Jupiter and Pluto were conjunct during the outbreak of the Spanish Flu in 1918. Bubonic plague–the Black Death–ravaged Europe, Asia and Africa from the J/P conjunction of 1347 to their opposition in 1353. Jupiter was trine Pluto during one of humanity’s very first pandemics, the Plague of Justinian, which killed 25 million in 541. In modern times, the Lord of death and shadows (Pluto) has joined forces with the God of growth and expansion (Jupiter) during our five most recent pandemics.
Yet Jupiter and Pluto are gift givers too. Astrology teaches there are no shadows without light. These conjunctions, occurring about every 12 years, have also coincided with humanity’s greatest leaps forward. Together, Sky God Jupiter and his brother the Underworld Lord keep expanding our universe, triggering scientific breakthroughs, awakening new paradigms, distributing mega-wealth, and inspiring sweeping shifts in political power.
Johannes Kepler was born during a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in Pisces, when most of the globe still believed that planets circled the Earth in perfect round orbits. At 24 (his Jupiter return), Kepler has a mind-blowing epiphany about the solar system’s true design; it’s published a year later, during the 1596 Jupiter/Pluto conjunction. Under a later conjunction, Kepler publishes the work for which he’s most famous—his planetary laws of motion—still used in calculations today. **
Hans Lipperhey applies for the first telescope patent in 1608, under a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction. In the following months, Galileo, the father of observational astronomy, builds his first telescope, through which he observes four of Jupiter’s moons, the first space objects seen orbiting a planet other than Earth. Three hundred sixty years later, after so many Jupiter/Pluto gifts, humanity takes its greatest leap yet, beyond Earth. Neil Armstrong leaves his footprints on the Moon within orb of the 1968-69 Jupiter/Uranus/Pluto conjunctions.
Spread the wealth
Pluto is a god of wealth—Jupiter rules good fortune. You might expect these archetypes to have blessed our billionaires. And they have. Warren Buffet, Rupert Murdoch, George Soros, Bill Gates—all born during a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction. Charles Koch was born with a Jupiter/Pluto trine (as was an earlier financier & philanthropist, JP Morgan). Koch’s brother David was born during their square (as was steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie nearly a century earlier).
But if you’re hoping Jupiter/Pluto might bring you a mega-lottery win this year, think again. Jupiter is an optimist who loves to roll the dice, but when dancing with Pluto, he favors hard work that’s born of obsession. That’s how scientific geniuses and billionaires are made—they think big (Jupiter) with formidable focus (Pluto).
What about the wealth of the common man? I’ll argue that the last three J/P conjunctions have increased this beyond measure, even as the divide between the haves and have-nots has grown wider than it’s been (some say) in all of human history. But first we have to expand our perception of wealth beyond the dollars in our bank accounts. Jupiter is a god of perspective—he favors higher, longer, and broader views.
With that mindset consider how the gifts of the 1981, 1994 and 2007 J/P conjunctions have thoroughly reshaped our world, bestowing the average man with powers beyond that of any king or emperor in history.
In 1981 IBM releases the first personal computer. Computing power that used to require a floor of bulky machines is now small enough to become a home appliance. Soon after, the internet is in development—which will eventually put whole libraries at our fingertips. Many of our greatest emperors spent massive piles of gold on developing their libraries. Today–for free–we can explore the works of mankind’s greatest thinkers.
During the 1994 J/P conjunction, the first PlayStations are released—opening the collective imagination to countless interactive new worlds. How do we calculate the ways these games have rewired possibilities inside the human brain? That year, Bezos launches Amazon—so that today, we can sit in our homes, desiring a book or a toothbrush and like an emperor, clap our hands, and have it delivered in an hour or a day. In 2007, the iPhone is released. It quite literally drops the universe into our palms. What king could have commanded views of the birth of a star? Now any child can do this.
But let’s get back to money. How might this year’s conjunction affect our wealth? Covid-19-inspired quarantines have halted economies around the world—prompting talk in the United States of relief efforts that would serve as the greatest wealth distribution in human history, a gesture fitting for these two planets. It’s reminiscent of the Pluto/Jupiter aspects of the early 30’s during the Great Depression—the New Deal was passed in the years between the J/P conjunction and the square. Big bold action is often required when these two planets meet. During the 1943 conjunction, FDR enlists the whole nation in a massive unified war effort.
It helps to remember that Jupiter is also a philosopher. For many, the most honest measure of wealth is having the free time to enjoy their lives—a sudden gift of this year’s pandemic. Time is perhaps the one thing more valuable than money. A homeless man has greater wealth than the dead billionaire. With life and astrology we always have a choice: we can focus on the shadow or the light. We can obsess (Pluto) about our common poverty. Or we can use this sudden abundance of hours to leap beyond our own limits. We can use Jupiter’s massive exuberance to boost our Plutonian passions.
As when–during the J/P conjunction of 2007–NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft uses the boost of Jupiter’s gravity to slingshot itself toward Pluto! **
Political pendulums swing
People focus on Pluto’s destruction—but empowerment is his favorite game. During J/P conjunctions, political power can swing dramatically. These are the years when we see regime changes, stunning political landslides, assassinations, and the birth of social movements.
Within orb of the 1931 Jupiter/Pluto conjunction, Mahatma Gandhi, himself born under a J/P conjunction, leads one of the most powerful nonviolent campaigns. He marches 241 miles across western India to get salt from the ocean, in defiance of the British ban against Indians collecting it or selling it. Spain becomes a republic; King Alfonso XII is deposed. Under the next conjunction in 1943, during World War II, Mussolini resigns; Italy surrenders. Assassination attempts on Hitler and the Philippines president fail.
Argentinian President Peron is ousted under the beams of the 1956 J/P conjunction, when Morocco gains independence from France & Spain, Churchill resigns, and Khrushchev shocks the Soviets by denouncing Stalin; the de-Stalinization of Russia begins. In the US, Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat—and a young Martin Luther King helps lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
At the next J/P conjunction in 1968, under the weight of the Vietnam War, President Johnson stuns the country by declining to run for re-election. Throughout the year, around the world, workers and students take to the streets in mass protests against social and economic inequalities. In the US, the Civil Rights Act is passed.
Under this same conjunction, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King are assassinated. At the next conjunction in 1981, Egyptian President Sadat is killed; attempts are made on newly elected President Reagan and Pope John Paul II. That same year, Nelson Mandela (born during the J/P conj of 1918) inspires one of the world’s earliest hashtags, “Free Mandela.” This cry starts gathering momentum around the world, and by the next Jupiter/Pluto conjunction, in 1994, Mandela, now freed, is elected the first black president of South Africa.
What happens is always surprising
I had hoped for wild regime changes this year. Though honestly, I hadn’t given Jupiter/Pluto much thought. Like many astrologers, I’ve been fixated on the Big Saturn/Pluto Restructuring and how it all ends this year—with the birth of a new collective cycle, signified by the Great Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in progressive Aquarius. I had hoped these omens were pointing to rising power for the people, a mass multi-cultural movement of women and millennials who would stare down the structures corrupt with greed and forge a new world, one that would benefit those at the bottom as much as those at the top!
Alas the future always glitters in a progressive’s eyes. And now that I know more about J/P conjunctions, I also know they don’t guarantee success. Just ask the air traffic controllers or the Polish Solidarity workers—whose 1980/81 rebellions were crushed by those in power. Jupiter and Pluto point to this great woosh of universal energy, erupting in massive expansion, but as with any explosion, there is darkness and light, destruction and birth. How many people grabbed high mortgages during the J/P conjunction of 2007, just one year before home values crashed? And if you want to know why toilet paper is flying off the shelves, blame Pluto (god of excrement) fueled by Jupiterian excess.
In truth Jupiter and Pluto don’t cause what happens below. They’re omens. Astrology is an art of symbols. Planetary motion tracks for us the otherwise invisible waves and patterns of universal energy. The Covid-19 virus is having its best year ever. As magnificent as our leap to the Moon, it has jumped into a new species and is conquering territories all over the world. It’s breathtaking. And their spaceship? Pluto’s agents! Bats and their guano.
But even wilder is what’s happening among humans now. Just one month ago, around the globe, people were hopelessly divided, right vs left, globalists vs nationalists, as democratic values collided with dictatorships. And now, with a snap of the cosmic fingers, we’re One World. We’re rallied and unified. What the amazing Greta Thunberg couldn’t do for climate change, was accomplished by a virus. The surge in national compassion that didn’t erupt when families were broken apart at the border, now erupts everywhere. “We’re in this together.” What Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders couldn’t achieve—inspiring the nation to strengthen its social safety nets, reign in corporate greed, and make health care available to all–this is suddenly being discussed in Congress, without a regime-changing election.
There was another moment like this, of overwhelming unity. It came during the J/P conjunction that took us to the Moon. But it wasn’t seeing that footprint or the planted flag that made us gasp with wonder. It was what we saw when we turned around—our very first view of that blue jewel, our whole Earth, floating in the dark vacuum of space. That single startling sight rippled us forward into a new awareness of the fragility of our ecology. It reawakened us to our interconnection with—and responsibility for—all life on this planet. A year later we held the first Earth Day. We were recycling. We were talking about alternative energies. We took measures to save disappearing species and habitats. Maybe it didn’t go far or fast enough, but our future trajectory was changed. The J/P conjunctions of 2020 are just beginning. Who knows what else they will bring!
Were you born during a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction?
Bill Gates was lucky to be born in 1955, wrote Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers. Gates was born just a few months before the J/P conjunction of 1956. Gates was lucky, said Gladwell, that local parents got together in 1968 (the next conjunction) and purchased a computer for his school. The opportunity to learn coding came to him at 13, during the year of his Jupiter return, when most of us find our life’s passion. Gates was lucky that he was just the right age to roll the dice when tech began taking off. He founded Microsoft during the 1975 Jupiter/Pluto opposition (which fell across his natal Moon/Mars opposition).
Jupiter and Pluto aren’t personal planets. Jupiter indicates the luck that comes to us through society—this is what’s called a “social” planet. Pluto is an “outer” planet; it defines generations. Both are zeitgeist planets—they describe the times. So it wasn’t just Gates, Gladwell argues. All those who made it big in high-tech were lucky to be born around this time, like Bill Joy, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs. Gladwell puts the peak at 1955, but says it actually stretches from 1952 to 1958–which is from the J/P trine to the sextile.
Below is a table of recent J/P conjunctions. If these aren’t your birth years, you may have been born during the years of other aspects. Check your birth chart. Are Jupiter and Pluto connected?
|April/June/November 2020||24/22 Capricorn|
|December 2007||28 Sagittarius|
|December 1994||28 Scorpio|
|November 1981||24 Libra|
|October 1968||23 Virgo|
|February/June 1956||27/26 Leo|
|August 1943||6 Leo|
|May 1931||18/19 Cancer|
|August 1918||5/6 Cancer|
What happens for societies goes much slower than what happens for individuals. Jupiter/Pluto conjunctions are like a wave that peaks at the conjunction, but starts rolling the year before and continues the year after. We wouldn’t use such orbs in a birth chart—but we should use them to understand the time. And whether or not you have a Jupiter/Pluto aspect in your birth chart, this energy is in the zeitgeist now. We can all have a taste of its magic, if we’re willing to use it.
More on how to do that in my next article, Making the Jupiter/Pluto Conjunction Work for You.
How is the conjunction affecting you? First check the house (and/or planets) where 24 Capricorn falls in your chart.
Are you getting transits this year? Steven Forrest’s fabulous Skylog report will tell you (order here).
Mary Shea’s brilliant Solar Return report adds extra insight (order here). The SR is a divination chart calculated for your birthday. The house where Jupiter and Pluto falls in the SR is telling.
** This and more is in Patrick Watson’s exhilarating article on Jupiter and Pluto–check it out!