Cara James

Cara James

Episode 002 | The Unfolding Astrology of 2020

Cara explains the astrology behind the powerful cosmic season we’re in, and explores what Saturn, Pluto, and Jupiter have to say about COVID-19.


Saturday, April 4, 2020
Dear Listener,

Greetings, from surprisingly semi-sunny Southeast Portland! I hope this Saturday finds you well.
So a client who attended a webinar of mine late last year recently asked me, “Cara, when you said 2020 would be challenging, is THIS what you had in mind?”
I jokingly told her my vision was a little less virusy.
And while, yes, I knew 2020 would be a tough year astrologically, nothing prepared me for the experience I had earlier this week, when I found myself on the threshold of a small neighborhood grocery store. For the first time in weeks.
I had been assured by social media that face masks were now “the thing.” I saw photos of friends sporting cute ones with flowers. I watched a Japanese tutorial on how to fold one with hair ties and cloth.
And so, I stood before a set of shiny sliding glass doors my face bound with a blob of bright blue bandana. My glasses fogging up from their awkward placement atop my newfound Western wear. Looking more like a misfit mobster than a mom, but feeling proud, like an astronaut setting forth on a dangerous mission to help humanity. And so, I boldly stepped into the shop,
Only to find face masks were NOT the thing. (Not yet.) Only to find 20 bald faces staring back at mine, mouths open in what appeared to be a blend of shock and stifled laughter. Only to instantly replay every embarrassing moment of my childhood simultaneously in my head. (And there were a lot.)
But I held my head high, put my shoulders back. And the humiliation was all worth it – not just because I was keeping myself and my neighbors safe, but because, as you know from my last letter, I was out of chips!
I’m curious – what surprises and smiles this week held for you? And I invite you to join me in being fashion-forward.
But back to that question I received about the planets — and more importantly, what can we learn from the cosmos? Is COVID-19 what I expected from the planets? In form, no. But in energy, yes.
You see, 2020 kicked off several very significant cycles astrologically. It’s helpful to think of them as seasons. Many of these cosmic seasons are much longer than our summers and falls, so the average person might not recognize them. But fortunately astrologers have been tracking them for millennia. And they are as constant and predictable as any season mother nature brings. Some of these seasons may just get your face wet, while others sweep in like hurricanes and knock your proverbial house down.
The planets farthest out in the solar system especially bring significant change to the landscape. Your own personal landscape, and that of society around you.
And when the planet Pluto is involved, as he is this year, you can guarantee that when the season ends, the world will never be the same.
Pluto demands transformation
And while the transformation may not feel as sweet and soft as that Anais Nin quote makes it seem. You know the one, about how the day came when “the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom,” the idea is the same.
Like the force of nature upon the rose, the pressures of the planet Pluto become so great on a person or a society, that there are only two ways to move. And both ways involve death.
We can choose to stagnate and die on the vine. Or we can choose the path of liberation, and die to our old form. To step into the discomfort, the unknown, the great mystery, our own unfolding. And with Pluto there is no other choice. Upon pain of death, you must make a decision.
You may recall a time when you found yourself in a similar place. Perhaps you find yourself there now.
Most of us can agree that this cosmic season feels like what we know of winter. A time when life goes still, when growth stalls, when we turn inward, and stay inside.
You may feel like you’re wintering in Des Moines, but notice your friend seems to be wintering in Palm Springs. Perhaps their income hasn’t been impacted as much, or they have a partner to help them get through the tough times, when you don’t. The degree to which you’re experiencing these times depends on where and how this planetary energy shows up in your personal natal chart, that map of the sky at the unique time and place you were born. 
No matter where the planets fall in your personal chart, we all started the year with the intense and forceful Pluto beginning a great cosmic season with the planet Saturn. Both of these are planets that you can feel – in your body, bones, and soul. And depending on your age, and life path, you have likely felt their energies at pivotal times in your life. Pluto feels like an intense pressure, often from the outside in, like you may implode or combust. And Saturn can feel like overwhelming depression and sadness, and cause things in your life to fall apart.
If you noticed a heaviness in the air late last year starting in October or so, and growing in intensity and depth into January and beyond, you were sensing the meetup of Saturn and Pluto, both planets that represent and bring about death in their own way. You may have even noticed that time seemed to stand still? That was Pluto causing the death of Saturn, otherwise known as Father Time.
And so they met on January 12th, 2020 in what we call a conjunction – this is when two planets meet in the same sign and degree of the Zodiac, And from our limited view on earth, they line up and appear to join as one planet. Thus we say they are conjoining, or making a conjunction. Saturn and Pluto come together like this once every 30-36 years or so, depending on retrogrades, when their orbits appear to change temporarily.
So to understand this season, I looked back throughout history and shared these findings with the folks on my webinars last December.
Historically, and unsurprisingly, based on what you know about Pluto and what you may recall of Saturn from my last letter, Saturn-Pluto conjunction years bring massive societal change in the decades that follow – revolution even – often a mix of pain and progress. I’ll use a few highlights from United States history – though admit this was not my best subject in school!
In 1851, a Saturn-Pluto conjunction year, we had an agricultural revolution based upon great progress technologically, that increased harvests. Not ironically, the conjunction was in the earthy, land-oriented sign of Taurus.
In 1883, we saw major infrastructure achievements, such as the completion of the Northern Pacific Railway from coast to coast. We had the first manned, controlled flight of a heavier-than-air machine in history – making room for the Wright brothers a good 10 years later. We also saw standardization of time zones, which made it easier to coordinate transportation and commerce. 
In 1914, the Saturn-Pluto conjunction took place in the sign of Cancer, which relates to our home and family, and desire to protect and nurture them, and we saw the start of WWI that year – a time when our very roots and foundations were on the line.
In 1947, we were in the age of McCarthyism and the beginnings of the cold war. We saw institutions like the CIA and International Monetary Fund become established. We made progress in technology with the first mobile phone, instant camera, and transistor. 
We broke barriers like sound, and racial barriers when Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play major league baseball. In fact, there were plenty of changes around entertainment and sports with this conjunction happening in the fire sign of Leo.
And this quick tour through history takes us up to 1982, our last Saturn-Pluto conjunction. Not only did the US experience a major recession that year, and proceed to focus highly on capitalism in the years to follow, we also made huge leaps in technology. The Computer was Times Man of the Year. Each subsequent year gadgets got smaller and cheaper. Genetic engineering was just beginning. And the conjunction in 1982 occurred in Libra, a sign that speaks to relationships. Technology was beginning to alter the way we would relate to one other over the subsequent decades – think social media, and all the platforms built on the technology that started this cycle. 
And our governmental and societal response to the recession, set in motion economic systems and structures that would further divide people. You can start to see how each cycle builds on the last.
In each of these instances, the shifts and changes were already underway long before Saturn and Pluto met up, being built behind the scenes, below the surface, and the Saturn-Pluto meet-ups were the change points — the catalytic sparks — when the themes were fully birthed or unearthed.
And our ways of eating, traveling, consuming, earning, being, and relating, were forever changed.
And so I entered 2020, with eyes wide open to the societal changes afoot. And since the conjunction (and some other planetary action) was happening in the sign of Capricorn, I expected to see changes in earthy, physical, Capricorn themes: things like wealth, commerce, authority, our governments, leaders and other institutions, and also the earth and her resources. 
With Pluto’s involvement I thought we’d see power and its abuse increase and ultimately be exposed to the light of day. With Uranus plowing through Taurus, like it did during the Great Depression, that was another indicator of the potential instability of our wealth, health, and resources.
And because 2020 started another important conjunction cycle, involving Jupiter and Pluto (their conjunction is exact today, meaning in the same sign and degree) I forecast that we’d see greater injustices at our international borders, an increase in xenophobia, and ultimately a societal focus on healing, a higher vibration of Pluto. As I said before, I could see the energy, but the form was not yet clear.
But every day, more is being seen.
We entered 2020 with deep political divides, deep equality divides, deep resource divides.We all knew this. Or could, if we were paying attention. Or cared. No surprises there.
But as Pluto does, he’s exposing the truth behind what we’ve been unable or unwilling to face, those dark places, the cracks. Like the volcanic goddess Pele, he’s revealing what’s been seething deep below. He’s exploding upon the scene in a surprising eruption, violently changing our landscape. And remember, with Pluto, things can never go back. Something new will form, but things will never be the same.
I’m not saying you can never go back outside. I’m just saying you and I and the world around us are changing in ways that we are only beginning to fathom.
From what I can tell, the coronavirus has very little to do with health.That’s not to minimize the 60,000 people who have already perished as of the date of this letter, and the over 1 million more who are sick or will become so. It’s just that health is the great equalizer. COVID-19 doesn’t care if you’re the Pope or a plumber.The president or the postal carrier.
This virus is here to reveal, to test, and to transform.
We don’t have to look farther than the headlines to see the planets at work. At least I don’t. As an astrologer, I hear things in terms of signs and planets. Whether I meet you at a networking event or as a client, I hear your life and stories in cosmic terms. When you tell me relationship woes, I start picturing your 7th house of partnership. I can’t help it!
So when the NYT wrote the headline yesterday, “Half of Humanity Under Lockdown Orders,” I heard Saturn in Aquarius (the sign Saturn recently moved into), or the isolation of humanity.
When I heard how South Korea’s use of surveillance was threatening privacy, or how the Philippine President had authorized their military to kill civilians who defy lockdown orders , I heard Saturn and Jupiter conjunct Pluto, or the potential for misplaced or overblown power.
When I saw the graph in the papers that showed jobless claims were at 6.6 million people, ten times what they were when they peaked at 695,000 in 1982, the last time we had a Saturn-Pluto conjunction, I saw the planets at work.
When comparisons were drawn between these times and WW2, 9/11, and the financial crisis of 2008, I heard periods in history when Saturn and Pluto formed other tense relationships with one another, or seasons within their season.
And when I see our schools struggling to provide access to all remotely, our churches singing together on screens, our travel industry down on its knees, our journalists and media running after the truth, our healthcare system buckling under its own weight, I hear Jupiter conjunct Pluto. The Plutonic death and transformation of our learning systems, wisdom traditions, cross-cultural connections, and scientific institutions – all areas that are ruled by the planet Jupiter and his corresponding 9th house.
And as we watch the events unfold on the world stage, we’re left with the very Capricorn question – what have we as a society been building? And who have we been building it for? 
The planet Saturn dismantles that which does not serve. If what we as a society had built was serving our people, it would not be crashing down. If we had an integral foundation, we would not feel the shaking of the storm.
For so long, the health and wealth of the people have been in the hands of the powerful. But now, the health and wealth of the powerful are in the hands of the people. Of all people. We are all responsible for each other. In truth, we always were.
How interesting that those who have built up wealth, have nowhere to spend it. Those who have yachts and jets and have nowhere to go. And our very survival is dependent upon those people who work by the hour.
Back to building – our Cosmic dismantler and builder, Saturn, moved into the sign of Aquarius on March 21st. And Mars joined him on March 30th. There’s some new energy in motion.
And to understand Aquarius, I’d like to introduce you to my father-in-law, Wesley. He’s an outstanding Aquarian Sun sign, with a sturdy Capricorn Moon. Wesley is 86 years old and lives in the Midwest. He’s long since retired from his days as a traveling salesman and enjoys the soft tones of whistling birds and smooth Jazz every Sunday morning, after eating his world famous atomic omelet. And he enjoys them alone. Wesley has no more than four spoons in his drawer and all of his coffee mugs appear to be from the 1970s. He has the resources to buy more but would rather use his funds to fuel his philanthropic gifts to help people struggling to survive in Yemen and elsewhere around the world.

He is a prolific coupon clipper, and has been known to ask supermarket clerks for rain checks when they’re out of spaghetti. That said, the man buys only what he needs each day because he doesn’t know how many he has left and doesn’t want to be wasteful in the unfortunate case of his demise. When his son and I called to make sure he was stocking up on food and maintaining social distance, he claimed he bought an extra can of garbanzo beans and should be just fine.
Wes’s simple and somewhat austere lifestyle (besides his nightly brandy) is so very Aquarian with a strong dose of Capricorn. His focus on self-sufficiency and taking only what he needs is too. His love of his fellow man and concern for their well-being exemplify some of the Water Bearer’s best traits. To weather this storm, we look to Aquarius.
And while Aquarius is indeed a humanitarian sign, it does not care about YOU. I’m sorry to say.  At least not personally. Aquarius cares about you in general – about the tribe, the network, the group. It wants to see all survive and thrive together. Like Wes, the sign can make personal sacrifice for the benefit of the global family. In fact, you’ll often hear Aquarians talk about being citizens of the Universe.
So with heavy Saturn’s recent move into Aquarius, we feel the weight of social distancing more strongly. We sense the gravity of the situation humanity finds itself in. There’s a stronger call to take our personal responsibility seriously, as our actions have great impact. And given Saturn’s role as the Lord of Karma, we as a society are being called to account for how well we’ve met the needs of the collective.
Fortunately, we also have Saturn’s strong work ethic and now energetic Mars to power genius Aquarian solutions to this increasingly complex pandemic. 
We just get a taste of Saturn in Aquarius before he retrogrades back into Capricorn in May, but these themes have been set in motion and will be punctuated in December with a Saturn-Jupiter conjunction at zero degrees Aquarius.
There’s more at work behind the scenes. Chiron, an asteroid associated with healing is in a tense relationship, a square, with the nodes of the Moon, just as it was during the 1918 Spanish Flu. We feel its strong tension as we seek to balance our home and family life with our need to provide for them, exactly what you’d expect with the nodes being in the signs of Cancer and Capricorn. 
Clearly there’s a lot going on in the Cosmos!
And as I briefly mentioned, today is an important day – the day when Jupiter and Pluto get together at 24 degrees of Capricorn. We’ve already felt their presence as they’ve been near each other for the last month or so, but today their energy is at its peak. 
And yes, we can see how Jupiter is expanding illness and death, and exposing the truths of our society. We can understand why people have been so fearful, when we look to this conjunction.
But the biggest takeaway these planets have for you and for me, is to have faith. Jupiter himself is expansive and optimistic. He’s asking us to trust this process. To know that despite our inability to see around the bend, there is light at the end.
And so I encourage you to take heart, wherever you’re wintering, with whatever face covering you’re wearing, whether you have one can of garbanzos or eight, know that you are part of a great unfolding, a huge ask of humanity to look deeply at its intent and integrity as its very essence is laid bare.
And while it may take time, know that something will grow again in this lava dirt.
I remain, Cosmically Yours,
Cara James
P.S. I invite you to pop over to my website and sign up for my newsletters, to get even more cosmic thoughts. You can also find me on Instagram @carajamesastrologer. Let me know what you thought of the show and maybe catch a glimpse of me as a bandit shortly. And lastly, you can now find my cosmic letters on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and others, so please subscribe and leave a star rating of the show so others can tune in with confidence. Take care!

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