The Astrological Journal

The Combustion of Saturn

by João Medeiros

What does a combust Saturn fresh in a new sign tell us of the times to come? War, fire and pestilence? The author discusses this overlooked ingress chart, in a journey through past centuries up to the current 2018-2020 phase.

HiroshimaWhat do the 2018-2020 period, the Great Fire of London, the Hiroshima atomic bombing and the Chernobyl disaster have in common? They were all preceded by a combust Saturn ingress in a new sign.

In this series of two articles [Part 2 follows in the Nov-Dec 2018 issue] we address the topic of this overlooked ingress chart in mundane astrology. Combustion is defined further below, but for now, it is the condition of a planet's closeness to the Sun, a "planet under fire", as astrologers of old put it. In this first part, we look at cases of a combust Saturn in recent history and explore what it could mean for the 2018-2020 phase. In the second article, we will interpret charts related to the great wars and other crises.

Mundane astrology

According to most traditional sources(i), such as the mediaeval and Arabic astrologers, there are major charts that should be used in the study of mundane events. These are: the Great Conjunction (of Saturn and Jupiter); eclipses; comets; and the vernal ingress of the Sun.

However, since Saturn is the slowest and more generational classical planet – ruling society, governments, money and big institutions – it is logical that its ingresses represent society's main events and trends over a given (almost) three-year period ahead, with a fairly high degree of reliability.

From this perspective we could factor in three types of chart all intertwined when analysing a particular year: (1) the context of the 20-year cycle of Jupiter-Saturn; (2) the context of the two-and-a-half to three years of Saturn's transit in a sign; (3) the more specific context of that year, given by the vernal ingress of the Sun in Aries.

It follows that the ingress of Jupiter should also be examined for the context of that year.

Saturn Capricorn ingressThe most recent ingress of Saturn in Capricorn (20 December 2017) was particularly afflicted by the applying combustion. Therefore, this transit should not be regarded as a normal transit of Saturn in Capricorn. (See Saturn ingress of Capricorn chart.)

But how rare is this? And what happened in the past when similar chart positions arose? We should also consider: what are the challenges for the current phase, lasting until 2020?

Technical considerations

With the exception of the Sun and Moon, planets move direct and retrograde over cusp signs (the ingress points) from time to time. This means that we should have a criterion for deciding which ingress chart to use: for the first entry a planet makes into a new sign, or for the last entry after retrograde?

Because astrology is a science of beginnings (and because my practice seems to point this way), I consider that the preferred chart is the one cast for a planet's first ingress of a sign before retrograde, regardless of whether it leaves the sign by retrogradation afterwards. If a planet backs out of a sign, we should remember that the previous ingress is still partially active in this new period (until the final or definite re-ingress).

As an example, we could say that the current chart for the ingress of Saturn in Capricorn is valid from 20 December 2017 to 17 December 2020, in a broad sense. However, from 22 March 2020 onwards, Saturn will be in Aquarius, so the ingress chart of Saturn in Aquarius (calculated for the latter date) is already co-ruling. (NB that Saturn then returns to Capricorn on 1 July 2020 before its complete ingress of Aquarius on 17 December 2020.)

But because the world doesn't change overnight, we should also consider that two or three months before an actual ingress, the 'themes' of the transit are already germinating. In other words, the 'influence' of this transit of Saturn in Capricorn had already started in October-November 2017; but its strongest impact is in the 20 December 2017 to 22 March 2020 phase.

From then on, there will be an overlap with the ingress of Saturn in Aquarius. Between the two, the dominant ingress in the overlapping zone could be the one in whose sign Saturn transits most of the time (in this case, 70% of the time in Capricorn in the overlapping period – overlapping zone 70 – or simply OZ 70, as a suggested code for future researchers).

Past combustions

It's best to be reminded of the classical definition of a Saturn combustion(ii): a conjunction of Saturn and the Sun within an 8-degree orb. However, it is highly likely – especially if we bear in mind the understanding of other branches of astrology, such as horary – that the applying combustion should be more powerful and destructive than a separating combustion. This is simply because in the former case, there is the process of coming to a climax, whilst in the latter, the climax has already occurred.

Table of Saturn combustionsTo get an idea of how common Saturn combustions are (at ingress point) we can check table 1: Combustions of Saturn since 1429 until 2135, in cycles of approximately 118 years beginning with an ingress in Capricorn.

Consider a cycle of 118 years – corresponding to four cycles of Saturn around the tropical zodiac and 48 ingresses in total. In the six cycles between 1429 and 2135, there were eight combust ingresses of Saturn on average (16.6%) in each cycle. This means that the probability of a given ingress being combust is 1 in 6: not so rare as we might think in a first approach, because the cycles of Saturn and the Sun follow a pattern which is not random.

In the cycle between 1900 and 2017, all of the eight conjunctions were applying, a notable difference when compared to other cycles, being more than double the average. And if we consider only tight combustions (less than 4 degrees of distance between Sun and Saturn) the difference is even higher: over three times the average.

In the practical sense, this corresponds to the theme that this period (coinciding roughly with the 20th century) was extremely challenging for the world: in terms of 'combustions of Saturn', one could forecast a heightened likelihood of destruction, calamities, wars, explosions and heating – compared to the last 600 years and the next 120 years.

Great fires and plague

If we examine applying combustions of Saturn specifically in Capricorn – in the last 500 years excluding 2017 – there are only two occurrences: 1664 and 1870. These ingresses ruled the periods of the Great Fires of London (1666) and Chicago (1871). The combustion of 1664 was the tightest. Both were the only applying combustions of their corresponding cycles of 118 years.

The material damage suffered in both fires was vast. In Chicago, around 100,000 people were made homeless, and in London, upwards of 80,000. Nevertheless, the number of fatalities was low in the context of overall destruction (300 in Chicago and only six verified deaths in London).

In the same period of 1871/1872, the USA fought more raging fires which killed more than 3,000 people: in Wisconsin, Michigan, Boston and Illinois.
And within the same period ruled by the combustion (1665-1666), London was also devastated by a great plague which took more than 100,000 lives (a quarter of the city population).

Because Saturn rules Capricorn, it makes sense that these combustions could be the less malefic of all ingresses (with the other exceptions of Aquarius and Libra: in the latter case, Saturn is essentially dignified) and that the destruction should strike things like buildings and solid structures, such as found in big cities, rather than human lives.

Capricorn also rules the skin, and because combustion is like a fever (excess of heat), it could be claimed that the ingress of 1664 was also connected to the Great Plague of 1665-1666.

Great Fire of LondonCuriously, this same year of 1666 was also considered the Miraculous Year (annus mirabilis) because not only of the lives spared in the Great Fire but the announcement of Newton's discoveries.

But why was London especially affected by this particular ingress, and not other big cities? Probably, other mundane charts should be consulted, including the charts of the towns or countries.

Since these charts are beyond the scope of this article, we will instead look at other ingresses of Saturn over the past 118 years regardless of the sign ingressed, in our search for more information on the manifestation of combustions.


The following list shows all eight combustions of Saturn within the cycle from 1900 to 2017 and the main events they could be related to. We only list 'extraordinary' events and have omitted those whose frequency is more 'usual' (with a higher probability than 1 in 6).

  1. 1903 (to 1905): Ingress in Aquarius (Sun at 28º40' Capricorn):
    Iroquois Theatre Fire in Chicago (kills 600); the Great Baltimore Fire; the Great Toronto Fire; Fire In Steam Boat in New York Area (1,000 deaths- worst disaster in the area until 9/11 [2001]); Russian revolution of 1905; the Russo-Japanese War (more than 100,000 casualties); annus mirabilis of Albert Einstein.
  2. Tanguska1908 (to 1910): Aries (Sun at 28º30' Pisces):
    The Tunguska explosion in Russia – the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history (disintegration of a meteor or small asteroid); Messina earthquake (almost 200,000 deaths).
  3. 1935 (to 1937): Pisces (Sun at 24º57' Aquarius):
    Quetta Earthquake in Pakistan (40,000 deaths); Labour Day hurricane (the most intense hurricane to make landfall in US history); the 1936 North American Heat Wave; Crystal Palace in London destroyed by fire; Great Purge of Stalin (around 1 million deaths); beginning of Spanish Civil War; New London School Explosion (the worst school disaster in American history); Second Sino-Japanese War.
  4. 1944 (to 1946): Cancer (Sun at 28º50 Gemini):
    Last and more destructive battles of World War II, especially by air bombardments; RAF Fauld explosion (the largest explosion on UK soil); Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings; end of WWII; nuclear tests.
  5. 1953 (to 1956): Scorpio (Sun at 28º56 Libra):
    1st nuclear-powered submarine; Castle Bravo test (the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the USA); Castle Romeo test (the first air-droppable thermonuclear bomb); world's first atomic power station (in the USSR); nuclear bombing tests by the USSR; start of the Algerian War of Independence; the Warsaw Pact; explosion of soviet battleship (worst Soviet Union naval disaster); world's first industrial-scale commercial nuclear power plant is opened (in England); 1st computer virus found; worst drought in the UK.
  6. 1980 (to 1983): Libra (Sun at 28º 36' Virgo):
    Oktoberfest bombing (the worst act of terrorism in post-War Germany); start of Salvadoran Civil War; fire on Indonesian passenger ship (580 killed); gas explosion at mine in Japan; Bihar train disaster (800 casualties); first cases of AIDS; outbreak of Dengue fever; mine explosion in Czechoslovakia; the Stardust fire (in Dublin); El Chichón volcano eruption; assassination of John Lennon; John Paul II assassination attempts; Ronald Reagan assassination attempt; wedding of Prince Charles and Diana; Falklands War.
  7. Challenger disaster 1985 (to 1988): Sagittarius (Sun at 24º40' Scorpio):
    Challenger disaster; Chernobyl nuclear disaster; Lake Nyos disaster (limnic eruption); eruption of Nevado del Ruiz volcano (five days before the ingress, 25,000 deaths); collision of Soviet passenger liner; Sandoz chemical spill; Wall Street crash (Black Monday, 1987); history's worst peacetime sea disaster (sinking of ferry MV Doña Paz – 4,000 killed); Lisbon-Chiado fire; droughts and heat waves in Europe and North America.
  8. 2005 (to 2007): Leo (sun at 24º04') Cancer):
    7/7 London bombings (one week before the official ingress); Hurricane Katrina (the costliest in the US until 2017); Kashmir earthquake (106,000 casualties); 1st nuclear test by North Korea; death of Saddam Hussein; beginning of Mexican Drug War; suicide bombings in Iraq (deadliest car bomb attack); 2007 European heat waves (and fires).

These ingresses coincided with big events to a significant extent. However, each one was astrologically different because of receptions, dignities and aspects to other planets.

In general, we can say that they seem to correspond to a higher than expected rate of nuclear incidents (bombings, disasters or tests), explosions of great magnitude (such as the Tunguska presumed meteoroid explosion which flattened 770 square miles of Russian forest in one event) and heat in developed countries (special fires, explosions or droughts).

But in our assessment of heatwaves, explosions and earthquakes around the world, more data would be required to establish a definite correlation to the combustion of Saturn.

For instance, other important events – such as 9/11 or the Fukushima disaster or Indonesia earthquake – were not preceded by a combust ingress of Saturn. Thus, we cannot state categorically that this is a necessary and sufficient condition for events of great, disastrous magnitude, even though there is a measurable higher rate by proportion (1 in 6).

The combustion of the century

Saturn in Libra ingressAmong all combustions, in this 118 year-cycle, the ingress of 1980 (to 1983) is certainly a stand-out – it was the only one where Saturn was conjunct the great benefic Jupiter, and the only one where Saturn was exalted. (See Saturn ingress in Libra chart.) Despite coinciding with the Falklands War and assassination attempts of leaders, it can be viewed as the mildest of this cycle.

Interestingly, one of the major events of this period was the royal wedding of Charles and Diana (Saturn in Libra combust), a union that 'burned down' in the following decade.

In contrast, at the tail end of WWII, the ingress of 1944 (to 1946) (see Saturn ingress in Cancer for Hiroshima),Saturn in Cancer ingress could be regarded as the 'combustion of the century' because it was the only one where Saturn was in its worst essential debility (Cancer), conjunct Venus and the Moon – all applying towards combustion. In no other ingress in this cycle were these two planets combust. Because the Moon is a general significator of the people in mundane astrology, it would be likely that this period coincided with really 'outstanding' events.

In the ingress cast for Hiroshima, the stellium is in the 8th house (of death); and the ruler of the 8th (Mercury – ruling flying planes) applies towards Mars (ruler of the Ascendant) by sextile.

In fact, this ingress may be viewed as the worst and the best of its cycle since after the combustion (atomic bombs and bombardments), Venus reached Saturn, symbolising the lasting peace that was settled in this period.

The current combustion: conclusion

After a more careful examination of past combustions of Saturn, I am no longer so pessimistic about the current transit (from late 2017 to late 2020).
The proximity of Venus and the dignity of Saturn (ruling Capricorn) symbolise the strong possibility of institutional agreements that can foster peace, even against the background of nuclear threats and climate change.

Of course, it is more likely that some developed countries could be hit by fires, droughts or heat waves but there are insufficient testimonies to indicate the occurrence of more dramatic events than usual in terms of loss of human life. Other charts would need to be cast to pursue this line of inquiry (such as the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction chart, eclipses or vernal ingresses of the Sun).

The combustion may have a more metaphorical meaning in the context of US President Trump's proposed wall against Mexican migrants or of Brexit, since these are Capricorn resolutions – building up frontiers, hardening of national identities and keeping distances.

In this respect, the combustion, and the conjunction to Venus, could 'melt down' the intentions to develop rigid frontiers, making it difficult to fulfil these plans without suffering great financial loss. A greater union of institutions is perhaps one way to interpret the ongoing ingress chart.

Positively, the combustions are also connected to the Miraculous Years of two of the world's most important scientists: Newton and Einstein.

As alluded to earlier, Part 2 of this essay will demonstrate how Saturn's ingresses, making hard aspects to Mars, correspond to the start of deep crises, such as major wars and the Great Depression.

i  Astrology of the World I, B. Dykes, 2013
Astrology of the World II, B. Dykes, 2014
Mundane Astrology, M. Baigeant, C. Harvey and N.Campion, C. Harvey, 1992
ii Christian Astrology, W. Lilly, 2005

First published by: The Astrological Journal, Sep/Oct 2018

Joao MedeirosJoão Medeiros is a Portuguese professional astrologer born in 1975. He graduated in Economics (Nova School of Business) and worked for four years in the Portuguese Statistics Office before becoming a full-time astrologer in 2003. He is the founder of CEIA (the Centre for Education of Integrated Astrology) and a leading promoter of astrology in Portugal. He studied all major branches of astrology in-depth and seeks a balanced integration between the best classical and modern approaches. He is the author of three books: Rising Ocean - Portuguese Astrological Cycles (2004); The Chart – Psychological Astrology (2013); and The Zodiac of Portugal (2017). Email: Websites:;

Image sources:
Charts and table provided by the author
Hiroshima: By Shigeo Hayashi (UnknownUnknown source) [Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Fire of London: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Tunguska meteroid: GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Challenger disaster: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

© João Medeiros - 2017/18

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