by Tony Howard
The Saturn-Neptune cycle is fairly common - we experience a major aspect between the two planets (Conjunction, Square or Opposition) every 9 years. But that frequency doesn’t diminish its important role. Metaphorically, interactions between Saturn and Neptune can express on the high end as “sobering up.” And with Neptune currently in Pisces, we could probably use regular reminders to come back into balance. Because one shadow side of Neptune in Pisces is a weakness for succumbing to the pull to binge on things that give us the feeling of escape. And that doesn’t just apply to the usual suspects, like alcohol, drugs (legal or otherwise), or food. Binge-watching TV shows became prevalent as Neptune entered Pisces, with online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu making it easier than ever to sit on the couch for hours at a stretch. We no longer talk about this week’s episode of a show over the water cooler, we talk about the entire season we watched over the weekend. Andy Samberg's pre-filmed skit for the 2015 Emmy Awards offers a hilarious take on this.
With the closing Saturn square coming up this November (list of dates for the exact squares below), this is a good time to wake up and smell the coffee. Saturn brings the energies of discipline and judgment to balance Neptune’s imaginary and escapist leanings. The square suggests the dance isn’t a comfortable one. We may find ourselves in tense moments in which our escapism is brought to our awareness in the harsh light of day. If so, our challenge is to accept this new insight, and take responsibility for the actions that brought us to this place, and start taking steps to change our behavior.
If you want to get a jump on the process, this is a good time to pay attention to your own escapist tendencies. What do you use to tune out after a stressful day? What is your go-to binge-worthy substance or activity? Would the amount you partake in seem excessive to someone else? Do you find yourself justifying the habit? If you can get some awareness around these issues and start to take steps to change the pattern, you might be able to limit your exposure to more difficult situations in which it seems like this process is forced upon you. One key is to find healthier ways to manage stress and negative emotions.
We limit our thinking when we unconsciously give precedence to one archetype when describing a particular combination. So we’ll use this time to break out of the box, finding cases of Saturn being dominant, Neptune being dominant, and of both archetypes merging to create an entirely unique expression.
We’ll also take this opportunity to remember that even so-called “negative” planetary aspects can play out in multiple ways in one’s life, many of them constructive and even beneficial.
As with all transits, this one will be more obvious to you personally if there are strong connections between transiting Saturn and Neptune and the placements in your birth chart. If discipline is hard for you, or if you notice yourself putting the blame outside yourself regarding whatever is currently ailing you, this might be a time to pay closer attention to what’s going on. And one of the best ways to do this is to check in with people close to you, who you trust. You might ask your best friend if she thinks you’ve been drinking a little “too much.” That is, unless your friend is matching you drink for drink! In which case, check in with one of your sober friends. Be willing to honestly weight their response, and thank them for broaching such an uncomfortable subject with you.
When planets come into alignment, the archetypal interaction isn’t a one-way street. I’ve been talking about Saturn helping Neptune sober up, but what can Neptune bring to Saturn? Let’s say that over the past couple of years you’ve been overly disciplined and restrictive with yourself – too much Saturn. Maybe you’ve been following a strict diet. Maybe you’ve been intentionally living with much less than you need, or want. Or perhaps you’ve been allowing the inner judge and jury to prevent you from approaching each day with hope and gratitude. It’s also time for you to come into more balance, and the medicine is Neptunian. Where can you soften? Where in your life can dissolving boundaries be a positive thing? Where might you benefit from more compassion? And could some practical mysticism help you lighten up? I say practical here, because we want to think in terms of these archetypes working together.
Here are a few more keyword pairs and phrases that might help you start thinking about the ways Saturn and Neptune can work together (thanks to Steven, Richard Tarnas, Caroline Casey and Emily Trinkaus for some of the inspiration here):
- Building defenses against feelings of helplessness
- Taking responsibility for escapism
- Seeing through illusion to reveal what is real
- Self-sufficiency versus neediness
- Responsibility versus giving up
- Resolving to work harder instead of giving into to feelings of despair or lack of direction
- Dissolving restrictive boundaries
- Letting magic and wonder soften mental and emotional hardness
- Letting awareness of the unknowable broaden restrictive viewpoints
- Healthy skepticism versus fantastical thinking
Saturn Square Neptune 2015-2016 Dates of Exact Alignment
- November 26, 2015 - 7° Sagittarius/Pisces
- June 17, 2016 - 12° Sagittarius/Pisces
- September 10, 2016 - 10° Sagittarius/Pisces
Not sure if all this applies to you? If you have planets in middle degrees of Virgo, Gemini, Sagittarius or Pisces, you have signed up for the job! If you don’t know your chart, you can run a free one at astro.com.
If you’d like to read more about Neptune square Saturn in the charts of some well-known people and how that might apply to your own chart, check out my article Saturn-Neptune: Bridging the Ideal and the Real at Astroraven.com.
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Tony Howard graduated Summa Cum Laude in history and film from the University of Colorado. His degree turned out to be the perfect precursor to his career in astrology, where his focus includes historical research and chart analysis. His writing has been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and in two Flare anthologies: Astrology, the Next Generation and The Book of Music Horoscopes.
Tony has been researching declination since 2011 and specializes in “out of bounds” planets. He also loves working with and studying aspects, which forms the core of his work with clients. He is the founder of Astrology University.