Friday, September 17, 2010

Why is Saturn Exalted in Libra?


Saturn is currently in Libra, and will remain there for another 2 years. Saturn is exalted in Libra, which means it has the potential to function at its best, due to its synergy with the sign. Why is Saturn exalted in Libra? If you Google this question, you’ll find a few answers out there.

The answer that came to me last night is that Saturn is a planet of manifestation, of drawing down ideas from the imagination and giving them concrete form. If this is done under the sign of Libra, then all sides of the matter are considered before action is taken (this is also a quality that comes naturally to Saturn.) So things get done properly. You can also see why Saturn should be in its fall in the opposite sign of Aries, which will rush Saturn into action without proper consideration.

Being the planet that sets boundaries, Saturn can be self-centred – me and ‘my’ achievement. In Libra Saturn is forced to consider others, to realise that any achievement needs to take place within the wider context of personal relationships. So you get a healthy functioning of Saturn. In Aries, a very self-centred Saturn can arise, that may well achieve more in the obvious, superficial sense, but in so doing creates a desert in its personal relationships.

This idea of the context being personal relationships is well illustrated in one of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo detective novels, in which people are described not by what they’ve done with their lives, but by who they are related to. You get this in other tribal cultures as well, and I heard about it with a sense of relief! It seems a much more natural and human way of going about things. Describing people by what they do contains a big potential for judgment, whereas it’s harder to admire or blame someone for who they are related to. Just this simple difference suggests a very different way of looking at the world, and it makes you realise why Indians can have such a hard time adapting to our ways.

I also have a hard time adapting to our ways! My response to this sort of pressure has always been to back off, rather than find myself a ‘proper’ 9 to 5 lifestyle in which I can hold my head up high.

It’s the western negative Saturn that I’ve banged on about a number of times in my blog. Of course, there is a place for Saturn, he is essential. A person needs the wherewithal to take care of themselves and their dependents, just like wild animals do.
It’s a natural quality. But why the pressure to do more than this, why the exaltation of those who waste their lives creating far more material wealth for themselves than they need? Why the subtle or not so subtle denigration of those who have a sense of what is sufficient and other interests they wish to follow?

So this context of personal relationships that Saturn in Libra points to is an important one for our culture. More widely, Venus-ruled Libra is about our values, what is important to us, so Saturn in this sign points to a re-consideration of what really matters behind all the pressures to conform and to achieve.

This theme is very prominent in the US Sibly Chart. The Sun in Cancer is square to Saturn in 10th House Libra, a powerful place for Saturn to be by both Sign and House. The Sun in the sign of family, and in Libra’s House, develops the theme of Saturn in Libra.

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Cancer and Libra are square signs, suggesting more generally that family and personal relationships can be at odds with one another, that for example too close an identification with family can make it hard to have friends. Or the other way round: Airy Libra can have many friends, but this can be at the cost of the instinctual closeness to others, the sense of belonging, that Cancer can provide.

In the case of the US, Saturn in Libra in the 10th describes the country’s need for a prominent place in the world, and its ability to get there. But the square to the Cancer Sun in the 7th suggests that while the country’s relationships are fundamental to its sense of itself, it also finds it hard to relate to others except through its own tribal values and needs. The Sun rules the 9th House of beliefs, and Saturn rules the second house of wealth and the economy. So we can also see how America’s relations with other countries are closely tied in with the economy (2nd House) and its own ideologies (9th).

The US seems to find it unusually difficult to take other countries as they come. They are judged on how close their political system is to their own, and more importantly on how willing they are to do business with America. America will always pressurise other countries to adopt its own political system, which for them is a belief, an ideology, a religion. But they are ultimately cynical, for it is even more important that these countries do business with them, and they don’t care what type of government they have to install in order to do this. This is the real basis of American foreign policy. (See John Pilger’s The War on Democracy for a documented account of this.)

Barack Obama let some of this slip out recently when he gave a speech to coincide with the ending of the combat mission in Iraq. He talked about his hopes for Iraq, and that it would become a normal country with whom America could be a business partner. There you have it. A country is not normal unless it is willing to do business with America. It is not evil of America to be like this, just unconscious, in the way that individuals are usually unconscious of their own egotism.

All countries have their national blind spots, and all countries to some extent share America’s. But the urge to be number one (Saturn in the 10th), the tendency to judge others by its own tribal values (Sun in Cancer square to Saturn), the need to do business with them (Saturn ruling the 2nd) and to impose its own ideologies (Sun rules the 9th; Sag Rising) are particularly intense because they are prominent in the US chart.

The US is undergoing a Saturn return this year – and by the same token, a square transit from Saturn to the Sun. So all this is up for re-consideration: Saturn in Airy Libra may bring an ability to reflect, particularly on how it relates to other countries. The US has a President who can reflect (Obama has airy Moon and ASC.) Also the US Progressed Saturn turned retrograde for the first time some years ago and is starting to pick up speed. So its relative place in the world (Saturn, 10th House) is in long-term decline, and ‘failure’ is always a good time for reflection.

In my last blog I quoted an idea of Jim Sher’s called Pure Progress. The idea is that there is a short period each year when Saturn covers a part of the zodiac that it will not later re-trace when it goes retrograde, for it will not go back that far, nor did Saturn retrograde over it previously. We are in one of those periods now (5th Sept to 23rd Oct). Jim Sher’s experience is that this represents a time when we can achieve new things very easily, for Saturn is not in a place that has needed, or will need, re-visiting through its retrograde motion, and all the preparatory work has been done in the previous retrograde cycle.

My own experience of this period has been is that in the few months prior, when Saturn was re-visiting direct for the 3rd and final time in late Virgo/early Libra, events unfolded quickly and smoothly as I found a new house and made arrangements to move, but it was also the direct outcome of planning and effort that had gone before. Though it went smoothly, it was still hard work.
As Saturn moved into ‘Pure Progress’ in early Sept, the unpacking slowed down, and I’ve moved into a period of deliberately not manifesting anything new, of landing in the new area I’m now living in. But that is also Saturn, who because of his boundaries is associated with solitude and contemplation. And this is starting to happen naturally and easily.

So it is as though the Saturn Direct motion, while it was re-visiting in the late spring/summer, produced good results of efforts that had gone before, but it was hard work; then as it moved into ‘Pure Progress’, events moved into a new area and are happening easily.


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