The first of May is Beltane, a Celtic fire festival preserved in the traditions of the May Queen, folk song and Morris dance. This year saw the release of Mai, an album by Welsh folkie Georgia Ruth dedicated to the month. You can find my review for The Observer on the Guardian website. Not much public dancing and merriment going on this year, but the greenwood blooms on regardless.
Astrologically, May is a pivotal month, when we shift from April’s rare scenario with all planets going forwards in the sky to one when most are retrograde. Perhaps that will give us pause for thought about the plight of humanity under 2020’s ongoing Saturn-Pluto signature. The retrograde season is led by Pluto – retrograde from April 26, followed by Saturn on May 11, Venus on May 13, and Jupiter on May 15.
My thoughts on this and more for individual signs will follow on the weekend. Your astrologer remains in the unhappy grip of flu, which turns out to have a life of 5-6 weeks.
Meanwhile I thought I would send my forecast for 2020 as written in December 2019 and commissioned by Walpole Journal, an annual publication that promotes UK brands, the likes of Burberry, Harrods, Wedgwood and hundreds more. Some of the points here will be familiar to my regular readers, some not.
2020 – Future Shock
‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,’ Bob Dylan observed, nor an astrologer to tell you that this year the world is in the jaws of history. Astrology has long been fixated by 2020, thanks principally to the clash of the two heavyweight planets Saturn and Pluto, which in January conjoined, as they do every 30 odd years.
Both have a fiercesome reputation, Saturn as a harsh, constrictive patriarch, Pluto as dark lord of the underworld, a violator (of Persephone) and fanatic. Together their mythological qualities become intensified to create a toxic mindset of ‘might is right’ (and heaven help those in the way).
The Saturn/Pluto cycle certainly has an unhappy history, their conjunctions and oppositions coinciding with turbulent, world-changing events; for example 1914 and the Great War, 1931’s Great Depression, 1947’s partitions of India and Palestine and the 9/11 attacks of 2001. Economic downturn is a recurring feature. So too is what philosopher Richard Tarnas calls ‘the empowerment of reactionary forces and the totalitarian impulse’.
2020 is best seen as the peak (but not the finale) of a process that began with the financial crash of 2010, simultaneous with Pluto’s arrival in Capricorn, home of the establishment, capital, the system. Since then the plutocrats, the super-rich, have prospered, as have nationalist autocrats, the ‘hardmen’ of China, Russia, India, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Bolivia, Brazil, the UK and the United States.
As much doesn’t inspire optimism about the year ahead – it depends on your politics, most of those hard men have some popular support.
There are always other, contrary portents in play, especially at the end of 2020, when Saturn and Jupiter land in Aquarius, a more idealistic, collective and socially responsible sign. This once-every 20 year meeting heralds a new chapter in political and cultural affairs. Saturn’s brief, three month stay in Aquarius in spring 2020 offers political and cultural clues as to what’s coming down the turnpike next year.
For millennials (b. early ’80s- mid ’90s), 2020 is a time of awakening, or rather, since they’re already ‘woke’, of engaging with adulthood. Most are now past their ‘Saturn Return’ at 29 years of age and are into careers, families, property – snowflakes no more. Their ‘Gen Z’ successors were born with distant, slow-moving planets in Aquarius that are now being ‘triggered’ by the transit of Prometheus, planet of revolution and innovation. Though Greta Thunberg (b. 3/1/2003) is herself a stern Sun/Moon Capricorn, she represents the Aquarian generation, one relentlessly pressed by transiting planets over the next decade. Expect an avalanche of eco warriors.
Prometheus (aka Uranus) is, as Prime Minister Johnson recently reminded us in a United Nations speech, the bringer of fire, a liberator. Astrologically it is associated with disruption and rebellion – the American and French revolutions for example – and with such technological breakthroughs as the discovery of electricity. Prometheus’ seven year residency in earthy Taurus, beginning 2019, signals a revolution in the concerns of Taurus, a sign of bounty; mother nature, food, economics. Eco-protest has already flourished in the shape of Extinction Rebellion and the like, and will escalate sharply after 2021.
Along with revolutionary zeal, Prometheus promises the technical innovation to avert eco catastrophe. A Cambridge research group headed by former government adviser Sir David King was recently set up to do exactly that. ‘What we do over the next ten years will influence humanity’s future for the next 10,000,’ he said.
The flipside to Prometheus in Taurus is the return of Frankenstein foods, GM crops and gene-meddling. In 2020 what you eat remains a moral issue, as does tinkering with your baby’s DNA, a growing industry. New forms of banking are already here. Facebook’s weirdly named Libra is just one crypto-currency – more than a dozen countries have advanced plans for their own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), China and the European Central Bank among them. If you work for or trade with a government, this is how you’ll get paid.
Will a climate change denier gain a second term as US President? An election held under massively conservative stars clearly favours a Republican, but Trump’s personal ‘scope looks ruinous. A once in a lifetime inquisition by Pluto raises concerns about health and criminality. This is Trump in the Underworld, and, as Persephone can testify, Hades often proves a miserable experience.
The U.S. is entering its own reckoning with Pluto, as the planet returns for the first time to its position at the nation’s birth (4/7/1776), putting the republic’s founding principles under examination. Whoever wins the election, this looks like a fiercely contested battle for the nation’s soul. In 2020, we can anticipate bitter public debates about national history, especially slavery.
With luck, the major war associated with the Saturn/Pluto cycle has already been declared, by Nature against inconsiderate humanity. Or perhaps Mars, Gustav Holst’s ‘Bringer of War’, which is at odds through the second half of 2020, augurs a new, more conventional conflict.
The hard rains of Saturn/Pluto resonate strongly in the UK’s assorted horoscopes – the 1066 Coronation, 1801’s Act of Union and 1922’s partition of Ireland – spelling disunity and disintegration. Ulster is already in the EU’s arms, where Scotland would like to join it. London is a virtual city state, resented by the bled-dry ‘regions’. Under Brexit, Singapore on Thames and freeports beckon. National institutions – the NHS, the judiciary, the BBC – look fragile.
The Conservative Party is undergoing a similar rebirth. Born (2/11/1867) with a Scorpio Sun, the party’s ‘scope has a Capricorn ascendant over which Saturn and Pluto now sweep. Saturn here in 1990 saw Margaret Thatcher’s demise and in 2019 Theresa May thrown under the bus (both Librans, as is David Cameron). Deathly Pluto describes the demise of ‘One Nation’ Toryism and its resurrection as a more rapacious entity. The Labour Party, an Aquarian creation (b.12/2/1906), must bide its time until Jupiter and Saturn meet in the Urn Bearer at the close of 2020.
The United Kingdom will seem everything but united in 2020. Already riven by culture wars and ravaged by the demons of Brexit, the tenor of public (and private) debate promises to be rancorous and vengeful, full of ancient resentments and scapegoating. Of John Major’s ‘Nation at ease with itself’ there is scant sign.
Under such disputation, we may yet get a version of 1984’s Ministry of Truth. George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece, written under 1947’s Saturn/Pluto, has already been eclipsed by the mass surveillance of Facebook and China’s WeChat. Among 1984’s ‘Newspeak’ slogans was ‘Ignorance Is Strength’. We’re already there. Dystopias – The Handmaid’s Tale, Man in The High Castle, Bladerunner 2049, swathes of Young Adult fiction – will remain in vogue, though for those looking to get ahead of the curve Aquarian concerns beckon – equality, utopia rather than dystopia.
The uncertainties of the age have no doubt helped astrology make its startling comeback. According to the New York Times, ‘Astrology has shed its psychedelic stigma for modern Instagrammy witch vibes’ (whatever that means), with astro-apps like Co-Star fuelling a 2bn dollar ‘mystical services’ market.
Your Monthly Stars will continue when your astrologer has time to recoup.