The Arab World and the Jupiter Saturn cycle
is issue contains a close look at the Jupiter-Saturn cycle, firstly through the eyes of history; and, secondly, informed by the clay tablets of the Assyrian astrologer priest, we consider what the Jupiter-Saturn cycle meant to the unfolding sky narratives and the wellbeing of the King.

Dr Nicholas Campion discusses the historical importance of the Jupiter Saturn cycle.  We are proud to welcome Dr Campion as a guest author with this special article on the historical background of the Jupiter-Saturn cycle and its association with the situation in the Middle East. Nicholas Campion is the co-author of Mundane Astrology and more recently the author of a two-volume masterful work History of Western Astrology (Continuum 2008). He is one of the world experts in mundane astrology.

The King Stands Alone ... again.  The Jupiter-Saturn cycle through Mesopotamian eyes

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Explaining the Arab Revolts According to the
Ancient Astrology of the Islamic World
 by Nicholas Campion

The current revolts in the Arab world appear to many to be unpredictable. However, the Persian astrologers of 2000 years ago developed a system for measuring political upheavals according to the cycles of Jupiter and Saturn, a point which is of interest as the two planets are currently in an opposition: horoscopically Jupiter is in Aries opposed to Saturn in Libra.

Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya. Since the first popular protests broke out in Tunisia in
December 2010
other countries in the region have seen political unrest.


This system observed the coincidence of timing between the apocalyptic teachings of Zoroastrian religion and the combined cycle of Jupiter and Saturn which were considered at that time to be the two slowest-moving planets.[1]


According to the Zoroastrians, world history was driven forward by a process characterised by twelve phases of one thousand years each. As one millennium came to an end and another began, a crucial phase was initiated in the bitter struggle for supremacy between Ahura Mazda, or Ormazd, the god of light, and Ahriman, his dark counterpart.

At some point, perhaps after the Persian occupation of Babylon in 539 BCE and more likely following the spread of Hellenistic astrology after the second century BCE, it was noticed that the conjunctions between the two slow-moving planets, Jupiter and Saturn, which take place every twenty years, progress through the signs of the zodiac in an orderly sequence of
240 years per element which repeats itself after 960 years.[2]


Our earliest surviving account of the Persian astrological theories of world history was written down by the Persian Jew, Masha'allah (740 - 815). The theory of Jupiter-Saturn cycles and historical epochs was set out in his On Conjunctions, Religions and Peoples, and he related the astronomical pattern to socio-political and religious shifts which occurred every 240 years, and the periodic conflagrations or catastrophes, such as Noah’s flood, which were thought to take place every 960 years.[3]


[NOTE: In truth this cycle lasts around 800 years. The Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions occur every 20 years and they stay in the same element - Air, Earth, Water or Fire - for around 160 to 200 years. The cycle of earth signs began in 1802 in Virgo and completed with the last conjunction in Taurus in May 2000. The next conjunction will occur in Aquarius (air) in December 2020. Thus the entire cycle through all the elements lasts for around 40 conjunctions and takes around 800 years.]


The 40 Jupiter Saturn conjunctions and their movement
through the signs via the elements.


'We say', he insisted, 'that when the conjunction of the two superior planets necessitate something in the changes of religions and dynasties, the changes of the Sharias and the Sunnas, the occurrence of important matters, the change of the kingdom, the death of kings and the kinds of occurrence of prophets, revelation, and miracles in religions and dynasties'.[4]

Portrait of Masha'allah 
Heinrich Vogtherr (c.1546)


The fundamental premise was that the nature of any Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, on which was based its use as a forecasting mechanism, was indicated by the horoscope cast for the preceding spring equinox, the date every year when the Sun entered Aries.


The logic was that, at this moment, a new cycle of time began, within which all possibilities for that cycle were contained. Masha'allah included the horoscopes for the spring equinoxes preceding the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions prior to the great deluge (it was believed that the rains which caused the flood began at midnight precisely on 18 February 3101 BCE with a conjunction of planets in Pisces, appropriately the last of the water signs) and the births of both Christ and Mohammed.


Political changes are permitted a quarter way through the cycle, around every 240 years, while great prophets appear when the cycle was complete, thus every 960 years a new prophet appeared. Of course nothing could be so exact and Mohammed and Christ were separated by only 600 years. All the same the structure of planetary cycles acted as an ideal, fixed framework within which God could act. Yet the tension between two competing cosmologies is obvious: could God, or the gods, act spontaneously, as theology decreed, or were they bound by mathematical order? The solution worked out by devout Jews, Christians and Moslems was that the order itself was created by God and was subject to him. For Masha'allah, therefore, God might be free to send prophets whenever he wishes but those wishes just happen to coincide with the multiples of the 20-year Saturn-Jupiter cycle.


This 'conjunctional' astrology proved remarkably persistent. It was repeated by Al-Biruni (c.973-1050), the most distinguished astrologer of the tenth and eleventh centuries, and by the fourteenth century Tunisian statesman and scholar, Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) who, in other respects, was a bitter opponent of astrology.[5] As set out by Ibn Khaldun, the total period of conjunctions, 960 years, indicated a change of dynasty, the medium period, 240 years, pointed to 'the appearance of persons in search of superiority and royal authority', and the short period, twenty years, exactly as Abu Ma'shar  had written, pointed to 'rebels or propagandists, and the ruin of towns of their civilisations'.[6]


Anticipating the future was vital for political management although, for historians, identifying the ebb and flow of historical patterns with astronomical patterns seemed to take precedence over prediction, almost as if their purpose was to offer proof of God’s plan in the correlation of the patterns of the past with the heavens.[7] Even then prediction could not be avoided for, if God’s plan had unfolded like clockwork to the present, so it must do in the future.


Amazing detail could be marshalled in support of this proposition. One manuscript contained ninety-three horoscopes as evidence, running from about 2200 BCE to 1000 CE. Abu Ma’shar offered only seventeen horoscopes but over a larger time span, from 3381 BCE to 928 CE, while a later text which focused on the career of the Mongol warlord Genghiz Khan (1167-1227) took as its scope the entire period from the 7th to 17th centuries.[8]


Every planetary combination could bring its own set of warnings. Abu Ma'shar was at times quite specific: when Aries is rising at the Aries ingress, which would occur in years when the Sun itself enters Aries at around dawn, we can expect tyranny, war, high pressure in the spring and intense cold in winter. In a possible echo of Assyrian texts we are told that the Babylonian king may go on a journey and defeat his enemies while Armenia might suffer drought and starvation and the king of India may die.[9]


Chaldean Astrologers on the Tower of Babel - Artist unknown.


The actual structure of Abu Ma'shar's astrology is precisely mathematical, derived from the Pythagorean strand within Platonism. Everything in the historical process can be reduced to numerical formulae: when Jupiter is moving towards Saturn but still has 120 degrees to travel, prophecies will appear; when it has 90 degrees to go, religious and political leaders' affairs will alter; and when there are 60 degrees left, conditions will be similar to those that prevailed when the 120 degree situation took place. The whole situation is mathematically regulated: social, political and religious developments unfold with unerring regularity. For Abu Ma’shar, the nature of the planets was crucial, so Saturn, for example, was destructive and Jupiter benevolent. [10]


However, the system was reformed in the seventeenth century by the great astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) who was more concerned with the long-term patterns the planets made than their essential natures.[11] Unfolding celestial patterns, he believed, correlated with unfolding political ones.

For Kepler, adapting Persian theory, the current middle eastern upheavals would be indicated by the next Jupiter-Saturn opposition, the midpoint of the cycle, which takes place on 28 March 2011. Kepler would take two other factors into account. Firstly he would look at why this opposition has had such powerful political correlates.

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630). A 1610 portrait by an unknown artist.


Secondly, we have to hypothesise that, in view of his modern instincts, Kepler would have included planets which were not known in his life time, of which two, Uranus and Pluto, are approaching a ninety-degree square aspect, their first since 1933, and their first difficult aspect since the conjunction of the mid-1960s.

Again, to adapt Kepler’s method, he would have argued that the Jupiter-Saturn aspect has anticipated the Uranus-Pluto one, and his rationale for this would have been a a square between Jupiter and Pluto in mid-February.

Such work is part prophecy, part proto-sociology and offers us, from within the traditional of the Islamic world itself, an ancient cosmological framework for understanding the current Arab revolts.


Dr Nicholas Campion is a senior lecturer in Archaeology and Anthropology and director of the Sophia Centre, and runs the distance learning MA programme in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK.


[1] See David Pingree, From Astral Omens to Astrology From Babylon to Bikaner, (Rome: Istituto Italiano Per L'Africa E L'Oriente, 1997), p. 49; Robert Hand (ed.) and Robert Schmidt (trans.), The Astrological Records of the Early Sages in Greek, (Berkeley Springs: Golden Hind Press, 1995), p. xiv.

[2] See Abu Ma'shar, On Historical Astrology: The Book of Religions and Dynasties (On the Great Conjunctions), ed. and trans. Keiji Yamamoto and Charles Burnett, 2 Vols., (Leiden: Brill, 2000), I.16, pp. 11-13.  

[3] This work has not survived intact, but part of it is included in a work written in the early/mid-tenth century by an Arabic Christian astrologer known as Ibn Hibintā (translated in E.S. Kennedy and David Pingree, The Astrological History of Masha'Allah, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971) 

[4] Abu Ma'shar, On Historical Astrology: The Book of Religions and Dynasties (On the Great Conjunctions), 3.5. For an examination of Abu Ma'shar's historical cycles see David Pingree, The Thousands of Abu Ma'shar, (London: Warburg Institute, 1968). 

[5] Al-Biruni, The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology, trans. R. Ramsay Wright, (London: Luzac and co., 1934), chap. 250, p. 151. Also see Mohammed Hakim and Ansar Zahid Zhan, Al-Biruni: His Times, Life and Works, (Delhi: Renaissance Publishing House, 1990). 

[6] Ibn-Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, trans. Franz Rosenthal, (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987), 3.52, pp. 260-1. 

[7] See the discussion in Rosenthal, Franz, A History of Muslim Historiography, (Brill: Leiden, 1968), pp. 110-113. 

[8] Edward S. Kennedy,‘An Astrological History Based on the Career of Genghis Khan’, in S. Seikaly, R. Baalbaki and P. Dodd (eds.), Quest for Understanding: Arabic and Islamic Studies in Memory of Malcolm Kerr, (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1991), pp. 223-231, reproduced in Edward S. Kennedy, Astronomy and Astrology in the Medieval Islamic World, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998). 

[9] Abu Ma'shar, On Historical Astrology, 4.1.4. 

[10] Abu Ma'shar, The Abbreviation.

[11] See for example, 'Kepler, Johannes, Astrological Prognostications for 1618’, trans John Meeks, Culture and Cosmos, Vol. 12, no 1 and 2, Spring/Summer and Autumn Winter 2009, forthcoming.


The King Stands alone... again
 By Bernadette Brady

Following on with the theme of Jupiter and Saturn we can also look at this combination using Mesopotamian eyes. For the Assyrian sky-watching priest of the 7th century BCE, Saturn represented the king and Jupiter was the crown prince, or any other ‘famous and important person’.[1] Such an individual was always be seen as a threat to the king and was therefore closely watched.

There is no evidence to suggest that the early astrologers worked with the Jupiter- Saturn 20-year cycle in the style of Abu Ma'shar. However, there is a great deal of evidence for the continual discussion concerning the events around both the King and Crown Prince as these two planets, Saturn and Jupiter, moved through the heavens.

Visually the conjunction would have been seen as a joining of both the King and the Crown Prince. This would be important as it represented the two most powerful energies in the heavens, and thus in the kingdom, a joining together. Where in the sky they joined and how they joined would have been important issues.

In moving to the contemporary period the last joining of Saturn and Jupiter was in May of 2000 when it occurred in the stars of Taurus, the Great Bull of Heaven. 

The priest would not have been happy with this combination as they considered that, 'If Jupiter comes near to the Bull of Heaven: the treasures of the land will perish.' Again in the same letter, '[If] Jupiter entered the Bull of Heaven; the king my lord should bewared of drafts.' [2]

Being 'warned of drafts' probably means a great deal more than a warning about a cold draft of air. It may have meant a small threat that could turn difficult.

Since this joining in the stars of Taurus in May 2000 there has been the global banking meltdown which has caused many 'treasures of the land' to 'perish', and it seems now that leaders in parts of the Arab world are indeed feeling 'the draft'.

These 'drafts' began to appear in December 2010 as Saturn and Jupiter moved towards their opposition. Recognise in this early astrology the opposition would have been seen as the Crown Prince standing apart from the King. As one planet rose, the other would be setting, so they would appear to be estranged, or as if the Crown Prince might be hiding from the King.

This estrangement when placed into the Mesopotamian world of tension, trouble and upheaval would have warned of a most worrying time. The nature of this concern would have been influenced by the location of the other planets - which planets stood with the King and which with the Crown Prince?


With this in mind recognise that the king has stood alone in the early morning sky since mid-January, as Saturn was the only planet visible in the night sky. When he rose Jupiter set, appearing to be running from the king. Furthermore by late January (Figure 1) the Crown Prince had all the other gods gathering around him.  


As we moved into February (Figure 2),  the King became more and more isolated in the heavens while Mars, linked since last November with Nabu after they met in the Bow of the Archer and still close to him, disappears into the light of the sun, and becomes hidden from the view of the king.

At this stage the Egyptian President of 30 years, President Mubarak, came under threat from a popular uprising.

The people were at that time so 'empowered' as indicated by the activity of Jupiter, that the Egyptian  ‘king’ was cast out of the land on 12 February 2011.

However, it does not stop here. The visual astrology shows that the Crown Prince is still gaining in power as the other planets (gods) are moving every closer towards him. (Figure 3).

From late February Jupiter moves under the sun's light and in late March stands in direct opposition to the king with both Nergal (Mars) and Nabu (Mercury). 

Figure 1 - 31 January 2011 - The king (Saturn)
stands  alone and the other planets begin to
gather around the crown prince (Jupiter).

Figure 2 - 12 February 2011 - The king (Saturn) stands alone as the crown prince (Jupiter) gains power. President Mubarak in Egypt is forced to resign.

In other newsletters we have discussed the meaning of planets with the sun, suggesting that when a planet become invisible that they go to the ‘other place’.  With the current events we are seeing another expression of this 'other place'. This meaning is the voice of the people, the enemy that you cannot easily kill, the enemy that cannot be met on the battle field, the enemy that wears the common face of the people.  Thus the empowered Prince in this sky narrative is not one single individual, not a political rival that can be dealt with in the normal fashion but instead is the power of the people, the proletariat.

By the 28 March 2011, as Nicholas Campion has pointed out in his article, the Jupiter and Saturn stand directly opposed. Thus the King and the other powerful force in the kingdom, the Crown Prince, stand in opposition.  However, the Crown Prince also stands with the Sun, Mercury and Mars.

Now as we move towards this opposition Colonel Gaddafi, Libya's ruler for 40 years is under huge pressure from the people, to resign. The Mesopotamian astrologers would be warning the king to hide in his palace, or put on the throne a substitute who could be killed in his place, as this Crown Prince will be victorious.

One could not have predicted the current events in the Arabic world with this Jupiter-Saturn opposition. However, there was an indication of the nature of this Jupiter-Saturn cycle back in late 2006.

Figure 3 - 28 March 2011 - The king (Saturn) stands alone as the crown prince (Jupiter) is now opposing and holding all the power.  President Gaddafi under increasing pressure leave Liberia. 

At that time Saturn was standing alone as Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death (see VAN, November 2006). Thus as the king (Saddam Hussein) became isolated, he fell from grace and lost his life.

So there are three points being revealed about visual astrology by the current events:

Firstly,  a letter written around 650 BCE by the Mesopotamian astrologer priest discussing a Jupiter Saturn combination in the stars of Taurus (which is also the current cycle we are in) talked of the treasures of the land perishing and the king being subject to dangerous 'drafts'.

Secondly, it emphasises again the concept of a King standing alone, Saturn alone in the sky, and once again shows that, for any leader, this is a difficult time where there could be deep underlying problems.

Thirdly, the place of enchantment, the 'other place' when planets are with the sun and thus not visible, can be expressed as the voice of the people. One is tempted to suggest that governments should always hold their elections at such time as it is a time when the voice of the people can and will be heard.

But just as we can see this cycle happening on a political level it will also be happening in your own life.  What issue for you are coming to a head or gaining in clarity? Is the voice of a minority making its needs known through you or to you?  Remember we do not live as islands, we are all interwoven with these cycles.


1. Hunger, Herman. (1992). Astrological Reports to Assyrian Kings. Helsinki, Finland: Helsinki University Press. pg.169.
Hunger, Astrological Reports to Assyrian Kings. p.29.


Issue No. 74
February, 2011

On related topics

November 2006

The King Stands Alone. When Saturn is isolated in the heavens.

November 2010

Nabu plans to meet Nergal in the Bow. The early Mars and Mercury joining that is part of this sky narrative.  




In brief...

This issue is focused on the Jupiter-Saturn cycles both historical as well as within the context of the Mesopotamia writings on the power balance between the King and the Crown Prince.



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visual astrology  sky happenings

March 2011

Saturn stands alone in the sky, for as he rises Jupiter leaves him. Saturn and Jupiter oppose each other on 28 March.


Jupiter is becoming lost in the sun light where in mid March it joins with Mars and Mercury. This group then oppose Saturn in late March.  

Mars is still under the beams of the Sun where he links with Jupiter and Mercury.

Venus continues as the bright Morning Star in the stars of Capricorn and then Aquarius.

The crescent of the New Moon will occur on the 5 March and be in the head of the western fish of Pisces along with Uranus and Jupiter - more power to the Prince.




Calendar of
forthcoming Events

27  March, 2011
London, UK

AA Day
Bernadette Brady - The astrology of relationships and families... more information.  


8, 9, 10 April, 2011
Tiefenbrunnen, Zurich Switzerland

Maps of the Psyche - Astrology and the Path to the Stars
Liz Greene, Nick Campion and Bernadette Brady
This 3-day conference, drawing on ideas from ancient and classical teachings as well as modern psychology, will examine astrological notions of the horoscope as a map, locating humanity within a celestial environment and describing a journey through life and a pathway to the stars.

Please note: Limited places available.
Registrations Now Open

13, 14 , 15 May, 2011
ORIGINS, the Egyptian and Mesopotamian contribution to astrology
This event is unique in the USA. For the very first time, the Sophia Centre at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK through Dr Nick Campion and Bernadette Brady will be teaching an intensive, exploring the Babylonian and Egyptian contribution to Western Astrology.

Registrations now open

9 July, 2011
London, UK

Faye Cossar and Bernadette Brady iin association with the London School of Astrology - more information.

26 - 29 August, 2011
Oxford, UK

FAS Summer School, 
Bernadette will be teaching a day of fixed stars and sky maps, more information.

16-20 September, 2011, Wyboston Lakes, UK
AA Conference
Plenary sessions and lectures by both Bernadette Brady and Darrelyn Gunzburg, more information.

 14 - 16 October 2011 - Bristol, UK
Heavenly Discourses: Myth, Astronomy and Culture
An academic conference at The University of Bristol, UK.
Co-convened by
Darrelyn Gunzburg and Nick Campion.

Call For Papers  now open (until 31st March).

24-29 May, 2012
New Orleans, USA

UAC 2012
Bernadette Brady on Fate and Free Will in Astrology and Darrelyn Gunzburg on visual astrology.

If you enjoy Visual Astrology and would like to look at sky maps and also create full fixed star reports for yourself as well as clients, then have a look at Starlight the software that has provided the foundation stone for the development of visual astrology over the last 6 years.
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