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

Transits in Sagittarius: Perspectives in Knowledge

The sign of Sagittarius and its ruler Jupiter are traditionally associated with various realms and perspectives in knowledge. Saturn’s transits through the sign just tell a part of that story, of skepticism and trials of belief. However, skepticism comes in many flavors and styles. Sometimes to more clearly see what a given planet does in a sign, it helps to compare it to what happens when other planets transit through the sign. Here is an overview of some of the most recent outer planetary transits through the sign of Sagittarius.

Neptune in Sagittarius 1970-1983: Far Out

Neptune’s transit through Sagittarius from 1970-1983 coincided with a heightened period of idealism, glamorization and mysticization of science and space exploration. In 1977, NASA launched two probes to study the outer solar system, with appropriately Sagittarian names: Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.  They are the farthest traveling human-made objects in all human history. Accompanying these probes were the Voyager Golden Records containing sounds, languages and music of Earth. It was assembled by Carl Sagan in case the probes were intercepted by extraterrestrials. Inscribed on the craft were the words:

“This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.”

-US President Jimmy Carter((“Jimmy Carter: Voyager Spacecraft Statement by the President.” The American Presidency Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2015. <>.))

It doesn’t get much more Neptune in Sagittarius than that! This period also featured the rise of SETI((, a project that searched for extraterrestrial radio signals. On August 15th 1977, the “WOW!” signal was recorded. The increased scientific interest in such far out subjects at this time was paralleled by the emergence of the New Age movement in 1970((“New Age movement”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 30 Jan. 2015
<>.)), Neptune’s ingress into Sagittarius. The New Age movement’s associations with hallucinogenic drugs, esotericism, and idealism about a so-called “Age of Aquarius” is congruent with the most commonly asserted astrological traits of Neptune.

In short, the world’s idealism of choice at this time focused on optimistic Sagittarian themes of exploration and knowledge. Neptune dissolved and universalized Sagittarian constructs whereas Saturn in Sagittarius has hardened and defined them. Consider the combination of these principles in the nativity of Charles Darwin who was born with Saturn conjunct Neptune in Sagittarius. There was someone whose inspired and imaginative scrutiny of the natural world led to a denial of a mystical or transcendental origin for it.

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan was born with the Moon at 20 Sagittarius. Saturn’s transits to that degree occurred in 1958, when Sagan was involved in research for Project A119, a secret plan by the US government to launch a nuclear bomb on the Moon.((Barnett, Antony. “US Planned One Big Nuclear Blast for Mankind.” The Guardian. N.p., 13 May 2000. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <>.)) In the next Saturn in Sagittarius period, on February 5th 1987, Sagan was arrested along with 400 others for trying to enter the Nevada Test Site, for protesting the Reagan administration’s resumption of nuclear testing.((Lindsey, Robert. “438 PROTESTERS ARE ARRESTED AT NEVADA NUCLEAR TEST SITE.” The New York Times. N.p., 05 Feb. 1987. Web. 23 Jan. 2015. <>.)) Saturn was at 18 Sagittarius, fast approaching a conjunction to his Moon. In other words, Sagan went from working on nuclear research for the government in one Saturn in Sagittarius period to protesting the government for nuclear testing in the next.

Sagan’s show Cosmos premiered on PBS on September 28th 1980.((“Cosmos.” IMDb. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <>.)) Neptune was exactly at 20 Sagittarius conjunct Sagan’s Moon at 20 Sagittarius.  The show broadcast and popularized Sagan’s almost spiritual awe at the cosmos through scientific understanding. Carl Sagan was certainly a scientific skeptic, but consider the difference in style between Sagan and the more polemical styles of Randi or Hitchens. Saturn in Sagittarius related to Sagan’s scrutiny and skepticism of nuclear technology but his skepticism of pseudoscience came from his love of science, his wonder at the natural world, his Moon in Sagittarius.

Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

CSI founder Paul Kurtz was born with Mercury at 10 Sagittarius. He published his infamous “Objections to Astrology” statement in September 1975((Grim, Patrick. 1990. Philosophy of Science and the Occult. Albany: State U of New York, 1982. 18. Print.)), and Neptune was at 9 Sagittarius, conjunct Kurtz’s Mercury. The letter was written in response to a rising interest in astrology and the claims of a “Mars Effect” by French statistician Michel Gauquelin. Kurtz’s statement was signed by nearly 200 leading scientists, including Nobel prize winners, all of which led Kurtz to found a skeptical organization the following year. However, Neptune has a reputation for being somewhat of an ignis fatuus, and Neptune’s conjunction to his Mercury was borne out by the protracted controversy, confusion and bias that would surround examination of the “Mars Effect”.

Meanwhile, Randi had been waging war against self-professed psychic Uri Geller. Randi teamed up with Gardner, Hyman, Sagan and Isaac Asimov to launch Kurtz’s new organization to  debunk pseudoscience and paranormal fraud. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) was officially launched on April 30th 1976((Stein, Gordon. The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1996. 168-80. Print.)) which was just one day after a solar eclipse conjunct Jupiter in Taurus – a pretty appropriate signature for a group that professes and promotes empirical/material realities. After all, there are several prominent skeptics with Jupiter in Taurus: James Randi, Ray Hyman, Richard Dawkins((Priest, Susanna Hornig. Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2010. 203. Print.)) and Phil Plait((“ISNI 0000000115990375.” ISNI. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2015. <>.)).

Marvin Zelen, a member of CSI proposed a new test of Gauquelin’s findings. On April 29th 1977, another CSI researcher George Abell wrote to Kurtz that Zelen’s test had come out in Gauquelin’s favor. In response, CSI attempted to discredit the original data.  CSI member Dennis Rawlins harshly criticized CSI’s handling of the issue((Rawlins, Dennis. “STARBABY by Dennis Rawlins.” Centre Universitaire De Recherche En Astrologie. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <>.)), and he eventually left the organization. Subsequent analysis by Kurtz states that interpretations of eminence and the availability and reliability of birth data impact the existence of a Mars Effect.((Kurtz, Paul, Jan W. Nienhuys, and Ranjit Sandhu. “Is the “Mars Effect” Genuine?” Journal of Scientific Exploration 11.1 (1997): 19-39. Print.)) Interestingly, Gauquelin, Zelen((“Marvin Zelen.” Dignity Memorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2015. <>.)) and Abell were all born when Saturn was in Sagittarius.

Sagittarian Cinema

Neptune transits have figured prominently at important points in the history of cinema, and the illusions of movies and their hypnotic powers over the masses are considered very Neptunian traits. So, true to Sagittarius’s associations with long distance travel, some of the biggest movie events from this time involved stories from a “long time ago in a galaxy far far away” and a mystical “Force” with the Star Wars original trilogy (1977-1983) and optimistic travelers from far away with Close Encounters of the Third Kind  (1977) and E.T. (1982). In fact, Steven Spielberg has his Sun at 26 Sagittarius, where Neptune was on the premiere of E.T. on June 11th 1982.((“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” IMDb. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2015. <>.)) Star Trek also became popular through its syndication on television in the 70’s after low ratings during its original run, leading to Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Neptune in Sagittarius coincided with some classic sci-fi that could dissolve boundaries between all walks of life, but we will see that Saturn in Sagittarius coincides with the release of books and movies that harden and define the differences between them.

Uranus in Sagittarius 1981-1988: The Space Shuttle

Uranus’s transit through Sagittarius from 1981-1988 coincided with the launch of the Space Shuttle program. The shuttle’s reusability facilitated a revolution in space travel, well represented by the technological and radical traits associated with Uranus and Sagittarius’s associations with travel. The previous Uranus in Sagittarius period from 1897-1904 featured the first powered flight by the Wright brothers in 1903, confirming the relevance of Uranus in Sagittarius for remarkable developments in transportation technology.

“What about the Moon Landing?” you may be asking. NASA was created on July 29th 1958. Jupiter was at 23 Libra, conjunct the North Node as well as the most fortunate fixed star in the sky, Spica. Accordingly, NASA has an exceedingly Jupiterian (and Libran) motto: “For the benefit of all”. The next time Jupiter returned to Libra, it conjoined Uranus in Libra, and the first humans landed on the Moon on July 20th 1969 when the Moon itself was aligned with the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Libra. The next time Jupiter passed through Libra, the first Space Shuttle was launched.

The Space Shuttle wasn’t the only innovation from Uranus in Sagittarius that would connect people from A to B. Two major conjunctions occurred with Uranus in Sagittarius in the 1980’s: a Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in 1983 and a Saturn-Uranus conjunction in 1988. These two conjunctions illustrate the differences between these planetary principles and clarify the particular nature of Saturn in Sagittarius.

Jupiter-Uranus Conjunction in Sagittarius 1983: 73cHN0L09Y r3V0LU710n

  • The Internet – It was on January 1st 1983 that ARPANET was migrated to TCP/IP, which created the digital infrastructure known as the Internet.((“Internet Celebrates Its 30th Birthday.” The Telegraph. N.p., 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <>.)) The significance of the Internet cannot be understated. This virtual bridge would eventually allow anyone to connect over a great distance, aptly described by Jupiter conjunct Uranus in Sagittarius.
  • Cell Phones – AT&T laid down the first cellular network in 1983, and the FCC approved the world’s first commercial cellular portable phone on September 21st 1983.((“1973 – 1983: Making History: Developing the Portable Cellular System.”Motorola Solutions. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2015. <>.)) This new infrastructure allowed people to be called from anywhere to anywhere, similar to the Internet created earlier in the year, well represented by the dynamics of Jupiter and Uranus in Sagittarius.
  • GPS – On September 16th 1983 US President Ronald Reagan announced that GPS technology would be available for civilian use.((Speakes, Larry M. Ronald Reagan: Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Soviet Attack on a Korean Civilian Airliner. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <>.)) A cartographical technology which operates by sending and receiving signals to and from a satellite is perfectly described by Jupiter conjunct Uranus in Sagittarius.

Saturn-Uranus Conjunction in Sagittarius 1988: Religious Desecration 

While the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Sagittarius featured constructive bridges between people and places through technology, the Saturn-Uranus conjunction in Sagittarius coincided with the development of divisive wedges between cultures and faiths. Criticism of religion (Saturn in Sagittarius) was empowered by science or otherwise unbounded (Uranus in Sagittarius). Concordantly, such critics inspired indignation to a similarly unbounded degree for their alleged blasphemy and desecration.

The Shroud of Turin

Secondo Pia's Shroud of Turin photographOn May 28th 1898, the first photographs were taken of the Shroud of Turin, an artifact purported to be the burial cloth of Jesus.((Evans, Colin. Introduction. A Question of Evidence: A Casebook of Great Forensic Controversies, from Napoleon to O.J. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons, 2003. 7. Print.)) The photographs were significant because the negatives revealed what appeared to be a positive image of the face of a man. As news of the photographs spread around the world, a debate about the authenticity of the photographs ensued, whether it was evidence of the supernatural or otherwise. Saturn was at 9 Sagittarius.

A Uranus Return in Sagittarius later, and the Catholic Church and a group of scientists finally settled on the terms for a radiocarbon dating experiment on the Shroud of Turin in order to determine its age. On October 13th 1988 the results were announced that the Shroud of Turin came from between 1260-1390 C.E., invalidating the idea that the image could be of Jesus by about 1200 years.((Suro, Roberto. “Church Says Shroud of Turin Isn’t Authentic.” The New York Times. N.p., 13 Oct. 1988. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <>.)) The results set off a firestorm of controversy and many people still passionately dispute the results. Saturn was at 27 Sagittarius conjunct Uranus. Saturn and Uranus in Sagittarius provided a scientifically-driven definitive judgment of faith-filled claims about a religious relic, signified by Sagittarius.

The Satanic Verses

Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” was published on September 26th 1988.((Netton, Ian Richard. Text and Trauma: An East-West Primer. Surrey: Curzon, 1996. 19. Print.)) Saturn was at 26 Sagittarius. It was a novel which satirized narrow-minded thinking and absolutist belief systems. It provoked an international crisis when conservative Muslims perceived the novel to be blasphemous  and mocking Islam. Again, Saturn was providing criticism of a Sagittarian religious system, and the religious system in question took deep offense. A fatwa was issued against Rushdie and the whole affair led to numerous killings, attempted killings, and bombings. The Saturn-Uranus conjunction was opposed to Rushdie’s Sun and Moon, signifying the extraordinary threats to his life. It is hard to ignore some of the parallels between this episode and the Charlie Hebdo attack which occurred near the beginning of our current Saturn in Sagittarius period.

The Last Temptation of Christ

While the West scorned the splinter in the eye of the Middle East on the issue of free speech when it came to the Satanic Verses, some Christians in the West were somewhat content to ignore the log in their own. Martin Scorsese’s film adaptation of “The Last Temptation of Christ” premiered on August 12th 1988.((“The Last Temptation of Christ.” IMDb. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <>.))  Saturn was at 26 Sagittarius conjunct Uranus at 27 Sagittarius. It was extremely controversial to some Christians because of its depiction of Jesus’ consummating his alleged marriage to Mary Magdalene.

Fundamentalist Christians in Paris set theaters showing the film on fire.((Greenhouse, Steven. “Police Suspect Arson In Fire at Paris Theater.” The New York Times. N.p., 24 Oct. 1988. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <>.)) Hundreds of Christians protested the studio that produced the films. The controversy convinced several theater chains not to show the movie, and stores declined to rent the movie to customers. The film was banned in many countries, and still is today. Martin Scorsese was experiencing a Saturn-Uranus recurrence transit since he was born with Saturn conjunct Uranus in the opposite sign of Sagittarius, Gemini.

Pluto in Sagittarius 1995-2008: The World Wide Web

On April 30th 1995, the Internet was completely privatized, and the World Wide Web as we understand it entered the public consciousness.((Harris, Susan R., Ph.D., and Elise Gerich. “Retiring the NSFNET Backbone Service: Chronicling the End of an Era.” ConneXions 10.4 (1996): n. pag.Merit Research. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <>.)) Pluto was at 0 Sagittarius, having made its first ingress into the sign that year. What followed in the years since was the unprecedented and ongoing consolidation of all human knowledge and enterprises into a virtual realm. It deconstructed the importance of location by being accessible from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, and changed the relationships between people, companies and governments. “Search engine”, “email” and “blog” all entered the popular lexicon. It’s hard to imagine the world today without the monolithic corporations and institutions the Internet has generated: Google, YouTube, Amazon, Facebook, Wikipedia or even Craigslist. Such a profound transformation in the treatment of information and publishing is perfectly summarized by Pluto in Sagittarius. Previous transformative attempts to systematize knowledge and attempts to locate humanity in relation to itself, the cosmos and the divine, can be found in previous Pluto in Sagittarius periods: Encyclopédie (1751), Universalis Cosmographia (1507) and Copernicus’s Commentariolus (1510-1514), Roger Bacon’s Opus Majus (1267) and Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica (1265-1274).

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden was born when Saturn was at 14 Sagittarius. On April 17th 1987, Osama bin Laden led a group of 50 to fight alongside the Arab rebels against the Soviets at Jaji.((Bergen, Peter L. Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama Bin Laden. New York: Free, 2001. 19. Print.)) While it was a relatively unimportant war, it was in this time that Osama bin Laden began to become popular as his participation was spun into the image of a charismatic military victor. He was in the midst of his trio of Saturn Returns in Sagittarius (sometimes someone can have three in a row due to retrogradation).

The next year on August 11th 1988, Osama bin Laden formed the terrorist group Al Quaeda, responsible for carrying out terrorist attacks all over the world, including the 9/11 attacks.((Wander, Andrew. “A History of Terror: Al-Qaeda 1988-2008.” The Guardian. N.p., 12 July 2008. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <>.)) Saturn was at 26 Sagittarius. Much like the head of the Gunpowder Plot, one’s articles of faith were corrupted towards malicious ends, or Sagittarius was corrupted by the presence of Saturn. The 9/11 attacks occurred on September 11th 2001 at Osama’s Saturn Opposition. Transiting Saturn was at 14 Gemini opposite Pluto at 12 Sagittarius, aligned with Osama bin Laden’s natal Saturn at 14 Sagittarius. The attacks led to suspicion of ordinary Muslims, great fears about religious terrorism and ultimately the “War on Terror” which further destabilized relations between Western and Middle Eastern countries.

“New Atheism”, “Christo-Americanism” & “Muslim Radicals”

The “Four Horsemen of Atheism” (Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett) all published books between 2004 and 2007 which gave rise to “New Atheism”, a particularly outspoken and uncompromising profession against all religions. Their philosophical and scientific annihilation of religious belief was represented well by Pluto in Sagittarius. Unfortunately there are no birth times for these men, so there is no way to tell how Pluto might have specifically configured with their natal charts. However, I think it is interesting that the 9/11 attacks have been cited as a major reason why they decided to be more public and direct with their criticisms of religion in general because of Pluto’s role in 9/11.((Barooah, Jahnabi. “‘New Atheists’ Emerge From 9/11.” The Huffington Post., 26 Aug. 2011. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <>.)) The nickname the “Four Horsemen” is appropriate considering the sign of Sagittarius is a “horseman” and the reference from Revelations fits some of the apocalyptic notions of Pluto.

The rise of “New Atheism” was parallel to the hardening of American Christian neo/conservative suspicions of Islam, as well as against liberalism and multiculturalism. The 9/11 attacks re-energized “Christo-Americanism”, “a distorted form of Christianity that blends nationalism, conservative paranoia and Christian rhetoric.”((Blake, John. “Four Ways 9/11 Changed America’s Attitude toward Religion.”CNN Belief Blog. N.p., 3 Sept. 2011. Web. 01 Feb. 2015. <>.)) This mindset was reflected in the paranoia over gay marriage in the 2004 election, and the assertions of its inconsistency with the country’s “Judeo-Christian heritage”. This continued on December 7th 2004 when Bill O’Reilly declared that Christmas was “under siege” by secularists, beginning annual claims about an alleged “War on Christmas”.((Denvir, Daniel. “A Short History of the War on Christmas.” POLITICO Magazine. N.p., 16 Dec. 2013. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <>.)) The Sun conveniently passed Pluto each December in this time.

At the same time, it was in this period that cartoons of Muhammad by Jyllands-Posten in Denmark and Lars Vilks in Sweden led to violent demonstrations, protests and death threats. Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was assassinated by a radical Muslim for his film Submission which criticized the treatment of women in the Islamic world. Theo van Gogh was born with Saturn in Sagittarius. These events highlighted the differences in each culture’s appreciation of free speech and sensitivity to blasphemy. In short, Pluto’s transit through Sagittarius featured a climax in religious extremism with deeply polarized responses between secular and religious people and countries.

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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