The Saturn Focus
Capricorn’s ruling planet, Saturn, is the last and furthest away planet in our solar system which is visible without the aid of a telescope. Viewed through one, however, it is a very beautiful pale golden globe, halloed with striated rings. It looks like a guardian angel, not the harbinger of dread and doom it has, for some astrologers, symbolized for centuries.
The fundamental qualities which Saturn symbolizes are limitation, boundary, and the attitude of “the buck stops here” – i.e. personal responsibility. This is clearly appropriate, for the planet’s orbit appears to mark the limit and boundary between the solar system and outer space. And, by analogy, it sets up a barrier between normal, waking consciousness and super-, or cosmic-, consciousness and collective unconsciousness. From the concept of containment arises the ideas of contraction, focus, and structure. When these qualities are over emphasized, they lead to egoic attitudes, rigidity, inflexibility, pessimism, perfectionism, debt, doubt, and loss.
Saturn has been called the Tester. It is Satan of the Old Testament, the Divine Advocate whose job it is to cross-question the soul to determine if it has comprehended life’s lessons. Saturn’s goal is to ensure that we gain perfect, clear understanding and mastery of our life’s purpose. For those who are naïve, immature, who function solely on the pleasure/pain principle, Saturn is seen as a malefic. If one sees life as a series of experiences, some which we like and others which we don’t – but, all part of the process of learning and growth, then Saturn means patience, forbearance, self-control, and economy on all levels.
Saturn works in tandem with Jupiter, growth and expansion, as well as with the Moon, maternal nurturing love, juxtaposed to Saturn’s paternal protective and providing love. The Sun, as the ego, is kept in check and not allowed to fall into narcissism by Saturn’s demands for restraint, discipline, and accountability.
Saturn as a singleton or high focus planet in the natal chart, Saturn’s own qualities are emphasized and the qualities of the sign and house in which it is placed are highlighted. The planets it aspects are colored by it as well. How Saturn is a singleton is important. As the only planet in an element, it has to carry the functions of all the signs in that element.
For example, as the only planet in a Fire sign, say Aries, it will tend to initiate, dramatize, and promulgate ideas about responsibility, fear, loss, humiliation, and lack. A woman with this Aries placement of Saturn in the 9th house lost her father when she was three years old. Consequently her family lived in poverty during her early youth. She was reared as a Baptist, later applying the same narrow and literal attitudes to her political beliefs. She felt she was responsible for everybody in her life. Her well-to-do husband could never do anything quite right to please her. She smothered and controlled her children until they fled the home at the earliest possible opportunity. She suffered from arthritis. She could not accept therapy, for she had to be right! Saturn, Aries (first and foremost), the 9th house all came into play. The Lunar opposition to Saturn colored her emotional outlook with irrational pessimism, depression, and self-centeredness.
When Saturn is a Water sign singleton, it gives great emotional sensitivity. In Cancer, there often is an absent mother or lack of mothering. She either died when the person was a child or was psychologically unavailable, even abusive, creating an aversion complex toward family. In Scorpio, there can be deep sexual-emotional inhibitions, which may be overcompensated by a subtle, yet potent seductiveness and manipulation; politician-like qualities. In Pisces, there may be panaphobia, fear of everything, or profound understanding of the cosmos, absolute confidence in, and surrender to, cosmic law. To someone on the outside, this appears as utter fatalism.
In Air signs, Saturn singleton polarizes the mental, intellectual, and communicative qualities. The person may be highly intelligent, yet feels inadequate about his ability to communicate – learning and reading problems may exist. Additionally, there may be a tendency to be too detached, dissociative, too coolly impersonal and abstract, or a prisoner in a mental cage.
As the only planet in Earth signs, Saturn adds gravity and heaviness to the personality as well as unusual insecurity and perfectionist tenancies. Saturn it rules Capricorn and Saturn is exalted in Libra, so outwardly it does well, but inwardly puts the person in overdrive mode.
As a singleton by modality, Saturn‘s influence can be extreme. In some mutable signs it can be very positive, providing the influence of constructive stability to the mind. In all of these signs it can manifest on occasion as hysterical fear. Saturn in Gemini gives a deep, focused thinker. Sagittarian and Piscean over-expansion tendencies are kept in check with Saturn here. Or the person may feel sad and limited in the midst of abundance and affluence, and lose out on the opportunities available. Saturn in Virgo may create overkill in the detail concern department.
In fixed signs, it tends to add both stubbornness and persistence. The person can get stuck in a rut, suffer from monomania, or excessive concentration on a single object or idea. Saturn works best in Aquarius where it helps focus and stabilize Uranian scientifically creative genius, though it still gives problematic personality rigidity. Saturn in Leo tends to be the Don Juan out to prove he is really a great lover, for he fears he is not, and he can be very insecure about his creative abilities. The drive to be perfect in his creativity can produce an accomplished artist. With Saturn in Taurus, the person can get easily stuck in sensuality, over-eating.
As a cardinal sign singleton, Saturn promotes drive and ambition and the usual fear and inhibition associated with it. Capricorn over-organizes and over-manages. Libra feels responsible for seeing that everyone is in harmony, a compulsive peacemaker who fears any social situation where people do not act nice. In Aries, the person fears taking initiative or of not being number one. Saturn in Cancer can be xenophobic, a person who is fearful or has a hatred of foreigners, or anything foreign – a “smother mother” or someone who can love only the weak and the wounded, and can even produce an inability to assimilate nutrients from food.
By house and sign orientation, i.e. personal, social and universal, Saturn singleton tends to do best in universal signs and houses, especially the 10th house. Even in Cancer, a Saturn singleton in a universal house does well in worldly terms by over-compensation.
As a personal or social sign singleton, there are likely to be fears about survival, and social inhibitions and relationship difficulties.
Saturn complexes are the father complex, authority complex, perfection complex, inferiority complex, and guilt-complex. Individuals with this singleton have to work to overcome a fundamental sense of insecurity and inadequacy, a fear-oriented psychology; they can be under-achievers, or over-achievers, but nothing in-between. With men, they often do not allow themselves to be successes until after their father dies. If the father was a famous person, they may never be able to acknowledge to themselves that they are successful no matter what everybody else thinks.
There is identification with ideas of guilt, atonement and original sin. There is a deeply held belief that one is fundamentally flawed at birth and must strive to achieve perfection or at least something great. Yet, these people eventually discover that perfection itself is not good enough. There is no additional reward for being the best. They have to learn that their action toward achievement is an end in itself and that action is not a means to an end. Existentialism calls this ‘doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing.” No extra reward is forthcoming. The Bhagavad Gita teaches to “let go the fruit of action,” for if it brings success, there is a trap of ego inflation, and if it brings failure there is depression. Both are blocks to higher consciousness.
About the author:
Eleanor Buckwalter has studied, practiced and taught astrology in Los Altos, CA for more than twenty-five years, including three years with the late Richard Idemon, a psychological astrologer. Her primary astrological focus of interest is parent-child relationships and family dynamics.