transiting Saturn

Turning Saturn Around: 1

Saturn's rings

In this short series of articles we are looking at the significance of Saturn in contemporary esoteric astrology.

Much excellent work has been done in recent years on this important planet by the Jungian astrologers, notably, Stephen Arroyo, Liz Greene and the late Howard Sasportas. Their work is essential reading for any serious student of horoscopy.

For the esoteric astrologer, however, whose focus is soul-personality alignment, Saturn has a significance that goes beyond its role as the authority principle and the lesson-teacher, and certainly way beyond its reputation as a malefic and bringer of misfortune that was underwritten by generations of pre-Jungian Astrologers in the West, a perception that is still upheld in the cultures dominated by the idea of fate.

For the esoteric astrologer dealing with mentally developed man, Saturn is the representative of the Third Ray which expresses the third aspect of Divinity, the Holy Spirit. Those of us in incarnation in these disruptive times and wanting to use our lifetimes to the best possible effect, need to understand this aspect of Saturn thoroughly. And when we do understand it thoroughly we will never again judge our lives, ourselves or another because we will understand that each moment, even if  it contains pain or a perceived defeat is a legitimate, contributing experience.

We have a responsibility all of us to have adequate expectations of life Why should we not expect to suffer? It has been a part of  the evolutionary process since time began. Yet, willfully, we hold onto expectations that make suffering an aberration. So often we fail to understand because we do not wish to understand if this involves being parted from out sentimental ideas of how things should be. Shortly we will be entering the Christmas Season during which  we are encouraged to exchange all kinds of platitudes about peace on earth. We have no business expecting peace on earth when we ourselves cannot control the envy, pride and resentment that exists within us. Where does all the trouble in the world come from if not from within each of us? Hope has its rightful place when it inspires, and not when it replaces, human effort. We need the practice: the evolutionary process has not yet brought us to the place where we can use  long periods of peace productively.

To understand Saturn as the agent of the Third Ray, let us start at the top with the three Divine aspects that express the totality of Being: Life, Quality and Appearance; Father Son and Holy Spirit; the first, second and third Aspects that are expressed through the First Second and Third rays. In the Theosophical tradition, the Third Ray is called the Ray of Active Intelligence because, in addition to governing manifestation itself  (Appearance), it governs understanding of the purpose of manifestation and evolution.

The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Rays are all differentiations of the mighty Third Ray, and represent different aspects of manifestation and different ways of understanding experience in manifestation.

The Third Ray enters our solar system through the constellations Cancer (the door into incarnation), Libra (the point of equilibrium) and Capricorn  (the door out of incarnation). Once in the solar system it is fielded by the planet Saturn and our planet Earth. Saturn distributes the Third Ray to mentally developed man, the Earth distributes to those still in a mentally undeveloped state. (i.e., without awareness of themselves).

To a man who has awareness of himself, then, Saturn represents both the point reached in the evolution of the personality and the understanding of the purpose of this evolution. For a man this understanding is the Holy Spirit; it is this that Christ sent to his disciples as they prepared to move out into the world alone. He called it the Comforter.

The Disciples had a rough ride in the world, Divine sanction did not protect them from that, but they were granted the ability to understand and were spared the torment of thinking that their suffering was in vain. It is when the understanding of the experience becomes separated from the experience itself, Saturn becomes the malefic.

We are not be granted exemption from suffering either but what we are granted is the ability to understand its purpose and the opportunity to cooperate with the process of gaining self-mastery . This is the gift of the Holy Spirit brought into our consciousness and our lives by Saturn, the planet that also makes us face the consequence of our own thought processes. It is these thought processes, the product of personality evolution, that create the world that we see and the limitations and suffering contained within it. We can either, through understanding, co-operate with the process and make our thinking more purposeful and more constructive, or we can remain its victims. If we remain its victims we are victims of fate, spiders caught up in webs that we have ourselves spun because fate exists nowhere but in our own minds.

In a chart, Saturn by sign and house position describes the state of the conditioned mind, the mental fabric - containing the idea of Fate - that creative hierarchy called the human personality has spun over lifetimes. Each of us in incarnation has a portion of it, for the duration of a lifetime this portion of the fabric becomes ‘ours’ and it forms the foundation of our personal realities. We act in accordance with the message that this mental pattern emits, and that message will always be about self-survival: how to protect the separated self because the evolutionary process requires perpetuation and continuity. The personality operates within a perimeter fence created by our mental pattern. This fence is guarded by Saturn and it will challenge any attempt by other aspects of the personality, represented by inner planets, to tackle life in a different way. This is Saturn, the ruler of the zodiacal sign, Capricorn, serving the aspect of evolution that requires the preservation of the form. It thrives on the unconscious repetition of the pattern and its means of enforcement is the fear of disintegration. This is the face of Saturn that is turned towards the Moon. It is the face of Fate.

Beyond that perimeter fence is the higher self, the bridge to the Soul, that has a different understanding of what continuity involves where the human kingdom is concerned.. The higher self is governed by Uranus, acting in collaboration with the other outer planets. Collectively, they place Saturn under ceaseless pressure, to try and break down the fence and release consciousness from the limitations imposed by the conditioned mind and release the potential of that human being. In our personality consciousness, the result of their efforts is so often is fear and suffering. But Saturn, as agent of the Holy Spirit understands that aspect of the evolutionary process too. It understands that the very form that is has nurtured has to be shattered to release what is contained inside. Turn Saturn around and you will see the other face, the face that is turned towards the Sun, the symbol of the soul and the veil of Uranus and Neptune. This is the face of the Comforter. It is offering understanding. To be receptive to this understanding, we have to let go of the expectation that things should be other than they are and become willing to see things as they are. It is the first stage in making intelligent choices and it is intelligent choice that will set us free. (see Endnote 1).

When the D.K. Foundation, a Third Ray activity, was set up it was felt that Astrology offered one of the best means available to people on the spiritual path to increase understanding of  the purpose behind our own lives and the process in which we all playing our part. All our activities are part of this attempt to increase understanding and scrape spirituality free from the sentimentality and emotional indulgence that has become attached to it in recent years.

In the following articles, we will be examining Saturn by sign and house position.

Personality / B----<-----G---->-----A /Soul


  1. Rumi has said all this so much better:

The Torrent Leaves
Rise up nimbly and go on your strange journey
to the ocean of meanings where you become one of those.
From one terrace to another through clay banks,
washing your wings with watery silt,
follow your friends.  The pitcher breaks.
You’re in the moving river.  Living Water,
how long will you make clay pitchers
that have to be broken to enter you?
The torrent knows it can’t stay on the mountain.
Leave and don’t look away from the Sun as you go.
Through him you are sometimes crescent, sometimes full.

This quotation from Rumi, in its translation by Coleman Barks, is supplied by courtesy of Kate Wickens, to whom thanks are due.

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