Saturn As Singleton
Saturn is the God of Time, Chronos, and Lord of Karma
Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small;
Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.
Saturn, along with Jupiter, governs our lives and responses, reactions and adjustments within the larger society, within our culture. Together they rule and co-rule the last four signs, the Universal or transpersonal signs, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Jupiter allows us freedom to expand and rise within Saturn’s culturally defined limits of the social order. Jupiter represents the elite of society, finest and brightest. Many successful politicians who rise to high office have Moon/Jupiter connections, often the conjunction (Adolf Hitler, George W. Bush, and Al Gore).
Saturn symbolizes duty, responsibility, honors and rewards for hard, consistent work well done. In mythology, Saturn is the harvest god, who says, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” He is often portrayed carrying a scythe to cut the ripened grain, and for this reason is sometimes called the Grim Reaper, a symbol of death and finality. Death, after all, is the limit of biological, earthly life; it is the end and loss of life, as we know it.
Many hardworking, honest and responsible people are honored by their employer or society at the time of their second Saturn return (around retirement age, 58 to 62 years). The traditional parting gift is the gold watch, a symbol of time (Saturn), as a high value (gold). The honest and good are also often rewarded by Saturn and society at the time Saturn transits over their Mid-Heaven. When the seeds sown have been seeds of evil, then the harvest is a fall from grace. At that time, we get exactly what we have earned, measure for measure! Richard Nixon (a Saturn ruled Capricorn), took a hard fall from grace when Saturn crossed his Mid-Heaven and entered his 10th house, for all his past “dirty tricks” came to light at that time. Saturn is ultimately the most fair, so it is considered exalted in Libra. It impartially weighs all our deeds, good, bad and indifferent in the balance and pays precisely what has been earned, either in gold or in lead. Sometimes, if there is an aspect from Jupiter, it even adds interest.
The dark side of Saturn is fear. This is not the natural, instinctive fear of Mars, flight or fight, which is necessary for survival, but a rather pathological fear of the unknown. “Better the evil I know than the possible good that lies in the unknown.” This kind of unreasonable fear causes us to live narrow, limited lives. We become more rigid in our attitudes and crystallized in our physical bodies (Saturn rules diseases of skin and bone, such as arthritis), with the passing of time. In clinging desperately to our perception of the status quo, we begin to live in dreams of a “golden age of the past.” We run the risk of sinking into personal phobias, and may seek refuge within groups that share our paranoia. Members of all “fundamentalisms,” from neo-Nazis, to Taliban Islamics, to fundamentalist Baptists, are there out of pathological fear of life and other people. They say they are looking for perfection and purity. They are “doing God’s will,” and their “God” is the dark, devouring face of Saturn.
Of course, Pluto, combined with Saturn, plays a part in the worst types of group paranoia. Right now, we are seeing a global epidemic of xenophobia, literally fear of foreigners, but includes fear of anyone not of ones own group, race, clan, tribe, religion or political party. Pluto (deepest fear), is in Sagittarius (foreigners), and will soon be opposed by Saturn in Gemini (ideas). Certain elements (such as the Israelis and Palestinians; the Taliban Islamics, and so on), will be inclined to get even more destructive over differences in ideas, ideals and ideology.
Both Saturn and the Moon as singletons have whole processes and problems connected with them: umbilical issues, issues around growing up and addictions of one sort or another. Moon and Saturn represent the mythical archetypal parents: Divine Mother and Heavenly Father; the Virgin Mary and the God of Abraham. Mother’s love is unconditional; father’s love has to be earned. So Saturn leads us to strive, sometimes neurotically and self-destructively, for perfection.
All too often, the family enforces this myth. Mom says, “You were bad! Wait till your father gets home! But here’s your milk and cookies.” One gets the impression deep down whatever you do, it’s somehow OK with Mom; she’ll love you no matter what. But Dad won’t love you unless you are good, a child he can be proud of. And, he gives out the punishment. Of course, in some families Mom plays Saturn, especially if you have Moon in Capricorn or some other Moon-Saturn connection. In the example of the “milk and cookies” we see the roots of addiction. You are not perfect, can never be, so you get depressed, and then reward yourself with something that makes you temporarily feel good (but is not good for you). Then you feel guilty; punish yourself, and the cycle starts all over! Severe addictions lead to despair.
The Perfection Complex is based in the feeling; “to earn father’s love I must be perfect.” This leads to such psychopathologies as free-floating guilt (because I cannot ever be perfect, no matter how hard I try!), an over-blown sense of responsibility; (“I’m responsible for everybody,” Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility). For such people worry is a favorite pass-time; they go out of their way to find things to worry about. They are impossibly self-critical with their inner parent forever beating up their inner child, and they are unreasonably, irrationally sensitive to even a hint of criticism from others. The pressure from this leads to projecting their inner child onto everyone and everything else. They are forever criticizing other people and every situation and circumstance in which they are involved. This is the perpetual malcontent.
A singleton Saturn symbolizes exaggerated authority issues. There may be an umbilical tie to the biological father, but more often the quality of, or quest for, authority was important in the person’s development. Perhaps a particular authority figure was a powerful influence. This was the case with Swami Kriyananda (see Jupiter as Singleton). His Sun is opposed by a Saturn singleton and squared by a Jupiter singleton. His guru, Paramahansa Yogananda was his “spiritual father,” the ultimate authority figure. He was eventually expelled (excommunicated?), from the organization founded by his guru, and set himself up as the “head honcho” of his own community. That organization allows no criticism of, or disagreement with, “Swami,” so compelling is his need to be an authority figure.
The Father Complex is another form of the authority complex. In mythology, Saturn is the devourer. Saturn devoured his children. Only Jupiter escaped to be brought up on a secret island by a she-goat. When he grew up, he came back and forced father Saturn to vomit up his brothers and sisters. Saturn does not want to be displaced. He says, “I am the final authority. I permit you to function so long as you are perfect and perfectly obedient.” The dilemma is that to earn father’s love (authority’s approval), “I must be perfect, but then I’m going to be swallowed up; so I must resist him or I’ll loose my identity.” It is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. Whether the person becomes a “success” or a “failure” he or she ends up devoured and swallowed up. The sons of famous and/or powerful fathers very often suffer this “Saturn syndrome.”
A key question to bear in mind when we see a Saturn singleton in a chart: is the person process oriented or result oriented? At its best, Saturn takes things in an orderly, step-by-step fashion. To a process-oriented person Saturn is a useful asset, for it helps in the patient and practical development of talents and abilities and honing of skills. The person with a Saturn singleton in the 3rd house may become an expert writer or communicator; Saturn in the 9th may be an outstanding professor. They put forth great effort and energy to perfect their own abilities and are willing to support others in their growth toward maturity. The result-oriented person tends to have trouble with Saturn. He or she wants to be “top dog” and does not care how he achieves his goal. “The end justifies the means” is his motto, while the process-oriented person knows that the path is the goal. When a superior position is achieved, the result-oriented person has the problem of defending his position. He’s playing “king of the mountain.” He knows someone better or younger will eventually replace him. He is haunted by the fear of displacement, fear of loss of status. This person tends to be highly critical of others and tries to undermine competitors and rivals. Nixon’s Watergate incident illustrates this tendency.
There is a fundamental kind of insecurity with Saturn singletons. It is an “itch that can never be scratched.” This can easily lead to over-compensation, which is seen by the world as success-motivated behavior. Such an achievement orientated, hard driving psychological force is not easy for the person or others to live with. It often leads to burnout and depression. There is the ever-lurking fear that someone else will be better or take over. The person tends to live in a chronic “crisis mode.” “I have to work hard constantly to become better and better!” As you recall, the influence of singletons tends to come up unbidden from the subconscious when a person is under stress. By their very nature singleton Saturn and Pluto are stress-producers; so tend to function all the time.
Saturn, along with Pluto, is the planetary energy most open to psychological defense mechanisms. Saturn in Water may deny any emotional needs. When it is in Cardinal signs there may be fear of beginnings and endings. When there is repression, Saturn “prices itself out of the market” by taking the attitude, “I don’t dare do that; I might not be good enough” or “If I do this and fail, I won’t be able to live with myself; so I won’t even try it.”
Projecting Saturn is the most common defense mechanism. “It’s the fault of pushy people (Cardinal), or of emotional women (Water);” or, I’m emotional because the people around me make me so.” A case of sublimation was the psychiatrist with a Saturn singleton in Scorpio in the 6th house. He was a classic Freudian analyst and took the authoritative/paternal stance, “If you become my patient, it is a commitment for the rest of your life. We will always have a relationship.”
Overcompensation based on an inferiority complex or phobia is common. For example, a Saturn singleton in Leo or the 5th has to prove he is a perfect lover to reassure himself. Jupiter with the placement can outwardly act the same way, but his motive is to share his wonderfulness. He is, if anything, overconfident about being the perfect lover. Both men are “Don Juans.”
Some rather frightening and troubled characters are found among the famous or infamous who have a Saturn singleton gone awry. For, in one way or another, they devoured a great many other people.
Paul Joseph Goebbels was the official propagandist for Nazi Germany. He was in total control of all public communications media. He was a fanatical Nazi who was instrumental in bringing Hitler and the Nazi Party to power in 1933. He committed suicide, along with his wife and six children, in Hitler’s bunker in Berlin at the end of World War II. His Saturn is at zero degrees of Sagittarius, was the only Fire. Sagittarius’ dark side is the ideologue, the fanatic. Goebbels was a “true believer” in the “one true faith” – in his case Nazism. The zero degree of any sign is very interesting. It usually denotes a feeling of lack associated with the planet at that degree. Often the person will overcompensate to fill the sense of void. Goebbels must have felt out of control and powerless; so he needed total control and absolute power. His Jupiter, Mercury and Lunar Nodes are also at the zero degree. He lacked any real faith (Jupiter), or intelligence (Mercury), and was devoid of a healthy sense of purpose and direction (Nodes).
Goebbel’s chart as well as the charts of some other Nazis, brings up a question; can a conjunction be a singleton? Goebbel’s generational conjunction of Neptune/Pluto in Gemini is the only energy above the horizon. He was over taken – “possessed” – by the demons (Neptune & Pluto), of his generation’s collective unconscious.
One chart that has often been discussed is that of the Peoples’ Temple leader, Jim Jones. Saturn is a singleton as the only planet in a Universal sign. Its placement in his first house gave him the sense of personally being the ultimate authority and responsible for everyone. The Saturn opposes a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction (God complex), and squares a Moon/Uranus/Venus (great charisma), making it all too easy for him to attract others en masse and to project onto them (Libra, the “others,” is the outlet of this T-Cross), his paranoid delusions of grandeur.
Let us not forget Marshall Applewhite, born a few days after Jones. His Heaven’s Gate cult also committed mass suicide. Applewhite convinced them they were going to take off with comet Hale-Bopp and the Space Brothers to enjoy eternal life. He, like Jones, had the Cardinal T-Cross in angular houses, making it and Saturn’s influence, very powerful and very destructive. The Saturn singleton in the 10th house causes others to perceive the person as an absolute father/authority figure, and all to often, follow that authority blindly (Werner Erhard – mentioned in the Introduction – has Saturn as a singleton in the 10th house, and although it is not a singleton, it is part of a Grand Trine in Water
Another cult leader involved with mass death and disaster is David Koresh. He was head of the Branch Davidian cult outside of Waco,Texas. Like Goebbels, he not only has a Saturn singleton at that ominous zero degree, but he, too, has the Moon twice a singleton in the 5th house of children. Both men took women and children down with them. Control and power were certainly his primary addictions! He was what we would call a psychopathic “control freak.” Like Goebbels, Koresh has Sun, Uranus and Mercury together in the same sign. Over the years, I have noticed this combination gives a brilliant, but often highly “imbalanced,” mind (“crackpots” to put it bluntly). Combine that with a fearful and controlling Saturn and you will read the bad news in the headlines. There is a case with which I am very familiar where the person had both the Sun/Mercury/Uranus conjunction and a Saturn singleton. He destroyed himself in a horrific accident. It was a blessing that he took no one else with him. Koresh was probably a clinically certifiable paranoid-schizophrenic. The Sun is the final dispositor of the chart, except for Saturn in its own sign, Capricorn. This indicates a serious fracture in the personality. He was completely overtaken at the end by the negative Saturn archetype.
Last month, we looked at the chart of Swami Kriyananda. He has a Saturn singleton in Scorpio in the 5th house, the only planet in a social house. He had insecurities about sex (he repressed it in early life by becoming a monk), about his creativity and ability to interact socially on an intimate level. The creativity has been overcompensated during the years through a multitude of musical compositions, singing and writing many books. His Saturn opposes his Sun in the 11th house. He filled the need for absolute control of his social interactions by playing “Big Daddy” to the like-minded others in the community he established. The long suppressed or denied sexuality finally came out in public in the sexual harassment suit. Had he not been so sensitive to any sort of criticism, he would have been open to others’ opinions and feedback. Then perhaps he might have been able to take action to avoid the embarrassing harassment trial. He would have done well to heed Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 5:25 – settle out of court!
Not all Saturn singleton people are cult leaders. Catherine the Great was an outstanding ruler of Russia (see Mercury as Singleton). Although not a very “nice lady,” she was powerful and did a great deal for her adopted country. Her Saturn is in the first house and highly aspected. Saturn sextiles her Sun/Mars conjunction in Taurus and the Sun rules her 7th house. She had her husband assassinated and got away with it, taking over his throne and becoming ruler of the country. Mars rules the second house; she was enriched through her spouse. Saturn square Neptune allowed her dreams to become reality. The trine from Jupiter (greatness), and quincunx to Pluto (power; empowered through murder of husband), completes the picture. The actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones, did a wonderful portrayal of Catherine the Great in a recent movie made for TV.
The fabulous composer, Richard Wagner, has Saturn in Capricorn, its own sign, in his 9th house of ideology, religion, philosophy, law and higher education. Surprisingly enough, Jupiter, Sagittarius and the 9th house often signify grand opera. There are many people who believe Wagner created perfect operas. Saturn rules the 9th and 10th, and Wagner took inspiration from the best composers and writers of his time, but wrote operas with a revolutionary technique (Moon and Mars in Aquarius). His personal life was tragic and sordid. It is said he was rigid, authoritarian and materialistic. He was socially inept which correlates with having only transpersonal planets, Uranus and Neptune, in social houses. He was probably manic-depressive (bipolar syndrome), for in addition to the Saturn singleton (depression), he had Jupiter (manic), in Leo opposed by Mars in Aquarius squared to Mercury in Taurus in the 12th house.
Saturn represents the urge to be perfect, for it rules the last Earth (material level), sign. That means the desire to be perfect in material, physical world terms. The irony is that there is no such thing as perfection in matter. In fact, one of the ways to detect a “perfect” diamond (crystal of pure carbon symbolizing the highest state of mineral evolution), is through finding minute flaws in it. Perfection exists in the mental world as a concept, an idea, and Saturn co-rules the last Air (mental), sign, Aquarius. The Saturn/Capricorn archetypes, seeking perfection and control in matter, are the Dictator and the Yogi. The dictator seeks absolute control of everyone and everything out there in his world. The yogi seeks to perfect his body and mind and, thus, have perfect self-control. Yogis believe that the individual is a microcosm, reflecting the macrocosm. When one has achieved self-mastery, he has also mastered and can control all the elements of the physical world (Fire, Air, Water, and Earth).
A positive Saturn Singleton’s gift is the ability to structure ones life slowly, according to a deeply intuited plan, and to do it step-by-step over time with an eye toward the greater good of all. At the same time, one is able to stay focussed on the path toward the goal and not the goal itself. An example of this sort of life can be found in the book, Crooked Cucumber, The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, the biography of Suzuki Roshi, by David Chadwick. Suzuki was born May 18, 1904, but without time and place, we do not know if his Saturn was a singleton; it did make a square to the Sun. He was challenged to learn obedience and humbleness, two great saturnine virtues. Responsibility, honesty and integrity are Saturn’s other talents.
In the coming articles, we will look at the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, as singletons. Our “poster girl” for the outer planets is that infamous blabbermouth, Linda Tripp. She has all three outer planets as singletons. Richard Idemon once confided to our class that such a chart with all outer planets singletons was likely to be that of a sociopath, if not a psychopath. He cautioned us to be very careful and circumspect in dealing with them, and suggested referring them to a professional psychotherapist.
Some very brilliant people who have accomplished much to enrich the whole culture as well as to advance the collective knowledge are among those with singleton outer planets, or outer planets emphasized in some other ways. The outer planets symbolize energies and impulses beyond the personal control, beyond the ego’s ability to assimilate. They are beyond the consciousness of many people, and function only on a subconscious level as trends and fashions. Liz Greene says that the current “Christian right” movement in America is a Neptunian fashion. The outer planet energies functioning through the unconscious or subconscious are projected outward on individuals or groups as “angels” or “devils.” They are the energies of genius when conscious and integrated.
Example Charts Used in the Article
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.