extraordinary ‘starry conjunction’ was last witnessed during the final year of Genghis Khan’s long reign. Across the ages they have been travelling, cycling, and returning to one another to give meaning to generational shifts, and societal leaps.  We will be able to see their lights appear as a large ‘star’ in the sky, brightest Dec. 25. Their union may have been the ‘star’ leading the three Wise Men toward baby Jesus.

Before writing of the history associated with the Great Conjunction, I will briefly define and clarify energies under discussion, especially as the Conjunction moves from element to element.  You will have a better idea of what might take place in the coming 20 years, as we enter the air sign of Aquarius. 

Jupiter & Saturn

Jupiter and Saturn are concerned with society and how humans live together. Both planets are teachers, judges, gurus. They work with law and rules. Jupiter is the generous ruler. Saturn is the disciplined ruler. You can see why the Conjunction affects the whole of society, marking generational shifts.

Jupiter, the great, gassy one, rules fiery Sagittarius, as well as justice, philosophy, belief systems, higher education, and long distance travel. Those with a prominent Jupiter are often optimistic, enthused with spirit, and a sense of abundance.

Saturn, theTime Lord, is ruler of earthy Capricorn, a grown-up taskmaster, a demanding boss asking for nothing less than perfection.  His energy strives to be the CEO in any job. He rules old age, and karma. You pay the piper with Saturn as his lessons can be life changing. 

The Elements

There are four major elements in Astrology: Fire, earth, air and water, and each of are infused with particular energies. AND each of the signs in these elements carries an individualistic viewpoint of the element.                           

Fire is enthusiastic, exuberant, ardent, passionate, impulsive and inspirational.  The spirit is connected with fire, as is the joy of living.  The three fire signs are: Aires, ruled by Mars, Leo, ruled by the Sun, and Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter.

Earth is physical and material.  It is practical, and planted, patient and grounded.  The three earth signs are Taurus, ruled by Venus. Virgo, ruled by Mercury. Capricorn, ruled by Saturn.

Air is the mental plane, having to do with relationships and their connection. It is a signature of ‘knowledge gatherers, of the intellect and intuition.  A key word for air signs is ‘aspiration.’  The three Air signs are Gemini, ruled by Mercury (lower mind). Libra, ruled by Venus.  Aquarius, ruled by Uranus (higher mind).

Water is the emotional body, where plasticity, responsiveness, reflective and fertile feeling are at work. Our compassion and empathy are born in water.  The three water signs are Cancer, ruled by the Moon. Scorpio, ruled by Pluto, and Mars.  Pisces, ruled by Neptune.

Elements And the Great Conjunction

These Great Conjunctions happen in the same element for around 200 years, with overlaps at the beginning and end of the period, and important exceptions. The long series of Conjunctions in the fire element was the interruption 1802-1821, when the Conjunction shifted to earth, in the sign of Virgo.   Europe went through the Napoleonic Wars, along with a ‘romantic statement’ in terms of politics, society, and fashion. Arts and Letters rose in passionate response to the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.  Returning to the fire element, especially between 1821 to 1842, the romantic ideas bore political fruit in the rise of ‘romantic nationalism’. The passionate Greek War of Independence (1821-30) was an idealistic cause many died for, and 1848 brought ‘the Year of Revolutions’ as a direct result of impassioned, fiery romantic thinking.  

From 1842 onward the Great Conjunctions were in earth signs until 1980, when the cycle dipped into air for 20 years- in the sign of Libra. The last earth Grand Conjunction took place in Taurus in 2000.  From present day onward, the Grand Conjunctions will take place in air signs until 2159. (An interesting ‘repeat’ of these same element-shifts took place 800 years ago.  In 1186-1205 when it went through the air sign Libra. In 1206 it moved into earthy Taurus, and in 1226 moved into Aquarius.)

Important historical events coincide with 1186-1226 transitional period of Air; the soaring High Gothic period flourished in Europe. The Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan was established. The Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229), was a genocide directed by the Pope who told his priest, “Kill every man, woman and child, put them to the sword.” Also with the blessing of the Pope, the northern French, wiped out the heretical Cathars of Southern France, destroying a culture and a language in the process. (Note the Cathar women held equal rulership with men, an idea that was destroyed in the genocide.)  Enormous fortunes were made during this crusade as Northern invading armies stole the lands and titles of the southerners. A long-lasting result of the Crusade was the establishment of the Papal Inquisition. In other parts of the world, a seven-year-old became the fourth Kamakura Shogun in Japan; The great temple of the smiling Buddha’s at Angkor was under construction. 

Eight centuries have passed. We are here again.  What information can we take from past ‘energies’?  New construction of architecture and ideas, the connection, and creation of different societies, bloody defeats, countries morphing under strong leadership, as well as surprising leadership. Technical innovation, including the pointed arch, and stained glass, a strong religious faith created beautiful, and technically magnificent sacred spaces. At Chartres, Reims, Amiens, and Beauvais great cathedrals soared toward heaven. They were built by teams of craftsmen, paid by subscription from the faithful. This fits beautifully with the rhythms of Libra, Taurus, Aquarius: art, building, community and engineering.

From 1206 to his death in 1227, Genghis Khan united huge chunks of Asia,  making safe the Silk Road which ran from Europe to China via the great trading centers of the Near East and Central Asia: Trabizon, Bokhara, Samarkand. This meant silk, spices, carpets, gold and silver, ideas and beliefs could travel freely up and down the ancient route. Genghis Khan was, among other things, a great organizer, a connector (air) and manager. To get people working together he hired local help, and tolerated local religious beliefs.  He was also a ruthless and at times vicious general. But the stability he brought to major routes lasted for centuries, offering a free flowing of information.

In the two decades after 1226 empires rose and fell, but the major story of the early 13th century was the massive expansion of the Mongol Empire across northern China to the East, across Russia to the west, and south to Aleppo and on to Baghdad. This empire stretched from the Baltic to the China Sea, connecting the Mediterranean to the Pacific.  It was the greatest empire on a single landmass the world has ever seen….Re-imagined in our ‘information highway’ of the internet.

Onward Into Modern Times

Both the Conjunctions of 1980 (Libra-air), and the 2000 (Taurus-earth) were ruled by Venus, the planet of money, partnerships, value, art, beauty, culture, social niceties, and luxury. Excessive Venus can be decadent, particularly true in the States where consumer-capitalism rules, and has become a world religion. 

With the present Conjunction taking place in the air sign, Aquarius, Uranus and Saturn-are co-rulers, providing vastly different objectives for next 20 years. This is just the first leg of the “air” centuries, but the Aquarian kick-off might see a tussle between the ancient ruler, Saturn, and modern ruler, Uranus.  One is a practical, demanding task-master, the other is freedom-loving, iconoclastic, scientific, and futuristic.  We shall be figuring out new rules, as well as obeying old ones. It can’t come soon enough! This futuristic conjunction comes at the end of a grueling period of endings and deconstruction of society. The dark lords Pluto and Saturn, along with Jupiter worked together in earthy Capricorn to reveal abusive power, along with secrets needing acknowledgement.  The past two years of massive deconstruction have been in the service of light so we can heal old travesties. 

You can expect to feel lighter, and brighter as winds of change begin to blow through January and February 2021. Those born with many planets in Aquarius will likely feel a surge of power, a new sense of responsibility, or just a jolt of optimism.  The Great Conjunction will push or expand early degrees of the four fixed signs: Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio. If you have your chart, check to see if you have any planets in the early degrees of these signs. And look at the house containing Aquarius, for further action. The Great Conjunction takes place at 00° Aquarius, the entry point, on the day the Sun reaches 00° Capricorn, the Winter Solstice. A sense of beginnings, fresh starts, and new design are part of this Renaissance.  Let’s dance into 2021 with joy. Let us intend to make it a great one of heart, inspiration, and greater possibility for all.

 A debt of gratitude:  Much of my information I owe to: the Oxford Astrologer, and Astrologers Pam Gregory, Stephanie Austin, and Pam Younghans.  Thank you for your Astrological and historical wisdom on the Grand Conjunction!


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