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Timing Important Life Periods With Synodic Returns

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The synodic return is a double outer planet transit measured by the time interval between the successive conjunctions of any two planets. If one outer planet moves to aspect a natal planet, angle or close network of planets, two at once marks a particularly important life period. Synodic returns look at the moving planets, not just their static position in the natal chart.

Now to look at contacts to the natal chart:

 

If Jupiter takes 12 years to complete a cycle and Saturn takes 29 ½ years to complete a cycle, then it is logical that it would take Jupiter, the faster moving body, even more time than its own cycle to reach Saturn’s new position to be conjunct again. The Jupiter/Saturn synodic cycle is 19.859 years [often rounded off to 20 years]. If one knows when the last Jupiter/Saturn conjunction took place, then rather predictably, future such synodic returns can be estimated even without an ephemeris.  In Tables of Planetary Phenomena by Neil F. Michelsen one can find the outer planet conjunctions from 501 B.C. to 2100 plus their major aspects including the quarter and half cycles from 1700 to 2050. There is no need to immediately purchase this text, but be aware that such reference texts are valuable additions to your professional library.

The Neptune/Pluto synodic return or conjunction occurs approximately every 500 years; the Uranus/Neptune return every 170 years; and the Uranus/Pluto return every 140 years so none fit the human life span very well. Rather, modern astrologers use those synodic returns to describe larger mundane changes in the world. In fact, most modern mundane astrologers rely heavily upon the synodic returns of all of the outer planets to fill out their interpretations and forecasts.

The synodic returns most noticeable in personal charts are the Saturn synodic returns: 45 years Saturn/Uranus; 36 years Saturn/Neptune; 33 years Saturn/Pluto and the Jupiter returns: 20 years Jupiter/Saturn; 14 years Jupiter/Uranus; 13 years Jupiter/Neptune and 12 years the Jupiter/Pluto return. These synodic returns are only important if their conjunction closely aspects a planet, angle or sensitive point in the natal chart or even the natal chart of a country, a corporation, etc. Yes, we are talking about transit cycles of the outer planets, but particularly, the synodic return as an interplanetary “dance”.

Table of Planetary Pairs in Synodic Conjunction Late 19th-Early 21st Century

Nep/Pl 1891*
8 Ge 19
             
Ur/Nep 1993*
18 Cp 48
             
Ur/Pl 1966*
16 Vi 28
             
Sat/Ur 1897*
26 Sc 26
1942
29 Ta 20
1988*
27 Sg 49
2032
28 Ge 01
2079*
28 Cp 13
     
Sat/Nep 1882
16 Ta 29
1917
4 Le 45
1952*
22 Li 47
1989*
11 Cp 14
2026
0 Ar 45
     
Sat/Pl 1883
29 Ta 46
1914*
2 Ca 04
1947
13 Le 07
1982
27 Li 36
2020
22 Cp 46
2053*
14 Pi 22
   
Jup/Sat 1881*
1 Ta 36
1901
14 Cp 00
1921
26 Vi 36
1941*
12 Ta 28
1961
25 Cp 12
1981*
8 Li 06
2000
22 Ta 43
2020
0 Aq 29
Jup/Ur 1900
10 Sg 06
1914
9 Aq 32
1927*
3 Ar 00
1941
25 Ta 38
1955*
26 Ca 04
1969*
2 Li 27
1983*
7 Sg 41
1997
5 Aq 56
Jup/Nep 1907
10 Ca 50
1919*
9 Le 12
1932
8 Vi 25
1945
5 Li 54
1958
3 Sc 18
1971*
1 Sg 44
1984
0 Cp 01
1997
27 Cp 09
Jup/Pl 1906
22 Ge 31
1918
6 Ca 03
1931
19 Ca 16
1943
6 Le 53
1956*
27 Le 36
1968
23 Vi 40
1981
24 Li 53
1994
28 Sc 26

*Asterisk denotes the middle point of the direct, retrograde and direct conjunction of the planetary pair extending the contact effect to over 8 months, and longer for Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Look at the table above to find the most recent synodic conjunctions of the outer planetary pairs most pertinent to human affairs. If you are interested in mundane astrology you may notice the correlation of synodic planetary returns to appropriate historical events such as the 1914 triple Sat/Pluto synodic return at 2 Cancer 04 and the Jupiter/Uranus synodic return at 9 Aquarius 32 that same year to mark the beginning of WW I. Then again in 1941 a triple Jupiter/Saturn synodic return at 12 Taurus 08 and a Jupiter/Uranus synodic return that same year at 25 Taurus 38 mark the beginning of the U.S. entry into WW II with the1942 Saturn/Uranus synodic return at 29 Taurus 20 following soon after. See what other mundane correlations you can make.


 

Neptune-Pluto:

The Neptune-Pluto return will not occur again in our lifetime since the synodic cycle is approximately 500 years. The last return was on August 2nd, November 5th, 1891, and April 30th, 1892 from 7:42 – 8:38 Gemini, so only historical charts will show evidence of activated personal planets. And by 2385, or so, when Neptune and Pluto next conjoin in their synodic return, none of us will be here tell the story – at least in this incarnation.

Uranus-Neptune:

Even though this planetary pair only joins up every 170 years or so, 1993 is the only year in the twentieth or twenty-first century for a Uranus-Neptune conjunction. As stated earlier, this synodic return is larger than the human life span and more accurately describes mundane events and situations. However, if such a conjunction occurs within a close orb of aspect (one to two degrees) to any of the natal chart inner planets or angles, then expect the impact of the planetary influences to be expressed through the house and planet or point activated. For instance, if the Uranus-Neptune synodic return of February 2nd, August 20th and October 24th of 1993 from 18:33 – 19:34 Capricorn hit a personal planet or point in 16 – 21 degrees of cardinal signs, the impact would trigger sudden insights toward spiritual understanding, or even heightened psychic ability. The fact that the conjunction occurred in Capricorn brings a Saturn influence of some responsibility and discipline to the creative potential of this combination. Certainly, creative experimentation would be appropriate to unfold one’s inner vision of beauty. Use your understanding of the nature of each planet’s energy in its expression through the life situations described by the house placement. As in all multiple planet combinations, one must always remember to add into the mix any other natal planets that natally are in 1-2 degree orb of aspect, and therefore also activated.

Uranus-Pluto:

The Uranus-Pluto synodic return occurs approximately every 140 years and the most recent conjunction occurred on October 9th of 1965 and on April 4th and June 30th of 1966 in 16:06 – 17:10 Virgo. The planetary influence of Uranus is said to upset the status quo and to explore new ideas. Most modern astrologers would say the influence of Pluto is to tear down old structures and build new, even wielding the power of the masses to do so. Those individuals with personal planets or angles from 14 – 19 degrees of mutable signs were the “shakers and movers”, as suggested by the planet(s) and house(s) activated, who by their own personal transformation paved the way for massive societal change. As you can see from the chart of synodic returns, several other returns occurred during the 1960’s compounding the ground swell for major change. Civil Rights and Human Rights were causes championed by many amidst the Vietnam War protests. The drug culture seems more shaped by the synodic returns of Jupiter to Pluto in 1968, to Uranus in 1969 and to Neptune in 1971 when the down side of side of abuse became evident as a serious social problem. The era of the 1960’s was such a major sea-change for many people of all cultures because of the several synodic returns that occurred in such short succession.

Saturn-Uranus:

The Saturn-Uranus synodic return occurs every 44-45 years and most recently in 1988 in Sagittarius. Saturn represents discipline and responsibility meeting innovation and independence, two opposite influences. This combination represents structure and tearing down of that same structure. It is the established rule of society coming into contact with the fresh new ideas about how to make things better. Saturn will add caution, limits, delays and restrictions to the unique innovations and free-spiritedness of the Uranus influence. Uranus shocks and rebels against the established structures and commitments of Saturn. If the polarity of those ideals can be integrated to address the great issues for the betterment of mankind, the results could impact the world in a solid and lasting way. The natural tendency if for these planets to polarize people rather than bring them together. This most recent conjunction in Sagittarius indicates that the impact may be to polarize people into philosophical or religious ideologies. Extremism is a distinct possibility.

Saturn-Neptune:

Saturn and Neptune conjoin every 35-36 years, and most recently in 1989 in Capricorn. The Saturn and Neptune combination represents reality colliding with unrealistic ideals either on an individual or societal level. Morals (Saturn) and values (Neptune) may be open to criticism or even criminal prosecution because those affected will have difficulty accepting the consequences of their actions. Indeed, the Saturn/Neptune conjunction if making close hard aspect to a personal planet or angle can bring much guilt or remorse for some action that was less than noble. On a material level, consequences are again the issue. Responsibility is at odds with dreams or fantasies. Money can be squandered, but also addictions can be cured. The key is to find the optimum balance between living one’s ideals and being responsible for the consequences that might engender. The most recent conjunction of Saturn and Neptune in Capricorn adds another count for Saturn, so the message of responsibility is doubly emphasized for those impacted by this synodic return.

Saturn-Pluto:

Saturn and Pluto conjoin in synodic return every 34-35 years. This powerhouse combination is where the politically correct meets hidden motives aimed toward control. The last conjunction in Libra in 1982 defined the “go-go” eighties where corporate greed and materialism ruled the day. Certainly, many affected by this synodic pair experienced excesses in career over-drive, sexual experimentation and personal control issues. Those strongly affected by major hard aspects to inner planets, may build a wall of protection for fear of probing too deeply into past wounds. There is a “don’t get too close” caution from those directly affected, or possibly manipulation from hidden enemies. Whatever the case, this combination can be quite explosive when that which is restrained breaks loose. Envision a volcano or an earthquake as a metaphor.

Jupiter-Saturn:

Jupiter and Saturn make their synodic return approximately every 20 years. This combination is widely associated with leadership and political or humanitarian overtones, and is particularly associated with leaders that define generations. If this combination activates a chart angle or personal planet, then prominence of some sort is suggested as described by the house position and any aspects from other planets. In itself, the focused goals and caution of Saturn may be expanded by the optimism and opportunity of Jupiter. The philosophical influence of Jupiter may express in the more traditional ways of Saturn through political action or humanitarian aid. Last occurring in 2000 in Taurus, a presidential election year, issues of finances, moral values and self-worth were the emphasis.

Jupiter-Uranus:

Occurring every 14 years, the Jupiter-Uranus synodic return was last in Aquarius in 1997. Since then, the “Age of the Internet” has mushroomed. Uranus in its own sign provides fertile ground for the natural expansiveness of everything Jupiter touches. Expansion as well as sudden change are keywords most associated with this pair which can be confirmed by the 80% drop in the NASDAQ from 2000-2003 when the bottom dropped out of tech stocks. Increasing independence and freedom to explore new ideas and places is an urge for those whose personal planets and angles are activated by this pair.

Jupiter-Neptune:

The Jupiter-Neptune synodic return occurs every 13 years and the last return was in 1997 in Capricorn. This combination lends itself to high hopes and grand visions. Hopefully, other positive confirmations in the chart will support this potential when it contacts charts angles or personal planets. The boundaries of illusions and delusion are expanded which can express in day-dreaming, and fantasizing. Clearly, this combination has a philosophical bent with the natural rulers of the 9th and 12th houses conjoined. Though drugs or alcohol could be an issue, more likely interest in meditation, religion, metaphysics or higher education can be the case. Sometimes the “rose-colored glasses” of this combination may lead one to believe the “grass is greener” somewhere else. Most recently in Capricorn lends a good balance of reality to the combination.

Jupiter-Pluto:

Jupiter and Pluto make their synodic return every 12-13 years, the last pairing occurring in 1994 in Scorpio. Imagine the eternal optimist meeting the dark side, the philosopher delving into psycho-analysis. Natural rulers of the 8th and 9th houses conjoined suggests joint ventures, foreign investment, or religious leaders plagued by scandal. Jupiter and Pluto together can also be about exercising power and control in a big way. At home in Scorpio, the combination suggests the extremes of Pluto.

 


Resources:

Celeste Teal's, Identifying Planetary Triggers, provides a full explanation of planetary returns to their own natal position. Though this article focused on synodic returns of planetary pairs, her Chapter Three, “Introducing the Returns” provides good basic explanation of the concept of returns including how to calculate them. Remember, the synodic return is when a faster moving planet not only returns to any starting point in its own cycle, but moves beyond that point to again conjunct another slower moving planet; therefore, the principles of calculating a return apply equally to calculating a synodic return.

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