With Saturn now hanging out at the final degrees of Sagittarius — and with Mercury about to station retrograde on roughly the same degree — it might be worth our time to review and reflect (you know, retrograde things) on what these last three years have been about.
Saturn has been simultaneously bumming us out and holding us to higher standards around Sagittarian themes like beliefs, multiculturalism, and truth since December 2014. He dipped back into Scorpio for a brief respite in the summer of 2015, but for the most part, these last three years have been characterized by the very awkward dance that happens when Saturn, planet of pessimism and contraction, meets Sagittarius, a Jupiterian sign of optimism and expansion. Saturn says “no.” Sagittarius says “yes!” or “sure, cuz YOLO.” Sagittarius is the sign that agrees to hang out soon, means it 100% in that moment, but then forgets to follow up or gets tied up with other pursuits or obligations. Saturn is the planet that keeps a hyper-organized bullet journal and only agrees to dinner twice a week, because that’s what he budgeted for at the beginning of Q3.
Whenever Saturn visits any sign, you know he’s about to clean house. Actually, it might be more accurate to say YOU’RE going to clean house — but under his exacting standards. Saturn is tradition. Saturn is “doing things right.” Saturn is “building a structure that’s totally up to code.” Saturn is “the man” — sometimes literally representing authority and institutions. Saturn is the health department scrutinizing your restaurant and giving you a B- until you do the work to satisfy the requirements.
Saturn bringing his toolkit to the domain of Sagittarius has largely been about teaching us how to “hold our horses” (and quite metaphorically too, because Sagittarius is represented by a centaur who loves to gallop all over the map with no shackles or constraints). Sometimes, it’s necessary to keep our optimism in check, and that’s where the whole concept of “growth in moderation” comes in. It’s about keeping the big picture in mind (Sagittarius), but taking time to fill in the pesky details and logistics (Saturn). This influence is hardly what anyone would call fun. Sagittarius loves to party, and Saturn is a chaperone. It’s probably for the best that he’s there, but man has he been cramping our style for the last couple of years.
What’s important to understand about Saturn is that it once represented the known outer limits of our solar system. Before the discovery of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, Saturn was the end — hard stop — of what we knew about our universe. That’s why Saturn governs limitations in astrology. The two opposing forces of expansion (Jupiter) and contraction (Saturn) are the foundational characteristics of universal behavior. Unchecked growth is essentially cancer, and it’s easy to get lost in a sea of unbounded possibility. When there are healthy structures and boundaries in place, your flight path can more easily discern its destination.
Saturn is also known as the Lord of Karma and Time. In Greek mythology, Saturn (or Kronos) descended from Uranus, but he eventually castrated his father and ushered in a “Golden Age” wherein everyone automatically “followed the rules” without need for external law. In short, he made the trains run on time. Of course, Kronos was kind of an asshole who also devoured his children to keep them from eventually overthrowing him, but Zeus (Jupiter) got the best of him and coup d’etat’d him out of there.
Saturn, the Roman corollary of Kronos, was a less punishing version of the “order and structure” archetype. He’s the guy who keeps calendars and seasons running on time, and he was the OG Starbucks holiday cup design. Before there was Christmas, there was Saturnalia, a Roman festival held in Saturn’s honor that involved gift-giving and the subversion of Saturnian norms like discipline, order, and social hierarchies. This is debatably a little like Jupiter temporarily getting the best of Saturn. Santa Claus is often referred to as an embodiment of the Jupiter archetype, so if you’re reaching for another way to contextualize Saturn in Sagittarius, try chewing on that one for awhile.
Here are some other Sagittarian themes: travel, globalism, foreign cultures, higher education, philosophy, political beliefs, meaning, knowledge, religion, and distant horizons (that are continually being expanded). It’s no wonder that some of the defining events of this era have involved Brexit, travel bans, border walls, and intense xenophobia all around. Saturn can be a literal wall or blockage, but sometimes, it’s just fear. “Fear of others” is a major manifestation of this transit, and it’s caused the rest of us to work overtime to protect everyone’s rights and get totally clear on why we value diversity and multiculturalism.
Dogma is another aspect of the Sagittarian shadow. As such, Saturn in Sag could foment a hardening, or cementing, of our convictions and beliefs — as though political squabbles weren’t enough of a thing on the internet as it were. That’s only assuming we weren’t willing to do the work of rigorously evaluating where we stand on various issues, which is the higher calling of this placement.
Saturn in Sagittarius has also made us all work harder to arrive at a consensus reality. In the era of fake news, the centaur’s quest for truth is befuddled by an increasingly subjective cohesion of paradigms, and, in some cases, outright deception by internet trolls. This was perhaps best exemplified by the Saturn and Neptune squares of 2016. What we’re essentially left with is an epistemological crisis. What do we know? And how do we know that we know it? It almost doesn’t matter how sound your evidence is anymore. If you’re speaking to someone from across the political divide, you probably won’t breach the closed circuit of trusted information.
In either case, the world has had a pretty rough go at it these past couple of years, and it’s kind of a relief to think that Saturn will soon be in his home sign, Capricorn — a place where he can operate comfortably and help us be in right relation with order and structure. More on that in a couple of weeks. For now, let’s all draft a very sober and grounded vision board, and then give our belief systems one final stress test.
Art: Kiki Smith
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