Saturn, planet of karma and success, moves into its own sign of Capricorn on January 24th for a two-and-a-half year stay. Since late 2017, in Sagittarius, Saturn has focused on the Church, populist politics and the so-called 'post-truth' era, but now solidifies its issues in its natural domain of power and administration. We go from the relativity of philosophical Sagittarius to a more rigid and authoritarian tone, which is still a better and more stable home for Saturn's earthy, uncompromising nature and our overall ambitions. Yes, there are overtones of statism and control-freakery in store, but this is Saturn's domain where it expresses itself best and leaves potentially lasting results.
Rather than superficial change or compromise with the establishment, this period is where government itself starts to transform. Our idea of what is lasting and small-c conservative goes from the pretence of spirituality and wisdom to an alignment with actual eternal truths. The Sagittarius period had the ideas, now it's time to implement them. We get the government we deserve, and the positive side of this transit is progressive and life-supporting tendencies are enhanced to the extent we manifest them in our own lives. Sounds grand? Not really: we can have a direct effect on the world by meditating and consciousness-raising, and Saturn in its practical home grounds the changes into law. 'Be the change you want to see'.
Saturn grounds your desires and makes things manifest. Your intentions are tested and Saturn asks, "So, how much do you want it?" You put in a planning application, do the actual work, and check out the results. Any Saturn transit has the symbolic effect of dropping a heavy weight on the house it lands in, testing its affairs’ worth and durability. There is loss, delay and frustration, but also a purification process where only the valid parts survive. The good thing is you have a practical head on that accepts the need for effort and set up a structure that turns you from hobbyist and dilettante into a serious player. Saturn wants results, so this is where you take on a formal role (Saturn rules the skeletal form), get your pinstripes tattooed on and initials after your name. We often say a thing is 'not cast in stone'; well, now it is.
Conditions like sleeplessness, anxiety, and exhaustion often accompany Saturn transits; symptoms which are triggered by an event like illness, loss of job or heartbreak, or else through a sense of disenchantment or spiritual malaise. Astrology backs up psychological research in suggesting these periods are often of approximately two years duration and that they are predictable and, to an extent preventable. Pace yourself, set boundaries, and realize it’s only a phase. The other major thing is not to over-sell the issues of Saturn’s transiting house: you take things very seriously in the moment, almost to a life-or-death degree, but afterwards see things in perspective and may end up glad that you did not over-commit.
Almost simultaneously, Saturn enters the second pada of Uttarashadha, in the Capricorn portion of this nakshatra, from January 26th to February 24th. Significantly, Pada two of Uttarashadha also equates to Capricorn navamsha (D9) so no matter how much Saturn ups the ante at work, you have a great opportunity to be professional and get value for your efforts. This is Saturn doubled-down, where you are rewarded for belt-and-braces foresight, taking responsibility and planning for the long term. There should be no real compromise between satisfaction and deferred gratification, but know also that a dividend is due for your planning, which leads to an 'unchallenged victory, which is the Shakti or unique gift of this nakshatra. Fate also plays a part in your success, where past effort and karmic credit combine to make an ambition feel destined or meant for you. Uttarashadha’s nature is polished and diplomatic, with the promise of a wide circle of friends, and it is ruled by the Ten Vishwadevas, the mythical personification of sattvic qualities and nobility. Uttara’s symbol of the elephant’s Tusk also shows penetration and insight into a situation – there is an obvious association with Ganesha here, and regularly practicing a Ganapateye mantra removes obstacles on the material and invisible levels.
Saturn also affects the houses it aspects: the third, seventh and tenth from its transiting place; in the current case, those of Pisces, Cancer and Libra. There may be a larger syndrome between these additional houses that tells you where you have to balance and compromise. Saturn’s effects in a particular area may also not be felt immediately on entering a sign – classical Rishis point to the last drekkana of a sign, ie, the final ten degrees. This reduces the length of Saturn's intensity from 2.5 years to a more manageable nine months, but the whole passage is an examination in any case. By its end we are completely saturated with the whole affairs of one house, and the following zone comes as something of a relief.
Saturn was last in Capricorn between 1990-93, previous to that 1961-64 and before in 1931-34. These periods may be said to coincide with times of authoritarian government and power: the rise of Hitler Germany, the height of the Cold War in the form of the Berlin Wall, and the post-cold war period where Europe's map was being redrawn. Witness the last time Saturn was in its home sign 1990-92, where in the aftermath of the Berlin Wall's collapse there was talk of a peace dividend and a palpable feeling of freedom. Remember that?
In its own house, Saturn doesn't give a blank cheque to the Establishment; rather, it puts extra onus on officialdom to act with integrity. The soap opera of the UK Royal Family continues into the next generation with Harry and Meghan: though there may well be an unsavoury tone to the reporting, the ‘spare-heir’ and their household have always been tabloid fodder - remember Princess Margaret and Prince Andrew (plus ça change) in their day. The latest turn of events has echoes of a previous Saturn in Capricorn period with the Abdication Crisis of the mid-1930s, where for Wallis Simpson, now read Meghan Markle.
In the current case, Saturn kept in step with Pluto, planet of transformation and taboo, and the pattern continues now with Pluto also entering Capricorn on February 24th. Saturn and Pluto come together every approximately thirty-one years, slightly more than Saturn's own orbit, though their last conjunction in Capricorn was not since 1786, a whole Pluto cycle ago. The late 18th century was a period of revolution, in the aftermath of the American War of Independence, just ahead of the French Reign of Terror and at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Not saying the tumbrils will be rolling for Johnson or Trump, but history will reflect that what passes for democracy in our era is little more than a sham.
2020 also sees a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, the classical coming together of the two major astrological movers. The 20th-21st century saw a transition from Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions in fire to earth and this union is the final establishment of that element, which will continue for the next 200 years. No wonder the climate alarm is sounding - the environmental lobby will be one side of the question, while on the other we get proxy wars over oil and gas supplies.
What does it mean to say 'planet of karma'? If one thing is, be it the nodes or 12th house, then the whole chart is, but Saturn has a particular association with consequences that come out of thin air. Karmas are easy, difficult or impossible and Saturn brings results that are particularly non-negotiable. There is often a sense of irony; a fate that we attempt to sidestep but ends up finding us anyway, so the message is to get it right first time.
In addition to the ascendant, transits from the Moon give a subtler psychological perspective. While the physical lagna chart shows overt life events, Chandra lagna reveals whether the individual is happy as well as successful. A difficult transit to one point may coincide with a favourable transit to the other, or the else the two complement each other. While the Moon is enemy to no planet, Saturn is inimical to psychic lunar qualities and creates an archetypal pull between the worldly and the personal.