Capricorn planetary alignments of 2020

In Astro Overviews by Gillian

Planets in Capricorn – January 2020 

There is a major line up of planets in the sign of Capricorn now that continues through to spring of next year and beyond.

Pluto, the darkly powerful herald of transformation, death and rebirth, has been slowly scouring its way through the sign since 2008 and is not due to leave until 2024. As I write this, it’s at 22 degrees of the sign.

Saturn entered Capricorn, one of the signs it rules, in December 2017 and precisely conjuncted Pluto on 12th January 2020, an historic event, since these planets last met in that sign in 1518. Because of the slow moving nature of these planets, the conjunction is much more of a process than a one-off event, and we have been seeing signs of it manifesting throughout the world for some time.  Saturn will briefly leave Capricorn between March 22nd 2020 and 1st July 2020, then return, and fully ingress into Aquarius in mid-December 2020.

Jupiter entered Capricorn on 2nd December this year and will stay in the sign until late December 2020.  The Sun entered Capricorn at the moment of the winter solstice, followed by Mercury on 29th December.  Moreover, the nodes of the Moon are retrograding through Cancer/ Capricorn (currently around 8 degrees,) which means that the New Moon of 26th December 2019 and Full Moon of 10th January 2020 were solar and lunar eclipses and therefore particularly powerful.

That’s a great deal of emphasis on one zodiac sign! (And that’s before we start counting other dwarf planets / heavenly bodies such as Ceres and Chariklo.)


So what is the energy of this sign? It represents authority, responsibility, boundaries, limitations, structures, the wisdom of age and experience, practicality, hard work, painstaking effort, integrity, reliability, punctuality… As befits an earth sign, it is earthy and grounded – it represents the capacity to build something real and lasting. Capricorn’s ruler, Saturn, gives us the self-discipline and ability to do what needs to be done when we don’t much feel like doing it. It is the ‘old man’ – the senex – Old Father Time, with his hour-glass and scythe, warning us that there’s work to be done and responsibilities to be faced and time is a-ticking and that no-one ever achieved anything by simply dreaming about it: to make things manifest in this earth-bound realm, we have to do the work! And, if we choose NOT to do the work, it warns us of consequences to be faced in due course. Saturn is the Lord of Karma.

This is the energy we are feeling now – indeed, we have probably been feeling for some time. Perhaps one of the best ways to respond is to ‘make an offering’ to Saturn: to shoulder responsibility, to act with integrity and do our best, over a period of time, persistently pursuing our chosen goal. For we need a goal in such times. We need something lofty and worthwhile to work towards. And this is where discernment is needed – one of the shadows of Capricorn and of Saturn is that we pour ourselves out unstintingly on the altar of a goal that is not right for us, we laboriously climb the high mountain, step by patient step, only to find at the top that we have used too much of our precious time on this beautiful planet climbing the wrong mountain. Nevertheless, even such a dearly-bought realisation can represent the beginning of a new and different, hopefully more fulfilling path.

The Pluto Saturn conjunction perfected on 12th January 2020, but it’s actually a long process lasting several years. The conjunction itself is the start of a whole new cycle but what manifests will take time to become apparent and, we must remember, its nature is dependent upon the actions we collectively choose to take.

In short, this has the energy of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. It manifests through power struggles and shifts in the dynamic of power, through changes in the old order, through the collapse of old social structures, through resistance and struggle. There is a sense of intensity and of concentrated effort.

Both planets represent a certain ruthlessness, both are connected with elimination and cutting out of dead wood: there may be efforts to streamline old ways of doing things and new foundations may be dug so that new structures can be built. Pluto and Saturn meeting in Capricorn represents the possibility of profound change in the social order or, at least, titanic struggles to attempt to achieve this.

The last time this conjunction took place in Capricorn was 1518. In 1517, Martin Luther challenged the authority of the established church by nailing his ‘Ninety-Five Theses’ to the door of Wittenberg Castle church. In 1518, his followers used the printing press to copy and disseminate Luther’s challenges, kick-starting the Protestant Reformation, with profound consequences for the course of western history. In 1518, Charles V, King of Castile and Aragon and later, Holy Roman Emperor, issued a charter authorising the transportation of slaves direct from Africa to the Americas. This changed the nature and scale of the slave trade, (shown, for example, when Lorens de Gominot obtained a license to import 4,000 African slaves into the New World colonies in 1518.) In 1517, Ferdinand Magellan began the first voyage to circumnavigate the world and in 1518, Spanish explorers named New Spain – (Mexico, Central America north of Panama, Spanish West Indies and SW North America.) In 1519, the Aztecs welcomed Cortez and his soldiers to Tenochtitlán and by 1521, with the help of Indian allies, Spanish reinforcements, superior weapons and the ravages of disease, Cortez et al defeated the Aztec empire of around 25 million people. Profound changes to the social order indeed!

We can see all around us, in our own country, the USA, Hong Kong and so many other places around the globe, power struggles between the mass of the people and the ruling elites. We will need to use wisdom, patience (Saturn!) and discernment to decide when and how to act (or not) now.  And with Pluto at the heart of this, we may experience many lessons in learning to let go.

Jupiter in Capricorn

Jupiter will stay in Capricorn for almost the whole of 2020. It whips through the first part of the sign, conjuncting Pluto for the first time in early April before it slows down and retrogrades, conjuncting Pluto (retrograde) in early July and staying within an orb of 3 degrees to Pluto up to early August. Jupiter (direct) conjuncts Pluto again in early November. It leaves Capricorn on 19th December 2020, whereupon it immediately conjuncts Saturn in Aquarius (the aspect is precise on the 2020 winter solstice.)

The principle of expansion, growth, hope and faith (Jupiter) meets constraint, contraction and limitation in Saturn’s sign and the planet is in its fall there. Jupiter’s innate qualities are therefore less easily expressed, in marked contrast to its passage through its own sign of Sagittarius during 2019. Here are some possible manifestations: optimism and expansion are squashed by fear and/ or a collision with hard reality; a pragmatic and practical approach to risk-taking; an increased appreciation and understanding of traditional values and/or the importance of effort and responsibility; a more patient and responsible approach to the pursuit of one’s goals.

It’s possible for earth to smother fire and put it out, but that isn’t necessary. Instead, earthy Capricorn can, like a hearth, contain the expansive fire and vision of Jupiter. In the internal combustion engine, the forces of expansion and contraction are both employed (with perfect timing) to produce useful work and forward motion.

We must be careful to nurture hope and vision in the coming year, as well as staying grounded. We must step up, know what we stand for, move forward towards our most cherished goals and never give up hope.