After planetary rulerships, one of the biggest divides between Traditional and Modern astrologers is in the area of Generational Astrology. In Modern Astrology, generations are marked by the Outer Planets, particularly Pluto. In Traditional Astrology, generations are marked with the Great Conjunctions, or the conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn, which occur every 20 years.
To be honest, before I was convinced to use Classical methods, one of my biggest objections was over Generational Astrology. Pluto in Leo really seemed to describe the Baby Boom generation very well, and Pluto in Virgo seemed to describe Gen X, my generation, as well. Yet, when I looked at the chart for my generation from the perspective of the Great Conjunction, the detail was incredible, far richer than what I could glean from just knowning the sign of Pluto at the time of my birth. That is one of the things that convinced me to switch to Traditional/Classical methods in my work.
For several years, I did not use the Outer Planets for anything, but I have come to believe that the Outers do have some impact on us. More precisely, I believe that they can have impact on us. I have formulated a theory that the Outer Planets represent modern poisons. So, given this, it is possible that the Outer Planets do say something about generations, at least in the Modern Era.
What is a Generation Anyway?
In order to discuss generations in astrology, we must first understand what we mean by this term. When I looked up it up on Wikipedia, there seem to be several different definitions. It could mean “all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively.” Alternatively, it could mean, “the average period, generally considered to be about thirty years, during which children are born and grow up, become adults, and begin to have children of their own.” The term generations can also be used to describe the relationships within individual extended families.
In the 20th and 21st Centuries, generations in the United States were given labels. These labels were used in many ways, but in the present time, they are used heavily for marketing purposes. Businesses want to know how to effectively advertise to each generation. There does not seem to be uniformity as to the actual start and end dates of each generation, but this is a common demarcation:
- GI Generation – 1901 – 1926
- Silent Generation – 1927 – 1945
- Baby Boomers – 1946 – 1964
- Generation X – 1965 – 1980
- Millenial Generation – 1981 – 2000
- Generation Z – after 2001
Traditionally, generations were marked by Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions, also known as Great Conjunctions, and they occur approximately every 20 years. Below are the dates and the charts for all of the Great Conjunctions since 1900 to the present. With Great Conjunctions, the chart is specific for each location, and these charts are cast for Chicago, Illinois.
November 28, 1901
September 9, 1921
August 8, 1940 – Triple Conjunction
The Great Conjunction of 1940 was actually a triple conjuction. August 8 was the first, but the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction repeated on October 20, 1940 and February 15, 1941. Multiple Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions are quite rare. The last multiple conjuction was in 1821, which was a double conjunction in Aries, and the last triple conjuction was in 1682-1683 in Leo.
February 18, 1961
December 31, 1980 – Triple Conjunction
This was yet another triple conjunction. The second Jupiter/Saturn conjunction was on March 4, 1981, and the third was on July 24, 1981. It seems significant that there were two triple conjunctions in the 20th Century.
May 28, 2000
It would take a lot time to delineate each of these charts, but just taking a superficial look, it seems that the dates do not match completely with the generation dates. On the other hand half of them begin during the same year as the Great Conjunctions. It is also interesting to note that the triple conjunction of 1940 corresponds roughly with the “Baby Boomers” and the triple conjunction of 1980 corresponds almost exactly with the “Millenials.”
One of the advantages to using Great Conjunctions is that there is a full chart to delineate, though. Furthermore, it is possible to watch the changes as the Jupiter/Saturn cycle moves through its phases.
Now that we have seen the Great Conjunctions, let us compare them to the Pluto ingresses.
Pluto was not discovered until 1930, and even if Pluto does have impact, I do not know that it is really fair to count it before it was discovered. Still, for the sake of comparing dates, I will list them.
Another issue with using Pluto signs is that because of the retrograde cycle, there is usually a period of time in which it would go back and forth between signs. I will list the date of first ingress and the date of the final ingress.
First ingress – July 21, 1882
Final ingress – April 19, 1884
First ingress – September 10, 1912
Final ingress – May 26, 1914
**Februrary 18, 1930 – date of Pluto’s discovery**
First ingress – October 7, 1937
Final ingress – June 14, 1939
First ingress – October 20, 1956
Final ingress – June 10, 1958
First ingress – October 5, 1971
Final ingress – July 30, 1972
First ingress – November 5, 1983
Final ingress – August 28, 1984
First ingress – January 17, 1995
Final ingress – November 10, 1995
First ingress – January 26, 2008
Final ingress – November 27, 2008
While the Great Conjunction dates were not an exact match, the Pluto ingresses are not even close. I think that a review of the dates alone is enough to rule out Pluto as a marker for the generations, even as they are defined at present in the United States.
While it is clear that Pluto ingresses do not correspond with the generations as they are defined in the U.S., there is a potential way to use Pluto, if one is so inclined. If one were to view Pluto as in indicator of a modern poison, there is an argument that it does have at least some validity. For example, Pluto in Leo does seem to have relevance to the Baby Boomers in the U.S., growing up in the time of unprecedented affluence, but with constant fear of nuclear attack, to the extent they had “duck and cover” drills at school.
On the other hand, this influence, should one choose to accept it, can be seen in the Great Conjunction chart of 1940. This is a full chart, and Pluto is in Leo in that chart.
In this article, we have looked at the traditional method of measuring generations using Great Conjunctions and the modern method of using Pluto signs. It seems that the evidence overwhelmingly favors the Great Conjunctions. While not exact, the dates of the Great Conjuctions match the non-astrological delineations of the generations better than Pluto ingresses do. This method generates charts that can be studied and analyzed, where as Pluto signs can only give “pop astrology” type descriptions. Finally, any markers that Pluto signs might have can be read into the Great Conjunction charts, if one is so inclined.
3 thoughts on “Generational Astrology, Great Conjunctions, and Pluto”
Nicely done, Cyndy.
Specifying precise dates for generations is a modern practise. It used to be, as you suggest, that a generation simply meant offspring. This would mean that not only would the dates of the generations be wildly different, even from one family to another, but it would serve no useful purpose.
The greatest effect of using the theory of generations is most useful in targeting consumer demographics. You mention the baby boomers growing up in unprecedented affluence and being taught to duck and cover. Yet the England I grew up in wasn’t at all affluent for a very large percentage of the people. We were not taught to duck and cover and rarely thought about nuclear threats at school and may have talked about it to scare each other as one tells ghost stories. Yet, particularly Gen X thinks they know all about the baby boomers. I would submit that this is a result of media manipulation.
The idea that people born over a twenty year period, let alone globally, is patently absurd and yet we have had this drilled into us. I’ll give an example, again from the baby boomers. The one born in the early forties and 1961. In Europe, the child experienced violence and instability, if only through the emotions of their parents in or immediately after WWII. Entire cities were demolished throughout Europe and the rehabilitation of these societies took a long time. Again, affluence was the exception to the rule.
The baby boomer born in 1961 had an entirely different experience and I doubt this requires much explanation. But what are supposed to be defining moments for that generation, such as the Counter Culture movement and Woodstock would hardly resonate with an 8-year-old. It is also crucial to point out that most of that ‘generation’ were not social revolutionaries in any case.
Importantly, if you try to apply generationally theories based on the prescribed dates, we are at a complete loss when it comes to other cultures – such as Japan, India, China and Russia and most of South and Central America, plus Mexico. Yet, if they are accurate, they should apply equally. The countries I have listed constitute the massive majority of the global population. To the best of my knowledge, I’m the only one who seems to think this matters.
My youngest daughter was born just before the Conjunction of 1980. So technically she is Gen X, but surely it’s obvious that her experience when compared to a GenX born in the early sixties, would be wildly different. I think when you ‘come of age’ is likely far more important – but again, this isn’t universal
As an aside, I thought that GenY followed GenX and the Millenials were born in or after May 2000.
To sum up – I personally think that the pigeons holing of people into generations leads to erroneous assumptions and serves no useful purpose. We forget that the term ‘teenager’ is modern. Young people of that age group were referred to as a youth. Words matter.
The Great Conjunctions are extremely important and wisely integrated into astrological work, particular in Mundane astrology. But we could get rid of the modern concept of generations. See people for who they are without the templates handed to us.
Again, this is fine and provocative work. I enjoyed it,
Thank you so much for your kind words and for your thoughtful comment.
I complete agree that different countries and cultures have different experiences, and I think that is another respect in which Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions are much more useful than the modern classifications. The chart of the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction will be different in different places. The planets will be in the same configurations, but the House placements will be much different. I set the charts in this article for Chicago, IL, but I imagine they would look quite different in England where you grew up and in Asia.
You also mention the difference between people born early in the cycle and later in the cycle. I have done some research with respect to the entire Jupiter/Saturn cycle and how that plays out in the charts of individuals, and I have noticed that when in the cycle someone was born will make a difference. In particular, there seems to be a distinct difference between people who were born before the opposition and those who were born after the opposition. The quarter marks also seem significant, but not as much as the opposition.
I do not know that I would go so far as to completely throw out generational theory with respect to individual Nativity charts. I would get rid of using Outer Planets as the defining factor. I do think that the Great Conjunctions and Oppositions do mark the people who were born after them in a similar way as the Lunations mark the weeks following them on a smaller scale. How deeply they will impact an individual, however, likely depends on the placement of Jupiter and Saturn in the Nativity. I happen to have been born during the opposition, and it falls on my Moon and my Ascendant/Descendant axis.
As to the generation names, before writing this article, I researched many different sites, and as you can imagine, there was not really a general consensus as to the times and names of the generations. I took the ones that were used by the majority that I found. The fact that there was no agreement further casts doubt on the modern generational theory.
In any case, thank you again for this comment. I greatly appreciate it.
Astro~logically, cycles of time from great cycles to lesser ones can (& do) refine/further focus understanding. The so~called, “spheres within spheres” theory. It’s not that the outer planets/cycles don’t define meaning of generation (let’s not throw baby out w.bathwater!), it’s that, smaller cycles (e.g. the 20-year Jupiter/Saturn conjunction), simply dile the microscope closer in– fine-tuning if you will. Nothing has to be an either-or matter (albeit we are ‘stuck’ in this duality-reality for now)😙. Anyway you look at it~ near or far~Astrology IS capable of reading the “writing on the Wall”.