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Zane Maser

We all undergo periods when we are saturated with a planetary archetype like Venus or Saturn. Such a time frame suggests the celestial theme or task for a specific cycle, which is triggered by the current transits and progressions to the natal chart. As "symbolic" directions, progressions occur within the context and timetable of one's life plan, and they reflect the internal rhythm and innate promise for personal and soul development during the period they activate and beyond. Transits (actual astronomical positions of the planets in today's sky) tend to be somewhat more obvious and recognizable on an outer level in one's daily environment. Both progressions and transits illuminate a gradual path of timely unfoldment over the course of a lifetime.

For me, I'm under the disciplining power of Saturn through the tribulations of denial, loss, and sorrow. The inexorable processes of Saturn—the "Great Teacher"—bring to us what we must face, accept, and release. As the context for the present events in my life, it sheds light and understanding to know that wise, old Saturn is currently rearranging and eliminating some of the furniture in my life! My mantra is: this compressing process too shall pass. "In spite of the limitations and hardships which life seems to bring," says White Eagle about Saturn, "it is good because only through these limitations does the soul grow in strength and richness." Being thankful when under the refining influence of Saturn makes it much easier to endure the difficult sacrifices often required and the eventual joy that results.

Inflexible Saturn, whose systematic influence is slow and steady, is the stern taskmaster who constricts and inhibits, sometimes causing feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and depression. His higher purpose is to concentrate and focus energy so that matter is purified and perfected into more realistic, adaptable, beautiful forms. Saturn erects a temporary containment field through restraints and boundaries in order for the soul to learn patience, inner fortitude, and humility and thus grow strong, wise, and true enough to break free from outer selfishness and separateness. "Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck," instructs the Dalai Lama.

Saturn's valuable mission of disciplined testing, if rightly understood, is to provide a chastening process through delay, hard work, rules, frustration, disappointment, misfortune, and privation. By so doing, the outworn, useless, and crystallized forms created through past thoughts, words, and actions are destroyed, for the cosmic justice of Saturn relentlessly reflects to us, like a returning boomerang, what was actually harbored within as we face repercussions—both negative and positive—from the past.

As the time-bound planet of necessity and structure, his realm is directly responsible for first purging all that is counterproductive in our personality and then rebuilding character on a higher level so our true spiritual essence can manifest its excellence in matter. The German poet Goethe summed up Saturn when he wrote, "It is in self-limitation that a master first shows himself." Saturn is thus the source of our greatest potential achievement and exact rewards of the seeds we've previously sown. Though Saturn's maturing influence may feel like the way of the cross in matter, he is the great Initiator who leads us to the gates of illumination and liberation.

Meanwhile, those gates only a distant promise, I'm in the throes of an intensive reckoning with Saturn. While Saturn had its recent sojourn in Virgo, it moved over the Ascendant in my chart, which is the most "personal" point signifying self and identity. Of far-reaching importance and representing a new beginning of internal restructuring and growth, it's meant to be an encounter with one's self in the present moment, and to release all that is no longer needed or wanted. In spite of it likely being a time of personal depletion, stress and testing, the essence of this piece of inner work is to be who I truly am at this stage, because it's the precursor to honestly assess what I most value as Saturn moves through the 2nd house of self-esteem and resources.

Since early November 2008 until the end of August 2010, Saturn has and will move in and out of its opposition with transiting Uranus and its square with transiting Pluto. The heavy duty Saturn/Pluto aspect has affected me in a very personal way by aligning in stressful aspects with the ruler of my Ascendant in the 8th house of profound change, trauma, and death, while Uranus entered the 8th house of my chart, ushering in the new through uncompromising loss of the old. In a nutshell, two significant "structures" of my life have died: my mother and Zoe, the last of our cat family. It has required a new mantle of maturity to cope with the archetypal realities of these planets: crisis, death, sudden destruction of the old life, depression, resistance, relinquishment, spiritual initiation, and the birth of a new chapter, where the truly valuable is carried forward.

The above coincides with my Vedic "dasha" period of Saturn, which lasts 19 years for everyone, and has all the hallmarks of perseverance; the wisdom of practicalities and earthly realities; streamlining and simplifying; reducing inconsequential, outer distractions; awareness of limitations; facing both our karmic creations and the temporality of life through our own aging and the death of loved ones.

Moreover, Zoe's passing occurred at an important evolutionary time when my marriage has reached the famous "Saturn return," when Saturn returns to its original placement in the chart. It's an astrological juncture that signifies changes, which happen as one major cycle of experience ends, such as a significant death of some kind (often accompanied with sadness and depression). These changes tend to shift the outer structures of our life and help us to evaluate, adjust, simplify, and let go of all non-essentials. If the disciplining, consolidating energies of Saturn have been used well during the previous twenty-nine years or so (one entire cycle of Saturn), then this intense Saturn "rite of passage" is an initiation that in general speaks to greater wisdom, more appropriate choices and redefined plans for the present phase, and the anticipation of beginning anew with a matured perspective. Something is sacrificed to manifest greater freedom and authenticity.

In my natal chart, I am also approaching another momentous turning point-the "second Saturn Return." Called a "passage into the Elder years" wherein wisdom is distilled from experience, it is basically a threshold or time when a person reaps the rewards and effects of her or his life's journey to date. Meant to be a liberating time for inner exploration and self-discovery, one can discard the "set of clothes" that was entirely relevant and appropriate in past years in order to create a whole new style, one that represents the present fullness and beauty. Moving forward, there is the chance to expand horizons in the direction of autonomous choices and live in aligned accord with the true Self.

Said to be present at every ending, Saturn played a dominant role in the event charts of both my mother's fall, when she broke her leg, and Zoe's passing. In the case of my mom, Saturn, which is associated with bones, hemorrhages, and debilities due to accidental falls, was the ruler of the Ascendant (her physical body) and located in the 8th house of injury, surgery, death, and grief. Along with other classic testimonies of a negative outcome within the chart, the 29 degrees rising (a crisis-oriented point) signified that mom's fate was sealed and what had occurred would cascade into a pre-determined course. As such, the chart clearly indicated that she would not survive her fateful fall and surgery to repair her leg or the subsequent strokes she suffered. She died seven days later as the Pisces Full Moon perfected, so the luminescent Moon was present for her birth into the inner world.

In the case of Zoe, her Ascendant ruler was also located in the 8th house, and Saturn was in the 6th house of weakness, lack of vitality, sickness, and disease. Saturn exactly squared the Sun in the 8th house, suggesting her spark of life had ebbed. In my natal chart, Saturn co-rules the 6th house of pets! Mars played a role in both event charts, and both Mars and Saturn are the lesser and greater "malefics" and the destructive bringers of death. According to traditional rulerships, Mars is the co-significator of the 6th house (along with Virgo) and Saturn of the 8th house (along with Scorpio). These two cadent houses are considered "dark" and weak in strength, due in part to the lack of a major aspect to receive the light, vigor, and health of the Ascendant. The personal context and recent major events of my life demonstrate the timely, perfect outworking of astrology—Saturn-wise!

Viewed in its highest light and as a natural promoter of growth over the course of one's lifetime (or a marriage), Saturn is ultimately about stability, focus, balance, achievement, acceptance, humility, excellence, refinement, and actualizing our true potential. From our own Saturnian caldron, we develop sensitivity and compassion for others who also suffer. Amongst the Seven Angels around the Throne of God spoken of in the Biblical "Revelation of St. John," the Angel of Saturn—Cassiel—is associated not only with our karmic slate (how we create our own reality) but also as the invaluable purifying agent who assists us in the process of perfecting our being on all levels, of becoming our finest self. Thus, Saturn is, above all, the planet that brings out what is True and what is ultimately of lasting value in the endless cycle of death and birth, loss and gain, sorrow and joy.

© Zane Maser 2010.
This article was published in Drumbeat, Journal of the White Eagle Lodge (Canada), Volume 18, Issue 2, pages 10-13 (2010).


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