©3-29-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
Note: The following is an excerpt from a longer chapter on Saturn-Neptune aspects in Donna’s ebook, The Outer Planets and Inner Life, volume 3: Outer Planets in Aspect, available at http://www.moonmavenpublications.com .
Saturn and Neptune are possibly the two planets whose concerns and ways of operating are hardest to reconcile. One way to fathom the degree of comfort or discomfort in planetary pairs is to compare keywords and phrases like those in the table below.
When you attempt to combine these two lists, you begin to grasp the balancing act people with this aspect have to perform—and yet the great potential they have for creating new realities for all of us. Saturn represents form and structure, while Neptune represents intangibility, formlessness and chaos, teaching us that this seemingly solid world, with all its woes, is itself an illusion. Saturn asks us to deal with reality; Neptune tends to dwell in fantasy, imagination, and illusion—dreaming dreams that sustain and inspire us and those we touch.
Saturn is the material plane of existence; Neptune is the astral realm. Saturn-Neptune people are often disillusioned in the course of their lives, but it’s because they tend to dwell in an illusory world that they prefer to the struggles of this plane. Saturn represents aging and the passage of time, while Neptune recognizes the deeper truth that we’re eternal and that this lifetime is but one in an ever-flowing stream.
Saturn is the part of us that sets long-range goals and has the persistence to succeed over the long haul, while Neptune is the part of us that would rather drift through life effortlessly. It’s often said that genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration—if so, Saturn supplies the perspiration and Neptune the inspiration. Yet all form comes out of vision, so this aspect shows great potential to realize visions when the two planets are working in alliance. The combination represents Spirit emerging into Form and Vision into Manifestation. The highest potential of the pair is to build compassionate systems and structures, balancing the material world’s demands with the soul’s need for spiritual growth.
Negotiating the Demands of Saturn and Neptune
Saturn asks that we take responsibility for our actions and their consequences, while Neptune represents where we might be in denial, shifting the blame for our shortcomings to others while claiming to be the innocent victim. Saturn—and the authority figures it represents—can be stern and forbidding. Saturnians set exacting standards and hold themselves and others accountable. They make clear-cut rules and can come down hard on those who disobey those rules.
On the other hand, Neptune represents the capacity for empathy and compassion that helps us forgive ourselves and others. Neptune does not recognize or respect boundaries, seeing us as all one, while Saturn is about setting limits and boundaries—remember its rings! Saturn’s defenses can crystallize into walls that separate us from others; Neptune helps us be one with All That Is. Fear (Saturn) separates us; forgiveness (Neptune) unites us.
Not everyone with prominent Saturn-Neptune hard aspects comes through it like a trouper. Some have been severely hampered by their backgrounds and tend to live out the more negative expressions of this combination that are suggested by the keywords. These are among the Saturn -challenged, finding it hard to fulfill Saturn’s functions. They may play the victim card heavily to excuse their shortcomings and lack of self-discipline, or they may opt out of responsibilities through an addiction.
However, others with these same aspects who faced similar challenges have been pushed to develop courage, character, and GRIT. The difference depends in part on soul development and in part on the prominence of the aspect and how it’s woven into the natal chart. One factor may be whether Neptune or Saturn is the more strongly featured or well-aspected of the two planets. (You can find out which is stronger by taking the tests at the end of this post.
Family Background—Who’s the Parent Here?
Many of my clients with prominent Saturn-Neptune aspects reported that they came up the hard way. Hardships endured during their childhood and/or difficult circumstances in adulthood have forced them to grapple with limitations and with barriers to success and happiness.
Thinking about clients and researching notables with AstroDataBank, I could not help but be impressed by many with this aspect who have honed their capacity to TRANSCEND LIMITATION, whether based in hardships in the family of origin or encountered later in life. Saturn would represent limitations, while Neptune would represent finding spiritual strength to help us transcend our realities.
When the Sun, Moon, Midheaven, 4th or 10th houses are affected by hard angles between Neptune and Saturn, it’s often the case that one or both parents had personal difficulties, such as a chronic physical or emotional illness, an addiction, or perhaps extreme financial hardship. Those difficulties may have interfered with the parent being a stable, reliable authority figure, especially at crucial stages in the child’s life, such as the transiting Saturn square and opposition to these natal positions at ages 7 and 14 respectively.
At the very least, these chart signatures can suggest inconsistent authority figures who were solidly present part of the time, only to relapse into dysfunctional behavior patterns or to be absent for extended periods. This might involve a father who travels for his job, for instance, or a hard-driving corporate type or physician who works 80 hours a week.
When parental functions were weak or intermittent, many oldest children with this aspect became parentified. That is, they took on some of the parental functions for siblings, assumed a heavy load of household duties, or had to go to work early to help out financially. They might have become caretakers for one or both parents, perhaps being delegated to collect Dad from the neighborhood saloon or nurse Mom through a long illness.
They can be amazingly self-sufficient young people, and yet there can be a wistful quality about them, even as adults, as though they were asking, “Why me? Why am I always the responsible one? Why is my reality forever shifting? Why can’t it stay stable?”
Readers, do you have a Neptune-Saturn aspect? How has it worked in your life? Don’t miss the comment section for this article, as readers are sharing amazing insights about how they’ve experienced this difficult aspect in their own charts and their impact on their family histories.
Note: this has been an excerpt from a longer chapter on Saturn-Neptune aspects in Donna’s ebook, The Outer Planets and Inner Life, volume 3: Outer Planets in Aspect, available from Moon Maven Publications. ($15 for the ebook, or $35 for the three-book series on the outer planets.)
More Excerpts from Donna’s Books:
- Full Houses vs. Empty Houses in your Chart—What to Expect
- Career Differences between the 10th, 2nd, and 6th House
- Four Kinds of Smart–Which One Are You?
- Donna Cunningham Introduces The Stellium Tool Kit
- English for Astrologers–No Astrobabble Please
- Hyperactive Jupiter Syndrome—The Down Side of an Upbeat Planet
- Mars Mission 2: Anger—the Guard Dog of Denial
More articles to help you understand how Neptune and Saturn combine:
- 20 Articles about Neptune on Skywriter
- How Strong is your Neptune? Here’s the Score!
- How Strong is your Saturn? Here’s the Score!
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