Posted by: Donna Cunningham | November 19, 2009

The Pluto-Saturn Square—Two Examples of How It Works

©11-19-09 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

Some of you have commented that you’re having a hard time figuring out how the simultaneous transits from Pluto and Saturn work so you need some examples of the energies of these planets at work–including planets, signs, and houses.  Since I’m not a practicing astrologer any more and don’t feel comfortable using examples from my Dell Horoscope advice column, I don’t have cases ready to hand. Below are two hypothetical examples typical of what you might hear from people who are already living with this tough combination.  

Donna Cunningham's Pluto-Saturn series on Skywriter Made Up Example #1: Let’s suppose you have Virgo on the 5th house cusp, the house of children, and in that house, natally, you have the Moon in early Libra. 

The houses involved in the transit:

Fifth: Children, romance, creativity, self-expression, performing, leisure activities, gambling and other forms of risk-taking.

Eighth: Money you don’t earn (inheritances, grants, etc),  partner’s resources, sexuality, taxes, debt, birth, death, transformation, healing.

(If you’re new to this series and not all that familiar with the houses of the birth chart, you’d want to read the first post in this series: The Pluto-Saturn Preparedness Kit—Part 1  and then download AGSA ch13-houses  before coming back to this case example.)

What your story might be: There are a great many ways this combination might express itself, but let’s say you have  two young adult children. You love them to pieces, wait on them hand and foot like a serving wench, and have not expected or allowed them to grow up and take any responsibility for themselves.  (Libra Moon in 5, Virgo on cusp.) They’re living at home and haven’t worked a day in their lives but still feel entitled to the very best of everything–just like you taught them.

That hadn’t been a problem because your husband has been very successful (Scorpio on the 7th). Not too coincidentally, your kids were born in 1985-86 and have Neptune in early Capricorn, square your 5th house Libra Moon.

Here are your transits. With late Virgo on the cusp of the 5th and most of Libra in that house, Saturn has been transiting that house for a while, leading up to a conjunction to your Libra Moon.

You have late Sagittarius on the 8th house cusp  (debts, mate’s resources) and most of Capricorn in that house. Pluto has been silently transiting the 8th for a while as it was in late Sag. Now that it’s in Capricorn, it’s squaring your Libra Moon in the 5th at the same time Saturn is conjunct it. 

 Here’s what’s happening with the Pluto-Saturn transits to your 5th house Moon: Again, there are a great many ways this combination might play out, but let’s pretend that here’s what goes on in this little sketch. In the last couple of years, your husband’s business has suddenly flat-lined, so he’s lost a lot of money. His investments (transiting Pluto in the 8th) have gone south as well.

Your extravagant spending on the house and kids has put you deeply in debt, and all of a sudden, they’ve jacked up the interest to 30% on all 20 of your credit cards because you missed some payments. You’re caught in a debt trap (8th house). Furthermore, you’re now behind on your mortgage (Pluto and Saturn aspects to your Moon), and if you don’t catch up really fast, you might face foreclosure.

 What needs to happen now: You need to go into credit card rehab. Oh, wait, there’s no such thing.  But you do need a solid financial advisor to help you figure out how to cut spending to the bone and get that debt under control.

You might also need some family counseling to change how you handle those kids of yours so they get jobs and contribute to the family finances. They have to grow up now, and the only way they’ll do that is if you get strong enough to insist on it. If you don’t have a job yourself, you may need to work, if only part time.

In order to get on solid ground, you’re going to have to do some drastic things, like cook with generic brands (shudder) and sell some of those designer clothes through a consignment store. You may even have to downsize into a less luxurious home that you can actually afford.

 It won’t be pretty, but in the end, your kids will take their place in the adult world, and the family finances and life style will be more reality-based and sustainable than at any point in the past.  

 Made Up Example #2:  You have late Virgo on the Midheaven (career point) and all of Libra in the 10th house (intercepted). Natal Mars is in early Libra in the 10th.  You have mid-CaDonna Cunningham's Pluto-Saturn series on Skywriterpricorn rising, but early Capricorn is in the 12th house. 

The houses involved in the transit:

Tenth: Career and long-term goals, how you are remembered, parental authority, bosses and the type of boss you are.

Twelfth: Secrets, things that are repressed or hidden, self-defeating behavior, chronic illness, service, retreats, spiritual quest.

What your story might be: Again, there are any number of ways these transits might unfold, but I have a hunch about this one! Between Cap Rising and Virgo on the 10th, I’d say you’re a model employee, extremely capable and hard working with a set of mission-critical skills that just won’t stop. You’ve been most comfortable behind the scenes as a support person, so naturally you’ve been passed over for promotion repeatedly.

 Here’s what’s happening with the Pluto-Saturn transits to your 10th house Mars:  Again, there are a great many ways this combination might play out, but in this version, a deep change is stirring inside you (Pluto transiting 12, the house of self-defeating behavior), and after a lot of unconscious shifting, you now feel that you deserve to be more successful.

While Saturn was in Virgo, transiting the 9th (the house of higher education) the last couple of years, you took  management and business courses, and as Saturn crossed the Midheaven and formed a conjunction to Mars, you decided it was time you got a promotion into management. As transiting Pluto in the 12th squares Mars in Libra in the 10th, you began to get insights into your sweet but emasculated father as the role model you’ve adopted for your career.Donna Cunningham's Email Astrology Course

 What needs to happen now, with these transits to your Mars: You go to a life coach about your career–possibly a male who’d present a different role model than your father did. He helps you revise the old family programming about your worthiness for success through a set of exercises. Together, you set career goals and establish a series of actions and smaller steps to take to reach them.

You take an assertiveness workshop (Mars) so that you can approach your boss and coworkers firmly and confidently. The whole process takes time and courage, as old habits are slow to change, but change it does, and your career is finally going to take off. Your Virgo/Capricorn groundedness and skill set positions you to take advantages of the very real opportunities that do exist, even in a time of recession. 

How long does a transit last?  A question of Orbs

Neith, a Skywriter regular, asked what orbs I use for a transit, and cited a rule about 1-3° .  This is a bit technical for some readers, but bring it on! (An orb is the range of effect of an aspect–how many degrees before and after the point where it matches the degree of the natal planet–that the aspect is in effect.)

In determining orbs, as well as in many facets of astrology in action, I am more of a sensate type than a rigid rule type–that is, I go by what I feel or the client feels about an aspectin the natal or transiting chart. If they FEEL it, the aspect is in range and thus important; if they don’t, it’s not active and influencing them as yet.  

And what I have sensed–and clients have reported–consistently over the years is that an outer planet transit and its effects can be perceived by sensitive people for about 3° degrees before or after exact. That’s especially characteristic during the stationary period of the transiting planet–that is, when you look at the ephemeris and the planet is standing still for a month or so as it turns retrograde or direct in range of the aspect to the natal planet.

This holds true the first time a transit planet nears an aspect with the natal planet but forms a station 3° before exact–it’s an inner stirring in preparation for a major phase of growth. When I  talk to a self-aware client about an upcoming transit that won’t be in range for maybe a year before that first exact aspect , they quite often will say something like this: “You’re saying that could happen next year? That’s weird, because I’m already feeling that. And I’ve already decided to do blah, blah, blah…”  They then describe textbook remedial actions that fit the accompanying emotions and behavior patterns of such a transit to a T.  What they describe is so uncanny that it cannot possibly be suggestion on my part because I haven’t gone into detail with them about tactics yet.

Toward the end of a long series of transits, a year or two later, there’s a point when the transiting planet has been back and forth over an aspect and then the last stationary position comes to within about 3 degrees past exact.  What often happens at that point is that the person spends some time reliving what’s gone on during the transit. They typically digest the experience and what they learned from it, and then take action to tie up loose ends.

Maybe there’s no external event or pressure  any more at that point , so an event-oriented astrologer might conclude that the transit is over.  The client, however,  still has important work to do in processing it. For instance, they might have gone into therapy under the intense crucible of a Pluto or Saturn transit to the Moon, but they would keep going for a time after the transit is no longer exact.  Processing a transit is as much a part of the change as any external event or stimulus, because true and long-lasting change comes from within in how we handle challenges represented by the natal planet.

What does all this mean in terms of how long the Pluto-Saturn square could be influencing you?  That depends on the degrees of the chart placements you have in early Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn, so it’s an individual matter and beyond what I can do for you here.  The actual square between Pluto and Saturn takes place in the 1st 5° of Libra and Capricorn.  They are within  a 3° range of one another from 10/09 through 2/10 and from 7/10-9/10.  (At certain points, they will be joined by Jupiter and Uranus in Aries, but that’s further than this series can take you. If you’re affected by it, you may need to see an astrologer to figure out what it means for you.)  

 That’s how it works, folks.  And, no, don’t volunteer your own chart for a case study.  This is plenty. There’s a whole lot more territory for us to cover in this series.

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:

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  1. There are other measures that also contribute to the consolidation of credit card debt, as the benefits of debt management companies. Experts from these companies try to open negotiations with its creditors to reduce or eliminate interest and penalties on your account. You can also participate in the hearing of loans and debt management programs because it allows you to learn how to manage their debt.

  2. Here’s another scenario you have a grand fixed cross (Pluto/Mars/Venus/Saturn)and a grand trine with (Saturn/Jupiter/Uranus/Mercury)Saturn links the it all together. Your natal Sun is unaspected and with this Saturn/Pluto square you begin to get flashes of resolution between your square and begin to find ways to stand with Saturn in a healthy positive way. For the first time in 54.5 years you begin to believe that there are ways to connect to your-self,the universe and your power.

    • Now there’s a scenario I really like, Laura! Go for it! Donna

  3. Saturn almost always gives us opportunities to behave with maturity and be responsible. Funny thing that.

    Thanks for a couple of good examples!

    BTW, how big an orb do you like to use for transits? Bernadette Brady suggests very small ones – 1 to 2 degrees. I know I feel the waxing phase of a transit the most and once the transiting planet has moved past the degree, that’s usually it.

    • HI, Neith. Good questions, and I wrote a lengthy answer, which I added to the article at the end. Thanks for asking. Donna

  4. ::ears perk up at the mention of orbs and waxing phase::

  5. Yeay!!! So EXCITING to see Donna Cunningham here {‘no longer practicing astrology’? is THAT story told somewhere?} Great, lucid information: thank you-love your flower essence expertise as well.;-)

    • Welcome, IZB. No huge story involved. After 40 years of doing consulations, I needed to not be doing that any more and instead to invest every bit of my Mercury energy into writing. So that’s what I’m doing and loving it, and this blog is my playground where I get to try out new topics to write about and stretch myself with new writing techniques. I have a series of new ebooks on my publications site, Donna

  6. Your books rock, DC! I love the ones I bought!

    • Thank you, Neeti. I was glad for you to have them. Donna

  7. Wasn’t the wild ride on wall street another example of the Saturn Pluto Square. And the unwillingness of the Greek people to change their ways?

    I am re-reading all your posts on this, as I really need to know how to protect myself from those people who are unwilling to change and will mess it up for the rest of us. So, as you can guess I have money in Mutual funds, and I do not want to lose what I have made from the last tumble, all over again.

    Might this mean it is time for me to cut my losses and get the heck out until everyone can wise up and do what is needed?

    And my fear is that the US will be in the same boat with our massive spending. When will they learn?

    If Saturn is Rx right now does that give everyone the chance to rethink things before Saturn goes direct?

    • HI, Susie, this is surely a good time to work with the articles in the Pluto-Saturn series. And, yes, I do think this Saturn retrograde is important for going back and fixing things–especially as it’s back in Virgo making the final opposition to Uranus. That way, when it moves into Libra and squares Pluto again, you’ll be well-prepared. As for your investments, that’s so far out of my area of expertise, I’m not the person to ask. Donna

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