“Straight is the line of duty, curved is the line of Beauty. Follow the straight line, thou shalt see, the curved line ever follows thee.”—William MacCall
Saturn is an old Italian god who is identified with the earlier Greek Cronus, chief of the Titans. One tradition portrays Cronus as a selfish and autocratic ruler intending to maintain his reign at any cost. In a nasty abuse of power even by mythical standards, Cronus swallowed his own children so that none of them would supplant him. His wife Rhea ultimately foiled his efforts by giving him a swaddled stone instead of his last-born Zeus (Jupiter.) Subsequently, Zeus tricked Cronus into coughing up the rest of his siblings.
In Orphic cosmology however, which traces its roots to Egypt, Cronus was seen as a beneficent king ruling over both heaven and earth. In this guise, Cronus ruled during a golden age in antiquity. Cronus is also sometimes identified with Chronus, who is not depicted as a personified being but rather as time itself, which of course does swallow its children in due course.
Astrologically, Saturn’s influence is the embodiment of form, and the dramatic rings which surround the physical planet represent this idea of limitation in physical reality. He is sometimes depicted as the Grim Reaper wielding a scythe and cutting a wide swath in human affairs. But the reaper is only “grim” if we have sowed metaphorical seeds of destruction. Saturn is often viewed in a dim light, but it is our veiled and incomplete understanding of the nature of how consciousness partakes in the creation of reality that causes the problem with his reputation. Saturn represents how we have structured our reality through our thoughts. In a quantum sense, he shows us how we perceive reality as our individual and collective consciousness has created and structured it. This is not really an external process, although it seems to be outer events that provide the classroom. When Saturn connects with a planet in our birth chart by transit, we may feel frustrated by delays. Saturn takes his time; and while he delays, he usually does not deny.
Saturn’s teachings challenge us to face the truth and see our resistance and denial. He deconstructs the area of life he affects so better structures can be built. We can also gain inner strength, become more responsible, and exercise self-discipline. Saturn’s influence by sign serves to limit or control life circumstances. As the ringed planet gives form to our life experiences, he provides our lessons. We can learn from his transits by perceiving how our critical instruction presents itself either through people or experiences. With the benefit of hindsight, most of us give credit for our most profound lessons to our toughest teachers. We look back with gratitude to those who expected the most from us or held our feet to the proverbial fire. Saturn is at heart a wise teacher while seeming to be a stern taskmaster. If we accept his lessons, we are invariably strengthened.
Libra is the seventh sign of the zodiac and represents a turning point on the wheel. Spiritually, it is the stage of evolution where the individual learns to connect with the Soul—the spiritual Beloved Other. A shift occurs from the world of outer appearance to the inner world of the soul’s quest. The focus is also turned toward others. Libra is the sign of relationships and balance between two polarities, and in Libra we learn that both ends of the polarity are worthy. Libra energy has a strong desire to cooperate and maintain harmony. Libra is said to be the sign of marriage where we learn the lessons of shared purpose through formal contracts.
The symbol for Libra is the scales of justice. Justice is often depicted as blindfolded. This means that she is impartial, not blind. Her decisions are based on the abstract principle of law and not on subjective factors. Libra is inclined to be objective and fair-minded and has a deep appreciation for art and beauty. Libra is also social, peaceable, and tries to examine all sides of an issue. One danger of Libra’s strong desire to please and be loved is striving for peace at any price. Beneath a calm and peaceful demeanor and a strong innate sense of justice, there is a will of steel. This can come as a surprise to those who look only at the surface of Libra energy. Libras are complex and similar in nature to the Roman goddess Bellona. In her temple, all facets of war and peace were included; visiting dignitaries were welcomed, diplomacy was carried out, and war was declared.
Saturn in Libra
Saturn entered Libra in October 2009 and retrogrades back into Virgo in April 2010 for four months. At the end of July 2010 Saturn will transit through Libra until October 2012. Since Libra is symbolized by the scales of justice, and Saturn can be seen as the law of cause and effect in action, during this transit anything that is out of balance asks to be weighed and brought back into equilibrium. Saturn in Libra evokes another goddess—the Egyptian Ma’at—who is also a complex archetype. Ma’at represents the principles of justice and truth, but at a deeper level she embodies right relationship to all things. When someone died in ancient Egypt, their heart was weighed in a balance against the white ostrich feather which was Ma’at’s icon. If the heart of the deceased was heavier than the feather, their soul would be condemned. During this transit we can honestly examine our relationship to all people and things in our lives.
Saturn transits teach us to take responsibility and are often a time for making tough decisions. Saturn keeps us from taking unnecessary risks, and moderation is a keynote. Saturn wants us to apply ourselves to practical projects and meaningful endeavors. Saturn in Libra also expresses the point at which the desires and will of the individual must become subordinate to the welfare of the greater good—or, as the Vulcan Spock said in one of the Star Trek movies, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.” This is the principle of order and justice operating on the collective level.
Saturn in Libra also tests our ability to commit. We can also examine the relationship of form versus substance. What are we doing for the sake of appearances which is a disservice to truth? New alliances will be formed and existing relationships will be tested under the influence of Saturn in Libra. We may become more aware of inequities in relationships, but we should also focus on fairness and meeting others halfway. It’s a good time to restructure and reevaluate our relationships, bringing more harmony. This transit helps us eliminate what isn’t working and strengthen what is. If we are mature, we will recognize that we can’t blame others for our problems.
Saturn’s penchant for discipline and commitment is best expressed through the harmony of relationships. Achieving beauty through the exercise of duty and responsibility is also an expression of this combination. Love may provide the initial aspiration for a course of action, but it is Saturn’s discipline that gains results. There’s a good reason that followers of great teachers are called disciples.
If we have not faced certain qualities in our own nature, they will now appear in our relationships as mirrors. We meet our own foibles in others so we can transform ourselves. Other aspects of Libra include beauty, and with Saturn, representing time, in the sign of beauty, more attention may be focused on aging. Perhaps we can learn more about growing older gracefully.
Saturn desires to build structures, and in Libra Saturn wants structures set on firm foundations, ideally from diplomacy, commitment, and beautiful design. Saturn in Libra looks for balance, integrity, and fairness. Our ability to play by the rules in partnership also becomes critical. So the weighing and balancing influence of Libra is put to good use. This is a time for making clear relationship choices and decisions and for letting go of what isn’t working. We may be called upon to define our goals in partnership. Partners should work together rather than behave like adversaries, so it’s important to let go of competitiveness and create shared goals. Rather than blame a partner for our issues, we need to take responsibility for our own happiness.
Libra is Saturn’s sign of exaltation, where Saturn can find his potential for highest expression. It is an occult maxim that “Equilibration is the Secret of the Great Work,” and Saturn in Libra is the essence of this truth. Nature always strives for balance, and we are wise to move with this reconciling energy rather than resist it. We should strive to find the middle ground in negotiations and conflicts. Saturn in Libra wants to consider all sides of a question to achieve the best result. Balanced compromise may be called for. Libra can be the consummate diplomat, so this period could be conducive for peace negotiations.
Saturn orbits the sun in 29.5 years, so Saturn spends roughly 2.5 years in each zodiac sign. For individuals, Saturn returns to the place he occupied at birth every 29.5 years. This is called a Saturn Return, and it is typically a profound period. A Saturn return often brings changes in life circumstances. Saturn cycles can be periods of achievement and maturity. In the life of an individual this cycle is like a doorway into the next phase of life. Goals can be clarified and a life vision brought into focus. There may be added responsibilities or rewards from hard work in the previous three decades. The majority of people don’t live to see their third Saturn return, which occurs at age 88-89. A Saturn Return is a time for introspection and self-evaluation, inviting us to consider a change of direction. We are challenged to have the courage and choose a more authentic path. Saturn Return is a time to consider unique qualities and needs and ponder essential values. It’s also time to evaluate our traveling companions on life’s journey. Making authentic choices promises fulfillment.
Saturn occupied 14 degrees of Libra in the United States birth chart. Therefore, the U.S. will have a Saturn Return during this transit. There will be three exact conjunctions formed by Saturn in the sky to the natal placement of Saturn in America’s chart: November 2010, March 2011, and August 2011. This will be the eighth Saturn Return since our nation’s birth in 1776. At the time of our country’s last Saturn Return in 1982, Saturn formed a conjunction to Pluto. This coincided with a deep economic depression. Saturn in the sky is now forming a square to Pluto as we move through another time of economic challenge. Saturn occupies the tenth house in America’s birth chart, the area that represents reputation and position in the world. It’s a good time to set our sites on higher ground. It can be hoped that this Saturn return will facilitate a recommitment to the founding ideals of our country and a renewed aim for our most noble expression of forming a more perfect union.