November 26, 2015 at 7°, June 17, 2016 at 12°, and September 10, 2016 at 10°
“If we are full of enthusiasm for life, then the unknown reveals itself, and our universe changes direction.”
“We are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world”
“Go slowly and go far”
Old Welsh saying
While watching the media coverage of the Summer Olympics, 2016, I noticed a young athlete who reminded me of the opposing energies of Saturn and Neptune. Neptune is currently in transit through Pisces, a sign the planet co-rules with Jupiter. Expansive, opportunistic Jupiter complements the dreamy visionary dimension of Pisces and Neptune. Saturn, on the other hand, is in Sagittarius, and has been making a series of squares - 90-degree angle - with Neptune over the past year, the final square occurring this September. I have no knowledge of this woman’s birth chart, but her conversation in an interview led me to reflect upon what this current planetary square offers us in terms of vision and making dreams real. In addition to her accomplishments in sports, the woman in question is an aspiring artist. With enthusiastic confidence, she shared some of her artwork with the interviewer. I thought “how bold” and what confidence she has - how Jupiterian in spirit! She embodied a youthful enthusiasm, putting herself and her creativity out on a line without hesitation. Saturn teaches us to slow down and use caution wisely. But the planet also provides the discipline and mind set to make the vision real. Given the chance to present her work, was the young athlete turned artist naïve? Was she taking too much of a risk? Or was the time ripe to say “this is what I create” and “I take responsibility for who I am, what I believe,” so “I take a leap of faith to put it out there.” This square asks us how do we find the balance of visionary Neptune with the structure of Saturn. There is a fine “art” to knowing when it is time to make the vision real.
The planets move in cycles through time. In astrology, we explore these cycles and the meaning of the planetary archetypes involved to better make use of the current celestial energy. Two big players in the sky this past year have been the planet Saturn, which has been moving back and forth creating a 90-degree square with the planet Neptune at three points in time. Starting late last fall, on November 26, Thanksgiving Day, Saturn, 7° Sagittarius, made the first square to transiting Neptune, 7° Pisces. Then in mid-June, on the 17th, the second square occurred at 12°. And, finally, the last square takes place this month, September 10th, at 10°.
Let’s start by looking briefly at each of these planets and the signs they are transiting. Saturn in Sagittarius represents opposing energies as Sagittarius, a fire sign, is ruled by optimistic, enthusiastic Jupiter. Jupiter expands while Saturn contracts. Jupiter is about seeking and having faith about embracing life. Saturn calls faith into question - a reality test. When Saturn transits Sagittarius, it is an opportunity for furthering education (perhaps through travel), challenging preconceived ideas, dedicating time and effort to understanding your philosophical views. It is a great time to learn. You might look to see where the sign Sagittarius falls in your natal chart. You might explore the validity of your beliefs relative to that area of life represented by house location of Saturn. Is Saturn touching any natal planets by conjunction or is it creating angles (transiting aspects) to planets in your natal chart? Saturn calls us to work hard, mature and take responsibility in these areas and aspects of life symbolized through the planetary archetypes and houses. In classical astrology, Saturn has been called the “Great Malefic” because the planet is associated with times of difficulty, restrictions, and limitations. On the other hand, Evolutionary astrology, the type of astrology I practice, stresses individual choice and freedom to work upon our own personal development and maturation through using knowledge of the sky to transform self. In regard to the meaning of Saturn, we can move beyond the negativity, step up to the plate and claim responsibility for the work Saturn is asking us to do. Saturn will be in Sagittarius until December 20, 2017.
Neptune, on the other hand, is at home in the sign of Pisces, which the planet co-rules with Jupiter. A slow moving planet, Neptune will spend about thirteen years in the sign, entering in February of 2012 and remaining there until 2025. The period can be a deepening time of spirituality and recognizing the Divine presence in the world around us. Most likely we will see a rise in meditation and prayer. We may also see an increase in escapism through realms of fantasy and altered states through drugs and alcohol (such as the rise in prescription drug abuse as a form of escape). A visionary time, Neptune in Pisces breaks down boundaries between the material and the spiritual. The appearance of the Holy Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, to Saint Juan Diego, in 1531, and the visions of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Virgin Mary, to Saint Bernadette Soubirous, in 1858, both occurred in years when Neptune was in Pisces. Few Marian visions have had the lasting impact of Our Lady of Guadalupe and of Lourdes in cultivating deep devotion and love of God in the history of Christianity. During the period of time Saint Bernadette Soubirous experienced her visions at Lourdes, transiting Saturn was in Cancer forming a trine (120-degree aspect) to Neptune and further triggered by Mars in Scorpio, combining to create a Grand Trine in water signs. The current square of Neptune and Saturn has seen a rise in religious fundamentalism, martyrs dying in the name of faith and the use of violence and terrorism in radical religious wars. As I write, Mars, a fast- moving planet, is transiting through Sagittarius to conjunct Saturn, and will act as a trigger for the ongoing Saturn / Neptune Square. We live in a time of tension indeed.
In order to reflect upon the current Saturn / Neptune square, it might be helpful to refer back in history to another moment characterized by this aspect: November, 1963, when the assassination of President John F. Kennedy occurred. Saturn in Aquarius was in a square to Neptune in Scorpio. The reality of Saturn called into question our Nation’s visions and dreams. The current 2016 Presidential election brings to mind a similar crisis - what vision for America do we hold true? What facts, what political rhetoric, what media spin can we believe? A friend posted on social media that one of the popular terms for political corruption at the moment is “porous ethical wall.” (“Porous” Neptune - deceptive, nebulous, uncertainty - and the“ethical wall” of Saturn - duty, deep moral conviction, responsibility - are at odds). There is no better time than during an election year to question the “facts” and keep reality checks in place. However, as we move to consider the square in the birth chart of individuals, we can see this aspect as a cosmic push or crisis that can lead to positive growth. Delusion, lies and escapism are all possible, but we can turn to higher opportunities for these planetary archetypes to manifest. In Evolutionary astrology, we honor the soul’s freedom of choice and will to reach for the higher expression rather than fall to despair, denial or escape.
For individual meaning and reflection, we might question our own dreams, visions, and beliefs - where do we need objectivity? Where do we need to apply hard work and discipline to make a vision real? You can have the romantic dream, but only Saturn gives it structure; there is no dream come true without effort. The sign Sagittarius represents optimism, hope, faith and with Saturn in the sign we have a chance to work, planning our dreams as “spirits in a material world.” You can consider where Neptune and Saturn fall in your natal chart, what houses they are moving through, and what aspects do they make to planets in your natal chart. Knowing the houses will help you ponder the meaning of the square in your journey. The archetypes of the planets involved will guide your understanding. Saturn moving through your 12th house square Neptune transiting your 3rd House natal Moon? Perhaps it is time to develop a meditation practice to support your creative writing projects and help you through a writer’s block.
Let’s take another example of the creative process. I chose to illustrate this post with a photo collage I made for my own reflection about the Saturn / Neptune square. The image doesn’t “look” real, but in actuality, the principal photograph IS real. It gives a frame and structure for a more nebulous horizon - the water and light reflected in the background of the scene. I took this photograph through a glass window from the interior of the famous Opera House in Sydney, Australia. The night before I had looked through the same window at the light of the full moon at intermission while attending the symphony. The picture carries an emotional memory, a feeling of place and time deeply personal. Now think of the years of practice and patience required of each musician in that symphony performance to allow the sound to become music. The beams, rods and railings of the Opera House, support the glass that reveals a deeper vision - the creation of the music and architecture that feeds the soul. Astrologer Tony Howard noted that some of the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th century, such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane, have the Saturn / Neptune square in their natal chart. The soul is pushed into making the artistic vision (or in this case, sound) real. Neptune improvisation - creative dream - meets the Saturnian physical plane. The rigid skeleton of the Opera House, the discipline, foundation, reality of Saturn, give way to windows of glass, the dreams and visions of Neptune and Pisces.
Wishing everyone peace of mind and heart during the final Saturn / Neptune square this fall. May we all find a place for our “spirits in the material world” as part of our own individual soul journey. Blessings!