Saturn – earthly rewards and limitations

Temple of Saturn

Saturn has an undeservedly malefic reputation. Death, disaster, failure, depression, delays, lack of self-worth. The reality is it induces a strong work ethic, instils a sense of discipline over time, is practical, realistic and provides a backbone when mush threatens to take over. Where Saturn is marked in a chart, it gets easier the older you get. The negative side reigns over the first third of life; it mellows through the middle third; and the final third becomes everything that wasn’t there at the start – warmer, more supportive, consolidated.

 In Roman mythology, he was a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. Saturn’s mythological reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace.

  Saturn is essentially about structure in earthly terms. It plans, prepares, thinks long term to a feasible goal, then gets foundations laid, builds slowly and securely so its achievements stand the test of time. The end result of its endeavours is not necessarily aesthetic, since it isn’t concerned with cosmetic fripperies, but it is enduring.

  Ruling Capricorn, it has the same steady ambition, which is willing to forego instant gratification for long term goals. Like the symbolic mountain goat, it starts in the foothills and works its way up to the peak, along a winding path if necessary. 

 Saturn restricts, so oversees limits and boundaries which may not feel like fun but are essential, psychologically as well as practically, in life. Neptune dissolves boundaries, Pluto invades across them to grab all the territory, Uranus blows them up, but Saturn stands firm for order, delineation, marked borders. In action, it is like a gardener who prunes plants back, lopping off overgrown branches, to stimulate fresh growth and produce a more manageable shape.

Often called a money-grubbing scrooge, Saturn is concerned with material security and can be less than generous and open-hearted.  Again that’s down to its earthly nature and liking for boundaries. ‘Me and mine’ come first.

  Not that Saturn is a delight at close quarters in intimate relationships. It can be cold, putting up a defensive wall against any encroachment, tending to put things above feelings, and is better at ‘doing’ than ‘being’.

  The myth of Saturn eating his children depicted in a horrific Goya painting is apt, since it ties into his obsessions with time and mortality. Saturn was scared of being overthrown by his sons so he ate them at birth. Deep down he knows he is going to die and his children represent a future that he can never possess, since his is limited by his mortal span. He both loves and loathes the boundaries of his life, so he tries to over-ride them and stop time.

  Having Saturnine parents means facing two things – their envy and their ability to induce misplaced guilt on their child. The Saturnine father pushes and pushes his children to be a success, being excessively critical of any failures, making them feel they never achieve enough to satisfy him, so damaging the child’s self-esteem though it can helpfully induce a driving need to be a success. But deep down the father’s fear is that they might outdo him, become more successful and outlive him. It’s difficult to cope with since if the child grown to adult became stratospherically successful, the father would shrivel, feel worthless himself and be consumed with envy.  So it’s a no win situation, until the child/adult separates enough to understand it’s the father’s issue, not theirs.

The Saturnine mother on the other hand insinuates into the child a sense that they are responsible for her depression; and their role in life is to look after her and make her happy. She makes an under-nurturing mother but expects her offspring to give her the caring she never gave them.

The mythological Saturn showed his other face at the autumn festivals of the harvest, when the agricultural bounty of the year was brought in and drunken celebrations ensued after the hard work was done. Earthly delights are also his preserve and his reign was seen as one of peace and plenty. Despite the devouring father, he’s associated with the flow of the seasons, especially winter when everything dies back to be reborn in spring.

  Capricorn as a sign is unfairly dubbed as the cold, materialistic workaholic, but in fact has a highly creative and (indulgent) side.  The old Capricorn symbol was half goat half fish. He operates in two realms – in the watery realm of ideas and visions and then makes them real on dry land. He is the stander on the threshold between the unconscious and the conscious; just as Capricorn stands on the cusp of the year that has past and the year that is about to come, looking both ways. He both mourns and celebrates.

Pic Robert Lowe.

13 thoughts on “Saturn – earthly rewards and limitations

  1. Excellent article, thanks Marjorie.
    This really resonates with me 2 weeks after the anniversary of my very saturnine fathers death,
    because after one of his sessions of running down my brother to me, as he did with all of us, in a burst of clarity I said “you would hate it if any of us were more ‘succesful than you’.
    Astrology being what it is he died when transiting Saturn was exactly opposite my Moon.

  2. Thank you so much Marjorie – really enjhoyed this article as well as the other recent posts on planets.

    I am approaching my second saturn return, so I am particularly interested. Also, as with other comments, I was particularly interested n the life changes / Saturn aspects over time. The majority of my life has been tumultuous (I don’t know – are there markers in a chart that attract drama? My sister and I seem to take turns), but am finiding with age that things have softened and improved considerably. Possibly this is growth after a long Pluto transit.

    Anyway, much appreciated and much enjoyed. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for this Marjorie. As someone with an exact Sun/Saturn conjunction in my 10th (exact to the minute), this resonated very strongly with me. I overcame childhood depression, low self esteem, poor work ethic. As you indicated I slowly improved over time, hit my stride in my 30s and made a good career for myself. Now in my early 70s life is sweet and good – learned to dance and am active, living with my husband of 30 plus years in a beautiful area. I miss my kids but we are close although they are on their own paths. On of the most influential books I ever read was Liz Green’s Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil. I recommend it – but I am sure you, Marjorie have read it. Your analysis here validates Greene’s.

  4. Loved what you said about Saturn being more positive in the final third of life, especially since I just had my 2nd Saturn return in 2020. Something to look forward to but first I have to get through a Pluto conjunct Saturn transit! Great post, thanks Marjorie!

  5. I generally like a Saturn transit – look forward to them generally. I have no problem with hard work, being focused / disciplined and learning life lessons, at least not since I was in my 20s when I learned how to take responsibility for myself. I’ve come to realise with so much neptune in my chart, I’m too helpful and agreeable the rest of the time.

  6. Thank you, Marjorie. So much resonates here – I have Virgo Sun square Saturn, which is also trine my Leo Moon/Ascendant. I have experienced both sides of Saturn, but at age 63 definitely getting better! One thing I’ve found with Saturn transits to my Sun is that instead of being times of having to work harder (which is usually what’s said of these transits), I’ve been forced to take a break from too much hard work. Maybe that’s Saturn settings limits and boundaries even on too much discipline already there with natal Sun-Saturn, and that “periodic renewal” aspect that you mentioned also.

  7. Thank you Marjorie, a lovely post. I think Saturn and Capricorn are much misunderstood these days – maybe some of those Saturnian values are less appealing or fashionable? Having had two Capricorn grandmothers I am so grateful for what they taught me about practical things, and finances. They both enjoyed good food too, and made delicious meals – something I’ve noticed about many Capricorns I’ve met, along with liking to be well dressed.

    What do you think about Saturn’s old rulership of Aquarius? Some Aquarians do seem to reflect it, being tenacious and ambitious. Others seem more “Uranian”, at least on the surface. Or is this simply that an Aquarian person may well have Mercury and Venus in Capricorn?

  8. Beautiful writing Marjorie,

    For me, especially the explanation of Saturn for the individual at the beginning paras. So plain so clear!!

    Now excited to read what you will write about Saturn from IC to MC including 7th house.

    Much love always!! Excellent 🙂

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