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Surviving a Saturn Transit

For the past few weeks, I've been living through a difficult Saturn transit to my natal Venus. From the day the transit began, a series of unfortunate events have been whacking me upside the head, each one adding a little more weight to the general feeling of heaviness that oftentimes accompanies a Saturn transit. Knowing what I do about Saturn has made a huge difference in how I've interpreted these events, so I wanted to share some of that knowledge for when you inevitably find yourself under the influence of our solar system's "Great Malefic." Although Saturn's reputation as a force for delay, misery, heaviness and misfortune is well-earned, I prefer to think of Saturn as the timekeeper of my life...a celestial "Father Time," who checks in with me on regular intervals to make sure things are going according to plan. Like all good father-figures, Saturn has my best interests at heart, even if I don't always like the way he goes about teaching me what I need to learn. Saturn's lessons can feel difficult and heavy, especially in the places where we lack discipline. That's because Saturn is all about structure, responsibility, achievement and maturity. He's the authority figure of the zodiac. He keeps things in order. His lessons are oftentimes laced with karma and have a feeling of being fated. When he shows up, any sense of freedom, flow, comfort, pleasure and lightness is bound to be challenged, especially if those free-flowing ideals have led you into laziness or irresponsibility. If your life has been a loud, free-for-all party, Saturn is the police officer knocking on the door. And you can't fake it with Saturn. He demands real growth. That kind of unwavering insistence is precisely why I like Saturn. He may be a buzzkill, but his lessons always force me to grow in very practical, grounded and long-lasting ways. It takes Saturn about 28 years to march all the way around a natal chart. That means it makes a hard aspect to each planet in your natal chart (via conjunction, opposition or square), about every seven years. It also means he stays in each of the twelve houses of your chart for a period of 2-3 years. Wherever Saturn shows up, it's time to measure progress in some area of your development. If you're falling short, Saturn will hold you accountable, offering real-life lessons in whatever you need to work on. When Saturn shows up, you know it's time to grow up and get real. A typical Saturn transit will last several weeks to several months. He really takes his time, and his lessons are hard to miss. During a transit, you may feel like you're being slammed, but if you're patient and you pay attention, it's surprisingly easy to find the pattern. Here's what it generally looks like: 1. As Saturn approaches a point in your natal chart, you may start to feel the pressure, like a heaviness or a sense of dissatisfaction. This sense is usually vague and can last for quite some time. You may be able to pinpoint it, or you may not. You'll feel a Saturn transit most strongly when it's aspecting one of your personal planets (Sun, Mercury, Mars, Venus) or one of the four cross points on your chart (Ascendant, Descendant, Midheaven or Nadir). 2. When Saturn comes into contact with the point in your natal chart, it may be accompanied by a challenging or disorienting event in your everyday life (i.e., you lose a job, get sick, have a negative relational experience, etc.). This is the real-life misery phase of a Saturn transit, where one small thing after another seems to go wrong, progress gets delayed, or major events cause you to seriously reconsider something about your life. It can be accompanied by delays, frustration, mishaps, pressure and dissatisfaction. This is Saturn's way of asking you to slow down and seriously look at something that needs to change. That change may be structural in nature (like a physical move) or more subtle (like the way in which you're looking at something or interacting with someone). Saturn's asking you to do the hard work required to grow up and claim your authority in this area of your life. Usually, that means becoming more disciplined, realistic, committed, mature, dedicated, structured or responsible. 3. As part of its natural progression, at some point, Saturn will reverse course. During this phase, it will cross back over the natal point, perhaps triggering another event, before falling out of orb. Depending on where the natal point is and how far Saturn backtracks, you may feel a softening of the pressure. Saturn is giving you some time and space to work with what he's shown you. 4. At some point, Saturn will begin moving forward again, crossing the natal point one last time. If you haven't done the work, this may trigger more difficulty. You can think of this as Saturn's "parting-gift lesson" that you can choose to work with or not. If you've done the hard work Saturn requires, you may get a clear picture of what you've been working on during this last phase. You may even be able to see the ways in which you've grown or matured because of these experiences. Eventually, Saturn will move totally out of influence, and you'll feel a significant lightening of the pressure or even a sense of deep and meaningful accomplishment. Many of Saturn's lessons are hard to understand when you're in the middle of them. The events may even seem unrelated, although if you pay attention, you'll likely see a pattern. The harder you work, the more Saturn rewards you for your efforts. Saturn transits can bring big adjustments for the better, though you may not fully appreciate them for many years to come. Remember, Saturn will come back around to the same point seven years later to gauge your progress. If you haven't done your work, expect more difficulty. If you've put the effort in, developed some discipline, been responsible and committed in that area of your life, Saturn may bring you much earned respect, achievement and recognition. My best advice for handling a Saturn transit is to embrace the lesson. The less you resist, the better. Understand that you're being shown an area of your life where there's room for you to grow. This may mean taking more responsibility for the things that aren't going your way. Expect that life will move more slowly right now, and that limitations and frustration are part of the lesson. Do your best not to blame others when things seem to be going wrong. You're building a solid foundation for the future. All transits are temporary, so use the opportunity being given to you. Remember Saturn's keywords: authority, maturity, responsibility, hard work, morality, ambition, achievement, recognition, respect, discipline and work. How can you embody more of these ideals in your life right now? Below is a little guide for what kind of lessons you can expect, depending on which planet or house Saturn is aspecting. The planets and houses represent large areas of your life, and there are many ways to read an aspect. Start with choosing a word from each category of your transit and putting them together. As an example, a Saturn transit to Venus in Cancer in the 8th house could mean you're getting lessons around self-worth (Venus), related to your mother or issues of nurturing (Cancer), playing out within your most intimate relationships (8th house). Once you've gotten a sense of the energies at play, think of how you can apply Saturn's gifts (authority, discipline, hard work, etc.) to this area of your life. Be patient. Allow whatever happens during your transit to guide you. In general, the hard aspects (conjunctions, oppositions and squares) carry the more difficult karmic lessons and feel the heaviest. Under softer aspects (trines and sextiles), you'll feel Saturn's influence, but the energy will be easier to integrate. You may find it easier to be disciplined and responsible, build more structure, or even receive some recognition in the area being impacted. *Since signs and houses overlap to a high degree, I've listed them together. For example, if the transit is to your Moon which is in Leo in the 9th house, you would read the categories Moon, Leo/5th House, and Sagittarius/9th House. THE PERSONAL PLANETS/POINTS

  • SUN - your ego, your children, your creative self, love affairs, your sexuality, your ability to be playful and spontaneous, being the center of attention, self-centeredness, your inner king/queen, your capacity to perform, your inner child. A Saturn transit to your Sun will show you the results of what you've been doing, for better or worse, with the potential to tame your ego or get serious about your creativity. You may feel less spontaneous and playful overall or have difficulty with your children or romantic partners.

  • MOON - your inner sense of safety, security, your physical home, your mother, nurturing, your feelings, your sense of belonging, your family, your ancestry, your subconscious mind, your ability to connect, your ability to care for another. A Saturn transit to your Moon may cause you to reevaluate your emotional needs and whether they are being met. You may feel emotionally discontent, burdened, dissatisfied with your home or have challenges with your mother or family. You may feel more insecure and depressed during this transit, with the potential to build a more solid foundation for emotional security, as well as learn better self-care and self-nurturing skills.

  • MERCURY - your mind/thoughts, your capacity for curiosity, your sense of exploration, your communication skills, your ability to learn, your education, writing, perception, hearing, lies, distraction, storytelling. A Saturn transit to Mercury may make you feel more serious and less sociable. It provides a chance to improve your communication skills, get serious about an educational goal, and release old thought patterns, especially ones that are based on false premises or perceptions.

  • VENUS - sense of self-worth, your ability to love, your values, material resources, your relationship to money, your love relationships, your capacity for pleasure and beauty, your feminine nature, feminine sexual energy, your capacity for fairness and harmony, your ability to relate and be in partnership, your sense of justice, your inner artist/musician. A Saturn transit to Venus brings lessons in love, values and money. You may come to see a relationship more realistically, commit more deeply to a relationship, or leave a relationship. Saturn also offers an opportunity to get your finances in order. You may feel more isolated or lonely, or experience financial setbacks. Saturn here can teach you the meaning of self-worth.

  • MARS - your personal will, healthy aggression, fighting spirit, your ability to protect yourself, your instinct, your sense of independence, expression of your anger, your capacity for conflict, your self-confidence, your masculine sexual energy. Saturn transiting Mars helps you develop discipline over how you express anger and aggression, as well as get control over your energy, will and drive. You may face set-backs, feel less energized, or have things get in the way of what you want.

  • JUPITER - truth, expansion, your religion, intuition, your faith, your system of belief, higher education, travel, risk-taking, your capacity for laziness or gluttony, your higher mind, publishing, your in-laws. Jupiter is your capacity to expand. Saturn's presence here may make you feel restless and impatient, as your desire to expand will be met with outside forces that slow you down, block your progress or frustrate you. If you've over-extended yourself or have been living outside of your means, you may experience the consequences of those actions now. Saturn may bring problems with travel, in-laws or higher education, as well as a general feeling of being constricted. Under this influence, you can learn how to steadily and responsibly expand with discipline.

  • SATURN - your inner authority, maturity, responsibility, hard work, morality, your ambition, your sense of achievement, recognition, respect of self and others, your work, difficulty. Saturn here brings lesson through your work or career. Whatever progress you've made is being tested. There may be delays in your progress that cause you to question your direction, or you may feel pressure from authority figures who question your commitment or capacity. Under this influence, you can make strides to better align your work with your life and gain a renewed sense of confidence built upon your efforts.

  • URANUS - your capacity for freedom, breaking out of constricting circumstances, originality, your genius, working toward a group goal, electricity, individualism or loss of individualism, mob-mentality, science and technology. Saturn here may feel like it's squashing your desire for personal freedom, which will make you feel more rebellious than usual. Inner tensions may surface, along with an intense need for change that seems like it's being thwarted from outside forces. You may experience restlessness, difficulty sleeping and nervous tension during this transit. Under this transit, you can learn how to temper your impatience, and act responsibly to make needed change and create needed freedom in your life.

  • NEPTUNE - surrender, going with the flow, the collective unconscious, mysticism, altered states of consciousness, your ability to experience non-ordinary reality, suffering as a way to grace, addiction, disillusionment. Saturn here shatters your illusions. Your belief system and your faith will be challenged, especially if you've been self-sacrificing or living as a martyr. You may wish to cling more strongly to your illusions, but that will only make the transit more difficult. You may realize during this time that relationships were based on illusion or deception or that your goals are unrealistic. Under this influence, you can bring discipline and practicality to your faith, make strides in overcoming an addiction, see things more realistically, and develop your capacity to connect with unseen realities in a more disciplined way.

  • PLUTO - power, abuse of power, merging, your sexuality, death, rebirth, transformation, trust, psychological truth, your intimate relationships, inheritances, intensity, your soul. During a Saturn transit to Pluto, you may feel a strong drive for change, power or success, but progress will be slow. Impatience, anger and frustration may be hard to contain, as your ambition and drive will be thwarted. You may experience difficulties with those in power or have power struggles with others, especially within intimate relationships. Saturn here can help you gain control over your drives and urges, reign in your anger, and take realistic steps towards becoming empowered.

  • ASCENDANT - how you are seen in the world, who you are, the mask you wear, how you interface with the world. A Saturn transit to your Ascendant will help you see yourself more clearly. This may place pressure on your partnerships or marriage. Saturn here teaches you how to be more confident and mature.

  • DESCENDANT - your marriage, close relationships. Saturn here challenges your relationships, with the potential to make them stronger, more mature and more committed. You may leave a relationship, or get more clear about what it means to be in relationship and what you want in relationship. You may be hesitant to take on new commitments during this time.

  • MIDHEAVEN - your work in the world, your job, recognition, authority, ambition, your father. Saturn here will help you build a foundation for success in your career. If you've been working hard, this transit may bring you recognition and acknowledgement through a promotion, a new job or a raise. If you haven't done the necessary work, Saturn will clear the way for a new cycle. You may lose your job or have difficulties with regard to authority figures or at work.

  • NADIR - your physical home, your emotional sense of security, your mother. Saturn here will make you focus on your inner sense of security, bringing challenges with family or with your home. You may decide to remodel or move, break ties or take on more responsibility at home or with family.


  • ARIES/1st HOUSE - will, aggression, ability to fight/protect yourself, instinct, independence, how you define yourself, assertion, directness, expression of anger, conflict, fighting spirit, confidence, your masculine sexual energy (the pioneer, the daredevil, the survivor, the warrior)

  • TAURUS/2nd HOUSE - self-worth, values, material resources, money, proving yourself to yourself, love relationships, pleasure, beauty, arts and handcrafts, your feminine nature (the musician, the earth spirit, the silent one)

  • GEMINI/3rd HOUSE - your mind/thoughts, curiosity, educational systems, exploration, gathering, learning, communication, your day-to-day life, short trips, your siblings, distraction, writing, perception, hearing, lies (the witness, teacher, storyteller, journalist)

  • CANCER/4th HOUSE - safety, security, your physical home, your childhood home, family, mother, tribe, ancestry, subconscious, emotions, feeling connected, belonging (the mother, healer, invisible man/woman)

  • LEO/5th HOUSE - creativity, fun, sexuality, playfulness, spontaneity, being the center of attention, Christ-light, ego, children, grace, self-centeredness, performing, your inner child (the king/queen, performer, clown, child)

  • VIRGO/6th HOUSE - perfection, your physical health, diligently working to perfect something, world service, your work, intersection of religion and sexuality, healing, mentoring, duty, detail-orientation (the servant, martyr, perfectionist, analyst)

  • LIBRA/7th HOUSE - relating, learning fairness, harmony and balance through relationship, partnerships, your marriage, justice, art, co-dependence, close relationships, husband/wife (the lover, artist, peacemaker)

  • SCORPIO/8th HOUSE - digging to find the truth, power, attempting to merge, your intimate relationships, sexual relationships, deep honesty, trust, psychological truth, empowerment, abuse of power, shamanism, inheritances, death, rebirth, transformation, intensity, depth, the soul (the detective, the sorcerer, the hypnotist)

  • SAGITTARIUS/9th HOUSE - seeking truth, expansion, intuition, enthusiasm, higher learning, higher educational systems, faith, belief, risk, greed/gluttony, laziness, travel, foreigners, your in-laws, long trips, religion, publishing (the gypsy, the student, the philosopher)

  • CAPRICORN/10th HOUSE - authority, maturity, responsibility, hard work, morality, ambition, your work, achievement, recognition, respect, discipline, difficulty (the hermit, the father, the prime minister)

  • AQUARIUS/11th HOUSE - freedom, breaking out of constricting circumstances, originality, genius, working toward a goal, your dreams, individualism, mob-mentality, science, technology (the genius, the revolutionary, the scientist, the exile)

  • PISCES/12th HOUSE - surrender, going with the flow, mysticism, altered states of consciousness, non-ordinary reality, the collective unconscious, past lives, suffering, addiction (the mystic, dreamer, poet, addict, guru)

If you'd like to track your own Saturn transits, I recommend the site Astrotheme. Select the "natal chart inside" box and you'll get a drop-down menu where you can enter all your birth data. You can then use the "forward" and "backward" buttons to see how Saturn will progress through your chart.

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