Saturnian Aspects and Practices: Stay Strong With Some Support

December 10, 2019

Planetary transits signify shifts in our energy, awareness, and life circumstance. So, obviously, it can be helpful to have tools with which to navigate the cosmic weather. There is a lot we can do to work consciously and holistically with planetary themes and energies, inviting these into our embodiment for growth, discovery, and self-care. The first step is knowing the nature of the transiting planet and how it is activating our chart—the better to discover how to support ourselves during these times.
[Note: This series is for entertainment and inspirational purposes only, and not intended to replace licensed medical care.]

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At a Glance
Saturn Transits: 2.5 years in each sign
Key Words: contraction, discipline, limitation
Movement: core strength to support the spine and carry emotional and physical burdens, weightlifting to build bone density, massage, rest
Meditation: take care of self to nurture low energy, trataka (candle meditation that focuses on the warming golden color of fire to lift spirit), focus on responsibility and cut down on excesses, can be an isolating and lonely time— ask for help and support
Medicine: fortify bones to help bear heavy loads, emotionally and physically, with a mineral-rich tea of horsetail/alfalfa/nettle, leafy green foods that are rich in calcium, warming spices, St. John’s wort, for depression, hydration and healthy fats, infra-red sauna, vitamin D

Saturn is the planet of limitations, boundaries, discipline, and hardship. It represents our toughest lessons in life, and our own relationship with structure, authority, and responsibility. Saturn’s favorite word is “no,” and teaches us how to distill, prioritize, and reject where appropriate. Saturn’s sign in our natal chart can color our approach to judgment, discernment, and perseverance in life. Assessing Saturn’s position in our chart will help us understand how intensely, or constructively we will experience Saturn’s stabilizing, yet somewhat oppressive forces. Considered a cold, dry, austere planet, Saturn’s forces test us, physically and emotionally, reminding us of our limitations and mortality.

Saturn rules over two signs in the zodiac: Aquarius by day and Capricorn by night. It also has an exalted place in Libra. Through Aquarius, Saturn tests social conventions to see if they hold up. This sign tends to be social, intellectual, but can be a bit dry, aloof and even unconventional. Through Capricorn, Saturn wields great earthy power, giving this sign an aptitude for authority, organization, finance, and even ancient mystic arts. In Libra, Saturn’s sober discernment blends well with the peaceful sign of balance, making this a sign of great judges and mediators.

Saturn’s Transits

Saturn, being a cold, dry, and restrictive planet, tends to bring these qualities to bear on us in its transits. These can be times of depleted energy, increased responsibility, and a sense of isolation. Active transits from Saturn to our natal charts call us to rise to the occasion, to weather dark passages, which often lead to great rewards and new strength on the other side.
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The Saturn Return

Saturn takes around 28 years to make its way around the sun, through all 12 signs in the zodiac, and back to the same sign it was in when we were born. This is the Saturn return, a time of our toughest life teacher coming back to see if we finished our homework. It is a three-year transition: one year approaching, shaking our foundations, one year bearing down to make us face reality, and one year passing while we put the pieces of our new life direction in place. We experience Saturn’s tests as rites of passage at three main phases of adulthood:
Age 28, our time of accepting personal authority and responsibility.
Age 56, our time of middle age, assessing what unfinished life’s work we need to complete.
Age 84, the time of wisdom and esteemed eldership, should we be blessed to live so long.

Saturn returns always represent a restructuring of some kind, yet depending on your Saturn placement, this could be very challenging or mildly testing and constructive. How we meet this important passage can help mitigate its difficulty as well, as awareness and acceptance of Saturn’s lessons are vital. Are we taking on too much work? Do we need to set healthy boundaries? Are we saying yes, when we need to take personal responsibility, and say no?

Saturn Retrograde

Saturn’s retrogrades take around 4.5 months to complete, and since Saturn’s forces tend to solidify, stabilize, and help us stick to our goals, its retrograde period is a time when these qualities are hard to connect to. We often feel stuck in the mud, and in Saturnian fashion, great patience and clarity are required until it goes direct again. Sometimes Saturn retrograde can coincide with a Saturn return, adding more time to focusing on restructuring one’s life.
What’s in retrograde right now?

Saturn’s Aspects

Conjunctions are the most direct and potent, infusing the personal planet or point with the strongest Saturnian energy. These transits feel very heavy. They often correlate with taking on new responsibility and enormous workloads that we feel uncertain that we can fulfill. Somehow, we persevere, but not without Saturn taking a toll on our energy and health. Conjunctions to the ascendant, sun, and moon can be particularly depleting to our vitality
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Squares and Oppositions tend to catalyze and aggravate Saturn’s topics, often calling us into confrontations or frictions with authority figures, or blockages in systems and processes. Again, they can be depleting, so it is important to honor self-care during these times.

Trines and Sextiles tend to be more supportive, and conduct Saturn’s stabilizing energy in helpful, constructive ways. Saturn’s toughness in these cases tends to be helpful and useful, and we find we have the fortitude to finish our goals and meet life’s challenges.

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Movement: Grounding and Embodying Saturn’s Energy

Since Saturn is all about shouldering life’s burdens, physically and emotionally, it is important to explore core strength exercises—like those found in yoga and Pilates—to support our spines. These give us strength, balance, and resilience, and improve our confidence by building a strong, open posture. Sun salutations in yoga can help us embody the vitality of the sun, when it feels very far away. Load bearing exercises, either with weights, or using our own body weight, help to improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a Saturn type deficiency. It is important to offset these strengthening exercises with massage and passive stretching, as Saturn can increase stress and tightness in the body. The most important movement to honor during Saturn’s challenging passages is rest. Give yourself even more than you think you need and set firm boundaries around your quiet time.


It is important to take quiet, reflective meditations during Saturn’s transits to check in with your energy. If your energy is feeling low, or you’re experiencing sadness or low mood, try invigorating breathing practices, like kapala bati—also called “skull shining breath”—to energize and refresh the senses. Seasonal depression can be a form of Saturn imbalance, so in the dead of winter, or whenever you are down, try meditating on a golden candle flame. This practice is called trataka and helps us to take in the joyous yellow color of the sun in dark seasons in a meditative, therapeutic way. This can be enormously comforting and uplifting to the spirit. Focus on positive affirmations that remind you of how strong and resilient you are and visualize the light at the end of the tunnel to remind you that this too shall pass. Saturn’s transits can sometimes be isolating, lonely, and overwhelming, so always reach out for help and support. Seeking help is a very strong, responsible act of self-care (pay attention, Capricorn!) We don’t have to bear our burdens alone.

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Since Saturn rules our bones, teeth, and connective tissues, it is important to fortify these with holistic nutrition at all times, so we are ready for whatever life brings. A mineral-rich tea blend of horsetail, alfalfa, and nettle is excellent for bone-building, and promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails. Dark leafy greens like spinach, dandelion, kale, and collards are rich in calcium, offering more skeletal and cellular support. Saturn transits and seasons can be cooling and drying, so it is important to incorporate warming spices like peppers and curries to warm up our digestion and improve blood circulation. Regular fluid intake is key, as stress can be dehydrating, and healthy fats and oils keep our joints lubricated and cellular repair optimal. St. John’s Wort, in tea or salve form, can work wonders for depression and sore, tight muscles. Therapeutic doses of vitamin D can improve depression as well, as well as strengthen our immunity to cancer and other illnesses. Consult a naturopath to explore how much you can take. You may be surprised, as most people living in the Northern Hemisphere are vitamin D deficient! Saunas are a wonderful warming, detoxifying practice with many health benefits, and can promote ease, relaxation and stress relief. Infrared saunas are now often available at yoga studios, massage centers or naturopathic clinics for therapeutic sessions.

Art by Debbie Stapleton