Understanding Saturn Transits: Saturn Cycle
For centuries Saturn has been identified with misfortune and hard times. Most modern astrologers have a more benign attitude, but a general apprehension remains. Its cycle is nearly thirty years, it completes its first trip around the zodiac around the age of thirty and its second just before the age of sixty, marking the beginnings of middle and old age. Saturn usually bears a message of aging that we aren't eager to receive.
Traditionally, the image of Saturn has been the Grim Reaper: a skeleton with a long blademowing a field of wheat. In the popular mind this image is synonymous with death, but in astrology there is no symbol for death since everything in the solar system is cyclical and every death is a rebirth, a phase in a cycle. This is why the skeleton holds a scythe, it represents reaping the harvest. Today, "harvest" means simply gathering in crops and we miss the power of the metaphor. In reality, harvesting is an involved process that begins with cutting and gathering the crop, and then proceeds to separating the straw from the wheat and the chaff from the grain. For thousands of years this was done by threshing, or beating the plant with flails to shake the grain loose. The result was then often cleaned by winnowing— throwing it all into the air and letting the wind carry away the chaff while the heavier grain settled to the ground. Then the grain still needed to be milled and ground into flour to be used.
This entire harvesting process is the image of a Saturn transit. This is what Saturn does; it stresses an area of life,like thrashing wheat until the chaff falls away and you are left with the grain. The chaff represents all of the old habits and old conceptions that don't fit your reality any longer. Saturn provides the means for testing and discarding the old, and what survives is the grain of experience that is carried on into a new cycle. A modern image of the grim reaper is a harvesting machine; a huge combine rolling across a field as it cuts and threshes wheat. Not only is this image less lurid than a grinning skeleton, but you don't have to identify yourself with the crop. Instead of standing in the way of the machine, you can drive it, or follow behind collecting the harvest.
This is the key to a modern, more productive approach to Saturn. It doesn't eliminate hard times from your life but it allows you to prepare for them and potentially minimize their effect. Perhaps even more important, it provides the means of extending the good times, a way for carrying insights and inspirations from one period of your life into another. Rather then ride a perpetual roller-coaster of good and bad fortune, you extend the benefits of the peak times to carry you across the valleys. Immediately within the orbit of Saturn is the orbit of Jupiter; when Jupiter provides a spontaneous insight, Saturn provides the means to build a vessel to hold that inspiration.
This is not secret or esoteric wisdom, it is the normal way organisms function on this planet. We all use the principle of Saturn, with or without astrology. Its simplest form is a conditioned reflex, like Pavlov's dogs. A more sophisticated form is learned behavior, like the skill-set of an artist or artisan. Jupiter provides a reward and Saturn responds to it by forming habits. We all form good habits and bad habits, but we can't always control them because we are not always aware of when we are forming them. This is where timing can be helpful, along with a little self-awareness. Astrology excels at honing our sense of timing.
As Saturn moves around the zodiac it passes over every area in a chart. All these areas are facets of your self. Each point defines a unique cycle and each cycle, in turn, has a peak and a valley of its own. Saturn may be conjunct your Sun, at the peak of your Sun-Saturn cycle, while it is opposite your Jupiter. Usually you would look at one, or maybe two, cycles at any given time and not all of them. The objective is to identify trends and directions that are normally lost in the flood of events that make up daily living. The key to doing this is to focus and direct your attention only to cycles of particular interest at the moment.
When Saturn transits an area, that area is in flux, it is
under construction and it is far easier to make changes
then than it will be later. Saturn is a tool, a lever, and
you have more leverage at the point Saturn is transiting
than at any other point in your chart.
(Text from Matrix Search Program)
The Four Phases of a Saturn Cycle
Conjunction - First Quarter
Opposition - Third Quarter
Waxing Square - Second Quarter
Waning Square - Fourth Quarter