September 10, 2016

Saturn in Transit: What doesn’t Kill You Makes You Beautiful.


*Eleditor’s note: Astrology isn’t a religion. We’re not sure it’s a science, either. It’s magic, maybe. But, as with feng shui, say, things affect things. So as long as we don’t go blaming our problems on the stars, as long as we assume responsibility for our own actions…well, hell, a little auspicious coincidence and applicable wisdom can’t hurt. And so, with that grain of salt…enjoy!


Saturn squares Neptune on September 10, 2016.

Who is Saturn, not as a planet but as an archetype? The Greeks called him Cronus; the god of time. Astrologically and mythologically he has an understandably bad reputation. Cronus did some pretty messed up things, like eating his own children.

In various myths, Saturn is referred to as the Devil and is commonly called the planet of Karma. (This doesn’t mean good  karma.) He is often depicted  as an old man with a long white beard and has a sand hourglass. He is a powerful and deeply troubled old geezer. He ate his children because he feared they might one day overpower him. How’s that for self-confidence issues?! His form may be similar, but his demeanor couldn’t be farther from Jolly Santa Claus, his more full-figured doppelganger.

The lessons we learn from Saturn are often like a rites of passage. He reigns over the world of form, structure, endings (impermanence), discipline, limitations, delays, judgments, discernment, autonomy, growth and recognition through effort. He can bring fruitful changes as well as painful ones. Usually the painful ones at some point bear fruit and we think: “Wow, I had to go through all this sh*t in order to have gotten to where I am now. I’m so grateful for the suffering that got me here.” It’s easy to say that in retrospect but at the time it just sucks.

Saturn marks endings and necessary changes but aspects of our life that we need to change, let go of or upgrade don’t generally concede with graceful acceptance. It’s human nature to hold on to what we know and to fear the unknown. Even when the known is painful and the unknown is alluring.

“We need to be dragged kicking and screaming to heaven.” ~ Rumi

Judgmental, rigid, grumpy, workaholic and sometimes cruel and sadistic Saturn, doesn’t feel soothing when he comes into contact with one’s personal planets. Saturn in Sagittarius has been rough on the mutable signs and for those of you who have any personal planets in mutable signs. That’s you Sagittarius, Gemini, Pisces and Virgo. (The personal planets or luminaries are: the Rising sign, moon, Venus, Mercury and Mars.)

Sometimes he causes so many delays in our lives that we finally just say f*ck it and give up. Sometimes he pulls the rug out from under our job or relationship. Suddenly everything has changed and we didn’t see it coming. He disposes of the old and what no longer serves a concrete, measurable purpose in your life. He is the keeper of time and knows the game of impermanence we’re playing here. He understands practical limitations.

Basically his message is: “Ain’t nobody got time for this, so move on and get something done.” Then he takes out his sword and does his dirty work, hacking  away at things in our life we weren’t necessarily ready to let go of. Sometime in the future we usually thank him for it, but at the time it just feels brutal.

Saturn was stationed at 10 degrees Sagittarius for the month of July and now in September is back once again at 10 degrees Sagittarius, exactly squaring Neptune at 10 degrees Pisces. Let me explain.

Archetypal Neptune is a different animal from archetypal Saturn. They hardly have anything in common, but when they meet in an exact 90 degree angle, they are forced to create something together.

Neptune is about spirituality, escapism, addictions, illusion, visionary capacity, shamanism, compassion, the desire to merge and to dissolve into oneness. Saturn is about boundaries and sovereignty in the world of form. Now they are quite literally doing a “square” dance. It’s no wonder this is a time of virtual reality (virtual: Neptune, reality: Saturn). It’s also no wonder that there have been so many fires and floods with Saturn in a fire sign and Neptune in a water sign. Saturn also reigns over government and power and Neptune can create collective delusion. The reality TV show circus of politics these days reflects that quite perfectly.

Here’s a little riff about how I’ve been affected by all this personally: My natal Venus is at 10 degrees Gemini, so I have been having an exact opposition from Saturn and an exact square from Neptune. (Bring in the clowns.) Can you guess what happened to Venus, the planet of love and beauty? A crash and burn ending to a beautiful love story. Brief but sublime. And then, because Venus rules over beauty as well as love, a cooking pot in my kitchen fell from a shelf, hit my left cheekbone and gave me a shiner that made me look like a victim of domestic violence. I was in fact a victim of a cooking pot. I got a true black and blue eye. Those things take forever to heal by the way. Saturn/Venus: limitation of beauty. Saturn/Venus: blocked love.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. It’s so textbook Astrology that it’s nearly unbelievable, even to me. When people say Astrology isn’t accurate, I almost fall down laughing. It’s so shockingly accurate, it’s flat out scary.

So what do we do when Saturn, otherwise known as the planet of Karma manifesting as Cronus-the God of time, shows up at our door with his long white beard and his freaky sand hourglass?

We invite him in, offer him tea and we say “yes” to his many upsetting suggestions about how we need to change things in our lives. It will hurt and we will habitually resist, but Saturn is a worthy opponent and it’s better to yield when he’s in the room. It all works out smoother that way. As the great Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh said in an interview when asked “How do you deal with fear?” He responded, “I agree.”

The tendency is to blame others, the world and ourselves when things we really love are taken from us, things we vehemently don’t want are given to us and when we are finally given things we have badly wanted and once we get them we don’t want them anymore. In Buddhism this is known as the suffering of change.

So how do we accept the non-dual nature of all of our experience and realize that the outside is not far away as it appears, or vice versa?

If we can accept the tough lessons of Saturn as necessary and allow impermanence to do its thing without us interrupting or objecting too much, then what doesn’t kill us will make us softer, more receptive and ultimately more beautiful.

The great Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron makes the distinction between the heart breaking open and the heart breaking closed. We can either build a wall around our heart and attempt to shut people out to avoid getting hurt, or we can open up not only to our own brokenness but to everyone else’s and experience a rare level of intimacy with human beings in general. We don’t have to break closed. That is a choice. We also have the option of breaking open. Breaking open requires greater awareness because it is counter-intuitive. Habitually we contract around pain. To move toward pain, to open to it, requires courage and intention. In order to grow, we must confront our mechanical survival-based habits and often do the complete opposite.

This conscious re-wiring of our mechanical nature is a real potential for all of us right now, during the Saturn Neptune square dance. The discipline of Saturn can fuel the spiritual longings and compassion of Neptune. We can be less selfish now, more empathically attuned and we have a collective wish to turn our visions (Neptune) into concrete reality (Saturn).

Sadness is the great connector. Numbness is the great disconnector. If we can allow our heart to feel pain and loss and not jump to blame, if we can stew and saturate in the broth of genuine heart of sadness, we become good warrior students on a path with heart. We may even become genuinely useful to other people.


Author: Sarah Barab

Image: wikipedia

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

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