Friday, October 5, 2012

Your Karma Ran over My Dogma: Meditations on Saturn

Saturn entered Libra on October 29, 2009, then retrograded back into Virgo on April 7, 2010, before finally reentering Libra on July 21, 2010, where it has remained ever since. Today, however, at 4:33 p.m. ET, Saturn will pass its torch to the next sign in line: Scorpio. Interestingly, earlier today another planet went into Scorpio: Mercury. So the final aspect involving Saturn in the final astrological minutes (29'57") of Libra was a conjunction with Mercury -- perhaps a final bid on Saturn's part for us to think about the past three years.

Makes an astrologer think, anyway. Though at the time of the Mercury-Saturn conjunction, I must admit to being fast asleep.

Saturn is undoubtedly the "heavy" of our solar system. Traditional Western astrology (i.e., pre-1930, when Pluto was discovered, and lingering till the explosive Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the mid-1960s), placed far more emphasis on Saturn's negative manifestations: loss, limitation, loneliness, misery, depression, greed, harshness, fear. It seemed that wherever you had the ringed planet placed in your birth chart, it indicated the area of life where you were utterly screwed, and there was really nothing you could do about it other than passively accept it as your burden.

I believe that part of the reason for this baleful attitude toward Saturn had to do with a more rigid way of life in general, a time when it was far less likely that you could break out of the mold and veer away from the path on which you was born. In the pre-automobile age, there was far less literal as well as social mobility; true, in the United States were Little House on the Prairie-type pioneers, Wild West cowboys, and Gold Rush junkies who moved far from their families, as well as a great wave of immigration from Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Yet the majority of Americans (and those Europeans who were not kicked out of their birth countries for the crime of being, say, Jewish) lived and died within a handful of miles of their place of birth. Vacations were pretty much unheard of, except of course for the rich, as was the concept of retirement: you worked either until you dropped dead or were fired for loss of mental or physical strength, and your safety net consisted of merciful relatives who allowed you to you live in their back room.

I realize very well that these days, the "American Dream" seems to have stalled, and is a cruel joke for many more people than in the past few generations. That several other countries' austerity measures and/and constant wars are also grinding down the hopes of millions, even billions of people. That during this topsy-turvy, crisis-laden era of the Uranus-Pluto square, giving stodgy ol' grumpy-boots Saturn the time of day might seem a ridiculous waste of time.

Which is exactly why we all need to get back to the basics and reconsider the power and weight of Saturn. If it wasn't so heavy, we might not have any sense of grounding at all. Saturn operates on the material plane. It is very telling indeed that Saturn rules Capricorn -- an earth sign. Saturn is our touchstone, and our backbone.

Even in touchy-feely contemporary astrology, Saturn certainly will never win any popularity contests, but just like Bartelby the Scrivener, it "would prefer not to." Saturn feels far more comfortable alone on the top of a mountain, or in a penthouse apartment, or in a corner office in a high-rise landmark-status building that it designed and built itself. (It is also no surprise that the charts of CEOs, bankers, architects, and construction workers are dominated by Saturn and/or Capricorn).

The terms karma and dharma are complex, comprising several tomes' worth of Eastern philosophy, and like the word love, are far too easily tossed around. In the context of astrology, however, they mesh perfectly with what Saturn symbolizes: your individualized trials and tribulations; your path; your duties; your earthly, character-building lessons to be learned in this lifetime, not turned away from out of denial or shame. To achieve what Buddha called the "diamond Soul," you must listen and learn from Saturn -- not coincidentally, all minerals, but especially the rarest, most precious ones like diamonds, are ruled by the ringed planet.

The Saturn Return at age 29-30 is the most important astrological event in anyone's lifetime, even trumping the Uranus opposition (aka "midlife crisis") at age 40-42. It is not a time for dreaming or escapism, but for looking unflinchingly into hard, cold facts, incorporating structure into your life, making peace with your father (or an equivalent "old man" authority figure), as you finally pass through the gates of true adulthood with a more defined sense of your life's mission. Saturn rules the concept of truth, as well as time; and like it or not, your time on earth is limited. Even if you believe in reincarnation, that you will return as the same (hopefully more evolved) soul in a different shell, you cannot take your shell or material booty with you.

Saturn's transit through a sign indicates the hard lessons we are all most likely to be faced with during a 2.5-year period, especially as it forms challenging aspects (conjunctions, squares, and oppositions) to other transiting planets, and to planets or other important points within our own birth charts.

Specifically, Saturn transiting Libra was about learning to structure and commit to important personal relationships in a mature, equitable way. Does that mean that all of us became more responsible in relationships, and better at cooperating with others? Of course not! Saturn cannot force you to learn any lessons at all -- but it does have the uncanny ability to take something pretty important away from you if you keep ignoring those lessons (i.e., your long-suffering spouse files for divorce). This does not, of course, mean that every time a person screws up and fails to rectify the mistake, Saturn immediately steps in to punish that person, ingeniously tailoring the punishment to the sign it is transiting. And of course shit also happens to those who do not "deserve" it. I live in the world, and I assume that you do, too. I am just speaking Saturnese right now.

Obviously, some will be in for a rockier road than others as Saturn leaves Libra (a position, by the way, that is traditionally considered "exalted") and enters Scorpio -- it depends on your own cosmic blueprint. Often what will happen is a mixture of flowing and challenging aspects, and when Saturn is involved, even trines and sextiles can have teeth. If you do not know your own chart, by all means contact me to schedule a private reading; if you know your chart well, take a close look to see what house Saturn will be in as it enters Scorpio; unless your chart features a house with 0 degrees of Scorpio on the cusp, it will be the same house as Saturn at 29 Libra, but the energy will feel very different as Saturn changes from cardinal air to fixed water.

So, Saturn is officially in Scorpio now. Please take a moment to welcome it (especially since Mercury just entered Scorpio, and Mars is still in Scorpio). If you were born with Saturn in Scorpio (i.e., are approaching your first, second, or even third Saturn Return), or have one or more planets or the Ascendant placed in Scorpio, you will undoubtedly be faced with some pretty serious lessons to learn (or not -- the choice is yours) over the next two and a half years. These lessons will specifically focus on the extreme, nitty-gritty aspects of life, including death (and sex, the occult, other people's money, and taxes). You may find yourself obsessing over one or more of these areas, and fearing any situation in which you do not have control. Scorpio types (not necessarily born with Sun in Scorpio, but with Scorpio planets or a strong Pluto) hate losing control as much as Capricorn (which is, you will remember, ruled by Saturn). But if you want to work with Saturn in Scorpio rather than against it, you must learn to let yourself ask for help sometimes. You must gradually accept the fact that you can be a vulnerable human being, and that needing a strong emotional connection with your sexual partner (or a strong sexual connection with your soul mate) does not make you needy.

The first aspect Saturn in Scorpio makes is an easy-peasy trine to the Moon in Cancer at 9:02 p.m. Saturday (Saturn's Day); the more collectively significant, longer-lasting trine to Neptune at 0 Pisces occurs next Wednesday evening, on the heels of the Sun-Jupiter trine. But more on the Saturn-Neptune trine next post -- my hands are about to fall off, and I also happen to be taking antibiotics.

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