How the cycles and transits of Jupiter and Saturn can get you off the bench of shame, blame and guilt and into becoming a winning player!
At 21, I had started graduate school for my master’s and Ph.D with great promise and excitement–from my friends, my family and my professors. So I was at a loss as to how I came at serious odds two years later with my mentor, who was also my department chair. I didn’t understand how asking pointed questions to my mentor had left me without a teaching assistantship that I desperately needed to stay in school. I didn’t know what to do and where to turn. I felt betrayed, ashamed and unjustly persecuted by my department. Although I got an assistantship through another department for a year, I finished out my first and last year of my Ph.D program, then never returned. That year I started a cycle of blame, shame and guilt that “benched” large parts of my energy, love, joy, clarity and fulfillment for the next 15 years.
It was my studies of astrology and particularly of Jupiter’s and Saturn’s cycles and transits that helped me to understand and break the cycle I started. This article is to unpack and reassemble some of the lessons embedded in the cycles of Jupiter and Saturn that get lost in the rote repetitions of keywords. I believe understanding Saturn and Jupiter from the inside out can shift shame, blame and guilt into responsibility, rectitude and genuine confidence.
One of the sanskrit words for Jupiter is Guru, which means someone who guides one toward knowledge and away from ignorance. A simpler way to conceive of Jupiter in a modern sense would be as a coach who provides a life course or curriculum to build up gently yet firmly our confidence, competence and understanding. Jupiter’s sign, house position and houses he rules in natal charts illustrate what cadre of lessons we are to learn in life. As we learn these lessons we can better interpret and participate in the societal role destined for us. Likewise, one of Jupiter’s “gifts” when we’re open to receiving his lessons is enthusiasm, which fills our life with purpose and energy.
If Jupiter is the “gentle” coach and teacher, then Saturn would be the tough trainer and taskmaster. Saturn ensures that we’re learning and using the curriculum detailed by Jupiter. He also signifies the proscribed roles we assume in our communities or society based on the way we individually (and collectively) seek to express and expound upon the coaching of Jupiter. As we assume our individual Saturnine roles, we unlock greater arenas of psychic, psychological and physical responsibility and spheres of influence. Saturn also prompts us to embrace our ability to follow our conscience toward what we’ve discovered from Jupiter as our own truths. Saturn’s sign, house position and houses he rules in our charts direct us to know what roles into which we mature and accept responsibility.
This all sounds well and good if our responses to Jupiter and Saturn were to manifest as positively as these planets “should” work. But our responses are usually conditioned by the negative significations of these planets, as they are usually the easiest to grasp and the hardest to release. If we re-evaluate these negative significations as we often experience them, as I did when I was 23 years old, we can more actively and quickly transition into the positive expressions of Jupiter and Saturn.
Most often, Jupiter problems are caused, essentially, by attempting to “skip class” or a refusal to go through the motions and fully play the game of life at the best of our ability. When we don’t give our best but feel entitled to the best results from situations and people, then this can lead to ego-fueled misadventures like incompetence, lack of confidence, unbridled skepticism, self-indulgence, self-righteousness, intemperance, and arrogance. If we’re giving less than 100% to ventures in life, because we’ve stopped believing in them or we don’t think they’re worthwhile, then it’s time to review the “playbook” that Jupiter has set up for us. We may be following the right playbook for the wrong game or the wrong plays for the right game.
Likewise, when we find it hard to believe in ourselves and our abilities, chances are we’re not learning the “plays” we need to learn because we’re too busy focusing on ourselves and how we’re doing (usually in comparison to others). In this vein, a lack of self-confidence can really be an inverse egoism (also a Jupiterian affliction). Doing our best is the only way to discover whether our best is well suited for the roles that we’re aspiring to fulfill. When people can’t trust that they can or will give their best, people either puff themselves up or beat themselves down; one way leads to hypocrisy and the other to self-sabotage. Jupiter’s not asking for either from us. We can only perform to best of our ability and that includes mastering as best as we can the lessons set out for us individually, not anyone else’s lessons or even the way they learn them.
In my case, with my Jupiter return, I had lost faith in my teacher and he in me. Simple as that. However, the reasons why we lost faith in each other are detailed in my chart and also in understanding the general nature of Jupiter as I’ve explained above. I became very skeptical of key tenets of my teacher’s beliefs as he espoused them in my department. His department, which he essentially had built from scratch, was the first and only of its kind in the world. However, he may not have had time to think all dimensions of his “baby” through, so my skepticism came to be perceived as a threat. This is not to say that my skepticism wasn’t warranted or didn’t bring up some good points. I still stand by much of the conclusions I reached then. However, I also have had to face the fact that I was no longer able or willing to give my best to that department and my mentor’s decision to have me leave, gently or not, may have been the best decision for all involved. Eventually, I might have decided to leave on my own, but I wasn’t ready to do that. So a decision was made for me. Jupiter will happily rally and ready the willing, but the unwilling are usually pushed to take a journey before they’re ready.
Saturn collects the cost you have to pay for not being ready for the journey. When things go wrong, as many things do, we can accept the circumstances as they are or attempt to own them by centering them around ourselves and re-coloring them with our feelings rather than just the facts. When we’re wistfully sentimental, it feels good. When we can’t let go, we accrue emotional burdens.
For instance, it’s one thing to drop a glass of wine accidentally on a friend’s new white rug. That’s something that has happened and that establishes a circumstance. It’s another thing to have nightmares about the circumstance even after you did everything you could to fix it. This means the circumstance has come to center around you and your feelings, not your actions and intentions. When we attempt to own our circumstances rather than our ability to respond to the circumstance, then we usually get mired in shame, blame or guilt.
In my case, I had trouble moving on to accepting my Saturnine role, because I failed to take full responsibility for my actions and focused more of my emotional energy, especially anger, on my former mentor. I blamed him for “losing my chance” to have a full career as an academic rather than owning my choice not to pursue that life. The feelings of shame and guilt are similar to blame.
As a friend of mine explained recently, shame is all about the feeling of having “sinned” against one’s Divinity rather than feeling like you are responsible or in partnership with Divinity. With the feeling of shame, we have the tendency to feel more like a pawn than a player. When shame surfaces, especially during a Saturn transit or cycle, we have to look at whether we’re focusing on owning the circumstance rather than owning our actions.
Guilt’s a little different, because it’s more about feeling that you must continue to punish yourself for your actions for a given circumstance. With guilt, we continuously keep owning both the circumstance and our past responses to it at the cost of creating enthusiasm in the present, fostering confidence and even our ability to create fresh new responses. In short, guilt prompts us to own TOO much rather than own the portion that encourages responsibility and promotes growth.
Understanding the cycles and transits of Saturn and Jupiter at key times, like Saturn/Jupiter squares, oppositions, returns or conjunctions to other planets, can teach us how and when to be alert to when we’re attempting to own too little or too much. Or when we’re giving too little or not enough of our enthusiasm and best efforts. The cycles of Jupiter augur times for us to summon our enthusiasm and zest to give our very best to the things that interest us and promote giving our greatest gifts to our society, whether in spirit or deed. The cycles of Saturn prompt us to own our responses as conditioned by the life lessons we learn (or don’t learn) from Jupiter. If we are willing to heed the coaching of Jupiter and rise to the tasks and conditioning of Saturn, we step into our power and can fully participate in the game of life as a player and partner. This can happen at any time, but it’s likely to be more prominent when Saturn and Jupiter are very active in our charts.