The Saturn-Neptune Square & the Disenchantment in Moving Forward


As we spend this next many months in a 'seasonal transition' (as symbolized by the lineup of outer planets in mutable signs) between the rattles-and-bumps of this past-few-years' Uranus-square-Pluto upheaval and whatever's coming next, we each must make certain judgment-calls and directional decisions…

… and, naturally following from the necessity of choosing one goal, option, or belief over another, we're likely to feel somewhat disenchanted by having to leave something (or someone) else behind.

It's hard to altogether avoid some amount of letdown when we decide to make a defining statement which closes the door on other possibilities. To move forward is to move away from where we've been. Even if such a move is an unqualified positive for our own evolutionary process, it separates us from all those alternate existences we imagined for ourselves. These incompatible visions for our future must be laid to rest, leaving our inner idealist or romantic to grieve their passing, their never-to-be-ness. While we may say 'anything is possible', we must also acknowledge everything is not simultaneously possible. Some choices are mutually exclusive of others.

This brand of disenchantment—the collision between our boundless dreams and the restrictive limits placed on their viability by earthly reality—is often associated with Saturn-Neptune hard aspects, such as the square these two are now forming. Saturn in Sagittarius will be exactly square to Neptune in Pisces on Nov 26 (which also happens to be Thanksgiving Day here in the States), with two more exact squares to follow in June and September of next year. This aspect, one of our most noteworthy astrological headlines for the months ahead, asks us to integrate our Neptunian idealism with a healthy dose of Saturnian realism.

What's so great about Neptune in Pisces is its unrivalled capacity to arouse greater empathy, compassion, and spiritual understanding for the infinite varieties in which life-force can be expressed. Neptune in Pisces appreciates us all simply for existing, never demanding we fulfill particular expectations or hit certain benchmarks in order to be deemed worthy. This world is necessarily comprised not only of saints and stars and success-stories, but also of the deeply troubled, the ill, the unwise and unkind, the seemingly evil. Still, Neptune in Pisces shuns no one, honoring the ever-gushing river of suffering which weaves through our lives… and sometimes carries us into untoward or destructive behavior.

One only causes hurt because one has first endured it, and doesn't know what else to do for survival or self-protection or to vengefully even some score. Neptune in Pisces reminds us of this ceaseless cycle, lowering the ego-boundaries which illusorily divide us… heightening our sensitivity to each other's woundings… accentuating, by psychic feel, our indivisible connectedness, every action creating ripples of consequence which impact everything else.

Admittedly, such a pure Neptune-in-Pisces consciousness is difficult for most people to withstand over any length of time, even as it's the very sort of awareness all spiritual traditions seek to point us towards. With constant exposure to the world's suffering, we suffer greatly in sympathy. We feel others' pain, and we wish to alleviate it (provided we're not so myopically deep in our own pain that we compete with or discredit theirs). We may dedicate ourselves to a cause which seeks to remedy inequality or oppression. We might devote our caring efforts to loved ones who've had it tough, recognizing the grace of their highest self beneath their reactive misdeeds. We can visualize a kinder, gentler world, and assign our creative imaginations to its eventuation. And still, the suffering persists. It's enough to drive anyone, at their lowest moments, to drinking and drugging, codependency, depression, hopelessness.

Saturn in Sagittarius now aims to curtail the Neptune excesses in our lives. Too much Neptune saps us of personal will, so sensitive we become to others' disadvantages or distresses that we give too much of ourselves in our attempt to be their savior, and go down along with their sinking ship rather than any lives being saved. Perhaps our utopic yearnings leave us believing anything less would fall too drearily short, and wondering why we should even bother to strive for paltry partial improvements. Or else we just anesthetize ourselves, drowning out enough of the pain (by any means necessary) to enable us to meet our minimal requirements for self-sustenance, yet keeping us from sincere satisfaction, meaning, or growth. Saturn loathes such lacks of earnest effort and personal responsibility… rewarding them with punitive consequences, bitterness and resentment, missed chances and decreased potential.

More than anything, a fiery Saturn in Sagittarius simply expects us to keep moving along… to head basically anywhere beyond here, where we'll encounter some new person or purpose or principle to experience, to learn from, to spur our ongoing development. Obviously, we're far likelier to benefit in some personally useful or compelling way if we've intentionally selected one path over another, based on the promise of its leading somewhere that interests us. It may not lead exactly where it appears to, though there's nothing we can do about that, for such is life: We can't know in advance what unforeseen doors, detours, obstacles, and opportunities will present themselves as we're going along. We've just got to pick a path and start down it.

The clash between Saturn and Neptune, then, asks us to reduce our unfathomable field of endless possibilities (Neptune) to cut-and-dry choices between this and that (Saturn)… and to consequently limit the influence whatever we don't choose holds over our lives. We must willingly put blinders on, not so we may ignore the rest of the universe but simply in order to aim us along on our self-selected journey. Otherwise, it's too easy to get distracted or overwhelmed by the psychic vastness of everyone and everything else—the need, the hurt, the hope, the intoxication—and end up losing our way. We are far less of a help to the universe if we don't self-actualize, engaging our curiosities, exploring what else is out there, and learning from the experience.

Practically speaking, this Saturn-Neptune square forces us to acknowledge where our wishful thinking, overly idealistic attitude, or self-deluding naivet has muddled our decision-making. We cannot effectively head a certain direction as long as we're also clinging to motivation-depleting habits, energy-sucking relationships, tortured souls we're trying to rescue, pie-in-the-sky notions about work or money, or unhealthy familial patterns which inaccurately define us, holding us back.

But this act of drawing a firm boundary between past enmeshments and a brighter future of our choosing can feel like a heartless betrayal on our part, as we turn our backs on people, beliefs, or behaviors we once cherished. We must acknowledge how our alcohol use has taken its toll on our confidence, or how our poor diet impairs our physical ability to do as we wish. We must relate to troubled loved ones as they actually are, rather than how they might one day be, and face what we've sacrificed of ourselves in order to keep serving their needs. We must come to terms with the unlikelihood of ever winning the presidency or striking gold, based on our current record of accomplishment. We must accept our family for the fallible humans they are, granting ourselves permission to disappoint or confound them when asserting our true character. These are all mournful (even if simultaneously life-affirming) realizations… and come accompanied by an understandable sense of loss.

This dispiriting quality of Saturn-and-Neptune's square is the natural result of digesting such realizations, and of choosing to adventurously go forth without perpetuating past idealizations or illusions. It is an emotional trial to brave, a bittersweet step in the process of developing into a fuller self than we were prior, as a result of our making the most from existing reality—and letting our fantasies of some future miracle fall by the wayside.

To instead cut ties without a seeming care, to callously refuse to recognize the collateral emotional effects of our forward actions, or to cruelly censure or shame those who choose a different path (willingly or by unconscious default) is to lapse toward too much Saturn… blocking out Neptune's empathic awareness of all other entities and experiences, and their essential unity with our own. We should feel an ache, a longing, a sorrow, in the face of a reality always doomed to fall short, and of other human beings both continuously perpetuating suffering and falling hapless victim to it, two sides of that eternal coin—not so complete a sympathy that it cripples our capacity to pursue an individual life that's personally meaningful and satisfying, but enough to remind us no life is truly 'individual'.

If we don't experience any tinges of melancholy, grief, or regret for what never was or cannot be—and how it's that incompleteness, that inevitable imperfection, which keeps us illusorily divided from each other and from the Divine—we're just not respectfully hearing our heart's loving wisdom speak out alongside our simultaneous need to 'get real' with ourselves.