Synastry Studies: Rethinking Venus/Saturn

In my advanced synastry class, we go beyond traditional aspect comparisons and learn to look at individual psycho-sexual dynamics to determine why we attract the partners we do.

One of the things that always evolves from the class is how active and vital Saturn is in chart interactions. Most people approach Saturn in synastry as a necessary but bitter pill that must be swallowed in order for there to be some kind of longevity in the relationship. Even if we don’t look at him with dread, we furrow our brows when we notice where he falls. Saturn in synastry gets blamed for all kinds of things–shattered illusions, betrayals, power struggles, abandonment–that don’t belong on his square shoulders at all. His glamorous outer planet brothers seem to get away with murder, and never take on that kind of flak. It always amazes me how often students dump on Saturn placements, when most often it’s Uranus, Neptune or Pluto who deserve the blame. But honestly, given the choice of an aspect between charts, I’d take, say, Moon opposite Saturn way before I’d take Uranus, Neptune or Pluto there. Saturn can be reasoned with. Not like the killer trio. Saturn needs some new PR.

One of the reasons we abhor Saturn is that he doesn’t let us get away with anything. In this, he is definitely the strict parent who knows us inside and out, especially when we tell him we’re going to the library when we really have plans to stay out way past our bed time. Saturn is the one who pushes us to work harder when we feel like being lazy. Saturn is the one who nags us about the right things at the right times. Saturn can behave this way in relationships, too, and it takes a very mature individual to appreciate it, especially if Saturn is acting out of genuine regard and not just projecting his own issues onto us.

Saturn is diligent. If we ignore what he tells us and what he expects of us, he will wait and bring us the same lessons later, only this time it will be harder, because our behaviour has become more entrenched with time. Time. Now there is a good Saturn word. Saturn knows that we only have this one life (as far as we know for sure) and the clock is ticking. There are things we need to accomplish, things we need to learn. Tick tock. Tick tock.

When Saturn is working well, he works hand in hand with the Moon. This is the natural cardinal pairing of Cancer/Capricorn, which is as natural a partnership as Aries/Libra. Cardinal signs initiate, and one of the things they initiate is partnership. Moon/Saturn also represents the ‘other’ angle, the MC/IC, which is the spine of the chart and crucial in partnership. (See the series on the MC/IC, and Beyond Mom and Dad, Saturn as a Relationship Planet.) Moon/Saturn is how we fashion our consciousness, our raw psychic material, into concrete accomplishment. Moon/Saturn hard contacts within a natal chart are so painful because we sense that what we have, what we were born with, is not adequate enough for us to create what we want. We feel we are hobbled before we begin the race. It takes a lot of inner work, and a lot of interaction with the outside world, before the two can work together.

I consider all of the rulers of the cardinal signs relationship planets. Not that the other planets don’t affect partnerships–they do, intensely. But the ‘prime movers’ of relationship are Venus, Mars, Moon, and Saturn. (This is very clearly seen via progression.) The Sun is a relationship planet as well, particularly paired with the Moon, but the Sun operates in a dimension beyond day to day reality, and is, quite frankly, hard for us to get hold of. We feel it (if we’re lucky), we identify with it, but we can’t really manipulate its energy or work with it the way we can with the inner planets. (For more on the Sun, see the five part series, “The Mystery of Solar Fire.”) We’re infused with the Sun, but we have no power over it. It has plans for us we’re not allowed to discover until the time is right. There’s that word again. Time. That’s Saturn’s realm.

We all identify with each one of these planets, but they will also play a role in giving us an idea of the opposite sex. If we toss them around, and pair a masculine planet with a feminine one, we get some very interesting combinations. Two of the most intense are two that are rarely discussed. One is Moon/Mars, which I’ve talked about before, both here and in a two part article for–steamier, more intense, more intimate and yes, a little scarier, than Venus/Mars. But the real black sheep of the bunch is Venus/Saturn. If you’re not aware of Venus/Saturn as a relationship magnet, it can hit you blindside.

In the words of Liz Green, from her book “Saturn, A New Look at an Old Devil,” (one of the greatest books on Saturn)–sorry, I have to paraphrase a bit, because my copy isn’t where I am right now–when Saturn sees something it wants, it can act like “the most inflamed Mars.” I’ve remembered that phrase ‘like the most inflamed Mars’ from the first time I read it. No one thinks of Saturn that way. And yet, in practice, over the years, I’ve seen him do just that, over and over and over again. Why? The secret of Saturn, and the Saturn/Moon combination, is that Saturn needs. He knows what he has to do, and the clock is ticking. If you have what he needs, he will court you like a lovesick swain. His love is genuine, desperate. Tick tock.

What Saturn wants is Venus. All that grace, all that gentility, all that beauty, is a balm to his harsh existence. When Venus touches Saturn, he is no longer the builder, the taskmaster, the responsible one. In Venus’s presence he can become the master craftsman, the artist. His work has a purpose beyond the mundane. He can take the raw materials of Venus, her beauty, her desire, and use them to achieve his purpose in an elevated and more gentle manner. Venus encourages him to share his skills and experience. Venus wants to be desired, and she senses his need. Remember that Saturn is exalted in Libra.

But Saturn/Venus doesn’t pounce, as Mars/Venus might and Mars/Moon often does. (Mars/Moon is a contact between two primal forces, where Saturn/Venus is much more sophisticated.) Saturn will court. Saturn will spend time. Saturn will feed your cat when you’re away and mend your loose wiring and fill your refrigerator on top of it. When you return, Saturn will hold your hand and talk to you through the night and stoically suppress sighs of longing–until one day when you trust him utterly and he’s certain he won’t be rejected, he will pounce. Saturn can wait forever where Venus is concerned. Saturn is desperate for appreciation, and appreciation is what Venus does best. This is always a very sensual tie, no matter what sign it falls in. The earthy, Taurean side of Venus is a natural match for the equally earthy Saturn. And they will want the best of everything for and from one another, and they are both very security-minded planets. With the hard aspects there will be more striving, and more tussling for rewards (internal and external), but the same underlying desire will be there.

As with all aspects, nothing can be taken out of context. Problems come when either of the planets is debilitated in the natal. If the person with the Saturn has a Saturn placement that causes it to be full of fear and defensiveness, if it constantly feels inadequate and suppressed, it will take it out on Venus, who will feel hurt and betrayed, and surmise that Saturn’s desire was a lie. If the Venus person’s self-confidence is on the brink, or if the person’s Venus is dominated by Uranus, Neptune or Pluto, Saturn may never obtain the security it desires, and may be shocked when the outer planet steamroller rides into town and his once accommodating partner shows herself to be elusive or manipulative. Sometimes, though rarely, the planets only want a specific thing from one another, to learn a specific lesson, and once that lesson is learned the attraction cools. That can happen with any planetary inter-aspect, but the fallout here can be devastating, because of the trust involved, and the whispered promises of forever, which can be very loud when these two connect.

The most common thing I hear when I see a Venus/Saturn inter-aspect is, “We didn’t do anything the first night we spent together. We just held one another.” That’s what Venus/Saturn is doing. Holding on in the dark of the night, remaining in the here and now, taking joy from the warmth and the comfort.

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