Posted by: Donna Cunningham | November 3, 2009

Using Saturn transits well–from Clutter to Closure

clearing clutter

A dear friend has just come home from a 6-week visit with her son, which they spent clearing the clutter from his loft. She’s brought along a stalwart pal who’s volunteered to help do the very same thing with my friend’s garage—a heroic task.

It’s crammed to the rafters with so much stuff that she’s never once, in the decade since she bought the house, been able to park a car there. It contains not only her own unwanted belongings but her housemate’s and those of another cohort we’ve seriously considered nominating for one of those shows about hoarding.

“I must congratulate her on an ingenious use of Saturn transits ,’ I tell myself. Then I bring a steaming mug of Irish breakfast tea into the office and sit down to write.  As my brain pulls its scattered thoughts together, my eyes roam over the office.

It’s chaotic with boxes of books I no longer want in my life. I’m donating astrological, metaphysical, and self-help tomes and a decade of back issues of The Mountain Astrologer to my astrology group’s annual fundraiser. Collections of volumes on how to write are going to the local writers’ organization and to a group of mystery writers called Sisters in Crime. Then there are stacks of reference works on flower essences, herbalism, botany and homeopathy that will go the library of a local naturopathic college.

A pang of grief hits me for the bygone days of my life path those books represent.  I tell myself, “Relax, they’re all going to good homes. AND they’re a tax write-off. Once they’re gone, you can get rid of a couple of these bookcases.”

I stretch and open the accordion-pleated door to my office closet, bracing myself.  For once, miraculously, I’m not deluged by precariously-perched office supplies, gift wrapping, used mailer envelopes, and arcane flower essence kits. Now that I’ve cleaned it out, I can actually see the closet floor and empty top shelves.

I’ve been purging my own belongings for a move to a much smaller place in a fun area of Portland. In the past month, I’ve donated over $1000 worth of unneeded miscellany to the Goodwill. Half a closet full of nice business clothes I no longer wear has gone to a group called Dress for Success. It’s a national organization that creates wardrobes for needy women who’re trying to get back into the job market.

That’s not all: 8 bags of paper from 20 years worth of files have gone into the recycling bin, and 6 laundry carts full of just plain junk went into the dumpster.  Ever wary of identity theft, I’ve taken a huge bin of sensitive documents like outdated tax records, credit card receipts, and client files to a secure, licensed shredding service.

clutter problem You Can Do It  too—and Why You Should

 Most of us just have tooooooo much stuff.  We’re burdened down with things we didn’t need in the first place and haven’t used in years—if we ever used it at all.  It’s choking our houses, cluttering our minds, and complicating our lives.

It creeps up on you if you’re not completely ruthless—as I swear I will be from here on in, I really, really will.  (Wait a minute—wasn’t that what I promised myself the last time I moved? It’s different this time–I MEAN it!)

Do you have too much stuff in your life?  Maybe a Saturn transit can help you deal with it in a sound, realistic, practical way with an eye to the future. (It helps if you keep the ultimate Plutonian question in mind: “What if my kids/friends/mate had to deal with this when I’m gone.”)

If you do it smartly, much of your junk can become someone else’s treasure in a garage/estate sale that earns you extra cash.  Since I’m salesmanship impaired, I’ve chosen to handle my discards as tax write-offs for donations to nonprofit organizations. Art work and antiques that are  too valuable to donate, friend Lynne is selling for me on Craig’s List for a split of the proceeds.

 STUFF for You to Think About–from Clutter to Closure

 Guess what. The process of clearing out clutter isn’t JUST about rediscovering those long-lost closet floors.

It does more for you than freeing yourself of an outdated wardrobe that, face it, probably doesn’t fit anymore. What it makes possible is a very valuable type of life review. You’re going to discover that each item you touch has a set of memories and emotions attached to it that you’ll relive and process.   You might just find it a heady process because of ways it frees you from the past. You may shed a tear or two—it’s sometimes an emotional purging as well.

Sorting through unwanted possessions helps you sort through phases of your life that are well and truly over—or darned well ought to be. As you dust off belongings that have outlined their usefulness, you’ll find yourself thinking about:

  • People who aren’t part of your life any more, and the role they played in what happened back then.
  •  Decisions made years back, and events and situations resulting from those decisions.
  •  Choices you made that perhaps weren’t the wisest and that you might want to rethink today.
  •  Priorities you set because you had to—and whether those are still worthwhile priorities for today.

Based on the insights you gain,  you may very well take this purging process to a deeper level–from clutter to closure.  Are there people, places, or pastimes that are eating up your time and wasting your energy? Do you want to allow them to keep on doing that? Is it time to end a phase of your life?

Share your decluttering experiences with us in the comment section if you like—or, if you’re finding other positive ways to benefit from the Pluto-Saturn transit, let us in on that.

Related Posts for Using the Transit to Change Unwanted Patterns:

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  1. oh how funny! back to us out in the yard, pruning our two fig trees, remember, and worrying because hubby’s knee popped? Well the very exercise of cutting out all that dead wood in the two trees was the manifestation of our using that energy that you are talking about. We’re talking about 20 years of dead wood, crooked limbs and wood growing where it shouldn’t. If that’s not uncluttering, I don’t know what is!

    • YOu’re going to breathe a lot easier without the dead wood–and so is the tree. If I’m not mistaken, doesn’t pruning plants bring a fresh burst of life and growth to the plant, so it’s healthier and more vibrant? Parts of our lives that we prune are the same way–it frees up energy that was blocked. Donna

  2. I hauled raw wool that I KNEW I would never spin to our burn pile a week or so ago – been sitting in sheds & closets for anywhere from five to fifteen years. Acknowledgment of limitations is very freeing. Saying NO is very freeing.

    Saturn will be conjoining first my Neptune in Libra (late 2010) and then my Moon in Libra (2011) but first it will be sextile my Venus later this month. Very good for resisting others attempts to sweet talk me into continuing to take on more than I can comfortably handle.

    • Great work, Neith. You’re going to feel a huge relief when that stuff is no longer weighing you down. for me, the sorting involved a lot of goodbyes to things that hadn’t been part of my life in 10 years or longer but I just didn’t want to admit it to myself. I was saying goodbye to certain illusions about myself, that was really all it was. Donna

  3. Oh! Just wanted to express my appreciation for this wonderful series you’ve been doing on the Pluto-Saturn square! Very helpful!

    And good luck with your move . . .

  4. I really loved this post, and also so admire all the good work you’ve been doing on-line! I think I was also surprised by it, because I see you as someone who makes the writing a priority and the decluttering a lesser priority. The only part that doesn’t sit well with me is “decluttering old friends.” I think there’s great value in holding onto people even when they’re no longer useful or even when they’re showing us our shadows….(up to a point!) It feels sad that friends,even cyber-friends, become a throw-away commodity, whereas if we still held them close to our hearts and simply spoke the truth with love, we might both learn something.

    • HI, Elizabeth, you’re right that writing is the absolutely immutable priority in my life and all else must come second–it’s how I’ve consistently written so much. And I accumulate clutter like anyone else does–even though I like to think I’ve learned to be sparing with my acquisitions after several cross-country moves during my adult life. But when I get on a decluttering tear, I am absolutely ruthless with it.

      Hmm. I don’t recall saying anything about decluttering old friends. I do have many people in my life that go back a long time–like when I went to the last UAC and got to reconnect with people I’d known over much of the past 40 years…my astrological siblings who came in at the same time I did. But I do think that people come and go out of each other’s lives and there’s nothing wrong with that…sometimes for a patch of time that our paths diverge, but when we connect again it’s like no time at all has passed. Time is pretty much an illusion. Donna

      • “But I do think that people come and go out of each other’s lives and there’s nothing wrong with that…”

        I agree with this. Sometimes old friends need to go in order to allow new people to come into your life. And if you don’t do this yourself, something always happens and that friend is out of your life one way or another (like leaving the country, for example). At least that happens to me (but I have an 11th house Pluto, so…)

        I wonder if the same happens to people who haver Scorpio on the 11th cusp?

      • Pluto in the 11th might show a periodic purging of friends that you feel have betrayed you or otherwise let you down. (It’s marked, usually by transits from or to Pluto.) Scorpio on the 11th would have a similar effect, yet not nearly so intensely. The planet in a house is always stronger than that same planet ruling the house. Likewise, then, Saturn in the 11th is stronger than Capricorn on the cusp. Donna

  5. I had two phases of decluttering after reading a feng shui book which said before you do anything else clear your clutter. First was when Pluto transitted my Saturn. 1500 books down to 100. Second was when Pluto met up with my Sun in latish Sag. Lots of clothes and craft materials got recycled – the latter to a social enterprise which supplies schools etc. I had an empty cupboard for about half a year. Time to go sifting again and shift some stale energy. Thank you for the hints and tips.

    • Great work, Angi. It does sound like Pluto transits are THE time to purge belongings as well as doing healing work. Donna

  6. Brilliant article Donna, I had to smile about the pang you had in letting go of your books, I went through the same thing a couple of months ago. After we finish sorting the house (we moved a few months ago) I still have a mountain of paper to sort through, shred, burn etc. Thanks for the inspiration, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one going through it!
    Many Blessings

  7. P.S. I turn 50 on Tuesday and the urge to clear even more is getting stronger, as I want to go into my next half century, lighter and clearer.

    BTW – how about we help each other stay on track? (I am terrible for letting things pile up again blaming it on the busyness of work when really I love living in clear, Zen-like conditions).

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks so much to you, too, Ellly, for letting me reprint your article about sacred space. It’s part of the same theme of clearing and closure under Pluto-Saturn aspects–and what better time to do a major space clearing on the energetic level than right at the point when you’ve cleared out a lot of unwanted possessions. Donna

  8. Thanks for your article. 🙂 I’m not really a messy person, but in the last few months I’ve had a really strong urge to de-clutter, and I’ve been puzzled as to why. Now I know, LOL. I have a natal 12th house Saturn (in Gemini) squaring 2nd house Pluto in Libra.

  9. Hello all,

    I wanted to continue a discussion about the astrology of hoarding that accidentally took place in the comments section of Donna’s recent post on tough Saturn /Neptune aspects. Donna, I apologize for getting of topic there, but I too am fascinated by this behavior! I thought this would be a much more appropriate forum to continue dialog about some of the astrological indicators of hoarding and would like to know if other readers have anything to add.

    I do agree that all “compulsive” behaviors have a strong Plutonian element, but in the case of my husband’s chart the only correlation to this is that Pluto is sesquiquadrate his 2nd house Saturn in Taurus. We could definitely argue that because this is only a minor aspect perhaps it isn’t “enough” to push him over the edge into full-blown hoarding.

    For me, watching these shows on hoarding has always seemed to really equate to a deep-seated emotional attachment to one’s possessions – even if others see it as “junk”. My husband lacks this emotional connection to his “stuff” which is part of what led me to surmise that the emotional component to this behavior is a pretty major one.

    The trauma component (i.e. loss of job, spouse, family member, etc). that you mentioned absolutely seems to precipitate this behavior and from my observation people seem to begin hoarding primarily to cover or bury difficult feelings which I think is a synthesis of both the Moon and Pluto.

    After watching many of these shows, it is also seems common for this hoarding not to be precipitated by some major “crisis”, but as a learned behavior from their family of origin. Many hoarders seem to have been raised in a similar manner in a household full of clutter, so once again these instances seem to echo the role of the Lunar influence on this behavior.

    I’d like to share some of my own experience as to why I connected so strongly to the emotional component associated with hoarding, which I do not suffer from, but explains why I can still relate in some ways to this behavior.

    My natal Venus in Cancer is square Pluto in Libra. Though I have Uranus in the 2nd which is completely anti-conducive to hoarding tendencies, I do find that I have a hard time throwing away things like old birthday cards, handmade gifts given to me, old and poorly-taken photographs that others wouldn‘t think twice about throwing away, and things that generally equate to some form of sentimental remembrance.

    I laugh at myself from time to time when I come upon a stack of old cards from five years ago that I saved because someone was kind enough to take the time and pick out a card commemorating a particular occasion. I will confess to saving handwritten letters given to me by an old love many years ago, not because I’m pining for him or for a relationship that no longer is, but because he cared enough to put in the time and effort to write me a love letter. Again, it is that sentimental emotional attachment that allows me to save these things even though they are from a bygone era or are things that others wouldn’t think twice about throwing away.

    I would love to hear what others have observed/experienced about the astrology of hoarding and really enjoyed this very informative and useful piece about moving “From clutter to closure”. Your writing is always such a wonderful mixture of astrological insight, personal experience, and practical advice!

    • Alethea, I’m delighted to continue this discussion and am thinking to move it to a post about hoarding, as I think we’d get more data about it. Thanks for bringing up the Cancerian/lunar element. I THINK I may have heard–or maybe I made it up–that Peter Walsh, who used to be on that show Clean Sweep and then on Oprah, but now is getting a show of his own, is a Cancerian. I MAY have made that up. Yes, it’s that Cancerian sentimentality and attachment to the past that can play a role. But I wonder if it’s sometimes those Cancerians who have had major losses over the years and so a disturbance to the root chakra.

      There’s a flower remedy I’d love to have people experiment with while trying to declutter and clear out old souvenirs and things that belonged to family, etc. It’s a Bach remedy available at most health food stores, and it’s Honeysuckle. You can read more about essences in the category “healing tools” on this blog and download a free chapter on how to use them from my ebook on essences. Donna

      • Hi Donna and Althea,
        I’ve commented before on some articles here, particularly issues with Pluto, and wrote a lengthy summary of some family dysfunction. I don’t think I went into hoarding in my previous comments, but this seems appropriate now. I have intimate understanding of this hoarding issue, yet much trauma from it, as you’ve mentioned, Donna, mental/emotional sickness, obsession and filth. It got worse after a big financial trauma and subsequent depression in the family, where my parents marriage basically fell apart and so did the rest of the family. Having grown up in a house and family of origin with this tendency, and seeing this pattern in many relatives on my mom’s side, I relate to this thread, unfortunately, in an extreme way. I grew up thinking I was the only one who lived like that, and my life was full of secrecy and shame. in my early 20’s I began healing and writing a bit about my experiences, and this began to lift the heaviest layers of shame as others would admit their own issues with it when I began sharing my pain. I have since met many people with this tendency themselves- (not sure of their parents tendecies) and some who grew up in houses like mine.

        Those hoarding shows are often too painful and “close to home” for me to watch, but at times I have, and also am morbidly fascinated with this psychological phenomenon. I would love to contribute to some data about this using my family… I think it would bring me some closure.

        I was just briefly looking at my mom’s and her mother’s birthcharts particularly. I have an estimated birthtime for my mom, and she a saturn in cancersquare neptune in libra, that combo that you had that spawned the hoarding topic, and her moon in not in taurus, but the earthly capricorn, opposite the saturn in cancer. RIght way those seemed to fit some patterns you had mentioned. I am sure there is more if taking transits into account when the clutter got worse, tracing it back to the painful events that my family went through.

        My grandma, her mom, and other of my mom’s relatives, are also hoarders, though my grandma is not to the extent of my mom. I always thought it was becuase of growing up in the depression era, but it could have been generational, from her parents, but I don’t know. I don’t have my grandmother’s birth time, but even without it, I see she has a taurus sun square the telltale moon conjunct neptune aspect, you mentioned.

        I really would love to see if there can be some data collected with common aspects that occur in people with hoarding. I feel it will take some of the shame out of it, and help with self understanding, removing the stigma and secrecy that is still attached to this lifestyle, much the way that sexual abuse can show up in the chart, and help victims not blame themselves anymore.

        I can give you what birth data I have, just let me know.

        Thanks so much for this opportunity to share and heal.

      • I think people would like to see the data–the shows are fascinating but horrifying all at the same time. What is most puzzling is how the tendency to overcollect is already there but not to a morbid degree, but then some event or change seems to catalyze it into full-fledged hoarding. It’s somewhat the same way as abusers are triggered into physical abuse when they lose their jobs or some other crisis sends them over the edge.

        For the family members, the shame and secrecy is not much different than having an alcoholic or sexually predator in the family….sounds like their own charts would have lots of Pluto. Donna

  10. What a great post! I’ve been going through several rounds of clearing out things over the past couple of years — tr. Pluto in 6th square tr. Saturn, with natal moon in early Libra in 4th conjunct Pluto in Virgo in 3rd. (Natal Neptune is opposed by Saturn.) And yes Althea, given the chance, either of my parents will fill in their space so that there’s not just a lack of empty closet shelves, but a very narrow path through the center of a room — but it used to be just the garage when I was a kid. Thanks Donna!

    • I’ve recently watched a couple of programs about hoarders (end of summer tv desperation), and it was a nightmarish world of sickness, obsession, and filth. I finally get what it’s like. brrr! Donna

  11. OK, the data for my mom is Oct 23, 1944 in Yonkers, NY, birthtime we think is between 9:00-9:15am.

    grandmother (her mom) is
    May 6, 1919 in Yonkers, NY, I don’t know time, would try to find out.

    Aunt, (my mom’s sister) also big hoarder, is june 15, 1947, also Yonkers, NY, have time but need to check my records.

    Also my mom’s cousin is also a big hoarder, (a neice of my grandmother), so that continues along that female lineage. Don’t have birth data for her now.

    Others in my family are to a lesser degree, like my mom’s other sister, and my brothers and I, by association, to lesser degrees, perhaps by association or habit, or the lunar connection, though we all abhor clutter and the way we grew up, we still hold on to things more than average.

    Will check times and charts soon for other family members and post again when I have info.

    Thanks for your input. Any feedback appreciated.

  12. Donna,
    I have a green thumb that will not quit, and by the end of summer I have a lot of new plants that I have been able to “start” from mature ones. I used to drag all these into my house and it looked like a greenhouse. My back ached and my husband, when he helped with the tropical trees, griped loudly. So, two years ago, I decided to cut back to one of each of my beloved plants (except for 4 that are older than my sons who are in their late 30’s!) and donate them to the local women’s shelter. There is usually a full dually pickup (inside and bed) full of trees, potted plants etc. to give to the women who leave the shelter to start their new home. If I have anything else to get rid of–dishes, pots, pans, sheets, clothes, etc they go too. A volunteer comes to my home and picks them up! It is such a good feeling to help these women who are usually having to start over completely. And it clears the clutter from my house while giving me a warm fuzzy at the same time!

    • Great idea on donating the plants to women who are starting over in new homes! Plants are one of those things that make a house a home. You can keep on with the satisfying task of starting plants and know that they’re going to make others happy. Donna

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