Tension and Transcendence: Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune

Rodin the Thinker

Edward Steichen (1902)  Rodin—The Thinker

Anyone in touch with their surroundings and relationships knows the present is rife with disruptive change and fracturing, as widespread fear is emanating within the collective along with dynamic, courageous responses.  Creation and destruction are always with us, yet the prevalence today of people struggling with loss and grappling with a need to alter fundamental aspects of their life is striking.   In such times of shifting, it becomes paramount to turn within for guidance from the place of psyche in touch with what we need to feel authentically alive.  This does not mean self-absorbed narcissism cut off from the needs of others, but rather claiming the inner authority to make choices toward the creation of a reality that brings one fulfillment.  As each individual manifests their essential radiance into the world, within the shifting and dissolving of societal norms may emerge a collective structure more open to the expression of individual wholeness.

When time is viewed through the lens of astrology, distinct seasons emerge for us to pass through defined by the slower moving planets (Jupiter and beyond) sustaining integral aspects that stretch across months.  Though our current astrological season has many players, the scenes and dialogues have been most heavily under the direction of Saturn retrograde in Sagittarius, Jupiter in Virgo, and Neptune in Pisces.  These three planetary giants have formed a “t-square” by zodiac degree, meaning that Saturn is in square to both Neptune and Jupiter, while Jupiter and Neptune are engaged in a full opposition.  This also means that three points of a cross or square are filled, leaving the empty point in the mid-degrees of Gemini.  Even with no planet transiting Gemini, the Gemini archetype has nonetheless been triggered and activated these past months, and if you have important astrological points in Gemini you have no doubt been feeling the impact.  Now with the Sun and Venus in Gemini, we are headed into a full-on Mutable Grand Cross that will culminate with the New Moon on June 4, with all four points of the Mutable Grand Square occupied by planets.

Tension and transcendence are two words that immediately come to mind when considering hard aspects between Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune.  While transcendence stems from the Latin transcendere, meaning to “climb over or beyond, surmount, overstep,” tension derives from the Latin tendere meaning “to stretch.”  Stretching is rich in associations with these aspects, as there has been a need to stretch conceptions regarding reality in order to respond to the associated ruptures, while the overwhelming stress that has come with the changes has caused the nerves of many to become taut and hypersensitive to pain and loss.  Stretching can also be a remedy to help one transcend, or surmount the challenges.  Yoga and other disciplines involved in opening up what has been held tightly in our body are practical, direct ways to work with the mutating energy. On a symbolic level, we can consider that stretching the strings of an instrument is necessary in order to retune.  Correspondingly, within the stretching of our previous idea of how our life would enfold we can discover the retuning needed to create the music we are meant to make in the world.

Why are these aspects such catalysts?  Jupiter is the planet of vision, expansion of mind and learning, and the ability to create a meaningful philosophy of life to live from out of experience.  Saturn is the planet of structure, boundaries, discipline, cause and effect, and the karmic work and issues we must face without avoidance.  Neptune is the planet of illusion, escapism, and addiction, yet also the indescribable magic that comes alive when falling in love or engaging in bliss.  Neptune is everything about the field of reality and life force that Saturn filters out and excludes with its structural walls, and everything that Jupiter yearns for and can intuitively sense may be found beyond the limits of Saturn.  Neptune in hard aspect to Saturn and Jupiter is a wave of dissolution that washes away what was formerly solid and secure.  While we cannot surmount the challenges without hardship, ultimately these aspects can be supportive in moving beyond past restrictions in the creation of a revivified life.

edward-steichen-pastoral moonlight

Pastoral Moonlight (1907) by Edward Steichen

When Saturn and Neptune come into hard aspect (conjunction, square, opposition) there can be mass hysteria found in the disintegration, and those not able to cope can become rigid and overzealous in dogmatic judgment that makes them feel more in control. The last time Saturn was in Sagittarius in square to Neptune in Pisces, the tragic Salem Witch Trials occurred in 1693 in which religious paranoia led to the murder of innocent people based upon fear of the devil. Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible about the Salem Witch Trials as an allegory about the Communist Red Scare orchestrated by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, a communist witch hunt that occurred around the time of the Saturn and Neptune conjunction in Libra in 1952. Today there are numerous examples to connect to this theme, obvious ones being persecution faced by Muslims and refugees.  We are presently at the last quarter square between Saturn and Neptune in a cycle that began in 1989 at the first degree of Capricorn. On November 26, 2015 there was the first square between Saturn and Neptune at 7º02′ of Sagittarius and Pisces, and there are two more to come: June 18, 2016 at 12º02′ and on September 10, 2016 at 10º25′ of Sagittarius and Pisces.

What makes the current last quarter square between Saturn and Neptune even more intense is that it additionally intersects with the cycles between Jupiter and Neptune as well as Jupiter and Saturn. In particular, hard aspects between Jupiter and Saturn make things show up in flesh and form with striking events and experiences rather than invisible undercurrents of change. Last August and September of 2015 was the initiation into the rupturing, with Jupiter and Saturn forming a square at the beginning of August at the final degrees of Leo and Scorpio, and Jupiter and Neptune reaching exact opposition on September 16, 2015 at 8 degrees of Virgo and Pisces. On March 23, 2016 there was a second square between Saturn and Jupiter at 16º24′ degrees of Sagittarius and Virgo, and on May 26, 2016 there will be the final last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter at 13º41′ degrees of Sagittarius and Pisces.

With Saturn in Sagittarius being the apex planet and additionally being in square to the transiting lunar nodes, there is fundamental karma to work out in the intersection between personal belief systems and the reality of personal experience.  There is a reckoning between how we envision our ideal life to be and the cold, hard reality of how things actually are manifesting.  Since Saturn is in the home of Jupiter, Jupiter’s placement in Virgo guides us to attune within our bodies and material surroundings in order to make contact with the ever changing moment and our presence within it. Jupiter further aligned with the transiting North Node of the Moon signifies that the place of expansion and new opportunities is found through inner discernment and discriminating between the authentic and inauthentic path to follow.  However, gaining clarity regarding one’s authenticity is made more difficult by Neptune in Pisces opposing Jupiter while further aligned with the transiting South Node of the Moon.  There is an old, ancient illusion regarding reality and how we create meaning to uncover, and until we do gaining realization that what we think is our authentic presence and path is truly our essential nature will be clouded with Neptunian fog.  In the end, how do we really know what we feel is our soul calling is truly our soul calling, or rather is heavily under the influence of friends, family, culture, or other influences that have shaped our personality?

The current amount of mutation is at a peak as Jupiter’s presence is further catalyzing the extraordinary transmutation of reality that occurs when Saturn and Neptune make pivotal aspects.  Though Saturn can struggle at times to let in the field of Neptune, it is in fact Saturn that is necessary to make Neptune manifest:  indeed, Neptune was discovered when it was conjoining Saturn in Aquarius.  Not only did the American and French Revolutions take place during significant points in the cycle between Saturn and Neptune, but one can trace the global trajectory of communism as the Communist Manifesto was written soon after Neptune was discovered while conjoining Saturn.  Furthermore, in the following conjunction between Saturn and Neptune in 1881 the Czar Alexander II was killed by a People’s Will group, the Russian Revolution then took place during the next Saturn and Neptune conjunction in 1917, in the following conjunction in 1953 communist leader Josef Stalin passed away, and in their subsequent conjunction in 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and communism likewise fell apart in the region formerly dominated by the Soviet Union.

The birth and fall of communism is an apt association for Saturn and Neptune as it demonstrates the dream of structuring an ideal vision to serve the greater good, and the subsequent disillusionment and suffering that arises when the vision does not work out in reality the way it had been envisioned in the purity of imagination.  In our personal lives, no doubt many of you reading this have had an ideal dream you had been building with passion fall apart in one way or another in the past months with the tangle of Jupiter, Neptune, and Saturn.  To follow a vision and be willing to risk all of your heart and everything else for it takes tremendous courage, not only to brave the tumultuous obstacles but also to simply be willing to open oneself to the extraordinary pain that comes when the dream does not materialize and rather is lost forever.  When the beloved dream had been nurtured by the purity of the heart, when its manifestation would have genuinely been in service of a higher good for the greater collective, bearing witness to its death can feel inexplicably traumatizing.

edward-steichen-languid repose

Languid Repose (1902) by Edward Steichen

During loss, we are at risk of our grieving making us overly passive with a sense that there is nothing to do about the feeling a cruel Fate has befallen us.  Feeling injured, abandoned or betrayed by a lover, we can stop believing in love or feel we can never trust someone with intimacy again. Experiencing the elation of a business plan or community endeavor we had carefully constructed crash and obliterate itself before manifesting the results we had strived for, we are at risk of giving up on our capacity to reshape reality.  It is necessary to be aware of the negative potential of Saturn, Neptune, and Jupiter in hard aspect:  the depression of Saturn, the illusory escapism of Neptune, and the overindulgent emotional excess of Jupiter.   If we have been fixated on having a certain outcome that did not come to fruition, these aspects can make us feel that everything we had believed about our feelings and the world is an illusion and that all of our efforts ultimately led to the pain of loss rather than the gift we had thought we had been nurturing.  There is, however, a treasure to be found in disillusionment, as it makes it possible for us to reorient ourselves to the truth of our reality found in the moment, within our senses engaging in our environment.

When dealing with the loss of a dream or vision, whether that be a loved one in the flesh or an abstract plan in the imagination, the associated torturous pain can seem bewildering when in fact we have not actually experienced physical torture or trauma to our body.  Jupiter, Neptune, and Saturn together involve the level to which we are able to envision a hopeful future and imagine the possibility of experiencing joy again even in times of struggle.  The need to be able to feel a sense of hope despite all of the injustice, oppression, and destruction found in the world is absolutely essential in order to experience happiness, and so when we experience the disillusionment of losing all sense of hope that our vision will manifest, the impact can be devastating.  Both Saturn and Neptune as well as Saturn and Jupiter are forming last quarter squares, a waning aspect that Dane Rudhyar interpreted as a “crisis in consciousness.”  This does not mean we necessarily need to experience a mental breakdown, but it does suggest that fundamental aspects of how we create meaning for ourselves out of life will disintegrate, necessitating that we reorient the vision and beliefs we live our life from.

It is also vital to reflect upon Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune being in Mutable signs, as the double-bodied signs are the living images of the zodiac that transition us from one season to the next.  There is a long tradition of rituals involving a sacrifice when welcoming the Solstice or the Equinox, and similarly the Mutable signs transition us through loss and death into the newly found presence and creation that will emerge from the destruction of the old.  Embracing the loss, entering solitude with full presence, we fall into a void in which we discover our Soul. There is tremendous potency to discover in being able to heal oneself from wounds, in being able to nurture oneself back to a state that can believe again in the power of love and imagination to recreate the world we are experiencing.  There is in fact incredible power within the hard aspects between Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune to work toward construction of new structures and forms that are solid and secure, as long as we are aware that during the process of development we must be open to how our plans will need to shift and mutate out of necessity.

steichen_big white cloud

Edward Steichen (1906) The Big White Cloud

With both Saturn and Neptune in traditional homes of Jupiter, with Neptune furthermore comfortably at home in Pisces, within the reflection of continual river currents of change there is a new vision as slippery as a fish to intuit.  The greatest depth will be found by those willing to dive into the underlying waters that source meaning and guide visioning capacities, in order to realize where our dreams are coming from.  Jupiter bound to Saturn can lead to ambitions aimed at mainstream success, conforming to the conditioning of a high paying role in consumer culture out of desire for enough money to overindulge in luxury and expenses.  Adding Neptune without discernment can increase the glamor quotient tenfold, making influences such as Hollywood and the ravenous gluttony of celebrity culture a guiding principle.  Or in contrast, Jupiter with Saturn can lead one to conform to the moral dictates of a dogmatic religion or philosophy rather than the authentic integrity found in the moment, with Neptune leading to complete surrender and devotion to the idealized behavior commanded.  Yet as Dane Rudhyar wrote, Neptune is also an intergalactic ambassador bringing messages from the far beyond that can seed inspirational flights of imagination lifting us out of a conditioned, conforming existence.

Rather than focusing on how to acquire external trappings of success through our vision of life, the t-square between Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune can correspond with reorienting toward arising passions that intrinsically inspire and motivate from within, without need of external reward in order to dedicate oneself toward.  Saturn wants us to take responsibility, and so in Sagittarius the ringed planet asks for serious commitment to fiery visions of spirit and imagination, grounded in connection between the earth at our feet and the watery air above.  The know-it-all side of Sagittarius must subside in the floodwaters of Neptune, deftly transmuting with attention to detail in the moment.  Jupiter in Virgo brings expansion through not only exhaustive research in support of the vision, but in discerning the exactitude of expression needed to capture and manifest the essential message and meaning.  While Neptune feeds on love and imagination, its danger of drowning us in waves of the collective unconscious can be navigated through yoking the discipline of Saturn with the invigoration of Jupiter so as to allow the inspirational force to pass through us, expressed into a grounded medium of form.

What wants to emerge from you, voiced with an openness to the inspiration of this moment?  We are in the middle of much longer cycles found in astrology, and while this point is not an ending it is catalytic to such an extend that aspects of our old existence will need to be let go and released.  Repressing the inner vitality simmering now, holding back for fear of judgment or criticism of others is the path sure to take us far off course into dangerous terrain.  Whether moving with authentic flow at this juncture means we need to go it alone or collaborate with many diverse people, the greatest support will be found by embracing the course of life that brings vivifying passions alive in body and mind.

And yet, if mired in the grief of past loss to such an extent that fully embodying joy at this time is too difficult, then the t-square between Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune is asking for you to bravely go deeper with the sacred mission of rediscovering the meaning of your life.  Virginia Woolf once mused in Moments of Being if the “things we have felt with great intensity have an existence independent of our minds; are in fact still in existence?”  If so, than even in what has been lost can be found endless folds of  meaning that can be rediscovered continually in acts of artistry and creation.  The gold found between Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune is not acquired with lackadaisical lightheartedness, but rather through embracing life with all of its heartbreak and loneliness with devotional passion.

Edward_Steichen_(American_-_(Road_into_the_Valley_--_Moonrise)_-_Google_Art_Project

Road into the Valley – Moonrise by Edward Steinchen

Current Cycle Dates:

  • The current Saturn and Neptune cycle began in 1989 at the first degree of Capricorn, giving the cycle an overarching influence of Saturn.  The beginning of this cycle occurred in correlation with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, the ending of apartheid in South Africa, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre in China.  The Saturn and Neptune cycle reached its first quarter square between 1998 and 1999 around 30 degrees of Aries to 5 degrees of Taurus.  The full opposition of the Saturn and Neptune cycle then came in 2006 through 2007 with Neptune in Aquarius and Saturn in Leo from 17 to 22 degrees.
  • The current Jupiter and Neptune cycle began in 2009 around 24 – 27 degrees of Aquarius.  It reached its waxing square on June 25, 2012 at 4 degrees of Gemini and Pisces, and its full opposition on September 16, 2015 with Jupiter in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces at 8 degrees.
  • The current Jupiter and Saturn cycle began on May 28, 2000 in Taurus at 23 degrees.  Jupiter in Scorpio reached its waxing square with Saturn in Leo at first on December 17, 2005 at 11 degrees, again on June 22, 2006 at 10 degrees, and finally on October 25, 2006 at 24 degrees of Scorpio and Leo.  The Jupiter and Saturn cycle reached its full opposition on May 23, 2010 with Jupiter in Pisces and Saturn retrograde in Virgo at 28 degrees. Then, they opposed for a second time around August 16, 2010 with Jupiter retrograde in Aries and Saturn in Libra at 3 degrees. Finally, Saturn and Jupiter reached their third opposition on March 28, 2011 at 15 degrees, with Jupiter in Aries and Saturn retrograde in Libra.

The following is music that was recorded during recent times in the corner of the world where I live, Olympia. As the album it will appear on will be released at the time of the Mutable Grand Square, I feel “Lion Snow” by Two Ton Boa reflects the energy:

 

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Saturn in Sagittarius

Saturn in Sagittarius infrared rings

Saturn’s rings in infrared courtesy of NASA

Saturn in Sagittarius

On December 23, 2014 following a Solstice New Moon, the demanding task-master Saturn entered the shifting, fiery, and focused sign of Sagittarius.  This new transit of Saturn in Sagittarius has resonance with the Solstice, as Saturn will not leave Sagittarius for good until the Capricorn Solstice of 2017.  Saturn holds together the structure of our consciousness within our skeletal system on a personal level, and on a collective level coordinates the innumerable ingredients that form our consensus reality, or the predominant agreements that define what we mean by “reality.”  Saturn has a palpable impact on our lives by transit, and we can immediately feel the impact following its ingress into a new sign through personal experiences and collective events.  For example, both the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical Parisian newspaper that sparked the “Je suis Charlie” movement around freedom of expression, and the publicity surrounding the plan of Pope Francis to present an encyclical on climate change that will urge action are signs reflecting the shift of Saturn into Sagittarius.

Yet to claim I know that these recent events are connected with Saturn shifting into Sagittarius from a tropical zodiac perspective brings up the potential shadow of Saturn in Sagittarius reflected by a rigid belief that “I know.”  In the recent massacre in Paris, dogmatic religious beliefs led the perpetrators to believe that they “knew” that their violent terrorism was justified, just as in 1956 when Saturn was previously in Sagittarius the racist beliefs of White Southerners in the United States led them to believe that their violent terrorism against Black Southerners protesting for equal rights was justified.  Cultivating a perspective that we “do not know” with Saturn in Sagittarius will help us open our mind to direct experience of the moment that is less conditioned by our previous beliefs and cultural understanding.

“Not knowing” also connects with how Carl Jung’s idea of archetypes has been integrated into astrology, in that although Jung saw archetypes as being archaic patterns connected to the farthest reaches of time, he also defined the concept of archetypes as a manifestation of archaic patterns that are forever changing.  It is worth remembering that when Jung described the meaning of archetypes, he said that we can never actually consciously “know” them, we can only deduce their meaning as reflected in such things as stories, symbols, and images.  Astrology or any other methodology of belief we utilize to help us navigate our reality can lead us astray when what we believe we know becomes so crystallized that our fixation on our own perspective causes us to be in denial of our actual reality.  While this is one potential pitfall of Saturn in Sagittarius, at the same time Saturn in Sagittarius brings the potential to deepen our understanding of reality through focused exploration of a belief system, practice, or subject matter.

Saturn in Sagittarius centaur

Fresco by Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi (1520)

Bearing in mind that our current transit of Saturn through Sagittarius is within a different astrological climate and collective milieu than previous Saturn in Sagittarius transits, we can draw upon archetypal understanding of Sagittarius to give us a perspective upon potential matters Saturn will concretize in our life.  The two most common images associated with Sagittarius are the Archer and the Centaur, and both cast their shadow over astrological analysis of Saturn’s time in this mutable fire sign.  The archer embodies the active, focused, and disciplined side of Sagittarius, as we will be called upon to take action on our visions that arose to our awareness during Saturn’s time in Scorpio.  To be successful we will need to apply the determined concentration of an archer keyed into a target, and in Sagittarius we will want this goal to be deeply resonant with the purpose and meaning we are currently finding in our life experience.

In the centaur we find unity beyond the duality of animalistic instincts and human rationalism, and connection with Creation and Nature.  As a result Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius is timely in addressing collective crises involving the quality of life in our water, in our air, and in the plants, animals, and life inhabiting our Earth.  In the figure of the evolved centaur Chiron, we find union with the medicine of creation and everything in our surroundings.  Chiron cultivated wholistic practices to create greater energetic balance, such as herbalism, astrology, meditation, and the martial arts.  During Saturn’s time in Sagittarius, we will have an opportunity to sharpen our skills and knowledge in daily practice, study, or exploration of a structured belief system that brings us greater understanding into not only the nature of our reality, but into our daily action and movement.  We also may come into conflict with others studying the same general subjects of focus from a different perspective of belief, especially in fields such as Astrology, Economics, Politics, and Religion that have a high level of theoretical underpinnings.  Ideally, by keeping an open mind in our dialogues with others, instead of defensively debating without listening to the other perspective, we can gain a sharper focus into the depths under sourcing our beliefs through cultivating thoughtful conversations with people holding vastly different perspectives.

The Guru is another strong association we have with Sagittarius, and Chiron was the guru of not only the centaurs, but countless humans who came to him at a pivotal stage of their hero’s journey.  When learning from guru sources, whether in an actual person or in a body of knowledge, we will want to remain rooted in our direct experience instead of over-consumed by the experience of the guru source.  The more we ground our learning into our daily life, we will glean the message most essential for us on a personal level, and this message then will become something we can offer to others in our community.  Yet, remembering the shadow side of Sagittarius, there is also the potential to become self-absorbed when digesting profound belief systems, with the danger of becoming so narcissistic in our integration of knowledge that we begin to unleash dogmatic diatribes or self-righteous preaching to others in our environment.  Ambition can overcome us in Sagittarius through overconsumption with desires for personal recognition, burning desire for whatever we desire, with self-centered awareness of the impact of personal action on others in the surrounding environment.  Unfortunately, where dogmatism and violent extremist behavior intersect, Saturn in Sagittarius will bring us face to face with with explosive traumatic events in the collective propagated by terrorists as well as heads of state.

Excess of all sorts can be found in the shadow of Sagittarius, a sign ruled by Jupiter.  Jupiter is also known as a guru and teacher, a storyteller whose narratives reveal our underlying nature.  Just as we can become excessively self-righteous, we can also become excessively self-critical, and Saturn in Sagittarius also carries a message for those who have been fearfully holding themselves back from their full actualization in the world around them.  Astrologer Liz Greene in her classic Saturn: a New Look at an Old Devil analyzed that a fear of failure is vital to overcome when Jupiter and Saturn are working together in our birth chart, because it can take courage to follow the intuitive guidance of Jupiter when its visionary quality calls us to leave the comfort zone of our consensus cultural conditioning.  If we allow our Saturn side to inhibit our Jupiter side, we can play it safe working a job that meets our basic survival needs yet does not serve the needs of our deeper Self that our Jupiter side can sense.  Sagittarius is a sign of vision, and Saturn here brings opportunity to take concrete action to structure our life around transformative impulses that transition us away from where we have been previously repressing ourselves through a limitation of belief:

Jupiter’s function in a psychological sense seems to be connected with the intuition and the faculty of creative imagination or visualisation. It is this intuitive faculty which responds to the meaning of a symbol and which makes us capable of apprehending the basic meaning or “soul” of an experience or a person without prior analysis. The direct experience of the inner world of meaning establishes the quality which we term faith; it is not built on any deductive reasoning nor on any practical experience, and it is not- contrary to the usual definition of the word- belief in the sense that it is a wish for something to be true. The man who has genuine faith has it because he knows, in an intuitive and non-rational way, that there is meaning and purpose to his experience and that it will unfold according to a pattern which contains intrinsic wisdom and purpose . . . The contact of Jupiter with Saturn appears to suggest the psychological necessity of transforming this faith into practical living so that the individual can live out what he intuitively senses to be the purpose of his life.    –Liz Greene, p. 122-123, Saturn: a New Look at an Old Devil

Saturn in Sagittarius will test our personal truth, bringing experiences that will challenge whether or not the vision we believe embodies our authenticity is taking us on a journey for a holy grail or a false grail.  The self-absorbed side of Sagittarius can also lead us to become encaved in isolation while taking in new forms of knowledge that bring us a satisfying sense that we are undergoing a significant process of individuation, and yet at the same time a realization that we have become detached from our surrounding community.  The polarity of Gemini to Sagittarius brings a movement to communicate the visionary Sagittarian ideas back into our collective, with a Mercurial sense of how to express our new insights in a medium of expression that can be understood by others, bridging our new vision with the prevailing one.  As easy as it is to write this or read this in a sentence, it is much more challenging to put into practice, and each lunar month this dynamic of Saturn in Sagittarius will be triggered by the Moon passing through the opposite degree of Gemini, as well as in April – June 2015 when Venus, Mars, Mercury, and the Sun pass through Gemini in opposition to Saturn in Sagittarius.

Saturn in Sagittarius ultraviolet rings

Saturn’s rings in ultraviolet courtesy of NASA

The mutable and expansive nature of Sagittarius is vital to comprehend when discerning how the current transit of Saturn in Sagittarius fits inside a different astrological context than past transits.  Saturn in Sagittarius has already entered a square aspect with Neptune in Pisces, and will eventually also move into a square aspect with Chiron in Pisces:  both of these are last quarter squares signifying as Dane Rudhyar taught, a crisis in consciousness. Jupiter will also become mutable in 2015 when it enters Virgo, eventually leading to a last quarter square between Jupiter in Virgo and Saturn in Sagittarius.  As the lunar nodes will also shift in 2015 into the South Node of the Moon occupying Pisces, and the North Node of the Moon occupying Virgo, the ingress of Saturn into Sagittarius marks the beginning of a new transitionary time of mutability that could feel chaotic at times within the falling apart of the familiar.

A Sagittarius Saturn in square to a Pisces Neptune initiates our entrance into this mutable time portal of decomposition that could lead to disillusionment, and many astrologers feel this intense Saturn-Neptune aspect could encase a sobering, leadening restraint around our personal dreams.  There remains potential within this aspect to build and structure significant steps along a path leading to our cherished vision, but in general this will be a time of gaining deeper awareness into the meaning behind our vision.  The last quarter square, the phase that Saturn in Sagittarius will experience with Neptune in Pisces, Chiron in Pisces, and Jupiter in Virgo, is a crisis of thought in which our old beliefs are called into question as we realize our old values and life structures no longer align with our evolving consciousness.  While this can be a time of deconstruction, destructuring, and deconditioning, we can also realize what aspects of our old belief and value system holds authentic truth to sustain as a point of focus. Saturn will move back into Scorpio during the Summer of the Northern Hemisphere and Winter of the Southern Hemisphere, and ideally this will re-connect us with one of the most important themes of Saturn in Scorpio:  honesty.  Sagittarius can have issues with dishonesty, and so we can keep in mind that one of the best remedies to help keep us honest is a staunch commitment to utilizing self-reflection to avoid being in denial.

Since Saturn in Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign, it will prod us into being actively engaged with the obstacles and challenges associated with the first quarter square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries, and all the deep shattering of personal and societal systems that have come with it.  In March 2015, Saturn in Sagittarius will station retrograde within a week of the final of the seven squares between Pluto and Uranus, after which we will finally move beyond the demarcation of their first quarter square.  Saturn asks us to be accountable for our choices that align with our goals, and while Sagittarius is an ambitious sign of determination, it’s mutable nature will allow our vision to shift in accordance with the manner in which our sense of personal truth evolves in the face of coming experiences. The inherent quality of our vision, and whether it is essentially about our own self-interest or serves the true needs of our surroundings, is key.  The fiery nature of Sagittarius brings a more inspirational, courageous, and creative initiative to Saturn, yet this same quality has the negative potential of selfishness, opportunism, and a lack of awareness of how our actions impact others.  Remembering the sextile between Sagittarius with Aquarius and Libra, it will be helpful to utilize objectifying self-reflection to be present with how well we are listening to the needs of our many relationships and how well we are responding.

The meaning of Saturn’s transit in Sagittarius changes generationally, yet there is a common thread through differing cosmic climates as can be seen in a list of famous individuals born at different times with Saturn in Sagittarius:  pop stars Madonna and Lady Gaga, civil rights leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, the shadowy Osama Bin Laden and Heinrich Himmler (leading figure of Nazi Germany), and bringers of light Anne Frank and Teresa of Avila.  Charles Darwin, a man whose theoretical scientific research helped to fundamentally change the way the general human populace views reality, was also born with a Saturn in Sagittarius conjunct Neptune in Sagittarius and his Ascendant in Sagittarius.  One theme of Saturn’s time in Sagittarius that will be strong in the coming years will be the connection of Sagittarius with personal truth and law, in particular the interplay between natural law and human-made law.  There was a compelling synchronicity that as Saturn entered Sagittarius this past month it was conjunct the Themis asteroid #24, as Themis is a daughter of Gaia and the Titaness of natural law, divine order, justice, and custom.  One battleground we will obviously see debates raging over law, legislation, and our natural environment will be climate change, and so it is fascinating that at the same time that Saturn entered Sagittarius it became widely publicized that Pope Francis would be forthcoming with an encyclical urging action that would be distributed throughout the global Catholic network of priests.

Pope Francis and Saturn in Sagittarius

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is an insightful figure to think about in connection with our current transit of Saturn in Sagittarius, and indeed he was born with his Sun conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Sagittarius.  While he inherently takes the role as a leader of a dogmatic religion into every environment he enters, he also has evolved the vision underlying the way in which his papal role interacts on the global stage.  First and foremost, he is our first Pope Francis, evoking the figure of Saint Francis who was an instrument of Spirit on behalf of the poor, the outcast, and the natural world.  Saint Francis never took vows of chastity or demanded conformity to all of the regulated rules of the Christian Church, and also was open to women taking on equal roles of spiritual authority.  Saint Francis lived a life of poverty and only asked to love Nature and for each to love and know God according to their own capacity.  The choice of Pope Francis to actively encourage action on climate change evokes the love of Saint Francis for creation, and is a use of his spiritual authority on behalf of nature and humanity.

Pope Francis has also re-focused the attention of the papacy on people living in poverty around the world, and he has made a constant effort to put humans first from a perspective that humans are part of creation and are not meant to be instruments of some industrial machine.  In a Christmas speech he criticized the existential schizophrenia of a Vatican he sees as being filled with gossip and rivalry, with priests hiding behind papers as part of a mechanism instead of opening up with human sensitivity to others.  Pope Francis was also instrumental in the process of President Obama opening up diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, and he also seems to be intent on breaking through places of crystallized, dogmatic separation between world leaders.

One of Saturn’s three trips through Sagittarius in the 20th Century was between the years of 1956 to 1958, and at this time another leader who became the voice of those oppressed and in poverty arose in prominence, Dr. Martin Luther King.  Martin Luther King was born with a Saturn in Sagittarius and experienced an extraordinary Saturn return that began during the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, leading to his home being burned down by Southern racists at the end of January 1956 with Saturn at the early degrees of Sagittarius. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, sparking the extraordinary Montgomery Bus Boycotts, Saturn was at the end of its transit of Scorpio.  There is some resonance here with our own recent time of Saturn closing out a transit of Scorpio, with a number of protest movements arising around issues of oppression.  What made the Montgomery Bus Boycotts so incredible was the amount of collective commitment and creative strategizing that was employed to shut down the system.

Martin Luther King and Saturn in Sagittarius

Martin Luther King during the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956

The year of 1956 when Saturn entered Sagittarius around January 13 has some similarities with Saturn’s transit in 2015, as just like this year Saturn stationed retrograde in March 1956 and then moved back into Scorpio again for a few months.  During Saturn’s initial time in Sagittarius the Montgomery activists faced a strong pushback from the legal system, including Martin Luther King being ordered to pay a fine or serve time in jail around the time Saturn stationed in March.  King’s decision to serve time in jail helped propel the movement further through media coverage, and by November 1956 when Saturn had returned again to Sagittarius the Supreme Court outlawed segregation on bus lines.

There remains the possibility that some of the investigations conducted by the U.S. federal government into the police killing of black men that dominated the headlines during 2014 will also lead to federal intervention through the legal system.  What is clear is that there is clear resonance between the rise of Martin Luther King into prominence when Saturn entered Sagittarius in 1956 with today’s transit, as well as the fact that events in Selma, Alabama that Martin Luther King was actively engaged in during the time of the Pluto and Uranus conjunction in 1965 have now been released as a major Hollywood film at this current time of the Pluto and Uranus square and Saturn again in Sagittarius.  King’s courageous, impassioned leadership combined with his role as a religious authority has clear connection to Saturn in Sagittarius, and his ability to stir up a collective torrent of debate over beliefs while remaining constant with a message of love in the face of hatred holds a powerful lesson that remains significant today to learn from:

If we are arrested every day, if we are exploited every day, if we are trampled over every day, don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight, we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.

— Dr. Martin Luther King in a speech during the Montgomery bus boycotts

A further interesting connection with the figure and life of Martin Luther King and the upcoming mutable astrology time period is that Dr. King had a mutable t-square in his chart, with Mars in Gemini (2nd House) opposite Saturn in Sagittarius (8th House) with both in square to the Moon in Pisces (11th House).  Martin Luther King was able to use this intense mutable aspect in his chart to be a powerful storyteller and speaker who could communicate a message embodying deep meaning while being understood by a wide populace.  In our current upcoming transit, we can all learn from King’s ability to take decisive action when the time calls for action, and to communicate a heart-centered message of love while creating opportunities for discussion on societal issues that need to be addressed and not covered up or ignored.

The next period with Saturn in Sagittarius was between the years of 1986 and 1988, and during the entire transit Saturn was approaching a conjunction with Uranus that happened at the very end of Sagittarius.  There were once again strong African American voices in American culture in this period, for example with Jesse Jackson running for President, but most dominant in popular culture was the pre-eminence of Hip Hop in American popular music.  Two groups arose to celebrity status during the transit of Saturn in Sagittarius that exemplified it’s themes:  Public Enemy, whose 1987 album had the Sagittarian title Yo! Bum Rush the Show, and N.W.A. who released Straight Outta Compton at the end of Saturn’s transit in Sagittarius and made famous the Sagittarian line, “You are about to witness the strength of street knowledge.”

However, collectively the most major shift that occurred during this time was in Eastern Europe as the movements that led to widespread revolution in the region and later epochal events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic took place.  While these later events occurred during Saturn’s transit of Capricorn, there were pivotal developments that made them possible during the transit of Saturn in Sagittarius such as Perestroika in the Soviet Union.  For example in Poland, a country that used the political innovation of “Round Table agreements” to facilitate a democracy that would give them greater independence, there were a series of crucial strikes that happened in 1988 with Saturn in Sagittarius that were essential.  Similarly, our current transit of Sagittarius will bring opportunities for collective movements that could lead to huge structural and systematic changes in four or five years.

Saturn in Sagittarius and Capricorn

Zodiac frieze from Venice, Italy (1530-40) courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

Saturn in Sagittarius is currently in a balsamic phase with Pluto in Capricorn, and so we are in a time of clearing, re-seeding, and re-visioning in their cycle until the beginning of 2020 when Saturn becomes conjunct Pluto at 23 degrees of Capricorn.  Jupiter will also be in Capricorn in 2020, and around the Capricorn Solstice on December 21, 2020, the next conjunction in the Saturn and Jupiter cycle will occur at 00º29′ Aquarius.  As a result Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius is a key transition to this incredibly important 2020 time period.

However, let’s not forget Uranus, the next planet beyond Saturn and important player in Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius.  Saturn in Sagittarius will form a trine with Uranus in Aries in 2016, and in 2015 Jupiter in Leo will be trine to Uranus in Aries on March 3 and on June 22.  As a result in the next six months the Jupiter and Uranus cycle can help us unlock the Saturn gates of our consciousness to more expansive perspectives, and then later in August 2015 when we hit the last quarter square between Jupiter in Leo and a stationing direct Saturn in Scorpio, we will face challenges and even crises forcing us to critically examine what in our life needs to be discarded and let go and what is essential to keep as we begin to focus on what we will utilize in seeding our future.

We end with a few quotes from Anne Frank, who was born with Saturn in Sagittarius:

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”

“There is an urge and rage in people to destroy, to kill, to murder, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.”

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.”

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