The Cycle of Responsibility and the Role of Saturn (Part 3)
The First Cycle of Saturn: Growing into Maturity
Like all cycles, Saturn’s begins with a conjunction at birth. Here, you intimately and viscerally experience the reality of boundaries, and of limitations. Suddenly, you are no longer one with mother. You have been forced to experience the boundary of your body, the skin that tightly encloses you and separates you from the endless oneness of the womb. Immediately, you experience your powerlessness and limitations and understand that you have to struggle to be fed, protected, loved. This is the phase of realisation that you are bounded by your body and, as you grow, by the environment of home. This is truly a crisis of immense proportions and the subsequent emotional and physical experience of limits and freedom, powerlessness and power are deeply imbedded in the psyche and form the basis for your gut reactions in these areas throughout life.
Old Roman Catholic teaching declared that a child reaches the age of reason at seven. While the impact has been somewhat diluted today, the age of seven to eight, the time of the first separating square, does bring a new experience of vastly wider boundaries into your life. The walls of home have been weakening as you experienced pre-school, but now there is an increased expectation that you begin to fit in with a new set of restrictions. The excitement of reaching beyond the garden fence is reined in as you learn to sit still in class and obey a new set of rules. This is a phase of learning to accept limitation and much of what you have to suppress as a result of these restrictions is consigned to the shadow self deep in the psyche. If you learn well, the reward will be success in thinking and reasoning skills, the development of a personality that is capable of surviving beyond the home and the ability to accept a greater degree of responsibility than ever before.
But, in the natural order of things, acceptance is followed by rebellion! By the age of 14-15, you battle your way into adolescence beginning with the Saturn opposition. While this is really about testing your own limits, being an opposition, it seems to come from outside, and in particular from those old symbols of authority, your parents. Now, consolidating what you’ve learned so far and preparing for the next expansion of boundaries, it seems you are ready to take control of your life, although you’re far from ready yet. You suffer the Saturnian depths of self-doubt while projecting its ideals onto new romantic partners as you begin to push the boundaries of relationship. While many manifestations of this phase may be deeply troubling for parents, and perhaps traumatic for the adolescent, this separation from parental limitation, is, of course, an absolutely vital step on the path to individuation. Successfully negotiated, it marks the beginning of a more equal relationship with mother and father and a revision and expansion of the lessons of realisation from the conjunction phase 14 years ago.
Receiving the key to the front door at 21 was the traditional way of acknowledging that you’d reached the age of responsibility. It was perhaps a little early and today’s wide acceptance of the age of majority at 18 even more so in terms of the Saturnian cycle. But by the age of 22, the approaching square brings serious doubts about your identity, but it does also signify the beginning of a period when you begin to shoulder the burden of being a responsible contributor to society. You have bought in to many of the rules and conventions of behaviour and are willingly participating in the creation of the structures of society in your own life—a steady job, a stable relationship, four walls around a place of your own. And within these agreed-to boundaries comes the dynamism to create much of the personal, internal structures, the adult values and ethics that will be a foundation for much of the rest of life, despite the challenge about to arrive!
The return of Saturn to its natal position between the ages of 29 and 30 marks a time of intense re-appraisal of all that has gone before—who you are, what you’ve achieved, where you’re going. It inevitably implies death: of relationships that no longer serve you, of dreams you no longer need. It marks the final separation from emotional dependence on parents and learning to parent yourself. At many levels, it is a rebirth, echoing the birth pangs of the original conjunction almost thirty years before. You are asked to leave the womb you have created for yourself until now. If you do so, you will embark on the next great development cycle of your life. But this can be scary, and you may refuse to do so, but only at the risk of personal stagnation. After all, you’re at the beginning of the next Cycle of Responsibility—you get another chance to learn the lessons, grow your power and push the boundaries of life again!
Some Final Thoughts
Of course, what we’ve looked at here are only the key phases. Saturn makes other aspects with itself over the 29.5 year cycle and these are significant too. And this is just the cycle of Saturn to itself. Saturn also makes a cycle with respect to the other planets in the birth chart. The phase of each of these cycles has to be considered in a proper, personalised evaluation of your Cycle of Responsibility. For example, if you were born with Saturn opposite the Moon and square the Sun (a fairly challenging configuration, of course!), the rebellious phase of the Saturn / Saturn cycle at 14-15 years old also coincides with a time when Saturn conjoins the Moon and squares the Sun again, as shown in the adjoining graphic. This brings a much stronger emotional sense of personal restriction at this time, as well as reiterating the birth square of Saturn to the Sun and its associated inhibitions about being true to yourself. These can clearly affect the extent to which you feel comfortable about rebelling!
Added to this, we have to consider that all of the other cycles are operating in parallel, each at their own pace, and each adding their own flavour and energy to your unfolding life. Among these, the slower moving planets have a particularly powerful influence: Uranus—Cycles of reinvention, Neptune—transcendence, and Pluto—transformation.
Every period of your life thus presents possibilities over a whole spectrum of energies. It is entirely up to you how you choose to use them. Use them consciously, and they support your quest for self improvement and personal growth. If you are unaware of them, you may find that these powerful energies can seem to be taking over your life. Understanding the timing and flavour of the cycles of your life is key to making conscious decisions about who you want to be and who you seek to become.