2023, aquarius, astrology, Capricorn, pluto, saturn

March 2023: Aquarian Shifts

The planetary shifts in March are intense, and there are more changes happening this month than any month in the recent past. Many planets are changing signs this month. Venus is moving into Taurus, a sign that she rules. After six months in Gemini, Mars is finally moving into Cancer.

However, there are two very important and less frequent planets changing signs this month, both of which involve Saturn.

Let’s start with a little background on Saturn. Saturn is the classic “Father Time” figure. He is noted for bringing discipline, working through hardship, and staying focused on long-term vision rather than optimizing for short-term gain or instant gratification. More generally, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, Saturn is there to help your effort find success.

In traditional astrology, Saturn rules two adjacent signs, Capricorn and Aquarius, and as the Sun moves through these two signs each winter in the northern hemisphere, we have our coldest and darkest days of the year. This is not a coincidence as we think about Saturn’s significations. Life is hard in the winter, especially historically. If you did the work to store grain and food for the winter, you were able to make it through until spring. If you didn’t put in disciplined work, winter was an extremely difficult time.

Saturn has spent the past approximately six years first in Capricorn and now in Aquarius, so it has been traversing signs that it rules during the recent past. After six years of this, on March 7, Saturn departs Aquarius and moves into Pisces, a sign in which it doesn’t have dignity and a sign in which its hard work and discipline is less appreciated. Pisces encourages connection to the universal life flow – not to hard, disciplined work to create things in the three-dimensional world.

This is a big shift for Saturn, and will likely result in Saturn trying to bring disciplined energy to artsy Pisces themes. This next three years is likely to be a time of more dedicated work and money going into painting, music, film, and other art forms. Whereas people may have been more fluid in their artistic approaches in the past, we will likely see art techniques emerge that require more time and discipline and effort to perfect. This in itself is a large Saturnian shift.

However, there is another even larger Saturnian shift coming toward the end of the month.

Pluto, which has spent approximately the past 15 years since 2008 in Saturn-ruled Capricorn is making its first move into Saturn-ruled Aquarius on March 23rd, shortly after the spring equinox. Pluto will spend the next few years retrograding back and forth between Capricorn and Aquarius, so we will see some overlapping themes between these two energies, but this is Pluto’s first foray into Aquarius since it was discovered in 1930.

Pluto’s intense, transformative energy applied to Capricorn has shown us the cracks in governments, financial institutions, the economy, the job market, our ability to work through global health crises, and other public, Capricorn-oriented institutions. Think of the 2008 housing crisis (which kicked off as Pluto moved into Capricorn) and the covid pandemic and resulting supply chain shortages and economic problems (which happened at the end of Pluto’s traversal through Capricorn). Pluto has shown us weaknesses in our existing institutions. Pluto in Aquarius is going to look very different.

Where Capricorn is about institutions, Aquarius is about societies. Where Capricorn is about fitting into known structures, Aquarius is about creating new structures that work for a greater proportion of people. Where Capricorn is about what most of us would call “climbing the corporate ladder”, Aquarius is about finding ways to make the ladder more equitable for more people to climb. Although this sounds like a fantastic shift, it is important to remember that no Zodiac sign is “good” or “bad”, or even “better” or “worse” than another Zodiac sign. Every sign has its strengths and its shadows, and Pluto in a sign tends to show us the shadow sides as a cautionary tale. We have definitely spent the past 15 years seeing the shadow sides of some of our Capricorn institutions and organized structures. Now, with Pluto in Aquarius, it’s time to see a different shadow side. Fighting for equality and equity is important, and being mindful of our community is important. But with the shadow side of Aquarius, the reason for the fighting can get lost and we are just fighting to win, and we find ourselves feeling hate and contempt for the other side. Because Aquarius is oriented around creating new social structures, it feels no need to fit into existing social structures. This can be helpful for breaking out of old patterns, but also firmly establishes Aquarius as a rebel who will not be swayed by peer pressure. The shadow side of Aquarius occurs when people embrace this rebel attitude, disconnect themselves from the very people they want to help, and remove themselves emotionally from society. Their path then becomes about winning a societal war that they believe is justified, but without having a heart-centered, compassionate approach. Aquarius (despite the way its name sounds) is an Air sign, not a Water sign. Aquarius is the Water-Bearer, the one who carries or holds space for the emotion of others. But in doing so, the shadow side of Aquarius is to become disconnected from their own emotions and to become a facilitator rather than a partner, an observer of others’ emotions rather than an emotional person themselves. And it is nearly impossible to bring productive, helpful social change from a place of unemotional detachment. From this place, “winning” starts to look more and more like “being right” rather than bringing society to a better place.

Now, of course, the next 20 years is not going to be all about the shadow side of Aquarius! But wherever Pluto goes, we find ourselves going into the Underworld to deeply understand which things are built on a firm foundation and which things have become distorted and corrupted. Pluto in Aquarius will show us some societal organizations that have clear visions and are making real change in the world to move the human race forward. However, it will also show us societal organizations that have become corrupted – that are more focused on being right and hating their opponents than they are on their original vision. That are so comfortable being the rebel that they don’t realize there is a difference between being disliked because you are different and being disliked because you are unreasonable and lack empathy.

However, all of this being said, one commonality between the two signs of Capricorn and Aquarius is that in traditional astrology, Saturn rules both signs. Setting up strong institutional structures and social structures both require patience, discipline, intense work, low ego, and maintaining a commitment to your vision and your duty. Saturn rewards those who build both institutional and societal structures in this way. Those people who have been laboring hard to build things in a highly ethical and disciplined way will begin to see the fruits of their labor through strong, solid structures. These are the structures we will see hold solid during the next 20 years of Pluto in Aquarius. Those that have tried to take shortcuts or who have fallen into the shadow side of Aquarius and become more focused on “being right” rather than “being good” will find their structures crumbling beneath them.

Many people feel a little apprehensive approaching Pluto. This is wise! In Greek mythology, Pluto, or Hades, is the god of the Underworld and accepts deceased souls into his kingdom. Nothing about this figure was light or merry; Plutonian energy is dark, heavy, and intense. However, it is not “bad”. Understanding something all the way down to its roots brings knowledge and wisdom and none of us wants to stay in the realm of the superficial forever. For those of us willing to accept Saturn’s lessons of putting in hard work and discipline and ethically “being the change we want to see in the world”, Pluto moving through Saturn’s sign of Aquarius for the next 20 years can be experienced very positively. Pluto will help us find and repair any cracks in the foundations of our beliefs and build a worldview and set of structures that will outlast us and stand the test of time. The more we can focus on the long game rather than quickly won and quickly lost gains, the more this cycle will represent a time of intense growth and development for each of us.

Photo by Oleg Chursin on Unsplash