Saturn is one of the most dramatic planets in our solar system referred to by astronomers as “the jewel of the solar system”. It is the 6th planet from the sun and after Jupiter the 2nd gas giant and 2nd largest planet. Saturn is distinctive for its multi-ring system and being the least dense of all planets including Earth while also being 100 times larger than the Earth. To current knowledge, Saturn has 82 moons and its rings are primarily comprised of ice chunks, dust and a few rocks, but they harbour hundreds of “moonlets” within the rings.
Saturn’s largest moon is Titan, the 2nd largest in the solar system after Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. It is believed that Titan may contain living organisms as it has a substantial atmosphere and lakes of liquid hydrocarbon, methane and ammonia-rich water. Another moon, Enceladus is thought to be the best candidate in the solar system after Earth to have potential as being habitable.
Saturn is not a perfect sphere; it is slightly flattened at its poles and “bulges” in the middle, the most pronounced of all the gas giants. Jupiter and Saturn contain over 90% of the solar system’s total planetary mass making them the big boys on the block. In astrology, the two largest planets in our solar system appear to have an interesting working relationship.
It takes Saturn about 29 years to orbit the sun and travel through all 12 zodiac signs, spending about 2.5 years in each sign. Saturn rules Capricorn and the 10th house of the zodiac.
Saturn is named for the Roman god of agriculture and is equivalent to the Greek god of time and agriculture Kronos (or Cronus). The Roman’s borrowed much of their mythology from the ancient Greeks but Saturn was considered a divine and formidable god to the Romans. Kronos was not quite as celebrated in Greece but Rome celebrated this somewhat dark god with his own week-long festival called Saturnalia which eventually became the celebration of Christmas. During Saturnalia, a generally jovial festival filled with food, drink and good cheer roles would reverse between slaves and their owners in a good-natured way and “misbehaving” was encouraged.
Ancient Christians moved the birth day of Jesus Christ to December 25 (a date near the end of the week-long Saturnalia) to coincide with this major Roman holiday to encourage more people to convert to Christianity. And probably to stop them from having drunken orgies in celebration of Saturn.
The origins of the name Saturn are a bit mysterious but a majority of scholars believe his name came from the Etruscan word “satre” which refers to an ancient god of funerals and the Underworld, and predating Pluto/Hades as god of the Underworld. The Romans celebrated some funerals in relationship to Saturn and this can make sense as there is an “interment” quality to Saturnine energy as it restricts or “buries deeply” some activities, thoughts and feelings when in aspect to other planets. Saturn also can have a transforming effect which dovetails with a death as a form of energy transformation. Ancient astrologers saw Saturn as an old man with a long beard and he was considered to be Father Time (still is!) due to the planet’s lengthy orbit, the longest of all known planets in ancient times. Similar to the Greek Kronos Saturn’s father was Uranus the sky god and an earth deity Gaia was his mother. Saturn later overthrew and castrated his father Uranus, casting his severed genitals into the sea from which Aphrodite/Venus arose as a fully-formed adult and very beautiful female goddess of love and beauty.
However, Saturn was also usurped by his son Jupiter/Zeus. Because of a prophecy that he would be overthrown by a son Saturn swallowed all his children as fast as his wife Rhea (another earth goddess) gave birth. Powerless to stop him she substituted a rock for the infant Jupiter at his birth and apparently Saturn was as dumb as a post as he didn’t notice. When Jupiter came of age he challenged his father, forced him to regurgitate his siblings and defeated Saturn in battle. Saturn retreated to a realm ruled by Janus, the two-faced god who could read the past and future. Janus was a deity of time, doorways, gates and transitions and the month January was named for him.
With Janus, Saturn ruled over their domain during a time called “the Golden Age” when peace, prosperity and agriculture flourished and all humans were considered equal. Eventually, Saturn came to be more regarded as a god of agriculture and wealth because of the prosperity of the annual harvest, but he also had dominion over justice, strength, calendars and timing in general. Although Saturn is a planet of contraction and withdrawal in astrology, some cycles of Saturn can be rewarding and bring wealth—over time.
Saturday is named for Saturn and its symbol or glyph is intended to represent a scythe or sickle.
Contraction & Restriction
During the soul’s evolution we first have awareness of self (the Sun), then our emotional responses (the Moon), our ideas and thoughts (Mercury), our feelings (Venus), and finally with Mars we are aware of our physical bodies of matter and energy. Mars is all about the energy and matter of the physical world. All previous planets including Mars pertain to our physical, emotional, and mental being which comprises our character and personality.
Jupiter and the other outer planets are considered to be “transpersonal” planets as they are symbolic of anything beyond our personal experience. The personal planets Sun through Mars more often deal with what affects only the self, whereas the outer planets indicate what is outside ourselves, yet may still have influence. The outer planets symbolize events, situations and people that have a longer term influence in our lives, often as a generational effect. They are also representative of the events and situations that may affect all of us or our specific community, such as a pandemic or changes in law.
Saturn is the 2nd transpersonal planet, the planet of contraction and restriction, which actually is the opposite response to Jupiter’s expansion but Saturn can also develop one’s growth. Generally, the growth is achieved through first having to withdraw, cut back, conserve or save, or do with less, and also shore up resources where we can. Saturn represents what is saved, conserved and can grow over time such as money and living organisms or systems; any life cycle not already ruled by the Moon. Its constrictive influence also relates to accretion as seen in human bones and teeth which Saturn rules and the buildup of matter over time.
In Saturn, we are exposed to spiritual connection and development that involves not expansion but by contraction as a form of learning experience. Saturn requires us at times to sacrifice, to go without, to experience delays, frustrations and “not having enough” which this appears to be essential to growth. As well, our learning of the proper use of resources both physical and spiritual is often due to restrictions endured in these areas that force us to seek new solutions. Saturn is learning experience.
Where Jupiter expands our view, Saturn wants us to focus and restrict our attention to only the view or whatever matter is at hand. It may be painful while undergoing Saturn’s restrictions but as humans know, going without or a sacrifice can greatly build character. Restricting normal activities forces one to look around and find other resources, or to work at and dig to find resources. Saturn is often strong in excavation and building activities and with those working in these fields.
In the natal chart, Saturn will show where we may be deficient and where we may learn our harshest lessons by its house position, sign, and aspect to other planets. Saturn has a constricting, restricting and withdrawing influence that has us focus on the particular areas or activities related to its sign or aspects. When we hole up in our office, work cubicle, school classroom or pursue any sport or training Saturn is a symbol for this isolated, focused and restricted attention to matters. Being tied to our work earns us income and helps us create our life. Saturn may be considered the Major Malefic but at times Saturn helps us become a great success. Over time. Always over time with Saturn.
Saturn’s desire to have us focus on certain areas (and often assisted by Mars) may allow for the manifestation of accidents, mishaps, conflicts and other problems that appear to occur sometimes to make us stop what we’re doing. Events and situations out of our control will give us time to focus, look around and figure out that some system(s) we have set up in life may not be working properly and needs retooling. Saturn is associated with systems, building, manufacturing, problem-solving, and wisdom, but when in negative aspect breakdowns and breakups and all kinds of situations that could constrict or restrict us may occur. We often feel “hemmed in” by life during Saturn cycles. At times we impose a more restrictive schedule on ourselves as we are trying to earn a degree, raise, promotion or some other goal we’ve set. That is a great way to work with Saturn.
It’s difficult to ignore Saturn. He is called the taskmaster of the zodiac for a reason! It seems at times the only way to appease a Saturn cycle is by putting our nose to the grindstone and applying patience and work to the situation. Unless you want to completely destroy the situation and start over instead. Saturn can help with that too, as sometimes things are constricted so much or taken away entirely so there’s nothing left and any total loss endured is a sign that it is time to start over and leave the past behind.
We respond to life with the Sun as our personality, the Moon our emotions, Mercury our intellect, Venus our feelings, Mars with action or reaction, and with Saturn we respond with discipline and responsibility, or we should be. We learn to analyze and take time to figure things out with Saturn. If forced to react Saturn appears destructive but this planet’s ultimate goal is to help us be the best we can be, the wisest, most learned, the best teachers and leaders and the best examples of what human beings can be when they apply themselves with a disciplined approach. This disciplined response is what responsibility, accountability and Saturn is ultimately all about.
It’s a good idea to work with Saturn in a natal chart or by transit or progression as best as you can. Rolling up your sleeves and digging into work or another responsibility is helpful in so many ways. It appears at times that Saturn has dropped a brick wall or boulder in front of us. Eventually when we figure out a way to either climb around or over the obstacle we become free of that restriction or blockage. Sometimes the wall or boulder has to be demolished to be able to move forward. Just keep in mind there is more collateral mess to clean up with that method. Saturn requires more time be spent to resolve his issues and you should try to remove the obstacle piece by piece first. Saturn is not as unpredictable as Uranus but it certainly can be as destructive with far-reaching repercussions if not handled properly.
The opportunity to contract, restrict and withdraw is just that; an opportunity to think about the next way to branch out and grow as we age and mature.
Discipline & Responsibility
Contained in the concepts of discipline and responsibility is accountability, a popular topic today. Being accountable for one’s actions is seen as a very positive character trait and evading accountability for one’s actions is not. It reeks of cowardice and narcissism and is not considered good character. By understanding this, the opposite quality, or being accountable to one’s self and others is also being disciplined and responsible. The Universe requires us to be accountable for all our actions. This is called karma, another domain ruled by Saturn.
Discipline takes many forms and has several meanings. You can have the discipline to apply yourself to a goal and create an outcome. A disciplined, measured response is called being responsible. You can discipline another which connotes a punishment. The word may take on nearly every part of speech in language and in English we use the word to portray many concepts. However you may think of discipline and what that means to you in your life, it is ruled by Saturn.
Responsibility is a desirable quality and the word is used to describe someone who generally responds well to challenges, established values or morals. Having a lack of responsibility may be seen as weak, immoral or uncivilized. A lack of responsibility to others may be seen as freedom loving and non-committal but humans need some attachments and connections to feel human and part of a community. We have a responsibility to the community which also has a responsibility to us to maintain a healthy balance of life that benefits all. None of us get away with only taking from life without giving something back.
Like discipline, we use the word responsible in many ways but at its heart is the word response. For many people, we respond to life in a way that is repetitive. These repetitions become unconscious responses at times, such as the coping mechanisms we develop to process painful life episodes. With some repeated challenges we only respond in one way as that response quickly finishes with the situation and is convenient. Saturn is involved with responses that are ingrained learned behaviour and not all of these are good for us. When we become over-stressed or mentally unhealthy, we begin to respond in ways that are not considered responsible to ourselves or society. This is seen as irresponsible.
The solution to any life problem for adults is to take responsibility for what is going on and a lot of people do not want to do that. In that case, Saturn aspects will come along indicating a period when you may be forced to take responsibility and fix things. Sometimes the trouble isn’t because of something we did in this life, but perhaps is karma from a previous lifetime. Pain and loss and lack of resources are often accompanying these periods in life. How we respond to the troubles that life presents us says much about what responsibility we feel to others, the community and to ourselves.
When we do not respond properly to people and life’s events, Saturn aspects have a way of showing up to ensure we answer for all that we sow. Saturn can be about evading responsibility and accountability but if you were very irresponsible in the past and appeared to get away with it, Saturn just may catch up with you and demand accountability later. This planet is like an elephant and has a long memory. In reality, Saturn as the Lord of Time or Karma (take your pick) requires balance and accountability. A lot of the difficult situations that arise for most people are found to be the result of past actions. We all have a responsibility to the Universe to be self-accountable and responsible for others as well as ourselves. Saturn ensures balance is maintained by destroying the old and outworn and assisting in recovery and rebuilding.
When Saturn is in a sign or house it usually gives importance to the rulerships and activities related to the sign and house. This can be for good or for bad and often both with Saturn, depending on other aspects in the horoscope. E.g. Saturn in the 2nd house could be indicating an entrepreneur or success in business and being good with money. Or it could be lack of funds or money lost. In Leo this business owner may take measured financial risks and lead a team she created and probably be loyal to dedicated staff. In Virgo the business owner could be overly concerned with finances and be very stingy. And so on. Other aspects in the chart would confirm these points or suggest otherwise. The point is that there is a disciplined approach in both, a sense of responsibility, and a restricted approach to develop business over time with Saturn here. Saturn’s discipline and responsibility has many flavours depending on its position in the horoscope.
Saturn is the second of five and possibly six astrological planets (if including Chiron) that deal with transpersonal experience. Read more about this on each of the transpersonal planet’s individual page.
The Major Malefic
The ancient astrologers and even modern-day astrologers view the planets as being either positive, negative or neutral. Today however we notice that each planet can manifest in any good, bad or neutral way but the traditional associations appear to still hold true. We are less fatalistic today realizing we are not corks floating in a bowl of water. Our will and intention is like an outboard motor that helps us maneuver in this bowl of water we call life. We’ve learned through our advances in mental health that some adversity can be good for us as we develop tools to handle similar challenges better. In a perfect world there are checks and balances that allow “good” and “bad” to work together and contribute to growth and progress. Unfortunately our world is far from perfect and good and bad are not always as they appear.
The Minor Malefic is Mars and the Major Malefic is Saturn. The term has the prefix “mal” which we know means “bad” and at times aspects and positions of these planets may symbolize challenges or problems to say the least. As taskmaster of the zodiac, Saturn rules restrictions and periods of “testing” and trial. As a transpersonal planet Saturn governs situations out of our personal control and is a symbol of major problems when activated in challenging placements. On its own Saturn can represent troubles but when in certain configurations with some signs, houses and other planets it seems to bring out the worst of these and not always the best immediately. Through answering challenges presented however, resolutions may be found and personal and societal growth can be achieved. How? Through application of discipline, focus and responsibility of course. And patience.
The Major Malefic is capable of wielding a large amount of power. Power may appear to be earned through disciplined effort over time with Saturn although some may be born to power. Whether its influence is more positive or negative greatly depends on its relationships to other planets and signs in the horoscope. As a powerful influence that is not always malevolent, Saturn may appear malevolent because it brings pain and loss with some cycles, yet these may hiding treasures to be found after time or some effort and benefits may be found. But not always! Saturn sometimes is a hard kick in the backside and nearly everyone will experience Saturn in this way at times.
Traditionally Saturn as the Major Malefic represents cutting back, constriction, restriction, poverty, lack of financial resources, going without, withdrawing, despair, pessimism, illness, trouble, ruthless behaviour and treachery, malevolence, tyranny, destruction and devastation. However, when Saturn moves into positive aspects and cycles the reversal of these conditions can occur. Although dissimilar to Pluto’s transformation process which is more like a metamorphosis, Saturn’s transformation process is gradual over time, and often requiring the completion of certain “tasks” or responsibilities before the transformation can occur.
Wherever Saturn is in your horoscope indicates where discipline and responsibility are available or required, and sometimes where some of your life’s harshest and most painful lessons will be found. Patience follows discipline and Saturn’s house and sign position will reveal problem areas or people, or where we need to have a better sense of responsibility or discipline to manifest the positive side. Saturn can indicate what makes us feel bad or where we feel bad or pain and loss. It represents the things we do to make ourselves feel accomplished but often after first pointing out mistakes that need to be fixed. It may be self-destructive. These attention-grabbing occurrences include accidents, injuries, delays, frustrations, losses, breakdowns and blow-ups. Some call this bad luck and it appears that things are being taken away from us, and indeed they may be. But often in the next positive cycle, or over time, we are able to get back some of what was lost and even improve our lot in life.
Saturn may be malefic but it is also the gift of time which heals all wounds.
Saturn may sometimes be such a positive influence through its gifts of discipline, responsibility and time that it “saves” an otherwise weak horoscope or person with its symbology of hidden or conserved reserves of power. The balance of power and strength is extremely important for Saturn. When intention is made to utilize the positive effects Saturn may provide it may not manifest so negatively. The key is to work, pay attention, focus on tasks at hand and then Saturn may bring tremendous rewards. Especially later in life.
When understanding how Saturn’s positions in certain houses or signs manifests, you begin to understand how this symbol of enlightened responsibility (wisdom) may manifest as a beneficial influence. But misuse
Saturn’s energies to be ruthless, tyrannical or to control in unequal balance then expect to suffer consequences later. The energies or cycles of Saturn are intended to help but more often through coming out the other end of loss, breakdown, and destruction. Enduring the suffering may again bring about balance and new wisdom. Unfortunately, some are left very bitter and angry after a Saturn cycle and that is the wrong approach. Saturn’s accretive capabilities appear to allow its negative emotional symbols to grow exponentially leaving some people extremely angry, violent, vengeful, tyrannical and very dangerous. It’s best to avoid these Saturn types.
By transit or progression or in a natal chart, Saturn can be a bit scary due to its potential for trouble, but other times it may be harnessed successfully to every other planet with varying results. Saturn may strengthen other planet’s energies for good or for bad. E.g. Saturn in aspect to Venus may build hate and enmity and conflict, but through working through these situations, a long term relationship may be formed. Sometimes it indicates love or wisdom coming from someone of a different or older generation.
We should try to understand and learn the important lessons that Saturn is trying to teach us; there’s no need to feel it has no mercy and that we are enslaved to all manner of malevolent suffering. Saturn teaches us when it is wise to keep busy with work and responsibilities, but also to remember we are not solitary beings. We are a community of souls that need to work with and respect each other. Saturn in many ways is a symbol, albeit a harsh one, of the general public and community. If society or the community is malefic, then how have human beings created this? Don’t blame Saturn; he is merely our guide to how we should behave and he will be malevolent if the need be. Or as someone once said, “Karma is a bitch, but only if you are one!”
The Taskmaster of the Zodiac
This very old term for Saturn is well-earned and the pun is intended. If you can think of anyone in your life or a time in your life when it appeared you had a taskmaster, it is likely you did not earn their respect and cooperation until you completed all your tasks.
Our first taskmaster in life is often one or both parents. Saturn has a relationship to fatherhood and in many families dad was not just the taskmaster, he was prosecutor, judge, and jury and his decision was the final word on any matter. Today’s parents may have a different approach and when it comes to discipline and instilling responsibility both parents are involved. As a child, we learn which parent will be more yielding and which one won’t. The one who didn’t yield so easily probably is symbolized by Saturn in the nativity.
The goal with our first taskmasters (mom and dad) is that we’re supposed to do what they say (not what they do). If we do not obey there are repercussions. If we are disciplined and do what is asked we earn their respect and a reward very often. At a young age we all learn the trick of earning an award by completing chores and tasks at home. When we shirked our responsibilities we may be punished. Sometimes, grandparent are at home and also are taskmasters although many of them spoil us too. Saturn is a planet of fatherhood, grandparents and older people in general.
Our next taskmasters are our teachers. Even from pre-school we are assigned tasks or activities by our teachers and we must successfully complete these. If so we are rewarded with moving up to the front of the class, the next grade, the honours’ list and eventually we graduate. We may dislike some of these taskmasters but when we are adults we appreciate often what these taskmasters did for us by making us apply ourselves to grow in life and graduate to the next level. College, university and any education may involve Saturn as a ruler of wisdom and the highest levels of educations such as a doctorate. These are all associated with Saturn but education is traditionally governed by houses 3 and 9 and the planets Mercury and Jupiter. Any of the outer planets can be involved with specialized education.
The tasks that Saturn is best at performing or learning and teaching may involve mining, natural resources, agriculture, food and food production, manufacturing, finance, business and investing, and nearly any medical or science discipline. Saturn is often involved in military, armed forces, corps of engineers, police, security and any work that may protect or preserve us. It is associated with geriatrics, dermatology, dentistry, pathology, orthopaedics, osteopathy, chiropractic and naturopathic medicine and anything involving structural health and recovery. Saturn truly is wondrous in its representations of wisdom, high intellect and mastery of a chosen field.
Another taskmaster represented by Saturn can be religion. Although Jupiter and the 9th house is higher learning and higher life philosophies, all of the outer planets have an association with a different aspect of religion. For Saturn it is with the plan, authority or structure of the religion itself. Saturn is generally the person in charge and who we report to but may represent any authority figure. In religion Saturn represents the authority of the church, the hierarchy and the rules and regulations, and the structures are usually traditional and in place forever. Capricorn and Saturn are often featured in the horoscopes of religious people.
Organized religion and its practitioners which Saturn represents can be taskmasters too. We must adhere to certain rules, practices and observances of religion that become repetitive or annual rites and sacred milestones. Some heavy challenges are involved with some organized religions and Saturn is sometimes associated with certain planetary placements and aspects that can indicate religious control or tyranny. Yet many religions today have existed for a very long time and are part of our landscape as pillars of society. In some countries religion is controlled to some degree by government.
Whenever any of us pay our taxes to government we usually are muttering some curse words under our breath. Others think of what a wise Man once said, “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” and the hidden wisdom in that is that money isn’t a part of any heavenly plan because we’re all pretty sure you can’t take it with you to the afterlife. But another meaning in this statement is that we should give back to Caesar what was given to us by Caesar. In most countries the government provides a host of social services to assist families, single mothers, the unemployed and impoverished, etc. Here again, Saturn is involved with levelling the playing field or balancing the good and bad. In the way that Saturn demands certain tasks, our government demands that we pay taxes and abide by laws and why not? Don’t we all partake of what the taskmaster provides? We should contribute back in some way to maintain our balance. Saturn rules government authority and it appears we are required to work to pay our way in life and receive certain benefits.
Our employer is another taskmaster. We must work to pay taxes it seems but of course we work to have money that provides the resources and freedoms we want and need to survive happily. Our boss is certainly another authority figure and we all often get at least one of those taskmaster types in our career. Or we become one!
Saturn shows up in many forms as a taskmaster. In each case, the taskmaster helps keep our nose to the grindstone, and remain responsible and disciplined to create a healthy balance in our lives… and the community. Once tasks are completed we seem to graduate to the next level of life. Saturn’s taskmaster ways help us build structures in our life that help us grow, achieve and become more wealthy.
Withdrawal, Delays, Frustrations
In ancient times Saturn was the outer planet and it took the longest to orbit the sun. Therefore to observers as it took the longest time it was the slowest to circuit all twelve zodiac signs. Ancient astrologers noted that when Saturn made certain aspects people would experience delays and frustrations or a need for withdrawal for some reason or another. It could be nearly any reason but when the result is delay or withdrawal Saturn is usually involved.
In the mythology of Saturn, he had to withdraw from defeat by his son Jupiter from Ancient Greece to what is now a western part of Italy. While there with Janus he came to terms with his defeat and helped humankind develop agriculture. Over time, communities built agriculture to an industry that made them wealthy and powerful. Having plenty of food assured strength for defence or energy to work. But after the harvest, and perhaps due to seasons, agriculture would pause, the life of the earth seemed to withdraw or recede but only through winter. In spring the growing season would begin again in a new cycle. This slowing down through winter or withdrawal from activity was necessary for the agricultural industry. So too, it seems Saturn cycles are good for us if we pause and withdraw at times.
Saturn cycles arise and indicate delays and withdrawal that produce frustrations of all kinds. Plans will need to be revised and changed, and all kinds of trickle-down effects may occur due to these delays. As stressful as these times are one usually can find they can bear it until the delays and frustration ends. Thereby, we find a hidden reserve of strength and tolerance we didn’t know we had. There may be a lot of whining, complaining and withdrawal because of the delays and frustrations but that seems to be Saturn’s plan. It is painful for some and the complaining is an expression of that pain yet it is what makes us grow. Unless we refuse to grow and then Saturn seems to get worse, tightening the screws even more, almost like torture. Yet usually the torture is self-wrought because of a refusal to move forward.
It can be painful to watch someone going through a difficult Saturn cycle. Even with help from others, Saturn appears to demand your compliance, like a dictatorial tyrant, until we move in the direction we’re supposed to. Which direction is that? It may not matter; we are urged to leave the past behind and move forward, anywhere, just not here anymore and build a new present that one day will be our past. That is the cycle of life.
Many delays, withdrawals and frustrations occurring during Saturn cycles are intended to instruct us and show us better pathways to get where we want to be and need not be so painful. It’s when we resist Saturn’s “help” that far worse things may occur than a simple delay or frustration.
Teaching, Training & Wisdom
Although Saturn does not rule an education house the planet has traditionally been associated with greater wisdom, teaching, training, learning and education at all levels. Education is largely provided by government but private schools and higher education facilities are everywhere. Saturn is most involved with education in the form of actual hands on teaching but also as a symbol of the academic structure of education and those that provide education. Many teachers, trainers, professors and those that administer or govern education have strong Saturn placements.
Saturn takes its role as a taskmaster seriously and may appear in any field of practice or study as a teacher, mentor or guide. Many people remember former educators as mentors and positive influences in their life, learning something that took them to greater success and perhaps a better status in life. In its role Saturn appears to be more associated with wisdom and very long term or higher education, but also learning/teaching trades or apprenticeships.
During Saturn cycles we may be learning a new skill or trade or be involved with upgrading our skill set. Sometimes we are asked to take on a training role for someone else. In general, Saturn is not so much a planet of education as it is a planet of developing wisdom and working skills that give us earnings, status and wealth.
Saturn cycles seem to appear when we need to take a new course of study or learn a new skill. Sometimes a situation is created that necessitates going back to school or learning a new skill for work or to recover from a job loss. Anywhere we need to learn or apply discipline, responsibility, or need to slow down, take time, build a plan, be educated or teach and work towards building a helpful structure in life you will find Saturn.
Time & The Generations
Saturn is associated with your grandparents, ancestors and older people in general. It is also associated with maturing and aging in general and geriatrics. In health it relates to health issues related to aging, the skin, bones, the skeleton and the teeth. It is also associated with the knees through Capricorn.
Saturn is associated with the effects of time; desiccation, dryness, salt as a preservative, the old and outworn, decay and ruin.
Saturn retains a father god symbology and also rites, traditions, practices, festivals and observances. As the symbol of time Saturn rules dates, calendars, any measure of time or timepieces and clocks and the passage of time in general.
Saturn’s cycles are associated with generational changes and milestones in one’s life broken down in 7, 15, 22 and 29 year cycles relating to it’s orbit. Saturn is a sign of maturity and marks the different levels of maturity throughout our lives. At about age 7 we are faced with Saturn squaring itself by transit. It is by this age psychologists say that much of our adult personality is formed, including sexual identity and attitudes. At this time we have learned where we stand in the family, how to relate to mom, dad and siblings and peers. The time may be troubling for some kids learning to be a bit independent from family as they develop friends and activities in public and outside the family for the first time for some.
By age 15 teenagers are usually in sexual maturation and beginning to relate to others as a learning process of what it means to become an adult. Our teenage dreams, melodramas, successes and problems all become part of the future adult we become. We learn structures and guidelines to society, relating, schooling and many people begin their first job at around this age. We learn work responsibilities while Saturn opposes itself (opposite to it’s natal position). This can be a very difficult time for a teenager as every parent knows and every one of us adults remember.
At about age 22 Saturn squares itself again but being a bit older the person will likely embrace adulthood more. They want to leave child-like ways behind and most people may graduate post-secondary schooling and begin their career. Some get married and begin having a family at this age. No doubt, the new responsibilities as a young adult can be challenging for some and each will face their first major failures or successes.
By age 29 most people will endure what is called a “Saturn Return”. This is a major cycle in astrology. What is going on is that Saturn returns to the same place it was at the time of birth; it has circuited all 12 signs and as maturing adults we are expected to be handling responsibilities with discipline to provide for ourselves and perhaps a family. If we are not independent in most every way at this time, Saturn seems to indicate a period of pain and adjustment meant to develop more independence and self-sufficiency. It’s amazing how difficult this period can be for so many people. Incredible responsibilities or problems to solve may be thrust upon us and some experience nearly every negative part of Saturn; delays, frustrations, breakdowns, losses, heavy responsibilities or challenges, and pain.
As we work through this first Saturn Return most people will come out the other side having cut some losses and starting over on pathways more suited to our 29 year old self. We take into account that the negative part was part of the process to get to the other side where as we move into our 30’s we feel more stable, secure, and adult, and are a positively contributing member of society. We have been schooled by Saturn in this whether we wanted to be or not.
Some suffering during a Saturn Return is not at all pleasant to put it mildly. Often, the pain is greater because we refuse to cut our losses and start over again. We try to hang on to old ways, refusing to be a part of progress, and thereby extending the pain. Some refuse to be disciplined and responsible and situations may occur that are out of our hands that force us to be more responsible; or suffer.
Saturn appears to be dictatorial when it is being tough on us. It’s like the tyrant Saturn is saying, “Work with me or else”. Unfortunately, Saturn at times may represent people who play the role of tyrant in our lives and not just during a Saturn Return.
Saturn continues its cycles of 7 throughout life with each succeeding Saturn to Saturn aspect taking us step by step towards our positive goals. If people are living their Saturn negatively (behaving as a tyrant, despot, dictator, oppressor), it appears to take us step by step to our ruin. Certainly, a mix of good and bad is common when dealing with Saturn and an arm’s length relationship with this planet may be advisable.
As ruler of the 10th house and Capricorn Saturn is heavily involved with the development of structures in society including government, religion, police, military, health care and any business provided for by government. Whether for work or religion Saturn is highly involved with deciding and policing rules, regulations, morals, ethics, values, wisdom and religion.
Saturn is not so involved with the “spirit” of religion as it is with obeying the rules, doctrines, regulations, and traditional religious observances. The view of God with Saturn may be narrow, conservative, old-fashioned and even ancient. Saturn maintains the rules even in spite of progress and scientific knowledge that may challenge some religious theories. When associated with God Saturn appears to be more like the Christian Old Testament and Jewish Torah God and also the Muslim version of God as Allah. Don’t try to give Saturn any new version of religion as he is too much involved with tradition and never shall that change. Saturn is the never ending and never changing structure of religion as a form of father god worship, to be feared and obeyed. This god’s children are to be seen and not heard nor do anything except what God tells us to do. That sounds like an overbearing and narcissistic parent not an all powerful God but amazingly millions of people believe this to be what God is. An angry petulant child-man-god who will punish us for not doing what we’re told.
Oddly, Saturn may appear to work against us if we don’t work with it!
Saturn can be involved with providing charity, rescue, social services and health care that are volunteer-based and perhaps backed by big business. Saturn represents all established and long term organizations and especially those that serve the public need.
Afflictions to Saturn by certain other planets and conditions can indicate illnesses affecting the skin, bones or teeth, the skeleton and knees in general. Diseases that involve lack of moisture, nutrients or any other constriction, restriction or depletion. Narrowing of the arteries, a lowered heart rate or circulation, reduced memory; all signs of aging are ruled by Saturn. Generally, people with a strong Saturn in their horoscope will enjoy good health most of their life unless seriously afflicted and also recover quickly. Unfortunately, when Saturn knocks you down with illness it can be a long recovery for some situations. Broken bones, major accidents and illnesses requiring long convalescence are often related to Saturn.
Saturn is an earth planet through it’s association with Capricorn and actually rules silicon, sand, and most salts, and mining to some degree. Sulphur is an element commonly associated with the planet. Associated with the very cold and wintry conditions Saturn rules desserts and mountains and the most beautiful panoramas of earth. It is associated with forestry, geology, animal and agricultural farming, earth energies, mining and anything on or under the surface of the earth.
Saturn’s restrictive effect can be frustrating and if a relief-valve isn’t found for pent-up anger and frustration some people may erupt and lose control releasing a sudden violence to Saturn that is more commonly associated with Uranus yet Saturn is more of an implosion than explosion. Some Saturn types use their need for control or power to commit violence, crime or other anti-social behaviour, even tyranny or are self-harming.
Saturn is usually the disciplined and responsible face we reveal in public. Those times when we follow civil tradition or rules and contain some of our crazier qualities to be a responsible community citizen. We toe the line and do our work at school, we complete our progress and graduate to work where we need to work by someone else’s rules and policies (authority). We share authority with a spouse or others and we learn cooperation for the betterment of all of society and the community.
When we don’t follow these rules we may be confronted with a Saturn cycle that kicks us in the backside and says, “Hey! Smarten up and get with the program!” That’s Saturn!
Saturn and all the other planets except the Sun and Moon have a retrograde cycle. Read more about this here.