Astrologically, nothing could more perfectly mirror the conflict between self-interest and compassion that is currently raging around the Syrian refugee crisis than the recently formed square between separative Saturn and empathic Neptune which first went exact on November 26, 2015 and will remain in play for the next year, reforming on June 18th, 2016 and September 10, 2016. (based on GMT).

On the world stage, those public figures who call for a close down of the borders like the “straight talking,” and “down to earth,” Donald Trump are almost cartoon representatives of the Saturnian stance while the altruistic types who advocate succoring the refugees–President Obama and the Pope, for instance– are playing out Neptune’s role in this collective drama. And their behavior is a strikingly classic enactment of our own conflicts between letting others in and keeping them safely distant.

Saturn and Neptune are two planets that are particularly difficult to reconcile and when they clash they pose seemingly insoluble dilemmas. People born with hard aspects between Saturn and Neptune in their charts often live out one or the other of these planetary energies: opting to be closed and cynical (Saturn) or sacrificing themselves to prop others up (Neptune).

Saturn, a stern, practical and testing energy is the outermost “personal planet” which–as Isabel Hickey described it–stands guard at the threshold of the higher consciousness represented by the “outer” planets: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. And Neptune, ruler of the sea, symbolizes that collective sea of feeling that unities us all and makes us one, flowing and boundless.

Saturn dominated people are riveted to the reality of the material world–the law of the jungle– and they feel threatened by the dissolving and unifying action of Neptune which they make every effort to block and keep out. These two planets can harmonize, though, as they do when they form sextiles or trines. And then, instead of being fearful and contractive, Saturn’s action becomes disciplined and steadying, supporting Neptune’s all-encompassing compassion and enabling it to manifest more effectively and realistically,

Watch these two planetary energies play out over the coming year and think about what they’re really about: the universal push and pull between these differing drives which are being enacted within us and outside in the world.