by Boots Hart, CAP

Monday, January 21, 2013

Armstrong, Assange and O’Neal: Illustrating Saturn / Neptune Connections

 A beautiful photo of Planet Neptune taken by Voyager 2 in August 1989 showing the Great Dark Spot (middle, left) and 'Dark Spot 2' near the bottom. Both 'spots' are indications of massive storm activity on the planet.
 (photo credit: NASA, Voyager 2 Team)

There are things about charts which over many thousands of years astrologers have learned to recognize. So you may sit down with an astrologer and your chart and five seconds later they may make some devastating observation about your almost drying when you were born (or how your mother almost did in giving birth to you). Or how you’ve lost a child or a sibling.

Or that you have a problem with addiction, addictive substances or the denial which is so typically part of addiction, but which can take other shapes.

The symbol of this kind of ‘boundary issue’ (which can be with others or with/within our Self) is most often astrologically indicated by challenging aspects between Saturn and Neptune. Saturn is about life’s hard realities. The ‘rules of the game.’ The laws of our land (and the penalties for breaking them). The time we are given in which to live. Our responsibilities in life. The need to make an effort to survive in this world, whatever that means to you. By sign, by house placement, by degree, by aspect, Saturn means all these things.

Saturn is the fact. The reality.

And Neptune? Neptune is where reality meets the undefined. Neptune symbolizes the melting away of reality or realities strictures. And in that, Neptune invites us to see beyond that which we know…or to ignore that which we know.

Obviously this relationship between Neptune and Saturn isn’t one astrologers have been looking at for thousands of years as Neptune was only discovered in the mid/late 1800’s. But with that as the given, that astrologers have so quickly come to see the correlation between hard aspects (squares, oppositions, inconjuncts, semi-sextiles) between Saturn and Neptune as problematic…? That isn’t haste – that’s a sign of how obvious the astrological challenge really is.

When I was learning astrology, I was told that a square between Saturn and Neptune in the natal chart indicates alcoholism. I’ve since found that’s often true (scary often true). But I’ve also noticed that sign, house and aspects also matter. Where Saturn is well placed, that helps. Where we can see some sort of ‘self-reflective’ mechanism in the chart providing feedback, that often helps (especially if it’s nicely placed).

Then we come to the opposition. And in the world of astrological Saturn-Neptune oppositions, Lance Armstrong is evidently the poster boy for what can happen and the really painful quality of good-and-bad existing in the same space which I talk about so often as ‘the astrological door swinging both ways.’

Oppositions are about ‘facing’ things. That’s the very nature of the opposition – one object ‘faces’ the other across the chart. In this case, there’s the ‘reality’ of the Self-sense (Saturn) with Neptune, the ‘is it real or is it Memorex?’ symbol as the image in the mirror.

In our charts, Neptune can be a point of inspiration. Then again, they can be a point of great disappointment. Astrologers will often tell you to ignore the ‘thing’ you think Neptune represents and simply ‘go with the best ideal you have’ in that regard. ‘Have faith,’ they’ll say. And the reason they say that is because where Neptune is concerned, the thing you are so sure of is the thing which is most likely to be untrue. And that thing you can’t imagine being true? That’s the truth of the thing.

This is why Neptune is very often associated with disappointments. But it doesn’t have to be. Neptune is meant to motivate us…and what we do, when funneled through the Neptune of our chart, that should inspire and motivate others. It’s when we focus on that image and believe it that we get in trouble – hence Neptune’s association with fame and “believing your own press.” Enjoyment of the fantasy is one thing. Expecting it to be real? Quite another.

As ‘outcome ruler’ of Pisces, Neptune is associated with great works of an inspiring nature. So as we come to Lance Armstrong’s chart, we can see his Saturn-Neptune opposition as his having tapped into the mass consciousness, particularly as a world sports figure who overcame cancer.

 Lance Armstrong
September 18, 1971 - Plano TX  (CDT +5)
(no time known - Aries chart format)

Pisces is the sign of the underdog. Pisces is the sign of charity (and thus, charities). Pisces is the sign of toxicity. And entertainment. And disappointments. And addiction. And inspiration. And faith.

All those qualities are can be evoked when Neptune opposes Saturn because Saturn will symbolize the ‘realization’ of all these qualities – the bringing them to be ‘in reality.’

I’ll give you another example of a Gemini Saturn in opposition to a Sagittarian Jupiter: Julian Assange – another ‘folk hero’ and inspiration to millions who has been having trouble with the legal system for ignoring the various “rules” in life and in this world.

Julian Assange
July 3, 1971 - 4 p.m. (AEST -10) - Townsville, Australia

Both of these men come out of the same astrological “vintage”: the year 1971. And while arguably both men are very famous, the subtle differences in their charts describe why (and how) Julian Assange has had better luck keeping his rise and fall a bit more quiet. Both men have Jupiter conjunct Neptune – a sign of ‘connecting to the world.’ But Julian’s Jupiter is in Scorpio, a sign which tends to be a bit more secretive or ‘held in secret’ where Lance Armstrong’s Jupiter is in the media and ‘information’ sign of  Sagittarius.

 Julian Assange at New Media Days 2009 in Copenhagen
(photo cropped when posted)

We could also point to Julian’s Jupiter as being intercepted in the 12th house – a “kept under wraps” sort of signal if there ever was one (and a ‘doubling up’ of the Scorpio secrecy quality). And yes, there is the fact that Assange’s Neptune-Saturn is laid across the Ascendant/Descendant…which, if you’re looking for indicator of Teflon coated personalities, that would be a good one. Just like Teflon, Julian can be scraped and made vulnerable. But with Jupiter in the 12th (a position known as “the angel on my shoulder”) it’s likely that in the end Julian Assange will weather his bad choices with some sense of comfort.

The bottom line here is that Jupiter/Neptune, as an astrological combination has played out very potently for both men. Julian Assange’s role as ‘front man’ for Wikileaks has exposed a lot of very Scorpio-like information. And Lance Armstrong has both spread the word of cycling as a sport and health (particularly as regards cancer) in a very Jupiter-in-Sagittarius sort of way.

And yet in their own lives, both men have had problems which are very much the ‘image’ of Jupiter conjunct Neptune in opposition to Saturn: a problem with ‘realistic boundaries’ or knowing how far they could go…which many obviously think of as 'what they could get away with.’

Another famous name to toss in here (toss seeming to be the right term when we talk about basketball players)…Shaquille O’Neal.

 Shaquille O'Neil
March 6, 1972 - 8:00 a.m. (EST +5) - Newark, New Jersey

In Shaquille’s chart, several things differ when compared with the horoscopes of Julian Assange or Lance Armstrong. The first (and most obvious to this astrologer) is how tied into the lunar nodes his Saturn and Neptune are. Plus this is no ‘ordinary’ tie – this is a tie which embodies all the ‘make an effort’ qualities associated with a fairly rare configuration: a grand sextile.

People with grand sextiles – a figure which is also known as the ‘star of David’ or two overlapping trines – either try hard or don’t try at all.

Lucky for Shaquille, he falls in the former group – and he’s made good on his promise. The lunar nodes always indicating relationships of a personal and societal type, Shaquille is a man who is far more prone to act as part of his society than say, Julian Assange, whose Neptune/Ascendant-Saturn/Descendant signature gives him (among other things) a tendency to feel distanced from society at some level.

By definition, those who feel distanced from anything are those who are likely to shrug – first and last – at the repercussions of what they may do. And this goes doubly where Neptune is involved.

Shaquille O’Neal’s chart gives no indication that he doesn’t feel part of his world. On the contrary – the lunar nodes positioned in the 10th (north) and 4th (south) houses tied to his Saturn/Neptune in the 2nd and 8th is a pretty clear picture of Shaquille’s life as a vehicle of growing awareness. In learning that he had value (Saturn in 2) he recognized that among his fans were many people who would never have his luck or talents (the Scorpio Moon with Neptune in 8 would signify this). The combination has led to his recognizing that he needed to build a ‘better life’ for himself…and that he had the ability to do just that.

That door swings both ways he acts in and for the world, the world reacts to its ongoing relationship with Shaquille O'Neal.

That's not to say we'll always love what he does - or that everything Shaq every does will be golden. But the connections we see to his Saturn-Neptune opposition, particularly through the Nodal axis, are indicators that whether fabulous or iffy, We the Public will never feel the 'disconnect' that people have commented on with regards to Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah and which Julian Assange (with a little Scorpio Jupiter help) seems to be master of by either habit, preference or personal definition.

If you ever want to find out how tall you aren't, surround yourself with a
pro basketball team. I'm sure this is part of what President GW Bush found
 out when he invited Shaq and his fellow Los Angeles Lakers to the
White House in January of 2002.

This doesn’t mean life has been all posies for Shaquille. Nor should we expect that he's sweetness incarnate in every moment of his life. You could of course say 'who is?' and be right enough there, but the astrological indicator I'm thinking of is his critical degree Aries Venus in the first house conjunct Sedna and in opposition to Black Moon Lilith. That's no full-time personality or relationship picnic, to begin with, and seen through the lens of perspective tends to say that exactly that which sets Shaquille O'Neal apart can manifest equally as a tendency to be a wee bit egocentric.

But we’re getting off the subject. Back to Saturn-Neptune. Maybe the biggest difference between the Shaquille O’Neal and Julian Assange or Lance Armstrong lies in one thing: the fact that Shaquille’s Saturn is at 0 Gemini and the other two have Saturn at 6 Gemini.

6 Gemini is a degree which appears to have a quality of notable stubbornness. We’ve talked about this degree before, and we’ll be talking about it again rather shortly. Why? Because Jupiter is sitting at 6 Gemini, and is about to go direct at 6 Gemini on January 30th.

(More on that in a different blog post yet to come.)

But if you’re looking for a celestial reason for ‘why now?’ Why would Lance Armstrong suddenly go as public with his confession as he has been public in his career and through his Livestrong charity, this is Lance Armstrong’s natal Jupiter (in Sagittarius) being opposed by transiting Jupiter lingering and going direct on the degree of his Saturn.

In general, 6 Gemini is a degree noted for a ‘separation’ of emotions and intellect. So when we listen to Lance Armstrong parsing his words, when we wonder why he doesn’t get it that he can’t split those hairs because the situation is pretty baldly what it is, it’s to understand – he’s not parsing these ideas for US. He’s doing it because he can’t put these two things together. To do so would bring a huge, huge (Neptune) disappointment with self crashing down on Lance. We saw a little of it when in part two of his interview with Oprah he teared up when talking about his son.

6 Gemini is a degree which seems to act a bit like unmixed mental epoxy. As long as I don’t put these things together, they won’t stick in my brain…and thus, the natives think, it won’t stick to me.

With Neptune in opposition however, what they’re not seeing is that once the ‘Neptune dream image’ is cracked, everyone else sees. The cycling emperor is naked, whether or not Lance wants to look in that mirror and we see it even if he won’t.

This photo of 5-minute epoxy illustrates exactly what I'm talking about with regards
to 6 Gemini. Until the two parts of the epoxy are joined, there is no cohesion - 
there is no 'sticking' or strength in joining. The choice implied in this degree is
to make a joining of things against the native tendency to
keep 'the two things separate.'
(photo credit: Taktoa, February 2010)

The drive with 6 Gemini seems to often be backwards, and this may be the greatest manifestation of Neptune in opposition to Saturn with Saturn in this degree. Having known a few ‘regular folks’ with this configuration in their natal horoscopes there seems to be a marked tendency for these people to think that if they construct the image, they can fit their life into it. To them, it therefore doesn’t really matter how ‘plastic’ the construct is. Their eyes are in part fixed (or fixated) through that Neptunian lens on what ‘they’ think of anyone.

If they can only be thought of as someone great, then they can be a great person.

The problem is, that’s not how it works. To aim at the Neptune ‘ideal’ and think that will change your reality of Self isn’t any way to live. But the desire to think that way…that can be addictive. The dichotomy between the reality and the dream can cause people with this configuration to delude themselves, whether that’s with money, sex, drugs, fame, excuses which are lies which are told to yourself over and over and over again…

But in the end, Sagittarius is about what we learn. It starts out as the idea, in this particular version of the Saturn-Neptune opposition, the object is to (Saturn in Gemini) choose to be who you really are…and to recognize – how that is good enough.

Saturn-Neptune connections are difficult. Having to grapple with the reality of life and our dreams or hopes or fears in the same breath can be terribly trying. When I say that the square is often alcoholism that’s true. But with that comes the understanding that in part alcoholism happens because to live a reality-based life is a ‘sobering’ prospect which some of us just don’t deal with very well.

In that vein, Saturn opposition Neptune will ‘ground’ us in reality, no matter how hard we try to avoid that reality. (Hint: don’t buy the dream and try and make it real, build a reality to be your dream.) The point is that we are each different and no matter where our Saturns and Neptunes fall in our chart, learning how to (Neptune) accept and (Saturn) work on/with who we really are is part of our task as human beings.

In the process of going about their orbits of the Sun, transiting planets do meet up with each other as viewed from here on Earth (thank goodness not out there in space!). This 'transiting conjunction' occurs on a specified schedule which differs for each pair of planets. Known as the 'synodic cycle' the magic Saturn/Neptune number is 37 years. So we saw natal (and transiting) Saturn/Neptune oppositions in 1971 and 1972 (retrogrades stretch the pattern out), we saw them again in 2006 and 2007 (from Leo to Aquarius) and we'll see them again in 2042 and 2043 in Scorpio and Neptune. case you care, that next set of oppositions will have Saturn about where it is now with Neptune in fairly early Taurus about where we're going to see eclipses in November 2013 and April 2014. (This I offer as one of those 'make a note in the family diary' things.)

The 'foundation' point of each one of these cycles being very important, it pays to look back at those as well. The opposition of 2006 and 2007 is founded on a Saturn/Neptune conjunction in 1989 at 11 Capricorn, which is itself conjunct Facies and in opposition to Chiron conjunct Alhena. If you've been keeping up with astrological doings at all, you probably know that Pluto has just finished a long conjunction of Facies and we're not out of the woods just yet in that regard. 

The 'what we want' and the complications which go into building or taking apart long-standing structures social or personal are all part of Pluto/Facies. It's easy to guess that this 'dissembling' process will carry on as Pluto continues moving forward and rolls over this Saturn-Neptune 'sensitive point' at 11 Capricorn, too.

When will that happen? During 2013. In fact, Pluto will go station/retrograde this April at 11 Capricorn, having arrived in the degree during late February. That conjunction will continue through 2014, promoting conflict particularly in areas where we (the personal or collective/national 'we') aren't doing the required Cancerian Chiron/Alhena.

What this amounts to is how we can't get all headstrong (Chiron) about what our (Alhena) Purpose is in this world if or where doing so violates our prime purpose as a human being (or nation) born to build our own life or our own nation, never mind what anyone else thinks or thinks of us. 

 Constellation Gemini

Oh, shades of Saturn/Neptune.

Remember, this idea needs to be taken both on a personal as well as a separate, national or cultural question. Alhena's position as one of the 'feet' of Gemini twin Pollux (the 'eternally thoughtful' side of Gemini) is an indication of what it takes to be 'upstanding in this life or as part of this world.

Tracking back a cycle, the 1971-1972 Saturn-Neptune opposition is founded in the conjunction of 1953, which occurred at 21 Libra. Conjunct Kassandra, Spica and Arcturus while in opposition to Sedna, this is a message about several generations (the end of the Baby Boomers, the Yuppies and Gen X) which are going to be tempted to value 'them' or what 'they' have or what 'they' think of 'me' (or us, or what we have) more than what we can do. Kassandra in this mix doubles up on the Neptunian quality of making it hard to believe in one's abilities.

Yet when we can convert that energy of self doubt into a humility which offers, when we can have faith in what we know and our ability to do what we know and only what we know while being able to (Sedna) let go of wanting to pass the buck or otherwise abdicate our responsibilities to someone else....then, in time, Neptune-Saturn becomes 'I can hardly believe it!' in the 'how well we've done' rather than the eternal sense of being 'not good enough' in one way or another. 

One other item. I know of someone born with the Saturn-Neptune opposition of 1972 who has a child born under the Saturn-Neptune opposition of 2006-2007. When in writing this blog I came to realize that, my heart was tugged mightily. After all, there is that great truism about parenting: we cannot teach that we have not learned. In this case I can see where the lack of self worth of this parent is astrologically written into the book of life which will be that of the son.

But there's hope. As parents learn, so too do their children.

So there's hope for us all - as parents and as children of the human kind.


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