Posted by: Donna Cunningham | November 7, 2009

How the Pluto-Saturn Square may Affect People born with that Aspect

©2008-9 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

Pluto and Saturn are square in the sky now, and it’s likely to stir up long-standing issues for people born with the Pluto-Saturn conjunction, square, trine, or opposition in their charts. The angle formed by the transiting planets doesn’t have to be the same as the natal angle in order for it to have an impact. I’ve noted this phenomenon countless times with significant events in newsmakers’ lives—we’ll see it later with Britney Spears’ chart.

Over 40 years as a practicing astrologer, I also found that when strong transits like the current conjunction form in the sky, clients who have that aspect natally crowd into the consultation room. It’s given me plenty of opportunity to observe the dynamics of particular aspects in action.  It’s even true, oddly enough, when the transiting aspect isn’t touching strongly on natal positions.

Outer Planet Transits and the Tuning Fork Principle

tuningfork-web My teacher, Richard Idemon was the one who noted that transiting aspects bring out the aspects’ qualities in the lives of people with that same pair of planets in aspect in their natal chart.

  He said that the aspect in the heavens seems to stir up related issues and life patterns in those who have the natal aspect, as though it were a cosmic tuning fork vibrating to their own personal chord.  (A tuning fork is a device used in tuning musical instruments.)

 My explanation of the tuning fork effect involves the climate of the times and how aspects between the outer planets go along with dramatic historical events and powerful social and economic developments that create a pervasive emotional climate. When an aspect forms in the sky, people with the same aspect strong natally can be set off emotionally by a repetition of the same or similar astrological, social, and global conditions.

 It registers as an, “Uh oh—it’s coming around again!” feeling of déjà vu.) Thus, they might be impelled to take strong action to relieve the renewed internal conflict or to express the higher potentials of the natal aspect.  It can be a pivotal moment in which they decide to let go of an undesired pattern for all times.

(Incidentally, you who were born with a conjunction, square, trine, or opposition between Saturn and Uranus may have experienced a similar sort of quickening in recent months as transiting Saturn opposed transiting Uranus, although the set of issues would have been different.)

 What‘s the Déjà vu for You?

Below are some of the types of issues represented by Pluto and Saturn. If you’re a Pluto-Saturn person, it’s important to consider whether you’re doing too much or too little about those planets’ concerns.  If you fit the description under “Excess,” you’re probably overdoing it and need to ease off.  If you’re a Pluto-Saturn type, it’s unlikely you fit the description under “Deficit.”  However, the people you’re trying to fix might fit it all too well—they’re your opposite number.

  • SATURN ISSUES: Structure; discipline; desire for quality and accomplishment; maturity; authority; perseverance; realism.
  • EXCESS: Rigid, perfectionistic, hypercritical, authoritarian; fearful, depressed; workaholic.
  • DEFICIT: Lack self-discipline, structure, goals, and planning; irresponsible, give up easily.
  •  PLUTO ISSUES: Power and control; trust; to analyze what lies beneath the surface and eliminate the undesirable; separateness;  holding on to things or feelings; death and rebirth.
  • EXCESS: Alternates isolation/symbiosis; controlling; mistrustful; overly intense; bitter, vengeful.
  • DEFICIT: Unable to looPluto-Saturn aspects -- living on the edgek deeply within; lack of psychological insight; insufficient desire for transformation; stuck.

Many Pluto-Saturn people have faced hard times like these before and gotten through them with sheer grit. Though they may be heartily tired of being in the trenches, they have qualities that others can learn from. I always say they have the strength of diamonds. 

During this transit, Pluto-Saturn people may learn that sometimes being a “survivor” isn’t such an admirable quality—sometimes it’s just plain dumb. There’s a time to quit while the quitting is good and to know when the situation is just never going to get any better, so you’re better off pulling out. Living on the edge gets really old, the older you get.

What You Can learn from this Transit–Make it the End of an Era!

How long do you have to beat your head against that particular wall?  In particular, you may need to let go of trying to rescue or fix irresponsible people who aren’t pulling their own weight.

It’s time to quit enabling, and make them take responsibility for themselves– time for some tough love. (The Bach remedy Centaury is for those who allow others to take advantage, and Red Chestnut helps those who worry more about others than others worry about themselves.)

Those who have learned how to use a natal Pluto-Saturn aspect well have an advantage in responding to the transit because of their track record in blending the energies of the two planets successfully. When the natal aspect involves the career houses (2nd, 6th, and 10th), many of them seem finally to have found their life work and come into their own. 

 People who have a pattern of using the combination in dysfunctional ways may be triggered into an upsurge of the less desirable qualities of the aspect, even under a trine. The transiting aspect can precipitate a bottoming out on the natal transit’s self-destructive expressions, so even when the transit seems negative at the beginning, a healing of long-standing patterns can occur.

 In any aspect, the planets involved are more important than the type of angle. A Pluto-Saturn square like the current one can actually be better than a trine between those two planets. Despite what you have been taught, a trine is not always a great thing—it’s just too easy to slip and slide into a self-defeating circumstance.

  A square like the current one, on the other hand can be just the thing to create the tension needed to break an undesirable pattern. The confrontation with conflicting forces and needs can mobilize you to get to work on a chronic issue. I’ve seen people do very well under a square but go into a meltdown under a trine.

 Britney Spears—a Phoenix Risen Again?

 A prime example would be rock icon Britney Spears, who has a Saturn-Pluto conjunction in late Libra in her 1st house natally squared by Venus in Capricorn. During the Pluto-Saturn trine that went on during parts of 2006-7 but especially the fall of 2007, she made headlines with her wild behavior, which culminated with losing her children, several abortive stays in rehab, and several psychiatric hospitalizations before she apparently stabilized.

(Incidentally, in my research into Pluto-Saturn aspects, I found them in the charts of several child stars like her and Danny Bonaduce who went through troubled adult periods.  Apparently the pressures of wealth, power, and stardom at such an early age were crushing to them.)  Here’s her chart, for you to study:

Britney Spears astrology chart

As the current Pluto-Saturn square forms, Saturn is conjunct her Libra Ascendant and Pluto has been squaring it for some time. The tuning fork effect seems to be in effect already, though it will eventually set off the natal Venus/Saturn/Pluto aspect—this being her Saturn return.  She appears to finally be back on track, stable in her personal life, deeply in love, and back on top in her career. We can hope it will continue–if not, she’ll have to bring out an updated version of , “Oops, I did it again.” 

Data Source: According to AstroDataBank, Britney Spears was born December 2, 1981; 1:30 AM CST in McComb, MS, 90W27; 31N14. (The data, rated A, was given by Britney and her mother to a British Astrologer.) 

Note: For more information on how natal aspects like these get reactivated, see  A Promise Fulfilled: When Transits Echo Natal Aspects  and Life Patterns of People Born with Uranus-Saturn Aspects.

More Posts for your Pluto-Saturn Preparedness Kit:Pluto-Saturn Preparedness Kit by Donna Cunningham

 Related Posts for Using the Transit to Change Unwanted Patterns:

FREE EBOOKLET FOR SKYWRITER SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Mothers, Daughters, and the Moon, a 50-page excerpt from The Moon in your Life. Read more about it here: NEW: FREE BOOKLET FOR SKYWRITER SUBSCRIBERS!  If you’re already a subscriber and want a copy, forward the most recent email post to me at To sign up for a subscription, go to the top right hand corner of the blog and click on “Subscribe.”  Then send me an email with your subscription confirmation or an email post with a request for the booklet in the subject line.

 Art source:  The tuning fork photo was found at…  the home of crystal singing bowls and a variety of alchemical tools.  I added the glyphs to it.


  1. Excellent, Donna!

    I have the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Leo in my 9th aspecting most of my personal planets and this fits my experience too – including the benefits of the square vs the trine.

    The sad truth I learned through many painful lessons in attempting to “rescue” others is to let them crash and burn. Watching those we love head for a serious wreck is very, very hard.

    • Yes, I’ve had a hard time with that too. There was a point, however, seems like it was one of the numerous transits to my natal Jupiter, when I finally had to accept that there were some people who simply weren’t going to get better. Donna

  2. I noticed that you used the term ‘affect’ in the title, and I’m curious if you view astrology as working through some sort of causal mechanism, as opposed to say, synchonicity. It seems like the tuning fork analogy that you used in the article could go either way, so I figured that I would just ask.

    • No, I don’t view astrology in a causal sense–it’s just that the types of tedious circumlocutions you have to continually employ in order to avoid that really don’t work in a title. Donna

  3. I understand completely. Just checking.

    • Yes, but it IS an important point that you make. I don’t want people thinking that Pluto and Saturn are these powerful forces that are out to get them, because it only increases the fear and the sense of powerlessness. I’ll have to address that point in a post–or three. Donna

  4. This is very good, thank you.

    I particularlly (sp?) like this phrase:

    “I always say they have the strength of diamonds. ”


  5. Wow! Great information. Thanks for your deep insights.

  6. Thanks Donna for your description of the current Saturn square Pluto. I have that configuration natally and it has helped me to know that I am also affected by these energies even though I don’t have a transit personally hitting this configuration in my chart. I will now pay more attention to this world transit and how it might help me to further work (resolve) my natal pluto/saturn aspect. I too very much like the description that you gave about them being the strength of diamond. This helps me to hold this aspect in a more positive way.

    • Hi, Nina, Glad if it helps. Pluto-Saturn aspects were among the first to capture my attention when I first started studying astrology a great many years ago. My sister was born with a Pluto-Saturn-Sun conjunction, and she had such a hard life. Then in my first year as a social worker, I began meeting young women born around the same time as her, and their lives were so much like hers that it was uncanny. So I had a sort of “insider” view of that aspect, and I have watched The Strength of Diamonds first-hand over the years. (I have a chapter on Pluto-Saturn aspects and their individual and historical impact in my ebook, Outer Planet Aspects/volume 3 of the Outer Planets and Inner Life.)
      The fact that you have it natally but it doesn’t tie into your chart by transit says to me that you can use this interval to do a lot of healing and releasing withou the trauma. I THINK there’s an article on this blog about Flower Essences for Pluto and Saturn (if not here, then on Vibration Magazine’s blog.) Other powerful tools would be HBLU (Healing from the Body Level Up) and the one with the eye movements, also the tapping (EFT, I know there’s an article on that here.). Donna

  7. I just noticed that Nancy Pelosi (3/26/1940) has an exact natal Pluto-Saturn square (respectively, 0 Leo and 0 Taurus), AND her Sun at 5 Aries is getting whacked by the current Pluto-Saturn square. And look what she just achieved–she got the health care bill passed, the greatest triumph of her career and quite possibly the greatest triumph of her life.

    Strength of diamonds, indeed!

    • Really!!! That’s neat to know about her. The whole Clinton administration had the Pluto-Saturn in Leo conjunction—Hillary, Bill, Gore. And Dick Chaney has the conjunction, I think maybe square his Sun. Donna

  8. I have saturn square pluto natally. I have 6 luminaries in capricorn, mercury, venus, mars, uranus, and neptune all conjunct so saturn is my main man and I have the moon conjunct jupiter in scorpio and pluto in scorpio. I know that this aspect isn’t in effect, but I am struggling with my natal aspect also, this square is at my angles. Pluto tightly conj. IC and saturn on the DC which squares saturn to my MC. I just turned 18 and have a bitter self-defeating attitude. Any mantras or spells, stones to help me not be so negative and depressed?

  9. Sorry and my sun is in Cap. Too.

  10. Hi, enjoyed your post on Saturn pluto square. I have a square in my chart. I have a Saturn 28 degrees in Gemini squaring pluto in libra 5th house. I also have moon in Virgo squaring Saturn. Up until i was around 28 years of age it has been a constant struggle and still wonder how I am here today. But I am. My square has felt like a hard struggle.

    Would appreciate guidance/thoughts in relation to my Saturn pluto square.

  11. Interesting… I Have been wondering about the saturn pluto interplay. It turns out 2 of my grand daughters have that. The oldest has an opposition on her no/so nodes. Saturn on the north and pluto on the south in Gemini no. Mode saturn and this is from the 9th to3rd houses! She also has a very sweet grand air trine that’s part of a kite with Venus at the apex. I can see her stuff, she13. But the littlest one age 5 1/2 is another ball game with a Saturn/pluto square. She also has Pluto trine her Mercury.She’s very intelligent and manipulative. The square is from the 3rd to the 6th house. She lies to get her way and pitches fits or crys very dramaticly and becomes destructive towards her favorite toys if she doesn’t get her way. On the other hand she notices people’s decor and compliments them and floors people by her adult conversation. She can be very sweet. The middle grand daughter-soon to be 7 has Saturn trine her cap moon. Saturn is 14 almost15 Virgo and moon 18 cap while pluto is almost 3 cap retro…too far for a trine. Anyhow how can I help. The opposition seems to attract nasty people and the younger one with the square seems like an obstacle from her own nature.

    • H, Barehand. Well, it’s a combination aspect that takes a lot of growing into, for sure. But also can have the grit and courage and determination to survive conditions that most people would never be able to handle. (My young sister was born with a close Pluto/Saturn/Sun conjunction and personified what I said above.)

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