Somewhere in the middle of life, I was sitting with John Marchesella, a skilled New York City astrologer, for one of many astrological counseling sessions he graced me with over a 20 year period. Though aware of astrology basics, the finer points eluded me back then. He kept repeating basic themes of discipline, mastery, overcoming fear and rising to the occasion and pairing it with the planetary energy of Saturn. Finally, in a fit of impatience I said “Saturn, Saturn, Saturn – what is it about this planet that makes it such a prominent part of life?” He chuckled and gave me a line or two that smoothed my edges away…but not my curiosity.
Upon the 2017 Fall Equinox, Saturn sits at 21° of Sagittarius and will soon move into Capricorn around the Winter Solstice. This numinous, planetary energy was given form and structure in ancient myth by the Titan god Kronos who swallowed his children in an attempt to avert his eventual removal. Zeus and other Olympians gave battle, forcing generational change.
In modern myth, Saturn is often depicted as an older man in a long robe holding a staff or scythe. The tarot hermit card is an older but wiser archetype worthy of weaving into a more holistic, conscious consideration of Saturn’s energy. Liberating the planetary energy from myth, cultural and gender bias loosens up the many positive possibilities inherent in each of us. Saturn’s many themes include: mortal reality, the aging process, limitations, depression, mastery through discipline, shouldering responsibility and plain hard work.
In the birth chart, Saturn’s themes will be expressed through the lens of an astrological sign and in the sphere of life signified by house placement. For example, Saturn in the mutable, air sign of Gemini will find day to day communications challenging or limited in some way. Place this combination in the public and career 10th house and this may be the executive who enrolls in a speech class to overcome their childhood fear of public speaking.
Saturn takes 28-30 years to cycle through all 12 signs of the zodiac (about 2 ½ years in each sign) and will return natally 2-3 times in the course of a person’s life. These Saturn returns are bellwether moments, where life experiences are tallied and the wheel is set for the next spin of time. An individual’s return will be uniquely sensed and processed either in full awareness and increasing mastery or within the shadows of doubt and lurking disappointment. Either way the celestial taskmaster’s presence will be felt; if not in the day’s waking moments then in the night’s dream world.
The first Saturn return as a person nears 28 to 30 is the final hurrah of youth and the journey towards mature adulthood. Responsibilities normally increase, relationships grow or wither away and life’s purpose continues to be shaped by Saturn’s call to authenticity.
The second Saturn return between 58 and 60 will reflect wisdom hard won through the course of the adult years. Shamans of experience, the wisest among the second Saturn returnees will walk into their elder years laying foundations for future generations.
At the age of 88-89, the third Saturn return signals culmination, an approaching mortality, a final opportunity to bring talent, wisdom and a bit of hard work to relationships and life projects the ancient one loves and cares about.
Weaving Saturn into the larger picture will bring definition and clarity along with the passage of time. Wisdom is always hard won and bittersweet – to be treasured as well as shared for the benefit of all.