30-Oct-2014, 15:59 UT/GMT
|Explanations of the symbols|
|Chart of the moment|
Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system, after Jupiter. Visually, it is the most beautiful of all the planets, clearly defined and cold, with its most obvious characteristic being the rings which surround it. It has its own boundaries. Mythologically, Saturn-Cronos ruled the old world, which is often referred to as the golden age. Saturn swallowed his children as soon as they were born, because an oracle had predicted that he would be overthrown by one of them. He was fearful of losing his authority, his control and his power. Eventually, of course, he was indeed overthrown by his son Jupiter and banished to the outermost boundary of the solar system.
Saturn is the planet of darkness, cold and death. It is the principle of restriction and limitation in time and space. In this sense, Saturn is the reality principle, since none of us can escape the fact that we are physically mortal and restricted and defined by the actual circumstances of our lives. As lord of time, Saturn rules our allotted life spans, cutting the thread of life with his sickle when the appointed time comes. Unlike Jupiter, there is no 'getting away with it' where Saturn in concerned. As the god of agriculture Saturn describes the idea that 'as we sow, so shall we reap'. Where Saturn is involved, unless we plan in advance and make the necessary preparations and do the necessary work, and have the patience to wait, we will not achieve our goals. Wisdom comes as the result of age, experience and the recognition of realistic limitations.
Saturn is the threshold, the boundary and the ego structure without which we are unable to function effectively in the world. Saturn is also known as the great teacher, describing the hard work and the difficult lessons we need to master our lives, regardless of the obstacles which appear to obstruct us. It represents parental and authority figures, whoever it is who defines the 'oughts, shoulds and musts' in our lives. If we can learn Saturn's lessons, however, then we will gain our own sense of personal authority and responsibility which nobody can take away from us. From an alchemical point of view, Saturn is the lead without which it would be impossible to make gold.
A Saturn which is functioning in a cynical, critical and rigid fashion is a distortion of the archetype of practical wisdom. Ultimately, Saturn is the gift of self-sufficiency. In the birth chart, Saturn describes what we crave but feel we have been denied. It is where we feel awkward and deficient, as if we cannot do anything right. Saturn describes what we take seriously, and where we have a marked lack of humour and spontaneity. We are often highly defended and defensive where Saturn is, because this is where we are particularly sensitive to criticism and afraid of being humiliated. Although Saturn's boundaries can protect us, taken to extremes they can become rigid, constricting and suffocating. If Jupiter describes how and where we feel confident, Saturn describes how and where we feel fearful and vulnerable and where we experience limitation, frustration and a lack of confidence. Saturn indicates the hard lessons we need to learn, where we will not get anything unless we pay our dues. Saturn consolidates and concentrates, strips everything down to the bare bones, indicating where we have to become realistic, where we eventually learn to accept our limitations.
An image from Michael Maier's alchemical text, Atalanta fugiens (1618), showing Saturn (the prima materia or raw substance) being transformed through the calcinatio, the process of burning away dross and black bile.
Let's put Saturn together with some of the other planets to see how it functions in aspect. The Saturn-Moon contact can describe someone who is emotionally (Moon) inhibited (Saturn), or emotionally (Moon) starved (Saturn), or who has a fear (Saturn) of being unsafe (Moon). A fear (Saturn) of being needy (Moon) can lead to emotional (Moon) self-sufficiency (Saturn). The Saturn-Moon person may take responsibility (Saturn) for the care (Moon) of others, or this placement could indicate a working (Saturn), older (Saturn) mother (Moon). There is usually a strong need (Moon) for safety and security (Saturn). Someone with a Saturn-Venus contact may be cautious or inhibited (Saturn) in relationships (Venus), possibly as the result of a lack (Saturn) of self-worth (Venus). On the other hand they can show great commitment (Saturn) in relationships (Venus). They are likely to value themselves (Venus) according to their achievements in the world (Saturn), and find it difficult (Saturn) to relax (Venus). They will desire (Venus) to prove themselves to others (Saturn). Pleasures (Venus) will be taken seriously (Saturn), and this is an individual who may value (Venus) social status (Saturn) and traditions which have stood the test of time (Saturn).
Both Sally and David have Saturn-Moon and Saturn-Venus contacts in their charts. We have already seen that David has a gentle Moon-Venus contact. Now that Saturn is added to the picture we can understand that he is likely to be cautious about making commitments, and will wait for some time before he feels he can trust. In Sally's case, on the other hand, we have already seen that her Jupiter-Sun-Moon-Venus-Mars contacts could be fairly overwhelming, over-the-top and unrealistic. Adding Saturn to the picture is likely to provide an element of stability and caution which will enable her to structure her natural enthusiasm and ground her vision, turning it into something useful and effective.
Copyright ©2005 by Clare Martin.
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