by Robert Wilkinson
Knowing how transiting Saturn affects a chart is critical in understanding how much control over our lives we have. Saturn symbolizes that part of us where our socio-cultural biases, limitations, and rigidities run up against the Cosmic Timekeeper of our Higher Transpersonal responsibilities, aka "Dharma." In this 3-part series we'll explore Saturn aspects and influences. Today we take a new look at what it means when Saturn makes a conjunction to natal planets or the Ascendant.
We last explored this topic about 5 years ago, and I figured it was time for an update. Some of the material in this 3-part series was taken from an article I wrote about 7 or 8 years ago explaining the mechanics of the process and exploring Saturn's nature. However, since it was essentially three articles in one, I added a lot more material that explains various effects in greater detail, and turned it into this updated 3 part series.
Today we explore Saturn effects of conjunctions to planets and the Ascendant. Part 2 outlines Saturn's effect on different generations. Part 3 explores the effect of Saturn squares and oppositions to planets in our charts. That said, let’s take a look at how to make friends with Saturn as it moves through the various signs and houses in our chart!
When Saturn touches a planet or significant point in the chart, we say that Saturn is conjunct (at or near the same longitudinal degree as) that point. In astrology there is a concept in calculating aspects (angular relationships) between planets we call “orbs.” Conjunctions and oppositions get maximum orb, usually anywhere from 10-15 degrees, depending on which planets are involved.
The Sun and Moon get the widest orbs of aspect influence, and so we may find a planet conjunct one of our Lights being a fair distance from that Light. That’s why believing a conjunction isn’t happening simply because it’s a few degrees away is folly.
Forming conjunctions show impending energy that’s in our face. Exact conjunctions show we’re in the heart of the energy. Separating conjunctions show we’ve been influenced by that energy. That’s why the time after the Saturn return, or Saturn conjunct our Sun, Ascendant, or any other planets, is radically different than the time before the Saturn return, since the exact event has transformed us for the rest of our lives, to a greater or lesser degree.
We definitely feel the influence of Saturn when it’s in the same sign as one of our planets, regardless of how distant they are from each other. For example, my Saturn is in the 29th degree of Virgo. I remember feeling its influence the day it entered Virgo in September 2007, even though it was still 28 degrees away from an exact conjunction to my Saturn.
To continue the example, the exact return happened the first time in October 2009. Saturn then retrograded back over my Saturn in May 2010, went stationary direct at 28 Virgo, and then crossed back over the exact degree and minute of my Saturn in June 2010. In my experience, my second Saturn return lasted for about 3 years!! And yes, my life was radically restructured over that time span, and the person I was the Summer of 2010 was radically different than the person I was in Summer 2007.
My sense of responsibility was different, my sense of purpose was different, what I could and could not live with was different, the roles I was willing or unwilling to play were different, with the critical factor being that I CHOSE MY PATH EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. The Saturn return is when we make choices to throw off the chains of mental and emotional slavery and renew our dominion over our lives and affairs, or allow inertia and sclerosis to dominate our lives, making it a long, tiring, depressing slog.
That’s why the when a planet or our Ascendant is conjuncted by Saturn, it often leads to feeling depressed, oppressed, or repressed, limited, frustrated, and "saturnine." Saturn is a sobering influence, and over the long haul we learn patience, maturity, and responsibility through a deepening awareness of that planetary influence which has been touched by Saturn.
These all show us something in our life structure that has outlived its time. Some things just become “old” and Saturn shows us what and when. Through the heaviness we feel while going through a Saturn lesson, we are slowly but surely taught to see what is obsolete so we may methodically and maturely eliminate old structures and limitations of previous ways of doing or experiencing our Being. This allows us to find our way to our true selves, freed from prejudices and traps of fear or limiting behaviors that stifle our Spirit.
A Saturn transit is a time when we get clear about who we are and who we aren't. We learn what we can and cannot live with, and what exactly is our bottom line regarding self-limitation. Saturn helps us leave behind the chains of mental slavery and obsolete belief systems. It represents the part of our personality that keeps its focus on the "Great Work," where we process experience into wisdom and personal authority or “authorship” of our lives.
Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto transits all symbolize forces "beyond our control" affecting us, and we respond to these transpersonal forces the best we are able via the “seven Sacred Planets.” The Transpersonal planets open up a much vaster field of Spiritual activity, but we have little to do with what IS except to adapt within the larger field and do our Higher Self the best we're able.
With Saturn, though, we learn what we can do and what we can't, what we can influence and what we can't, and are given opportunities to grow beyond unreasonable or immature expectations and "shoulds." The three outermost planets make things seem very weird indeed, while Saturn makes things crystal clear, even though it sometimes is associated with difficulty and limitations.
Saturn has the effect of deepening and restructuring whatever it touches. It is where “the chickens come home to roost,” for good or ill, based in what we’ve been doing since the last time it touched that planet or our Ascendant. When Saturn conjuncts our Ascendant or a planet, it marks the end of an old way of defining those energies, and the beginning of a new long term cycle connected to those energies.
When it touches our Sun, our light is confined, but structured in a way that is more mature and responsible. Our long term experience comes to our Light, so our Illumination takes a more mature form. Of course, in the case of a dysfunctional Saturn or Sun, rigidity, fear, and authoritarian tendencies are crystalized.
In any case, it is when we reap the results of living our Light over the long haul. When Saturn conjuncts our Sun, we get exactly what we deserve for our prior long term efforts, finding newer, more mature and appropriate ways of living our life and expressing our Light.
When Saturn conjuncts our Moon, our personal feelings deepen, we become much more introspective, and we restructure our habits and ways of experiencing our day to day life. Many have to confront fear under this transit, and these periods off us a chance to reprioritize how we are and are not taking care of ourselves and others appropriately. This time restructures our personality, and what we care about (and what we don’t!)
When Saturn conjoins our Mercury, our thinking becomes more structured, profound, or dogmatic. How we coordinate our affairs becomes organized into a workable routine. We learn what we know and what we do not know, and whether our thinking is too narrow or pessimistic. It's a great time for studying, reading, writing, or any of the mental disciplines.
When it conjuncts our Venus, our relationships change dramatically, and we drop obsolete associations, those that are more trouble than they're worth or no longer reflect who we really are. Any time Saturn touches our Moon or Venus there are usually hard lessons in human relations, but that frees us to take care of our likes and needs appropriately.
When Saturn conjuncts our Mars, our energies are somewhat restricted, and we have to examine whatever aggravates us, and take steps to structure in ways to plan the release of the pressure before it explodes or implodes. It's always a time to reorganize what we think we're supposed to be doing and slow down! These times show us how to make time our ally in implementing our plans.
Saturn conjunct the Jupiter in a chart restructures the imagination, the promise of the future, our philosophy and spiritual beliefs, and all the other areas ruled by Jupiter. Some things are cut back, while other things are perseveringly carried out. Experience is incorporated into the broader view of opportunity. The philosophy matures, and becomes more organized or dogmatic, depending. This can show us how to achieve a wider future using time, structure, and patience.
Saturn conjunct Saturn is the "dreaded" Saturn return, discussed earlier. You can find much more about the meaning and influence of this very important period that happens every 29 years in the article “The Saturn Return – Myth and Reality”
It's not such a bad time if you're ready to take responsibility for what IS your stuff, and drop the learned limitations that keep your life from being the grand adventure that it could be (and is!) Mainly we see that our experience has exhausted certain ways of living, and it's time to live that which we haven't yet experienced. It's also usually accompanied by feeling a sense of limitations and boundaries never felt before.
The time of day we were born determines our rising sign, or Ascendant. When Saturn forms a conjunction with the Ascendant, there is a real sense that we've grown up, and usually have to deal with heavy responsibilities or duties that show us how mature we are. There often are feelings of being weary with the world, or even a fatigue due to being put through a "rigor."
Saturn in the same sign as our rising sign or near our Ascendant is a serious time, where our purpose is examined with an eye to the future. There is a solemnity we don’t usually feel, along with a "strictly business" approach to life. We tend to be more serious when Saturn conjuncts our Ascendant, and are capable of doing "the long march," accepting duties we may not feel like doing.
Things seem more weighty during a Saturn transit, not surprising since Saturn symbolizes density. When Saturn conjuncts the Ascendant, a part of your self-image is leaving forever, to be replaced with a new way of being in relationships, with the self, the Self, and the world. We know something is complete, and are ready to use our instinctive wisdom-experience in new ways.
The Ascendant specializes your unique purpose and being, distinguishing you from everyone else born on your birthday. It is your self-referencing Self-awareness, your window on reality. Since nothing clarifies things better than Saturn, when Saturn is near or in the Ascendant, we find a whole new Self-discipline.
We often accept new responsibilities and long range tasks, training or retraining who we see ourselves to be in new ways. Often we may feel or seem to be older than we were not very long ago. We definitely feel our age under a Saturn transit, and eliminate everything that's a drag on our line and more trouble than they're worth.
Saturn usually conjuncts our Ascendant (and our other planets) more than once in a life, usually twice or even three times if we live to our '80s or experience a conjunction when we’re very young. Each time it conjuncts our Ascendant, we end old lessons and our sense of purpose and self-identity while resetting our defaults in our self-definition (relative to our world) of power, authority, influence and our instinctive self.
In part 2, we’ll focus on how various generations have been and are being heavily influenced by a Saturn conjunction to their Sun and/or Ascendant. Part 3 explores the effects of Saturn squaring or opposing the Ascendant or a planet.
© Copyright 2008, 2013 Robert Wilkinson