With Saturn now moving retrograde, I figured I’d check in on how I’m faring with Saturn. Saturn has been transiting my first house since September 2011. I had been looking forward to Saturn leaving my twelfth house like I looked forward to being released from an obligation I had no interest in keeping; in my twelfth, Saturn had taught me to quiet down, stop working so hard, to chill out. Dialing back and losing focus in the diffuse awareness of the twelfth house does not and did not feel natural to me. With a score of like 65 on Donna Cunningham’s Cardinal-o-meter, I flip flopped like a fish out of water. Not until Saturn entered the twelfth house did I realize how much my identity was fused with doing instead of be-ing. The week of Saturn transiting the first, initially felt like a release from bondage. That week, I reconnected with parts of my self I thought I’d lost by attending a high school reunion, and taking an art class with a master artist. In a very real sense, this was the beginning of the rediscovery of the self. But after the initial homecoming, I had to let go of that nostalgic self-reunion. There’s a Joseph Campbell quote that speaks directly to what takes place during the shift from Saturn from the twelfth into the first house(s), “We must be willing to get rid of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

Keeping Up Appearances

As Saturn crosses the threshold, we are called to break with old masks – with ways of seeing our self, being in the world, showing our self and our face to the world. Yet who am I today? This is the question… and first house Saturn is all about restructuring the identity. Early on, something I had read helped me understand the consolidation of energy I began experiencing. It became very important to me to evaluate where I was spending my energy –to end superfluous obligations, to other people, and to myself.  Why was I pushing hard to be social, or work on projects that felt like a mountain of work, when I was tired, so tired? I’m already an introvert and need time to recoup energy but this was ridiculous. Both Rob Hand and Erin Sullivan say because we are rebuilding the very identity, we have less energy to spare during Saturn’s transit – and any commitments that stand in our way of doing this intense self-exploration may get sacked because it stands in the way of the time we need to spend working on our self. This is the motive behind why people may experience “fails” during this time. So if you get sacked, or your work doesn’t get published, consider it a blessing: you are in the process of rediscovering the Self that will seed a whole new 28 year cycle.  You don’t want to be wasting precious time on a hamster wheel.

Rediscovering The Self

Because of this need to restructure the identity, which entails less commitment to worldly demands, more seclusion and inner work, Saturn here can put a damper on being seen and getting noticed. This is happening because there’s a new identity re-forming. Like the pieces of a lego creation, the process of self-rebuilding is necessarily slow, careful and must be made without haste. The feeling is that every piece (friendship, career choice, obligation, cause, hobby) you decide to take on will be with you for a long while, and to not be premature. I’ve been tempted many times to define myself — to run headlong in exciting directions that, upon reflection only a mere few weeks later, I just knew wouldn’t have made me happy. It took a few experiences like this, me anticipating I had found “the answer!” only to have it dissolve, and realize I’m a work in progress and if my newfangled career mash up ideas don’t get past the starting line, it’s probably for the best. As a result of admitting I truly don’t know where I’m headed yet, I’ve learned to remain wide open to possibility, and to explore things that come along with fresh eyes, which feels very courageous and first house, while also remaining extremely discerning and realistic, which feels very Saturn.  This is a safety against running headlong into brick walls down the road, for as Erin says, “Often it remains unclear who we are while Saturn remains in the first house.” -And- “…seizing the first apparently solid opportunity to present itself is not always the best; all such opportunities need to be examined for their durability and longevity.” In short: if you can’t envision enjoying doing this for at least the next 14 years, scrap it. Or as Rob Hand, a very practical man, says of Saturn transiting the first house, “Don’t be in a hurry.”

Yet, it’s not about sitting around doing nothing. It’s a busy time. Putting the pieces together takes time, effort and often Saturn transiting the first yields new choices & direction. In my experience, however, these choices must obey another Joseph Campbell dictum, to always: “follow your heart” then given plenty of lassitude. I’ve read about people taking up hobbies now that turn into careers – later. I’ve experienced the budding of a new profession, and though I don’t know what form it will take yet, it’s been important work for me to listen to what my heart says about it every step of the way.

In Corpore (Latin, meaning In The Body)

“For the duration of Saturn’s transit through the first house, one must find creative antidotes for spiritual starvation. Nourishment for the body and soul is a difficult menu to find ready prepared.” – Erin Sullivan, Saturn in Transit

Being in the body has never been easy for me, and in all honesty it has gotten harder and improved with Saturn here. During this time I’ve had a disease return that I though I’d been finished with (on the exact weekend Saturn quincunx’d my sixth house Aries Mars). This is the harder. Chronic pain has severely limited my ability to write, create and do things I want to do. Creativity had been such a strong source of spiritual nourishment for me, albeit (and I am loathe to admit this) at the cost of other forms of sustenance. This is the lesson. As Saturn has thrown the circuit breaker on the creative-spiritual and put much (often ALL) of my attention on being in the material body, I have had no choice but to submit to the lessons of the Taskmaster. Inasmuchas my work is cut out for me with Saturn here, I am beginning to reap some rewards from it. I found traditional cooking (Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions) or it found me -and when I did I experienced the major epiphany that I’d never actually felt deeply nourished by my food. Saturn rules traditions.  My diet, has long been far healthier and conscious than the typical American diet, but also had a lot of restrictions that left me feeling hungry, and malnourished on deep levels (natal Saturn conjunct Sun, South Node in Cancer). When I began eating a very nutrient dense diet, a diet like our ancestors ate. As a result of eating like my ancestors ate hundreds of years ago, I started feeling far more substantially nourished as a person. Of course I’m also cooking like they did, too, which means I’ll start my day cutting vegetables for a stew, or canning pickles or making crème fraiche. Time consuming? Yes. But also connecting to my body, the earth, and my spirit in a whole new way. As Erin says, “While Saturn remains in the first house we renegotiate our earthly contract.”

I’ve noticed people who have Saturn in the first, natally, often have physical limitations – thyroid disease, bone disease, juvenile diabetes to name a few – restricting one’s confidence, ease of movement, and the opportunities one can pursue.  Why is Saturn in the first so hard on the health? Is it because of the quincunx relation of the first house to the Sixth? A quincunx is an aspect of adjustment, and letting go and eliminating health-inhibiting behaviors does involve the quincunxy idea that no one wants to do: “let go, release into change.” Speaking of letting go, I haven’t lost weight, thank Goddess, as I didn’t need to, but for some this is a true benefit of this transit. Due to depression or the self-discipline and self-denial it bestows on the character, Saturn can lean people down during its ASC and first house transit – witness Angelina Jolie’s Skeletor-like appearance while Saturn in Cancer crossed her ASC, a skeletal reputation which she has never entirely lived down.

Thresholds & Doorways

Saturn rules thresholds & doorways. Throughout Saturn’s transit I’ve become fascinated with doorways. Redoing my home office, I painted my closet door a lovely mediterranean blue, shabby chic’d it up a bit, and now it transports me. Me and Pinterest have a thing going, and our common interest: doors. Greek doors, Santa Fe doors, doors with a hint of something just beyond the known. Transiting Saturn over the Ascendant is “the threshold struggle”, the struggle of becoming, of rediscovering the Self and what lays beyond is exciting, providing hours of psychological first house fodder. I would like to visit some of these doorways, and symbolically, just maybe, I am crossing new thresholds in myself.