So who is Saturn, anyway? What does Saturn symbolize in the horoscope? And what does he want from us?
Although symbolism and meaning will sometimes overlap from planet to planet, each planet has its own distinct vocabulary and flavor. Saturn is no different. If I had to pick a flavor, I would say Saturn is sour, not sweet. Cold, not hot. Matter-of-fact, not passionate. And if I had to describe the keywords that best fit Saturn, I’d say that they were tough and hard keywords. Unforgiving words. Serious words. Make sense?
Unlike graceful Venus, Saturn is not a softy. Unlike fast-paced Mars, Saturn is slow moving, not in a hurry. Unlike buoyant Jupiter, Saturn is the realist of the zodiac, not the fun-loving cheerleader.
Showing You What You Need To Do
Saturn’s themes and words and flavors are like a map that show you what you need to do for yourself and for other people in this life, which is different than what you want to do. Saturn symbolism is rife with the “have to’s” of existence, such as homework, your job, having patience, taking responsibility, managing your health and money, aging, even death. Commitments of all kinds.
More often than not, Saturn tells you where you are going wrong in this life, not where you are going right. He’s our cosmic alarm clock, forever going off on a Saturday or Sunday at six a.m. when you would rather sleep in. Wake up, says Saturn! Get up! Don’t be late!
Saturn won’t lie to you or gossip or tell tall tales. Saturn won’t make a promise without keeping it. Saturn means business. Saturn comes through. Saturn is the reliable one, dedicated and responsible.
If you want to dream, go to Neptune. If you want to write the perfect blog post, see Mercury. If you want to do better at being in touch with your feelings, visit your natal Moon. If you want a wake-up call? If you want a reality check? If you want to know your life purpose? Get to know your Saturn.
Let’s break it down a bit more to some of Saturn’s main themes.
Saturn Is Your Fear
The first word I ever learned for Saturn, what Saturn symbolized in the horoscope, was the word “fear,” that in our birth charts, Saturn represents a kind of mental or emotional or even physical blockage in our psyches. Something we can’t do. Something we won’t do.
We stop. We freeze. We avoid. And not only do we feel this fear, but we feel bad for feeling it. Inadequate. Somehow we just don’t measure up and we know it, we feel it, even if we don’t know why or can’t quite pinpoint what it’s all about.
Questions: What are we afraid of? What are we avoiding?
Saturn will push us to confront the fears and to get over them, and the only way to do this is through life experience, through making mistakes. For Saturn, it’s not enough to think or analyze or dream or wonder about the future. Saturn wants us to plan. Saturn will give us lesson after lesson, test after test, challenge after challenge, from birth until we draw our last breath, all in the service of transforming our fears into fearlessness.
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Saturn, as our fear, feels like a wall or mountain we cannot scale, cannot climb. It’s too high, too thick, too broad. It’s probably covered in thorns and barbed wire and bad smells and bad people and every possible impediment. I am trying to create an extreme picture here because Saturn is extreme, extreme fear, extreme feeling of restriction and constriction, and if any one of us dare face even an eighth of our Saturn fears, then we have accomplished much in this lifetime. That wall of fear can be dismantled brick by brick by brick.
Saturn Is Your Work
Every planet, including Saturn, has both positive and negative keywords and symbolism, ideas that feel good to us and ones that don’t. Saturn as our fear obviously gets put in the “negative” column of the ledger. No one wants to feel afraid. It’s unpleasant, to say the least. We would rather come into this world all brave and strong and smiling, ready to make our beds and greet the day.
Although Saturn is a serious planet, there are Saturn manifestations that actually are fun to explore and talk about. One of these is Saturn as our work, but it’s work on a few different levels.
The first level of work is how we usually think about it, your job itself and the field you’re working in. Medical? Law? Business? Art? Teaching? Healing? Service industry? Not sure? Self-employed? Corporate?
It’s not an accident that you are in your current job, and it’s not an accident if you leave that job for one that better suits you. I promise that your natal Saturn and the sign it’s in had something to do with your choices.
No doubt you felt drawn to what you do, but if you are in touch with your Saturn, even a little, you may also have felt daunted or afraid. Because of this Saturn fear, it could take years, even decades, for you to find the position that fits you best. That Saturn hesitation will create delays.
Saturn also represents both discipline and structure in the horoscope, and without these key principles, you won’t go to work, you can’t go to work. You have to get up on time. You have to catch your train or put gas in the car. You have to do what they want you to do. Follow the rules! You probably have a boss or maybe you are your own boss, but without discipline and structure, work falls apart.
The second level of Saturn work is how far you will go in your job, how high up you want to climb. Keyword: achievement. Saturn helps you figure out how ambitious you actually are; this is the moment when that word “job” becomes “career,” and you ponder where you are and where you want to be.
Saturn rules ambition and status, awards and honors. The difference between a Saturn job and a non-Saturn job is that the non-Saturn job could disappear tomorrow and you’d be fine, but with the Saturn job? You care. Also, you have a reputation to protect. Someone in touch with their mature Saturn self will want to find that right career, keep climbing, and not give up.
The third level of Saturn work is what you are meant to do in this lifetime, your “life’s work,” which may be more than your daily job or even what you consider your career. You may pay the bills by teaching, but your life path is to be a mother. You may be the CEO of a company, but your life work is animal communication. For some of you, the job or career and life path will dovetail.
Saturn asks: What is your life purpose? This too is your work, to know the answers to these questions. Why were you born? Why are you here? More work, more questions to answer—but this is work of the spirit as well as the hands. Also, this is when words like “fate” and “karma” usually show up in the Saturn conversation.
Saturn doesn't believe in random. Saturn doesn’t believe in chaos. Saturn believes in the plan, the form, the structure, and that we all have a specific, unique life purpose. Saturn in your birth chart will absolutely give you clues to all of these—your job, career, ambition, and larger fated destiny.
Saturn in his wisdom and patience requires that we go slow and don’t skip steps in our rise to the top of the work or career mountain, whichever mountain we happen to choose to climb. Saturn will not be satisfied with some impulsive, half-cocked decision-making process. Taking your time is advised, says Saturn.
Saturn Is Your Duty
To whom are you obligated? To what? Saturn is your fear, your work, and also your duty. Saturn is what you feel you must do. Whether you call it duty or obligation or commitment or a promise you cannot break, one of Saturn’s jobs is to make sure you keep your word. Saturn will make you feel guilty if you don’t.
Saturn is not about choice. The woman who rescues a neglected dog is not making a choice. The man who cares for his ninety-year-old grandmother is not making a choice. The sense of duty is bigger and stronger and bloodier than choice. It’s a requirement, and you can see the strength of someone’s Saturn in their behavior.
This is something I will tell you over and over, that Saturn is in the doing. Saturn is not about how you feel. It’s not about ideas. If you feel obligated or committed to someone or something, then you aren’t going to sit around and think about it. Instead, you are going to get up. You are going to work for your family, your community, your country, your world.
You may feel duty toward your boss, your career, your life path. You may feel it’s your duty to expand your self-awareness and spirituality. You may be a teacher and feel obligated to teach your students everything you know. You may feel committed to your neighborhood, cleaning up stray garbage or volunteering in a senior center or helping kids at risk. For you, it may play out more personally, and your biggest commitment is to your child. For others, it’s global, and they discover themselves committed to an idea, like a political belief.
As you can see, this duty can play out in all kinds of ways, but one thing is certain: If you are here on this Earth, then you have a birth chart and you have a Saturn, and that Saturn is somewhere, and that somewhere determines where and how and when you feel obligated and loyal, be it to a person or a cause. Saturn is a protector, guardian, shepherd, and what we feel we must protect will vary from person to person. Your chart holds the key.
Saturn Is Your Growing Up
Saturn is the principle of growing up and growing older. Saturn symbolizes aging and time. Father Time is Father Saturn.
Saturn does not let us stay flailing in childhood or young adulthood a moment later than we need to. We must learn how to tie our shoes, pay our bills, learn the proper way to boil an egg, to handle difficult people. Or maybe we ourselves are the difficult ones. We have to learn these skills, learn the rules of life, what to do and how to do it in order to best survive.
Saturn doesn’t want us to be taken care of. Saturn wants us to fend for ourselves. And many of us still don’t know how to act our age, despite our human years. But what does it really mean to grow up? One word: responsibility. Saturn requires we take responsibility for who we are, what we say, what we do. It’s just what grown-ups do.
Saturn also prefers we make wiser and more mature decisions as we go, but no matter what we choose, Saturn as the grow-up principle is all about not blaming others for our mistakes or our successes. If we did it, then we must own it. We may not like it, and we may feel ashamed or guilty. We may have chosen wrongly. I know I have. But we are our behavior, says Saturn. We are our actions. And that is the key to growing up: responsibility and accountability.
Wisdom, however, is more than than "mere" growing up and is another Saturn keyword related to aging and time. It’s where we are ultimately supposed to get to with Saturn. It’s the last stop on the Saturn train. Wisdom is more than logic and more than intuition and emotional IQ. It’s a combination of these plus your years on this planet.
Wisdom is the result of everything you’ve seen and done, experienced, witnessed. You’ve learned from everything Saturn had to teach you and now, only now, you can teach others. Saturn represents this stretch of land from immaturity and childhood to mastery of our fears, of our life path, of our duty, of our growing up.
©2018 by Aliza Einhorn. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Weiser Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser LLC.
The Little Book of Saturn: Astrological Gifts, Challenges, and Returns
by Aliza Einhorn
The Little Book of Saturn, a smart, friendly introduction to the astrological Saturn, is a book for curious readers who know there is more to astrology than their sun signs. Saturn has traditionally been considered the planet of challenges, but the life lessons that this stern planet brings are necessary for personal growth. This book is suitable for beginners and experts alike.
About the Author
Aliza Einhorn, astrologer, tarot card reader, poet, playwright, holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She blogs at her website, "MoonPluto Astrology," and does readings (astrology and tarot together) professionally. She also teaches metaphysical classes online and runs chat rooms for the metaphysically minded. Visit her website: http://moonplutoastrology.com/