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The Saturn-Uranus opposition and health care

Looking at planetary aspects now, one of the biggest things going on in the sky is the Saturn-Uranus opposition. This means that these two planets are exactly 180° apart. This opposition was exact about a week ago, but because these planets travel relatively slowly, it is still being felt. In addition, because of the retrograde motion of both planets, this is actually part of a larger pattern of 5 periodic Saturn-Uranus oppositions occurring from late 2008 (around the election) to 2010. We’ll start this post by discussing the astrological particulars of this opposition, and then add a little tarot and current events into the mix.

Any opposition between Saturn and Uranus can be thought of in simple terms as the forces of the status quo and structure (Saturn) vs. the forces of change and chaos (Uranus). Uranus is a planet of idealism, especially when it is in Pisces as it is now. There is a strong vision of change, of a better world, of willingness to embrace upheaval and chaos needed to bring this about – by forceful or unique means if necessary. In Pisces, this may be a time when hidden dreams or desires are expressed – things lurking under the surface of society that through a random or unexpected event can be brought to the forefront. Explosive public demonstrations may be triggered by repressed emotions and a need for change.

Saturn, on the other hand, represents the forces of authority, structure, limits, and conservative behavior – especially when it’s in practical Virgo, as it is now. Saturn in Virgo might agree that incremental changes could bring about improvements, and will focus on those details – but would never condone the instability of wholesale societal change. This would appear very threatening to a person who identifies more strongly with Saturn, as a complete abdication of responsibility and an unrealistic idealism.

An “aspect” between two planets refers to the angle they make in the sky, and an opposition is a particularly interesting one. Neither strictly beneficial nor entirely challenging, it can best be described as a tension between two forces that needs to be resolved. These two planets have medium-long orbits, and are therefore what is known as “societal” planets. While they do (especially Saturn) affect us personally over long cycles of our lifetimes, they also affect entire societies and generations. The last time these two planets came into opposition was in the 60s, which was a period of great social struggle and change in the US. This time, at least in the US, the struggle seems more centered around the government – the election, which was all about change, the economy, and health care.

When I saw this opposition recently, the first thing that popped into my head was the current struggle over health care issues in Congress and around the country. We certainly have the forces of the status quo (Republicans, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals) vs. those of change (Democrats, social activists). Virgo and Pisces are also both signs that rule houses related to health, making it not surprising that this issue should be reflected in this particular opposition.

Yet, in an opposition, it’s never as simple as the forces described above arrayed against each other, and we can see that here too. Doctors and hospitals – which one would expect to be aligned with Saturn/Virgo – are suffering from the status quo and are at least cautiously in favor of change. The question is, how much, and can they feel comfortable with the more radical proposals? Large and small businesses are in many ways in the same boat – the costs of health care are rising so fast that they see this as a key business challenge that needs to be resolved to maintain their competitiveness and provide for their employees, but they fear both massive, unpredictable change in the system and the 12th house consequences of allowing this threat to grow unseen and undercover without being addressed. Activists feel both a need for change (Uranus) and a responsibility to provide for everyone (Saturn, but also idealistic Uranus).

So here we are with an astrological opposition pretty well describing the current status of the health care debate in the US. What kinds of insights can the tarot bring to this debate? Here we can work at either an individual or a societal level, although the extent to which we can affect the societal debate is more limited. If I were a Congressperson, perhaps one of the “Gang of 10” working on this issue, I might be tempted to look at it like this:

Card 1: What is the most important fear or concern of the Saturn/Status Quo forces that I need to address?
Card 2: What is the most valuable proposal from the Saturn/Status Quo forces that I need to include in the package?
Card 3: What is the most important ideal of the Uranus/Change forces that I need to address?
Card 4: What is the most valuable proposal from the Uranus/Change forces that I need to include in the package?

As an individual, one could always draw cards to look at the various alternatives being proposed and get some idea how they might work out. This could be valuable if, like most of us, we really have no idea whether some of the ideas being proposed might work and how they will affect us. There is quite reasonable fear of making the wrong choice, and an almost impossible task of understanding what the consequences really might be, through just trying to reason it out. Hence, the added insight that a tarot reading might bring could be quite valuable. The only caveat to doing this kind of reading is the utter unpredictability of Uranus, meaning that what ultimately gets voted on could change at the last minute as inspiration, idealism, or accident – perhaps buried in subconscious Pisces – strikes in the midst of last-minute negotiations.

So let’s try the reading above. Using the World Spirit deck, I received:

Card 1 – Justice
Card 2 – 10 of Cups
Card 3 – Sibyl of Cups, reversed (Queen of Cups)
Card 4 – Ace of Wands

11 JusticeThat first card is powerful – it suggests to me that those who prefer the status quo have some truly fundamental beliefs at stake here. They may fear upsetting the current system – getting things so far out of balance that we’ll never recover our equilibrium. They may worry that we don’t really know what we’re doing – we’re working in a system where we really can’t see all the consequences of our choices. They may prefer the system we have, which isn’t necessarily fair to individuals but serves constitutional principles of individual responsibility and freedom from government intrusion. It’s interesting for me to contemplate how differently this card would have been read had it been on the other side of this debate, but it’s a good reminder that the forces of the status quo have sincere, fundamental principles involved in this debate.

Tens are cards of the end of a cycle, but also of celebrating what you have built, especially in the emotional suit of Cups. This is a very positive card, and it suggests that anyone working on this debate needs to understand and appreciate what Americans and what the Saturn folks love and celebrate about the current system, what makes them feel emotionally attached to it (as they so clearly are) – and not take that part away in the new proposals. There has been a lot of negativity in the current debate on both sides, and if the center could find a way to express gratitude, value, and celebration of the good parts of our system and make it clear that they’re incorporating those in, they may stand a much better chance of relieving folks’ anxiety.

The Sibyl of Cups reversed is an interesting way to express an ideal. In many ways, this is a very Piscean issue – she is the most watery of the Cups courts, and is often associated with Pisces, the sign that Uranus is currently in. This suggests to me hidden, deeply emotional issues about illness, incarceration, addiction, and helplessness that are shaping the debate on the side of the forces of change, and the terrible burden of emotions that this places on nurturers who feel this pain as deeply as does the Sibyl of Cups. These are all 12th house issues, ruled by Pisces. With our demographics changing so that many families have elders in a not-too-friendly health care system at the same time as we ourselves are beginning to experience more serious health issues, fears about being in a nursing home, end-of-life issues, serious illnesses, and medications are coming to the fore. These emotions are difficult to express but are nevertheless key to the need for change – the need for universal coverage, compassionate end-of-life care, and support for families. These fears are coming out in repressed and not necessarily direct or positive ways – further complicating the debate. Yet, they are the most important issues driving those who feel the need for change – love, compassion, the relationships among us as a society, along with fear of illness and being trapped alone and helpless in a hospital or nursing home by the current system.

The Ace of Wands as a proposal is on its face an idealistic, enthusiastic card that says – start completely over! Build something new! Be creative and build what you want from the ground up. Of course, this contrasts directly with the Ten of Cups, not only elementally, but one is the beginning of a suit and the other is the end of a suit. Yet, numerologically speaking, 10 = 1. Ten is the number of transition and really leads to a new beginning, even though it is the final culmination of a suit. This is the paradox of 10s in tarot that is the key to resolving the opposition – which itself is a tension between the old and the new. This card says – let the forces of the Status Quo retain all that is best and celebrated about the old system, while bringing in fresh new ideas of Change that can burn away what doesn’t work from the old and replace it with something entirely different. Don’t be afraid to be bold about replacing what didn’t work – at the same time, don’t throw out the best of what was.

So now our Congressmen have the task of identifying the best of the old and the exciting of the new :)


September 21, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. Yay! Found it! I’m feeling at quite a loss to say very much. I was just getting into this kind of astrology when I moved across country and now I’m missing my books by Nick Campion and Charles Harvey! All my astrological reference material is in storage. But I will tentatively venture this much. I would not leave Neptune out of this consideration as it is in exact semi-sextile to Uranus and quincunx to Saturn. Also, Neptune and Uranus are in eachother’s signs. To make things even slightly more tense, each planet is transiting its least compatible element! I wouldn’t expect a very easy time from either one. Saturn, on the other hand is in a very comfortable element.

    If you want to know more precisely what the portents are, I’d find a chart of the US that you like (because there are several)and look at those house positions.

    I can see how much the turmoil and volatility coming from segments of our society can be tied to Neptune’s and Uranus’ placements. Saturn in Virgo may be the what’s holding things more or less together at the moment.

    The really big thing coming, I think, will be when Uranus goes into Aries and is squared by Pluto in Capricorn. If I remember right, this will happen or be in effect in the last half of December 2012. We will have both these very powerful planets squaring eachother in cardinal signs. I think what we are experiencing now is just the warm up.
    I sure hope other people will comment on these things.

    I just did a 3 card reading asking: What will be the meaning of the 2012 transit of Pluto in Capricorn square Uranus in Aries?

    1. Past influences 3C Reversed
    2. Present conditions The Fool
    3. Future Outcome The Magician Reversed

    I have to ponder this while I’m getting ready for school.
    Please others….contribute your views.


    Christine Houde

    Comment by Christine Houde | September 22, 2009 | Reply

    • One effect I think Neptune has is to add a very illusory, uncertain effect to all the volatility that is already occurring. No-one can tell what is real and what isn’t. It also allows for the dissolving of old structures. One particularly interesting facet is that these forces of change are retrograde. It’s as though there was a huge push for change and then a rethinking of it – slowing down to reconsider. Fears and illusions and volatility making people worry about changing the basic structures too much.

      I’ll take a look at that Pluto square Uranus transit once it comes into play later on this year. But all these major and difficult aspects between these planets, along with the significant number of retrogrades, suggest we’ll be going over and over and over these issues, and that a truly satisfactory outcome may be difficult to achieve. Some kind of partial change that no-one’s quite happy with could be an outcome (Magician, reversed).

      Comment by shadowmeteresa | September 22, 2009 | Reply

      • Please do. I need someone else’s thinking on this! I think when both planets are in cardinal signs the “stuff” is going to hit the fan.

        Would the reversed 3 of C suggest a loss of feminine feeling values such as cooperation, mutual regard and tolerance, support; even a loss of civility?

        Neptune also has a lot to do with the Victim/Redeemer archetype and also some Dionysis ecstatic stuff. I would expect to see, though I could certainly be wrong, the more extreme sides of these energies (including Uranus) when they are in really incompatible elements and signs and when there is friction between them.

        Comment by Christine Houde | September 22, 2009

  2. Oops! I was so focused on Pluto/Uranus I forgot to say that given the sign placements of Neptune/Uranus, it is no wonder that the uproar we are experiencing is clothed in moral/religious terms. Both planets are equally indicative of an uprushing of irrational, rigid zealotry and violent affects. I wish I could check to see what happened in the collective the last time these placements occured. I’m aware that my pov is quite dark but the out planets in difficult placement and relationship rarely presage a walk in the park. I’ll try commenting again later when I can get past this and consider what a positive outcome may look like.


    Comment by Christine Houde | September 22, 2009 | Reply

  3. Oh, certainly I did not mean to imply that these were the only planets affecting the situation! I just didn’t want to make the first post too complicated. :) There is also a Pluto square to Saturn right now that I am sure is complicating the issue – I’ll comment on that in the next post.

    Comment by shadowmeteresa | September 22, 2009 | Reply

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