by Gary P. Caton, 2019 Celestial Planting Calendar
For almost the entire year of 2020, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto will be within approximately ten degrees of one another. Visually, this is about the size of one's fist, extended at arm’s length and held up to the sky. In my perusal of historical records, this particular alignment is the closest these three planets have come to together in modern history. They very rarely conjoin and have not come this close in this particular part of the sky since the year 1285, when for the first time the famed Silk Roads of the Mongolian Empire allowed cultural exchange between Europe and China. Marvelous accounts of these early adventures were written by such intrepid travelers as Marco Polo and Rabban Sawma.
Jupiter arrives in the constellation Sagittarius late in 2019 (November 26), however, for this whole year, Saturn and Pluto are together in this constellation, setting the stage for this rare stellium, that is, a cluster of three planets. Basically this means we start to feel the energy gathering in 2019 and then it reaches a crescendo in 2020. The energy which is gathering is essentially Yang or outward moving energy.
We can see this same basic approach reflected in early biodynamic thinking in several different ways. For example, in lecture one of the Agriculture Course, Rudolf Steiner tells us that “Mars, Jupiter and Saturn…opens the plant-being to the wide spaces of the Universe and awakens the senses of the plant-being in such a way as to receive from all quarters of the Universe the forces which are molded by these distant planets.” Steiner was clearly invoking an upward/outward movement when speaking about the planets further from Earth. Similarly, he said that Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are activated by warmth (Fire). Maria Thun tells us that “when the planets pass in front of zodiac constellations of the same element, their effect is intensified.” This combination of Saturn and Pluto in Sagittarius is likely to be especially intense, given that both planets are associated with the Fire ether, and Sagittarius is a member of the Fire trigon.
In many ways, the combination of Saturn and Pluto is powerful enough to warrant their own separate historical investigation. The last time Saturn and Pluto came together in front of the constellation of Sagittarius was in 1518. This era saw two major cultural events unfolding. First, Martin Luther published his 95 theses, which became widely circulated via the new technology of the printing press and sparked the Protestant Reformation, which greatly diversified Christianity as it spread to the New World. Later, Charles V of Spain began selling “asiento” or licenses for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which internationalized the slave trade and brought it into practice on a massive scale.
The next meeting of Saturn and Pluto in front of a Fire constellation was in 1616-17, when they came together in Aries. This era saw advancements in exploration, including having the first Europeans travel the farthest north, sail around Cape Horn and reach Australia. Tremendous cultural exchange occurred as well; John Smith published his description of the New World and the Native American Pocahontas visited London, England.
The most recent time this pair came together in front of a Fire constellation was in 1713 in the constellation of Leo. This was a time of crisis for the royalty of Europe, with the house of Hapsburg coming to an end, resulting in two wars. The War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) was ending at the same time as the seeds for the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748) were being sown. Overall, the balance of power in Europe was shifting from France to Britain.
How can the wisdom gained from understanding these historical trends be applied to our work as biodynamic farmers? First, we can acknowledge the tremendous suffering wrought by the conscious and unconscious enforcement of cultural values onto people and into places where they do not truly belong. For example, the introduction of invasive species serves as a cautionary tale to the far-reaching energies we will be working with over the next several years. At the same time, healthy systems must have semi-permeable boundaries and be able to accept, adapt and integrate new energies and information. A balance between too much and too fast, as well as too little and too late must be struck.
We already know that the Fire trigon, comprising Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, is associated with and useful in the cultivation of grains, beans, fruits, trees and presumably nuts (at least those that grow on trees). So, investment in planting and/or harvesting these crops is favored during this time. Since these alignments are extremely long-term cycles, more long-term investments in timber, fruit orchards, vineyards and berry crops are beneficial.
Furthermore, since the historical trends show marked increase in long-distance cultural exchanges under these far-reaching planets, it would seem that import/export and/or blending of local/exotic forms of these products would also be favored. The example of the hybridization of the American chestnut with blight resistant species is especially symbolic of these energies.
It would also seem appropriate to spread the knowledge and practice of biodynamic farming into new areas and markets, as well as bring more diverse cultural ideas and techniques into the biodynamic milieu itself.
Gary P. Caton - Astronomer, Writer, Forecaster
Growing up in a rural setting outside Leesburg, Virginia, Gary developed passions for gardening and farming early in life and has lived on working farms.
In 1993 Gary was initiated into the planetary mysteries by seeing alignments in a dream. His deep love of nature fuels his enthusiasm for stargazing and astrophotography. Gary claims it has been a true joy combining his lifelong passion for learning with the tasks of completing the calculations and contributing to the forecasts for this calendar. Based on more than two decades of experience, he incorporates several new elements into this text, including consideration of the sextile aspect and a look at the deeper mysteries of the retrograde loops of Venus and Mars.