Three Ways to Work with Saturn

There comes a time when you first start learning astrology that you learn about Saturn. Nobody really likes to deal with him, if we’re being perfectly honest; we would much rather spend our time cozying up with Venus and partying with Jupiter. They’re better company.

But the reality is that everyone must deal with Saturn. We can’t escape it. But, we can learn to become friends with Saturn—well, maybe not BFFs, but we can get on better terms with him.

And the truth is that I honestly love Saturn. But that hasn’t always been the case!

In our birth charts, Saturn represents the places that box us in. We all have a pinch point in our life where we seem to get stuck, an area which demands discipline, diligence, and structure. In those spots, he says “no” to something in our birth chart. He says to us, “this is where your hardest work will be.”

A part of our life that challenges us to learn how to say “no”—sometimes it even challenges us to learn how to say “no” to ourselves. Even with that being the case, we can embrace the hard work that Saturn demands. Saturn stands ready to give us what we need to thrive when we make that hard choice.

Some of us have Saturn in our eleventh house, where he makes it harder for us to find community and kindred spirits. Some of us have Saturn in our fourth house, where he can make our home life feel like a prison. Some of us even have Saturn in our first house, where he demands that we learn how to say “no” to ourselves.

Saying “no” to yourself isn’t necessarily a fun Saturday activity.

Let me put a pin in that real quick, though: think about the gift of Saturday. Each of the days of the week has a planetary ruler, and Saturday is no different. Naturally, the day is Saturn’s own.

But in other languages, especially those deeply connected to the Jewish diaspora, Saturday is still called “the Sabbath.” Sabado. Samedi. In Russian, Subbota.

The ancient stories of the Jewish tradition suggest that it was on Saturday that the Divine said “no” to further creation so that the Divine could rest.

And likewise, for millions of people throughout history, Saturday has been the day where Jewish people have learned to say “no” to work and to fear in order to say “yes” to the richer things of life that neither labor nor money can procure. Things like family, community, rest, relaxation, feasting—aspects of life that empower us to live with soulfulness and depth.

These aspects of life need a container. And what Saturn does is that he hollows out a space in our lives through teaching us to say “no” so that we can contain a life that’s rich with fullness and depth.

Wherever Saturn is in your birth chart, there is an opportunity for you to experience the boon of “sabbath.” You have the chance to say “no” to something to make space for what can grow there.

So how do I work with Saturn?

One: Know What You’re Up Against

The first step is knowing which house Saturn falls in, which is easy to do if you know how to run your birth chart on or another service. Whichever house Saturn falls in is the area that demands that hard work of hollowing out space by saying “no” in order to say “yes.”

For a brief refresher, here are the life domains that each house represents:

  • First house: the self, the body, physical appearance, physical health & vitality, circumstances
  • Second house: our own resources, whether financial or energetic
  • Third house: our siblings, our local communities & neighborhoods, short trips, commonplace things, communication
  • Fourth house: our upbringing, our parents, our home, and the things that we inherit
  • Fifth house: fun, creativity, enjoyment, pleasure, children, and anything we do to create more of ourselves
  • Sixth house: hard work, duty, responsibility, and the people and creatures for which we are responsible (employees and pets)
  • Seventh house: partners in love and conflict, coalitions
  • Eighth house: other people’s resources, whether financial or energetic; other fearful things, like death and debt
  • Ninth house: expansion of perspective & knowledge, teachers, mentors, religion, spirituality, philosophy, long voyages
  • Tenth house: the legacy we leave, our career and public status, what we are remembered for
  • Eleventh house: our friends, associations, and fidelity to others
  • Twelfth house: that which imprisons us and limits us, isolation, retreat, sorrow, the unconscious

For example, let’s look at the chart of the famous choreographer and dancer, Martha Graham.

martha graham birth chart

We see that Saturn is in Libra in her fifth house. So, in her life, Saturn demanded her to apply diligence, structure, and shape to her artistic pursuits. If you’re familiar with Martha Graham’s choreography, you know that diligence, structure, and shape are perfect descriptors for her approach! By doing so, her artistic vision radically influenced dance in the 20th century (notice also that her midheaven degree is in Aquarius, which is traditionally ruled by Saturn!)

Oh, by the way, a fun astrology history fact: the important 20th-century astrologer Dane Rudhyar was, for a time, Martha Graham’s rehearsal pianist!

Whichever house Saturn occupies in your birth chart is the area of life that Saturn is asking you to structure, organize, and say “no” to certain factors so that you can say “yes” to the gifts that will be planted there.

Ask yourself these questions, and spend time answering them honestly:

“What part of this area do I need to say no to? What does it look like for me to put some sweat into tilling this earth? What can I cultivate here after I do that?”

Two: Look Inward with Compassion

The problem with Saturn work is that, if you haven’t given it a lot of thought before, it can be a rude awakening. You might feel like you’re being read for filth. You’re not filth. But Saturn is reading you for sure; it’s what he does.

Gentle reminder: you’re not alone.

If the process of looking at the Saturn part of your life raises some difficult questions for you, it’s crucial that you give yourself the gift of looking at that area with compassion. If you can’t learn to look at that area of your life and see it with the same eyes that those who love you most see you, then you’ll stay stuck on this Saturn piece. It’ll make dealing with your Saturn return even harder, too.

But Saturn thoughts don’t have to be the destructive emotions that we so often make them out to be. (I hope I’ve hammered this point home!)

One of the most helpful resources in my journey with learning to look at myself with compassion was a book given to me by my therapist, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Dr. Christopher Germer. This work is a fabulous introduction to the basics of mindfulness meditation. But it’s not only that. You’re learning how to do mindfulness meditation with techniques and visualizations specifically geared to learn how compassion feels in your body. I return to his “soften, allow, heal” technique all the time.

If you’ve got any interest in meditation practice at all, it’s a fantastic starting place, and his accompanying website has free tutorial recordings that you can access. Do yourself a favor and get a copy (this is an affiliate link, full disclosure).

Get Your Copy of The Mindful Path to Self Compassion

Real talk? As long as looking at this Saturn-filled part of your life causes you to cringe and run away, you won’t be able to do the necessary work of softening it, allowing it to be, and letting it heal. It’s a necessary step on the journey.

Three: Attune Yourself with Saturn’s Spirit

Here’s where we get a little bit woo, but I’m trying not to go too hard here. Stay with me!

The idea is that each of us have a little bit of Saturn in us, and we can attune ourselves to that piece of the sky that’s lodged in our souls through prayer and mediation on its principles and properties.

This is what some astrologers call a “remediation,” and essentially it’s a way of balancing out a planet that’s too active or not active enough by making that planet more a part of our conscious experience. So how do you go about this?

In the Vedic tradition, there are mantras for each planet, and you can easily find a Saturn mantra to utilize in this way. Kelly Surtees features a wonderful write-up on this practice on her site that serves as fantastic angle of approach. We can dip into other traditions, too. Here’s one that I especially like for Saturn from the Greek Orthodox tradition:

“O Lord and Master of my life, grant me not a spirit of sloth, meddling, love of power, and idle talk, but give to me, your servant, a spirit of prudence, humility, patience, and love. Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother, since you are blessed to eternity.”

Any prayer or affirmation that focuses on themes like prudence, humility, patience, and self-assessment is great for Saturn. If you can’t find one that you like, you can even write your own in words that feel right for you! There’s not a wrong way to do this.

Essentially, you take whichever mantra you want to use that encapsulates a planet’s principles, and you pray with it repeatedly until it sinks into your bones. Over and over again, breathing the prayer in and out as you go. There’s a reason that the earth’s major spiritual traditions each have some sort of prayer beads: this meditative repetition entrains your subconscious to the wisdom contained in the prayer.

It’s basically like reprogramming your brain’s circuitry so that it runs more harmoniously with the planets within!

For extra oomph, try doing this on a Saturday just after sunrise, or on a Tuesday night just after sunset.

What else can I do?

Even if you know what you’re working with, you’ve learned how to look at it compassionately, and you’re working on attuning yourself with Saturn, that doesn’t magically make everything go easier. (Well, it might. A little.)

The reality is that there’s a lot that you can do. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, though; if you’re interested in how to manage and nurture your unique Saturn situation, the best thing you can do is reach out to an astrologer who’s on good terms with Saturn and let them help you develop a strategy for working with Saturn that is tailored to you!

(I happen to know a guy.)

Help me figure out my Saturn stuff!

Lastly, if you’re dealing with Saturn stuff it’s important that you have people around who can help you carry the load he puts across your shoulders. And if you’re engaging in this process, I want to hear about it! Shoot me a note to let me know how your Saturn story is going. We’re in this together!

Disclaimer: this post contains an affiliate link. If you buy a copy of Dr. Germer’s book through the link above, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

2 thoughts on “Three Ways to Work with Saturn

  1. arpita says:

    Love this! I have Saturn in my 5th house too and it returns to its natal position next year, so I’m fascinated by the example you mentioned. Could you elaborate on how we can work with Saturn in our 5th house?


  2. Claudia Larsson says:

    Soooo. Natal Saturn in house 6 in Sagg. Second Saturn return at 58 – breast cancer that turned out to be a gene mutation no one knew about. Otherwise super healthy etc. That was 2016. In 2017 my 30 year old had thyroid cancer. Non genetic. Said to be environmental. 2019 I have a small possible cancer scare with pancreas. It was not but had to have portion removed – chemo damage. 2020 Covid comes to town – I lost my job. Right now Saturn is transiting my 8th house – I’m assuming the little darling has been there for a year or so.. not 💯. Really wanted to get my attention this time around. My first Saturn return was the birth of my son- same guy that had thyroid issue. It sounds made up – trust me it’s all true.


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