If you were born during one of the periods noted below, at this writing (March 2014) you are probably experiencing what astrologer's call unaffectionately a "Saturn Transit." Those of us going through one (and that includes me) are more inclined to be less objective and call it "Hell." [UPDATE January 2017: Saturn is now in Sagittarius so those affected were born in Mutable signs, i.e. Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.]
That probably sounds quite melodramatic, especially if it doesn't apply to you. Or perhaps you're a person who's optimistic by nature and thus not bothered by obstacles and delays. If so, count your lucky stars and planets that you were born at a time when these happy inclinations were imprinted on your psyche. Not everyone was so fortunate. If your natal chart happens to have one or more planets in Scorpio between the degrees listed below, then you are being hit and will feel the usual wet blanket, "doom and gloom" effects. If you have any planets in that degree range, they are also being aspected but the effects won't be quite as strong as a Saturn Double Whammy which is the primary focus of this blog.
To find out if you're one of the not so lucky ones with Saturn aspecting natal Saturn in a stressful way (square or opposition), first go to the table below to see if your year of birth is listed under your sign. If not, you might want to check the dates of close friends and relatives, especially if they've been griping so much lately they're driving you nuts. If you do find your own or that of someone you know, go to the second table to determine if you were born during the times listed. Those dates are when Saturn was between 16:39 - 23:19 degrees of one of the Fixed Signs, i.e. Taurus, Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius, which is the degree range for his retrograde period in progress between March 2 - July 20, 2014.
What that means is during that time period Saturn will aspect your natal Saturn. Even worse, that contact is likely to occur as many as three times due to retrograde motion which is another reason these transits are considered difficult. If you found your birth date you probably already knew something bad was going on by the dark and heavy feeling you've been dealing with lately. The effects and areas of your life involved will vary depending on which house Saturn occupies both natally and by transit. If you don't know where Saturn is located in your natal chart feel free to send me your date, time and place of birth and I'll let you know. Time of birth is definitely required since house structure depends on it. If you're wondering why, you can learn more about that in the Houses section. On the other hand, you know which parts of your life are honked up and probably don't need to have that confirmed astrologically unless you have strong Virgo influences. If you really do want the specifics, just for you, especially if you're around 29 or 58 years old, then pardon this one brief commercial break: In our online store we have a special report for Saturn which you can find here. I would have given blood and paid money to have had that when I was 29...
Note that transiting Saturn is in Scorpio, the zodiacal 8th house which includes death and rebirth, sex, debt, taxes, shared resources, things you suppress, what you're passionate or even obsessive about, intense experiences and transformations. These matters are likely to be affected even if transiting Saturn is not in direct aspect with any natal planets. Saturn is squaring my natal Saturn and, as an example, I was less than enchanted by my tax return this year. [2017 update: Sagittarius, where Saturn currently resides, is the zodiacal 9th house which includes belief systems such as politics and religion; academia; other cultures; relocation/immigration and long-distance travel. Note that recently these matters have had heavy situations and implications worldwide.]
If you've made it this far I assume you found your date of birth in the above tables in which case you have my sincerest sympathy. So I'll get right down to business regarding what's going on timing-wise and for how long, at least in a general sense. The pre-retrograde shadow period began November 26, 2013 so your first aspect could have occurred anytime after that until March 2. The post-retrograde shadow lasts until October 27, 2014 which is when Saturn will finally move out of this degree range to bother those born after you. This is not to say that you'll be affected (or perhaps I should say afflicted?) for almost a year because it depends on the location of Saturn in your natal chart. November 26, 2013 is the earliest the first aspect occurred for those in the early degree and October 27, 2014 is when the final aspect will occur for those with late degree placement. Aspects are usually felt the strongest when the zodiacal position of a transiting planet (in this case Saturn) is within one degree one way or the other of Saturn on your chart. That is when it will be most intense and related events are most likely to occur.
I wish I could assure you that it would only last for a few days. Not so and no one is sorrier than me. For one thing, Saturn moves slowly. Remember it takes him 29 years to orbit the Sun. Furthermore, if you're unfortunate enough to have Saturn placed where his March retrograde station occurred (23:19 of a Fixed Sign) the effects could drag on from the end of January 2014 until into the first week of April. Those in earlier degrees will have the benefit of a few breaks. I, my friends, am one of the unlucky ones and since misery loves company I am writing this to enlighten others similarly afflicted as well as to vent.
For those of you born with Saturn in the earlier degrees, i.e. around 16:39, this would have begun back in November but ended, at least temporarily, after the first week of December. The retrograde pass will occur from mid-June until near the end of August. In other words, those of us caught in the stationing degree have to deal with it longer because the direct and retrograde hits run together. Those with Saturn around the middle, say 20 degrees, first got hit toward the end of December until mid to late January, then will have an encore via retrograde from mid-April through most of May. The final hit will occur mid-September through mid-October. But at least you get a bit of a break in between. However it works for you it may not be pleasant or, if you're lucky, it may not be noticeable. This is written for those of you who may feel as if you've died and gone to Hell. This is normal and it's important to remember that this, too, shall pass. I tell myself that several times a day.
For those of you who are feeling particularly discouraged, depressed, oppressed and bummed out generally as if you're being followed around by a little black cloud, the important thing to remember is that difficult transits are usually about change. Many years ago when I was working at NASA we had an unofficial saying for our group, "Change is Bad" which we jokingly as engineers do, translated to faux Latin, "Mutacio Malus." Change is often uncomfortable, even more so than less-than-idea circumstances which are at least familiar. What you need to focus on is the fact that unless you're happy with the status quo it's going to have to change before it can improve.
The usual message of a Saturn retrograde cycle, which is explained in more detail than you may ever care to know in the landmark book, "Retrograde Planets" by Erin Sullivan, is that it is about restructuring something which is going to relate to the house transiting Saturn occupies. When he aspects natal Saturn that house will also be involved. Supposedly during the retrograde period your subconscious is being stirred up regarding what needs to be done and by the time he stations direct you finally figure out what it is. Typically delays and obstacles encountered along the way help you figure out what needs to be done. Then, theoretically, but the time he exits his shadow period (in this case, that's November 2014) you've (hopefully) taken care of business and are better off than before. But that is simply for the typical retrograde cycle that happens every year. Saturn transits to your natal Saturn are much more important and grueling. They will incorporate all of the restructuring but it will be more dramatic and personal such that you literally feel it to the core. In other words, some days it will really suck. But fortunately, this, too, shall pass.
Another book I can recommend if you can relate to this dismal scenario is Liz Greene's "Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil." This book was published in 1976 so is undoubtedly older than some of you, but Saturn hasn't changed much, believe me. This will give you even more detailed account based on the sign and house Saturn occupies in your natal chart. You should be able to find it on amazon.com or one of the used book sites on the Internet, such as Alibris which is where I got my copy.
In summary, this can be a difficult time as all transitions tend to be. However, it is a means to an end. Think of it as climbing a mountain and in the most difficult part where the going is steepest, you're tired, and wondering why on Earth you ever took on such a feat. You do a lot of soul searching, questioning your judgment and wondering why you feel so bummed out. This is where knowing the astrological source of this trying time can help. It's the prevailing energy for you and not a personal vendetta between you and the Universe. It's a time to learn, mature, find new reserves of discipline and ultimately progress. Another less than charming analogy would be the workout expression, "No pain, no gain." As with fitness, this is not necessarily the case since pain can be avoided. Recognize what is going on and do you best to be objective about it. It's like getting through that class that fried your brain in high school or college, i.e. algebra or differential equations. You'll get through it as long as you keep placing one foot in front of the other and pushing forward with as much optimism as possible. Nurture your sense of humor, you're going to need it. And when you get to the summit the view will be glorious.
I feel better now and hope you do, too.
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