As I write this, Saturn is slowly inching towards the position it was located at during the time of my birth — 29 degrees Sagittarius — the last degree of the sign, where it is conjunct Uranus.
This is good news. It means that my Saturn Return, arguably one of the most important astrological alignments of a person’s adult life, is almost over.
But it’s not all roses. Two degrees before it gets back home to where it was at the time of my birth, it will turn retrograde, and appear to be moving backwards in the sky, reminding me there is a lesson I still need to learn at this time that I have somehow refused to learn, or not quite yet mastered.
That lesson — a Saturn-Sun opposition I have somewhat natally.
But first, what is a Saturn Return? Saturn is the planet of commitment, responsibility, focus and authority. A Saturn Return occurs when Saturn returns to the same exact spot it was at the time of a person’s birth. It takes about 29.5 years for Saturn to circle the sun and therefore usually occurs around a person’s 29.5 birthday.
It is generally a time of increased responsibility and commitment — when a person’s excuses for how they live their life, and what they want to get from it no longer work. A time when each of us as individuals are asked to step up into the world to claim our rightful place as a force to be reckoned with, responsible alone for our own actions. In astrology, you are not considered an adult until this occurs.
If the person has been putting in the hard work Saturn has been requiring of them, they will reach higher levels of status, security and stability than ever before. If a person has not been putting in the hard work — as a result of either internal or external forces — the things that they love, need or trust will be dramatically wiped out from under them and they will then be forced to re-build their life anew.
The nature of a person’s Saturn Return is determined by which sign and house their Saturn is in natally, which house Capricorn (the ruler of Saturn) rules in a person’s chart, the aspects their natal Saturn makes to other planets, and the aspects transiting Saturn makes to other planets.
In other words, we all don’t get an equal hand. Some have it easier than others, and some have it harder. Some experience difficulties at work, while others experience difficulties in their marriage. Some may not even experience difficulties at all (or even register them as difficulties). Not to mention, we all have free will — making the number of experiences that can occur vastly different. No Saturn Return is alike.
Mine is in my 6th house — bringing my job, health and daily routines into focus. Anything that manifests itself outwardly and physically in my life. Capricorn, which rules Saturn, is on my 7th. That means that whatever changes or commitments I make this year at work or in life, will also change the people I associate with intimately and on a daily basis.
This alignment will not come exact until December of this year (thanks, retrograde), meaning I have another 8 months until these effects will be felt most fiercely. However, I am now beginning to get a glimpse of what will occur in December before Saturn begins to retrograde in April.
Because my natal Saturn is also conjunct Uranus, whatever happens in December will most likely involve me making an unexpected commitment, me rebelling from a commitment to do something that is more authentic, or most likely — both. This will then lead to some ending or beginning in my job, daily routines and the people I associate with regularly and intimately.
After that, transiting Saturn will then move into my 7th house of marriage and partnerships, bringing my focus to increased commitments with others, where it will meet with Pluto, ruler of my 5th house of children and creativity. Because of the eclipses we will be having in Leo and Aquarius — or my 2nd house of personal possessions and my 8th house of sex, intimacy and shared resources — in the next year and half, I am fully anticipating an engagement or marriage at the end of 2018 and into 2019. Then, a pregnancy in 2020.
But before I get there, I have to deal with some heavy internal baggage. That baggage — a loaded 12th house involving my sun, mercury, and venus in an opposition, or in conflict with, Saturn in my 6th. Although it's not entirely uncommon to have the sun, mercury, and venus so close to each other in a natal chart, it is significant. So many planets together in one house can indicate a singularity of focus, or some kind of strength and power in one area. However, it can also indicate an inability to develop other parts of yourself that can be beneficial for you to round this focus out. I have that in my 12th house of spirituality (although whether or not I can consider it a stellium is up for debate), and it is a very defining part of my life and my journey here on earth.
The 12th house in astrology is traditionally seen as one of the weakest parts of any person’s chart. It was known by the ancient astrologers as the “house of self-undoing” and was associated most closely with hospitals, prisons, retirement, the subconscious, mental disorders and isolation. The 12th house rules our deepest, most hidden desires — the things of the heart, spirit and soul that we feel deeply and that exert large outside influences on us, but that we cannot touch and feel.
It was said by the ancients that planets in this part of a person’s chart almost completely disappear. Because they are so deep and so intangible, any planet that is placed here struggles to exert itself externally and assert itself in the world. Sometimes it is because the person who has it does not understand how to handle this deep, internal energy of the planet. Sometimes it is because the person does not even know it exists it has been buried so deep down inside. As a result, the person who has this placement natally feels like something huge, terrible and impossible to find is missing from their life to truly make them whole.
The ancients realized that for some reason, whenever this house was indicated in a person’s chart, they were put in some kind of situation that would force them to be alone or isolated, subject to some kind of hidden force beyond the person’s control, or in personal turmoil.
Half of my personal planets, or the planets that rule what makes me unique as an individual, are in this house. My moon, which rules my emotions, is close by, but misses the 12th by just a few degrees. And my last personal planet, mars, which rules my passion and masculine drive to succeed, is in the 9th in Pisces.
While the 9th house rules something else entirely (and I'll get into that in a second), Pisces is the sign that is traditionally ruled by the 12th house and most closely resembles the properties I described above. So even though I have that planet outside the influence of the 12th, it is still without a doubt, ruled by it in some way.
What this means is that because of this defining influence in my natal chart, I have a deep desire to turn inward, and address the hidden, unseen, spiritual or subconscious parts of life. I also require lots of time alone and can feel violated on many occasions by the presence of others. There's also a biting undercurrent to my everyday interactions, where I feel as though I can crack at any moment if I’m not careful, like there's no glue holding my insides together. As a result, I hesitate to speak for fear of spilling out my inner baggage to some innocent bystander that can't handle the intensity of what I have to offer. I make jokes and light-hearted conversation to divert the attention elsewhere (very Gemini!), and I put walls and barriers, rules and restrictions, around me so that I can simply function on the day-to-day.
I resort to religion, astrology, tarot, crystals — weird unknown or esoteric things that are hidden — that force me to acknowledge this part of myself that somewhere, somehow — and for no reason at all — feels hopelessly lost and hurt and separated from the things I need most to feel complete. (Did I mention I have Chiron in the 12th, too?)
This focus on religion and the esoteric has a lot to do with my north node and mars in my 9th house squaring this point. Squares and oppositions, while difficult mathematic aspects in astrology, are typically considered positive to parts of your chart that have lots of planets clustered together. That is because they force the person to open their mind and develop other parts of themselves. Squares in particular (or 90 degree angles) require the person to bring two different parts of their life together (that don't naturally get along) and have them function together as one. Unlikely friends, so to speak.
Those two things I need to bring together? The 12th house, as I just mentioned. My spirituality, subconscious, desire for the depths and the unknown. And the 9th house. The 9th house rules religion, higher education, travel, study and anything that expands the mind. What I need is to learn to bring together my need to plumb the depths, with another equally important need to constantly learn new things, get wisdom, and associate with a fixed system of beliefs.
These two houses don't typically get along. That is because the 12th house is raw and unadulterated spirituality. It does not like structure, but likes to free-flow in the moment. The 9th, however, desires meaning, understanding and purpose. I need to find a way to contain... that which cannot be contained.
But that is not all. When Saturn returns to 21 degrees of Sagittarius in August of this year, it will complete a major configuration in my chart called a grand cross.
Grand crosses consist of two oppositions (180 degrees) and four squares (90 degrees) in a chart and present the individual with much pressure to act, figure out their life, and make real change. That's because each of the planets and signs being connected don't quite work in the same ways or understand each other, and present the person with a challenge — namely, how to dissolve the tension.
This configuration can either cause people to break under the pressure — or, instead force them to confront their issues and crystallize early. Steve Jobs, for example, is one of the most famous people who was born with an alignment like this and took advantage of it.
The four parts of my chart being triggered are: my 12th of spirituality and my 9th of religion like we discussed. Saturn then brings it home to my 6th of daily routines (also, my job), and connects it to my 3rd of communication with people close to home (and of my past).
This means for most of this year (although mostly in August) I will have to learn to bring my feelings about spirituality into my daily life, routines, job, etc. – and join that with my religious practice, or my destiny to explore a religious community, establish a strong system of beliefs, travel, and teach.
At that time, communicating with others, especially people from my past and people around town, about what I've been up to and what I feel inside will be of the utmost importance, so I can once and for all live a life and have relationships that contain all of me, and not just little parts here and there.
My Saturn Return is very much so about who I am inside, how I live my every day life, and whether or not I can somehow bring both of those things together to reach my destiny and create the future I want (which by the way definitely includes being religious, traveling often, and always learning). Saturn in Sagittarius opposing my 12th house sun (and squaring my 9th house) almost all this year brings these issues into focus, and challenges me to confront them once and for all.
It is asking me: Can you bring all these things of your life together — spirituality (which in my case includes astrology and tarot), religion (which includes the Mormon Church that I converted to at the very first degree of my Saturn Return), and the very physical parts of your life? Can you live the life you know you need to live to be happy? Even if you're scared? Even if other people disagree? Even if you are hated for it? Can you stop being so afraid to be, do, and speak the things you need to find wholeness? Can you actually be who you think you are — or feel as though you are on the inside?
If I decide I cannot meet this challenge, Saturn is warning me that I will then shut out part of myself I need to be whole. And will have to deal with the consequences in every part of my life for years and years to come — accepting the fact that I'm not associating with the people I want to be associating with because they don't know who I really am. Accepting the fact that I have a job that doesn't resonate with me deep down because I didn't make an effort to get it that way. Accepting the fact that I can't learn or progress because the things I want or need to learn or progress are somehow off limits.
But if I do decide the cause is worth fighting for and begin to move forward, the challenge then becomes — How? How do I do this? How do I rearrange my life outwardly to reflect who I am inside? And what do I do if I face opposition? Am I strong enough?
Saturn in the 6th, a house traditionally ruled by Virgo (which is also another important sign for me, but needs another blog post), begs me to find some way to make what's inside manifest itself outwardly, very practically, in the real world.
Can I do it? I hope so. But, I have my own fears holding me back. Mostly that I won't be accepted by a religious community I love for some of my interests, that I will be seen as weird, unusual or on the fringe by the people I respect or rely upon most, and that I will no longer be able to hide my identity, and will have to face the truth about who I really am deep down — warts and all.
Heavy stuff for a Gemini.