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Tension Building?

Almost everyone I talk to these past days – friends, family, colleagues, clients – is getting familiar with some version of anxiety.

Even here, in relatively quiet southern Oregon, the tension symbolized by the ever-closer (exact on November 4) opposition of Saturn and Uranus is keeping many awake at night.

Saturn, the lord of time and constraint is being confronted directly by his mythological enemy, Uranus, lord of chaos and excitement. They represent starkly contrasting archetypes – the old and the new; stability and upheaval; status quo and an urgent or shocking call for change.

It’s enough to make me long for the good old days (i.e., 2005 and 2006) when Saturn was opposite Neptune in the sky. Then, the keeper of time and tester of limits was facing a nebulous opponent; things were harder to define and impossible to see clearly. At best, Neptune invites working with art, music, meditation and essentially relaxing into a boundary-less state of surrender. That may have been easier to do then; now Uranus’s impulse to dare and awaken is engaging with Saturn and the feeling in the air is quite different.

The god of the heavens and night sky, Uranus is seen as the function that opens the mind to a vaster, bigger picture of what is possible. Saturn’s inclination is to resist change and, at worst, to cling to what has always worked in the past.

It’s not too hard to see Saturn and Uranus in a big conflict out there in our world now. Considering the acute drama and increasing bitterness in the US election; the incomprehensible “shock and awe” moves on the financial stage; the anxiousness around loss of freedom (and money!); the tendency to experience society as divided between rapid reformers and amoral libertines; the “endless” wars and so on, it’s no wonder we’re having some sleepless nights.

If we consider things psychologically, however, the planets provide guidance to our personal lives. An opposition offers – or, more rightly in this case, demands – the chance to become aware within ourselves of inherent tensions. Tension between our own past and future; between what we most deeply fear and where our greatest and boldest ideas lie; between what know about ourselves and what we can only imagine. The opposition invites acceptance of factors and forces that seem diametrically opposed – the chance to come to terms with internal paradoxes that are easier to see outside of ourselves – all those other guys out there are the ones acting badly, aren’t they?

We can consider this in our own habits. Saturn’s favorite stance is one of defense. It may be easier to hold a tight rein on ourselves, or on a behavior or attitude that we are accustomed to, rather than inviting that invigorating moment when a highly uncertain future seems more creative and exciting than terrifying.

Depending on the natal horoscope, of course, some of us are more impacted than others by this particular planetary theme. As a first thought, those in their Saturn returns now, those of us close to our 29 or 58 birthdays, have the acute awareness that we are on the verge of a future quite different than where we thought we might be at this point in life.

I plan to add further ideas on this point within the next few days. I’m especially keen on looking at the natal chart to see Saturn’s sign and house position as a big clue to where we can individually access the stability, the inner ground and security that is authentic for us and is an inner template to keep returning to when the ride feels rocky.





  1. Hi Mary:
    Thanks for this entry, especially the last paragraph. It is also important to remember — during the financial turmoil — that as a lot of imagined wealth (numbers on paper) evaporates, that what is REAL isn’t changing as fast (a roof over our heads, food in the pantry, loved ones in our communities). All this may make us more aware of what is fundamentally real.

  2. Hi Tem,

    Yes, indeed. Here’s a good quote to that end (written by Lisa Wise, the executive director of the Center for a New American Dream, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. that promotes sustainable consumer choices.)

    “The “more is better” version of the American dream is unsustainable environmentally, fueling a level of resource consumption that the planet cannot keep up with. It is personally unsustainable, drawing American families into a work-and-spend treadmill that depletes savings and clutters lives. And now we see it is unsustainable economically, as well.

    Whatever economy emerges from this crisis will need to put less emphasis on “more” stuff and greater emphasis on more of what matters — like healthy communities, a healthy planet and a higher quality of life. In righting the economic ship, the end game shouldn’t be to plug up a broken vessel, but to move to something more seaworthy — one that sails within both personal and ecological limits.”

    (Originally posted by The Women’s Media Center:

  3. Thanks for writing this. My Saturn return was precise last Wednesday. The night before, I was with my almost 101 year old grandmother. She died at 11:15 p.m. It was a very touching experience. What you wrote is very pertinent info.
    Love, Shelley

  4. I cannot tell you how strongly I am feeling the Saturn in Virgo/Uranus in Pisces opposition. I think part of the issue for me is that the axis is 12/6. Uranus has been transiting my 12th for some time, sending my antenna high up into the sky. The good news is I can get a signal on some issues early (sell financials buy gold) but at the same time I pick up a lot of the energy that may or may not impact me personally but is still going on out there.
    I wrote on another board, imagine if you were living in the US in the summer of 1939. Those who have their antenna up high, would smell change coming. And then when Hitler began his assault in the fall sending Europe into WWII, those Americans with high antenna would know, “we’re next.” That is what I have been picking up for some time. World Depression is a breath away. Saturn in Virgo has been asking people for the last year, “manage your life!” And if they aren’t then Uranus is saying, “Fine, let me make things chaotic.” And then, you can “manage your life.”
    Having said that, I do think this butt kicking Saturn is invoking is a good thing because it prepares us for Pluto’s long trek in Capricorn. Perhaps we need Capricorn’s ruler to take us to school for a bit so we can be prepared for the journey in front of us.
    loving this board. btw.

  5. Thank you for this article but as I am experiencing this opposition, there is my whole generation (GEN X) being assaulted by a double whammy at the moment – Saturn opp. Uranus, Saturn transit over natal Pluto/Uranus conj. Any advice on this combo?

  6. Sheri Lynn, my group is the end of the baby boomers just ahead of you..and we are getting Saturn on our Pluto! With Uranus opposite Saturn. It is similar to your genX with the Pluto/Uranus…
    I have to tell you no matter how many times I slice it, I think the universe is conspiring for all of us to be creative and daring (Uranus) but for the greater good (Pisces) while at the same time we need to be results oriented (Virgo) to serve the public (Pluto in cap).

    I am sure you are like me, you probably can’t hang out with friends who complain. I need to be around proactive people or I walk away…that is how the 3 outer planets are pushing me.

  7. Tracy, you said this beautifully above:

    I think the universe is conspiring for all of us to be creative and daring (Uranus) but for the greater good (Pisces) while at the same time we need to be results oriented (Virgo) to serve the public (Pluto in Cap).

  8. Hi Mary,

    I found an article that seems to dovetail with your article. Thank you for your insights.

    For the original version of the article I’ve mentioned, complete with charts, go to

  9. Thx u 4 the insight. Yes, I feel it in my 2nd Saturn rising.

  10. Hi Mary,

    Awesome article! I especially enjoyed the psychological perspective which has not been discussed much elsewhere, dwarfed by the mundane discourse. Those last paragraphs were very helpful. I would love to read an article expanding on the inner dynamics and hope you’ll find the time to do so.

    Thank you.

  11. Thanks Isabelle!

    Yes, finding the time is the key…

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