Saturn sets boundaries and limitations and pushes us to achieve, to become good at what we do and to gain recognition for it. Negatively, he fills us with thoughts of what we ought and should be doing, and makes us feel guilty for not measuring up. Well, he doesn’t in reality push us or make us do anything, but he does describe those positive qualities and dysfunctions within ourselves.
The guilt for not measuring up is endemic within our society; it’s what I call the western negative Saturn. You see it in America’s natal Sun square Saturn, and you see it in the Capricornian Sun of the UK, the EU and all those other countries and institutions that were founded on January 1st.
I regularly encounter it in readings, usually in the form of a conflict between what someone wants to do and ideas of career and achievement, which invariably turn out on examination to be someone else’s ideas and not their own. But it’s very powerful, it’s deep within the culture, which is why people find it so difficult when for some reason (usually a major transit!) they can’t keep going like they used to and can no longer ‘justify’ their life to themselves by being busy.
Being busy and working hard: those are the 2 great virtues of negative Saturn. So and so worked very hard for many years, so he is virtuous. No doubt many drug smugglers, gangsters and tyrants have ‘worked hard’ to get to where they’ve got to. And keeping busy and working hard are often an escape from guilt, from the miserable loser-ship of being idle or poor.
Negative Saturn divides society into winners and losers, judges on appearance and never looks beneath the surface to see what is of real value. It does not produce happiness, but it does produce a wealthy country, in which people can be relied on to keep working, keep busy and not to think. It is like the drug that the queen bee produces to keep the workers working and serving the needs of the hive. It is a brainwashing. It is the real conspiracy, except it is collective and unconscious.
It is easy to appeal to people’s sense of inadequacy. Christianity has a lot to answer for, with its notion of Original Sin, as does the Protestant Work Ethic (in East Asia you get the Confucian Work Ethic).
On a bad day, I notice this sense of ‘not measuring up’ as a sort of free floating element within me, and whatever I say to myself, however much I say but I do this and I do that and I’ve done this and I’ve done that, it’s still there. And I don’t think it’s personal, I think I’ve absorbed it from the culture, even though there is also a pronounced Saturn in the charts of my family background.