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Dis/Enchanted World: Saturn Opposite Neptune 2006-2007
This article was written & published in May 2006

From July 2006 to August 2007 Saturn and Neptune will form an opposition aspect across the signs Leo and Aquarius. This is one of the most important astrological events of the next two years, if not the most important. This article will equip you with the dates when the opposition is exact, and with what it can mean so that you can understand the process of change that's trying to happen.

A half-way review

The opposition marks the halfway point in the Saturn-Neptune cycle, so if we want to know what this time period might involve then we need to first look back at when it began, which was in 1989. At the start of the cycle the Berlin wall was torn down, the Soviet Union fell apart, and the Westernised countries declared themselves the permanent victors in the struggle between 'capitalism' and 'communism'. This Saturn-Neptune opposition is therefore the first 'retrospective' of this process.

During this review we will collectively reassess our global direction, and whether we consciously know it or not, our reassessment will be in relation to what happened during those years of accelerated change.

On a personal level the Saturn-Neptune opposition will correlate with a particular type of growth process. Not everyone will resonate with it equally strongly; some will be more plugged into its themes than others. But even if you, as an individual, do not respond to this planetary aspect, you will know may people who will - your family, your boss, your neighbours, your political representatives - and so understanding what is unfolding will help you in your relationships.

Here are the dates of the opposition. Various orbs are shown: some astrologers use 8 degrees as the orb for an opposition, others use smaller orbs. When the aspect gets closer the themes can intensify, so it's useful to have a 'stepped orb' table, as well as the exact dates.

Orb Dates
8 15th September 2005 to 18th January 2006
10th July 2006 to 22nd August 2007
20th April 2008 to 29th May 2008
6 3rd October 2005 to 31st December 2005
24th July 2006 to 19th October 2006
7th January 2007 to 9th August 2007
3 12th August 2006 to 21st September 2006
4th February 2007 to 5th April 2007
23rd May 2007 to 19th July 2007
2 19th August 2006 to 14th September 2006
13th February 2007 to 21st March 2007
7th June 2007 to 12th July 2007
1 25th August 2006 to 7th September 2006
21st February 2007 to 10th March 2007
18th June 2006 to 4th July 2007
Exact 31st August 2006  @  17 Leo/Aquarius 53
28th February 2007  @  20 Leo/Aquarius 15
25th June 2007  @  21 Leo/Aquarius 47

So what are the themes of this cycle? We'll look at it first on the individual level, then the societal level, and finally the global level. 

In the psyche: Love & boundaries

In terms of states of mind and moods Saturn-Neptune correlates with some pretty negative ones. Dark and depressive thoughts and the 'dark night of the soul' are associated with this planetary pair. Feeling stuck, helpless, weak, unable to tap into or muster one's strength of purpose and will, are common experiences of Saturn-Neptune. Feeling burdened by guilt, duty, pain, sadness, and just generally taking the world on our shoulders, undermines the capacity to be fully alive, and during this opposition it's time to remove these limits to our lives.

The fact that Saturn will oppose Neptune from Leo to Aquarius means that self-esteem - too much, too little - is a key problem to resolve at this time. Creative blocks and a poor sense of self (whether diminshed or inflated, or swinging from one to the other) will probably arise so that they can be cleared away and a clearer self-concept can come into focus.

Within the dynamics of relationship, Saturn-Neptune pertains to the victim and victimiser roles. On the one hand there is the passive, subservient, under-the-thumb, persecuted role, and on the other there is the cruel persecutor. Both sides are full of stuffed-down rage, and the two experience a kind of twisted union where both suffer in bondage to the other. A related dynamic is the tyranny of the weak, where weakness and helplessness is a way to subtly exert control and manipulating, an iron grip in a smotheringly velvet glove. It's essential to all parties to release and transcend these types of roles, because they strangulate life and sap tremendous amounts of energy.

If we side with the Saturn side of the equation we can end up denying the importance and value of Neptunian things: imagination, fantasy, dreams, hope, spirituality, the invisible aspects of reality. We can fail to take these things seriously, and, having glorified materialism, consequently find ourselves at the mercy of negative expressions of those Neptunian things: paranoia, nightmares, disillusionment, profound spiritual doubt and a pernicious sense of pointlessness and paralysis.

Alternatively we may find ourselves craving fulfilment Neptune-style: we may hunger for a more ideal life and thirst for a reason to continue with the daily drudgery. We need to be careful about using alcohol and drugs as a way to numb the painful sensation of lack; instead we need to use the constructive Neptunian quality of imagination to lift ourselves up.

If we side with the Neptune side of the equation we might denigrate the material world and its sources of fulfilment. We might consider it a dried up desert, a godforsaken arena, an empty place that offers no solace, no gentleness, no nourishment, no humanity, only harshness, aloneness, and dullness. Neptune needs a sense of the magical and the wonderful. It needs enchantment and captivation, and if we don't bring this down to earth and embody it we end up being disenchanted and dispirited by a lacklustre material world. A reluctance to be fully present in the here and now, centred in the middle of the self, can result from being unable to bridge the ideal and the real, so during this opposition we must practise building those bridges and merging the two seemingly separate worlds together.

Eastern philosophy sometimes describes reality as an illusion, a kind of reality-dream, and that perspective sums up this planetary pair really well. Instead of collapsing into the despair that follows seeing through our illusions, we need to infuse ourselves and our world with a higher vision and draw our world towards that possible reality.

Saturn Neptune Mandala

Mandala made by the orbits of Saturn and Neptune from 1989 onwards covering the 2006-2007 period and beyond

Boundaries are a major issue for Saturn-Neptune. These planets are renowned for being a challenging combination because we tend to experience boundaries as either things that cut off, block out, and entrap, or else they are wishy-washy, flimsy, and as much use as a chocolate fireguard, wilting at the first sign of someone who pushes against them or caving in when someone makes us feel guilty for 'shutting them out' or being 'cruel' by standing up for ourselvs. The challenge of Saturn-Neptune is to have healthy boundaries: we need to find the balance point between defining our boundaries well, and yet still feeling connected, in relationship, and included in a larger whole, whether that larger group is in our marriage, our family, our community, our nation, or the world in its entirety.

In society: Elites & the masses

At the societal level the issues are the same, but they are expressed in a slightly different form. It's entirely possible - and indeed frequent - for whole nations to be down-at-heel psychologically - just look at the UK, a disenchanted nation that has lost its sense of self-worth par excellence. During this Saturn-Neptune opposition there is an opportunity to sort out this state of affairs and shift to something much more enjoyable and life-promoting.

What we are likely to see in our societies throughout the rest of 2006 and on into 2007 is a kind of showdown between Saturn in Leo and Neptune in Aquarius. In fact, this has started already (May 2006). The establishment versus the commoners is a longstanding theme in most societies, and it clearly needs to turn from an antagonistic and remote relationship to a partnership based on mutual service. These two planets lining up across Leo-Aquarius polarity reflects a crisis of democracy as 'people power' (demos+kratos) and 'government of the people, by the people, for the people' is finally confronted as being largely a hollow pretence.

We have an opportunity to review this false (Neptune) reality (Saturn) and adjust it (opposition) so that the governors and governed recognise their mutual dependency. At the moment, most politicians consider the general public to be a nuisance that they have to pretend to engage with every 3, 4, or 5 years in order to get into power. This arrangement is essentially a victim-victimiser type of relationship, which the public have been subservient to, passively tolerating it, for a long time.

In order to establish themselves in power (Saturn in Leo), politicians deceive, mislead and play on the hopes of the citizens (Neptune in Aquarius). As Saturn opposes Neptune all this is likely to come to a head. Avoidance (Neptune) of accountability (Saturn) has been the norm up until now; it remains to be seen whether the dynamic of this relationship will be changed for the better in 2006-7.

Orbits of Saturn and Neptune

Orbits of Saturn and Neptune in 2006, showing the two planets opposite each other as viewed from the Earth (the green dot in the centre).

The State (Saturn) has a duty (Saturn) of care (Neptune) that, in many countries, is minimal at best. In the UK in March, the Sunday Times newspaper published an article about the police being given a "'licence to kill' without questions" in relation to unarmed suspected suicide bombers. The government's legal advice to the police included advice from David Perry, counsel for the Treasury, which claimed that the police (Saturn) have no duty of care (Saturn) to the public (Neptune in Aquarius) and "They are thus not liable for damages for killing an unarmed person and failing to shoot the real bomber."

Although currently somewhat 'underground' in terms of media reporting and general public awareness, we can expect this issue to rumble on until it comes further into the light during the Saturn-Neptune opposition, when the UK will need to examine the full extent of what it is doing with these themes and decide if it is out of kilter, or appropriately balanced on the issues. This specific example serves to illustrate similar processes going on around the world.

In the world: Shared space

One of the biggest global manifestations of the dynamics of this Saturn in Leo opposition to Neptune in Aquarius is likely to be in relation to South America. The socio-political shifts already going on in various South American countries express the dilemmas and resolutions of the Saturn-Neptune cycle. Countries like Venezuela and Brazil are taking protective measures (Saturn) in their gas and oil (Neptune) industries, causing much consternation in the USA government and amongst allies thereof.

Latin America's move to the political 'left-wing' is seen by the White House as a dangerous one. Remember that in 2001 as Saturn opposed Pluto, the White House saw an open resurgence of its destructive desire to dominate the world militarily and economically (Saturn-Pluto). This Saturn-Neptune opposition is arguably the most significant planetary aspect since that time, and so a strategy change of similar magnitude may well emanate from those corridors of power. Given the threatening comments towards Hugo Chavez (Venezuela's President) by George Bush and his team to date, this would not be at all surprising.

We all have a right to life, yet the means to live is tightly controlled, bartered, bought and sold. Human rights and human wrongs are likely to be high on the global agenda during this Saturn-Neptune aspect, and restructures in world forums may well be proposed so that the balance of power is shifted to the centre point rather being weighted against the poor, the weak, the downtrodden, and the oppressed.

This aspect clearly has economic relevance, and countries that are most strongly affected by it (such as the UK) may see stock market crises of various kinds - the charts of the world's leading stock markets tend to have planets around 20-24 degrees of the Fixed signs, and so will be aspected by the Saturn-Neptune opposition - or national economies threatened with downturns, slumps, or even collapse. Bubbles burst when Saturn brings Neptune back down to earth, so anything that has lost its grip on real value and real worth (shades of Leo-Aquarius again) is likely to experience destabilisation. Inflation is also likely to be a hot topic. Oil - ruled by Neptune but often called 'black gold' which is a Saturn in Leo symbol - is likely to be a source of confrontation and tension - although the highest potential of an opposition is negotiation and partnership - and 'peak oil' (a Saturn-Neptune concept) may receive more prominent coverage in the media.

Looking after the weakest members of society will probably come into the forefront, although those who just do not understand interdependence may well increase their brittle shouts to cut themselves free of 'deadwood'. They will play their habitual role of cracking the whip and demanding that the weak, the hopeless, and the poor work themselves out of their predicament, rather than be properly helped. They will want to barricade (Saturn) themselves in, shielding (Saturn) themselves from those they project onto (Neptune), fearing that it is the culture of poverty (Saturn-Neptune) that is undermining (Neptune) their success (Saturn). Meanwhile the disenfranchised underclass (Saturn-Neptune) continue to be shut out of society unless they are prepared to be servants to the rich (Saturn-Neptune, Leo-Aquarius). If we keep going round and round on this level of the planetary themes, it is not likely that we will ever solve it. There must be a new way of thinking about these dilemmas: organised inclusiveness, balanced responsibility, sensible compassion, and the weak and the strong coming together in solidarity and resolve to overcome self-centredness and suffering are all better ways to use the Saturn-Neptune principles, rather than the tug-of-war that is so typical of the opposition aspect. There needs to be some grace and a restoration of dignity to all.

A showdown between the extreme 'right' and the extreme 'left' is very possible; not just between South American countries and the USA/Europe, but within each country too. Water (Neptune) shortages (Saturn) and drought (Saturn), flood (Neptune) defences (Saturn), water (Neptune) corporations (Saturn), and related industries are all likely to be in a heightened state of change, and possibly crisis, during this opposition. We need to face head-on, rather than avoid, any such crisis, and manage it, otherwise we are failing to grasp what the opposition represents, and thereby failing to avail ourselves of the growth process inherent in this planetary formation.

We'll now look at some politicians who will strongly resonate with the Saturn-Neptune opposition.

Ultimate disillusionment: Tony Blair, & David Cameron

Both Blair and Cameron are constellating a disillusionment and disenchantment in the general public. They are presiding over an extreme shift in politics towards falsity: style hiding substance, behaviour masking intentions, glossy image covering up corruption.

The 'apathy' (for apathy read 'barely disguised rage') in the UK has increased considerably during Blair's government, and with Cameron appearing as a clone of Blair - who was a clone of Thatcher but with added polished grin and illusionary 'aw shucks' hesitancy - its likely to slide even further during 2006 and 2007.

In their own ways, they are helping the public to stop being victims of this sham-democracy and take charge. During the next year-and-a-half sparks may fly as the public either does in fact finally wake up after a long-lasting (Saturn) slumber (Neptune), or else falls asleep again and gives up the ghost for another half Saturn-Neptune cycle.

David Cameron & the Conservative party

'Compassionate Conservatives' (compassion = Neptune, conservatism = Saturn) could come to the forefront with this opposition, which is good news for David Cameron who was born when Saturn was in Pisces and in trine to Neptune (in other words, he resonates with this cycle because he was born at a key phase within it).

David's Neptune is at 21 Scorpio and so will be squared by the transiting planets. This is a major crisis point for him. The Conservative party Sun, representing the leader, leadership in general, purpose, direction, glory and infamy, is at 20 Scorpio and so will also be squared by transiting Saturn and Neptune. This means that the party's at a major crisis point and growth opportunity in relation to its leadership and its desire to 'rule'. Interestingly enough, the Labour party will be simultaneously going through a change in its leadership direction.

Tony Blair & the Labour party

Tony Blair, who was born at the conjunction of Saturn and Neptune in 1953 (see diagram of Saturn-Neptune cycle below), is most likely to face the biggest erosion (Neptune) of his 'authority' (Saturn) as his natal Pluto (power, plutocracy, hubris) is at 21 degrees Leo - Saturn will exactly conjoin it, and Neptune will exactly oppose it. His natal Saturn-Neptune conjunction in Libra is at 22 degrees, and so will be sextiled/trined by the transiting pair too. This time, for Tony, there is no escape as the disenchantment with the man's used car salesman style of politics finally reaches its peak - and not before time. If he manages to remain in office beyond that point he may truly be the Messiah (tongue firmly in cheek, of course!).

Saturn-Neptune cycle

Saturn-Neptune conjunctions, squares, and oppositions - read this diagram clockwise from the top

The Labour party's nodal axis is at 21 Leo/Aquarius, so it too is going to be highlighted in the next couple of years, resonating with all the social and global themes described above. Is it time for the Labour party to discover its 'left-wing' roots, or will its members finally choose to drop their hope that the party will one day be free of the 'New Labour' aberration? The party's Pluto is at 21 Gemini and so will be sextiled/trined by Saturn-Neptune. Furthermore, the party's Sun is at 23 Aquarius, in square to the Saturn-Neptune opposition, so a sacrifice of the leader is not out of the question. 

Certainly, the party is about to have a major leadership crisis - a crisis of direction, rulership, governance, and identity - and it will need to come to terms with the split and schism at its heart (Sun), lest it lose its way and its will to live (Sun). If the party continues to split from its roots it may well soon reach the point of ultimate decay. Saturn-Neptune will also make aspects to the Labour party's Moon, Mars, Uranus, and Neptune, so the next few years represent a major period of comprehensive change for the party. 

The slough of despond and the pit of despair: Gordon Brown 

The debate about Gordon Brown and Tony Blair's 'transition of power' is likely to be a non-starter. With all these transits taken together, Labour as a whole is unravelling. When the first Saturn-Neptune opposition is exact in August 2006, Saturn (taking form, but also limits) will be exactly conjunct Gordon's Pluto (power) and sextile his Neptune (the dream, but also the nightmare, and sacrifice). Neptune will be conjunct his Mercury: will he be given some false information? Perhaps there will be a scandal involving him - he has been found before to have misled with his statistics. Neptune will also be exactly opposite his Pluto - the dream of power either becomes real, or withers and slips frustratingly away.

As it is now, what does Brown stand to inherit from Blair? Power is slipping through the party's fingers, not just through Blair's fingers. Brown's frustrated rage is often palpable; he is like a volcano fit to burst. Yet they cling (Saturn) to their hope (Neptune) for a 'smooth and orderly transition of power'. With these planets involved, there is but a slim chance of that. It is more likely to be a rapid descent into the slough of despond and the pit of despair (a Saturn-Neptune image). Surely there is too much 'bad blood' between the pair of them for it to be anything other than a vitriolic drama of betrayal and despair?

The Leo-Aquarius polarity is about lacking confidence: a clear vote of 'no confidence' would not be at all surprising, followed by a transition to Gordon, followed by a disappointing and lacklustre period of government as the ship continues to sink. The wise would just cut (Saturn) their losses (Neptune) and bail out now. But Brown and his supporters still dream (Neptune) the impossible (Saturn) dream.

Summing up, the Labour party's members know that the UK public is disenchanted with it. The question is, do they want to re-enchant the public, or merely re-deceive them?

Connection & separation of church and State: Bush, Blair, and Kucinich

George Bush and Tony Blair are well known for bringing their supposedly Christian beliefs into their policy-making. Bush, of course, governs a country that has strong religious beliefs in parts of it, whereas the UK is a more secular society. Perhaps Blair has been more media-savvy at playing down his religious 'inspiration' than has Bush. Nevertheless, during the Saturn-Neptune opposition we can expect Blair's merger of religion and government to come fully to light. One example of this that is already building in awareness is his promotion of faith-based schooling in the form of 'Academies'.

Is it possible - never mind desirable - to separate 'church and State'? All that Saturn and Neptune require is that we have clarity on our shared values (Neptune) and collective vision (Neptune) to bind the people together into a cohesive national identity (Saturn). It does not have to be a religious input, but it does have to be something that inspires and gels.

It's interesting to compare and contrast Bush and Blair with Dennis Kucinich. Although Bush wasn't born during a Saturn-Neptune aspect, both Blair and Kucinich were: Blair on the conjunction, Kucinich on the sextile. Bush and Blair subscribe to a type of Christian belief system where God is an angry god and wields authority quite sternly and even cruelly, whereas Kucinich's speeches point to a more nature-inspired set of beliefs based on the wonders of the cosmos.

Central to Bush and Blair's policies are war and painful changes; central to Kucinich's ideas is making non-violence (Neptune) and peace the organising (Saturn) principles of society. This is a classic example of the different ways we can use Saturn-Neptune themes: on the one hand cruelty, guilt (lack of innocence.... sinfulness), punishment, incarceration, deceitfulness 'for your own good', victims and victimisers, and on the other peaceful, inclusive, compassionate, uplifting, inspiring, humane, healing, co-operation.

It is clear which path will lead to further decay, and which will lead to the re-enchantment of the world.

Related articles:
Transiting Neptune conjunct the UK's Venus [read]
Holding the Vision: Uranus in Pisces, Neptune in Aquarius [read]
History & Cycles [read]
Where next for the USA? [read]

Applying astrology to political lifeTony Blair, Menzies Campbell, David Cameron, European Union, USA, War on Terror, Uranus in Pisces & Neptune in Aquarius, & more

Applying astrology to business life Euro Currency, NHS, BBC,
USA economy, Ofcom, Concorde,
W Edwards Deming, European Central Bank, Anita Roddick, & more

Applying astrology to people's lives Health, emotional intelligence, zodiac elements, understanding change, Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani, Germaine Greer, & more

Astrology for the 21st Century - Bringing the sky down to Earth

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