In traditional astrology, Saturn is known as one of two "malefic" planets (the other is Mars). Saturn has always had a big, bad wolf reputation, but, while that reputation is not undeserved, modern astrologers take a broader, more growth-focused view of this powerful planet.
Modern astrology approaches Saturn as the lord of time and space, within which our physical reality is created. As such, it is a stern taskmaster, but also a wise guide and a source of strength. Saturn certainly has a tendency to get its message across through loss, difficulty, and destruction, but if you are willing to let go of what is no longer needed, work hard in the face of challenges, and build the future from the ground up, it can also bring great rewards.
I approach Saturn through the lens of Idealism — a philosophy that considers Consciousness to be the ground of being, and physical reality as created by, from, and of Consciousness. We are all connected in Consciousness, and our physical world is a creative endeavor that Consciousness undertook to discover the myriad possibilities of creation within the limits of time and space.
I believe that we all have a soul, and that each one of our souls is connected to a Greater Self that is larger that we can conceive of — and that Self is aware of all of our various incarnations. It is also is part of the larger Consciousness that is All That Is.
We are all co-creators within this creation. We do not create our own reality in the sense that we create exactly what we want within a bubble that is perfectly responsive to our every whim, but some part of our Greater Self, as well as our current consciousness in this lifetime, chose to participate in and contributes to the reality of the world we live in. Our Self and our choices shape our experience from within, as the world shapes us from without.
We can change the reality we experience to a greater or lesser degree depending on a number of factors, such as the reincarnational goals we agreed to before we jumped off the cloud into this incarnation, the discipline and skill with which we use the abilities we brought in with us, and the patterns of creative energy we chose to clothe ourselves in for this lifetime.
Those patterns are reflected in our natal astrology charts. We can shift and change many of them — we do have choices. Other patterns are more foundational and less avoidable — ones we put into motion long ago to ripen during this lifetime.
Saturn, both in the natal chart and in transit, reflects those foundational patterns. Saturn represents the framework of time and space we live in, the laws of our physical universe. Saturn is also the Guardian at the Threshold, the one who challenges our readiness to move beyond the persistent illusion of time and space — an illusion it rules — by asking us to first prove our skills in this shared material realm.
When Saturn knocks at our door, either through transits or other contacts to our natal chart, we can expect to be challenged. The same is true of transits, solar arcs, and progressions from other planets to our natal Saturn. Saturn is, more often than not, the one that teaches those foundational and less-avoidable patterns that we acceded to when we chose to be born in a particular time and place.
(And if you believe you had no choice in the matter, then you may attribute those patterns to whatever god or gods you wish, or to simple chance, but that does not change the patterns in your chart. Personally, I’ve found that working within a framework of at least some free-will not only makes the most sense, but leads to the best outcomes.)
If we know what kind of weather Saturn heralds for the journey, we can plan ahead. We can work with the prevailing winds and steer the boat in the direction we want to go.
Sometimes, the sailing is easy. There’s sunshine and the winds are with us. But there are times we need to batten down the hatches because a storm is coming. Astrology is an early-warning system that helps us prepare.
Of course, much depends on the individual chart — the date, time, and place you were born. I’ll give you some general suggestions of how to handle Saturn here, but if you want specific, personalized insights, contact me to book a consultation.
Some people deplore this word, but I think it’s great. It’s perfectly descriptive, and also encapsulates the idea that we don’t always have to act like adults — it’s possible to let go of our to-do lists, our musts and shoulds, the burdens of our responsibilities and play with the carefree abandon of children.
Play is good. It feeds our souls and ignites our creativity. Saturn’s lesson is that we can have our carefree times without worry or consequence if we fulfill our responsibilities first. Saturn insists that we do the work. And it will do its level best to make sure we’re doing our work — the work of our soul.
All the planets have both beneficial and problematic meanings. Major contacts from Saturn to your natal chart, or contacts from other planets to your natal Saturn will carry several/most/all of the following themes:
Responsibilities — We all need to determine, at some point, which responsibilities we’ve chosen to take on, and which ones have been laid on us by others. Then we need to decide whether or not we accept them in our hearts, just tolerate them, or actively resent them. And, of course, we need to look at how well we fulfill them.
Fear — What do you fear? Some of our fears are well-founded. Others are illusory — manufactured by our own minds, or taught through repetition. Saturn will bring us face-to-face with our fears, because, well-founded or illusory, we must learn to deal with them or spend our lives driven by them. Saturn will help us learn how to release them, overcome them, or move ahead despite them.
Burdens and Boundaries — From physical boundaries to deep, personal, emotional ones, we must learn to distinguish the appropriate ones that protect us from those that block us from our growth. We must learn when we need to let them go and when we need to take them on or build them up, and develop the strength to build or hold them.
Restrictions and Delays — A frustrating, often problematic, aspect of Saturn, though they can prove to be quite beneficial in the long run. How well do you handle them? Do you let them stress you out, beating your head against the proverbial wall in frustration, or do you accept the inevitable and then make use of the waiting time?
Building — Saturn stands rooted in tradition, but looks to the future. Saturn builds, and builds to last. Saturn is ambitious. Saturn asks you to evaluate what you are building. Is it worth your time and energy? Will it benefit our society, our children, and their children as well?
Teaching — We all have many teachers in our lives, starting with our parents, who are always teaching us — one way or another. Saturn is the Teacher, the cosmic parent, and will light your way (or drag you, kicking and screaming) to the truth of a situation. Jupiter upholds Truth as a standard. Saturn ushers it into the world and lives it.
Authority — Saturn seeks power through authority. Who has authority over you? How do they use it? Are you allowing the perceived authority of others to steer you away from your soul’s vision for this lifetime, or from your core values? Do you accept authority, question it, or actively rebel against it? Do you have authority over others? Do you use that authority in ways that support your core values?
Isolation — Sometimes, we need to be alone. Sometimes, we need to deal with being lonely. Do you have enough alone time? Can you comfortably spend time with yourself? Could you go off and be a hermit for a while? Saturn may ask you to explore who you are when you are all by yourself, or give you the time and psychic space to work something out quietly and in depth.
Challenges — Adversity of some kind is almost a given with most Saturn contacts. Note I say “adversity” not “tragedy”. While tragedies happen, they are not the norm, nor are they solely within Saturn’s purview. Saturn guards the gate of accomplishment, and challenges any who would walk through it.
If you see possible difficulties in your future, plan for them, then turn your focus to what you want to create, to the outcomes you desire. Constantly anticipating difficulties is one of the most problematic mental habits we can fall into — and almost all of us do at one point or another. Learning how not to do that is a skill Saturn can teach us.
Age and aging — Saturn demands that we look at what is inevitable in our lives. From the closing of a baby’s fontanel weeks after birth to the brittle bones of the very old, the process of aging is ongoing. We’ve taught ourselves to dread it, but it’s an integral part of the process of growth and change. We can learn to welcome the wisdom that aging brings.
Saturn’s teachings aren’t exactly fun, but they can be rewarding. They set up a framework within which we can experience fun, joy, love, beauty, and creativity. And, indeed, Saturn is just as likely as Jupiter to bring rewards, but, unlike Jupiter, those rewards are not bestowed, they are earned.
The one thing that is unavoidable with Saturn is work. If you do the work, especially the work of your soul, and respond with focus and determination to the challenges Saturn offers, then the likelihood of rewards coming your way is high.
It is also likely that you will find yourself wrestling with issues of responsibility and karma, from this life or another one. And if you’ve been avoiding the work, ignoring responsibilities, Saturn tends to wield the proverbial two-by-four upside the head with great skill and precision.
The Saturn Return
Aside from the dreaded Mercury retrograde, the Saturn return is the most well-known astrological configuration. As with Mercury retrograde, there’s a regrettable amount of fear-mongering surrounding it, so let’s look at some real-life examples of what you can expect when you’re expecting Saturn.
In Part II, we’ll take a look at how this works in practice by studying the charts of three Saturn returns where we have public knowledge of events and a timed chart. Many of these insights will apply to other Saturn aspects as well.
We’ll look at the Saturn returns of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Tiger Woods briefly, then go into more depth with the chart of Michael J. Fox, whose recent interview with the NY Times was inspiring, insightful, and gave us a view of his internal processes as he faced his difficult Saturn return.
I’ll explain what’s going on in plain English for those of you who don’t speak astrology, but — fair warning — there’s some astrology ahead. If you’re not fluent, then you can skip over it, or, if you’d like to learn just enough astrology to work with your own chart and keep up with the conversation, check out the booklet I wrote to help you do that, here.
Click here for Part II.