Where Ideas Meet Ideals: Saturn in Sagittarius

Dear Friend and Reader:

Thursday, Sept. 17 is one of those days when everything happens, though in my view Saturn’s ingress into Sagittarius is the main event. All the surrounding fanfare feels like an initiation ceremony for what will be an interesting phase of collective and personal history.

Artist’s concept of the Milky Way, our home. Its center is located in the sign Sagittarius. Astronomy Picture of the Day writes, “A recent survey of stars conducted with the Spitzer Space Telescope is convincing astronomers that our Milky Way Galaxy is not just your ordinary spiral galaxy anymore. Looking out from within the Galaxy’s disk, the true structure of the Milky Way is difficult to discern. However, the penetrating infrared census of about 30 million stars indicates that the Galaxy is distinguished by a very large central bar some 27,000 light-years long.”

Saturn’s two-year journey through Sagittarius involves squares to Nessus, Neptune and Chiron in Pisces, and conjunctions to the Great Attractor and the Galactic Core — as well as other slow-moving points still holding space in those late degrees of Sagittarius, close to the Galactic Core.

In case that last paragraph blew through like a breeze, I’ll break it down. There are currently a number of meaningful elements in Pisces — Nessus, one of the earliest-discovered centaurs; Neptune, a slow-mover that will be around well into the next decade; and Chiron, which will transition out of Pisces in 2018-2019.

Saturn in Sagittarius will make a series of 90-degree aspects to each of those points, and that means a combination of tension and working out of certain issues, the kind that tend to be invisible and evade easy description. The kind of issues you might keep coming back to over and over, wondering when you’re going to ‘get it right’.

Most astrologers who are commenting on the new phase of astrology will be writing about Saturn square Neptune; that’s the well-documented great cycle involved. This can be a destructive cycle and it can also place emphasis on creating solutions to problems that seem intractable. When Saturn meets Neptune, the solidifying quality of Saturn engages with the dissolving properties of Neptune. They work on one another — Saturn might change and morph; Neptune might be clarified or solidified.

But now we all know that centaur planets exist. Two of them are in Pisces, in particular the first-discovered one, Chiron, and the third-discovered one, Nessus. This radically changes the tune and tone of Saturn square Neptune, introducing variations into this previously well-plotted cycle.

Centaurs are small, asteroid-like orbit-crossing bodies. Their strange properties come from the fact that they transgress the known orbital boundaries. Chiron, discovered in 1977 and said to be the first of this class, more resembles a huge comet and was likely pulled in from the Kuiper Belt, out where Pluto orbits. Nessus is the third-discovered centaur, spotted in 1993. Pholus, currently in Sagittarius and involved in this story, was discovered a year earlier in 1992.

Centaurs offer a way of looking at the world that shifts the known reality of how astrological factors work. They have a transgressive effect on Saturn, opening the way to different realities. Think of a Saturn-centaur aspect as a door in a wall.

Massive hurricane on the north pole of Saturn as seen by the Cassini Space Probe.

And they have a focusing effect on Neptune, gathering its elusive energy and focusing it in a tangible way. If Saturn-Neptune aspects tend to present problems that seem to lack solutions, or solutions that lack problems, the involvement of centaurs is likely to push up the awareness level and shift that reality.

When centaurs are in the picture, that’s what happens — and we have three of them, three of the most developed thematically, involved in the Saturn in Sagittarius story over the next two years. But “over the next two years” translates to now. With transits, it’s unwise and impractical to wait until you’re backed up against the wall.

The point of astrology is so that we can see certain themes developing in advance and adapt early. Humans are survivors, but who wants to be a refugee? It would seem the purpose of accessing supposedly higher levels of wisdom or at least knowledge is so that we can take things to another level.

The first of the Saturn squares to centaur planets begins right now, with Saturn square Nessus in the first degree of Pisces. Nessus tends to represent the results of karma; that is, the result of action or the choice not to act. In Pisces, this is likely to go below the board, so think of Nessus as all those issues you know you want to take into a therapy room or healing room but have not gotten around to yet. It’s also all the things you might not want to acknowledge, hence the avoidance pattern.

Since Saturn was briefly in Sagittarius late last year and for a few months this year, we’ve already had two of these aspects — on Dec. 4, 2014, and May 2, 2015. Think back to what you were experiencing then; consider what limits you reached. In particular, consider the limits of dishonesty that you encountered; your limit on the ‘unconscious’ flirting with consequences; with ‘this is not funny but whatever’; your frustration with the hazy trance of the mind, committing to wake the heck up and wishing others would do the same.

This is all excellent practice for Saturn in Sagittarius and Saturn square Neptune. Let’s pause this part of the discussion — there is plenty of time to have it, though I don’t plan to lollygag — and focus on what’s happening today. The aspects surrounding Saturn ingressing Sagittarius serve as an initiation into this new phase of history. I will elaborate on three of them.

The Jupiter-Neptune Opposition

Think of the Earth as passing between two of the largest planets, like a finger holding up a barbell. This is an initiation for the world and its people, and that initiation involves whether you bother to verify your beliefs. The belief side of the equation is Neptune in Pisces. The verification side of the equation is Jupiter in Virgo.

In this simplified chart, Saturn ingresses Sagittarius, where it will be through late 2017. You can see Saturn as the mustard-colored point below the horizon on the right. You can see all the points in Pisces at the top of the chart. Neptune, the blue trident, is opposite Jupiter, the orange number 4. Centaur Pholus is in light green on the right, above the horizon; it’s very close to the Galactic Core. Notably, the Sun is square Pholus right now, though it was exact about two days ago.

Have you noticed how casual people can be about believing what is clearly not true? Or how casually they decide they would rather not know? Have you ever found yourself doing this?

Jupiter and Neptune stand like guardians at the gate to the truth. Some things we must accept on faith. Some things we must accept based on the known facts. With most things we will create a blend of the two. This initiation focuses the issue of whether and how we go about verifying.

Happening every 13 years, we get one event this time around instead of three. The difference involves how Jupiter’s retrograde in Virgo does not bring it back into an exact opposition with Neptune. But that hardly matters — we can think of all the time that Jupiter is in Virgo as being part of this aspect.

Neptune and Jupiter have triple-wide orbs, because they are triple-wide planets (and associated with signs such as Sagittarius and Pisces, which tend to expand).

Saturn in Sagittarius and Saturn square Neptune demand one thing, mainly: discernment. The Jupiter-Neptune opposition offers the opportunity for just that. It’s a reminder that what the fact-checkers say actually matters. It’s a reminder that something is not true merely because you believe it. It’s a reminder to answer the question, “Where’s your data?”

Sun Conjunct Nemesis

The conjunction of the Sun and asteroid Nemesis is exact to one arc minute at the moment Saturn ingresses Sagittarius Thursday night.

Nemesis is the Greek goddess who served as the equalizer when people had undeserved fortune or success. Hence she was seen as a kind of enemy, but if you’ve worked for your success you have nothing to worry about.

Martha Lang-Wescott describes Nemesis, the astrological factor, as the undoing or the Achilles heel, specifically associated with blaming and scapegoating.

Nemesis was the goddess of indignation against, and retribution for, evil deeds and undeserved good fortune. She was a personification of the resentment aroused in men by those who committed crimes with apparent impunity, or who had inordinate good fortune. I would imagine she’s very busy these days.

Obviously this has problems in its more overt expressions. I would, however, point out one of the most subtle ones — believing your own rationales. We are big on the concept of ‘why’ being meaningful. After all, it pretends to offer reasons, and most people will latch onto their reasons once they’ve identified them.

This aspect is a caution that mental-level reasoning, rationalizing and ascribing of responsibility are very often a game. Fritz Perls, one of the founders of Gestalt Therapy, was aware of this game and liked to turn it around. People are big on asking one another ‘why?’

In the Gestalt approach, ‘why’ is an accusation. “Why did you do that?” translates to, “You did that.” It is an acknowledgement, mainly for the speaker. One of the most basic things we need to do along the path to love, light and enlightenment is to recognize what is so. That makes it easier to engage with and perhaps do something about.

I would note that the superficial accusation ‘why’ is different from a complex analysis of the forensics, for the purpose of learning something, or preventing a problem in the future. It’s helpful to spot security issues and to make sure that your locks are fixed if you discovered that they’re not working. But that is all different from blame.

Sun-Nemesis to me is a reminder to take any opportunity to come out of denial. Since Martha mentioned Achilles, I would bring that into the discussion, too. While the asteroid Achilles is not in the aspect pattern, I associate this point with the false lack of confidence. Most people have a huge, enormous confidence issue. And that issue tends to fester, with one missed opportunity after the next taking a further toll on confidence.

Pluck up some courage. Muster up some curiosity. Don’t be stopped by what you don’t know or feel inferior to. Borrowing from Timothy Leary, the answer to the question “why?” is, “Why not?”

Mercury Stationing Retrograde in Libra

Mercury stations retrograde within hours of Saturn ingressing Sagittarius (in fact, Mercury has already stationed as of this writing). Saturn has a resonance with Libra; borrowing from ancient terms, it’s exalted in Libra, and the two factors embody many of the same concepts.

Libra is perhaps the most relational sign of the lot. Ruled by Venus, it’s all about relationships, and also aesthetics, and justice in the most personal sense of the concept.

From the film Shortbus — Sofia Lin (Soon-Yin Lee) is a relationship therapist unable to experience orgasm (sometimes a sign of withholds, including bottling up one’s response to trauma). She is seen here working out some issues with her husband Rob (Raphael Barker). Shortbus is a 2006 film about sexual awakening — one of my all time favorites.

Mercury is about communication. It’s about the mind, the ideas that the mind has, and how we use and relate those ideas to others. It’s also about the Internet.

Mercury stationing retrograde in Libra is a glowing, glaring reminder to consider all that you’re not saying in your relationships. If you haven’t noticed, people face social execution for not adhering to the doctrine of monogamy. If you question it openly you might not get a date for 10 years.

Yet it would seem that the monogamous-industrial complex is largely supported by this thing that psychologists call withholds. Withholds are the things that you don’t say; they are a form of unspoken lies. That’s the problem. Because they’re not active lies, one can claim not to have actually deceived. But withholds are things not said that one does not feel good about. They are the things not said that might threaten the relationship structure, or that you think might make the person leave you.

And heck, that might be true — in which case one might have to be on their own or find a more appropriate partner.

Today’s Mercury station retrograde is conjunct the hypothetical point Zeus (a planet without a body). Zeus is like the pointed gun; the intentionally directed energy. This implies that withholds are weapons.

William Pennell Rock, formerly Swami Anand Veersehwar, author of Jealousy and the Abyss, in India as a young man. This is a still from his 2013 talk What We Look for When We Have Everything.

Indeed they are. They are never unconscious. They are always tools, which cut many ways. It’s arguable whether anything is unconscious. In explaining this concept of withholding, I must defer to a beloved mentor of mine, William Pennell Rock, who wrote the article Jealousy and the Abyss.

“How you see the relationship will affect matters from the beginning; for instance, what you share with each other about your realities. If both of you are there to create a safe and secure relationship, you will tend to conceal anything that might threaten it. Many couples come to live completely mendacious lives together. Gradually, they smother themselves in compromises. Love energy — eros — cannot pass between two lives lived in lies. Only truth is erotic.

“If the relationship is seen as a means to knowledge, the paradigm shifts: The discipline is to learn to live uncompromisingly in your truth and to love the other without qualification. No easy task, but there is no higher. What you are loving together is truth: Everything real has to be shared; everything else has to be dismantled.

“Here is a simple test to see where you are in this matter of relating. Write down all the things you have not shared with your partner. Contemplate this list, and there you will see the limits you place on the relationship, the degree of your commitment to the way of the lover.”

Lovingly in word and in deed,

Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 #1067 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Two events this week, the Sun entering your opposite sign Libra, and Mercury stationing retrograde in Libra, place the emphasis of your life on your relationships. If someone is seeking clarity, spend some time with them and offer that clarity. Notice if any of the questions people around you are asking also reflect themes, concerns or unspoken matters that you might have on your mind. That, actually, would be an excellent place to start. What have you had on your mind that you have not vocalized? What’s your concern about those specific topics — or just one topic — that’s prompted your silence? You may need to consider that carefully, even reflecting on what you may have withheld without even recognizing that fact. It’s possible, however, that you feel your potential to disrupt your relationships by being real. I have news for you — the only thing that can really up-end your life is not being fully authentic all the time. That may seem to come at a cost, but consider that an investment.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You certainly have a lot on your plate, though you’ll feel better once the Sun changes signs next week. Till then don’t stress. Pay enough attention to the details so that you know they’re covered, and leave yourself enough time and energy to have fun with the many creative aspects of what you’re doing. Remember that structure, planning and organization are tools to support your adventures, not take the place of them. As regards the sign-change of Saturn (from Scorpio into Sagittarius) I would take a similar approach. The purpose of a relationship structure is to support the relationship, not weigh down on the people involved. So make sure that your structures are minimal and that they are flexible. I suggest that they be based on agreements, not on rules; on ethics rather than morals; and that you invest more in building bridges than constructing walls. The most productive changes over the past few years have involved your focus on maturity and gathering mature people around you. This approach to life will continue to serve you well.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Mercury, the Gemini planet, stations retrograde Thursday in Libra — the place in your chart where you can go pearl-diving for ideas (your 5th solar house). There you might find concepts for movies, books and art installations. Yet anything can benefit from a creative approach, and nothing says creative like Mercury retrograde in the 5th. It’s one of those movements that can shake up your approach to life. Any new viewpoint or angle would be well-served by curiosity. I could write a book about this, though I’ll sum it up in a sentence or two: curiosity will keep your mind fresh and alive. Inquire of others and of yourself. Know when you don’t know and seek out any missing information. More than anything, apply your curiosity to yourself. Allow your experience of living each day to be an exploration of what you don’t know about your inner life, and by extension, the world. Since this is happening in Libra, here are two more ideas: apply the principle of balance, whatever that means to you. And above all else, emphasize beauty. Make sure your presentation is tasteful and elegant, and you can do anything you want.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — One theme of your life over many recent years has been leveling the playing field. You are learning to see people as your equals, which means first and foremost not being intimidated by them. This whole intimidation thing involves people not having made the transition into adulthood; therefore they tend to walk around in the world expecting everyone to be some sort of parent figure. People like to think of one another as equals, but parent-child-type interactions still dominate the world of supposed adults. Aspects over the next few days and weeks will call your attention to the quality of these exchanges. Your job is to see them for what they are. This will, in turn, help you recognize the ways in which you still may be under the psychological shadow of your parents. This is simply not helpful to anyone, and the sooner you either begin dealing with this or finish a job well underway, the happier you will be. The truth is people really do want to look at others on level ground; just about everyone is desperately craving being an adult in a world among other adults. Get clear and set the example.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Turn your attention to financial matters. If you do, you have considerable opportunity to profit from your efforts. I would remind you of something, which is that you can sell your time, your labor or your ideas. Likely you will be involved in all three, though I suggest you emphasize your ideas. I know that for most people this might feel like walking out over the edge of a cliff and standing on air, which is actually a pretty good metaphor. I can, however, make it seem a bit more practical than that. You have a skill for being able to please everyone, contrary to the usual advice that nobody should really try to do that. Your role could be to create language that serves everyone; to mediate between parties and help them discover common ground; and to write in such a way that everyone understands everyone else’s position. You might be involved in helping create a consensus. Here’s the key to that lock: Look for the common values among everyone involved. Look for the things everyone already agrees upon. Then build consensus on that foundation.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Don’t be distracted by any anxiety you might feel, especially over financial matters. Rather, get the information you need, and focus on keeping yourself motivated. You may make some discoveries over the next few weeks about how you can better allocate your personal resources, whether they involve money or talent. Any time you see something that seems wrinkled, iron it out and look for ideas in the patterns you observe. Yet if you’re looking for the key to success, here is what I would propose: The time has come to act wholly in accord with your values. You’re likely to be pushed and, in a sense, tested on this matter — the one about whether you actually agree with what you say and what you do. Most people are so accustomed to compromising their values that the notion of acting only in accord with themselves is nerve-wracking and might even seem impossible. It will help if you take some time and make a careful note of who and what you actually support, who and what you have faith in, and what, exactly, matters the most. Then, what to do will be obvious.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — I am hearing from Libras all over the world today, and I know it’s been an intense few years. You may be looking for some relief from nonstop changes that have taken you far from any known comfort zone. Help is on the way. I do suggest you take advantage of Mercury retrograde in your sign and devote yourself to a time of reflection on the many changes that have come through your life. We live in times when anything and everything moves too fast, where change is pushed for its own sake and where there seems to be no actual safe space. For a number of reasons you’ve been subject to more turbulence than most others, though it’s pushing you to seek higher ground, to be solid and centered and to really, truly know where you stand with yourself. That has not been easy. One gift of the now-developing aspects is that they will guide you to ask better questions — to make deeper inquiries, based on perspectives you have not noticed yet. Take any chance at all to slow down and tune in. Take any opportunity to focus on your own wellness. Honor your own reality and others will rise to the occasion.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Saturn leaves your sign Thursday after what has, no doubt, been an interesting two years. The question I have is, in what ways have you come to terms with who you are? By that, I mean: what have you resolved in the way of games you were playing with yourself — such as the little tease, hide-and-seek and catch me if you can? Saturn’s message has been a rousing, bold, italic statement of: This is who you are; deal with it. The great part is that when you actually relate to yourself from a sincere place, you like who you are. And if you do, you know that others might as well, which speaks to what is perhaps the single deepest insecurity that Scorpios have to address. You still have to address diversity though. Even if people like you, there are many who you consider smarter, prettier, braver or more liberated. Now comes the moment of truth: does that recognition mean that you feel yourself as anything less? Or do others around you represent a statement of your potential? If this whole spiritual thing is really true, then all those other people are in fact expressions of you. Therefore, you have no need to be afraid of them. Or anything.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Saturn enters your sign Thursday, and it will remain with you for more than two years. On one level this will call on you to focus your priorities and structure your life in a careful and conscious way. You will be summoned to be your own authority, in effect preempting anyone or anything that would allow others power over your life. If at any time you experience Saturn as some kind of burden or overbearing influence, remember this — take back your power. Look for where you gave it away, and make the decisions you need to make to maintain your sense of dominion over your life. This is especially true where financial matters are concerned; that’s an easy place for people to claim power over you. Therefore you must be the master of your money. Rely closely on numbers and documentation rather than on opinions, assessments and estimates. In the urgent (and often ignored) growth task of getting your parents out of the way of your chosen destiny, understanding and respecting money and its power are central issues. For you, so intent on freedom, this is essential.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — A mix of different influences seems to be acting on your confidence in contradictory ways. One factor — the Sun about to enter Libra — is drawing you out of your shell and reminding you how much you want to accomplish. However, Mercury stationing retrograde Thursday is a point of hesitation or nervousness, as if the timing is not quite right. There is also a more potent influence — one that will be with you for years, which is Saturn ingressing Sagittarius, your 12th house. This is the transit that says it’s time to know yourself — as in really know. There is no room for faking this, as we are so often taught to do. You must know yourself even if that means starting with the admission that you do not, that you have a lot to learn, or that you’re afraid of who you might be. It’s as if you’re confronting the great unknown known as yourself, and you’re not sure what to do. Here is a clue: Engaging that inner unknown may not feel like confidence, but I promise you it’s the source of your confidence. You may think being self-assured comes from knowing who you are. I would say its deeper source is dancing with your own uncertainty — and dancing with feeling.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Many factors are hinting that it’s time to widen your horizons. That might start with taking a journey in some unusual direction and noticing what you discover. What your chart is calling for is perspective — of time, of distance, of ideas that give you a different way to think about your existence. For a long time you’ve been seeking your special place in the world — one that works for both you and the world. You know this is possible; you know that your vision at its very best matches what the world needs the most right now. It always takes a combination of practice, effort and whatever luck is to make this happen. Right now you have the benefits of all three of these factors. Yet more vital to any or all of them is that you feed your life with a vision. That requires imagination and a deftness with ideas; it requires flexibility; and more than anything you must maintain a sense of perspective. Always know that you’re looking at the world from a point of view, and notice what that line of vision is. Notice how different the world looks when you shift your point of view. Remember.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You’re embarking on what A Course in Miracles describes as a phase of achievement. This follows a long trail of things like undoing what was not right, sorting out what helps you and what does not, settling in, unsettling and various other twists and turns — and now you know it’s time to establish something solid in the world. Therefore you must hold clearly in your mind what you want to achieve. You’re not being given a free pass, though the way is opening, leading you through obstacles you may have decided would never budge. As you do this, mastering something called the authority issue is central to your success. You are inclined to trust your life to a Higher Power. I would imagine that you believe in, or have faith in, a Divine plan. Now you must take up your role in that plan, which is to say, make your decisions carefully. You have learned plenty, and making decisions means using what you know. You might say that your central responsibility is to be aware of what you know and to put it to good use — not some time later, but today, right now.

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