Saturn: Astrology’s rites-of-passage symbol

The seven-year cycle corresponds to the approximate time Saturn takes in creating different 90-degree angles, called squares, to its original place in the horoscope while orbiting the Sun.

by Gabriella von Elekes — 

We have all heard about the proverbial “seven-year itch,” the horrible teenage years and the big three-O, as we approach the 30-year mark.

Without realizing it, we talk astrology. The seven-year cycle corresponds to the approximate time Saturn takes in creating different 90-degree angles, called squares, to its original place in the horoscope while orbiting the Sun. This time period is usually marked by some kind of lesson that must be learned, sometimes through crisis. We all go through it, some of us with more ease than others. And yes, some situations are not meant to last, but we always learn from them and become better persons as a result.

Everything that has ever been born or created has a horoscope — be it a person, corporation, animal or marriage. By the same token, everything born must grow and experience the growing pains that lead to maturity. The astrologer uses the mythology behind the planets to describe archetypes inherent in human nature that will allow us to better understand and handle life’s problems.

In astrology, Saturn is associated with discipline, hard work, authority figures, bosses and father figures. Where do these associations come from?

In Greek mythology, Saturn was called Cronus, one of the seven Titans. The Greeks named him after the word “chronos,” which means time. From this word comes the English word “chronological,” meaning in a timely order. Cronus was the son of Ouranus (Father Sky) and Gaia (Mother Earth). When Ouranus became despotic, Cronos castrated his father at his mother’s urging, becoming leader of the pack. When he married, though, he became afraid that his own children would harm him, so he swallowed all but the last one, Zeus, who was saved by his mother. Like father, like son, we would say today.

If you wish to learn more about the mythology of the planets, read Joseph Campbell’s work and Mythic Astrology by Ariel Guttman.

In antiquity, Saturn was the last planet visible to the naked eye, hence it symbolized limitations. Saturn’s rings symbolize the limitations placed on us, but also the boundaries we need. Without them, we do not know how to protect ourselves and will allow negative energy into our lives.

Saturn’s journey around the sun takes approximately 29 years, which is divided into four stages of life. During this time, Saturn forms several aspects to its starting position which correspond to these different times in a person’s life.

The first relationship is to its natal position, called square (90 degrees away from the starting position) and corresponds approximately with the age of 6 to 7 in a child’s life, or the time when school starts. The stress at this time either results from going to school, parents experiencing difficult times — even divorce, the birth of a sibling or other stressful events where the young child’s stamina is tested. At the same time, it is a big spur in the emotional maturation of the individual.

The second major aspect happens about 14 to 15 years into its orbit, when Saturn is halfway into its orbit around the sun. This time we are talking about the teenage years. This time corresponds with an opposition, when we are tested by our children’s attitude of, “How far can I go?” We are pushed to the limits and our authority is questioned. “I am not a child anymore,” is heard many times over. This is a crucial time in the soul’s development, and balance between authority and love must occur. At this time, parents must demonstrate that they are indeed parents, not friends to the child.

The third seven-year phase is around age 21, when things are patched up between parents and children, and parents are no longer the enemy. Children go on to college, move out or marry. It is OK to follow in the parent’s profession, as well.

The fourth aspect, called conjunction, is felt as we approach 27 years of age, and is fully felt by age 29. The questions are: “What now? What have I done with my life? I am not old yet, but am no longer a child, either. What is my next step?” This is the time when many people marry, have children, change jobs or even careers. Welcome to maturity.

Right now Neptune, which is at 19 degrees of Aquarius, is opposed by Saturn at 22 degrees of Leo. This dance of the planets began in 2006 and continued into 2007, culminating by the end of February, then repeating again in June of 2007, after which it will slowly move away.

The dilemma presented by this configuration is how to balance duty, practicality and following the rules (Saturn) with spirituality and the need to escape from the very rules we have to follow. We are all affected by this dilemma, and choices must be made. The specific area of life in which it will manifest depends on one’s time of birth.

The astrologer can help clarify various difficult-to-understand questions, such as why, why now and why me? They can also provide impartial and innovative suggestions to help solve them. Astrology is not a belief system; rather, it is another tool for shedding light on life’s journey.


Gabriella von Elekes is a professional astrologer who does consultations, workshops and teaches. She is past president of the Arizona Society of Astrologers.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 1, February/March 2007.

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