Astrology: Saturn Overview

Henrich Aldegrever, Saturn Holding an Infant and a Scythe, Germany, 1533, engraving. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (not on view).

“If the Devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, 1879-1880, bk.5, ch.4.

Saturn represents our basic capacity for structure, discipline, faithfulness and tenacity. Saturn’s energy is somber, mature and immovable. A strong Saturn provides us with the ability to actualize our creativity, manifest our will and weather periods of difficulty. There is a certain solidity to an individual with a sound Saturn function; they seem responsible and capable of doing the right thing when required. Ever attentive to duty, Saturn does not suffer fools gladly, and an excuse of presumed innocence is no excuse at all to the Lord of Time. He has seen all, and is pitiless in his summations. A diminished Saturn often results in deep insecurities which can be difficult to overcome a fearfulness and inability to take part in the parade of life in a functional, beneficial capacity. It often takes many Saturn transits to comprehend how to work with his energies in a positive, productive manner, especially if there are negative aspects between Saturn, the personal planets or points in the chart.

  • The outermost planet in the traditional zodiac, Saturn was eventually surpassed by Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Second largest planet in the solar system and sixth from the Sun.
  • Domicile: Capricorn (December 21- January 21) and Aquarius (January 21- February 21) (though modern astrology has assigned rulership of Aquarius to Uranus). As ruler of these signs, Saturn is considered “at home” here, comfortably, and powerfully expressed. Note his rulership of signs which are associated with Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Saturn is cold, dark and constraining, much like Winter.
  • Detriment: Cancer (June 21- July 21) and Leo (July 21- August 21). The planet’s energies express themselves with difficulty in these placements. In Cancer, Saturn has difficulty living with the emotionalism, unconsciousness and sensitivity of the sign. In Leo, Saturn is compromised by the sign’s tendency to pride, ego gratification and self-adulation.
  • Exaltation: Libra (September 21 – October 21). The planet is at his best in this sign, at his most effective and full embodiment. Libra offers Saturn a rejoicing in the cool aridity of its sign, seeking harmony and balance in all endeavors. Consider the perfection of great works of architecture or diplomacy.
  • Fall: Aries (March 21 – April 21). The planet is weakest here, operating under a condition of handicap and thwarted expression. Saturn in Aries has difficulty managing the sheer willfulness and impetuosity of the sign. Saturn’s essential nature, tending towards containment and discipline are at odds with Aries’ impulsiveness and lack of constraint.
  • Natural house rulership: 10th house. The tenth house is our public face, and is associated with our most visible societal station, reputation, achievement, ambition and career aspirations.
  • Associated with works of malediction, the dead, darkness, old age, loneliness, animosity, grief, hiding, inferiority, chronic illness, rudeness, land and land ownership, Lucifer, mountains, obedience, pain, orderliness, the past, persecution, the police, prison, punishment, repentance, resistance, retreats, rigidity, sadness, solemnity, severity, servitude, selfishness, scruples, spite, stagnation, starvation, studiousness, suspicion, terror, thinness, tombs, ugliness, twilight, the vagus nerve, wealth and miserliness, woes and worries.
  • Astrological glyph ♄ represents a sickle, traditionally used for hand threshing and reaping.
  • Saturn’s colors: black, dark blue, dark green, grey, brown.
  • Plant associations: aconite, asafoetida, aspen, barley, beech, belladonna, blackthorn, cannabis, comfrey, hemlock, hemp, henbane, indigo, ivy, pansies, pine, poplar, poppy, as well as violet, willow, witch hazel and yew.
  • Mineral associations: asbestos, bismuth, black tourmaline, gypsum, jet, lead, obsidian, onyx, smoky quartz, smoky topaz.
Saturn during equinox, natural color. Cassini Equinox Mission, July 2008

Astrology: Saturn Cycles

Ivan Akimov, “Saturn”, Russia, 1802

Much reviled and largely unpopular, Saturn represents those onerous elements of life which, while inescapable, are undeniably perennial. Historically, he was associated with evil, malefic energy, the cause of great fear and revulsion. It’s not difficult to see why this is; his myths are steeped in blood, pain, suffering and horror. A patricide and murderer, his idealism was ever the reason for his action, and while he is one of the main archetypal figures that everyone loves to hate, Saturn is likely the most useful character in the astrological lineup. Our inherent sense of discipline, duty and dignity is given credence wherever we find Saturn housed in our astrological charts.

Saturn rules structure. Whatever it is that gives us structure and definition, from bones of the body, architecture, clocks and time, calendars, business and commodities, to construction and economics, Saturn delineates, restricts and embodies. From the very ground we walk on, to the funeral in which we are placed therein, and the grief that follows, Saturn is ever-present, assumed and largely taken for granted.

People, as a rule, seem to fear the concept of discipline. But for many people, those who have accomplished much, those who strive to succeed, people with great powers of focus and commitment, this is very familiar territory, comforting even, as they have ever been the ones to ensure that duties are fulfilled, upper lips remain stiff, debts paid and revenge always served cold. Humor is considered wasteful, unless dry as a bone and cutting just as deeply. Discipline is not pleasant, but without it, we will accomplish nothing. Don’t go looking to Jupiter to bail you out time and again, for even the Greater Benefic will eventually bow to Saturn’s authority , and while Venus can show you a good time, it is Saturn which can ensure that these experiences are neatly incorporated into a larger structure of containment and security, never to be squandered, though perhaps not overly enjoyed either.

Saturn cycles around the Sun anywhere from 27 – 29 years, typically moving through each sign in approximately 2.5 years, give or take a few months either way. You will therefore share your Saturn sign with a fairly large number of people, and your cohort will experience the ideas of discipline, restriction and and duty in very similar ways. This is particularly useful during childhood, as the structure of regular schooling ensures that you travel through the grades with your own age set (this is also very useful for educators, as methods of applying discipline and structure to the classroom can be carried throughout their terms, only requiring adjustment between years and classes). As we grow, we will find that our peers are often experiencing similar troubles, and we can use their experiences as check points for our own development. “Keeping up with the Jones'”, a definition of one’s position in society, is a Saturnian concept, for how the individual move through society defines the eventual structure of that society, and it is only Saturnian constraint which ensures the ultimate health and continuation of any social organization. Any growth requires challenge, for it is only through challenge that durability and fortitude are realized. Durability allows for continuance, which leads to a structural integrity that is most desirable for achievement. Saturn’s cycles offer the individual challenge, and therefore ensure eventual growth, though perhaps not without some accompanying pain.

Saturn’s cycles correspond to the most challenging life cycles of experience thus:

Age 7-8: Saturn squares natal Saturn, 90 º into the cycle. This is the onset of “the age of reason”. A child becomes cognizant of themselves vis a vis others around them. No longer entirely self-oriented, the responsibilities of being a member of society begin to take on importance in the consciousness. Many religious traditions see this as a time for First Communion, or other initiatory rites in which the child is acknowledged as being on the threshold of full adult consciousness. It is at this point that an individual begins to formulate truly independent thoughts. Events which occur around the child have more recognizable impact, and are less likely to slip into the fluidity of unconsciousness. A tender time of great vulnerability which requires Saturn’s strength and challenge to spur growth to the next level. The question “What do you think?” takes greater precedence than ever before, as the individual begins to formulate a separate position from which to approach the world.

Age 14-15: Saturn opposes natal Saturn, 180 º into the cycle. The teenage consciousness is blossoming with the possibilities of life. Sexuality, social norms and expectations become a central preoccupation. Students of this age set are frequently required to consider their futures in more serious terms, in anticipation of eventual life paths. Topics of higher education and career press on the youthful psyche, demanding greater focus and discipline than ever before. The things of childhood are put aside in favor of more mature pursuits. Relationships are a vehicle for self-discovery, and there is greater realization of how personal action has ramifications in the outside world. Lessons of right and wrong can be starkly archetypal and intense, as the individual is bursting with personal life essence, and learning how they are a part of all that is around them, or not. Saturn spurs the individual on their path to adulthood. The question “What are you going to do?” or even “Why did you do that?” becomes a point of tension, as the individual must define their actions in a way never before required.

Age 20-21: Saturn squares natal Saturn, 270 º into the cycle. Adulthood looms. Childhood is finished. The individual has his first taste of responsibility, taking an active role in society. Junior positions in employment, early years in higher education provide a checkpoint on the ego, and attempts made at mastery reveal flaws in thinking and process, which, if acknowledged consciously can provide great stepping stones to further achievement. Responsibility in personal relationships are tricky, as the individual struggles to understand how to define personal needs and their importance versus those of others. An often humbling time of divine stupidity, with frequent displays of brashness, arrogance, uncontrolled willfulness and exuberant energy, the individual feels the first glimmers of what power they have at their disposal, and their potentials for achievement. “The world is your oyster”, but the question is: “How are you going to get it?”

Age 28-30: The first Saturn Return, and Saturn has cycled 360 º to the original position found in the birth chart. The personality has had the opportunity for Saturn to move through all the houses of life, and initial experience and definition in each of these realms has been achieved. The personality, for the first time, feels a sense of achieved experience, and a certain power in having reached this point. How have the last 30 years molded the personality? What methods of self-actualization have worked, and where has lack of discipline and immaturity been most detrimental? Henceforth, the state of adulthood is undeniable, and we see that many people will choose to marry, commit to long-term career goals and pathways which once chosen, require full presence and accountability. If immaturity remains, it creates greater complications than were manageable during youth and young adulthood, as Saturn’s expectation is that the individual dispense with the ways of foolishness and solidify the life path with concrete action. Previous methods of avoidance and irresponsibility, while never before particularly damaging, now, if attempted crash back on the individual most unpleasantly. The question “Who are you?” takes on very pressing importance as solutions of the past simply no longer apply to increasingly complex circumstances, and mounting pressure requires a new, higher level of self-definition.

Age 35 – 37: Saturn squares his birth position again, 90 º into the second Saturn cycle, and while the stakes are much higher than those experienced in childhood, the impetus is the same. It is necessary to commit to society, and to define how you have chosen to move through the world. For many, this is a time of professionalism, when there is a solid history of achievement which the individual hopes to carry forward as a foundation for the future. It’s no longer a period of trying new things, but of building on what is already there. What is your backdrop, how do you identify yourself? “What do you do for a living?” “What does your husband do?” and frequently “Where do you children go to school?” are common questions of this time. For those who do not identify with traditional societal norms, such as many LGBTQ individuals, it is a time of fully embracing and living the life that is espoused as personal truth. Societal stresses and personal choices have pushed the individual to a place of self-definition which must be wholeheartedly embraced, as the lanes of possibility narrow for a time, and room for improvisation is small, barring total restructuring and the ensuing chaos that would entail. An often frustrating period of hard work and little recognition, though enough time has passed that the active role should be comfortable enough for ease of function, as a person finds themselves fully acknowledged by the surrounding society.

Age 43-46: Saturn opposes his birth position once more, 180 º into the second Saturn cycle. The days of youth are long gone, and old age, while still quite distant, beckons with the threat of time moving altogether too quickly. This is a time of mature self-definition, defined by a calm sense of self-knowledge. The individual is more comfortable in their own skin, knowing what they want, who they are, and what they cannot do. Saturn requires that any choices or behavior rooted in immaturity, impracticality, and lack of personal truth are reconsidered in favor of pathways more suited to a valid sense of identity. Irresponsibility is often painfully revealed as society refuses the individual any further leeway. The pressure of Saturn is still heavy, but often embraced with emerging seriousness, recognized as a benefit rather than a hindrance. The body is aging, and requires more careful consideration, as the indulgences of youth can no longer be so effortlessly absorbed, often resulting in the emergence of pressing acute or chronic illness where there had previously been only robust good health. Habits can be broken, or made, according to choice and alignment with true self. Decisions made at this time are not so easily undone, so consideration is key. The question here is “How does that work for me?” and there is a new capacity for critical acknowledgement, based in maturity that reinforces the individual’s decision making capacity. If there is still an insistence on immaturity and shirking of responsibilities, the backlash of this time period can be quick and brutal, often reducing people to a place of ruin from which they must entirely rebuild.

Age 50-52: Saturn squares the birth position once again, 270 º into the second Saturn cycle. This is a time when the individual realizes the full impact of Time. Death becomes a large part of the individual’s considerations, as friends and loved ones are dying. Frequently this time period creates health crises which push the individual to fundamental changes in how they manage their earthly vessel. There is often an increased involvement with and concern for the elderly. Women experience the menopause, and men find that their bodies do not react as they did in the full flush of early manhood. Humility, patience and fear begin to weigh more heavily, and anxieties are frequent, especially for those who have spent little time in cultivating a mature approach to life. If you have been neglecting your health, relationships or financial capability, this can be a difficult time of self-reckoning, as consideration of what is to come becomes an almost constant preoccupation. We see our children growing up, challenging our authority, and the responsibility for their launch into society weighs on us as we still maintain the role of guardians, even if they have reached adulthood. A potentially trying time, but if approached in a spirit of discipline, ripe with potential achievement and societal acknowledgement of the individual’s value and gravitas. The question is “How’s that working out for you?” as we sort through what is essential and what is not as we continue our journeys.

Age 58-60: Second Saturn Return. Having completed another 360 º passage through the chart, Saturn again returns to his natal position. This is full middle age, looking very intently at the threshold of becoming elderly. Full maturity, and the constraints and indignities of old age are clearly seen as more time is spent immersed in the ideas and energies of old age. There is no mistaking the fact that youth is completely gone. Despite efforts made at maintaining health and fitness, the body is simply older, less responsive, less elastic and requires more rest and care than ever before. People are frequently plagued by illnesses ranging from chronic and inconvenient, to serious and potentially life threatening, and the resulting change in consciousness that accompanies these threats is sobering and profound. Aged friends and parents are regarded in a new light, as there is a greater understanding of the processes of life, maturity and demise. Accomplishments that have been decades in the making can reach full actualization. Investment and retirement become clear goals, and decisions about how to approach the end years take front and center. Questions of “Who was I, and who did I want to be, so long ago?” often press heavily, as the individual reckons with their long journey to this point of consideration, frequently ruminating on how they have failed, what was irrational or overly idealistic, and the real possibilities that lie ahead for them as they approach the final stage of life’s journey.

Past this point, we can consider the continuing repetition of the Saturn cycle as a matter of ever-deepening octaves, as the lessons of each square, opposition and return already experienced recur until the lessons therein are firmly realized and embodied as the finalized personality. Lessons not previously accomplished repeat, delineating ever more powerfully the responsibilities, restrictions and, interestingly, new freedoms that can arise from Saturn’s sometimes harsh tutelage. For indeed, despite his fearful reputation as task master, there is very real significance to the idea of harvesting the fruits of our labor. Nothing can be gained from a life of never-ending enjoyment, living as the Puer Eternus, an eternal child. It is only for a short time in life, during youth, that we might possibly get away with negating the importance discipline and structure. It is only through commitment, honoring the wisdom of time and the value of focused, hard work that we can eventually reap the rewards of Saturn’s mission in our lives. He is always just, and while his lessons may oftentimes be painful, his position as ruler of karma indicates that we only ever reap what we sow. It behooves us to sow wisely, for there are only so many chances for correction and righting our paths before the unfortunate and all-too common realization occurs that perhaps we were wrong, and while we can live with the errors that we have made, eventually there does come a time when we must realize that there is nothing further can be done to make things better. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness“.

Ecclesiastes, 2:13

Astrology: Saturn in the Signs

Hendrik Andriessen, “Still-life composition with human skull, globe, books, crown, miter, bubbles, mussel shell with bubble pipe, holly crown on skull, watch on table, candlestick (with reflection of artist’s portrait)“, Flemish, painting, 1650.

While every planet will always maintain its fundamental character and function no matter where located, how that character and function is expressed will be modified according to the sign in which they are housed. Saturn is the disciplinarian of the zodiac, and his purpose is to provide a sense of structure and maturity in the personality. As he is the Lord of Karma, working with Saturn’s occasionally oppressive energy becomes easier as time passes, as experience is gained through the various houses of life experience, and a greater sense of self-comprehension is achieved. Saturn’s energy is never easy, nor is it meant to be. Saturn always gives us a sense of insecurity, no matter where he is housed, and this negative effect is pronounced as the contacts to personal planets and points grown more and more complicated.

Consider him as a grandfather figure – older, wiser, stricter and more accomplished than you can ever be. It only makes sense to heed his lessons and warnings, as those who refuse to accept his limitations will often find themselves feeling like Sisyphus, forever pushing that stone up a hill, never achieving their goals, because they are not going about their tasks correctly. Working with Saturn takes a great degree of patience and respect, honoring the spirit of time, discipline and the virtue of hard work and focus.

Saturn in Aries: In Aries, Saturn is at his Fall. The Aries essence of Cardinal Fire is of no interest to dour, paternalistic Saturn. His energy is expressed fitfully, and a sense of suppression is constant, as the impulse to action and accomplishment feels stifled and squelched. Aries is impetuous, bold and courageous. With Saturn breathing down his back, he feels insecure about accomplishment and often second-guesses his actions. Not a comfortable energy. At its best, this energy can be found in the archetpye of the perfect soldier, ever ready to submit to authority, who will direct the individual’s energy as circumstances require. Self expression is subsumed in favor of supporting the Other.

Saturn in Taurus: In Fixed Earth Taurus, Saturn expresses himself comfortably, with a sense of solidity that borders on the stolid. Conservative and patient, insecurity and hindrance may be felt in approaching the topic of enjoyment and sensuality. These things can feel excessive and decadent. Saturn in Taurus wants to accumulate resources, comfort and security, but will never feel that it is quite enough, and frequently finds that however hard one tries, the material realm does not satisfy. At its best, this energy can be found in the well-established, dependable patron or matron of the arts, ever ready to lend a stabilizing force to the needy and underdeveloped, as the structure of acquisition is well understood.

Saturn in Gemini: In Gemini, Saturn expresses himself with careful consideration. At odds with the typical Gemini nature, as Mutable Air is rapidly moving and somewhat superficial in approach, Saturn here will become very focused on details, on accumulation of data, and acquisition of expertise. This Saturn is not satisfied with a superficial approach, and insecurity will center around not knowing enough, not being smart enough, and not feeling confident in self-expression, scholastic or intellectual capability. This basic insecurity can conversely result in complete expertise as the impetus is always to improve on what has already been achieved.

Saturn in Cancer: In Cardinal Water Cancer, Saturn is at his Detriment. The passive, feminine and tender nature of Cancer is at odds with the stern, cold and forbidding nature of Saturn. This is an uncomfortable situation, as the individual will live with a very basic emotional insecurity. Expressing emotion will often be suppressed, though the importance of being emotionally present and responsible in relationships will be given great importance. This individual can often feel a sense of hand-wringing when confronted with an emotional scene, as understanding of the underpinning is there, even if the capacity to participate fully is diminished.

Saturn in Leo: In Fixed Fire Leo, Saturn is at his Detriment. The warm, gregarious, proud and fun-loving nature of Leo is directly at odds with the proper, straight-laced and conservative Saturnian energy. The individual feels insecure about self-confidence, and any sense of pride in accomplishment is undermined by nagging self-doubt and inward self-recrimination. An uncomfortable interplay between the very human need to shine, and the basic essence of self-abnegation makes for a constant feeling of suppression. At its best, this can evolve into a stately sense of social accomplishment, of becoming a proud role-model of upright, socially valued behavior.

Saturn in Virgo: In Mutable Earth Virgo, Saturn expresses himself with precision, focusing on pursuits of the intellect, reason and rationality. Meticulousness in detail is heightened, as well as an increased interest in duty and performance of those duties which directly assist others. Attention to hygiene, diet, health and welfare of those less capable of managing matters independently is positively enhanced with this placement, as is scholarship, research and domesticity. Insecurities focus on the idea of not being perceived as correct, proper, fastidious, or “good” enough. Being caught in an error can prove immensely embarrassing, and the Saturn in Virgo native will go to great pains to avoid any such circumstances.

Saturn in Libra: In Cardinal Air Libra, Saturn is Exalted. The refined, airy nature of this sign is perfectly in tune with Saturn’s aridity and love of all that is cold and classical. Libra finds joy in the idea of perfection, whether it is aesthetic or ideological, and Saturn revels in assisting the quest for beauty, harmony and balance. The perfect architect, aesthetic or diplomat, Saturn in Libra knows how to actualize what otherwise might remain idealized and conceptual. Insecurity arises from erroneously perceived imperfection, from an inability to strike balance, and from any circumstances which threaten to destabilize the otherwise honed and balanced perspective. Ugliness and sordidness threaten the equilibrium, and all must be maintained just so for effective function to occur.

Saturn in Scorpio: In Fixed Water, Saturn expresses itself with an unsettling coldness. Deep waters are no concern for Saturn, as his natural domain is hidden and subterranean. He is comfortable with the watery depths, as they are merely an extension of his regular habitats, and issues of life and death, sexuality, and deep emotion, while seemingly at odds with Saturn’s nature, in fact have just enough gravitas to warrant respectability. Never one to shy from difficult or unsettling circumstances, Saturn in Scorpio is a natural physician, surgeon, psychotherapist or counselor. Insecurity stems from feeling an inability to connect on a deep level, or from being perceived as superficial or, conversely, from expressing depths with too much intensity or passion. Saturn in Scorpio understands these depths, but can feel shy about exposing them to others.

Saturn in Sagittarius: In Sagittarius, Mutable Fire, Saturn expresses himself by offering a steadying hand to an intellect that desires rapid pursuit of ideals and philosophy. Sagittarius is known to rush headlong on the journey of discovery; Saturn placed here offers the discipline and profundity that may otherwise be lacking by the notoriously inconstant Sagittarius. Once a sense of patience, and an understanding of how rewarding the fruits of sustained labor can be, a practical approach to higher learning, open-mindedness and a profoundly judicial perspective can emerge. Insecurity can be found in feeling threatened by ideas and philosophies that seem overly alien, imposing or which otherwise threaten the jovial camaraderie of the Sagittarius nature. At its best, this energy is used as a highly developed arbiter, one who is capable of sussing out truth and fairness in any situation. Law, justice, therapists, artists and writers can find this placement useful.

Saturn in Capricorn: In Cardinal Earth, Saturn is in his Domicile. He is at home, comfortable, perfectly expressing his modus operandi. Here, he is stern, practical, ambitious, executive and unemotional in dispensing authority and actualizing plans. Saturn in Capricorn is the master builder, the laborer who knows the design better than the architect, because not only was he taught by the architect, his grandfather was a master craftsman. His understanding of the material realm is profound. Pitfalls can arise when considering the less materialistic aspects of life, as it is difficult to separate the practical from that which is more tender and open to interpretation. Realms of emotion and spirit, while responsibly addressed, and faultless in execution, can be regarded with a rather chilly eye, as the ultimate consideration is always how to achieve, perfect and realize the goal. Insecurity comes in the form of feeling that nothing is ever good enough, rich enough, smart enough or well-heeled enough. Humble roots may be an embarrassment, even though “humble” may be defined from an entirely subjective perspective, having nothing to do with material want; it is the fact that any weakness, or tiny flaw is perceived as a vulnerability which cannot be tolerated or exposed.

Saturn in Aquarius: In Fixed Earth, Saturn is in his Domicile. As traditional ruler of Aquarius, Saturn finds comfort in the chilly heights of the Aquarian realm. The spheres of high science, theory, utopianism, modernity and an arms-length love of humanity are worthy realms for Saturn to inhabit, as the technicality and diminished emphasis on emotion of the Aquarian is given structure and credence by Saturn’s love of structure and rules. Saturn is comfortable infusing Aquarius with strong parameters of development, as the sign benefits from a strong structure within to explore and experiment. Aquarius respects that which has longevity and stability, sometimes only for the fact that the bigger they come, the harder they fall, and a rebel loves a good fight. Insecurity can arise when feeling “too different”, or misconceived as weird, stubborn or cold.

Saturn in Pisces: In Mutable Water, Saturn flounders as Pisces attempt to dissolve and universalize all that it touches. Saturn here wants to provide boundaries, hard rock for the ocean to crash against, and it works to a certain degree, as Pisces benefits from some sense of containment. Disillusionment occurs when seeking mystical release within the confines of institutionalized thought, and what seems profound occasionally is realized as merely archaic and fancy. Saturn in Pisces can reach the heights of emotional and social communion, but it is best appreciated when grounded in a life that can benefit from, rather than be focused entirely on such pursuits. Insecurity arises when the individual feels unbounded, diffuse, lost or uncertain, as rising panic can mount and destabilize the personality.

“Time’s glory is to calm contending kings,

To unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light.”

William Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece, 1594, l. 939.

Astrology: Saturn in the Houses

Pietro Bonato 1765-1827, Saturn seated in a chariot drawn by a winged serpent-like monster, date uncertain

“Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter my sober house.”

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, England, 1596-1598, act 2, scene 5, line 35

As with any planet, Saturn’s energy will be modified according to the house in which he is tenanted. Every sphere of life will react to the placement of Saturn in a different way, with some houses being naturally more comfortable with the disciplinarian’s presence than others. The Northern Hemisphere of the zodiac wheel relates to matters more distinctly subjective, impacting the individual’s sense of his or her inner world and specifically individualized experiences, whereas the Southern Hemisphere encompasses those areas of life that are more public in character, impacting how the individual experiences himself vis a vis the outer world, society, friends and the collective in general. Houses on the Eastern half of the MC/IC axis are correlated with the concept of the Self, and on the Western half of this axis, the houses are predominantly related to how we experience and relate to others. The effects of Saturn will always need to be considered given his sign placement, as well as aspect to other planets and points.

Saturn in the First House: Especially if near the Ascendant, Saturn’s position here sets the tone for how the individual steps out into the world. With a definite sense of gravitas and seriousness surrounding, the individual is perceived as somber, reserved, and no-nonsense.  Insecurity can stem from a sense of not being “enough”, a basic feeling of being too small, too thin, too ugly, or otherwise just not bold enough to compete with the showier birds of the world. With Saturn in this house, the physical manifestation will be evident, with the native’s features often pronouncedly sharp or fine, typically either noticeably short, or very tall, thin, and frequently bearing the experience of having suffered some illness or hardship throughout early childhood. Depending on aspects to planets and points, can be a source of great strength or a chronic drain on personal power.  

Saturn in the Second House: The individual approaches his or her value structure with a definite sense of sobriety. “Penny wise and pound foolish” is a motto for Saturn in the second house, as the native is most comfortable living without the frivolities and trappings of materialism, preferring to invest their pennies in long-range acquisition and accumulations. Values are traditional and sound, this can often be the unsuspected “millionaire next door”, rarely ostentations or profligate. Often some insecurity surrounds the basic sense of self-worth, and the individual often suffers from a fundamental sense of personal insecurity, despite any financial or monetary developments. Approaches to investment are old-fashioned and time tested.

Saturn in the Third House: The individual can often be one who is economical with their communication. The master one-liner, low talker, or the type of person who picks and chooses his information and conversations carefully, Saturn in the Third house will always be spare with words and specific in intentions. Insecurity stems from a misperception that there is no value in personal opinion, self-expression, and mundane communication, that nobody will be interested or have the time to listen. Usually a good listener themselves, this person will attend to details, and take a firm sense of responsibility in their immediate home and community environment. Often scholastic and driven to appreciate organization and practicality, the individual is insistent ensuring that specifics are attended, as they firmly believe that brevity is the soul of wit.

Saturn in the Fourth House: Especially if conjunct the IC point, this can be a stern placement for Saturn, as the initial understand of home and family is often tinged with a deep sadness or seriousness. Frequently found in cases where the father was either absent emotionally or physically, there is a deep sense of lack and coldness in the home environment, which transfers over into the developed adult lifestyle. Insecurity stems from an inability to find comfort in the home, as pleasure and emotional warmth are lacking. Home is a place of practicality and seriousness, to be protected and cherished, served and maintained for perpetuity, but not necessarily enjoyed. A sense of austerity and practicality must be observed in the home environment at the risk of feeling out of control and weakened by emotional pressures imposed by others.

Saturn in the Fifth House: Housed in the fifth, Saturn regards the pursuit of creative self-expression with great seriousness. This is not a light-hearted position for Saturn, as here he will tend to put a damper on an area dedicated to self-expression and letting the essence of the personality shine. Saturn here tends to inhibit the basic function of enjoyment and pleasure, preferring to pursue interest that are more sober and conservative in temperament. Insecurity in allowing the ego to shine, this is not a person who can easily take center stage, as any self-adulation will feel like gratuitous self-glorification, overblown pride, and foolishness. Children (ones own and others) can be seen as a source of impediment or fundamental challenge, and love affairs are taken very seriously, with long-term commitments preferred.

Saturn in the Sixth House: Saturn found in the sixth feels a sense of comfort, as this is a house typically associated with work, austerity, ethics, precision, and daily function. Saturn’s sense of discipline and longevity give these practical issues support. Depending on sign placement and aspect, Saturn in the sixth can create a systematic, methodical approach to work and health matters, a love of routine and hygiene, as well as a commitment to long-range accomplishment and commitment to habitual approaches. Insecurities can lead to psychosomatic health issues, manifestations of chronic illness and a certain fretful watchfulness over issues of health, diet, and hygiene. Austerity and stringency can become obsessions, while at the same time offer a sense of structure and definition to the lifestyle which can be instructive for those around.

Saturn in the Seventh House: In the Seventh House, Saturn defines issues of relationships, partnerships, and marriage. Placed here, there will be a definite seriousness in how the individual approaches any matters of union, and a tendency to only enter into partnerships if there is a promise of longevity. Insecurity stems from feeling that relationships will simply never work, so there is a certain level of mistrust when approaching any long-term union. Not frivolous romantics by any stretch of the imagination, people with Seventh house Saturn like to know where they stand in relationships. As Libra gives Saturn exaltation, his natal house is a solid position for Saturn, and those in relationship with this native will not need to fear being unduly used or rudely pushed aside in search of light-hearted romance.

Saturn in the Eighth House: Saturn in the eighth house gives a definite sobriety to all things associated with taboo, death, money, and the values of others, matters of occult and deep places of personal mystery. Saturn here, while not uncomfortable, feels a sense of unease to these areas which are not clearly definable and yet have such profound impact. Insecurity stems from a constant feeling of mistrust in the processes of life, rebirth, and sexuality, as there is a sense that letting down one’s guard will result in wounding or loss. Traditionally ruled by Mars, the house of Scorpio is perhaps more amenable than the house of Aries, and yet there is a tendency to overdo it in terms of discipline and desire to concretize what is, for the most part, house of some mystery.

Saturn in the Ninth House: Saturn in the house of Sagittarius has the urge to bring high-flying philosophy and idealism down to earth, preferring to keep things conservative and limited in scope. Traditions must be upheld, and broadmindedness is not a Saturnian feature, so a certain sense of tension occurs with Saturn operating here. Insecurity comes from a sense of not being wise enough, not having enough capacity for understanding. Urges for self-expression are hindered by a tendency to be a stick-in-the-mud, preferring to stick to what is tried and true. There is some level of corn for ideas that are overly broad and general, as well as a serious approach to mastering higher education with Saturn here. Travel is something which is not taken lightly, and will be thoroughly planned and purposeful, usually for business or education, as pleasure is limited with this placement.

Saturn in the Tenth House: Saturn is at home here, in his natural habitat, and will give a very defined sense of purpose in the pursuit of ambition, success and social standing. This is not an area of life which will be taken lightly, and the native will feel a defined sense of responsibility and duty with Saturn placed here. The mother may be a source of discipline, conferring a strong need to achieve and prove oneself to the world. Insecurity stems from never feeling that one has achieved enough, that performance is always subpar and must be improved in order for success to be validated. This is not a light-hearted placement, and the native will always proceed with full knowledge that they must always abide by the rules, as whatever they do publicly will always be subject to scrutiny. Career ambitions will be onerous, though accomplishments can be of great scale.

Saturn in the Eleventh House: Saturn here lends gravitas to the native’s involvement in society, groups, clubs, or humanitarian movements. These things are of great seriousness for the native, and there is a strong urge to define one’s duties and responsibilities vis a vis their surrounding society, either as a leader or a moderator. Insecurities can stem from never feeling that one fits in with the group as desired, a sense of being an outsider or a wet towel when among friends. This is the individual who will follow through with duties once committed to a group, ensuring that goals are tracked and met, and that people responsible are followed and attended to. Friends tend to be older, more mature, and socially established, though not necessarily wealthy, and can include professionals of a more serious leaning – either public servants, government or bureaucratic workers, people involved in law, medicine, or otherwise responsible positions.

Saturn in the Twelfth House: Saturn in the Twelfth gives the individual a sense of nagging, subconscious insecurity, as there is forever the sense that something is missing or otherwise escaping the individual’s knowledge. Insecurity springs from fear of losing control, letting go, of abandonment and incapacity to connect with the greater spirit of the times. Issues can arise from an inability or lack of desire to process and integrate old emotional wounds, as these topics can be a source of great difficulty with this placement. With maturity, there is a greater willingness to open to and understand these universal issues, but there can be a tendency to escapism, dwelling on the past while not necessarily taking efforts to resolve issues, as there is an innate sense of incapacity to achieve any resolution. Watch aspects to natal planets and points, and if conjoining the Ascendant from the 12th, there is often some chronic illness, whether physical or mental in nature.