by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saturn goes Retrograde: The Rock, the Hurt and the Harm of Convenience

 Artists's rendition of a Huygens probe floating in a methane-ethane
lake on Titan, with parent planet Saturn looming above the horizon
image credit: NASA's Cassini-Huygens collection

Let’s just start with a freeze-dried version of the basic concept here: Saturn goes retrograde at 17 Libra on January 26 at 6:11am (UT/+0).

And Saturn will continue to be in retrograde until it goes direct on June 13 at 3:52am (UT/+0).

What a nice long time to have a nice long Saturn nice time of it!

Or maybe...not so much?

What exactly does this whole 'Saturn going retrograde' mean? And why would this Saturn retrograde adventure be any different than any other Saturn retrograde adventure? After all, don't all the major planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and...well, give or take being a dwarf planet, Pluto) - don't they all go retrograde once a year?

The answer to that is yes. But seeing that the universe (ergo, our solar system) is not a static thing, every moment in (Saturn) time and thus certainly every station and every year's retrograde is different.

Entirely different.

But let's start at the beginning, taking that very first announcement as the simple statement it is: Saturn goes retrograde at 17 Libra on January 26 at 6:11am (UT/+0).

For those of you who know and love grammar, the subject of that sentence is Saturn. As a matter of fact, the subject of the sentence is Saturn even if you don't like grammar!

The point is, all things apply to Saturnine principles in this moment.

The verb here is the 'going retrograde' part. That’s an  indicator: what happens now (and for a wee bit shy of  five months yet to come) is the examining of Self in Saturn detail, the challenging of Self in Saturnine style, and the growing and developing of our capacity as that pertains to creating a world (personal and general) that is lasting, workable and practical. Or at least pragmatic. And possible. And acceptable. And structurally sound.

Because Saturn is going retrograde all this starts on the inside. So we can challenge ourselves to grow, develop, get over ourselves and get to doing what we should do...or we can figure on life presenting us with situations, events, puzzles and relationships which cause us to be challenged at some very internal, personal Saturnine level.

That would be the good ol' basics here. Anything we add to that is a modifying clause - the lettuce and tomato on the burger...the chocolate sauce on the ice cream.

But looking at the list...? Well, it is quite the list! So let's go for the ice cream concept and say we're just having a heaping helping of sprinkles. LOTS of sprinkles!

(And not to worry - in the planetary world, extra aspects don't add calories. Asteroids don't go to you....well, never mind - you get the point!)

So here's the list - and thus the real un-freeze-dried version of the original sentence:

Saturn will go retrograde at 17 Libra on January 26 at 6:11am (UT/+0) in conjunction with Drakonia (at 17 Libra) and Haumea (at 18 Libra) while in opposition to Eris, Tantalus and Dionysus (at 21 and 20 Aries, respectively)...all as Eurydike enters Pisces, Hera enters Aries, Lust enters Aries…and with Medea going direct a few hours later at 12 Gemini.

Does this sound like a waltz in the park to you? At the very least it’s a complicated dance number. Much choreography and intricate movement involved...lots of attention needing to be paid to not swinging one’s arms and hitting someone else in the nose!

You know, the simple matter of exotica.

Okay…now since I don’t want to repeat all of the last blog, let’s just pay lip service to Saturn being a symbol of working for achievement, earning and/or the concept of walls as things which can limit, things which can support (say, a roof) or things which can for plus or minus protect us from stuff…out there (wherever ‘out there’ may be).

Libra, which is so often so annoyingly (to me) talked about as a sign of romance and marriage partners when it’s really about personal OR professional relationships and our ability to relate without any emotional intimacy implied…

Yes, you heard me – Libra is not about romance. At least not romance as I conceive of it, meaning emotionality. Libra is an air sign. It may thus be the idea of romance, but it’s not true intimacy. So if you’re someone who has this whole ‘romantic notion’ about love and SOs (Significant Others) in your head, Libra may be your idea of romance.

Then again, that may be why so many marriages fail – which also works, since Libra is the sign of ‘open enemies’ and lawyers.

Anyway, Libra isn’t about romance per se, but it is about relationships and our ability to relate. With Saturn in Libra, our concepts of same, our ability to relate and how we go about relating to others and our world is going through a Saturnine, slow-motion examination. (And for some, an exhumation, but let’s not go there!)

Saturn symbolizes ‘that which we earn we shall in time, achieve’ to the nth degree. It also symbolizes how that which we try and get away with (or avoid) ends up biting us in some fleshy part of our anatomy.

That Saturn is going direct at 17 Libra adds a note of ‘theoretical emotionality,’ whether that’s conviction about something, enthusiasm for something or objection to some idea. This is ‘a meeting of the minds’ or a clash of ideas, ideals or priorities. At it’s best it’s an agreement to disagree or a willingness to negotiate.

But don’t be too sure about that ‘willingness’ thing. Not even mentioned in the list above is the fact that at the moment of this change of direction the Moon has entered Scorpio, a sign which asks us to find solutions which take everyone’s needs into account but which tends to (unfortunately!) be our desires to have our own way.

And if you look at this – a chart of the station…

Saturn's January 2011 station 
(Aries wheel/location not specific)

….you may well notice the Grand Trine (in green) with two light blue sextiles reaching up towards the top of the chart. It’s a ‘planetary picture’ called a kite. And with kites, it’s the tail which guides the kite.

That ‘tail’ is the south node at the bottom of the chart. And since South Nodes are about ‘the easy way out’ and what with this one being in Moon-ruled Cancer, we end up back at that Scorpio Moon. 

But it could be okay, you say. 

Uh, yes, I reply. It could, but it probably won’t. Did you happen to notice that this Scorpio Moon is conjunct Niobe?

I get called down fairly regularly for being an astrological pessimist when what I’m doing is simply reading the celestial signs. What’s wrong with being realistic (she said in her most cranky voice)? Given that Niobe is the pride which precedes getting shot down, though this (yes) could be calling others on their bad or irrational or selfish behavior, let’s be real! The likelihood is that this is pride challenging us all to be more inclusive, more charitable, more caring about the emotional needs and points of views being expressed by others…but the reality is that this it’s highly, highly unlikely that those – particularly those in who have the Scorpio power (or power over money, sex or convention) in hand – it’s really unlikely they’re going to do whatever the “hard” or “unpopular” thing is. That would be the Moon ruling the South Node part.

And yet….and yet and yet and yet….The North Node, the ‘highest’ form of this figure is in Capricorn. And we are talking about a Saturn (ruler of Capricorn) station. So maybe some people will actually do the hard (North Node) thing, come what may.

Maybe. I’m not betting any mental pizza on it…but maybe.

So back to that list. With Saturn going retrograde conjunct Drakonia, the question is who is the player and who is being played? With Haumea at 18 Libra add in ‘shape shifting’ in order to get one’s way.

Is that you or someone else? And if it is you, did you play yourself or someone else? Maybe even both?

The opposition to Eris (discord), Tantalus (temptation) and Dionysus (sacred celebration) gives us a whole aura of that which is sacrosanct…which casts all sorts of questions into the fog.

 Dionysus - a 2nd century statue (Louvre, Paris)

Taken together, this is is a big giant mish-mosh of ‘what’s right? what’s wrong’ which is complicated by personal desires and (like as not) personal alliances….which….well, are they real? Are they an ‘alliance of convenience’ and dare you pay the price for that?

A lot of these questions will ultimately only be answered once Saturn comes out of retrograde this June. But the road we choose now – that definitely defines how smooth or rocky the path between here and there is going to be. And since this is Saturn – what the price for said choice is or isn’t going to ultimately be.

Personally, as I think this celestial equation through, I keep coming back to that Nodal issue with the easy way out being the Scorpio Moon. Considering Scorpio is debt, that says it’s easier to take on debt than pay it off.

Following a different cosmic chain – that which has Saturn’s position in Libra ruled by Venus and Venus in Sagittarius leading then to Jupiter in Aries and ultimately Mars/Sun/Sappho/Hel in early Aquarius, there’s a whole Aquarian and rather ‘group’ or ‘societal’ flavor to this station which would seem to be either the difficulty of majority rule or the difficulty being experienced by the greater group (or the economy OR the masses)…or that there’s simply universal (Sappho) Hel to pay which is coming from one of those arenas.

 Sappho embracing her lyre by Jules Elie Delaunay

What you may not know about this post is that it’s being written way far in advance of the actual date. Good astrology should be able to be read right off the charts, with no current news bulletins involved. So when I say my non-Sherlockian-trained instincts of deduction take me back to the South Node/Scorpio Moon/Niobe thing, especially seeing as the outcome ruler of Scorpio (Pluto) is sitting in Capricorn just out of orb to the North Node tells me that there has already been some emotional upheaval. North Node at 0 Capricorn (a whole other message we’ll get to in a moment) and Pluto at 6 Capricorn says that six months ago the ‘society’ took a turn.

Six months ago was late August. August 2010 saw fires in Russia, Bolivia and Canada, devastating floods in Pakistan, an oil spill in China, political scandals in Denmark, Italy and the Philippines, BP getting the Deepwater Horizon well sealed, and swelling debt and economic destabilization prompting labor unrest in China, President Obama’s signing of a bill to help US States and Europe dealing with debt and (in paritcular) the further  destabilization of an already overstressed Greece.

Choose your subject – it wasn’t a pretty global month and everywhere you go this would seem to be a playing out of what happened then, whether it’s dealing with death (Scorpio) of citizens (Cancer), national (Cancer) or systemic (Aquarian) debt (Scorpio) – or the Deepwater Horizon rig blowout, which has been blogged about ad nauseum and which fits this picture pretty darn well, right down to the kite, which in having the Nodes lined up vertically is a great picture of oil drilling.

A metaphysical picture, of course.

With Eurydike entering Pisces…well, I’m not sure what to say. The mythic Eurydike martyrs herself for her lover who then can’t save her because he’s either too curious or too insecure to proverbially resist opening the oven door to see if the soufflé is actually puffing up. Of course the minute you open the door, the soufflé collapses.

Talk about your self-fulfilling prophesies! Yet that could be one of the flavors of the moment; Eurydike entering Pisces is a terribly plaintive cry of agony which would apparently be because one can’t deal with their own (bad) choices (...which strikes me as somewhere between ‘eeewwww!’ and ‘ouch!’).

Hera (internal emotional guidance) entering Aries is a pointed directive to care for our human selves and all that we hold as human about ourselves. With Lust (focus) also entering Aries, this could be some being so focused on themselves and what they want that everyone else in the area is left to fend for their own needs…or it could be a very natural (re)determination to take on what one really needs to do: I guess no one else is going to help me, so I ‘d better help myself! 

The kicker is this Medea going direct in Gemini a few hours later. Tricky, tricky….

Medea by Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys (1868)

Medea’s story has her using her powers as a sorceress to help her lover Jason. She will do all and anything to save shower him with advantages, fair or not.


This is a woman who would even murder her own children to be with Jason, to have him, to be able to love him.

And yet...there's this one little problem:Jason's not quite as much in love with Medea.

Thus it's rather predictable (especially since this is a Greek myth) that we come to an end of the story where Medea is...betrayed. (read: dumped)

But the real issue is not that she loved the wrong guy, but that the very power of her love for someone, in the end, destroyed her.

(I think I’m now voting for the ‘ouch’ outcome.)

Taken all together, this is a rather grand set of ruffles atop the basic Saturn-going-retrograde concept. For various reasons, we had all better get more realistic about now just what we do in life or how we handle life, but what we expect out of life.

This is about proportions, not ability. This is a picture of the grandiose on all sides being unrealistic. It applies up and down the line – from among the high and mighty to in the souls of the meagerly provided for and ignored.

Saturn is perhaps the greatest symbol of ‘leveling’ we have. And in Libra, we can get leveled, be on the level or get more level headed. All this starts with and within ourselves, no question. But it’s also about what we’re willing to work for, the reality of our standards and life and the world all around us.

Pass the pizza, please. I need to have a serious think. And yes, a slice of something before I face all that ice cream and all those scads and mounts of sprinkles.

Did I mention that Saturn is known for not just durability, but cold?

See you around the old cosmic sundae!


  1. Wow, this was a powerfully informative read. It makes one reflect quite a bit and that's a good thing, since it sounds like that will be a major part of the next several months.

  2. Thank you so very much for this post, spot on, well reported it all made perfect sense - oh my has it all started to make perfect sense - Hi to work we go!