ROLE OF SATURN ON
THE SPIRITUAL PATH
-by Joyce Hoen DF Astrol S-
(This article was previously published in the Astrological Journal, UK, Spring issue 2001 )
-article only suitable for those well versed in astrology-
Recently I read the biography of a Sufi practitioner who started his book by
saying that Sufism basically knows three Paths: the path away from God, the path to God and the path in God. Sufism is a mystical tradition where God is the Beloved in the heart; it is about merging with the Divine Love. While reading this, I thought: "Wait a minute, what a wonderful way to describe the three cycles of Saturn in a lifetime!" The first 29.6 years of our lives we usually spend 'away from the Source' which can (but does not always need to) change dramatically during the first Saturn-return, after which we slowly but surely become 'seekers', more and more attuned to our inner lives which could be called the 'Path to God'.
Paramahansa Yogananda who lived for just 2 Saturn cycles (he died during his 2nd Saturn return), never even spent the first 29.6 years of his life 'away from God': --reading his "Autobiography"--, he tried practically from his birth onwards to consciously return to the Source and seek God, so he already spent the first Saturn cycle 'on the Path to God'. Many people not on the spiritual path spend their third Saturn cycle (58-83 yrs) more and more 'in Neptune country', unconnected to Saturn (time, space and the laws of this life on Earth): they slowly experience a split between body and spirit, developing Alzheimer and dementia. Others manage to integrate the timelessness with Saturn and experience great peace: they radiate wisdom during their third Saturn cycle. As mentioned, not all people consciously or unconsciously turn into seekers after their 1st Saturn-return, but many do, in one way or another.
Halfway during the 2nd Saturn cycle we experience in a short time span both the Saturn-opposition as well as the Neptune-Neptune square. These transits, occurring somewhere between ages 42 and 45, follow a period of many transformations with Pluto and Uranus transits which people currently experience between the age of 35-36 and 42 as a first since its discovery, now that Pluto is so close (relatively speaking) to the Sun and moving so fast (relatively speaking again) through the zodiac (the peak of which occurred during the early nineties). I believe that the period between ages 42 and 45, the period of the transiting Neptune square to Neptune and the 2nd Saturn opposition, is for many people already a transition into the experience of living the Path 'in God' so to speak. I once heard a lecture by Alan Oken where one thing he said struck me deeply. He said: "Before your transit of Neptune square Neptune you are seeking God, but after it God seeks you".
Once I had this very down-to-earth consultation with an alternative healer, which drives this point home in a very succinct manner. She came for a consultation because she was so incredibly busy, and worried about having no time for herself anymore. She thought she needed to make some choices. The year before that, she had started a practice in Belgium with her husband, a medical doctor, which flourished right from the start. She loved the work they were doing together and in fact; she was radiant when I saw her. But she had this problem of no longer having any time for herself. I looked at her chart and saw that she was by that time well beyond her Neptune-square-Neptune transit - the last one had occurred some 9 months before. I looked at her and told her: "What do you mean, you have no time for yourself? Isn't it precisely your Self who is doing this work and loving every minute of it? You have entered a new stage in life, where you should stop your old way of thinking, the way of thinking of people on the path still 'seeking the Source', where spirit and matter are split and seen as two different things. Yes, you used to live in a consciousness where there was time for 'your self' and time 'for work'. But these things have now become one. Your work is an expression of yourself. Change your vocabulary now. You do not need any time for your self, because all your time is from your Self and you love every minute of it. The work is seeking you, the creative life-force is seeking you now, you no longer need to look for it yourself; your self and your Self are one."
And this is, I think, the great difference between the first stages on the spiritual path, when 'Neptune and Saturn' are not integrated yet, and the later stages on the spiritual path, the 'Path in God', when things just are the way they are and nothing needs to be sought anymore. And all of this is nothing else but a change in consciousness, not even necessarily a change in the outer circumstances of one's life. We can feel tremendous inner pain by becoming conscious of the split between spirit and matter; we can feel imprisoned by the realities of this earthly existence and seek for something greater than ourselves. This is in fact a wonderful stage, the stage of the spiritual seeker. In this stage we become acutely aware of Saturn and the need to transform it, making it more transparent, so that at least some of the timelessness, universal compassion and love of Neptune, the universal heart, can shine through. And we work on ourselves, or rather life works on us, as we go through transit after transit ever more consciously after our first Saturn-return. And then one day, lo and behold, whether set off by a chain of incredibly traumatic experiences or subtly and all by itself, one day we are at peace with ourselves and find our destiny on this planet, not away from it, and Neptune and Saturn are integrated: the eternal and time itself are the same.
If this hypothesis is all true, or even to some extent only, it means that Saturn plays a tremendously important role on our spiritual path, because it is only by means of Saturn that we can come to grasp anything of the trans-Saturnian realm. In astrology many people equate 'spirituality' with Neptune and all its other derivatives. When we seek the less confined more exalted states of being, for instance in trance, by means of drugs or even alcohol, we all try to fly to Neptune, transcending or even forgetting about Saturn, and consequently our fall back to Saturn is hard and very painful. In fact, seeking Neptune without taking Saturn along is part of the 'split' and a guarantee for encountering problems on the path. And this applies to much more mundane everyday situations in life too.
Regardless of the three Saturn-cycles, or perhaps I should say, parallel to it, we have within ourselves three qualities of Saturn. The first quality is where we try to close ourselves off from anything that we cannot comprehend, narrowing our focus to the truths we can perceive with the senses only. Oftentimes this ends up as a Saturn who needs to regulate everything outside of us, we harden and tend to be chaotic on the inside at the same time. This Saturn-quality is pretty 'thick'. We can also ignore Saturn altogether, and adhere to the flight-mechanisms, seeking relief in alcohol, drugs or other escapist things. Being an escapist actually means literally this: escaping from Saturn! This Saturn-quality is pretty 'thin' as in ignored. (With Saturn placements in the 8th or the 12th it can become quite easy to escape it, though this certainly isn't true for everybody). It may result in blaming the whole world for our experiences, i.e. not taking responsibility for ourselves but feeling ourselves victims (Saturn in the 8th negatively speaking). Neptune is pretty strong here, but Saturn is projected outside and weak inside.
The third quality, the quality of the middle way perhaps, is a Saturn which does take responsibility for itself and refines itself in such a way that more and more of the higher vibrations can be channeled THROUGH the Saturn world of the here and now. If we transpose these three Saturn qualities to our experience of time itself - Saturn equals timing in the first place - we get the state where Saturn is always experienced in relation to past pain and hurt (1), or connected to distant goals in the future (2), or again the middle way, the crossroad between past and future: the here and now (3). If one studies charts of people who (for instance) need a lot of alcohol to survive, it is quite easy to find the Neptune factors involved in such a chart. Neptunian people are in reality people who are seeking the divine. The key is however to allow the divine to manifest in the here and the now THROUGH our Saturn-ego-content. In charts of alcoholics you will consistently find that the Capricorn and Saturn content is difficult to identify with (i.e. to take responsibility for their own journey). Capricorn and/or Saturn might indeed be connected with the 8th or 12th house for instance (houses that we do not identify with as 'being our own').
Saturn is the crux of the matter with all Neptunian things in life, not so much Neptune, is what I am merely trying to say. All the trans-Saturnian forces need to operate THROUGH our Saturn-content to make it workable in our every day lives. The path of aligning the ego with the higher Self is not an easy one. Saturn is not too friendly towards the ego, as we all know. We all know what insecurity means. We all know what it means to be put down by someone else and how this hurts (it is the ego which gets hurt). We tend to experience this the easiest in those areas of life connected with the houses ruled by Saturn and/or where Saturn is placed. In the first 30 years of our lives Saturn (and our ego) needs to be built UP, we need support from authorities (Saturn) outside of ourselves. But this changes after 29.6 and yet, most people still give other people the authority to approve and justify their acts. The fear of failure in the eyes of someone else, insecurity and needing approval are extremely interesting dynamics. If I am sensitive to what others say about whatever it might be that I am sensitive about, it means I give my Saturn away to others. This is fine if I am not yet 30 years of age, but then something should really change. And yet, so often do we fail to understand this truth, even if life is trying to beat it into us.
The whole astrology world, at least in the USA right now, so anxious for outer acceptance by society, is in fact an example of the same dynamic. If we are insecure about our astrology, yes we DO need acceptance from the outer world, because how else are we going to atone this insecurity? - we reason. But think about the following for a moment: say you were born with Capricorn on the 6th house cusp and Saturn in the 5th house. You may be pretty sensitive about your work methods and may need to reconcile this by being ambitious, working hard and yet, all this for just a single reason (a goal in the 'future'): to become accepted by your superiors. Of course, with Capricorn on the 6th house cusp, you are finding out that nobody sees the amount of work you put into something and you don't feel you get the recognition you think you so deserve. All these dynamics are fine for someone in the first Saturn-cycle, but for all those who are older: reflect for a moment on what happens if someone DOES recognize you? What happens, is in fact that you will not believe it! You will start to minimize your own efforts all of a sudden, or doubting whether the other person actually means it. You will continuously doubt yourself in all the areas related to Saturn and Capricorn! Whatever other people say!
I tend to tell my clients that there is one area in their life where they will not gain any approval from others, where they are on their own, the area related to Capricorn and Saturn in their charts. And I tell them: "you see, it does not matter what someone else says, because Saturn stays a pain in the ass as long as you project the thing onto someone else, or a system outside of yourself. Saturn is in reality not the outer authority, it is an inner authority. It is your own conscience whose approval you unknowingly are seeking, and our own conscience is the first gate to God indeed." Therefore it does not help whether someone outside approves or disapproves. Yet, how difficult it is to listen to our inner conscience, because the truth is, we judge ourselves so much harsher than anybody else ever would. Yes Saturn is kind of harsh for the ego, but in truth not for the Soul, to the contrary. To make this turn-around is in fact to change from karma to dharma. From burdens on our backs to walking the path in the here and now. Firm yet flexible, the 3rd Saturn-quality.
© Joyce Hoen DF Astrol S, 2001-2008