Fall 2001 Jupiter/Saturn Formation

by Anthony McGettigan

(Click here for November 30th Update: Full Moon conjunct Saturn)

The Discovery

On the evening of October 31, 2001 while meditating and watching the Full Moon, I noticed that Saturn and Jupiter are currently forming a pentagon with the fixed stars of Rigel, Sirius, and Procyon. Saturn is in conjunction with Aldeberan, the brightest star in the Taurus constellation. Betelguese, the bright orange star at the top of the Orion constellation, is at the very center of the formation.

The formation is very large, taking approximately 3-4 hours to rise. The drawing above doesn't do justice to the scale and the beauty of the visual experience. The area of the sky where this formation occurs is rich with some of the brightest stars in the heavens. When the formation fully rises, it fills the entire eastern sky. The bottom portion of the formation becomes visible only when Sirius appears above the eastern horizon (approximately midnight).


Timing of the Event

The formation was taking shape during the last part of this Summer. Jupiter orbits the Sun at a velocity approximately 2.5 times faster than Saturn. As a result, this formation took shape rather quickly as Jupiter moved through the early degrees of Cancer. Jupiter entered Cancer on July 13th of this year and reached approximately 11.5 degrees of Cancer by September 10th. The formation would likely have started to look like a pentagon by the end of August, 2001.

The Moon conjuncted Saturn early on the morning of September 10th. The exact time of this conjunction was 5:50 a.m. (PDT). On that date, Saturn was positioned at roughly 14.75 degrees Gemini. The Moon's conjunction with Saturn was particularly close -- within one degree.

The Moon closely conjuncted Jupiter on the morning of September 12th. The exact time of conjunction was 5:32 a.m. (PDT). On that date, Jupiter was positioned at roughly 11.75 degrees Cancer. The September conjunctions between the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter are the closest conjunctions happening with the pentagon formation (the formation will last until early 2002).

The Full Moon closely conjuncts Saturn on November 30th. The Full Moon in Gemini happens at 12:49 p.m. (PST) at roughly 8.75 degrees (Gemini). On that date, Saturn is roughly positioned at 11.75 degrees Gemini. The Moon's close conjunction with Saturn occurs exactly at 6:08 p.m. (PST).

The Full Moon on December 30th closely conjuncts Jupiter. The Full Moon in Cancer occurs at 2:40 a.m. (PST) at roughly 9.5 degrees (Cancer). On that date, Jupiter is roughly at 11 degrees Cancer. The Moon's conjunction with Jupiter occurs exactly at 6:09 a.m. (PST).

(Note: Although the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction occurs approximately once every 20 years, the alignment with these particular background stars would be much less frequent. My limited archeo-astronomical investigation suggests the last time this alignment would have happened as precisely was approximately 1028 AD.)


Mythological Meanings

Saturn is symbolically and mythologically associated with authority, limitations and boundaries, fixed structures, institutions, time (chronos), and karma.

Jupiter is symbolically and mythologically associated with resources, expansion, abundance, philosophy, the principles of laws and religions, long-distance voyaging, and adventures of discovery.

To the ancient Egyptian people, the Orion constellation represented the god Osiris. According to Bernadette Brady's Book of Fixed Stars (Weiser, 1998), "The constellation was not [just] a symbol of god, it was god... The Egyptians knew him as Osiris and the Pharaohs came from him; they were his physical flesh, and were returned to him."

For several thousand years, Orion rose just before the Spring equinox sunrise. As precession caused more and more of the Orion constellation to slip into the Spring equinox sunrise, the Egyptians recognized that Osiris was disappearing into the underworld. Bernadette Brady tells us, "To account for these observations the Egyptians developed the concept of an immortal god dying and passing on his throne to his son." Because the constellation above Orion (Taurus) has a bright red star (Aldeberan) like Orion's red star (Betelguese), Taurus and Aldeberan became mythologically associated with Horus, the son and heir of Osiris. At this point, the Egyptian cosmology included both Osiris, "ruler of the underworld, or afterlife" and Horus, ruler of "the new world order" (according to Brady's Book of Fixed Stars, p. 165).

Another popular mythological theme related to Taurus is that of Mithras from ancient Persian culture. According to Brady, Mithras was a god of great military valor riding the solar chariot (Spring Equinox Sun) across the sky. Mithras was also known as Ahura Mazda, a Persian savior-figure, who produced the life of our world by slaying a cosmic bull and spreading its blood upon the earth. According to Alan Watts, Ahura Mazda was recognized by some Mahayana Buddhists as the Great Sun Buddha, whose radiance blesses the entire cosmos with eternal peace and light.

Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, has been associated since ancient Egyptian times with the goddess Isis, partner to Osiris and mother to Horus. In both the Egyptian and Mayan cultures, the date Sirius arose with the Sun indicated the first day of the solar calendar. According to Brady, the change from the Julian to the Alexandrine calendar in 23 BC caused this relationship between Sirius' rising and the new solar year to be disrupted. This calendrical transition correlates with the period in western civilization during which the goddess and oracles gave way to the development of logic and science (Brady, p84).

Sirius and Procyon are the alpha stars of the dog constellations, Canis Major and Canis Minor, respectively. Mythologically, these two stars and their constellations represent the energy of both companion and guardian. These two stars could also be described as gate-keepers.


A Synthesis of Perspectives

When I first observed this celestial geometry, I was both awed and struck with concern. The physical beauty of the formation is great, and "awesome" is not too strong a word to describe it. I was, however, also immediately struck with a foreboding feeling about meaning of the alignment. The pentagon shape, the number "five," the planet Saturn, and the Orion constellation -- all together in such a visually imposing way -- suggested to me an event of immense power.

Checking my ephemeris confirmed my discomfort when I saw that the Moon conjuncted Saturn very close to the date and time of the World Trade Center attack (see details above). I was even more dismayed as I started to review Bernadette Brady's descriptions for the constellations of Orion and Taurus. Honestly, my initial reaction to this formation left me feeling both a little scared and strongly curious.

Fortunately, my curiosity got the best of me. As I dug deeper into the dynamics of this celestial formation, I realized that although it began powerfully and synchronistically with the events of September 11th, its process is still unfolding -- and perhaps its strongest impact remains to be seen. Specifically, I feel the conjunctions of the Full Moon with Saturn (Nov 30th) and Jupiter (Dec 30th) will likely coincide with the formation's strongest energetic effects.

With respect to the daunting mythological symbology (described above), I'm aware that our ancient symbols and stories cannot be properly understood when taken only at face value. I'm aware that all our symbols and stories point to a deeper reality that can't be fully described in words -- but which can be recognized through direct experience. When we participate in experience, we participate in relationships. Focusing only on symbols and stories our participation is very limited. Seeing our symbols and stories as metaphors allows us to participate more deeply.

Mayan prophesy and cosmology tells us that we exist in a time of unprecedented change. The Mayan calendar tells us that we are on the verge of a profoundly different experience. A Mayan elder named, Hunbatz Men, explains that we are always moving with the creative energy of the cosmos -- the Mayan people call that energy Hunab K'u. Hunbatz tells us, that through the movement of Hunab K'u we are constantly in a process of transformation. Long ago, it was foretold that during our present moment in time and space we would awaken to our participation in this movement. That movement is about to take us into an experience more alive and more real than anything our stories can describe.

Interestingly, the Mayan people tell us that Hunab K'u is an emanation of the center of our galaxy. Synchronistically, the Jupiter-Saturn-pentagon formation is on the opposite side of our sky relative to the center of our galaxy. One way we could look at this celestial formation is as if it were a door or a gateway open to draw our attention to the energy moving from the heart of our galaxy, through the midst of our experience, and out to the rest of the cosmos. We presently have a very great opportunity to become more aware of the living energy permeating our world and our experience. It is an opportunity to begin participating in all our relationships with a greater awareness.


Suggestions for Working with the Energy

First and foremost, I would suggest that during any ceremonies or prayer sessions emphasis be placed primarily on the energy of our present experience and upon our relationship to the wholeness of our world, galaxy, and cosmos. Secondarily, the formation might be acknowledged as a gateway or window of opportunity to become more aware of the living energy of our experience.

I suggest that sharing music, poetry, or a jam session is a very fine way to commune and participate with the energy of our shared present experience. Experience is energetic and vibrational. Music, poetry, and improvisation are excellent ways to consciously participate with the energy of immediate experience. Avoid discussions, comparisons, analysis, and debate -- these processes are primarily mental and symbolic and tend to diminish conscious communion and participation with the energy of the immediate experience.

These types of shared activities are a good practice for anytime (not just during the next couple of months). However, during the next few months the phases of the Moon will be strong times for meditation, prayer, and shared contemplative experiences. I expect the strongest times to be the hours immediately surrounding the Full Moons described above, especially the Dec 30th Full Moon which will align the Moon with Jupiter and the Sun with the heart of our galaxy.


November 30th Update: Full Moon conjunct Saturn


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Original text of Journey to Deep Freedom

Copyright 2001 AJ McGettigan