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 by Eric Francis | Daily through June 10

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Tuesday, June 4, 2002 | Saturnia

We have all heard of the Saturn return, right? Saturn the dreaded, Saturn the bottom line, Saturn the uncompromising. And then one day, HE'S BACK. But it's really all not so bad. Part of what astrology is designed to do is liberate us from our own ignorance, fear and the box of our thoughts. Saturn can always use lots of that, and he appreciates it. And Saturn is dependable, more dependable than your toaster, or even your Saturn™. In our Peter Pan world known as Capitalist Amerika, Saturn does something exceedingly practical: helps us grow up.

Saturn helps us define our mission, hold our borders, and set necessary limits. Some people view astrology as something that happens to us; it is just as possible that astrology is a tool or method we can use to shape our lives. In any such process, Saturn is a vital force.

This essay for everyone, but especially for you if you, or someone you know, was born in or within one year of 1942 (Saturn in Gemini), 1950 (Saturn in Virgo), 1957 (Saturn in Sagittarius), 1965 (Saturn in Pisces), 1972 (Saturn in Gemini), 1979 (Saturn in Virgo) or 1986 (Saturn in Sagittarius). These are, approximately, years when Saturn was in one of the mutable signs, also known as the mutable cross (to find out exactly, have your chart cast by a chart service -- it's worth the five bucks to get a real chart in a legible format, rather than a free one, and I suggest casting Chiron and the major asteroids. For an additional five bucks, I suggest getting a biwheel with your natal in the middle, and your secondary progressions around the outside [including asteroids and Chiron]. You may not be able to read progressions today, but if you ever want to, you need to start, and they are very, very helpful to watch -- my opinion here -- whenever the natal chart is in front of you).

Anyway, if you're coming up on the above list of years, you're either having or near a Saturn return, a Saturn opposition or a Saturn square. They all have similar themes, such as turning points, building-block times and phases of restructuring, but the return is by far the most significant. The squares and oppositions are quite useful as well. But first let's consider with a slightly different take on Saturn.

This the glyph for Saturn, hand-written. Note how it looks like a cross between an S and a T. This observation and a few that follow come from a buddy of mine named Rick Levine, who is always offering mildly startling, high-quality ideas.

If you say the word Sa-turn, you get the S and the T right where you can feel them. When we think of Saturn, we usually come up with the keyword structure first. Note the st. Then , depending on who we are, we might think of strength, stress, or strategy. Many words with an "st" within them (construct, constrain, constant) involve Saturn as well. In essence, we are talking about a particular type of energy: crystallization (note the st in that word) which helps us put ideas and plans into form, where they can stand on their own.

If you are under the influence of Saturn, then that thing known as your life (as in, you) will be experiencing structural changes (inner and outer), events associated with structural changes (perhaps divorce, marriage, career movement, change of locations or all of the above). You might be feeling some depression when that's not normally your thing, or a sense of authority, or maybe your children moving onto their own lives. These are all about growth, and all about the world.

Saturn is the most important planet. Take it from Mr Chiron, the asteroid nut, the big fan of the Great Attractor, the Pluto-loving guy who casts 10 extra Centaurs into almost every chart. Without Saturn, we have nothing. Work with Saturn, do Saturn and love Saturn, and we can have what you might call A LIFE. There is more to life, but Saturn is a very, very good start.

Because Saturn moves fairly slowly (once around in 29 years) and does several retrogrades in each sign, there is a sense of these growth periods moving through life in stages. Like with Pluto, we're very lucky not to get it all at once.

Now, Saturn is often seen as a planet of drudgery. Do I want to be sitting inside in front of my computer on a gorgeous SaturnsDay afternoon, now that it's finally sunny in Seattle? Well, not exactly, but I have a greater reward in mind for myself in about a week. So, I am putting up with it, and keeping my sense of adventure close at hand. There is that theme, "the rewards of responsibility," and that other theme, "keep a grip" and that other theme, "honor the schedule." Saturn works really well when we do these things, and life does too. Other ingredients are necessary. Saturn is the mixing bowl.

Saturn is one of the planets that tells us when it's time for a change. Maybe it's time for a new way of going about this whole process of living. Maybe it's time for new responsibilities, or fewer responsibilities, or balancing out our lives (Saturn and Libra, the sign of balance, are intimately involved processes).

Saturn does well in the mutable signs, I think, probably working best in Gemini and Virgo and, while potentially more challenging in Sagittarius and Pisces because of their natural resonance with Jupiter, a kind of opposite energy to Saturn. But in any event, it stabilizes all of these signs, and allows the cardinal (Capricorn- or Libra-like) or fixed (Aquarius-like) energy of Saturn to mix with the often fleeting and not-so-aggressive energy of the mutable cross. In other words, we get a focal point, some resistance to work with, a sense of duty, and a sense of authority -- this last, only when Saturn is in full gear.

We will, in the process of meeting Saturn, need to face our deepest psychological fears and our parent issues. They are all related. On one important level, Saturn is all about our internalized parents, those voices of right and wrong in our minds. In the physical world, they may be the real mom and dad we took on, or some substitutes, or mom- and dad-type institutions like governments, schools or the church. These entities work because they are at work in our minds; this is the only place they are at work, in the end. When we do therapy (good way to kiss the ass of Saturn, Pluto and Chiron in one convenient weekly payment) we are, at first, working out that relationship to the inner voices of Saturn, which Pluto and Chiron are pushing us to come to terms with, integrate, and ultimately, take over consciously. Read that twice please.

Where Pisces and Sagittarius are in the picture (or the 9th house), our notion of God is involved. We're not so much dealing with God perself, but rather an idea of God that may be getting in the way of the real thing.

As I've explained (perhaps not so clearly) a number of times in recent Planet Waves columns, people with Saturn in the middle degrees of a mutable sign are currently (and for the past year or more) getting a double transit from both Saturn and Pluto. Those born in the mid-1960s (circa 1965-1966) are heading the pack. Your natal Saturn-Pluto opposition, powerful and intense within your character makeup, is under the influence of both both Saturn and Pluto right now, which is likely to hurt so good: I have little doubt that this is one of THE major turning points of your life, as Saturn and Pluto spur you on. This is a change in the plot line of your life, one of the canyons you've crossed that you will remember forever.

People born in the early 70s are in or near their Saturn return, words often spoken morosely (I urge you to hang up the phone on any astrologer who has a negative attitude about Saturn. These people are paid, after all, and part of what they are paid for is to understand Saturn.) But Saturn's return is your time of freedom, because it's your time of becoming an adult. You may find yourself doing this rather naturally. It's a natural time to make decisions. You may find yourself shopping for Ph.D. schools or seeking a real partner or getting out of your bullshit menial job, and find something you look forward to doing every day. If Saturn is present in your life, then this is a time of hard work, of learning focus, and working constructively within limitations. You may discover that everything that held back your maturity is falling apart, which will ultimately leave you free to live your life in a way that works for you and for the culture of which you are, without a doubt, a working part of, and a necessary part of, if only because you are alive.

Tomorrow: Uranus Opposition

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