The Cycle of Dark and Light Ages

While in high school art history class studying Greek art, I learned the Greeks knew the earth was round.

I was shocked.

At the time, my understanding was that the people of the earth didn’t know the earth was round until the 15th century. Those believing otherwise were persecuted until Christopher Columbus sailed (the ocean blue) to the Americas and disabused us of our silly notions.

That’s how the story went.

Not a great student of history in those times, it’s possible someone mentioned the Greeks. But I probably was busy passing notes and not listening so it was a surprise to me that knowledge could advance so far and then be lost. And not only was knowledge lost, it was forbidden as many disembodied heads are well aware.

Today my interest in history and archaeology is much greater and it’s clear that man develops in fits and starts. My own point of view is that we develop the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual along different paths. In astrology this syncs to the elements of earth, water, air and fire. Unfortunately, the developments don’t occur at the same pace.

Development as described to me in my early years was the positively correlated line of time and human progress – that graph with a straight, forward moving line from lower left to upper right. This is the line that every corporation wants to see with regard to its profits. It’s the concept of continual improvement from cave man making fire to modern man making cell phones – one nice, unbroken straight line of growth and development.

Line chart

It’s interesting that this line is very reminiscent of the glyph for the planet Mars which rules action and energy up to and including violence and is associated with males. Our paradigms of human development are fundamentally male.

Mars glyph

Why do we progress and then regress? Why did the Greeks, Egyptians and Mayans know so much about astronomy only for it to be lost in the Middle Ages?

What are the forces of regression?

Saturn and Pluto

While I’ve pondered on this question for years, I’m in a work place environment that’s providing important clues. As is probably common knowledge, those wanting to control others must control information. Knowledge is power for both the controlled and the controller.

Astrology, of course, explains better the cycles of progress and regression. In astrology, nothing is linear and nothing is complete. Hopefully the cycles spiral upward as they occur, allowing for development inch by inch.

Thinking in terms of cycles also makes it much easier to understand knowledge gained and knowledge lost just as empires rise and fall, just as people fall in and out of love.

What cycles describe Dark Ages?

The planet Saturn represents boundaries, authority, limits and the rules of the third dimension (you may believe the world is an illusion, but you can still stub your toe and it hurts). The planet (we call it that in astrology) Pluto represents power, transformation and control. Pluto rules the underworld.

When environments are controlling and repressive, you can usually find Saturn or Pluto energy hanging about.

Do your partners always seem controlling? You might have Pluto conjunct your sun or Venus. Is your partner emotionally unexpressive? Look for Saturn or its sign of Capricorn influencing the moon. Did you grow up in an environment full of rules that prohibited self-expression? You might find Saturn in your 9th house of the horoscope.

These are some examples. Everyone has Saturn and Pluto in the horoscope so we all have an area of our lives – large or small – that we want to control even if it is simply one closet in a large house.

Saturn cycles around the sun every 29.4 years. Pluto takes much longer – 247.8 years. Saturn cycles represent maturity, crystallization and time. Saturn cycles remind you that you are getting older, ask what you’ve done with your life and remind you that there is only so much time left. Today, a healthy individual might experience three Saturn cycles in a lifetime.

Pluto cycles represent evolution. In your lifetime, you will experience Pluto in about four to five signs. Pluto explains what your generation is trying to evolve or transform. Pluto is compulsion – where you find it in the horoscope, you feel a strong and obsessive urge for resolution. Pluto is coercive and invasive – it’s where you feel you have no choice.

Currently Pluto is transiting Capricorn (starting in 2008), which is ruled by Saturn creating transformation of authority, boundaries and rules. In a couple years (2018), Saturn will join Pluto in its final journey through Capricorn. When that occurs, much of the turmoil we’re experiencing today in terms of society’s structures will go through its final phase. Authoritarianism may get worse before it gets better.

The United States was “born” with Pluto in Capricorn and will be experiencing its return which means all that occurs will be particularly relevant for the United States.

While we’re in the midst of some of the greatest technological advances in history, we’re also in the middle of great struggles of the ancient kind – the power of government and police, racial discrimination, ethic discrimination and violence.

Violence isn’t new – it’s ancient. Possibly it’s part of one of the larger cycles of ages which occur every 2,000 years. The earth wobbles on its axis making a circle which takes 26,000 to complete. Every 2,000 years the sign rising in spring changes, representing an age (such as the Age of Aquarius).


After the Dark Ages comes the Renaissance, or rebirth. After the Renaissance, comes the Enlightenment. Both movements free man from authoritarian structures as represented during the Dark Ages.

We knew the earth was round, then forget, then remembered in rebirth. Does enlightenment help us remember forever? Or will we forget again?

While looking at some of the persecuted figures of the 16th and 17th centuries, I’m hopeful that as long as the universe provides individuals with moon in Aries, authoritarian regimes can never take hold in perpetuity. The moon in Aries tendency to focus on the self is an important quality when the world wants you to shut up and stay in a corner.  You can’t keep Aries quiet and in a shell. Aries is the chick bursting from the egg shell. Aries is spring, rebirth.

One of the most interesting figures with moon in Aries was Martin Luther.

Martin Luther

In the year 1517, Luther posted 95 discussion points on the university chapel door in Wittenberg, Germany. This, I’ve learned, was a normal way to communicate back in that time and place – kind of like a letter that you delivered yourself and put on the door because there was no mailbox (and no email and no Facebook and no Twitter).

Luther had supporters early on and these 95 points while meant for a few eyes were published and disseminated (in today’s lingo, they went “viral”).

There began a lengthy struggle with the Catholic Church in Rome who often collected funds for special projects though the selling of indulgences. Unfortunately, folks didn’t often have a choice on whether or not to pay (in today’s lingo, “sin tax”).

Some of Luther’s and his supporters’ written attacks on Rome make today’s US election seem quite tame. During Luther’s struggle with the church, there was also the rise of humanism and nationalism. One leader, Ulrich von Hutten had this to say about the Catholic Church (all quotes from Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland H. Bainton):

Three things are sold in Rome: Christ, the priesthood and women. Three things are hateful to Rome: a general council, the reformation of the church, and the opening of German eyes.


Here we are, about 500 years later, still complaining about money and power. This must be one of those 2,000 year cycles. Maybe in a few hundred years we’ll get this all worked out.

Except for a few angry missives, Luther was a wee bit more diplomatic in his accusations:

Papal indulgences do not remove guilt. Beware of those who say that indulgences effect reconciliation with God. The power of the keys cannot make attrition into contrition. He who is contrite has plenary remission of guilt and penalty without indulgences. The pope can remove only those penalties which he himself has imposed on earth for Christ did not say, ‘Whatsoever I have bound in heaven you may loose on earth.’

What made Luther so determined?

Astrologically, Luther had Saturn, Venus and Sun in the very serious and determined sign of Scorpio. Scorpio is a fixed water sign known for its obsessive nature. I personally feel it’s one of the most intelligent because it mixes intellect with intuition and sees the underlying motivation of behavior.

Luther’s obsessive nature is evident as described in Here I Stand from his struggle with faith to his refusal to accept religion on the terms of a distant authority. During his challenges to Rome, many were sent to talk sense into him or threaten him with punishment. In a description of one of those mediators speaking with Luther’s mentor, the mediator proclaims:

“I am not going to talk to him anymore,” said the cardinal. “His eyes are as deep as a lake, and there are amazing speculations in his head.”

I can’t think of a better description of the Scorpio intensity from the deep eyes to profound thoughts.

The other planets in Luther’s chart span from Libra to Sagittarius, all within one sign of Scorpio – with one exception. The moon is in Aries opposing Pluto (and possibly Jupiter) in Libra.

Hard aspects between Pluto and the moon are my own personal mark of a politician. The sense of invasion and coercion present with this aspect leads to a compulsive desire for control. For Luther, it was control of his faith.

The Pluto/moon opposition can also indicate physical invasion, from robbery to rape. Here I Stand doesn’t imply such an incident; possibly distant Rome taking money from the average person to build its monuments was enough of an invasion to set Luther aflame.

Luther’s moon in fiery Aries is trine Mercury, Neptune and Uranus in Sagittarius. Occasionally the fire in his nature gave vent:

It seems to me that if the Romanists are so mad the only remedy remaining is for the emperor, the kings, and princes to gird themselves with force of arms to attack these pests of all the world and fight them, not with words, but with steel. If we punish thieves with the yoke, the highwayman with the sword, and heretics with fire, why do we not rather assault these monsters of perdition, these cardinals, these popes, and the whole swarm of the Roman Sodom, who corrupt youth and the Church of God? Why do we not rather assault them with arms and wash our hands in their blood?

Soon after writing this, he clarified that he did not believe in any of the violence punishments listed and, ergo, did not believe in violent revolt against Rome. But his Aries moon and Sagittarius Mercury did make it sound as such.

Another manifestation of an opposing Aries moon is that Luther’s books were burned by authorities. Oppositions in the horoscope are very often clearly observed oppositions in the world. Aries moon was part of Luther’s personality and also the aggressive response from others to his challenges.

During the early years of struggle with the Roman church, 1518 – 1520, both Saturn and Pluto were transiting Capricorn – as will occur in 2018, 500 years later. Authority was challenged in ways that altered history – the rise of nationalism and the challenging of Roman authority.

In 1534, Luther published a Bible in German. Pluto moved from authoritarian Capricorn to humanitarian Aquarius in 1533. A Bible published in the vernacular made it accessible to the average person. Interestingly, too, Luther’s first son was born in 1533 as Pluto changed signs.

Luther was able to die of natural causes with his head still attached, quite a feat in those days especially when one has an Aries moon (Aries rules the head).

Luther teaches us that the forces of authoritarian control are not permanent and can be altered by the voice of one person.

21st Century Martin Luther?

Saturn and Pluto were conjunct in Capricorn in the early 16th century during the rise of the Reformation, Humanism and nationalism.

Pluto’s next transit of Capricorn began in 1762. If I’m reading my ephemeris correctly, Saturn was not in Capricorn during that transit. This was also a time of changing (and sometimes collapsing) authority structures, even without Saturn tagging along.

What will 2020 bring when Saturn and Pluto are technically conjunct in Capricorn?

Here’s a blog on astrological 2020 by astrologer Maurice Fernandez.

Which of you millions of Aries moons out there will rise to challenge the authoritarian structures that have become too powerful? Who has the guts to risk the intense penalties that come with challenging those that abuse power? Aries moon and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders started the revolution, but he was a few years too early it seems.

As Pluto moves from Capricorn into Aquarius, what is currently in the power of a few will move into the hands of the many.


About ohioastrology

I'm just another soul trying to make sense of the world. As I've grown, so has my understanding of astrology. I'd like to communicate that astrology is not occult and not fortune-telling but that it is a fluid, creative description of the life we choose to live.
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