A USEFUL OLD DEVIL

“Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil” by Liz Greene is an effective companion to Erin Sullivan’s book on the transits of Saturn. Liz Greene focuses on Saturn in the natal chart, its sign, house position and aspects, and she looks at Saturn in synastry. Like Erin Sullivan, Liz Greene views Saturn as a potential “friend, source of strength, and bringer of light” if we become more conscious of the role Saturn’s challenges play in our growth as a human being.


Liz Greene explores the blockages and limitations we can experience as Saturn falls in signs and houses. In the water signs, our feeling nature and ability to express our feelings can be inhibited. In earth signs, Saturn can signify difficulty managing earthly matters, our physical support, work, and attempts to establish authority. In the air signs, Saturn may express as “mental isolation,” or a lack of ability to communicate. In fire signs, the sense of “inner purpose” or that spirit that makes one leap into life may struggle for expression.


One struggle I experienced in this section of the book was adopting Liz Greene’s pattern of equating signs with houses. Saturn in Libra, for example, is viewed as interchangeable with Saturn in the Seventh House. This confuses me because I understand that signs shape and form the energies of the planets, and that houses rule the area of life where these energies manifest. Someone with Saturn in Libra could be inhibited by a need for peace or balance or aesthetic order to the detriment of being able to relate fully to others and confront some difficult truths, but this tendency could operate in the public sphere if placed in the 10th house, or with siblings if placed in the 3rd house, or with children if placed in the 5th. A seventh house Saturn, in any sign, could indicate problems relating to others one on one, a marriage to an older person or a heavy responsibility in the marriage, a tendency to project one’s insecurities onto others and so evoke “open enemies,” a wish for marriage which is not fulfilled, or a difficult business partnership. But putting aside my problem dealing with the use of signs and houses interchangeably, I found much rich analysis in Liz Greene’s descriptions of Saturn through the signs and houses.


The descriptions of natal Saturn in aspect to the planets of the chart instruct us in the down side of these configurations but also point us toward the positive use of these energies for growing in confidence and in our ability to function well in the world. Sun Saturn natives, through painful experience, may have learned not to trust life and to feel that anything gained will be through their own grueling efforts alone. But building up self-reliance can lead to a hard won sense of identity. When the Moon and Saturn are in aspect in our charts, we may feel a sense of isolation and a lack of support from our roots. But cutting ourselves off from our roots can lead to building our own “inner stability” as well take responsibility for our emotional wellbeing. With Mercury in aspect to Saturn, we may feel insecure about our mental abilities but can learn to search within ourselves for our own truth and build our confidence on that. While a Venus Saturn native may struggle to find satisfying relationships, this struggle can lead to established mutually respectful partnerships which help the native to grow in self knowledge. Saturn Mars natives can feel impotent in realizing their own will and so try to impose their will on others. Once they learn to take responsibility for their own inner confidence and self worth, they no longer feel the need to dominate others. A Jupiter Saturn aspect in our charts could indicate someone who vacillates between wild optimism and dour pessimism. Once we learn to translate our faith and hope into “practical living,” we can live a successful balanced life.


The Outer Planets in aspect to Saturn remind us that we are part of a collective and that our ego can be impacted and transformed through this relationship, guiding us towards a greater wholeness. Saturn Uranus contacts can lead to “a kind of bobbing back and forth between the extremes of convention and the extremes of individual self expression.” The individual is challenged to find his or her own truth and then find a way to bring it to the group. When Saturn aspects Neptune in our charts, we may experience a vulnerability to “a collective call for sacrifice.” If we can avoid this trap, this aspect grants us the ability to “communicate collective feelings and evoke a collective response.” While Saturn Pluto natives may suffer from obsession, or a feeling of impotence and rage, this intensity may lead them towards a greater consciousness and a sense that no matter what life may bring, they will endure.


Liz Greene’s descriptions of Saturn in synastry are also very helpful in guiding us past the sense of doom we may feel when we realize that we have just entered a relationship with someone whose Saturn touches one of our natal planets. While a Saturn contact can bring struggles in a relationship, it can also indicate longevity if the issues between the natives are confronted. Liz Greene also reminds us that relationships do not come into our lives simply to make us happy. They exist to lead us through a process of “mutual growth.” A Sun Saturn contact may erode our self confidence, a Saturn Moon aspect makes us feel emotionally insecure, a Saturn Mercury leads to a feeling of intellectual inferiority, a Saturn Venus can bring a sense of emotional rejection, or a Saturn Mars can awaken our or our partner’s shadow. But once these reactions are realized, named, and brought into the sunlight, the potential exists for building a positive, enduring relationship not in spite of Saturn’s aspects but because of them.


Liz Greene concludes her book on the “Old Devil” by naming Saturn as “the planet of discipleship.” And a disciple, she reminds us, “is simply someone who is learning.” While our first impulse may be frustration and “why me?” at a Saturn in square to a personal planet, placed prominently in our chart, or falling in conjunction with a close family member’s Sun, we can after reading this book understand that Saturn is good for us, helping us confront limitations and unpleasant truths, guiding us towards life as a grownup, enriching our capacity to contribute to the world, and nurturing our soul.