I am older than I once was / And younger than I’ll be…
After changes upon changes / We are more or less the same
— Paul Simon, from the missing verse of “The Boxer”
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now
— Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
Dear Friend and Reader:
As the world churns, the rest of the solar system keeps moving, silently and dependably. As it does, the current positions of the planets make what are called ‘transits’ to our natal chart — they touch and act on the positions of the planets when we were born. Many transits happen to everyone each year, but there are some events that stand out in the course of a lifetime.
One thing is for sure: these transits arrive, and when they do, the thing to do is meet them with clear intent and willingness to grow.
Most of the major transits (sometimes called key life transits) that astrologers work with involve the slow movers: Saturn, Uranus, Chiron, Neptune and Pluto. Howard Sasportas once described these as the gods of change, because when they come through our lives, our lives become different.
They are moments of transformation, and though not everyone has a ‘good time’ going through them, with astrological help they can be easier, more meaningful and more consciously useful. It’s rare, however, that people have astrological help or even the most basic information available to them.
Most people know of at least one key life transit — thanks to the Internet, ‘Saturn return’ is a household phrase. That’s the transit that happens when Saturn returns to its own natal position in your chart, completing a full 29-year cycle — one of the most meaningful steps on the way to adulthood. The second Saturn return is about restructuring one’s life on the way into later adulthood (what used to be called ‘retirement’).
There are many others, though, including the opposition of Uranus to its natal position, the square of Neptune to its natal position, and a diversity of Chiron transits. There are also some subtler Saturn transits, and a diversity of transits that are unique to an individual’s natal chart.
Planets Beyond Saturn
When we talk about key life transits, we’re mainly talking about Saturn and the planets beyond it. There are exceptions. For example, for part of its orbit, Chiron is considerably closer to the Sun than Saturn, though with profound effects. Sometimes a closer-in planet like Jupiter may be involved. But mostly we are talking about the experiences of the slow-movers, which gain strength and influence specifically for moving slowly.
For example, when Pluto makes a square to its natal position, that’s a turning point as well, happening these days at around age 36. For our grandparents, because Pluto was so much farther from the Sun during their lifetimes, that same transit happened at age 60, a very different time in one’s life. In the current era, the Pluto square is a necessary follow-up to the first Saturn return, a time to deepen one’s experience, to do cleanup work and to put the maturity one has earned to good use. The Pluto square takes matters to a deeper level, what you might call a depth of spiritual contact.
Uranus, which has an 84-year orbit, reaches the opposition point to its natal position these days when a person reaches age 42. That’s a big moment, and it happens just once in the course of a lifetime unless you live to age 126. Some call this the midlife crisis; I prefer to think of it as an opportunity for radical personal reinvention. This is true of other Uranus transits, sometimes to an equal extent, sometimes subtler.
Along the way, we experience a diversity of Chiron transits. These transits are a story all their own, happening on a different schedule for different age groups with each passing phase of time. Often Chiron transits exchange themes and events with other transits, and are sometimes timed synchronously. Yet because Chiron has an elongated orbit, every age group has its transits on a different schedule, with the exception of one, the Chiron return at approximately age 50.
Chiron is a massive comet (technically called a proto-comet) with an orbit in the shape of a stretched-out ellipse. It has an orbit just over 50 years, though it takes 15 years to go around half the solar system when it’s closer to the Sun, and 35 years to go around the other half when it’s far from the Sun. Because of this, some age groups can have the first square of Chiron to its natal position at age 7. Other age groups have it at age 15 and others at age 22, with much variability in between. Everyone has their own personal schedule of Chiron transits.
When you seek information from a professional astrologer, they’re likely to highlight the most recent, current and upcoming key life transits. They are relatively easy to work with, though the attitude of the astrologer makes a big difference in your perception of the transit you’re experiencing. If the astrologer says, “This is going to be difficult,” it’s more likely to be so. If your astrologer says, “This is going to be an adventure,” it’s much more likely to feel like one.
Many factors of your key life transits can be addressed without a personal reading; they have a lot in common.
When I work with a client during one of these transits, I take into account the qualities of the planet involved, the aspect it’s making to the natal position, as well as the qualities of the signs involved. I estimate that between a Saturn return in Libra and one in Scorpio, there may be about a 60% overlap in basic material. The sign placement offers additional clarity, and then there’s the house placement and the aspects to other planets, which further clarify things. Yet the most significant information comes from the client. As you read this article, consider the different times in your life and note what you’ve learned and what you’ve been through. The key life transits often weave together to tell one coherent story — notably, one that hasn’t yet ended.
The Timing of the Transits
In this article I will go over the basics of the Saturn return. (I will cover the other planets in later articles.) Saturn is in Scorpio, returning for all people with Saturn in that sign — those born between late 1982 through late 1985 are having their first return. There are a number of peak events within that time frame, and there will be a margin on either end for charts that are especially receptive to the transit (for example, if you’re born with Scorpio rising).
Those born between late 1953 and late 1956 are currently experiencing their second Saturn return. Those born between mid-1969 and early 1972 are currently experiencing their Saturn opposition, as are those born between mid-1998 and mid-2001. (If you have Saturn in Leo or Aquarius, you’re currently experiencing a Saturn square.)
Uranus is now in Aries, and is currently making an opposition to the natal position of those born from around 1970 through around 1974, with subsequent years not far behind. This transit will affect people between about age 37 and age 43. Because planets often cluster up or form complex patterns, it’s possible to start experiencing the effects of a major transit earlier, and for it to extend well beyond the usually proscribed age range. The peak, however, is usually in the age ranges I’m describing.
Sometimes, however, the effects of a transit can seem to linger if we don’t ‘do the work’ of the transit, make the decisions or process the material that comes up during the transit. Often, there will be a subsequent transit following shortly to help with that. For example, not long after the Saturn return ends, there’s Pluto square Pluto. Soon after that passes by there is Uranus opposite Uranus.
Saturn: The Misunderstood Planet
Saturn may be the most misunderstood planet. Associated with structure, authority and stability, Saturn has been called many things by astrologers that have propagated considerable unnecessary negativity. I consider Saturn to be the internal governing principle. If you structure and run your own life, you won’t need someone to do it for you.
While you may hear Saturn associated with being stuck, there are few more dependable agents of change and progress than this planet. For those who fear loss, I would remind you of the words of Patric Walker, who suggested that Saturn always gives more than it takes away.
One of the most significant elements of Saturn is the structuring of time. Both the themes of ‘time’ and ‘structure’ are from old delineations, but the structuring of time is something I’ve adapted from the work of Dr. Eric Berne. In his book Games People Play, he describes the ability to structure time as a necessary prerequisite for sincere intimacy. We do not live forever, so if we want time enough for love, we have to make space for that experience. That’s a necessary element of maturity.
With Saturn it’s necessary that you do your part, and then it will do its part. This is to say, consider the themes I’ve mentioned. Be real to yourself and to what is indicated in your Saturn placement as you grow to understand it, and you’ll be at a considerable advantage over others without this understanding. There are often associations with parents where Saturn is involved, and in this respect the message is simple: resolve your relationship to them. Don’t let them run your life vicariously, and know when you’re aspiring (whether consciously or otherwise) to be them. You’re not them and they are not you; you are you.
Transits of Saturn have a few themes in common — development of maturity, the structure of our lives and the work that we do. Along with these themes, people undergoing Saturn transits will often experience changes or rearrangements in their relationships. This falls under the general heading of maturity and structure.
I know people who refuse to have intimate relationships with those who have not had their Saturn return; they are often too much like kids. When the Saturn return is done consciously, this is a transit that can help people settle into more grounded and mature attitudes and values. Your relationship to responsibility and the world around you is rearranged, usually in helpful ways.
Saturn Returns to Scorpio
That said, I suspect that the newest Saturn in Scorpio sub-generation is struggling a bit with these themes, owing mainly to the state of the world. I recently read that fully one-third of American adults are either unemployed or have given up looking for work. This placement lends itself to serious, clever and committed people who take using their resources wisely as a cornerstone of their lives, in a world that seems to be squandering everything it has.
These natives are emerging into adulthood in a world where there is a radical imbalance in the distribution of resources — such as vast gaps between the pay of CEOs and ordinary employees. They watched the leaders of the banking system nearly cripple the economy and bankrupt the federal government, then the banksters walked away not only without prosecution but with millions of dollars in personal gain.
This is also one of the first crop of Saturn return people who grew up with the Internet. While unlike some of their younger siblings they were not born into the Internet, the IBM PC came out in August 1981 and the Macintosh came out in January 1984. That would be fine except for the ways in which computing rearranged the professional world, consumed many more jobs than it created and eventually fostered an environment where people could entertain themselves into oblivion.
Many of the people they see doing the entertaining have been catapulted to instant fame and fortune, and one thing that can hold back current Saturn return people is the expectation that this might happen to them. However, most (not all but most) very young people who find themselves living glamourous lives didn’t get there by mastering Saturn; they had something else going for them, and the adults around them provided the Saturn structure. This is one reason why so many famous young people cannot stay out of trouble.
Meanwhile, it’s difficult to imagine a sub-generation that’s seen more change in its short lifetime than this one. Between the day they were born and the day of their Saturn return, the world had gone through more revisions, renovations and recreations than all the open-source software combined. They are used to a world where something is new and exciting one day and irrelevant the next — and that won’t get you far with Saturn.
If there seems to be nothing to hang onto or no easy way in, that’s not an illusion. It’s a difficult fact of life that they must face. When they are ready to start taking on serious work assignments, there are fewer of those opportunities than ever.
It’s particularly cruel that those who sought an education are saddled with more college debt than any generation that came before them, with fewer work opportunities to help them pay that debt off.
The real estate crisis has done little to lower rents, even as property values have plunged. Those at their Saturn return, who might ordinarily leave their parents’ home and the roomies behind, may be stuck living with others long past when it’s productive for them.
One of my readers described her dilemma eloquently. “All the possibilities available seem to overwhelm my ability to embrace even one of them fully. Which keeps me away from intimately relating to what is in front of me, whether it’s a partner, an idea, a possibility.”
She continued: “The fear of death seams to be pushing for a strong desire to accomplish something. An obsession with the future, and what to do to get there. The urge to share the body of artwork I have built up the last few years and to share the wisdom of the person I have become. At times, I even sense an imminent death, then an intense anxiety arises, of not having shared to the world my art, my love and my vision for the world and all people.
“I have a strong sense of who I am and what I am here to do. But it is the urge to do it and the fear that I won’t that is so prominent over the last weeks. The pressure feels as if it’s a one-time opportunity to grow up into what I will become.”
The Second Saturn Return
Those in their second Saturn return, in their late 50s, must really be looking at society in bewilderment right now. Those born in the mid-1950s were some of the original ‘save the world’ people — they were teenagers at the time of the first Earth Day, and those impressions never left them — but there’s a big mystery where the idealism went.
Their older siblings helped stop the Vietnam War, so they had the notion that social justice was possible. Now many more major wars later, none of those ideals have come to fruition. My sense is that many are ready to take up the good fight perhaps for the first time, now that their children are grown and many are watching their grandchildren grow up in an extremely uncertain, increasingly dangerous world. They too are struggling for a way into meaningful participation, but the shock must be even greater because they’ve lived through many phases of history when that participation really was possible.
There is the pressure of leadership because at the second Saturn return one truly becomes an ‘elder’ in society — one entrusted with moral leadership. And unless they’ve had very successful careers, their plight for survival is often harder than those who are at their first Saturn return. In this world it’s not possible to be mature enough.
Yet I think that if they are able to use the restructuring power of Saturn and not succumb to the pessimism that really is possible with Saturn in Scorpio, they will be able to provide a solid foundation for the generations that came after them. They are not too old to think for the future, and future generations are counting on it.
Meanwhile, there are many deep personal issues that call for resolution when Saturn in Scorpio is aspected by itself or by another planet. By the second Saturn return, the confrontation with fertility and sexuality is not as potent as the confrontation with mortality, as those experiencing it see many of their elders depart the planet, sometimes in groups. One difference between the first and second Saturn returns is that at the second, the thought of mortality is less an abstraction and more a reality. Many of my readers have commented about what it’s like to see their elder relatives in decline.
Physical health is usually a greater concern at the second Saturn return. Yet despite this, many at this time seem to start their lives over, get divorced and begin new relationships, change careers and even go back to school to develop additional skills.
For those with Saturn in Scorpio at either Saturn return, there may be titanic questions about the role of sexuality and relationships in their lives, which are now coming to a boil. For people entering their second Saturn return, subject matter that was seemingly left behind during their 30s can come right back, seeking attention and healing. Perhaps people are not expecting to explore questions about sexuality or their sexual legacy in their late 50s, but we are after all talking about Scorpio here.
I’ve been doing some reading in the old astrology texts, and all authors who have commented on Saturn in Scorpio have noted its deep feelings and its tendency to secrecy — these individuals don’t give up their pearls easily, whether black or otherwise. Now those feelings and secrets are working their way to the surface, and this may leave those with this placement feeling especially vulnerable and asking the deepest questions of their lives.
And then there can be the dawning of that elusive thing, wisdom. As one of my readers wrote recently, her life “would be most dramatic if it weren’t so quiet here, in my body and person and whereabouts. I’ve spent the last decade building a house. Now it’s about done. I have a home, something I’ve wanted since childhood. Mostly, I have equanimity, a quality that always eluded me, that I’ve often prayed for, and this translates into more confidence, more of a feeling of myself and not a cloak or a ghost.
“I started reading poetry again. I used to be a woman who sought advice everywhere, and now I’m the rock in the stream, all the chaos flowing around and over me. I don’t have to attend so many seminars, read so many books, which makes for more time.”
Ah yes, were it so. Were it so.
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, May 17, 2013 #950 | By Liam Carey
Aries (March 20-April 19) — When I was 16 years old, a loner, stoned out and nearly a high-school dropout, my father gave me a book called No Man is an Island, by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton. The well-intentioned gift was offered, I imagine, to cull me out of my rebellious ways. I was insulted. I mention this story as a lesson in how not to respond to gestures that coax one into the social arena, because you may be faced with such lessons this week. First of all, there is a powerful magnetism about you that will draw others toward you. Neither you nor those that come will know exactly what it is, but there’s definitely something there. Second, even though you don’t really feel like it, you’re either going to talk up a storm or at least have so much on your mind you’ll burst if you don’t get it out somehow. Go with the flow; the interaction is necessary to reality-check your ideas and keep your ego from running riot. — by Liam Carey
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — There’s no doubt that your solar year is off to a fast and meaningful start. Since your birthday, life has offered you quite a bit of action and depending on how you’ve approached it, life has been exhilarating, frustrating or maybe just plain odd. It’s not over yet by any means (it never really ends, right?) as you still have plenty of adventure ahead, and plenty of ground to cover. I suspect that this week you will start thinking about how important it is to communicate what’s most important, what you value most — not just to ‘be aware’ of it but to speak about it. Change and growth are necessary even when they go against the grain of comfort and security. In that process things that used to be highly regarded may lose priority. While you know this to be true and integral, others may not understand and may challenge you on this new ground. Trust yourself. Know yourself, and be your own authority in this matter. It will pay off in spades for your self-worth. — by Liam Carey
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — It’s that time of year again, when everything seems to speed up, doesn’t it? It looks to me like things are moving at warp speed for you right now and you may need to remember the little things: do the dishes, walk the dog, go to the grocery store, tell the truth. Remember, the devil is in the details, though so are the angels. Seriously, there is so much energy and intensity that may engulf you, and good feelings too, that it could be destructive if not managed well. Here’s one of the details: be mindful of what you say and to whom you say what at work lest there occur any regretful interactions. Be cautious about any thought of revenge. If you talk over any doubts or hurt feelings you may have with a trusted friend, you will both be less inclined to take things personally. One last detail: be sure to put the plug in the jug in time if you’re out partying with friends or colleagues, lest a good time get out of hand. — by Liam Carey
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — The crab symbolizes the constellation Cancer and often the shell is utilized to articulate the tough exterior protecting an inner vulnerability. There is something brewing in your chart this week that may necessitate using that armor, something deeply significant about your sexuality and the conditioning patterns that govern it. We all have these impersonal rules and guidelines that govern our autonomous energies whether from church, society or family, and collectively they are coming under intense scrutiny; but this is personal for you right now. If you allow it to enter your psyche, you will feel either empowered to explore and experience the bliss of sexual union or fantasize about the several lovers you would have if unfettered. This will lead — again, if you give yourself permission — to a reevaluation of what you consider an ideal relationship. It’s ok if what you have doesn’t measure up to that ideal; it doesn’t mean you have to split. It just means you’ve peeled another layer off that James and the Giant Peach-sized onion. — by Liam Carey
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — It looks like you are surrounded by fun-filled, stimulating and fascinating people with innovative ideas. I imagine it is just what you’ve needed after spending much of the past few weeks mired in work and pressing responsibilities at home. This week is an opening to experience yourself and all your ruminations in the light and reflection of others. It’s a great time to exchange ideas and information with a variety of folks, and to learn about and formulate the manifestation of all sorts of things: social agendas, familial relationships, utopia — your ideal world and relationships. Plus it’s just nice to feel part of the crowd sometimes, and I suspect now is one of those times. It’s always good to step back and analyze your own agenda when possible and especially when engaged with others. Are you misjudging someone else’s or your own intentions? Are you being mindful of boundaries? Many questions have been raised about administration of resources and this can lead to emotional extremes. One way or another, you’re likely to encounter lessons about give and take, whose (fill in the blank) is whose, and compromise. — by Liam Carey
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You know that the overall theme right now is change. Not just a little bit of change or anything, either, but some kind of epic, world-shifting alteration is underway and you are feeling empowered to try new things, think in new ways, and experience more of reality. Just remember, it’s not going to happen overnight. Step by step, day by day, and person by person, gentle persistence is your guiding principle, along with how to best use the energy that is available at any particular time. The energy right now is collection of information: data gathering, networking, communicating, and perhaps short-term travel. Through these lenses you will understand the options available to you in this process of re-creation. Searches like this have a way of stirring things to the surface that had been forgotten and you may encounter some memories that you must come to terms with. Trust your intuition if this happens and try not to over-think. Not only will you waste valuable time and cause a stir, but also you may miss the more vital message. — by Liam Carey
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — There is a lot of restless energy in your chart that has been building up for some time and is about to come to a peak. The energy infusion this week will highlight some of the broader ideas about life that you haven’t considered in a while, and a few brand-new ones. It just may enable you to see the rut that you’ve been in and start planning an escape. There is definitely the energy for some long-distance travel here. Perhaps it’s because the in-laws are coming? Pay your dues first; keep the peace and then the reward. There is also this concern: are you restless because of an underlying hurt that you don’t want to deal with? Maybe there is the subconscious urge to move so you don’t have to sit with yourself? It’s been said wisely that travel is a good way to get to know yourself. A shift in geographic point of view can give you a perspective on what you’ve been looking at but not seeing. Then you can decide how much you like it — which is to say, yourself. — by Liam Carey
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — It looks like you’ve built a defensive structure to protect some emotional vulnerability. That may be a good idea considering the sea of change that you’ve been navigating these past few months. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for staying the course; this type of devotion to change is not easy. Yet if you haven’t handled this so gracefully don’t hang onto any disappointment or stew over a loss of pride. It’s most likely part of the lesson. You’re a study in contradictions right now. As much as you want and need to focus inwardly to conceive, form images, and eventually crystallize what and who you want to be, you are at the same time drawn to engage with people in intense, deep, involved discussion. (I hope that sounds appealing.) As much as you feel the need to work, alone and unhampered, pulsating and electrifying your central nervous system, you also feel this deep desire to merge with a multitude of lovers/artists in some form of creativity. — by Liam Carey
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Things are looking and feeling much better at home than they have in a while. It seems as though the clouds have parted recently and there is harmony in your deep emotional reserves with what you project to your partners. This is the reward derived from the hard work you’ve put in over the past few months. Much has been happening to highlight who you are and what you have to offer in relationships, and it has been difficult to tangle with some of these questions. Accept the harmony of the moment and recognize it as fruits of purification. Nothing can grow without nurturing and you did that well. This is part of the long-term path of dissolving those aspects of your personality that just don’t work anymore, and in turn, discover what does. It’s entirely possible that you’ll feel like you’re living in a dream — and who’s to argue with you? You can imbibe all you like but I doubt you’ll match the high you’ll have by being present with your love, and speaking your truth. — by Liam Carey
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — First came the feeling, then came the ideas, and now the light bulb is glowing about a project that you think will be well received. Not only do you have all the necessary resources but you now also have the strength of purpose and drive to administer the people and resources properly. There may be a crisis in action regarding a love affair. Love unrequited? Sex talk gone awry in an established relationship? Those are only a couple of the possibilities, but I see some tension in this area of life and some potentially volatile emotions early in the week, as the Sun changes signs to Gemini. You can’t control everything, and forcing your will on others will very likely produce resentment. Discretion is the key, as is an honest, humble stating of feelings. It will be challenging to articulate your emotions into feelings, especially if you pressure yourself to, so step back and find a way to objectify them before you communicate. Make sure you channel some of this energy through physical exercise lest you burn out. — by Liam Carey
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — I once had a lover tell me to make love to her with my mind. I gotta tell you it drove me nuts. I just didn’t get it and, well, I just didn’t get it. I’m pretty sure you do though, and that you will have a driving urge to do so starting this week. Not only that but it looks like you will have willing partners in your quest for lovemaking through the mind. If this is not where the energy takes you then there will at least be a need to communicate your sense of aesthetics; your senses will be keen to this. There is a deeply creative spark that has been lit and I hope you have the opportunity to fan its flames. This is one of the most difficult and dynamic aspects of life because of the need most of us have to hang onto control in order to feel secure. To let go and play, make love and recite poetry requires a freedom of self that once granted, is a launching pad to other dimensions. — by Liam Carey
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — There is something extra meaningful coming through your emotions this week. It’s something that you will not only recognize and think about but also seek to clarify and articulate. This is not an easy task, but it’ll be worth it. Emotion is defined in a very circular way in the many dictionaries I checked that keep pointing to ‘feelings’, but one way to think of it is energy in motion. Feelings are definitely not emotions though; feelings are the interpretation of emotions (a Venus function that has merit here). Emotions are something that happen pre-thought and pre-verbal. There is not much control over them happening, although to make it off the playground safely it’s imperative to learn how to deal with them. Emotions are often unprocessed energy that doesn’t necessarily fit in the rational, social world and yet, they pulse through each and every one of us to one degree or another. This will be an important time to examine your emotions and consider how they affect your whole being. It’s possible that the opportunity will come through interactions with family, or simply an event or circumstance that sparks some memory. — by Liam Carey