the great conjunction: the wheel meets the world

exploring jupiter and saturn through the lens of tarot

hello, friends. today is a big day. the sun is moving into capricorn (my tarotscopes are now live at autostraddle), we’re honoring yule and the winter solstice (i’ve got a new tarot spread for you on instagram), AND one of the most anticipated astrological events of the year is upon us: the great conjunction. all that to say: whew. if all you want to do today is light some candles, drink some tea, and hide under a pile of blankets, go for it. you deserve some rest.

but also. i may not be a trained astrologer, but this conjunction of jupiter and saturn is too monumental not to speak on. if you’ve been struggling to process the complex information on this heavenly meeting, if you’re feeling lost or unsure of what it all means, perhaps looking at it through the lens of tarot will help you as much as it’s helped me.

astrology can be complicated. it’s a lot of math and angles, a lot of nuance, and looking at anything beyond the big three signs in our natal chart can quickly get overwhelming without practice and study. i highly recommend following jeanna kadlec, mecca woods, kirah tabourn, diana rose, and theresa reed for in-depth and well-written astrology insights, particularly jeanna’s gorgeous newsletter on this very event. but if you want to gently begin digging into the great conjunction, and if you want to use tarot to help understand what is happening in the sky right now, keep reading.

the great conjunction

let’s start simple. in layman’s terms, the great conjunction is the name for a significant astrological event occurring today, on december 21st. a conjunction in astrology means that two (or more) planets are arriving at the same angle in the same sign of the zodiac at the same time, which causes their energies to mingle and intensify. the great conjunction happens every 20 years, but this year, both jupiter and saturn are moving from traditional capricorn into inventive aquarius. new cycles are beginning, new patterns are being established, new groundwork is being laid. in short, much is changing with these huge planets, and we will be feeling the impact of this shift for years to come.

saturn is the taskmaster of the zodiac, while jupiter is the teacher, meaning that both of these planets want us to learn, grow, and adapt. but while saturn helps us with discipline and limits, jupiter urges us to expand in specific and powerful ways, meaning that together we may feel the creation of new structures alongside deep, personal healing. in earth signs, where these planets have met for the last 200 years, we are often encouraged to look at the individual, the present, personal legacy - but in air signs, we can do more to explore community, society, and the futures that we are building together. where have you been feeling stuck? how have your personal beliefs been evolving? what are you ready to examine with fresh eyes? how does your individual work connect to the greater collective?

exploring the great conjunction with tarot

lindsay mack has a beautiful podcast called tarot for the wild soul, and in her recent episode on the month of december, she talked about this great conjunction in terms of tarot. since jupiter is represented by the wheel of fortune in the major arcana, and saturn is represented by the world, imagining the two of these archetypes coming together can help us understand how these energies mingle and interact. the wheel of fortune so often speaks to karma and luck, to balance, to recognizing the things that we can control and the areas where we must surrender to the bigger energies of the universe. however you feel about magic, gods, higher powers, or fate, the wheel of fortune asks you to consider the choices that you are able to consciously make, and the things that you have no authority over. what can you influence? how do you move through the world, and what shifts can you manifest? when do you create change, and when are you only able to react to the changes happening around you? in the same way, jupiter often speaks to luck, to expansion, to understanding the ways that we wield our magic. jupiter is both truthful and optimistic, helping us understand who we are as well as broaden our beliefs about who we can be.

the world, on the other hand, is ruled by saturn, which is more of an organizer, concerned with challenges and guidelines and responsibility. at first glance, this planet may seem more connected to archetypes like the emperor or the hierophant: cards that work with tradition and ritual, the ways that things have always been done, the rules that we have always lived by. yet the world represents our next stage of evolution, leaving behind an old version of ourself and stepping into a new one. it requires discipline and intention to make such a powerful shift, a sense of focus and purpose in leaving behind the old and being open to the new. saturn wants us to be aware of what rules we live by, of whose authority we follow. where do we restrict ourselves? what are we open to? how have the boundaries that we have created or learned to live with impacted our choices, our growth?

these two planets and archetypes are moving into the sign of the star, ruled by aquarius and its progressive, inventive energy. forward-thinking and expansive, creative and unique, aquarius’ fixed air helps us reform and reimagine, looking at the things that do not work and recreating them into new and powerful forces. and after so many great conjunctions in earth signs, this shift into air offers a sense of lightness, magic, and brilliant new ideas. in what ways have you been afraid to let yourself heal? where are you craving release? how do the things that you are learning contribute to a greater sense of collective healing and empowerment?

when we look at these three cards together we see opportunities for surrender, healing, and evolution. this is a chance to completely reimagine our world, as well as our place in it. what about yourself are you certain of, and where have those ideas been challenged? where have you been afraid to allow yourself to grow? what personal narratives do you cling to, and why do you keep repeating those stories to yourself? we all have a sense of our history, a lens that we view ourselves through - yet these three cards ask us to reconsider our relationship to control, to allow ourselves to heal in ways that make space for new and perhaps unexpected growth. where are you ready to expand, to take up space, to demand more? what do you believe you deserve? who have you been afraid to let yourself be, and what is holding you back?

what does it mean for us?

i know i just spoke of big ideas, big changes, big potential. but in these days around the great conjunction, we may not actually feel anything particularly dramatic - or if we do, there are a number of other cosmic events that we may be reacting to, such as the sun and mercury both shifting into capricorn, the energy of yule and the winter solstice, or the shadows left from the recent gemini and sagittarius eclipses. and while all of this talk about the great conjunction may leave you feeling like something monumental is right around the corner, i want to emphasize that these are big planets, moving very slowly, initiating major but gradual change. your life is not going to transform overnight because of this conjunction. instead, this is a chance to consider what you are ready to receive, and what you are ready to leave behind. it’s an urging to reflect, to rest, to repair. it’s time to get ready, but it’s probably not time to go just yet.

where have you experienced a sense of restriction, and how has that forced you to grow and adapt? what has been healing within you, that is now ready for movement and exploration? this year has forced so many of us to evolve in surprising, painful ways, yet we have also been able to see ourselves through new lenses. where are you forgiving yourself? who could you allow yourself to become?

for more on the great conjunction, check out these great twitter threads, as well as this piece from amelia quint or this one from mecca woods - but in reading and studying, in exploring, remember to be gentle with yourself. yes, this is a major shift, but you do not have to do a million rituals or tarot spreads or try to change everything about everything in a day. today is the winter solstice, an opportunity for stillness and gratitude. today, simply allow yourself to be.

the great conjunction may feel huge, but remember that evolution is a long, purposeful process. this is not a rapid change: it is simply a new doorway, beginning to gently open. you have time to decide what you want to carry through it.

blessed yule, happy capricorn season, and may the holidays offer you rest, community, and profound joy. be safe and be well, friends.

this post features cards from the soul cards deck. all photographs by meg jones wall.