Saturn will station retrograde on Sunday, May 23, 2021 at 5:19 AM Eastern Time (9:19 AM UTC), and will remain retrograde until October 10, 2021 at 10:17 PM Eastern Time (October 11 at 2:17 AM UTC). The retrograde station occurs at 19 degrees 21 minutes of sidereal Capricorn, and the direct station at 12 degrees 43 minutes in the same constellation. As Saturn transits back over a span of about six and a-half degrees to the degree where he transited last February, some of us will be reevaluating decisions and revising plans made since then.
This retrograde area occupies Shravana (Sravana) nakshatra in Gemini navamsa, which carries several possible themes of influence: media and communication; and for some, spiritual aspirations, the search for knowledge and wisdom, learning to listen to our higher calling, and connecting to a higher field of understanding (receptiveness); also, a desire for collaboration with others; a focus on the need for law and order; and in its lower expression, ideological conflict, debt, poverty, malaise, and pessimism.
The week or so before and after the actual Saturn stations can be times of mood shifts, financial or career changes, new developments, anxiety, and in some cases, shifting plans (as well as seismic and atmospheric events). In Vedic astrology, Saturn is called Shani, which means the one who moves slowly, because Saturn takes about 30 long years to revolve around the Sun.
As an actual deity, Shani is the personification of time, and He moves very slowly. He tends to delay matters as a natural course, so when he is retrograde this slowing down affect can be intensified and especially maddening.
Saturn’s purpose is to teach us patience and fortitude. He represents the tests we have to undergo in the material world. He is the irritant that produces the pearl and the pressure that creates the diamond heart. He symbolizes the psychological shadow that we have to face and integrate in order to be whole and manifest our full potential. He is the representative of the material plane with all its lessons and limitations. Ultimately, Saturn is the divine servant whose hard knocks are meant to reveal the truth about our soul nature and our karma.
Unbalanced, the essence of Saturn can be contracting, fearful, anxious, depressed, or blocked. When balanced, Saturn is the epitome of self-discipline, responsibility, reform, conservation, organization, determination, service and hard work, and practical achievement. He signifies the principle of reality check, limits, boundaries, and consequences. In his own sign of Capricorn, Saturn can be very strong for either or both good and bad.
When a planet appears retrograde, its essence is strengthened but internalized, and often delayed or skewed. A retrograde planet will often point to issues from the past that we need to go back and resolve. A retrograde planet can show us how to move forward spiritually even while it may indicate that we have to experience some delays or restrictions in worldly matters. When we are patient and aware, the upcoming Saturn retrograde cycle can be an especially productive time to establish new priorities and transform our ambitions.
In mundane astrology, Saturn is the significator of the economy, laboring classes, mental illness, physical disease, anxiety, misfortune, and sorrow, among other things, and during its retrograde period, all its negative significations can at times (for some) seem worse than usual. For instance, the economy may slow down at some point in the next four and a-half months.
Additionally, Saturn may force certain unpleasant issues to come out into the light, and as Sat Graha, planet of Truth, Saturn’s lessons can be potent. He can relate to upheaval in terms of seismic events, accidents, and storms. The last time that Saturn retrograded in Capricorn and Shravana nakshatra was in 1992, when California saw a 7.4 magnitude earthquake (one of the largest in US history), and Hurricane Andrew struck the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana. Also, Hurricane Iniki struck Hawaii the same year.
Saturn will station retrograde within an effective 2-degree orb of a tension square aspect to Uranus, and this square aspect will perfect on June 14 and start to move out of orb by July 17. This aspect between Saturn and Uranus dominates 2021 in that it already occurred in January and February and will occur again in November and December. It represents rising tensions and restrictions on freedom, as well as a massive battle against tyranny and oppression. It can suggest “danger of accidents, use of force, suffering, or violence, nonsubmission, struggle…backlash from past mistakes, disputes, resistance, losses, mental and emotional pain, sorrow, sudden estrangement or separation, mishaps, etc.” (Ebertin)
The late astrologer Isabel Hickey describes the Saturn-Uranus square as: “trouble with those in authority and those who want to keep the status quo because it is safe [sound familiar?]. This battle rages within as well as without. The person bucks and resists changing, for self-will is strong and no one is going to tell him anything. Saturn wins in the outer world of appearance (personality)…but Uranus rules the spirit which is always free.” (Astrology, a Cosmic Science) Note that the square between these two Titans brings forth dictatorial tendencies as we see among those who champion certain radical philosophies but oppress those who disagree with them, and with their autocratic stance comes a great deal of hypocrisy and inconsistency.
Per a classical Indian astrology work called Sanketa Nidhi, when Saturn retrogrades, it mostly affects and activates (brings to light) matters related to the sign ninth from it, which would be Virgo, the sign that in mundane astrology represents the armed forces and military matters; agriculture, food industry, and supply chains; working classes and labor unions; the health and science professions; health, disease, fitness, and hygiene; and relief societies.
Of course, to understand the nature of this retrograde cycle of Saturn on a really personal level, we would need to analyze it through one’s birth horoscope as well, especially noting the houses it rules natally and the houses it occupies natally and in transit, as well as aspects it makes and so forth. If you have important placements in your natal chart in Shravana nakshatra, it will be interesting to observe a possible slowing down or streamlining influence during the Saturn retrograde cycle, since Shravana has a tendency to be “all over the place,” whereas Saturn prizes stability. If Saturn stations retrograde within a close orb of one of your natal planets or chart points, a lengthy period of inner reflection and some powerful life experiences are likely to follow in the coming months, a process that may eventually lead to an awakening of sorts.
During this Saturn retrograde cycle and especially in the week or so before and after the station, we will all benefit from added mindfulness and spiritual practices for centering and grounding, including conscious breathing since Saturn rules the Air element. As Saturn and Capricorn also rule the Mooladhara (base) chakra, keeping one’s energy system connected to the earth can be helpful.
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
(Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace)