I was chatting last night to a friend who’d just returned from being abroad, and she said she’d done nothing yesterday, and began justifying it in terms of all the travel she'd been doing etc. I thought no, that’s the wrong way round, and it’s so typical of how people feel in our society. As long as we are busy, we feel OK about ourselves. But if we’re doing nothing in particular for any length of time, we start to feel bad about ourselves.
This is what I call the western negative Saturn, and it sits there in square to the Sun in the chart of that most western of all countries, the USA.
I think that simply being is our basic state. If there is nothing to be done, then don’t do anything, just fiddle around and be you. It is the doing that needs justifying, not the being. If you are doing something, then make sure you have a good reason for it, and that it’s not the usual stuff about feeling like you ought to be busy, that without it you wouldn’t feel like you were a real person, that you should be 'achieving' something and making a ‘contribution to society' etc.
I see this quite a lot as an astrologer: a big transit comes along and the person can’t carry on as before and it makes them feel like they are a mess because their identity is so caught up with the act of doing. I say it's good to feel like you're a directionless mess, put time aside for it every day! I recently told one friend with a very fixed chart that it might be good for her to just fall apart for a while, and she replied no, I don't need to do that, I did that 10 years ago, been there done that. For once I was almost lost for words!
Saturn describes both the being and the doing. Saturn is on the one hand the worldly taskmaster, he is our ability to give shape to our lives, to become good at what we do, to apply ourselves and produce results and to make our way in the world. That is all well and good. He acquires his negative form when we feel we are nothing without all that, that unless we are continually producing measurable results then we are nothing.
Saturn sets boundaries. These boundaries are not just the forms and obstacles through which we outwardly live. He is also the boundary around ourself, he is our solitude and what we do with it. Saturn is the place we come back to at the end of the day when we are in the armchair, or driving to and from work.
So Saturn is these 2 poles, which isn’t how we usually think of him: the outward achievement and the inner contemplation. This is why he is the Hermit card in the Mythic Tarot.
Saturn sets the boundaries around our outer and inner lives. And he adopts his negative form at either pole if we do not pay attention to the other pole. The one-sided inner Saturn never takes his place in the world, never develops his talents, never quite arrives on the planet. The one-sided outer Saturn never knows any peace, is always driven to achieve more and more, even though this ‘achievement’ probably only impresses those who are driven by the same demon.
The place I live in, Glastonbury, has a lot of the negative inner Saturn about. In many ways Glastonbury represents a continuation of the counter-culture that began in the 60s, and its shadow is the world of work and money and success. A lot of people here are suspicious of anyone with a regular professional job, or who is in any way connected to the establishment. We become that which we oppose, and one of the last people I’d trust with my money would be a fundamentalist hippy.
So both poles of Saturn are needed for life to work. We need to find our place in the world, but we also need our messy solitude. And different people will have different emphases depending on their time of life and their chart. If you’ve got Sun and Moon up near the top of the chart, your life is about what you do, and it can be quite hard to think of quiet time as anything other than what happens between bouts of activity. Knowledge of your real motivations may not be your strong suit. If you’ve got Sun and Moon underneath the Asc/Desc axis, then you’ll want to take time before you act, you’ll want to feel things through so that when you do something, it’s for the right reason, there will be depth to what you do. But you may also back off from activity because you don’t feel too confident out there in the world.