Reflections on Saturn in the Sign of Libra

by Daniel Giamario

Part One

Saturn is traveling through Libra until October 5, 2012 when it enters the sign of Scorpio. This means there is about another year that Saturn is transiting through the sign of Libra, inspiring me to reflect on this great social and cultural cycle, to see where we stand. I base these observations and reflections on the history of this transit and on the experiences of my clients since the beginning of this cycle in October of 2009. These observations are seen within the context of the intent of the transit, as proposed by the paradigm of the Shamanic Astrology Mystery School. 

Saturn image from NASA

Saturn teaches the individual and global humanity how to grow, change, and evolve by way of limitations and boundaries. Rather than perceiving this as a negative, alternatively Shamanic Astrology sees this as an excellent definition for the process of maturation. New stages of life, like a snake shedding its skin, are a completely natural and necessary process. Saturn can also be seen as an operating manual, the rules of the game. This includes all the ways human beings have organized their cultures throughout history to form structure, rules and regulations and to form social methodologies to perpetuate a culture for as long as possible.

Healthy expressions of Saturn fulfill the Native American dictum of making no decision unless it benefits the next seven generations. Unhealthy versions of Saturn tend to fulfill the Biblical curse suggesting that the sins of the father be delivered upon the next seven generations. Saturn is, in essence, simply the operating manual itself, a practical guide to thriving and surviving on planet earth.

However, Saturn can easily be “infected” by the customs, ethics and belief systems of the prevalent ruling culture. Over the last four thousand years, Saturn has been usurped by various strains of patriarchy and then, over the last two thousand years, doubly infected by the varieties of “original sin” dogma. In short this is summed up in statements like “you better be good because you used to be bad”, or “if you are really, really good, God will love you more, and you will get a great return.” Whilst those beliefs are demonstratively false, nevertheless they remain remarkably effective motivational strategies that use coercion and control powered by shame and guilt, reward and punishment. Few can completely escape this violation to the beauty of the soul.

The Shamanic Astrology Mystery School (SAMS) envisions a new Saturn, one that supports planet Earth (Gaia) as a living being, and then describes an operating manual practically and honestly supporting the next seven generations and beyond. This includes getting out from under the multitudinous “sins of the father” (and mothers) that support the patriarchy. This Saturn transit will return the glyanic* values of pre-patriarchal times in alignment with the rapidly reawakening views and wisdom coming from the “Council of Grandmothers”. It is in this spirit that we now explore the transit of Saturn through the sign of Libra, a two and a half year journey occurring every 29.5 years.

The following bullet points track Saturn’s transits through Libra from 1921 to 2012. 

  • September 25, 1921 to December 20, 1923, April 6, 1924 to September 13, 1924…includes square to Pluto.
  • November 20, 1950 to March 7 1951, August 13,1951 to October 22, 1953 with a Uranian square and a Neptune conjunction
  • September 21, 1980 to November 29, 1982, May 6, 1983 to August 24, 1983 with a Pluto conjunction
  • October 29, 2009 to April 7, 2010, July 21, 2010 to October 5, 2012 with Uranus and Pluto squares

The Libra Archetype from the perspective of Shamanic Astrology
The sign of Libra begins at the September Equinox and symbolizes the balance between day and night, male and female, life and death. Libra has always been associated with personal relationships. I like to define the essence of Libra as a way of knowing more about your self through the interaction with, and reflection of, the other or others. Shamanic Astrology also views Libra as “a householder” meaning it is connected to the process of building and maintaining a society or culture over time. Globally and historically, Libra has been involved with designing the traditions and the institutions of relationships that form the foundation and structure of society.

For example, pair bonding, known today as marriage, is one such form. This institution has had a wide spectrum of expressions. At one end of the spectrum was “arranged marriage” whereby a mate was chosen (sometimes before birth) using the criterion of class, caste, economic status and even astrology. This approach has had great success at certain times in history in creating long periods of societal stability. At the other end of the spectrum are the highest spiritual and romantic ideals human beings have ever held in the pursuit of the soul mate or twin flame. Relationship here is seen as a “path to God”.

What we call marriage today is actually a relatively recent development. Before marriage, in some parts of the world, couples we go through a ritual hand fasting choosing to be together for a year and a day before deciding on a more permanent bond. The varieties of “marriage formats” differ greatly depending on whether the culture was matrilineal or patrilineal. “Christian marriage” as cultural conservatives view it, is only one of many different forms of marriage or pair bonding.

Non-Hierarchical Conscious Equal Partnership
Then there is the issue of the hierarchical roles. Over the last twenty five hundred years, as the patriarchal system merged with the concepts of monotheistic religions, a key element of the universal essence of Libra was lost. Libra is intended to be non-hierarchical. I am reminded here again of Rianne Eisler’s use of the term glyanic* to refer to a cooperative and collaborative culture where men and women are equals. It is likely that over the greater part of human history, for example during the thousands of years known as neolithic times, a glyanic, cooperative, non-hierarchical culture existed. And they existed for a far longer time than the patriarchal hierarchical aberrations of late.

It is important to know that Shamanic Astrology recognizes a valid hierarchy. These cultural forms are found in the Cancer and Capricorn Mystery Schools, the relationships, for example, between parents and children, teachers and students, therapists and clients, spiritual teachers and chelas, etc. But Libra is intended to be about non-hierarchical personal relationships and that element has been subverted these last twenty five hundred years. Shamanic Astrology’s current definition and understanding of the intent of Libra is summed up in the phrase “non-hierarchical conscious equal partnership.” Within the Libra Mystery School, this applies to all “personal” agreement based partnerships and relationships: marriage (or whatever we want to call a pair bond), friendship, business partnerships, and even the eventual relationships between parents and adult children.

Libra style relationships are not for everyone! Shamanic Astrology values all authentic expressions of the Gods and Goddesses, the full spectrum of relational possibilities, not just Libra. Not everyone is alive to experience a pair bond or to get married. It is beyond the scope of this article to provide the elaborations on all the authentic expressions and aspirations of relationships based on the different archetypes of the signs, but it is important to know those difference exist.

So What About Libra Now?
It is clear that the beliefs or ways of understanding Libra are being challenged. The limitations and boundaries around Libra are being reached and breached. The Libra snake is shedding its skin. The current skin of Libra, which for over two thousand years has been structured in hierarchical patriarchy, is coming off. The greater and more universal essence of Libra can now be reborn, but no one knows for sure if there is another skin…the snake must move around at a certain point in its skin shedding, otherwise it could end up drowning or suffocating in the debris of the dead skin. Movement is necessary to get out of the recent cultural Libran paradigm.

Characteristics of the current paradigm (not necessarily a complete list or in any particular order)

  • Hierarchical roles as defined by patriarchal culture and monotheistic religions. Examples: the woman is in service to what the man is doing. The man controls the woman or has dominion over the wife. The man provides for the woman. The woman is responsible for “working” on the relationship.
  • Marriage defined as “until death do us part”
  • The expectation of having a partner, soul mate, etc, not having one is considered a failure
  • The old fairy tale of being rescued by the knight in shining armor or the fair prince
  • The old fairy tale of looking for the other 50 percent of oneself “out there”, the other half or better half
  • Nuclear family assumptions
  • Unexamined assumptions of male and female gender roles which are recent in origin
  • Cultural judgments about age differences, religious and race differences

The New Relational Libra Paradigm
Here are some possibilities of a new relational paradigm built on the foundation of essential Libra or what some of the new features of a reborn Libra Mystery School might look like?

  1. Autonomy comes first. I have found that very few relationships can remain healthy if the individual has not done some inner work on their own wholeness. A strong and conscious union can only occur on the foundation of autonomy, then relationship is a choice, not a need. Even though Libra, by definition, is knowing more about yourself through the other, if you define yourself or your happiness based on the other, co-dependency is the likely result. Even when the partner seems ideal, that inner wholeness and autonomy, the goal of Libra, remains elusive. The wisdom of solitary time for personal exploration and growth cannot be overestimated.
  2. Collaboration is the key. Conscious equal partnership is a conscious collaboration; the primary intent is to work on the relationship as equals, with a willingness to expose unconscious cultural and historical roles. This includes a willingness to value the authentic, essential nature of the partner.
  3. Freedom of choice. Again, Libra is not for everyone, but within the domain of Libra, it’s an act of self-love and conscious volition to choose to be in a conscious, equal, “all in” personal partnership. In the Libra mystery school, it’s a tremendous pleasure to freely claim or be claimed by a beloved.
  4. Desire to value personalness. For Libra it is “personalness” that is most cherished. It’s what is meant by the statement, “I just want to be loved for me.” In the Sufi understanding this is what is meant by the pearl, sometimes called the pearl beyond price. This is being loved for who you are rather than for your resume, your knowledge, your accomplishments, your story, etc. In the words of the song, Nature Boy, “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn – is just to love and be loved in return.”
  5. Rethink “until death do us part”. It is possible that Libra relationships complete quicker than that. In these speeded-up times, allow for authentic relational commitments to have their own organic timing and not have culturally imposed life spans. The entire life time option is still there but not as the only “right” way. Have it be a collaborative agreement.
  6. Expect the unexpected. (The Uranian effect) A great relational, collaborative partner may arrive in a completely unexpected and unimagined way, beyond cultural conventions.

These have not been easy times for Libra. Since the entry of Saturn into Libra in October of 2009, I have never, in my astrology practice of forty years, seen so many relationships, that are based on the prevailing cultural paradigm, fall apart. I am including marriages, friendships, and business partnerships. The structural walls, the “old skin”, have been outgrown. Either they failed or were not intended to work any longer. The intent of these relationships reached a completion. Sometimes when this happens it feels depressing.

Many do experience this as failure and yet, particularly during 2011, I have experienced in my practice and my personal life, the most remarkable examples of complete magic. More clients in the last year than in the previous thirty-nine combined, have shared with me stories of meeting someone that exactly fit their soul’s intent and usually these meetings occurred without efforting or looking for it. I have been absolutely amazed by this.

Although the breakups and endings remain the majority of experiences, there is an increasing number of miracles leading me to believe that the new Libra is, indeed, emerging. Movement is happening and the old skin of Libra is coming off.

Libra exists on a fine line, a very delicate, yet relentless balance of autonomy and relating. For Libra this is the sort of autonomy that is also relational and personal. This is different than Aquarius or Sagittarius, for example, who are more interested in autonomous experiences than relating. Libra is also not personal and relational like Taurus whose main focus is the pleasure of intimacy. When the more autonomous signs enter into the Libra Mystery School approach co-dependency is, often an expectable “honest” mistake. For Libra, there is value in learning more about oneself through others. How, then, to be simultaneous autonomous and to bond? That is the question?

What is currently emerging are the attempts to answer this question. It is way too early in this death of the prevailing Libra paradigm to fully and clearly see the content of the new Libra. What will marriage be in the future? What will be the agreed upon cultural and social institutions that will build and sustain the future world? With the help of the equally revised and rebirthed Cancer, Capricorn and Aries Mystery Schools, let’s envision a world with non-hierarchical, conscious equal partnership and where relationship itself is a spiritual path serving the aspirations of all the places on the wheel of life.

Some Final Thoughts
An objective view, historically and globally, of the previous three transits of Saturn through Libra gives mixed results as to the creation of a new Libra paradigm. The transit of 1950-1953 included a Neptune conjunction and Uranian square that occurred during a highly conservative post-war climate. The foundations for the conformity and security of the 1950’s were built during this time. The current “cultural conservatives” nostalgically long for those times.

The transit of 1980-1983 with a Plutonian conjunction was the time of the Reagan revolution in America primarily expressed as conservative reactionary thinking. Only the transit of 1921-1924, accented by a Pluto square, had a flavor of non-conformity and experimentation, with a willingness to confront the status quo and question consensus reality.

The current transit is being accented by squares from both Uranus and Pluto and seems more likely to resemble the early 1920’s. Added to this current Saturn transit through Libra is the fact that we are in the closest window of the Turning of the Ages, marking the end and the beginning of an entire 26,000 year Great Year.

The inherent conservative nature of Saturn seems to want to hold on to operating manuals that have worked or have been believed to have worked in the past. It takes quite a lot to get these beliefs and operating systems to change. Perhaps having Uranus and Pluto square to this Saturn transit we finally have the necessary agents to once and for all dislodge and dismantle the obsolete structure of the prevailing Libra paradigm.

Let’s envision a rebirthed and reborn Saturn actually concerned about the workability and survivability of what Buckminster Fuller referred to as “space ship Earth” with the inclusion of the welfare of all people and all life, that is “all our relations”, and for the benefit of the next seven generations and beyond. Lest we forget, Saturn through Scorpio is up next.

Coming soon, Part II.

The Influence of the Stars and the Pattern of the Virgin Priestess (constellation Virgo) on the sign of Libra:

  •   What is the proportion by which the constellation informs the sign?
  •   The Spica story


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