Saturn ♄ in Aquarius ♒
Let’s talk about Saturn.
Saturn has a pretty serious reputation in astrology. He’s the last visible planet. So the last one used by traditional astrologers. He has rings; he rings in reality as we know it. He stands as the barrier between us and “out there.” In astrology, Saturn signifies all that holds us together: bones, skin, teeth, overall structure and boundaries.
Saturn is also known as the Lord of Karma, the keeper of scores, the task master, the one who blocks and denies us. Saturn rules fear, anxiety, and death. We can often sum up Saturn’s role in one of three words: delay, deny, or destroy.
Even those who don’t know a lot of astrology are sometimes familiar with the Saturn return. After Mercury retrograde, it’s probably one of the best known astrological phenomena outside of Sun-sign lore.
Saturn’s Glyph ♄
The circle of spirit ○, the crescent of soul ☾, and the cross of matter +.
Each of the planets and signs in astrology has a glyph, or a symbol, that you will find if you look at a chart. The planetary glyphs are composed of three elements: the circle of spirit, the crescent of soul, and the cross of matter. Often these are stylized today, so they’re a bit “curly.” But even in the fancier fonts, you can make out the three basic elements. You can get an immediate idea of what a planet might signify by analyzing the construction of the glyph.
The Saturn symbol is a combination of the crescent of spirit and the cross of matter. Here the cross is raised above the crescent, so matter is weighing down or suppressing/oppressing/limiting spirit.
Compare this to Jupiter, for example, where the crescent of spirit rises above the cross of matter. (In this example, the crossbar doesn’t actually go across the vertical bar of the cross.)
A planetary return is when any planet, or the Sun or Moon, return to a place in the zodiac where it was previously. Usually this refers to its position in a birth chart (of a person, a nation, a company, etc.). So each year, for example, the Sun returns to the same place in the zodiac it was when you were born. This is your Solar Return. It happens on your birthday, give or take a day.
Saturn returns to the same place in the zodiac every ~30 years. For an individual, this usually brings about situations where we are confronted with issues of responsibility, obligation, commitment, etc. This is one of the reasons that the age of 30 can be challenging for many; often it’s more challenging than 40 or even 50. Of course, it happens just under 30 years later as we approach 60. The particulars may be different, but the general themes of responsibility, loyalty, commitment, etc., are the same Saturn issues we face daily; they’re just brought out to a fine point at these times.
People who have Saturn in Aquarius in their birth charts are beginning their Saturn returns. The Saturn return begins the moment Saturn enters the sign it was in when you were born. It might be most intense when it’s exactly at the same degree of the zodiac; but you will likely feel the Saturn return during this whole time.
There are some folks who experience what we might call the “cosmic Saturn return.” That is, their issues of obligation, responsibility, etc., are generalized and apply to many areas of their lives. But others experience a very personal return. That is to say that their Saturn return is more closely connected to how it appears in their birth chart. In this case, we are looking at Saturn in Aquarius, but what house it’s in and what aspects it makes will vary from person to person.
Saturn Through the Houses
For those who are undergoing this transit, here’s a brief list of the issues that Saturn might dredge up in the next couple of years. Remember that they all deal with responsibility, obligation, boundaries, limitations and rewards, and other Saturnian issues. Even if you’re not undergoing a Saturn return, however, Saturn will be in one of your houses, so this list will apply to you at some level.
Saturn in Aquarius in House # …
- This is a very personal experience, having to do with personal loyalties and how you see your own sense of obligation. It may also affect your body, health, and overall sense of happiness.
- This placement focuses on responsibility and material resources.
- Here the focus is on obligation and loyalty in regard to siblings and neighbors.
- This house brings focus to issues of family, both family of origin and current family (including ancestors). It also focuses on the physical home and real estate.
- Saturn here challenges you in the areas of children, fun, love, sex, drinking, gambling, etc.
- Issues of daily work, employees, illness, and small animals come to the fore.
- Partnerships, marriages, legal contracts, best friends are all in focus here.
- This placement makes us look at issues of joint resources (debt, taxes) and death.
- Our outlook on life, philosophy, travel, and foreign people and places are in focus here.
- Reputation and life direction are most important in this house. This can include career or what you are most known for.
- This house is about social groups and organizations and friends in general.
- The challenges here are isolation, serious illness, enemies, and other restrictions.
Saturn will kick up all sorts of issues in the house it’s transiting, in this case, Aquarius. So whatever house in your chart has Aquarius on the cusp, that’s where the big energy will be for the next couple of years. Of course, Saturn also rules Capricorn, which is the sign preceding Aquarius. So the issues of the past 2-3 years when Saturn was passing through Capricorn will continue to be important, but to a much-lessened degree than recently.
Saturn Is a Diurnal Planet
Since the beginning of astrology as we know it, astrologers have separated planets and signs into diurnal (day) and nocturnal (night). Some of these are obvious (the Sun is diurnal, the Moon is nocturnal). But some aren’t immediately clear. Saturn is extremely cold, and so the ancients made him a diurnal planet. The idea is that the warmth of the day counteracts the extreme cold. In this context, cold means low energy. The other malefic planet, Mars, is extremely hot, so the ancients made him nocturnal, where the cooling effects of the night might mollify his fiery temperament a bit.
Aquarius is a diurnal sign. That means that even though Saturn is at home in Capricorn and Aquarius, he prefers Aquarius, since Capricorn is a nocturnal sign. In Capricorn, Saturn is about denying and destroying old structures. In Aquarius, he is about building new ones. He is far less malefic in Aquarius than he is anywhere else in the zodiac (with Libra, the diurnal sign where he’s exalted, coming in second place).
This means that while we can expect Saturn to be his harsh self, even in Aquarius, his harsh will be of a very different kind, and it may feel more like that teacher that we all had who seemed really mean at the time, but whom we look back upon as probably the best educator we’ve ever had. There’s a reason for Saturn’s rule-following here. He’s the civil engineer who knows that if you cut corners, your building’s gonna collapse before long.
So while Saturn’s always going to be Saturn, his transition into Aquarius brings a bit of an uplift overall. Note that from the beginning of July until the middle of December 2020, his retrograde brings him back into Capricorn. So those with Saturn in Capricorn will have to finish up any final loose ends related to his transit. And we’ll all have to finish up any remaining issue with whatever house Saturn is located in our natal charts.
But from December for about two more years, we can look forward to a little more warmth.