De Magnis Coniunctionibus: Tropical Aquarius – Sidereal Capricorn

Saturn, from Guido Bonatti Liber Astronomiae – Nicolaus Pruknerus,

The Winter Solstice this year is like no other that any of us have experienced,  I would like to begin by stating in simple terms what the attending Grand Conjunction is and isn’t. One of the central questions explored here is how the conjunction may be interpreted depending on which method is used.

Be advised that I have previously written articles, readily accessible on this blog, on the conjunction itself and merely wish to add some thoughts on the larger picture of the conjunctions in a wider context of interpretation.  First off, here is the chart for the exact moment of the Conjunction.

You will notice that this occurs within a few minutes of arc after the precise moment of the Winter Solstice. We cannot read the chart for the Grand Conjunction without considering its timing on the Solstice and we should not attempt to interpret the Solstice without regarding the integral element of the Conjunction.

What it is:

The Grand Conjunctions occur on average every 19.6 years, as Jupiter joins Saturn, due to the combined effect of Jupiter’s approximately 11.9-year orbital period and Saturn’s 29.5-year orbital period.

Since antiquity, these events were held to be of the utmost importance. As the two social chronocrators,  they signal the nature of the ensuing two decades and beyond. However, this Grand Conjunction represents a change from the triplicity of Earth to the triplicity of Air when employing the tropical zodiac.

However, it cannot and should not be ignored that great historical astrologers used a sidereal zodiac and chose mean conjunctions. The essential difference between the mean and true conjunction is as follows:

“A mean conjunction in Ptolemaic astronomy happens at precise, regular intervals. It is based on the average length of each planet’s cycle in the zodiac, which is nothing more than the cycles we are familiar with today: the 12-year cycle of Jupiter is actually a rounding-up of the more accurate cycle of 11.86 years. Likewise, the period of the “Saturn return” is 29.4 years. But in Ptolemaic astronomy this period has a technical meaning: it is the length of time it takes for the center of a planet’s epicycle to revolve exactly once around the zodiac. The position of the center of the epicycle is its “mean” position as it revolves at a constant or mean rate.” See Dykes.

So, when we say the current conjunction occurs in Aquarius, we are being true to the tropical zodiac, using ‘true’ conjunctions. With this in mind, let’s examine what the tropical zodiac and ‘true’ conjunctions illustrate.

When the trigons shift to another element, the event is referred to as a Mutation. With the exception of one Grand Conjunction in the airy element of Libra, the Exaltation of Saturn, all others have been in the element of the earth continuously since 1842 when calculated using a tropical zodiac.

The progression of the Firey Trigons which commenced 8 Dec 1603 as illustrated by Johannes Kepler.

The significance is not so much that the triplicity has shifted, but that subsequent Grand Conjunctions will remain it that element until 29 Mar 2199, with the sole exception of a Grand Conjunction in Scorpio. entering 8 Dec 2159. We will be in the Airy triplicity for 199 years. The last time we experienced this spanned 3 Nov 1186 to17 Jan 1405 25 Jan 1405. During this time, there were three deviations – one in Taurus and two in Scorpio.

See the attached  calculations of the Great Conjunctions: 5,000 B.C. – 2,500 A.D. Geocentric, Gregorian Calendar. Time Frame: From 1 Jan 5000 BC GC, 12:00:00 AM, PDT +07:00:00 to 1 Jan 2500, 12:00:00 AM, PDT +07:00:00 Location: Greenwich, England, 0w00 00, 51n29 00

The meaning of the Grand Conjunction is integral to core elements in Mundane astrology. It would be ultimately futile to navigate the many cycles within cycles without an understanding of the GCs In simple terms, these events are like the hands of a cosmic clock, demonstrating the nature of the coming epoch. Clearly, a shift from Earth to Air has a myriad of significances. Most essentially, Earth is tangible and material. Air is intellect. But Aquarius is a Fixed Air Sign and contrary to New Age thinking cannot by its very nature be revolutionary. It is after all under Saturn. It can and is, however, adept at innovation – of expressing the traditional qualities of Saturn in novel ways. One such manifestation is the crystallizing of powers in technology and what are now referred to as “tech giants.”

Released from an Epoch of Earth, there will be (and already is) a renewal of the modern version of the Inquisition, which began in earnest in 1231 during the last Saturn-Jupiter conjunction in Aquarius. We are already well into the Aquarian Age in my estimation and this Great Conjunction merely accentuates what I will call the Aquarian agenda.

The Monarchies of Europe are unlikely to survive in their current form. Aquarius is the sign that opposes the Sun. The other Saturn sign, Capricorn, opposes the Moon. This opposition to the lights is largely what defines Saturn. Note also that Capricorn is in aversion to the Sun and Aquarius is in aversion to the Moon. 

How much of this would also be true if we were considering Capricorn rather than Aquarius?

What it is not.

There has been a multitude of claims that this GC is a clear signal that the Age of Aquarius has arrived. To make such a statement is to reveal a fundamental ignorance of the clear distinction between an Age and an epoch. If the current GC indicates the Age of Aquarius, then so would any period that began in Tropical (or sidereal) Aquarius. I have at written length elsewhere on this blog regarding the nature and calculations of the Ages and will not rehearse that content here.

The conjunction is only in Aquarius using a tropical zodiac and ‘true’ conjunctions,

Bear in mind also that in Vedic and all other Sideral schools of astrology, the conjunction is in Capricorn and not Aquarius. It behoves us to remember that the masterful Masha’allah and Abu Masha used a sidereal zodiac, at least with respect to all manner of Mundane astrology. De Magnis Coniunctionibus is the Latinized title of a book written by Abu Ma’shar himself, sub-titled “Historical Astrology: The Book of Religions and Dynasties.”

As Benjamin Dyke pointed out, “it is important to know that only a sidereal system will yield 12 conjunctions per triplicity.”

From a sidereal perspective, the current GC is in Capricorn and therefore the element of earth. Still, the sign remains a domicile of Saturn. Below is a chart for the same date and time, using the Persian Sassanian ayanamsa.

Dyke provides a visual image of Abu Ma’shar’s own parameters.  Masha’allah’s are also given in §6 of his  Introduction to Astrology of the World II: Revolutions & History.

There is another consideration to be made. For most of astrological history, astronomers and astrologers relied on the system of Mean Conjunctions I don’t think it wise to ignore this fact. Dykes fully explains the situation on Skyscript. According to the Mean Conjunctions, we left the Fiery triplicity on 26 December 1980 and will not experience the conjunction in the Ayrey triplicity for 200 years when it will commence in Aquarius on 9 June 2199.  Considering this massive discrepancy and the extraordinary success achieved using the Mean system, this ought to give us pause.

To find a useful table of sideral mean Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions from 185 BC to 2219 AD, consult Appendix A in Benjamin N. Dykes. Astrology of the World II


This GC does not herald the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. Ages are not determined by single conjunctions. From a sidereal perspective, we would view the current GC as occurring in Capricorn. The Mean & sidereal system used by Masha’allah and Abu Masha have us in the first forty years of an Earth triplicity and we won’t shift to an air triplicity for almost 200 years.

It is interesting to note that the 2000 mean conjunction was in Gemini and not Taurus, as we read it using the ‘true’ system.

What we can be sure of is that using either system, we are now solidly in a Saturnine epoch. The element of the trigons will be understood depending on the ayanamsa we employ and whether we use the mean or true conjunctions.

It is clear that early Hellenistic astrologers such as Vettius Valens used both zodiacs, one at least some occasions. There is a prevalent view that the two systems cannot be reconciled, but the fact is they are measuring related but different things. The tropical zodiac is indispensable because it relates to the seasons on earth. Sidereal ayanamsa maintains the connection to the firmament – the actual position of stars in the constellations so that we can never have a case where a star is projected onto a tropical backdrop, in a sign outside of the constellation in which it participates.

The sidereal zodiac works seamlessly with the 13 Lunar months of Vedic astrology, which expresses itself through the Nakshatras. When it comes to describing a seasonal event, such as the Equinox or solstices, the Tropical system is adjusted to be forever in synch with the pivotal points of the annual wheel.

There are solid historical reasons why one would use a tropical or sidereal zodiac, a mean or true understanding of conjunctions. However,  the discrepancy is of the greatest significance when it alters the elemental quality of a 200 year series in a given triplicity.

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