Uranus Is Afoot: The 2020 Capricorn Stellium — oy vey

Writer: He’s not a real astrologer.

Reader: He just plays one for this column.

Please be seated.

Stellium schmellium! The astrology community, from Terlingua to Tangiers, is on high alert. The cosmic CHECK ENGINE light is flashing, so we best have a look under the hood and see what all the fuss is about.

A stellium is a potent cluster of three or more outer planets in a single zodiac sign. Think of it as an amplifier, intensifying the traits of whichever sign these planets are grouped in. In 2020, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto will conjoin one another in the cardinal sign of Capricorn.

When two planets conjunct they appear to be, from Earth’s vantage, in the same sign and same degree of the zodiac. This Sunday, January 12, Saturn will conjunct Pluto and begin a new cycle, lasting between 32 and 37 years (or roughly the amount of time needed to complete a vehicle inspection in Far West Texas). This planetary pairing is uncommon. But it is downright rare when these two hook up in the sign of Capricorn, which has only happened four times in the last two thousand years. A rare romance indeed.

If we dive into human history, we can observe themes that these prior conjunctions have in common with today. Veteran astrologer Ray Merriman researched the subject in his recently published book “Forecast 2020.” Recorded dates he references go back as far as 549 CE. Conflicts during these ancient periods often centered around trade restrictions, blockades, the building and destruction of walls (!) and broken promises between rulers. Regions including Arab countries, the Roman Empire and China were highlighted.

In modern times, Saturn conjunct Pluto was present at the beginning of World War I, as well as at the end of World War II. Most recently, this planetary conjunction unfolded in November 1982, coincident with the Iran-Contra affair, and following the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Starting to sound familiar? The point is, this particular conjunction is serious business, on a par with losing the local UPS driver’s cell phone number. It demands accountability and consequences for past actions.

It’s also unusual to have three outer planet-pair conjunctions in the same calendar year. In addition to the Saturn – Pluto conjunction, Jupiter will conjunct Pluto (April 5, June 30, and November 12 of this year). By year-end, Jupiter and Saturn conjunct on the winter solstice, December 21.

So sports fans, there’s your 2020 Capricorn Stellium scorecard. Because the Saturn – Pluto cycle is the longest of these three pairings, and because Saturn is transiting through its own sign, that makes it the dominant conjunction for the year. We’ll keep our focus on it for the remainder of today’s column, but rest assured, we won’t leave you marooned in space. We’ll revisit the Jupiter – Pluto cycle come spring, and the Jupiter – Saturn cycle before Christmas.

Capricorn symbolizes structure, control, discipline. It’s conventional, scrupulous, practical, and hard-working, none of which describes your ex-brother-in-law. The shadow side of Capricorn is domineering, unforgiving, stubborn, and egotistical, all of which describe your ex-brother-in-law. Enter Saturn, and you double down these traits, both positive and negative (just ask your recently-divorced sister). Saturn is also teacher and taskmaster. It brings delays, contraction, and limitations, as well as wisdom.

Pluto is characterized as a dwarf planet, but underestimate its power at your own risk.

Its slow, elliptical, 248-year orbit around the Sun forges grinding, complex themes that have to do with death and rebirth, regeneration and degeneration, and long-term transformation.

It represents the Greek god of the underworld, that which is hidden from sight. It can be harsh, punitive, coercive. But it can also foster long-term reform in individuals and in societies. It is associated with the rebuilding of governments and economies worldwide.

Now for a little Marfastrology. Or, in other words, what has this column done for you lately? For starters, it turns out that this alignment enhances opportunities for the repair of infrastructure. (Mr. Silva: if you’re considering coming out of retirement, this would be the ideal moment.). Marfa, it’s an excellent time to fix your potholes. This period favors new construction: think Marfa’s affordable housing problem. Capricorn is also about land, its boundaries, and how we live on it. Whatever our town decides to invest in, whatever activity it chooses to encourage or discourage, the 2020 Capricorn Stellium message is to plan carefully.

A truly challenging year lies ahead. Mounting Middle East conflict, North Korea, debt and deficits, impeachment, Brexit, trade issues, the rancorous upcoming U.S. elections and natural disasters. Yikes. There will be winners and losers, heroes and villains. Capricorn initiates our winter on the darkest day of the year, but each day thereafter grows lighter on its watch. Longer term, there is reason for optimism. But for the time being, perhaps a quote from Woody Allen says it best: “I’d like to leave you with something positive. I can’t. Would you settle for two negatives?”

Jack Copeland is a retired busboy radiologist and Judd Foundation tour guide. Sources for this column include “Forecast 2020” by Ray Merriman, “The Only Way To Learn Astrology, Vol One” by Marion March and Joan McEvers, and notes from astrologer Tom Brady.