We are entering into the second peak of three in the year-long square between Saturn and Neptune, exact on June 17th. This peak is marked by the inclusion of Jupiter in the mix: Jupiter in Virgo opposes Neptune in Pisces and squares Saturn in Sagittarius. Jupiter’s engagement has been in range since May and continues through early July.
So that you can get a quick sense of what each of these planets represents, here’s what they would say if they could speak to you:
Saturn – “Accept your limits. Be reasonable. Be responsible.”
Neptune – “Use your imagination. Contact the invisible realms. Play with reality.”
Jupiter – “Think big. Push beyond limits. Believe in yourself.”
You might get the impression that Neptune and Jupiter are in agreement with each other, and that they are both in stark disagreement with Saturn. And you would be right. Jupiter and Neptune have a natural affinity. They are the co-rulers of Pisces (Jupiter being the traditional ruler, Neptune the modern). Saturn, by contrast, seems bent on keeping the other two planets in check.
You might also get the impression that Neptune and Jupiter would be a lot more fun to hang out with than Saturn. While I would agree that “fun” is not a word I generally associate with Saturn, it is also important to be aware of our cultural prejudice against all things Saturnian. Particularly in the United States, we are told that we should always be pushing beyond limits and dreaming big. That life should always be fun, and we should be ever striving for happiness. That if we just believe in ourselves, we can make anything a reality. But all the imagination (Neptune) and all the positive thinking (Jupiter) in the world can’t make something real. We need commitment, responsibility, and diligence to make things happen. And, we need reality to cooperate with us, too. The circumstances that surround us, over which we do not always have control, sometimes determine whether a dream can happen or not. We cannot avoid reckoning with Saturn.
When I first wrote about the Saturn-Neptune square, I focused on the concept of developing a Spiritual Practice — a good starting place for this journey of meaning-making. The Saturn-Neptune square is a time for each of us to check in and observe whether or not the structure of our lives (Saturn) actually supports the bigger vision we are trying to live (Neptune). What gives our life meaning? And what doesn’t? A spiritual practice creates the space within which to address these questions.
At this second peak of a transit, we may now find that we are at a crisis point in the journey. With Jupiter now in the mix, the issues are magnified larger than life so that we can really see what is not working. Jupiter is in Virgo, and so it is even more likely that we are alert to where we are not finding meaning. In fact, we can see very clearly what structures and obligations in our lives (Saturn) are actually dampening our ability to dream big (Neptune, Jupiter).
Yet, Saturn is not the bad guy here. Sometimes, a dose of reality is what we need in order to let go of dreams that are no longer viable. Neptune and Jupiter can be egging each other on, puffing up our dreams and illusions. But Saturn offers up obstacles that can serve to remind us of the need to get real about dreams. Not all dreams are worth pursuing. In fact, holding on to an unrealistic dream can drain us of energy that would be better aimed toward something more in alignment with our current circumstances.
For example, I once dreamed that I would become an English Professor. As I went through the process of getting my master’s in English in my mid-twenties, I pictured myself someday being able to sit in my own office and chat with my beloved students about 19th Century British novels as I sipped my Earl Grey and cream. I envisioned myself standing in front of these same students, having enlightened conversations about literature. And I pictured a life of relative ease, doing something I loved.
The reality of that career path was starkly different. I started out as an adjunct instructor – which is where just about everyone who wants to teach at the college level must start. Adjuncts get paid for their hours in front of the classroom, but they do not get paid for any other hours of work outside of that. Therefore, I found myself constantly hustling — reading an endless stream of student papers, preparing and creating curriculum, and making very little money. There was no job security, nor any benefits. From quarter to quarter, I didn’t know how many teaching hours I would get, nor if I would get hired for that quarter at all. The fluctuating hours and pay took its toll on me over time.
After 8 years of working crazy hours at a ridiculously low rate of pay, I realized that the dream of me being that revered English Professor sipping my Earl Grey was not really happening. Nor was it likely to happen. I began to see the reality of my situation. Because the field is highly competitive (just about everyone with a bit of writing talent and a love of literature at some point plays with the idea of being an English Professor), it would take several more years of education and work to get where I thought I wanted to be. I would have to not only get my PhD, but also jump through several more hoops to get tenure. Even then, I would have to wait for someone to retire before a space would open.
So, I made the choice to walk away from my teaching career. I then embraced my interest in astrology fully. While it was no more predictable or stable than the teaching career, it was at least something I was passionate about. I began to see myself finally as a true astrologer – something I was not able to do as long as I held onto the Professor Dream. And I realized that this other dream was truly within my grasp.
Am I ever sad about the lost vision of my life as an English Professor? Sometimes. But I also recognize that not all options are always open to us. I had to choose one dream or the other, and I chose the one that was more attainable for me. I have also come to understand that what was driving me to want to become an English Professor was simply my love of literature, and a desire to share that with others. A light bulb went on when I let go of the dream: I was free to just enjoy reading books! I didn’t have to dissect them and teach them and analyze them. I could just be in my love of reading. That realization was such a relief.
Within these next few weeks, consider for yourself: Are there any old dreams you are holding onto? Is there something you feel that you should accomplish, but it has lost energy for you? What is attainable for you in the here and now?
I don’t at all mean to discourage dreaming. It’s great to shoot for the stars. But it’s also equally great to recognize what we can achieve here on the ground.