Saturn in the Ascendant

Jet air travel isn’t appreciated for what it is. It’s always like that with the most exciting developments in history — people like to take them as routine conveniences, then they become annoyances. It’s true that in 2004 the world was still at the height of paranoia after the Sept. 11 incident less than three years earlier, and airports were well on the way to becoming a total hassle. Still, being shot across the atmosphere at just under the speed of sound is too amazing to take for granted. That is what I was about to do. In light of this I was adjusting my mind to the fact that I would soon be in London.

Air travel requires light packing, and that means thought. Saturday I spent the day taking care of a few errands and putting together my portfolio. I also wrote the first of the daily columns that were due the next day. Sunday I wrote the second column, which I filed with Nick a few hours early. The rest of the day I spent arranging my belongings into four bags — a suitcase, a garment bag for the suits I would invariably need for my meeting or meetings with the Daily Mirror, my laptop case and a carry-on bag. I had no idea how long I would be gone for; I had a three week ticket, but I’d burned enough return tickets by that time to know that I might be changing my plans.

My flight was for 7 that evening, which meant that I had to leave my apartment by 5. I had already arranged for a car to pick me up at 4:55, in the spirit of running a little bit ahead of time.

My carry-on bag required the most careful packing — it was my tech bag, where I carried backup disk drives, cables and anything I might need to run my website, which was fast growing in visibility. I packed what I knew I absolutely needed, and then collected bunch of other stuff from my desk and closed the case.

Next, I printed out the charts I would need to write horoscopes for the next few weeks, as well as any other materials I would need, without access to a printer. Then I went through my file cabinet and grabbed a few essentials: by birth certificate, my resume and some random newspaper and magazine clippings from different high points in my writing career, just in case I needed them.

I arranged my bags neatly by the door, and sat down on my couch and watched my Rift Lake cichlids in their never-ending process of moving gravel around their tank. For some reason I thought about my astrology as I watched them: Saturn was currently crossing my ascendant. That’s something that happens once ever 28 years or so. This hadn’t happened in my chart since 1974, when I was 10 years old — a time of big changes. My parents were getting divorced and we were about to move to a new neighborhood.

To someone not familiar with astrology, one event sounds like another, but they are not equal. The ascendant, or the rising sign, is the easternmost angle of the chart. Just as the day begins at sunrise, the ascendant is a beginning point of one’s chart.

Saturn is one of the most revered planets, and was the supreme ruler of astrology until the ‘modern planets’ began to be discovered with Uranus in 1781. That began a whole new volume in astrology. Yet another began two centuries later in 1977, with the discovery of Chiron, an era in which my true specialty is grounded; I will have more to say about that later.

Saturn is about structure and the movement of time. This includes maturity and the process that gets someone there. It has many connections to professional affairs. Saturn going over one’s ascendant hints at the total restructuring of one’s life, a shift in identity, and some encounter with a much larger world. It is about growing up. Saturn demands discipline, integrity and most of all, a sense of humor.

Most astrologers mistakenly assume that the theme of Saturn being stuck within a structure. What I’ve seen over and over again is that Saturn is one of the most dependable harbingers of change that there is. The thing about structure is that it has to be adaptable to survive on Earth, and Saturn makes sure of that even if you do not.

Initially I thought that the results of my Saturn transit involved moving off of Vashon Island, where I had lived for the past three and a half years. In that time I had started a new phase of my life — met my business partner and incorporated by business, settled into a life on the West Coast, began training as a therapist and many other developments. Yet suddenly I needed a new environment, and a larger one, than an island without a bridge, that seemed to be trapped in the early 1960s.

So I moved to Seattle. Now, just one moth later, I was about to head to England. it was 4:50 and my car was about to arrive. I put on my leather jacket, carried my stuff out to the hall, and before closing the door, I told my fish to stay in their tanks. I pulled the door shut, not realizing I would never see the place again.

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