Saturn’s cycle can be
broken down into 7 year increments. These increments, or quarters,
signal Saturn aspects to the natal (birth) position. If a person is at
an age that is divisible by seven, chances are they are experiencing
Saturn challenges. The first complete Saturn cycle generally follows
this developmental model:
Age 7: (waxing square) solidification of basic identity and
nature; testing parental authority, learning right and wrong – basis
Age 14: (opposition) fears of physical maturation/puberty,
issues with self-control and defiance toward authority figures,
gender-based issues, full awareness of external limits
Age 21: (waning square) fears of facing the real world, leaving
the security of the parental nest and making initial personal
decisions about life path
Age 28: (first Saturn return) sole responsibility for life-path
decisions; personality solidifies; realization of limits of personal
potential in the world, adolescent concepts of self degrade and fail.
age 30, after the first Saturn return, one is expected to shoulder adult
responsibilities in career, family and parenting areas. Saturn’s first
cycle boils down to accountability: having the character to accept the
responsibility for one’s actions, and no longer casting blame on the
parents or family environment. Typical events during this first return
are dramatic career changes, marriage, becoming a parent, or ending an
Sometimes the onset of the Saturn return brings a phase of deep
depression, which may be a form of grieving for the lost dreams and
hopes of childhood. Some experience a phase of de-conditioning, as
they become aware that some of the traits, behaviors, or beliefs about
their potential that they were taught are dysfunctional, self-defeating,
or limiting. The point is to accept the consequences of one’s actions.
If not, the second Saturn cycle can prove treacherous.
Age 35: (2nd waxing square) adjust choices made
during the prior Saturn return. Minor restructuring, tests of
increasing authority and responsibility.
Age 42: (2nd opposition) moving beyond self-imposed
restrictions, desire more authority and self-determination in life
path. May experience cumulative health problems, realization of aging
and mortality. Achieve full personal potential, and apply dedication
and hard work to demonstrate mastery within healthy limits
Age 49: (2nd waning square): reducing obligations
that are no longer valid. Menopause for women; children leaving home;
restructure toward more specialized career. Stop trying to make
everyone happy, master coping skills
Age 56: (2nd Saturn return) Summation of life path,
assessment of personal history. Continual process of streamlining
duties and responsibilities; grand-parenting or caring for elders,
detachment from children
Where the first Saturn return requires energetic participation in the
outer world, the second cycle peaks at the opposition (age 42) and
begins a slow but inevitable retreat from worldly concerns. Some are
retiring or planning their retirement as this cycle closes; conversely,
late bloomers may be at the most exciting period of their lives. The
most difficult part of this second return is the component of
self-assessment: the acknowledgement of failures or successes, the
compelling reduction of future potentials, waning physical prowess, and
the fear of growing old.
Age 63: (3rd waxing square) retirement, downsizing
of family responsibilities, property, worldly concerns; restructure
financial concerns, replace work with hobbies
Age 70: (3rd opposition) increasing physical
limitations, exiting mainstream of life, struggling to relate to
events in the outer world and new technology
Age 77: (3rd waning square) physical problems,
weakening constitution, challenges in completing life’s work,
shrinking social contacts, isolation
Age 84: (3rd Saturn return) acceptance of self as an
elder, resolving personal beliefs and philosophies, coming to terms
with life experiences and view of death
The third Saturn cycle (final for most) is characterized by diminishing
physical strength and losses through death. Life is shrinking and
ebbing. Yet there can be benefits in this cycle through a modified form
of accountability. People who lose friends can make new ones. Wisdom
gained in the prior two Saturn cycles can be shared with younger people
through grand parenting, mentoring or writing. This phase is a battle
with the forces of gravity, as the body and mind tend to shrink toward
the earth. People in this phase can actively work to maintain health
through diet and physical activity. More esoteric and intellectual
achievements in this phase include efforts to remain aware of new
technologies, political activism, social welfare and philanthropy. The
previous cycle’s efforts at manifesting personal potential can be
transferred to energy for improving society’s potential.
SATURN AND THE TAROT
For tarotists, the easiest way to utilize this information is simply to
determine the age of the client. If the number is divisible by seven,
Saturn is in one of its quarters. Because Saturn’s orbit is irregular,
the older the client, the greater the variation of the occurrence of the
quarters – give a 1 year leeway at the end of the second and all of the
third Saturn cycles.
Saturn cycles have a rule-of-thumb for expected lessons and tests.
Clients under ages 28-30 are being tested in basic adult
responsibilities and maturity. From age 30 to 56, the person is
struggling with more complex responsibilities in family life and their
career. The hidden test is the flowering of personal potential, above
and beyond day-to-day responsibilities. Those who are age 58 to 84 (and
over) are facing the tests of shrinking potential and lifestyle, the
reality of self-assessment, the loss of loved ones, and the limitations
of old age.
a tarot spread, Saturn’s influence will be evident for clients that are
at Saturn-sensitive ages. Readers should expect to see cards that
indicate frustrations, heavy responsibilities, illness, or critical life
structure decisions. The key to determining the client’s ability to
handle and pass Saturn’s tests will show in neighboring cards. If the
testing cards are followed by cards that indicate the exercise of
self-authority and a view beyond present difficulties to future
possibilities, they should be able to pass their Saturn tests. If the
subsequent cards show continual fear, avoidance, procrastination, or
lack of commitment to any one choice, the client is being ambushed by
their fears and refusing to exercise their own options within their
Saturn corresponds to the Judgment card, and also to the Devil. When
these cards appear in a spread, they indicate a Saturnian issue that
requires a mature self-assessment. In the Devil card, one chooses to be
bound or chained to a problem, or to release the issue with losses. In
the Judgment card, more fortitude is evident with the trumpet’s blast –
the troops are being summoned and resources mobilized. This card
usually indicates commitment to a decision, so is a more positive aspect
of Saturn in the tarot.
Saturn is the planet that puts the “reality check” in the mail. If a
client’s spread shows that they are paralyzed and fraught with
anxieties, the tarotist may gently guide the client into a discussion of
their fears. This is particularly helpful if the discussion helps the
client distinguish their real fears from imaginary ones. Real fears may
require hard work to manage and overcome, and some losses may be
sustained in this process. Ideally, the client becomes able to discard
their imaginary fears so they can fully focus on handling the real
challenges in their environment.
THE CUBE OF SATURN
Saturn’s effects are lasting, and this is most evident in the areas of
core reality, personal management and coping skills. Saturn is
restrictive in nature, and the fee for moving to the next level is
recognizing the test at hand. Yet one may pass to the next level
without success, because failure is in itself an important lesson.
Another test is learning to cope with failure with acceptance and
careful inquiry into its causes. Bitterness, pitiful regrets and
cynicism have no place in this process.
This spread is designed to examine the slow process of adjusting,
learning and coping with Saturn’s lessons. Saturn is, in some
kabalistic systems, attributed to the third Sephiroth, Binah. Saturn
creates the solidity of the 3 dimensions that constitute our reality.
The spread below contains 3 axes as a reminder that Saturn’s lessons
occur in reality.
begin the spread, select a Planetary Significator – a card that
represents Saturn. This may be Judgment, the card attributed to Saturn
in the Golden Dawn system, or some other card that the client feels is
appropriate. Some prefer the Hermit as an image of the wise old man.
Place the card on the table, and meditate on the card to establish a
line of communication to the planet. After the deck has been shuffled,
place seven cards in the layout shown above.
This spread should be interpreted by examining its 3 axes. The first
axis is the Axis of Depth, and these three cards (1-7-2) show the
extent to which Saturn is operating. It will reveal immediate and
long-term prospects in the learning cycle. The cards in this axis show
the person’s terms with reality and their environment, as well as their
ability to identify and manage their patterns. It may also show
reactions to being restricted by external circumstances, or the
determination to be pro-active in spite of them.
Card 1: Inner Reality
- This card represents the client’s current experience of Saturn,
including physical strains, inner fears and doubts.
Card 2: Outer Reality
- Shows external conditions, obstacles, sources of oppression; may be a
literal expression of this via tarot symbolism. This card is what the
client perceives as an external boundary.
The second axis is the Axis of Width. Cards 3 and 4 show the
capacity to grasp patterns and reach for solutions. Learning and growth
are a life-long process. This axis gives details about current lessons,
including the teachers presenting these lessons, or those who may be of
assistance in learning. These two cards can show conflicts in one’s
concept of reality versus the actuality of it.
Card 3: Student
– The vulnerable self struggling to cope with immanent lessons. Degree
of openness or resistance to new viewpoints is shown here, as well as
defense mechanisms and emotional shields that may hinder growth.
Card 4: Teacher – This reveals the spiritual mentor: a source of
compelling awareness, the form of the teacher in the external world that
mirrors resistance, obstinate blindness, false beliefs and conditioning,
righteousness or prejudice.
The third axis is the Axis of Height. The parent-child axis
delineates the life-long focus on fundamental human relationship
structures. Initially it is parent-child, but with age extends to
siblings, relatives, teachers, bosses, partners, and lovers.
Inter-personal continuity is given form through continuous channels of
relating to the other, and structured with rules, protocols, conditions,
courtesies, and status awareness. This axis shows if these forms are
experiencing benefits or limitations, and reveals the balance of control
Card 5: Child – This card shows personal expression and consciousness of
self. The goal is self-discipline, and the struggle to attain or
maintain it at every level of maturation. As the student is a
vulnerable learner, the child is a vulnerable relater.
Card 6: Parent – Represents authority figures, external sources of rules or
restrictions in relationships. This card reveals the quality of the
elder, the conveyer of traditions, expectations, and the models of
conformity. The card will show if this is healthy and welcome, or
onerous and oppressive. The card may also convey messages from deceased
relatives and ancestors, particularly grandparents.
final seventh card is drawn and placed in the center, on top of the
planetary significator card.
Card 7: Cube of Saturn
– this card is the point of intersection of the three axes, and gives a
summation of the potential development of the current Saturn cycle. It
may indicate areas to restructure, develop, or discard; and may also
encourage mastery and long-term improvement. This card represents
Saturn’s message to the client, the future of the evolving reality.
The Cube of Saturn spread may be used for anyone experiencing a Saturn
cycle, and is also useful for those with other kinds of difficult Saturn
transits (Saturn’s conjunctions, squares or oppositions to natal
planets, outer-planet conjunctions to natal or progressed Saturn, etc.)
Saturn tends to give its tests in areas of particular weakness or
vulnerability. Each person faces these tests, although some may
encounter them at different cycles than others, so the testing program
is personalized to accommodate the development of the individual. The
reader may need to do a little coaching and cheerleading to encourage a
client toward both accountability and decisiveness, but often making
them aware of the testing process is sufficient. Humans are imperfect
creatures, and Saturn challenges the undesirable qualities – fears,
weaknesses, insecurities, and irresponsible neglect. But if a person
can figure out the question, they usually can pass the test. This
confers Saturn’s greatest benefit – authority over one’s life path, and
the confidence that is the result of mature accountability.