Saturday, March 13, 2010

Astrological Milestones: Saturn and Growing Up

copyright Bill Watterson

In astrology, Saturn is the planet that represents our progression toward maturity, responsibility, and self-sufficiency. Yes, Calvin, it is the planet of building character. It's place in our chart describes where we will need to work hard in order to reap the benefits, and where no one can really help us or do it for us because we must be willing to go it alone and persist in our efforts in order to come out on the other side with a sense of accomplishment and pride in the hard work we've done. Someone with Saturn in their 6th house of work might find that they will not have promotions fall easily into their lap, but will benefit from persistent effort in climbing their way up the ladder under their own power. Someone with Saturn in their 9th house of higher education may have had to work harder to achieve their degree, for various reasons, but will have the pride in making it through on their own. This is Saturn's promise.

At the moment we are born, every planet in the current sky is frozen in place, seemingly imprinted on us in the form of our natal chart. As the planets continue to move in the sky, they form connections to their original location at the time of our birth. It's easiest to see this in the example of a planetary return, which simply means any time a planet returns to the place it was at the time of your birth. The Mars Return was discussed in an earlier entry, which happens every 2 or so years.

When Saturn returns at age 29-1/2, we tend to experience a great lesson in growing up, and a prompt for reflection about what it means to be entering our 30s and the beginning of the mid-life period. But a return is not the only meaningful connection a planet can make to our own chart. At approximately ages 5, 7, 10, 15 and on up, Saturn is making a connection to our charts. Each of these connections at these different ages represents a time in our life where we are faced with an opportunity to do a little growing up. These small milestones can sometimes be pivotal turning points in our view of ourselves and our own capability.

Sometimes we are given the opportunity to grow and take on additional responsibility, which any parent knows can give a child a sense of pride and a welcome feeling of having an important duty to fulfill. A great example might be the birth of a new sibling, which can prompt the necessity of fulfilling the Big Brother or Big Sister role and being a helper and caretaker rather than the one being taken care of. Another example might be the first day of school, where the child enters a phase of their life in which they manage things more on their own than they do at home; a need to take on the responsibilities of managing their schoolwork and following instructions.

There are times when the Saturn prompt to mature teaches us self-sufficiency due to circumstances that force us to stop relying on something we have been because we now need to learn to stand on our own. While these circumstances aren't fun and may even be frightening or painful, they allow us to have a real sense of our strength, of what we're capable of, even when the chips or down, or perhaps especially when the chips are down, as we rise to a challenge.

Let's take a look at not-so-little-anymore Ava Phillippe, daughter of Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe. In October of 2006, when she was 7 years old, her parents announced their separation and filed for divorce, an event that came in Ava's life only a month after she experienced what's known as her Saturn square, a time when sometimes difficult circumstances prompt our growth. Ava's Saturn is in Taurus, a sign which represents a desire for stability and a fixed routine. In this case, the divorce of Ava's parents would have awakened her to the reality that she will not be able to remain in the same sheltered parental/family structure that she had up until now. The challenge for her was to recognize that not only can a new structure can be built, but that she is resilient enough to withstand that change and create a sense of stability and resilience in herself even as her world changes. 

Being the eldest child, perhaps she might have even taken it upon herself to offer shelter and support to her younger brother Deacon, especially since her Sun and Moon are in Virgo, a sign oriented toward service. What might have been a great way to support Ava during this transition would be to help her realize that her structure isn't lost, just changing, and to recognize the role she can play in creating the new one, thereby encouraging her to see where she can take control of this part of her life in how she moves forward as the family changes.

It can be very useful for a parent to understand some of the milestones that don't always have a marker in everyday life, but which astrology tracks quite reliably. In the case of Saturn, a parent can use this knowledge to see how they can assist their child going through a time when they need to learn to stand on their own, so they can feel supported and encouraged to find their own footing as opposed to feeling alone or helpless.
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