One particular theme-cluster that keeps appearing has to do with the old story of women finding men they’ve felt deeply connected to and attuned with—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—only to have those men leave them, turn their backs on them, reject them, or betray them in some fundamental way. As usual, these women are jumping into eternal commitment, backed by the secure feeling of deep karmic ties. Most say, “It just makes complete sense.” And it does, within the context of their lives. It has to be right, and it must be forever, because he can read my mind/heart/soul, and I can read his.
When I read these charts, I do see powerful connections: Moon conjunct the Nodes is common, an emphasis on the Twelfth House, conjunctions between the relationship planets to outer planets, the Moon on an angle or the Vertex. These are powerful aspects which engender a sense of belonging and intimacy. It feels deep. It is deep. Most likely, they have never felt anything like this before, and it is mutual—they are both carried away.
The Demands of Relationship Karma
Yes, these ties are lovely. We long to be in these relationships. But, like everything else in astrology, the intense bonding aspects have to be put into context. And before you analyze a synastry, you have to first look at each individual chart to understand the relationship dynamics and yes, relationship karma, that exist there. We can’t rush into a chart comparison without first knowing what we’re dealing with in terms of the individuals involved. All of our decisions and behaviors come back down to who we are as human beings. Decisions based on what others want is a road to disaster.
And this is where the potential astrologer gets lured off the path. What do you look for? How do you analyze the potential for commitment in a natal chart?
The answer isn’t often simple, but there are a number of things to look for, which will help you out. One thing to take into consideration is the importance of Saturn’s position.
Saturn as a “Relationship Planet”
We hear a lot about Saturn as the magical ‘glue’ in a relationship. Couples with good Saturn contacts believe they’ve got an easy road ahead. (Though just wait until a Saturn-based couple has come to the end of the road and learned its lesson. You’ve never seen Mars cut faster than Saturn can.) Saturn is a natural partner to the Moon, via the cardinal angles that define our charts. He is the ‘other’ end of the masculine/feminine divide. And this so-called glue does not work magically or automatically, because the Moon/Saturn, Cancer/Capricorn polarity is about nothing less than the development of conscious awareness—how do I bring my deepest self out into the world at large in a useful way? The Aries/Libra, Mars/Venus end of relationship is about attraction and the balancing of opposites. But the Cancer/Capricorn end of the cross can be a lot more intimate and a lot sexier, if the challenges are met.
This polarity is all about the way relationships allow us to see inside ourselves deeply and make us aware of our interior dynamics—usually in half the time it would take for us to figure it out on our own. The intimacy in allowing another to help us unfold our soul and spirit in the world is one of the great privileges of relationships.
The MC/IC Angle
The archetype of the young couple is represented in the chart by Aries/Libra, the traditional Mars and Venus. This is the way our natural angles behave, our First and Seventh Houses and what they represent—self and other. But the MC/IC is also a dynamic relationship angle. It represents a lot more than the mother and the father, or our home life versus our status in the world. The MC/IC also represents our sexual maturity.
Saturn: Grown-Up Mars
We all begin our childhoods being represented by the Moon, but as we mature, girls move into Venus, and boys move into Mars. And, in order to lead mature and fulfilling lives, we must expand again—women moving into the mature lunar phase, and men to Saturn (this is also why the Moon can be so sexually alive). Saturn is, in effect, a grown-up Mars. If we act spontaneously and instinctively, that action comes from Mars. If we are deliberate in our actions, if we consider them carefully, our actions belong to Saturn. While all of the cardinal signs initiate, Mars gets the fire going, but Saturn uses that fire in a conscious way to forge something useful, necessary, and permanent.
Saturn and Maturity
It’s not easy to move into Saturn—and Saturn is not the only measure of maturity, by any means. Saturn is often avoided because he can make us feel as though the endless potential of youth is being cut off—and it is, by time. We accept this as we get older: our lives have limits—we cannot be all things to all people. Sometimes, however, we live our lives as if they are never-ending; we just go with the flow and convince ourselves of the illusion that we live in a world of eternal possibility. This sounds like a downer, but it isn’t.
What Saturn wants for us is to be our own authority, to know who we are and want we want and need, and to construct a life for ourselves that is true to our innermost being. He won’t settle for less, and he will haunt us until we take the reins of our own lives. At some point, we have to take a course of responsible action. Not because of a need to ‘grow up,’ but because we are meant to deal with the world in a concrete way, and this includes our relations with others. As a wise Virgo friend of mine once said, “You have to make plans for yourself, or else you get caught up in other people’s plans.” In the end, it’s about having respect and reverence for your own existence.
Working with Saturn
Saturn is about mature and considered action—in both sexes, and particularly in relationships. When we work with Saturn, we have to get beyond our fears, our defenses, and our limitations. As everyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, if we act out of fear, defensiveness, or weakness, we are headed for relationship disaster. Saturn is about taking responsibility and seeing things clearly. Saturn is about putting our actions behind what we know to be true.
If we believe one thing and do another, or, if we act without thinking, treating others cruelly because of our own fears and weaknesses, we are not embracing Saturn, we are rejecting him. We are falling down the slippery slope of the immature Mars. If we tell ourselves that it’s okay for others to treat us badly or reject us, because we love them, we are doing neither ourselves, our partners, nor love itself a favor. Sadly, many of us have picked up the pattern early in life that rejection itself, and the longing that goes with it, is how we define love. Helping us to face this truth is another of Saturn’s tasks.
In a male chart, a lot of difficult aspects to Saturn may hinder the process of mature action. If Saturn is prominent, and tied with the Moon or Venus, there may be issues with the feminine side, particularly in terms of needing to control what it perceives to be an uncontrolled force. Saturn, in both sexes, can represent issues with authority figures, where authority becomes the embodiment of evil. In truth, we cannot self-actualize without becoming our own boss. We need to know ourselves and express that self in the world.
Unfortunately, as a recent class I taught in assassinations showed, a troubled Saturn is often made manifest by perceiving others as representative of oppression and control, and we often may not acknowledge our own controlling or avoiding behavior. How can we have a healthy relationship, if we refuse to admit to our share of the shadow? Sometimes, too, when Saturn is prominent, there is a reluctance to embrace independence itself. We prefer to be children, allowing others to make our decisions for us. Worse, we can just accept whatever authority figures or society want from us, rather than working through our own wants and needs.
Saturn in Transit and Progression
People often change when Saturn is highlighted by transit or, especially, by progression. Challenges to progressed Saturn from the progressed chart are often when old attitudes to commitment can be healed and old conflicts resolved. Saturn by transit often brings us opportunities to show that we have grown, if we face up to the challenges. (If we put our heads in a bucket and refuse change, which is the other path Saturn offers, we are guaranteed to be hit harder next time Saturn knocks on the door.)
Yes, there are slippery Neptunians, power-hungry Plutonians, and escape-happy Uranians, but, when it comes to relationships and commitments, stop and take a thorough look at the problems and strengths of Saturn in the chart. For those of you who are looking for commitment, this is the first step of synastry.
Does Saturn function as the glue in your relationships? Tell us about it in comments below.