The following is an excerpt from my 2015 Astrological Almanac.
Saturn will be in Sagittarius for the majority of 2015–17, interrupted only by a brief regression into Scorpio during the third quarter of 2015. To understand the implications of Saturn’s time in Sagittarius, it is worth a moment to establish the nature of the planet Saturn and the sign Sagittarius independently, the fruits of their combination, and a brief review of what Saturn’s recent passes through the archer’s sign have wrought.
Of those planets visible to the naked eye, Saturn is the slowest, dimmest, and furthest away. He stands at the gateway of the manifest, lord of the ultimate threshold between being and nothingness, life and death. Saturn thus symbolically encloses the perceptible world. He is the lord of karma earned in this lifetime, master of cause and effect. Saturn rewards the disciplined and laborious, and is a bane to the shiftless and irresponsible.
Sagittarius is the ninth sign of the zodiac, and is represented both as a centaur and an archer. It is considered to be fiery in nature, mutable in quality, and of the active polarity.
As a mode of action, Sagittarius represents the state of focus around a goal. The will unifies conflicting forces towards the accomplishment of a particular aim. Here the parallel to the archer, and act of taking aim is most obvious. The centaur also images part of this dynamic, as the Sagittarian mode involves the necessary unification of disparate forces, and the centaur represents this synthesis on a physical level. The animal and human drives become one in the figure of the centaur.
Saturn is traditionally considered to have triplicity dignity in Sagittarius, meaning the planet is capable of marshalling the sign’s energies and ordering its processes with an adequate level of power. Saturn also has a special level of dignity and command over the last face of Sagittarius, which is placed between 20–30 degrees of the sign.
Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter. Thus it is the big planet’s jovial call that usually brings people to acts of Sagittarian synthesis. The call to adventure, to learning, to growth—to fun—is usually what motivates people to exercise the focus and unification represented by Sagittarius. With Saturn present in the sign, however, we will find ourselves instead engaged in the Sagittarian narrative out of duty, obligation, and necessity.
Sagittarius represents the struggle to unify and to focus—that this is a struggle suggests the presence of contrary forces. The man and horse are always threatening to come apart, as it is only in the spirit-world of myth that this synthesis is possible. The struggle to maintain focus and unity amidst an ever changing, ever challenging, landscape is thus one of the core themes of Saturn’s time in Sagittarius.
There is also, of course, the question of the goal, the target, the mission which provides the necessary motivation for the struggle to unify, concentrate, and accomplish. A quest contextualizes the many smaller
tasks arising and makes the accomplishment of these many little things meaningful. It is the source of meaning which permeates everyday actions.
Yet what happens when we do not have a quest, a meaningful long term goal, to pull us onward? The color and purpose drains out of every little thing, making even small difficulties unendurable because there is no reason to put up with them. Though unpleasant, these periods arise in the natural course of life, and are of one the real challenges represented by Saturn in Sagittarius. Learning what to do within the empty spaces between missions is just as important as success in the perilous quests it offers.
While the absence of a unifying narrative presents problems, so does the opposite end of the spectrum—clinging to stories which are useless, irrelevant, or obviously toxic. The ability to succeed at goals is important, but just as important is the ability to set useful ones. Fervent pursuit of illusory targets cannot yield real success, no matter how good one is at it.
In many cases, the lack of a compelling narrative and the pursuit of a false one go hand in hand, as the rigid adherence to a particular religion, ideology, or story is often a sure sign someone is afraid to venture into the void. Consider not just your capacity for accomplishment, but the meaning of what you achieve.
Armed, Mobile, and in Search of Meaning
While Saturn in Scorpio is historically correlated with the popularity of horror stories, Saturn in Sagittarius coincides with epic adventures, the search for truth, and the struggle with meaninglessness. Such epic adventures include “Around the World in 80 Days,” which won Best Picture while Saturn was in Sag in the late 50’s. The search for meaning, on the other hand, is probably best exemplified by the publication of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” during the same span of time.
A story which spans both the search for meaning and world-stretching adventure is the Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis, who was born with both the Sun and Saturn in Sagittarius. The catalogue of Philip K. Dick, another Sun and Saturn in Sagittarius native, is almost entirely composed of characters in search of the true nature of their reality. These quests represent the fundamental desire to figure out “what the hell is going on—and why?”
Musically, Saturn’s time in Sagittarius highlights rambunctious styles, such as rock n’ roll and jazz. Saturn’s last journey through Sagittarius, from 1986–88, saw the apotheosis of glam and hair metal. Before that, from 1956–58, Saturn in Sagittarius nurtured rock n’ roll out of its infancy and on to every radio in America. 1956–58 also saw a revitalization of jazz, which was the dominant musical force the previous time Saturn was in Sagittarius, from 1926–29.
Insofar as Saturn provides a general tempo for the times, the one offered while the planet is in Sagittarius tends toward the frenetic. Saturn’s time in Sagittarius is, in a sense, a prelude to Saturn’s return to Capricorn—the frantic endgame before a new order arrives. Saturn was in Sag during the wild speculation of the late 20’s which led up to the depression. It was also there during the end of the 50’s—the last phase of American post-WWII culture before the massive changes of the 60’s. Finally, the last time Saturn was in Sagittarius was during the late 80’s, where financial speculation and a culture of excess oversaw the final years of the Cold War.
A Bow Of Will, Arrows Of Desire
Saturn’s time in Sagittarius thus sets an intense pace—a race for power, truth, and meaning which stretches for years. It both challenges and reveals the beliefs of its participants, as well as their willingness to act on them. The mind and body, the desire and the will, must work together like a bow and arrow. Lessons on the magic of synthesis abound, as do those on the hard necessity of internal conflict. Saturn’s time in Sagittarius presents a complex, layered journey, where the true quest may not be the achievement of stated goals, but rather the discovery of the story’s real meaning.