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The Mountain Astrologer

Saturn-Uranus Aspects in the Birth Chart: Grounded Excentrics and Sane Weirdos

by Donna Cunningham

alienatedOne of the comforts of higher learning is finding yourself described in a text by a recognized expert and discovering that you're not alone but, instead, are part of an identifiable group. You may have felt that same sense of validation while perusing an astrology book or the pages of this magazine. The first glimpse of where I belonged in the greater scheme of things came during a college sociology course, when we studied the concept of the marginal man.1 This term refers to someone who straddles two distinct cultures or segments of society, not fitting comfortably into either. Marginal individuals, to use a more inclusive term, may feel rejected by family members, schoolmates, co-workers, and society at large, and thus may struggle with a sense of alienation.

You might fit into that category yourself, if you've lived with a painful awareness of not fitting in anywhere, but forever falling betwixt and between. In the company of conventional, solidly established mainstream folks, are you the misfit whose beliefs and enthusiasms are outlandish or even socially and politically questionable? Among the mavericks and counterculture denizens, on the other hand, is it your thankless role to urge caution and espouse conventional values? If you're relating to this description, it's entirely possible that you have a Saturn–Uranus aspect strongly featured in your birth chart or a combination of major Capricorn and Aquarius placements.2

A sweaty-palmed, gut-twisting sense of estrangement permeated my young life. Attending high school in the Corn Belt in the 1950s, I was a social outcast, a nerd whose ideas and interests were odd and all too often eyebrow-raising. Yet, college classmates of the avant-garde, beatnik variety viewed me as intellectually unsophisticated and too hopelessly square for more than amused forbearance. This pattern continued through grad school in the mid 1960s. Among the political radicals and fervent feminists of New York's East Village, I was a faint-hearted, barely tolerated hanger-on who stuffed envelopes and showed up for demonstrations. I clung to the concept of the marginal individual as a comforting explanation of this consistent feeling of alienation.

That feeling shifted, finally, with my first astrology classes in 1968. Among astrology lovers, I at last found a spiritual home and a deep sense of kinship. A teacher pinpointed the source of my malaise in a strongly featured Saturn–Uranus conjunction in my 11th house, an aspect that seemed to mirror the earlier estrangement. Some 40 years later, I still won't ever be mainstream, though I'm better at faking it now. It no longer matters — what has made all the difference in loving myself was finding a community of the heart. We'll look at some esteemed colleagues with Saturn–Uranus aspects, but first, let's delve into the dynamics of Saturn and Uranus in combination.

Keywords for Saturn and Uranus

Comparing keywords and phrases is generally a good starting point for dissecting an aspect, but it is especially fruitful with this planetary pair because of the strong contrasts between the two. Their signs, Capricorn and Aquarius, are about as dissimilar as two signs can be. The textbook Capricorn slowly climbs the mountain; the textbook Aquarian takes off like a rocket blast. Capricorn works toward solid, time-tested, long-term goals and accomplishments; Aquarius is innovative and thinks outside the box.

Likewise, Saturnians carefully build and maintain form; Uranians smash crystallized patterns, periodically reinventing themselves. Typical Saturnians operate along predictable lines, pragmatically sticking with what works; typical Uranians are known for intermittent flashes of brilliance, but their theories can lack practical application. Saturnians can be mainstream and fairly conservative; Uranians may belong to a counterculture and even be radical. See Table 1, below) for some other inherent differences.

Table 1:

How Saturnians operate

How Uranians operate

Focused on results, the bottom line Focused on society and social change
Compliant, conforming, playing it safe Defiant, rebellious, living on the edge
Change through sweat equity, self-discipline Change through information, reason
Preserve the status quo whenever possible Sudden, radical change
Find merit in authority and the establishment Seek personal and intellectual freedom
Pragmatic to cynical, realistic, hierarchical Idealistic, humanitarian
Stick with what works, time-tested methods Inventive, intellectual, unique
Traditional, even conservative, predictable Zany, eccentric, unconventional
Cling to respectability, classical/elegant In-your-face, shocking, edgy
Want to fit in but be the best of the best Individuated, elitist, unique

Do you wonder how Saturn and Uranus can work together at all? The pair-ups in Table 1 read like a working definition of the external and internal tensions faced by marginal individuals in their betwixt-and-between position. Marginal people play a significant role in a society that is in flux. When attempting to reconcile their own personal inconsistencies, they often find ways to reconcile conflicting elements in society itself, acting as a bridge between them. They invent or espouse solutions that blend the best of the old with the best of the new. For the past several decades, the rate of change and disintegration of old forms has been rapid and relentless, so these people are more valuable than ever. Individuals with these aspects make the combination pay off by merging the best qualities of both planets in ways like those set out in Table 2 (below).

Table 2:

Saturnians are Uranians are Together they are
Self-reliant Independent Self-directed and self-motivated
Realistic Rational, detached Clear-headed, not in denial
Far-seeing, historical Futuristic, visionary Able to fit past and future together
Organized, analytical Brainy, inventive Able to create and assess possibilities
Long-range planners Fixed in purpose Able to stick with long-term goals
Better as they get older Ahead of their time Wise elders of their tribes

Some people with Saturn–Uranus aspects are more Saturnian, while others are more Uranian. It depends on whether the Saturn/Capricorn emphasis or the Uranus/Aquarius emphasis is stronger in the birth chart, particularly if the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant is involved. Angular house placements or closeness to a chart angle can indicate areas where the planet's energies are more easily expressed and show which of the two is more obvious to the outside world. If Saturn were on the Midheaven squared by Uranus in the 12th, the native might be conventional and even successful in career areas, but indulge the rebel/maverick side with a secret life like that seen in edgy online communities.

Some Life Patterns of Saturn–Uranus People

One quality I often observe in people with Saturn–Uranus aspects is the pairing of offbeat ideas and interests with sound ways of expressing and applying them — a combination that enhances a marginal individual's ability to serve as a bridge between two distinct groups. Although I've long since gotten past the need to prove astrology or metaphysical principles to the uninitiated, I'm occasionally in social situations where friends of friends express astonishment or skepticism about my career path. Because I answer their questions calmly and intelligently, they generally go away saying, "I never thought there was anything to this stuff, but she's no flake. Maybe I'll give it a try." I proudly designate myself a sane weirdo.

Capable astrologers and alternative health practitioners with academic credentials often serve a similar function by demonstrating the worth of their techniques to psychotherapists or medical personnel through cases they hold in common. I was one of the earlier people to do so, with my master's degree in social work, and it's been a joy to see a growing number of people in the field of astrology with qualifications as therapists. Others of our number blend astrology with academic pursuits like philosophy or history. Kepler College consistently melds astrology with liberal arts studies. The combination of Saturn and Uranus, especially paired with Mercury, Jupiter, or the 3rd-/9th-house axis, can represent a scholarly individual. These placements are seen in the charts of the classy intellectuals in our midst, like Rob Hand and Caroline Casey.3

business-punkAnother pattern is what might be called "grownups with erector-set mentalities." Natives with these aspects can painstakingly build elaborate structures for their lives, only to tear them down again some years later and start fresh projects in search of excitement and mental stimulation. Saturn needs structure, stability, and a sense of accomplishment, while Uranus detests stagnation and chafes at any constriction of its freedom. The house placements of Saturn and Uranus or Capricorn and Aquarius show what areas of life this pattern touches.

People who have one or both planets in a vocational house (2nd, 6th, or 10th) or aspecting the Midheaven may work very hard to establish a career or business and, because of their many gifts and capabilities, may enjoy an enviable success. In the course of a lifetime, there are likely to be several dramatic shifts in career direction as they become so bored and restless that they start over from scratch. If the 7th house is involved, these folks might have a series of unconventional committed relationships that work for a respectable length of time but ultimately end. Major life departures like these often occur under Uranus transits or transits to a natal Saturn–Uranus aspect.

Understanding Individual Saturn–Uranus Aspects

Our task is complicated because, over the past century, there were few instances of stand-alone aspects between these two planets. They mostly coincided with important aspects to Neptune or Pluto, so it's difficult to separate out the individual planetary influences. For instance, in 1930–32, as the Great Depression settled in, Saturn in Capricorn was square Uranus in Aries, but together they formed a t-square with Pluto in Cancer, a combination testifying to the hardships of that time.

At the height of World War II, during parts of 1941–43, Saturn and Uranus were conjunct, but they trined Neptune. In all but a few months of 1951–52, Saturn in Libra was square Uranus in Cancer but also conjunct Neptune in Libra. At the peak of the social unrest in the 1960s, from 1964–67, Saturn in Pisces was opposite both Pluto and Uranus. In the late 1980s, Saturn in Capricorn was simultaneously conjunct Uranus and Neptune.

Table 3 (below) gives the years in which these aspects were intermittently in range, though you'd have to consult the individual chart to see whether they apply. (My orbs are 8–10° for a conjunction or opposition and 5–6° for a square or trine.) Of the hard aspects, I would see the conjunction of 1941–43 trined by Neptune as least contaminated by other influences, so we'll spend considerable time looking at that one. The conjunction is a powerful union of two energies, and the trine from Neptune doesn't force a choice between Saturn and Uranus in the way that a square or opposition would do.

Table 3: Saturn–Uranus aspects and when they occurred

(Interval: 43–48 years between repetitions of the same type of aspect — e.g., between two opening squares.)

Conjunction Square Trine Opposition

1908–10 O* 1912–14 O 1917–20

1930–32 C** 1925–27 C
1941–43 1951–52 O 1955–57 O 1964–67

1975–77 C 1971–74 C
1986–89 1999 – 2000 O 2002–03 O 2007–10

*O = Opening (or waxing) **C = Closing (or waning)

The Conjunction

With any conjunction, the energies of the two planets almost become one, in the same sense that copper and zinc together become brass. Likewise, people with the conjunction have no choice but to develop strategies for the pair to coexist peacefully. As life unfolds, they no longer envision those energies as separate nor can they imagine any other way of operating.

conjunctionPeople who have lived with the Saturn–Uranus conjunction of 1941–43 were forced, over time, to develop unique solutions to the contradictions they experience within themselves and in the world around them. Many of these people were on the front lines of various types of demonstrations during the 1960s, and we might expect a renewed — albeit more mature and level-headed — activism from them now, with the current transiting opposition. What's interesting about this conjunction is that, because of retrograde motion, both Uranus and Saturn crossed back and forth over the Taurus–Gemini cusp during parts of 1941–42. Since the period began with Uranus and Saturn in Taurus and ended with the two planets in Gemini, we can get a sense of how this aspect operates in two distinct signs and elements.

Taurus is a fixed earth sign, so many people with Uranus placed there are inventive yet extremely practical in applying their brilliance. Before adopting a new idea or technology, they need a demonstration that the new idea or product works reliably and that it can positively affect the bottom line. Taurus is fairly conservative by nature, while Uranus — the ruler of Aquarius — is modernistic and even radical at heart. This somewhat uneasy combination has produced some very down-to-earth yet far-thinking people with an eye to the ecological implications of modern technology. Uranus in Taurus natives would be apt to embrace the recycling movement.

Uranus is very different in Gemini, a mutable air sign with a flair for communication and popularization. Uranus rules computers and other technological advances, and typical gadget-loving Uranus in Gemini folks are at home with computers, cell phones, the Internet, and other forms of instant communication and information processing. They are perennially curious, trendy, and keen to find out what's new.

Two examples of the conjunction: Let's look at the contrasting ways that two people with this conjunction use its potentials. The first is Lynne, my friend and personal assistant, who Lynne was born with Mars, Saturn, and Uranus conjunct the Ascendant in Taurus and trining the Moon and Neptune in Virgo (see Chart 1). She's richly gifted with practical skills. At home, she's a master gardener, gourmet chef, brilliant money manager, all-round Ms. Fixit for home improvements, and she actually understands cars.

In my office, Lynne's official job description is "Make it stop doing that!" She makes my computer software and hardware behave themselves and does small repairs. She creates databases, helps me shop for the best deals on equipment and gets it up and running, critiques my writing, takes high-quality digital photos for my Web site, and organizes the scattered files on my hard drive. With no more than a wisp of earth in my own chart, I'm perpetually in awe of her abilities.

Rob HandI'm equally in awe of astrology's Rob Hand, who is just as gifted as Lynne but with a more cerebral array of skills and a more academic and arcane focus. His chart features the Saturn–Uranus conjunction in Gemini straddling the 12th-house cusp, with Saturn (the 12th-house planet) opposing his Sun and Mercury in Sagittarius in the 6th. Uranus rules his 9th house of higher education. (See Chart 2.) In the 1970s, he was the first to write astrology computer programs, paving the way for decades of rapid progress in software that streamlines astrology practice and opens the door to undreamed-of possibilities in research. (Other astrologers with Saturn–Uranus aspects who have made important contributions to the development of astrological software are Jim Lewis and Michael Erlewine, with the conjunction, and Mark Pottenger, with the trine.)

Like many Uranians, Rob seems to perennially reinvent himself, and he has used many different branches of astrology in his work. Since the 1990s, he has focused on ancient and medieval techniques, working with others to translate the original documents. (One of Rob's finest gifts is the ability to gather around himself a brain trust to collectively explore advanced applications of our field.) For more details, see his interview in the Aug./Sept. 2008 issue of The Mountain Astrologer.4 In that article, Rob is quoted as saying, "I want to be remembered as someone who helped to reconnect the future of astrology with its past." Is that not the very essence of a Saturn–Uranus conjunction?

The Square

In general, people with prominent squares to Uranus can experience considerable shame about being different and may be driven to try to resolve these feelings by blaming society and being judgmental, even arrogant, toward others with less commitment to change. Some of these natives respond to social pressure by flaunting their differences in a hard-edged manner. Rather than serving as a bridge between two segments of society, as people with the conjunction and trine can do, they often seek to force a confrontation. In the case of Saturn square Uranus, however, innate caution or early exposure to the consequences of rebellion can make these individuals tone down their expression of dissent as the years go on.

During most of the time the Saturn–Uranus square of 1951–52 was in effect, Saturn was also conjunct Neptune, making it hard to get a sense of the square by itself. On the positive side, Neptune can add the qualities of spirituality, sensitivity, intuition, creative artistry, compassion, and service to the mix; used less constructively, it can express itself as denial, an addictive personality, a sense of martyrdom, or playing the victim. Let's look at two people who have done an admirable job of blending all these energies.

A curious case of date twins with the square: An AstroDatabank search for Saturn–Uranus squares combined with Neptune aspects brought up two familiar names: self-help author Caroline Myss (Chart 3) and astrologer Karen Hamaker-Zondag (Chart 4). Both were born on December 2, 1952, with Uranus squaring a close conjunction of Neptune and Saturn in their charts, but with different birth times and locations and thus different house placements and Ascendants. Having seen both of them, I wouldn't have guessed they were date twins, as their presentation of themselves is so different.

Caroline MyssCaroline Myss is very much a tough-love type. Those who are looking for an enabler will need to look elsewhere. In her popular workshops and her very successful book, Why People Don't Heal and How They Can, she insists that people explore their chronic illnesses and understand why they can't get free of them.5 With outspoken Sagittarius on the Ascendant, she says that people become attached to their illnesses because of the attention and sympathy they gain from others and because illness gives them an "out" of things they really do not want to do.

Her body of work straddles mystical and mainstream branches of health care: Her master's degree is in Theology, and her Ph.D. is in Energy Medicine. She formed an institute that creates educational programs in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and advancing the science of medical intuition. She maintains a rigorous workshop and lecture schedule, world wide, and continues a consultation practice — with physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other health practitioners — as a medical intuitive.

Karen Hamaker-Zondag Internationally recognized Dutch astrologer Karen Hamaker-Zondag has taught all over the world and has written 16 widely translated books. In 1980, she began her own four-year School for Astrology, along with a three-year course in Jungian psychology. She has published a quarterly astrological journal since 1991, and in 1987 she founded a school of Jungian psychology. She won the Regulus Award for Education in 1998. With Pisces rising, she is as mystical as Caroline Myss, but her presentation is that of a gentle, caring soul. (Two other astrologers born in this era with the combination of Saturn–Uranus–Neptune aspects strongly featured are Caroline Casey and Antero Alli.)

The Trine

I must confess to having little grasp of people with the trine between Saturn and Uranus, nor was the AstroDatabank search especially enlightening. It may be that these natives mostly fly under the radar in their expressions of Uranus. This planet describes our relationship to our culture in terms of what is considered unconventional and rebellious, on the one hand, and exciting and innovative, on the other. Many people with trines to Uranus get away with being different because they are comfortably and even amiably eccentric and don't feel the need to get in people's faces with their eccentricity. Entertainers with Saturn–Uranus trines listed in AstroDatabank who match this pattern include Kelsey Grammer and Bruce Willis, plus Howie Mandel (whose trine is out of sign).

A trine is an aspect of harmonious and easy expression; although people with trines to Uranus are generally different and on the leading edge, their "differences" are often in harmony with the spirit of their time and their generation. When the trine is between Saturn and Uranus, they may be seen as bright, capable, and interesting but without any particular axe to grind or radical agenda to push, so they meet little resistance to their goals. Astrologers in AstroDatabank with Saturn trine Uranus include Jodie Forrest (out of sign), Joseph Goodavage, Doris Chase Doane, and Kim Rogers-Gallagher.

The Opposition

Among the planetary pairs I have studied in depth, there are fewer notables with oppositions in AstroDatabank than any other aspect, and this is again the case with Saturn and Uranus. I found very few astrologers with that combination, the most noted being John Addey, born in 1920 and best known for his work with harmonic charts. It has often been remarked that the generation born in the 1960s has produced few astrologers. With both Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, these natives seem, instead, to be concentrated in the fields of health care and technology.

Opposition The opposition represents the most extreme polarization of the energies of any planetary pair. The person typically handles the tension by disowning one of the planets and projecting its undesirable qualities onto others. People with oppositions to Uranus often justify antisocial behavior by saying, in effect, "Look what they made me do!" This seems all the more true with Saturn–Uranus aspects, for they are polar opposites to begin with. We may observe one of two patterns: Either the individuals take the Uranian position and blame the authorities for their conduct, or else they take on Saturn's role and rigidly try to contain and control the behavior of people who act in Uranian ways.

The aspect occurred during 1964–67, a memorable era of strong social activism and even stronger attempts by the authorities to suppress it. However, the additions of Pluto, Chiron, and Neptune to the astrological picture make this a less-than-perfect case. It's difficult to separate out the part that the opposition plays in the psychology of people born during that complex period. One common scenario, however, does seem to pertain largely to the combined influence of Saturn in Pisces and Uranus in Virgo. Many of these people say that they're compelled to sacrifice their ideals, true vocation, and innate gifts because of the limits and constraints of today's workplace and authority structure in an inhumane society. This group is collectively experiencing a midlife upheaval, and many have concluded that they could no longer operate within a traditional workplace.

Saturn–Uranus Aspects and Maturity: Getting Older and Bolder

Living with Saturn–Uranus aspects, over the long haul, can iron out the contradictions between them, since the means of expression and the relative strengths of these two planets often change through the years. Children and preteens have little latitude to control their own lives, so children tend to chafe at the authority of parents and teachers. Adolescence and young adulthood are the heydays of Uranus, as we gain increasing freedom. In our 20s and 30s, the necessity of earning a living means dealing with bosses and impinges greatly on our freedom, yet over time, this can present the opportunity for us to hone our skills and to experience the gratification of solid accomplishments.

In our 40s, when transiting Uranus opposes natal Uranus and Saturn opposes natal Saturn, we come to a midlife crisis. We re-evaluate whether the forms we have built in our lives really allow us to express our individuality and our special gifts and interests. Depending on the house locations of the natal and transiting placements, this juncture can be accompanied by dramatic shifts in career, location, or partnerships. Past the second Saturn return in our late 50s, Saturn — like gravity — tends to take over. Rob HandThere is, however, a certain fondness in our society for feisty, eccentric older people, so with the freedom that retirement brings, our Uranian qualities may re-emerge full strength.

People with strong Saturn aspects tend to get better as they get older, so the gifts, skills, and unique perspectives of people with Saturn–Uranus aspects typically evolve into an impressive collection over the course of a lifetime. As an inspiring example, Rob Hand was granted a rare Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 United Astrology Congress. While the transiting Saturn–Uranus opposition formed across his Midheaven/IC axis (Chart 2, above), he was in the process of completing his dissertation for a Ph.D. in medieval history.

Chart data and sources:
(in order of appearance)
Lynne, March 3, 1942; 11:07 a.m. PWT; San Francisco, CA, USA (37°N47', 122°W25'); AA: from the birth certificate (data used with Lynne's permission).
Robert Hand, December 5, 1942; 7:30 p.m. EWT; Plainfield, NJ, USA (40°N37', 74°W25'); A: from memory, given by him in his book, Planets in Transit.
Caroline Myss, December 2, 1952; 8:00 a.m. CST; Chicago, IL, USA (41°N51', 87°W39'); A: from memory; Shelley Ackerman quotes data obtained at the AFA conference in Orlando, Florida in 1998.
Karen Hamaker-Zondag, December 2, 1952; 1:30 p.m. MET; Schiedam, Holland (51°N55', 04°E24'); AA: from the birth record; Lois Rodden quotes her at UAC, 1992.

References and Notes:
1. This term was first described by Everett V. Stonequist in The Marginal Man: A Study in Personality and Culture Conflict (Scribner's, 1938). The review was retrieved from the online archives of the Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 1938, 7:416–421.
2. What would make this aspect strong would be for both Saturn and Uranus to form major aspects (conjunction, square, trine, or opposition) to the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Midheaven, or to several planets, especially in a major configuration like a t-square, grand cross, grand trine, or multiple conjunction. Major placements in Capricorn and Aquarius would include, again, the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Midheaven, or several planets. An emphasis on both the 10th and 11th houses (associated with Saturn and Uranus, respectively) would add strength to the picture.
3. Unless otherwise indicated, all chart data come from the AstroDatabank software; the birth time is not critical in these instances, and where it is unknown, the date is verified.
4. Tore Lomsdalen, "A Conversation with Robert Hand: The Modern Astrologer with a Medieval Heritage," in The Mountain Astrologer, Aug./Sept. 2008, pp. 40–48. (Biographical information comes from www.robhand.com, from his AstroDatabank record, and from his page on Wikipedia.)
5. The book was published by Three Rivers Press, a trade paperback subsidiary of Random House, in 1997; it was still widely available and is worthwhile reading for any consulting astrologer. (Information about Myss's career comes from her Web site, www.myss.com)

Image sources:
Charts and graphics provided by The Mountain Astrologer
'Aliens' and Business woman / Punk: by pixabay.com
Rob Hand: taken at UAC 2008.

First published in: The Mountain Astrologer, Dec 2008/Jan 2009


Donna CunninghamDonna Cunningham, MSW, is a long-time TMA contributor and the author of numerous astrology books, including The Stellium Handbook, the updated and expanded 2014 version of Counseling Principles for Astrologers, and the recently released essay collection, New Insights into the Astrology Chart. To see more of her newest work or order books, visit her popular blog at https://Skywriter.wordpress.com
The article above is also a chapter in her book "The Outer Planets and Inner Life, Volume 3 (Aspects Between the Outer Planets)".

© 2008 / 2015 Donna Cunningham - published by The Mountain Astrologer

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