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Elements Unfold 'The Story of 2011'

2011is a year when Water sign energy is a hidden secret longing to be known, when Fire burns for change and Earth yields riches. Let’s view the story of 2011 as these elemental dynamics unfold.

Elemental Beginnings

When learning astrology we usually start with the building blocks of the elements and hang our understanding of the signs on these triple groupings of Fire, Earth, Air and Water. Likewise the elemental dynamics of 2011 provide a useful basis for understanding the year. Elemental dynamics are reshuffled in 2011 when a new seven year Fire cycle and a new twelve year Water cycle begin: On March 12 Uranus introduces a wilder more unpredictable face of Fire energy, when it enters Aries, to stay there until 2019. Unusual initiatives, burning passions for new ways of doing things, a generalised urge for action and often rebellion, is the mental imperative Uranus the ‘Lightning Flash’ prompts. This cycle illuminates the desire for change, so it often haspolitical instability and social reform along for the ride.  Uranus in Aries heralds the New with March 21 Equinox. Soon after comes the new Water cycle on April 4. Planet Neptune starts to reveal Water’s depths when it enters Pisces. 2011 has a four month taste of a 12 year cycle that begins in earnest in February 2012. Fire and Water are about to show us a face that has not been seen for a full human lifespan.

Meanwhile, Pluto the even slower dwarf planet that takes 248 years to circuit central Sun, has been mining the Earth element since 2008 as it travels through Capricorn...Capricorn, Captain of industriousness, world builder, definer of corporate ways, the ambition sign of the zodiac. Pluto mines by digging deep, revealing the hidden side of ambition and in the process it also undermines certainty, reveals power plays, redefines truth and is linked to “force majeure”, those powerful inescapable events like volcanoes or earthquakes. Also those potentially escapable man-made events, around mining and deep ocean mining disasters as in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, are linked to Pluto. The combination of deepened ambition, global plutocracies that have a budget large enough to make or break a whole nation and the Pluto theme of tensions simmering, make it highly unlikely that mining will be trouble free in the years to come.

 Gender Benders

Behind the elemental foundations there exists a prior astrological principle - the Principle of Gender. Water and Earth are feminine and carry a receptive magnetic energy, which inherently conserves life, while Fire and Air are of masculine gender – expressing outgoing dynamic energy, which inherently analyses and acts upon life. For instance “Man against Nature” is an intellectual concept which has a tenuous relationship with the earthy reality that we humans actually depend upon Nature. It is not so much a matter of us “saving the planet” as saving our own precarious existence on the planet. If Gaea has to create conditions that don’t sustain human life in order to gain a new balance, she will. Human intellect is a vast reservoir of extroverted energy that can create and communicate and progress. There is no moral right or wrong about the elements but the energy can certainly be misused. As in the symbol of Yin and Yang, the balance is essential to support life.

What is the balance in 2011? From January 23 Jupiter stirs up inner Fire. From then Jupiter is in Aries, linking with Change planet Uranus in March to make an even more dynamic expression of outgoing fiery enthusiasm...In-your-face energy rules the day, “Jump in now or regret it”, urges that dynamite team...however,  there are many obstacles to overcome along the way and another story unfolds behind the scenes. Emotional energy builds strength and demands we use reflection before action from April 4 to August 5, when we get the first experience of Neptune in Pisces...Pisces, the sign of the dreamer/mystic/artist, the quest for spiritual sustenance. With an inward turning focus, Neptune ultimately serves the soul, elevates feelings, ushering in new fashions and tastes over a 12 year period. Neptune is very much at home in Pisces.  Feminine energies, represented by planets in Water and Earth signs, gain extra traction in early June when Jupiter enters the Earth sign of Taurus for a year and creates an opportunity link with Neptune in early June. The vision of the possible expands; new perspectives on old problems, groundbreaking new trends in our relationship with Earth and Ocean are an opportunity waiting to happen.

.Digging for Real Wealth

Pluto, whose Greek name means ‘riches’ is also the mythic god of darkness, lord of the underworld, following a long story tradition dating back to the Egyptian Osiris.  Pluto is the transpersonal planet that shows us just how mortal we are, representing our urge to experience the real riches of transformation, the inner work.  In July and late October Jupiter’s grounding aspects will re-affirm this side of Pluto in Capricorn. The Sea Goat who dives into the mysteries and has the necessary patience and wisdom to wait and learn, is part of the feminine gender shift.  Pluto deeply challenges the Aries bid for freedom of expression via entrenched power, private deals in high places. This is particularly apparent on the stage of global politics in late January, February, late March, early April and late June, yet merely a foretaste of the political and power shifts apparent after June 2012. Driven by a seven year opportunity to change the status quo, Uranus in Aries style rebellion is not going to roll over and play dead when entrenched power manipulates the scene.

Past Returns

Even more significant is the once in 81 years conjoining of Jupiter and Uranus on the 0 degree Aries point! This occurred June 2010 and it is the ‘World Point’, a critical degree of the zodiac.   Potent symbolism goes with this alignment and when it last occurred in 1927, the Ford Model A car began the mass production of cars and the first “Talkie” changed going to the movies. Global politics boiled and the England/Russia relationship reached its lowest point.  Of course UK and USSR worked it through, the Wall came down in 1989 and the rest is history. In 1927 into January 1928, the two planets made three meetings and the final two were made in the late degrees of Pisces.

Now the cycle that began in June 2010 moves to its final exact meeting in January 2011. This time around when Jupiter and Uranus met in watery Pisces on January 4, 2011 it synchronized with a month when historic floods and mudslides swept away parts of Australia, Brazil and Sri Lanka. 

March 12, 2011 Aries Energy Takes Off

Aries is the child of the zodiac, sometimes the innocent bumbling fool who is happy to jump in, to make mistakes, to say it the direct way. Through that process Aries proves its courage and earns its own brand of zodiac wisdom. When Uranus enters Aries soft focus issues become stark realities requiring extrovert action. This is also an example of the collective design shown by zodiac symbols - each sign has an order and significance in relation to each other.  Pisces is the last sign in the cycle that dissolves everything back to its common origin. That’s where Uranus has been for seven years. Once it is in Aries for seven years on March 12, it is all about an uprising of energy, the start-up, take-off, have my say energy of the zodiac…A Rebel with a Cause.

          March Fires Up - An Equinox Exclamation

         On March 21 Sun is conjoined Uranus at Equinox. This gives a strongly Uranian energy to the next quarter year, a theme of dramatic change, of unstable conditions.  Since 0 degree Aries is the ‘World Point’, a critical degree already potentised by the first Jupiter, Uranus conjunction in June 2010, its symbolism goes beyond the first quarter to influence the entire year. The Aries Equinox exclaims the need for new tastes to be translated into action.  This also equates to shocks, unpredictable weather patterns, sudden occurrences with chaotic results on a world scale.

          Uranus in Aries will challenge the status quo with a seven year surge of individualism, impatience, lightning quick turns and rebellious attitudes.  Sparks will fly. Uranus is the hunch that won’t go away, the intuitive faculty that can be developed.  A lively intuition receives the mystery of Uranus.  When we seek change even though life is relatively comfortable, we respond to the whisperings of Uranus. The shift from Water to Fire takes Uranus from passive and covert to active and overt. The expression of individual essence is most subject to awakening and will be linked to positions and strengths in each person’s own chart. March 5, 9 to 12 and 19 are all candidates for being wake up calls.  The important thing will be to use those moments of recognition as the right fuel for the concerted action cycle that begins with the March Equinox.

Now both planets - Jupiter and Uranus wear Aries clothing and respond to the rulership of Warrior Mars. Then the final Jupiter/Saturn tug a war occurs on March 29. This completes the pull between outer planet opposites, which has been a major feature of the last two years. When Jupiter opposes Saturn in Libra, Air sign preoccupations with analysis, discussion and consensus could effectively stall burning, passionate ideas.  Meetings could pop like fire-crackers but leave only smoke. April extends the fiery urge for action. On April 9 Pluto shifts into ‘retro’ motion and its strength internalizes, sending power struggles underground, making wheeling and dealing more covert and hidden.

What Role Does Saturn the Time Keeper Play?

Astrology suggests that life goes beyond each moment of time toward a pattern, a deep irresistible matrix that enfolds us. Both personally and historically it may be a stumbling journey but human potential is vast. Like a birthing process, the journey of planet time has ‘transits’ as stepping stones, which also help define new territory. What has been called the ‘cardinal climax’ is the prime feature of the second decade of the 20th Century. Perhaps as Jeff Jawer suggests, it is more a beginning than a climax: “Cardinal signs begin seasons; they are starting points rather than climaxes.” He continues “the cardinality of the signs and the formative nature of Saturn and Pluto, clearly mark this as a time of intention, when we find new purpose...” (2) Saturn in cardinal Libra has paved the way via added gravity and hard truths, particularly since its final ingress of July 22, 2010. Exalted in Libra and associated with hard-won wisdom, Saturn may evoke a shift in consciousness about human relationships in general. Harsh realities about social injustice have been surfacing. Global power structures like the banking system and International Monetary Fund, which perfectly fits the Pluto in Capricorn picture of vested interests, are emerging as players and even impediments to social justice. (3)


Crises accelerated when Saturn squared off to Pluto three times between November 2009 and August 2010, with Jupiter triggers mid year and a Cancer Moon trigger in early September 2010. On January 23, 2011, Jupiter re-entered Aries and squared Pluto on February 26.This has not been an easy trio, with public life often illustrating the classic definitions of this link: “The tendency to exploit others, great failures, consequences from guilt of the past”.  A series of natural and man-made disasters have shown the flaws in the system and illustrated “loss through force majeure”. (3)

April, May From Fire to Growth

New Moon is the seeding point of each month when the alignment of Moon and Sun opens new possibilities, new growth. April 4’s New Moon seeds an ultra Aries theme, with four other planets there besides Sun and Moon. The ‘real deal’ is when Mars, ruler of Aries, exactly conjoins Uranus at New Moon. This coupling is linked to inner tension and intensifies the need to find a release from that tension, however disruptive it may be. Uranian Fire rises now, perhaps in very obvious ways in political unrest and geophysical events. With impetuous Mars carrying the taste for freedom, impatience for action rules. Yet Saturn exactly opposes New Moon so a sense of restriction or frustration is likely to fuel those fires. On April 10 existing situations are clearly illuminated. The Mars/Pluto square and Mars/Saturn oppositions make April 12 and 19 possible flashpoints when caution is needed. At its highest level, Uranus has a civilising influence, helping us embrace ideas whose time has come, but at its low point it merely disrupts and destroys.

The mythic lineage of Venus/Aphrodite encloses a wisdom story pertinent to Uranus transits: love, vitality and new life can come from disruption and shock when the right receptive elements are present.Jupiter gains added strength on May 1 when it is joined by Mars in Aries, which ‘tastes’ and ‘flows forth’. Enterprising zeal guided by a moral compass is action in accord with this time. When Venus and Mercury join Jupiter on May 12, the fiery circle is complete.  

Water’s Mysteries Unveiled

As if bringing water to quell the flames, Neptune enters Pisces on April 5 (NZT). Since Neptune backs out of Pisces again on August 5, to return for a twelve year stay on February 4, 2012, this is only the first taste: It becomes a very juicy taste in mid May thanks to Venus, when a high level of love and compassion is possible. Around June 9, with Jupiter’s help, we have an opportunity to give value and substance to our emotional insights by getting practical.  May 22 and June 3 are revealing and carry the chance to speak of hidden matters. 

Pisces energy well suits Neptune, its modern ruler. Yet Pisces is mutable - the shifting sands that constantly redefine the shoreline, the intentions that have to wait for inspiration to nourish them. This means that the input of Earth energy, instanced in the dates above, help to give solid shape and direction to this mysteriously shifting element.  The presence of Chiron in Pisces with its shamanic energy and quest inducing themes, further extends the fortunate Water/Earth links with Jupiter. Extra Water influence via Cancer on June 17-19 and 22-23, also help us capture our dreams and bring them home to roost.

The ‘Mediator Proper to the Human Soul’

This is how Sufi mystical astrologer, Ibn ‘Arabi described the Moon. Illustrating both aspectsof “soul function”: Moon’s phases model the inevitability of change and its reception of the Sun is the model for contemplating the Unity. (4) We also know that Moon is an extraordinary trigger for slower transit patterns, renewing the energy monthly. Four conjunctions will occur when Moon aligns with Neptune: On April 27, May 25, June 21 and July 18. These dates are wonderful times to taste the visionary energy of Neptune and carry it forth as a re-imagining process. This will reach its solar birth point in February 2012 when Sun and New Moon conjoin Neptune.As adirect path to the wisdom of nature and doorway to the imagination, Moon is our medium and matrix.

Earth/Water Shifts the Balance at Winter Solstice.

The Water signs have secrets to reveal and June’s solstice pattern announces this. On June 22 an exact trine between Moon in Pisces and Mercury speaks of deep emotions while Sun enters Cancer, forming its own close trine to Neptune in Pisces. From June 17 to July 5 Sun, Mercury and Venus in Cancer all make fruitful connections with Neptune; they then challenge Pluto’s autonomy by opposing it and squaring Saturn. This sets a Water theme for the third quarter year. Even when Neptune returns to Aquarius in August, Mars enters Cancer...more Water by mid August.

With Pluto in Capricorn until 2024, a deep earth era is with us. Above all else, earth needs water to nourish life and these months provide that. The human connection to the land and to an organic identity with place will be deeply excavated now. At the same time, the extremes of plutocracy and corporate greed will be progressively unveiled. The harsh terms of trade and real costs to Mother Earth are part of Water’s secrets, starkly revealed.

Earth’s riches will continue to be mined with great zeal and ingenuity. Already deep ocean mining has been declared the “new frontier “, with eight companies holding licences so far. The home of Pisces and realm of Neptune, like Pluto, has hidden mineral wealth, stored in geothermal nodules. Keen to be first, China submitted exploration plans for a ‘zone’ near Madagascar in May 2010 and also planted the Chinese flag deep in the South China Sea as Jupiter conjoined Uranus in Aries in June 2010. Undersea robots are intended to enable mother ships to vacuum up the wealth of minerals.  June’s solstice emphasis on cardinal Water may evoke a further stage in this development. (5)

Cardinal Crisis Sparks

2011 is a prelude to 2012; it hosts the awakening of Uranus at March Equinox and at April 4’s New Moon, preparation for the Pluto square. On July 10 Uranus reaches its ‘retro’ station while just 1 degree short of squaring off to Pluto. This challenging angle will go on to perfect seven times between June 2012 and March 2015 and it is their first major aspect since the meeting of Uranus and Pluto in the Sixties. That meeting began a rare cycle with global reach and only begins to show its form now, over 40 years later. The opening square will activate and agitate, creating the first big test of the historical seeds that were sown then. These outer planets were in orb from late 1962, with their first exact conjunction October 9, 1965 and the connection extending through to 1968. Those born then will also experience a strong awakening during the square period. Among other things, global political alignments will be shaken, some broken, power bases will shift, when Uranus in Aries squares Pluto. The power of the individual to affect larger social forces will be questioned, redefined and even reinvented during these years. Conversely, the means of larger social forces controlling the individual will become more covert and reactive.

When Uranus and Pluto aligned in Virgo through the Sixties, a counter-cultural consciousness was born, promoting a ‘get back to nature’ theme. Organic farming, wholistic health care, serious debate about the protection of natural resources, the rise of feminism with its emphasis on gender equality and sexual freedom, the rise of the peace movement were all revolutionary themes of that time. Much did change but there were also strong counter-revolutions, like the so called ‘Green Revolution’ which kick started agribusiness and the increasing dependence on high cost, high-tech medicine rather than natural health care. Likewise gender equality and peace have stalled on many fronts and taken vast backward steps in parts of the world. Yet these themes must gain traction again as the first big test is played out in the cardinal signs, signs which strive and take the lead.

The Aries call to action comes via a masculine Fire that spontaneously burns its own path and Capricorn’s via a feminine earthy strategy, which plans and prepares the ground. Pluto’s ruler Saturn is in cardinal Libra, working for peace and willing also to disrupt it. With Uranus in Aries ruled by Mars, the meetings between Mars and Saturn are potent and suggest times when tension is high, as previously discussed but also times when the cardinal forces can work in tandem. The easy Mars, Saturn links in early July and late October both help the process of negotiation and cooperation.

Light and Shade

Asif the music of the spheres has struck a note that vibrates through many levels, this energetic cardinal configuration influences our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual tides.  Via Pluto, utilitarian values gain higher status, ambitions are hidden.  The shadow side is greed and power, yet a deep earthy spirituality can emerge.  Via Uranus, a spontaneous combustion of radical ideas bolsters the spirit of resistance.  The shadow side of this can be violence, yet the courage to be different comes with the design and offers a natural antidote to the favored rules and regulations of Capricorn.

A warning comes with this time, a warning not to move too quickly in overreaction to sudden shocks, nor to let unexpected changes freeze us into anxious inactivity. The extremes of pushing too far, too fast or of total inaction are the wounds of Fire and Earth signs, with Fire’s wound ‘hubris’ i.e. flying too high and plummeting to earth, and Earth’s wound falling into inertia and ‘swallowing’ life.

The September Equinox – Fellowship and Friendship

At Equinox Venus in her own sign of Libra is in charge, while Sun, Saturn and Jupiter all respond to her civilising influence. September 23’s Equinox chart shows the Libran Sun opposing Uranus and forming a T Square with Pluto as apex. Air sign energy takes the lead and Saturn in Libra is trine Moon’s North Node, bringing Fire as back-up. Allegiances with common purpose, negotiations, fellowship and friendship based initiatives are empowered now. Internet based cooperative action will also become more potent.

As Jupiter in Taurus hooks into a harmonious link with Pluto from early June 2011 through to mid March 2012, the more mysterious side of cardinal Earth energy may appear. This too is furthered when its ‘retro’ motion takes it back to ‘trine’ Pluto on October 29. The entire nine months cycle that began in June has great potential. Since Taurus rules the fertile earth and the Goat is linked to the magical cornucopia of abundance, get ready to dig up Capricorn Earth magic and find a new spirit of practical reverence for old traditions, sacred places. Peeling off layers has positive potential at such a time, in order to find what is truly worthy of our willpower and patience, Capricorn style

This suggests that the state of planet Earth and our ability to use human ingenuity and cooperation to protect her from the effects of exploitation is likely to be a prime concern for the last quarter year. A renewal of the love affair with Gaea may take very practical forms as scientific breakthroughs, accelerated by striving cardinal energy and the Uranian emphasis on new initiatives take effect.The earthy support for a shift in human behavior towards Gaea, for treating planet Earth as Anima Mundi – alive and sacred, will grow in strength, despite opposition. Crises and healing shifts of attitude will intertwine in this watershed year of 2011.


  1. A further example is thatin July 2010 when a total solar eclipse further triggered the rare joining of Jupiter and Uranus in Aries, the Pakistani Floods began. When the planets conjoined in Pisces in January Pakistan entered the worst period of after effects,
  2. Jeff Jawer, from an article in The Mountain Astrologer October/November 2009, Cardinal Consciousness: 2010 and Beyond.  pg. 30.

      3) The most recent opposition cycle was Saturn opposite Uranus exact from November 2008 to July 2010. This coincided with the global financial crisis.      The current Jupiter opposition suggests it is not over. Saturn’s first ingress into Libra was October 30, 2009 to April 8, final ingress July 22, 2010.

     4) Titus Burckhardt, trans by Bulent Rauf, Mystical Astrology According to Ibn ‘Arabi,Fons Vitae Press, 2001, first pub. 1950.

    5)To learn more about this, sources are Newsweek, September 20, 2010. Google, Wikipedia and International Seabed Authority, all available online.