Saturn – Rings, Rules, Responsibility

Saturn – together with Pluto – is the most dreaded planet in astrology. Rightly so. Saturn punishes us if we don’t stick to the rules, obey authority, and don’t do the hard work. 

Because who wants to do the hard work? Who wants to follow the rules?

Do you wake up in the morning and say “I can’t wait to follow some rules”.? “Or…

“Today I’ll do everything my boss wants me to do, pay taxes, wait at the red light, even if I’m in the middle of nowhere  – yay, how cool is that?”.

 “Another great day to do laborious admin work, and proofread that 400-page legal document. Life is amazing!” – said no one ever. 

Of course, when we wake up in the morning we want to feel good (Venus), safe and relaxed (Moon), optimistic and joyful (Jupiter), and some of us, to even go to the gym (Mars). But who wants to do the hard, laborious work? 

We all know we have to do the Saturn work. And we may even know that the Saturn work is good for us in the long run. But still, doing the Saturn work doesn’t “feel good”.

Will Saturn always be our dreaded companion? Will we ever get to like Saturn? To embrace it, to make it part of our everyday life? 

Saturn serves a fundamental role in our life, through what I call “the 3 Rs”:

  1. Rings – this is a metaphor for  having a “framework” – Saturn draws boundaries, and shows us what our playing field is 
  2. Rules – Rules are needed for a well-functioning society, even if they don’t always “feel right” or “feel fair”
  3. Responsibility – because that’s the only way we grow up. Unless we take personal responsibility, we’ll never be empowered to get the best outcome of any situation.



Saturn has rings. A ring is a boundary; a ring is a framework. Inside the ring, the fence, the car, the building, the city walls, it’s safe. As long as we’re inside the ring, we don’t have to worry about survival, and we can focus on what needs to be done.

When you get married, you wear a ring. Yes, getting married means you’re no longer available for other people, but it also means that you have gained a different type of freedom; now you know what your playing field is, and this gives you a sense of direction. And it can be incredibly liberating.

When you don’t commit to anything, you’re in a state of endless possibilities, where… exactly, nothing happens.

To pass Saturn’s 1st maturity test, we all have to wear a ring at some point. To make a commitment. It can be marriage. It can be having a family. Taking a mortgage. Or having a pet to look after.

As long as we’re afraid of commitment, Saturn will always feel heavy, restrictive and uncomfortable. But if we embrace commitment, we gain a new kind of freedom. The freedom of living inside Saturn’s ring. 


Quite a few years ago I attended a contemporary art exhibition in Berlin. The exhibition was called “One on One”.

It was not your regular exhibition – because it was not in an open plan. To see each individual artwork you had to queue, and then enter the room/cubicle – by yourself, only one person at a time.

As soon as the person in front of you would leave the room, you’d have to hang a “One on One” sign outside on the door handle, and then proceed inside the room – all by yourself. You and the artwork.

The idea was to create a personal and intimate connection with each artwork, and because you’d know your time with the artwork is precious, you’d appreciate and value it more. 

So here I was, queuing in front of the door. When I finally got in, all I saw was a stand with a box of Milky Way bars, open, but left untouched. There were a few dozens of Milky Way bars, all beautifully aligned, in perfect order, and no single bar was missing. And then there was a big sign on the stand “Nein” which means “No” in German. So, “no” don’t do it, don’t touch it.


Indeed, while I was queuing, I didn’t recall anyone leaving the cubicle with a Milky Way bar, so I assumed that the Milky Way box is the actual artwork, of course, not to be touched. 

I was quite tired from queuing and I could have had a bit of sugar. But no, there was that big sign with “No” to warn you that you shouldn’t do it. Or… 

And then I thought, wait a minute, I can actually grab a bar. What if “No” is not really a rule? In the one-on-one dimension, do other people’s rules apply? Do they make sense for where I am, here and now? 

I grabbed a Milky Way bar and left the room. As soon as I left – and before the next person in the queue got in – I saw someone from the organizers replacing the missing Milky Way bar with a new one, so that the box is again intact, to “confuse” the next viewers.

So yes, it was all staged. The artwork aimed to simulate a decision-making process: how would you react when you’re confronted with a rule. How would you react when confronted with real, or perceived authority.

Saturn is not “all about rules”. Saturn is about rules that make sense. About rules that serve a greater good. About rules that can keep you safe and happy inside the ring. Knowing which rules to follow, and which to break is the 2nd Saturn’s lesson. 

And here comes the final one.  


The toughest lesson of them all, is that it’s no one’s fault for what goes wrong in our life. Or for what goes well, for that matter. We master Saturn when we take full responsibility for our lives. Of course, there are some things that are beyond our control, but these things don’t come with Saturn transits. 

If you have a difficult Saturn transit, the bad news is that it’s you that is responsible for where you’re at in your life. Not the government. Not your parents. Not your partner. And the good news is that you are responsible for where you’re at in your life. This means that you can do whatever you want… as long as you take responsibility for it. 

Saturn is similar to Pluto. Read part II of the Saturn-Pluto saga here Pluto – Trust, Truth, Transformation

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4 thoughts on “Saturn – Rings, Rules, Responsibility

  1. I enjoyed your part where you said no one wakes up wanting to read a 400 page document to proofread it. I’m a retired legal secretary. I did enjoy the paycheck. The work was incredibly boring. But one did it because it was the job. And I was grateful for that. I’m more grateful for retirement. That Saturn too. on the boring administrative work, it’s just boring. Just life. That Saturn too.

  2. Hm.
    I say Saturn is about integrity as well as rules, boundaries and so on.
    I have the dredead Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Libra, 8th house, and nothing of the important stuff I have done in my relationships have ever been without integrity. You need to stay on that darned white horse with this constellation.

    Also, I have the Aquarius ascendant. So my coworker is per se Saturn. That makes it even harder to go beyond the rules and if I do I feel horrible and terrible. My gratifications are always delayed, and only when I give up my optimism and just accept things as is, or work for it without expectations of the outcome, will my wishes be granted.

    It’s so very annoying. I have Jupiter conjunct Sun and Venus – I am capable of conjuring my wishes…. But the fulfillment of wishes are always so darn late – sometimes too late. I blame you, Saturn.
    damn those rings, sometimes he can just go and plain out suck it!

  3. Saturn is conjunct my ascendant @29 degrees Virgo, and at 69, there’s no doubt how marked my existence has been by the rings, rules, and responsibilities Saturn has bestowed upon my earthly time.

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