Category Archives: Saturn and the Saturn Cycles (9 articles )

Saturn in Sagittarius: the Joyful Child grows up

Saturn is settling down for his journey through the exuberant, joyful sign of Sagittarius for the next two years or so. Mars is currently conjunct Jupiter in Virgo (in my First House) as I  reflect on the importance of Jupiter’s natural, spontaneous exuberance being modified and curbed by Saturn’s practicality and realism if we want to generate anything lasting in our lives. This reflection has made me think of  the importance of retaining the capacity for simple joy, as Life tosses its inevitable challenges our way.

Beautiful Saturn

Beautiful Saturn image

In honouring both Jupiter and Saturn, then, let us first celebrate the spontaneous, resilient, Joyful Child within all of us, explore how it fares as we mature. If we are lucky, this part manages to survive the batterings, brutalities and tragedies of existence,  continuing to provide inspiration and faith that life is worth living.

Who, exactly, is this Child? The basic stuff of which s/he is made is the element of fire, that which the gods prized so much they wanted to keep to themselves. But Prometheus stole some, hidden in a fennel stalk, and gave it to us. He was savagely punished for his misdemeanour – but ever since, we humans have had at least one chip of that magical, divine substance lodged in us. Everyone has some, some people have too little, others have too much.

What is it? It’s the spark of divine light, that which tells us we are special and immortal, that  we’re here for a reason, that our lives have a purpose, that we have a future worth seeking out. It fuels wonder, injects the passion of inquiry into mere curiosity, causes learning and exploration to be a joyful end in themselves. It gives the capacity to look out at the world with a fresh set of eyes, take pleasure at what’s there because it’s new, exciting. It brings spontaneity and the gift of laughter. It fuels play, which is at the core of a response to life which is fundamentally creative and imaginative.

Bountiful Jupiter

Bountiful Jupiter

It is highly protective and supportive of life, especially when the going is rough, giving the hope that things will get better. It enables tough times to be survived through the unquenchable belief that suffering may be awful, and protracted – but it means something; it is not just the random brutality of quixotic gods, or fate.It brings the capacity in extremis to laugh at the sheer absurdity of life, and oneself – a capacity which can drag one out from under the worst of times for just long enough to reaffirm that life, despite everything, is worth living.

The precious creature formed from such magical substance never grows up in the sense of assuming worldly responsibilities, and never gives up on life’s possibilities and delights. It cannot be ordered forth – just appears, then disappears : will o’the wisp. Readers will recognise the Sagittarius/Gemini polarity here!

Leaving the Otherworld

The advance through adulthood as the Saturn seven-year cycle unfolds, alters one’s perception of what it is to be young. Having been scarred by life as we all are, watching a pre-school child absorbed in play is delightful, but also poignant. Delightful because it  demonstrates clearly that there is another world than the one we usually inhabit  which is full of  Saturn’s deadlines, duties and demands.

This Otherworld is full of goblins and fire engines, magic bubbles and imaginary friends, bright green tigers who speak, and amenable adults happy to give you the keys to the scary castle, where you can spend days of adventure without anyone telling you that it’s impossible for giants to keep a special pocket full of ice cream that never melts, just waiting for you to come and eat it.

It’s poignant because we  wonder, looking at this absorbed child, how s/he will cope with an adult world whose entry tariff is extracted from the struggle between the fantasy world of childhood where anything is possible, and the reality testing which takes place as we grow and confront the limits which life sets for us.

The seven-year stages of the Saturn cycle offer a helpful containing context within which to explore how the Joyful Child within us fares as life’s journey unfolds. There is a case to be made for not starting children at school until the first square of the cycle. Five or six, the common age, seems too early to remove children from the Otherworld of play and unbounded imagination. Shakespeare vividly expressed the average child’s response to being dragged from the Otherworld :

“And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel,

And shining morning face, creeping like a snail

Unwillingly to school.”   (i)

If we did start children at the later age of seven or eight, socially disruptive though that would be in many ways, perhaps it would give more time for the Joyful Child’s domain to become established. Thus  it might be easier for the growing person to retain contact with the Otherworld as a source of inspiration throughout life.

Essentially what happens from the time of starting school through to the first Saturn square, as we step across the boundary of family, is that the Joyful Child begins to hide, its energy becoming redirected, as we become more aware of ourselves in relation to what the outer world expects. By and large, that outer world is more interested in us being able to tie our shoelaces, read, tell the time, and be truthful, than it is in knowing what a wonderful chat we had in Chinese last night with the  bright green tiger who sleeps under our bed.

  Early adulthood

Saturn Cycle

Saturn Cycle

The first Saturn opposition at 14/ 15 is the point where we take bigger steps out of family, begin to challenge parental authority,  and move towards greater identification with the peer group.The need to play and daydream which is fundamental to the Joyful Child’s world, and the creative energy fuelling these activities, gets sublimated further at this point. It channels into the pursuit of achievement of an academic or vocational nature, and exploration of the  exciting, troubling world of relationship and emerging sexuality  as bodily changes propel the young person towards physical adulthood.

The Joyful Child’s impetus towards discovery and exploration of the new, engages in a complex dance with the tough Saturnian realities also emerging.Too much time spent playing, not enough on taking responsibility, can have a high emotional cost, eg exam failure or unwanted pregnancy. 

The waning square at 21/2  brings with it the world’s expectation that we should begin to assume adult responsibility, get a job if we’ve been studying for years, get serious. Many people marry or enter into long-term partnerships at this stage, perhaps out of unconscious fear of facing the adult world and its responsibilities alone. I have gained the impression from my varied professional work with people of differing ages over a  long period of time, that part of the vulnerability of this life stage comes from a realisation that childhood is, indeed, over.

Recently I came across a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings from a column I wrote in my early twenties. In it was a piece called “Thoughts on Childhood” which supports the view  just expressed :

“ I am close enough to childhood for my memories still to be clear and reasonably untainted by the rosy hues of nostalgia, although I realise now that as soon as we have ceased to be children, the world of childhood becomes a closed world to us, one which we can never recapture except through flashes of memory and watching our own children grow up. As adults, no matter how hard we wish to recapture the feeling of childhood, we must always remain ‘ watchers by the threshold.’ ”   (ii)

This is a critical age, in terms of the emerging individual’s capacity to retain that  spark of vital creative energy which ensures that  engaging with the world as it is does not mean stifling the Joyful Child, who  has been curbed by now, and knows that much of the time it’s not safe to be too overt. But it is important that the re-channelled  energy continues to flow.

It can express itself in passionate commitment to a career, as opposed to  working purely to provide life’s necessities. It can manifest through joy in good friends, or absorbing hobbies and interests outwith work.For some people, early parenthood brings, along with responsibility, the opportunity to view the world again through the eyes of their growing children.

There is also a direct route for expression through the sheer animal vitality of youth, which all by itself can make life feel worth living. I recall a middle-aged male friend of mine’s recent comment on seeing a young man running effortlessly up several flights of stairs recently, not because he had to,  just because he could. “ I can’t do that any more – my back’s too bad !”  remarked my friend. “It made me feel wistful, reminded me of the youthful grace and energy  which I once had.”

Point of entry

From the Saturn return at 28-30 onwards, the major underlying task changes: from discovering the overall shape of who you are in relation to your own life, to beginning to use the platform you have built as support in offering your unique contribution to the wider world. By this stage, the balance achieved between necessary realism and the joyous, inspirational, creative aspects of life is crucial to how the next 14/15 years unfold. The poet Dylan Thomas senses and honours the presence of the child he was,  in his marvellous “ Poem in October” written on his thirtieth birthday:

“ And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s forgotten mornings……where a boy…..whispered the truth of his joy

To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.”

In the poem’s last verse, he writes 

“And the true

Joy of the long dead child sang burning

In the sun.” (iii)

For Dylan Thomas, as for many poets and even more of us ordinary citizens, being in nature can powerfully evoke that within us which never ages, which rejoices in being alive, and is powerfully connected to the endless cycle of birth, maturation, decline, death and return.

The thirties and forties are decades where a major challenge lies in the grinding process of reality testing our hopes, wishes, dreams and ambitions against the world as it is. Most of us eventually get to the Saturn opposition of the mid-forties: we are still here,  we may still be functioning tolerably well, but we’re not young any more.

Midlife

From the mid-forties on, we only have to look in the mirror, or realise that our idea of a good Friday night  is increasingly of going to bed early, not with a hot lover,  but with a good  book, to be aware of the relentless advance of mortality. It becomes harder at this stage for most people to keep in touch with the Joyful Child, keep its energies flowing. For many people,  brutalities of  an environmental, political, social or personal nature have borne down so hard that the vital spark of life borne by the Joyful Child can now fuel only the dogged survival instinct.

I have found that one of the compensations of middle age is deeply paradoxical, and was first alerted to it a number of years ago by a comment made by my late mother-in-law, then approaching eighty.The way she dealt with an old age full of physical infirmity was inspiring. She had a lively sense of fun and humour, maintained great interest in the wider world as well as that of her own family and friends, and kept up a prodigious correspondence right up to the end of her life. The Joyful Child in her was alive right to the end, sustained in her case by a strong, ecumenical religious faith.

“ You know”, she said,“occasionally when I’m not thinking about anything in particular, I catch sight of my face in the mirror and get an awful shock. I see an old woman’s face looking out at me – but inside I don’t feel old at all – I feel just the same as I did when I was young.”

The paradox is this.The body ages to the point where you are faced with increasing physical evidence of the passage of time; but an opportunity can also slowly arise to perceive, with a clarity not possible in youth, that this ageing body has been carrying something else through life which is different, ageless, woven with the physical – that spark of immortality which comes in sometime before birth, flying free at physical death. Thus, as mortality’s approach via Saturn becomes more and more difficult to ignore, a major compensation can be offered via Jupiter:  by that  which is clearly immortal becoming more and more evident by contrast. 

In this way, the great archetypes symbolised by astrological Jupiter and Saturn can achieve balance as ordinary human life reaches its conclusion.

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Endnotes:

(i)  “As You  Like It ”: (1599) act 2, sc 7, l 139, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1999 Edition, p 658, par 26

(ii)  “Thoughts on Childhood” from Personally Speaking column, Stornoway Gazette, September 1970

(iii) “ Poem in October “ from Dylan Thomas Collected Poems 1934-52, Aldine Press, 1972 Edition, pp 96-7

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Zodiac

2,200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

 

How do you get the best out of your Saturn/Pluto aspects?

This was the challenging question I was asked earlier today by a fellow blogger –  let us call her Eliza – so I dashed off a quick answer. Here it is – all you folk out there with Saturn/Pluto conjunctions (me!), oppositions, squares, trines, sextiles, inconjuncts, how do you manage those  testing, difficult planetary combinations about which no-one seems keen to write about, very often? (I wonder why?!) And how do you manage friends or loved ones or work colleagues who have them? I would be most interested to hear what you have to say…

Here’s what I replied, off the top of my head and without too much thought. 

SaturnPluto - never give up!

SaturnPluto – never give up!

Ok, Eliza, here goes

Work very hard to face up to the shadow sides of your own nature – power and control issues being paramount with Saturn/Pluto – usually presented via the difficulties you run into with other people. Try over time increasingly to do this without self-punishment but with growing self-acceptance.

This brings a certain amount of freedom:  both to exercise restraint over the harsher facets of the Saturn/Pluto combination – for example the tyrannical, control freak streak –  and to draw on its best aspects, eg the ability to persevere, even in the face of enormous odds, the ability to honour commitments made, however difficult and testing, the ability to apply forensic analysis to sorting out seemingly intractable problems (I have a Mercury/Saturn/Pluto combo) eg in astrological research of which I am very fond.

And – avoid taking the easy way out in situations where you just want to walk in the opposite direction, but know it would be the wrong thing to do.  Saturn/Pluto people never usually get away with taking the easy way out of anything.

Also – lighten up! My Mercury/Saturn/Pluto is squared by a Third House Jupiter; I have quite the gallows sense of humour at times – and a well-developed ability to laugh at my own stupidities. However, be very cautious with a marked tendency to respond to what you perceive as other people’s stupidities in the same vein. I have learned the hard way that this kind of humour is not always appreciated.

Furthermore, I find that a useful life skill to cultivate and practise is that of being forensically honest with myself (especially regarding my own motives at times) whilst realising that other people –  mostly – cannot or do not wish to have that level of honesty applied to them. So – it is very important to develop the ability to know when just to back off and shut up…

There you are, Eliza – I didn’t intend to warble on so much! I do hope some of it at least is of value to you…..

Zodiac

Zodiac

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450 words copyright Anne Whitaker  2015

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Exploring the Saturn Return: a new film is about to be born!

I had the pleasure yesterday of being contacted by writer/director Shawn Tolleson concerning an exciting new film project, shooting this summer. I’m always happy to support new, quality creative ventures – especially this one, featuring an important facet of astrological symbolism. Enjoy reading the production team’s description below of what looks to be an interesting and unusual film. And please, share information about it, support it, any way you can….

To read about this exciting new venture, click HERE

Saturn

       To read my series of articles on the Cycles of Saturn, click HERE

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Emily’s Question: What is the Saturn Return? Part 2

 Part Two: here we move from astronomical description to a discussion of the astrological symbolism, core meanings and varying levels of manifestation of the Saturn principle; ending with some concrete examples of people’s actual experiences at the Saturn Return point. And, of course, inviting YOU to offer some examples from your own experience.

Dark side of Saturn backlit by the Sun (NASA)

Dark side of Saturn backlit by the Sun (NASA)

Staying with the astronomy reveals to us where the symbolic meaning of the planet Saturn comes from. Until the 1780s when Uranus was discovered with the aid of modern technology, ie the telescope, only seven planets were visible to the naked eye: Sun, Moon (which is treated for symbolic purposes as a planet) Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Saturn thus for most of astrology’s history defined the farthest limits and the boundary of the known solar system. It was the ring-pass-not.

The astronomy passed into the mythologies of various cultures, in the West appearing as Saturn in Roman myth, Chronos in Greek myth. The figure of the stern old man, carrying a scythe with which to cut down humans who had reached the outer limits of mortality, long ago passed into popular culture where it still pops up in various guises.

In astrological symbolism, which has very strong ties with myth as can be inferred from the names of the planets in our solar system, Saturn became, in essence, the drawer of boundaries and setter of limits and definitions.

Thus everything in our world which does this: walls, bones(which hold us up), skin (which holds us in!), structures of all kinds, worldly status and position, all outer forms of restriction, are part of Saturn’s external portfolio of manifestation.

At an inner level, fears (which bring psychological limits and restrictions), the ability to set necessary psychological boundaries, determined refusal to be ground down by the world’s and other people’s restrictions, willingness to shoulder responsibility, having a grounded outlook based on realism, all belong to the wide range of characteristics and qualities which arise from the core meaning of astrological Saturn.

Even without knowing much astrology, you can probably already see from this the fraught nature of prediction!

In my view arising from long experience, a view shared by many other astrologers, it is more constructive first of all to describe to our astrology clients the core meaning of all the planetary symbols and their interactions. In this way they can get an essential grasp of what is taking place on their life’s stage, before we proceed together to explore the range of possibilities which can and do arise from each core meaning, and how the client may be able to move to more positive modes of expression.

The  return cycle of Saturn completes four key stages of development: age 7/8 years, 14/15, then 21/2, then 28-30.

The first stage represents the first steps towards more autonomy and independence from parents and family. The second takes this further, tying in with puberty and all the challenges accompanying it, including defining oneself more via the peer group and less with family of origin. The third should represent a further stage of developing autonomy via completing one’s education and entering the world of work and perhaps more committed relationships.

I hope, as we approach the end of this article, that you can now see why the fourth stage, ie the first Saturn Return at 28-30, is a major turning point in the process of becoming an adult: still (ideally….) connected by bonds of love and responsibility to parents and family, but having established an adequate degree of personal autonomy. It symbolises the completion of the first cycle of growth and maturation.

The determinants of the Saturn Return apply not just to human beings, the focus of this discussion, but to anything born in a moment in time and completing its first cycle of formation and definition.

Partnerships of a personal and business nature, marriages (does the seven-year itch now make more sense?!), friendships, educational institutions, Facebook, restaurants, yoga studios, banks, chain stores, you name it, all face the same essential challenges at each stage within the cycle as well as at its completion.

It is not possible amid the messes, fudges and failures of an average human life to achieve  perfect completion of any life stage. The point is to have made a good enough job of the Saturn Return transition to find yourself standing on a firmer and more realistic foundation to your life after the Return, than you had before it.

Coming back to the point I made that many branches can and do arise from the same core of any astrological symbol, people make changes or have changes thrust upon them which on the surface seem very different.

Here are some from my experiences of observing students’ and clients’ lives over the years: career changes, marriage/committed partnering, divorce, birth of a child, relocation to other countries, retraining, going back to education, religious conversion, loss of religious faith/atheism, retreat from the world for a period of time in different contexts, taking on promotions or greater responsibility. No doubt you can think of some more yourselves as you read this and think about the people you know.

In writing this article I have focused purely on the core features of the Saturn Return, which apply to everyone and everything born or begun. A great deal of individual fine tuning can of course be done with a properly drawn and calculated horoscope which needs the date, place, and vitally important TIME of birth.

You readers out there will, I hope, have your own variation on this core theme of separating out from what you are not in order to become more fully who you are. It would be great if you felt willing and able to share your experiences with this new learning community at Astrology: Questions and Answers.

AND – New visitors and Followers out there! Do drop by with your observations….. and, of course,  your Questions….on any astrological topic.

Zodiac

Zodiac

700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

Emily’s Question: What is the Saturn Return?

Most people know their Star Sign – ie the position of the Sun on their birthday against the 360 degrees Zodiac band when viewed from Earth.

However, that’s usually as far as it goes. This simplistic and very widespread public face of pop astrology is what the reductionists attack so virulently, without taking the trouble to find out whether our six thousand plus year old tradition might just have more to offer than that.

A bridge of knowledge between pop astrology and the deep and fascinating waters of what lies beyond is the Saturn Return, which in my experience is a term which an increasing number of people know about ‘ beyond the Sun Signs’. Films have been made in which this  famous event features  – an intriguing fact which I discovered on an interesting site called loveyoursaturnreturn for which I wrote a short article last year. You can also find links there to quality articles by a range of astrologers giving their take on the Saturn return, as well as media references to it.

So – what is the Saturn Return?

Symbolically, it is a major turning point in the process of becoming an adult: a critical step on that lifelong rocky road of separating out from what we are not, in order to become more fully who we are. This turning point occurs around the ages of 28-30.

Where does the symbolism come from?

It comes from astronomical observation of the 28-30 year long cycle of the planet Saturn.

It’s important in developing an understanding of astrological symbolism to realise that it doesn’t just leap fully formed out of someone working on a tabloid newspaper’s vivid imagination. It arises from thousands of years of careful observation and recording of the movements of the planets in our solar system and the correspondences which occur with both the outer and inner lives of the inhabitants of Earth – both collectively and individually.

All the planets move in regular, predictable cyclic orbits. These orbits range in time from the vast, epoch-changing scope of the planet Pluto which takes 248 years to return to its starting point, to the tiny dance of the Sun and Moon which take a mere 29.5 days to complete their cycle.

Saturn’s orbit takes an average of 28-30 years.

Let’s say Charlotte (fictitious) is 35 years old, born in the Spring of 1978.  The  example chart here is set for midnight GMT (1 am UK Summer Time) on 1st April 1978. In this chart (some detective work here for those of you who know no astrology – yet!) the planet Saturn sits at 24 degrees of the sign of Leo.

(click on image to enlarge)

Charlotte X

Charlotte X

Moving from The American Ephemeris for the 20th Century at Midnight (my essential book for that desert island. Yes, I’m mad….) where I looked up her birth date, to its equivalent for the 21st Century, I find that Saturn returned to 24 degrees of Leo in late October, November and December 2006, January 2007, and finally in July 2007. Thus Saturn describes in astronomical terms a period of 9 -10 months in Charlotte’s life between the ages of 28 and 29.

I have measured this precisely for Charlotte. However, since Saturn moves relatively slowly, taking 2-3 years to travel through the 30 degrees of each sign, in this case Leo, everyone who is now 35 years old will have gone through their Saturn return  in 2006-7.

And everyone now in their mid-60s will have completed their second Saturn Return during the same time period, at the ages of around 59-60. And if you live long enough, you have the exciting prospect of a third Saturn Return in your late eighties. I can hardly wait…..

To be continued – Part Two of this article follows shortly: moving from astronomical description to a discussion of the astrological symbolism, core meaning and varying levels of manifestation of the Saturn principle; ending with some concrete examples of people’s actual experiences at the Saturn Return point. And, of course, inviting YOU to offer some examples from your own experience.

In the meantime, you new visitors and Followers out there! Do drop by with your observations….. and, of course,  your Questions….

Zodiac

Zodiac

700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

7.6.13 Next Question: answer coming up soon!

The Children’s Wood | June 5, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Dear Anne,

Your blog is great.I have a question:  “What is the Saturn Return”? it sounds very interesting and I’d like to know more.

Thanks
Emily