Recently I’ve been reading some modern and classic texts on mundane astrology. One of the more obscure facets of historical astrology is the role of the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer which repeats about every 30 years. One of the earliest mentions of the importance of this conjunction of the traditional malefic in the sign Cancer can be found in al-Kindi’s discussions of its role in examining the duration of Arab rule. Abu Ma’Shar later popularized al-Kindi’s ideas.
According to Ben Dykes in Astrology of the World II, al-Kindi noted that in the Aries Ingress or vernal equinox chart for the year 622 AD, when Muhammad fled to Medina, the sign Cancer was on the Ascendant, and Mars was conjunct Saturn in Cancer in the 1st house. At the same time Jupiter in this diurnal chart occupied Aquarius in the 8th house and was in aversion to the Ascendant, thus affording none of its benefic influence to soften the conjunction of malefics in the 1st, which configuration spelled trouble for the Persians who ruled at the time. The exalted Taurus Moon, which ruled the Ascendant and disposed the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer in this chart, was in sextile aspect to an exalted Venus in Pisces in the 9th, favored the Arabs (traditionally ruled by Venus) and the prophet, signified by the 9th house. Here is a modern approximation to al-Biruni’s chart for the Aries Ingress at the time of the Hijrah.
Interestingly, although al-Biruni regarded the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer to be harmful, it could be ameliorated by a favorable aspect from benefic Jupiter, should one exist. The sign Cancer is significant for several reasons:
- Cancer disposes the Mars/Saturn conjunction and is the Ascendant of the Aries Ingress in the year of the Hijrah, a key event in Islam.
- Cancer is the sign of fall or depression of Mars.
- Cancer is the sign of detriment or exile of Saturn.
- Cancer is a movable or cardinal sign, ruled by the Moon.
In the 12th century the Jewish astrologer Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra had a somewhat different take on the Mars/Saturn conjunction. He wrote in The Beginning of Wisdom that, according the the ancients, when Mars and Saturn join together they exert a beneficial influence. The explanation for the “positive” combined influence of the two malefics is that each vitiates the action of the other, thereby preventing the other from doing harm. The net result is that their conjunction produces the “good” of causing no harm because each restrains the other’s malevolence from going into effect.
William Ramesey in his 17th century book on Mundane Astrology takes a totally negative view of the Mars/Saturn conjunction:
“… the conjunction of Saturn and Mars in the first degree or term of Cancer, is the forerunner of much evil, i.e. terrible wars, slaughters, depopulations and alterations of government, and destruction of kingdoms, fire and sword, famine and pestilence, etc. And if is oriental, its effects will soon operate; if occidental, not too soon. The conjunction of Saturn and Mars in any other sign and place is not so terrible.” (italics mine)
The most recent Mar/Saturn conjunction in Cancer the USA chart is set for Washington, DC, on May 25, 2004 at 1:39:29 AM EDT. It has 29 Aquarius 11 rising and the conjunction takes place at 11 Cancer 18 in the 5th house. The 30-year cycle, from 2004 through 2034, looks like this:
This year, 2020, we are experiencing the Mars/Saturn conjunction is Aquarius, eight signs from Cancer so it may have an 8th house significance relative to the start of the sequence, and the square of this year’s conjunction perfects on August 24, 2020 at 14:19:20 EDT.
The current Mars-square-Saturn chart has 5 Sagittarius 02 rising, with Mars at 26 Aries 19 in the 5th house and Saturn at 26 Capricorn 19 Rx in the 2nd house. Given that the 2020 Mars/Saturn conjunction occurs in Aquarius, which is 8 signs from Cancer, in 2020 it could signify, in the keywords of Ramesey, “much evil, i.e. terrible wars, slaughters, depopulations and alterations of government, and destruction of kingdoms, fire and sword, famine and pestilence, etc.” (bold mine)
The eclipse chart, which precedes this Mars square Saturn chart and sheds light on the manifestations of this square, occurs on June 21, 2020, with the Sun and Moon in the first degree of Cancer, a cardinal sign which gives this eclipse broad mundane significance. The first degree of the cardinal signs is often called the “world point” because of its implications for mundane astrology.