Saturn square Uranus 2021: Part I

by Amber R. Balk, Ph.D.

Written through the first peak of exact Saturn square Uranus, February 8-March 8, 2021

In this article I share some insights received via introspection, meditations, dreams, and synchronicities for the transit of Saturn square Uranus, as it is arguably the biggest astrological event of 2021.

The story will unfold in three parts, each aligned with the 2021 transit peaks which occur February 17th, June 14th, and December 24th.

I first noticeably felt Saturn square Uranus kick in with a bang late November and early December of 2020.

I don’t know about you, but the year had left me with a sense of having been cosmically chewed up and spit out.

Drained and weary, I hoped to tap into something different in 2021. Yet, I was also feeling a bit shell-shocked and hesitant about what might come next.

I like to engage the archetypes in contemplative dialogue through meditations and introspection, and I asked for insights into the coming year’s unfolding as part of an end-of-the-year ritual in which I combined journaling, dreamwork, and creative process.

I had known the Saturn-Uranus transit was coming into effect and had already begun in 2020, but I was surprised by the intensity electrifying my inner space as the square approached its initial exactitude.

I later realized transiting Mercury (the psychopomp) was conjunct my natal Uranus, which seemed to ignite my portal into Saturn-Uranus.

Waves of electric blue excitement, hopefulness, and effervescent anticipation rolled through, filling my inner realm with optimism and curiosity. Alongside the excitement came an awareness of boundaries, limitations, and structure. The combo was distinctly Saturn-Uranus.

I self-identify as a bit of an Uranus-philic personality– it has long been my favorite planet in astrology, and I have a big soul affinity for revolution, change, freedom, and liberation– even to the extent of being a bit (okay, a lot) of a rebel and an eccentric.

Yet, so far, I have been most surprised during the early phases of this Saturn-Uranus square by a newfound appreciation and respect for Saturn.

Saturn-Uranus Square 2021: Waves of Influence

Saturn square Uranus spans beyond 2021 in both directions, as seen below using a 10 degree orb. The peaks indicate 0 degrees, or the moments of exact square 90 degree aspect.

While the peaks are significant moments of heightened activation while considering personal transits when we look at our natal charts, Richard Tarnas (2021) points out that with world transits the effects tend to be more noticeable as the transit continues and completes due to a snowball effect that heightens as individuals and movements within the planetary collective pick up the energies and amplify them through choice, action, and behavior.

Therefore, while the peaks of the Saturn/Uranus square are dramatically displayed throughout 2021, it could be that we notice the themes more prominently into 2022, 2023, and potentially even into 2024.

Saturn square Uranus 2020-2023
(Graph generated via Archetypal Explorer, which I highly recommend. Check it out here.)

First, let’s consider these archetypes as they stand alone.

Saturn is structure, foundations, order, time.

Saturn likes slow and steady. Saturn is reliable, predictable, solid.

As my friend and archetypal astrologer Renn Butler puts it, Saturn is “incarnation in material forms, real-world concerns and responsibilities, time and boundaries, qualities of maturity and wisdom, patience and forbearance” (Butler, 2017, p. 18).

The darker side of Saturn brings “forces of constriction and hardening, boundaries and separation, problems and challenges, repression and defensiveness, fearful enslavement to the past” (Butler, 2017, p. 18).

Saturn is the habitual patterns that tend to build with monotonous repetition, and in this way I have come to understand and greatly appreciate Saturn characteristics as also reflected within the structural fabric of nature.

Whereas Pluto can reflect the instinctual driving evolutionary force of nature, Saturn can reflect the web of intricate systems in which life unfolds, the underlying patterns and grooves through which growth tends to follow.

(Note: I really haven’t heard other astrologers speak of Saturn in this way– as nature’s structure, so I imagine this might be an odd or controversial perspective. As usual, my Uranian ways are probably influencing me here; it is typical for me to have a weird take on things, but perhaps it is also apropos for a Uranian perspective of Saturn during a Saturn-Uranus transit.)

For instance, Saturn is associated with bones and teeth– the solid structures that develop slowly over time through repetitive assimilation of nutrients, basic elements, and environmental pressures.

Landscapes are formed in a similar manner.

Even DNA, the structure of genetic material, perpetuates patterns that inform & influence material form. That, to me, has a distinctive Saturn feel.

(More on Saturn as the fabric of nature later…)

Saturn was once the outer limit of the known universe.

Uranus was discovered on March 13, 1781 by William Herschel, the first planet found via telescope, and this discovery blew the anciently known boundaries out of the cosmic waters.

Referring once again to Butler’s The Archetypal Universe (2017), astrological archetypal Uranus is characterized by “impulses toward freedom and awakening, rebirth and breakthroughs, experimentation and rebellion, innovation and originality, individuation and independence” (p. 19).

Shadow Uranus can involve “manic and erratic restlessness, excessive needs for autonomy and independence, an inability to cooperate or compromise, unwillingness to work within structures or commit, states of extremism, fanaticism, and hubris” (Butler, p. 19).

Uranus is fast-paced and sometimes impatient. I experience Uranus as electric; lightning strikes and brings vision, insight, and inspiration.

It is also associated with scientific innovation and invention.

In terms of structure, Saturn and Uranus seem to be a bit at odds with one another.

One is slow and steady, and the other is quick and radical.

One likes to build cautiously and meticulously, and the other likes to blow shit up and demolish whatever is too crystalized and outdated.

I have no doubt that these themes are already sounding familiar, especially since we are already through the first major peak of the square transit.

Squares are tense and dynamic.

The two energies act against each other and may lash out at each other. As soon as one initiates and a particular direction seems certain, the other may activate and confront with its own agenda, steering things in an entirely different direction.

Squares tend to necessitate action. When action is thwarted, it can be experienced as stress.

2020, marked by the Capricorn triple conjunction of Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto, involved intensification of themes around constriction, power dynamics, the driving urge to overcome oppression, limited mobility and intense challenging of limitations, and increased awareness of mortality with the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 Triple Conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn, & Pluto
(Notice how the transits span beyond 2020 but came into full effect simultaneously throughout the year.)

These themes have been activated and noticeable in various social justice movements and civil protests, such as Black Lives Matter, the increasing visibility and public effectiveness of the #MeToo movement, and worldwide resistance to authoritarian and totalitarian systems and figureheads.

We see this in the United States, but also in Russia, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Turkey, and many regions of Africa— just to briefly name a few.

In line with these themes are also increasingly dramatic natural disasters and ecological crises that are becoming more undeniable and more catastrophic.

Massive wildfires, polluted waters, devastated ecosystems, melting icecaps, extreme weather patterns, and increased species extinctions are unfolding globally at alarmingly high rates.

These are the challenges we have been facing.

No doubt, these events will continue requiring our attention and action.

We can especially parse out flavors of Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto at play in all of these above situations. It can be challenging to gain a sense of clarity within such intensity.

And at times, it can seem ridiculous to narrow the focus on only one or two archetypes because the risk is always of losing the full picture; it can be a classic can’t see the forest for the trees kind of experience.

However, I felt compelled to inwardly explore Saturn and Uranus, having come through 2020 with a much stronger understanding of Saturn and Pluto and also upon reflecting on the massive period of Uranus square Pluto that spanned the 2010s which is only recently subsiding.

In particular, many of the scientific advances and breakthroughs that occurred over the past 15 years are just now entering into integrated use and accessibility, and it is now that we will begin to witness, experience, and face the consequences of how these innovations will impact people and the planet.

As Saturn squares Uranus, we are entering a time when the launching of Uranus-Pluto seeded scientific approaches, techniques, and technologies hit the world markets and become utilized in societies around the globe.

This is the time when breakthrough and boundary meet and sometimes collide.

This time will unleash unforeseen beneficial and detrimental effects.

Dreaming a Post-Apocalyptic World

In late 2020 I began having recurring dreams, all set within a post-apocalyptic landscape.

In these dreams I am travelling, trying to find refuge and safety as most of the planet has become uninhabitable and toxic.

I travel into extremely high-tech cities, of which there are a few scattered across the planet– maybe 4 or 5.

These places are survival islands.

In most of these dreams, after I reach these high tech survival islands, I then focus on becoming involved in revolutionary movements, connecting with underground rebel networks who strive to bring ever-increasing liberation for all of humanity and who also fight for the protection of the planet/ecosystems.

I make connections and meet allies.

I feel driven and dedicated to my cause and purpose.

It was easy to make personal meaning of the dreams (because after the major losses and changes of the past 5 years, I am living in my own personal post-apocalyptic world), but I was especially struck by the intensely archetypal nature of these dreams.

These dreams led me to begin paying attention to news of technological advances and scientific breakthroughs, and this then led to a series of synchronicities which further heightened my attention.

I began to contemplate and focus on the potential consequences that we may face in the near future regarding recent discoveries, scientific innovations, and medical breakthroughs.

Although these innovations may originate within an archetypal emphasis of Uranus and Pluto, here I am more focused and concerned with the ramifications that we will see unfold in the near future, most likely as the Saturn Uranus square continues to gain traction.

I’ll begin with an example that especially stood out.

“Chicken Bites,” Lab-Created Foods, and Contemplating the Structural Fabric of Nature

The concept of cultured, lab-created meat has captured the imaginations of visionaries and futuristic folks for quite some time.

One of the earliest documented mentions was in Winston Churchill’s 1931 essay “Fifty Years Hence,” in which he predicted:

With a greater knowledge of what are called hormones, i.e. the chemical messengers in our blood, it will be possible to control growth. We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium. Synthetic food will, of course, also be used in the future.

Churchill, Winston. (Dec 1931). Fifty years hence. The Strand Magazine.

Churchill wasn’t wrong.

Since the 1950s scientists across the planet have been working on this, with big breakthroughs here and there along the way.

Coinciding with the major peaks of Uranus square Pluto, the first companies launched from 2011-2017 with over 60 proclaiming their objectives, but this was mostly a time of envisioning, testing, and experimenting.

In December of 2020, Singapore made history as the first government agency to approve use of cultured meat for commercial use.

(For further reading on lab-grown meat, click here and here.)

Thus, the near future should bring to light the effects and ramifications of this innovation.

Cultured, lab-grown meat could be a solution to the ecological and ethical situation we find our current meat industry embroiled in– unsustainable practices are contributing to global warming; animals are unethically treated, abused, and exploited which can lead to poor health that impacts food quality and sets in motion a cascade of poor options and detrimental actions that snowball into even bigger problems.

(Click here and here for more info.)

As I read an article about the shift from potential to reality of lab-created meat hitting the commercial market, my stomach churned. I had a visceral response.

I felt nauseous… and simultaneously intrigued.

It sparked a conversation with my 12-year-old daughter, who focused entirely on the potential environmental and ethical benefits. She was surprised that I had reservations.

As I sat before her contemplating the potential unforeseen risks, I was suddenly transported to the countless arguments I had with my father over various ethical dilemmas.

I vividly remembered feeling baffled by what I viewed as his stubborn old-world ways. I had vehemently challenged him, but he always held fast to his values, which often stood in stark contrast to my own.

Amused to find myself in juxtaposition– defending my views against my progressive daughter’s– I imagined the entire string of events unfolding under the jurisdiction of a Saturn and Uranus audience.

When I was younger, I was rebellious (Uranus). My father was conservative (Saturn).

I thought he was stuck in his ways (shadow Saturn).

I could be radical (shadow Uranus) and thought he embodied ways that needed to die.

So often our arguments ended with me pointedly declaring that the world would be better once such backwards mentalities exited the world stage with the natural aging and dying out of his kind.

He never batted an eye. He staunchly upheld his position and never seemed concerned with my judgements. Now he is gone, having passed away in 2015.

Oddly enough, now I was the staunch one. Had I somehow become Saturn?!

To me, it brought to mind a sense of an aspect of Saturn I really hadn’t before considered–

Saturn is associated with structure and tradition. Typically, we think of human tradition with its ways, mannerisms, rules, and mindsets that get passed from one generation to another.

But I wondered…

Could the very fabric of nature be considered a Saturnian phenomenon?

To me, cultivating lab-grown meat defies time-honored patterns of nature.

Our technologies (Uranus) were leading us to forge a path outside (Uranus) of the very tradition (Saturn) of nature.

Sure, we still needed nature’s basic components and elements to do such a thing, but scientists could now bypass the entire natural living system to provide a basic necessity: food.

Lab-generated edible tissue. Food, right?!

I felt incensed by what I perceive as potential disrespect and violation of nature’s laws.

Laws are associated with Saturn. So are consequences, karma, and fate.

I, like my father, was tapping into my personal sense of ethics (Saturn) and integrity (Saturn, at its best).

And, for me, lab-grown meat seems in gross violation of something I consider deeply sacred.

I love the earth and nature’s cosmic patterns.

I have faith and trust in these time-honored and proven ways.

Do humans have the right to challenge and alter such wisdom?!

Is it a crime, or is it another round of commendable stealing of Promethean fire?!

My daughter declared she’d eat “chicken bites” in a heartbeat.

My stomach flipped.

Her wide eyes reflected her incredulousness– “Mom! But you care about the planet!”

And I do. I care so much for the planet.

It breaks my heart to see how we are mindlessly destroying our planet, how we carelessly inflict suffering on animals & vast ecosystems for our own gains, and how most people don’t seem to notice or care.

Aside from breaking natural laws,

(food has, for millions of years, been accessed through participation in and with a complex and intricate web of interdependent life that takes in other life, gives life to others, and repeats in endless cycles),

there could be health risks that simply can’t be apparent until they arise.

This is truly uncharted territory.

The same could be said for potential unforeseen environmental risks. If animals are no longer needed for basic, essential survival, humans could come to value them even less than they already do, which could lead to further disregard, disrespect, and abuse or even extermination.

It seems to me that disconnecting from the web of life by ingesting foods that have been lab-grown could contribute to increased disconnect from the planet.

Somehow, I found myself feeling very “old school.”

I had a dystopian flashforward vision into a future where loving the earth and experiencing soulful connection to plants and animals could be perceived as primitive, obsolete, and backward.

Indeed, some already think this way now, but the potential that such mentality could become the norm shook me to the core.

It was as though lightning flashed (Uranus) and lit the futuristic (Uranus) ramifications (Saturn). I couldn’t help but be in awe of the vision, even as it chilled to the bone.

The whole exchange had a very trickster (Uranus) quality to it.

Typically, such dystopian fear seems mostly imaginary, but now it was tinged with tangible.

Cultured meat seems to be a short-sighted, band-aid type of solution–

People don’t care enough to dig in deep, commit, and make practical changes (i.e., boycott unethical practices and companies, insist on certified humane products, go vegetarian or at least greatly shift to plant-based diets, and so forth), so this high tech solution allows folks to still eat “meat” while cutting out the less desirable aspects of the meat industry– the entire rest of the equation aside from a wad of protein-packed cells!

I don’t know…

Maybe I am just cynical and jaded (shadow Saturn), but doesn’t that seem a bit lazy?!

Or maybe it is a practical (Saturn) solution (Uranus) to a nearly hopeless situation (Saturn)?

Perhaps it isn’t as bleak and black/white as I make it.

With proper care and mindfulness, such innovations (Uranus) could impart humans with increased ethical responsibility and commitment (Saturn). After all, it would be concerned citizens who might shift to no-kill meat at first.

BUT

One thing seems glaringly obvious:

This is the kind of Saturn (structure and tradition) and Uranus (change and revolution) dilemma that now rears its head.

I’m inclined to think it would behoove us to grapple with these questions and considerations NOW.

We can find similar examples in pretty much every direction we turn these days…

If such grappling occurs now, it could stave off dire consequences in the future.

Perhaps, when progress seems halted or delayed, we should take it as our cue to re-examine and dive more deeply into the structure of things.

What assumptions have we made?

Does anything need to be revised and restructured?

Has new information come to light that necessitates any new shifts or adjustments?

In this way Saturn and Uranus can very much work with us.

Valuing Structure AND Breakthrough Innovation:

Cultivating Sustainable Change

Ultimately, both Saturn and Uranus are needed, helpful, valuable, and have their strengths and challenges.

These energies exist with or without human involvement.

However, I find myself intrigued with the human involvement factor.

We have an opportunity to consciously contribute and interact as co-creators within the cosmos.

We could do such beautiful things.

I am constantly blown away by the advances humans have made over the past few centuries.

Electric lighting. Antibiotics. Aviation. Space exploration. Cars. Refrigerators.

There are so many advances that we take for granted. We have done so much to make a human lifetime safer, more comfortable, easier.

And yet, we have done much that has disregarded the larger impact on non-human life and complex ecosystems.

We still have so much to learn.

Sometimes growth happens by looking backwards and making necessary corrections.

Sometimes leaps forward can happen in an instant and change everything forever.

The wisdom and experience of Saturn can help stabilize Uranian innovation and change.

Combined, they can actually work beautifully together to contribute something solid and enduring.

Ideally, this could lead to sustainable change for the better.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It

As 2020 drew to an end and 2021 kicked in, an old R.E.M. song kept replaying in my mind:

It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

And I feel fine.

I wondered if the song had Saturn-Uranus connections, as the tone & energy definitely felt like it.

Turns out it was recorded and released as a Saturn conjunct Uranus transit kicked in (exact on February 12, 1988; June 26, 1988; & October 18, 1988).

Apropos, indeed.

Interestingly, the 1988 Saturn-Uranus transit occurred in Capricorn– the same sign as our 2020 clusterfu… ahem… fun stellium.

However, now Saturn is in Aquarius and Uranus is in Taurus–

a very different undertone for the latest in Saturn-Uranus cycles.

Aquarius, an air sign, is quick, progressive and innovative.

Taurus, an earth sign, relates to slower manifested energies, reliability, and responsibility.

It could be really helpful that Saturn is in the progressive sign and Uranus is in the slow and steady sign.

It makes sense that my attention would be drawn to scientific breakthroughs, earthly consequences, ecological ethics, and the responsibilities of disrupter influences.

So Much More to Come…

This piece is already fairly long, but I edited out an immense amount of material.

I plan to keep riding this Saturn-Uranus vibe throughout the year and post continuation pieces as the year and transit continues.

So far, the following are making major blips on my Saturn-Uranus radar:

  • innovative structural changes in vaccine production (using mRNA rather than weakened or dead virus)
  • space tourism
  • cryptocurrencies and other market disrupters

However, every single day I scan the headlines and see the tension of Saturn square Uranus displayed all over the place. Do you see it, too?

I look forward to further exploring these ideas and sharing them here.

For now, I leave you with a visual prayer

created to convey an ideal synthesis of Saturn and Uranus:

the ancient symbol of Sri Yantra,

which reflects cosmic manifestation and balance of polarities unfolding in structural harmony

overlaid with pulsing Uranian vibes of incoming innovation and insight.

Saturn-Uranus blessings, y’all…

Amber R. Balk, Ph.D. is a transpersonal educator, writer, researcher, and independent consultant who combines diverse educational and professional backgrounds to provide well-rounded and unique individual and group psychospiritual services. She can be contacted at dr.amberbalk@gmail.com

Categories: Archetypal Astrology, Astrology, Dreamwork, transpersonalTags: , ,

Amber R. Balk, Ph.D.

I am an independent scholar and transpersonal consultant, specializing in embodying and implementing transpersonal and feminist values in real-world, practical situations. I believe academic pursuits are best if made widely accessible and when applied in ways which promote sustainability, contribute to increased awareness, and engender holistic sensitivity to both the outer environment and one's inner workings. I work with INDIVIDUALS in one-on-one sessions so they may empower themselves through deepening spiritual practice, accessing creativity, and attuning to self-understanding. Additionally, I work within GROUP contexts with people who endeavor to co-create social change through community action projects that honor the depth of subjective individuality while anchoring action within a more transpersonal, environmentally-minded context. I enjoy being a Hermit when I can and becoming more deeply familiar with this place we call home, beautiful Mother Earth.

This blog is a place to cover topics such as consciousness, spirituality, psychospiritual process, creativity, Grofian theory, Jungian thought, expanded states of consciousness, holistic health, dreamwork, symbolism, archetypes, synchronicity, and much more. I believe (and have experienced) that the microcosm reflects the macrocosm; as above, so below; as within, so without.

I may be reached at dr.amberbalk@gmail.com.

many blessings~
Amber R. Balk, Ph.D.

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