Saturn Returns in Scorpio
Saturn returns for a final pass through the sign of Scorpio from June 14 – September 17, 2015, after previously having been in the sign of Scorpio from October 6, 2012 – December 23, 2014. Saturn holds the planetary position of being the limit of light reflected back to us and represents both our limitations as well as our transcendence of existence, and the liberation we can experience in the deconstruction of darkness. Saturn signifies our skeletal structure and the structure of our consciousness, the boundary between our imagination and body. Saturn is time and space, the conditions of form and conditioning of culture that shape our reality. Saturn rewards hard work, discipline, seriousness, commitment, and contemplation. Saturn can be associated with rites of passage and tasks for us to accomplish, and so its shift from Sagittarius to Scorpio could feel harsh as Saturn changes from a fiery, expansive, crusading sign to a watery, condensed, purifying sign of core depth demanding honesty.
At the Northwest Astrology Conference of 2015 I saw a lecture on Saturn in Sagittarius presented by Lynn Bell entitled Beggaring Belief, and she included numerous images of Sagittarius from Persia and other cultures in which the centaur archer is aiming at it’s own tail in the shape of a dragon or serpent. Lynn linked this to fears associated with Saturn in Sagittarius having to do with not knowing how to move forward or moving in the wrong direction, and the idea that we must look behind us and see what is rising up and deal with the shadows and demons we find there before moving forward. Lynn also noted these images are fascinating considering that the archer in the constellation of Sagittarius is aiming it’s arrow toward the claws of the Scorpio constellation as well as Ophiuchus the serpent handler, and even more directly at the point in space we have defined as our Galactic Center. Lynn made the profound point that Sagittarius only experiences an initiation into wisdom when it has the courage to look behind it at something it has previously refused to acknowledge. She concluded that we can not afford to rush forward without asking questions at this time, and that during Saturn’s return to the sign of Scorpio we will need to handle something that has the power to either destroy or heal.
Considering Saturn’s association with time, space, and conditioning, we can sense how the shift of Saturn from a mutable fire sign into a fixed water sign correlates with a shift from an active, surging pace into a slower tempo that emphasizes letting events unfold in their own time instead of trying to force things. Scorpio is yin in contrast to the yang of Sagittarius, and so we move into an atmosphere more about magnetism and giving form to what we are receiving. Themes around security, stability, and inner-work will become more important, as Scorpio is a fixed sign that stabilizes action and bolsters Saturn’s gift for persistence and endurance. Since Scorpio is a water sign, this further deepens the potency of unconscious forces during this time period, and the importance of taking care of our inner life so we can steady emotions, avoid denial, and take responsibility for all aspects of our life, including the areas we prefer to keep hidden or not acknowledge. Of course, most people will not be on this idealistic path, and there is also the other side of the cold, calculating, and venomous scorpion to contend with, leading to martial waves of contention and manipulation of power.
Scorpio is a fertile home for the shadowy Saturn, as Scorpio is a sign that tests the limits of our identity structures and existence, the very stuff of Saturn. Scorpio connects to the taboo and everything that stretches the boundaries of our existence, not only death but also mediums such as sexuality and spirituality through which the fixed intensity of Scorpio can facilitate a death of our ego. Embracing Scorpio full-on can be scary for our personality identification, because in our deepest merging, such as sexual union, we transcend individual identity. This aspect of sex was described by Sabina Spielrein (Mercury, Moon, Sun conjunct in Scorpio) in Destruction as the Cause of Coming into Being, in which she argued that the sex drive contains instincts for both destruction and transformation, as lovers experience a death of their individual egos through their sexual transformation into a merged entity. In a spiritual sense, Scorpio’s fixity of feeling can create overpowering desire to meditate or merge into the realm of Spirit as much as possible, dissolving ego boundaries.
Saturn’s significations with maintaining boundaries of form in Scorpio can create fear around the places in our life where we can experience this transformative merging and loss of past identity. The sign of Scorpio can also fear being abandoned or betrayed, and in order to cope a Saturnine compulsion to control situations, sources of power, or other people could overcome many during this transit. Most destructively, when hurt the cold nature of Saturn in Scorpio could strike back with vengeful action. Yet as Dane Rudhyar wrote, the over arching reason behind these feelings is that Scorpio holds “the urge in the individual to merge in absolute union with other individuals in order to constitute together a greater organic whole.” The ultimate potential and promise of Saturn’s return to Scorpio is to open us to the darkest feelings and issues we have been attempting to deny, so that we can enter a process that at first feels chaotic, but then leads to the possibility of purifying and re-structuring ourselves around core principles of love and heart-centeredness. This takes conscious effort, however, and since many around us may not be up to this task, it will be helpful to draw upon the psychic sensitivity of the scorpion when navigating our daily path.
Saturn Retrograde in Scorpio
Saturn will be retrograde in Scorpio during this time period from June 14 to August 1, 2015. The last time Saturn was retrograde in Scorpio was from March through July 2014 between 24 and 16 degrees. Saturn retrograde pulls us into a process of core re-structuring, and in Scorpio the deconstruction and decay of Saturn will feel more like watery dissolution. As we experience revelations of what has been hidden and secret, what we have been denying because of it being taboo, we are given choices to be in avoidance or take ownership of the issues. Hypocrisy will be exposed in others and in ourselves, and we can use these difficult experiences to fertilize new growth that will be more authentic. To take active control we can consciously make structural, organizational changes in our life in order to work with this transformative process.
Saturn was previously in Scorpio from December 1923 – December 1926, October 1953 – October 1956, and December 1982 – November 1985. Out of the these time periods, only in the year 1956 did Saturn retrograde back into Scorpio from Sagittarius as it is doing so now. In 1956 Saturn entered Sagittarius in January, stationed retrograde in mid-March, and then re-entered Scorpio in May where it stayed into October 1956. In the United States of America, racism was actively faced and major events of this period centered around the decision of Rosa Parks to refuse to give up her seat on a bus. The Montgomery Bus Boycotts commenced as Saturn was moving direct in Scorpio, and continued as Saturn entered Sagittarius and a civil rights leader with a Saturn in Sagittarius, Martin Luther King, rose to prominence. Ultimately, a federal district court found Alabama’s segregation laws unconstitutional when Saturn had returned to Scorpio in June 1956, and the U.S. Supreme Court also found the laws unconstitutional once Saturn had returned to Sagittarius in November 1956. Despite these legal victories, racism persisted, and has persisted through today’s current events revolving around the Black Lives Matter movement that began during Saturn’s time in Scorpio.
The horrific terrorist attack in a Charleston, South Carolina black church, motivated from the racist roots of the United States of America, has forced a confrontation with both institutional racism and overt symbols of racism in the South such as the Confederate flag. Structural racism, such as educational racism and racist law enforcement practices have been a part of the American fabric for decades since the time of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. However, Saturn’s trip through Scorpio has brought about a reckoning and these longstanding issues have finally come to the forefront of daily conversations and news media coverage. Saturn in Scorpio connects with the racist symbolism of streets named after Confederate, slave owning figures in the South that are more widely being criticized suddenly, as well as the efforts to remove the Confederate flag from government buildings. Yet simply removing the outer manifestations of racism such as the Confederate flag does nothing to change the underlying racism embedded in systematic structure, and this is the task now being discussed at an amplified level of public discourse. I recently heard the Reverend Al Sharpton interviewed in which he said something to the effect that we do not want the confederates to get away with “changing the curtains” without making structural changes. No doubt events around these issues will be intensifying during Saturn’s retrograde, station, and direct forward motion in Scorpio.
Saturn Direct in Scorpio
Saturn will be direct in Scorpio from August 1 through September 17, 2015. While the image above showcasing the depth of lakes embodies Scorpio, we are unlikely to experience still waters at this time. This is because as Saturn stations direct at 28°17′ Scorpio, Jupiter will directly initiate the last quarter square of their cycle on August 3, two days after Saturn’s exact station. This Jupiter and Saturn square happens within the Venus retrograde cycle in Leo, and Venus is intimately involved with this square, as Venus retrograde will conjunct Jupiter on August 4 and then square Saturn on August 5. The Jupiter and Saturn cycle is one of the most pivotal in astrology, and we are in a cycle that began in Taurus in 2000 and reached opposition in 2010 in both Pisces (Jupiter) / Virgo (Saturn) and Aries (Jupiter) / Libra (Saturn). Venus being retrograde and exactly aligned with this square will amplify the drama and conflict of this aspect, bringing about confrontations at a core level.
Dane Rudhyar described the last quarter square as a “crisis in consciousness,” and this meaning is especially relevant to one between Jupiter and Saturn. This is the square that follows the illumination of the full opposition (2010 – 2011), and the ripening of the message received at the disseminating trine, which occurred while Saturn was previously in Scorpio and Jupiter was in Cancer three times in 2013 and 2014. The disseminating trines between Saturn in Scorpio and Jupiter in Cancer occurred within an intense astrological climate that involved exact squares between Pluto and Uranus, and so this was a cathartic process of growth. At the stage of the last quarter square we are now heading toward, all of the conflicting strands of thought coming from within ourselves and from our external relationships that have been building in the last few years come to a head. This aspect causes us to question the thought patterns we have been acting from, a time of reorientation in which the scythe of Saturn cuts away old structures, beliefs, and conditionings we have outgrown. This is not the final last quarter square between Jupiter and Saturn, as we will have more in the future with Jupiter in Virgo and Saturn in Sagittarius, but since this is the first of the series and Venus is involved retrograde, it could feel dramatic in terms of inner disorientation and disillusionment.
Saturn stationing direct and being hit simultaneously with a last quarter square from Jupiter in Leo has it’s greatest potential placed around the hard-earned growth we experience when courageously facing the most difficult truths, issues in the past we avoided or were in denial of. Jupiter in Leo holds an advantageous position in this square, and so expressing the full range of drama we feel within and creatively processing it through work in our environment can lead us into a shedding of the inessential and a deepening of the essential. This is a time of bravely stepping through the fiery underworld to confront inner and outer demons, maintaining disciplined focus on our core passions with resolute commitment. Sounds easy, right? The “hero or heroine’s journey” popularly utilized in modern psychology fits here, and out of our trials our awareness of what holds the most solidity in our life will become clarified.
Scorpio III Decan
Saturn will spend the entirety of it’s remaining time in Scorpio at the tail end of the third decan of Scorpio, a decan associated with the 7 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In this image we see seven chalices holding strange visions floating above a figure cloaked in shadow. The images held in the chalices are associated with common human desires such as fame, wealth, love, power, and transformation, yet the cynosure of this assembly appears to be a veiled figure with open arms emerging from the center cup. This card is often associated with being overcome by visions to choose from in an atmosphere of illusion and temptation, most of which if not all are unlikely to lead to anything solid we can sustain. There is also a practice of interpreting the card as indicating the possibility of discerning the one choice that will bring clarity, illumination, and increased opportunities for choices one desires.
Fittingly, Venus is the ruler of this decan as she could be interpreted as our inner source of desired visions emanating above our horizon. With regards to this final transit of Saturn through the third decan of Scorpio, it is further apt that the astrological climate of this time will be dominated by Venus retrograde in the dramatically visionary sign of Leo. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces linked the 7 of Cups to the third decan of Scorpio through fixation on fantasies and being dominated by obsessive desires. Coppock suggested that the illusions of desires and the loss of being separated from the object of our desire takes us into a destruction and regeneration process and lessons involving the core nature of desire:
This is ultimately a face of wrestling with one’s own desire nature, for it leads one inevitably back to confrontation with the nature of desire itself. It is the property of no one else. The floating cloud of fantasies must be recognized as wholly one’s own . . . It is a matter of the transformation of a desire rather than its immediate gratification in sense-objects . . . The process truly described is the dissolution or putrefaction of desires back into their raw, un-structured form- their prima materia . . . We bury the corpse of past loves and wait for the flowers to grow from their graves . . . When desire’s hungry ghosts have finally been laid to rest, the compost is complete, and a rich loam results. In the grave soil of yesterday’s loves, anything can grow. This face is thus a formula of liberation, for if we were not capable of laying our desires to rest, returning them to pure energy, we would be enchained forever, prisoners of what we once held dear. (p. 187-188).
Saturn in Scorpio opens before us like a cavernous tunnel into an underworld holding deep, dark waters to dissolve and purify our desire nature. In the shedding or destruction of outgrown structures and identities we will realize a deeper meaning of life to live from, even when events push us to the brink with difficulty. The new patterns of thought that will arise from the ashes will be the source of later visions to come, and the desires we discern to be centered deep in our heart will become regenerated. Saturn now gives us the task of honestly processing our internal thoughts, beliefs, and desires, while simultaneously needing to confront all the beliefs surrounding us in consensus culture as well as other sources that could potentially condition our thinking. This is an initial phase of questioning beliefs that will be deepening as Jupiter later shifts into Virgo, Saturn shifts into Sagittarius, and the lunar nodes shift into Virgo and Pisces.
Bell, Lynn. (2015). Beggaring Belief – Saturn in Sagittarius. NORWAC: May 24, 2015.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.