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Mars, Saturn, and the Moon

I began to assemble my thoughts for this blog on Sunday after tuning briefly into a discussion on Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN.

Although at one point I thought the guests laughed a bit too heartily when talking about all the world’s problems, I was interested in a segment on global unrest. The conversation was generally about all of the countries in turmoil (i.e., the U.K., Israel, Syria, Lebanon, China, Libya, etc.) having unique problems, which can be distinguished from each other. But Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs had what I thought was the most interesting view on the turbulence. (1)

Sachs sees the unrest as interconnected and essentially under the theme of “popular frustration with governments not meeting the needs of the people.” He said there is a “pressure cooker” in the U.S., where problems — unequal wealth, a large underclass, high unemployment, a distrust in the legitimacy of government, a woeful educational system and infrastructure, no coherent energy policy, etc. — are at a boiling point.

This is a view most astrologers can appreciate as we move ever more closely towards the much heralded, much dreaded, exact Uranus-Pluto squares coming to us very soon. Some see that signature as the emergence of a completely different world, a world seeming at times to be going both towards madness and elation.

Many have noted Mars’s ingress into Cancer on August 3. Mars then squared Uranus and opposed Pluto (August 9 and 10). On the 16th, Mars crossed the degree of the July 1 solar eclipse (9° Cancer), and this week, Mars will square Saturn. (2) The Moon in Cancer will be conjunct Mars for its square to Saturn early on Thursday morning (PDT).

Planetary symbolism is always evocative, so I will attempt to speak to this particular combination in this short blog.

As I’m sure will sound familiar to many of you, I am full of dramatic and (usually) difficult real-life client stories from these past few weeks. Loosely under the theme of an exaggerated Mars, there have been many traffic tickets, accidents, admittances to psychiatric wards, incarcerations, and other such situations that may hint at Mars’s destructive power in the human soul.

Mars was known as Ares to the Greeks. His twin sons were Phobos and Deimos, also known as fear and panic, now the names of the two Moons of Mars. Mars is self-interest, and if it is functioning well, we can assert ourselves without dominating or submitting to others. Phobos and Deimos are kept in their proper place, ready to act, but not constantly engaged.

In thinking about Mars square Saturn, aside from troubles upon troubles, we can imagine a warming and yet moist energy coming to meet our edges, our bones, and our limitations. It reminds me of the fertile ground where land meets the sea.

Uranus, just beyond the threshold planet, calls the unseen creative life forth into being, but Saturn, of course, knows limits and requires definition. Psychologically, we know that Saturn is about understanding our limits. Saturn is also connected to the process of crystallization.

Saturn’s metal is lead and, in alchemical and tantric traditions, is associated with the base chakra. Lead is “the heaviest of the seven metals and is the starting point for their transformation into gold.”

The ancients thought that lead was the oldest metal; it is “known for its stubborn durability and resistance to change.” (3) According to the 15th-century alchemist, Paracelsus, “the cosmos is fashioned from three spiritual substances: the tria prima of mercury, sulfur, and salt.” (4) In the texts, the symbol for salt is a square, showing that the work of transformation begins in dense, imperfect matter. (Hello, all of us human beings.  Saturn connects us to this earth, like it or not!)

The “breakdown of crystallized thought (or altering of belief systems) is the primary objective of the first two operations of alchemy.” To alchemists, “the release through the eyes of dissolved salt in tears signified that dissolution really broke down thoughts and feelings.” (5) I find that a wondrous thought to contemplate with the Moon and Mars in Cancer squaring an exquisitely defended Saturn in Libra.

Cancer contains our sustenance, our primary nourishment. While acknowledging the possibility for a temporary unleashing of infantile rage in some of us, to try out another idea — maybe we can see Mars in Cancer square Saturn in Libra as a moment in time that quickens our capacity to mobilize support for those who really need care.

Mars in Cancer likes to feel connected, even in its solitary pursuits. I plan to keep Phobos and Deimos at bay this week and (in deference to Saturn) pay attention to the ever loving valor of Mars to carry forth with both the wildness and gentleness at hand.

Care to join me? I’d enjoy your company.


(1) Among his many accomplishments, Sachs is also President and Co-Founder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty. To find out more about Jeffrey Sachs, go the this web site. 

(2) Speaking of the summer eclipses: on July 6, Mars came to the June 1 solar eclipse degree (11° Gemini), and on July 25 the red planet crossed the June 15 lunar eclipse degree (24° Gemini).

(3) Dennis William Hauck, The Emerald Tablet, Penguin Arkana 1999, pg. 317.

(4) Wikipedia
“Sulfur embodied the soul (the emotions and desires); salt represented the body; mercury epitomized the spirit (imagination, moral judgment, and the higher mental faculties).”

(5) Hauck, pg. 157.