Saturn’s position in the solar system is at the threshold where the outer planets begin their journeys around the Sun. Saturn stands between the common experiences of man ruled by the inner planets between Earth and Sun and the potentials of transformative enlightenment ruled by Jupiter outwards. If one passes the tests that Saturn requires, one can go on to be challenged to higher states of consciousness ruled by the planets of Significance, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
Saturn’s tests occur in 7-year cycles, but the significant lesson of maturity is at the time that Saturn returns to its location in the horoscope at each person’s age of 29 and a half years, 59 and a half years, and 84 years. The story of Buddha is archetypal and points to the first Saturn return when the Buddha encounters suffering and struggle for the first time. He was 29 years old when he left his cloistered palace and entered the real world with its harsh realities.
Buddha’s first encounter with experience outside the palace gates was with old age. His attendant told him that it was only change. His next encounter was when he came in contact with a sick man and asked his attendant what that was. Then the third encounter was when he came in contact with death through seeing a corpse. Impermanence, suffering, and death are inevitable and they are brought to our attention through the teachings of Saturn through its 7-year cycles. We experience losing baby teeth and gaining adult teeth about the age of 7 when Transit Saturn is squaring its natal position. We attain puberty at about age 14 when Transit Saturn is opposite its natal position and at 21 years when we are considered an adult. Then Saturn returns to its natal position and a review of the first third of our life takes place. Here is when we encounter our present conscious state of awareness and acquired knowledge and resolve to live within the dictates of a more sensitive and mature conscience. It is a coming out of the innocence of early life, to take the first steps on the threshold of the second cycle of social responsibility and the beginning of wisdom. Here is the transition from youth to adulthood in the completion of the first Saturn return.
How does Saturn test the soul and character in these sensitive aspects? In our youth, we believe we have the freedom to do and act as we like. We learn about life by stepping beyond boundaries set by those in authority over us and by the arbitrary standards set by society. We test the waters and experiment with life. It is only later on when we reach the time of Saturn’s Return in our late twenties that we are confronted with the results of the choices we have made in our youth.
Saturn is like a mirror set before us. That mirror is our own conscience. In the privacy of our minds we can view our mistakes by the pain we feel known as anxiety. A feeling of discomfort sets in when transgressions accumulate. We may not understand what is happening to us, and so we look for causes of anxiety in many ways that are not real. We think there is something wrong with us and that we alone, and a handful of other unfortunate beings, are suffering something unknown and mysterious. As society is not centered on a true understanding of right and wrong, and the consequences of proper and improper behavior, we have no easy way of understanding the process of accountability we are compelled to experience. This ignorance results in a guilty conscience and causes pain of mind, heart, and soul. Since we do not understand the process of catharsis; the elimination of our faults by viewing them, we end up seeking countless ways of distracting ourselves from problems and suppressing the uncomfortable feelings we have in private.
If we are not encouraged by those who have spiritual knowledge to face the pain of wrongdoing directly, we will seek ways of assuaging our guilt and anxiety through drinking alcohol, drug abuse, and involvement with co-dependency with those as lost as ourselves. All these ways are a distraction from the nudge of self-consciousness. Brave souls that seek Truth may be fortunate enough to find that there are many ways to confront ourselves and thus resolve the issues of a bad conscience. A state of being in need of correction does indeed have a way to lessen the pain of conscience, but it entails facing the truth of the ways that we have indulged in that have caused the unconscious mind to be disturbed with memories buried and awaiting review.
One method of enhancing self-awareness is to sit in the stillness we call meditation. Meditation is a tool that assists Saturn to do its job of reviewing past unacceptable behavioral patterns. The conscious mind is like a sentry blocking the entrance of unconscious content to the conscious mind. Meditation puts the conscious mind “at ease” so that the contents of the unconscious can slip onto the screen of conscious awareness. It does this by degrees. One can recall emotional responses backward in time, even as far back as the birth process and beyond.
By going through this process willingly, one stands firm in the face of truth about oneself. It may be a painful process as we may see that we do not measure up to our better conscious ideals. This enlightening process is a direct self-encounter that may cause a high degree of emotional pain for a time. Seeing the truth is painful to the ego who always wants to think it is right. Those who are not ready to see themselves as they really are may contemplate even more escape from reality, and even thoughts of suicide can enter the mind. It would be easier to go through this Saturn process if society were more familiar and supportive of the need for self-renewal. There are techniques that one can find that allow the process to proceed toward success and a clearer conscience.
Saturn is self-conscious awareness. With aspects of Saturn, we find we are in the times of self-analysis and we reflect on our own behavior. Right and wrong become important. Wrongdoing promotes a guilty conscience and when we follow our conscience we simply have an absence of painful conscience. The more fear we have, the greater the buildup of guilt. We don’t know where the uncomfortable feelings of anxiety come from, so we blame all kinds of outer circumstances for our anxiety rather than acknowledge that it is a direct result of accumulated wrongdoing. Mistakes and bad decisions create a guilty conscience and a guilty conscience produces feelings of fear. Fear is the way our higher selves can get our attention. When we do pay attention and acknowledge wrongdoing we go through a period of sadness and sorrow for having fallen away from a better path. When we know the truth about ourselves, that truth sets us free of guilt and fear.
Saturn marks the boundaries that are imposed on us from our own conscience, as well as with established societal conscience in the form of rules of behavior and laws of conduct. The cycles of Saturn point to the times when we have the opportunity to become more than what we were before.