Self-sabotage – navigating the Saturn square

Temple of Saturn

These days I am becoming more aware of my responses to events and situations, though not enough to not react at all. But still, progress is progress …

My thought for today is on the subject of self-sabotage, that is, the act of pulling the carpet out from under one’s own feet. Self-sabotage, as this blogger notes, ‘is when you let your insecurities take control of your life.’ In astrology, Saturn, the ‘taskmaster’ planet, while able to imbue structure and discipline in one’s life, can also generate a fair amount of self-doubt and insecurity. It’s a question of how the energy is harnessed.


Notably, while the Saturn square (transiting Saturn squaring the natal Saturn) isn’t as rough a ride as the Saturn return (one is supposed to have learned one’s lessons…), it can still trigger certain issues. The question is how to recognise and address what comes to light.

In my case, I have natal Saturn conjunct my Sun, and Moon in Capricorn (ruled by Saturn), which creates a fairly – well – Saturnian inflection on my sense of ego-self (Sun) and my emotional constitution (Moon). What is Saturn about? Susan Miller offers this concise description:

Saturn is the planet of concentration, permanence, tangible rewards, tenacity, ambition, and productivity. This taskmaster planet also rules caution, delay, constriction, limitation, responsibility, rules and regulations, pain, fear, authority, discipline, control and denial.

Before you say, “Ugh!”, consider this: Without Saturn, we would see little or no progress. We live in a tangible world, and Saturn urges us to deal with reality. Without Saturn we would have no gumption, no standards, or controls, no structure‹just chaos.

Saturn grabs us by the collar and forces us to confront reality. When Saturn touches a specific area in your chart, that area experiences a kind of slow-down, or freeze. Saturn is cold and icy. This planet is also considered heavy or leaden.

Saturn, the Great Teacher planet, brings maturity and teaches us the value of patience and sacrifice.

Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn. It rules the base structure of everything, from teeth and bones to the organizational hierarchy of a company. It governs historical, artistic, or archeological artifacts. It takes 29 years to circle the zodiac, and stays in each sign for two and a half years.

The astrological opposite (or complement, if you like) is the expansive planet of Jupiter. A strong Jupiter transit can offer a sense of confidence and optimism. I’m also experiencing a strong Jupiter transit now, ending a 12 year cycle of personal growth and beginning a new one, marked by the completion of the PhD and the start of a new job (among other things).

The self-sabotaging potential (I say ‘potential’ because I’d like to think I haven’t fully succumbed) of my Saturnian nature, triggered by the Saturn square, is making me think, ‘Maybe all this good fortune is too good to be true…’ followed by a number of ‘what if’ questions: in my case, not so much ‘what if I’m not good or deserving enough?’, but more like, ‘what if other people fail to see what I’m good at?’ You see, my struggle is with allowing the Uranus, the Maverick, in my chart to manifest itself fully. I live my life and think my thoughts quite radically different from most people — I live by personal moral paradigms, not by those dictated by social convention. For the most part, I am proud and happy to live by them, but time and again, the little Cap Moon nags, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t be so dismissive of society’s conventions.’

So that is the central conflict of my life — the impetus to stand out, followed by the insecurity of not fitting in. Yet, that insecurity is not enough to actually make me try to fit in. The conflict manifests, I am increasingly starting to notice, in my unconscious behaviour to test the limits of social conventions, just to see if they are as rigid as they seem. A reflection on my thesis experience will provide a clear enough example — I choose to approach a topic quite unconventionally, choose to enter the system unconventionally, even choose a supervisor with whom the working relationship is unconventional, and then what do I do? I choose, at the end of it all, examiners who are the most conventional sticks-in-the-mud in the world. I know I am different, and want to be different, but still expect the rest of the world to acknowledge that difference, even celebrate it. If that isn’t psychic masochism, what is?

It is the same with personal relationships, the details of which I won’t share to protect the identities of those I care about. Suffice it to say, I conduct personal relationships based on very personal paradigms of feeling and behaviour, which may or may not be understood (much less approved of) by society and its thought-governing institutions. Then the little Moon nags again, ‘But is it really okay to live like that?’ I’m worried, see, not about being hurt, but hurting others with my unconventionality. I am afraid my friends will pay the price for being with me. Some have, others are willing to share it, but I have never acknowledged my gratitude for the latter. Again, it would be fine if I stopped there, and let the energy of the relationship unfold at its own pace. What do I do? I seek validation from more sticks-in-the-mud, those who live and act by what’s in the rule book. And have the stupidity to be upset and indignant when they tell me precisely that they see the horrible person I have willingly projected to them.

The first truth, if I may sum up all I have learned from reading Eric Francis all these years, is the one I owe to myself. And this is the ultimate lesson of Saturn, too, in spite of its taskmaster reputation, and its penchant for institutional authority. Institutions are built by human society, for human society, and thus subject to change as individuals, and society, changes. One is sometimes slower than the other. Internal Saturnian voices are also means by which one’s changing subjectivity is structured, for unfettered change can lead to chaos (more of my Saturn speaking). So I am also learning to value my encounters with sticks-in-the-mud — I just have to remember not to let them get to me so much.

The picture is of the Temple of Saturn in Rome. Rather than the planet in the sky, I thought its crumbling ruins more in conjunction with the themes of this post!

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