Central Australian Dreaming Sparks a Glimmer of Hope at a Time of Global Crisis

Featured image is of the Butterfly Nebula by NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team – http://www.hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2009/25/image/f/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7777740

Marianne Schmidt and Philip Jamieson

Earlier this year, we attended the Cosmic Conciousness Conference at Uluru. There we had the opportunity on 12 January to experience at this sacred site a rare Saturn/Pluto conjunct and, indeed, the more rare for the fact that their conjunction was in Capricorn, something that had not occurred in more than 500 years.

Pluto and Saturn are two of the most feared planets in astrology. Pluto is a force of transformation and Saturn a force of responsibility, restriction and limitation, representing authority and structures like government and rules. So when they meet up in Capricorn, which rules governments, corporations and the economy, we can expect a tumultuous shakeup of antiquated global structures and institutions. When in 1518, Pluto and Saturn last met in Capricorn we saw the burgeoning of both the African slave trade (actions taken by Charles 1 of Spain in August 1518 resulted in a nearly 10 fold increase in the numbers of transatlantic slaves) and the Reformation movement (Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses spread swiftly after their translation from Latin into German in January 1518). Now again, 500 years later, during the period of this astrologically significant conjunction, half of global humanity sits in various stages of lockdown around the world as we experience a viral pandemic, wreaking transformation across all aspects of our global institutions, economic structures and indeed our very way of life – we find ourselves restricted, largely confined to our homes, and with our economic and social lives in disarray.

Attending the Conference in January, these events were yet to emerge. We knew then only that the conjunct portended something momentous. After the Conference we travelled on to nearby Alice Springs, in the area known to the local indigenous peoples, the Arrernte, as Mparntwe. We there had the opportunity to learn of the local Aboriginal community’s Caterpillar Dreaming story, an experience we recently recounted in our blog post, Central Australia’s Caterpillar Dreaming: Gleaning an insight into Indigenous ritual. Indeed, our interest was piqued when in one of Marianne’s photos (taken at Glen Helen Gorge early in our visit) we saw a peculiar blurring that was suggestive to Marianne of the image of a caterpillar, an image we believe was intended to draw our attention to the story.

Caterpillar Glen Helen

Photo taken by Marianne of the “caterpillar” at Glen Helen Gorge

As we noted in that blog post, the Caterpillar Dreaming story revolves around three powerful caterpillar ancestral beings – Yeperenye (Ayepe-arenye), Utnerrrengatye and Ntyarike (Ntyalke/Ntjarlke) – considered to be the major creative ancestors of Mparntwe, creating, producing, shaping and calling into existence many of the topographical features of the area.

Having seen the story depicted in the ochre rock art at Emily Gap, we had gone on to view ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings) also connected with the story at two sites a little farther from Alice Springs – Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve (a men’s sacred site containing one of the highest concentrations of petroglyphs in the Northern Territory) and N’Dhala Gorge Nature Park (containing men’s sacred sites with nearly 6,000 petroglyphs). While much of the stories and meaning surrounding these petroglyphs is culturally secret, there was a clear theme in the carved motifs we saw – of the caterpillar life cycle as the caterpillar transitioned to and finally emerged as a butterfly.


Photo taken by Marianne of signboard at N’Dhala Gorge Nature Park

As appears from the photo taken by Marianne of a signboard at N’Dhala Gorge Nature Park the pteroglyphs there tell the story of the life cycle of two of the caterpillar ancestors, Utnerrengatye and Ntyarike. We realised that this was an important aspect of why our attention had been directed towards the Caterpillar Dreaming story. This theme of caterpillars transitioning to a new life provides a perfect metaphor for the societal metamorphosis we are now experiencing and which was heralded by the very rare Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn we had experienced at the Conference only a few days earlier.

Clearly the Pluto-Saturn conjunction in Capricorn was the harbinger of societal metamorphosis. Saturn has confined us to our personal ‘cocoons’ to marinate in the waves of transformation energy underwritten by Pluto’s demonic influence. In time, hopefully we will emerge as beautiful new born butterflies – individuals and society transformed.

And when can we hope to emerge transformed? Saturn, in retrograde motion, will move out of the retrograde shadow zone on 3 January 2021. This may well mark the end of the cocoon phase, but we can expect much transformation still to come with Pluto in Capricorn until 2024. Saturn and Jupiter will both move into Aquarius towards the end of December. Aquarius represents the future, technology, innovation, philanthropy and humanitarian traits, bringing people together around social causes and inspiring social consciousness. Hence we can expect that these planetary movements will offer an opportunity for the changes needed to re-structure our community as the effects of the pandemic pass. In effect, within our current collective Saturnian cocoon, Pluto is serving to transform the old world order (represented by Capricorn) allowing the emergence of new, innovative approaches to meeting the needs of the people (humanitarian Aquarius) – as the butterfly emerges from the caterpillar, so too in effect a “global metamorphosis”.


We would like to thank Kelly Gores for suggesting the term “Global Metamorphosis” which came to our attention in her piece, “CoVid-19: A Global Metamorphosis” (30 March 2020) Thrive Global (https://thriveglobal.com/stories/covid-19-a-global-metamorphosis/).

The other blog post we wrote of our experience in the Alice Springs region is We are NOT Alone: Thoughts on Comets and Meteorites – Where Life Began?

Source notes

David Brooks’ The Arrernte Landscape: A guide to the Dreaming tracks and sites of Alice Springs (IAD Press, Alice Springs, 1991) provides a very interesting account of the Caterpillar Dreaming Story.

On the African Slave trade, see Becky Little’s “Details of Brutal First Slave Voyages Discovered” (21 March 2019) History (https://www.history.com/news/transatlantic-slave-first-ships-details).

On Martin Luther, see Wikipedia contributors, “Martin Luther” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Martin_Luther&oldid=954397255).

Cafe Astrology is a very useful source of astrological information (https://cafeastrology.com/).

Internet citations are as at 2 May 2020.

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