Saturn: The Greater Malefic
Saturn has been such a big part of the energy of the past few years, and with about six years of Saturnian energy where Saturn is in signs that it rules (Capricorn from 12/20/17 – 4/22/20 and Aquarius from 4/23/20 – 3/7/23) (retrograding back into Capricorn for several months from 7/2/20 – 12/17/20), we are looking at about five and a half years of Saturn in its own rulership. (Although though we have had a tough time of Saturn in Capricorn/Aquarius, a good part of that is a series of unfortunate conjunctions with the Tail of the Dragon, Pluto, and Mars…. not exactly a cocktail for fun and games!)
Saturn gets a bad reputation as a malefic in traditional astrology, and so this extra dose of Saturnian energy (particularly given its momentous, world-defining conjunction with Pluto in January 2020) is generally not welcome. Frankly the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 isn’t giving people much incentive to think of Saturn as anything more than a malefic to be avoided as much as possible either. I straddle the line between traditional and modern astrology, so the idea of Saturn as a malefic resonates with me, but at the same time, what would our planetary charts be without Saturn, our old, wise, teacher, forcing us into the discipline that we would never learn given another option?
Saturn: The Teacher
Saturn’s teachings are not for the faint of heart, certainly, but they definitely have something that our modern world seems to be lacking.
Most of the really great things in each of our lives are things that we worked hard for. Things we overcame obstacles for. Things that cost us very little tend to be valued very little. Very similarly to the lone sea-goat represented by Capricorn steadfastly climbing a mountain without a clear finish line in sight, keeping fixed on the goal and turning aside neither to the right-hand nor to the left, but climbing ever up and up, Saturn, more than any other planet, gives us the opportunity to really work towards something difficult, maintain discipline, and prove to ourselves that we are stronger than we thought and can hold on to the end. Saturn gives us that ability to face ourselves in our mirrors, staring into our own eyes and seeing a new version of ourselves, more disciplined and somewhat harder and stronger around the edges than we were previously.
Hard-working diligent patience is undeniably associated with Saturn. No quick wins, no instant gratification. Saturn frowns upon these, and wastes no opportunity to remind us that anything easily gained is easily lost. Saturn believes in doing everything the right way, regardless of how long that takes. Boundaries, structures, and rules (definitely concepts in sharp focus during this Covid-19 crisis!) are all within Saturn’s well-worn wheelhouse. And it’s important to remember that despite the way the current environment feels, it’s reasonably safe to say that none of us would thrive very well in an environment with no rules or boundaries, and chaos would likely ensue. Certainly it’s hard to produce anything of real, lasting value without at least an awareness of structures and boundaries and a solid grasp on reality. Saturn is, at the end of the day, a teacher. A hard teacher, and one whose lessons are typically unwelcome, and yet one whose lessons are worth learning. The plodding nature of Saturnian endeavours also forces us to really think about what we are striving and working for. In a “quick win” situation, we aren’t spending much time thinking about what something is worth to us, because our investment is small. But when we are investing in something that requires months or years of investment, we will absolutely put the time into considering whether that endeavor is worth our effort at all. In this way, Saturn helps to ensure that we are focused on the correct things in a way Jupiterian optimism or Venusian temporal appreciation will not. Saturn is about sacrifices, and inherent in this is the idea of whether or not what Saturn is asking you to do is worth what you are giving up to do it.
A Series of Conjunctions
Saturn is in the middle of a series of conjunctions in the two signs that it rules, so let’s break these down.
12/26/19: New moon eclipse at 4 degrees of Capricorn (note that eclipse cycles last about six months… and this eclipse has definitely heralded a string of events of literally epic proportion that have extended significantly beyond December 2019!
01/12/20: Mercury conjoins Saturn as Saturn conjoins Pluto at 22 degrees of Capricorn
01/13/20: Sun conjoins Saturn at 22 degrees of Capricorn
03/31/20: Mars conjoins Saturn at 0 degrees of Aquarius
12/21/20: Jupiter conjoins Saturn at 0 degrees of Aquarius (The winter solstice!)
Definitely some intense Saturn energy going on, particularly at 22 degrees of Capricorn and 0 degrees of Aquarius.
Capricorn & Aquarius: Structures & Society
Certainly the areas we saw the initial largest effects from Saturn’s transits are areas of structure (hospitals, government, economy, businesses). We are definitely seeing that the next ripple of waves are very related to community/society – present even in the name of the new phrase in our lexicon: “social distancing”!
Even the term “social distancing” is a joining of the Aquarius focus on society and the Capricorn focus on boundaries. Keeping a six-foot boundary (Capricorn) around yourself when in society (Aquarius). The astrology here is a little difficult to ignore!
I absolutely love the decans, and find their significations to be uncannily accurate, even by astrological standards. Therefore, let’s consider the decanic potential of these two degrees.
22 degrees of Capricorn falls into the third decan of Capricorn. Ruled by the Sun and Mercury. This decan carries a large responsibility for decision making, power, authority, kingdom.
0 degrees of Aquarius falls into the first decan of Aquarius, and is ruled by Venus and Saturn. It is the decan of the individualist, the person who trods new ground. It is also indicative of the person exiled from their homeland; there is an inherent loneliness in this decan.
As we think about the significance of these two decans, we see an interesting juxtaposition of intense responsibility combined with intense individualism and solitariness. On one side, we have a ruler responsible for an entire group of people within his/her realm of authority, and on the other side we have an individual who is completely responsible for only themselves without an area to even call home. What does this interesting set of Saturn conjunctions in these two degrees look like? Although there is much more that could be said for these specific conjunctions based on the other planets involved besides Saturn, I would like to focus on Saturn and these two degrees. Interestingly, there is much about the current Covid-19 crisis that mirrors these two dichotomies. We have on the one hand, an entire world of leaders all forced into the difficult decision of making life-and-death decisions for their respective countries/states/cities while trying to balance extreme economic hardship versus sickness and possibly death while having very little information about this new virus to even use for assessment purposes. There are no easy options here, and clearly with our malefic Saturn transiting the 22nd degree of Capricorn, this brought out all the difficulties inherent in decision making, power, and authority. It is definitely not all fun and games when crises like these rock the very core of our world!
Meanwhile, at 0 degrees of Aquarius, most people are left feeling like their sense of security, safety, and their understanding of their “home” has been betrayed. In some way, then, all of us are somewhat exiled from any previous states of relative security and safety. And there is no clear sense of when (or if!) that sense of security will return and if there is a clear path back to the “home” from which we have been forcibly exiled.
While it is hard to imagine what the end of this Saturnian-influenced time may look like, when we emerge from the other side of this, we will likely be amazed by how resourceful we all have learned to be and will have found somewhat new identities, not only as individuals but also as a part of our local communities that have struggled through this time together.