Befriending Saturn in the Season of Dark
Our dark season is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest. We can look forward to sunsets at five pm, long, cold nights, and weeks of rain where the sun pushes back the clouds for maybe only a few minutes. It’s natural to tighten up inside during this time as many begin to feel the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, succumb to winter illnesses, or experience the flare up of old chronic conditions.
Astrologically, the planet who rules this territory is Saturn, the god of depression, sickness, limitation and old age. Most of us cringe at the thought of this guy. Unlike benevolent Jupiter or enticing Venus, Saturn seems cold, menacing, and severe.
It’s important to remember; however, that each of the planets (i.e. characters of our psyches) plays a certain necessary role in our lives and ultimately is working towards our wholeness and growth.
As I’ve found over and over again through my own journey, life is an intricate intertwining of darkness and light. It is a peculiar convergence of happiness and sorrow, pleasure and pain, triumph and defeat, that all combined create the remarkable, mesmerizing collage of our individual and collective stories.
For those of us who identify as spiritual, we are often drawn to the lighter half of life—to joy, serenity, friendliness, and bliss. These are all vital practices, especially in a world fraught with so much suffering and lack of care. But if pursued with a certain single-minded intensity, our desire to only experience the lighter half of life can lead to an internal imbalance that perpetuates unhealthy patterns within ourselves.
This is when Saturn may come to visit to “darken” us through an illness possibly or personal limitation of some sort. Saturn slows us down, keeps us from attaining the things we believe bring us happiness and fulfillment, forces to look at the things in our life we would rather not pay attention to.
I’ll give an example from my own experience. I can be a very task and goal-oriented person, whipping through to-do-lists with Olympic determination and speed. If I find myself trying to keep up this routine for too long, I will eventually be struck with a bout of anxiety or experience a collapse in motivation. Now, it can be tempting to try to power through this and draw on some self-help technique that will allow me to maintain peak efficiency. But I’ve come to recognize these episodes as a visit from Saturn letting me know it’s time to slow down, to take a break and get back in touch with the rhythms of my body and personal intuition. It also gives me time to recognize that when I become fixated on getting things done, it is often driven by fears I hold around making enough money, meeting other’s expectations, and having some control over my circumstances.
While Saturn may manifest in a form we perceive as negative, he is really helping us to change our perspective and refocus our attention on what really matters. A visit from Saturn probably isn’t going to be much fun. In the classic sense, he’s not a very nice guy, and his presence isn’t something that has to be enjoyed.
But it can be appreciated. And honored. Saturn is ultimately concerned with our greater well being, and he will shed light on our fears and insecurities and shortcomings so that we have no choice but to turn to the deeper, more powerful qualities of our souls. It is this deep inner wisdom that Saturn is after, and it is sometimes only through one of his dark visitations that we get in touch with a new capacity within ourselves that allows us to achieve greater levels of fulfillment and meaning.
I encourage you to reflect on this as we enter our season of sixteen hour nights and week long rain squalls. Saturn is not easy to befriend. It can take a long time to learn to accept his often painful medicine. But if we can slowly learn to trust his work and form a relationship with him that isn’t built on fear and aversion, we may find his visits are no longer quite so scary and don’t need to happen as often.
By Matthew Brouwer
Matthew Brouwer is a poet, teaching artist, and peer mentor living in Bellingham. He leads writing classes on how to get in touch with one’s core creativity and facilitates Kintsugi: A Writing Circle for People Suffering Chronic Medical Conditions. His work is built upon his own lengthy journey with Myofascial Pain Syndrome, which for a time rendered him virtually unable to walk. To learn more about Matthew and his work, visit www.matthewbrouwerpoet.com