Saturn Activations are a Process Not Necessarily an Event

by Marilyn J Muir, LPMAFA

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Have you ever noticed that just because an aspect has perfected itself, it does not necessarily mean that the issue is finished? Recently I spent time helping my daughter, who is a budding astrologer, understand that as a rule, aspects are a process and not just an individual moment in time. Within hours of that explanation, I got to spend time with a client/astrology student explaining the same process concept, this time in relationship to his Saturn activation.

Let us start with Saturn and its rulership of time and timing as our basis to describe the process of an aspect. Transiting Saturn usually makes three passes over a single point in a natal chart, which lasts about nine months for the three activations. Yes, there are times that Saturn does not make a triple pass. The person who is experiencing that brief moment as a hard aspect activation can breathe a sigh of relief that it will be mercifully short, perhaps a couple of weeks at most. The triple pass is most common.

Timing In the case of Mercury, the retrograde period lasts three weeks, not counting the shadow stages becoming so popular. In the case of Venus, its dance takes six weeks, again not counting the shadow stages. Remember, if a shadow works for Mercury and is a bona fide “rule,” it should work with all the planets.

When we turn our backs on the inner part of the solar system and look towards the planets orbiting in outer space, those activations lengthen relative to the orbit of the planet, progressively longer periods of activation determined by the planet’s orbit and speed. Mars’ retrograde period takes about three months, not counting shadow and occurs only every two years.

Change gears: the outer planets beyond the asteroid belt retrograde every year. Jupiter retrogrades close to four months. Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto retrograde approximately five months, nearly half the year. Mentally note that Pluto’s retrograde period depends on where it is in its severely elliptical orbit. currently five months is correct. Shadows anyone?

Such specific periods would be so easy to time and read if that were the timing you applied to a chart. But that is just not true in my experience. For example, currently Saturn is transiting over or conjunct my natal Sun at 7 Scorpio 56. Saturn’s first pass was December 13, 2012. It then retrograded over that placement on May 2nd and will complete its third pass over this single natal placement on September 10th. Did you notice that this is not the five months of the physical retrograde period described above, but instead it is nine months of actual contact. The same anomaly occurs with the balance of the outer planets, but that must be material for another article.

Most of our retrograde patterns are considered as having three stages: initiation, retrograde, and completion, using exact hits as our basis for timing.

  • The first pass of Saturn sets the stage and kicks things off.
  • The retrograde pass brings in the next stage, but it is usually related to the first pass as a specific staging process.
  • The last pass completes the whole of the nine-month activation once it is exact.
  • There is an unresolved astrological argument out there about whether the retrograde pass is most important. Look at your own current experience and see when it was strongest: first, retrograde or last pass.
  • Once it passes exact the last time, this aspect is officially over. No new happenings or activations will occur.
  • However, there still may be residual stuff that has not yet resolved itself and that lasts for about a degree. Since Saturn at its speediest moves about 7 to 8’ a day, a degree lasts a week to 10 days. Then, whatever it represented should really fade away into your personal history.
  • Once the transit has gone exact for the final time, no new activity should be inserted into the situation, but residual issues may still need to be addressed.

Usually all the experience is based on what Saturn sets off initially, but… it may become most visible at the retrograde pass. Using the current Saturn transit over my Sun as the example, I have recently been having severe problems with my lower back and hips, which is not usual for me. Briefly, Saturn rules bones and chronic conditions and the Sun could be heart or spine. This is the middle passage and it really made itself visible here.

My specific problem is travel related. The initial passage occurred the exact day I made the first of a series of trips. At that time, I was slightly uncomfortable but it was not a big deal. What it did was initiate the nine-month problem with the current middle or retrograde period making the whole thing visible. Pass 2 occurred on the exact day of the start of a four-day 1800-mile driving trip.

I do healing work on myself, but this process will not end until September 10th and I would be wise to remember that, even when I seem to be improving. This is not a single event, it is a process and it’s not over until it’s over.

Analogies help illustrate concepts. Think of an old-fashioned coffee percolator, water in the bottom, grounds in the basket on top of the hollow stem, a lid with a glass knob on the very top to stop the coffee from spraying all over the kitchen, high, high heat underneath. The water goes up the stem, gets turned back by the glass knob and lid, and pours all over the coffee grounds in the basket. Once the water has boiled up the stem, it is removed from the heat. But it is still not coffee. It must percolate through the grounds to become coffee. That percolation period is not actually active because there is no heat. It is residual activity caused by the process itself. But it completes itself and fulfills its destiny as coffee, sometime after the active part of the process.

There are two more points I would like to make relative to this material.

  • Benefic versus malefic What has been described in the example above is a hard aspect and it is having a hard aspect effect. Benefic aspects will have a more positive effect or outcome.
  • Single natal hit versus multiple natal hits What as been described above has been activation to a single natal point. At times a natal placement is part of a larger complex of aspects such as a T-square. Once the transiting energy activates the earliest degree point in that complex it should remain active until it completes the final pass of the latest degree in that complex.

Example: Several planets in fixed degrees that are part of a T-square, let’s say 15˚, 16˚, 21˚ 22˚. The process begins at the first pass of the 15˚ position and goes through a series of stages. This process will not complete itself until the final pass over the 22˚ position. Obviously, this could take much longer than the nine-month coverage of a single degree.

Life is a process and not a series of unrelated events. Familiarize yourself with the concept of process and your reading will have more continuity. And please do not tell someone that the activation is over just because it is Monday morning and exactitude has been reached. Process always has residuals.

Published in AFA Today’s Astrologer Jan 2014, vol 76#1, republished with slight editing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.