Not all planets are interpreted equally, that’s for sure. There are some planets that everyone straight up loves, or at least appreciates having in their corner. For those of us who associate our emotions with celestial bodies, there’s something irresistibly charming about the moon — we relate to her cycles of hiding in rest, and then shining close and beautiful upon all. There is something sympathetic about the moon, and astrology nerds love her nearly unanimously.
Likewise, it’s very rare for someone to complain about the unbounded energy and excess a strong Jupiter transit brings them. (“It’s going through my second house? For an entire YEAR? Helping me bring in extra cash? Oh noooo,” said basically no one ever, save for maybe an extremely change-resistant Virgo.)
Beautiful Venus is romanticized and adored for her glamorous associations with love and money — things people categorically love — and even Mercury, the trickster scapegoat, who consistently gets the most blame for Literally Everything from casual astrology fans, is almost never unwelcome for those of us who study the stars. Who could look down upon the gift of our own voice? Our ability to communicate and connect, the parts of our lives that Mercury’s placement make easier for us to navigate through that connection? These planets and bodies are all held in high regard for their blessings, whether they appear in a harmonious birth chart configuration or make a pleasant, lucky slide through an aspect of our charts throughout our lives.
But then, there are the others.
Some planets have had a bad reputation for literal centuries. The old classical astrologers resented them so much that they even gave them a mean name — the “malefics.” They were understood to, at best, bring difficulty into someone’s life, and at worst, to create obstructions, large blocks that we stumble on over and over and over again for decades at a time. Their place in your life presented a magical door that continually gets slammed shut in your face, and only your face, every time you try to walk through.
Now, it might be that I have a habit of rooting for the underdog thanks to my rising Chiron, but I’ve always found this interpretation of the Big Baddies to be cruel and unsympathetic to their energies, and also to the people affected by them. I feel that acting as though birth placements are some kind of lifelong curse is an unnecessarily defeatist and wholly inaccurate view that makes astrology itself out to be some big mean malefic. A great example of how this works is the classical malefic — Saturn.
The old astrologers really, really did not like this guy. They named him after a dude that ate like six of his own children. In Vedic symbolism, he has just as much of a tough guy reputation, but more along the lines of “tough love.” I much prefer the Vedic metaphors for Saturn as a planet — he is a teacher, a “lord of karma.”
The one aspect of Saturn’s malevolence that we have no control over is where he falls in our birth chart. There, he brings some kind of discomfort or difficulty to an area of our life, a mark that follows us throughout childhood and adolescence. It’s something so intrinsic to us for the first few decades of our lives that we have, for the most part, learned to work around it, and just accept it as something we’ll never have or be. But it’s deeper than that. Your Saturn placement is not the place where you can just waive off your failure. It’s a failure that you are repeatedly confronted with, obviously and painfully, so that you can develop a strength there — a wisdom that is more advanced than someone who was born with a gift in that area. Saturn gives us flaws and weaknesses as incentive to develop our “work ethic” in this part of our life. Basically, Saturn in a birth chart is like a strict parent who pushes you to achieve with less. Some people handle this energy better than others, which is why so many people panic during rough Saturn transits.
However, Saturn repeatedly provides for us windows of opportunity in which we can grow and improve. Every few years or so, Saturn transits into a new sign, bringing in fresh energy that interacts with the cosmic landscape in a new dynamic, not to be repeated again throughout our lifetime in quite the same way. Depending on our personal chart and the other transits occurring at the time, each of these transits is a unique opportunity to shape, evolve, and upgrade the parts of ourselves that Saturn is influencing.
Saturn takes about 29 years to move through the entire zodiac, so we experience each of these windows only a few times at most in each of our lives. The god Saturn, in the ancient Greek and Roman traditions, was associated with time, which is where some of his aspects of cruelty and destruction comes from. We only have so much time. Saturn the planet understands this and believes we should use it in as disciplined and focused a way as possible. It pushes us to do so by raising the stakes and cultivating our talents through work.
In future posts, we’ll be going over what Saturn specifically means in your chart’s configuration, as well as how it matters in transit through your chart, and specifically what is going on with Saturn at this moment in time.
(Image Credits: I made a little Saturn moodboard. Images in this spread feature the art, work, or image of Rowan Mersh, Velwyn Yossy, Yiqing Yin, Dolce & Gabbana, Meadham Kirchoff, Donyale Luna, Adut Akech, and KTZ. Other images were found while browsing unattributed, let me know where they came from.)