Saturn in Libra I: Working on Our Manners


Saturn has just changed signs for the first time since Sep 07, having left Virgo last Thursday (Oct 29) to enter Libra, the sign of its exaltation.

Between now and Oct 2012 (with a brief retrograde reentry into Virgo from Apr 7 to Jul 21 10), Saturn's transit through Libra will inspire the dedicated among us to push for stronger allegiances, fairer compromises and more participatory negotiations.

Saturn is traditionally considered to have quite an advantage in Libra, since the archetypal principles behind both the planet and the sign relate to balance. We might not commonly think of Saturn in such terms, so busy we are with demonizing his essential disciplining nature (because who really ever wants to hear the word 'no', even if we know it's what we need to hear?). Yet, Saturn as a 'great corrector' ultimately supports balance, at least insofar as restricting our fullest range of everything-goes movement and disincentivizing our excesses by delivering negative consequences. (At his stingiest and most risk-averse, Saturn can also create imbalance by freezing all change to the point of inertia and, eventually, death. That's where Jupiter or Uranus come in with their corrective measures.)

In Libra, an air-sign oriented toward deliberately considering both sides of a situation (whether interpersonally or in one's head, devil's-advocate-style), Saturn functions at his prudent best. Saturn in Libra is less likely to shut himself off to alternative options that promise potential win-win solutions, like other strong Saturns (e.g., Capricorn, Aquarius) that might presume to possess the one-and-only best-and-correct answer or refuse immediate concessions in unwavering favor of longer-term plans. On the other hand, he's also unlikely to rush into short-sided agreements or cluelessly neglect to keep self-centered behaviors in check. Saturn in Libra, then, is both open and cautious, responsive but not reactive.

Whatever sign Saturn's traveling through doesn't merely indicate the flavor with which we might utilize his structuring powers, but also which types of indulgent behaviors may require some responsible tempering. For that insight, I look to the worst stereotypical representations of a sign—and in the case of Libra, that's the insincere posturing of pleasantness intended to maintain cordial interpersonal connections, no matter the ethical cost.

Saturn in Libra inspires us to cap our people-pleasing tendencies, knowing that we sometimes will displease someone by doing what we genuinely want. Librans can suffer from crippling inaction, as a result of either (1) so fearfully imagining how another person will react that they'd rather keep 'em happy than tend to their own needs or (2) not even being sure what those needs are, due to an over-reliance on coolly considering every angle and seeing value in them all. Our heart's truest desires don't usually arise from cool consideration, alas. They are pure and ambiguous. We just know.

Saturn in Libra urges us to verbalize what's true for us—not without a willingness to listen and learn and adapt, of course, but also without withholding in fear of disagreeing with or disappointing someone else. Saying the right thing in the right moment to get them to like us (especially when we know they probably wouldn't if we said what we were really thinking) ultimately perpetuates a superficial connection based on deception. Too much of that, and we feel unseen and unappreciated for who we really are… meanwhile surrounding ourselves with folks that aren't quite right for us, or who we honestly don't really like much.

Now, let me be clear that being polite to others, in my mind, is definitely not the same as saying whatever it takes to make 'em like us. Politeness, if it is genuine, works off a notion of basic respect for all other humans occupying this increasingly crowded and insane planet of ours. We don't actually have to personally like someone to treat them with dignity and kindness. Manners are our agreed-upon codes for successfully maneuvering through the social contract so that we may successfully share public space with each other—a social contract that is currently being violated left and right, through infractions minor and major, rude cell-phone etiquette, mean-spirited Internet commentary, the split-screen cable-news argumentation show, road rage, and plenty of flagrant disregard for the suffering of others. (See also: Health care debate.)

As so eloquently put by NPR news editor Dick Meyer in Why We Hate Us, his meditation on 'American discontent in the new millennium', manners in their highest Saturn-in-Libra form are indeed a most integral part of social life: '[T]he goal of teaching both character and manners is to habituate a person to acting on higher impulses, to being respectful toward other people automatically… The challenge comes from spontaneous situations, when snap decisions and a quick tongue are required. That's when instinct takes over. Character and manners ought to guide instinct, not in a way that makes us phony but In a way that makes us authentic (sincere, moral, effortful) and respectful. Manners are always needed when dealing with others…'

During the nearly three years ahead, with Saturn in Libra, we'll have ample opportunity to put our manners to good use… if, that is, we're actually interested in brokering partnerships, building collaborative achievements, weighing choices, and politely discussing how we can all proceed together. This exalted Saturn can bring us healthy doses of interpersonal patience, so we may pause long enough in our quest to 'be right' that we actually come to understand that opposing point-of-view we'd otherwise prematurely (and, most likely, rudely) dismiss.

We don't have to agree in order to demonstrate respect for the person talking and empathy for the personal experiences that resulted in their believing as they do. Need I mention, the more patiently and openly and fairly we listen to them and validate their experience, the likelier the favor will be met in kind? And maybe, just maybe, putting such Saturn-in-Libra-inspired considerateness into practice, we can find ourselves having actual dialogues (rather than shouting matches between partisans speaking essentially different languages, who not only don't like each other but feel no obligation to at least be polite about it)?

Ah, strong exalted Saturn in Libra… if only your tremendous gifts could be dispensed and utilized inside an astrological bubble, unperturbed by other planets' meddling aspects. With you as a lone-ranger guardian of justice and relational diligence, our ability to sit at the proverbial bargaining table and calmly piece together efforts that simultaneously suit the needs of multiple perspectives (without anybody overpowering anybody else), just think of how much we could get done.

Alas, that just isn't the way the world, astrological or otherwise, functions. Everything's interrelated, after all. And Uranus continues to oppose Saturn for another many months, to be joined by Jupiter (once they both move into Aries mid-2010) to pose a formidable challenge to 'acting on higher impulses'. The formula: Planet of rebellion (Uranus) + planet that makes things bigger (Jupiter) in the impulsive, action-oriented, me-first initiatory fire sign of the zodiac (Aries) = a massive burst of spontaneous, potentially chaotic energy that pushes something new into being very fast. Significantly different feel than Saturn in Libra, indeed.

Plus, Saturn is also now within one degree of squaring Pluto in Capricorn, exact on Nov 15 and remaining in effect through September of next year. This Saturn-Pluto square adds even more intensity, depth and darkness to already crazy times. At the last Saturn-Pluto hard aspect (an opposition) in 2001-2002, the World Trade Center towers came down and the 'War on Terror' began. I'll have more to say on this Saturn-Pluto square shortly…