Roles: your limitations; things you can only get if you work hard for them; your sense of responsibility; your fears

Designation: Malefic

Speed Through a Sign: about 2½ years

Speed Through the Zodiac: about 28-30 years

Dignity: Capricorn

Exaltation: Libra

Detriment: Cancer

Fall: Aries

Retrograde: about once a year

Nine times out of ten, when the word “Saturn” pops up in reference to astrology, there’s a feeling of dread. Just as Venus and Mars are opposites, so are Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter gives us all the fun stuff; it makes things easy for us. Whereas Jupiter is the lenient babysitter that lets you get away with eating dessert before dinner, Saturn is the cranky old man. Or the strict parent who grounds you after one missed curfew. Saturn is all about making things hard for you. If you want something, Saturn’s going to deny it until you put in the work. It’s where you can’t earn results just by lying around, waiting, or pulling hat tricks. Saturn sees through all of that. You’ll have to be responsible, put on some elbow grease, and push. It shows where you’ll run into the most obstacles and where your fears lie. I think it can also show where you’re serious about matters, or where you can be skeptical.

Saturn’s the second malefic, which isn’t hard to tell from the previous paragraph. Whatever it touches, it restricts, constricts, or hardens. Is it in Gemini? Then communicating might be harder for you than for others. Do you have Saturn in the Twelfth House? Then solitude may depress you. Is it in a tense aspect with Mars? Good luck showing your aggression. Unless you make a conscious and immense effort in whatever Saturn touches, you won’t get it. Saturn takes about two and a half years to transit one sign. It’s what separates you and your peer group from the little kids you don’t want to play with and the big kids who don’t want you meddling in their business. Your peers don’t understand the struggles of either group, and neither group understands your group’s struggles either. But when it comes to people with the same Saturn, you kind of “get” each other’s woes.

Let’s say you have Sun in Libra, and you have two friends: one with Sun in Pisces, and one with Sun in Leo. You express yourself by being the mediator, the balancer, the one who’s focused on the relating and socializing and likes cultural events. Pisces is the sympathetic, more emotional one who’s quieter and shy. And Leo loves to show off, hang out at the biggest parties, and go shopping at the mall. Each of you has your own unique way of expressing yourselves. Some traits work well together and others clash (your need to socialize conflicts with Pisces’s need to keep to itself; Leo’s ego may stomp on your need for fairness, etc.). However, you’re all born in the same year and have Saturn in Aquarius.1 You may all have a hard time in large groups or casual friendships, have difficulty with detachment, or have trouble being seen as “odd” or “weird” by others. You can relate to each other on that front, because you all have Saturn in that sign. You all have to work hard to rebel and feel comfortable standing out from the rest.

Saturn is dignified in Capricorn and exalted in Libra. Capricorn is all about discipline and getting things done the hard way. It puts its work and career first, long before it even thinks about partying or any other kind of fun. In Capricorn, Saturn can stay strict and stern without problems. Remember, just because a planet is dignified, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any negative effects. With Saturn in Capricorn, you have a tendency to be way too hard on yourself and deny yourself the enjoyment you need for a healthy balance. In Libra, Saturn can retain its discipline and sense of responsibility, but it’s not nearly as harsh. The great thing about Saturn in Libra is its heightened sense of justice. Libra is a sign of fairness and equality, and with Saturn here, this is where one places their efforts. Then there’s the flip side: Saturn in detriment in Cancer, and Saturn in fall in Aries. Cancer is a gooey, mushy sign that loves caring for others emotionally. Saturn can’t slam down its hard lessons; Cancer will tell it, “You’re being too hard on them. Have some sympathy.” So Saturn walks away, grumbling to itself. When Saturn is in Aries, the hard part is asserting oneself. Saturn puts the breaks on assertiveness and confidence, forcing the person to put in excruciating effort into sticking up for him-/herself. It’s unfortunate, because self-assertion is something that everyone needs in order to handle life.

When you make good use of your Saturn, it’s easier for you acquire what it blocks. You’ll still have to do just as much work for it, but you’ll be up for the task. You’ll exercise discipline and a strong will, and you’ll learn to persevere through hard times. You will develop your own brand of responsibility, overcome your fears, and surpass your limitations. If you don’t make good use of your Saturn, what it blocks will remain blocked to you. You will become frustrated and miss out on a major part of your life. You won’t learn the true meaning of hard work. Your fears and disappointments will wear you down, and you will limit yourself over and over again.

Saturn’s retrograde takes place approximately once per year, for four and a half to five months each time. Saturn retrograde is a time for us to really think about what obstacles are stopping us and consider new ways of getting past them. Or if the goals we’re going for are still the right ones. What are we really afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen? What are the reasons for why we’re working so hard (or why we’re not working so hard)? Are they the right reasons? Are we really doing what’s responsible or what’s right for us? These are not issues we can resolve in days or even weeks, but only over a long period of time.

If you have retrograde Saturn in your natal chart, you may feel very wary about making the wrong decisions. You may worry that you’re not being responsible or mature enough. However, if rules or regulations from outside sources are being forced upon you, you reject it. It’ll be hard for you to accept authority. You already have your own inner sense of accountability, restraint, and self-discipline, so you’re not very happy when an outside source tries to place constraints on you. You may have had a lack of structure growing up. You’re your own boss.

Next Article: “Uranus: This is Your Rebellion”

1I have Saturn in Aquarius, myself.