“No event or mundane circumstance can occur without having first been set in motion by an idea, charged with emotion, and then manifested as an action.”
“…those acquainted with either the esoteric realm or the realm of psychology in its deeper aspects will recognise the fact that there are no coincidences.”
- Liz Greene, Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil
I’ve been reading about Saturn lately. In Grade 3, we all had to choose a planet and create a model of it using styrofoam and acrylic paint. I chose Saturn. I was eight years old and knew nothing about Saturn other than I had decided it was my favourite planet, perhaps because of its distinctive rings. Some years later when I started to dabble in astrology and drew up my birth chart for the first time, I discovered that, with Capricorn rising on the horizon at my time of birth, Saturn “rules” my birth chart, and so, according to the more fatalistic interpretations of astrology, determines my life.
Even those not particularly acquainted with astrology have heard of a few common astrological events, like Mercury Retrograde and the Saturn Return. The former happens three or four times a year and is supposed to affect all of us. The latter happens every 27-29 years for each individual, when the planet returns to the segment of an individual’s birth chart where he was at their birth. According to the astrologers, the Saturn Return signifies the time when we must truly grow up and become adults. Mine just finished.
Saturn is a hard planet. Traditional astrologers called it the “Greater Malefic.” There was a sense of fatedness about Saturn’s placement in your chart – wherever he put pressure on your chart was a part of your life that would always be hard, would offer few rewards, would weigh heavily on you, would represent an eternal darkness.
So with Saturn ruling my whole chart, does that mean I am cursed, fated to always dwell in that darkness? I’ve often thought so. Felt resigned to a certain destiny. People born with Saturn on the ascendant are often fatalistic like that. In a way, it’s a relief to absolve yourself of responsibility for the tough things that happen. When they happen to you, what are you but a victim of circumstance?
But as I’ve been reading more about Saturn, and trying to live my life with my face towards the sun, I’m starting to see things in a different way. Today is the Winter Solstice – the longest night, and Saturn reigns over it. This day marks the sun’s change from Sagittarius to Capricorn. The darkest night must be endured before the days can start to lengthen, the sun start to strengthen. The ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia around this time – a time when everything was tipped upside down and revelry ruled the day. Kings became paupers and slaves became lords.
And then there’s Janus, the two-faced Roman god of thresholds, doorways, transitions, time – Saturnian things. Janus, for whom January is named. Janus, who “opens the door of the sky and releases the dawn.” At this time of year, we look backward to see what we managed to accomplish this past year, what we failed to do, what disappointments we endured, and what unexpected moments of joy we were blessed with. We take stock, and then look forward to the year to come. We vow to do better, to make our work more worthwhile, to grow in some way. We accept, with however much difficulty, that time moves on in a linear fashion and we all grow old.
After the darkest, longest night comes the slow returning of the light. The sun edges closer to us each day, even as winter grips us firmly in his hand. As I drove through town tonight, looking at all the Christmas lights people have decorated their houses with, I thought about how no matter how bewilderingly the world changes, we still hold to these ancient and primal traditions. We light up the darkest nights of the year. Soon after Christmas, people will take down those lights, let the sun take over the job.
I am never not amazed and humbled by the perfect geometry of the seasons. How, if you let yourself really pay attention, things make sense. There are no coincidences. A life ruled by Saturn might require more work, more dark nights, a heavier load. But its gift is the sure knowledge that even in the darkest times, there is light glimmering at the edges, the margins. Wait, and it will come. Choose to see it for what it is and act accordingly. Let the sun illuminate those latent ideas, charge them with passion, and set them into motion.