The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 322, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Diana Rose Harper
Episode originally released on October 8, 2021
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released October 20, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hey, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This is Episode 322, and I’m going to be talking today with astrologer Diana Rose Harper about the planet Saturn in astrology and what it means and what it signifies. So hey, Diana, welcome back to the show.
DIANA ROSE HARPER: Hey, Chris. It’s, as always, a pleasure to be here.
CB: Yes. So I always say that in my little Saturnian tone, but I’m actually very excited to do this episode with you today. I’m doing it a little bit out of order. Uranus kind of butted ahead in the order of the planets and I did Uranus with Rick Levine last month, but I thought Saturn would be okay to come a little bit later and to catch up, because Saturn is usually very good at having patience and doing things at the appropriate time.
DRH: Yeah, totally. I also found it funny that it took a little bit of time for us to even settle on a time to do this recording.
CB: Yeah, but we have a nice Aquarius rising chart today with Saturn in Aquarius and Jupiter in Aquarius on the Ascendant. I learned my lesson from the Uranus episode, and I put Jupiter on the Ascendant instead of Saturn. In all deference to Saturn, it’s sometimes best not have it exactly on the Ascendant, I learned last month.
DRH: Yeah, yeah.
CB: All right, so for those who are not familiar with this series, I’ve been doing a series all year where I go into a deep dive on each of the planets in astrology, and we read through some passages from different ancient and modern astrological authors in order to get an understanding for how astrologers have talked about the meaning of the planet in an astrological context over the past 2,000 years. And then we sort of use those passages and sort of riff on those passages as good jumping-off points for further discussion about what the planet means in astrology.
We’ll also touch on a little bit of some techniques related to Saturn that are Saturn-specific in astrology, but really the purpose of this episode is really just to get a really deep insight into what Saturn means and how to use it within the context of a birth chart especially. Does that sound good to you?
DHR: That sounds wonderful. I love talking about Saturn.
CB: Yeah. So maybe we should start there in talking about your Saturn credentials for those that are wondering. So far in this series, I’ve tried to focus on people that have the planet as the ruler of their Ascendant or that have an emphasis on that planet somehow in their chart. So what do you feel comfortable sharing in terms of that?
DRH: Yeah, so I am packing with me a Capricorn Ascendant with Saturn in Capricorn in a day chart. It happens to be pretty tightly-conjunct Neptune and pretty widely-conjunct Venus and right across the street from Jupiter in Cancer. So I have a very well-supported Saturn.
CB: Nice. That is a Saturn ‘full house’ I think in poker terms of Saturn placements.
DRH: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Saturn privilege, I like to say.
CB: Do you mind if I show just those four placements that you have in your chart?
DRH: Yeah, go ahead, go ahead.
CB: Okay, so here’s the chart. Let me see–I believe I did this correctly. Venus-Neptune-Saturn in Capricorn, with Capricorn rising, and Jupiter in Cancer.
DRH: Yep, that’s me.
DRH: I always forget about the Neptune involvement until I’m really thinking about it, which is such classic Neptune.
CB: Yeah, it was really interesting and subtle seeing that come up in people’s Saturn returns when Saturn was going through Capricorn and people were having their first Saturn returns. And those Neptune ones were subtle but distinctive, especially the more I talked to people about them and understood sometimes some of the idealistic context behind the Saturn return in some instances and some of the more positive manifestations.
DRH: Yeah, totally, totally. I feel as though my Saturn return experience highlighted for me both the malefic and benefic qualities of Neptune. Like really it’s just chaotic-neutral but in a really low-key, under-the-radar kind of way.
CB: Right. Yeah, that makes sense. All right, so let me show the diagram that Paula Bellomini made for us that shows the symbol for Saturn in astrology, which it looks like a cross with kind of like a sickle or a swoop down to the right coming off of the cross, which is the traditional, more or less, symbol for Saturn.
In terms of the domiciles and the dignities of Saturn, its ‘traditional domiciles’ are said to be ‘Capricorn’ and ‘Aquarius’–those are the two signs that it rules in traditional astrology–and the signs opposite to those are said to be the signs of Saturn’s ‘detriment’ or what I call ‘antithesis’, which are ‘Cancer’ opposite to Capricorn and ‘Leo’ which is opposite to Aquarius. And then finally Saturn has its ‘exaltation’, where it’s raised up, in the sign of ‘Libra’, and it has the sign of its ‘fall’ or ‘depression’ in the sign of ‘Aries’. So all that’s pretty straightforward in terms of just basic astrology stuff and the basics of Saturn.
Here’s another diagram that shows–for those watching the video version–just the signs of the zodiac and the different signs ruled by the different planets and some of their traditional properties. Saturn being associated with Capricorn, which is cardinal earth and a feminine sign in that traditional breakdown, and Aquarius, which is a fixed air and masculine sign; so it has one feminine and one masculine sign like all of the traditional planets. Yeah, so that’s pretty straightforward as just a baseline, right?
DRH: Yeah. One of the things I really love about the Saturn glyph is the fact that it reflects the harvest implement associated with Saturn, which is ‘the scythe’. So it’s like a stylized scythe, and I like to tell people that, just keeping in mind that Saturn is ‘the reaper’, literally and figuratively.
CB: Yeah. Yeah, and some of the significations that we’ll get into are contrasts of Saturn’s significations as the second ‘traditional malefic’ in our series as directly contrasted with some of the benefic significations given to planets, like Jupiter or Venus.
CB: Yeah, but one of those, like you said, can be things like ‘death’ and ‘time’ and ‘reaching the end of time’, which I know we’ll come to or we’ll talk about soon.
DRH: Yeah, hopefully not actually reaching the end of time in this conversation.
CB: Hopefully. We’ll see. We’re a little dangerous here. I mean, the Jupiter episode with Sam Reynolds ironically was the shortest episode.
DRH: Oh, funny.
CB: It was only 90-minutes-long, so we’ll see what we do with this one.
CB: All right, so let me pull up our first excerpt from an ancient astrologer. I think we’re going to start with the 2nd century astrologer Vettius Valens who wrote his Anthology in the city of Alexandria in Egypt in the mid-2nd century. And right at the beginning of it, he gives a list of the significations of the seven traditional planetary bodies So this is from my translation, from my book titled, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune. I’ll read this one and then we can switch off with the other quotes.
CB: So Valens says: “The star of Saturn makes those born under him petty, malicious, having many anxieties, those who bring themselves down, solitary, deceitful, those who conceal their deceit, austere, downcast, those who have a feigned appearance, squalid, clothed in black, importunate, sullen, miserable, given to seafaring, practicing waterside trades. And he causes depressions, sluggishness, inaction, obstacles in undertakings, long-lasting punishments, subversion of matters, secrets, restraints, imprisonment, sorrows, accusations, tears, being orphaned, captivity, exposures. He makes farmers and gardeners because he rules the soil. He also produces hired workers of property, tax collectors, and violent actions. He produces those who acquire great reputation, notable rank, guardianships, the administration of that which belongs to others, and fathers of other people’s children.”
“Of substances, he rules lead, wood, and stone. Of parts of the body, he rules the legs, the knees, the tendons, the watery parts of the body, phlegm, the bladder, the kidneys, and the inner parts that are hidden. Of illnesses, he is indicative of those that arise from coldness and moisture, such as dropsy, pain in the tendons, gout, cough, dysentery, tumors, convulsions. Of disorders, it indicates spirit possession, unnatural lusts, [and] depravity. He makes those who are unmarried and widowed, orphans, and childlessness. He brings about violent deaths by water, or by strangulation, or through imprisonment, or from dysentery. And he causes falls on one’s face. He is the star of Nemesis, and of the diurnal sect. He is dark brown in color, and astringent in taste.”
So that is Valens’ significations of Saturn in the 2nd century. He does have other passages where he’s a little bit more indicating some of the constructive things of Saturn. But for the most part, one of the things about ancient authors is that they tend to frame things in terms of extremes, and if a planet is a malefic, they’ll tend to focus on initially just outlining all of the most extreme negative significations, whereas if it’s a benefic they’ll tend to focus on outlining the most extreme positive significations. And you’re supposed to read between the lines and understand that there’s nuances and shades of gray even though they’re not usually presented right there. This is obviously pretty stark, I think, right?
DRH: Yeah, it’s kind of brutal.
CB: Yeah, it’s kind of not pulling any punches there with Saturn.
DRH: Yeah, it’s one of these things. One of the things that I like to mention with Saturn, whenever I’m talking about the benefits of Saturn, is that just because Saturn is and can be really constructive and supportive, Saturn also brings us into an intense awareness of the reality of the harshness of life, right? And so, that includes ‘squalor’. It includes ‘misery’, it includes ‘depression’, it includes ‘sorrow’–all of these things are still parts of human existence.
And Mars brings on the acute things, I would say, and Saturn really speaks to the more ‘chronic’ aspects of life that are just ‘super-challenging’, not the best. Like if you have a menu of life experiences, you’re probably not opting into the Saturn ones unless you have to.
CB: Yeah. There was a quote–I’m not sure if I used it in the Mars episode–but it was from Iamblicus the philosopher from the 3rd or 4th century, and he was talking about how the emanation or the energy that comes from Mars speeds things up, and the energy or the emanation from Saturn slows things down. And sometimes this is experienced in a particular way as ‘hot versus cold’, or ‘heat versus coldness’, but also some of those other things that you were talking about in terms of just ‘speed versus slowness’ and sometimes things that are acute versus things that are sort of protracted or long and drawn-out over time.
DRH: Yeah, totally. So even thinking about Mars activity as like sprinting or shooting a gun, it’s like it just happens, whereas something more Saturnian, think about the process of ‘aging’. You don’t get old unless you’ve been around for a long time. It takes a long time to get old, but it doesn’t take a long time to shoot a gun.
CB: Yeah, that’s a good point. Oh, yeah, here’s the slide. I’m going to pull that up from Mars, just because it’s really useful. So from Iamblicus, On The Mysteries, translated by Clarke and a few others, it says: “…the emanation deriving from Saturn tends to pull things together [to pull them together], while that deriving from Mars tends to provoke motion in them; however, at the level of material things, the passive generative receptacle receives the one as rigidity and coldness, and the other as a degree of inflammation exceeding moderation.”
CB: And that was a really common idea as well in Ptolemy where his basic definition of benefic and malefic was that the malefics tend towards extremes of hot and cold or fast and slow, whereas the benefics tend to be more moderate. And that was Ptolemy’s basic definition of what benefic and malefic even meant in some sense, so it’s interesting to think about that sometimes.
This Valens’ one is obviously the most extreme and most depressing, and it’s covering things that are definitely parts of life that astrologers–to whatever extent that astrology encapsulates all of life–should be able to talk about. But I should say, since this is early in the episode, that as we go through other quotes, we will start to see some of the more positive and constructive sides of Saturn as well.
DRH: Yeah. And I just want to bring up one of the things that Sylvi brought up in the Mars episode, which is that the malefics aren’t just “here’s this list of bad things that might happen to you,” it’s also the people who do the work to alleviate the bad things, right? So if we’re talking about depression and anxiety, Saturn can also connect to psychologists and psychotherapists who help people with their depression and anxiety. So yeah, that I think is important to keep in mind with the malefics.
CB: Yeah, that more often than not some difficult placements or ‘difficult’ placements in a chart can indicate helping people that are in difficult situations and doing something that’s positive or constructive, even if ultimately you’re working with people that are in trouble. Like a doctor in a hospital, or let’s say an emergency room, that’s a difficult situation. They’re working with life-and-death scenarios, and they’re working with people who have a major issue that they need help with. And that can be sort of difficult or negative in some contexts, but what the native is actually doing with it is sort of positive or constructive.
DRH: Yeah, exactly. A hundred-percent.
CB: Yeah. All right, so let’s pull Valens up again and just talk a little bit or see some of these things that stand out from Valens that sort of are worth dwelling on at this stage as we get to just some core meanings of Saturn. One of the ones you mentioned is ‘time’. And I know it will come up a lot more as we talk about Saturn, but I know that you wanted to talk about it. Now what might be a good one to start with is Saturn is the furthest visible planet that you can actually see with the naked eye.
CB: And there’s something about that that’s really crucial in terms of understanding its basic meaning in astrology and a sort of tangible component that it has to it that might not be as present once you get to some of the outer planets beyond Saturn, which include, for example, Neptune, which is a very intangible planet; and that’s the first one that you definitely cannot see with the naked eye if you don’t have a telescope or something like that.
DRH: Yeah, I mean, Saturn is ‘the boundary’. And in a very tangible way, Saturn as the last visible planet is the boundary of the sensorial world essentially; whether or not seeing things is ‘a touch’ is a question, it depends on what you think about the mechanics of sight.
But the fact that our physical senses cannot perceive beyond Saturn in a consistent way, I’m just being reminded of a fact that I believe is true–this is something that Tony Howard mentioned in a talk at UAC the last UAC–which is Saturn is the only planet that doesn’t go outside of the bounds. It doesn’t go out of bounds of the Sun’s path from a planetary perspective–just this idea of being ‘bounded’, of being ‘rule-following’, of being like, “this is the limit of reality.”
And time, for at least our species who perceives time in this linear fashion, time is the ultimate curtailment of any effort, right? None of us get out of this life alive–that’s something that I think is a very Saturnian perspective. Literally, the end of life is death; we don’t get out without dying.
CB: Yeah, it’s the ultimate boundary that’s true of all living things. Even the universe itself at some point is on a fixed limit of the great expansion and great contraction or whatever ends up happening; or let’s say in a more local sense, our Sun burning out at some fixed point in time in the future.
DRH: Yeah, exactly. Like everything comes to its limit and Saturn demarcates that limit with its physical presence as like the farthest and slowest of the moving stars, the wandering stars.
CB: Right. Yeah, so partially where that comes from is it is the slowest. For thousands of years, when we had ancient sky-watchers and astronomers/astrologers, they would go outside and watch the stars, and they would track down and write down their movements, and sometimes also note if important events happened on the Earth at that time that coincided or correlated with those movements.
But the traditional planets, you could see them as little bright stars in the night sky that would move sometimes. Some of them would move against the backdrop of the other stars and that’s how ancient people first figured out that they were actually planets and that they weren’t stars because they’d actually move and that’s what the word ‘planet’ meant in the first place.
DRH: Right. Or at the very least, they were a different category of star, right? They weren’t the immortal, immovable ones, but rather ones that changed over time and retrograded; they went backwards sometimes. And they have a cyclical pattern that can be aligned with the cyclical patternings of individual human lives, and city-states, and nations, and empires, and weather, and all of these different things.
CB: Right. ‘Wandering stars’ was the Greek name.
CB: And I found this picture on the NASA website just showing what they look like, like what some of the planets actually look like visually if you’re looking out at the night sky and having those bright little star-looking things that are a little bit bigger and a little bit brighter than most stars. And the fact that they would move over very long periods of time, just bringing that around, Mercury moves really fast and Venus moves fast, and then Mars is slightly slower, and then Jupiter is even slower, and then Saturn is the ‘slowest’ of the visible planets. So these notions of ‘slowness’, of ‘things that take a very long time to develop’ then leads to the idea of things that are ‘old’ or ‘ancient’, and through that access point, you really start getting into the high-level archetype of what Saturn means.
DRH: Yeah, totally. And it’s also interesting to continue with the -visible component. Of those brighter-than-a-lot-of-other-stars, moving, celestial objects, Saturn is the ‘dullest in color’, right? It has a dinginess to it, and it’s less loud in it’s twinkling. It’s not showing out the way that Venus does whenever Venus is at maximum brightness. It literally visually is more ‘reserved’ and more ‘somber; and so, then we get these connotations of what are the things in life that are more somber.
Recently, with both Jupiter and Saturn visible, like super bright, you can compare them. So being able to compare them side by side, one of these stars is very peppy and the other one kind of resents being brought to the party. And so, that ‘austerity’ and ‘don’t look at me-ness’ of Saturn is visible just physically, looking at it as a celestial object in the sky, which I think is really brilliant. Well, not brilliant, but fascinating.
CB: Yeah, intellectually brilliant. And in contrast with Mars, which is like this fiery red star is another one.
CB: So that does bring up what I thought was probably one of the fundamental distinctions that already started being made in the Mesopotamian tradition before even Hellenistic astrology–that distinction between the so-called ‘benefic’ and ‘malefic’ planets, and it probably was partially tied in with that contrast, where you can see this contrast between Venus and Jupiter and how they appear in the night sky versus how Mars and Saturn appear in the night sky.
And it starts setting up binary opposites of just if you’re going to have a planet that signifies something in the world, there should be something that signifies its opposite. So in order for there to be ‘life’ there also has to be the opposite of life which would be ‘death’; and so, sometimes you get significations of Jupiter being associated with ‘life’ and Saturn being associated with ‘death’ through a sort of contrast.
DRH: Yeah. And anything that–how do I put this? If ‘life’ and ‘buoyancy’ and ‘growth’ and all of those Jupiterian things exist then the opposites of those are the things that lead towards ‘death’ or ‘the consequences of death’. Like if we think about ‘sorrow’ and ‘grief’–which are definitely Saturnian, under Saturn’s purview–that’s a consequence of death, of loss, of ending, these experiences of sorrow and grief and depression.
And if ‘greatness’ and ‘great stature’ and ‘wealth’, and things like that are associated with Jupiter, then Saturn as its foil would then be associated with things like ‘being downtrodden’, or ‘poverty’, or things like that, thinking about the ‘squalid’ appearance. The ‘richness’ of Jupiterian, I don’t know, fine woolens and things like that, it’s like, okay, so what’s the opposite of that? What’s the downside? It’s like, I don’t know, burlap sacks turned into tunics. And so, just these extremes over and over again as emphasized by both the conceptualizations of these planets, but then again repeated in their visual existence.
CB: Right. So two of the words I came up with–the contrast of what you were just saying–one of them is ‘abundance’, which is more of a Jupiter thing versus ‘scarcity’, which is more of a Saturn thing; or ‘optimism’, which is more of a Jupiter thing versus Saturn would be ‘pessimism’. Which is a really interesting contrast to have because both obviously are necessary at different points, and you can be led astray either way with either of them if it’s overdone or if it’s inappropriate for the time.
But there can be a good sort of optimism that carries you forward through hope, and then the opposite of that is a pessimism that can hold you back even when you should move forward through fear, which is actually another really important Saturn signification. But then obviously, there can also be optimism that is misplaced, that leads to…
DRH: It’s like fantasy.
CB: Yeah, that isn’t well-grounded or that leads you into making a misstep because you’re focusing more on your hopes and wishes rather than focusing on the practical reality of what’s tangibly there versus a type of pessimism, let’s say, constructively that’s rooted in being realistic and a correct assessment of what your chances are of pulling something off.
DRH: Yeah. I feel like ‘actionable realism’ is the perfect middle-ground between the Jupiterian fantastical optimism and the Saturnian excessively dour pessimism. It’s like, “Okay, we need to know what’s real,” that gives us Saturn; Saturn is what actually is tangibly present. And then Jupiter is, “Well, what’s possible given what we have?” So there is like a middle-ground that’s available between the two of them, but we kind of need both sides. Like we need to know what are the downfalls, what are the reasons this might not work. That actually helps make something more likely to work if you’re aware of what the potential pitfalls are.
CB: Yeah, and that’s a really great Saturn signification, that people with a prominent Saturn can see the faults in something really well. They can see things that are not working, and they can be really ‘hypercritical’ and have an ability to be critical, which cuts both ways, which can be either constructive or destructive. The ‘constructive’ version of that is somebody that can be like ‘a good editor’ or can ‘see the faults in other people’s work’ and learn how to either ‘give constructive feedback’ or to rise above it themselves.
They know how others have made mistakes, they learn from their own mistakes as well as those of others, and then they rise above it and stand out. Because what they do is avoid those things and present a superior product, or what have you. The downside can be a ‘hypercritical-ness’ that can be ‘self-defeating’ and can stop them from doing anything or releasing anything because of a fear that it’ll never be good enough and sort of getting stuck in that as a spiral.
DRH: Yeah, absolutely. And thinking about fear, there’s ‘healthy’ fear and there’s ‘unhealthy’ fear, right? Like fear in the face of danger that’s going to help you quite a bit. One of the things with Mars is like ‘fearlessness’, which can lead to taking unwise actions with undesirable consequences. But to have a healthy amount of fear mitigates the consequences of basically not honoring the fact that you can die, right? The awareness of death is something that actually enhances the capacity to live.
CB: Right. Yeah, it can increase your longevity through knowing what the possible pitfalls are and that can be a very positive thing.
DRH: Yeah. Like I’ve never smoked cigarettes because I’m like, why would I shortchange my life to look cool?
DRH: That’s one tiny example of just like, I am afraid of dying young, so I don’t smoke cigarettes.
CB: Yeah, I’m thinking of a more comic book version of that, which is like Indiana Jones walking into a temple and the first guy that he’s with like running ahead of him and then arrows being shot into him because he didn’t realize that everything was booby-trapped ahead of him versus somebody that walks in cautious into a new situation and surveils the situation before moving forward because they’re aware of potential dangers, or downfalls, or what have you.
DRH: Yeah, a hundred-percent.
CB: Metaphorically, of course, I don’t know if that’s the actual scenario, but let’s just say.
CB: Some of the modern astrological texts that I read early on in the late 20th century that we’ll get to later on in this episode–I can’t remember if it was Noel Tyl or if it was some other author, like Liz Greene–but fear was one of the ones that they really focused on, especially when astrology was going in a more psychological context of Saturn’s placement in a person’s birth chart indicating an area where they have a lot of fears or reservations about things.
And I think there’s a way in which that can be true, especially early in a person’s life. Sometimes it’s something that they learn how to deal with and they overcome, and they become stronger as a result of that, but sometimes I think that is true that Saturn’s placement can indicate an area where there can be some fears for different reasons surrounding a certain part of a person’s life or certain topics.
DRH: Yeah, totally. And that actually is reminding me–I’m sure this is going to come up in at least some of the quotes that we read–of the idea of ‘mastery’ and what encourages moving towards mastery because that’s another concept that Saturn gets connected to. And even just thinking about this Valens quote–where was it? I just lost it. “He produces those who acquire great reputation, notable rank,” right? That ‘great reputation’ and ‘notable rank’, what’s the spur for that?
From a Saturnian perspective, I think the motivation is I’m afraid of this, or I don’t understand this, and not understanding this puts me in some position of risk. And so, I’m going to do what I can to comprehend the shape of this aspect of reality at the greatest degree possible and that results in mastery. And in the right context, mastery is also, if it’s seen, if it’s appreciated by others, then that mastery leads to great reputation.
CB: Yeah, definitely. Because Saturn doesn’t rush into things; it does things very slowly and very deliberately. And when that’s applied to learning and education, it can be the person who really applies themselves and takes their time to fully learn how to become the best at something and how to excel or–I’m trying to think of the word. Not ‘exceed’, but become the top at something through long hours spent training and practicing and also making mistakes.
That’s actually one of the biggest things I think that Saturn sometimes does. When it’s working well it’s sometimes making mistakes and learning from your mistakes and then incorporating that into your knowledge as part of the mastery of having made a bunch of mistakes and knowing what they are and having learned from them as opposed to repeating the same mistakes over and over again or something.
DRH: Right. And that brings up another word that I love to associate with Saturn, which is ‘consequences’. When you know the consequences of doing it wrong, and you understand why you don’t want those consequences, and you understand why those consequences emerged that facilitates a depth of–I don’t know. It’s like a strengthening of the foundations of your knowledge which just further perpetuates that path towards mastery.
And I would say Saturn is not necessarily like ‘work really hard so that other people admire you’. I think Saturn is often like ‘work really hard so you understand this thing’. And if other people happen to be like, “Wow, that’s great,” I would say Saturn’s goal is not necessarily appreciation, but substance.
CB: Yeah, because there’s all sorts of instances of mastery. And I like YouTube videos and channels that show people that have become masters in certain fields. Like there was this woman in Japan who specialized in and had learned part of a lineage of bonsai trees and how to make bonsai trees, and how it’s like this process that takes years and decades to learn how to create one and to mold it and see it grow through time and to be very patient. And some of those trees live multiple human lifetimes, so she was taking care of trees that somebody had started in the 1800s. But things like that in terms of excelling through long periods of a lifelong study of something.
DRH: Yeah. And also, bonsai I think is like a really perfect Saturnian thing. Because part of the process of bonsai is restricting, deliberately restricting the growth and the movement of growth of trees that would be huge if they were not so specifically contained. I’m in Southern California and there’s the Huntington Gardens, and they have an area with a whole bunch of bonsai. And I think the oldest one that I remember seeing was 500-years-old.
DRH: Yeah, just incredible.
CB: Yeah, that’s amazing. Yeah, so ‘restricting things’. And also, pruning certain branches before they grow and being able to anticipate things like that is a really interesting practice.
DRH: Yeah, yeah.
CB: So there’s lots of other things like that, like different fields or different specializations in terms of people trying to attain mastery. It makes me think of Vincent Van Gogh a little bit and how much he toiled during the course of his lifetime to become a better painter and teach himself how to paint and how to excel and how to learn from other masters. And maybe that’s actually tied into the ‘student-teacher relationship’ and the notion of ‘apprenticeship’, and ‘lineage’ and other things are very Saturnian-type themes as well.
DRH: Yeah, yeah. I was actually just thinking about this earlier because I’m planning on getting a tattoo next year.
DRH: One of the things that I’m doing to prepare for this tattoo–because it’s on a larger part of my body–is I’m doing work to support the health of my connective tissue, even though there’s several months before I’m going to get this tattoo. When your connective tissue is healthy, my theory is that receiving a tattoo is less painful. And Saturn is connected to the ‘connective tissue’, but also tattooing is one of the industries that’s still really tied in with this concept of apprenticeship as part of the process of becoming a professional tattooer.
And I was just thinking about how interesting it is that you go to a tattoo artist who has apprenticed, and then the best tattoo artists are really good because they’ve put a lot of hours into their craft in order to endure pain for some amount of time so that you can have a permanent piece of art on your skin. And ‘the skin’ a Saturnian organ; it is the boundary of the physical body.
And so, just like how Saturnian overall ‘tattooing’ is, then when we add in the fact that–in contemporary times this is less the case–but as recently as 20 years ago being really tattooed would mark you as an outsider, right? To be visibly tattooed, you’re not trying to fit into the center of things, and ‘marginalization’ is another Saturnian thing. But yeah, the apprenticeship component is really interesting and just thinking about what forms of work in the world kind of require a relationship with an elder in the same field; ‘elders’ also being Saturnian.
CB: Yeah, ‘elders’, ‘older people’. And that’s a funny, ancient traditional signification, like sometimes when Saturn’s involved in delineations, they’ll say it involves ‘somebody that’s older’. I’m trying to think of different scenarios. Usually it comes through house placements or something like that, or ‘Venus-Saturn’ combinations, they’ll say the person will have a ‘relationship with somebody who is older’ than them, or the person will have ‘a relationship where there will be delays’, but it’ll ‘happen later in life’ or something like that.
DRH: Yeah. And I actually have that story myself. Like right before my Saturn return, I was dating someone that was 14 years older than I was.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s a really common thing that I see, like ‘age disparities’ when Saturn’s involved with either Venus or with 7th house placements.
CB: Yeah. All right, so let’s go back to Valens and just see if we’re missing things. I mean, he starts mentioning things like ‘depression’, which is interesting because psychologically that’s obviously the opposite of ‘optimism’. And I guess we’ve talked a little bit about that, but ‘skepticism’, ‘depression’–there’s like a cluster of concepts right there that’s probably important to understand in terms of Saturn.
DRH: Yeah. I mean, if we think about what encourages a person to life versus what encourages or discourages a person from the vibrancy of life that’s one way to think about these Saturnian significations of ‘depression’, ‘malaise’, ‘melancholy’; like, I don’t know, ‘the taste of life dissipating’ in some way, like an experience of ‘anhedonia’, like a time period where pleasure isn’t really available. And so, everything kind of takes on a gray tone: none of your favorite things are very interesting; food is boring. Access to like, “Oh, yay!” a savory life thing is not present; that’s a Saturnian experience.
CB: Yeah. And also, there’s a little bit of contrast that comes through in the domicile scheme of contrasting the two luminaries as the two lights–with Saturn in the sign opposite to that as a planet that’s signifying ‘darkness’–and the contrast between the Moon and the Sun being assigned to the two signs at the height of the summer in the Northern Hemisphere versus Saturn being assigned to the two signs that are in the dead of winter, just after the Winter Solstice, which are Capricorn and Aquarius in December and January.
And we still have some of that in our language when we talk about a person has ‘a bright future ahead of them’; we mean an ‘optimistic future’ versus sometimes when a person’s in a depressed place, we might say that ‘things look really dark right’ now in terms of just the outlook, or in terms of things looking bleak in some sense.
DRH: Mm-hmm. Or even someone ‘going down a dark path’. We can see that someone is moving in a direction that might be self-destructive or destructive to others, and we’ll use that language of ‘lightness’ and ‘darkness’, which speaks really clearly to humans as primates being extremely reliant upon sight, right? I remember learning this; I took some classes in primate evolution in college.
And one of the most fascinating things that I’ve held onto is this idea that in terms of primates, humans swapped some of their sense of smell for improved sense of sight, right? So pheromones matter less to humans in terms of different kinds of social interaction, but visuals matter a lot. And we’re diurnal creatures, right? I mean, ‘night owls’ are a thing, but night owls are dependent on forms of light, like candles or electricity or whatever.
Visible is safe. To be able to perceive it through the visual faculty is to be able to understand it, and we even use the language of sight in so many different areas of just like, “Oh, yeah, I see.” Somebody’s explaining something to you and when you get it, you’re like, “Oh, I see it now.”
DRH: Right, even though you’re not seeing it, you’re hearing it and it’s being put together in your noggin. And so, a bright future is I can see what’s there and it seems safe and passable, right? This is a road that I understand for the most part where I’m going and what I’m walking on; whereas darkness, I have to rely on other senses that are less-attuned, less strong in the species. There are of course stories of people who lose their sight or who are never sighted who navigate the world just fine. But for someone who is used to sight, the loss of sight can be really terrifying.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really interesting point, especially in comparison to when I think about other animals that have other senses that are more strong. Dogs have a sense of smell that’s much more heightened compared to humans.
DRH: Yeah, exactly. And from what we understand of dogs, they don’t have the same visual spectrum that we do.
CB: Oh, right. Okay, interesting. All right, so yeah, we’re getting to some of the stuff with Saturn that has to do with things like that and things like contrasts of light and dark. He does mention ‘austere’, which is kind of an interesting and funny Saturn signification that is still very relevant and does come up a lot, the idea of ‘austerity’. And at least if you’re going to contrast core Saturn significations versus other planets, I think Saturn would be the most austere of them.
DRH: Yeah, ‘austere’. ‘Reserved/reticent’, I feel would also be appropriate. And there’s this sense of ‘preservation’, like ‘preservation of energy’, ‘preservation of money’, ‘preservation of attention’. And then we think about preservation in terms of ‘aging’, like ‘aging well’. To be ‘well-preserved’ also means ‘not expending unnecessarily’.
CB: Right. Being very strategic in one’s energy or other types of expenditures.
DRH: Yeah. I mean, I’m even thinking about for some reason–actually I know why. So this chair that I’m sitting on, this is a 1920s reproduction of a Chippendale chair.
DRH: I love antiques.
CB: Okay. Yeah, ‘antiques’, that’s a good Saturn signification.
DRH: Oh, totally. But just thinking about the sturdiness of a chair like this, it’s like there’s integrity in the materials that mean that it’s not weakening, it’s not dissolving over time, it’s preserved. It is austere in terms of releasing the innate qualities that it has. Whereas something that’s made out of like, I don’t know, wicker lawn furniture, if it’s not sealed or whatever, if it’s not painted, it literally rots in your yard. It’s releasing its constituents into the world through the rotting process, whereas a chair like this is very austere in terms of releasing its constituents and that’s what allows it to be preserved over time.
CB: That’s really great. That brings up two things: one of them is that it’s interesting that Saturn has that dual nature. It can signify either the thing that gets better with age and in some instances valued more because of its age and antiquity, but also it can signify sometimes those things that are falling apart due to age, and they’re old and sort of decrepit or what have you.
DRH: Yeah, it’s again the consequences, the consequences of age. For some objects, the consequences of age are ‘no longer useful’, ‘needs to just go on the compost heap’; whereas for other things, like the consequence of age, it’s like, ‘wow, this is amazing’. And I think it brings up another thing, which is I think over time that’s how you understand actually the qualities of something; not to say that something that lasts a long time is qualitatively better or superior than something else.
We need stuff to rot. If it weren’t for compost or inorganic fertilizers, whatever, we wouldn’t have food to eat. And our digestion process is essentially a controlled-rot process that allows our bodies to derive nutrients from stuff; we need stuff to break down. But that understanding of something’s qualities over time–that’s very Saturnian.
CB: Yeah. I’m thinking about this thing that keeps coming up with me in this series over the past several months and the contrast between the benefics and malefics, which was a very ancient core concept. But I think of Aristotle’s concept of ‘generation versus corruption’ or ‘coming into being versus passing away’, and it seems like the benefics are very much on the side of the generation or the coming into being–the things that are being built up and increasing–versus the malefics are signifying or representing those things that are either corrupting or passing away in some sense.
DRH: Yeah, a hundred-percent, a hundred-percent. And that also just brings we can’t have life without death, and we can’t have death without life. These things are irrevocably fused together. I actually just reread–I thought I hadn’t read it before, turns out I had. But I just reread Ursula K. Le Guin’s, The Farthest Shore, which is part of the Earthsea Cycle, and it brings up this villain–who shows up in at least one other of the Earthsea novels–whose villainy is this attempt to elude death to achieve some form of eternal life by getting away from death.
And spoiler alert–sorry, but just relevant for the conversation–the consequence of this villain’s pursuit of eternal life is a form of existence that doesn’t have any of the savor of life and is literally just destroying the world at the same time. There’s no benefit to the evasion of death, but death has this very necessary role to play in terms of people actually experiencing aliveness in a substantive and meaningful fashion.
CB: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense just in terms of the natural cycle. Even with let’s say trees in the spring and the summer, they sprout leaves and it grows and becomes kind of vibrant. And then eventually in the fall, the leaves start to fall off and then start to decay and go back into the ground, and then eventually the cycle starts over again.
DRH: Yeah. And the decay of those leaves that have fallen, wherever those things are, they’re taken apart by bugs and bacteria and fungi and the nutrients in those leaves that have fallen are re-uptaken by the roots of those trees to become new leaves–it’s amazing.
CB: So I think that’s really important because that’s a concept that comes up a few times, and I tried exploring it in a lecture I gave a few months ago at NORWAC. But it’s a really subtle concept that’s hidden in Hellenistic astrology where they sometimes talk about the Saturn placement and malefics in general when they’re well-placed in the person’s chart indicating benefits to the native at the expense of others, and I think that’s kind of underlying that core component.
Because if you think about it the tree’s losing its leaves, which just let’s say for the sake of argument, the tree is a sentient being. It’s probably not super happy let’s say about losing its leaves, but then the bugs and other plants and stuff sort of end up feeding on that in some sense, and it ends up benefiting them at the cost or the expense of the tree. There’s other probably better analogies that I could use of that sort of cycle, but that’s like a necessary cycle in nature.
DRH: Yeah. And then we extend that cycle beyond just that step one/step two. Tree loses leaves, bugs, bacteria, et al., get a nice hearty meal. And then because those creatures have done their work of breaking things down, there are now nutrients available for that same tree, and also the trees in the local neighborhood, right? So there is a simplicity to it. The labor of the bugs and the bacteria and the fungi benefit the tree, right? So it’s like the loss of energy, the effort made by the bugs and bacteria, etc., feeding the tree.
And so, inside of a cyclical system that gain at the expense of others ultimately goes back to those others, if it’s a healthy system. In ecology it’s a lot easier to kind of see those systems in process, like the nitrogen cycle, or the oxygen cycle, or the water cycle, or all of these ultimately circular processes. It’s harder to see inside of systems where linearity has been imposed over circularity.
CB: Right, that’s a really good point.
CB: I’m trying to find really quickly a translation of Antiochus that has that passage, but I don’t think I will be able to. Yeah, so maybe we can sort of skip that point, but there’s both constructive versions of that, of benefiting at the expense of somebody else. And there’s also destructive versions of that, which are let’s say predatory, which is a term that has a lot of connotations now, but also just in terms of actual predators in nature let’s say. Animals that survive by eating other animals would be an example of one thing benefiting at the expense of another.
DRH: Yeah, absolutely. And there’s no circularity at least within that tiny–or not tiny–but individual interaction, right? Lion attacks antelope, lion and friends eat antelope. That specific antelope is not going to come back and derive benefits from having been eaten by lions, but the remains of that antelope will fertilize the ground there and grow grasses that other antelopes are going to come to eat.
DRH: But that circularity is less present on the individual scale, right? So when we think about something like predatory lending or greed, Valens talks about ‘deception’, ‘deceit’, and to deceive someone is to prioritize your own benefit over honesty with another individual.
And sometimes that deception is literally what allows you to survive, right? There are situations where it is necessary for your continuance; like you have to maybe lie about something just to get through a situation unscathed. But then there are situations where it’s just like I didn’t feel like being honest and now I have a ‘gajillion’ dollars.
I just watched the LuLaRich documentary series recently where there were definitely a lot of untruths happening and a lot of people making a lot of money at the expense of a whole lot of other people. A pyramid scheme would be a really good example of benefiting at the expense of others in a non-cyclical fashion.
CB: Right, like a multi-level marketing scheme or something like that.
CB: Yeah, that’s really important. That comes up much more prominently in ancient astrologers how the malefics and Saturn get contrasted as indicating ‘deception’ because they’re being contrasted with benefics like Jupiter as indicating ‘truth’ and ‘bringing light to things’ versus the opposite, like ‘making something dark or mysterious’. That’s something that we see shift in the modern times where, for example, Neptune often gets more of the ‘deception’ significations in modern astrology. But it’s a useful thing to keep in mind from some of the traditional texts, some of those notions of ‘deception’.
DRH: Yeah, like literally ‘occulting’. And Saturn gets associated with ‘the occult’ in general as well. And thinking about deception and the occult, it’s like there’s also a relationship between Saturn and Mercury. Mercury is also a trickster. But the ‘trickster-ness’ of Mercury is often more like, “Hehehe, I stole your harp Apollo,” versus the more spooky, scary deception that gets associated with Saturn.
CB: Right. Yeah, that makes sense. Other things we have to bring up, one of them that I’m seeing here in Valens, just the notions of ‘restraints’ and ‘imprisonment’ I think are really important, like things that are ‘restrained’ or ‘held back’. There’s a lot of ‘different’ that can manifest as being ‘metaphorically’ restrained, but also there can be very literal manifestations of that as well, like ‘being in handcuffs’ or ‘being thrown in jail or prison’.
And that actually brings up some of the significations that Saturn has in the context of the houses, where in the traditional astrological scheme, Saturn is said to have its ‘joy’ or to ‘rejoice’ in the ‘12th house’; which in the ancient Hellenistic tradition was called ‘the place of bad spirit’. And the 12th was primarily associated with things like ‘enemies’, ‘sickness’, ‘loss’ and ‘seclusion’, which are all Saturnian type significations as well.
DRH: Yeah, it’s interesting thinking about ‘constriction’, ‘containment’, and the extremes of that which, as you’ve mentioned, the ancient authors pretty much prioritized the extreme significations.
DRH: But to be extremely contained is to be handcuffed and attached to a chain, to a wall in a terrible prison. Like right now, I’m envisioning the debtors’ prisons from England in the 1700s or whatever, just like terrible places.
DRH: But containment is also, like I was mentioning earlier, our skin. The ‘beauty of the skin’ is Venusian, but the ‘function of the skin’ is Saturnian. It contains. It makes us not just like weird blobs of organs and muscles just flapping around.
CB: Yeah. It holds our largely liquid bodies together.
DRH: Yeah. And we can even see that in the Capricorn/Cancer axis where it’s like Capricorn, I often say, is like ‘the bowl’, and Cancer is ‘the milk’. I mean, you can lick milk right off the table if you have to, but the table is still Saturnian.
CB Sure. Well, that reminds me of, of course, one of the most striking components of Saturn, which is its rings; it being the primary ringed planet in the solar system, which ancient astrologers didn’t know necessarily. They could only just see that it was this little slow-moving, dim star. But eventually once telescopes were invented, and especially once we started flying spacecraft out there with NASA and taking pictures like this one-which comes from NASA or comes from maybe the Hubble Telescope–you could see that Saturn has these really beautiful rings around it which invokes a lot of interesting metaphors that are kind of on the one hand tied in with some of these notions of restraint or things like that.
DRH: Yeah, ‘containment’. Yeah, even thinking about handcuffs essentially makes circles.
CB: Yeah, or even like a wedding ring, which is a ring that goes on your finger. But one of the things that it is is it’s almost like a promissory notion of being in an agreement to be permanently together in a relationship.
DRH: Yeah. I mean, they’re like tiny ‘finger shackles’ without the chain.
DRH: Or only with a ‘conceptual’ chain rather than a physical chain.
CB: Okay, that’s very romantic.
DRH: It depends on your proclivities, I think.
CB: Sure. Just messing with you.
DRH: But yeah, like even thinking about ‘boundedness’, like to be bounded, like bondage, I’m thinking of this in terms of the enslavement capacity of bondage and just to have your freedom not under your control, right?
CB: Yeah, or curtailed, or to give power over to somebody else.
DRH: To have your power taken away even. I just keep coming back to death as the literal and metaphorical thing that you cannot control and that curtails your freedom of movement in some way; or freedom of expression, or freedom of being.
CB: Yeah. And that’s funny sometimes those that have power and don’t have those kinds of restraints being attracted to or secretly attracted to being put in a situation where they are restrained in that way.
DRH: Yeah. I mean, it is interesting to think about how ultimate freedom is–I mean, for me, at least–more terrifying than the awareness that there are limits as to what can be done. And even just thinking about lawlessness, this idea of lawlessness, especially the chaos image of just there are no straight-up governmental laws, but then maybe there are also no social laws either; there’s no restrictions on people’s impulses. And that feels really terrifying because of this awareness that there’s a lot of violence contained in aspects of human expression.
Humans as a species have done some ridiculously terrible things. And the restrictions of morality and ethics and social expectation plus the restrictions to a degree of the legal structure, those are all things that contain chaos even as they also, literally speaking, curtail freedom, if we understand freedom to just be doing whatever the hell you want regardless of the consequences versus an idea of freedom that deeply integrates an idea of responsibility within it as well.
CB: Yeah, I love that. That’s a really good point, and just the idea of boundaries. I keep coming back to in this conversation the idea of boundaries and thinking about Saturn, and just thinking about standing on a beach and taking a stick and just drawing a circle around you, 360 degrees, and saying, “These are my boundaries,” and saying to somebody else, “You’re not allowed to step on this side of that,” once you’ve established what that boundary.
In some ways, it’s an imaginary circle, but there’s different ways in life in which each of us has boundaries that we set up that are either explicit or implicit, but they nonetheless are very important in terms of sometimes when you transgress those things or go outside of the boundaries that’s when you get into trouble or there can be problems.
DRH: Yeah, totally. And it just reminds me, Jessica Lanyadoo has often said something along the lines–I’m not going to be able to quote perfectly–but something along the lines of like boundaries are what give both of us space to love each other, right? If you’re drawing a boundary, you’re like, “This is the space that is my space,” or “These are the things that are acceptable,” and that’s a claiming of a certain kind of literal or metaphorical territory.
DRH: She’s like, “This is the room I need.”
CB: That’s really good because that’s another Capricorn rising, Saturn-ruled astrologer, so that’s a perfect statement coming from another Saturn person.
DRH: Yeah. Even though we practice astrology in very different ways, I agree with her on so many things, and it’s probably because of that.
CB: Mm-hmm, that makes sense. Yeah, so Saturn in relationships, the positive side of boundaries. Is there anything else? Let me pull Valens up again. I feel like we’re getting into a lot of good stuff. There’s many more digressions and good directions that we’re going, so I know we have to move on.
DRH: Yeah, one thing that I wanted to touch on is: “He makes farmers and gardeners because he rules the soil.
DRH: One of the things that I like to talk about sometimes in client sessions is this idea that Saturn/Kronos has these historical associations with ‘agriculture’. This image of Saturn as ‘the reaper’, it’s not just the reaping of souls, right? It’s literally out in the fields reaping the harvest of grain…
DRH: …and this idea of the consequences of your efforts in collaboration with reality being this wealth–whether it’s actual cash money or the things that you sell for cash money like wheat in an agricultural sense. But ‘to reap what you have sown’, that is such a Saturnian phrase and concept, and it has these very literal ties to agriculturalism.
CB: Yeah, I love that because you have to take it through the whole idea of what a farmer does in planting the seed and then tending to it and watering it.
DRH: And being patient.
CB: Patience, yeah, over a long period of time. And then eventually when the time is right, when it’s reached that perfect moment of maturity or whatever, then knowing exactly when it’s time to harvest it.
DRH: Mm-hmm. And farming or gardening requires a lot of understanding what you have control over and what you don’t. You can’t control the weather. You cannot dictate whether or not there’s a hail storm that comes right before it’s time to harvest your super-tender tomatoes. That’s this idea that, I don’t know, the universe has its own sort of humor, just sometimes a very mean humor almost.
But that’s a disappointing experience to be like, “I was so close to being ready to harvest this thing,” and then there’s a loss experience. But then you get lucky enough with the weather, and you’re patient enough, you end up having a bountiful harvest. And gardening and agriculture both have vast amounts of skills to master, especially if you are doing so in an environment that’s challenging for whatever combination of reasons.
It’s thinking about, I don’t know, companion planting and fertilizing, and timing your seedlings, and navigating pests. And if you’re selling these things, how do you get them to market? How do you get customers? There’s just a massive amount of things to know in order to be a successful farmer or gardener.
CB: Yeah, totally. And that word you keep using, ‘consequences’, being such a good Saturnian term, it makes me think of a side note of where, in late 20th century astrology, Saturn started being associated with more and more–especially by more New Age-inclined astrologers–with the concept of ‘karma’. And I always had a little bit of an issue with that in that I don’t think there’s just one thing in the chart.
To whatever extent the concept of karma exists, I don’t think there’s one thing in a chart that indicates it; and in Indian astrology, the entire chart to some extent is the result of one’s karma or karmic actions from the past or past lives. But if we just understand karma in terms of consequences of past actions, whatever that means, I think that’s a much more interesting access point for understanding what Saturn indicates sometimes and that idea that you said of ‘reaping what you sow’.
DRH: Yeah, totally. Especially if you can divorce your concept of consequences from the only-punitive angle, right? I think concepts of consequences and discipline, which are both very Saturnian, inside of a cultural context, for a very large combination of reasons, tends towards this concept of ‘punition’ instead of just ‘results’ or even ‘accountability’. It can be challenging to find language to use here, and I think that’s actually part of why the idea of karma kind of came in.
I also don’t really use the language of karma because it’s not relevant inside of the spiritual practices that I engage in, and because I perceive and then have a hard time completely dissociating karma from the concepts of sin, just because my early exposures to the ideas of karma were definitely using a new language for an old idea of sin and the problems of sin and being damned to hell forever kind of thing versus simply just consequences.
CB: Yeah, and there’s some access point there. I always remember one of my teachers from Project Hindsight, Robert Schmidt, pointed out that for ancient Greek astrologers the 10th house was said to signify praxis, which means ‘action’. And he noted that in Sanskrit, the word ‘karma’ originally meant ‘action’, and so it’s the result of actions.
But the 10th house is the place of actions and the place where you initiate action, but also then becomes the place of what one does. And that phrase that we have today, when you ask somebody, “What do you do?” you’re asking them what their profession is. But in some broader sense, what their profession is is just what they do in the world in some broader way.
DRH: Yeah. I feel like in the wrong context, it would be insufferable to be this person, to have that opening of like, “Hey, what’s your praxis?” instead of, “Hey, what do you do?”
CB: Right. Yeah, I like that. All right, so I think that’s pretty good for Valens, so we can move on. Something I was just thinking about before we jump to Abu Ma’shar is just going back to that theme that I keep dwelling on over the past few months of Saturn slowing things down and sometimes that leads to what is the ultimate slowness but death itself. That’s when life and everything else comes to a stop is when it slows down permanently.
So Saturn ‘slows things down’ but it also ‘brings about the cessation of things’, which then also leads to another Saturn signification sometimes which can be ‘endings’. And sometimes this comes up, for example, with Saturn transits. When it transits through a certain house, it can slow things down in that house or in that part of your life, or in some instances, the slowing down can be the ultimate slowing down of bringing something to an end.
DRH: Yeah, bring something to a close. Yeah, and it’s interesting–even just talking about what the malefics have in common with each other and what the benefics have in common with each other, and both of the malefics have this ‘ending’ aspect to them. The Mars ending often feels more violent or more abrupt, more sudden; that speed component you were talking about earlier.
CB: Because it’s also like ‘a severing’ or ‘a separation’-type thing, ‘a cutting’.
DRH: Yeah, yeah. There’s like a, “It was and now it’s no longer,” in a very intense way, whereas with Saturn, it feels more like, “Of course it’s done now.”
DRH: It’s like a ‘completion’ versus ‘utter destruction’.
CB: Yeah. Like let’s say we’re talking about 7th house and relationships, which is an experience everyone goes through at some point. But one of the things you were saying, I think the keyword was ‘abruptness’ for Mars, that Mars is more abrupt. Whereas sometimes a Saturn 7th house transit can be finally calling it quits and realizing a relationship has run its entire course, and the accumulated things over the years, those signals have built up, and now it’s time to leave.
So it’s something that was long in coming or something that may not be super abrupt. It may be like a process of getting out of it that lasts even a year or two or three, but there’s still this realization of the accumulation of past actions and consequences that have added up to indicate that it’s time to end something.
DRH: Yeah, yeah. It’s the breakup where you’re just like, “I knew this was going to happen like three years ago, it just wasn’t time yet.”
CB: You were just hanging in there.
DRH: Mm-hmm. Whereas the Mars breakup can be like, “I thought everything was great.”
DRH: Like, “What?” But at the same time, it can be a different kind of ending, if we’re thinking about the 7th house, right? A Saturn transit through the 7th house can look like, if other factors are moving in this direction, the end of a non-committed relationship, which is to say the beginning of commitment in a more substantive way; whether that’s, “Okay, cool, we’re going to move in together,” or “We’re going to get married.”
So even that sense of going back to what we were saying before of wedding rings as ‘tiny shackles’ without a physical chain between them, of just being like, “Cool, we’re going to lock this down.” For some reason, I was remembering this burger joint that used to exist in Chicago called The Lockdown, which was a prison-themed, metal music, burger bar.
DRH: But ‘locked down’ as a Saturn word, ‘to lock something down’…
CB: Yeah, or ‘to lock it in’.
DRH: Yeah, or ‘to lock it in’. ‘Locks’. ‘Locks’ are Saturnian.
DRH: And ‘clocks’, which is just a lock with a ‘c’ at the front, that’s also Saturnian.
CB: Okay, I like that. If there’s one tagline for this, that’ll be the tagline for this episode: ‘Clocks are just locks with ‘c’s’ on them’.
DRH: Oh, man, yeah.
CB: Okay, I like that. I like where this is going. Okay, so ‘slowing things down’, ‘bringing endings to things’, ‘wrapping them up’. But also on the flip side, as you were saying, sometimes ‘putting a permanent commitment on something’ and ‘entering into a formal agreement’ or ‘trying to create a foundation for something’, so that it will be more permanent and long-lasting and initiating a promise in some sense that it will be something that will last long into the future.
DRH: Yeah, ‘endurance’. Okay, we’ve maybe done some stress-testing on this, and we’ve proven that it’s, thus far, durable. Let’s lock it in and see how durable it actually is.
CB: A phrase that comes to mind is that ‘it stands the test of time’.
DRH: Uh-huh. Yeah, totally, totally.
CB: Very Saturnian
DRH: Yeah. And for some reason that’s reminding me of ‘a tale as old as time’, like the Disney song.
CB: Oh, yeah.
DRH: Total side note, but yeah.
CB: Was that from Fieval? What was that from?
DRH: No. I think it’s–oh, heck. ‘Tale as old as time’…
CB: Oh, no, Beauty and the Beast.
DRH: Is that Beauty and the Beast?
DRH: Okay. Yeah, which is funny because that one also has a literal animated clock character.
CB: Yeah, totally.
DRH: Real Saturnian.
CB: I like that. I’m a little disappointed in my Disney knowledge. 10-year-old me is severely disappointed right now, but at least we came up with it, so that’s pretty good.
CB: All right, so let’s go to our second astrologer. So our first one was Vettius Valens, and we’re talking about very early in the Western astrological tradition with the Hellenistic tradition. Now we’re going to jump forward several centuries to Abu Ma’shar and his text, The Great Introduction, which was written in Baghdad probably around the middle of the 9th century. And this translation is from Benjamin Dykes. Do you feel okay reading it? It’s actually two parts. It’s kind of long because Abu Ma’shar was famously very wordy, so it’s on two slides.
DRH: Yeah. I mean, was that just him showing off at how much paper he could buy?
CB: I mean, some later astrologers complained about it because he did The Greater Introduction and then he also did The Lesser Introduction where it’s super short and concise. I finally got the text of al-Qabisi, who I think was a century later after Abu Ma’shar, and he thought that The Greater Introduction was way too long and The Lesser Introduction was way too short, so he tried to write something in between. And that’s what al-Qabisi’s Introduction to Astrology is and it ended up becoming really popular in Europe because it sort of hit that sweet spot right in the middle.
DRH: Yeah. Malefics and benefics yet again.
CB: Yes, extremes.
DRH: Yep. Yeah, I’m good to read it.
DRH: “As for Saturn, his nature is cooling, drying, black bile, dark, harsh in coarseness; but sometimes it is cooling [and] wet, heavy, stinking air. And he is of much eating, sincere in [his] affection, and indicates works of moisture, plowing, farming, the masters of villages, the cultivation of lands, building, waters and rivers, the appraising of things, the apportioning of lands, wealth and an abundance of assets, those working with their hands, and avarice, harsh poverty, lowly people, travel on the seas, a long absence from the homeland, and distant, bad journeys, and delusion.”
“[M]alice, resentment, cunning, stratagems, deception, treachery, harm, anguish, solitude and little company with people, putting on airs, lack of restraint, haughtiness, conceit, boasting, those who enslave the people, managers for the Sultan, and every work [done] with evil, coercion, injustice, and anger; and fighters, chains, confinement, the stocks, and imposing restrictions; and sincerity of speech, deliberateness, being unhurried, understanding, tested actions, examination, stubbornness, much thought, profundity, insistence, sticking to a single path, hardly ever getting angry (but if he did get angry he would not [be able to] control himself), not loving the good for anyone.”
“And he indicates old men, and the weighty (among people), fear, hardships, anxieties, sorrows, dejection, confusion, complications, difficulty, adversity, restriction, the ancestors, the dead, inheritances, lamentation, orphanhood, old things, grandfathers, fathers, older brothers, slaves, stable workers, misers, people who have a bad reputation, disgraced people, robbers, gravediggers, murdaqshes.” What are these, right after ‘gravediggers’?
CB: Murdaqshes. I don’t know what that means.
CB: It’s almost like Ben forgot to translate one Arabic term.
CB: I’ll Google it later.
DRH: Okay, cool. “[B]ody-snatchers, tanners, people who make things faulty, sorcerers, masters of social unrest, the riffraff, eunuchs, long thought but little speech, the knowledge of secrets (and no one knows what is in his soul, nor does he disclose it [to anyone]), being acquainted with every abstruse matter, and it indicates leading an ascetic life and the devout people of religious communities.”
CB: That is a lot. Obviously, there’s some continuation of some things that we saw in Valens, but there’s some additional negative and terrible significations. But then I feel like he does a little bit more than Valens did to indicate or include some of the more constructive significations as well.
DRH: Yeah, absolutely, and even seeing some of the things that we were talking about before in terms of ‘wealth’ and ‘abundance’, ‘materiality’. Some of these things are really interesting because they’re not things I would personally associate with Saturn, in terms of just straight-up Saturnian expression, but more of the things that I think would maybe come about if somebody was ‘deficient’ in Saturn. Like “much eating,” I consider that to be the opposite of the sort of austerity we were talking about before.
CB: Yeah. Yeah, there’s a lot of tricky things. In some instances, the implicit thing here is that we’re talking about a dignified Saturn for constructive things or we’re talking about a poorly-placed Saturn for negative things. There’s other things that are weird or context-specific, like he says, “the managers for the Sultan,” which is really interesting as we’re talking about 9th century, 1001 Arabian Nights, Baghdad time frame when we’re talking about this, in terms of the cultural relativity of astrology during whatever period we’re talking about.
We run into issues with all of these older texts, which I got a first-hand experience with with Valens. And if you read my book, I put a million footnotes under almost every signification because there’s a level of interpretation where the word in ancient Greek, or here in ancient Arabic, may mean five or ten different things, and the translator sort of goes with the one that they think is the most correct. But there may be a range of other meanings that could be better or that the author could actually mean, that if you were living in 9th century society you would understand better why they picked that signification or what have you.
DRH: Right, even thinking about connotations, right? A given word’s connotation can change vastly over time. At one point, I started writing an essay that I’ve never shared about the Judgment card in tarot, and ‘judgment’ as a negative thing is a connotational component that’s not within the original definition of the term. Same thing with ‘doom’; ‘to meet your doom’ was the same as meeting your destiny. But now we have this connotation that doom is terrible and destiny is amazing; but in the original senses of those words they’re both neutral.
CB: Okay. Yeah, so there’s a lot of tricky stuff like that when it comes to things like this, and especially looking at historical things. We’re going to gloss over most of that for the most part, but it’s something people do have to be aware of.
DRH: It’s worth keeping in mind.
CB: Yeah, for sure. All right, so let’s pull up–what were some of the things? Well, one of the things that came up–he didn’t use this word exactly–but somewhere in one of these significations, one of the terms that it brought up to me was gravitas, like people that have gravitas. Maybe it was some of the later ones. He starts talking about “sincerity of speech”, but especially “deliberateness”. Saturn is very deliberate. “Being unhurried,” like being slow to do something, but being very deliberate and doing it at your own time. It sort of reminds me of, in Lord of the Rings, Treebeard and some of the trees that move very slowly and some of the dialogue about that.
DRH: Yeah, I actually think that’s a wonderful metaphor. Because even thinking about this thing that Abu Ma’shar is saying, “hardly ever getting angry (but if he did get angry he would not a he would not [be able to] control himself),” that’s exactly what happens with the Ents. The Ents are like, “You know what, it’s not our problem. That’s over there. Those are for those people. We’re over here.” And then they witness the destruction that Saruman has been wreaking and they just go bananas. They destroy everything, like pulling down dams and literally just throwing Orcs left and right; it’s incredible.
DRH: Yeah, that’s actually a really great metaphor, Chris. Thank you.
CB: Yeah. I wish I could remember the exact quote. If Becca Tarnas or Jo Gleason were here they could tell me the exact quote from Treebeard, but I’m sure somebody can mention it in the comments.
DRH: ‘Not so hasty’ is the thing that Treebeard says repeatedly.
CB: And there was some other thing about ‘anything worth doing is worth doing’. I don’t know if that’s actually a quote.
DRH: ‘Anything worth saying is worth taking your time to say’ is the gist of one of the things that Treebeard says also.
CB: That’s it. So that’s what some of this stuff down here is reminding me of. “Understanding,” “examination,” “much thought, profundity,” like those who are of few words or don’t necessarily talk a lot, but when they do you know, it’s saying something that is more profound and doing it in a shorter amount of words.
DRH: That’s the next slide, when Abu Ma’shar says, “long thought but little speech,” and then “the knowledge of secrets [but] no one knows what’s in his soul,” because he’s not saying it. Yeah, and even “and the weighty”–I wonder at that word there. I don’t know the Arabic at all, but I wonder. ‘The weighty’, does that mean people who have a lot of body mass, or is that ‘the weighty’ in the sense of gravitas that you were just bringing up?
CB: Yeah. And right after that “being acquainted with every abstruse matter” makes me think also of how we mentioned ‘occult’ previously, because ‘occult’ originally meant ‘hidden’ or ‘dark’ in some sense.
CB: But now it’s come to mean sort of something else, but that’s part of the reason why it has that connotation.
CB: ‘Ascetic’, also. It says those who lead an ascetic life is a very Saturnian thing.
DRH: Yeah. I mean, that brings up the ‘austerity’ thing from Valens, right?
DRH: Of asceticism being like an extreme austerity in terms of what you consider necessary or desirable. Like not even necessarily desirable, but what do you consider ‘necessary’ and ‘permissible’, right? Sometimes I think Saturn is more concerned with ‘what is okay’ than what is amazing.
CB: Yeah. And also just what do you need at ‘the bare minimum to survive’ and that being sufficient and not needing some of the other finer things in life or other things that are not absolutely necessary to live.
DRH: Yeah, exactly. Even what does it mean to find access to–if not joy–then not completely despondent, without needing the excesses of Jupiter or the sensorial pleasures of Venus.
CB: Yeah. Somebody on Twitter–I saw it yesterday–had a tweet where they said ‘Jupiter is quantity’ and ‘Venus is quality’. And it makes me think of that because there is a contrast there, as you were just saying, with Saturn with sometimes ‘more is less’ or ‘less is more’ in a sense as being a Saturn-type thing.
DRH: Yeah. In a contemporary sense, I would say that minimalism as a lifestyle would definitely be Saturnian.
CB: Right, for sure. All right, let me go back to this. There is a digression I have to make. He says, “old things,” which includes when he starts getting into people, “grandfathers, fathers, older brothers,” and so on. It’s been an ongoing thing about Saturn for years on The Astrology Podcast where I think it was Charlie Obert who found a quote in Dorotheus where it said that Saturn was ‘feminine’, which is different from the rest of the astrologers traditionally where Saturn was said to be a ‘masculine planet’ or indicate ‘masculine figures’. And there’s been an ongoing question because it would have been interesting, because it would have created a more symmetrical scheme if Saturn was feminine, Mars was masculine, and so on and so forth with the other planets, like Venus feminine and what have you.
And textually, the version of the Dorotheus text that we have today does make that one reference, but we’re not sure if it’s just an error in the received Arabic text, which is like three times removed from its original language. We do know that at least one later astrologer, Theophilus in the 8th century, had access to that Arabic text and read it and took that to heart and therefore treated Saturn as feminine because he thought Dorotheus did. But it’s not clear if Dorotheus in the original text actually did or if that’s just a mistake in the Arabic text that was passed on.
So I just wanted to footnote that since this is the official Saturn episode and say that’s basically the state of that research and that’s probably as far as that’ll ever go. And different people can draw different conclusions or whatever just based on that, but that’s basically as much as we know about that.
DRH: Yeah, I personally find it really great to think about Saturn from a feminine perspective, like ‘a grandmother’ rather than a grandfather. And one thing that I think about when it comes to this kind of thing too is Saturn in a given person’s chart placed in a diurnal or nocturnal sign, like a feminine or a masculine sign, and how does that influence access to Saturn through either this grandmotherly lens or a grandfatherly lens. For me, Saturn in Capricorn that’s earth sign, so that’s the ‘nocturnal’ or ‘feminine’ expression of Saturn.
And it’s also then interesting to think about how that opens up the doorway for people who maybe don’t want to only refer to Greco-Roman mythology as the planets have been named for, but want access to other traditions in terms of myths and legends and cultural touchstones. To think about Saturn as feminine really opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of that kind of connection, like ‘Caillech’ from the Celtic lands. A lot of people who will relate Saturn to the concept of karma will also relate Saturn to the deity ‘Kali’. It may or may not be culturally accurate, but there are definitely overlaps in terms of significations and meaning-making that is available there.
CB: Yeah, yeah. I think Rick and I had a long discussion about this in the Uranus episode because there was an issue where it didn’t seem like to me that mythology was the primary access point for the astrologers understanding the significations of the new planets when it came to Uranus and Neptune, and then it increasingly started becoming more and more important when you come to Pluto, and then recently, the asteroids and things like that.
But historically, it was interesting because it’s partially due to the presumption that that’s always been the case, that the mythology has always been the primary access point. And so, there’s an ongoing question about whether mythology now–if there’s newly-discovered bodies–should be the primary access point, or if we should be accessing it somehow through an empirical lens or some other conceptual approach or what have you.
One thing I have thought of since that episode that’s really interesting is that’s different compared to modern times, that in modern times, the outer planets have been named by astronomers. And while sometimes they have cute little reasons for that or there’s little motivations that are kind of interesting, much of the time there’s not necessarily. And that’s actually different compared to the ancient planets because the Greek astrologers, at least let’s just say limited to the Western tradition.
There was a point before when the planets had not been attributed names of the gods, and the Greeks referred to them with different descriptive names for the planets, ‘the wandering stars’. But there was a specific point in time where somebody in the Greek tradition saw what gods they were associated with in the Mesopotamian tradition and then named the planets after that by picking the deity that corresponded to that in the Greek tradition.
So there was more of a deliberateness I think at that point to find the correct corresponding god, and I think that’s why we start running into issues in modern times with Uranus where it wasn’t done necessarily deliberately or for mythological or conceptual reasons. But that might be why there’s some disconnect sometimes with astrologers like Richard Tarnas who argue that the Prometheus myth is a better representation of what Uranus actually signifies in astrology than the Uranus myth is, for example.
DRH: Yeah, yeah. No, totally, that makes a lot of sense. I haven’t listened to the entirety of the Uranus episode yet, but I remember I was listening to that section and I was thinking that one way to think about deities is they’re kind of collection points for archetypal symbology or archetypal expression. If we can think about archetypes as potentially having some level of agency in terms of getting noticed or expressed, I don’t think that operates entirely well for Uranus and Neptune; I think it’s somewhat functional for Pluto. And in my own research when it comes to the asteroids, it’s partially relevant, right? It’s not a hundred-percent all of the time.
But it is interesting to then think about doing that deliberate work, maybe similar to that Greek astrologer that looked at the Mesopotamian names for the planets and was like, “Oh, what if we do it with our gods?” To be doing that effort as a contemporary person, like maybe looking at Saturn and not just looking at Saturn, the mythological figure, but Saturn as it functions astrologically, what are those significations, and then relating that to cultural touchstones, whether those be deities or legendary figures. One of the things that I will have my one-on-one students do is watch TV, like re-watch their favorite television show and identify characters with the planets. All of these are different ways of finding names for archetypal clusters.
CB: Right. Yeah, because some movies–or even some of the Marvel movies and stuff are expressing archetypes that are some of our modern-day myths and things like that. Or when somebody mentions some of the philosophical themes in The Matrix, for example, we are talking about deeper-level archetypal themes in the same way that you would in ancient times in terms of telling some of these myths and some of these stories.
DRH: Yeah, exactly, exactly.
CB: Yeah. All right, well I just want to mention that in passing as part of an ongoing thing and something I was thinking about–the deliberateness of the ancient assignments.
DRH: But also, the gender thing I think we started with.
CB: Oh, yeah.
DRH: Like Saturn having a feminine expression or potentially being considered to be a feminine planet versus a masculine planet.
CB: Yeah. And I think the answer is just do whatever you want. There is an overwhelmingly long tradition of it being masculine, and at least in the Greek tradition, Kronos was a masculine figure. So there’s probably a tendency for the Greek astrologers, and then even going forward into the Arabic tradition–here we can see with Abu Ma’shar–to treat Saturn as masculine. But I think there’s enough–not mutability, but what’s the term–malleability that you could also treat it like the grandmotherly figure, or the older woman with wisdom I think is just as much of an appropriate metaphor or symbol to use as well.
DRH: Yeah. One approach to that, if you do want to stay inside of the Greek-named figures, ‘Hecate’ is a really Saturnian figure. And for folks who are just like, “I want to try to think about Saturn, but for whatever reason ‘Sky Granddaddy’ is not doing it for me,” that’s an option.
CB: Yeah. I guess the way that this is even practically relevant in ancient times is more just they were looking for significators that would indicate when there were questions when gender was relevant, like whether it would be a male or a female figure. And sometimes the Saturn stuff does get incorporated into things like indicating ‘the father’, or the ‘Lot of Father’ incorporates Saturn, for example. So I don’t want to get into all of that, but that’s just one of the areas where sometimes those gender things were more concretely relevant for different reasons.
DRH: Yeah, there are technical reasons for that.
CB: Yeah. Whereas we can have a much broader discussion about the malleability of some of those placements and archetypes when we’re talking about it in a psychological context or other contexts.
CB: All right, so back to Abu Ma’shar. And anything that we need to talk about or dwell on when it comes to some of the significations that he gave?
DRH: One thing–oh, go ahead.
CB: No, go ahead.
DRH: I was just going to say one word that’s jumping out at me is this concept of ‘coercion’, in part because I think about coercion as you’re kind of ‘herding’–like ‘h-e-r-d’–herding someone into a particular way of being or a way of acting. That also I think ties in with ‘deception’, or ‘treachery’ even, ‘stratagems’, ‘cunning’–all of these ideas of what does it mean to have an idea of what you desire, what the will is, what is to be accomplished and using the methods available to you to make that happen, maybe without other people’s full, onboard consent.
And the image of herding, for me, is the activity of ‘boundary-ing’ something, but in movement, like in motion; and so, I think it’s an interesting concept to think about. There’s the idea of the boundary as a wall as a static thing, but then what does it mean to have a boundary or a barrier in motion? So that was one thing that was coming up.
CB: Okay. Well, that makes me think of something I thought about after the Mars episode; because what always happens is we talk for three hours, then we end, and then like five minutes later you think of 20 great things that you wanted to say. So one of them was I was watching some YouTube video that was talking about some of the geopolitical stuff with war and things like that, and it was talking about war as being a projection of force and attempts to impose your will on somebody. And it was invoking Mars-type things for me in terms of that being something let’s say countries do in order to get things that they want or get people to do things that they want.
And as you were mentioning some of those things about ‘herding’, to me, it’s invoking similar thoughts about the same thing of trying to get what you want or get others to do what you want but in line with some of the manipulating-type tendencies that are being mentioned here with Saturn.
And when you’re talking about herding and stuff, it was also making me think of what you might do if you were herding let’s say a bunch of goats or something; one of the things that you do is use boundaries to your advantage. If you have a fence on one side, and a fence on another, you’re herding them into a specific direction by using the natural boundaries that are there to your advantage in some sense, and maybe that’s part of where some of that is going.
DRH: Yeah, yeah, totally. Creating boundaries, but then also using the boundaries that are available. Even thinking about something like coercion, just thinking again about that LuLaRich documentary series that I watched recently and this idea of coercing people into ‘x, y, or z’, you use a combination of social pressures and financial pressures. “Everybody else is doing it, why aren’t you?” that kind of thing.
And that’s a form of coercion of just being like, “Here are these other boundaries. You people want to be included, you people want to be beautiful, you people want to be successful? Then I have this thing that I want you to do, and I’m going to use these other things to get you to do what I want you to do.”
And then when you were just talking about the imposition of will, where maybe the Mars’ way of doing that is war, then thinking about something like ‘embargoes’ as maybe a Saturnian perspective. Basically, you just put limitations on what you can do economically. It’s a ‘cold’ version of warfare. Not like a ‘cold war’, but like a non-propulsive form of warfare to remove something from someone, to take away something as a form of political manipulation.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s a good point. And I think Valens used the phrase ‘compulsory actions’, and it’s raising ideas of how somebody can be compelled to do something that they don’t want to, which is a very Saturnian-type thing; sometimes that makes me think of ‘obligations’ and ‘duties’ and things that you have to do.
But also, here with Abu Ma’shar, when he puts those three together, he says, “[E]very work [done] with evil, coercion, [and] injustice.” It makes me think of the way that sometimes a bad guy, or a villain, or a mafia person might coerce somebody to do something through let’s say blackmail, like having something that you’re holding over somebody’s head which you’re using in order to force them to do something that they might not do otherwise.
DRH: Yeah, totally.
CB: All right, so back to this. Is there anything else we need to talk about in Abu Ma’shar before we move on to our next author?
DRH: There’s nothing that’s jumping out at me at this point.
CB: I mean, the only other thing I’ll mention–because he mentions it again, and Valens did too towards the top–he says, “[A]nd it indicates works of moisture.” Especially in the Greek tradition, less so as the tradition goes on, but ‘waterside trades’ and water things were sometimes mentioned in connection with Saturn.
DRH: Mm-hmm. That actually reminds me of when I was reading through this, a thought that came up was this idea that water is a natural border. A river, or a lake, or an ocean are very obvious demarcations of ‘this is land here and there’s land over there’. Because I was like, why does water keep coming up with Saturn? But I think it might also be then tied to the fact that foreigners from really far places, there’s a high likelihood that they enter into a place via water, or their first entry into a new country is in a water place because of ports and trade; like the intensity of merchant activity in harbors at boundary points, essentially at water-based boundary points.
CB: Sure. Okay, yeah, that makes sense. And there may be some other additional metaphorical things, it’s just such an interesting contrast because we tend to think of Saturn as more ‘earthy’ really.
DRH: And ‘dry’.
CB: And dry. And some of the ancient authors associating it with ‘sailors’ and water things is a common motif that comes up, especially in, for example, indications for violent death. Valens will say if they have a Mars indication for violent death that means ‘dying in a fire’, but if they have a Saturn indication then it can mean ‘drowning’, for example.
And some of this may be coming from earlier Mesopotamian traditions where, for example, there’s some legend from Berossus, from the Mesopotamian tradition, of this notion that when all of the planets are aligned in Cancer that the world would be destroyed by a fire, whereas when they were all aligned in Capricorn that ‘the world would be destroyed by a flood’. So it may be partially derived from some of those older things, and yeah, there’s lots of other reasons.
DRH: Wow, that’s fascinating.
CB: Yeah, a whole other topic we could go down, but I’m sure we’ll save that for another time. Why don’t we jump forward a few centuries to the very end of what we usually call traditional astrology, which is when we get to the 17th century and the text of William Lilly and his book, Christian Astrology, which was the first major English language textbook on astrology, which was giving an introduction or a comprehensive introduction to the subject.
So in Lilly, he says, the ‘Nature’ of Saturn is that it’s: “Masculine, diurnal, cold and dry, melancholic, earthly, malevolent, the Greater Infortune, [and] Author of solitaryness.” So something we didn’t mention is that it became known as the ‘greater malefic’ or the ‘Greater Infortune’, whereas Mars was the ‘lesser malefic’ or the ’Lesser Infortune’.
So Lilly says, of the ‘People signified’ by Saturn, there are: “Husbandmen, clowns, beggars, day-laborers, old men, fathers, grand-fathers, monks, Jesuits, Sectarists, Curriers, night-farmers, miners underground, tinners, potters, broom-men, plumbers, brick-makers, malsters, chimney-sweepers, sextons of churches, bearers of dead corpses, scavengers, hustlers, colliers, carters, gardeners, ditchers, chandlers, dyers of black cloth, and herdsman, shepherd or cow-keepers.”
The ‘Manners when Saturn is well-dignified’ in a chart is: “Profound in imagination, severe in his acts, in words reserved, in speaking and giving very spare, in labor patient, in arguing or displaying grave, in obtaining the goods of this life studious and solicitous, in all manners of actions austere.” However, the ‘Manners when Saturn is badly-placed’ in a chart, he says: “Then he is envious, covetous, jealous and mistrustful, timorous, sordid, outwardly dissembling, sluggish, suspicious, stubborn, a condemner of women, a close liar, malicious, murmuring, never contented, and ever repining.”
One of the things I like about Lilly of course once we get to this point that’s a little bit implicit in earlier authors is he’s distinguishing between when Saturn is well-placed in a chart according to various rules of traditional astrology versus when Saturn is not as well-placed in a chart based on a number of different considerations. And that’s something that is relevant somewhat in terms of understanding what Saturn is going to mean in your own chart in your own life.
DRH: Yeah, I also appreciate Lilly, especially because the bulk of his work was as a horary astrologer, answering questions, often questions that would involve other people than the person who was asking the question; just this focus who are the people that embody Saturn, what are the tasks, what are the jobs, what are the roles that are embodied by each of the planets. And just really thinking about how some of the significations that we have already come across from Valens and Abu Ma’shar that we’ve just been discussing are exemplified in some of these jobs, I also find it hilarious that he attributes ‘clowns’ to Saturn.
CB: Right. Yeah, the changing relationship with clowns in Western society.
DRH: Yeah, yeah. I mean, but it’s also interesting. In college, I was in my university’s circus, and after college, I wasn’t in a circus, but I took a lot of aerial circus classes and stuff like that. But this idea of ‘clowning’, there’s the clown that’s kind of the terrifying figure at the birthday party. It just really makes me think about how some of the funniest people are also just really sad people.
But clowning as like a skill, a performance art is moving the body and moving perception in some way in order to incite a particular response in someone, and it often includes upending people’s expectations of behavior, which then ties into this like Saturnian concept of kind of being on the edge of ‘being marginalized’ or being reminded of what the structures and expectations of reality even are, whether that be the material expectations of reality which we can see in Capricorn, or even the social or cultural interactive expectations of reality which we see in Aquarius as a fixed air sign.
CB: Yeah, that’s really making me think of Aquarius and thinking of an issue that comes up oftentimes when it comes to the late-20th century, ‘modern’ astrology tendency to associate Uranus with Aquarius, and some of the significations then get attributed to Aquarius that are thought to be from Uranus about being ‘rebellious’, or being ‘socially outcast’ or other things like that. But some of that actually can come from and be reframed as Saturn significations that are just manifesting in a certain type of way through Aquarius being a fixed air sign.
DRH: Yeah. It’s like being able to be someone whose embodiment of humanness goes against social expectations or is butting up against the conceptual boundaries, which the ‘concept boundaries’, that to me is very Aquarius. That would then be ‘being a weirdo’, ‘being an outcast’, ‘being at the margins’.
And with Aquarius, part of what’s so entertaining I guess about Aquarius is there’s still a concern with ‘the structure of reality’ or ‘what’s true’, but the version of what’s true, the version, the perception of reality is different from the mainstream version. Like my grandfather is an Aquarius, and I love him extremely a lot. And it’s so fun to kind of watch him get kind of upset at what he perceives to be people having no common sense; but his version of common sense is actually not as common as he thinks it is.
DRH: And I think that kind of ‘rigidity’ of ‘this is what makes sense’ is Aquarian, and if that rigidity aligns with the dominant paradigm of whatever social structure you’re in, great; you’re just really intensely traditionalist. But if that paradigm doesn’t align with the social structure that you’re contained within, you are ‘a revolutionary’.
CB: Right. That goes back to–and I’m kind of trying to quickly search for a diagram–an observation originally that Robert Schmidt had made when he was looking at Valens’ significations and some of the other significations of the planets in Hellenistic astrology, that part of Saturn’s core, overarching conceptual role is that it was set up in the domicile scheme to be opposite to the two luminaries, where it’s like the Sun emits light and the Moon receives light from the signs of Leo in Cancer. But in the two signs opposite to that Saturn is set in opposition to the two luminaries where it excludes and it rejects things, and notions of ‘exclusion’ and ‘rejection’ are these recurring Saturnian themes that come up over and over again in the traditional significations of Saturn.
So the way in which that’s relevant, I had a tweet over the summer–actually in August during Leo season when I was thinking about this–and somebody said something and it sort of gave me a better insight into the dynamic between Aquarius and Leo. What I said was: “Leos seek to stand out by being recognized as special and magnificent, while Aquarius stands out by rejecting social conventions in a way that makes them unique and notable.” So it’s kind of like two sides of the same coin, but the way that Saturn and Aquarius gets there is through sometimes, like you said, when you’re not in the dominant social thing, by rejecting the dominant social consensus, and therefore, standing out as a result of that.
DRH: Yeah, totally. And I think that also brings up ideas of difference and ‘assimilatability’, which is not a word, but the ability to assimilate into, I don’t know, the cultural ideals versus having no interest in those cultural ideals. Leo admiration is like, wow, this is the pinnacle of what a lot of people desire, whereas Aquarian admiration is this person is so themselves, there’s no way they could be anyone else and no one else can do that.
CB: Yeah. To give a really basic, somewhat American high school context, it’s the contrast between the star football player, the pinnacle of let’s say a jock or something like that versus socially, the goth group of kids that dresses in black and is perceived–not just perceived, but in some instances stands outside of the social conventions and social norms and in that way distinguishes themselves.
DRH: Yeah, yeah, totally.
CB: Yeah, I’m not sure how relevant that analogy is going to be in two or three centuries. Vettius Valens wouldn’t relate to that analogy, but let’s just use it for the sake of contemporary astrology.
DRH: Yeah. I mean, maybe in two or three centuries people are going to be like, “They used to have castes of people called jocks and another group called goths.”
DRH: It’s like, yeah, Saturn is ‘goth’.
CB: I do like how two or three sources up to this point have all said that ‘Saturn is dressed in black’, and I’ve associated that as a recurring Saturn theme or concept.
DRH: Yeah, Scorpios want it–it’s Saturn.
CB: Right. Yeah, people often overlook that or mix those up.
CB: All right, so let’s see, going back to Lilly–yeah, he does focus a lot on people.
DRH: One thing that I’m finding that’s kind of standing out to me with the ‘Manners well-dignified’, “Profound in imagination,” which for me feels a little surprising. Imagination for me feels more like a Jupiterian and sometimes lunar concept.
DRH: But thinking about profundity as it is attached to imagination and potentially even applicability, what does it mean to imagine? Not just in a ‘daydreamy’ kind of sense, or like, “Yeah, I’ve been reading fantasy novels all weekend,” kind of way, but more in a sense of, “I’ve been in the garden with my hands in the dirt,” learning more about this reality and then imagining what’s possible, actually rooted in what already exists, if that makes any sense. And I think that is accurate.
CB: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me. All right, switching back here to Lilly, we should mention–even though I have lots of other episodes on it–just briefly in passing the dignity thing because it does come up. And things like sect and sign-based dignity I think are relevant sometimes when interpreting, for example, how a person’s Saturn return might be experienced and the spectrum of very subjectively positive or constructive versus very subjectively challenging experiences that different people have during that time.
So that brings up a whole cluster of concepts that it’s going to take a while to get into, but sect and just the difference between day and night charts. And generally speaking, in ancient astrology, and I think this is still somewhat true–I found this to be true in my experience–that people that were born with ‘day charts’ with the Sun in the top-half of the horizon tend to experience Saturn as being a little bit ‘more constructive’, whereas ‘night chart’ natives tend to experience Saturn as being a little bit more subjectively ‘challenging’; and the inverse with the other malefic, Mars, where Mars is better in night charts and more challenging in day charts.
DRH: Yeah, and that’s something that I’ve observed in practice as well, where I feel like my clients with day charts who either are recently out of their Saturn return or currently in their Saturn return, there’s much more of a sensation of positive coherence that is forming and even experiences of, “I feel so much more free now than I did prior to my Saturn return,” sort of like ‘the unshackling experience’. Whereas clients with night charts are really looking for coping strategies and survival mechanisms in order to navigate the challenges and the questions and the disillusionment that is coming up with their Saturn return.
CB: Yeah, definitely. Other mitigating factors for Saturn returns that I’ve found–and a lot of these are outlined in–Leisa Schaim and I used to write a blog titled SaturnReturnStories.com where we have some of this. And then in one of the very early episodes, like Episode 24 of The Astrology Podcast, Leisa and I did an episode titled, Understanding Your Saturn Return, where we talked about a lot of this stuff.
And one of the other mitigating conditions we also found in our work on Saturn returns was just if Saturn is in one of the signs that it rules traditionally or is in the sign of its exaltation, we found that people tended to experience their Saturn return as a bit more constructive as well in terms of the overall spectrum of things. So if Saturn was in Capricorn or Aquarius or Libra, there seemed to be a qualitative difference in terms of it being experienced as a bit more constructive than if it did not have that type of sign-based dignity.
CB: Yeah, so that’s another type of thing Lilly means when he’s talking about a planet being dignified or not well-dignified. And then finally if Saturn has some nice configurations with the two benefics, like Venus and Jupiter, especially superior aspects where they’re overcoming Saturn, that also seems to be a mitigating condition that can indicate the Saturn placement and things like the Saturn return being experienced a bit more constructively as well, just in terms of three factors that can really alter how the Saturn placement is experienced.
CB: All right, should we digress and talk about the Saturn return now, or should we wait until we get more into the modern tradition before we go into that?
DRH: Maybe let’s wait. But I do just want to make a quick side note since we were just talking about dignity. If you have Saturn in one of the signs that is its ‘antithesis’ or ‘exile’–like its ‘detriment’ or ‘fall’–it doesn’t mean that you’re royally screwed by Saturn forever. Depending on lots of factors, it can actually create a situation where your awareness of an embodiment of Saturn is even more constructively potent than for someone who just has Saturn privilege, who never does anything with it.
CB: Totally. That’s a really, really good point. I actually had an example of this that I just saw the other day; I’m not sure if I can fully recall it as well as I would like right now. But one of the example charts I’ve always used is Dave Grohl who was the drummer in Nirvana, and then he became the lead in the band, the Foo Fighters.
And I always liked his chart. There’s an issue with the sect in his chart, where his Ascendant is at 18 degrees of Capricorn and his Sun is at 24. So it’s like the Sun is 6 degrees below the horizon, but it’s right at that barrier point where it starts to switch from a night chart to a day chart. So there’s a question of whether he was born with a night chart or a day chart. Other people, like George Lucas, who has it 5 or 6 degrees below the horizon, I feel like and I’ve argued that his chart behaves more like a day chart.
So with Dave Grohl, I’ve always had that question, and I think it’s been confirmed for me a little bit more recently that his chart is behaving like a day chart. Part of the reason for that is then with the basic distinction between sect, we would expect to some extent that his Mars placement in the 11th whole sign house would indicate some of his greatest challenges and difficulties and setbacks in life.
And one of the things I noted at different times, like almost 10 years ago when Nirvana was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, one of the things that he said was that everybody–once Kurt Cobain died–was mourning for him and stuff as this great rock musician and this legendary figure, but for Dave Grohl and for Krist Novoselic, they had actually lost a friend. And that was actually their primary response to what happened with Kurt Cobain. One of their best friends killed himself in a really personal and tragic way, which I think is interesting in terms of Mars in the 11th house placement.
But Dave Grohl has this new autobiography that’s coming out, so he’s doing interviews, and he did an interview with Howard Stern. And there’s this little clip that was posted on YouTube a few days ago where he was talking about how his father was trained as a classical musician, and his father was not supportive at all whatsoever of Dave Grohl’s musical career.
And he was actually quite skeptical that he could actually make that as a career, and he was very dismissive and not supportive and other things, which is very much in keeping with this Saturn placement in a probable day chart, in the 4th whole sign house. So for those watching the audio version, he has Capricorn rising and Saturn in Aries in the 4th house.
DRH: Square the Ascendant really closely. Really closely square the Ascendant.
CB: Square the Ascendant and ruling the Ascendant. It’s always been tricky for me because I don’t think he comes off like a night chart Saturn–just personality-wise ruling the Ascendant–but more of a day chart Saturn, but that’s a separate issue.
But he sort of went into it and said how once the success started happening and he got into Nirvana and then it became this like worldwide sensation very quickly that his dad suddenly was like okay with it, but he still brought this level of grounding him in pessimism in saying to him, “You know this isn’t going to last, right?” and Dave being like, “Yeah, of course, I understand that.”
And so, his dad said, “Save every check,” or save every penny from every check and to not spend wildly and crazily, but to be expecting that this isn’t going to last. And he said also that part of his father’s issue was that he had wanted to make it himself as a musician but couldn’t and couldn’t support his family as a musician as he wanted, so that it was his own dreams that were never realized in that way.
DRH: Wow, that’s like a really especially good astrology manifestation of a Saturn in Aries in the 4th; like, wow. I mean, also, I feel like I’m perpetually accumulating additional data that supports the traditional perspective that the 4th house is the ‘house of the father’ or the ‘non-gestating’ parent.
CB: So yeah, I thought about almost even making a little video on that, like a commentary or something like that because I was so struck by it. But people can search for it–the title of the YouTube video is just Dave Grohl’s Dad Thought His Music Career Wouldn’t Last More Than a Year. So people can search on YouTube. It’s just a little quick three-minute video, but it’s very instructive of how sometimes a 4th house Saturn placement can be experienced.
DRH: Yeah, I’m looking forward to the analyses that might come forward after the autobiography is out.
CB: Yeah. Well, I ordered it. I’m really looking forward to getting it; I had some other previous autobiography. Because I think every astrologer needs to pick–you have your personal charts and obviously it’s 50/50. Leisa and I recorded a private podcast for patrons about this recently, and it’s been an ongoing–not debate but ongoing topic on the podcast going way back to the beginning when I did a very early episode with Kenneth Miller about the value of doing celebrity charts versus personal charts of people you know.
And your own personal chart and people you know will always be your primary research topics, but it’s so valuable to also pick a celebrity or a few celebrities whose lives are well-documented and have biographies or autobiographies written about them, where you have something objective that you can point to and cite and quote to talk about that public figure. There’s a shared reference point and it’s really clear that you’re saying things that are accurate reflections of reality to some extent, and it’s not just your subjective feeling about your friend that you know or your opinion about their life or something like that.
DRH: Yeah. Something where there’s fact-checking that’s available, especially when it comes to dates of particular events and things of that nature.
CB: Yeah. Obviously, there’s a subjective component also to celebrities, and there can also be things that are not true or rumors that are false or even the celebrity themselves not saying the truth when it comes to interviews or their personal life or other things like that. Obviously, there’s issues, but it’s just nice to have a balance of both and there’s advantages and disadvantages to each approach.
DRH: Yeah. It’s like you don’t get the inner life of the celebrity, but you can absolutely see the most ‘noisy’ components of the outer life. And this reminds me of one thing that Austin mentioned in one of his classes. It’s this idea that celebrities can be really excellent examples because to be a celebrity to a degree is kind of a marker of like really, really expressing your chart.
CB: Yeah, they can sometimes be not highest expressions, but really literal manifestations of placements that you don’t always see happening in normal life as clearly or as just blatantly.
DRH: Yeah, totally.
CB: All right, anything else from Lilly before we start jumping into the modern astrological tradition?
DRH: No. I’m just kind of laughing at the unnecessary ‘dead’ corpses because I certainly have never experienced an ‘alive’ corpse and would not like to.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s when you get into your classic zombie movie scenario.
DRH: Yeah. Pretty sure zombies are Saturnian.
CB: I would say so too.
CB: All right, so I think that’s good for the very end of ‘traditional’ astrology. Let’s transition into some modern astrological authors, first, starting with the early 20th century or mid-20th century German astrologer Reinhold Ebertin and his book, The Combination of Stellar Influences, which I chose because it was actually very influential on a lot of later 20th century, English-speaking astrologers like Rob Hand, and Richard Tarnas, and Noel Tyl, and Liz Greene, and lots of people like that. So it’s both good because it’s concise, but also because it was influential; and also at this point, we see more of a turn towards psychological and character-based astrology.
CB: So did I read last time, or did you?
DRH: You read last time, so I’ll read this one.
CB: All right, cool.
DRH: So for the ‘Principle’ of Saturn, we have “inhibition” and “concentration.” In terms of its ‘Psychological Correspondence’, on the ‘positive’ side, we have: “Concentration, consolidation, perseverance, seriousness, the ability to learn from experience, [and] economy.” And on the ‘negative’ side, we have: “Inhibition, melancholy, reserve and taciturnity, increasing loneliness, isolation, eccentricity, distrust, stinginess, [and] lack of adaptability.” For ‘Biological Correspondences’, we have: “The bony structure, the process of hardening up, stone-formation, the loss of organs, [and] old age.” And for ‘Sociological Correspondence’, we have: “Hard-working, inhibited or sad people. Agriculture, mining, [and] real estate.”
DRH: Talk about economy in terms of economy of words, especially compared to Abu Ma’shar.
CB: Yeah, that’s a good point. And at this point, we start getting into much more recognizable 20th century modern astrology and some of the modern associations that we have with Saturn, which are both positive and negative.
DRH: Yeah, it’s also interesting thinking about this organization of positive and negative. It belies a certain kind of, I don’t know, prioritization, I guess. I wouldn’t consider ‘reserve’ to be a negative.
CB: Yeah. I don’t think he uses it here, but of these significations another one it makes me think of is ‘contraction’. Because he does say ‘inhibition’ and ‘concentration’, as well as ‘consolidation’, but ‘contraction’ and ‘a pulling back into oneself ‘seems to be one of the underlying meanings here.
DRH: Yeah, it’s also interesting thinking about how in this structure or this approach–as we are entering into this more psychological, very individual approach–even though there is sociological correspondence given here, there’s this sense that the significations provided are really focusing on how an individual is expressing versus how we perceive this planetary influence in the world at large.
So ‘inhibition’ is a ‘negative’ in terms of psychology, but to ‘inhibit’ is ‘neutral’ otherwise, just like to stop something. And I think that’s interesting as well just to consider how particular concepts gain connotations depending on the context that that concept is being discussed within.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point, and also focusing on higher-level archetypes here. Instead of trying to enumerate specific professions and say, ‘this is a Saturnian profession’ or ‘people that do this are Saturnian’, it’s almost like looking at the ways Saturn is manifesting in any profession. So when he says ‘hard-working’, for example, that’s not a specific profession. You can be a hard-working chef, or a hard-working astrologer, or a hard-working…
CB: …painter or whatever. It’s just that’s the way that Saturn can manifest in different ways in those professions.
DRH: Mm-hmm. I also think it’s interesting because seeing some of these things paired together, like ‘hard working’, ‘inhibited’, or ‘sad’, I feel like there’s a ‘guilty by association’ kind of thing going on. Like are hard-working people inhibited? Are hardworking people sad? Are sad people inhibited? And there are some lines that can be drawn there.
But it’s interesting with just the copiousness of the significations from some of the traditional authors, or all of the traditional authors, that copious quality, there really isn’t cross-contamination across the concepts being presented in the same way that there is here, where there’s an economy of words and then there’s an association happening, at least for me.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah, are all farmers sad? Not necessarily. That’s a question. The notion of ‘inhibition’ is really interesting because that can be a Saturn theme, or there can be either areas of inhibition where a person might be more in inhibited in a certain part of their life or a certain part of their chart, because all of us have areas where we’re more inhibited about certain things versus when maybe we’re less inhibited in certain areas of our life.
DRH: Yeah, it’s also interesting to think about the causes of inhibition, which of course there are infinite possible causes. But thinking about inhibition, it may be tied to awareness of consequences. I know, for me, personally, that’s a factor. I don’t drink that much, and I’ve never ever been much of a drinker; and I’ve never had the experience of blacking out, which is like a fairly common experience among certain kinds of young people who party or whatever.
DRH: And that for me is like an inhibitory response in the sense of I know what the consequences are if I go beyond a certain point, and I’ve just never gone beyond that point because I don’t think the consequences are worth it.
CB: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And also, some people–some Saturnian people don’t do that due to not wanting to lose control.
CB: And it reminds me of one of the earlier statements I think in Abu Ma’shar of the person not being prone to anger and being very self-controlled in some sense and maybe having self-control; yeah, something like that.
DRH: Yeah. But the consequence of losing control–either the fear of or the fact of once control is lost–it’s like an ‘all hell breaks loose’ sort of thing.
CB: Yeah, definitely. All right, let me go back here to Ebertin: “seriousness,” “perseverance.” I mean, I forgot to mention my own chart which is one where it’s finally relevant, but I’m Aquarius rising of course with Saturn in Scorpio exactly square the Ascendant. And so, some of the things people like about the podcast are due to my Saturn placement; a lot of the things that people don’t like about the podcast are due to my Saturn placement.
CB: I had to apologize to somebody on Reddit recently who was saying, “I can’t watch his podcast because it’s the most overly-serious and boring thing that I’ve ever seen.”
CB: They were exaggerating it, I felt, but I could understand. There’s different personality types that appeal to different people, and I definitely have more of a Saturn personality type in some good ways and some bad ways, and that might not sit as well as a form of entertainment for some people.
DRH: Yeah, totally. One thing that I’ve been observing–one of my closest friends is a Leo rising, so it’s not exactly opposite my Ascendant, but it’s like luminary rising versus Saturn rising. And one of the things that is interesting and that we will discuss with each other is how much we care about whether or not other people like us.
DRH: And I think that depending on other factors, Saturnian folks are like, “I don’t really care if you like me. I care if you respect me, but I don’t really care if you like me.” And in certain ways, looking at this list of significations from Ebertin, “eccentricity,” which is a like, “I don’t really care what you think about me,” we get that kind of Aquarian feeling there. And then “increasing loneliness” or “isolation” can also be a result of “I don’t have it in me to care about whether or not you like me, but maybe it would benefit me if I did,” right?
DRH: Does that make sense?
CB: That makes sense, yeah. So let’s see–I’m trying to think of other things. You mentioned the Leo thing. That’s really funny because I’m a ‘Leo rising’ magnet. Because I have Aquarius rising, I’ve always attributed it to having Leo on the Descendant, and so many of my closest friends just have Leo rising. And it’s a running gag at this point when I meet new people that also have Leo rising and just adding them to the group.
DRH: Yeah, that’s funny. It’s like a group chat that’s one Aquarius rising and sixteen Leo risings.
CB: Yeah, exactly. That would be my friends list, including teachers. Demetra and Schmidt are both Leo rising.
DRH: Oh, that’s interesting.
CB: Patrick Watson and Nick Dagan Best–just go through the personal friend list.
DRH: No, that’s interesting. I feel like I do get a lot of Jupiterian risings, but I have Jupiter in Cancer; and then my main teacher, Austin, is a Cancer raising.
CB: That’s true. That’s funny, with a Jupiter in Cancer, yeah.
CB: All right, so in order to keep this moving–one of the things he mentions that’s actually really funny is “stinginess,” which is funny. For example, I did this client consultation once and this client had Saturn in the 2nd house in a night chart, and I mentioned something about just being very careful with money.
And it was funny because his wife was on the call, which I don’t usually ever do; it was a rare circumstance where I was okay doing the client and his wife’s charts. And he was like, “Yeah, maybe a little bit,” and then his wife was like, “No, you are very stingy with money and that has been a lifelong struggle and issue for you.”
Because he grew up in a context during the Great Depression and his family was like extremely poor and scraping by for years, and so that left a permanent psychological impact on him even as he got older–even when he was able to come out of that and have career success–of still having fear surrounding 2nd house matters of finances and things, and therefore, being overly-careful and counting every penny for the rest of his life.
DRH: Yeah, that’s real. And that’s bringing up something in terms of sometimes the negative manifestations of a given planetary placement or influence. They might not be perceived as negative by the person who carries that placement, but it can have negative impacts on the people around them.
So I imagine with that particular client, or someone in a similar circumstance, what they perceive to be, “No, this is super rational and reasonable and logical, and we should be careful with our money for these reasons,” but it’s being received by someone else as, “You never let us have nice things. You never let us enjoy the fact that we have money,” and that becomes a point of contention or that experience of stinginess. Which this is just bringing me back too to what we were saying before of how malefics can indicate not just, “Yeah, you’re going to be imprisoned,” because Saturn whatever, but working with an imprisoned population.
The navigation of the consequences of those sorts of experiences in ways–I don’t know. I guess what I’m thinking about is the building up of responses to lived experiences and lived observations, which then feel completely natural or rational. These are very sensible outgrowths of lived experiences and lived observations, but do end up maybe restricting a fuller expression of that person’s ‘lifeness’ or what is actually available to them.
CB: Yeah, totally. And it goes back to, one, something I’ve always noticed when it comes to that, which is that people tend to normalize their hardships. And if they have hardships in a certain part of their life, part of an almost coping mechanism is just assuming, “Well, it’s like that for everybody.”
Because I don’t want to pick on anyone in particular, but let’s say if family and home life was difficult or a parent left early on and you have Saturn in the 4th, then there’s the assumption, “Well, everyone’s home life must be like that,” or if relationships have always been difficult in certain ways for you, sometimes an assumption that relationships are like that for everyone, when in fact, no, not necessarily. There’s some people that might be diametrically opposite to that and have a much different experience of that.
That really goes back to something you and I talked about a lot on your first time on the podcast, which was in Episode 258. The title was “Astrology as Radical Self-Care” where we were talking about the other end of that spectrum, where people have a tendency to normalize their positive things in life and to assume that that’s true for everybody as well.
DRH: Mm-hmm. And that actually brings up one of the things that I consider to be one of Saturn’s gifts, which is ‘showing you reality’–not just your personal reality, but your reality as it compares to other people’s realities–and how that can then be really uncomfortable because it means having to ‘right-size’ your perception of yourself and your own life and your own reality in a sense.
And that can go multiple directions, right? That can be ‘right-sizing’ in the sense of, “Wow, I have it so much worse than average. Like actually what I’ve gone through is really, really actually difficult.” And that can be a harrowing experience to recognize, like, “No, I’m very outside of the pale in terms of childhood adverse experiences,” or whatever, and then coming to terms more fully with the difficulties of your life.
But it can be really uncomfortable too to recognize, like, “Oh, these things have been really easy for me, and they are not easy for all people. I’ve had consistent access to these kinds of resources,” or “I never have trouble with these kinds of relationships,” or “It’s really easy for me to learn this kind of thing,” or “I have excellent health and have never broken a bone or had a surgery,” or “My immune system is just naturally really good, so I never get sick,” right?
Or like, “The sociopolitical structure that I live inside of means that I don’t experience certain kinds of hardships that other people experience in the same system.” And to come to terms with that can also be really harrowing, to be like, “Oh, I have it really good.” And for me at least, I think Saturn can then incorporate this sense of like, “Since I have it really good, what are my responsibilities to myself and others?”
CB: Right. Yeah, definitely. And I think people should listen to that episode, “Astrology as Radical Self-Care” that we did previously on Episode 258. Because even though we focused more on the benefics, it still talked a lot about that concept of privilege and the importance of recognizing some of those things.
DRH: Yeah, recognizing your gifts and how you use them.
CB: Right. Okay, why don’t we move on to our next author who’s Steven Forrest. So I wanted to give a shout-out first. There was some commenter–and I’m desperately searching for his name–but somebody I’m not finding on YouTube or in my email, so maybe it was on Twitter. But somebody told me that–I thought Steven Forrest’s book came out in 1988, but it turns out that that’s some later edition I have, and it was actually published in 1984. So a quick little correction for that, just for the sake of history.
And I should also mention that I’ve been taking an excerpt out of this from Steven Forrest, but unlike the other authors where that excerpt was the entire section on that planet, Steven has this little section at the beginning, but then he has a full discussion of the planet; so I’m actually kind of cherry-picking just a piece of that. So people, if they like this excerpt, should actually read the full book and chapter for his actual deep dive into what the planet means.
So Steven Forrest, The Inner Sky, 1984, says the ‘Function’ of Saturn is: “The development of self-discipline. The development of self-respect. The development of faith in one’s destiny. Making peace with solitude.” Its ‘Dysfunction’ is, or can be: “Depression, melancholy, cynicism, coldness, unresponsiveness, timeserving, drudgery, lack of imagination, suppression of emotion, materialism.”
The ‘Key Questions’ for Saturn, especially in your birth chart are: “In what area of life must I learn to act alone? Where will a lack of self-discipline lead most quickly to sorrow? Where will my ability to dream and have faith be most severely tested?” And then he says ‘When Retrograde’ Saturn indicates: “Deeply rooted self-sufficiency, May indicate a “loner.” Enormous reserves of inner strength. Emotional self-discipline. [And] may have a hard time saying “no.”
So that is Steven Forrest, and this is when we get into the more familiar forms of late-20th century astrology, which is more psychological, more character-based, but also talking about some broader questions when it comes to astrology and broader implications of certain chart placements.
DRH: Mm-hmm. So the one thing that was really standing out to me, “the development of faith in one’s destiny,” that’s just reminding me of the concept of amor fati, ‘to love one’s fate’, which fate and destiny are not the same. But there’s this similar idea of recognizing what’s real, recognizing what’s given and not suffering over it, but instead choosing to make the most of it. I won’t say ‘make the best of it’. Because I don’t think this is about ‘bestness’, but about given the materials you’re working with, what can you make, right?
CB: Yeah, yeah, what can you make, and also accepting–is it called “The Lord’s Prayer” or something? It’s like, “Give me the strength to accept…”
DRH: Oh, “The Serenity Prayer.”
CB: “Serenity Prayer.” What is it again, that prayer? Do you know?
DRH: “Lord, give me the”–oh, man, I’m going to have to look it up because I always get it wrong, but it’s classic. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
CB: Right. That to me has always been part of the idea of amor fati and loving your fate–partially an acceptance of that which you cannot change and coming to peace with it and being okay with it. And going back to ancient astrology as part of the Stoic background of Greco-Roman astrology and some of the astrologers like Vettius Valens. They believed the purpose–the primary purpose of astrology was to find out what your fate was, so that you knew what you had to accept in your life ahead of time and you could prepare yourself for the future so that you could accept it calmly and not be thrown off completely by things that come up unexpectedly in the future.
DRH: Yeah. And the extension of that, like moving beyond that, I think that that’s part of what Forrest is doing here. It’s not just coming into acceptance of that which you cannot change, but coming into belief in that which you can make; that’s one of the ways I differentiate destiny and fate. Destiny isn’t guaranteed; you have to work towards destiny. Fate is what’s presented, right? Destiny is kind of what’s possible. And other people probably will disagree with me philosophically in terms of defining those words, but that’s how I’ve come to define them.
And so, it’s like if destiny requires your participation, then knowing what is fated allows you to discern what’s fate and what’s destiny, like where do you have agency? Where can you cultivate mastery, not just in terms of mastery of acceptance and acknowledgment, but mastery of creation or participation?
CB: Yeah. And that is one of the trickiest things with astrology sometimes is figuring out what are the things that are ‘off-the-table’ to you in your life versus what are some of the things that are ‘on-the-table’ and just require a tremendous amount of work, but that you could achieve if you just put your mind to it and if you work hard, because both of those are different aspects of Saturn basically.
DRH: Yeah, yeah. Totally. And this is actually reminding me of a book that I wanted to make sure we mentioned because it was a book that I read and really sat with at the very beginning of my own Saturn return–but Svoboda’s The Greatness of Saturn. It’s kind of harrowing.
CB: It’s intense.
DRH: It’s really harrowing as a read.
CB: It was mentioned in an early podcast episode without that warning, and I think a lot of people walked in not knowing what they’re getting into.
DRH: Yeah, yeah. It’s like content warnings all over the place, especially in terms of just harm and disability and extreme falls from grace maybe. But where was I going with this? The Greatness of Saturn…
CB: The Greatness of Saturn, books on Saturn, and…
DRH: Accepting one’s fate.
CB: Accepting your reality and accepting your limitations. Accepting that which is not available to you anymore.
DRH: Yeah. Oh, but also, sometimes the lesson of Saturn is ‘you do the work to do the work’. And part of the process is like maybe this is never possible for me, but it’s something that you feel that you’re obliged to do–you just do it anyway. This even brings up Forrest’s question of, “Where will my ability to dream and have faith be most severely tested?”
DRH: Can you continue to work on something even if it seems ill-fated or unlikely? Or you’ve gotten yourself into a position where maybe you don’t believe in that possibility anymore, but you continue walking forward, which then brings up this concept of the ‘dark night of the soul’, which for me I think is absolutely a Saturnian experience.
Just this utter absence of indicators that you are moving in the right direction; this utter absence of whatever you have been holding on to as a grounding force or even a propulsive force, just this utter evacuation, just utter elimination, this utter loss of that which has up until that point been an immense source of inspiration and motivation and things like that. But then to continue to choose to just keep walking forward, even when it seems like there is no forward–that’s the test of the dark night, right?
DRH: And not everybody gets a ‘dark night of the soul’ in their Saturn return–like don’t freak out.
CB: Yeah, I can’t remember. The Greatness of Saturn, was that about the Sade Sati transit? Because that was written in the context of Indian astrology, and I can’t remember if that was supposed to be what the character–because it’s fiction or it’s legend.
DRH: I think it’s a Sade Sati because of how long the main character endures his ordeal is much longer than the time of the Saturn return. It’s like seven years or one of those longer time periods.
CB: Yeah. And for those that don’t know, Sade Sati is an Indian concept when Saturn is transiting the Moon and both the Moon sign. But it also starts in the sign before the Moon and extends to the sign after the Moon, so it ends up being kind of a long period. Episode 135. I did an episode on Sade Sati, so people can check that out. It’s just titled, “Sade Sati: Saturn Transiting the Natal Moon” that I did in 2017 with Ryan Kurczak.
DRH: Yeah. And that’s interesting whenever your Sade Sati happens to coincide with your Saturn return, as mine did.
CB: Oh, interesting. Okay, that’s fun. Good times.
DRH: Yeah, it was great. Pluto also just demolishing my 1st house was awesome.
CB: Nice. Yeah, you got the whole Capricorn pile-up last year.
DRH: Uh-huh. Yeah, with the South Node, also.
DRH: It was amazing.
CB: Yeah, that’s fun. I’m getting some of that right now with the Aquarius rising and my Moon in Aquarius, so that’s me right now. Okay, so one of the things that you were mentioning–I want to go back–‘finality’ is a concept that came up; ‘limitations’. It’s making me think of houses and some of the things you were saying in some house placements.
So for example, I’ve seen–I think it was a client placement or something–where it was Saturn in the 5th house and the native wanted to have children, but found out that she was infertile and couldn’t have children. And it ended up becoming a question of whether that was then a roadblock and not to proceed further, or if she would end up having children through some other means. And I’ve seen different people go different ways with that depending on that.
There’s similar things when it comes to, let’s say, relationships and if a person has trouble forming relationships or loses a marriage partner or something like that, and then the struggle becomes how to proceed after that roadblock is encountered. Or let’s say, a 10th house thing of the person has a career aspiration, but there’s some sort of roadblock that comes up, and then the question of whether that’s a ‘finality-type’ roadblock of ‘cannot proceed further in this career’, or it becomes something where they have to expend a great deal of energy to overcome it and then in the end they’re able to succeed in some way.
DRH: Yeah. I mean, thinking about the idea of ‘ordeal’ I think can be useful with Saturn, of being put through an experience that alters you in some significant way. This is just reminding me of, if we don’t use Uranus/Neptune/Pluto, what planets get those significations instead. And I would say that Pluto and Saturn have a lot in common in terms of putting people through experiences that radically alter their personalities, their bodies: how they perceive the world; how they orient towards their futures; their values; their priorities etc., etc. And sometimes the ordeal is just ‘this is no longer an option’ and sometimes the ordeal is ‘you can’t do it the easy way, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it’.
CB: Right. Or sometimes you can’t do it as much as you used to–there’s a reduction–or sometimes it brings in the component of time or age, of realizing getting older. I mean, my Saturn transit–of course Saturn first dipped into Aquarius last year–was the Mars-Saturn conjunction happening at the beginning of Aquarius, getting COVID, and then Saturn going through my 1st house over the past year and suffering from lingering fatigue and tiredness and slowness and other things that are still a result of that, and then realizing now that I have bigger limitations than I used to have in terms of my ability to expend energy and needing to take more time at things and do things more slowly. So that’s been an interesting, very literal 1st house Saturn transit to give a sort of correlation with some of the things you were talking about, and also in terms of the more abstract examples I was using for the 7th house and 5th house.
DRH: Yeah, totally. I mean, and for me, the Saturn-Pluto conjunction happened within a degree of my Venus, and Venus rules my Midheaven. And so, 2020 was a year of immense physical exhaustion and health concerns that have definitely curtailed how much I thought I was going to do in 2020 and continues to. The amount of Venusian ‘everybody has the things, everybody have a nice time’ I just can’t; it’s not available anymore.
CB: Right. And some of the things we were talking about earlier, like natal placements and others, what we’re talking about now are temporary transits, because there are times in our lives where we go through more ‘dark night of the soul’ periods, or maybe sometimes that’s limited to a certain part of our lives, or other times it becomes more of an overarching, umbrella thing that’s applying to the life in general.
DRH: Yeah. And I think sometimes that can lead to more sustainable approaches, like things that have ‘greater endurance’, almost transitioning away from the ‘rapidity’ of Mars to the ‘slowness’ of Saturn. But at least, in theory, whatever–not whatever, but some of the time that means creating things that are more ‘durable’ and more ‘enduring’ than what you would have been producing had you not had the experience that necessitated slowing down, pruning, readjusting in some way.
CB: Right. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. All right, is there anything else we should mention related to Steven Forrest before we move on to our final author, which is Richard Tarnas? He says, “coldness.” I like that he said ‘coldness’ because he says it in a psychological context, like getting ‘the cold shoulder’, or ‘being cold’ to your spouse or something like that.
DRH: Right, or ‘being brusque’, like ‘shutting down’ in some way.
CB: Yeah, totally.
DRH: Which ‘coldness’ and ‘suppression of emotion’ I think also go together in ‘cynicism’ in interesting ways.
CB: Definitely. All right, so let’s go to Tarnas. I really like Tarnas because he brings everything up and wraps it all up with a nice comprehensive bow at the end of the tradition, where he draws on some modern and some ancient stuff, which tends to go pretty well. Is it my turn or your turn?
DRH: I think it’s my turn.
CB: Okay. Go for it.
DRH: Okay, so Saturn is: “The principle of limit, structure, contraction, constraint, necessity, hard materiality, concrete manifestation; time, the past, tradition, age, maturity, mortality, the endings of things; gravity and gravitas, weightiness, that which burdens, binds, challenges, fortifies, deepens; the tendency to confine and constrict, to separate, to divide and define, to cut and shorten, to negate and oppose, to strengthen and forge through tension and resistance, to rigidify, to repress, to maintain a conservative and strict authority; to experience difficulty, decline, deprivation, defect and deficit, defeat, failure, loss, alienation; the labor of existence, suffering, old age, death.”
“[T]he weight of the past, the workings of fate, character, karma, the consequences of past action, error and guilt, punishment, retribution, imprisonment, the sense of “no exit”; pessimism, inferiority, inhibition, isolation, oppression and depression; the impulse and capacity for discipline and duty, order, solitude, concentration, conciseness, thoroughness and precision, discrimination and objectivity, restraint and patience, endurance, responsibility, seriousness, authority, wisdom; the harvest of time, effort, and experience.”
“[T]he concern with consensus reality, factual correctness, conventional forms and structures, foundations, boundaries, solidity and stability, security and control, rational organization, efficiency, law, right and wrong, judgment, the super ego; the dark, cold, heavy, dense, dry, old, slow, distant; the senex, Kronos, the stern father of the gods.”
CB: Damn, that’s really good.
DRH: It’s so good.
CB: It’s so good. We could have just read that at the beginning.
DRH: And been like, “All right, that’s the answer.”
CB: “All right, let’s call it a day,” and that would have been a five-minute episode.
CB: Yeah. And I struggle with that because I could have just started from the modern authors and worked backwards.
DRH: I like going the other direction. I think starting at the relative beginning is, I don’t know, appropriately Saturnian, but also invites people to observe how things have changed over time.
CB: Yeah. And it gives so much more context and an understanding of why he zeroes in on this collection of both, sometimes very literal, and other times more psychological themes and archetypes, basically, but you kind of get it all here in his quote, I feel like.
DRH: Yeah, that’s great. One of the things I was noticing is “conciseness, thoroughness and precision.” Like the most concise but also most thorough–literally that’s what he just did.
CB: Right. Yeah, for sure. And also, his alliteration, where he’s like, “difficult, difficulty, decline, deprivation, defect and deficit, [and] defeat.” I like that.
DRH: I love that. As a poetically-minded person, I love that so much.
CB: Yeah, it’s kind of like the Mercury retrograde ‘re’ words like ‘rework’, ‘return’, ‘remember’, etc.
DRH: Yeah, exactly. I mean, he even does it with “resistance, rigidify, repress,” right? One of the things that’s coming up with Tarnas that I think even brings us back into discussions of things like Saturn returns, there’s something in how Tarnas writes–even with his massive generosity of writing–there’s certain rhythms with how he writes, and ‘rhythm’ is another way to think about ‘time’.
And Saturn’s rhythm is this 28-29-30-year cycle around the zodiac and that rhythm demarcates ‘a waltz’ in a life, like the ‘1-2-3’, where it’s like we have the first area of life from 0 to 30, the next era from 30 to 60, the next era from 60 to 90; and if you’re lucky, you might get beyond 90, but low chances you’re going to make it to 120, right?
So that kind of ‘1-2-3’ waltz that Saturn has is I think really fascinating to consider whenever we also think about the development of a story, like the beginning, middle, end. The process of figuring out a problem, like identifying the problem, identifying the solution, fixing it–there are all of these tripartite things that we can see in life and we can see reflected in aspects of the Saturn cycle or the Saturn definition, even thinking about how Saturn spends 3-ish years in a sign, there’s a lot of give or take. But that rhythm is at a very large scale and then it’s reflected in the rhythm of the lunar cycle, which is the fastest-moving object that we consider a planet in astrology, which has the same waxing/full/dark, right?
There are different ways that people have thought about the Moon in ‘parts of three’, but also just the 28-ish days around the zodiac, which then get reflected in things like–this is kind of getting into the weeds, but thinking about how the progressed lunar cycle dances with the Saturn return cycle as well. The progressed lunar return–Steven Forrest talked about it at UAC 2018 as like the ‘emotional training ground’ for the Saturn return, and at the second Saturn return, they happen closer together in time. I don’t know. I could go off on an ongoing tangent.
CB: That’s a really good point. So you have a secondary progressed New Moon…
DRH: Or lunar return.
CB: Lunar return. So the secondary progressed Moon will return back to its natal position approximately every 28 years, right?
CB: And the Saturn return also occurs roughly every 28 years.
DRH: Yeah. And the progressed lunar return is more like 27-ish, like 27-and-a-half. And so, for some people it will co-occur with the Saturn return period and the sense of Saturn re-entering the sign of its natal position; and for some people it just happens before Saturn even gets back into the natal sign. But either way, it’s like there’s a whole cluster of astrological events at the end of the 20s that contribute to the ‘clusterfuck’ of the 20s.
CB: Right, where they culminate.
DRH: Yeah, they culminate in the late-20s.
CB: Right, to bring back our alliteration.
DRH: Yeah. I don’t know. I really love thinking about the dance between the Moon and Saturn in terms of how we mark off time, how we mark off eras, how we go through different experiences of growth and decay and maturation, and all of that kind of thing.
CB: Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting that their domiciles are opposite to each other with Cancer and Capricorn. So we don’t need to dwell on it, but just mentioning the Saturn return, that it returns back to its natal sign between the ages of 27 and 30, and that’s roughly the Saturn return; and then its return back to the exact degree is the exact Saturn return when it’s at its most intense.
And it’s been really fascinating not just going through my own Saturn of return, but then successively over the past few years seeing other astrologers going through their Saturn returns and seeing how that’s worked out as that final entrance into adulthood and into your 30s that it’s often described as. But it’s one thing to read that abstractly and see how it works in other people’s charts, and it’s quite a different thing to actually live through it yourself.
DRH: Yeah. And actually I’ll go ahead and share my Saturn return story because I think it’s really funny. For a long time, for the majority of the time that I’ve been studying astrology, I thought that I was a Sagittarius rising.
CB: That’s such an astrologer’s Saturn return story.
DRH: Yeah. And so, at the beginning of my Saturn return, I thought I was having a 2nd house Saturn return. And a few months after Saturn entered Capricorn, I was looking for my voter registration card for a municipal voting thing and ended up finding a notarized copy of my birth certificate that my grandmother had sent me and I’d forgotten about. And my birth time was 10 minutes later than the one that my mom had told me, and it pushed my Ascendant into Capricorn.
DRH: And so, the first major event of my Saturn return was realizing I was having a 1st house Saturn return, and it involved a complete recontextualization of my self-understanding through the lens of astrology.
CB: Beautiful. That’s very literal, very self-referential. Yeah, you can’t beat that.
CB: And then you’ve seen a bunch of other other people go through their Saturn returns recently as well, right?
DRH: Yeah. I think it’s one of these things where when you’re pre-Saturn return it feels really condescending when people are like, “You just wait till you’re on the other side of your Saturn return,” and you go through your Saturn return and you’re like, “Oh.”
CB: Right. Yeah, you’re like, “Oh, that’s what they meant, and I couldn’t have actually understood that conceptually until I experienced it.”
DRH: Mm-hmm. I think that’s one of the things that Saturn carries is learning through experience which–who was it? Was it Ebertin that was saying ‘learning through experience’? Yeah, “the ability to learn from experience” was one of Ebertin’s things. And it’s not just the ability, but it’s also the fact that there are certain things that you just do not learn until you have done them or until you’ve passed through them, and there are certain things that you cannot do or learn until you’re old enough to do or learn those things.
So the idea that’s coming to mind right now is walking. You’re not born able to walk. You’re born with the potential to grow into a bipedal mammal, but you start off not being able to really move at all. And then you learn how to crawl, and then you learn how to stand, and then some people just start running before they actually figure out walking. But there’s a time-based process and there are some things that you can’t talk about, you can’t actually know until you’ve walked through the experience or passed through the experience.
CB: Yeah, for sure. And I liked yours because with the 1st house, one of its primary, overarching meanings that crosses all boundaries is just that the 1st house signifies ‘self’. But what that means is such an amorphous thing until you go through a major transit of the 1st house, and you realize what that means in a very concrete way, like some sort of change to your sense of self and selfhood.
And for you, your birth time changed and it turned out your rising sign changed, and you had to readjust your entire perception of who you were and what your life was based on astrology.
DRH: And it felt so much better. Because I have things in Sagittarius already, and I was like, “I’m also Sag rising? Am I that extra? I don’t think I’m this extra.” Like no shade to Sag risings, I love Sag risings. But yeah, one of the ways that I’ve described it in the past is it was like taking off a sweater that I didn’t realize was slightly too small and itchy, and just that relief of like, “Oh, my skin feels so much better, and I can breathe in a more comfortable fashion.” Yeah, I’m absolutely not a Sag rising.
CB: Yeah, you literally found yourself during your Saturn return in the 1st house, and found out more about who you actually are on some level.
DRH: Yeah. And not just finding out like, “Oh, interesting fact about who I am,” but like literally being able to embody it, and the 1st house being attached to our embodiment of being incarnated, like the actual ‘carnation’ part.
CB: Right. All right, that’s brilliant. I did want to mention very briefly in passing the Saturn return is the closing of the first 30-year period or chapter of your life. And sometimes there’s a sense of ending and reflecting on everything that built up to that point, but it’s also laying the foundations during that three-year period of the Saturn return to its natal sign–laying the foundations for the next 30 years.
And it’s often then really interesting to see how the subsequent Saturn cycle, especially the hard aspects. The two squares and the opposition refer back to things that were initiated at the Saturn return itself and further developments or key turning points in the development of that story. So there’s the opening waxing square that occurs 7 years after the Saturn return, and then there’s the opposition that’s 14 years later, and then there’s the waning square, which occurs 21 years later before you hit the second Saturn return, which happens in your late-50s.
DRH: Yeah, late-50s, early-60s.
CB: Yeah. So we talk a lot about the Saturn placement by sign and by house and what house Saturn is placed in, but it’s also interesting to look at the dynamic between those other three houses that it transits through and will make hard aspects back to its natal position because you’ll often see those really tied in with the overall story of the Saturn placement and the Saturn return.
DRH: Yeah. It’s also interesting to think about how the Saturn cycle helps to create a personal and embodied experience of the inherent ‘square’ nature of whatever modality your Saturn is in, right? So if you have a cardinal Saturn, then all of your squares and oppositions are going to be an experience: “Oh, this is perfect.”
CB: Yeah, I have a diagram for that.
DRH: I love this. All of that is going to be an experience of the interactions between the cardinal signs, how they all have the same method of movement, but they have different core concerns around how and why they’re moving. So it’s being able to think like how Cancer’s concerns support or argue with Libra’s concerns and to have that be a thematic way to describe your own experience of your own natal Saturn over time.
CB: Totally, and also looking at it in terms of the house placement. Because what will happen is if a person has their Saturn in the 5th house natally, and they have their Saturn return, then 5th house topics related to things like children, creativity, pleasure, sex can come up during their Saturn return. But also, sometimes those other three houses–like the 2nd house of financial matters and your possessions, the 8th house of mortality or other people’s possessions or debt, and the 11th house of friends and groups and things like that–those topics can come up at the same time; or if the person has their Saturn in the 4th house, home and family and private life, then the other houses that are making hard aspects to that are the 7th house of relationships, 10th house of career, and 1st house of self and body.
CB: Yeah, so the Saturn placement is somehow very closely tied in with not just its natal house and natal sign, but also the other signs or houses tied in with that quadruplicity.
CB: And it’s something that doesn’t sometimes become fully clear until you go through the subsequent Saturn cycle and see Saturn go through those houses and those topics come up.
CB: Yeah, but that’s a story for another time. Leisa and I did some stories on that on Saturn Return Stories, and I think we may have talked about it a little bit more in that episode on the Saturn return that’s not on YouTube. But it is on The Astrology Podcast website somewhere if you search for the early episode on Saturn returns, which was like Episode 24. All right, where are we at this point in our marathon discussion of like three-ish hours on Saturn returns? Three-and-a-half hours on Saturn returns when you include the breaks.
DRH: Yeah, Saturn and Saturn returns. I think it’s really funny that this is probably going to be the longest.
DRH: It might be the longest episode.
CB: There was an inversion with the Jupiter episode. Jupiter was shortest, Saturn was longest. We are flipping the script metaphorically on the planets.
DRH: Yeah, I think we’ve covered a lot, obviously. One thing that we were maybe going to bring up that I think we’ve already kind of touched on in terms of the Saturn return cycle–and then the Saturn return cycle as it dances with the progressed lunar cycle–is thinking about Saturn as it figures into astrological technique.
And so, just thinking about how Saturn is ‘in charge of time itself’–and the concept of ‘time-lords’, like chronocraters/Kronos being connected to Saturn–we can think of all time-lord techniques as some level of Saturnian in terms of demarcating, putting boundaries around chunks of time by planetary association.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point, and your point that astrology is to some extent a very Saturnian thing because it focuses so much on time and the study of time and the different qualities of time.
DRH: Yeah, yeah. And not just the different qualities of time, but also being able to mark out certain time periods to be able to say this kind of experience or this quality of time will last this long, will endure this long, and then how that facilitates an interaction with time and experience that can allow for greater acceptance and then greater self-mastery and potentially greater mastery in terms of interacting with the world based on information that clarifies aspects of reality.
CB: Right. It makes me think of one of the other terms for time-lords when Valens starts talking about it; the other phrase is ‘the division of the times’. And so, he talked about the different time-lord techniques as being the techniques that divide the times, which is also kind of a Saturn thing of the different boundaries and the demarcations of time.
DRH: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. Saturn is great.
CB: Yeah, we’re very pro-Saturn on this show, I think in general on the podcast. I think we got off to a little rocky start with Valens not being as pro-Saturn in his initial statements, but hopefully we’ve been able to provide more of a well-rounded understanding of some of the broader archetypal themes that come up when it comes to Saturn.
DRH: Yeah, respect Saturn. Respect.
CB: Definitely. Is there anything else we need to mention that we’re going to kick ourselves for? In the Mars episode–which may have been the longest up to this point with Sylvi–after we’d done the entire marathon of going through all the things, I tried to cram in, “Okay, let’s go through planetary combinations with Mars and other planets.” I feel like we’re running a little long, and we might have to respect Saturn in having some boundaries and some restrictions when it comes to time here.
DRH: So the only thing that comes up there is I always like to remind people Saturn is exalted in Libra, and sometimes people are like, “Libra? Like Venus and Saturn?” There’s some confusion there. For me, one of the pinnacles of Saturn-Venus expression is something like ballet, where it is beautiful; its point is aesthetic. It doesn’t have a necessity component; ballet is not necessary in the way that water is necessary.
But in order to become an incredible ballet dancer, one must put in massive amounts of time for a long time; highly-disciplined. There’s very specific, even structural requirements for being a ballet dancer. Like if your ankles are set up in a particular way, you can never go on-point; you will never be a prima ballerina. It doesn’t matter how bad you want it, just ‘no’.
And to become a master of ballet, it’s such a Saturnian effort in order to create a Venusian experience. There’s like a lot of pain that ballet dancers go through in order to achieve the heights of their craft. And then, additionally interesting is the lifespan of a ballet career isn’t very long. There aren’t very many professional ballet dancers who are still dancing after they’re opening Saturn square, after their first Saturn return.
CB: Yeah, I watched actually, on the recommendation of a friend, a movie that was like a drama, but it was titled, Birds of Paradise. It was like an Amazon Prime movie, but it was actually really good. I feel like Amazon is killing it with some of their movies and scripts that they’re funding these days for their service in trying to compete with Netflix.
Anyways, that’s a really good example of that because it’s a movie about a group of ballerinas that are in Paris, and they’re all competing for and trying to be the single person that will win the prize at the end of the movie, which is getting a contract with the Paris Opera–or Paris Ballet, and just the level of commitment and ‘blood and sweat and tears’ that go into trying to be the best and the different things that go into, yeah, some of the things you were saying.
DRH: Yeah, it’s really intense. It’s really, really intense. But I just like to remind people that Venus and Saturn–like some of the most incredible Venusian productions require Saturnian effort.
CB: Yeah, of discipline, and precision, and skill, and dedication, and so on and so forth.
DRH: Devotion, even.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point. All right, well then I won’t make us go through other planetary combinations; I’ll save that for later.
CB: I’ve got most references to most of the other episodes where we’ve dealt with Saturn. The only other ones that I didn’t mention is if you do a search for “The Significations of the Seven Traditional Planets,” this was me and Austin and Kelly; there’s a little bit of a take on Saturn there. We did the Saturn return episodes. One of them was Episode 131 titled, “Saturn Return in Sagittarius Retrospective,” which was a great retrospective on people that had their Saturn return when it went through Sagittarius a few years back.
And there was even better one, which is Episode 283, which Leisa and I did last December I think, which was titled, “Saturn Return in Capricorn Retrospective,” where we got a bunch of listener and some celebrity charts that we’d been watching of people that went through their Saturn return when Saturn was in Capricorn and kind of outlined some of our principles for Saturn returns. So people should check those out for more about that whole technique and concept.
CB: Let’s see. And I think that’s pretty much it in terms of referring to those.
DRH: Oh, no, also the “Astrological Generation: Saturn Signs of Millennials.” We haven’t mentioned that one either.
DRH: That was Episode 275.
CB: Right. Yeah, I wrote that down, “275 with Kirah.” And that was also a great episode. We focused in particular on millennials, but that was a great discussion because it’s something I’d been meaning to do more and that was the first time really touching on it, just the demarcation between generations of people based on their Saturn sign, which is a super fascinating study and which Kirah has done a really good job on.
CB: All right, I think those are all of the ones I meant to write down. As for you and your work when it comes to Saturn, other things related to Saturn, consultations or other content, where can people find out more about your work or some of your offerings?
DRH: Yeah, so one thing is I actually just did a talk on Saturn and the concept of ‘no’, and ‘no’ as a liberatory word for the Fresh Voices in Astrology Summit. And I’m having a professional transcriptor person do the transcription, so that way it’s super accessible for a multitude of people. And so, that will be up and available for purchase on my website sometime in the next month or two.
And then beyond that, people can find me on my website, Twitter, Patreon, Instagram; I’m taking a Twitter break right this second. And in all of those places the word to know is ‘ddamascenaa’, and that’s spelled ‘d-d-a-m-a-s-c-e-n-a-a’. So you put an @ in front of that and you’ll find me on the social mediums; and you go to ddamascenaa.com and you find my website.
CB: There’s your website. I’ll put a link to that also in either the description below this video for people on YouTube or on the podcast website for those listening to the audio version.
DRH: Yeah, wonderful.
CB: Cool. That’s funny that we didn’t talk about that such a great Saturn word is ‘no’, which sometimes as part of its exclusion and rejection thing can be a not pleasant thing if you get a ‘no’–like if you get a ‘no’ from a job, or you get fired from a job, or you get a ‘no’ from a relationship–but other times there can be positive expressions of ‘no’.
DRH: Yeah. I mean, and without ‘no’ there can’t be ‘yes’, right? And so, it’s a similar idea to without death there can’t be life.
CB: That’s perfect. All right–and where again can people get that talk?
DRH: So if you happened to get an all-access pass from Fresh Voices in Astrology, hopefully you downloaded your recordings.
DRH: That all-access pass as far as I’m aware is no longer available. And otherwise, I will have it up for sale on my website as soon as the transcription is finished.
CB: Brilliant. Yeah, definitely. And especially people listening to this far into the future can go to your website to get it.
CB: Cool. All right, well, thanks a lot for joining me for this episode and for helping me to complete the very last of the seven traditional planets, and nearly complete my entire planetary series. Because I’ve done Uranus, I’ve already recorded Neptune, and I’m waiting to release that probably next; and all that I have left to do is Pluto. So thanks for helping to round this out and bring some sense of completion and finality to this series on the planets.
DRH: Yeah. I mean, honestly, as I’ve said before and will say again, I could talk about Saturn forever.
DRH: But thankfully, Saturn puts a cap on things. So really thank you so much for ‘geeking’ out about, honestly, the planet that I feel I have the greatest affinity for and understanding of. So thank you for chatting about Saturn with me and having me on.
CB: Yeah, it was a pleasure. So yeah, thanks again for joining me. People–be sure to check out the website and the links below. And I guess that’s it for this episode of The Astrology Podcast. So thanks a lot for listening or for watching, and we’ll see you again next time.
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If you like the work that I’m doing here on the podcast and you would like to find a way to support it, then please consider becoming a patron through my page on Patreon.com, and in exchange you’ll get access to bonus content such as early access to new episodes, the ability to attend the live recording of the month ahead forecast each month, access to a private monthly auspicious elections report that we put out each month, access to exclusive episodes that are only available for patrons, or you can also get your name listed in the credits at the end of each episode. For more information, go to Patreon.com/AstrologyPodcast.
The main software we use here on the podcast to look at astrological charts is called Solar Fire for Windows, which is available at Alabe.com, and you can use the promo code ‘AP15’ to get a 15% discount. For Mac users, we use a similar set of software by the same programming team called Astro Gold for Mac OS, which is available from AstroGold.io, and you can use the promo code ‘ASTROPODCAST15’ to get a 15% discount on that as well.
If you would like to learn more about the approach to astrology that I outline on the podcast, then you should check out my book titled, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, where I traced the origins of Western astrology and reconstructed the original system that was developed about 2,000 years ago. And in this book, I outline basic concepts, but also take you into intermediate and advanced techniques for reading a birth chart, including some timing techniques. So you can find out more about the book at HellenisticAstrology.com/book.
The book pairs very well with my online course on ancient astrology called the Hellenistic Astrology Course, which has over 100 hours of video lectures where I go into detail about teaching you how to read a birth chart and showing hundreds of example charts in order to really demonstrate how the techniques work in practice. So find out more information about that at TheAstrologySchool.com.
And finally, special thanks to our sponsors including: The Mountain Astrologer Magazine, which is available at MountainAstrologer.com; the Honeycomb Collective Personal Astrological Almanacs available at Honeycomb.co; the Portland School of Astrology at PortlandAstrology.org; and the Astro Gold Astrology App, which is available for iPhone and Android. You can find out more information about that at AstroGold.io.