This month is buzzing with the Saturn-Neptune square, a rich and difficult transit. It’s vibrating the hinges off of August from beginning to end.
What happens during the next few weeks shouldn’t come as a surprise. All year the Sat/Nept conflict has been rattling our windows with its central theme: How to live in a world where realness works in tandem with falsehood. (1)
Each time this transit is triggered, something happens in our lives that’s a variation on the theme: that of apparent reality vs. ultimate truth. Knowing ahead of time where in our lives the lesson will appear is hugely useful. We know what the name of the game is before we’re in the hot seat.
The variations on the Sat-Nep theme are coming at us this month in a meaningful threefold sequence. As August begins, Mercury sets off the square. Mid-month, it’s Venus’ turn. Towards the end of the month, Mars steps in – while conjoining Saturn, no less (as the medical assistants say, this one might pinch a bit).
Each of these trigger transits offers us a different angle on the same key existential question, which is showing up for many people as a crisis of faith.
Mercury: Tell the tale
The first hit takes the question into the mental realm (Mercury). On Aug 6th-7th, Mercury, now in Virgo (analysis), squares Saturn in Sagittarius (the urge to make things concrete and real) while opposing Neptune in Pisces (the sneaking suspicion that things are not what they seem).(2)
Right now, Mercury is wrenching the Saturn-Neptune paradox from the background to the foreground of your consciousness. The god of communication is asking us to articulate — to give words to it, or convey it in images – the great conundrum of being in charge but not in control.
To do so, we have to first identify in what form the conundrum has been showing up for us. This part is probably not a problem. It’s probably all too obvious what the irritating, slippery issue is that’s been bedeviling us since last November (look to the houses of your chart where these planets are passing).
Maybe something or someone in your world has seemed both credible (Saturn) and fraudulent (Neptune), by turns. Maybe you’ve been slipping in and out of between being straight with yourself about something. Maybe you’ve been struggling to define a question whose nature remains maddeningly elusive.
The truth is that both that both sides of this polarity demand our allegiance. Geometrical conflicts between planets always insist that we hold both at once, in tense equipoise.
Whatever the problem at hand, it is true that we have to find some way to make it workable: to take responsibility for it (Saturn). And it is equally true that it is ultimately beyond our control (Neptune).
Venus: Make the connection
Then, on the 13th-14th, just as Saturn makes a direct station in the sky (2:51 am PDT, at 9 Sagittarius), Venus moves into the square. With Saturn stationary and very strong, the transit may be showing up as pressure of some kind, perhaps in a relationship (Venus), maybe at work (Virgo). Perhaps we’re being asked to negotiate between someone who’s acting negligently (Neptune) and someone who’s playing the enforcer (Saturn).
More probably, these forces aren’t personified explicitly but are coming at us energetically. That is, something in our immediate environment represents the need for rules, and something else represents the undermining of those rules. We are asked to find peace between them with as much heart engagement (Venus) as possible.
Mars: Make something happen
When Mars joins the fray (August 24-26) it will conjoin Saturn while opposing Neptune. Mars insists on an acting-out of wherever we are with the transit: it tends not to stay inside (that is, it’s healthier when it doesn’t. See this article). Mars pumps energy into behavior: it makes the transit visceral, personal and ego-fueled.
During the last week of the month, the urge to assert ourselves (Mars) must be blended with a sense of responsibility for the necessities at hand (Saturn) — an uneasy mix in the best of contexts. The self-propelling drama of Mars (especially in a fire sign) tends to resent the restraints of Saturn. Our job here is to come up with a mature response (Saturn), rather than a self-centered reaction (Mars in resentful mode) — and to temper this response with a strong dose of humility (Neptune).
The better we have attended to the first two triggers, Mercury and Venus, the better off we’ll be by the time Mars moves into place.
Finding the balance between these seemingly antithetical mutables is not easy. But when we understand the justice of the transit – the theory behind it — the reason the cosmos is giving it to us – it’s a much smoother experience.
Whatever is bugging us right now is a test. It’s to get us to honor Saturn — the urge to take charge — and Neptune — the necessity to let go – simultaneously.
This is the contradiction inherent in theatrical performance. A good actor combines commitment and practice (Saturn) with pure dissemblance (Neptune). What makes her artistry sublime is that the dissemblance is deliberate and consensual: she is making an implicit deal with the audience that they’ll pretend together.
All great art, they say, is a lie that tells the truth.
1 Now’s the time to re-familiarize yourself with the Saturn-Neptune square, the most important one of the year. See this podcast for its meaning in the world at large, and this webinar for its psycho-spiritual implications.
2 We’ve already been feeling the prickly intersection of these three signs, because Jupiter has been weaving in and out of a T-square with Saturn and Neptune all year. That one featured order (Saturn) and chaos (Neptune) intensified by growth surges (Jupiter). What key issues did the Jupiter trigger bring into your life? They will now be given a spin by Mercury.