Listening to a recent radio interview with Dr. David Nabbaro of the WHO, I was impressed and reassured by his honesty and no-nonsense plain speaking when questioned about Covid-19 and where we are right now with this pandemic. I quote some of his words as they convey the reality of what we, collectively, have to do to help bring the spread of this virus under control and eliminate it:
“This virus is not going away and is really dangerous. This virus doesn’t get bored. This virus only has one purpose and that is to multiply. We have absolutely no choice but to take it seriously. We’ve got to have everybody working together, and we need a comprehensive approach, we’ve got to do everything….”
here he mentioned wearing masks, keeping socially distant, using testing/tracing, and remaining vigilant at all times
“….over time, this will become the norm. We don’t have an alternative. This virus isn’t going away for the foreseeable future – we’ve all got to learn to live with it.”
His clarity, laying on the line what we collectively have to do, no matter which country we live in, had my thoughts turning to the astrological psychology I’m trained in and have used to counsel numerous clients over the years. Please come with me as I leap from our global pandemic to the qualities, energies and expressions of the planet Saturn, and what it means in terms of observable human behaviour and where we are right now.
I’m sharing an edited extract from a talk I gave at a UK national astrological conference some years ago. It offers a practical exploration of the meaning and manifestations of the planet Saturn in everyday life. You do not need to have any prior knowledge of astrology, or of what the planet Saturn represents; I hope I can enlighten you a little on this and give you some food for thought which might help a little as we steer our way through this virus-laden mess.
Millstone or Mentor? (that was the title of my talk)
Do you check the weather forecast before you leave home to see if you’ll need an umbrella, check the train timetable on your phone when going to the station, and maybe make sure you have a map in the car when setting off on a journey to a new destination, even though you’ve programmed the satnav? If you answered “yes” to any of these, then you were probably drawing on your own resources of Saturnian energy.
Structure and organisation
In astrology, the drive associated with Saturn is for Security. Saturn is concerned with structure and form, always seeking to organise, preserve and maintain things within manageable limits. In our solar system, Saturn is the furthest planet that can be seen by the naked eye. Before the outer planets were discovered, following the invention of the telescope, Saturn’s position marked the outermost limit of our knowledge of the solar system, so it is not altogether surprising that astrologically it symbolises limitation, boundaries and our own security drives. It is the planet that swings into action when we need to know just exactly where we stand, so having social structures, guidelines and rules to abide by are all part of Saturn’s realm. Saturn gives the physical sense of self which we gain through the body. The structure, organisation and limitation associated with Saturn are present in the various systems in the body – the respiratory system, the circulatory system, and the digestive system, to mention just a few. The skeletal system provides a firm, solid physical structure around which the other systems are organised. As all these systems are interdependent, their clear-cut organisation is vital. The skin – our own boundary which marks our physical outermost limits – contains them all.
Saturn helps us to become responsible and reliable as individuals; if we live within the rules and guidelines of society then we reap the benefits of feeling safe and secure. Saturn is the perfect foil to unfettered over-expansiveness and behaviour which can get out of hand. If not contained, our excesses can take us beyond the limits of acceptability. Saturn helps in curbing what might become outrageous and antisocial behaviour by giving us a sense of caution and responsibility. Taken to extremes, this sense of caution can become fear, holding us back and restricting us in everyday life, so it’s important with Saturn that we get the balance right, and that we don’t allow our fears to hold us back from doing what is important for us. Because it symbolises such qualities as responsibility and caution Saturn may not sound like much fun, so it’s important that we understand its positive attributes. It’s value should not be underestimated as it plays an essential role in our psychological make up. Like all the planetary qualities and energies, it can operate at different levels of consciousness, sometimes dormant and inert and responding in a habitual manner, but at its highest level Saturn will endow us with the ability to act with dignity and maturity. Then we can live with a clear conscience, accessing the deep learning of life we have developed, and become a mentor and benefactor to those who seek our help, support or advice.
What we know about Saturn astronomically – that it has rings which form a boundary around it – reflects the astrological meaning of the planet. Its protective rings are akin to the qualities of limitation and boundaries which are astrologically associated with Saturn. Psychologically, Saturn can be like a millstone. It can represent those things in life which are really heavy & which drag us down, so has the effect of being the “killjoy of the cosmos”, but it can also be like a wise mentor, guiding, teaching and advising with our best interests and safety at heart.
At the moment there are a lot of people getting fed up with the restraints we’re living under to help curb the growth and spread of Covid-19, so it’s easy to understand how these limits might feel like a heavy millstone, a drag on what we’re used to being free to do. This might make us rebel against the Saturnian harshness of where we are now, yet our lives would almost certainly be a chaotic mess without Saturnian qualities around to provide the structure and practical grounding of living in the material world, especially now our current world and lifestyles and jobs are under threat.
Saturn is also associated with taking responsibility, and this includes our responsibility towards the material world we live in, and to the people who live in it. With the pandemic upon us and many changes taking place in the world, these issues come sharply into focus. Climate change and global warming are lumped into this mix, and we are beginning to be more aware of our own connectedness to everything, and fast starting to raise our consciousness in relation to what is happening in our environment alongside what we see happening to us and our previous, pre-Covid lifestyles. All this is the stuff of Saturn.
If we consider the dictionary definitions of the words “millstone” and “mentor”, a millstone is described as “something that grinds or crushes – a heavy burden”. A mentor, on the other hand, is defined as “a wise and faithful counsellor, a teacher or instructor”. We have aspects of the two faces of Saturn here – and it would be preferable by far to have a teacher or guide – or even a wise scientific advisor – to offer help and suggestions and plain honest truth when it’s needed, than a heavy, grinding millstone weighing us down and telling us, like a disciplinarian, what to do, especially if it’s not explained clearly.
Saturnian manifestations are all around us once we start looking. For example, on the Western Isles of Scotland – the Outer Hebrides – the buildings are solid, sturdy crofter’s cottages made of stone. These are thatched in the traditional way but along the edge of the thatching there are huge pebbles and rocks from the beach which have been tied and threaded into the structure of the roof in a kind of “hair net” to keep the thatch in place when the wind blows. What a wonderful practical example of Saturn – the materials are so accessible, being available close by so all that has to be done is to haul them up from the beach.
How about the Saturnian manifestations in every day life that make us feel safe or protected in some way? On a personal and physical level there are belts, braces, safety pins, carrying extra tissues, having your phone with you, using car seat belts, wearing foundation garments and yes – now we can add wearing face coverings too.
Start thinking about Saturn in an everyday context and you will notice how many signs and notices there are around which have a Saturnian flavour. These fall into two broad categories which correspond to the millstone or mentor idea. There are the prohibitive signs, which are like the millstone – “Don’t do this…don’t do that”, and then there are the protective ones which are mentor, guiding, protector and teacher-like.
Prohibitive and protective
Of course, there are the usual, familiar, “Keep off the grass”, “Keep Out” and “No parking” signs. If you look at a road atlas which lists different road signs, you’ll find that the page with the prohibitive road signs is headed “Prohibitory or regulatory signs” – all very millstone. These include things like weight restrictions and bridge height restrictions and so on; we’re so used to seeing them that we don’t even stop and think about them.
Let’s consider the protective signs. These are slightly different, not coming from quite the same place. “Toads crossing” might raise a smile, but these can be seen in several places around the UK. These signs often include “Please beware at spawning time of year” to protect the toads who have their minds on other things. That one has benevolent, mentoring qualities to it. And there are things included here which are intended to guide and protect, like the “high voltage” sign and the reminder to watch out for rocks falling if you are driving through a mountainous area where Saturn can sometimes be just that bit “looser”, with rocks that will easily tumble down.
In everyday life the aim is to get a balance somewhere between Saturn being too prohibitive and too protective. That would mean coming from a place of conscious choice, where we’re choosing and are aware that we might have a millstone Saturn somewhere inside us, and a mentor Saturn somewhere inside us as well. These might be two different parts of us, and these parts might sometimes get into conflict, so the aim is to find a place in the middle where we can choose whether we listen to the millstone and let it hold us back, or listen to the mentor, and allow it guide us and move us forward a little, especially in these new uncharted waters of change and responsibility to ourselves and others as we learn and adapt to living a new “normal”.
Remembering what David Nabbaro said could be helpful as we learn to adapt:
This virus isn’t going away for the foreseeable future – we’ve all got to learn to live with it.”
My short video on Saturn might be helpful too.