“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” CARL JUNG
Scroll down for an Addendum on Saturn in Capricorn
Attention, seekers: Saturn is moving into Sagittarius on December 23rd, 2014! This means we are entering a new two-and-a-half to three-year-cycle that is most positive and interesting—as Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, planet of our most abundantly buoyant energies and the natural ruler of the ninth house of becoming a seeker of the truth through higher teachings which expand the consciousness. YAY!
And, since Mind is the builder of all we create and perceive—over the next few years we will be having a golden opportunity to reboot the screen of our perceptions and recreate our personal realities in a direct equation based on how positive or negative our belief structures about ourselves and our lives are.
This will be especially apparent in whatever houses we have Sagittarius in natally.
To set up your birth chart for free: Astro.com
For a brief description of the houses: Astrological Symbols
For a more thorough view: Alan Complete Astrology
When I do astrological readings, one of the most common laments I hear is: “But why does Saturn have to be transiting there?” And my smiling response is always, “Well, Saturn has to be somewhere.”
Why? Because, if we look at the earth plane as a school for soul growth and each incarnation as a different class, than the role of the transits of Saturn is in defining the curriculum as we move through the cycles and seasons of our lives.
The planet Saturn is traditionally known as the Lord of Karma and in ancient Greece was known as Kronos, who ruled over the Earth in his role as Father Time. And, since we contain the Universe and all planetary energies inside of us as microcosms of the macrocosm, Saturn is that part in each of us that is the inner guru—or spiritual teacher—whose lessons are learnt through embracing the structure and rules of the Earth Game—including working with the tools of linear space and time.
So, we all have an inner Saturn or karmic teacher that we’re born with, as expressed through the placement of Saturn in our birth charts. In addition, we have the activation of our pre-loaded karmic lessons for this incarnation through the movement of Saturn by transit through the various areas of ourselves and our lives.
Our karmic lessons occur in 28-30 year Saturn-return cycles, as that’s how long Saturn takes to return to the exact position he was in when we were born and, in each of these cycles, we get to experience specific lessons as Saturn transits through the twelve houses (i.e. parts of ourselves and our lives) in approximately two-and-a-half year increments.
The first Saturn-return cycle activates the karma we took incarnation to heal. That’s why, through our teens and twenties, it’s so important to have a multitude of adventures and scenic side-trips as well as a diversity of relationships and creative/vocational trial runs—before we lock in irreversible major life decisions.
That’s because our second Saturn-return cycle from ages 30-60 is when our karma begins to ripen. So, after age thirty is the optimal time to lock into what will become the major pathways in work and love through which we will develop the right use of our will as we learn to be cocreators through manifesting in our personal realities.
Then, by our Uranian opposition cycle, age 38-42, traditionally called the mid-life crisis, we’ll get many opportunities to consciously choose differently than just reacting from our habitual karmic patterns of identity. This will allow us to heal any karmic patterns that offer little or no further soul growth by taking risks and expanding our range—rather than sticking with what is known, safe and secure . . . and has become stagnate.
By age 58-60 as we enter the review of our 2nd Saturn-return cycle and are poised on the edge of our 3rd Saturn cycle, we can look back on the spiritual gains we’ve made and the soul lessons we’ve learnt, as we gather our forces to enter what I call “the victory round” from ages 60-90.
Because our longevity probabilities have expanded from living to a ripe old age of 50 or so just a century ago to 80-90-100 years and more in the 21st century, our 3rd Saturn cycle is more about creating a balance between focusing our energies on earthly matters and spending more and more time communing with Spirit, whereas in the good old days astrologers told their clients—if they made it to age 60—that it was time to start moving back towards the Light. HA!
To read more about how life expectancy in the 21st century can be affected by our body karma:
Why is This Happening to Me? Body Karma Explained
If we haven’t done the work that we took incarnation to do and feel so much regret by age 60 that we can’t seem to muster the life-force energy that we’ll need for another 30-year Saturn cycle, many of us choose to wrap up this incarnation and check out of our bodies—sometimes consciously but usually only semi-consciously.
And if we don’t consciously choose to recommit to the life-force in our physical vessels by realizing we have more we wish to do in this incarnation, than the vacillation of not committing to another karmic cycle carries into our relationship with the life-force and our bodies, and we start developing more and more physical symptoms as an expression of this deep ambivalence. Many sink back into old self-destructive behaviors as a way of sub-consciously feeding the death urge.
In fact, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), until about age 40, it is viewed that most of us get a free ride because we are operating off of our storehouse of pre-birth chi (i.e. life force energy or prana). But after age forty, we start tapping into this storehouse and draining it if we don’t start doing mind/body spirit practices such as chi gung, yoga, breathing and meditation to replenish our chi.
By our fifties, in the TCM model, if we haven’t started taking better care of our life-force energies, we can start to experience a slow steady decline of our chi which naturally leads over decades too illness, old age and death. That’s why the ending of the 2nd Saturn cycle at 58-60 is so crucial in consciously recommitting to this incarnation and doing what it takes to get our bodies replenished and stabilized.
For more on this: Taoist Practices MP3s
I always say that every decade the physical body requires more maintenance, and as we hit our 40’s, 50’s, and especially 60’s this is especially important to implement consciously. I can personally attest to this truth as I am in my 60’s now as are so many of the clients I work with, who’ve been with me since we were all in our 20’s and 30’s.
Making Saturn our friend is crucial if we want to learn how to enjoy playing the earth game skillfully. Then, we can choose to embrace the clean sharp growing pain of going for the lessons and growth in any situation Life throws at us as an opportunity to get on with our dharma, or karmic path in life.
But, if we don’t embrace the rules of the game governed by Saturn then, to paraphrase Jung, we may feel powerlessness over our habitual patterns and external circumstances, thus setting ourselves up for a lot of chronic low grade suffering that, over time, will add up to more pain than if we just metaphorically ripped the Band-Aid off and got on with our karmic healing.
I consider challenging external events a form of spiritual resistance training, as the energies of the outer planets—especially Saturn, Uranus and Pluto—push us to grow in the areas we’re weakest in karmically to make us stronger. And that’s also why I call the most onerous external circumstances triggered by the transits of the outer planet: “FGO’S—f**kin growth opportunities!”
Embracing the pain of growing up emotionally and spiritually is easier said than done, especially until we reach our first Saturn-return cycle when we begin to karmically come into our maturity. Before this, for most of us, the dirtiest words in the English language are: “Discipline, hard work, patience and delayed gratification.” And, yet, these are the exact soul qualities that Saturn encourages us to develop in our character to play the Earth Game well.
For me personally, this was certainly true, as I was quite the party girl in my twenties until my first Saturn-return-cycle when I cleaned up my act. In fact, most of us have little desire to get on with healing our karma, which is represented in the birth chart by the Moon’s North Node of our dharma, or life’s path, at least until we feel the rumblings of our first Saturn return at around age 27-28 and the hear the voice of our inner guru whispering: “The jig is up”.
So, even though I have a very strongly placed and generally well-aspected Saturn in my chart:
1. I have Capricorn rising conjunct the north node, which means that Saturn rules my chart, (as the ruling planet of our ascendant rules our charts and gives it more weight).
2. Saturn is most elevated in my chart, (again giving it more weight) and in Libra, the sign of his exaltation—or best expression.
3. Saturn conjuncts my pars of fortune (i.e. greatest joy), and Mercury and Neptune on the cusp of the 8th (psychic healing) and 9th (teaching) houses.
I still kicked and screamed throughout my twenties about getting on with my Saturn lessons.
I remember doing a reading for myself at age 24 when I asked how to be the best trance channel I could be—as I had been working as one since age 19. My guides said, “Practice, practice, practice! The more readings you do, the better you’ll get. And you better clean up your party girl act (i.e. daily pot smoking etc.) or you might “go out” and not come back as you’re not grounded at all in your body yet.”
Well, guess what? Even with all the strong positive influence of Saturn in my chart, my response was still unequivocally to quit doing readings for almost three years so I could continue to party.
It wasn’t until age 28, when I bottomed out on my mood-altering substance addictions, that I surrendered to following my reading and developing Saturn’s designated soul qualities that I had resisted for so long. Looking back, I have a feeling that if I hadn’t chosen to finally clean up my act when I had my first Saturn-return-cycle, I might have become so self-destructive through my addictions that I could have checked out or ended up in some sort of mental institution . . . as happens to many souls.
So, embracing these Saturnian character-building qualities are exactly the type of karmic lessons we get to have—as Saturn transits through each of our twelve houses over every 28-30-year-cycle—and we can either choose to go for the growth—which does include growing pains of course—or continue to suffer.
If we don’t own our circumstances as preloaded karmically and just come to someone like me with a litany of woe and ask, “When is it ever going to end?” My, response, and yes, I have actually said this, is “NEVER! Until you stop fighting with Saturn and make him you friend.”
And the best way to make peace with Saturn is to reboot the screen of our perspective to the soul-level and be open to exploring: “What are the lessons of this transit and how do I embrace and get on with them?”
The challenge is always, of course, that Saturn requires that we grow up and become emotionally mature human beings by developing the character traits that go with this soul growth upgrade, when many times, during a particularly onerous Saturn transit, all we want to do is lie around and eat bonbons, and say to Saturn: “Haven’t I done enough already?” and, of course, Saturn always replies, “There’s always room for more.” I call it cultivating a taste for eating our spiritual Brussels sprouts.
As a karmic astrologer, one of the first things I look at in a birth chart, (after the moon’s nodes which signify one’s karmic direction or dharma and one’s karmic past), is the position of Saturn. For, as the traditional Lord of Karma, a strongly placed Saturn without major afflictions indicates an easier time of embracing Saturn’s rules of the game more gracefully—with less kicking and screaming, projection or self-judgment. At least, after the first Saturn-return cycle, that is.
When I see in someone’s birth chart that their Saturn is sitting on their ascendant, their Sun or Moon, their Venus, Mercury or Mars—with no major ameliorating factors, my initial response is always “OUCH!”, as it means there may be a karmic predisposition of being very critical, judgmental and hard on themselves, expressed through which personal planet is oppressed by Saturn’s cool and at times harsh gaze, and especially in the area of life or house in which Saturn and the personal planet affect resides and with the tone of the sign the conjunction is in.
For example, I know someone with Saturn sitting exactly on their ascendant, or personal persona, in perfectionistic Virgo, and they always look like they’re on their way to their own funeral and have a low tolerance for sustaining joy in Being for very long durations, as they don’t’ feel comfortable or worthy of it, especially around others.
This is also the case with Saturn on one’s Sun; one feels like Life has its thumb on them, holding them down from flowering. Or, with the Moon, one can feel oppressed in expressing emotions with spontaneity. With Saturn on one’s Venus, one can feel alone even in the midst of the most intimate moments with a partner. And with Mars, it can feel as if their ambition, drive and actions have a brake on them when they try to accelerate, I always call Saturn/Mars conjunct: “Full speed ahead with the breaks on”—especially in a fire sign. And with Mercury, there can be a tendency to see the glass as half full.
When I do synastry (i.e. relationship) charts for prospective couples, Saturn plays a significantly important part. As it is considered good, if not imperative, to have some Saturn squares or challenges to each other’s personal planets to signify a potential growth relationship, rather than just a love affair.
However, when I see one person’s Saturn sitting exactly on another person’s ascendant, sun, moon, mercury, mars or Venus—I do feel obligated to inform them that the one sitting under the thumb of the other’s Saturn might feel oppressed or judged, and over time have a hard time breathing freely or feel the need to walk on eggshells etc., as time goes on—so they can work with this aspect consciously and transmute it.
When clients have ignored these warnings, some of them have come back to me and reported that they have had to flee the marriage or partnership as they felt as if they were being stifled by it. I too have ignored these warning signs and gotten involved with a few men with Saturn on my Venus or Mercury in the past. And, let’s just say I’ve learnt the lesson that a man’s Saturn on one of my personal planets is a definite red flag and, if exactly conjunct, a deal breaker.
For me personally, with natal Saturn on my Mercury, I work diligently on a daily basis to always reboot my perspective and focus on the glass as half full in any situation. It helps that I have Neptune and the pars of fortune as part of this stellium, and that it is in Libra (where Saturn is in exaltation), and finally that my stellium is trine my Jupiter in Gemini in the fifth house of creativity and play. This means that I have an innate way to enjoy and play with all the lessons and rules of the earth game expressed by Saturn, which I try to express through my work with others.
We can also work with a natal or transiting Saturn/Mars conjunct in a positive way—as what I call focused action:
This is also the case with Saturn on the Moon natally. When I work with clients that have this, I encourage them to embrace the fact that they might always feel a sad or melancholy undertone in their emotional bodies, rather than stuff this feeling down or project it out by accumulating sad or depressed people in their lives that they keep trying unsuccessfully to heal. They can work with this sad part of themselves, integrate it without judgment, as part of their karmic legacy, as sadness is NOT a toxic emotion, and work on cultivating other emotional tones such as peace and equanimity, out of which pleasure, joy and bliss can spontaneously arise.
So too, with Saturn/Venus, can one feel a form of anehodia, or lack of pleasure through the senses and/or joy through the heart. And again, to work positively with this aspect, spiritual practices to cultivate neutral emotions such as peace and equanimity are the key, as then neutral becomes quite pleasant, and this lays the foundation for more upbeat positive sensations and emotions to spontaneously arise.
For more on how to do this: On Pleasure, Joy and Bliss
Transformation and Healing by Thich Nhat Hanh
For those with Saturn on the ascendant or Sun, it’s especially important to make a daily gratitude list as well as a list of assets and gains made by self, not just loses and personal liabilities.
For those with Saturn natally opposed to any of the personal planets, there is more of a tendency to project out negative Saturnian qualities such as repression, oppression, or judgment onto others or onto Life itself as the perennial opponent. But at least, with the opposition, there tends to be more conscious awareness that one is doing this.
With Saturn squaring the personal planets, these projections can be more unconscious and thus insidious. That’s why I look for the squares Saturn makes in the birth chart—especially to the personal planets, ascendant or midheaven—as indications of some of the most significant karmic factors that the soul took incarnation to work on and heal. The major karmic work is in bringing these unconscious projections to consciousness, owning them and working with them in a positive way, thus transmuting any negative predispositions in their expression.
Special consideration needs to be given when interpreting a T-square aspect pattern in the birth chart, especially when it involves Saturn. A T-square is formed when planets in opposition also form a square with another planet (or angle). The pattern resembles the letter T when viewed in the chart. A T-square stimulates drive and courage, but can also indicate internal and external tension and conflict.
I have a cardinal T-square in my chart, involving my Ascendant/North node in Capricorn, opposing My Uranus/South Node/ Descendant, and both squaring my Saturn/Mercury/Neptune stellium in Libra. And I can attest to the fact that this T-square energy gives me drive and ambition, as long as I don’t fall back into my south node laziness and addiction patterns. So while those of us with T-squares involving Saturn can be very active and achievement-oriented, especially if this aspect pattern falls in cardinal or fixed signs, we need to watch out to not squander our energy through acting out habitual karmic patterns that can cause needless conflicts and frustrations, especially if exacerbated by the karmic nodes being part of the T-square.
Cardinal T-squares can be very impatient, but also enterprising and initiating. Fixed T-squares can be persevering, but also stubborn, unyielding, or they can hold on to problems and frustrations for too long. Mutable T-squares can produce much restlessness, frequent whims, and frequent changes of mind, but can be very adept at adapting to circumstances.
The middle leg or focal planet of the T-square (in my case Saturn/Mercury/Neptune) is the point of great activity, overcompensation and activation. It’s where one seeks to solve or resolve the conflict set up by the opposition, especially through consciously focusing on the unoccupied area opposite the focal planet(s). That’s why I work on releasing the tension of my T-square through the missing leg in Aries in the 3rd house, by expressing myself through communication in my own unique way.
It can be revealing to note the transits through the area of the missing leg of the T-square—as during these periods there may be important life events.
The T-square aspect epitomizes the character of Saturn as this configuration gives certain obstacles and the necessity of overcoming them and also a strong, vigorous, ambitious aspiration to act. Pressure and an appreciation of challenges and conflict(internal or external) are necessary here for resolving the energy of the T-square so that it can lead to significant achievements and success.
As a whole, the T-square is a dynamic configuration from which we can derive a driving strength. If the T-square is in cardinal signs, we can be is dynamic, quick, and start to act instantly, even if the situation is extremely dangerous, and is inclined to interfere with other people’s affairs. When the T-square is in fixed signs we can tend to operate more slowly, but is resolute; as a preliminary, one will always find out all the possible problems before taking action. A mutable T-square usually indicates obstacles of indecision causing immobility.
But overall, especially with Saturn involved, we can be grateful for the “push” that a natal T-square gives us, as can be witnessed in the charts of just about every successful person I’ve ever studied. The T-square with Saturn appears to be integral to the fulfillment of ambition.
I rarely see clients for astrology readings with just sextiles and grand trines (easy and smooth aspects) in their charts unless a friend or relative sends them to me, as they lack the motivation to get off their couches. People without many squares, and especially without at least one T-square in their charts, tend to not have any internal drive or capacity to push themselves out into the world. So, while those with grand trines may have very pleasant lives and good things come easily to them with little effort, it is those of us with T-squares involving Saturn who innately become the movers and shakers in the manifest world as we grow and develop new soul qualities and strength of character.
One of the most challenging aspect patterns in the birth chart, and thus one that offers even more growth potentials if it is worked with consciously and overcome, is the Grand Cross, especially with Saturn involved. If a Grand Cross (four or more planets all square or opposing each other) is present in the natal chart, one is capable of surprising efforts and vigorous activity. The direction of these efforts and actions depends on the signs and houses in which the points of the Grand Cross are located.
The cardinal cross always indicates speed of action, the fixed cross strongly pronounced resoluteness when acting, while the mutable cross in many respects depends on the actions and reactions of other people.
Any attempts to solve a problem associated with one planet of the Grand Cross burdens the other planets connected in the configuration with problems. One is thus compelled to hasten from one crisis situation to another, unable to concentrate on any one situation for long enough to truly find a constructive resolution. The key is in consciously working with the planet of a Grand Cross which has the greatest number of harmonious aspects to planets not involved in the Grand Cross as this will enable one to redirect energy for easier advancement.
Many people can feel struck or in a rut that immobilizes them with a natal grand cross, and simultaneously assaulted by life events as, when transiting planets hit one leg of the Grand Cross, all the planets involved in this aspect pattern also get activated. It can feel as if one’s personality is a pinball machine that is constantly at the mercy of changing circumstances.
That’s why it can be so helpful to know through an astrology reading, especially with this type of configuration, the best outlets to release these potentially immobilizing energies, through trines and sextiles to planets that are part of the Grand Cross. Then one has a way out that can be focused on and worked with through conscious empowering actions.
It is so important to remember, especially with Saturn, that our souls choose all the circumstances of our birth, including out birth charts, as perfect vehicles for activating, bottoming out and healing the karma we took incarnation for as a foundation level of our soul assignment, so that our true soul purposes can fully flower. And those of us who choose to come in with Saturn T-squares, and especially grand-crosses, are definitely not taking this lifetime off! For more on this, see: LEELA
The journey towards the north node of our karmic destiny is a lifelong journey with infinite layers of depth, so it’s important not to be goal oriented, but yet, at the same time to get on with it.
When I am teaching karmic astrology, I always start by saying that even if you never have your chart interpreted, all you need to do is think of where in life you least want to go and want qualities in yourself you have the most resistance or fear of developing, and that is probably exactly where your north node is. HA! And this is especially true before our first Saturn-return cycle ends at age thirty as the first cycle is for the activation and playing out of the karma we’re here to heal.
In fact, for most souls, it takes until our Uranian-opposition-cycle at age 38-42 to fully bottom out on our old karma, until age 50 with our Chiron return, to be willing to move into all the dark nooks and crannies where we still need healing, and until our 2nd Saturn-return at age 58-60 to embrace ALL OUR KARMIC LESSONS gracefully—rather than grudgingly.
Everything I just mentioned about the effects of Saturn on our personal planets in our birth charts is equally true when we experience these aspects by transit. The good news is that when we have Saturn transiting our ascendant or personal planets, the effects usually only last at most a year or so (every 28-30 years), rather than something we have to work with throughout our lifetimes as part of our preloaded karma.
For example, I remember in 2004 when I had the last transit of Saturn over my Moon in Cancer. Even though I worked with this transit veeery consciously, I still couldn’t help feeling very depressed, sad, blue and melancholy—even though everything in my life externally on all levels had never been better! This was especially surprising to experience as I have a natal Jupiter in late Gemini conjunct my early Cancer Moon, so tend to be more emotionally upbeat than depressed as my natural predisposition.
This experience confirmed for me, without doubt, the power of a Saturn transit and has helped me even more work with those that have this natally, to help them embrace and work with their Saturn/personal planet challenges in the most positive way possible. I have even had clients with a natal Saturn/Moon conjunct bring their loved ones and business partners in for consults, so that I could explain to them why my client always had a melancholy or sad undertone, so they would stop trying to cheer them up! This is especially true with Jupiterian or sag rising cheerleader types.
In closing, here’s a metaphor for the benefits of embracing the rules of the earth game with gusto and making Saturn our friend which comes from one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Ram Dass.
To paraphrase, he says that before he started on his conscious spiritual journey at age thirty, he felt as if he were trapped in solitary confinement in a very tiny karmic prison cell with only his neuroses and defects of character for company.
But, by the time he hit sixty, while his neuroses hadn’t disappeared, his prison cell had expanded to the size of a large playing field or stadium, and he had achieved a level of non-attachment with his neuroses so that he could just play with them. He called them his “schmoos.”
So, once he had embraced and befriended all these previously repressed or judged parts of himself, he began to experience and enjoy Life much more enthusiastically from a place of Unity consciousness. In other words, he learnt how to be freer within his conditions.
One of the ways that I’ve learnt how to look at owning my Inner Guru or Karmic Teacher, which Saturn represents, is to do what I call the “Greatest Hits” meditation, which I’ve done regularly for many years and teach to my therapy clients.
In this practice, I viscerally summon all of the highest most evolved incarnations that I can remember—and we ALL have these in the cellular memory of our psychic bodies, we just forgot. That is, until we reactivate the memories through past-life regression therapy, soul readings, dreams or inner journeying.
When I string together all of my “greatest hits” in my mind and tune into their level of consciousness when they are meditating, the place I come to is the same: A complete merging or Oneness with Source.
And it is to this place of no separation with All That Is that communing with our inner Guru will lead us.
Then, we can experience the higher Truth that:
I. The Universe is made up of energy
II. All energy is CONSCIOUS
III. There is ultimately only ONE Being . . . with billions of faces
IV. There is only ONE inner teacher . . . And he resides within each of us.
For more on my karmic journey of awakening, please check out my memoir, written under the pen name, Leela Jones:
If you’re ready to become One with your inner guru and make Saturn your friend, please consider having a karmic astrology reading with me.
For details: Astrology Services
Saturn transited into Capricorn in December 2017. I wrote all about it here:
Fall 2017’s Saturn in Sagittarius Swansong: “LOVE IS ALWAYS MORE PRECIOUS THAN MONEY”
On March 21, 2020, Saturn will move into Aquarius, which I will be writing about in my Spring newsletter. STAY TUNED!