Saturn in Sagittarius: The Skeptic, the Architect and the Luddite

Saturn in Sagittarius: The Luddite, the Conscientious Objector and Fear at the Frontier of Discovery

Saturn’s transits through Sagittarius appear to coincide with notable times of great fear or ethical concern surrounding the expansion of knowledge and technology. As such, Saturn at times acts like a luddite or a conscientious objector, depending on one’s perspective. This is in accordance with Sagittarius’s associations with knowledge and exploration, and Saturn’s traits of fearfulness, doubt and caution.

Saturn in Sagittarius 1780-1782: The Dark Side of Progress

The discovery of Uranus on March 13th 1781 heralded a sort of paradigm shift for humanity. It fundamentally unhinged humanity’s notion of a universe that ended at Saturn to one without limits and stood as a testament to the boundless power of human ingenuity through reason, science and technology. It came about at the height of the Enlightenment, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, in the midst of the American Revolutionary War. Consequently, Uranus is associated with the ideas of freedom and progress, at any cost.

As the late great astrologer Alan White noted, the fact that Uranus was discovered in Gemini was not insignificant, as Uranus’ common associations with constant innovation and rebellion are decidedly Mercurial because of Mercury’s rulership of Gemini. Perhaps also not insignificant then was the position of Saturn at the time of Uranus’ discovery – at 19 Sagittarius opposite Uranus at 24 Gemini. Saturn’s literal opposition to Uranus mirrored its astrological one – that there can be a dark side to progress, that unbridled reason, freedom, science and technology are not necessarily good things if unbound from some article of faith or morality. Skepticism of new technological developments and fears about their safety would become a new spin on an old meme in subsequent Saturn in Sagittarius periods.

Saturn in Sagittarius 1809-1811: The Luddites

The Luddites were originally textile workers who feared that the machines of the Industrial Revolution would replace their jobs. They protested by smashing those machines and destroying factories. The term “Luddite” has now come to mean anyone who is skeptical of new technologies. They began their movement on March 11th, 1811 in Nottingham.((Chambers, Robert. The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities. Tokyo: Meicho-Fukyu-Kai, 1984. 357. Print.)) Saturn was at 26 Sagittarius.

Saturn in Sagittarius 1839-1841: Anti-Rail

Trains were the great disruptive technology of the 19th century, expanding worlds of commerce and leisure. It was right around 1840 that trains began to become more affordable and were more popularly used to transport passengers. Upon its completion in September 1841, the Great Western Railway in the UK was nicknamed “God’s Great Railway”. However, railroad technology was not welcome everywhere. The railroad also became a symbol of the inevitable encroachment of modernity into every area of life. If you click on the picture to the left, you can read this piece of anti-rail propaganda from Philadelphia in 1839. There were many strange superstitions about trains from this time, all indicative of a general fear of the new that Saturn in Sagittarius signifies.

Saturn in Sagittarius 1868-1870: Man versus Machine

The legend of John Henry comes from this time, when construction on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway began in 1870((Dinerstein, Joel. Swinging the Machine: Modernity, Technology, and African American Culture between the World Wars. Amherst: U of Massachusetts, 2003. 120-21. Print.)), while Saturn was still in Sagittarius. All we know for sure is that John Henry the man arrived at the scene in 1870. According to the tall tale, he was known as the best at steel-driving of all the workers. He competed against a steam-powered hammer and won, but died shortly afterward, according to the legend.

He became a folk hero of sorts, a symbol of humanity’s struggle against machines and the devaluation of humanity in a modern mechanical age. This recurring fear of progress and technology appeared before with the Luddites, and would continue to appear in more sophisticated ways.

Saturn in Sagittarius 1897-1899: War of the Worlds, Radioactivity & First Flight

H.G. Wells published War of the Worlds in 1898.((“The War of the Worlds”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2015
<>.)) Saturn transited 7-17 Sagittarius, which would have transited Wells’ Midheaven at 9 Sagittarius. It was one of the earliest and most influential science fiction novels to detail an alien invasion against humanity. While the book capitalized on British fears about invasion and the fall of the British empire, it also cast a skeptical eye at unchecked scientific progress, suggesting that the cultivation of intelligence and technology should not be humanity’s only goal. Naturally the book inspired fear and fascination about the possibilities of space exploration. Among those inspired that year was a 16-year old Robert Goddard whose work with rockets would eventually help humanity get to the Moon.

In 1898, Marie Curie discovered two new elements: polonium and radium.((“Marie Curie”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2015
<>.)) She first used the word “radioactivity” to describe the unique properties of these elements. She did not know how dangerous radiation exposure was at the time, nor could she have realized her role in laying down the foundations for the Nuclear Age. The discovery of radioactive elements was also the Saturn Return in Sagittarius of when Dmitri Mendeleev first organized the periodic table of the elements in 1869.((“Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 03 Feb. 2015

The Wright Brothers were busy. On October 5th 1900, the Wright brothers flew their first manned glider.((Crouch, Tom D. First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane. Washington, D.C.: Produced by the Division of Publications, Harpers Ferry Center National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 2002. 46. Print.)) Saturn was at 29 Sagittarius. Their research was risky, since a few other fellow pioneers in aviation died in accidents related to their experiments in flight. While others focused on powered flight, the Wright brothers focused on testing gliders before powered flight. Their Saturnian trepidation in a Sagittarian field such as aeronautics was well represented by Saturn in Sagittarius.

Saturn in Sagittarius 1927-1929: Metropolis, Radiation & Future of Flight

Fritz Lang premiered his film Metropolis on March 13th 1927.((“Metropolis.” IMDb. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2015. <>.)) Saturn was at 7 Sagittarius. It is considered to be one of the most influential science fiction movies ever made. It presented a futuristic dystopia where science and progress had run amok causing egregious class inequalities, reinforced by technology that was supposed to increase the standard of living for all. In short, it was a dramatic embodiment of this “luddite” characteristic of Saturn in Sagittarius.

H.J. Muller presented his paper “The Problem of Genetic Modification” at the Fifth International Congress at Berlin September 15h 1927.((Obe, G., and M. Bauchinger. Advances in Mutagenesis Research. Vol. 1. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1990. V. Print.)) Saturn was at 2 Sagittarius. In this speech, Muller presented his findings that radiation causes mutations in genes, causing a media sensation. This was the beginning of Muller’s long campaign to warn the public of the dangers of radiation, a signification of Saturn in Sagittarius’ fear of certain expansions in knowledge. This was a Saturn Return since the Curies began their work on radioactivity.

Charles Lindbergh became famous around the world on May 21st 1927, when he completed the first non-stop transatlantic flight by airplane.((“Charles A. Lindbergh”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2015
<>.)) Previous fears about airplanes were vanquished and mainstream commercial flight became imminent. Saturn was at 4 Sagittarius. At the same time, Robert Goddard was making huge strides in his research on rockets. One of Goddard’s friends Wernher von Braun created the German Rocket Society and had just joined The Society for Space Travel. Charles Lindbergh saw the potential in Goddard’s work for spaceflight, so he contacted Goddard about securing financing for his work in rocketry. Saturn’s return to Sagittarius where it was at the beginning of the Wrights’ work on flight paid off big time, and humanity’s ascent to the sky foreshadowed humanity’s ascent to space.

Saturn in Sagittarius 1956-1958: Sputnik, FAA & ☮

On October 4th 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1.((“Sputnik”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2015
<>.))  It was a fantastic achievement for humanity, but it was accompanied by a great fear on the part of the USA that the Soviet Union was becoming technologically superior. Thus began the Space Race, when Saturn was at 9 Sagittarius. The success of Sputnik forced Americans to acknowledge the necessity of advancement in science for ending and surviving the Cold War. The US created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, also known as NASA on July 29th 1958. Saturn was at 19 Sagittarius.

Commercial flight had come a long way since Lindbergh’s daring journey. The sky was becoming cluttered with planes. A series of mid-air collisions prompted the US government to revamp its airspace regulation. On August 23rd 1958, President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aviation Act into law, creating the Federal Aviation Administration.((“A Brief History of the FAA.” Federal Aviation Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2015. <>.)) Saturn was at 19 Sagittarius, signifying the fear surrounding this mode of transportation and the consequent need to regulate it.

Early in 1958, Gerald Holtom designed a logo for the forming Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It stacked the semaphore symbols for “N” and “D”, standing for “nuclear disarmament”. It is now more widely known as the peace symbol (☮). Bertrand Russell launched the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which held its first march on Aldermaston on April 4th-April 7th, calling for the ban of all nuclear weapons.((Hostettler, John. Dissenters, Radicals, Heretics and Blasphemers the Flame of Revolt That Shines through English History. Sherfield on Loddon, Hook, Hampshire, England: Waterside, 2012. 239. Print.)) Saturn’s previous stay in Sagittarius brought about the warnings of Muller about radiation, so it’s appropriate that Saturn in 1958 brought about a full-blown campaign in opposition to nuclear technology.

Saturn in Sagittarius 1986-1988: Challenger, Chernobyl & M.A.D.

On January 28th 1986, the world watched in horror as NASA’s space shuttle Challenger exploded in mid-air shortly after launch.((“Challenger disaster”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2015
<>.)) Saturn was at 7 Sagittarius. The disaster provoked a massive review of NASA’s engineering, culture, policies and safety procedures. The shuttle program was put on hiatus until September 29th 1988((Logsdon, John A. “Return to Flight: Richard H. Truly and the Recovery from the Challenger Accident.” NASA. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2015. <>.)), just a month and a half before Saturn would leave Sagittarius for good. Saturn in Sagittarius not only brought about NASA’s Saturn Return specifically but challenges to the notion of space exploration in general and the dangers involved. And after all, the space shuttle that facilitated NASA’s Saturn Return was called Challenger.

Meanwhile, Russia outpaced the USA, by successfully launching the first modular space station, Mir, on February 20th 1986.((“Mir”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2015
<>.)) Saturn was at 9 Sagittarius, the exact Saturn Return of the launch of Sputnik in 1957. The Columbia Space Shuttle disaster on February 1st 2003 occurred at NASA’s Saturn Opposition in Gemini opposite Pluto conjunct NASA’s Saturn, and the Space Shuttle program itself was retired 30 years it started, a Saturn Return in Libra.

On March 1st 1986, hundreds of people embarked on the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, a cross-country event protesting nuclear proliferation from Los Angeles to Washington DC.((Hendrix, Kathleen. “Unlikely Saga of Great Peace March Nears Its Climax.”Los Angeles Times. N.p., 09 Nov. 1986. Web. 02 Feb. 2015. <>.)) During that march on April 26th 1986 in Chernobyl, some of people’s worst fears about nuclear power and radiation came true with the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.((Chernobyl Disaster | Nuclear Accident, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [1986].” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2015. <>.)) The scope of the disaster led to greater cooperation between the Soviet Union and the United States on the issue of nuclear weapons. On December 8th 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.((“Treaty Between The United States Of America And The Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics On The Elimination Of Their Intermediate-Range And Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty).” U.S. Department of State. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2015. <>.)) The treaty instituted a global ban on intermediate range nuclear weapons. Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius signified a warning about and limitation on nuclear technology, at least partially vindicating the anti-nuclear movement that began in earnest in the last Saturn in Sagittarius period.

8 thoughts on “Saturn in Sagittarius: The Skeptic, the Architect and the Luddite”

  1. This is a great article Patrick, so well researched and eloquently detailed….thank you for writing such a thorough another foreshadowing perhaps, I just read an article by Stacy Schiff in the Sept 7 New Yorker: The Witches of Salem: Terror in New England, 1692

    Best to you and your family.


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