Astrology of 2021: general annual overview
The astrology of 2021 is better than 2020 – it’s hard to top the huge events that happened this year – but there are still some major challenges and disruptions ahead.
2021’s dominant space weather centres around the ingress of Jupiter and Saturn into Aquarius. The grand conjunction at 0 degrees of Aquarius on the winter solstice of 2020 sets the tone for the year to follow. 2021 gives us a deep and abiding look at Aquarius, as this is now Saturn’s home for the next couple years. And he rules this sign, as he does Capricorn, though his rulership of the water-bearer’s sign will feel very different than his tenancy in the sign of the goat.
Jupiter zips through Aquarius quickly, seemingly eager to part ways with Saturn after forming their conjunction, and dips his toes into Pisces mid-May. It’s the priestly king returning to the shores of his homeland, weary but coming into his own power again. However, he only spends a brief period here (until the end of July) before realizing he has further business back in Aquarius, retrograding back into the water-bearer’s sign for the rest of 2021.
This year will also help acquaint us with the electric innovation and earthly disruptions of Uranus in Taurus. Jupiter and Saturn – and the rest of the planets behind them – square off with Uranus early in the year. Thanks to his retrograde cycle, we get to experience three exact squares between Saturn and Uranus this year, kicked off by one with Jupiter:
- Jan 17: Jupiter square Uranus at 6 Aquarius/Taurus
- Feb 17: Saturn square Uranus at 7 Aquarius/Taurus
- Jun 14: Saturn square Uranus at 13 Aquarius/Taurus
- Dec 24: Saturn square Uranus at 11 Aquarius/Taurus
So, Aquarian energy replaces the heavy Capricorn vibes (the Capricorn Singularity, as I like to think of it) that dominated the last few years and culminated in 2020 with the grand conjunction of Saturn and Pluto (and Mercury and the Sun, as it happened) on January 12 at 22 Capricorn, followed by Jupiter and Pluto on April 5 (24 Capricorn), June 30 (24 Capricorn) and November 12 (22 Capricorn). If you have natal planets close to these degrees (I use a three degree orb), you will have likely felt these conjunctions strongly and you should keep an eye on upcoming transits through this part of the zodiac, because this is a power spot that will resonate for a long time to come (likely until Pluto exits Capricorn in November 2024).
Saturn in Aquarius
Saturn enters Aquarius on December 16, 2020 (just an hour after I’m typing these words, actually). He made a sneak peek into Aquarius early in 2020, on March 21 until July 1, which coincided with the first major lockdown period in my part of the world, and then the civil unrest about the death of George Floyd and the continued protests, riots and other fallout from that.
At the end of March 2020, Mars conjoined Saturn in Aquarius, which provided a lot of the incendiary fire that was at the heart of those conflicts. Saturn’s journey through Aquarius in 2021 will have a different quality to it than his brief visit in 2020, but the general themes will be consistent.
Saturn rules Aquarius in traditional astrology, whereas in modern astrology rulership was given to Uranus – so the squares between the two of them are interesting regardless which system of astrology you follow.
Aquarius seems to be a really misunderstood sign. I think a large part of that is due to the splintering and disbursement of significations between Saturn/Uranus/Aquarius in modern times. (The same is true of Jupiter/Neptune/Pisces and Mars/Pluto/Scorpio.)
Aquarius is active but resistant to change, rigid and concerned with the intangible connections and exchange between people. Social order and structures are its top priorities. Aquarius’ rulership by Saturn means that it seeks to uphold tradition and do what it feels is right, though it can be impersonal to the point of alienation. I’ve heard it said that Aquarius loves society but hates individual people. In 2021, we may see this manifest as things done for the greater good at the expense of the individual.
Mandatory COVID vaccines (especially for air travel – Aquarius is an air sign), mandatory anti-bias training, seeing the world through the lens that everything is a social construct – gender, sexuality, race – and passing legislation based on these supposedly intangible qualities, advocating for alternatives to the nuclear family, alternative forms of education and learning. These are all topics that will likely continue to move to the forefront of society during Saturn’s residence in Aquarius.
On a more positive level, I think Saturn in Aquarius will help us re-evaluate the way we treat our elders, on an individual and societal level. Saturn rules death, dying and the elderly. (Side note: this is part of why Saturn has such a bad rep: we’re afraid of death and no one wants to get old.) The COVID pandemic has shown us that the way a large portion of the world currently treats our elders – sticking them in homes that transform into prisons the moment the government flips a switch – is anathema to the natural order, in which elders remain integrated and part of society right to the end.
Uranus in Taurus
Uranus entered Taurus on May 15, 2018, retrograded back to Aries in November 2018, then ingressed into the bull’s sign for good on March 6, 2019. In 2021, the planet of disruption moves between 6 and 14 degrees of Taurus.
Taurus is receptive and reflective, stubborn and resistant to change. As an earth sign, it emphasizes things in the material world – the land itself and what comes from it, so our food and natural resources, but also the basis of the things that form our economy; the “stuff” that we all have and need.
2021 will see an intensification around the disruption in the global food systems. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 revealed just how fragile our global food system really is: hordes of people panic buying mountains of groceries, persistent and recurrent food shortages because of said panic buying, as well as shortages and disruptions caused by shutdowns of meat packing and food processing plants due to COVID outbreaks.
More positive manifestations of this energy included a massive surge of interest in backyard gardening, small-scale farming and permaculture, home baking, cooking and other food-related hobbies.
All of these trends will continue into 2021, with more people than ever before keeping a better-stocked pantry and going “back to the land.” Uranus is disruption but not all disruption is bad – uncomfortable yes, but sometimes we need to be shaken up before we’ll actually do something about a problem that was easy to ignore. As someone who has been writing and researching about food and food systems for over a decade, I see this global focus on where our food comes from, and how to grow/make it yourself, as a very good and necessary development.
Other food-related developments that will continue to be spurred by Uranus in Taurus include the continued efforts around lab-grown meats and plant-based diets. Chickie-tots are going to be a thing by the time Uranus exits Taurus, mark my words. For the record, I think the efforts in these areas are simultaneously noble and profoundly disturbing. I would prefer that we put this time, energy and money into improving animal welfare instead of developing franken and fake meat, but that’s a post for another time.
Uranus’ presence in Taurus will also mean continued disruption in global finance and currency, and ongoing stock market volatility. Both were major themes of 2020 and this will continue into 2021. We saw the rise of digital currency in 2020, which has been in development for some time already but which took significant steps forward last year due to the pandemic. The stock market tanked in March 2020 and then rebounded hugely, hitting record highs in the last part of the year. When Uranus squares off with Saturn in 2021, I think there’s a good chance we’ll see a major tank in the markets again – though we could also see another record high. Or both! There are three of these exact squares throughout the year, so there’s enough time to experience it all.
Natural disasters, particularly land-based ones like earthquakes and volcanoes, may also be more common for the next few years. I’d put that as especially possible around the period when Mars conjuncts Uranus on January 20.
Uranus will be in Taurus until April 25, 2026 so there are still several more years of continued disruptions in these areas.
Neptune (and briefly, Jupiter) in Pisces
Neptune continues his long, leisurely sojourn through Pisces. Pisces is the most watery of the signs, deeply receptive, adaptable and emotional, but also indecisive and over-accommodating, with a tendency towards a lack of boundaries and internalization.
Neptune’s meaning is modern, by virtue of it only being discovered in 1846. It is associated with spirituality and mysticism (meanings splintered off from Jupiter), as well as with illusion and disillusion, fantasy and the subconscious. So, Neptune in Pisces is all about the deep subconscious, a vast ocean of possibility where the boundaries between fantasy and reality, illusion and disillusion, are hazy at best and completely unknown at worst.
The continued global obsession with breaking down boundaries of race, gender, sexuality and other binaries of all kinds are part of Neptune’s swim through Pisces. This energy will be buoyed by the Saturn-Jupiter squares, which seek to disrupt and tear down the social structures and cultural groups that Saturn seeks to define and restrict. Though Neptune doesn’t make any aspects to either Saturn or Uranus, I imagine him cheering them on from the sidelines.
Jupiter will make a brief entrance into Pisces this year, a sneak preview for his formal, permanent entrance on December 28, 2021. Jupiter rules Pisces in traditional astrology, so this is a move that puts Jupiter into his own domain and improves his conditional hugely. Jupiter spent so long in Capricorn over the last year – a sign in which he’s in his fall and therefore not able to help in the ways that Jupiter likes to help – to expand and foster growth, to philosophize and be optimistic.
Note: modern astrology made Neptune the ruler of Pisces, so from that perspective Neptune is ruling his natural home right now. I subscribe to traditional rulerships, but the co-presence of both Neptune and Jupiter in Pisces will unite all these significations unequivocally and should feel pretty interesting.
Jupiter enters Pisces on May 13. He says there until July 28 when his retrograde cycle takes him back to Aquarius and therefore out of his own rulership and back under the rulership of Saturn. I think Jupiter’s presence in Pisces is going to feel really nice and bodes well for a good summer. This should feel all the more welcome after the rough year we all just had. I’m picturing that many people will, for the first time in over a year, start getting together in larger crowds. I’m even hopeful that we’ll see a return of some artistic performances which have all been on hold (or worse, virtual). It is my fervent hope that we’ll get the Edmonton Fringe again, though by that point in August Jupiter will have slipped back into Aquarius. But please oh please can I just go see live theatre again?
Pluto in Capricorn
After the Saturn-Pluto conjunction on January 12, 2020 at 22 Capricorn, and the ongoing co-presence of Saturn and Jupiter in the goat’s sign throughout the rest of the year, 2021 will bring a marked departure of the strong Capricornian energies that have been culminating since Saturn entered the sign on December 19, 2017. (Pluto entered it on November 26, 2008).
All of the planets depart Capricorn in the early part of 2021, leaving cold, stony Pluto alone in the goat’s sign. Although he’s in the last decan, Pluto is not going to leave here for a long time to come. (Pluto moves between the final degrees of Capricorn and the beginning of Aquarius a few times between March 2023 and November 2024.) He is not yet done with the profound transformation being enacted on our structures of government and finance. Great Reset, indeed.
Nonetheless, the movement of the rest of the planets out of Capricorn and into Aquarius and beyond is a major relief to those of us with strong cardinal placements in our birth charts (myself included). Fixed signs – it’s your turn to feel the pressure.