Saturn is the last of the visible planets and holds a unique position in the Chaldean Order of the planets. Traditionally it was believed to be the planet closest to the 8th sphere, the home of the Primum Mobile (the term introduced by Ptolemy for the singular God). Saturn was the first planet visited on the soul’s descent and the last planet when the soul rose to the heavens at the moment of death. Its orbit through the zodiac takes approximately twenty eight years to complete and at each of its fourth Harmonic aspects at seven year intervals (conjunction, square, or opposition) comes an honest appraisal/reckoning on how life is progressing for the individual.
Saturn is the lord of Time, the gate-keeper, and the ‘greater malefic’ due to its extreme cold and dry qualities. It rules boundaries, disintegration, and separations of a cold, dry nature and although Saturn was identified as a ‘malefic’, philosophically it was not a bad planet as it was impossible for the Primum Mobile to create anything truly evil. It was purely humankind’s incapacity to deal with Saturn’s extremes that created hardship and fed Saturn’s reputation as a terrible planet.
The four gas giants – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune – all have rings but Saturn’s rings are the most extensive ring system of any planet in the Solar System. Galileo Galilei first observed them in 1610 and described the rings as Saturn’s ‘ears’, mistaking them for smaller planets placed either side of the larger Saturn, “The planet Saturn is not alone, but is composed of three, which almost touch one another and never move nor change with respect to one another.” Two years after discovery the Earth passed through the plane of the rings and they became invisible for a time until they seemed to reappear in 1613, further adding to Saturn as the lord of mysteries and ‘hidden things’. They were not accurately described as rings for a further sixty five years with improvements in the telescope.
Both astronomically and astrologically, Saturn is in a class of its own. It is the only planet which rules two consecutive signs, Capricorn followed by Aquarius, and this phenomenon creates an immediate link between one house and its neighbour. Issues of a Saturnian nature flow from the affairs of one house topic to the next, not something I have covered in this blog, but it is explained in more detail in A Tiny Universe’s Companion.
Rather, the differences between Saturn’s two signs are of greater interest when we are discussing their placement on the Ascendant. Capricorn is a feminine sign and a combination of cold and dry qualities. It is the cardinal earth sign and as such is an instigator, but any new movement is done with extreme caution and many backup plans. Aquarius, on the other hand, belongs to the opposite gender and in masculine mode is hot in its first quality, and wet in its second quality. The only thing these two signs have in common is the principle of ‘like-engirdling’; that is, they are girdled together because they are both ruled by the same planet. This connection which is external to aspects, antiscia, and contra-antiscia, means that two very different signs avoid aversion because they share commonality through same planetary rulership. For this reason, the disadvantage of blindness is avoided when Saturn is in either of its signs of rulership. Saturn in Aquarius can see Capricorn, and Saturn in Capricorn can see Aquarius. Even though Saturn is unique in ruling consecutive signs, it is not the only planet that links signs of different gender and different qualities. All five planets – the luminaries are excluded – have a masculine and a feminine sign, and through dual rulerships all five planets experience the four different qualities of hot, cold, wet, and dry.
By covering the basics which define a sign, each planet is capable of expressing itself through its signs of rulership. And through this rulership, they are able to manage the affairs of the various houses which have one of their signs on the cusp. The luminaries singly concentrate on their own sign’s gender and qualities. The Sun’s sign of Leo is masculine and its combination of qualities is hot and dry. The Moon’s sign is feminine and its sign, Cancer, is a combination of the opposite two qualities as it is cold and wet. Together, the luminaries cover the same ground as a singular planet but separately they each accentuate the qualities of the two opposing genders. In much the same way as the Yin (dark) and Yang (bright) symbol accentuates dualism, so too do the Moon and Sun’s rulerships describe contrary forces that stay within the confines of their own gender’s experiences.
Prime Motivation for Earth Signs:
The need for a safe and secure physical environment
CAPRICORN RISING: Ruling Planet – SATURN
Caution is the first response to the world when Capricorn is the sign on the Ascendant as so much has to be assessed when it comes to the obstacles of this world. Even the obstacle of possessing a physical body can be challenging when it can only be in one place at one time (spatial restriction) and is confined by the laws of gravity and limited by the need for oxygen. A hostile environment is the last thing Capricorn needs but it anticipates trouble as the individual works through the problems of protection, nourishment and elimination to keep the body’s shell safe and healthy. There is no better way to do this than to rely on Capricorn’s ruling planet to take care of these problems and to provide adequate solutions to maintain safety and ensure appropriate growth and development.
Saturn is the planet of boundaries, fortifications, separations, beginnings and ending – both in property and in metaphor – and there are two basic ways in which these demarcations can occur. Physical barriers can be defined by the element of earth. They are the barriers you can see and touch and although some are higher in temperature than others – think of a ring of fire – even the hot ones can be contained as soon as they begin to lose their heat, their energy, or their rapid movement.
Capricorn is Saturn’s sign of three-dimensional measurement when it comes to physical boundaries. How long / wide / high is this wall? From what material is it made? Capricorn is Saturn’s problem-solver on how to overcome the obstacle in order to get to the other side. What do I need to cross the partition? Is it impenetrable? Where does it begin and end? What are the risks involved in challenging this boundary?
Apart from being Saturn’s nominee for evaluation of physical restrictions, Capricorn is also the feminine side of Saturn’s rulership signs. Capricorn’s passive quality is cold and it holds back to preserve its energy when it perceives an attack on the horizon or sees an action which is puzzling or foreign to its nature. Capricorn’s natural response is to take a ‘wait and watch’ attitude when it is the sign on the Ascendant. This cautious first response might seem contradictory to its cardinal modality which is geared towards initiation. However, the two principles of element and modality work well together and ultimately, Capricorn will make its move in the correct manner, and when Saturn perceives it to be, the correct moment in time.
Saturn in detriment (Leo), in a dangerous house (the 8th), is not a great way to feel confident in making assessments on safety or being in control, and this undermines the ability to gain the Prime Motivation needed for the Capricorn Ascendant to feel truly secure within the confines of any environment.
AVERSION Sign and House Placement:
Leo (8th H)
Challenge for P.M. – Saturn in Leo (8th)
In all but one situation, Saturn will support Capricorn Ascendant’s will to gain the individual’s sense of security in an unpredictable world. Saturn will do its best to protect Capricorn’s surroundings and thereby short-circuit anything that threatens the individual’s physical body or endangers their environment.
Routine and careful management gives the individual the impression that they are in control of their environment – even though this is sometimes false security – and when things start to go wrong Capricorn Rising will step forward as an authority figure and try to help themselves, and others, to move through the crisis with the least amount of damage suffered in the process.
However, Saturn struggles to take the necessary or appropriate control or action when it is situated in Leo. Blindness prevents Saturn in Leo from having the capacity to see the advancing peril, or to make a suitable or safe judgement for protection, or to take effective control at just the right moment to avert the danger.
Saturn placed in the Sun’s sign is such a contradiction in terms. Both planets feel they are ‘chosen’ to lead either by example, expertise, or ‘divine right’. Desperately desiring authority and craving attention or admiration from others makes this Saturn prone to poor decisions based on vanity, foolhardiness or ignorance. And once these decisions have been declared as ‘an act of god’ there is no room for backing down, belatedly taking advice from experts, or handing over the reins to someone who is better suited to the job.
Saturn’s high handed behaviour in Leo might be mitigated by the Sun in its position in the chart, but when Capricorn is on the Ascendant it is very hard to cover for poor judgement if the individual is unaware of the mistakes made by its ruling planet. The consequence of being out of one’s depth can be dire and add to the frustrations of someone who wants to lead, but doesn’t quite know how to go about it.
Saturn is the lord of Time (Einstein’s fourth dimension) and when matched with Leo’s temperament as a fixed fire sign often creates a dilemma over favourable timing of its tasks. Leo Saturn in over-confident mode is brash or inclined to a cavalier attitude towards others (Time rushed), susceptible to using bullying tactics or coercion before all aspects are properly conceived. However, Leo Saturn can also lack self-confidence especially if there have been some horrendous situations in the past, and the individual with Capricorn Ascendant carries the fear of repeating a wrong move. This leads Saturn in debility to vacillate between one opinion and another, or use delay tactics (Time stalled) so that someone else is forced to make the decision. Which of course, Saturn Leo will instantly dislike or disagree with as it is irked to lose power or advantage, even if the situation does find a decent resolution.
Saturn in Leo’s eighth house placement implies overextension of finances or overconfidence in the individual’s ability to repay loans. Perhaps the recommendations of poor financial advisors have created the situation but it could just as easily be something beyond anyone’s control or expectations (consider the repercussions of Covid-19) which have caused the escalation into debt. All possible scenario when Saturn rules both the Ascendant and the second house, i.e. by one’s own actions (1st H) the threat of financial ruin (2nd H) can be totally unexpected when a blind Saturn sits in detriment in the eighth house.
Alternate Rulers to help Ascendant achieve Prime Motivation
Exalted Ruler for Capricorn, MARS
Mars has the capacity to step forward to take Saturn’s place as ruler of a Capricorn Ascendant. However, it may not have the same level of caution or reflection that this sign needs when it searches for security within the confines of its environment. Remember that Mars only has this opportunity if Saturn is in Leo and if there is too much fire in the chart, or the sect conditions for either Saturn or Mars is compromised – they are on opposite sides of sect dignity – then the individual with Capricorn Rising may feel that the world is a place fraught with danger and unpredictability.
Term Rulers for CAPRICORN (besides Saturn and Mars)
Mercury (0-7): Jupiter (7-14): Venus (14-22)
Strangely enough, once the two malefic are removed from the scene – that is, if neither Saturn nor Mars are in suitable signs to supervise the Ascendant – then this leaves one of three possibilities to find earth sign’s Prime Motivation.
The early degrees of Capricorn have Mercury as their Term Ruler and a clued-up Mercury can be very useful for this Ascendant. Business concerns may go well for this individual or they may make a name for themselves which helps their physical security. Jupiter is the next possibility if the Capricorn Ascendant’s degree extends from seven to fourteen degrees and Jupiter might bring good fortune of benefit to the individual’s aspirations. The following seven degrees belong to Venus and a Venus is good condition may aid the individual’s sense of security or support by those who love and admire the individual. But I would still be watching Saturn Leo or Mars in its sign to see what mischief they were up to, and to anticipate how they might undermine Capricorn’s Term Ruler.
Prime Motivation for Air Signs:
The drive for communication and freedom of movement
AQUARIUS RISING – Ruling Planet: SATURN
Saturn’s second sign carries with it boundaries of a different kind from the physical deterrents described by it earth sign, Capricorn. Instead, Aquarius catalogues the invisible barriers which gather in the dark corners of our mind. Negative experiences, verbal putdowns by people who should know better, sarcasm levelled at a child as a form of wit, or gender, social, or racial prejudices can accumulate over the years of childhood and allow Saturn to breed fears, restrictions and handicaps that ultimately cripple our ambitions when we begin our lives as adults.
Psychologists call these accumulated slights “narcissistic injuries” as they bruise our egos and make us feel belittled. Aquarius’ fixed air sign can mean we hold the memory in our psyche and replay the situation over and over until the humiliation grows to such a degree that we have the impulse to fight back. With hostility or aggression we feel we can somehow avenge the damage we have suffered from a comment that has been long forgotten by everyone but ourselves.
In the zodiac wheel Aquarius (Saturn’s sign) opposes Leo (Sun’s sign) and our fragile ego is easily hurt when we take even the most harmless slights to heart. The ego needs to be constantly boosted by affirmations that make us feel important and significant in this world. However, if Saturn – in the form of others who criticise or diminish us – is present through its air sign then vulnerability can turn to feeling fragmented or incomplete and this is where Saturn can make us feel as though others control our destiny.
The word ‘denigrate’ comes from the Latin meaning to blacken, or make dark, in other words, to remove from the light and the opposition between dark (Saturn) and light (the Sun) is part of the language that comes with others’ insults. Experts advise that striking out at others is a poor way to re-assert our power and identity. Rather, Saturn would do better to accept hurt feelings and refrain from obsessing over the evil nature of the person who has offended us. Otherwise the fixed air sign of Aquarius can mean we close our minds and hearts by festering over the hurt and allowing the slight to grow out of all proportion.
Another mental exercise for Saturn through its air sign Aquarius is the tendency towards reductionist thinking as it creates divisions and barriers by problem-solving in a particularly narrow fashion.
Reductionism centres on the belief that we can understand something complex by breaking it down into individual parts and examining one part to the exclusion of the others, rather than contemplating something as a whole unit. This splintering effect suits Saturn perfectly and many problems may be solved through isolating sections and solving them step by step.
Industry uses Saturn’s tool of reductionist thinking to produce KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to evaluate the success either of an entire organization or a given project. And marketing experts analyse separate lists of user properties (family status, age, gender, income, goals, activities, etc) in order to target their market and find predictable outcomes for successful advertising campaigns.
The advantage in this type of approach is that you can focus on a particular issue by making the complicated less intimidating and reducing each separate part into an understandable component. The down-side is that reductionist thinking oversimplifies the issue or ignores other factors which may be contributing to the problem. It also has a static view of the problem – fixed air – and forgets that complex systems keep changing and evolving and that often by looking at things together we get a better picture of how something works.
In contrast holistic thinking focuses on looking at things as a whole and argues that the sum-product is greater than simply the sum of its parts. Holistic thinking uses a big picture mentality that recognises the interconnectedness of various elements that form larger systems, patterns and objects.
For instance, when things go wrong Saturn is inclined towards honing in on a problem to find who is responsible for the mistake or poor management of a situation. In other words, Saturn focuses on the error itself and asks HOW the error occurred and WHO did this?
On the other hand, holistic thinking reviews the situation by considering the step where the error occurred is just part of a larger whole, and rather than attributing blame, instead helps to answer WHY an error occurred as part of the entire process.
AVERSION Signs and House Placements:
Pisces (2nd H) : Cancer (6th H) : Virgo (8th H)
Challenge for P.M. – Saturn in Pisces (2nd)
This is the first sign of a conflict between the two approaches to the individual’s thinking processes when a blind Saturn rules its air sign. Saturn in Pisces is disposited by Jupiter and Jupiter’s mutable water sign is absolutely invested in holistic thinking. This water sign is subjective, inclusive and believes that everything is intimately interconnected and Saturn is going to struggle when it cannot divide, diminish or reduce in order to solve its frustration in not being able to achieve its Prime Motivation. Jupiter is the king when it comes to seeing all things as integrated and universal and if Saturn cannot come to terms with this conflict in viewing the world then the Prime Motivation suffers in the confusion. The ability to understand and classify one’s environment or adequately communicate with the world is compromised by Saturn in the sign which follows Aquarius on the Ascendant.
Another problem for Saturn in Pisces is that it can experience a conflict of extremes: losing its balance between too many restrictions (Saturn the planet) and not enough boundaries (in Jupiter’s sign). This rulership of the Ascendant tends to make the individual sensitive to feeling excessive blame or guilt and lots of conversations arise over where the fault lies, especially when it comes to the sporadic management of finances. Communication can be hesitant or easily become emotional and this can undermine the individual’s authority or to speak their mind with confidence.
In the whole sign system Saturn in Pisces will reside in the second sign/house and money issues may be compounded by Jupiter ruling the house of finances, and Saturn’s placement in this house. Saturn’s fear of having insufficient funds tends to see it getting a bit stingy and having to constantly hold discussions about meanness or possessing a poverty mindset – the belief that life is full of scarcity – is counter-productive for an air sign Ascendant that desires meaningful social intercourse.
Challenge for P.M. – Saturn in Cancer (6th)
Saturn in detriment suffers from over-emotionality and there are often attachment verses detachment issues, especially where the family or loved ones are concerned. Again, thinking patterns are disrupted when Aquarius is ruled by Saturn in yet another water sign. Saturn in Cancer is disposited by the Moon and as such, is highly subjective when it comes to making choices where separations are painful, or are not as clear-cut as they first appeared.
It should be remembered that Saturn rules two consecutive signs in the zodiac and whilst Saturn in Cancer can see Capricorn, this is still the sign on the twelfth house cusp. Saturn in detriment can be unwittingly making secret enemies whilst it is trying to deal with the fallout from a blind Ascendant.
Splitting the problems of the sixth house into their various parts for greater examination is likely to be exhausting and probably will not be constructive when Saturn is in detriment in this house. A detailed evaluation of the situation (How?) is difficult when emotions enter this process and blaming someone else (Who?) is just the Moon trying to find sympathy through its connection to Saturn.
Ideally a strong Ascendant ruler in good condition helps physical stamina and protects the body from any harm it may experience in its environment. Or at the very least, the ruler aids the body in quick recovery. But a planet’s placement in the sixth house in aversion to its sign on the Ascendant is a warning sign concerning the individual’s vigour, energy, and resistance to disease. When that planet happens to be Saturn, and it is in detriment, and it is in the sign belonging to the Moon, then red lights begin to flash in an alarming manner.
Saturn rules so much of the human body: the skeletal system, bone strength and structure, particularly knees and ankles, joint movement (arthritis), the skin, teeth, bladder disorders just to name a few. H.L Cornell’s Encyclopaedia of Medical Astrology dedicates three sections and eleven pages to Saturn’s ailments (pp. 732-743) so Saturn can take the individual completely by surprise when it resides in the house which destroys health and vitality. Aquarius’ strong desire for freedom of movement can be greatly impaired by a Saturn which restricts and debilitates from a house which the ancients called Cace Tyche, ‘Bad Luck’.
Capricorn on the twelfth house cusp can also add to the woes of poor health management as this placement can bring further seclusion when Saturn in Cancer sits in the sixth house and undermines the body’s resilience to illness and smooth recovery from accidents of a sixth house nature.
Challenge for P.M. – Saturn in Virgo (8th)
Saturn in Mercury’s earth sign tends to have an over-active brain that keeps looking for a simple answer to complicated issues (reductive reasoning once more). Saturn in Virgo attempts to face its responsibilities with maturity and to have a realistic approach to maintaining a tolerable level of control over life. However, it risks becoming so bogged down in details that communication becomes difficult and Prime Motivation is frustrated by Saturn trying to deal with the constant, irritating and time-consuming dramas emanating from the eighth house.
Virgo is an earth sign, a combination of cold and dry qualities, and whilst this might suit Saturn’s own nature, there can be problems in communication if the individual is not careful of others’ feelings. Laying blame for eighth house disasters can lead to alienating others and this is the furthest objective from an air sign’s Prime Motivation. Finances are once again accentuated by the eighth sign from the Ascendant and Saturn needs to tread lightly if other people’s money has been placed in their care.
Aquarius Ascendant may feel as though it has the authority, and the right, to take control of a financial situation but it should be remembered that Saturn cannot see Aquarius from its eighth house position in Virgo. What the individual believes to be fully under their control can easily unravel if Mercury, the ruler of Virgo, is in poor condition or placement in the chart. Saturn in Virgo does have a trine aspect to Capricorn on the twelfth house cusp but if Saturn becomes too defensive or uses this trine to self-isolate then Prime Motivation is lost again. Aquarius Rising craves company and intellectual stimulation and this won’t happen if the individual recluses in the twelfth house.
Alternate Rulers to help Ascendant achieve Prime Motivation
No Exalted Ruler for Aquarius
Term Rulers for AQUARIUS (besides Saturn)
Mercury (0-7): Venus (7-13): Jupiter (13-20): Mars (20-25)
Aquarius has four other options if Saturn is unavailable to see the Ascendant through being in Pisces, Cancer, or Virgo. Depending on the degree of the Aquarian Ascendant any of these other four planets may be able to ease the communication woes of this sign. Ideally, Mercury (0-7 Aquarius) or Jupiter (13-20 Aquarius) may be able to step in, particularly if Saturn is already blind through being in either Virgo, or Pisces. Sometimes this can happen and the planet which disposits Saturn’s aversion sign is the same one which ultimately relieves its aversion discomfort.
FOOTNOTE TO SATURN IN RULERSHIP
Saturn in any sign can be a prickly character. Even Saturn in rulership has the potential to be tricky for the Ascendant’s Prime Motivation if one of its signs is featured on the Ascendant.
Capricorn Ascendant with Saturn in the first house in Capricorn is no guarantee of Prime Motivation being fully achieved. The earth sign needs to feel a sense of security and a watchful Saturn in Capricorn can be kept busy by policing one’s mortality when nothing in this world is truly 100% fail-safe. Trying to fashion order from the disorderly is exhausting for Saturn and even shards of self-sabotage are possible to creep in for a Capricorn Saturn that needs to be constantly on guard – along with watching for dozens of other potential dangers!
Likewise, Saturn in Aquarius ruling a Capricorn Ascendant has immunity against aversion because of like-engirdling, but this does not mean that Saturn is hassle-free. This Ascendant ruler is in the second sign ruling the individual’s money situation and Saturn in Aquarius holds the purse strings at the same time as it assures the chart owner that it has physical security locked down.
The issue arises when Saturn in rulership controls both attitudes to life, and money. Returning to the idea of a poverty mindset, it is the belief that things are hard to get, that money is hard to earn, and that there is very little in comfort or advancement for us in this world. It permeates the things we say, the thoughts we think, and the actions we take. Living somewhere unsafe that negatively affects our Prime Motivation because rent was cheap is a form of poverty mindset. Believing that nothing will change unless you have more money, resenting those who seem to have an easier life through wealth, or constantly highlighting your state of ‘lack’, is poverty mindset. And sometimes the stronger Saturn is through rulership or sign placement, the greater its grip on our mental attitude towards scarcity.
Perhaps Saturn in situ in the first house ruling an Aquarian Ascendant is a better option than Capricorn Ascendant. After all, Aquarius is Saturn’s preferred sign as it is both masculine, and a diurnal sign, and its qualities are a combination of hot and wet which modifies Saturn’s cold, dry nature.
The Prime Motivation for all three air signs is the search for self-expression and freedom of movement and this is less stressful for Saturn than the restrictive desperation for security and safety in an unpredictable world. It is draining for Saturn to constantly yearn for something that does not exist; total control over the uncontrollable and it is a Prime Motivation that is destined to failure. No other planet understands the inability to reach one’s goal more than Saturn.
Saturn in Aquarius can at least try driving towards Prime Motivation from its place at the front of the bus and can content itself with the belief that it has planned, schemed and executed as many strategies as humanly possible to communicate its ideas to the world.
A more difficult scenario for Aquarius Ascendant is to place Saturn in its colder sign of Capricorn and to place it in the twelfth sign which precedes Aquarius. Twelfth house Saturn in rulership produces a planet in its house of joy (yay???) and allows Saturn to rule from a place of hardship, creating additional misery for the chart owner as it also governs the affairs of the Ascendant.
Imagine Aquarius Rising with Saturn in Capricorn in the twelfth house. It doesn’t feel great, does it? Speaking one’s mind freely and establishing boundaries through passionate ideals, innovative concepts and lively conversation is a bit tricky when you are waiting for powerful enemies to lay a heavy hand on your shoulder and march you off to prisons unknown.
Aversion may not seem such a bad option once you have considered sight and direction from Saturn when it is in either of its two signs of rulership and one of these signs is on the Ascendant. Perhaps a good way to end this blog on Saturn’s signs of aversion is to veer away from reductionist reasoning and embrace its opposite philosophy of holism. A holistic approach tries to understand the system as a whole (i.e. the entire chart) rather than just focusing on Saturn’s role and speculates that people have a reciprocal relationship with a universe that constantly keeps changing. Holistic thinking says there is more than just one view, that all options are open to investigation, and that there is no such thing as an objective truth. Something to keep in mind when judging Saturn’s contribution to life and the astrology chart.