Sagittarius, the last of the fire signs, which are all connected with will, vision, and the future, also carries the imprint of mutability, associated with wisdom and adaptability.
Saturn is thought of as the planet of incarnation. Saturn lets us know that we are in a physical body, subject to gravity, illness, and aging. Lead, the heaviest and most enduring metal, belongs to Saturn; it stores in the bones and its presence is more marked in the bones of the elderly than in the young. (1)
It is also the planet at the edge of the visible (to the naked eye) universe and doorway to higher realms, and the pathway to discipleship, freedom, and self-mastery.
The ancients thought that the soul comes in through Saturn’s sphere from the stars beyond, and when we leave this life it is also through the sphere of Saturn. In broad terms, to which Sagittarius does not object, Saturn represents both the coming into form and the departing into the great beyond.
Saturn’s very recent ingress into Sagittarius brings to mind an image I encountered very early — the young Sagittarius archetype restlessly shooting arrows all over the place, heedless about where they land (hence, the sign’s well-known tendency toward bluntness). Then came the description of a wiser, more mature expression of the Sagittarius archetype. Now, the archer takes the time to pay attention to his stance and posture — the tilt of the chin is noted with care, the breath and shoulders are relaxed, the feet are securely connected to the earth — so that far star in the archer’s sight is secured and the arrow hastens directly and swiftly to it.
Saturn represents the limit, the terminus, and Sagittarius is ever expanding its reach. It sounds contradictory and there is surely some awkwardness in their meeting — Do I stop? Do I keep going? — but Saturn keeps us on the path to the higher ground of what is possible for each of us. Saturn, who can be relied upon as our loyal guide, sometimes says “no” when a gesture or pathway might take us too far away from our purpose. He is long known as the “Guardian of the Threshold” and the “ring-pass-not.” (2)
A Tibetan lama said in a recent teaching: “There is nothing to hope about and there is nothing to fear.” This speaks to me of the moment, reported by some mystics and poets, when awareness is simply present, without longing, without anxiety. (3)
I once saw Saturn at an outdoor stargazing party at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii. The site is at 14,000 feet (4,200 meters) and it was in the winter — very, very cold and clear. I was taken over, deeply moved by how beautiful Saturn is, how perfectly beautiful.
In that moment I thought that I would never be afraid again. It was like a vow, I was so certain. It was a moment of hubris and naiveté, but in genuine appreciation of Saturn’s exquisite being.
Of course, since then, I have been afraid, but the image in my mind of his stark, lonely beauty is never far away. Saturn is not really some faraway demon whose slow motion at the edge of our line of sight we carefully calculate and be on guard for, but it is a beautiful, perfect yellow-white celestial orb with magnificent rings right in front of me, always.
Saturn is tasked with making us face reality, being in the here and now and bringing us the experiences that we must meet in this life. There are many versions of what this might mean for us, and how change can arise from a deep acceptance of what is before us. There is something in the combination of Saturn in Sag suggesting that as our perspective changes, our view of what is Real changes, too.
Some of the keywords for Saturn — patience, diligence, discipline — are three of the Six Perfections taught in Mahayana Buddhism. There are countless volumes of spoken and written teachings on the meaning of each of these words. They are not mere slogans or jargon (a Sag shadow) but qualities encountered and cultivated as foundational to other teachings on the path to realizing one’s true nature.
Many wisdom traditions have practices and teachings aimed to help address the disparities between our experience of reality and the actual state of things. Saturn in Sagittarius suggests that contemplation and a sober and steady focus on our spiritual practices or religious beliefs may bear fruit in a deeper understanding of the nature of reality.
Faith and doubt accompany the Sagittarius path. Will it last? Am I going in the right direction? Paradoxically, certainty is a spoken requirement in some meditative paths; one must have certainty of the path, or of the outcome. Moving with certainty, during a time when mutable planets are offered, will be an agile path on which experience is gathered, movement in the mind and the body is required, conditions are always changing, and awareness of impermanence prevails. We can no longer be attached to being right, or clinging to self-importance or a fixed sense of ourselves.
Saturn brings purposeful delays, and the insight or inspiration we are seeking may arise when an apparent obstacle is upon us.
With Jupiter in Virgo (joined on September 24th by Mars), and Neptune in Pisces, the mutable mode is pronounced. Mutability brings changing conditions and the gathering of experiences. We seek variety and versatility, we are flexible; the arrow has flown and we may be steadily poised to release another while the first one is still in the air. Mutable means movement — we are collecting experiences and naturally coalescing threads of meaning from a multitude of images, thoughts, conversations.
Many other people are involved, and we talk to them to find out what they are up to, then bring their input back to forge a diverse, multidimensional fabric of purpose. Traveling in all realms brings clarity to our projects; we move to take in new impressions, to see the grand sights.
The day after the ingress, I stepped into the yoga room and the teacher I expected to see was not there, but rather a teacher whose style is power yoga and strength-building. I was overcome with restlessness — enough strengthening for now; I had to be out side. (Good riddance Scorpio, hello Sagittarius.) I left and went for a ramble in the fresh air and hilly trails around the lake — a visceral response within me to the change in the air.
The Sufis speak about not looking for a fixed answer, but to stay in the question, an instruction that suits the mutable wisdom of these times.
Onward and upward! (Quoted in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis: “Onward and Upward! To Narnia and the North!” Lewis, born November 29, 1898, has Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Sun, and Uranus in Sag.)
(1) Saturn and Lead, by Nick Kollerstrom
“Ring-pass-not: The limit in spiritual, intellectual, or psychological power or consciousness, beyond which an individual is unable to pass until he evokes from within the strength and the vision to carry him forwards and over the circumscribing limits set by that individual’s own karma.”
(3) Thanks to Melanie Reinhart for her inclusion of T.S. Eliot’s words from “Four Quartets” in her recent (wonderful) talk on Saturn in Sagittarius:
“And I said to my soul ‘Be still…
and wait without hope,
for hope would be hope of the wrong thing….”
Nick Kollerstrom opens his article (mentioned above) Saturn and Lead with another quote from T.S. Eliot (in The Waste Land): “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”
Bio: Mary Plumb is TMA’s Book and Web Editor. She offers private sessions and tutoring and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org